BOLTON STUNG BY LESCOTT
1st September 2007
Joleon Lescott grabbed a late winner to give Everton a 2-1 win against Bolton at the Reebok Stadium. Nicolas Anelka, who signed a new four-year contract with Bolton this week, had volleyed home a 55th-minute equaliser as just reward for the home side's domination up to that point. That cancelled out Ayegbeni Yakubu's 11th-minute opener as the striker made a perfect start to his Everton career following his £11.25million move from Middlesbrough on Wednesday. It is now four defeats in five games for Bolton boss Sammy Lee, while Everton are hot on the heels of Merseyside rivals Liverpool at the top of the table. Despite Bolton controlling the opening 10 minutes, Everton broke and the ball fell to Andy Johnson, who first rode a sliding challenge from Gerald Cid before driving into the penalty area. Johnson side-footed to the Nigerian Yakubu had no trouble in despatching the opener from eight yards, his 62nd goal in 154 Premier League appearances. Finally the breakthrough came for the Trotters after 55 minutes, with Anelka rifling a right-foot volley in off the underside of the bar after Phil Jagielka had tried to clear an El Hadji Diouf cross.
Thomas Gravesen was introduced just after the hour, the Dane making his second debut for the Toffees after signing on loan from Celtic. With the game end to end, Abdoulaye Meite then forced a reaction save from Tim Howard, prior to Leon Osman sidefooting over the bar from 12 yards. Then, just 75 seconds from the end of normal time, Lescott grabbed the winner as he rose in between half-time sub Andy O'Brien and Jlloyd Samuel to nod home a Gravesen corner
WEAR FOOTBALL SHIRT TO RHYS' FUNERAL
1st September 2007
By Cameron Millar
THE parents of Rhys Jones have urged thousands of mourners to wear football shirts at their son’s funeral to celebrate his life. The Evertonian’s final farewell will have an atmosphere fit for the terraces on the wish of mum and dad Melanie and Stephen.
And Blues supporters are expected to stand alongside rival Liverpool fans in a poignant celebration of Rhys’s life. As two men, aged 20 and 24, and two boys, aged 17 and 16 – all from the Liverpool area – were arrested over the murder yesterday, Rhys’s parents urged mourners to wear football shirts or bright clothes on Thursday.
Thousands are expected to line the streets and attend the funeral at Liverpool Cathedral. The organist will play Rhys’s favourite song – the Everton anthem Z-Cars.
In a death notice in their local paper, Melanie, 41, and Stephen, 44, said: “Rhys, we lost you so suddenly, we keep asking why, you’ve gone up to heaven to play football in the sky. “Our hearts are breaking, the pain we can’t describe, till we meet again, to stand side by side. Goodnight and God bless son.” The funeral will be presided over by the Bishop of Liverpool, the Right Rev James Jones. The service will be followed by a private burial. Organisers say donations can be made to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital. Rhys was shot by a teenager on a BMX bike. Yesterday’s arrests mean that 15 people have now been quizzed. Seven teenagers have been released on bail and four freed without charge. Last night, YouTube was under fire in the wake of the shooting for showing footage of gang members wielding guns and knives. Dee Warner of Mothers Against Murder and Aggression raged: “It’s scandalous people can still access these sick videos.” A YouTube spokesman said: “When people see content they think is inappropriate they can flag it and our staff review it.”
Moyes so impressed by Baines
Sept 1 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES is backing Leighton Baines to reap the benefits of his first appearance in Everton colours after making an encouraging start to his Goodison career. When Baines became the Blues’ third signing of the summer, his arrival was quickly overtaken by news that the club were ready to splash out almost £20m on Aiyegbeni Yakubu and Manuel Fernandes. The quiet approach, though, has suited Baines and having battled his way back to fitness from a hamstring problem, he caught the eye in last Saturday’s 1-1 draw against Blackburn Rovers but Moyes believes there is plenty more to come. “Leighton did really well last week and it was a good performance considering it was his first game,” said Moyes. “He was up against a tough player in David Bentley but he stuck to his guns and there will be more to come from him. “His training and fitness has improved but he missed quite a few games with a hamstring injury and maybe it will take him a bit longer to get up to full speed. But he has had a chance to have a look around at the way we do things here and he is settling in well. “He has really impressed me with his attitude and hopefully he will be a good player for us in the years to come. He got his chance last week but we also have Nuno Valente and Joleon Lescott who can play there too.” As Baines has had to wait for a chance, so too has Phil Jagielka but Moyes has been quick to point out his squad are going to need patience at times this season as the amount of numbers he has available means there is no such thing as a regular choice. “In many ways, Phil is in a similar position to Joleon,” said Moyes, who failed in a last-ditch bid last night to sign Juan Roman Riquelme from Villarreal. “He broke into the team by coming off the bench and that’s maybe what Jags is going to have to do. He is versatile and can play in two or three different roles. “That is going to help him. He played in central midfield against Blackburn but is probably more comfortable as a centre back. You need to play well to be in this team and competition for places is what we want.”
Meanwhile, chief executive Keith Wyness hopes the UEFA Cup tie against Metalist Kharkiv will be a stepping stone to bigger and better things but is not taking progression through to the group stages for granted. “There is no such thing as an easy draw in Europe,” said Wyness. “Ukraine is a well known footballing nation but Everton are very focused on taking the club further in Europe this year.”
UEFA Cup First Round Draw: FC Midtjylland v Lokomotiv Moscow; FC Groningen v Fiorentina; Rabotnicki Kometal v Bolton; AEK Athens/Sevilla v SV Red Bull; Nurnberg v Rapid Bucuresti; Everton v FC Metalist Kharkiv; Zenit St Petersburg v Standard L; Bayer Leverkusen v Uniao Leiria; Villarreal v BATE; FC Sion v Galatasaray; Atletico Madrid v Kayseri Erciye; Bordeaux v Tampere United; Panathinaikos v Artmedia Bratisl; Sparta Prague v Odense BK; FC Zurich v Empoli; Sochaux v Panionios; Rapid Vienna v Anderlecht; Pacos Ferreira v AZ; Sampdoria v AaB; Spartak Moscow v BK Hacken; Hammarby v Braga; Larissa v Blackburn; Mlada Boleslav v Palermo; Dinamo Zagreb v Ajax; Rennes v Lokomotiv Sofia; SK Brann v Club Brugge; Bayern Munich v Belenenses; Aberdeen v Dnipro; Heerenveen v Helsingborgs; Toulouse v CSKA Sofia; Hamburg v Litex Lovech; FK Sarajevo v Basle; Austria Magna v Valerenga; AIK Solna v Hapoel Tel Aviv; Aris Salonika v Real Zaragoza; Dinamo Bucuresti v IF Elfsborg; Tottenham v Anorthosis Famagusta; Lens v FC Copenhagen; Getafe v FC Twente; Groclin Dyskobolia v Crvena Zvez
Ties to be played September 20/October 4.
Faddy looks to build on his perfect response
Sept 1 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
THE intensity of training sessions at Bellefield in the past few days have cranked up several notches but David Moyes could not be happier. Aiyegbeni Yakubu’s arrival, added to Thomas Gravesen’s return, means competition for a starting place has been higher than at any time in recent seasons and as a result, players are desperate to impress the manager. Happily for Moyes, a number of players have caught the eye, among them James McFadden. Scorer of last Saturday’s equaliser against Blackburn Rovers, he summoned up the perfect response to Yakubu’s arrival by producing a display bursting with endeavour. Several months of injury frustrations were banished with one swish of his right boot and he will be hoping for another opportunity when Everton make the short hop to Bolton Wanderers this afternoon, as will Phil Jagielka.
Like McFadden, he played a part in helping the Blues secure a point but he knows only too well how hard the Scotland international has been trying in practice matches and does not expect his first goal of the season to be his final one. “Faddy has been on fire in training but thankfully he has been on my team, so he hasn’t had chance to show me up,” said Jagielka. “Technically he is fantastic. He took a gamble against Blackburn when most people would have left it and it paid off for him. “He takes defenders by surprise. It might not look as if he is doing much but all of a sudden, he gets away. He is quite tricky in so many different ways and can influence things for us. He’s a top player. We’ve had a decent enough start but we need to keep it going.”
Games at the Reebok Stadium have always been keenly contested affairs and while Sammy Lee has taken over from Sam Allardyce since the sides lash met in April, Moyes does not expect much to have changed on the pitch. He makes no attempt to hide his admiration for the way Bolton have established themselves as one of the top clubs in the Premier League and if Everton are going to get back to winning ways, Moyes feels a performance as good as the one against Tottenham Hotspur will be needed. “It’s a difficult one for us,” said Moyes. “Ourselves and Bolton have been quite close in league positions over the last couple of years and the games have been competitive. I don’t see that being any different now. “Wee Sammy is trying to get his foot in. He has got really good experience at the clubs he has been at, worked with some top managers, so I don’t think he will have any problem doing the job. I’m sure he will embrace the challenge. “It may well be a change in the type of game that we face, but you never know exactly how it is going to be. It’s roughly the same group of players in the side and I have got a lot of respect for what Bolton have done.
“Bolton beat my Preston side in 2001 in the play-off final and have never come out the Premier League in a period when we think any team that comes up will struggle. Not only have they gone up, they have been in the UEFA Cup and been to a Cup Final. “So in those six years, they have never really looked back and I don’t think people will look at Bolton now and view them as a relegation club. It’s not just credit to Big Sam. It’s credit to everyone that works there. They have done a terrific job.”
With Lee Carsley and Alan Stubbs both expected to shake off respective groin and hip injuries, Yakubu primed for his debut and Gravesen also in contention, Moyes is blessed with options and on paper has the makings of his best-ever squad.
Though it is far too early for him to start making such bold claims, he believes the players that he has recruited will make dealing with the demands of competing in four competitions a lot easier and he will be able to replace quality with quality if and when injury and suspensions strike. “I’ll probably only be able to tell that in another month or so, when everything has settled down. We have brought new players in and they will get opportunities in the coming months,” said Moyes. “If we get through the qualifier in the UEFA Cup, we’ll have more games to play. “In the past, we have tended to work with a small squad but this year we have increased it slightly and we may find that it doesn’t work, but we will just have to wait and see. Hopefully it will. Put it this way, we have played the first four games without James Vaughan and Tim Cahill. “Maybe in the past we could not have coped with their losses. I’m hoping that as the season goes on, we will be able to cope even better. “The one area that we have been short in the last three or four weeks is at centre forward. Faddy is only just back from injury, Tim and Vaughany haven’t been there and Victor has been nursing a problem.”
Merseyside’s first World Cup player
Sept 1 2007 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
Merseyside’s first World Cup player
HE’S 83-years young and still enjoys a lunchtime pint once a week in his favourite hostelry. But regulars at the Stanley Arms in Aughton would be largely unaware of the place in football’s hall of fame enjoyed by the pensioner sipping his half of bitter.
Laurie Hughes was Merseyside’s first World Cup footballer, featuring in all three England matches at the 1950 finals in Brazil. And while England’s experience in their first campaign was an unhappy one – they famously lost to the USA and were narrowly beaten by Spain, after an initial 2-0 win over Chile – the Liverpool defender’s performances were picked out as a solitary highlight. The highly respected Charles Buchan, News Chronicle’s football correspondent, reported: “The only outstanding success of England’s World Cup campaign was Hughes, the Liverpool centre-half who improved with every game.” “I don’t know about that,” said Hughes modestly. “I remember the weather was very good, the hotel was alright and our performances were a bit up and a bit down. “But it was a great experience.” Hughes’ trip to Brazil started with a train ride (third-class!), with Blackburn full-back Bill Eckersley. The pair then joined the rest of the squad on a Pan-American flight to Rio de Janeiro, via Paris, Lisbon and Dakar. It was an adventure for a home-grown footballer, born in Everton and educated at Lawrence Road School.
But compared to his team-mates, Hughes was better prepared than most for the conditions which awaited them in South America. “We used to go to America every summer,” said Hughes. “I went there three years in a row. We played seven matches every time and we never lost a single one. “We even brought a player back with us on one occasion, a lad called Joe Cadden, but I don’t think he ever made the grade over here.” Hughes certainly made the grade. He was an Anfield stalwart, making more than 300 league appearances, claiming a League Championship winner’s medal in 1946/47 and appearing in the team which lost the 1950 FA Cup final to Arsenal.
“We’d beaten Arsenal twice in the League and I still think we were a better side than they were,” he recalled. Hughes succeeded Bill Jones as Reds captain in August 1954 and in his last full season at Anfield, 1956-57, missed just one league match.
Approaching his mid-30s by then, his last appearance came at Charlton on September 28, 1957, although he didn’t hang up his boots completely until May 1960.
A time to opt for the tried and trusted.
Sept 1 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
COME ON, admit it. We’ve all been there. The morning of Christmas Eve and the realisation dawns that you haven’t actually got your better half the present you need for the big day. So ensues a day scurrying around the shops, jostling with others in a similar position, frantically looking for a suitable gift but all you can get your hands on are putrid smelling scents, oversized clothes or extortionately priced luxury items.
Then, when you are unable to find something original, you decide to go for something tried and trusted. It went down well the first time, so better to be safe than sorry. Sure, when you hand over said gift, the response might not be overwhelming but it is appreciated nonetheless. You will, of course, know where this is going. A week that should have started with the £12m unveiling of Manuel Fernandes has ended with Thomas Gravesen being paraded with an Everton shirt, having completed a 12-month loan deal. For a blinkered few, the following argument will be dismissed as what they see as propaganda and that is their prerogative. After all, the only people to blame for Fernandes ending in the arms of Valencia are those who run the club. Isn’t that right?
In this case, absolutely not. Just consider this. After last Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Blackburn Rovers, Fernandes met Bill Kenwright in the chairman’s office and promised he would sign the following day. But 24 hours earlier, though, sources close to him were letting it be known that he was actively looking for another club before the transfer window closed. Put it this way - in the modern age of football, when was the last time you heard of a £12m transfer go through in a matter of hours?
In the light of the Carlos Tevez affair, Everton’s legal team painstakingly put together a deal that would be suitable to both the Premier League and Global Sports Agency but despite their best efforts, it was to no avail. There is no disputing Fernandes has talent and he showed it in flashes last season. When he wanted to play, he looked exceptional and it was easy to see why he is bracketed with Cristiano Ronaldo and Ricardo Quaresma among the best young players in Portugal. That talent, however, was offset by his capricious attitude and he did not exactly enjoy universal popularity in the dressing room. Some were driven to distraction by the way he was invariably last to turn up for training and the first off the pitch. Basically what it boils down to is that he didn’t fancy it and if he didn’t want to be a part of Everton’s squad, fine. Don’t, though, shed too many tears, as it’s better to have someone totally committed rather than an individual who will upset the balance. Such claims have been made of Gravesen in the past but in his case there is absolutely no risk attached to the business. Everyone knows what they are getting from the Denmark international and, likewise, he appreciates what is expected of him. He may not have played a lot of football since he left for Real Madrid in January 2005 but if Gravesen can rekindle the magic that saw him play an influential role in the club’s push for a Champions League spot, it will prove to be shrewd business. Though he rarely - if ever - does interviews, the 31-year-old spoke candidly after putting pen-to-paper about how much wearing a Blue shirt meant to him and - as Alan Stubbs proved in January 2006 - it is not always so difficult to go back. “In my five years here we improved all the way and we ended on a high and that is what I want to achieve again,” said a man who made 155 appearances after joining from SV Hamburg in the summer of 2000. “I have always said I would never want to come back to any other club in England other than Everton - I am an Everton player. I’ve been privileged to wear this shirt before but over the last few years Everton has improved a lot. Now it is very important for me to prove myself.” So while Gravesen was not the arrival many envisaged at the start of August, when a bid of 18m euros was made for Lucho Gonzalez, it could turn out to be a pleasant surprise. One thing he won’t be is an expensive mistake - something Fernandes may have been.
LESCOTT HANDED ENGLAND CALL-UP
3rd September 2007
Everton defender Joleon Lescott has been drafted into the England squad for the Euro 2008 qualifiers against Israel and Russia. The 25-year-old has been in excellent early-season form for the Toffees, scoring twice in victories at Tottenham and Bolton.
Lescott's call-up follows the withdrawal of Portsmouth defender Sol Campbell due to a hamstring injury. Lescott joined Everton from Wolves, where he began his professional career, in June 2006. The in-form central defender comes into a squad shorn of some more familiar faces in international terms. As well as Campbell, Jamie Carragher has retired from international football, Tottenham captain Ledley King is injured and Middlesbrough's Jonathan Woodgate was not considered after only just returning to action from injury. The Birmingham-born Lescott has been key to Everton's good start to the new Premier League season having climbed to third.
Everton boss David Moyes certainly has no doubts over the player's international credentials and told the Liverpool Echo last week: "Lescott won't let England down at centre-back or left-back. "We'll keep pushing him and keep trying to get him in, but my job's hard enough without trying to pick the England team. But he doesn't get beaten, he doesn't get run, his use of the ball could be better but if you go away and hope your boys at the back will keep you in the game Joleon will certainly do that for you." Lescott was included in the B squad which faced Albania on May 25, coming on as a substitute.
Bolton 1, Everton 2 (Echo)
Sep 3 2007
by Dominic King
THERE’S nothing more embarrassing than making yourself look a right Charlie on national television, is there Mr Nicholas? Some years have passed since the aforementioned former footballer was cultivating his ‘Champagne’ nickname with Arsenal and Celtic but since hanging up his, he has somehow managed to carve a niche for himself as one of Sky’s ‘expert’ analysts. Given he seems to think being a good pundit is criticising as many things as possible, Nicholas’ views should be taken with a pinch of salt but it is doubtful he will be taken seriously by Evertonians again after comments this weekend, if he was in the first place. Before the Blues’ game against Bolton Wanderers on Saturday, Nicholas – as an old Celtic player – was asked by the esteemed Jeff Stelling what he made of Thomas Gravesen’s return to Goodison. Sadly, predictably, a diatribe ensued. According to Nicholas, Gravesen was a failure at Parkhead because he never stuck his role as a holding midfielder and then went onto describe him as too similar to Lee Carsley. Really? Isn’t the only similarity between them a lack of hair? But if his spell in Glasgow did not capture the imagination, the same could not be said about the time he has spent on Merseyside. One of life’s more colourful individuals, Gravesen’s return to life with Everton could not have got off to a better start. Just as questions were asked when Alan Stubbs came back from Sunderland, there were some who wondered whether re-signing the Dane was a smart move or if it gave the right signals. How, they asked, can you go forward as a club if you keep going back? Yet if he can keep making the sort of impact that he did at the Reebok Stadium, it could well prove to be one of the shrewdest pieces of business Moyes has conducted. Put simply, it is a risk-free signing. Introduced for Carsley when things were finely balanced, Gravesen – wearing the brightest pair of football boots imaginable – rarely wasted possession and the quality of his passing always threatened to create an opportunity. So it proved. One pass to Mikel Arteta, dragged with the inside of his right foot, was quite magnificent but even though that did not get an end reward, in the dying moments the corner he floated in for Joleon Lescott enabled Everton to go into the international break on a high. It may well be early days in the campaign but this victory could prove to be a hugely significant one; Bolton are not in the best of form at present but they are still formidable opponents. That, though, did not stop Moyes going for broke. Naming a starting line-up that showed he meant business – four changes were made to the team that had drawn against Blackburn Rovers seven days earlier – a glance at the substitute’s bench confirmed he was ready to be positive, if and when necessary. Happily, that approach was rewarded. Bolton will feel aggrieved they did not mark the Reebok’s 10th anniversary with anything to show for their efforts but it was the extra quality Moyes was able to call upon that allowed Everton to gatecrash the party. The Blues, ironically, were the first visitors to the Reebok in 1997 and while that game will be remembered for Gerry Taggart’s goal that never was, maybe Evertonians in years to come will look back to this as the day when an exciting new double act was launched. Almost £20m has been spent to pair Aiyegbeni Yakubu with Andrew Johnson and, having got off to the perfect start, there was lots to like about the way they linked together for the first time. Though he failed to get his name on the scoresheet, Johnson gave the impression that he is getting back to his best and his pace and direct running caused Bolton plenty of problems throughout. Surely it’s only a matter of time before normal service is resumed? In the first half especially, he tormented the hapless Gerald Cid and took full advantage of the Spaniard’s rash lunge to give Yakubu the chance to score with his first touch in Everton colours, after good work by Phil Jagielka and Steven Pienaar. All being well, Johnson’s act of selflessness will be handsomely rewarded in the coming weeks and the look on Yakubu’s face suggested that he will be only too happy to repay the compliment once the opportunity arises. It is a long time since Everton have had a forward partnership to strike fear into opposition central defenders but there is no reason why this one can’t develop into something genuinely exciting. Sentiments which apply to the team in general. Of course, it would be folly to get carried away at this early stage and make rash boasts about what Everton might achieve between now and next May but there is no disputing the signs are good. Leighton Baines was terrific once again, Joseph Yobo is maturing into the top class defender many have long suspected he would be and the number of mistakes Tim Howard has made since he arrived from Manchester United can be counted on one hand. Take into account that Tim Cahill and James Vaughan have still to return from injury and there is a depth and quality to the squad now that had, at times, been lacking in the past. No wonder everyone headed for home in high spirits. True, bigger tests than this await – next on Everton’s agenda is a visit from the reigning champions – but the early signs suggest they will be challenging for a place in the top six once again. Surely even the Doubting Thomases would agree with that – wouldn't they?
Bolton 1, Everton 2 (D,Post)
Sep 3 2007
by Ian Doyle at the Reebock Stadium
EVERTON have shown an increasing knack of gate-crashing Premier League parties under David Moyes in recent seasons. From breaking into the Champions League qualifying places and regularly sticking the noses of the perceived ‘big four’ out of joint, the Goodison side have revelled in their assumed role of party-poopers. They were at it again on Saturday, welcomed as guests at the 10th anniversary of the opening of the Reebok Stadium before turning the afternoon into a celebration of new striker Yakubu and another away triumph. But it’s the growing sense that such achievements are becoming the norm for this new-look Everton that is giving supporters the genuine reason to raise a glass in salute. Early days, of course, and after too many previous false dawns, no Evertonian will be getting carried away.But the sight of the Moyes’s men sitting pretty alongside neighbours Liverpool at the top of the league on Saturday evening was just reward for an encouraging start to the campaign. Whether Everton can maintain that form to improve on last season’s sixth-placed finish will be one of the more fascinating aspects of the Premier League season, but what’s not in doubt is that the Goodison outfit are better placed than at any time during the past decade to do so. The latest additions to the squad, Yakubu and the returning Thomas Gravesen, didn’t waste any time in announcing their arrivals on Saturday, with both delivering key contributions to earn victory over Bolton Wanderers. Having failed to net during an unhappy final 16 games with Middlesbrough, Yakubu took just 11 minutes to begin repaying the club record £11.25million that brought him from the Riverside. That the Nigeria international’s goal was a result of sterling work from Andrew Johnson will have been even more pleasing for Moyes. Everton have lacked a genuine strike partnership under his tutelage, but the £20m outlay on the duo equates to heightened expectation the wait may now be at an end. Their instant combination that led to Yakubu’s 62nd Premier League goal was a statement of intent of what everyone at Everton hopes will follow. While Yakubu understandably flitted in and out of the game on debut, Johnson was the visitors’ outstanding performer with his selfless work ethic and directness harassing the Bolton defence and the hapless Gerald Cid in particular.
The only thing missing was a goal. Johnson hasn’t scored since March, and the manner at which he snatched at a second-half chance when faced with only home goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen to beat suggests that drought could be playing on his mind. Moyes, though, is confident the goals will surely soon begin to flow and Yakubu’s arrival will at the very least ease the burden on last season’s leading scorer. Gravesen, meanwhile, emerged from the substitutes’ bench on the hour in trademark understated fashion, decked in a pair of alarmingly yellow boots. But his second-half cameo commanded even greater attention as his introduction turned the game in Everton’s favour. His passing from midfield helping spark a previously subdued Mikel Arteta into life with the Dane also earning and then delivering the 89th-minute corner from which Joleon Lescott headed a dramatic winner. Gravesen’s all-action style may have divided supporter opinion on his previous stay at the club, but his passion and personality are an undeniably infectious presence in the Everton dressing room and, on a season-long loan, the midfielder will have a point to prove after his career stalled at Real Madrid and then Celtic. His impact was an indication of the options Moyes now has at his disposal, the manager now able to call upon players from the bench who can offer something different to alter the course of a match when things aren’t going quite to plan. That was the case on Saturday when Bolton made life difficult for the visitors following Yakubu’s debut strike with practically his first touch in a blue shirt. After Jagielka had done well to keep the ball in from Nicolas Anelka, Steven Pienaar’s pass released Johnson on the counter-attack, the striker skipping over a rash sliding challenge from Cid near the halfway line before haring down on goal and playing across for Yakubu to tap in from six yards. Mikel Alonso – brother of Liverpool’s Xabi – led the Bolton response, forcing Tim Howard to turn behind his 20-yard shot before firing an angled drive from even further out that crashed against the crossbar. A quirk of the fixture list meant that Everton visited Bolton on Saturday exactly 10 years to the day they were the opposition in the first-ever game at the Reebok Stadium. Gary Speed was the only survivor from that game, although he’s of course now part of a Bolton side struggling in the lower reaches.
In truth, however, their display at the weekend suggests it won’t be long before Sammy Lee’s men rediscover the form that saw them finish one place below Everton last season. Despite constant Bolton pressure, the pace of Johnson meant Everton always had an outlet on the counter-attack, and one such sortie led to a corner which Jagielka headed at Jaaskelainen. But the right-back, who along with the impressive Pienaar was handed a first start by Moyes, was partially at fault when Bolton inevitably drew level 10 minutes after the break, Jagielka colliding with team-mate Joseph Yobo when attempting to head clear an El Hadji Diouf cross which allowed the ball to fall invitingly for Anelka to smash in a fine volley from 15 yards. Kevin Nolan spurned a great chance at the far post despite appearing suspiciously offside when meeting Anelka’s cross and Howard turned another Alonso shot around before parrying Abdoulaye Meite’s header from a Diouf corner. But by then Gravesen had replaced Lee Carsley and the tide was turning in Everton’s favour, Pienaar firing a volley wide and Johnson denied by Jaaskelainen after Meite failed to deal with the Dane’s throughball. And after Gravesen had combined cleverly with Arteta only for Leon Osman to sky the Spaniard’s cut-back criminally over, with a minute remaining the returning midfielder dropped a left-wing corner to the far post where Lescott rose between Jlloyd Samuel and Andy O’Brien to head the winner. Lescott’s celebrations were particularly expressive given his first-hand experience of the increased competition for places at Everton the previous week that saw him benched for the home draw against Blackburn Rovers. The only concern for Moyes will be his team have kept only one clean sheet in their last 13 games, something that must be addressed if they are to remain in such a lofty position.
For now, though, the main message to his players is simple: let’s keep this party going.
BOLTON WANDERERS (4-5-1): Jaaskelainen; Hunt (Davies 80), Meite, Cid (O'Brien 46), Samuel; Nolan, Alonso, Speed, McCann (Wilhelmsson 56), Diouf; Anelka. Subs: Al Habsi, Braaten.
BOOKING: Hunt (foul).
EVERTON (4-4-2): Howard; Jagielka, Yobo, Lescott, Baines; Pienaar (Osman 70), Carsley (Gravesen 61), Neville, Arteta; Johnson, Yakubu (Anichebe 84). Subs: Wessels, McFadden.
BOOKINGS: Baines (timewasting) and Lescott (foul).
REFEREE: Mr P Walton.
NEXT GAME: Everton v Manchester United, Barclays Premier League, Saturday September 15 12pm
Bolton goal is first of many, vows Yakubu
Sep 3 2007
by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
AIYEGBENI YAKUBU today reflected on his “dream” debut and promised his goal against Bolton will be the first of many.
The Blues’ club record signing got his career on Merseyside off to the best possible start, as he scored with his first touch and played a key role in helping David Moyes’ side to a win which hoisted them to third in the table.
Yakubu was set to jet out with Victor Anichebe and Joseph Yobo for Nigeria’s African Nations Cup qualifier with Lesotho this afternoon but before leaving, he promised to put in extra hours to help keep Everton in their current lofty position.
One of the main reasons he left Middlesbrough for Goodison Park was to play European football and having had the chance to survey the talent in the dressing room, he is confident that goal can be achieved once again next May.
“It was a great feeling to score a goal in my first game and it has given me more confidence,” he said. “I thought we deserved to win. We played very well and we played for each other. “The goal was my first touch and that was a great start. I hope I can keep scoring and I will keep working hard on the pitch. We have won away from home which is good and there is a great feeling in the dressing room. “We want to finish in Europe at the end of the season and this is exactly what you need - good results away from home. We are looking forward to the next game now. If we play the way we did against Bolton, we will do well through the season. But there is a long way to go. “We fight for each other and the spirit was good. We didn’t want to lose and you could see that in the way we played. We gave it our best and everyone in the dressing room afterwards was so pleased. It was a dream start and we hope that it can continue for a long time.” Moyes was thrilled with the way Yakubu and Johnson linked together and the £11.25m man believes they can strike up a rapport similar to the one he enjoyed with Mark Viduka at the Riverside.
“I thought AJ was unlucky not to score,” he said. “He is the same in training and he always works hard. I know his quality and know what he can do. “I think we can have a great partnership. With Viduka I had a great partnership at Middlesbrough and I'm looking forward to having a great partnership with AJ. He’s quick, he can run down the channels and I think we can be good together. “We hope we can both score and help the team finish in Europe. I think we could be one of the best partnerships in the Premiership, I really think so. I’ve watched him on the training pitch and I know what his strengths are. The more games we play together, the better we will become.” Meanwhile, Everton will begin their Carling Cup campaign with a trip to Championship side Sheffield Wednesday. The tie will take place during the week commencing September 24.
Joleon Lescott called up for England
Sep 3 2007
By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
JOLEON LESCOTT was celebrating today after he was called up for England's Euro 2008 qualifiers against Israel and Russia. The Everton defender, who scored his side's last gasp winner against Bolton Wanderers on Saturday, has previously been capped at Under-18, Under-20, Under-21 and B level. With Sol Campbell injured, Steve McClaren has decided to hand Lescott a chance to impress and England's head coach feels he has the talent to cope with the step up. "Joleon has been looking very solid for Everton this season, and has also scored a couple of goals, too," said McClaren. "He is big and strong and is a threat at set-pieces as well, but as a defender he makes life very difficult for strikers. His versatility also means he is a good option as he can play in the middle of the defence or at full-back. "He came on as a sub for the 'B' team at Burnley in May and looked assured and I think he's very capable of making the step up to the full team." Lescott joined Everton in the summer of 2006 from Wolverhampton Wanderers in a £4m deal and has barely put a foot wrong in the time since. So impressive was his debut season in the Premier League that he was named the Blues' Player's Player of the Year in May.
David Moyes: ‘Gravesen guile can give us extra edge’
Sept 3 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DULL moments are likely to be few and far between now Thomas Gravesen has returned to Goodison Park but David Moyes believes Everton will benefit from his eccentricities. Though the Denmark midfielder is short of peak condition, he made the perfect start to his second spell on Merseyside as he came off the bench to help Everton clinch a last-gasp 2-1 win over Bolton Wanderers on Saturday.
With international fixtures meaning the Blues do not have a Premier League game now until September 15, Gravesen will be given extra training sessions at Bellefield to get up to speed with his ‘new’ team-mates before Manchester United’s visit.
Gravesen proved to be Moyes’ last piece of business before the transfer window closed and, though he may have missed out on other targets, he is hoping the 31-year-old will prove himself to be a bargain – particularly if he follows Alan’s Stubbs example. “I think Tommy would admit his fitness is not what he’d want it to be and we’ll try to get a bit of work done on that this week,” said Moyes. “But he gave us a calmness when he came on. We know what he can and can’t do. “So there will be times when it’s right for Tommy and times when it’s not. He’s not coming back with any grand illusions, he's coming back to be part of the squad and part of what we are doing here. “I knew we had people on the bench to make a difference. We know Tommy is a different type. We’ve got options. Maybe a season or two ago we’d have had to settle for a point because we didn't have those options. “But I knew we could try and change the game and I think we had to because we hadn't done as well as we could have. Tommy is probably madder than he was when he left, which might be hard to believe. “If he contributes to us he'll be happy. He loves his football and wants to play and we'll try and provide him with as much of that as we can. I don’t like to go back. I’m not sure it's always right. But the one that springs to mind is Alan Stubbs.
“For many people he wasn't going to be up to it. But what a difference he's made over the last two seasons and still is now. If Tommy can have anything like the impact Stubbsy had when he came back then we’ll be onto a winner.” Another debutant to catch the eye at the Reebok Stadium was club record signing Aiyegbeni Yakubu, who scored with his first touch, linked well with Andrew Johnson and Moyes expects there to be plenty more to come from him. “It was a terrific start and I thought he played well as well,” said the manager. “His goal was good but whenever he got the ball in the right areas he was always a threat. "It would be difficult to praise his goal without praising AJ to the same levels as he did the spadework for the goal. They are both international players, good ages. We've got good centre forwards who can combine at different times. “He’s probably not fully fit but the period he gave me was more than we expected and I think he’s done well. One goal in one game isn’t bad – if he can keep that up we’ll be well pleased!”
Jose Baxter denied as U18s share points
Sep 4 2007
by Chris Wright, Liverpool Daily Post
JOSE BAXTER’S second goal in as many matches helped Everton under-18s maintain their unbeaten start to the Premier Academy League season, but they had to settle for a point in a 1-1 draw with Leeds United at Netherton on Saturday.
Neil Dewsnip’s side dropped their first points of the campaign, but it could have been different had another strike from Baxter not been disallowed. In a close match, both sides had chances to open the scoring but Everton had the best of it.
George Krenn, Louis Codling – in both halves – and Danny Redmond all went close to scoring and from a Baxter free-kick the Leeds keeper saved superbly. But it wasn’t until just past he hour mark that Everton finally got their reward.
Redmond and Moses Barnett did well down the left to create an opportunity for Bootle-born Baxter. The England schoolboy international turned and fired into the bottom corner to add to his winning goal at Tottenham the week before.
Soon after Baxter had another effort chalked off due to offside, but Everton felt aggrieved as the forward looked to have been incorrect. Everton were made to pay for that when with 15 minutes left Leeds equalised. Following a corner a shot from the edge of box went through a ruck of players and Everton’s Australian keeper Michael McEntagart couldn’t stop it from going into the bottom corner. Coach Dewsnip said: “We created lots of chances and obviously only scored on. So we could have done better with out finishing. But to be fair Leeds were quite good. They had won their first two games and so had we, so it was quite a competitive game. “We didn’t pass the ball as we would have liked to have done, yet defensively we were very sound. We were not under too much pressure. So really we just need to improve our passing and our goalscoring really. Dewsnip added: “It was an excellent goal from Jose Baxter after good work down the left from Moses Barnett and Danny Redmond. Then we had one disallowed for a dubious offside. “That would have been 2-0 but they equalised and it was a disappointing goal to give away.” Everton look to keep up their fine start to the campaign when they travel to Newcastle United this Saturday (kick-off 11am). EVERTON UNDER-18s: McEntagart; Rodwell (Stewart 60), Sinnott, Barnett, McCarten; Krenn, Akpan, O’Kane, Redmond; Baxter (Wallace 75), Codling (Shepperd 75). Subs: Stubhaug.
Thomas Gravesen’s return could be bargain
Sep 4 2007
By Mark Lawrenson, Liverpool Daily Post
THOMAS GRAVESEN could turn out to be a great bit of business for Everton – especially when you consider the amount they were going to spend on Manuel Fernandes. Bringing the Dane back will prove far less of a gamble for David Moyes because he knows exactly whet he is getting. When Real Madrid were scouting for Gravesen they must have got him mixed up with Lee Carsley because they wanted a holding midfielder – but he’s much more than that. The main thing he brings, however, is experience and with a UEFA Cup run hopefully coming up this gives the squad something that Fernandes wouldn’t have. The only question mark about Gravesen would be whether he has the legs for it any more. But in terms of the balance of the midfield and the extra options Moyes has been after, it could prove one of the best signing of the transfer window.
We’re near top of table on merit, says Mikel Arteta
Sep 4 2007
by Ian Doyle, Liverpool Daily Post
MIKEL ARTETA believes Everton’s lofty Premier League position is just reward for their encouraging start to the campaign. And the Spanish midfielder is confident David Moyes’s side can improve further once their influx of summer signings fully acclimatise to life at Goodison. Saturday’s dramatic 2-1 victory at Bolton Wanderers mean Everton sit in third place, behind leaders and neighbours Liverpool, on goal difference. It’s a throwback to the days of the mid-80s when both Merseyside teams were regularly challenging at the top of the table. For Everton, the standings are another sign of their progress made over the past few years with the Goodison outfit having been fourth at the same stage last season. And Arteta reckons the introduction of club record signing Yakubu, Phil Jagielka, Leighton Baines and on-loan duo Thomas Gravesen and Steven Pienaar will have a major impact in the coming months. “We’ve started the season really well and we’re happy with it,” said the Spaniard. “We deserve to be where we are and we could even have got more points from the games we’ve played. “Hopefully, we’re going to be a better team than last season but we have to show that on the pitch. “I think we’ve signed some really good players, and if they settle well and the rest of the players continue playing to their level, we can do some good things.” Arteta was particularly impressed by the contribution of Gravesen at the weekend, who came on as a second-half substitute and helped turn the game in Everton’s favour. “When Tommy came on, he started helping us play better in the middle,” he said. “He gave us something different, and that’s what we need from the new lads. “With all the long balls and second balls from Bolton it was hard for the wide men to get into the game, so after Tommy came on we started moving the ball better and began creating more chances.” Arteta also revealed that Everton’s players are bursting with confidence following the manner of their victory at the Reebok. “We wanted to win to make sure we stayed up at the top of the table, and to do it in the fashion we did makes it much better,” he said. “The players are flying now. “We know how hard it is to come to Bolton and win because they make it very difficult for the opposition with a physical game. They always put you under pressure with the long passes, the second balls and their aggression and they do it really well. “We could have scored a few more towards the end if we had taken our chances, but we’re very happy with the result.” Meanwhile, Victor Anichebe says the arrival of Yakubu can push the rest of Everton’s strikers to greater heights.
He told evertonTV: “Yakubu will bring out the best in everybody. There are a lot of strikers so everyone will have to fight for their place and you will only play if you do well. Every one of us offers something different. “Yak is a great player. He is strong, fast and he scores a lot of goals so he is a great addition to the squad.”
Joleon Lescott keeps his feet on ground
Sept 4 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
JOLEON LESCOTT today promised not to let the joy of his shock England call-up allow him to take his Everton place for granted. A phone call from Steve McClaren yesterday completed the perfect 48 hours for Lescott, who scored the Blues’ last-gasp winner at Bolton on Saturday and now has a chance of featuring in the Euro 2008 qualifiers against Israel and Russia. But even though Lescott has not missed an Everton game since he joined from Wolves in June 2006 – 47 consecutive appearances – he still does not believe he is an automatic first choice.
David Moyes sprang a surprise when he relegated Lescott to the bench for the previous weekend’s 1-1 draw with Blackburn and that provided a timely reminder for the central defender that nothing can be taken for granted. “Everyone knows the squad is bigger and better now but we are all pushing in the right direction,” said Lescott. “We might not have had the biggest squad last year but that isn’t the case now and if you don’t play well you could face a month or six weeks out. The squad is full of quality and you know if anyone gets a chance they will take it. It’s keeping everyone on their toes. I was obviously very disappointed not to start against Blackburn but these things happen. “It’s the manager’s decision. I came on at half-time and did as well as I could. I was thankful that I was able to start at Bolton but I am not taking anything for granted. Stubbsy will be fit for the next game and my place is not guaranteed. “If I’m not doing it in training or if I do start but don’t play well, Stubbsy will come in and take my place. It’s the same for Joseph Yobo. He knows there is tough competition. Jags can come in and do a great job, so nobody will be resting on their laurels.” Though the Blues have negotiated a tricky opening to the campaign, things aren’t going to get any easier as their next test is against Manchester United and Lescott would happily forsake a goal in that fixture for a first clean sheet of the season. “It is always special to win it in the last minute and I was fortunate to score the goal,” said Lescott. “Apart from the so called big four, there are a lot of quality sides in this league and Bolton are one of them, so to get a result was a massive achievement. “Winning like we did is so good for everyone’s mental state. You don’t want to be going into a two week break on the back of a defeat or having a bad game. It was nice to get the goal but my first ambition was to keep a clean sheet.”
England head coach Steve McClaren has watched Lescott a couple of times over the summer – once in pre-season against Werder Bremen and again at Tottenham – and has no doubts he will cope with the step up. “Joleon has been looking very solid this season and has also scored a couple of goals,” he said. “He is big and strong and is a threat at set-pieces. He makes life very difficult for strikers.”
Nigel Martyn: Thomas Gravesen's knack of making things happen is vital
Sep 4 2007 by Nigel Martyn, Liverpool Echo
THERE are a number of ways you could describe Thomas Gravesen but the safest is probably to say he is a bit dotty. During the season when we finished fourth, Tommy was a big influence on us and really made things happen; he doesn’t lack confidence – just look at the boots he wore on Saturday – and is always prepared to try something a bit different, such is the faith that he has in his ability. Off the pitch, he is a bit strange, but that is not a bad thing. He is a terrific person to have in the dressing room, so for that reason he won’t have a problem settling back into life at Goodison Park – fingers crossed he can keep making the kind of impact he did against Bolton.
There is no doubt he changed the course of the game when he came on and that’s because he does things that are impossible for defenders to deal with. The ball he dragged around a corner for Mikel Arteta was absolutely out of the top drawer.
That, though, is typical of what Tommy can do and he will probably be seen to even better effect now than he was during his first spell because, with the greatest respect, he is playing with better players who will be on his wavelength. I know some people will have questioned the wisdom of bringing him back but David Moyes had a gap to fill and there is absolutely no doubt that Tommy will do that. He will add to a squad that is looking in particularly good shape at present. Apart from signing Tommy, the manager’s main business last week was bringing in Aiyegbeni Yakubu and there will have been relief all around that he got off the mark at the first attempt. But there was plenty to like about his display apart from his goal. He linked well with Andy Johnson and the look on both their faces after Yakubu had scored spoke volumes. Andy was genuinely delighted to see Yakubu score and he was overwhelmed that the chance had been provided for him. Rather than run straight to the crowd, he turned to express his gratitude which is something I like to see because it augurs well for team spirit, and that will have been fostered by the terrific result at the Reebok Stadium.
Those three points have transformed the start to the season and they have sent everyone into the international break in high spirits. A win like that makes such a difference and hopefully it will provide an impetus to stay among the leading clubs for the rest of the year.
Robinson has ability to overcome errors
IT’S a massive week of international football and Steve McClaren faces a number of interesting decisions over team selection. While much has been made of who will play in midfield or alongside MIchael Owen up front, perhaps the biggest choice surrounds who starts in goal. If it was down to me, I’d stick with Paul Robinson.
Given what happened to him against Germany, his critics will want to see him dropped. But, for me, the Paul Robinson in that game wasn’t the one I know. Someone has obviously got into his head, as I have never seen him stand in that position to deal with a cross. He has been the best goalkeeper in England for the past two years by playing his own game and he can’t allow other people’s thoughts to cloud his mind. I’ll give him a call before the weekend but I’ve no doubt he’ll be fine, as he is a top class professional. Maybe that horrible bobble that caught him out against Croatia affected him more than people realised, but there was absolutely nothing he could doabout it. These things happen to goalkeepers every now and again.
I remember playing for Leeds against Real Madrid in the Bernabeu a few years ago when Luis Figo scored from a cross that hit a divot in the six yard box and went in at a right angle. It was a complete freak but you just have to forget about it.
If Paul does well in training, he has got to be the man who starts against Israel. As long as he has faith in his ability and plays his own game, he will be fine. Paul’s statistics stand up to the closest scrutiny and he can continue to be England’s number one for many years.
Everton Res 1, Sunderland Res 2
Sep 5 2007
Liverpool Daily Post
EVERTON Reserves suffered their second successive defeat in the Barclays Premiership Reserve League Northern Section after a late penalty earned Sunderland the points at the Halton Stadium. Andy van der Meyde started alongside debutant goalkeeper Stefan Wessels following his move from FC Koln. Sunderland fielded a strong side which included former Manchester United and Fulham striker Andrew Cole and ex-Leeds defender Ian Harte. However it was youngster Lukas Jutkiewicz who opened the scoring giving Everton the lead on 18 minutes when he hit a fantastic shot past Darren Ward in the visitors’ goal. Sunderland gave warning that they would get back into the game as Dennehy hit the bar and with a minute remaining in the first half they equalised. David Connolly forced the ball home from Kavanagh’s pass. Everton looked like taking the lead in the second half again but Kieren Agard’s effort was cleared off the line. Sunderland snatched victory with three minutes remaining when Bjarni Vidarsson handled in the box and Connolly scored the resulting penalty. EVERTON RESERVES: Wessels; Densmore, Sinnott, Irving, Boyle; Vidarsson, van der Meyde, Morrison, Kissock; Agard, Jutkiewicz. Subs: Spencer, Jones, Downes, Harpur, McCarten. SUNDERLAND RESERVES: Ward; Weir, Harte (Dowson), Hartley, Donoghue; Kavanagh, O’Donovan, Richardson, Cole (Liddle 66); Connolly, Dennehy. Subs: Chandler, Kay, Luscombe.
Thomas Gravesen will go the extra mile for Everton
Sep 5 2007
by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
THOMAS GRAVESEN has promised to spend the next 10 days working overtime to recapture the fitness that will help him play a key role in Everton’s quest for success this season. The Danish midfielder made a surprise return to Goodison Park last week on a 12-month loan from Celtic and is absolutely overjoyed to be back at the place he calls home. Though he might not have the condition of his new team-mates, Gravesen was still able to come off the bench against Bolton on Saturday and play a vital role in Everton’s last-gasp 2-1 win. But thrilled as he was with that start, the 31-year-old knows he still has some way to go before he is fully match fit and will be putting in extra hours at Bellefield during the international break. Once the Euro 2008 qualifiers are out of the way, Everton face a run of five games in 15 days which includes their UEFA Cup first round clash with Metalist Kharkiv. Gravesen has played Champions League football with both Real Madrid and Celtic in recent years yet the chance to represent his first love is something he cannot wait to experience. “The start Everton has had this season has been all right but we are looking to do better all the time and we will,” Gravesen declared. “It has gone the way the manager always wanted it to go. He wanted to play football, to score goals and the side has done that. “We are definitely looking up instead of looking down, that is for sure. When I was here we had a friendly in Belgium once and there was an unbelievable number of fans who travelled over. “That was just a friendly so I can only imagine how many will go over in Europe and I can’t wait to be involved with that. “I am glad to get this move done. I want to repay Everton now. It will take hard work but I am up for it. I always said I would never come back to any other club in England other than Everton.” Aside from Gravesen, Blues boss David Moyes made five more signings during the transfer window and those who were at the club last season believe he has improved the quality. Goalkeeper Tim Howard – who will be in action for the United States against Brazil this weekend – reckons the competition for places can have a positive knock-on effect. “The manager has bought very shrewdly, bringing in real quality,” said Howard. “There is a real buzz around the place because of the competition and the talent he has brought in.” The Blues, meanwhile, have confirmed kick-off times for two cup dates later this month. The home leg against Kharkiv takes place on Thursday, September 20 at 8pm, while the Carling Cup clash at Sheffield Wednesday has been scheduled for Wednesday, September 26 (7.45pm).
David Moyes: ‘We can do even better than this’
Sept 5 2007 EXCLUSIVE by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON will have three musketeers on England duty this week, but David Moyes hopes it won’t be long before that becomes the famous five.
Having already selected Phil Neville and Andrew Johnson, Steve McClaren’s decision to call Joleon Lescott up on Monday to replace the injured Sol Campbell means Everton have their best representation in an important England squad for almost 20 years. Gary Stevens, Peter Reid and Trevor Steven went to the World Cup in 1986 and were joined in Mexico by Gary Lineker, while the aforementioned trio went to Germany with Dave Watson for the European Championships in Germany two years later. Since then, though, names from Goodison Park connected with the national team have been few and far between but Moyes’ decision to buy young, English talent could be set to change all that in the not too distant future. Apart from Neville, Lescott and Johnson, Leighton Baines – outstanding in Saturday’s 2-1 win at Bolton – attracted rave reviews during this summer’s European Under-21 Championship in Holland, while James Vaughan’s stock has risen dramatically in the past 12 months.
Take into account that Phil Jagielka was capped at ‘B’ level before he moved to Merseyside and there is no reason why McClaren – provided results against Israel and Russia keep him in a job – won’t become a regular visitor to Goodison to make check-ups. Certainly, McClaren has been impressed by Lescott’s performances this season and Moyes – who has played the 25-year-old at some point in each of Everton’s last 47 games – is thrilled that his consistency has been rewarded.
“We are pleased for him but we would prefer it if he was back here with us training,” said Moyes, his tongue pressed firmly against his cheek. “No, in all seriousness, we are absolutely delighted for Joleon and hope he does well if he gets a chance.
“He has been consistent and reliable and that shows in the amount of games he has played for us since he has been here. We’ve been really impressed with him and hopefully he can go on improving for quite some time. “It is great for the club to have three players in the squad and I don’t think it will be too long before Leighton Baines is being mentioned in the same way. He did well again at the weekend and we are really pleased with him. “When you also think that we have got James Vaughan in the Under-21s, then you can see we have got some really good English players all pushing for inclusion. Andy Johnson will want to be involved at the weekend but that is not for me to decide. “All I would say is that we were pleased with his contribution again at the weekend and we are doing well because we are winning without his goals. But hopefully it won’t be long before he gets up and running again.” Named Everton’s Players’ Player of the Year last season, Lescott has made a bright start to the new campaign, popping up with vital goals at Tottenham – where McClaren was watching – and last weekend against Bolton. He was put through his paces for the first time with the rest of McClaren’s squad in St Albans yesterday and Moyes feels the experience he will gain this week will be crucial in helping a player known simply as ‘Big’ at Bellefield raise his game further still. “Joleon won’t let anyone down, whether you play him at left-back or in the middle,” said the manager. “He doesn’t get beaten, he doesn’t have anyone run past him and while he could use the ball a bit better, he plays his part in keeping you in the game.”
Sep 6 2007
What impression did the club's new boys make at Bolton?
WE are witnessing the results of a promised revolution from Everton and David Moyes. Against a decent Bolton side Everton seemed inspired by the new summer arrivals to produce a classic smash and grab raid. Baines, Pienaar and Jagielka again proved they are quality players and what can be said about the impact of the ‘Yak’?
Johnson worked hard (as always) to put on a platter a seemingly easy tap in for Yakubu. But on closer inspection Yakubu’s calculated run and ability to create space where it mattered was a breath of fresh air. Our opening goal had the hallmarks of a winning team - Bolton didn’t know what hit them! Predictably, Bolton came back in the second half but Everton had enough in the locker to claim all three points. Gravesen turned the game with his improved passing, accuracy and directness. Strength in depth is a novelty for Everton but hopefully it will remain a constant reality this season.
DAVID WALLBANK, Huyton
IT looks like the new signings are settling in well, with Yakubu complementing Johnson, Jagielka looking solid and good going forward and Baines looking like he's been an Everton player all his life. Even Gravesen, who I wasn't particularly keen to see back, did really well when he came off the bench at Bolton and if he carries on like that no-one will have any complaints. There is plenty of talent available to the manager, but as David Moyes himself has said: "every player has to put in 100% because the Evertonians expect that of you, no matter how good you are". Yakubu has to heed his new manager's advice because he comes with a reputation for getting goals but not as a hard worker. But I'm sure he'll do well for us. And he's already made Andy Johnson more dangerous just by pairing up with him. it's been a good start to the season and all credit must go to Moyes, who worked so hard to put together the best squad Everton has had for 20 years.
Tony Scott, Walton
SO, what is it then? The genuine beginning of a new era for Everton or yet another false dawn? We will have a good chance to gather some real evidence when Man United come to town next week but whatever the outcome of that game, there is a genuine feeling among even the most hardened of Evertonians that David Moyes is starting to pull together something special. The concern in early summer at the lack of signings has disappeared as the quality of the new arrivals becomes more apparent with every game. Baines and Jagielka provide real pace and versatility, Yakubu has all the qualities a top striker needs and Gravesen proved what we already knew - he can control a game and spray passes around the field like few others. Arteta, in particular, will benefit from his arrival. There’s a spring in the step of every Blue right now and with the likes of Cahill still to return this already promises to be a season to remember.
Mike Williamson, Chester
ANOTHER away win to take us into the top three - and things are going great!
The newcomers have certainly improved the quality of our squad and given us a strong bench as well. On Saturday, Bolton were dominating our midfield in the second half, with Carsley and Neville being pushed back. The introduction of Thomas Gravesen changed this. Tommy and Jaglieka made us solid in the midfield and creative as well to get us the three points. The signing of Leighton Baines is an inspired one, as he has been excellent in the two games he has played. He is a solid full-back who also likes to get forward and whip in terrific crosses. He was my man-of-the-match on Saturday. The Yak had a fantastic start to his Everton career with a goal inside 10 minutes, just 21 more needed for his target! The early signs are excellent and he will also take the pressure off Andy Johnson, while Steven Pienaar had a good first half. Lee Molton, St Helens
David Moyes in Uefa Cup warning to Everton
Sept 6 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES today warned there is no margin for error as he begins the countdown for Everton’s return to Europe. The Blues were paired against Metalist Kharkiv in last Friday’s UEFA Cup draw and Moyes wasted no time in organising a scouting trip to see them in action. He and Alan Irvine flew out to Ukraine after the 2-1 win over Bolton on Saturday. Currently in fourth spot behind Shaktar Donetsk in their domestic championship, Metalist beat Chernomorets Odessa 2-0 at home last weekend and, while they might not boast any household names, Moyes has seen that they do not lack for talent. So, with the haunting experience of what happened against Dinamo Bucharest two years ago still fresh in the memory, Moyes will not be leaving anything to chance before the first game at Goodison Park in a fortnight.
“We are really looking forward to it and excited by the challenge,” said Moyes. “We have waited a while to get back into Europe and these are the games you want to be involved in. “There is also a little bit of trepidation after what happened last time.
“It did not work out for us before but everyone is looking forward to being back in that scene. “It’s a different challenge to the Premier League but I don’t think we will be doing anything radically different. “You see teams here who do well in the league and can continue that in Europe and that’s what we want. “First of all, we are faced with a straight knockout format and there is no room for error but hopefully we can get through to the group stages and build from there.” Though he and his scouting staff will do as much work as they possibly can before the tie, the trip to Kharkiv is still going to be a trip into the unknown yet Moyes feels Everton are more than capable of progressing to the group stages if they maintain their recent good form.
“They are probably the third best team in the Ukraine behind Dynamo Kiev and Shaktar Donetsk and both those clubs are in the group stages of the Champions League so that should give us a guide to their ability,” said Moyes. “It will be a really tough game for us but, nevertheless, I also think it is one that we will have a good chance in if we play to our capabilities. “I have to say, though, that I have been impressed by what I have seen of them. They will make it as difficult for us as they can. “Euro 2012 will be staged in Ukraine and they are trying to improve the standard of football all the time but you shouldn’t forget that Eastern European sides have caused plenty of problems for different teams down the years, so we will have to be at our best.”
James Vaughan steps up recovery
Sep 7 2007
by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
JAMES VAUGHAN is ready to step up his attempts to recapture full fitness after clearing a significant hurdle on his comeback from a dislocated shoulder.The England Under-21 striker has been sidelined since he suffered the injury during a 1-1 draw against Preston North End in July and he required an operation to put the joint back in place and repair damaged ligaments and tendons.But Vaughan has been working non-stop with Everton’s medical team at Bellefield and his spirits were lifted earlier this week when he was given the green light to start running again, having been solely confined to the gym.Though there is still a long way to go before he will be available for first team duty again – November remains the most likely date – Vaughan is hopeful he will be able to shave some time off his rehabilitation programme and is determined to do everything he can to achieve that goal.“I only started running this week but at the moment I’m just trying to get the full range of movement back in my shoulder,” Vaughan said today. “Once that happens, it shouldn’t take too long to get it back up to full strength.“The coaching staff and medical team have set the target for me to return by November and that remains the plan but it would be great if I could come back a bit before then and I’m quietly confident. It’s just a question of being sensible.“It’s not an injury that can be rushed. If I haven’t got the movement there, I can’t come back. It’s that simple. But I’m pleased with the way things are going. “It’s been frustrating because you feel like you can run around and kick balls but if I fell on it now, the same thing would happen again.”There were suggestions when he first suffered the injury that Vaughan, who has suffered three major setbacks in his fledgling career, was considering quitting but he is happy to set the record straight; the only thing on his mind at present is repaying the faith of his many well-wishers.“I knew I had done something bad when it happened but I thought at first that I would only be out for a couple of weeks,” said Vaughan.“Obviously it has turned out to be more serious than that because the injury was very serious but it’s just one of things.“It was devastating what happened but it was blown out of proportion by what Victor (Anichebe) said. He didn’t mean it to come across that way.“I never thought seriously about quitting. It was just more a case of ‘why me?’ again. “I was just feeling a bit sorry for myself. Since then I’ve just got my head down and worked hard to get back in the team. “I’ve got good people around me, they have given me great support and whenever I have seen supporters, they have wished me well.“The lads here are great, the coaching staff and the medical staff have been excellent, so hopefully it shouldn’t be too long now.”
David Prentice: Pundits put their foot in it on Blues
Sept 7 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
EX-pro doesn’t necessarily mean ex-pert.
Just freeze frame the action and draw a few little squiggles around the latest pronouncements from Sky TV regarding Everton. “Everyone knows Everton play a 4-5-1 formation away from home,” quipped Chris Kamara. Not since Marcus Bent was transferred almost two years ago. “Any news on your bid for the Brazilian, Riquelme?” Keith Wyness was asked in Monaco. He resisted the temptation to embarrass the interviewer by refusing to point out that Riquelme is Argentinian.
Then Charlie Nicholas launched a pre-match tirade about Thomas Gravesen’s ‘failure’ at Celtic. “Never stuck to his holding role; too similar to Lee Carsley.”
This portrayal of Gravesen as some kind of steely midfield enforcer is second only to Rio Ferdinand’s reputation as a great defender, as football’s greatest fallacy.
Gravesen is a gifted, skilful playmaker with vision and a touch of class, but he couldn’t tackle a fish supper. Which is why his arrival was such an astute piece of business by David Moyes. With Waldorf and Stadler already bossing, carping and cajoling in the middle of midfield, Everton didn’t need another holding player.
What they did need was another creator to complement Mikel Arteta.
Gravesen gives them that. But don’t expect Sky TV to acknowledge that fact.
Howard Kendall: All-action style makes Johnson perfect partner
Sep 7 2007 by Howard Kendall, Liverpool Echo
WHILE a debate has raged all week about the state of Steven Gerrard’s injured toe, Steve McClaren has a number of other issues to address ahead of the games that will decide his fate as England’s head coach. Apart from deciding whether David James or Paul Robinson starts in goal, it is still not clear who McClaren will pair Michael Owen alongside for tomorrow afternoon’s tussle with Israel at Wembley. But, if it was down to me, I would pick Andrew Johnson every time. Emile Heskey has been drafted back into the squad and, according to a number of people I have spoken to at Wigan, he has been playing well. Many will see his inclusion as a step back but circumstances, such as injury and suspension, have forced McClaren’s hand.
Some will say that an Evertonian bias leads me to promote Johnson’s claims but looking at the strikers McClaren has available, I can’t see anyone with better credentials than David Moyes’ flyer. Though he has yet to get off the mark for the season, I thought Johnson had an outstanding game at Bolton last weekend and the way he linked with Aiyegbeni Yakubu for the opening goal augurs well for the future.
They may have made everything look easy but it was thrilling to see Johnson hurtle past a challenge before showing great composure to play the final pass, while Yakubu’s movement to find the space was just as good. Long may it continue.
What Johnson also gives to a team, however, is a tremendous work ethic. From first whistle to last, he never stops running and central defenders genuinely do not like coming up against a striker of his style. Aside from that, the speed both he and Michael have increases the potency of counter-attacks and gives greater scope for getting in behind defences that play deeper than those at club level. I feel this is Johnson’s big chance to impress. Provided he does that – and the team as a whole perform – McClaren should still be in employment this time next week. Israel will not be pushovers and Russia are dark horses but surely England are capable of taking maximum points? If they aren’t, McClaren will be on his way.
Clucking into gear
THOMAS GRAVESEN’S return has generated plenty of debate but I have a confession to make: When he left in 2005, I thought Everton were getting shut of a headless chicken. Though there is no question that he has ability, too often during his first spell here I felt that he chased hopeless causes and jeopardised the balance of the team. It seems, however, he has become a more disciplined performer. So if David Moyes can get him playing a particular role – like the one he did against Bolton last Saturday – there is no question he can make an important contribution this season. He has got great enthusiasm and that will be a real asset. It was encouraging to see him want the ball so much at the Reebok and things started to happen when he had possession. As long as he remembers that he has got a duty to his team-mates, I don’t see how Everton can go wrong with him.
Everton Euro tickets discount
Sep 8 2007 Liverpool Echo
EVERTON have reduced prices for their first taste of European action this season.
Blues’ season ticket holders have a priority period in which to secure their own seat for the UEFA Cup first round tie against Metalist Kharkiv at Goodison Park – at a special cut-price of just £15. Their UEFA Cup campaign begins at home on Thursday, September 20 (kick-off 8.00pm). Tickets for the match have gone on pre-sale to existing season ticket holders. The exclusive period runs until next Tuesday, with tickets available at £15 (adults) and £5 (concessions). Evertonia members will be able to take advantage of their own pre-sale window on Wednesday and Thursday, September 12 and 13, with tickets priced at £18 (adults) and £8 (concessions).
The same price banding will apply on all remaining tickets which will go on general sale from Friday, September 14. Tickets can be purchased via Dial-a-Seat on 0870 442 1878, followed by option three, via the eticketing service on evertonfc.com or in person at the Park End Box Office.
Barry Horne: Leon Osman deserved a share of the credit at Bolton
Sep 8 2007 by Barry Horne, Liverpool Echo
THOMAS GRAVESEN quite rightly claimed the headlines for his simple, yet effective contribution at Bolton. But before the introduction of Leon Osman Bolton were defending comfortably against Everton’s 4-4-2 formation. When Osman came on he created uncertainty in the Bolton back-four. He could have grabbed the headlines when he popped up on the penalty spot unmarked but his finishing let him down. But he nevertheless underlined his manager’s post-match assertion that he now suddenly has options on the bench to change the pattern of a match. David Moyes also deserves credit for the switches he made – and that’s an indication of Everton’s progress.
Why overseas imports are bad for the game
THIS week an audit showed a record level of spending in the transfer window just closed, but highlighted the unavoidable fact that most of the money spent left this country. More and more foreign players are flocking into the Premier League, and the reasons are obvious: the Premier League is now the highest profile league worldwide and has the most money. But if that suggests success, week on week the Premier League has the least number of Brits in action in Europe. Italy can boast the highest number of Italians, by some distance – and just compare that country’s success at all levels, and draw your own conclusions. Bur rather than encourage a greater domestic national representation, the reaction of our clubs’ youth academies now is to look for ways of bringing younger and younger footballers from elsewhere into the country.
The idea is to grant non-European nationals, EU citizenship as quickly as possible.
That policy must affect our national teams and is probably why England coach Steve McClaren has had to bite the bullet and recall players who he had already discarded: players like David Beckham, Sol Campbell and Emile Heskey. When I was chairman of the PFA from the mid-90s to 2000 we warned of this problem.
The PFA sought to make work permit applications the strictest in Europe, but we were like King Canute trying to turn back the tide. The EU has a lot to answer for. They have consistently failed to recognise that laws made to protect the “ordinary working man” are not necessarily ideal in a football environment. Similarly any rules which should have been out in place, demanding a certain number of home nationals in any squad or starting line-up, would automatically have been challenged by the EU. There’s no easy answer now. Another problem is that youngsters today don’t play football as a default option anymore. Kids have too many other diversions to turn to, while parents are concerned to let children play out on their own. The tragedy which has united the city in grief highlighted that fact all too poignantly. Schools football is also declining. It’s a complex problem and one people are now aware of . . . but sadly 12 years too late.
Phil Neville: England will turn it on for Macca
Sept 8 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
CRUNCH time has arrived for Steve McClaren. Pushed to the brink as his England side have made a hash of attempting to qualify for Euro 2008, results against Israel and Russia in the next few days will decide whether he is sent to the gallows or gains a stay of execution. But as the pressure surrounding his position has continued to intensify, McClaren has done his best to keep a brave face on things in the lead up to these Group E fixtures and hopes a bullish outlook will galvanise his players.
While he might be shorn of, among others, Wayne Rooney, David Beckham, Peter Crouch and Frank Lampard, McClaren is confident that there is still enough talent in the dressing room to get the victories required to keep their qualification hopes alive.
Having qualified for every European Championship since they missed out in 1984, it would be staggering if England failed to book a place in next summer’s tournament in Switzerland and Austria yet the prospects of that happening at present are, at present, very real. No wonder, then, McClaren has called on his players to finally deliver the kind of performance of which he knows they are capable and Everton captain Phil Neville believes the embattled head coach will get a response. “These are two massively important games and we can’t take anything for granted,” said Neville, who is hoping to win his 57th cap this afternoon. “Coming to a stadium like Wembley can bring out the best of opposition teams, as we have seen with Germany and Brazil.
“Israel have come a long way in the past couple of years and though we had chances to win in Tel Aviv, they made things very difficult for us. They will try to do the same again here, so we will have to be patient as we look for a break through. “We all desperately want to be going to the European Championships next summer but we know the only way that will to happen is if we get maximum points from our home games. We owe it to the manager, ourselves and the supporters to make sure that happens.” Though it looks increasingly likely that Neville’s club colleague Andrew Johnson will spearhead England’s attack with Michael Owen, the 30-year-old is likely to fill a bit part once again from the substitute’s bench. It would be naive to think Neville is simply happy to turn up just to make up the numbers, but while he appreciates why some choose to concentrate on their club careers, it is not a decision he could take. “I can probably understand the lads who retire,” said Neville. “When Paul Scholes did, I fully understood it and in a way his decision has been vindicated as he looked fresh last season. I’ve only ever thought once that playing for England wasn’t enjoyable. “That was before the World Cup in Japan. For a couple of weeks, I thought about just concentrating on my club career. I was going away for periods of time, not getting a look in and knowing that I wasn’t going to get a look in.
“But I was still having to go out and train every day, knowing that I wouldn’t be playing at the end of it. Sometimes that can be a bit disheartening. But it only happened once, after we played Paraguay at Anfield in 2002. “It was the sort of kick up the backside that I needed to know that I didn’t want to retire from international football. You only have this career once and I made the decision then that I was never going to retire. “The day I retire will be the day I make myself not available for England. I love meeting up with the squad, I love everything about it from the naming of the squad to the games and it gives me extra sparkle coming back to Everton.”
Given that his versatility allows him to fill a number of different roles if and when required, Neville should find himself involved in McClaren’s plans for as long as he remains in charge and he hopes that commitment is rewarded in the best possible manner some day soon. “I came into the national team as a youngster when everyone thinks you are the best and I’ve been through the period where everyone thinks you are the worst,” said Neville. “You come out the other side and I feel people are beginning to respect what I can bring to the squad. “I’m enjoying that respect from people in and out of the squad and it is something I want to get as much out of as I possibly can. It’s too important to me. Achieving a winners’ medal with the national team is something I will fight for the rest of my career. “Look at the boys from 1966. They are heroes. That is the reward that is there for us. I know Steve. We trust each other and that helps. I was in the squad at the end of last season but with England you never know whether you will be in or not. “I always treat every international game and every get together as my last. I enjoy it as much as possible and never take anything for granted. If I let it affect me, it would affect my position here. I can’t let that happen.”
Royal Blue: Cold shoulder is so tough for Arteta to take
Sept 8 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
IT’S often said that you can accurately gauge the talent in a squad by the lack of numbers around club training grounds during international breaks.
As a rule of thumb, it is not a bad formula to work off and, if that is the case, then the signs are encouraging for Everton, who will be represented by a number of players in a number of destinations at home and abroad this weekend. There is one man at Goodison Park, however, who invariably finds himself kicking his heels when these gaps in the fixture list come along. Step forward Mikel Arteta, a man who seems to enjoy the kind of popularity with Luis Aragones that Spanish sailors reserved for Sir Francis Drake. While Aragones claimed before Spain’s friendly with England that he was watching Arteta’s progress and had not shut the door to him, those words appear to be hollow. Why else would Arteta being seeking entertainment today when he should be in a squad that is about to face Iceland? Maybe the lack of recognition at the highest level is having an effect, as there is no escaping he has been below his brilliant best in Everton’s last three games. True, he can’t keep producing miracles but his play is definitely missing some zip. That is the thing about genuinely brilliant players; once they dip below the standards they have set for themselves it immediately becomes noticeable. All being well, this will prove to just be a blip and there is definitely no need to be sounding the alarm bells yet Perhaps, though, the reinforcements David Moyes drafted in will take some of the pressure off Arteta’s shoulders and allow him to recapture the swagger that has made him the darling of the Gwladys Street.
The way he linked with Thomas Gravesen after the Dane entered the fray at the Reebok Stadium certainly augurs well and once he gets back up to full speed, it would be a travesty if Aragones does not come and assess his abilities. “I think Mikel knows that if he continues performing the way he has done over the last season or so then he will continue to get noticed,” offered Moyes. “He’s a good player and if the Spanish coach is over here looking at some of the Spanish players then I’m sure he’ll pop in and see Mikel. We’re in the right half of the Premier League and I think that alone would justify a visit to see how he’s doing.” Quite right. Sadly for the time being, he will have to sit at home this weekend while others with only a fraction of his ability pick up another cap. Hopefully it won’t be long before he gets the recognition he deserves. Sky refuse to let truth get in way
NOW that the transfer window has closed for business until January, one question immediately springs to mind: what on earth are Sky Sports going to get excited about now? Given they have never been an organisation to play things down, it was inevitable that hyperbole and exaggeration would be put into overdrive last Friday but, even by their standards, the coverage of deadline day was nothing short of excruciating. While one reporter ostentatiously brandished three mobile phones and a pager to show that he was “ahead of the game” to get information on ‘breaking’ stories, a number of camera crews were dispatched to grounds around the country, including Goodison Park. The reason for being on Merseyside, of course, was because Everton had been linked with Juan Roman Riquelme and Sky wanted to make sure that they were there in order to get the first pictures of him ‘signing’.
At this point, it is best to clarify what happened with Riquelme. An interest was registered on Everton’s behalf and discussions were held with his advisors but, for one reason or another, the deal petered out and by tea time on Friday, the decision was made to draw stumps. Yet this did not stop Sky cranking things up. Even at 8pm, they were claiming that there was a chance Riquelme would be signed in time, while the Ghanaian ‘Michael’ Appiah (and we thought his name was Steven?) was also close to putting pen to paper. Quite simply, their whole approach to the subject bordered on the irresponsible. After all, another of their reporters asked Keith Wyness at the UEFA Cup draw in Monaco that morning if he had an update on the ‘Brazilian’ Riquelme.
Safe to say, it has not been the best of weeks for Sky with Everton; seven days earlier they had broken an embargo on the results of the ground move ballot and, not only that, broadcast an erroneous figure. Not surprisingly, their actions were anything but well received at Goodison. Relations between the two sides have thawed slightly since yet it is quite obvious that Sky will find themselves on a sticky wicket if they pull any similar stunts in the future. That, however, is what happens when you don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story.
Water way to welcome back our Great Dane!
IN the not too distant future, Everton will move into a sparkling, new training ground that boasts some of the best training equipment that money can buy. Whether it offers the same scope for practical jokes, however, remains to be seen. While facilities at Bellefield maybe dated, there is one prank that has proven to be timeless. For those who are unaware, it is known as the ‘bucket out of the top window’ and down the years, any number of people have been drenched. Yes, even Royal Blue.
Though the culprits will remain nameless, no matter how many times they do it, it never fails to trigger raucous laughter but perhaps one of their most startling successes came last Friday morning when Thomas Gravesen made his return. Having pulled into the car park with a spring in his step, Gravesen bounded over towards reception when, all of a sudden, the infamous window crashed open followed by the sound of a downpour. Predictably, Gravesen was stopped in his tracks by a direct hit.
Before he had time to digest what had happened, those who were gathered nearby had burst into hysterics but, to the Great Dane’s eternal credit, he simply followed suit and walked into the dressing room soaked through. Coincidentally, as he did, a couple of his old sparring partners happened to be walking down the stairs. “Welcome back, Tommy lad,” they chirped, looking as if butter wouldn’t melt into their mouths. “What happened?”
Past Masters: Mick Ferguson just too big for his boots!
Sept 8 2007 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
HAVE you heard about the centre-forward called Ferguson who was too big for his boots? Big Mick Ferguson kicked off his Everton career with the kind of goals record Dixie Dean might have envied. But after six strikes in his opening eight games, the number nine’s career stalled – because of his little feet! Devastated by injury, Ferguson’s two year career at Everton saw him make just 10 appearances in total. And he explained: “I’ve got small ankles and a size seven shoe and I’m six foot three, so there probably is a lot of pressure on them. “I had bad ankles and I didn’t really recover from it, which was disappointing. I still suffer with them now.”
Ferguson’s career is a tale of what might have been. Following a prolific spell at Coventry alongside Ian Wallace, Brian Clough offered the then colossal sum of £1m plus Martin O’Neill to take the big centre-forward to Nottingham Forest.
The move collapsed because of injuries, and Howard Kendall was able to snap him up for Everton for a knockdown £280,000 12 months later. He scored on his debut in a League Cup first leg tie against his old club, Coventry, and when he scored his fifth in five games in the second leg, an 85th minute winner, Kendall said: “He is Mr Popular with us now.” Sadly he was never Mr Lucky. Even after he hung up his boots. After taking a year out following his injury-enforced retirement, he and his wife made plans to set up a care home on the south coast. The venture was wiped out, however, when a hurricane wrecked the house! That crushing blow led to Ferguson’s football comeback, however. He jumped at the chance to work in the community department at Sunderland, and in 1998 joined Leeds, where he remains as the club’s highly successful Community Officer. Not bad for a man who was too big for his boots!
Residents march against Everton's Kirkby stadium plan
Sep 10 2007
by Paula Owens, Liverpool Daily Post
KIRKBY residents held a demonstration against the building of Everton’s new 50,000-seat stadium in their town centre. The protest on Saturday was a reaction to Knowsley council’s decision last week not to allow residents to vote on the controversial scheme. At a full council meeting on Wednesday evening, Lib-Dem councillors wanted the authority to ask the Electoral Reform Society to hold a ballot similar to one carried out by Everton FC, but the ruling Labour party voted against the move by 37 votes to 11. Saturday’s march, organised by Kirkby Residents’ Action Group (Krag), began at 1.45pm at the Waverley Social Club in South Park Road, and continued through the town centre, concluding with a rally on the proposed development site. More than 300 people took part, many holding aloft banners painted with messages including: “Wanted: 20,000 parking spaces”, “Bill Kenwright’s biggest production yet: Massacre of our town” and “Let the people of Kirkby decide what they want. Give them a vote”. One of the protest’s organisers, Krag member Ian Morris, said: “The march went well and a few hundred people took part – men, women and children of all ages. “Knowsley council’s decision not to give residents a say on this has angered a lot of people. “We want to get the message over to all Kirkby residents about the huge impact that building a football stadium in the heart of the town centre will have on their lives. “There will be increased traffic, more anti-social behaviour, a loss of green space, and so-on. “I and many others are against having a stadium here.” Last month, Everton- ians voted in favour of the Kirkby move, which could see a new stadium built in time for the 2010 season, by a 59% to 41% majority. Mr Morris, 49, a lecturer who lives in the Westvale area of Kirkby, added: “We’re going to continue to campaign. “We’ll be holding further public meetings and will be lobbying the council as we did on Wednesday evening. “We’re still calling for the residents of Kirkby to be given a vote, as Everton supporters themselves were.” Lib-Dem deputy leader Dave Smithson said he could sympathise with the campaigners. He said: “I can see no justification in allowing Everton fans to vote but not those whose lives will be affected week-in, week-out by this. “Those staging the protest feel they are not being listened to and they have every right to express their views. “I’m not against the regeneration of Kirkby – and this proposal has some great features – but, in a democratic society, people have the right to have a say.” Labour councillor Bill Brennan said: “People have every entitlement to protest. “As far as I understand it, though, it would be against current planning law to permit this vote to take place.” Although Everton FC and development partner Tesco have unveiled images of how they want the development off Valley Road and Cherryfield Drive to look, Knowsley council must also draw up a new “vision” for Kirkby.
James McFadden in high spirits for French test
Sep 10 2007
by Gavin McCafferty, Liverpool Daily Post
EVERTON’S James McFadden has hailed his match-winning strike for Scotland as his best in international football. The Goodison Park player was a second-half substitute who helped turn around the Scots’ fortunes against Lithuania.
McFadden struck a glorious goal as Scotland eventually clinched a 3-1 success and now believes they have earned the right to approach their clash in France with the belief they can take something from the Euro 2008 qualifier. The Everton forward has never been overawed by any opponent in his career and his natural confidence has been reinforced by Scotland’s continuing challenge to World Cup finalists Italy and France. Even defeat in the Parc des Princes would not rule out Scotland going on to claim an unlikely place in the European Championship, with games against Ukraine and Georgia to come next month Scotland’s sixth victory in eight qualifiers took the pressure off ahead of the Paris match, but McFadden brushed off defeatist attitudes as he looked to last year’s 1-0 triumph at Hampden for inspiration.
“It was the result we needed and we got it, so we have got to be happy,” the former Motherwell star said. “You need confidence going into games and there is no better confidence than winning games. “We believe we can get a result and I think the way we have been playing backs that up. If we didn’t believe it there would be no point going, we would just give them the points. “It’s a massive game and it’s a game we should be expecting to try to take some points from. We beat them the last time so you never know what can happen.” McFadden looked dangerous down the right flank following his introduction for Gary Teale in the 69th minute. Scotland had struggled to regain the initiative after Tomas Danilevicius cancelled out Kris Boyd’s opener with a controversial penalty. But, soon after Stephen McManus put Scotland ahead, McFadden glided past two opponents before curling a magnificent 25-yard shot into the top corner. However, McFadden is unsure whether his impressive cameo role will be enough to regain a starting role, with skipper Barry Ferguson certain to return after missing the Hampden clash through suspension. “The three subs came on and did well, the 11 who started did well,” the 24-year-old said. “Obviously Barry is to come back so there is going to be a dilemma for the manager but it’s one I’m sure he will be happy with. “It will be a big boost to have Barry back but the players who played took on the mantle and they produced.”
Tim Howard hit by injury
Sep 10 2007
by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON were today anxiously waiting to hear news of the extent of an injury to goalkeeper Tim Howard after he dislocated a finger playing for America last night. The Blues number one sustained the injury playing for the United States against Brazil when he conceded the second goal in a 4-2 defeat. Howard is not due to return to England until tomorrow and will then be assessed by Everton’s medical team. While he was able to play on in the game after receiving treatment, the nature of the problem means he is doubtful for Saturday’s crucial meeting against his former club Manchester United. Steffan Wessels, who joined Everton from FC Cologne last month, will be on stand-by to make his Premier League debut and Howard is hoping that his journey back from Chicago does not aggravate the injury further. “It is pretty sore,” said Howard. “I just tried to play through it and hoped the adrenaline would get me through. “Right now it’s swollen like a balloon, and I’m hoping that the flight doesn’t take too much out of it. I’ll see the doctors when I get back.” Aside from getting injured, Howard endured a miserable time against the Brazilians and was helpless to prevent Ronaldinho - who scored from a free-kick – and company running away with the game in the closing stages. It was all the more frustrating for Howard – still waiting to keep his first clean sheet of the campaign – as the United States had pulled the game back to 2-2 with 17 minutes left before the Barcelona star took over. “It was almost impossible to see the ball for the free-kick,” said Howard. “It still goes in on my side, and I’m disappointed with that. I need to find a way to get a glance.
“It’s partly the guys in the wall, but I don’t like to lay blame. I think that you give a team like Brazil an inch they are going to take a mile. Those things happen unfortunately. “The end result is that we are never going to play a team better than Brazil. “Now we can take it to other teams and play with confidence. I think hopefully we take those good things from the game.” Howard was one of a number of Everton players who were involved in international games over the weekend but there were a couple of absentees, too. Aiyegbeni Yakubu and Victor Anichebe sat out Nigeria’s 2-0 win over Lesotho. Joseph Yobo, meanwhile, did not travel with his compatriots and has remained on Merseyside to receive treatment on a groin problem so that he can be ready for the meeting with United at Goodison Park. Carsley, played for Ireland against Sovakia (2-2), Johnson, and Neville came as subs aginst Isreal at Wembley in the 3-0 win
Give us a vote on Everton stadium move
Sept 10 2007 by Mary Murtagh, Liverpool Echo
HUNDREDS of residents took to the streets of Kirkby to protest about plans to build Everton’s new stadium in their town. The Kirkby Residents Action Group (Krag) held a march and rally on Saturday to give local people the chance to voice their opinion about the move. Approximately 300 people turned out to take part in the march with hundreds of others shouting, applauding and sounding their car horns in support.
Ian Morris from Krag said: “It went really well. People were encouraging us and telling us the event was a good idea. We had one or two people say that they thought the stadium was a good idea but the vast majority supported us.” The rally comes after councillors voted against an independent ballot, which would have given residents a say on the controversial development. Liberal Democrat councillors wanted the council to ask the electoral reform society to hold a ballot similar to the one carried out by Everton FC. But at a meeting on Wednesday, Knowsley’s ruling Labour party voted against the ballot by 37 votes to 11. Mr Morris said: “We are going to carry on lobbying the council to give people the vote. All we want is the same opportunities as Everton supporters got. It shouldn’t be Everton fans who decided the future of Kirkby, it should be the people who live here.” Campaigners welcome the redevelopment of Kirkby but fear a football stadium on their doorstep would cause anti-social behaviour and severe traffic congestion. In August, Evertonians voted in favour of the Kirkby move. A clear majority of the supporters who voted in the Blues poll agreed with the proposal, which could see a new 50,000-seater stadium built in the town in time for the 2010 season. Everton said 59% (15,230 people) voted in favour, with 41% (10,468) against.
Jose Baxter brace helps U18s stay unbeaten
Sep 11 2007
by Chris Wright, Liverpool Daily Post
TWO more goals from top scorer Jose Baxter and others from Louis Codling and substitute Kieran Agard helped Everton under-18s score an excellent 4-2 victory in a entertaining Premier Academy League match at Newcastle United. Neil Dewsnip’s side kept up their excellent unbeaten start to the season. Everton have now won three and the drawn one of their opening four matches in the Premier Academy League. On Saturday Everton started slowly and were behind inside the first 10 minutes. But they rallied and were soon on level terms when Louis Codling went round the keeper to equalise. Then just before the break Dewsnip’s side took the lead when following a clearance by Michael Stewart, Baxter chipped the keeper superbly from 25 yards to give the Bootle youngster his third goal in as many matches. Everton could have been further in front moments later when Cory Sinnott hit the bar. Newcastle levelled soon after the restart from a twice-taken penalty which was initially missed. The home side scored from the retake, which Everton felt aggrieved about it as there didn’t seem to be any reason for it to be taken again. But Kieran Agard came off the bench to fire the visitors back into the lead. In a lively match England schoolboy international Baxter secured the points from a cross from Codling, for his fourth goal of the season so far. Everton had other chances to increase their lead, but in the end settled for a 4-2 victory. Dewsnip said: “It was quite a tough, competitive game and it was only about 15 minutes to go when we felt we had got to control the game. But it was a good, exciting end-to-end game and one which we were delighted with the lads’ attitude and obviously delighted to have won.” Everton will bid to continue their unbeaten start to the campaign when they travel to Sheffield United this Saturday (kick-off 11am). Sheffield also come into Saturday’s game unbeaten, although they have drawn three of their four matches.
EVERTON UNDER-18s: Stubhaug; Stewart, Sinnott, McCarten, Barnett; Krenn (Agard 65), O’Kane, Akpan, Redmond; Baxter, Codling. Subs: Stughaug, Rodwell, Shepperd.
Joseph Yobo ready to build on flying start - David Moyes
Sept 11 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES today hailed Joseph Yobo’s flying start to the season and is confident he will maintain his fine form against Manchester United this weekend.
Yobo played every minute of every Premier League game last season and was one of Everton’s top performers but, after starring in the opening victories over Wigan and Tottenham, saw that sequence end at Reading three weeks ago after he damaged a groin. That injury has proven to be troublesome and it forced Yobo to miss Nigeria’s African Nations Cup qualifier with Lesotho last Saturday, as he remained behind on Merseyside to have treatment. Happily for the Blues, the 27-year-old is making good progress and he should be fit for the visit of the champions, much to Moyes’ relief.
The manager has long held the belief that Yobo - his first signing in the summer of 2002 – would develop into a top class central defender and his commanding performance in Everton’s win at Bolton before the international break suggested he is fulfilling his potential. “Joe was terrific at Bolton, particularly in the first half when he held us together,” said Moyes. “His last three or four performances have been of a very high standard, even though there have been times when he has struggled with a bit of a groin strain. “He is maturing all the time. Our defence at Bolton was quite young, with Phil Jagielka on the right and Leighton Baines on the left. “They are quite new to the way we do things here and how we want the defence to play. “We were quite pleased with them but don’t forget we have got quite a few who can play there, too. “But these young boys will improve with experience and they have got plenty of pace, Joe in particular.” However, Moyes – who is awaiting to discover how badly damaged Tim Howard’s dislocated finger is – will be forced to do without Yobo, Aiyegbeni Yakubu and Victor Anichebe for anything up to six games in January.
Nigeria’s 2-0 win over Lesotho confirmed their place in the African Nations’ Cup finals, which are being held in Ghana, and they will be joined by Steven Pienaar after South Africa qualified over the weekend as one of the best runners-up.
They are worries for the future, though, and of more immediate concern to Moyes is waiting to see how his international contingent arrive back at Bellefield, as Everton prepare for a run of seven matches in 22 days. “This is going to be a tough period for us with a lot of games coming up thick and fast,” Moyes adds. “All the players are going to be involved at some point.”
'Lets cash in on Czech crisis' - Lee Carsley
Sep 11 2007 Liverpool Echo
LEE CARSLEY has urged his Republic of Ireland team-mates to seize upon a Czech Republic striker crisis and take a huge step towards European Championship qualification in Prague tomorrow. Czech boss Karel Bruckner is already without 6ft 8in striker Jan Koller through suspension, while Milan Baros is also rated doubtful after straining his back in the 3-0 win over San Marino. The Irish are not without their own problems with Stephen Ireland having headed home due to a family bereavement and a lot of bruised limbs after their 2-2 draw in Slovakia on Saturday. But Carsley said: “It’s a big blow for them. He’s their talisman and he’s a fantastic player. It’s not just his aerial ability but he brings a lot more to their team and he will be a big loss for them.” Carsley is not the only one who believes Koller’s absence will be a big blow for the Czechs. Arsenal midfielder Tomas Rosicky said: “We will miss Koller a lot. It is going to be an unpleasant situation for us.” The Czechs will go into the game leading the Republic by three points in Group D. But given the Republic’s more favourable run-in, coach Bruckner may not feel it is wise to settle for a draw.
Nigel Martyn: Tim Howard will be fit to face United
Sep 11 2007 by Nigel Martyn, Liverpool Echo
ALARM bells would have been ringing loudly yesterday when news of Tim Howard’s injury emerged but, as a fully paid up member of the goalkeeper’s union, I don’t think it’s all doom and gloom. Though I have never dislocated a finger like Tim has done, I have – if you pardon the expression – had plenty of balls fly into my hand, which have subsequently popped the joint. And yes, it is as painful as it sounds. The one thing that David Moyes should take encouragement from, however, is the fact Tim was able to play on against Brazil after he had suffered the injury, which suggests to me that he will be fine to take on Manchester United. He is going to be in discomfort for a while, but I’m sure our trusted physio Mick Rathbone will be able to concoct some sort of device to protect the finger and as long as there is no chance of him suffering any further damage Tim should be good to go. From personal experience, one thing he doesn’t want to do is have a pain killing injection. When I was playing for Leeds, I somehow managed to cut my finger on the morning of a game against Sunderland and the wound was so deep that it needed stitches. I didn’t want to have them but the club doctor told me there was no other way around it and put the smallest bit of local anaesthetic in my finger to deaden the pain. It was the worst thing he could have done. I couldn’t feel a thing in my hand for the majority of the game. Hopefully, though, Tim will be fine to play and his presence will certainly be needed if we are going to have any chance of beating United. People may have had question marks about him when he came over from Old Trafford but he banished any worries in spectacular fashion. Take Mikel Arteta out of the equation and he was a contender for Player of the Year last season and has proven to be a tremendous asset to the team. He is a goalkeeper who fills his defenders with confidence and they know he will get them out of trouble if they make a mistake. Fingers crossed – no pun intended – everyone else will report back fit from international duty and the manager will be able to field his strongest team on Saturday; if he can do that, then Everton are certainly capable of getting a result. Three points at the weekend would transform a good start into a great one but I don’t envisage the Blues going out with all guns blazing; United are one of the best counter attacking sides in the business and are slowly creeping into form.
Cristiano Ronaldo will be back from suspension, Wayne Rooney will be desperate to play and Carlos Tevez is a proven matchwinner but Everton have got results against United before and I certainly wouldn’t be surprised if they do so again.
Woodsy hoping Euro trip is plane sailing!
ONCE the international fixtures are out of the way, Everton face a hectic schedule and next week promises to be one of the most crucial of the season. Apart from the Premier League games against Manchester United and Aston Villa, sandwiched in between is the UEFA Cup tie against Metalist Kharkiv, and everyone will be wanting a good result at Goodison to ensure a comfortable journey out to Ukraine. Chris Woods in particular. Goalkeeping coach Woodsy is such a bad flyer that it wouldn’t surprise me if he made the journey out there by car. He will dread going out there but the ideal situation would be to get a two or three goal lead to allow everyone to relax.
One thing you know for sure is that David Moyes will have done his homework on Kharkiv and he will have the players ready for the test that awaits. I’m not so sure, though, that the same can be said of Woodsy.
Knee injury rocks Thomas Gravesen
Sept 12 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
THOMAS GRAVESEN’S hopes of building on his impressive return to Everton have been dashed after he was ruled out for a fortnight with a knee injury. Though the problem is not too serious it seems likely he will be out of action for a couple of weeks, ruling him out of Premiership games with Manchester United and Aston Villa plus the UEFA Cup first leg with Metalist Kharkiv. Having already had Tim Howard suffer a dislocated finger playing for the United States on Sunday, the news will be particularly frustrating for David Moyes, who will now hope the rest of his international contingent return to Bellefield unscathed. It is also a blow to Gravesen, who made a surprise return to Goodison before the transfer window closed but was instrumental in helping the Blues secure a 2-1 win at Bolton after coming on as a substitute. As he had not played for Celtic this season, Gravesen was short of peak condition when arriving back on Merseyside and the idea was to improve his fitness during the international break, so this setback could not have come at a worse time.
Everton were, however, hoping to receive some positive news about Tim Cahill today as the influential midfielder was due to receive theresults of the latest scan on his damaged left foot. Cahill missed the final three months of last season after breaking his fifth metatarsal and suffered an injury to the same area during a pre-season friendly with Werder Bremen six weeks ago. The Australian international has endured a miserable time with injuries over the past 12 months – he also suffered medial ligament damage last November – and is itching to step up his rehabilitation.
Head physio Mick Rathbone said: “Tim Cahill has had six weeks since he re-injured his foot. He has another x-ray on Tuesday. “The bone will heal at its own rate so we will have to wait and see what the x-ray shows.” Meanwhile, Phil Neville and Andrew Johnson will be confined to substitute roles again this evening as England hope to take a step nearer to Euro 2008 by beating Russia at Wembley. Head coach Steve McClaren is likely to stick with the side that beat Israel. l Everton have confirmed the second leg of their UEFA Cup tie with Metalist Kharkiv at the Metalist Stadium will kick off at 7.45pm BST.
International success can help give Everton the edge - Phil Neville
Sept 13 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
PHIL NEVILLE is desperate to end a fruitful week on a high - and believes international success has increased Everton’s chances of toppling Manchester United.
The Blues skipper returned to Bellefield today after helping England secure back-to-back victories against Israel and Russia that have opened the door to Euro 2008 qualification but was not expecting to be inundated with good wishes.
With James McFadden scoring a spectacular winning goal in the Stade de France last night, Neville was bracing himself to be bombarded by Everton’s Scottish contingent, headed by manager David Moyes. On a serious note, though, the 30-year-old - who was joined on England duty by Joleon Lescott and Andrew Johnson - reckons the positive experiences that many of his team-mates had can be used to Everton’s advantage when his old club arrive at Goodison Park. "I’m really looking forward to it," said Neville. "The first thing I asked for when I got into the dressing room was for the Scotland result and I was honestly delighted to see they had won. It pleased me even more to hear Faddy had scored. "There will be a few Scottish people around the club coming in to work in their tartan and their kilts, so we’ll have to suffer them. But seriously, it is great for Faddy and great for Everton. "We have had three players in the England squad, which hasn’t happened for a long time and everyone should be cock-a-hoop going into the game on Saturday. It’s a big challenge but the kind of challenge you relish." Neville made a brief substitute appearance in last night’s 3-0 drubbing of Russia and consecutive victories have moved England up to second place in Group E behind Croatia but, for all the positives, he has warned that a number of hurdles still need clearing. "It was brilliant," he said. "You could sense it was going to be a big night. Saturday set us up nicely but we knew that we could not fall behind the standards we set then. I think we’ve raised the standard again. "There was a great atmosphere in the dressing room, a great atmosphere in the stadium and it is miles more enjoyable when you are winning football matches like this. But we have got to go out to Russia now. "We have beaten them but they have shown they are a decent team. We are going to be playing on Astroturf out there and that will make things even more difficult. It’s different but we are going to have to cope with it.
"Qualification always comes down to the last five games. Experience tells us that. We have won the first two and if we win the next three we will qualify. Eight clean sheets in nine games tells us that we are solid and hopefully that will continue." Having played in the last three European Championships, Neville is desperate to be involved in Austria and Switzerland and the chances of that happening will dramatically increase if Michael Owen maintains his form. "He’s back to his best," said Neville. "He was world class. Great goal on Saturday, two great finishes last night and the fitter he gets, the better he gets. He is our world class striker and with players back from injury, the manager has a difficult selection now."
James McFadden wonder goal 'was pure instinct'
Sep 13 2007 Liverpool Echo
SCOTLAND hero James McFadden admitted only qualification for next summer’s European Championship finals would beat the feeling of scoring a remarkable winner against France in the Parc des Princes last night. The Everton striker, who netted the third goal in the 3-1 win over Lithuania at Hampden on Saturday after coming on as a substitute, was employed as a lone striker by manager Alex McLeish against the World Cup runners-up. Scotland failed to create any clear cut chances but McFadden’s second-half strike sent them top of Group B, one point ahead of Italy, who won in Ukraine, and two ahead of the French. Asked if the feeling could be bettered, McFadden said: “Not at the moment, but hopefully it will be.
“If we qualify then I’m sure that will be the best night I’ve had.
“We have got some big games coming up so hopefully we can carry it on.
“But obviously it’s a great result, one of the best in most of the players’ careers.”
McFadden’s goal came out of the blue and the former Motherwell player insisted pure instinct took over when he latched on to goalkeeper Craig Gordon’s clearance and let fly from 30 yards. He said: “I took a touch, turned round and decided I would have a go. “I don’t think there was any decision to make, you just do it and think about it later. “The balls were flying around in training and so I thought that if I got the chance then I would shoot. “As soon as I hit it I saw the keeper scramble a little bit.
“He got a touch but thankfully it went in and we got the result.” And although McFadden could not contain his joy at the shock result, the 24-year-old insisted there is still plenty of work to do if the Scots are to book their ticket to Austria and Switzerland. “They are one of the best teams in the world and we’ve managed to beat them” he added. “It’s fantastic but the job is only half-done. “We need to knuckle down and for the next three games.”
Why Everton v Man United kick-off was switched
Sept 13 2007 by Ben Rossington, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON’S home game with Manchester United this Saturday was moved to a midday kick-off because of police fears of violence. Clashes between rival sets of fans have marred recent matches and police brought the game forward to avoid a repeat of past performances. When the fixture list was originally produced in July, the game was set for a 3pm kick-off, but Merseyside police voiced concerns to both clubs and the switch was agreed. The game is not being shown on TV. Last season’s match, which United won 4-2, passed without incident. But in 2005 an FA Cup game between the two sides brought one of the biggest clashes of hooligans ever seen in Merseyside. The infamous “Battle of Everton Valley” followed a Saturday kick-off time of 5.30pm. More than 500 police officers were deployed to keep the supporters apart before the February 9 tie, the first time boyhood Evertonian Wayne Rooney had returned to Goodison after his move down the East Lancs Road. But a mass brawl erupted after the match in Everton Valley as away fans were ambushed when police tried to escort them along Kirkdale Road. Officers arrested 33 people during the hour-long brawl. Footage of the fighting later appeared on websites and was sold on DVD via mail-order. Since then, police have been jumpy about games between the two clubs and pushed for Saturday’s kick-off to be as early as possible to cut the potential for drunken fans to spoil the game.. All away tickets for the match have come with a warning letter from Merseyside police. The letter says: Visiting supporters should be aware that there is a possibility that they may be held back inside the stadium after the game. United supporters should not travel to this event without having a valid match ticket United fans sitting in home areas of the stadium will be liable to ejection.
An Everton spokesman said: “Kick-off was set at noon on the advice of the police.”
Merseyside police declined to comment.
Sep 13 2007
Where are the key areas Everton can beat United?
MANCHESTER UNITED have not had the start that people expected but this does not make it a good time to play them.
They have scraped 1-0 wins in their last two games and we know what a win can do for a team’s confidence so as ever we face a difficult game, even more so with the return of Ronaldo. We must not lose the ball so therefore having Gravesen playing could prove a good option. United have been forced to use 4-5-1 due to injuries and it is now starting to work thanks to Anderson and Nani so Carsley and Jagielka need to be on hand to keep the midfield at bay. Tevez is a fantastic all-round striker and we must keep an eye on him at all times. However, to win a game you need goals and our counter-attack needs to be quick and faultless. Johnson should keep the defence on their toes, while Yakubu can be the recognised goal threat. If we remain focused, then there is no reason why we can’t take three points come Saturday.
MICHAEL DRUMMOND, Speke
AS Tim Howard’s absence for the two meetings with United last season proved, his fitness this Saturday will be crucial to our chances. Not just because he is our best keeper, but the defence look a shadow of themselves without him behind them. It is no coincidence that the defence looked uncharacteristically nervous and panicked in conceding seven goals to United in two games, when they were rock solid in pretty much every other game last season. Howard did finish the game against Brazil though, and seems confident that he will be fit for the weekend, so hopefully the dislocated finger is just a scare. Our new strikeforce of Yakubu and AJ will prove important too. Last season, Vaughan’s pace and Osman’s movement had United’s defence on edge throughout the game. Yak’s goal at Bolton on his debut showed exactly why this pairing will cause any defence problems. At last we have a natural goalscorer with the instinct and movement to finish off chances made by AJ’s hard work.
DEBBIE SMAJE, Upholland
A WIN on Saturday could set up a terrific season for us – proving ourselves as genuine contenders for one of the Champions League spots. As United are without the much loved Mr Rooney, David Moyes must take the game to United and show them that we can play football as well. If Saturday’s line-up includes two holding midfielders, I fear that United will tear us apart. I think we must play further up the field than we have in our two previous home fixtures, as we will need a lot of men forward to break through their defence. Phil Neville must continue at right-back as that is where he is most effective and I think the midfield should include either Gravesen, if he’s fit, or Osman in the middle with Jagielka.
Pienaar and Arteta should start on the flanks as they create chances, and we can rely on AJ and Yakubu to put the ball in the net. Providing that everybody does their job, I think we’ll give the champions a real run for their money.
COLE FRASER, Litherland
I’M GLAD the internationals are over because I really couldn't care less about the England team, I only care about Everton. With the visit of Rooney and his Mancunian pals to Goodison on Saturday the clash with Man United has all the ingredients to be a really good match. Every supporter has a major role to play because if we can make the atmosphere as hostile as possible the visitors aren't likely to enjoy it, just like two years ago when big Dunc got the winner. I would stick with the side that played at Bolton, then there is always the option of bringing on Osman or McFadden.
I much prefer Jagielka to Hibbert at right- back because he keeps the ball better and I hope he is given the nod by David Moyes. Our main threat will be Johnson and Yakubu and I'm confident they will have the beating of Vidic and the over-rated Ferdinand. Arteta has come up against better full-backs than Brown. He should have the beating of him and could be our match winner.
James McFadden celebrates historic Scotland strike
Sep 13 2007
France 0, Scotland 1
Liverpool Daily Post
GOAL hero James McFadden hailed Scotland’s 1-0 win in France as his country’s best result in living memory. Everton’s McFadden kept his country on course for Euro 2008 qualification with a long-range strike which was fumbled by home goalkeeper Mikael Landreau. It completed a famous double over the World Cup finalists following an identical result in the home leg. McFadden said: “To win at Hampden was a bit of an upset. To come to France and beat them in a qualifier is unbelievable.”
Asked if it was Scotland’s finest result, he added: “I can’t remember. They’re up there with the best teams in the world and we’ve more than held our own and we’ve got a win. “It wasn’t pretty at times, we defended well, we were solid and got a goal and won the game.” Of his decision to go for goal in the 64th minute, the Goodison midfielder said: “We trained here last night and the balls were flying everywhere so I thought ‘why not? ”’ McFadden believes Scotland are now on course for a place in Euro 2008. He added: “We’ve got a great chance now. “We’ve got to believe we can win the rest of the games – why not?” McFadden admitted hard work had been behind the victory over last year's World Cup runners-up. He added: “They’re up there as one of the best teams in the world and we’ve come here and we’ve more than held our own, and we’ve got a win.”
Tim Cahill back on track for return
Sept 14 2007 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
TIM CAHILL’S bid to recapture full fitness has received a major boost after he was given the green light to start jogging again. However, the influential Australian midfielder today warned that he will not be taking any unnecessary risks during his rehabilitation programme as he wants to make sure that he is prime condition for his return. Having received positive news following his latest set of scans on his fractured metatarsal, Cahill can finally see light at the end of the tunnel but the nature of the injury means he will need to be guided by head physio Mick Rathbone when he can step up his workload. "It’s going to be hard," said Cahill. "If Baz told me that I was fit enough to play 45 minutes against Manchester United, I’d think ‘fine’. If I was at Millwall, I would probably do it. But I’ve signed a five-year deal and I need to think ahead. "I can’t keep getting myself injured. I need to be careful but the best thing is that they keep me briefed. Now I can understand whether an x-ray looks good or bad but basically it is all in Baz’s hands." There was some speculation during the summer that Cahill was a target for West Ham United but he had little hesitation in putting pen to paper on a deal that will keep him at Goodison Park until 2012 and the 27-year-old has pledged to make the Blues his top priority. "People asked me would I go to a bigger club after the World Cup when I’d had a couple of good seasons with Everton," he said. "Then they asked me why did I sign the new contract? For me it is easy. I love it here. My family is comfortable in Liverpool. "I’m happy with the way everything is going. The gaffer is not just a manager. He’s a mentor to the lads. He has helped me on and off the pitch. I understand me playing for Australia frustrates him but you can never take away what we achieved as a country. "Now I understand that when I come back from this, maybe I will have to think differently. My priority now is Everton and the Australian manager knows this." I’m not in any rush to be thinking about Australia." Though Cahill will miss tomorrow’s clash with Manchester United, David Moyes still hopes to name a strong starting line-up. but will not make any decisions until before kick-off. Tim Howard is the biggest cause for concern after dislocating his finger playing for the United States but record signing Aiyegbeni Yakubu feels Everton can match the champions. "They beat us at Goodison last time but this time I hope it can be different," he said. "You want to impress and I am looking forward to the game."
Mick Rathbone has hands full with Tim Cahill and James Vaughan
Sept 14 2007EXCLUSIVE by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
LOCKED away at the back of Bellefield’s main building is Mick Rathbone’s treatment room, a place where life is never dull, but these last few weeks have been especially lively. While injured footballers are fidgety at the best of times, Everton’s esteemed head physio has had his hands full trying to keep two of his current patients out of mischief; so eager are they to get up and running again, Tim Cahill and James Vaughan simply cannot relax. “Tim’s a good patient and a bad patient,” chirps Rathbone, as Cahill tries to listen in. “He’s a bad patient as he is impatient but he’s a good patient because he wants to play football. “We’ve had the six week x-ray and things are improving, but the bone will heal when the bone will heal. He’s got to be a patient patient!” With a glint in his eye and impish smile, Cahill – in the middle of a rehabilitation programme after re-injuring the fifth metatarsal of his left foot during a pre-season friendly – confirms he and his partner in crime have been driving Rathbone to distraction. “Me and Vaughany are similar lads,” says Cahill, who is fed up of having to kick his heels. “We don’t like to be sat around getting treatment. It can be very frustrating. “There will be a football there, he’ll kick it and we’ll get into trouble. As I’m older, I try to restrict myself. I know if there is a sudden movement and I slip up I could really injure myself. “But it’s difficult as we are helpless. There’s no enjoyment being in the treatment room. The only enjoyment at the moment is going out to watch the lads train. At a weekend, it’s just pure torture. “It’s not that you feel left out. It’s the feeling that things are passing you by. “When you talk to the lads, they all hope we’ll get back soon. So do we. But we’ll just have to wait and see what Baz and the surgeons say.” Though the injury he suffered in that 2-2 draw with Werder Bremen looked innocuous, the healing process is proving to be painfully slow.
He might have started jogging again but no date has been put on when he will wear a royal blue shirt again. Little wonder, then, he is climbing the walls. Cahill’s last competitive appearance for Everton was on March 3 at Sheffield United when he first broke the metatarsal and he had hoped that this weekend would be the moment he could return. “When I first got injured against Bremen, I pencilled into my head that I’d be back for Manchester United,” Cahill revealed. “Then I pencilled myself in for the European game. Now I can’t do that anymore. Every time I have an x-ray something changes. “Before the game I was so excited. It was like I had just signed again. I’d been away for so long – when I did the injury first time I left to go back to have treatment in Australia – after playing in the Asia Cup. It had felt like it had been for ever since I’d played. “There was a nervous tension to do well and play again at Goodison. I was buzzing. I had never felt better. “I had spoken to the Gaffer and the physios. I just wanted to do well and I had three chances to score. I felt like I was going to take it to the next level. “I was looking forward to a really exciting season. Then, in the second half, I jumped for a ball, got a cramp in my calf and when I landed, I just felt the slightest pain. “It wasn’t anything crazy but as soon as I felt it, I just walked off. “I didn’t acknowledged anyone, I just walked straight down the tunnel. I knew something had happened but didn’t know to what extent.
“I just felt ‘there is no way I’m getting stretchered off’, but it was just heartbreaking.”
Cahill, however, is not one to sit around wallowing in self pity and is clinging to the fact that there is still a huge amount of football to be played this season in which he will almost certainly play a part once fit. A record of 25 goals in 98 appearances underlines his importance to the team, but he is not taking anything for granted. Everton have continued to thrive in his absence and Cahill is aware that he won’t walk back into the team. “Watching from the sidelines, I have seen so much to make me excited,” he declares. “I have spoken to the Gaffer a lot about myself and the team. I’m under no illusions. “Am I going to get back in? Of course I want to be a part of it, but now I just want to be fit.” When that will be, nobody can say for sure so.
He will be in the Main Stand once again tomorrow afternoon and anticipates a bold show against the champions. “From a personal point of view, to see the players that United will be bringing here and know the type of game it will be, it’s so disappointing not to be involved,” said Cahill. “But when I look at the lads and see how well they are playing as a team, why should we be in fear of Manchester United?
“What we have achieved here over the last couple of years has been amazing.
“There are no big heroes or stars here. We’ve got great brilliance with Mikel Arteta and proven goalscorers like AJ and Yakubu, but then you have got people like Stubbsy, Hibbo, Phil Neville and Cars. They do the ugly work to make this team special.” For that reason, he had little hesitation signing a new five-year contract when it was offered to him during the summer. “I said from the start that this club is a massive one. “I know the history and know what it means to everyone. “Our kit man, the masseuse and all the young lads who help out all have the club crest tattooed on them. It’s so exciting to be a part of it.”
Howard Kendall: Don’t mess with winning formula
Sep 14 2007 by Howard Kendall, Liverpool Echo
WAYNE ROONEY and Frank Lampard are outstanding footballers.
But will they both come back into Steve McClaren’s England team when they’re fit and available for duty again? After the performances of the last few days it’s not such a straightforward answer any more. The 4-4-2 system is one which our players are comfortable with and they showed against Israel and Russia how effective it can be with players used in the positions they usually fill for their club sides. Rather than selecting your 11 best players and tinkering with the system to incorporate them all, it has been proved that using players in a system they are all familiar with works better.
If you do that, you accept the need for a target man – which at the moment means Emile Heskey. But because Michael Owen has to play, that leaves the question of where Rooney fits in? And because Gareth Barry gives Steven Gerrard the freedom to express himself in midfield, where does that leave Lampard? Sometimes you have to leave out some of your best players to use a system which suits the team better.
While Israel were disappointing on Saturday, England weren’t playing San Marino on Wednesday night, they were facing a very useful Russia team. Nobody could criticise McClaren if, with everybody fit and available again, he chose to name an unchanged team for a third successive match at home to Estonia. If your outstanding players are available again, by all means include them in the squad. But for me that would be on the substitutes’ bench. Another point which struck me is how England always seem to do better when we have competitive games early in the season, when our players are at their freshest and their sharpest. As the season wears on, and the commitments of two domestic cup competitions and European football start to affect our leading players more and more, that zest and sharpness wears off. Unfortunately, there’s nothing Steve McClaren can do about the timing of tournament finals, but there is something he can do about the make-up of his side to get England there.
Champion chance for Yakubu to raise profile
YAKUBU couldn’t ask for a better fixture in which to make his home debut tomorrow than the visit of champions Manchester United. And I’m looking forward to seeing him work on the impressive link-up play he showed with Andy Johnson at Bolton last week. But while those two are almost certain to be included against United, the availability of Tim Howard is more doubtful. After last season’s goalkeeping conundrums, however, I’d like to see Tim Howard produce a doctor’s note this time before his dislocated finger rules him out! (Only joking, Tim!)
David Moyes: Everton to get best of James McFadden
Sept 15 2007 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES believes Everton can reap the benefit of James McFadden’s midweek heroics for Scotland. The 24-year-old moved his international goals tally up to 12 after scoring against Lithuania and France and his spectacular effort in Paris has given Scotland an outstanding chance of qualifying for their first major tournament since 1998. While proud Scot Moyes was delighted to see McFadden flourish for the Tartan Army, he was equally thrilled that the former Motherwell striker – who could make his 100th Everton appearance today – was able to get some much-needed match practice in after a summer on the sidelines with a broken metatarsal.
Having broken the fifth metatarsal in his left foot in January, McFadden suffered a setback shortly after the end of last season and, as a result, missed much of Everton’s pre-season campaign. But he has looked sharp in training since being given the green light to step up his work - he scored Everton’s equaliser in the 1-1 draw against Blackburn last month - and now hopes McFadden can raise his game another level.
“We want people who are in form and feeling good but the game itself will have done Faddy good,” said Moyes. “He has missed nearly all pre-season and never played a full game. He’s done most of the running but not really had any match action.
“So the 90 minutes in Paris will have helped him. It was an incredible goal, right in on the postage stamp. We know he can do that. He’s got ability. He undoubtedly has a lot to offer, he is a talent and I have been saying that for a long time. “The competition for places here is tough. That’s the way it is. If you are going to play in the Premier League in a team that is near the top of the table, you are going to have good competition. You can’t just have a certain number of players to do the job. You have to have extra players, especially forwards. The big thing for Faddy is that he had missed most of pre-season through injury but he is now just starting to look a bit better in condition and fitness wise he is better as well. “When Faddy first arrived here, he played outside left and was fantastic. But in the period we have had him, we have seen he is a centre-forward and that will be his position but, if need be, he could do a job wide left.” Tickets for the UEFA Cup tie with Metalist Kharkiv, meanwhile, have gone on general sale. Anyone wishing to purchase seats for next Thursday’s tie at Goodison Park can buy them from the box office before and after today’s game with United. Alternatively, tickets can be purchased online or over the phone.
Baines has got what it takes to deal with Ronaldo
Sept 15 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
HE plays on the left. He plays on the right. That boy Ronaldo makes defenders look... you get the picture. Manchester United’s travelling supporters take great pleasure in singing the praises of their Portuguese flyer to the tune of the classic Beach Boys track Sloop John B whenever he skates past an opposition full-back. Given he has just served a three-match ban for a sending off last month, Ronaldo will be anxious to start making up for lost time when he returns to action at Goodison Park this afternoon, a stadium in which he has wreaked havoc on numerous occasions in the past.
For some, the prospect of coming up against a Ronaldo with the bit between his teeth would ensure sleepless nights but the challenge of stopping United’s number seven is one that Leighton Baines can be expected to take in his stride. Having made a deeply encouraging start to life on Merseyside since his summer switch from Wigan Athletic, Baines has been a contender for man-of-the-match honours in both the games he has played for Everton but he will need more of the same this lunchtime. David Moyes, though, has every faith that the 22-year-old will be up to the task. Using the international break to immerse himself in the Everton way, Baines has shown up prominently in training this week and is straining for a return to action.
“We have beaten Manchester United before and we have got to try and do it again but let’s not under estimate the challenge,” said Moyes, whose side currently sit five places and two points ahead of the reigning champions. “We expect Manchester United to have nearly everyone fully fit. Ronaldo is back from suspension, Wayne (Rooney) is very close to playing so they have got their team nearly all back together again. It’s going to be a tough game. “Leighton will have played against Ronaldo before and I’m not exactly sure how that’s gone but he knows all about him.
“He’s done well in the games he has played for us and has settled in. We would have liked to have had him here much earlier. “We wanted to get him bedded into exactly what we are, as he is still finding his way a little bit. “But I’m pleased with what he has done and he has started okay. The last couple of weeks have helped him. He’s worked well. “Some people can settle into a new club in a week or two and Leighton seems to have done that. “Others can take six to eight months. You just don’t know how it’s going to be. “That’s why we would have liked him in six weeks earlier than we got him but it wasn’t possible.” Moyes had three members of his squad in England’s ranks for the Euro 2008 qualifiers against Israel and Russia and suggested before those games that it might not be long before Baines – capped 21 times at under-21 level – joins them. After all, he was one of England’s star performers earlier this summer in the European Championships and one man who was with him in Holland knows only too well what Baines is capable of doing. A dislocated shoulder means James Vaughan will have to sit out the action against United but he was delighted that Baines spurned the advances of Sunderland and Newcastle United in order to sign for the Blues. “I knew he was a quality player before he came here as I had been with him in Holland,” said Vaughan. “He was one of the best players in the tournament and there was nobody better than Leighton in his position.
“For me, he is only going to get better and I don’t see why in the future he can’t be playing for England regularly. “He has got everything you need and he has got a great attitude as well. “This was the one place that he always wanted to come. He’s a great addition to the squad.” That squad is nursing a few bumps and bruises – a hazard of the international break – and Moyes will not be making any decisions about his team selection until just before kick-off; the biggest cause for concern is Tim Howard, who has a dislocated finger. A win today would not only send Everton top for a couple of hours at least but it would cap a great week for Moyes, who – not surprisingly – has been beaming broadly ever since James McFadden rifled in his stunning winner for Scotland in the Stade de France. “All the lads are back and I’m happy to have them back,” said the manager. “Two weeks without them is a long time but we are glad they’re all here. “As for Scotland, it was just an incredible night. You can only hope that they go on and qualify. “When you saw the group at the start, you would have said it would be hard work for them but credit to Alex McLeish and Walter Smith for giving Scotland a chance of qualifying.”
Fans have the blues
Sept 15 2007 by Nick Coligan, Liverpool Echo
OPPONENTS of Everton FC’s proposed move to Kirkby will hold their first demonstration outside Goodison Park today. The Keep Everton In Our City (KEIOC) group will stage the peaceful protest after the Blues’ 12pm clash with Manchester United. KEIOC wants Everton to abandon its planned move outside the city boundaries, which was approved by a majority of fans in a ballot of season-ticket holders and shareholders last month. The group today called for like-minded fans to join the demonstration, which will take place between the players’ entrance and St Luke’s church, Goodison Road, after the final whistle. Once United’s players have left the stadium, protestors will take up a central point outside the Main Stand.
KEIOC decided to organise the demonstration after “no” voters and fans who did not qualify to take part in the ballot said they wanted to express their feelings about the move. Spokesman Dave Kelly said: “If fans have reservations over the ground move, whether it is about the ballot or the move in general, they should come along and protest as peacefully as they can. “We want to make our feelings known to the club, but in a constructive manner.” KEIOC held a well-attended meeting for its supporters in Liverpool city centre last week to discuss alternatives to the Kirkby move.
It has drawn up its own proposals to redevelop Goodison, while backing Liverpool council’s scheme for a new stadium on the Bestway cash-and-carry site, off Scotland Road. Everton say the ballot result gave them a mandate to continue talks with Knowsley council and Tesco about a 50,000-seater ground as part of a large shopping district south of Kirkby town centre.
Royal Blue: Sickening way to treat a good guy
Sept 15 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
WALKING down Wembley Way the other evening, rarely have I felt so proud to be English as I tried to evade shaven-headed drunks, dressed in the ‘Three Lions’ uniform and draining cans of super strength while stuffing fast food into their faces.
Inside the stadium for the game against Russia it didn’t get much better. The corporate crowd seemed more interested in the quality of the red wine than the quality on the pitch. True story on the tube afterwards, as a man could be heard slurring the following in between hiccups down his mobile phone: “Yes, great food and one of the wines was absolutely superb . . . and some little fellow from Chester got a goal or two, I think.” Unbelievable. These, sadly, are a reflection of the majority of ‘fans’ who watch England. Fickle to the point of being vindictive, every time they boo a player their reputation drops another couple of notches. While much was made of David Bentley’s chastening first experience of international football, the welcome Everton captain Phil Neville received when he picked up his 58th cap last Saturday was as if he goose-stepped onto the pitch singing “Deutschland Deutschland uber-alles.”
Staggering. England fans save their vilification for the strangest targets. Bentley might be arrogant but ask anyone who has had the fortune to spend time in Neville’s company and you will hear nothing but the highest praise. Despite having arrived at Goodison festooned with medals from a successful spell with Manchester United, Neville considered it one of the proudest moments of his career when he was asked to succeed David Weir as Everton’s club captain. Never one to shirk interviews after painful defeats, Neville, who has relished going on national service since his first call up in 1996, is always available on Blues match days to meet sponsors or guests.
While Everton’s match day tributes to the horrifying murder of Rhys Jones were impeccable, it was the players – readied by Neville and other esteemed senior individuals like Alan Stubbs and Lee Carsley – who organised the trip to the crime scene in Croxteth. Fortunately, he plays his club football in front of a much more discerning crowd. Evertonians know he will be straining every sinew to topple his old club and keep the Blues in their current lofty position. Sure, he has made errors – think back to the corresponding fixture last season – but it would be impossible for supporters to hold a grudge as his attitude and application is faultless. On Merseyside at least, there is appreciation for one of football’s good guys.
Beattie’s tribute to Blues fans
A MONTH has passed since James Beattie moved to pastures new and Everton’s former record signing has made a bright start to life with Sheffield United.
Two goals in four games have helped him settle in at Bramall Lane but a recent entry on his internet blog, which was brought to Royal Blue’s attention, shows that he will never forget his time at Goodison Park. Read the following: “Thank you to the fans of Everton FC. During my whole term at the Toffees your support has been exceptional. Even when the transfer speculation was rife I had fans coming up to me, while shopping, in my car, with the family just walking in the street, wishing me all the best and saying that they were right behind me. “This made me feel really good about myself and filled me with pride. I cannot thank you all enough for your support, hopefully I gave you some good times along the way too, I know people always comment on the chip against Fulham and the commitment that I showed when I pulled on the blue jersey. “People say that when you play for Everton FC you are emotionally touched by something special, in my case I can tell you this is certainly true.
“In relation to my time at the club I must say I enjoyed itŠ immensely.
“Here are some of the highlights for me: scoring in Šthe Champions League game against Villarreal, scoring in a Merseyside derby, being the club’s top scorer in 05/06 and getting nearly a third of the club’s goals having missed two months at the start of the season. “Then there’s getting the only goal against Arsenal in 05/06. I can remember this because I've got a big picture in my house of myself wheeling away after the goal, with all the fans in the background going crazy! “I would like to thank Bill Kenwright. From the first moment I met him, he was amazing to me. He was always encouraging me and saying how much he wanted me to succeed at Everton.
“I will stay in touch with him and if I need any advice, whether it be on football, or life, I won’t hesitate to ring him. “I also want to thank the players, all of them I’m proud to call my friends. “They are a great set of people and fantastically talented players. I will keep in touch with them also and I have spoken to most of them since I left. I would like to wish them all the best for this term. “Finally I want to thank the backroom staff. They were great to me and obviously being Scousers were very entertaining to say the least.” Things may not have worked out how Beattie wanted on Merseyside but there is little doubt he will receive a warm welcome, if and when he ever returns.
UNITED SUFFER SILVESTRE BLOW
16th September 2007
Manchester United defender Mikael Silvestre has been ruled out for the rest of the season after suffering a cruciate knee ligament injury in Saturday's 1-0 win at Everton.
The 30-year-old went down in agony after trying to turn as he made a tackle during the first half at Goodison Park and was clearly in a lot of discomfort as he was carried off on a stretcher. Sir Alex Ferguson confirmed Silvestre would be sent for a scan as soon as his team arrived back in Manchester and the results have only confirmed the United manager's worst fears. A club official confirmed the extent of the damage and a recovery timetable which means Silvestre will not be seen again for the remainder of the campaign. It is desperately bad news for the former Inter Milan star, whose first team appearances have been limited due to the impressive form of Patrice Evra.
It is bad news for United as well, as it robs Ferguson of experienced defensive cover at left-back after Gabriel Heinze's acrimonious move to Real Madrid.
Everton 0, Manchester United 1 (Echo)
Sep 17 2007
by Dominic King
Another hugely significant clash with Manchester United at Goodison Park sees the visitors capitalise on a fatal lapse of concentration to escape with maximum points. As had been the case when Sir Alex Ferguson’s side arrived on Merseyside to open the 2005/06 campaign and just like the meeting between these two old rivals in April, Everton could and should have had more reward for their efforts. Instead, as was the case when Joseph Yobo presented Wayne Rooney with an unmissable opportunity two years ago and when Iain Turner carelessly dropped a ball into John O’Shea’s path, wretched marking at a set piece proved Everton’s undoing. So once again, David Moyes and his squad are left to rue a missed opportunity and no solace whatsoever can be taken from the fact it is a sign how far Everton have progressed in the past few years that they are bitterly disappointed to lose to the champions. Granted some better fortune, Everton would have been in front before Nemanja Vidic escaped Yobo’s clutches to bullet Nani’s late corner into the Gwladys Street net. But for all the perspiration in making sure Cristiano Ronaldo, Ryan Giggs et al did not run amok, inspiration was sadly lacking; Mikel Arteta saw far too little of the ball and Thomas Gravesen, sat helplessly in the Main Stand, was sorely missed. Such a shame. Ferguson may argue that United will be a better side when Wayne Rooney and Owen Hargreaves return from injury but – the lively Carlos Tevez aside – Everton were more than a match for them. That’s why the sense of frustration is so acute today. If the Blues had managed to conjure up a little bit of something special and had the balance been better in the middle of midfield – neither Phil Neville or Phil Jagielka will look back on this game with fondness – the three points were theirs for the taking. In periods, they confirmed the impression that they are a team going places, hustling and bustling United of their elegant stride and taking energy from the raucous atmosphere generated inside the stadium; the only thing lacking was a killer final ball. Rio Ferdinand and Vidic were given a torrid time by Aiyegbeni Yakubu’s muscular threat and the relentless running of Andrew Johnson, needing to regularly resort to long, hopeful punts up field to clear the danger. Why else, then, would Ferguson be so magnanimous afterwards? It’s easy to be gracious about the opposition when you win courtesy of a scruffy late goal and it’s safe to say his tone afterwards would have been different had Vidic not obliged. “It was a great result,” Ferguson said, his sense of relief tangible. “A lot of teams will drop points here. It was a real battle. It looked to me like it was going to be a draw, but then we got a lifeline with Nemanja’s goal.”
How they gleefully grasped it. Prior to that, Everton’s back four ensured that Steffan Wessels – replacing the injured Tim Howard – was given a gentle introduction into Premier League life. That the German goalkeeper never had a shot to save was down to the diligence of the men protecting him but the few times he was called into action, Wessels was faultless; his distribution was particularly impressive. Yobo and Joleon Lescott launched into tackles and made clearances as if their lives depended on it, while Tony Hibbert made an outstanding return after missing out on the victory at Bolton. This was much more like the form of which he is capable. Then there was Leighton Baines. The £5m signing from Wigan Athletic has barely put a foot wrong since his summer move and confirmed the impression that the fee will be money well spent with another colossal performance. Ronaldo’s reputation for producing the spectacular might be enough to petrify some full-backs but Baines showed early on with perfectly timed tackle on the Portuguese winger (or should that be whinger?) that he would not be a shrinking violet. It set the tone, on a personal level, for a cracking afternoon yet while one or two of his deliveries into United’s penalty area might have been better, there is no question he has quickly made himself Everton’s first choice left-back. He’ll only get better, too. The one time Ronaldo did manage to break free, a theatrical tumble on the edge of the penalty area over Leon Osman’s outstretched leg earned nothing other than the derision of home supporters and a yellow card from referee Alan Wiley. “Carlos (Quieroz) saw the video and said Ronaldo was definitely tripped,” grumbled Ferguson. “To get a yellow card if you've been fouled is ridiculous. “The referee’s really just satisfied the crowd. He thought it was going to be a penalty kick, and that’s why he’s booked him. It gets him out of jail and it was a terrible decision.” A bit like the one not to send Paul Scholes off. While Moyes would not be drawn on Wiley’s decision to refrain from showing the former England midfielder a second yellow card for a reckless after he had been booked for handling, Ferguson had plenty to say. Had Wiley adhered strictly to the letter of the ball, Scholes would have walked. “When Scholesy got booked, he didn’t handle the ball,” United’s manager protested. “The referee’s view is blocked, he’s heard the crowd and booked him. Ridiculous.” Almost as ridiculous as him being on the field to make the clearance that turned the game; Johnson deserved better than to see his effort headed off the line by Scholes and United made sure they took full advantage. Though man-of-the-moment James McFadden went close with an outstanding drive in the dying moments – “he’d have been the King of Scotland if that had gone in,” said Moyes – Vidic’s goal completely took the wind out of Everton’s sails. Hopefully, though, it won’t be for too long. This coming Thursday, the Toffees return to Europe and so arrives the perfect chance to make amends for this slight setback; put it this way, they are in far better shape than they were for their last UEFA Cup experience. Moyes has worked relentlessly since the capitulation against Dinamo Bucharest to assemble a squad that is capable of mixing it with the best on a regular basis; once they cut out the stupid mistakes, they really will be in business.
Everton 0, Manchester United 1 (D,Post)
Sep 17 2007
by Ian Doyle at Goodison Park
A THROBBING sense of déjà vu pervaded much of what transpired at Goodison on Saturday. But the overriding emotion nagging away at David Moyes and his players this morning is one of frustration at a missed opportunity to emphatically underline their improvement. Once again, a below-par Manchester United were allowed to head back down the East Lancs Road with three points tucked safely in their pockets, leaving Everton to pick the bones out of yet another defeat to their north west rivals. Of course, that there is such disappointment at failing to beat the champions is testament to the lofty ambitions now instilled among Everton’s squad. Moyes regarded the weekend showdown as a barometer of how far his team has progressed during an encouraging start to the campaign that saw them head into the weekend in the rare position of looking down on United in the Premier League standings. This evidence from Saturday’s tense encounter suggests that such a scenario is likely to remain a novelty for the foreseeable future, despite the positives that can be gleaned from a performance that deserved a share of the spoils. Leading those was a fine defensive display, Joseph Yobo and Joleon Lescott largely excellent at the heart of the backline while with each game Leighton Baines makes every penny spent on his signing from Wigan Athletic appear money well spent. But those smothering tactics came at a cost further up the field where, with Mikel Arteta mucking in with his fellow midfielders and creativity lacking from other areas, neither Andrew Johnson nor Yakubu, making his home debut following his club record £11.25million arrival from Middlesbrough, were given much opportunity to build on their understanding.
Moyes knows that a strong defence, particularly in games against the so-called ‘big four’, isn’t enough on its own for Everton to gatecrash that select Premier League group. And perhaps with a little more belief and a few more gambles going forward – and, as Moyes pointed out later on, a greater rub of the green from referee Alan Wiley – Everton could have secured at least a draw. That said, given the manner in which United cut through the home defence during the final half-hour of their last visit to Goodison, Moyes’s side could hardly be blamed for erring on the side of caution. Everton’s impressive resolve on Saturday made the nature of United’s 83rd-minute winner all the more galling, Yobo momentarily lapsing to allow Nemanja Vidic to meet Nani’s left-wing corner before Tony Hibbert and head in at the near post. United had actually scored just five times in 11 games played since the 4-2 win at Everton in April and, in opening the defence of their title, Ferguson’s men have been more like Chelsea than their usual swashbuckling selves, stout defending replacing free-flowing football as their tour de force. What hasn’t altered, though, is the ability to eke out victories without playing anywhere near their best, most notably at Goodison where they have now remarkably won 13 of 16 visits in the Premier League. As in April, Everton were without Tim Howard in goal, the former United man having failed to recover from the dislocated finger sustained while on international duty with the United States. But, while Iain Turner suffered five months ago, deputy Stefan Wessels was largely unemployed on his debut following his arrival from Bundesliga side FC Cologne last month, waiting until the 87th minute to make his one and only save of note from a speculative Cristiano Ronaldo drive. The German was helped by the performance of the players in front of him, most notably the outstanding Baines who kept Ronaldo in check – one challenge after a trademark Portuguese ‘stepoverfest’ drawing huge cheers from the Goodison crowd – before later subduing both Ryan Giggs and United substitute Nani. Everton’s problem was that United were similarly stubborn, particularly match-winner Vidic who excelled against the power of Yakubu and pace of Johnson. And when the home side did get far enough up the field to threaten, they were too often let down by a poor final delivery. It wasn’t until two minutes remaining that Everton managed to test Edwin van der Sar, the United keeper diving to his right to palm out James McFadden’s deflected curling effort then grateful to see Rio Ferdinand block Victor Anichebe’s follow-up and Yobo ram the rebound wastefully wide. Despite his heroics with Scotland in midweek, McFadden began on the bench alongside Lee Carsley, who failed to start a game for the first time in 16 months. Thomas Gravesen’s injury instead opened the way for Phil Jagielka to partner Phil Neville in central midfield. It wasn’t a success. Jagielka arrived at Goodison with a reputation of being something of a jack of all trades, but the former Sheffield United man has yet to master any of them at his new club. At least Jagielka managed a shot, following Ronaldo, Vidic and the otherwise invisible Michael Carrick in striking the same Park End advertising board with a wayward effort shortly into the second half. Everton’s best chance came moments later, when Johnson flicked on Arteta’s right-wing corner towards goal only for Paul Scholes, standing by the far post, to kick off the line. Whether Scholes should have been there in the first place is debatable. The United man, having just been booked for a combination of handball and dissent, was fortunate not to receive a second yellow from referee Wiley following a rash tackle on Arteta minutes before the interval. Everton weren’t enamoured by the performance of the official, who seemingly frowned on any approach from the home side, most notably when Yakubu was adjudged to have fouled Brown before racing clear on goal. Before Vidic’s late intervention, Scholes had volleyed United’s best chance over after a clever chipped throughball from Carlos Tevez, the one visiting forward Everton struggled to contain. Everton’s return to Europe on Thursday against Metalist Kharkiv in the UEFA Cup means there’s no time to dwell on this annoying setback. But even in defeat, the signs remain that Moyes’s side are gradually travelling down the right path.
EVERTON (4-4-2): Wessels; Hibbert, Yobo, Lescott, Baines; Arteta, Jagielka, Neville (McFadden 85), Osman (Pienaar 73); Johnson, Yakubu (Anichebe 74). Subs: Turner, Carsley.
BOOKINGS: Neville and Pienaar (both fouls).
MANCHESTER UNITED (4-4-2): van der Sar; Brown, Ferdinand, Vidic, Silvestre (Nani 41 (Pique 85)); Ronaldo, Carrick, Scholes, Evra; Giggs (Saha 63), Tevez. Subs: Kuszczak, Gibson.
BOOKINGS: Scholes (foul) and Ronaldo (simulation).
REFEREE: Alan Wiley (Staffordshire).
NEXT GAME: Everton v Metalist Kharkiv, UEFA Cup first round first leg, Thursday 8pm
Leighton Baines: I'm relishing European challenge
Sept 17 2007 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
LEIGHTON BAINES is relishing the chance to step into the unknown as he gears up for the "ideal" game to get over his weekend disappointment. Everton’s £5m summer signing from Wigan Athletic was his side’s outstanding performer against Manchester United on Saturday but could not prevent the Blues slipping to a frustrating 1-0 defeat against the champions. However, Everton begin their UEFA Cup campaign on Thursday evening when they play host to Ukranian side Metalist Kharkiv - who were beaten 3-0 by Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk yesterday - and Baines cannot wait for his first taste of European football. "I’m still getting to know the lads and finding out different things about the way they play," said Baines. "You see them in training but it’s not until you play in a game that you really get to know everything about each other.
"So far it has gone okay and hopefully as we play together more, we will be able to develop. "We’ve got an ideal game to pick ourselves up now. It’s a complete variation on the game against United. "We are playing a team that we know absolutely nothing about. But this is what being in Europe is all about. "We are all looking forward to it.
"Playing in Europe was a big factor in wanting to come here. I haven’t managed to play in Europe at club level before, so I can’t wait." Baines enjoyed a terrific duel with Cristiano Ronaldo and looked to support Everton’s attack whenever possible but, like the rest of his team-mates, felt aggrieved that their efforts did not gain greater reward.
Yet as irritating as that first home defeat of the campaign was, the 22-year-old believes it is a measure of how far Everton have progressed in the last couple of seasons that they genuinely expected to beat a side of United’s calibre.
"Joe (Yobo) will be disappointed that Vidic has got away from him but it’s one of them isn’t it?" said Baines. "You see goals like that week in, week out. We had a man in the hole and myself on the post but the ball was slightly above Hibbo’s head and it was past me before I knew it. "We’ve just got to get on with it. It’s a mark of what we are trying to do. "Whoever we play against at home, we are looking to get three points. We were looking to win against United. "We probably didn’t create a lot but we definitely made sure that they didn’t. "We had a few breakaways and a couple of other chances. We’ve come a long way in the last few years and the lads have set a bench mark. We are looking to surpass that this year."
Frustrated David Moyes can't fault effort
Sept 17 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
WHILE David Moyes was bitterly disappointed to see Everton slip to a first home defeat of the season, he feels the display against Manchester United augurs well for the future. As someone who prides himself on his teams being difficult to break down, it was hardly a surprise that the sloppy nature of the goal the Blues conceded to Nemanja Vidic left Moyes scratching his head in frustration. Yet with a huge game against Metalist Kharkiv to look forward to on Thursday evening, Moyes has no intentions of stewing on a result that deprived Everton – who have slipped to sixth place – the chance to go top of the Premier League. Pleased with the efforts of Andrew Johnson and Aiyegbeni Yakubu, the manager has no doubts that Everton will approach their UEFA Cup first leg tie with confidence and is looking for a big performance. “We are disappointed when we lose any goal from a corner,” said Moyes. “But I am not disappointed with how we played or how we competed. I thought that we did very well. But when you lose a goal six minutes before the end from a corner, it’s disappointing. “All we can do is try and correct it. We have to be tighter there and we can’t let them get a run on us but they did that. I thought our boys did well. If we play like that, hopefully we will pick up more wins than losses.
“The two centre-forwards caused problems but I also thought that the two central defenders did well. We had a header cleared off the line and I just wish that someone would have been able to do the same for us. “I didn’t think much went for us. But we are actually getting better and even Sir Alex said we were unlucky not to get anything out of it. It was one of those days where we just didn’t get the ball to fall nicely for us.
“It’s a really big week and that’s why we don’t want to be too down over this result. We played well enough to get something out of the game. But we are looking forward to the UEFA Cup. If we get another atmosphere like we did against United that would be great.” Johnson came closest to scoring for Everton but his header was hacked off the line by Paul Scholes early in the second half, meaning the England international is without a goal since March 18. In Johnson’s defence, though, that was the only opportunity he had, as he spent most of his time foraging outside the area but Moyes has no intentions of changing the £8.6m man’s style of play. “I said to him that at times he got out too wide on occasions,” Moyes noted. “But the thing with Andy is that you get a package including a goalscorer and a team player and I wouldn’t like that to change.” The one huge plus for Moyes, however, was Leighton Baines’ near faultless performance on the left hand side. Thrilled with the way he has settled into life at Goodison Park, Moyes expects him to come on in leaps and bounds.
“He has done everything we have asked of him and, with due respect to Wigan, this has been a step-up for him,” said Moyes. “We have been delighted because we have always felt that he is a really talented player. He has a good touch and is a good defender who is good going forward as well - he has all the makings of a very good left back. He is still feeling his way into things.”
David Prentice: Resilient Blues show they are closing the gap
Sept 17 2007 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
SIR Alex has always been able to rely on a hand-out at Goodison Park.
Way back when he was plain old Alec of Aberdeen, and Manchester United had just replaced Dave Sexton with Big Ron, he won a £250 Golden Goal prize at Goodison.
According to the match programme from 1981 “He hasn’t stopped talking about it since.” While the words are less frequent today – Sir Alex doesn’t do post-match press conferences – some things haven’t changed. Manchester United have won 13 times in 16 Premier League visits to Goodison Park, their most successful away day anywhere in the country. And as if they needed any more help, on their last three visits they have faced a team shorn of their first choice goalkeeper. The presence of Stefan Wessels on Saturday, however, was hardly significant. He was as underworked as his opposite number in the United goalmouth. The moment Sir Alex got lucky came just seven minutes from time, when Joseph Yobo and Tony Hibbert switched off to allow Nemanja Vidic a free run at Nani's corner. But some things are changing.
Everton were genuinely disappointed afterwards. Times when a major defensive operation yielded a desperate home draw against the very top teams have gone.
David Moyes has fashioned a squad which now harbours ambitions of equality – in one-off contests at least – with the reigning champions. They took on Chelsea at their own game last season – and over 180 minutes were just a Didier Drogba wonder-goal away from matching them. Yesterday, for long spells of a scrappy but engrossing contest, there was barely a wafer between the new champions and the team which finished sixth. Everton appear to be an upwardly mobile team. They don’t have the class and the gilding of quality United possess, but then that took over £100m to assemble. But they’re closing the gap. United’s quality in possession and particularly on the counter was evident. But they lacked a focal point to their forays forward on Saturday and despite some sparkling approach play, Everton’s German debutant was barely troubled. Everton’s approach was more industrious – their best opening came from a corner – but they still did enough to deserve at least a share of the spoils.
The newest acquisitions all made confident contributions. Yakubu was bright and purposeful, Jagielka willing and effective, but in Leighton Baines Everton boasted a dazzling performer. The sum of £6m is significant for a full-back, but in this instance it already looks like Wigan have been undersold. Baines’ defensive work was highly effective, forcing Cristiano Ronaldo to look further and further infield for opportunities to run with the ball, then finally resorting to extravagant tumbles over the faintest of challenges. His attacking work was even more impressive, denied a penalty-kick by a couple of inches when Michael Carrick couldn’t contain his bright and penetrative thrusts and fizzing over a series of tempting crosses.
Left-back has been a problem position for many years at Goodison, a succession of fragile foreign full-backs alternating with a series of under-performing Brits.
But in Baines Everton have a young Englishman who looks destined for future international honours. Older Evertonians will be reminded of the pugnacious Mike Pejic, a left-back who won four caps for his country before a big money move to the Blues in 1977. Baines might not relish the comparison, given that Pejic looked like a man who’d already endured an unsuccessful boxing career before he stepped onto a football field. But he looks well capable of surpassing Pejic’s tally of four caps – and Steve McClaren will surely have taken note from his seat in the Main Stand.
From Thursday, however, Everton’s season takes on a new dimension.
Their next three matches are all shunted to a Sunday as they must prepare for difficult Premier League trips to Aston Villa and Newcastle with tricky UEFA Cup clashes against Metalist Kharkiv. It’s a challenge the big four clubs accept as part of the territory, and one Everton will have to quickly come to terms with. But with cavalry like Tim Cahill and James Vaughan looming on the horizon, it’s one they look capable of handling. Carlos Queiroz described United’s third successive 1-0 win on Saturday as “a magic result”. His elation was understandable. The ‘big four’ sides can’t bank on a comfortable afternoon at Goodison Park. While Sir Alex might enjoy hand-outs off the field at Goodison Park, on it they’re likely to become increasingly rare.
Youngsters keep up winning habit
Sep 18 2007
by Chris Wright, Liverpool Daily Post
LEWIS CODLING’S second-half goal allowed Everton under-18s to come from behind to win 2-1 at Sheffield United on Saturday and maintain their unbeaten start to the season. Neil Dewsnip’s side have now won four of their five matches in the Premier Academy League and sit top of the North West section. But they had to show all their battling qualities to win at Sheffield, who also boasted an unbeaten start going into Saturday morning’s match. United did much of the early running and took the lead just before the half-hour mark when they scored from a header following a counterattack. The visitors, though, replied almost immediately when Moses Barnett’s free-kick was dropped by the Sheffield United keeper and carried over the line, which was seen by the assistant referee. Both sides had their chances thereafter but after Dewsnip brought on Kieran Agard for Jack Redmond in the second half, Everton began to come more and more into the match. The London-born forward almost grabbed the winner himself, but he saw one effort come back off the post, another strike the bar and a third saved by the keeper. But Everton eventually got the reward for their efforts as Jose Baxter set up his strike partner Codling for his third goal of the season. Everton had chances to add to their lead but in the end Codling’s strike was enough. Dewsnip said: “It was a really tough game. They were quite direct, quite physical and up for it and motivated, especially with their (club) manager (Bryan Robson) being on the touchline watching. “The lads showed great mental qualities to come back from going a goal behind. “In the second half they started better than us, but when we brought on Kieran Agard, he made a good impact. He hit the bar, the post and the keeper made a great save. “But once we got 2-1 up it could have been more really and although we ran out comfortable winners in the end but it was fairly scary for a big chunk of the game.” Everton will bid to continue their unbeaten start to the campaign against Sunderland at Netherton this Saturday (kick-off 11am).
EVERTON U18s: McEntagart; Stewart, Sinnott, McCarten, Barnett: O’Kane, Akpan (Krenn 25), Redmond (McCready 85), Rodwell (Agard 60); Baxter, Codling. Subs: Stughaug.
Everton ready for European return - Stefan Wessels
Sept 18 2007 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
STEFAN WESSELS today promised Everton will be fully prepared for their long-awaited return to Europe - as he set his sights on keeping up appearances.
The German goalkeeper made an assured debut for the Blues in Saturday’s tussle with Manchester United and, given that Tim Howard is struggling with a dislocated finger, he is likely to stay between the posts for the UEFA Cup clash against Metalist Kharkiv on Thursday. Having been part of the Bayern Munich squad that won the Champions League in 2001, Wessels is no stranger to big European nights and made his first start for Bayern in a 1-1 draw against Rangers at Ibrox in 1999.
Before he moved to FC Cologne, Wessels started another nine matches in Europe’s premier competition, with two of them coming against Ukrainian opposition, and he knows Metalist have the ability to spring a surprise. But, like the rest of his team-mates, the 28-year-old is desperate for a prolonged run in the UEFA Cup and is confident Everton will be able to negotiate their first hurdle. “It was a big chance for me to play so early - I have only been here for a short time - and if you had told me six weeks ago that I would make my debut against Manchester United, I would have said that was a dream,” Wessels revealed. “We now have a very important game in the UEFA Cup. We all want to qualify for the group stages and that is what we are working for. “I played for Bayern Munich against Dynamo Kiev twice and it was always a hard match against them. “We do not know a lot about them but they are obviously a good side, as they would not have qualified for the competition.
“We know it is going to be a tough game but we will be well prepared for them.”
Wessels arrived on Merseyside as the least heralded of Everton’s six summer signings, but after his first taste of the Premier League he is hoping he is given further chances to impress. “I think we played very well and a draw would have been a fair result,” said Wessels. “We conceded the goal and it was unlucky. We are a bit sad but we can be encouraged by the way we played and we can build on this.
“We limited them to very few chances and that is why it was so disappointing to lose the game. “I think they had some luck but they won, we lost and now we have got to move on. Apart from the result, it was a terrific experience. The atmosphere was great, the game was good. The fans made me feel really welcome before, during and after the game. “I was very focused on playing against United. That was the reason I came here – to play in these type of matches.” Tickets are selling fast for the Kharkiv game but have now gone on general sale at Goodison Park box office, priced at £18 for adults and £8 for concessions.
Nigel Martyn: We must be on our Metal for early lift
Sep 18 2007 By Nigel Martyn
EUROPE is back on the horizon this week and it is vitally important that Everton put their tie with Metalist Kharkiv to bed as soon as possible. It’s fantastic that the club is back competing at this level and, all being well, we will be in the UEFA Cup a bit longer than our last experience two years ago; nobody needs reminding about that torrid evening we suffered against Dinamo Bucharest. The huge disappointment we suffered in the Champions League qualifier with Villarreal seemed to have a knock-on effect for the early part of the campaign and we simply did not get going when we travelled to Romania. We prided ourselves on our ability to work hard and match opponents, but they seemed like a team possessed and ran all over us; we just couldn’t match them physically and, of course, we all know how that game ended.
Safe to say, then, that the manager will have the lads fully wound up for this meeting with Kharkiv; they may be something of an unknown to many supporters but you can rest assured that David Moyes will have done his homework and knows every little detail about the Ukrainians. Hopefully it will be one of those electrifying nights under the lights at Goodison Park and there is no doubt that the supporters will be up for it; the ideal scenario would be start off with a really big tempo and get a healthy early lead. A goal within the first 10 minutes would be terrific. There is no hiding from the fact, though, that it is a massively important game for the club. At some point in the future, Europe is going to have an impact on Everton’s league form and if they can get this tie wrapped up early, so much the better. When I played for Leeds in the Champions League, we would either lose or draw the game that followed on from a midweek in Europe; no matter what we did – be it flying straight back after a match, light training sessions, anything – we always seemed to come a cropper.
Thankfully, Everton’s squad is bigger and better than it was two years ago, so the manager should be able to juggle his options and if he can do that successfully, then there is every reason to believe we can have a good run. Middlesbrough, Newcastle and Tottenham have all done well in the UEFA Cup in recent years and the players that the manager has assembled certainly stand comparable to any of those teams. Provided silly mistakes are cut out, I’d be confident that Everton can do well.
It’s just a shame that they go into the game on the back of a defeat; the goal conceded against Manchester United on Saturday wasn’t the greatest and the more you look at how Nemanja Vidic got free, the more it frustrates. There wasn’t a lot in the game and neither side created many chances. I’m sure the players involved will have been reminded of their duties in the meantime; after all, the one thing you can’t do in European football is give away cheap goals.
Unsung Weir is still a class act
JAMES McFADDEN has rightly been in the headlines since that wonder strike against France last week but he would be the first to acknowledge the role of one of his unsung team-mates. Father Time might be catching up on David Weir but he still remains as remarkably consistent as he has been throughout his career. I sent him a message after Scotland’s win in Paris and he was, not surprisingly, over the moon.
He’s been a credit to his profession right the way through his career and it’s worth remembering that ‘Peas’ still lives in the North West but commutes to Scotland every day to train with Glasgow Rangers. With living in Yorkshire, I used to do something similar in driving over to Merseyside but if you love your job as much as we do, you don’t mind putting in the extra hours - that’s why it’s so frustrating when to hear some young lads complain that they are put out by 45 minute commutes. That’s not something you would ever hear Davie do, though, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Rangers and Scotland’s defences look much more solid when he is playing.
Ex-Liverpool midfielder Terry wants to sink Everton
Sept 18 2007 by Neil Hodgson, Liverpool Echo
FORMER Liverpool midfielder Terry Nelson is plotting to get the better of Everton this Sunday. The Blues are taking on Premiership rivals Aston Villa in Birmingham and Terry, who was forced to quit the Anfield club through injury, has been training the Brummies in his unique Aqua Running techniques to improve the team’s fitness.
Using special wet suits, shoes and weights, the players ‘run’ and work in the ‘zero gravity’ of a swimming pool which reduces the stress on their body compared with conventional exercise routines. Mr Nelson, whose business is based in Liverpool’s Corn Exchange, said it is particularly helpful for injured players. He said: “It allows injured players to keep in condition for six to eight weeks by training in the pool, particularly metatarsal injuries. They can run as hard as they like with no impact.”
He said Villa’s coach Jim Henry, who joined the club fromCeltic when their manager Martin O’Neill moved to the Midlands, reckons it can also add another year to the career of older players. The 45-year-old added: “Villa say they have had their best injury-free pre-season for years.” He worked with the team before their sensational victory over high-flying Chelsea on September 2 and hopes for a similar result against Everton this weekend. He said: “Yes, I’m hopefully helping Villa to topple Everton on Sunday, but I’d like Everton and Liverpool to see this system and maybe they can take it as well.” Mr Nelson, who has undergone two kidney transplants, has worked with several English Premier League clubs, the English rugby union side and given clinics to Spanish giants Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid. Former Everton captain and caretaker manager Dave Watson is an advocate of Aqua Running and Mr Nelson revealed the Blues have asked for more information. Their new training complex at Finch Farm includes a swimming pool.
Everton Res 3, Blackburn Res 2
Sep 19 2007
Liverpool Daily Post
THERE were five goals and plenty of excitement as Everton Reserves ran out winners against Blackburn as both sides fielded young line-ups in the Premier Reserve League Northern Section. Everton went ahead in the 11th minute when Kieran Agard played his way past three defenders to fire home past Frank Fielding in the visitors’ goal. Everton lacked concentration minutes later, however, as Rovers levelled. Jamie Clarke’s pull back found Raffaele De Vita who smashed the ball past Iain Turner, making his first start of the season following a groin injury. Both sides had chances to add to their tally but it was Everton who struck just after the half hour when hesitancy in the Rovers defence let in Steven Morrison to score from close range.
The home side extended their lead with a penalty in the second half, John Paul Kissock was brought down by Rostyn Griffiths in the box and Morrison got his second and Everton’s third with the spot-kick. Blackburn pulled a goal back with seven minutes remaining when Darren Dennehey brought down Clarke and he got up to slot home past substitute keeper Jamie Jones.
EVERTON RES: Turner (Jones 45), Irving, Boyle, Sinnott, Dennehy, Harpur, Morrison (Downes 73), Vidarsson, Kissock, Jutkiewicz, Agard. Subs: Spencer, Rodwell, Krenn.
Goals will come for Andy Johnson says David Moyes
Sept 19 2007 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
ANDY JOHNSON will go into tomorrow night's UEFA Cup clash with Metalist Kharkiv searching for his first goal of the season. But boss David Moyes believes the presence of an out-and-out goalscorer like Yakubu will help last season's top scorer, not hinder him. While Johnson turned provider to help Yakubu score on his debut at Bolton a fortnight ago, Johnson has not struck since scoring the winner against Arsenal last season. But Moyes said: "I still think Andy will get his quota. Having Yakubu up there with him shouldn't make any difference. "I'm pleased with how they're both playing at the moment. "We have been happy with the way Yak has started. "We are trying to get him used to us, but parts of his game already have been very good and when we have got service to him he has shown his quality.
"And Andy is working is as hard as he always does. "We don't really mind who scores the goals as long as we get some tomorrow." Metalist were beaten 3-0 at Dnipro last Sunday and currently lie fifth in the Ukrainian Premier League with four wins from their opening nine matches. Stefan Wessels will continue in goal for the Blues as Tim Howard continues his rehabilitation from a dislocated finger and the Blues have one or two other knocks to treat before David Moyes can select a starting line-up.
There are still tickets left for tomorrow's clash, priced £18 adults and £8 concessions (under-16s and OAPs). Tickets can be purchased via Dial-a-Seat 0870 4421878 or in person at the Park End Box Office.
Action stations for Lee Carsley
Sept 19 2007 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
LEE CARSLEY made his Derby County debut in a European competition.
But he says the Anglo Italian Cup doesn’t really count. Now he’s looking forward to the real thing tomorrow night as Everton take on unknown Ukrainian outfit Metalist Kharkiv. Carsley was a fresh faced 19-year-old when Derby put AS Cesena to the sword in 1994, winning 6-1 in front of a sparse gathering of just 2,010 fans.
Little wonder then that Carsley “can’t remember the result.” More than a decade later, however, he was doing his best to put European results out of his mind again.
But this time the reason had nothing to do with the status of the competition.
Carsley was a hugely influential member of the Everton team which finished fourth in 2005 to reach the Champions League qualifying round. But, after playing in all but three of Everton’s matches that season – a three game ban for an out of character dismissal against Preston the only absence – he suffered a serious knee injury in the final, meaningless match of the campaign. “I was so disappointed that I didn’t watch any of the European games,” he declared. “I didn’t go to the Villarreal game, or the Bucharest game. Basically, I didn’t have anything to do with the team until round about Christmas when I was almost coming back. “I was so cheesed off. It was such a small injury. If I’d had the operation in the summer after the Bolton game I’d have been ready . . . but I was just told to ‘rest it’. “It was just a little grade two tear on my medial knee ligament. Nothing major. But I ended up missing most of the season.
“I still remember the reaction after we went out, though. I remember it being a big low. We were all in the canteen when the draw was made and when we got Villarreal everyone was buzzing. “We were unfortunate in those games, and then to go out of the UEFA Cup was a real low and our season didn’t really get going again until Christmas.” Ironically, after five successive starts at the outset of the current campaign, Carsley made way for Phil Jagielka on Saturday when Manchester United came to Goodison. He hopes it was merely a temporary absence, but accepts that squad rotation will feature more and more at Everton as the club contemplates regular Thursday night action should they negotiate their way past Ukraine’s third rated side.
“Squad rotation is the way it’s going here,” he added. “The gaffer was saying in pre-season if we do well in the UEFA Cup there’s a chance we could end up playing 60-odd games. Last season, I played 40-odd games and that was hard enough. “Playing 60 games – plus internationals – I can’t see any player doing that. “If you’re going to keep the quality up and the fitness fresh you have to have a rest.
“That’s the way it’s going – especially for teams like us.”
Worry over Blues’ lack of firepower
Sep 19 2007
icLiverpool & Liverpool Echo
EVERTON need to win by at least three goals tomorrow night, but I don’t know where they will come from.
I suggest we play a winger so that AJ and Yakubu don’t have to chase down the line to get the ball themselves. It might be an idea Moyes will be interested in. But how about them actually staying in the box and have crosses delivered to them? Luke Jamieson, Aigburth
TWO seasons ago we threw away our chance of making an impression in Europe. Our priority must be to ensure this doesn’t happen again. The humiliating UEFA Cup defeat to Dinamo Bucharest must be permanently eradicated from our minds, and only a solid European run this time round will help achieve it. We have shown ourselves to be worthy opposition in the Premier League, so let’s go out there and show the rest of Europe what we are capable of. If the likes of Middlesbrough and Tottenham can progress to the later stages of this competition, then I don’t see why we can’t. Keith Brimstone, Merseyside
IT’S been a while since Everton were able to boast the depth of talent which the current squad possesses.
So as we enter a rare European campaign, we should have every reason to be optimistic.
Our defence is as solid as ever, the midfield even more creative and the attack at its most potent. What’s more, we have good cover for nearly every position. While Metalist Kharkiv are a relative unknown to us, that’s not to say we can take them lightly. Indeed, if we show a merciless streak, then maybe that will inspire confidence that we can take into Premier League games and other UEFA Cup clashes. The future’s looking bright, so let’s all get down to Goodison tomorrow.
Stuart Ranson, Liverpool THE result against Manchester United was hugely disappointing, but the same can’t be said for the performance. We competed evenly over the 90 minutes and showed that we are capable of matching Ferguson’s mega-million pound all-stars. We just need to cut out the silly mistakes which seem to let us down. Concentration is paramount in those set-piece situations. Tim Carlton, Merseyside
Boots are to blame for foot injuries says David Moyes
Sep 20 2007 By Paul Walker
EVERTON manager David Moyes believes lightweight boots are contributing to the glut of metatarsal injuries being suffered by players. Emile Heskey’s recent broken bone has focused attention on the issue - England internationals Wayne Rooney, David Beckham, Steven Gerrard, Gary Neville, Ashley Cole and Michael Owen have also suffered the same injury. Everton midfielder Tim Cahill broke a metatarsal last season simply by landing awkwardly and has had special boots designed to try to avoid it happening again. Moyes says he is “no expert” but believes modern boots are a contributory factor. The Everton manager said: “I might get sued by one of the big companies if I say but I think it’s a big part of it. “Players can now pull their boots on like slippers and that did not used to be the case.” Asked about Cahill’s new boots, Moyes joked: “I think he has got some boots like the ones we have in our display cabinets with straps and bootlaces and metal toe-caps.” Cahill said: “I don’t want to put my body at risk when it is such an innocuous thing that happened - to jump and land. “I have had new boots made, I have tried different foot supports. “I have kept my weight down and tried to build more muscle and I have been doing different things with the physios and nutritionists as well to make myself stronger for when I get back.”
Sep 20 2007
Should David Moyes go for all-out attack in Europe tonight?
SATURDAY’S loss was difficult to bear but it is vital that we take the positives out of the game – and there were plenty of them – and go forward into tonight’s UEFA Cup clash full of optimism. A good first leg result will set us up nicely, not just for the return, but also for crucial Premiership games that lie ahead. David Moyes has to be positive in his approach to the game. Most fans were again bemused by his tactics last week, replacing our most expensive signing with his understudy, and bringing McFadden on far too late to have much chance of making a big impact. I would go for three up front from the start to see what the Ukrainians are made of. We must try to get at least a two-goal lead to take over there. Goodison will be packed, the atmosphere charged and the stage set for what hopefully will be the start of our most successful European campaign since the glorious Eighties. Mike Williamson, Chester
METALIST KHARKIV? It’s the fear of the unknown.
Years ago, during the World Cup, there were commentators with a wider cultural understanding who could simplify it all – Latin ‘flair’, German ‘organisation’ and the Italians – just a bunch of shirt-pulling, diving, injury-feigning, referee-bribing cheats.
Anything in Eastern Europe was ‘behind the Iron Curtain’ – smoky factories, frozen pitches, cryogenically preserved leaders, nuclear missiles on tow trucks. Since the break-up of the Soviet Union it has become complicated – Lithuania, Estonia and Ukraine. Where the hell are they? Tactics? Hoof it long or pass it about? Stay solid or win it in the first leg? Play McFadden or bench him? I don’t really care. The only aim is to get through. The team must realise that half the city (plus Norway) are waiting for an almighty cock-up. As it’s on live TV we’ll need all the stay-at-homes to cheer loudly from their couches and contribute to the atmosphere. Richard Knights, West Derby
EVERTON are a big club and rightfully deserve their place in Europe after an excellent sixth place finish in the league last season. Metalist Kharkiv will be no pushovers though and we must be prepared for it. Everton need to adopt a positive approach and go at Kharkiv from the start with the intention of getting goals, but they must als keep it solid at the back, as a clean sheet is vital to take into the second leg. Kharkiv will come with a game plan of keeping it tight and trying to nick an away goal. It could be the perfect chance for James McFadden to shine on the European stage for Everton. He is worth a starting place as his confidence is sky high as he showed in just a few minutes against Man United. Let’s all get behind the lads and make Goodison very intimidating for the Ukrainians to give us a good lead to take over there. It promises to be another great European night at Goodison! Lee Molton, St Helens
TONIGHT’S opponents FC Metalist Kharkiv pose an unknown threat to David Moyes and Everton. Progress in the UEFA Cup is crucial, failure to achieve group stage qualification is unthinkable. Last season’s fantastic achievements deserve to be honoured, and nothing but a victory tonight will be acceptable. I believe Everton should be attack minded as they need to give themselves the best possible chance ahead of a tricky away fixture in Eastern Europe. Clearly it would be a disaster if the Blues were to be dumped out at such an early stage. A big performance is needed and big stars Johnson, Yakubu and Arteta all have the capabilities to deliver victory tonight. After Saturday’s defeat to Man United I still felt proud of Everton. Unlucky? Yes. Outclassed? Definitely not. Many other Premiership teams will be beaten by worse performances from the Toffees this season, so we shouldn’t let that result dampen our spirits. David Wallbank, Huyton
Happy omen as Everton fans trounce Ukrainians 6-0
Sep 20 2007
EVERTONIANS and Ukrainians held a warm-up football match ahead of tonight’s Uefa cup tie. Blues fans took on supporters from Metalist Kharkiv and won 6-0. The friendly at Walton Hall Park was one of a series of matches Everton fans are playing after putting together a supporters’ league. They have played against Chester, Liverpool and Wrexham fans and scored 23 goals. John Lawson, 43, from Maghull, who helped organise the match, said: “The supporters’ league has been running for three weeks now. “We play teams from all over the country and are trying to arrange more.”
Injuries threaten to mar Everton's return to Europe
Sep 20 2007
By Christopher Beesley Liverpool Daily Post
DAVID MOYES is sweating on a potential injury crisis ahead of Everton’s return to European competition at Goodison Park tonight. Mikel Arteta, Andrew Johnson, Steven Pienaar and Tim Howard all face late fitness tests as Ukrainian unknowns Metalist Kharkiv provide the opposition for the UEFA Cup first round first leg tie. German Stefan Wessels is poised to continue in goal deputising for Howard, who is a major doubt having already missed Saturday’s 1-0 home defeat against Manchester United due to a dislocated finger. But Moyes remained tight- lipped over the exact nature of Johnson, Arteta and Pienaar’s problems. “They’ve all got injuries so we’ll have a look at them tomorrow,” said the Everton manager yesterday. “I’m not going into details but they’re all doubts for tomorrow night’s game.” Although Everton hope to be buoyed by a bumper Goodison Park crowd, Moyes admits that supporters may have to be patient as they tackle a side that finished third in their domestic league last season. “I think that patience will be required,” he said. “You’re always anxious to get a goal and go in front but on the same breath we’ve got to make sure we get a lead to take to the Ukraine. “It’s a different type of game. We’re at home and I think they’ll come and sit back and allow us to come on to them. Because of that we will have to dictate the tempo and the pace of the game.”There are still a number of tickets available for tonight’s game, priced at £18 for adults and £8 for concessions, and will be on sale at the Goodison Park Box Office until 6pm this evening. Defender Joseph Yobo believes the Everton supporters will have a part to play, and said: “The fans are fantastic. “They have always been behind the team whenever we are playing. “They were very supportive last season and we achieved the European place all together – not just the players, not just the manager – it was the fans as well that played a big role in it. “I think we will all enjoy the night and we need to make sure everyone leaves the stadium happy.” With a lack of progress in cup competitions remaining Moyes’s big frustration during his tenure at Goodison Park, the manager admits he is determined to have a good run in Europe this season, especially after the frustration of Everton’s short-lived European campaign two years ago. “I think we do need to make that next step and have a good run in Europe,” he said. “We worked really hard last season to get into either the UEFA Cup or the Champions League so we want to make sure we have a go at it. “I’m hoping we get through as we’ll all gain experience and will get better from it. We need to put the hoodoo of the Bucharest game away more than Villarreal as that one was a different game which was close over the two legs.
“All we can do is try and prepare the players and keep them as fresh as we can. At this stage of the season it shouldn’t be too much of a problem. I think the issue is if we get through it can become a problem but at the moment I’m hoping it shouldn’t make too much difference to us now. “If we get through to the group stage then I can talk about fixture congestion. “I hope I’m talking about us getting picked on because it will mean we’ve qualified but the Premier League has got to be our main objective. I must say I’d like a cup run, more than one cup run.”
Let's keep European bid alive - Mikel Arteta
Sep 20 2007
By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
MIKEL ARTETA today urged Everton to make the most of a glorious opportunity as he set his sights on a lengthy run in Europe.
The Blues’ influential midfielder is carrying a foot injury picked up in training but is hopeful of being involved in tonight’s UEFA Cup tie at Goodison Park against Metalist Kharkiv. It is two years since Everton were last involved in European competition and given Arteta continues to be overlooked for international honours, it is hardly surprising that the Spaniard is relishing the chance to showcase his talents on the Continental stage. But while Everton will be hot favourites to beat Kharkiv en route to the group stages, Arteta knows that nothing can be taken for granted and hopes the lessons of the demoralising defeat against Dinamo Bucharest in 2005 have been learned. "We can’t lose this chance, Arteta said. "We can’t miss out. This club needs Europe and all the players need to feel we are on the top level. I think Europe is going to be massive for us this year. We need to try to have a really good run and be prepared for that. "A run in Europe can sometimes impact on your league form but we have to be prepared for that. It wouldn’t be the first time that happened and we know that from when we played in Europe two years ago. Hopefully we have learned. "We won’t be able to keep playing the same players all the time. 50 or 60 games a season is crazy and if you look at the teams who do well in two or three competitions, they are always changing their players around. "We know we can’t do it like them because we haven’t got 20 players. But we will do the best that we can. We know how hard it is to qualify and we don’t want what happened to us in Bucharest two years ago to happen again. This is a massive chance for us." Aside from Arteta, Everton boss David Moyes has fitness doubts over Steven Pienaar and Andrew Johnson - meaning James McFadden is likely to be given a start. Definitely missing are Thomas Gravesen and Tim Howard. Moyes, though, is hopeful that whoever he selects for duty will be up to the task against a side he has had watched twice in recent weeks, and says the 3-0 defeat against Dnipro Dniprovetsk last Sunday was not a true reflection of their talents. "They play a passing style and they are tough," said Moyes. "They are also unorthodox, so it is difficult to be able to specifically say how they will play here. It hasn’t been a simple task preparing for them. "We watched their game on Sunday on tape and also had someone at the game. There was very little in the game except a couple of mistakes at free-kicks really. To me, it wasn’t a 3-0 defeat. But hopefully we can have a good run in Europe now." Tickets are still available from the Goodison box office for tonight’s game, priced £18 for adults and £8 concessions.
Leon Osman determined to erase memory of Euro nightmare
Sept 20 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
STUNNED, speechless and shaken to the core, the term ‘terror at 30,000 feet’ took on a completely different meaning the last time Everton’s players ventured into Europe.
Having just seen Dinamo Bucharest effectively shatter their UEFA Cup dreams, the three-and-a-half hours it took for the squad to fly back to Liverpool from Romania seemed an eternity as they contemplated a chastening 5-1 defeat. At the front of the plane, manager David Moyes and chairman Bill Kenwright sat in silence watching a DVD of the game, desperately looking for clues as to why the wheels had come off Everton’s bandwagon so spectacularly. Two years have passed since that miserable evening and it is something Leon Osman remembers well but not – as you can imagine – with any great fondness. No surprise, then, that he and the rest of his team-mates are itching for the opportunity to atone. So it is fitting, perhaps, that Everton return to Europe against another side from the Eastern bloc and they head into this evening’s contest with Metalist Kharkiv anxious to make up for lost time.
Osman, in particular, has no wish to go through another ordeal like the one in Bucharest. But he feels the players Moyes has assembled in the time since are capable of securing a much coveted place in the group stages at the Ukrainians’ expense.
“It was terrible,” he recalled. “Nobody spoke. We’d gone past shouting and screaming at each other. We were that disappointed. It was credit to the lads that we came out in the second leg and got a win to show that the first leg had just been one of those nights. “Hopefully, we have progressed now. Results showed last time that going out had a big effect. We were bottom of the table until the middle of October and struggled up to Christmas, but then we found our feet and catapulted up the league.
“It was tough to take and maybe we should have got over it quicker. We had worked hard and wanted to come away with a victory. Now we are going to pull together and make sure we achieve something this time.” If defeat against Villarreal in the Champions League qualifiers wasn’t bad enough, it is perhaps easy to forget that Everton were actually in the driving seat against Bucharest for much of the first leg after Joseph Yobo’s header had given them a priceless away goal. Yet, as forgettable as that game turned out to be, it only strengthened Osman’s determination to sample the experience of playing in Europe again and he is confident that the Blues now possess the wit and wisdom for their continental challenge. “Personally, I was very disappointed last time but playing in Europe whets your appetite,” he said. “You think to yourself ‘I want more of that’. As a team, we’ve all been thinking that way. We worked hard last year and achieved what we set out to do. “I remember most things from that night in Bucharest. It had been going great until half-time and then we had a bad spell in the second half. It wouldn’t surprise me if they only had four or five shots but everything they hit went in. “But that’s European football for you. You’ve got to stop the shots coming in and you’ve got to think of ways to out-fox the opposition. We’ve worked hard for the opportunity to put things right this season and hopefully we can do that.” Given that they do not boast any household names, Kharkiv will be an unknown quantity for many at Goodison tonight, but Osman says plenty of work has been done to ensure the players are fully prepared. Though they go into the game on the back of a frustrating 1-0 defeat against Manchester United, excitement has been building in the camp for the past few days and, granted a slice of luck, it won’t be another two years before their next European involvement “It feels great to be back,” said Osman. “It was disappointing that we went out so early last time, but it was something that we all wanted to achieve again. We want to be playing in Europe and we worked really hard last season to make sure that happened. “We are going into the game, firstly to enjoy it and savour the atmosphere, but above all we are trying to make this a decent run. It doesn’t matter whether we are at home or away first. We just want to make sure we score more goals than them. “We are better prepared for European football now. We know that referees make different decisions than they do in the Premier League. Players maybe go down a bit easier, too. If you are not used to it, it can take a while to adjust, but we hope it goes well.” Yobo, meanwhile, is hoping he gets the opportunity to add to his tally in Europe and has promised he will be ready, willing and able if a chance arrives in the Metalist area at any stage. “I have scored almost every season so it is something I look forward to,” he said. “Obviously, the most important thing is to win the game. But if I get the chance – and I know my chance will come – I am going to score.”
JOHNSON GETS THE BLUES
20th September 2007
On a night of high European drama, England striker Andrew Johnson missed two penalties - one twice taken - to give Everton a mountain to climb when they go to the Ukraine for the second-leg of this UEFA Cup tie against Metalist Kharkiv.
Metalist had two men sent-off in a crazy ending to this first-round clash, Oleksandr Babych and Seweryn Gancarczyk, but even with nine men against them, Everton could not clinch this game. They went ahead in the first half through Joleon Lescott, and with mayhem going on at the other end they conceded a late equaliser to Brazilian midfielder Venans Zeze. Kharkiv's tackling bordered on the wild at times, and twice early on they broke quickly to see Sergiy Valyayev and then Oleksandr Rykun send 20-yarders flying just over. They had Milan Obradovic booked for a 22nd-minute tackle on Johnson, but on 23 minutes Everton got their breakthrough - James McFadden lifted the ball into the box for Lescott to head home from six yards.
Kharkiv sent on Olexiy Antonov and the Brazilian Zeze for Onyekachi Nwoha and Rykun. But after Vitalie Bordian had been booked for kicking the ball away from a free-kick, the Ukrainians had a man sent-off and survived a twice-taken penalty.
The spot-kick was given on 68 minutes when Oleksandr Babych was penalised for pulling down Lescott in the box. Kharkiv were furious and Seweryn Gancarczyk was sent-off for arguing. Johnson then fired the penalty home, only to be made to take it again because of encroachment. Second time around he saw his second effort saved by Goryainov. Worse was to follow for Everton - Metalist took off substitute Antonov and replaced him with Hicham Mahdoufi on 76 minutes and, with the new man's first touch, he flicked the ball through Lescott's legs to allow Zeze to fire home the equaliser. Two minutes from time Johnson amazingly wasted another spot-kick, firing high over after Babych had pulled down Anichebe. The Metalist defender, booked for the first penalty he conceded, was shown another yellow and then red for this offence.
BAKAYOKO DENIES ROVERS
20th September 2007
Former Everton flop Ibrahima Bakayoko helped bring Blackburn's 15-match unbeaten run crashing to an end and leave them on the brink of UEFA Cup elimination at the first hurdle as Larissa ran out 2-0 winners. Bakayoko and Brazilian Cleyton scored two goals in the space of 90 disastrous first-half seconds as the Greek Cup winners pulled off a shock first-round, first-leg result. The defeat leaves manager Mark Hughes' side facing an uphill task in the second leg at Ewood Park in a fortnight if they are to reach the group stages. Blackburn's best opportunity of a wretched match arriving in the 19th minute, when a long throw from Morten Gamst Pedersen was taken on the chest by Benni McCarthy, who struck a volley goalwards that smacked into the face of German defender Marco Foerster. Then came those 90 miserable seconds as Rovers found themselves two goals adrift and staring at an unlikely early exit from the competition. Bakayoko let fly from 30 yards, only for his shot to take a slight deflection off Ryan Nelsen - and that was enough to help beat Brad Friedel.
Moments later and further travesty followed, this time courtesy of Blackburn's own making, and in particular a woeful back pass from just inside his own half from Brett Emerton. Seizing onto the underhit ball, Nektarios Alexandrou was initially denied by a spread-eagled Friedel, while Andre Ooijer then blocked Bakayoko on the rebound. The loose ball, though, ran to Giorgos Fotakis who teed up Cleyton and the Brazilian delightfully curled home a fine second from 12 yards. A clawing save from Friedel from Fotakis' 20-yard free-kick denied Blackburn further embarrassment at the start of a second half in which they were distinctly second best - and the loss of captain Nelsen just before the hour added to Rovers' woes.
MOYES WON'T BLAME JOHNSON
21st September 2007
David Moyes refused to blame England striker Andrew Johnson for the double penalty miss that leaves Everton's UEFA Cup dreams hanging by a thread.
Johnson, who has not scored for his club since March 16, was forced to retake one spot-kick because of encroachment by Leon Osman in the 1-1 draw with Metalist Kharkiv at Goodison Park and after netting the first effort, Johnson saw goalkeeper Alexsandr Goryainov save the second attempt. And when Everton were awarded another penalty in the closing minutes, Johnson stepped up again and this time blasted the ball into the crowd but Moyes said: "Andy was very brave to want to take the second penalty, I have no problems with that. If the player wants to take it, then take it." Everton had led early on through a Joleon Lescott header, but in the mayhem of those final minutes of the first round first-leg tie, they saw substitute Venans Zeze grab a lifeline for the Ukrainians. Moyes added: "Andy wanted it, he so desperately wants to score a goal after so long without one. I admire him for that. "If someone says `no thanks' that is understandable too, but Andy was keen to take the responsibility again and I admire him for it. It was a brave thing to do." But Moyes believes that the first penalty should not have been disallowed by Austrian referee Fritz Stuchlik. He said: "I have seen the replay and it was a bit harsh. There was as many of their players in the box as there was ours. "And if he disallowed that one, he should have done the same to the next one because there was even more people in the box for that one. "As for the second leg, we will have to go there and play a lot better. At the moment we are out because of their away goal. It is up to us to make sure we do much better out there."
Everton 1, Metalist Kharkiv 1 (Echo)
Sep 21 2007
by Dominic King at Goodison Park
BOLOGNA, Lille, Poznan, Nurnberg, Cincinnati and Tianjin; all cities twinned with Kharkiv and each one a destination infinitely more desirable than an industrial outpost in the east of Ukraine. Then again, a trip to Alcatraz or Wormwood Scrubs would seem appealing today to every distraught, frustrated, exasperated Evertonian who is contemplating the sickening prospect of another humiliating exit from Europe. How are we here again? It is easy to get caught up in emotion when dissecting an important match, as reason is invariably thrown out of the window; so pause a moment and remember that, half way through this tie, Everton have conceded an away goal to Metalist Kharkiv but are still level pegging. Add into the equation the fact that Mikel Arteta, Thomas Gravesen and Steven Pienaar – players capable of mak- ing magic – should all be back from injury for the return leg a week on Thursday and, suddenly, things don’t seem so bleak. But that isn’t what you want to hear at this moment in time. And nor will you. On last night’s evidence, Everton’s dreams of progressing in the UEFA Cup will be extinguished once they set foot in Kharkiv, so utterly wretched were they last night. Devoid of shape, lacking inspiration and playing without any sense of composure, this was the antitheses of the perfect European performance: how were the mistakes made against Villarreal and Dinamo Bucharest two years ago not learned from? Why, when they had a numerical advantage and a goal lead, did Everton continue to hoof aimless balls forward? Why did somebody not take hold of the game by the scruff of the neck and start passing the ball simply, patiently into feet? Playing well in the rat a tat tat environment of Premier League is one thing; mastering the art of continental combat is another and David Moyes’ side are some way from achieving it. Hopefully, they will learn from this fiasco quickly.
While it is unpleasant to watch, European sides frequently encourage their players to feign injury to waste time; referees are fastidious and penalise the slightest infringement but it is pointless getting worked up about it – that’s what happens in this arena. Accept it. Put simply, the key to mastering the continent is not about producing wonderful, eye-catching displays all the time. It’s all about churning out results: a case, if you will, of learning to walk before you can run. Without the players who can produce the unexpected, it would have been sensible for Everton to draw stumps at 1-0 last night, run the clock down and ensure they headed out to Ukraine early next month protecting a precious clean sheet. Had Andrew Johnson’s initial penalty on 67 minutes been allowed to stand, the lack of genuine entertainment would have been an insignificant foot note on last night’s action and handed Everton match point. Not now. Instead, this feels like Bucharest all over again. You have to go back to the last game of the 2005-06 campaign for the last time Evertonians were so bitterly disappointed at a final whistle – remember the excruciating draw with West Brom? – yet it could have all been so different here. Anxious to get a nerve-settling early goal, Everton’s eagerness to attack whenever possible – Moyes’ system compromised a cavalier three-pronged strike-force – also led to them being naïve on a couple of occasions. Stefan Wessels came to the rescue with a flying finger tip save to deny Sergiy Valyayev after the midfielder had been given too much space to shoot, while Oleksandr Rykun fluffed an even better chance after the Toffees were caught out by a swift counter-attack. Belatedly, Everton managed to get back on an even keel and began passing with a degree of purpose, asking questions of their visitors and looking to exploit the slightest weakness. Moyes and his coaching staff had picked through tapes of Kharkiv’s 3-0 defeat against Dnipro Dniprovetsk last Sunday and saw evidence that they might be vulnerable at set pieces, despite them boasting great height and strength at the back. So it proved. Having forced a succession of corners, James McFadden finally delivered the perfect centre and picked out Lescott, who was charging in at pace. He did the rest, crashing his header past the helpless Oleksandr Goryainov in Kharkiv’s goal. Cue pandemonium. Unfortunately, though, the anticipated onslaught did not materialise; Kharkiv, for one, were far more savvy than many would have expected them to be and made life as difficult as possible for Everton to create any chances of note before the break. A similar trend followed in the second period. With Kharkiv more than happy to sit back and soak up the pressure, Everton found themselves in the unaccustomed position of trying to force an opening yet at the same time needing to be cautious. Lamentably, that balance could not be found. Though the opportunity to finish the game arrived when Lescott was bundled over, nerves or something got the better of Johnson and his second spot-kick was saved by Goryianov. If that was bad, however, worse was to follow. Venans Zeze’s equalising goal on 77 minutes stunned Goodison and, rubbing salt in the wounds, Johnson went through the kind of torment no decent person deserves to when fluffing his third attempt from 12 yards. Fingers crossed, it won’t take too long for him to bounce back. He may dwell on the misses but the England international, who would not have started had Arteta been fit, showed terrific character to volunteer for duty in the first place. What’s more, his work rate set an example that his strike partner, Yakubu, would do well to follow; he needs to be properly up to speed before the squad boards the plane at John Lennon Airport for the date in Kharkiv with destiny. That said, as miserable as last night was, it should not be forgotten that Everton are more than capable of going there and getting the result that will take them through to the group stages. No doubt, whatsoever. The big question, nonetheless, is will they have the wit to do so? Free-flowing football does not matter at the Metalist Stadium – a boring, single goal victory would be absolutely perfect. Fail to do that and the consequences don’t even bare thinking about.
EVERTON (4-2-1-3): Wessels; Hibbert, Yobo, Lescott, Baines; Neville, Carsley (Jagielka 79); Osman; McFadden, Yakubu (Anichebe 65), Johnson.
KHARKIV (4-1-3-2): Goryianov; Babych; Gancarczyk, Valayev, Silusar; Rykun (Zeze 67); Gueye, Devic; Bordian; Nwoha (Antonov 59 Mahdoufi 76), Obradovic.
REFEREE: Fritz Suchlike (Austrian)
Everton 1, Metalist Kharkiv 1 (D,Post)
Sep 21 2007
By Ian Doyle at Goodison Park
EVERTON’S last European campaign ended amid controversy and a major conspiracy theory. But they will have only themselves to blame if another journey abroad falters at the first hurdle this season. It’s difficult to reach any other conclusion after the Goodison outfit surrendered a lead and missed two penalties against a Metalist Kharkiv side that finished the game with nine men but somehow clutching a potentially decisive away goal. Even allowing for Everton’s penchant of doing things the hard way, this was self-inflicted misery on a grand scale. Fingers will instantly point at Andrew Johnson, the striker guilty of spurning both spot-kicks as his desperate time in front of goal struck a new low. Yet the responsibility for this damaging 1-1 draw cannot fall on the shoulders of just one player, Everton’s now needing to at least to score in the return leg in Ukraine in a fortnight’s time to avoid an early UEFA Cup exit. Matters had seemed far rosier when, on their 50th European appearance, the home side went ahead in the 24th-minute through Joleon Lescott’s third goal of the season. Johnson thought he’d doubled the advantage and ended his six- month goal drought in the process when hammering home from the spot with 20 minutes remaining. But after contentiously being ordered to re-take by Austrian referee Fritz Stuchlik, the Everton man’s second effort was saved by Metalist goalkeeper Oleksandr Goryainov. If that wasn’t indicative of Johnson’s recent fortunes, further evidence came in the 89th minute when the striker blasted another penalty high into the Gwladys Street stand. While Johnson should be commended for refusing to hide behind the first spot-kick miss, it’s now impossible to ignore the debilitating impact his barren spell – which stretches back to his late winner against Arsenal on March 18 – is having on his game. Rather than the cagey feel of a typical European game, the evening was more like an FA Cup tie with both teams pouring forward. It ultimately proved to be Everton’s undoing, their emphasis on attack leaving them open to a counter-attack that the visitors successfully executed in the 78th minute, Edmar’s well-taken strike meaning Metalist must now be regarded as favourites to progress to the group stages. Having had two long years to mull over their dismal previous European adventure under Moyes, Everton were made to wait a little longer with crowd congestion pushing the kick-off back 25 minutes. While less than 25,000 Chelsea fans could be bothered to turn up for Jose Mourinho’s last supper on Tuesday, Goodison Park was almost to capacity for the return of European football. Johnson’s selection had been the subject of speculation in the build-up to the game. But while the striker kept his place, a foot injury meant Everton were without the talismanic Mikel Arteta, handing a second start of the season to James McFadden.
Lee Carsley replaced Phil Jagielka in the only other change from the team that lost to Manchester United at the weekend. With Arteta joining Tim Cahill, Thomas Gravesen and Steven Pienaar in the treatment room, Moyes sought to spread the burden of creativity by operating a flexible formation, which switched from a 4-4-2 while defending to a fluid 4-3-3 when going forward. It made for a surprisingly open first half in which, despite lively in attack, Everton at times lived dangerously at the back. Leon Osman struck Phil Neville’s cross at Metalist goalkeeper Goryainov and Seweryn Gancarczyk produced a fine sliding challenge to deny McFadden after a lung-busting burst from full-back by Leighton Baines. Metalist, often haphazard in defence, were far more convincing on the counter- attack and twice almost caught Everton napping. Stefan Wessels, again deputising for the injured Tim Howard, was at full stretch to tip over a 25-yard thunderbolt by Sergiy Valyayev before Oleksandr Rykun volleyed wastefully off target from a good position after being found by Marco Devic. However, the home side struck first in the 24th minute when they capitalised on Metalist’s vulnerability at the dead ball, Lescott reaching McFadden’s right-wing corner before a dozing Valentyn Sliusar to head home. The Everton centre-back became the focal point of mild controversy at the other end moments later when Metalist made half-hearted claims for a penalty when Lescott tangled with striker Onyekachi Nwoha in the build-up to a move in which Rykun shot harmlessly wide. The increasingly busy Wessels fielded efforts from Devic and Sliusar, but Lescott almost netted his second on the stroke of half-time when failing to divert in Osman’s wayward shot at the far post. Osman himself replicated the miss shortly after the interval from a Baines left-wing delivery, but Metalist continued to cut through the Everton defence far too easily only to be let down by a chronic lack of composure when in sight of Wessels. Everton, though, controversially failed to double their lead on 70 minutes. Lescott was manhandled by Oleksandr Babych while attempting to reach Neville’s free-kick, leaving referee Stuchlik no option but to point to the spot. Gancarczyk’s objections were nevertheless so vociferous that the Metalist left-back talked himself into two yellow cards and a subsequent red. Johnson gleefully rammed home from spot only for the referee to order a re-take for encroachment by substitute Victor Anichebe. It was a harsh call, and it was almost inevitable when Metalist keeper Goryainov saved Johnson’s second spot-kick by diving to his left, despite replays suggesting a number of visiting players had encroached into the area. Anichebe attempted to make amends with a turn and shot parried by Goryainov before Metalist took full advantage of their escape by equalising with 12 minutes remaining. A lightning break ended with Hicham Mahdoufi, who only seconds earlier had emerged from the bench, playing in fellow sub Edmar to sidefoot beyond Wessels. There were further shouts for another Everton penalty when a clearly unhappy Anichebe tangled with centre-back Papa Gueye, before Babych tugged down the striker inside the area in the 89th minute to become the second Metalist player dismissed. However, Johnson sent the penalty painfully into the Gwaldys Street stand to cap a miserable evening.
EVERTON (4-3-3): Wessels; Hibbert, Lescott,Yobo, Baines; Neville, Carsley (Jagielka79), Osman; McFadden, Johnson, Yakubu (Anichebe 66). Subs: Ruddy, Stubbs, Valente,Vidarsson, Jutkiewicz.
BOOKING: Anichebe (dissent).
METALIST KHARKIV (3-4-2-1): Goryainov; Obradovic, Gueye, Babych; Bordian, Valyayev, Sliusar, Gabcarczyk; Rykun (Edmar 67), Devic; Nwoha (Antonov 59 (Mahdoufi 77)). Subs: Tlumak, Davydov, Danilau, Zeze.
BOOKINGS: Obradovic (foul), Bordian (unsporting behaviour), Babych (foul) and Gancarczyk (dissent).
SENDINGS-OFF: Gancarczyk and Babych (both second bookable offences).
REFEREE: F Stuchlik.
NEXT GAME: Aston Villa v Everton, Barclays Premier League, Sunday 2pm
'Shambles' as fans frozen out due to lost tickets
Sep 21 2007
by Sarah Gaffney, Liverpool Daily Post
HUNDREDS of Everton fans missed the start of the club’s UEFA cup tie last night, after their tickets apparently got lost in the post. Around 2,000 fans were forced to queue outside Goodison Park after they were told to collect replacement tickets at the ground. Several hundred were still locked out 20 minutes after a delayed 8.25pm kick-off against Ukrainians Metalist Kharkiv, ordered by safety officials and police. Everton will today be demanding answers from Royal Mail as to what went wrong with the tickets, which the club said were posted first class on Monday. But some fans criticised the operation at the stadium gates. It was not until ten minutes before half time that a Tannoy announcement told fans they could go straight to the turnstiles if they had proof of purchase. One fan, Leonard Lee, had travelled with his ten-year-old son from Blackpool, and was furious they were left waiting for so long. “I bought my tickets online last week, it took me four hours to get through to the club when they hadn’t and they said the post office hadn’t delivered them. “They delayed the game half an hour but we’re still outside. “I brought my son for a UEFA game and he can’t get in. “They take our money and just sod the fans. They say it’s a people’s club and they cant get the tickets out to the people.” Stephen Dodd, 29 who lives near Chester, queued in the ticket line which was patrolled by mounted police for over 45 minutes. “Apparently there’s 1,500 tickets gone missing but there’s been no notifications from the club,” he said. “The only announcements have been telling us to keep calm, we don't know what time we will be getting them or anything. “There was no notification before we came to game on the radio. It’s been a shambles.” And supporter Danny Bailey from Wigan said after an hour of waiting: “It’s chaos. It’s so slow. There’s only two booths open for tickets, its pathetic. If we don’t end up getting tickets do we get a refund for them?” Everton’s head of PR, Ian Ross, last night said the club would be holding talks with Royal Mail. The tickets were ordered via a remote service and the club said they “clearly” should have been delivered to fans the next day. He said due to the amount of fans involved, reissuing tickets before kick-off was a time-consuming process. “Everton will be holding talks with officials from Royal Mail first thing on Friday morning to establish the circumstances behind what was a most regrettable – but unavoidable – situation,” he said. “We need to know precisely what happened and once we have established all the salient facts we will let our supporters have them,” he said. “Safety is always our primary concern and whilst it was hugely regrettable that we had to put back the kick-off, we had to be absolutely certain that everyone got into the stadium safely.” Merseyside Police said: “The decision was taken by safety officers, and supported by Merseyside Police, to put the game back from 8pm to 8.25pm due to large numbers of Everton supporters, approximately 2,000, trying to get into the ground at 8pm.” The game ended 1-1.
Scruffy Goodison Park skirmish could cost Everton dear
Sep 21 2007
UEFA Cup Comment
by Chris Beesley, Liverpool Daily Post
LIKE chief executive Keith Wyness says: “There’s no plan B at Everton.” At Goodison they do things the hard way. And if you try that and it doesn’t work well, you’ve guessed it, it’s the hard way again. Everton, who were given an additional six minutes at the end to attack a screaming Gwladys Street, ran Metalist’s defence ragged last night, the visitors finished with nine men, Andrew Johnson twice had the ball in the net – although neither counted – as well as missing two penalties. Yet still they could not win and they handed their opponents what could prove to be a priceless away goal amongst all the madness. Cynics would say you could tell it was a big match night at Goodison because there was the inevitable ticketing problem which forced the kick-off in this UEFA Cup tie to be delayed by 30 minutes – and to make matters worse, despite a bright start, Everton ultimately couldn’t get it right on the pitch either. The city of Kharkiv, in Ukraine’s far away eastern border region is most notable for being the site of several major battles during the Second World War between the Germans and the Red Army – and I’m not talking about Everton’s rivals across the park. However, their football team are less famous and despite being the club where former Ipswich Town favourite Sergei Baltacha started his career, they went into this game as virtual unknowns due to a lack of any European experience. You’d be wrong to believe that Ukrainian clubs are mugs like Tottenham’s hopeless Cypriot visitors Anorthosis proved to be though. It’s unlikely such spending power trickles down to football writers but while I think the cliché about visitors from behind the former Iron Curtain coming to our shores and stocking up on Levis might be somewhat out of date in the post-Communist era but you could certainly spot Metalist’s journalists in the Goodison Press Box. Perhaps their iffy threads were a tribute to the 1980s when Ukrainians provided the backbone of a strong Soviet national side that reached the semi-finals of both the World Cup and European Championship? Probably not, but Trinny and Susannah would have had their biggest challenge yet with some of these scribblers and I’m not even talking about the ones bedecked in bright yellow Metalist replica shirts and scarves.
For many years now, Evertonians have wished to be transported back to that golden decade when arguably their best ever side captured four major honours in the space of just three years. Circumstances elsewhere dictated that Howard Kendall’s all-conquering team were left with a 100% record in what proved to be their only continental campaign but now at long last David Moyes’s charges have a chance to write some new pages in what so far is an unsatisfying short history of European football at Everton. Having being granted qualification via a league position for the first time since the 1970s two years ago, Everton’s first European chapter under Moyes was short but far from sweet. A shock 5-1 capitulation at the unlikely hands of Dinamo Bucharest in the UEFA Cup followed the cruellest of eliminations in the Champions League final qualifying round against Villarreal. But while Pierluigi Collina’s decision to disallow Duncan Ferguson’s goal in Spain for a supposed push that only he saw to this day remains one of the most perplexing refereeing decisions Everton have ever found themselves victims of, there can unfortunately be no complaints about Austrian referee Herr Stuchlik’s call on this occasion to force Andrew Johnson to re-take his penalty kick after teenage substitute Victor Anichebe allowed youthful enthusiasm to get the better of him as he encroached into the area before the initial strike was taken. Forced into a battle of wits again with visiting custodian Oleksandr Goryainov, Johnson, who had blasted his first attempt straight down the middle, placed his second strike to the Metalist skipper’s left but he guessed correctly and saved. Like all strikers, Johnson relies heavily on confidence and while for a few seconds all looked rosy after he had seemingly put his side 2-0 up, broken his duck for the season and ended a 12-match barren streak, his and Everton’s world were suddenly turned upside down by the eagle-eyed match official. Yet still there was another chance for both Anichebe and Johnson to redeem themselves when the Nigerian was bundled to the ground by Oleksandr Babych who promptly saw red for his second booking for a second penalty and third chance for the former Crystal Palace man. Having already been through an emotional rollercoaster minutes earlier and having hit the bottom, Lord knows where Johnson’s head was by the time he stepped up from 12 yards out for the third time. Maybe it was the selfishness a forward needs that convinced him to go to the line thrice, let’s hope it’s a great mental strength that he possesses to put his neck on the line when the chips are down but if you’ve seen it, you don’t need me to tell you that his last try was woeful and spookily reminiscent to Obafemi Martins’s spot-kick at the same end last season.
Let’s just hope that like the Newcastle number nine, Johnson can now recover from an initial lack of goals this season to register another impressive tally. But where do Johnson and Everton go from here? Well literally to Kharkiv of course. Metalist’s stadium has been earmarked for a major overhaul to host games at the 2012 European Championship finals but at the moment it seems like one of Europe’s least desirable destinations both on and off the pitch – especially when you go there following a 1-1 draw at home. Everton only had to get through this one tie, to ensure they secured a place in the group stages and then you go into a five-team pool from which three of the sides progress to the next round. Straightforward you’d have thought. Well until last night at least. Fail at this hurdle though and that’s it. There really is no Plan B.
'Brave' Andrew Johnson not to blame - David Moyes
Sep 21 2007
Everton 1, Metalist Kharkiv 1
by Chris Beesley, Liverpool Daily Post
DAVID MOYES insisted that penalty villain Andrew Johnson should be admired for stepping up to the penalty spot three times at Goodison Park last night even though none of his efforts ultimately counted. Despite dominating their UEFA Cup first round first leg tie, Everton were held to a hugely frustrating 1-1 draw by unknowns Metalist Kharkiv, a result which puts the Ukrainians in pole position for the second leg in 13 days’ time. The hosts started brightly in a game that was delayed for 30 minutes because of crowd congestion but despite leading 1-0 at the interval thanks to a Joleon Lescott header from James McFadden’s right wing corner-kick, they were pegged back in a dramatic and bizarre second half. Everton should have wrapped the game up when they were awarded a penalty following a foul on Lescott while Seweryn Gancarczyk was dismissed in the following melee Although Johnson fired his initial spot-kick into the centre of the goal, he was forced to retake his effort when referee Stuchlik of Austria adjudged Victor Anichebe to have encroached. Keeper Oleksandr Goryainov guessed right when Johnson’s next effort which went to his left and Metalist grabbed an all-important away goal when Edmar made an instant impact after being teed up by fellow substitute Hicham Mahdoufi. Everton were given another lifeline when Anichebe was tripped by Okesandr Babych who was then sent off for his second bookable offence but this time Johnson fired well over the bar. Despite the misses, manager Moyes backed the England international striker who is yet to score this season. He said: “Andy grabbed it, he wanted it, so you admire him for that. I didn’t have any qualms if he wanted it. That’s what happens. “I think when somebody says ‘No I’m having it, I’ve missed and I’m going to show that I can score the next one’, then you have to admire their bravery in wanting to do that. I think he wants a goal badly. “We’ll assess how Andy is tomorrow and move on. He’ll need a bit of picking up but we all do.” Moyes felt that his side were unfortunate to have to retake the penalty but believed that if the referee was being so strict then the spot-kick should have been taken a third time after more encroachment. He said: “I thought the retaken penalty was harsh, their boy was further in the box than ours. I’ve seen it right along the angle. “Also, if he doesn’t allow the first one then he’s got to pull back as well. “He’s not given the ‘goal’ because people have gone into the box for the first penalty but for the second one they’ve gone into the box again and he’s not asked for a re-take on that. “Because of that we should’ve had the game sewn up. It would have been 2-0 with them down to 10 men and we should have looked to a third goal but it all changed really.” Moyes admitted that his side now face an uphill struggle to reach the group stages following their 1-1 draw and improvement is needed for the second leg. He said: “We’re going to have to win there and play better than we did overall tonight. I thought they (Metalist) played quite well. At the moment we’re behind, at the moment we’re out of the tie because of conceding the goal. “There’s no doubt there were players missing tonight who would have given us that extra composure – we can’t hide that fact.” Everton went into the game without Mikel Arteta and while Moyes revealed he had hoped the Basque midfielder could haveplayed last night, he is unsure when he will return. He said: “Mikel has kicked the ground and damaged his ankle, I don’t know how long it’s going to be, I’d hoped that he was going to be okay (for this game) but he wasn’t.”
Phil Neville: Don’t blame Andrew Johnson
Sep 21 2007
by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
PHIL NEVILLE today launched an impassioned defence of Andrew Johnson and backed the striker to bounce back from his penalty nightmare in emphatic fashion. The England international’s double miss from 12 yards was the low point of Everton’s return to European competition and skipper Neville knows they face a huge fight to stay in the UEFA Cup after drawing 1-1 with Metalist Kharkiv. Johnson – who would not have played had Mikel Arteta been fit – cut a disconsolate figure as he trudged off the pitch, despite the likes of Neville, James McFadden and reserve team coach Andy Holden offering their support. He has not scored since grabbing the winner against Arsenal on March 18 but Neville believes it is only a matter of time before he ends that miserable sequence and would not be surprised if he did that in Sunday’s crucial league game at Aston Villa. “Andy will be fine and he knows that he has got our total support,” said Neville. “The one thing he showed last night is that he has got balls. To get up and take three penalties takes some nerve. “There wasn’t a lot wrong with the first one but the fact he wanted the ball in the last minute to take it shows the type of lad he is. He is obviously disappointed but we have got a big game in two days time and I’m sure he will be ready for that. “I thought the referee was a bit fussy but that’s what European referees are like. We were warned before the game and before AJ took the penalty. I thought the Kharkiv players were deliberately encroaching to get the penalty re-taken. “That’s a European tactic that has been seen before. We’ve just got to live with it. We’ll take it on the chin and hopefully we can come good against Aston Villa.” While Neville tried to put a brave face on things, he accepted Everton’s performance against Kharkiv left a lot to be desired. But it has not dented his confidence that they will go to Ukraine in a fortnight and get the result needed to secure a place in the group stages. “It was disappointing,” he said. “We are all gutted. We expected a good lead to go into the second leg and the away goal has killed us. “Maybe we were a bit excited at times. It was a big European game but the only way you get experience is to keep playing in them. If we play like that, we won’t have too many more of them to play. “We are confident of going out there, scoring an away goal and winning the tie. We worked so hard last season, I don’t think we are going to throw it away against a team we should be beating.”
David Moyes left to rue missing stars after Everton throw away chance of first leg lead
Sept 21 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES has demanded his players deliver a performance to save Everton’s UEFA Cup dreams after admitting they head to Ukraine in a fortnight as favourites to go out. Metalist Kharkiv’s 1-1 draw at Goodison Park last night means the Blues must score in the return leg if they are to stand any chance of making it into the group stages and, if possible, do something they have failed to do this season - keep a clean sheet. The manager knows it will take a big improvement to turn the situation back in Everton’s favour but he has reason for optimism, given that a number of his injured midfielders - Mikel Arteta, Thomas Gravesen and Steven Pienaar - could be back in action. “We’re going to have to win there and play better than we did overall,” said Moyes. “I thought they played quite well. At the moment we’re out of the tie because of conceding the goal. “But there’s no doubt there are players missing who would have given us that extra composure – we can’t hide that fact. Mikel Arteta has kicked the ground and damaged his ankle, I don’t know how long it’s going to be, I’d hoped he was going to be okay.” Of more concern to Moyes was the lack of patience his side showed throughout but he refused to blame Andrew Johnson for missing two penalties that would have put a completely different complexion on the evening.
“We were a little bit anxious to get the goals,” said Moyes. “We went in 1-0 up at half-time and things were under control. We were hoping to get a second if we could and it looked like we were going to do that. “I didn’t have any qualms that Andy wanted it. That’s what happens. I think when somebody says ‘No I’m having it, I’ve missed and I’m going to show that I can score the next one then you have to admire their bravery. He wants a goal badly.” Johnson has not scored now since March 18 and he looked shattered as he left the pitch with his team-mates trying to console him.
Moyes accepts that his spirits will need lifting before Sunday’s trip to face Aston Villa. “We’ll assess how Andy is and move on. He’ll need a bit of picking up but we all do,” he said. “I thought the retaken penalty was harsh, their boy was further in the box than ours. I’ve seen it right along the angle. Also, if he doesn’t allow the first one then he’s got to pull back the second one as well. “Because of that we should’ve had the game sewn up. It would have been 2-0 with them down to 10 men and we should have looked for a third but it all changed really.”
Amanda Holden’s got the Blues
Sep 21 2007 Liverpool Echo
ACTRESS Amanda Holden launched Everton’s plans for a second Ladies Day.
The Blues’ game against Middlesbrough at Goodison Park has been chosen for the event which will raise money for Breast Cancer Awareness. She said: “£1 from every ticket bought goes to the campaign, so come along!”
Howard Kendall: Backing Blues to turn tie around
Sep 21 2007 by Howard Kendall, Liverpool Echo
A LATE goal might have given Metalist Kharkiv the advantage at Goodison Park last night but I know which team I will be backing to make it through to the UEFA Cup group stages. While many people will be feeling bitterly disappointed today, all is not lost. Far from it. Everton still have 90 minutes to save themselves and I firmly believe they have enough quality in their ranks to get the required result. Kharkiv will be missing two defenders and I’m not sure they will have the strength in depth to cope, so while they might have an advantage with the away goal, I’d still say it’s only slender. What was quite clear last night, though, was Everton were screaming out for Mikel Arteta to change the game or Thomas Gravesen. They needed someone with a bit of flair to start making things happen. As it was, the approach adopted in the second half was more direct but when you play so many long balls, you need the personnel to make it happen. Duncan Ferguson would have been ideal to head Everton’s attack last night. When we beat Bayern Munich in 1985, we had Andy Gray and Graeme Sharp up front and they were awesome for that style. Bayern simply could not handle them but things looked all too easy for Kharkiv on this occasion.
Of course, with better fortune, the game would have been wrapped up as it is very rare for a striker to take three penalties in the space of 25 minutes and miss two of them.
Hopefully it won’t have an adverse effect on Andrew Johnson. Without doubt he needs a goal but you have to give the lad credit for stepping up in the circumstances.
He wants to be on the scoresheet all the time and I’ve no doubt he will come good sooner rather than later. Now, though, Everton need to put this performance behind them and concentrate on getting a good result at Aston Villa on Sunday.
The games are coming thick and fast and there is no time to be wallowing in self pity.
Everton fans fury at ticket fiasco
Sept 21 2007 by Ben Turner, Liverpool Echo
HUNDREDS of angry Everton fans missed the start of last night’s Uefa cup match because of a ticket blunder. Around 2,000 people, whose tickets had not arrived in the post in time, had to queue outside Goodison Park. Kick-off was delayed for half an hour but many were still locked out 20 minutes into the first half of the game in the first-leg tie against Ukrainians Metalist Kharkiv. Police on horseback monitored the streams of supporters waiting to collect replacement pre-paid tickets. Today Everton FC blamed Royal Mail for the delays. But fans branded the club’s handling of the situation “shambolic”. Paul O’Connor, 26, who travelled from Cumbria to watch the game, said: “When my ticket didn’t turn up on Wednesday I was told by the club to pick it up at the box office tonight but have been waiting two hours. It is just shambolic and I will be expecting a refund.” Other disgruntled supporters included Dave Gibbons, 31, from St Helens. He had missed 15 minutes of the first half when he said: “I have been waiting over an hour. I don’t see why we just couldn’t show proof of purchase to get in.” Today Everton FC said the delays were “regrettable but unavoidable.” Spokesman Ian Ross said: “A batch of match tickets were dispatched from Goodison Park in Monday’s first-class post. “Clearly, they should have arrived the following morning but some went astray. “This resulted in hundreds of supporters turning up at the stadium this evening without tickets and, in order to comply with safety regulations and after taking advice from Merseyside police, we had no option but to issue duplicate tickets. “We had to be absolutely certain that everyone got into the stadium safely.” The club said it would now be meeting Royal Mail officials to find out what went wrong. A Royal Mail spokeswoman said: “We are liaising with Everton and investigating this matter. “We cannot track these tickets because they were normal first class delivery instead of special delivery.”
David Prentice: Blues have got to unearth a Plan B
Sept 21 2007 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
IN European football, possession is nine tenths of the law. Last night Everton broke it with all the zeal of young asbo offenders on a glue-sniffing bender. The UEFA Cup tie with Metalist Kharkiv is not dead. But it’s starting to smell funny. The Blues will have to show a much more composed approach if they are to win in the
Ukraine in a fortnight. An ‘in-your-face’ ‘up and at em’ approach has memorably worked for the Blues before in Europe . . . notably the night Uli Hoeness and co. screamed “This is not football Mr Kendall. You are crazy men.”
But Howard Kendall’s class of ’85 could mix physical aggression with a consummate ability to play keep-ball. That was painfully lacking last night. Everton tried to unsettle the visitors with a high-energy pressing game and an adventurous 4-3-3 formation. But so frantic were the Blues that they gave up the ball every second or third pass, while the extra space in midfield allowed Kharkiv to counter threateningly more often than had ever been anticipated. In David Moyes’ defence, all the individuals capable of offering creative craft and composure – Thomas Gravesen, Mikel Arteta and Steven Pienaar – were absent. And the presence of at least two will be crucial in the second leg. But equally crucial is a much improved performance to restore confidence for the Premier League season. Two years ago, after being butchered in Bucharest, the hangover endured for three months. European football clearly means so much to the club and its fans, as witnessed by the sight of a delayed kick-off to cram 37,000 into Goodison Park. But that enthusiasm manifested itself into a recklessly frantic desire to get at Kharkiv as quickly and as forcefully as possible. It didn’t work. This current Everton are not renowned for their Plan Bs, but they must unearth one in a fortnight’s time. The Blues have never progressed in Europe after drawing a home first leg of a tie, but Kharkiv are not such forbidding opposition that statistics can’t change. To do so, however, Everton will have to pass the ball better. Possession is nine tenths of the law. Don’t criminally ignore that fact.
ENGLAND WOMEN OUT OF WORLD CUP
22nd September 2007
Everton goalkeeper Rachel Brown had a night to forget as England's women crashed out of the World Cup after a 3-0 defeat to the United States. Brown was culpable on each occasion as the ball hit the England net three times in 13 minutes early in the second half. She had made a couple of good saves in the opening half, when Hope Powell's team looked the equal of the world's top ranked women's team but any hopes that they may reach the semi-finals of a World Cup for the first time were blown away in that devastating spell after the break. Brown had started the game well, saving bravely at the feet of midfielder Lori Chalupny following an 11th minute cross from left-back Stephanie Lopez. England's might have taken the lead nine minutes later, Kelly Smith finding striker Eni Aluko in the penalty area but the Chelsea player lost control and the ball ran easily to goalkeeper Hope Solo. Kristine Lilly went closest to opening the scoring in the first half, the 36-year-old veteran of five World Cups hitting a fierce 43rd-minute drive that Brown did well to turn over the bar.
England were quickly on the back foot after the break as Brown allowed Lilly's corner to sail beyond the far post for Abby Wambach to outjump her markers and plant a powerful header into the roof of the net. Nine minutes later the World Cup dream unravelled further as midfielder Shannon Boxx drove in a 20-yard shot that Brown was unable to reach just inside her left hand post. On the hour England were on the way out as a mix-up between Brown and right-back Mary Phillip allowed Lilly to latch on to defender Cat Whitehill's long ball for an easy tap-in for goal number three.
Johnson's sorry for penalty misses
Sept 22 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
ANDREW JOHNSON has promised to put his first traumatic experience of European football behind and come back a stronger player – starting tomorrow at Aston Villa.
The crestfallen England international missed two penalties during Thursday night’s 1-1 draw with Metalist Kharkiv in the UEFA Cup and has been running the incidents over and over in his mind since the final whistle. Aware that he could have effectively ensured Everton’s progress into the group stages, Johnson has apologised to supporters for his costly blip and that has made him all the more determined to emerge from his current barren spell. He has no intentions of hiding from the spotlight and Johnson is ready to work overtime to ensure he captures the kind of blistering form he showed following his move from Crystal Palace. “From a personal point of view I was absolutely devastated and gutted,” said Johnson. “Footballers go through things like this but I would like to apologise for the fans because I am better than that and they know I am better than that. “Obviously strikers go through things like this and there is only one way to put things right and that is out on the training field. The fans know what I am capable of and they saw glimpses of it last season.
“I will come through this. These are the things that make you stronger. You have got to take the rough with the smooth. You have got to be big enough to take the penalties and big enough to risk missing them.” The bitter irony for Johnson is that he had what appeared to be a perfectly good penalty cancelled out after Victor Anichebe had encroached into the area before his first miss but, despite that, never hesitated to take the second one in the dying minutes. “There was no doubt in my mind I would take the second penalty,” said Johnson. “No one else really wanted to take it so I stepped forward. “I maybe wasn’t as confident as the first one but I was confident I was going to score. “There was only one thing on my mind and that was getting some power behind it. But I got under it and it went over the bar. “It was a poor penalty and it was disappointing missing it and especially the manner in which I missed it. It is a massive downer because it could have been 3-1 or 3-0 but there is no reason why we can’t go to Ukraine and win. “Villa is a massive game for us and we will have our Premier League heads back on. The boys are ready, raring to go and ready to put it right, no one more so than myself.” Blues boss David Moyes will not make any decisions over his line-up until just before kick-off as he is giving Mikel Arteta and Steven Pienaar every chance to prove their fitness. Tim Howard and Thomas Gravesen, however, both miss out again.
Lescott aims to hit his half century with clean sheet
Sept 22 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
JOLEON LESCOTT has achieved a number of firsts during his time at Goodison Park and he is on the verge of notching another significant milestone tomorrow.
Should, as expected, Lescott be included in David Moyes’ starting line-up against Aston Villa, it will be his 50th consecutive appearance for the Blues. To put it another way, he will not have missed a game since moving to Merseyside. Not bad, considering there were some who wondered whether an old knee injury would flare up to compromise his progress or whether he had the mental strength to cope with the new demands after a number of years in the Championship with Wolves.
The progress he has made, though, in the past 15 months has been relentless, winning an England B cap, earning a call up to Steve McClaren’s squad for the recent Euro 2008 qualifiers and playing with a swagger that suggests he was made for this stage.
There is something significant about him reaching 50 not out at Villa Park, as that was the ground he used to visit with his brother when he was a boy dreaming of becoming a professional footballer - Villa were his first love and still hold a place in his affections. Tomorrow, however, there will only be one thing on his mind as Everton look to put the bitter disappointment of Thursday night’s draw with Metalist Kharkiv behind them and secure their third away win of the campaign. Lescott, by coincidence, scored in the other wins at Tottenham and Bolton, while his first goal in Everton colours came in front of the Holte End in April, so it would not be the greatest surprise if he popped up in the right place again. Yet top of his priorities is keeping a clean sheet. For a team that were so hard to break down last time around, this year there has been a porous look about them and Lescott wants to rectify that as quickly as possible. Still smarting at the way Kharkiv substitute Edmar cancelled out his bullet header, Lescott believes he and his cohorts at the back owe everyone a big performance and will only be happy tomorrow evening if Everton have a first shut out of the season. “I felt we had a couple of warning signs in the first-half and they created a few decent chances with Stefan (Wessels) making a few good saves,“ said Lescott. “The warning signs were there and we didn’t learn from that.
“Us boys at the back have let the team down. We should have kept a clean sheet and it was a sloppy goal to give away. The most important thing was to keep a clean sheet and we didn’t do that. “We are looking forward to the second leg and hopefully we can get a result out there. But there are a few more important games to come before that and that starts on Sunday. We need to go there and get the right result and get our heads together. “It would be great to score another goal but the most important thing is to win and keep a clean sheet. We have not kept one for a while and teams will be looking at us and thinking they can get a goal. We need to keep tight at the back and that’s the main target now.” Similar sentiments are shared by skipper Phil Neville. After Villa, Everton launch their Carling Cup campaign at Sheffield Wednesday, then take on Middlesbrough before the return leg against Kharkiv in Ukraine.
The only way they are going to come through that little spell unscathed is by getting back to basics and Neville believes it will need a resilient performance against a Martin O’Neill side he rates highly to get the ball rolling again. “We look forward to the game against Villa,” said Neville. “The games are coming thick and fast and that is what we want. There is nothing worse than going weeks without games and we are in a situation now where we are playing a lot. “But you won’t hear any moaning from the lads. This is exactly the type of position that we want to be in. “We want to be involved in big matches in midweek and big matches at the weekend. Hopefully we can pick up. “We are looking to make Goodison a fortress again but, above all, we need to keep clean sheets. That is important as it is something we haven’t done this season. But it’s not just down to the defenders. “It’s up to the midfielders and the attackers to chip in. We have got to defend better as a team. I’m sure it will come good. We will need to be right on it from the start, though, against Villa.
“They beat Chelsea in their last home game, so it shows you the quality of the opposition we are playing. There is a group of teams in the middle of the table who are capable of beating anyone and Villa are firmly in that group.
“It should be a good game. We have got to make sure we get our legs back and recover. We have got to show that we are a good team. The supporters come to watch us in their droves, home and away, and it makes you proud to play for this club.”
Villa boss Martin O’Neill fears Andrew Johnson backlash
Sep 22 2007 by Our Correspondent, Liverpool Echo
ASTON VILLA manager Martin O’Neill is braced for an Andrew Johnson backlash when Everton arrive at Villa Park. England striker Johnson has not scored since March and wasted two golden chances to end that dismal run when he missed two penalties during the Blues’ UEFA Cup tie against Metalist Kharkiv on Thursday night. O’Neill hopes the former Birmingham and Crystal Palace marksman does not use that spot-kick nightmare to suddenly find his goalscoring boots again against Villa. “His recent run without a goal could be pretty bad news for us,” said O’Neill, whose side are seeking a third straight home win. “Johnson is a good player who causes you enough problems during the course of the game without getting on the end of things. He did that at Goodison Park against us last season about five times.
“I’ve known about him since his youth team days at Birmingham City when they played Leicester City and I was the manager there. “He was outstanding back then and has done really well for himself. “I must admit that I didn’t realise he had gone so long without a goal. “We all know that strikers thrive on goals and if they go three or four games without scoring you know that in their minds they are thinking that run could be extended. “That is why scoring boosts their confidence and the next thing is they know that they can also score from the next opportunity three minutes after getting a goal.” O’Neill admits he would love to emulate the recent success that Everton have had and feels that they are the benchmark that sides outside of the Premier League’s big four have to aim for. He added: “They have gone in and broken the stranglehold once and got into the Champions League. It obviously gives everyone some hope. That is where we want to go. Our immediate aim is to be where Everton have been.” The Villa boss wants to see a repeat of the form which brought them a 2-0 win against Chelsea earlier in the month – as opposed to the display in the 1-0 defeat to Manchester City last weekend. He said: “The fans were disappointed with the result at Manchester City. Likewise they could tell I wasn’t best pleased.
“We can’t afford to let that happen again.”
AGBONLAHOR GIVES EVERTON THE BLUES
23rd September 2007
Aston Villa striker Gabriel Agbonlahor's liking for Everton continued as he grabbed the decisive second goal in the 2-0 win over David Moyes' side. The England Under-21 player had scored on his Villa debut against the Toffees 18 months ago and then netted the equaliser in last season's corresponding game at Villa Park.
This time he doubled Villa's lead after 62 minutes, after John Carew's first half opener - his first domestic goal of the campaign - had put them on the way to a 2-0 win.
Martin O'Neill would have been pleased with the response of his players after Villa's poor performance at Manchester City a week ago. It was not in the same class as their win over Chelsea on the same ground three weeks ago but was still achieved with relative ease against the Merseysiders. Everton never moved out of second gear and appeared to be suffering a hangover from their disappointing midweek result against Metalist Kharkiv in the UEFA Cup, when Andrew Johnson missed two penalties.
Moyes made three changes, including leaving out summer capture Ayegbeni Yakubu, but the visitors seldom posed a threat to the Villa defence. The only downside for Villa was seeing Carew, who had defied a groin injury to play in recent weeks, limping out of the action early in the second period. Villa did not fire on all cylinders but the pace of Agbonlahor and Ashley Young, the power of Carew before he was injured, the midfield guile of Gareth Barry and Nigel Reo-Coker and the defensive strength of Martin Laursen gave them the edge. Predictably former Birmingham striker Johnson, without a goal for six months, was booed every time he touched the ball and seldom looked like ending that barren sequence despite a hard-working display.
VILLA SWEAT ON CAREW FITNESS
24th September 2007
Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill is sweating on the fitness of striker John Carew, who will have a scan on Monday after suffering suspected knee ligament damage in Sunday's 2-0 victory over Everton. The Norwegian international had scored his first domestic goal of the campaign before Gabriel Agbonlahor sealed victory with his third strike in four games against Everton. O'Neill said: "We don't know the extent of the damage at the moment but it doesn't look great. He has damaged his ligaments but he will get scanned on Monday." He added: "It is a shame because the goal was a big boost to his confidence. "Regardless of what centre forwards say about doing work outside of the penalty area, and helping people, scoring the goal is a big boost for him." Everton boss David Moyes admitted: "I have no real complaints about the result. I thought we played better than we have done recently. "I think the defending for the two goals was terrible. I thought we passed the ball better than Villa on the day but I thought they had more penetration."
GABBY HITS GOODI BAG
24th September 2007
By Dave Armitage
Gabby Agbonlahor continued his personal vendetta against Everton to give boss David Moyes a major headache. It’s one win from six now for Moyes after the midweek Euro shambles against Metalist Kharkiv – and the fans aren’t happy.
And Agbonlahor seems to enjoy sticking the knife in – he’s scored three in four outings against them, including a debut goal just six months ago. The 20-year-old striker grabbed the second on the hour to really knock the stuffing out of Moyes’ men, who Really are struggling to find any sort of form just now. The Goodison boss blamed “powder- puff” defending for their downfall, adding: “The way we conceded the goals was terrible. I’ve no complaints about the result, but I’m concerned about not creating a lot of opportunities “I’m very concerned about our inability to keep clean sheets right now. It was like Fred Karno’s Circus.” John Carew goal after 13 minutes set Villa on their way before Agbonlahor effectively finished them off with a superbly-taken goal. Praise The England Under-21 star said: “Playing against Everton is always special for me because I made my debut against them and scored and always seem to do well against them.” Villa boss Martin O’Neill was delighted after seeing his side take their recent record to three wins from four and was full of praise for Agbonlahor. O’Neill said: “He is getting stronger by the minute and he is lethal in training. He showed great composure for the goal and his touch to set it up was absolutely superb.” Though Villa were value for their interval lead, Carew’s goal apart, there wasn’t too much to cheer for either set of supporters. However, the home side still made the biggest part of the running, posing a genuine goal threat while Scott Carson, at the other end, wasn’t forced to make a single save. To be fair, the first proper thing Everton keeper Stefan Wessels had to do was pick the ball out of his net when Carew gave Villa an early advantage. The big Norwegian rammed home a low shot from eight yards after Everton failed to clear their ranks. Joseph Yobo got a touch to Wilfred Bouma’s troublesome cross – but when Leighton Baines nodded it into Carew’s path, he set himself up with one touch before firing a crisp shot into the net. Villa might have had a second in first-half stoppage time when Luke Moore’s header from an Ashley Young corner was going in until Tony Hibbert hoofed it away off the line. Carson got his first taste of proper action just minutes after the break when Andy Johnson curled a 20-yard free-kick around the wall, with the keeper forced to make a good save down to his left. Then England striker Johnson, who missed two penalties against Kharkiv in the UEFA Cup, scuffed a great chance with a poorly-hit shot when in space just inside the box. And that was to prove costly soon after when Agbonlahor caught Everton’s defence flat-footed and scored a goal of stunning quality. He raced onto Carson’s mighty clearance and stole a march on the backline before killing the ball stone dead as it dropped from the sky. Not only did he take the weight out of it in an instant, but he teed it up perfectly in the process.
As the stranded Wessels stood before him, Agbonlahor stroked it into the bottom corner of the net with a perfectly-placed shot. The visitors came close to a consolation goal right at the end when Steven Pienaar pounced on a Joleon Lescott lay-off and shot towards the far corner, only to see Carson react quickly and make a diving save. Choked Sub Marlon Harewood was involved in an unnecessary row with Agbonlahor right at the end and had to be pushed away by Everton skipper Phil Neville. Harewood was furious that the young striker hadn’t tried to put the ball across. However, given the former West Ham striker’s track record, Agbonlahor probably made the right choice. O’Neill gave his verdict on that little rumble, saying: “I think Gabby did the right thing. If he had given the ball away and they had come up the other end and scored, I would have choked him!”
VILLA BRACED FOR CAREW BLOW
24th September 2007
Aston Villa striker John Carew is bracing himself for several weeks on the sidelines with the knee ligament injury suffered against Everton. The Norway international limped out of the action early in the second half on Sunday after scoring the opening goal - his first of the campaign - in Villa's 2-0 Barclays Premier League victory.
Carew underwent a scan on Monday and Villa will make no official statement until the full extent of the results are known within the next 24 hours. But it is understood Villa manager Martin O'Neill's initial fears that Carew could be out of action for a considerable period will be realised. It is a big blow as the power and strength of Carew as well as his ability to hold up the ball offers an alternative to the pace and trickery of Gabriel Agbonlahor and Ashley Young. The player signed from Lyon in January in a swap deal with Milan Baros was just starting to show signs of his best form after an early-season groin problem. A Villa spokesman said: "We will not know how long John Carew will be out of action until we know the full extent of the scan on on his knee on Tuesday." O'Neill said: "This is a blow to John because the goal he had scored had given him a lot of confidence and he was looking excellent in the 10-15 minute period before the injury. "Whatever they might say about contributing on other areas being important, all strikers gain confidence from scoring goals. This is not what John or we wanted." Carew's injury means Agbonlahor is likely to revert to a central striking role on a more permanent basis after being used at times in the right flank role by O'Neill.
Aston Villa 2, Everton 0 (Echo)
Sep 24 2007
by Dominic King
STOOD in a corridor not far from the directors’ lounge at Villa Park, one gentleman with a thick Birmingham brogue was telling a friend where it was all going wrong for Everton. “They need a Kendall or Harvey in the middle of midfield and someone like Joe Royle up front,” he suggested brightly, before heading with a spring in his step for his half-time refreshments. Sadly, on the most miserable afternoon of the season to date, not even the presence of those legends in their prime would have saved Everton. Sloppy, sluggish and slapdash, they can count themselves fortunate Aston Villa didn’t scale the heights they did against Chelsea. While David Moyes did his best to put a brave face on the situation afterwards – that he made reference to his side being “powder puff” and the defending being “terrible” spoke volumes – quite simply there could be no arguments about the final scoreline. If it is not bad enough that Everton are struggling to create chances in the absence of Mikel Arteta and Thomas Gravesen, with Andrew Johnson once again having to forage, to no avail, for the slightest scrap, all of a sudden they have developed a soft centre. Crazy. Last season’s success was built on a bedrock of being difficult to breakdown, and a return of 14 clean sheets secured the fifth best defensive record in the Premier League. Oh, for a return to those miserly days. Now Everton share the unenviable distinction, with Fulham, of failing to keep a ‘nil’ so far this season and Moyes must be concerned that silly mistakes are betraying all their hard work. “Fred Carno’s,” as Moyes put it. Quite.
Joseph Yobo and Joleon Lescott are blessed with all the talents a top class central defender requires, but neither is what you would describe as a leader or an organiser. Surely it won’t be long before Alan Stubbs returns. The legs may not move as quickly as they did in his prime, but Everton look an infinitely more robust ensemble when the wily Stubbs is in the centre. Yet that creates another problem for the manager as three into two doesn’t go. Decisions, decisions. Moyes, however, is not afraid to be ruthless – as Tim Cahill knows only too well – and a glance at his teamsheet here confirmed that. Irked by what he had seen against Metalist Kharkiv, out went Lee Carsley, James McFadden and Aiyegbeni Yakubu. Replacing them with Phil Jagielka, Steven Pienaar and Victor Anichebe spoke volumes, and also sent a message that the manager’s only intention in the West Midlands was to get a morale- boosting victory. The decision to axe Yakubu, though, was the most significant of all. While the Nigerian international undoubtedly knows how to score a goal, that will be of little use to him if he does not buy into the relentless work ethic that has made Everton hitherto a potent force. It is, of course, far too early to be jumping to conclusions about him but maybe putting him on the bench will awaken this giant. Aafter all, there were times against Kharkiv that he looked anything but an £11.25m striker. He’s much better than that. We should also remember that six new players arrived during the summer and it will take time for them to settle in. The only problem is that nowadays the demands for success are instant and signings are expected, sometimes unfairly, to be attuned within days. Signs early on were encouraging enough. Yobo had a thumping drive blocked and a couple of other half chances came Everton’s way. But it did not take the home side long to find their rhythm and, soon as they did, it spelt trouble. Villa showed when they dismantled Chelsea at the beginning of the month that they are a side with a future and they did nothing to temper that view yesterday, although it was hard to get away from the feeling that Everton were masters of their own downfall. There did not seem to be a lot on when Wilfred Bouma swung in an hopeful centre, but Yobo made a hash of his attempted clearance, Leighton Baines was put under pressure as he tried to mop up, and John Carew gleefully crashed a left-footed drive past Stefan Wessels. Despite being half fit – Carew was selected for duty despite suffering with a groin strain – there were times when he was unplayable. His hulking frame and adroit footwork caused myriad problems for Yobo and Lescott. He did the same when the sides last met in April, too. Shapeless and short of ideas, Everton’s response to falling behind was miserable and, aside from one scampering run down the right from the tireless Johnson, Scott Carson was untroubled. If only Wessels could have said the same. The presence of Carew seemed to unsettle him and he was thankful to Tony Hibbert in first half injury time when, after misjudging a corner, the defender cleared Gabi Agbonlahor’s header off the line. Things improved slightly after the break as, in all honesty, it would have been difficult for them to get any worse, and there were suggestions a comeback might be on when Johnson made Carson work with a powerful free-kick. Then he dragged a shot wide. But, maddeningly, that was as good as it got. Not long after, Carson’s long punt forward caught Everton’s defence napping and Agbonlahor streaked clear to finish the contest, sliding a right-footed effort past Wessels’ outstretched hand. That the scoreline remained the same until full-time was as much down to Villa’s poor decision making as it was to Everton re-grouping. The frustration of the travelling support was visible at the end when they berated the players as they trudged off. A miserable end, then, to a puzzling week. It seems hard to believe that Everton would have gone top of the Premier League had they beaten Manchester United. Maybe the circumstances of that defeat has had a bigger impact than many would have thought. Yet what is clear today is that Everton need to rediscover the silk and steel that took them back into European competition. A after all, teams that don’t create chances and concede soft goals are asking for trouble.
Aston Villa 2, Everton 0 (D,Post)
Sep 24 2007
by Ian Doyle at Villa Park
IT was a telling snapshot at the end of a dismal afternoon for Everton. As the visiting players trudged beaten and bruised from the Villa Park turf, skipper Phil Neville called on his team-mates to show their appreciation to the travelling support.
Those brave enough to venture towards the away end were met with a cascade of abuse and a sea of hands waving them back towards the dressing room. Small wonder the fans were so furious. On a day when the death of mime artist Marcel Marceau was announced, David Moyes’s side could only muster a pale impersonation of the team that shot to the top of the Premier League in the early weeks. Powder puff. Terrible. Lightweight. Poor. Even as he attempted to put a brave face on his team’s performance, Moyes’s words betrayed his genuine emotions. Was there a hangover from Thursday’s UEFA Cup exertions? Moyes insisted not. But if Everton’s players want progress both at home and abroad, they’re going to have to play better than they have done during the past week. As against Metalist Kharkiv, Everton were their own worst enemy yesterday, Joseph Yobo in particular culpable for both Aston Villa goals. He wasn’t alone, though, and it would be wrong to single out any individual. As a collective, Everton didn’t perform; worryingly, it’s now just one win in six for Moyes’s men. The last few days have been evidence, not that it was necessary, of the influence Mikel Arteta exerts on the team. Lacking the composure of the injured Spanish midfielder, Everton enjoyed plenty of possession but were toothless around the Villa area, unable to force a genuine save from home goalkeeper Scott Carson until the 89th minute. Such scant service was of no benefit to Andrew Johnson, who had been retained by Moyes in the team as a show of support in the wake of his penalty nightmare. And when a chance did finally present itself, the manner in which it was snatched at by the striker underlined how a six-month goal drought is now adversely affecting his play. Johnson – later substituted for the first time this season – needs a goal, and fast. Certainly, there can be no complaints about the England international’s effort and application. The same, though, cannot be said of Yakubu, whose disinterested performance against Metalist on Thursday rightly cost him his starting place yesterday, only three games into his Goodison career following his club record £11.5million transfer from Middlesbrough. Somehow, you don’t think Moyes was saving the Nigerian for this week’s Carling Cup trip to Sheffield Wednesday. Everton have yet to keep a clean sheet in the Premier League this season, a dismal statistic they share only with Fulham and which needs to be addressed if they are to arrest their slide down the table. And while Moyes could point to yesterday being the first time since the 2-1 defeat at Manchester City on New Year’s Day that Everton had conceded twice on their travels, it served to highlight the below-par nature of their performance. Leighton Baines was perhaps the one defender to emerge from yesterday’s game with any real credit, while only the ever-busy Leon Osman showed any hint of creativity from midfield. Yakubu’s demotion in favour of Victor Anichebe was one of three changes from Thursday. Phil Jagielka returned to central midfield in place of Lee Carsley and the fit-again Steven Pienaar came in for James McFadden as Moyes reverted to a more straightforward 4-4-2 for the bread and butter of the Premier League. The April meeting at Villa, in which the home side came from behind to earn a stirring 1-1 draw, is regarded by Martin O’Neill as the turning point of his reign at the club. Without doubt, this season’s Villa are far more vibrant than last, and having already accounted for Chelsea on their own turf, Everton knew they would be in for a testing afternoon. A frantic opening few minutes saw Yobo poleaxe Zat Knight with a shot straight into the Villa defender’s face before unintentionally deflecting a Martin Laursen header towards his own goal, Jagielka eventually clearing from near to the line. And Yobo was mainly at fault for Villa taking the lead in the 14th minute. The centre-back made a complete hash of a routine clearance from Wilfred Bouma’s left-wing cross, forcing Baines into a hurried header that fell at the feet of Carew, who rammed the ball beyond Stefan Wessels from 12 yards. Luke Moore nodded in what he thought was Villa’s second moments later, but Everton were relieved that Ashley Young’s cross had already drifted out of play before dropping at the far post. Despite enjoying plenty of the ball, Everton couldn’t work Carson as the home side defended in numbers while searching for the pace of wingers Young and Agbonlahor on the counter-attack. Yobo and Joleon Lescott struggled to contain the physical power of Villa forward duo Carew and Moore, and Everton had an escape when Agbonlahor saw a header cleared off the line by Tony Hibbert on the stroke of half-time after Wessels had misjudged Young’s corner. Everton’s poor first-half performance was summed up when a rattled Lescott inexplicably booted a free-kick straight into touch. The visitors improved after the interval – they had to – but after striking a free-kick at Carson, Johnson was betrayed by his lack of confidence when snatching at Anichebe’s knockdown and firing wide when unmarked inside the area. It would have been a controversial equaliser, as Villa were briefly down to 10 men with the officials having dallied over allowing substitute Craig Gardner to enter the field to replace Carew, the Norwegian already departed through injury. But if Villa’s first goal was a poor one to concede, their second on 61 minutes was even worse. A long punt upfield from Carson was left by Yobo under the belief the loitering Agbonlahor was in an offside position. But, when the assistant’s flag remained down, Agbonlahor was free to race clear, control the dropping ball expertly and slot home underneath the approaching Wessels. And that was that. Everton forced some late pressure with Osman striking at Carson from Yobo’s lay-off, but that would have represented mere consolation. Sadly for those unhappy travelling supporters, there wasn’t much of that on the way home from this afternoon to forget.
ASTON VILLA (4-4-2): Carson; Mellberg, Laursen, Knight, Bouma; Agbonlahor, Reo-Coker, Barry, Young; Moore (Harewood 80), Carew (Gardner 53). Subs: Taylor, Davies, Maloney.
BOOKING: Agbonlahor (unsporting behaviour).
EVERTON (4-4-2): Wessels; Hibbert, Yobo, Lescott, Baines; Pienaar, Neville, Jagielka, Osman; Johnson (McFadden 69), Anichebe (Yakubu 69). Subs: Ruddy, Valente, Carsley.
REFEREE: Lee Probert.
NEXT GAME: Sheffield Wednesday v Everton, Carling Cup third round, Wednesday 7.45pm
Phil Jagielka sure Everton can find top form
Sept 24 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
PHIL JAGIELKA today promised Everton will rediscover their cutting edge and bounce back from a disappointing week in style – starting in the Carling Cup on Wednesday. The Blues were off colour for much of yesterday’s Premiership clash at Villa Park and Jagielka had few complaints about the final scoreline ending 2-0 in the home side’s favour. However, the chance to atone comes quickly as Everton face three crucial games in the space of eight days, beginning at Hillsborough before Middlesbrough’s visit on Sunday. David Moyes’ side then face the crucial second leg of their UEFA Cup tie against Metalist Kharkiv in Ukraine on Thursday week and Jagielka is in no doubt that the manager will have his squad ready for the challenges which come thick and fast. “It is an important week for us,” Jagielka acknowledged. “We know we need to start creating chances and push on from here as quickly as we can. “Sheffield Wednesday hopefully will be the perfect place for us to get a goal or two. “If we can do that we will get a bit of confidence back. But we won’t be underestimating the challenge. “Hopefully we will get the job done and then we can start to concentrate on the Premier League again. “We started off well but have had a tricky run of fixtures recently and things haven’t gone for us. “We are not going to be too down beat. We’ve got a lot to play for and with a bit of luck we’ll all be smiling again after we’ve played Kharkiv.” As Jagielka pointed out, Everton’s cutting edge has been blunted in the past three games and, as a result, they have slipped down to ninth in the Premier League, while their European dreams now hang in the balance.
Poor defending, though, has also cost them dear and the England B international agreed that the manner in which John Carew fired Villa in front was far from acceptable. “It was very disappointing to lose at Villa,” said Jagielka, who was one of Everton’s better performers in the Midlands. “It was a bit of a sloppy goal on our behalf that allowed them to get in front and we didn’t create too much.
“Maybe nil-nil would have been a fair reflection of the first half and we started the second half quite brightly as we looked to get back into it. “But the second was a killer blow and they had the type of players to coast through. “We tried our hardest to chase it down but unfortunately it didn’t work. It’s been a frustrating week.
“We should have got something against Manchester United but we followed that up with a poor performance against Kharkiv. “Villa are a good side but we would have hoped to give AJ and Victor a few more clear cut chances than we did and that’s something we’ll have to work on.”
David Moyes blast at Everton's powder puff display
Sept 24 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES only needed three small words to summarise Everton’s worst afternoon of the season so far: “Not good enough.” Having seen his side slip to a 2-0 defeat at Aston Villa, Moyes was left scratching his head in disbelief as Everton were made to pay for a number of simple errors and had no complaints about the final outcome. Though Everton’s application was an improvement on their effort against Metalist Kharkiv, the goals they conceded to John Carew and Gabi Agbonlahor could both have been cut out and Moyes left nobody in doubt about how he was feeling.
“It wasn’t good enough,” he grumbled. “I thought we played better than we have done recently, but it was powder puff really. “A lot of our play wasn’t penetrative enough. We didn’t force the issue and we were a bit lightweight. “The defending for the two goals was just terrible. I don’t think it gets worse than the goals we conceded.
“I thought we passed the ball better than Aston Villa but I thought they had more penetration. “I thought we had limited them to not many opportunities.
“We didn’t have many but I don’t think Villa caused us a great deal of problem.
“We created more than we have done. But there weren’t a lot. “I didn’t think Villa created that much, they scored from a cross in the box and a scramble and the second one, was it or wasn’t it offside, they weren’t really goals created by Aston Villa.”
Normally so hard to break down, Everton have not kept a clean sheet since beating Portsmouth in May to clinch their place in the UEFA Cup and Moyes is growing tired of seeing his defenders making it easy for their opponents. “It’s very concerning that we are not keeping any clean sheets,” the manager admitted.
“There are a couple of players not playing as well as they should be. “But it’s the first time away from home since January that we’ve conceded more than once, so let’s put it into perspective. “We’d like to score one like they got, some poor defending and the ball dropping in the box for them. “We’re not getting that against us, but we’re making sure the opposition get those chances.” It was suggested to Moyes that Everton maybe suffering a reaction from the game against Metalist Kharkiv but, significantly, he was not looking for excuses. “I don’t think there was a hangover from the European game,” said Moyes. “They were ready to play. “We’ve played better than we have done, some players passed the ball and moved it, but we didn’t do well enough in both boxes and that’s what counts.” Though the Blues rarely looked like scoring, Moyes kept record signing Aiyegbeni Yakubu on the bench until late in the game and suggested that will continue to be the case until the former Middlesbrough striker makes a greater contribution than he has been doing. “It wasn’t a hard decision (to drop him to the bench),” Moyes said pointedly. “We have good players. I pick what I see and I will continue to do so.”
Phil Neville keeps the peace
Sep 24 2007 Liverpool Echo
EVERTON skipper Phil Neville has played down the on-pitch spat between Aston Villa duo Gabriel Agbonlahor and Marlon Harewood after acting as peacemaker.
Neville broke up the pair when they confronted each other in the dying seconds of Villa’s comfortable 2-0 win – a result which lifted them to eighth spot in the Barclays Premier League. Substitute Harewood was incensed when Agbonlahor ignored his pleas to play him in behind the Everton defence and instead chose to try to time waste.
The pair exchanged words before Neville’s intervention. He said: “Villa had just won 2-0 so I couldn’t understand why they were arguing. I was in the same hotel as Marlon on holiday in the summer and got to know him quite well. I just pulled him away.
“It is one of those situations where Marlon is desperate to score and so is the other lad and you then have a bit of a go at each other. “It is the sort of thing which happens every day of the week. It is just one of those things.” Villa manager Martin O’Neill actually backedAgbonlahor’s decision in trying to keep possession. He said: “I actually see it from Gabby’s point of view. With two minutes to go, we are 2-0 up and you would think the game should be done and dusted, so why give the ball away?
“Gabby did the right thing because, if he had lost possession and they had gone down the field and scored, and I had to endure 90 seconds of holding on for the win, I would have choked him! “In preference to getting a choking, he has decided to do the right thing. They are fine now - I think!” Agbonlahor said: “Marlon made the point I should have passed to him but I took the ball into the corner. “Everyone was a bit tense because we under a lot of pressure. It was a misunderstanding. We were all right afterwards. Nothing carried on afterwards.”
Codling key in youngsters’ win
Sep 25 2007
by Chris Wright, Liverpool Daily Post
KIERAN AGARD’S last-minute winner maintained Everton under-18s unbeaten start to the season as they beat Sunderland 2-1 at Netherton. Neil Dewsnip’s side recorded their fifth win in the opening six games in what has been a superb start to the campaign On Saturday they had to come back from a goal down to triumph. The visitors took the lead after just four minutes with a long-range strike. And despite having plenty of the play it took until the 70th minute for Everton to equalise.
Lewis Codling broke through onto Austrian midfielder George Krenn’s through ball to lift over the Sunderland keeper for his fourth goal of the season and his third in the last three. Codling had a hand in Agard winner. His initial header from Tom McCready’s corner hit the bar, but Londoner Agard was on hand to turn the rebound into the back of the net. Coach Dewsnip said: “Up to a point it was another good performance. They had lost heavily the week before and came out in determined mood. They did a lot better than we did in the first half. “But in the second half we got things sorted out, regrouped and did a lot better. After we equalised both teams had half chances, but we managed to grab the winner at the end. We won a game that to be fair I am not so sure we did enough to win. “Mentally they are very strong, and very resilient. That is three weeks in a row we have conceded the first goal and gone on to win, which bucks statistical trends. So they have obviously got a bit of bottle about them both individually and as a group, which bodes well for their future careers. That is very positive.” Dewsnip added: “We had players out through injury and I was delighted with the boys who came. Lee McCardle is a schoolboy, who came in for his full debut and did exceedingly well. So positives do come out about maybe not your best performance.” Everton will bid to continue their unbeaten start at Wolverhampton this Saturday (kick-off 12.30pm). Dewsnip said: “We would hope to continue our unbeaten start, with maybe a bit better football. You can always improve. There are plenty of things to work on.” EVERTON UNDER-18s: Stubhaug; Stewart, McCardle, McCarten, Barnett: O’Kane, Krenn, Redmond (McCready 25), Codling; Baxter (Sheppard 90), Agard
Leighton Baines in clean sheet promise
Sept 25 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
LEIGHTON BAINES today pledged Everton’s defenders will be working overtime to secure a first clean sheet of the season. The Blues have not enjoyed a shut-out since beating Portsmouth 3-0 on May 5 in the game that clinched their place in Europe and manager David Moyes was left seething by the manner in which his side conceded twice against Aston Villa on Sunday. Though Baines’ outstanding performances in the past month have ensured he has escaped criticism, he takes no comfort from his own form and is desperate to help Everton get back to doing what they do best.
“We are not performing quite how we want at the minute,” said Baines, who is making the £5m fee it took to sign him from Wigan look a bargain. “Sometimes you just have to keep going until it clicks into place and that’s what we will be doing.
“The manager was disappointed with us against Villa and he felt the first goal could have been cleared much earlier. We should never have conceded the second goal either. “We’ve got to make people work hard if they want to score against us.
“But we can’t beat ourselves up too much. I don’t think Villa played particularly well. It just turned out to be one of those days. But we have got a cup game to look forward to now and hopefully we can go on a good cup run. “We haven’t done that for a few years. This offers us a good chance to get back on track and a win would give us a confidence boost going into the weekend. We need to be facing Middlesbrough on a positive.” Skipper Phil Neville, meanwhile, insists Everton will not be using tiredness as an excuse for below par performances and is confident his side can summon the perfect response at Sheffield Wednesday in the Carling Cup tomorrow night.
Everton face four games in the space of 11 days, including potentially tricky trips to Metalist Kharkiv and Newcastle. “Ever since I came to Everton I wanted to play Sunday, Thursday or Saturday, Wednesday and now we are in the situation, we’ll get on with it,” said Neville. “We’ll enjoy it and we won’t be fearful of the challenge.
“Tiredness is in the mind. Sometimes you can use it as an excuse. These games are something we all want.”
Nigel Martyn: Stubbs’ case for defence
Sep 25 2007 by Nigel Martyn, Liverpool Echo
ASK anyone who has played with Alan Stubbs what he is best at on a football pitch and the answer would probably be universal: Moaning. I mean that, of course, in the best possible way. Alan is a natural leader and organiser and he relishes the task of keeping his fellow defenders on their toes during the course of a game. From time to time, not surprisingly, that leads to run-ins. That’s something which I know only too well. We had our fair share of squabbles during the time I kept goal behind him for Everton, but that is only because he has exceptionally high standards and he expects others to follow his lead. Perhaps, given the goals we have been conceding recently, his presence at the heart of the defence is being missed and it would not be the biggest surprise in the world if Alan is drafted back in shortly. It is an old cliche but there really is no substitute for experience and Alan has that in abundance; Joleon Lescott and Joseph Yobo are both terrific players, yet they are still relatively young in terms of playing in that position. I’ve never had the privilege to play behind Joleon but I do know that Joseph isn’t the most vocal of defenders, so given the fact that Alan rarely shuts up, it could just be that the manager turns to him to get the defence organised.
Everton pride themselves on keeping clean sheets and being strong defensively but the goals that were conceded at Aston Villa were, to put it kindly, not the best; it’s so unlike us to be beaten with a goal that came from a goalkeeper’s punt down field.
The players will be wary that things need to improve quickly. Performances such as that can happen after all the hype and emotion of a European game and maybe the contest with Metalist Kharkiv took more out of the players than was envisaged at first; we certainly looked edgy there and it was so frustrating to be hit by a late sucker punch. There is no point dwelling on things, however, and the next 10 days sees the games coming thick and fast. Opportunities to make progress in three different competitions are plentiful but, if mistakes creep into the defending as they did at Aston Villa, they will dashed quickly.
Tricky tie - but fans deserve a great cup run
THE first chance of a possible trip to Wembley comes around tomorrow evening and it is about time Everton had a lengthy run in the Carling Cup. It would be a fantastic competition for the club to win and few sets of supporters deserve a big day out more than Evertonians. But the opening hand they have been dealt can only be described as ‘tricky’. Sheffield Wednesday might not have enjoyed the best of starts to the season but cup games invariably bring the best out of lower league sides and they will be looking to spring a surprise; after all, they have absolutely nothing to lose.
You can rest assured there will be a big crowd at Hillsborough and the home side will be feeding off the energy of their supporters, which means Everton are going to have to ride a storm in the opening exchanges. Hillsborough, though, has a fantastic playing surface and if Everton apply themselves properly and do not get lulled into a false sense of security, the extra quality all over should be enough to seal a place in the next round. One thing you can be certain of is that David Moyes will have left no stone unturned for this game. I wasn’t involved in that infamous defeat against Shrewsbury in 2003, but every time we played a lower league side in the cup after that, their name was always mentioned. Being the victim of giant killing is one of the worst experiences you can have as a footballer and the worst I was involved in was when Leeds were beaten by Cardiff in the FA Cup five years ago. It is not a game I remember with great fondness. We lost Rio Ferdinand through injury after 10 minutes and never really recovered. In the end, there could be no complaints about the final score. All being well, though, Everton will hit the ground flying in Yorkshire and can get a confidence boosting win.
Five years on - and Blues have not got any better
Sep 26 2007,Liverpool Echo
I HAVE watched Everton since the 1950s and to see them today is diabolical. There’s all this talk about them having good seasons, but what have they won in the last 10 years? Moyes has been here for five years and we are no better off.
How many good footballers have turned down the chance of coming here and joined another club because it would be a wrong move? Our manager insists on playing out-of-form players. Hibbert’s passing is poor, he has bad positional sense, is often beaten on the outside and his throw-ins are poor. He was responsible for goals in the matches against Wigan, Blackburn and Reading and couldn’t prevent the Vidic goal against Manchester United. Osman only plays for 10 minutes of each game and then his contribution is non-existent. As for McFadden, why can’t he play for Everton like he plays for Scotland? Carsley is past his sell-by date, while Neville leaves defenders in trouble with his poor passing.
D Cummins, Bromborough
DAVID MOYES has a lot of supporters at Everton, but even they must admit he is tactically inept and his forays into the transfer market are littered with huge mistakes. Two of this summer’s additions, Phil Jagielka and Yakubu, are the latest in a line which stretches back to his first signing, Richard Wright. After only three games, Yakubu looks a bigger disaster than Beattie. He can’t jump, his first touch is poor and his workrate is non-existent. Jagielka looks like another Phil Neville – a jack of all trade and a master of none. Jose Mourinho got the sack for doing very little wrong at Chelsea, while we continue to employ Moyes.
Dave Abrahams, Liverpool
IT’S obvious that we need a wide man in the side. James Beattie is scoring goals for fun at Sheffield United now – admittedly in a lower division – but Bryan Robson believes the reason he didn’t find the net at Everton is because he wasn’t given the right service. Yakubu is struggling, while van der Meyde doesn’t even get a sniff on the bench. I know he has had a few run-ins with Moyes, but he's the only wide man we have. Give him a game. Debra Williamson, Tuebrook
HAVE we seen the end of Andy van der Meyde? Is Moyes not giving him any more chances, even a few games to see if he can create for our front men. AJ hasn’t scored and Yakubu has scored one – and he hasn’t become a bad player overnight.
If he doesn’t start scoring then we know it is Everton, our tactics and Moyes, rather than our strikers that are the problem.
Rachel Cooper, Liverpool
David Moyes urges Everton to make cup charge
Sep 26 2007
by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES today set his sights on rectifying the one glaring omission from his Goodison Park CV - taking Everton on a lengthy cup run. Though Everton’s position in the Premier League has dramatically improved since Moyes took charge in March 2002, their efforts in knockout tournaments have, at best, been indifferent. The furthest the Blues have been under Moyes was the FA Cup fifth round in 2005, while they have endured similar frustrations in the Carling Cup – last year’s exit against Arsenal was particularly disappointing. Given that their UEFA Cup tussle with Metalist Kharkiv is precariously balanced, tonight’s third round tie against Sheffield Wednesday has assumed greater significance and Moyes will be selecting a strong side for duty at Hillsborough. “We want to do well in all competitions but for some reason that has not always been the case,” said Moyes. “The Premier League is always your bread and butter – it has to be – but I have got to say that I would like a cup run.
“Well, I’d like more than one cup run. It’s something that has been missing. We haven’t been able to give the supporters enough excitement through the cups. We will try to do that and I think we have got players who can help us this year. “But we know it is going to be tough. This type of tie is always difficult and Sheffield Wednesday are a big football club. We will go there and give them the respect that they deserve. “I’m not going to be making loads of changes. We have got 16 players who are fit just now and we will see who is available before we think about the starting line-up. Alan Stubbs was ill at the weekend but he might be okay.” With Joseph Yobo missing training yesterday, it is likely that Stubbs will come back in for his first start since the 1-1 draw with Blackburn Rovers last month to bolster a defence that is looking to keep its first clean sheet of the season. “That would be something that we want to do quickly,” Moyes added. “But, first things first, we want to make sure that we get through to the next round this evening.” Moyes has left his squad under no illusions about what he expects from them in South Yorkshire and Phil Jagielka – who is sure to be given a hot reception because of his Sheffield United links – has promised they will deliver. “The gaffer has told us he wants to win something,” Jagielka revealed. “The Championship is a fantastic league now and there is a lot of money going around. Wednesday will make it difficult for us but we want to go there and win.”
Leighton Baines: Why Carling Cup has a special place in my heart
Sept 26 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
LEIGHTON BAINES deals with questions from the media as easily as he glides down the left flank, but put him in front of a hall full of inquisitive children and the opposite is true. As part of the Premier League’s Creating Chances programme – an initiative that will see many top players working with charities across the country this week - Baines paid a visit to a community centre in Clubmoor on Monday afternoon and was faced by 30 pupils from St Matthew’s junior school, all eager to pick his brains.
Suddenly the prospect of trying to shackle someone of Cristiano Ronaldo’s stature seemed like a walk in the park but, as a father of two young boys himself, Baines probably had an inkling of what was coming. “How much money do you earn?” chirps one; “How many times have you been sent off?” another asks; “What’s it like to score an own goal?” someone else ponders. Smiling broadly at the innocence of youth, he answers everything with great diplomacy. One little girl, though, provided the moment of the question and answer session just before it was drawing to a close and, with this evening’s Carling Cup tie in mind, it could not have been more fitting. “When was the last time you cried after a game of football?” she enquired. Some players may have chosen to adopt a macho front and say “never” but Baines had no qualms at all about providing the answer that was wanted: after the 2006 Carling Cup Final. Baines, of course, was part of the Wigan Athletic side that defied the odds and got through to face Manchester United in Cardiff but were beaten 4-0. The memory of that second half collapse still rankles to this day. The Carling Cup, though, is a competition Baines will always have a fond regard for, as he also made his debut for Wigan in October 2002 during a second round tie at West Brom; now back home with his boyhood club, he would love the chance to go one better. “I made my debut as a sub in the competition and we ended up getting to the quarter-finals when we were in League One,” said Baines. “Obviously we had a good run the year we got to the final, too. “People have dismissed this competition but I don’t understand why. When we knocked Arsenal out in the semi-finals, we were absolutely over the moon. The fans were over the moon, too, as it meant a good day out for them. It was a great experience. “How could anyone dismiss that? This is a competition that offers the chance to get to Wembley and it has also proved to be a route into Europe for many teams as well. I’d like to think that we’d be looking to win it. “Sometimes - even in the FA Cup - you get teams changing things around and resting a number of key players. Those teams can afford to do that because they have got such good quality throughout. “They might have Europe to look at and it can be demanding. We are playing in Europe too and it might be tough, but there is no reason why we shouldn’t be looking to win it. I’m sure the fans here would be absolutely delighted if we could do that.” But first, Sheffield Wednesday must be beaten at Hillsborough and if Everton defend in the same chaotic manner as they did against Aston Villa on Sunday, they run a huge risk of falling at the opening hurdle. As someone who knows what it is like to be part of a team that goes all out for a giant killing, Baines is wary of the threat that The Owls - who are likely to include former Blues Francis Jeffers and Steve Watson in their line-up - will pose. But if Everton can find the sparkle that was so apparent in the opening weeks of the campaign, they should have too much in reserve for Wednesday and Baines and company are determined not to give them anything to feed off. “When you play in these cup games, teams from the lower divisions always seem to work that bit harder and it can be difficult as they are in your face,” said the 22-year-old, who speaks and acts with a maturity that belies his age.
“They have not started too well, but they have just had a win at the weekend and will be right up for this. They are going to be looking to build on that and they will do everything they can to make it tough for us. “We are going to be favourites, though, so we really have to be looking to win the game. The one thing we are going to have to improve is our defending. We can’t be letting teams just knock balls over the top of us to score goals. We have got to give ourselves a chance.”
Everton bad boy Andy van der Meyde given glimmer of hope with recall
Sept 26 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
ANDY VAN DER MEYDE could be given an opportunity to resurrect his turbulent Everton career tonight. The former Holland international is included in the squad that will face Sheffield Wednesday for the first time since he was heavily reprimanded for missing a training session after the Blues’ opening day win over Wigan Athletic.
Van der Meyde has been no stranger to controversy since he moved to Merseyside in a £1.8m deal from Internazionale in August 2005 and, for the past month, has been made to train with reserves. But yesterday he was brought back into the first team fold. Whether he plays any part at Hillsborough remains to be seen, but assistant boss Alan Irvine hopes van der Meyde’s troubles are now behind him. “Andy was disciplined for badly stepping out of line,” said Irvine. “But there has to come a time when the punishment is over and Andy has started training with us again.
“He is in the squad. He was obviously disappointed with what he had done but he has been strongly punished. I’m not saying that the punishment wasn’t appropriate and Andy isn’t saying that, either. “He was out of order and he knows that. Hopefully, it will never happen again. “We all want to see the player who did so well for Ajax and then went to Inter Milan. Sadly, for a number of reasons, we haven’t seen that while he’s been here. “I’m hoping that it has been a lesson for him and maybe it sets him back on the right path. “I’m sure it has been very difficult for him but he brought it upon himself.” One man, though, who will not be involved tonight is Mikel Arteta.
Everton have struggled for creativity in his absence but Irvine has given a positive update on his situation and the Spaniard could be unleashed against Middlesbrough this Sunday. “Hopefully, Mikel will be ready for the weekend,” said Irvine. “He wrenched his ankle ligaments when he went to kick a ball in training. “It’s getting better all the time and he isn’t far away. “Everyone is reliant on their best players. Chelsea are complaining about Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba being out at the minute and rightly so. “Mikel is one of our top players and did we expect to miss him? Yes. Anybody would,” Irvine added.
Sheffield Wednesday 0, Everton 3 (Echo)
Sep 27 2007
by Dominic King at Hillsborough
HALF empty grounds, flat atmospheres, humdrum games and icy temperatures; don’t you just love the early rounds of the Carling Cup? As others hunt the riches on offer via the Premier League and Champions League, the first big domestic trophy of the season has lost its sheen in the past few years but you won’t find anyone from Everton arguing about its position in the calendar. Certainly not James McFadden. While Everton’s third round tie with Sheffield Wednesday is unlikely to live long in the memory of those who saw it last night – be thankful it wasn’t on television – the Scotland international is likely to be an exception. Grasping a rare chance to start with both hands, McFadden’s slick performance at Hillsborough ensured a potentially troublesome task was negotiated with little difficulty and helped Everton to a win that could have plenty of positive spin-offs. Having struggled for form in the past 10 days – their league position has been dented and European ambitions hang in the balance – victory of any sort would have been acceptable in South Yorkshire. That it was achieved so smoothly in the end and contained a first clean sheet of the campaign however, will have thrilled manager David Moyes and it could just be the result that gets Everton’s momentum going again. Make no mistake, some felt the Blues were ripe for a giant killing and for 45 minutes it appeared as if they would go the way of Manchester United and Aston Villa. That they did not was down to the work of McFadden and his partner in crime Yakubu. Sharing the goals between them and linking with purpose, they have given Moyes the kind of poser he wants to be dealing with and if the Carling Cup can provide selection dilemmas for him, so much the better. There is absolutely no doubt now that his squad will be fired up for their next two assignments after last night’s fillip. Though Moyes made five changes to the side that had been beaten at Villa Park on Sunday, it was not to blood youngsters as others do. If anything, the opposite was true as old heads Alan Stubbs, Lee Carsley and Nuno Valente returned. Stubbs’ presence in the back four, not surprisingly, brought a solidity in the middle of the defence that had been lacking against Aston Villa and Metalist Kharkiv; barking out orders, lunging into challenges and demanding the best from his colleagues. Yakubu and McFadden were the men charged with giving Everton the cutting edge that has been missing in recent weeks but, other than a couple of speculative shots, the Blues’ threat was minimal early on. In fact, the only incident of note in a mind-numbingly dull first half was Tony Hibbert being booked for an innocuous tussle with Wade Small on 36 minutes .Honestly. It really was that bad. There was, at least, something to talk about during the break as a school of thought suggested Hibbert was fortunate not to pick up a second yellow card from referee Rob Styles after he clattered into Small again shortly after the first skirmish. At best, it was ill-advised but mindful not to incur a needless suspension, Moyes opted to end Hibbert’s night at the interval and pitched Phil Neville into the fray for the second period. Enjoying an outstanding 45 minutes, the skipper helped start the transformation. Mercifully, the action improved dramatically but then again it would have been difficult to be any worse. Leon Osman failed by inches to get on the end of Steven Pienaar’s cross, while Phil Jagielka cracked a drive straight at Lee Grant. That brief flurry seemed to rattle the Championship strugglers and at the same time gave Everton a visible injection of confidence. It was no coincidence, then, that they took the lead just before the hour. Putting together the first move of genuine quality, Pienaar’s slide rule pass set Yakubu galloping clear and he selflessly squared for McFadden to roll in his second goal of the campaign. The Scottish international has his detractors but there has been mounting evidence since the start of the season that he is ready to become the player that many believed he would when he burst onto the scene in this competition against Stockport four years ago. After his heroics for Scotland earlier this month, McFadden’s confidence is on a high and this cameo won’t have harmed him either. What little atmosphere the home supporters had generated to that point was deflated in an instant and there seemed an acceptance around Hillsborough that Everton would canter through to the next round. While that wasn’t exactly the case, the Toffees did not have too much trouble hanging on to their lead, particularly as Stubbs was the game’s dominant performer – his last gasp block to thwart Deon Burton summing up his efforts. That proved to be Wednesday’s last chance and McFadden ended the game as a contest in the 84th minute, heading in Neville’s cross before he turned provider 60 seconds later. His pass sent Yakubu sprinting clear to put the gloss on their efforts. McFadden’s efforts will ensure that he captures the headlines but there was much to like about Yakubu’s response to being dropped on Sunday. He will never win awards for the amount of miles covered during a game but this was a vast improvement. Sentiments which apply to the performance as a whole. True, much bigger tests lie in wait – notably in Ukraine next Thursday – yet this could just be the tonic which was needed to get things going again. Only after that game will we be able to accurately judge what kind of impact this win had but, as a starting point, it will certainly do. And, who knows, in a few weeks it could be that this game is looked upon as the launch of the deadly duo.
SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY (4-4-2): Grant; Simek, Hinds, Wood, Gilbert; Johnson (Burton 68), Whelan, Kavanagh (Lunt 80), Small; Tudgay, Jeffers (Sodje 72).
EVERTON (4-4-2): Wessels; Hibbert (Neville 46), Stubbs, Lescott, Valente (Baines 64); Pienaar, Carsley, Jagielka, Osman; Yakubu (Anichebe 86), McFadden.
Bookings - Hibbert (36), Jagielka (73)
REFEREE: Rob Styles (Hampshire).
Sheffield Wednesday 0, Everton 3 (Echo)
Sep 27 2007
by Dominic King at Hillsborough
HALF empty grounds, flat atmospheres, humdrum games and icy temperatures; don’t you just love the early rounds of the Carling Cup? As others hunt the riches on offer via the Premier League and Champions League, the first big domestic trophy of the season has lost its sheen in the past few years but you won’t find anyone from Everton arguing about its position in the calendar. Certainly not James McFadden. While Everton’s third round tie with Sheffield Wednesday is unlikely to live long in the memory of those who saw it last night – be thankful it wasn’t on television – the Scotland international is likely to be an exception. Grasping a rare chance to start with both hands, McFadden’s slick performance at Hillsborough ensured a potentially troublesome task was negotiated with little difficulty and helped Everton to a win that could have plenty of positive spin-offs. Having struggled for form in the past 10 days – their league position has been dented and European ambitions hang in the balance – victory of any sort would have been acceptable in South Yorkshire. That it was achieved so smoothly in the end and contained a first clean sheet of the campaign however, will have thrilled manager David Moyes and it could just be the result that gets Everton’s momentum going again. Make no mistake, some felt the Blues were ripe for a giant killing and for 45 minutes it appeared as if they would go the way of Manchester United and Aston Villa. That they did not was down to the work of McFadden and his partner in crime Yakubu. Sharing the goals between them and linking with purpose, they have given Moyes the kind of poser he wants to be dealing with and if the Carling Cup can provide selection dilemmas for him, so much the better. There is absolutely no doubt now that his squad will be fired up for their next two assignments after last night’s fillip. Though Moyes made five changes to the side that had been beaten at Villa Park on Sunday, it was not to blood youngsters as others do. If anything, the opposite was true as old heads Alan Stubbs, Lee Carsley and Nuno Valente returned. Stubbs’ presence in the back four, not surprisingly, brought a solidity in the middle of the defence that had been lacking against Aston Villa and Metalist Kharkiv; barking out orders, lunging into challenges and demanding the best from his colleagues. Yakubu and McFadden were the men charged with giving Everton the cutting edge that has been missing in recent weeks but, other than a couple of speculative shots, the Blues’ threat was minimal early on. In fact, the only incident of note in a mind-numbingly dull first half was Tony Hibbert being booked for an innocuous tussle with Wade Small on 36 minutes. Honestly. It really was that bad. There was, at least, something to talk about during the break as a school of thought suggested Hibbert was fortunate not to pick up a second yellow card from referee Rob Styles after he clattered into Small again shortly after the first skirmish. At best, it was ill-advised but mindful not to incur a needless suspension, Moyes opted to end Hibbert’s night at the interval and pitched Phil Neville into the fray for the second period. Enjoying an outstanding 45 minutes, the skipper helped start the transformation.
Sep 27 2007
Did the Blues impress you at Hillsborough in light of their recent form?
AFTER recent results, I was expecting nothing but a win from tlast night’s game.
However, I wasn’t expecting the scoreline we obtained, and 3-0 was quite flattering, given the pressure from Sheffield Wednesday in the first half. Given Andy Johnson’s goal drought, I thought he would have started, but this was not to be and hopefully the rest will do him the world of good. Nevertheless, I think McFadden deserved to start the game after his recent performances, particularly for Scotland, and he proved to be the match winner for us so this boost in his performance should see him start more. The second half saw us step up the pace and thankfully we did what Premier League teams should do to lower league clubs – win convincingly! With great play, McFadden capped off a wonderful move and then added another to end the game, just before Yakubu scored a much needed goal for himself. Michael Drummond, Speke AS we slumped to defeat against Aston Villa on Sunday, some Evertonians were calling for the manager’s head. I find these so-called fans unbelievable to even question David Moyes’ position. We find ourselves six points offthe top of the Premiership and still involved in all three cup competitions and have the best team we have had for 20-odd years. I must admit no manager is perfect at picking the right team every week, but Moyes must carry on building so we can achieve a successful season.Last night proved that Phil Neville is more comfortable and attack-minded than Tony Hibbert at right back and the defence has also missed the leadership of Alan Stubbs. When Mikel arteta is fit, I would like to see him in the centre of midfield. I would keep faith with McFadden and Yakubu as a partnership.
Tony Scott, Walton SURELY now, David Moyes cannot ignore the obvious any longer?Everton fans are currently united on one thing. Injuries or no injuries, love him or hate him, Phil Neville is detrimental to our midfield and is better at right back.
Those who needed convincing must surely have seen enough last night. Introduced at right back at half time, he transformed the game, putting crosses in, forming an excellent partnership with Steven Pienaar and, ultimately, playing a part in the crucial first two goals. This 45 minute cameo proved beyond all doubt that Neville has a far more positive influence on the team from full back.
Further forward, James McFadden was having another of those frustrating nights until he got on the end of that perfect Yakubu cross. He oozed confidence from then on, scoring another and setting up the third.. As much as I like AJ, McFadden is the man in form, and must keep his place on Sunday. Debbie Smaje, Skelmersdale AFTER the nightmare in Europe and another lacklustre performance on Sunday, last night was the perfect opportunity to get back on track. Playing against lesser opposition should have been a fiddle for us, especially with a decent team out, but the game was poor overall. We just about did enough to deserve our place in the next round. The first half was deceptively even but we started the second brightly and deserved to take the lead.
The 20 minutes after our goal, though, were a major cause for concern. We simply watched as Wednesday attacked and that isn’t good enough for a team of our stature. We really need to step up our performance if we are going to pick up some form in the league. I know I've said it before but the away support really seems to drag us through some of our games on the road. Long may it continue. Cole Fraser, Litherland
Triple tonic for super Blues
Sept 27 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
PHIL JAGIELKA today hailed Everton’s rejuvenated strike force and backed them to maintain their Carling Cup form when they return to Premier League business.
James McFadden’s virtuoso performance – he scored twice and set up another – helped the Blues negotiate a tricky third round tie against Sheffield Wednesday last night and put him firmly in line for a start when Middlesbrough come to Goodison Park on Sunday. Record signing Aiyegbeni Yakubu was the beneficiary of McFadden’s through ball late on and, particularly in the second half, looked poised to finally start to live up to his £11.25m price tag. Given it was the first time McFadden and Yakubu have started as a double act, the signs were encouraging, leaving Jagielka – who again caught the eye at Hillsborough – confident they will soon be terrorising Premiership defenders too. “Faddy has been fantastic in training for the past month,” said the former Sheffield United man. “He is unpredictable and, to put it nicely, is a pain in the backside when you are trying to mark him. You never know what he is going to do next. “He did really well when he went away with Scotland after scoring an important goal against Blackburn and he’s come good again with two fantastic goals and a great ball through for Yak. Hopefully he can carry it on. “It has been hard for Yak. He has come straight in and not had a pre-season with us to settle down.
“He’s still trying to get to know the boys and figure out the way we play. But he scored on his debut and got another one against Wednesday. “Obviously he didn’t do as well as he would have wanted in between but his hold up play last night was fantastic. “It was more the Yak that we are used to – putting crosses in, having shots – and he set one up and scored, so it wasn’t a bad night for him at all.”
Nor was it for Everton. Though it took them time to hit top gear, Jagielka believes the Blues can take heart from their display and is now hoping for more of the same against Middlesbrough. “First half we were a bit short of confidence and they had some decent stuff in terms of possession,” said Jagielka. “The Gaffer asked us to step up the tempo at half-time and I think we did that when Nev came on. He did really well and put some great crosses in. It was a bit more like the old Everton.
“If we had not managed to get through to the next round, confidence might have taken a bit more of a beating. “But we go into the Middlesbrough game knowing that we have scored a couple of goals and kept a clean sheet. “Sunday is a massive game and we need to get back to winning ways in the Premier League now.” Tickets for the Middlesbrough game are currently on general sale from the Park End box office. Alternatively seats can be bought over the phone by dialling 0870 442 1878 or via the club’s website.
Phil Neville won us the tie - David Moyes
Sept 27 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
PHIL NEVILLE has endured a difficult couple of weeks but he returned to form with a vengeance last night to earn a glowing tribute from David Moyes. Below par in games against Manchester United, Metalist Kharkiv and Aston Villa, Neville was berated by a section of supporters at Villa Park on Sunday when he went over to applaud them at the final whistle. But having come on for Tony Hibbert at half-time last night, Everton’s captain played an important role in helping his side to a 3-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday and his manager was thrilled with the impact of his captain. “I thought the difference was Phil Neville,” Moyes enthused.
“He came on at half-time and made all the difference to the team. “The way he played probably helped provide us with the impetus we needed to go and win the game.
“It lifted the game from being quite equal in a lot of ways. He was excellent at right-back. “The crosses he put in, he got forward and joined the attack and he made a goal too. Him and Faddy were involved in all the goals. “Right-back is his position. But, at the minute, we need him to do a couple more jobs for us with the injuries we have got.
“I took Hibbo off at half-time (he was lucky not to be booked twice) after the tackle and he’s got a bit of a groin strain.” James McFadden, though, made just as much of an impact with two goals and an assist for strike partner Aiyegbeni Yakubu to take his record for the season to three goals from as many starts. “You can certainly see that he has got confidence,” Moyes noted. “People read into things an awful lot about who are strikers are going to be but Faddy is up there with the others. He scored two goals, which is great.” Few would describe the performance as vintage but while Everton struggled to click into gear, Moyes was satisfied that his players managed to clear the first hurdle and the manager took encouragement from a first clean sheet of the campaign. “It was a job done,” said Moyes. “Maybe 3-0 flatters us a bit but, nevertheless, it was a clean sheet which we have been wanting. “Sheffield Wednesday is a terrific football club, a Premier League football club and to come here and win was never going to be easy. “It doesn’t matter who you play in football. It’s never easy winning. “But we have done a job. I would have liked it to have been done a bit earlier than it was but we got there in the end. “We didn’t play well in the first half.”
Alan Stubbs may return as injuries bite
Sep 28 2007
by Ian Doyle, Liverpool Daily Post
DAVID MOYES has hinted Alan Stubbs may have played his way into Everton’s Premier League starting line-up this weekend – as the Goodison manager grapples with yet more injury problems. Tony Hibbert and Nuno Valente picked up knocks that forced them off during the 3-0 Carling Cup victory at Sheffield Wednesday in midweek. Hibbert suffering a groin strain while Portugal international Valente took a blow to his foot, with both considered doubtful for Sunday’s visit of Middlesbrough.
The pair join Mikel Arteta, Thomas Gravesen and Tim Howard in the treatment room, while Tim Cahill and James Vaughan remain long-term absentees. “The substitut-ion (for Tony) was forced in two accounts, obvious-ly his booking concerned me and also he’s got a groin strain so that really made my mind up at half-time,” said Moyes.
“Nuno Valente came in and played his part, although he now has quite a bad injury to his foot.” With Joseph Yobo missing through illness, Stubbs returned at centre-back alongside Joleon Lescott for his first appearance in more than a month.
The veteran helped Everton to their first clean sheet of the season, and Moyes intimated Stubbs could retain his place for the weekend clash with Gareth Southgate’s Teessiders. “Stubbsy stands in the right positions and he gets his clean sheets and organises the boys well, so he’s been a really good players for us,” said Moyes. “We know that with Joseph Yobo and Joleon Lescott we’ve got two really good central defenders, but sometimes you just need that experience.” Meanwhile, Crystal Palace manager Peter Taylor has ruled out making a fresh move for Everton reserve keeper Iain Turner. Turner, who played five Coca-Cola Championship games for the Eagles during a loan spell last season, has recently recovered from a groin problem. Current Palace keeper Julian Speroni has come in for criticism after being at fault for both goals in the 3-2 victory over Sheffield United on Saturday. But Taylor said: “I am not looking to reignite my interest in Iain Turner. I am happy with Julian and Scott (Flinders). If one goalkeeper is making some mistakes, then the other might come in.”
‘Yakubu will benefit from Cup strike’
Sept 28 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES is hoping Aiyegbeni Yakubu’s goal at Sheffield Wednesday will provide him with the impetus to justify his huge transfer fee. The Nigerian international got his career at Goodison Park off to the best possible start with a goal on his debut at Bolton, but then struggled for form and was dropped for last Sunday’s defeat against Aston Villa. However, Yakubu responded in the best possible manner in Everton’s midweek Carling Cup tie at Hillsborough, linking well with James McFadden and capping an eye-catching performance with a goal and an assist.
Yakubu should keep his place in the starting line-up for Sunday’s fixture against his former club Middlesbrough and Moyes believes his £11.25m signing is finally becoming attuned to the way Everton do business. “It was good that he got a goal,” the manager said today. “His work rate was good, which was pleasing. I thought he was a bit anxious early on. He was shooting before he should have done in the first half and he wasn’t ready. “But I think the goal will just settle him down a little bit. Let’s hope he keeps banging them in now as we need them. “We have got a lot of big games coming up and we need people to be scoring goals for us. It could be the win that just kick starts everything again. “We understood when he came here that (his workrate) could be the one thing that did not fit our image. But there has to be a bit of give and take on both sides and I’m sure he will be working on it. You have to remember that he is new to us as well.” Moyes is hoping that Mikel Arteta will be back to face Middlesbrough having missed the last three matches with ankle ligament damage, while Tim Howard has an outside chance of returning after his dislocated finger responded to treatment. Steven Pienaar, meanwhile, hopes Everton have now turned the corner after a recent blip and says the players return to Premier League duty in high spirits after their Carling Cup workout. “I think that all our strikers want to score goals because we haven’t scored many goals in a few games,” he said. “If it’s not going well you must always keep a smile, because if you keep working hard it will come back. “For us to get three goals away was good for confidence and I think that the guys deserved the goals. I think it’s a boost we needed and I hope we carry on from here and take the last 20 minutes into Sunday’s match.” * Metalist Kharkiv have confirmed that match tickets for Everton's Uefa Cup first round, second leg tie in the Ukraine will be delivered to Goodison on Monday, October 1. Pre-purchased tickets will be dispatched by special delivery on Monday. However, any supporters who would prefer to pick up their pre-purchased tickets directly from Goodison Park should notify the Everton Fan Centre in advance. They can do so by ringing 0870 442 1878.
Power of positive thinking eases van der Meyde's anguish
Sept 28 2007 EXCLUSIVE by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
THINKING positive is something all visitors to Clare House are urged to do and few appreciate those sentiments more than Andy van der Meyde. Like the mums and dads who spend every moment they can with their children at the hospice on the Wirral, van der Meyde knows all about the torment and anguish that come with daily trips to hospital. Six months ago, van der Meyde’s partner Lisa gave birth to their first child, a bouncing baby girl named Dolce, but, so far, the couple have been unable to bring her home for good. What’s more, they still don’t know when that time will come.
Dolce, you see, was born with a serious bowel problem which requires almost constant medical supervision – she is unable to eat or digest food yet and is vulnerable to picking up infections. Not surprisingly, it has had an enormous impact on their lives. “Everything is done for her by computers at the minute,” said van der Meyde, explaining the situation. “She doesn’t even know what a bottle is. It breaks your heart to see a little girl in that state and there is nothing you can do to help. But we just have to stay positive. “You have to be in hospital every day. It’s hard but that’s the way it is. It is getting better as she is coming home every day for a couple of hours now. After training, I pick her up and we have a couple of hours together. “When we take her back to the hospital, we are learning how to put her back on the computer for her feed. If we learn it properly, maybe we will be able to have her home for one or two nights soon. It’s hard because we have to wear gloves all the time. “If you pick up any bacteria, she will get sick again. We leave her about 9.30pm and then we just go home to bed. But it is so hard leaving. We hope she will make a full recovery in time but we just don’t know yet. We have to wait and see how she reacts to treatment. “She is growing all the time, which is a good sign. But, at the minute, she is still being sick at some point every day. She can’t keep any food down and that is the problem. A few weeks ago it was really, really bad. But, like I say, we will stay positive.”
Some footballers shrink when making visits such as these but there was little chance of that happening with van der Meyde, who was at Clare House as part of the Premier League’s week long Creating Chances initiative. “It is a good thing for the parents and children to be able to go to a good place like this. We stayed in Ronald McDonald House just after Dolce was born. Everyone is so helpful,” said van der Meyde.
“It’s such a sad place to go with all the sick, little kids. You feel helpless because you can’t do anything for them. You just have to stay as positive as you can be. In some way, I know how their parents are feeling.” Dolce’s condition is the latest in a long line of traumatic episodes that have punctured his two years on Merseyside and given all that has happened, it would hardly be a surprise if he wanted to move away and start afresh yet the opposite is true of this endearing soul. His spirits were lifted on Tuesday when he returned to the first team fold after a month in the wilderness but that does not change the fact he is only one more slip-up away from the professional point of no return. Suspended and fined for missing training in August, David Moyes’ patience with the former Holland winger has been stretched to breaking point and it remains to be seen whether he will ever trust van der Meyde on a professional level completely again. The thing with van der Meyde, however, which has probably spared him the sack is the fact he is blessed with a God given talent and it frustrates everyone he has not shown it. But maybe – just maybe – the penny has finally dropped.
He celebrates his 28th birthday on Sunday when Middlesbrough come to Goodison Park and while the best he can hope for is a place in the squad, a repentant van der Meyde is holding on to the belief that opportunity will knock once again.
“I was so happy,” he said, reflecting on the moment Moyes gave him the nod to return. “I was so happy to be training with the first team again. I was a month away from them. But it was my own fault. “It was one of those things. We are all people, you know? We aren’t computers. We’ve all got feelings and sometimes things just get too much. You just want to lay everything to one side and just think about yourself for a little bit. “But it was my own fault. I’m back in with the team and it won’t happen again. If they want me to play in the reserves or train with the reserves, I’ll do that. If they want me to be involved with the first team, I’ll be there for them. “I’m just waiting for my chance now. I was in the stands against Sheffield Wednesday, so I suppose that is a start. When you train on your own, you are just in this little world and you have to keep pushing yourself. “Now I can play in the little games, I can shoot at the goal and it feels much better. I feel fit again. I have spoken with the gaffer a few times and he understands everything. That’s good because some managers just don’t want to know about you. “I still feel at home here. I love Everton and I just want to play for them again at some point. I’ve travelled with the team and now I just want that little bit more. “It will come. I feel that. When I get a chance - if I get a chance - I won’t let go. There are no aches, no pains, nothing. I just have to wait now and be positive. That is the only thing I can do.”
David Prentice: Why Yakubu must punch his weight
Sept 28 2007 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
APPEARANCES can be deceptive.
Fernando Torres wears an alice band, white boots and blond highlights, but on Tuesday night showed the cojones of a Mexican bantamweight. Across the park, Everton also have a record signing, built like a Mr Universe finalist with a stare that could stop a raging bull in its tracks. But, according to common concensus, Aiyegbini Yakubu needs, how can we say, a little gentle encouragement to break into anything approaching a jog. What the two record signings have in common, however, was their non-selection for matches against Birmingham opposition last weekend. According to post-match reports, one was ‘dropped’ but the other was ‘rested’. Depends on your point of view, I suppose. I believe that David Moyes took the opportunity to fire a timely message to his centre-forward – one that he appeared to take on board at Hillsborough. I hope he continues to display that willingness to work hard as well as show off the obvious finishing skills he possesses. That’s because team spirit is a priceless, but fragile commodity. Everton’s last truly great squad had it in bundles.
But it swiftly evaporated when new, high priced players arrived in the summer of 1988. Tony Cottee cost a British record transfer fee, and couldn’t have made a better start than score a hat-trick on his debut. But ask Graeme Sharp what he felt about having to do his strike-partner’s running for him . . . only if you’re accustomed to colourful language, mind. Andy Johnson relishes the concept of hard work, but he may find the prospect less appealing if he’s having to do the running for two.
Yakubu looks like a cruiserweight contender . . . but he must keep punching his weight regularly.
Neville best at full-back
IT’S been an up and down kind of week for Phil Neville.
Last Thursday night he was taken to task by some Evertonians, for taking the ball from a confident Leighton Baines and handing it to a fragile Andy Johnson.
Six days later he was the toast of Gwladys Street, after helping turn a tricky Cup tie Everton’s way at Hillsborough. “I thought the difference was Phil Neville,” said manager David Moyes. “He came on at half-time and made all the difference to the team. The way he played probably helped provide us with the impetus we needed to go and win the game.” So was it any coincidence that Neville came on at right-back?
For me, his best displays have always been at full-back, rather than the central midfield role he currently occupies. Remember that wonderful cross at White Hart Lane last season? The ball into the box against Villarreal? The devastating delivery at Hillsborough on Wednesday? From wide positions with time to connect and targets to aim at, Neville can produce quality. But in the hurry scurry of the central midfield congestion he doesn’t have the swiftness of touch or thought to create. Neville is an influential member of Everton’s strongest side, but that influence should be at full-back.
Historic treasure secured
LOVERS of football history can celebrate a significant landmark this week.
The future of the famed David France Collection has been triumphantly secured.
Regular ECHO readers will be aware of the existence of the most comprehensive collection of football memorabilia in the world. A timeline of the history of Everton FC, the 10,000 piece assemblage of medals, caps, documents, programmes, ledgers and tickets not only documents the Toffees’ rich history, it also provides a unique insight into the social history of the city of Liverpool. Conservatively estimated to be worth £1.2m by auction house Christie’s, a Charitable Trust was set up a couple of years ago to help secure the collection from the man who put it together, Dr David France. Driven on by former Blues director Lord Grantchester, masterminded by the ambitious and enterprising Toffees shareholder, Tony Tighe, and supported tirelessly by chief executive Keith Wyness, the appeal has just secured Heritage Lottery Funding. Together with the donations from Everton and Lord Grantchester himself, the Collection can now pass into public ownership and be enjoyed by every supporter in the city. The important news is that the Collection will remain intact and accessible. And with Capital of Culture year looming, that is wonderful news for lovers of association football everywhere.
Everton fan Mike Parry to run half marathon in Alan Ball tribute
Sept 28 2007 by James Pearce, Liverpool Echo
AVID Blues supporter Mike Parry will take part in Sunday’s BUPA Great North Run in a special Everton shirt in a tribute to Alan Ball. The talkSPORT presenter has struggled with heart problems in recent years but his health has improved sufficiently for him to take on the world’s biggest half marathon. Parry will be joined by colleague Andy Townsend and is raising cash for Harefield Hospital, where he was a patient, and the Cardiomyopathy Association . He said: “The doctors have only let me enter after a series of monthly checks, the last of which I passed two weeks ago.
“I can't run it because I still suffer from cardiomyopathy which means that your heart is very extended and as a consequence it struggles to pump blood and oxygen round your body. My broadcasting pal Andy Townsend is going to chaperone me.
“Two of my leading sponsors are Everton FC and JJB, who have been very generous.
“JJB have provided me with a special issue Everton shirt which is a tribute to Alan Ball. There is a logo of his white boots on the front.” Parry has changed his lifestyle since being taken ill three years ago while covering Euro 2004. “As Wayne Rooney's career took off my heart was exploding to the point where it nearly killed me,” he added. “Today my doctors are astounded at my progress since I came out of hospital two and a half years ago because at the beginning I was given only three months to live unless I was found a donor heart. “I've managed to cope with the development of new drugs and I take 18 tablets a day to keep me going. I walk at least three miles every day and follow a healthy diet of lean meats, vegetables and fresh fruit.
“I consider myself very lucky because some of the people I was in hospital with have subsequently died. Somehow the doctors made it work for me and I'm doing the run to try and give something back.”
Howard Kendall: Johnson and Yakubu must get vote
Sep 28 2007 by Howard Kendall, Liverpool Echo
SOMETIMES it is easy to get carried away when players impress against weak opposition. But David Moyes will face a couple of tricky decisions this weekend.
There is a school of thought that says you don’t change a winning side and the 11 who did the business in the second half against Sheffield Wednesday will feel they should play against Middlesbrough. Certainly, the likes of Alan Stubbs and James McFadden could not have done any more at Hillsborough, while Phil Neville looked the most natural right-back at the club and Aiyegbeni Yakubu got a confidence-boosting goal.
What, though, of the players who missed out in Sheffield? Does Moyes bring Andrew Johnson and Joseph Yobo straight back in? Mikel Arteta, meanwhile, will want to play if he is fit. When you are making these decisions as a manager, it is always best to consider what the players have been doing before games against lower league opposition and draw your conclusions from there. I would play Yakubu and Johnson together. It might be harsh on McFadden, but Yakubu was brought from Middlesbrough to play alongside Johnson and they should be given a chance to form a partnership. If things don’t look to be going right during a game, you have always got McFadden to bring on. He is the type of player who can quickly adapt to all situations, but I’d like to think Yakubu is now going to be ready for take off. He will be fired up against his former club and desperate to put on a show. Hopefully, that will be the case Scoring against Wednesday will have done him no harm and the Carling Cup can have a positive spin-off. I am not a fan of the competition and would scrap it given the chance. There is too much football and not many teams take it seriously. But, while Everton are still in it, it is worth winning. Fingers crossed the draw is kind tomorrow.
Grant row is crazy
INTERESTING to see that UEFA had no objection to Avram Grant coaching Chelsea from the touchline next week despite him having no coaching badge.
Quite right. I do not understand why there has been such a hullabaloo but it seems as if red tape has gone mad now. How can a man who has coached his country’s national team not have enough experience to do a similar job in the Premier League?
A couple of years ago, after I left Everton for the final time, I had words with the League Managers Association and they informed me that I would need to obtain my pro-licence badge if I ever wanted to work in the top flight again.
Surely there is an argument for experience counting more than a piece of paper? I had done coaching courses at Lilleshall and obtained the necessary qualifications but it still wasn’t enough. It has probably left Grant scratching his head this week but who are we to say he isn’t qualified?
‘I won’t hide my delight if I can score against Boro’
Sept 29 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
CRISTIANO RONALDO, Mark Viduka and Julio Arca have all done it in recent weeks, but Aiyegbeni Yakubu has no intentions of following suit if it happens tomorrow. While that trio restrained themselves after scoring goals against their former clubs, Everton’s record signing will not be anywhere near as reserved should he come up trumps against Middlesbrough. It is not, on his part, a sign of disrespect, more a sign that he is desperate to do well for his new employers. After a stop-start month when his form fluctuated and he found himself dropped to the bench, Yakubu means business. His spirits lifted by a routine finish against Sheffield Wednesday in midweek, the £11.25m man is hungry for more and wants to get a hugely important week for Everton off to the best possible start with a first goal at Goodison Park.
“If I score, believe me I will celebrate,” said Yakubu, with a broad smile. “Just because I played for Middlesbrough doesn’t mean I’m not going to celebrate.
“ What is done is done already. We have to move on. It’s just a normal game.”
Though he claims that is the case, it would not be the greatest surprise to find that privately Yakubu is desperate to put one over Middlesbrough. As he was leaving for Everton earlier this summer, their chairman, Steve Gibson, could not resist a parting shot. He suggested the 25-year-old had switched off in his final six months and simply went through the motions before the club cashed in on him. It was an accusation that irked Yakubu and he is ready to prove Gibson wrong. “I want to be part of a club that has ambition,” said Yakubu, whose first touch in a Blue shirt was a scoring one at Bolton earlier this month. “I made the right decision to come to this place. I’m happy. The ambition here is higher than Middlesbrough. “I speak to some of the players, but it is life and you have to move on. I will speak to them before the game and say hello to the manager, too. I don’t have anything against them. “When I left Portsmouth, they never said I switched off or things like this. “I never had abusive words in Portsmouth. They all loved me and it was good. So for them to come out and say things like that in the newspaper is not good. You don’t do that. I think they have to grow up. “It’s unfair when people say things like that. I was there for two years and scored a lot of goals. It’s ridiculous for them to say that I switched off.
“In the summer, they were saying that they did not want to sell me and that they were happy with me “But at the end of the transfer window they decide to sell me. I wanted to leave anyway. I was not happy and wanted a new challenge. “I always said that I want to play at a club in Europe and at this moment I don’t think they will get into Europe. Everton want to play in the UEFA Cup and want to play in the Champions League. They want to do well here. “Everton have ambition. I don’t have anything against the chairman or the club. “I just want to play at a club with big ambition. I was disappointed for him to say things like that. But that is his opinion. With Andrew Johnson struggling for fitness, Yakubu is likely to partner James McFadden and build on the promise of their first start together in the Carling Cup against Sheffield Wednesday. Blues boss David Moyes believes that goal at Hillsborough will help settle Yakubu down, but it is significant to hear him say the manager’s decision to make him a substitute at Villa Park last weekend was just as important.
“No, it didn’t surprise me,” he said. “He told me I was starting from the bench and I think he wanted me to see the way we played and I didn’t have a problem with that.
“I played 20 minutes late in the game and it was good. “I could sit and watch the way they played and that helped me get better. I saw the runs they were making and things like that help me. “ It’s not easy to come to a club and get used to the way they play football. But I feel I’m getting better.” It is, perhaps, slightly unreasonable to have expected Yakubu to fit straight into Everton’s fabric without a pre-season under his belt, yet the situation is improving day by day and he does not think it will be long before he is completely up and running. “I think it was very important to get the goal,” he agreed. “Scoring goals gives you confidence.When you come to a new club, it is a bit difficult as you have to get used to the players and understand the way they are playing. “I just trained for three days before the Bolton game. Now I have been training for two weeks with the team and I’m getting used to things. “They understand where I want the ball and at the moment the confidence is getting better and better,” the Blues striker added. It will be better still if he breaks his Goodison duck.
Not surprising that Andy isn't fully focused
Sept 29 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
SPEND five minutes in the company of Andy van der Meyde and it’s impossible not to feel anything other than sympathy towards him. Given the trials and tribulations he has been through during his spell on Merseyside – and the fact that many of his troubles have been self-inflicted – sympathy may seem a strange word to use, particularly after his most recent misdemeanour. Suspended for a week and fined the maximum amount by David Moyes after missing training the day after Wigan Athletic had been beaten on the opening day of the season, he is probably fortunate that his contract was not terminated there and then. After all, it had not been the first time something like that happened and, with good reason, many suspected it would not be the last, either. Had another club registered an interest in him before the close of the transfer window, he would have been ushered to pastures new. There are always two sides to every story, though, and while this column makes no attempt to defend his actions last month, it is not too difficult to see why van der Meyde decided to press the self-destruct button. After all, everyone deals with pressure differently.
For those of you who did not read last night’s edition of the Echo, van der Meyde lifted the lid on the anguish he and partner Lisa are going through at present as their six-month-old daughter Dolce requires almost constant medical attention.
She has spent every day of her life hooked up to machines at Alder Hey hospital because of a serious bowel problem and there is no indication yet when she might be allowed home; certainly there is no indication that it will be any time soon, even if she is getting better. Unless you have been in a similar situation, it is impossible to understand exactly how van der Meyde is feeling, but it is safe to say that everything pales into insignificance when a new-born child is so sick, and the pressure to which you would be subjected is unimaginable. Again, this is not to say van der Meyde should be excused for breaching club rules, nor does he expect anyone to do that. He has admitted to being completely out of order, but surely the time has come for his fortunes to change. Just consider what he has been through on and off the pitch since he joined from Internazionale in August 2005; rumours of alcoholism, break-ins, stolen cars, family problems, drinks being spiked, torn muscles, suspensions and fall outs with David Moyes, to name but a few. Even the most level-headed individual would have found that catalogue of misfortune testing but van der Meyde is refusing to wallow in self-pity. He celebrates his 28th birthday tomorrow and perhaps the penny has finally dropped. Moyes offered an olive branch earlier this week when he included him in a training game for the first time since his no-show in August and he was also part of the squad that travelled to South Yorkshire for the Carling Cup tie with Sheffield Wednesday. It was only a small gesture but it is one that van der Meyde hopes will bear fruit. Whether we will see the winger who terrorised defenders in Serie A and in Euro 2004 is open to debate, but it would be terrific if we could see a glimpse of him. Earlier this summer, I watched Everton’s squad take part in a shooting session while they were in Florence on a training camp and few could match the precision and power van der Meyde generated with every effort; left foot, right foot, it didn’t matter. Everything flew in the top corner. He has enormous ability, it’s just a question of him being able to channel it in the right direction. But, then again, given baby Dolce’s situation, you can see why his focus has been out of late. Few, then, would begrudge him some better luck.
Plenty of plus points from cup triumph
Sep 29 2007 by Barry Horne, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON scored a terrific and confidence boosting win at Hillsborough on Wednesday, against opponents who certainly had the potential to cause a cup upset.
The positives for David Moyes, apart from the result, were a terrific cameo from James McFadden, the most enthusiastic and willing performance of Yakubu’s Everton career to date, the impact of Phil Neville – plus the influence of Alan Stubbs.
No criticism of Joseph Yobo is implied, but whenever Stubbs plays he seems to bring an air of calmness and a togetherness to the defensive unit. Having said that, if I were David Moyes I would be just a little concerned by the number of shooting opportunities that Wednesday created. It was only poor shooting that ensured the 15 or so shots Wednesday mustered didn’t actually trouble Stefan Wessels. One thing which did strike me as I was handed my teamsheet at Hillsborough, however, was that not so long ago Evertonians would have considered a line-up like the one David Moyes sent out on Wednesday to be their first choice XI. The truth was Moyes made five changes and still had a substitutes’ bench packed with international class quality. That indicates the progress both Moyes and the club are making – and on the night that side which was sent out still scored three high class goals and gave David Moyes a selection headache to ponder between Wednesday and tomorrow. With Tim Cahill and James Vaughan both also on the horizon, that headache could soon be intensified . . . and David Moyes will be delighted by that.
Moyes: I demand more
Sept 29 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES has demanded an immediate improvement in Everton’s performances as he looks to start a hugely important week with a victory over Middlesbrough. The Blues have slipped to ninth in the Premier League after back-to-back defeats against Manchester United and Aston Villa and Moyes has made it clear that he wants the rot to stop before next Thursday’s must win UEFA Cup clash at Metalist Kharkiv. The current situation is in stark contrast to 12 months ago. After seven games last season, Moyes was frustrated that Everton had not picked up sufficient points for their efforts but now he says the opposite is true. “I don’t think we have played better than the amount of points we have got,” said Moyes.
“We are looking to play better than we have done, that’s for sure. Yes, there are obvious reasons for it. “The biggest thing about beating Sheffield Wednesday is that we got three goals. “I didn’t think Aston Villa played particularly well against us but they got a couple of goals and that won them the game. I actually felt we played better than Aston Villa.” Moyes believes Everton’s play will have more zip when Mikel Arteta and Thomas Gravesen return, but he is urging the players he has available for tomorrow’s tussle to up the ante and deliver the kind of display he knows they are capable of. “We are missing quite a few people at the moment but I don’t want to go into that,” he added. “But when they return they will help. “It will be a tough game tomorrow. Middlesbrough are an improving side and have made a few changes.
“Gareth (Southgate) is having to make a lot of changes and the way they play. That takes time. “But it looks from a distance as if they are starting to do quite well.”
Moyes has a number of fitness worries ahead of the game, notably surrounding Andrew Johnson (groin) and Joseph Yobo (illness) but Alan Stubbs came through his return against Sheffield Wednesday with flying colours and should start.
“Whenever Stubbsy has played, he has done a good job for us,” said Moyes.
“Joseph Yobo and Joleon Lescott are a tremendous partnership but it’s good that I have got competition there. “If people don’t play well, I can do something about it. But he is a leader. “If you ask around football clubs, the better leaders tend to be the older players who have been through it a bit longer.” One man who won’t be involved tomorrow is Gravesen, but he may start some light training early next week.
However, reserve goalkeeper Iain Turner is set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines as he urgently needs a hip operation.
BORO SHOULD 'GROW UP' - YAKUBU
29th September 2007
Everton striker Ayegbeni Yakubu has hit back at criticism from former club Middlesbrough by saying: "I think they have to grow up". The Nigerian striker moved to Merseyside from Teesside this summer and Boro chairman Steve Gibson made comments that the forward "switched off" towards the end of his career at the Riverside Stadium. Yakubu, though, retorted: "It is very unfair to say that. I played for Middlesbrough for two years and scored a lot of goals for them, and it is ridiculous for them to say that I switched off." He added: "I don't have anything against the chairman or the club and so I was very disappointed for him to say things like that.
"But that is his opinion. In the summer, they were saying they did not want to sell me and that they are happy with me. But at the end of the transfer window they decided to sell me and I wanted to leave anyway. "I was not happy and I wanted to join a club with more ambition than Middlesbrough. They never said I switched off when I left Portsmouth. They all loved me and I would never say anything abusive about Portsmouth. "So for Middlesbrough to come out and say things like that in the newspaper is not good. You don't do that. I think they have to grow up."
EVERTON TWO GOOD FOR BORO
30th September 2007
Mikel Arteta proved just how crucial he is to the Everton cause by returning to inspire a 2-0 Premier League victory over Middlesbrough. As well as having a hand in goals from free-scoring defender Joleon Lescott and a first in English football for the on-loan Steven Pienaar, the Spanish midfielder was outstanding throughout on his comeback from injury. He was sorely missed in last weekend's defeat at Aston Villa and the UEFA Cup draw against Metalist Kharkiv and was simply too cute for Boro.
The visitors lacked such a figure, but of more concern would have been their impotence in attack, with Mido and Lee Dong-Gook failing to impress.
Everton were looking to bounce back from two straight league defeats, while Boro had not won in their last three in all competitions. It did not take long for the scoring to begin, Arteta proving his worth with a testing eighth-minute corner which Yakubu glanced goalward and although Jonathan Woodgate headed off the line, Lescott was first to react, nodding the rebound into the opposite corner of the net. Five minutes later and Boro wasted a glorious opportunity to level. Mido headed a cross down to the unmarked Gary O'Neil, who had time to steady himself but still scuffed his finish straight at Tim Howard. Both sides were then guilty of glaring headed misses, Yakubu first when he somehow sent over a pinpoint Leighton Baines cross following a clever corner routine before Lee's effort from O'Neil's centre cannoned off the crossbar. The Toffees doubled their lead in controversial style when Pienaar injured Boateng winning the ball 30 yards from goal, and the Boro skipper was still hobbling when Arteta broke into the box before squaring for the South African to slide a low finish across Schwarzer and into the net.