Home and Away
Icliverpool And Daily Post
Apr 1 2003
Shuffle the pack
LI TIE needs target practice every day, otherwise he has proven himself to be just a good squad member. Gravesen needs to be consistent. We need to be assured when he is starting a game, he will be dominating all the time. He just seems to go missing when we need him to take charge!
I think Pistone should finally fill the left-back spot while more goals from midfield would be a help. We need to play Wayne as more of an out and out centre forward. He would terrify defenders more from that position than out wide.
David Wells, Ormskirk
I DON'T think this Everton team can go any higher in the table than sixth or expect to stay there long.
We've achieved a lot this season, all down to very hard work and great organisation. But imagine if we combined these two with a bit of flair, skill and creativity. Taking nothing away from the lads, they've been great all season, but there's no creativity. We need two wingers who can beat a man and get a decent cross in. Li Tie is too lightweight and Gravesen is great one game.
David Sherbo, Kirkby, Liverpool
Blues' giant leap
SURELY if David Moyes thought it was in Everton's interest to play Rooney more then he would. This man has done a wonderful job for Everton and anyone questioning his judgement at this stage must be hard to please. My advice is take a step back and look at the league table. I think Moyes also knows that without money for a little more flair in the team we have reached as far as we can go for now. Up to now it's one small step for Moyes and one giant leap for Everton.
John Barry, Liverpool
EVERTON are doing fine; what you all must remember is that David Moyes has taken Everton from 15th to fifth or sixth. That is a very big achievement considering he is using all the same players from last year bar a few like Li Tie and Yobo (who doesn't play most of the time).
Bernard McDonald, Liverpool
I AGREE that moving to a state-of-the-art stadium, complete with "Sapporo stadium" style retractable pitch and roof and top-notch facilities, sounds awesome. But I was always worried about the prospect of the club getting into debt forever, with no return from it, by the move to Kings Dock
Tom Phillips, (via e-mail)
From around the web:
Harvey hails Blue heroes
Academy Football With Chris Wright, Daily Post
Apr 1 2003
THE spring sunshine at Bellefield on Saturday could have been heralding a new season.
And Colin Harvey's Everton under-19s must wish it was the opening of a new campaign after Anthony Barry's 40th-minute goal gave them the derby honours against Liverpool. Everton have been in fine form recently and ended their home campaign with a win. The Blues' 1-0 win over John Owens' Liverpool was their sixth win in seven FA Premier Academy League Group A games. And with three tough away fixtures to end the season, including visits to championship challengers Manchester United and Manchester City in the next week, Harvey was pleased with the commitment of his side. He said: "They have gone on an exceptional run since Christmas. A lot of them have found out what the job is about and they have adapted themselves well to it."
And Saturday's victory over the Reds was just the latest in a run that has seen the Blues hit 20 goals in those seven matches. Harvey added: "Both sides put a lot of effort in out on the pitch and I thought they probably had a little bit more possession but we had the better chances." Harvey had particular praise for his central defensive partnership of Craig Garside and Anthony Gerrard, cousin of Liverpool and England midfielder Steven. Harvey said: "I thought everyone put 100 per cent in and competed well but those two were probably our best players on the day." Harvey also praised several of Alan Harper's under-17s players. He added: "A lot of the lads who normally play were involved in the reserves on Friday night. The reserves won 1-0 and they all acquitted themselves well in that and the young lads did exactly the same when they stepped up from the U17s." Harper's U17s were not in action but they will resume their play-off campaign at West Ham on Saturday. After defeat in their opening group match to Aston Villa, a win is vital if they are to progress into the knockout stage.
Handle with care
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Apr 1 2003
SVEN-GORAN ERIKSSON was last night warned Wayne Rooney could be "destroyed" be a rapid England promotion as Michael Owen insisted the Everton ace must be handled with care.
Pressure is growing on Eriksson to start Rooney alongside the Liverpool star in tomorrow's crucial Euro 2004 qualifier against Turkey. But England team-mates Owen and Sol Campbell both called on Eriksson to follow David Moyes' Everton example and use the 17-year-old's precocious talent sparingly. Their plea is likely to be heeded as Emile Heskey looks set to shrug off the knee injury collected in Saturday's dismal defeat of Liechtenstein. And Owen believes his own teenage experiences for club and country - with too many starts perhaps adding to subsequent hamstring woes - provides a guideline for Eriksson to follow with Rooney. Owen, who was 18 and had won seven caps before Glenn Hoddle gave him his first start against Colombia in the 1998 World Cup, said: "Wayne could be an unbelievable player and an England regular for the next decade, but noone knows yet. "The way he's being handled at the moment is, I think, the right way. "When I was coming through at Liverpool, I wasn't playing in every single game. "I was rested here and there , and David Moyes looks to be doing the same. "I think it's only right if the same is done with England." Fit-again Campbell went even further and claimed Rooney's development could be destroyed if he is forced to carry the expectations of the nation. The Arsenal stopper insisted: "He's a fantastic prospect so don't kill or destroy him. He's learning all the time so don't over-run him.
"You can't thrust a young lad like that in all the time. Being in the England squad and coming on as a substitute will help increase his confidence and he'll get better and better." Campbell added: "But while Michael Owen just came on the scene and destroyed everybody, Wayne has got time on his side and he can only get better and better. He's a fantastic prospect." Despite his and Eriksson's calls for caution, Owen believes his Goodison counterpart will still be itching to face the Turks at the Stadium of Light. "When you're young, you are fearless," he added. "I've no doubt he is good enough to play every game for Everton in the Premier-ship but you have to manage players when they're that age. "I didn't ever want to sit on the bench or the stand. I think that's the right attitude to have. "But now I'm wiser and older, I think that was the right way to do it. It's only now that I realise you can't play in every game, and maybe I shouldn't have played that many games."
Blues seek replay at the Kings Dock
By Andy Kelly, Daily Post
Apr 1 2003
EVERTON FC last night went into extra time in the club's battle to prove it can afford to build a new stadium at the Kings Dock. Yesterday was the unofficial deadline facing the club to provide evidence that a viable financial package was in place to make its 55,000-seat waterfront dream a reality. But by close of business last night, regeneration company Liverpool Vision had not received it. Everton FC refused to comment on the situation but the Daily Post understands that the club was set to pass on evidence that it has raised the cash to Liverpool Vision by this morning at the latest. But even if the club has raised the money, it is likely to be too little too late. A senior Liverpool City Council source last night told the Daily Post: "There is going to be no extra time for Everton, there is going to be no 89th minute winner." Public sector partners have lost patience with the club and are now actively pursuing their own smaller concert arena and conference centre plan.
It is understood that Everton and their private sector partners may finally have secured their £65m contribution towards the original £155m stadium construction costs. But those construction costs have now risen by up to £15m and that is simply no longer enough. As deadline day unfolded, it was widely expected that Everton would submit crucial financial evidence to Liverpool Vision to prove the viability of their stadium project. But as the hours passed, nothing happened. A Liverpool Vision spokesman said: "We were expecting something to arrive today but it has not happened.
"Everton lost their preferred developer status when the original deadline ran out on December 31 last year. "They have not got any special status any more and we have made it clear to them that any work done now is at their own risk. "Obviously we will consider anything which is submitted to us, but we are pushing ahead with plans for a concert arena and conference centre on the site."
Everton's plan is believed to be backed by the Royal Bank of Scotland and the Steeltower development company, which includes businessman and former Everton director Sir Desmond Pitcher and top architect Patrick Davies. They had been involved with the Northstar Consortium, which put forward one of the rival bids Everton managed to beat off in the original race for the Kings Dock. But the public sector remains highly sceptical that Everton's figures will add up. Last night, a senior council source told the Daily Post: "If these people were still serious about what is such a major scheme - we're talking £300m overall here - then surely they should have had a huge amount of reports and documentation to put forward today. "This just underlines the public sector perception that Everton would not be able to put together a credible deal that is financially sound.
"Whatever is said in public they quite simply do not have the money - it is Everton trying to save the moral high ground. "We moved on from Everton three months ago and some people would say we gave them far too much time to come up with the money. "Of course, if someone was to come in with a watertight bid which stands up financially then it would be foolish to knock it back but all the evidence suggests that will not happen. There is going to be no extra time for Everton, there is going to be no 89th-minute winner." The suspicion remains that everybody involved in the Everton for Kings Dock saga is now trying to find an exit strategy which is least damaging to themselves. A source close to the negotiations said: "Everton must prove to its fans that it had the money in place to provide the stadium the fans voted for and will blame the public sector for abandoning them too soon. "The public sector partners are keen to provide the crucial arena Liverpool needs while laying the blame for the failure of the first choice development firmly at Everton's door."
Blues' arena riddle
Apr 1 2003 By Jane Woodhead Political Reporter
EVERTON Football Club today revealed it has alternative plans if its Kings Dock dream fails. But club officials are refusing to say whether these include the redevelopment of Goodison Park or a new stadium elsewhere. The admission that there are fall-back plans will be seen by some as the first public indication by the club that its Kings Dock stadium proposal is doomed. A club spokesman said: "We are not talking about any alternative at the moment. It would be wrong to pre-empt anything which may happen." The club said today the document which proves it has its £65m share for the £155m arena has gone to Liverpool Vision. The club came up with £30m, with the remaining £35m believed to have been put up by development company Steeltower. The club claimed a fax from deputy chairman Bill Kenwright detailing Everton's proposals was sent to Vision chief Joe Dwyer late last night. But Liverpool Vision said today that as it was moving offices at the time it appears the fax did not arrive. A spokesman added: "Nothing was received. Liverpool Vision will be in contact with Everton today." Liverpool Vision decided last month to pursue its own proposals for a conference, exhibition and entertainment venue. Vision claims Everton ceased to be the preferred developer at the end of last year.
Owen: Don't destroy Rooney
Apr 1 2003 By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
SVEN-GORAN ERIKSSON was last night warned Wayne Rooney could be "destroyed" be a rapid England promotion as Michael Owen insisted the Everton ace must be handled with care. Pressure is growing on Eriksson to start Rooney alongside the Liverpool star in tomorrow's crucial Euro 2004 qualifier against Turkey. But England team-mates Owen and Sol Campbell both called on Eriksson to follow David Moyes' Everton example and use the 17-year-old's precocious talent sparingly. Their plea is likely to be heeded as Emile Heskey looks set to shrug off the knee injury collected in Saturday's dismal defeat of Liechtenstein. And Owen believes his own teenage experiences for club and country - with too many starts perhaps adding to subsequent hamstring woes - provides a guideline for Eriksson to follow with Rooney. Owen, who was 18 and had won seven caps before Glenn Hoddle gave him his first start against Colombia in the 1998 World Cup, said: "Wayne could be an unbelievable player and an England regular for the next decade, but noone knows yet. "The way he's being handled at the moment is, I think, the right way. "When I was coming through at Liverpool, I wasn't playing in every single game. "I was rested here and there , and David Moyes looks to be doing the same. "I think it's only right if the same is done with England." Fit-again Campbell went even further and claimed Rooney's development could be destroyed if he is forced to carry the expectations of the nation. The Arsenal stopper insisted: "He's a fantastic prospect so don't kill or destroy him. He's learning all the time so don't over-run him. "You can't thrust a young lad like that in all the time. Being in the England squad and coming on as a substitute will help increase his confidence and he'll get better and better." Campbell added: "But while Michael Owen just came on the scene and destroyed everybody, Wayne has got time on his side and he can only get better and better. He's a fantastic prospect." Despite his and Eriksson's calls for caution, Owen believes his Goodison counterpart will still be itching to face the Turks at the Stadium of Light.
"When you're young, you are fearless," he added. "I've no doubt he is good enough to play every game for Everton in the Premier-ship but you have to manage players when they're that age.
"I didn't ever want to sit on the bench or the stand. I think that's the right attitude to have. "But now I'm wiser and older, I think that was the right way to do it. It's only now that I realise you can't play in every game, and maybe I shouldn't have played that many games."
Shock role for Wiley
Apr 1 2003 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
UNDER-FIRE referee Alan Wiley will be back at Goodison Park on Sunday - this time with an official mandate to 'keep an eye' on Everton's substitutes' bench. The official who caused outrage amongst Evertonians when he instructed his assistant to watch Duncan Ferguson carefully at Highbury a fortnight ago will be the fourth official for the Everton v Newcastle clash. Once again Sky TV cameras will be present, but Everton have no plans to object to Wiley's presence. "I don't think Alan Wiley had a poor game at Highbury," said boss David Moyes. "I thought he did okay, but he got the big decision wrong over their winning goal. I didn't see what he is supposed to have said when Duncan came on. "But we have sent a letter out to Philip Don and we are still waiting on a response from him. "We would like his views not only on what was said at Highbury but also on the red cards shown to Wayne Rooney and David Unsworth this season, the offside goal at Charlton and the goal at Arsenal." Earlier in the season Everton objected to the appointment of Eddie Wolstenholme as fourth official just weeks after he had controversially red-carded David Unsworth and refused to reconsider video evidence. On that occasion the FA replaced him. Ferguson, meanwhile, received a message of support today, although from an unfortunate quarter.
The only player to be charged for using a referee's toilet - Birmingham's Robbie Savage - said: "I really was surprised at Alan Wiley's alleged remark. Surely that's not on and it shows, just as I have always said, that referees are human and can take a particular view of a player. "If you are Robbie Savage, Roy Keane, Patrick Vieira or Duncan Ferguson you may not be treated the same way when making a tackle as other players." Ferguson is in action again tonight for Everton reserves in their home match against Aston Villa at the Autoquest Stadium in Widnes (7pm). Swedish international Niclas Alexandersson is also expected to figure. Everton's trip to West Bromwich Albion on April 12, meanwhile, will be beamed back to Goodison Park on giant screens. The Blues' allocation of tickets for the clash has sold out, prompting officials to order the big screens for Goodison.
Rooney isn't ready to start
Apr 1 2003 By Kevin Ratcliffe, Liverpool Echo
I THOUGHT it was ironic that just days after Sven-Goran Eriksson said Wayne Rooney wasn't being played often enough at Everton to warrant inclusion in an England squad, he, too, is resisting a clamour to play him from the start tomorrow night! Having said that, I believe Eriksson is right to leave Rooney on the substitutes' bench against Turkey. The lad is an incredibly talented young footballer - but the fact remains that he has started just seven Premiership matches in his life.
That is nowhere near the kind of experience needed to be pitched into the pressure of a must-win England international. The English are very, very adept at building up promising young players - then turning on them at the first possible opportunity. Michael Owen is barely 23 years old - but has already suffered at the hands of an over-critical media. If he had been any younger when some people began to question his quality he might not have handled it so confidently. Rooney is clearly not ready to be subjected to that kind of exposure yet, but after clamouring for his inclusion, some areas of the press wouldn't think twice about laying into him if he found the step-up too much.
Sven will probably get the best out of Wayne by using him from the bench at present. Some of his most memorable moments yet have come as a supersub - that goal against Arsenal, a stunner at Leeds and his record-breaking double at Wrexham. England fans will hope they won't have to turn to him tomorrow night, but if they do, another cameo from the substitutes' bench could be the most effective way to use him . . . for now.
Smells like team spirit at Goodison Park
I WAS thrilled to be present at St George's Hall on Saturday night when Everton's 100 Seasons of Top Flight Football celebrations reached their climax. It's been a long time since our 1980s squad was together in the same room. We were an incredibly tight-knit group and it was great to see faces like Peter Reid, Paul Bracewell, Trevor Steven, Kevin Sheedy, Derek Mountfield, Graeme Sharp, Andy Gray and Alan Harper again. Everyone looked fit and well, and their respective wives and partners were all looking well, too - although there had been some transfer activity in the past 20 years!
Being together again brought home just how big a part team spirit played in our success - and that's what David Moyes is trying to instill at Goodison again. Team spirit and togetherness can often transform a modest collection of players into one that consistently over-achieves. The current Blues appear to have a strong camaraderie and that can pull them through a testing run-in. Who knows, we could be back at St George's Hall next season toasting an achievement of more recent vintage?
Blues look at plan B
By Andy Kelly, Daily Post
Apr 2 2003
EVERTON FC have received fresh approaches from property developers in the last few weeks offering them alternative sites for a new stadium. Club owner Bill Kenwright has been informed of at least two new sites - understood to be on the outskirts of Liverpool - which have previously not been part of the club's considerations. Property developers have started to court Everton again after the club's projected move to Kings Dock hit the rocks. Realistically Everton's chances of reasserting their claim to the Kings Dock look slim and it is understood the club itself has spent the last couple of months looking at a Plan B. On Monday night Everton met the unofficial deadline on providing evidence that they have a viable financial package in place to fund the original £155m construction costs of the Kings Dock. The club faxed its proposals to regeneration company Liverpool Vision late on Monday night and delivered a hard copy yesterday morning. It confirmed they believed they had come up with £30m with a private partner staking the remaining £35m of their £65m contribution. An Everton spokesman said: "Everton Football Club has now made what will come to represent its final submission to Liverpool Vision with regard to the proposed Kings Dock waterfront. "While Everton's status as preferred developer for the site was not extended beyond the December 31, 2002, deadline, it was always our understanding that, by way of a gentleman's agreement, we had until March 31 to show our funding requirement was in place; this we have now done. "We now await the observations of Liverpool Vision." The Daily Post understands that the Everton document contained letters from banks, and the club's private developer partner Steeltower, which includes former Everton director Desmond Pitcher, confirming their backing for the scheme. But the club's efforts are widely expected to be in vain as the public sector has already lost patience with them and are continuing to progress plans for an alternative concert and conference arena at the Kings Dock without Everton involvement. A Liverpool Vision spokesman said: "Everton's proposal will be subject to very detailed consideration. "It would be unrealistic for us to comment on its merits until we have had a closer look at it. We will share the decision making process with our public sector partners English Partnerships, the North West Development Agency and the city council." Everton will take stock in the summer, once the Kings Dock issue has been decided, and may actually be able to move ground quicker to another site.
Heskey or Rooney? What the stats say
Apr 2 2003
THE case for Wayne Rooney to start for England is backed up by the statistics from his run-out against Liechtenstein - but the figures also underline Emile Heskey's overall contribution to the team. Rooney (pictured left with Heskey) had two attempts on goal during his 12 minutes on the pitch - one on target and one off - which works out at one every six minutes. By contrast, Heskey had four attempts during his 78 minutes - around one shot or header every 20 minutes - and only one on target. Michael Owen had just two attempts at goal during the whole game, both on target with one being the header which opened the scoring. In terms of passing and holding on to possession however, Heskey's statistics are impressive. He made 32 passes, 20 of which were complete (63 per cent) and was only caught in possession three times. He also created the first goal for Owen with a cross and won the free-kick from which David Beckham scored the second. Owen made only eight passes during the 90 minutes. As for Rooney, he was also involved in build-up play, making three passes during his short time on the pitch, two of which reached a team-mate, but he was also caught in possession three times. The figures suggest that in terms of goals alone Sven-Goran Eriksson should pick Rooney ahead of Heskey, as the 17-year-old is more direct and yet is also involved in build-up play. ATTEMPTS ON GOAL: Heskey 4 (1 on target); 0 goals; 78 minutes on pitch, Owen 2 (2 on target); 1 goal; 90 minutes on pitch, Rooney 2 (1 on target); 0 goals; 12 minutes on pitch. PASSING: Heskey 32 (63% complete), Owen 8 (50% complete), Rooney 3 (67% complete). CAUGHT IN POSSESSION: Heskey 3, Owen 8, Rooney 3.
Everton Res 1, Aston Villa Res 2
Apr 2 2003
A STUNNING free-kick from Stephen Cooke was the difference between the two sides as Everton Reserves were beaten at the Halton Stadium. In fairness Villa always looked comfortable with brothers Stefan and Luke Moore causing problems for the young Blues defence for most of the evening. Duncan Ferguson partnered Nick Chadwick in attack for the home side but were not able to make any real inroads into the Villa defence. Leon Osman, who's been in good form for the reserves this season, might have opened the scoring after just 16 minutes when Ferguson headed down and the youngsters snapshot was blocked by a defender when it looked goal-bound.
Just after the half-hour mark though Villa took the lead. Cooke raced free down the right and crossed for former Liverpool midfielder Oyvind Leonhardsen to fire home at the far post.
Within a minute Everton should have been back on level terms, Martin Crowder's cross was headed just over by Alexandersson when the Swede really should have done better. Villa were inches away from taking a two-goal lead into the break when seven minutes before half-time, Stefan Moore brought down a long ball superbly before volleying past Steve Simonsen, but the shot cannoned off the crossbar and away from danger. Andy Holden must have given his side a real tongue lashing at half-time as they reappeared for the second looking much brighter. Alan Moogan's cross was met by Ferguson's header within a minute of the restart and only a great save from Enckelman kept it out. A Chadwick volley and a Sean O'Hanlon header both looked to have brought the equaliser but again the Villa keeper was in inspired form. Ferguson thought he had brought his side level only for his effort to be ruled offside. Villa then effectively killed the game off with their second on 75 minutes. Cooke was fouled just outside the box and the same player picked himself up to curl in a delightful free-kick into the top corner Ferguson was replaced by Michael Symes minutes later and the youngster was in the thick of the action straight away with a low drive from Chadwick's lay-off.
With six minutes remaining Everton pulled a goal back. Osman, who'd worked hard all night, found Chadwick in the box and the big centre forward turned to shoot low past Enckelman. It wasn't enough and Villa took the points with a victory that was probably just about deserved.
EVERTON: Simonsen, B Moogan, Crowder (A Gerrard 35), O'Hanlon, Pilkington, Schumacher, Alexandersson, A Moogan, Ferguson (Symes 76), Chadwick, Osman. Subs: Turner, Potter, Carney.
Yobo yet to sign Everton contract
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Apr 2 2003
JOSEPH YOBO remains on Everton's summer shopping list after it emerged the Nigerian defender still hasn't signed a binding contract with the Blues. Under the terms of his £4.5million move from Marseille the 22-year-old (left) was to spend 12 months on loan at Goodison Park before both parties decided whether to take up a permanent fouryear extension. Everton have taken up their option with Marseille, while Yobo has confirmed he wants to remain with the Blues having settled in the area and with the club. Contractually, however, the defender is still a Marseille player and would still be free to walk away from Goodison Park at the end of the season. Lingering doubts will remain until the deal is finalised as, so far, Yobo has effectively only signed an agreement to stay for the further four years if the two clubs settled a fee. He is yet to put pen to paper on a contract to cover that four-year period. The World Cup star wants an improved contract before making his stay permanent, though this is not believed to be a vast rise in salary. Yobo has only just forced his way back into David Moyes' side after struggling to build on his awesome start in the Premiership last year. Despite that frustration and links with Arsenal he is ready to commit his future to the Blues, who have already secured a five-year work permit for the star, and all parties concerned are confident the long-running saga will be brought to a successful conclusion in the summer. Yobo, meanwhile, is likely to retain his place at right-back for this Sunday's visit of Newcastle as Tony Hibbert remains doubtful with an ankle problem.
Wayne left wondering after vote
Apr 2 2003 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
WAYNE ROONEY'S hopes of a starting place in tonight's crucial England international were balanced on a knife-edge following an amazing training ground vote. Sven-Goran Eriksson was left sleepless in Sunderland last night as he agonised whether to start with Rooney against Turkey. The England coach has stressed all week that the Everton protege would not start the crucial European Championship qualifier. But yesterday he appeared to waver - and invited his coaching staff, including Tord Grip, Brian Kidd and Sammy Lee, to vote on whether Rooney should replace Emile Heskey. The vote was locked at 3-3. The likelihood is that Eriksson will resist what would be seen as a desperate toss of the dice with the Owen-Heskey partnership which played on Saturday in Liechtenstein. Skipper David Beckham, meanwhile, has called for England to start turning their dreams of winning trophies into reality. Beckham believes England have had the talent in the past capable of lifting honours without achieving that goal. It was widely felt the 1998 World Cup squad could have gone all the way had they not suffered the heartbreak of losing on penalties to Argentina after Beckham's red card. Last summer, many members of Eriksson's squad admitted a golden chance of winning the World Cup for the second time was spurned in the Far East. Now, England have another crop of exciting young talent, blending with experienced campaigners like Beckham, Sol Campbell, Gary Neville, Gareth Southgate and Paul Scholes. But Beckham feels it is time for actions to speak louder than words as England look to move into the driving seat in their qualifying group by disposing of the Turks. "I think over the years it has been disappointing that we have won nothing, because we have had the talent," reflected Beckham. "This is one of the brightest sets of young players that have come through. If we don't win a major competition it will be disappointing. "There is a lot of young talent combined with experienced players already in the squad that are capable of winning things. The young talent wants to come and play and is not fazed by anything.
"But we have to stop talking about it and go out and do the business. The fans deserve it more than anything." A victory would be of considerable relief for Eriksson, who has been coming ng-under increasing pressure after recent England performances. His passion for the cause has been heavily questioned since England limped to a 2-0 success over Liechtenstein in Vaduz on Saturday, when Beckham scored for the third time in as many games. But, although strongly defending Eriksson against such allegations, Beck-ham believes it is hard to stop the bandwagon of discontent which is being aimed at the Swede. He said: "Will a win take the pressure of the coach? I don't think so. I think now this sort of thing has started, it will carry on in some quarters of the media. "If we go and win then it might be lifted for a short while, but then when the next game comes along, you will find we have to do it again - and again. "That's the way it is. Personally, I like it if the pressure is on. I like pressure myself." Beckham is under no illusions about how important victory will be: "We have to win," stressed the Manchester United midfielder.
Nev-er been more proud
Apr 2 2003 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
NEVILLE SOUTHALL dedicated his career to breaking centre-forwards' hearts - now he's decided it's time to get his own back. The Everton legend is revelling in a whole new role as a goalscoring centre-half, in a South Coast Sunday League. Now living near Dover, the man who played more matches for Everton and won more medals than any other player still can't put the ball away.
He turns out for the appropriately named Bull Fossils in an over-40s League, where he is his side's penalty taker. "I've scored six so far and haven't missed one," said the man who used to insist his successful penalty shoot-out conversion in a Full Members Cup tie against Charlton in 1987 be included in his career statistics. "I just smash it as hard as I can at the keeper and so far it's paid off. We're reigning champions and top of the League!" Also flying high is the team Southall left behind six years ago - and he admits that he feels like more of a Blue now than ever before. Notorious for spurning formal dinners and player reunions, he even drove home straight after the 1995 FA Cup Final and missed the post-match banquet - he has been a notable presence at several high profile Blue bashes this year. Speaking before last week's Gwladys Street Hall of Fame dinner he said: "I was thinking about it today and it's only when you go away you realise how special these get togethers are. "When you are working day to day in a different part of the country, then you come back and see the faces of everyone so excited at meeting their heroes, you realise what a big club Everton is. "It's nice, and it's always better when you've retired. Every one in this room has a sense of loyalty to their club, which is sadly all too often missing in football today. "All the old players come back not because they were well paid - it's because they love the club. "Do I feel that way? How can you put into words what it actually means? It's a funny relationship really. When you are away you don't half miss it, but when you're here you take it for granted. "It's very much like a marriage relationship in lots of ways. "When you are there you sometimes don't make the most of it or don't realise how big it is until you leave. "When you are in a different part of the country it's easier to appreciate. "When you go round the world and people tell you how great Everton is, it makes you think. "The club is still not where I'd like to see it at the moment, but it's slowly heading in the right direction." This year's theme for the Hall of Fame gathering was Goodison goal-keepers, with renowned Goodison guardians like Jimmy O'Neill, Gordon West and Dai Davies joining Southall. Southall found the meeting with West particularly apt. "I look at Westy and I think 'Did Howard or Colin see some of Westy in me - and that's why they stood by me?' " he declared.
"We both seem very similar, because he was nuts and to Howard and Colin I was strange in my own way too, so maybe they saw a bit of Westy in me and thought it was worth keeping hold of me and not binning him. "Each one of us must have gone through a period where we were hopeless and times when we were good. We have each been down that road and that's why you get respect and give resp ect to other goalkeepers. "But when I think of Everton I still can't get past the Ball-Harvey-Kendall thing. I don't think of Dixie Dean or Brian Labone, I think of those three names. "I trained with Colin and he was absolute class. I would have hated to have played against him. Even with two bad hips he was class." And like Big Nev nowadays, an Evertonian who wears his heart on his sleeve.
Time for Rooney to show Sven the light
Apr 2 2003 By Len Capeling, Daily Post
SVEN-GORAN ERIKSSON is a genius at making "no" sound like "we'll see". Which is why the Wayne Rooney question won't be resolved until England emerge, blinking, into Sunderland's Stadium of Light. My views on Rooney are well known. He is good enough and awesomely talented enough to play his full part. Not only that, he is strong enough, physically and mentally, to laugh off the pressures that every player faces, whether 17 or 27. In any case, I've never thought of Rooney and pressure as boon companions. He seems so wired in, so fearless, that the word would never occur to him. He appears to thrive on the demands of the game, on the responsibilities that every striker has draped around his shoulders. There is also burning light in this young man's eyes that tells you he lives to terrorise opponents, and that denying him the opportunity is like trying to separate a butcher's dog from a juicy bone. Tonight the hungriest player in the England team will sadly pay the price for opinions he doesn't have of himself. Michael Owen and Sol Campbell piled in yesterday to tell us that too much too soon would not be good for Goodison's future king. Yet Owen himself was playing for England at the age of 18 and - dodgy hamstring aside - it was the making of him on the world scene. At that early stage, Michael was nowhere near as strong as Wayne Rooney and yet we are still being told that the Croxteth Cannonball should be wrapped like bone china lest he shatter.
I don't agree. I'm in the Bobby Robson camp which argues that a teenager with so much natural genius deserves his chance on the biggest stage of all. It's a gamble, of course it is. Just as it was a gamble when, against the advice of Alan Hansen, Alex Ferguson packed his Manchester United team with kids and set in train one of the most glittering success stories of modern soccer. Gambling is what great managers do. Harry Catterick did it with the brilliantly talented Colin Harvey at the San Siro Stadium and he emerged from that burning baptism to become a player of rare gifts and grace. The Cat also blooded Joe Royle at 16 and saw him go on to become Everton's greatest centre-forward of the post-war years. Rooney offers something different to England as he showed against Liechtenstein. Okay, the part-timers of that tiny principality are not on the same plane as Turkey, but Rooney's pace and power, his ability to muscle people out of their stride, offers England another approach. One that will be more difficult to defend against. For all his work-rate - and the very occasional goal - Emile Heskey is a bit too predictable. Admittedly, he had his best game for a long time against Liechtenstein, setting up Owen for the opener and winning the free-kick decisively despatched by England's best player, skipper David Beckham. But sooner rather than later we need to know if Owen has at last found the perfect partner - a Blueblood from across Stanley Park.
David Moyes wants it to be later rather than sooner because he sees the areas in which Rooney needs to improve. But there is an element of self-interest here. Moyes wants Rooney at his best for Everton, not being undermined - as he sees it - in the service of an England side that clearly needs more than the Croxteth Cannonball if it's to scale new heights. For Moyes, Everton v Newcastle on Sunday is more important than England v Turkey tonight.
* That's not to say that the Blues boss wouldn't be delighted if Rooney turned out to be the player who illuminated the Stadium of Light. It's just that with Tomasz Radzinski still struggling for fitness, he needs his young god in the best condition for a match that could convince Everton that a Champions League place is still achievable. Me, I'd like the best of both worlds, the winning goal for Rooney against the Turks and the decisive strike on Sunday against the man who led the clamour for his inclusion in the full England team. That would be harsh on Sir Bobby Robson, but I think we could live with it.
Wayne Rooney clockwatch
Apr 3 2003 Liverpool Echo
58 seconds: Wayne Rooney's first touch on his first competitive start for England was a beautifully cushioned right foot control - only for the referee to blow for a foul by Emre on Beckham.
2 minutes: In the frantic opening exchanges, Rooney is muscled out of it when chasing a hopeful ball up field.
11: Turkey goalkeeper Rustu Recber spills the ball under pressure from Owen. Rooney's follow-up shot is blocked by Ergun's arm. Beckham reacts first but drags his shot wide of an open goal.
14: Rooney shows his aggression with a full blooded challenge on Tugay which left the Turkish midfielder requiring treatment.
22: The Everton teenager attempts to thread the ball through to the onrushing Beckham - but his pass is intercepted by Turkey's backline.
24: Rooney skips past Tugay and appears to be fouled - but no free-kick from the referee.
26: A clever backheel from the touch-line sparks a Beckham raid.
29: England's best move so far as Gerrard pings the ball wide to Beck-ham on the right. Rooney almost connects with the Manchester United midfielder's curling cross.
42: Owen joins Beckham in missing a wonderful opportunity. Fantastic skill from Rooney as he brilliantly keeps possession and whips the ball wide for Gerrard. His cross picks out Owen -but the ball hits his standing foot.
43: Rooney's best contribution so far, dancing goalwards, slaloming around three challenges then feeding Owen with a stunningly envisioned and crafted pass. His strike partner tries to round the goalkeeper but loses the ball.
44: Another surging run ends when he is pulled back by the shirt.
53: The 17-year-old links up with his team-mates well as England break out before Owen is fouled.
66: Rooney heads a far-post corner back across the box and Emre handles to deny Vassell from close-range. The Turkish defender escapes unpunished.
67: It's all England now and Rustu gathers Rooney's first-time shot.
68: Rooney - certainly England's man of the match - is in the thick of the action again and almost meets Bridge's cross.
80: Rooney fires high and wide from 20 yards.
83: Rooney pulled back as he breaks towards goal and tries to play in Vassell.
89: Rooney substituted for Dyer - to a unanimous standing ovation around the Stadium of Light.
Protect him now - Moyes
Apr 3 2003 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES savoured the performance of England's most exciting debutant for years last night, then asked Sven-Goran Eriksson to throw the same protective arm around him that he has done.
Moyes was at the dium of Stadium of Light in Sunderland to watch Wayne Rooney win the Man of the award on his full international debut - aged just 17 years 156 days. Following the inspirational performance against Turkey, Eriksson confirmed Rooney had already been pencilled in for the final European Championship qualifier of the season against Slovakia on June 11. But before then England have a trip to South Africa to play a friendly on May 22 and another friendly against Serbia-Montenegro on June 3. Moyes is anxious that his young star enjoys a significant break this summer after his intense first season of senior football action. "I would hope that England do not include him in any end of season trips," he said. "What's the point in us trying to look after him if he is travelling away all over the world? "It's not so much the extra games which is the worry, but the length of time he is away. "Sven has spoken to me a few times about him and I am sure he will understand the need to protect him as we have done." Ironically Everton had an end of season trip to China planned which clashed with England's South Africa date, but the SARS epidemic in the Far East has placed a serious question mark over the tour taking place. The World Health Organisation has advised tourists and business people not to travel to that part of the world and Everton are monitoring the situation carefully. Moyes admitted, meanwhile, that Rooney's display last night had not surprised him. "We are all thrilled for him but I was not surprised, not one little bit," he added. "Nothing he did shocked me in any shape or form because he is a great talent, but we have to protect him from over-exposure."
China crisis as tour in balance
Apr 3 2003 By David Prior, Daily Post
EVERTON'S end-of-season tour to China is in serious doubt following the outbreak of a deadly virus in South East Asia. The Blues are due to travel to the Guangdong province in seven weeks to play two games in Shenzhen on May 23 and 25. The area has however been at the centre of the pneumonia-like illness Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, currently causing terror throughout parts of China and Hong Kong. Yesterday the World Health Organisation advised anyone planning to visit Hong Kong or Guangdong to postpone their travel - and the Goodison Park club admitted on their website that there is a "distinct possibility" the trip could now be cancelled. A press conference is due to be held in China today revealing full details of the trip, designed to take advantage of Everton's increased profile in the country following the impact made by Chinese star Li Tie. But an Everton spokesman said: "The health and well-being of the club's players and supporters is of paramount importance. There is no way that we would sanction a trip which would place anyone's health in jeopardy. Clearly, there is a problem at the moment. "We are monitoring the situation and we have already been in contact with the relevant authorities. "This will be an on-going process - that's to say we shall be keeping in touch with the Home Office and the World Health Organisation. "As ever, we shall take advice and be guided by the experts. If we are told that it would be unsafe out to China then the trip will be cancelled. "That would, of course, represent a major disappointment but it comes down to a question of basic priorities. "We hope to be in a position to make a decision within the next ten days. "Although many of our supporters have booked themselves on to the official club trip, we are aware that some fans plan to make their own arrangements. We would urge them to seek advice before leaving for the Far East." More than 1,800 people are estimated to have been infected worldwide after the illness first appeared in Guangdong last November. Since then it has spread to more than a dozen countries. It is not known whether it is transmitted by sneezing or coughing, or by any other means, and this uncertainty has led to the WHO's concern. Everton have been invited out to China by Keijan, the club's main partner, and are due to spend just over a week in the People's Republic, taking part in a prestige football tournament. Should the trip be cancelled, question are also bound to be raised about Liverpool's pre-season tour to the region in July. The Reds are due to play in Shanghai and Hong Kong during a week-long trip from July 21 to 28. Last week assistant manager Phil Thompson and chief executive Rick Parry spent four days in China promoting the tour.
Sven bows to the Rooney phenomenon
Apr 3 2003 By Andy Hunter in Sunderland
SVEN-GORAN Eriksson insisted he would never bow to public opinion. Last night, he simply bowed to the inevitable. The basic premise of an England manager should be to select the finest 11 players available to the nation, mould them, cajole them, then sit back and hope for the best. It was for that simple reason that, in less than 12 months, the Wayne Rooney phenomenon has now gone from finishing school at De La Salle to leading England's finishing school against the third best team at last summer's World Cup and Eriksson was rewarded with one of the best full debuts he's probably ever seen. In a season of endless records for Everton's greatest hope the honour of being his country's youngest ever international is now shared by its youngest ever starter. Just imagine what the main course could be like. Eriksson is as guilty as anyone of dilluting the responsibilities of an England manager by genuflecting to the Premiership big guns and prompting FIFA to take action with his wholescale subsitution policy. The Swede is not to blame for the wider demands and pressures that come with the glaring international spotlight and against which David Moyes is right to preach caution. But the bottom line is Wayne Rooney - after just two substitute appearances for his country and ten starts for his club - had earned his place already. He is one of the best two strikers Eriksson has at his disposal, potentially one of the greatest of them all. England's man of caution has certainly been disingenuous this week, and one can only imagine the grimace on the Everton manager's face when he first heard the team to face Turkey on the drive up to Sunderland, with a deliberate policy of encouraging the belief Emile Heskey would retain his place alongside Michael Owen. You could go further and suggest that this is a footballing academic who doesn't know his own mind given that just 72 hours earlier he was stating it would be "unfair" to start a 17-year-old in such a crucial game, a Euro 2004 qualifer where defeat could have cost Eriksson his job. The protective route is one he has vowed to follow ever since taking him away from the safe haven built so carefully by Moyes, so accusations he shifted the pressure off his shoulders onto an undeveloped teenager in England's hour of need are fair too. What is entirely false, however, is that he swayed with public opinion in making the Blues' hero the country's new number nine. Eriksson didn't use his ears, he used his eyes. And who wouldn't be tempted? For all the opinion polls conducted this week it was a moment of magic on the training ground that probably convinced the England management team that, whatever his age, whatever his inexperience, they could not afford to ignore Rooney's incredible talent. The Croxteth sensation has only trained with his international colleagues for a total of ten days and yet he has won the respect of them all, plus the notoriously hard-to-please English support who gave him a standing ovation on his departure. One insider was regaling the Sunderland Press room beforehand with a full-blown description of a goal scored by the teenager on Tuesday. Beating one player deep in the centre circle, he then slalomed his way past another three before audaciously chipping home the best piece of magic witnessed during England's pre-match preparations. Everyone present applauded. That is why Eriksson saw the light at the Stadium of Light. Against the best team Turkey has ever produced, one that lost so narrowly to eventual winners Brazil in last year's World Cup semi-final, there was ample more evidence to justify his starting role - a place earned on merit but potentially fraught with dangers to his long-term development as his club boss is anxious to point out. In a lively start it was Liverpool's world-class forward who shone. Owen was everywhere as England produced a promising start before Turkey got their number, and within 11 minutes Rooney could, perhaps should, have scripted another fairytale (though can they still be called that when he's written so many?) The Anfield ace's relentless harrying forced Recber Rustu into an error and the Everton striker pounced, firing a low shot straight down the middle of the goal only to be denied by Alpay's desperate lunge. It was too scruffy to be a Rooney goal anyway, but even then England should have been in front as the ball fell kindly to David Beckham, whose headless chicken act of the opening stages included a booking and dragging this shot wide of an open goal. A deft back-heeled flick to the disappointing England skipper was the highlight of a stale period midway through the first half when the series of high balls forward belied all the strengths of their fledgling attack. Then came the cameo; the five-minute 'Rooney Show' before the break when the rare talent he possesses to make things happen whenever he enjoys himself out on a football pitch came to the fore. Twice inside two minutes he maintained sublime control under pressure and spread pinpoint passes cross-field, the first wasted by Beckham the second crossed over by Steven Gerrard, England's best midfielder, for team-mate Owen to just fail to connect cleanly. For his next trick Rooney replicated the training ground routine, setting off on an unstoppable run past three red shirts only this time to feed Owen with a delightful pass into the area. The move was worthy of the goal England deserved, but having gone around Rustu the Turkish keeper's flailing arm proved just enough to deny the Liverpool man. Not only was Rooney's natural talent on trial last night though, his temperament was too. Again he sailed through with ease which, against a defender as wise and crafty as Turkish skipper Korkmaz Bulent, was no mean feat, an achievement magnified by the complete contrast with his own captain Beckham's behaviour.
That 42nd-minute combination was the last for Owen and Rooney to show they have the makings of a workable union as the Anfield half departed injured on the hour. Gerard Houllier's problems ahead of Saturday's trip to Old Trafford could make Eriksson's pale into insignificance if his leading marksman is sidelined for that encounter, while Moyes - despite his player's leap up this latest learning curve - will still fear the after-effects. And there's the lasting irony. A partnership made on Merseyside shows England their striking future is in safe hands, and it is now both Merseyside managers who are left to worry. Cheers Sven.
England 2, Turkey 0
Apr 3 2003 By Mark Bradley at the Stadium of Light
ENGLAND were inspired by the precocious talent of Wayne Rooney last night as they rediscovered their passion, poise and promise against Turkey to keep their Euro 2004 qualifying hopes high at the Stadium of Light. While Sven-Goran Eriksson's side laboured against Liechtenstein on Saturday, this time they tore into Turkey as they secured the all-important win courtesy of Darius Vassell and a late penalty by David Beckham. Vassell was on the pitch only as a substitute for Michael Owen - but he drew inspiration from 17-year-old Rooney, who was a revelation on a memorable full debut.
Beckham made certain of victory from the penalty spot in the final stages after Kieron Dyer had been brought down. But the captain will himself have to miss the next qualifier against Slovakia after picking up a booking. The night, though, was when Rooney came of age. After all the talk of a 'diamond' midfield formation, the teenage Everton striker was England's real gem. Courtesy of an exuberant strike duo with a combined age of 39 - less than David Seaman - Eriksson can now finally look forward with renewed heart for the first time since the World Cup. England will presumably still need to secure at least a draw in their final qualifying game in Istanbul, but automatic qualification is now a realistic goal once again. On a sour note, Turkey defender Alpay appeared to lash out at celebrating England fans after the second goal. But above all Eriksson's calculated gamble on Rooney paid off spectacularly. Having insisted that plunging the teenager into a game of this magnitude would be "unfair", he was forced into a hasty rethink in the wake of England's unimaginative display in Vaduz - and Emile Heskey was relegated to the bench. Otherwise, though, there was a relatively cautious attitude in selecting Nicky Butt ahead of Dyer. England were immediately plunged into a frenzied central battle with a Turkish midfield which hustled and bustled with ceaseless energy. They also revealed an early gameplan - to wind up Beckham. The England captain was doing his best impression of a human dynamo but was too easily ruffled and earned his booking after just nine minutes for a combination of dissent and persistent fouling. Two minutes later, with his composure still not quite recovered, he then squandered England's best chance of the first half. Gerrard's persistence enabled him to cut the ball back from the byline - and when goalkeeper Recber Rustu dropped the cross, Rooney's shot was blocked and Beckham placed the ball horribly wide from 10 yards out. While Yildiray Basturk's long-range drive was saved by David James, the tension boiled over as Okan was booked for clashing with Scholes - and Beckham came close to losing his temper. Amid all the mayhem there was just one cool head, and that belonged to Rooney. Apart from one impudent back-flick, the game had largely passed the teenager by until the final 15 minutes of the first half when he started to come into his own. One acrobatic juggle of the ball saw him switch play out to the right flank, from where Beckham crossed only for Owen to miskick on the turn. Rooney was not finished there, though. He promptly opened up the Turkish defence with a through ball which saw Owen just denied by Rustu. Beckham's free-kick struck the side-netting just after the interval. Turkey replied with a shot by Okan - but England were growing in stature, exemplified by Gerrard and Wayne Bridge down the left flank. Rooney also displayed the confidence to take on opponents, although he was left with a new strike partner on 57 minutes when Owen went off clutching his back after a hefty challenge by Alpay. Vassell was drawing on Rooney's example and had an effort tipped over the bar by Rustu, who also kept out another dangerous Beckham free-kick. The Turkey goalkeeper managed to deny Vassell again at the near post, but England's pressure finally told on 75 minutes. Bridge's cross left Rio Ferdinand in the clear only for Rustu to prove equal to his volley. But Vassell was on hand to provide the calm finish, before being besieged under celebrating England fans. England were still indebted to James for an acrobatic save to deny Kahveci Nihat's header, but it was Rooney who drew the standing ovation as he made way for Dyer with two minutes left. There was still time for Dyer to go down under a challenge from Penbe Ergun and for Beckham to convert the penalty with aplomb. Hope had duly returned to the England side - and, for that, a 17-year-old with just a handful of Premiership starts behind him was as responsible as anyone else.
The golden boy
By Mark Hookham, Daily Post
Apr 4 2003
ENGLAND'S golden boy Wayne Rooney is set to become one of the world's highest earning players, according to football finance experts. Industry analysts predict the Everton striker - who won rave reviews after his full England debut in the 2-0 victory over Turkey - has the potential to earn as much as £8m a year by the time he hits his peak. Growing payments from worldwide television rights and a lucrative image rights clause in his £15,000-a-week contract means he is due to enter an elite group of highly paid footballers. Finance consultant James Dow, of Dow Schofield Watts, said Rooney is perfectly positioned to benefit from Everton's growing commercial contacts with the Far East. Last year, the club launched a Mandarin language website which Mr Dow believes can earn the club and its star player millions of pounds in payments through foreign viewing rights via the internet. He said: "At the moment £33m is earned through foreign viewing rights compared with £500m paid in the UK. "With the right internet technology, the money earned through foreign viewing rights of the English Premier League could soar. "If it approached the £500m currently being made in the UK, then each club would stand to earn between £10m and £15m. "The majority of that would be paid straight to players. One could comfortably assume the top players would receive £8m. "For Rooney it all depends on whether internet technology can be cracked during his playing career. If so, he stands to greatly benefit." The striker received a standing ovation from England fans after his first full cap on Wednesday night, and football pundits are speculating over whether he can go on to become one of the country's all-time great players. Comparisons are already being drawn with the likes of Paul Gascoigne and Pele who burst onto the international scene in their teens. Dr Rogan Taylor, from the University of Liverpool's Football Industry Group, said: "This looks like a very promising 17-year-old and people are now wondering whether we have found another Gascoigne. "However, greatness in the mould of Pele and Maradona is about making the most of potential and then sustaining it." Rooney will be paid a "substantial" bonus this month by his club for earning his first international cap . EFC remain tight-lipped about the size of the financial reward but it is understood the 17-year-old's contract includes bonuses if Everton win the Premiership or European silverware or if he plays in a World Cup winning England side. Rooney (left) is also one of the country's only footballers to command his own image rights - allowing him to make money every time his name or face appears on merchandise. Dr Taylor said the young star will have to decide how much he wants to cash-in on his fame. He said: "Some players like Beckham and Owen actively push their own marketing. "With Wayne, we just do not know whether he will go down that road. Some players simply do not want to see their face on the back of every packet of cornflakes. "At the moment he does not seem comfortable in front of the camera and we have no idea how he will react to the stresses and strains of media life." It is understood Rooney's management company is currently discussing a clothing range which would carry his name as well as a possible boot deal with sportswear giant Adidas. James Dow believes companies will hold off from offering major endorsement deals until Rooney has played more football and proved he is a "marketable product".
He said: "There will be a lot of offers in at the moment but they will be for short term work. Companies will want to first make sure he is not going to be a fly-by-night footballer." Former Blues manager Howard Kendall believes there will be no problems in keeping Rooney's feet on the ground.
He said: "There will be no real pep talk. I also looked after special players and all a manager can do is tell the player to act professionally on the pitch and off it." Pubs in the Croxteth area of Liverpool, where Rooney and his family live in a terrace house, were packed with England fans on Wednesday night. Billy Rankin, who works at the Dog and Gun pub where Rooney occasionally plays fruit machines, said: "We had dozens in here and every pub in the area was the same. "The atmosphere was electric, there was a massive buzz whenever Wayne got on the ball."
Savour the moment
Icliverpool And Daily Post
Apr 4 2003
TYPICAL, a Kings Dock quote from a local council jobsworth that 'there's no 89th-minute winner here for Everton' (referring to our final cash-is-sorted proposal). Don't worry, we'll rise again and build something to be proud of.
Charlie Martin (via e-mail)
AS I understand it, the problem with redeveloping Goodison Park is firstly that the stadium is land-locked. Secondly, there is no room for the number of private boxes required these days in the modern stadiums. I personally do not want Everton to leave, but I think it is essential in order for us to prosper. I am not crazy about the idea of sharing anything with Liverpool but if it meant we could put together a squad to regularly challenge for honours I would accept it - grudgingly. I wish there was a way for us to stay but it seems unfeasible.
Sheila Brown, Liverpool
Savour the moment
FIRST OF all I would like to congratulate England on the win against Turkey. It's the best they have played as a team for a long time. But most of all I would like to congratulate Wayne Rooney, not just for his manof-the-match performance but for making me and probably every Evertonian the proudest people in the country - except for his mum and dad that is! The boy-man was everything we knew he would be and more, and proved to every critic who said he wasn't ready that he was. I just hope he goes on to help the Blues into Europe next season, which I think he will. Until then let's all savour the moment as England, but most of all, Everton supporters. The best thing that has happened to English football in a long, long time is Wayne Rooney.
Peter Davies, Liverpool
WHAT AN absolute joke Everton are at contracts!
I was always worried that the whole Jospeh Yobo deal was still not done and, lo and behold, it has taken three months before Everton come clean and admit it. Just like the whole Kings Dock project, it looks like we will again fail to get our target! Unlike Wayne Rooney, who is Blue through and through, I don't think that Yobo will be hanging around Goodison for much longer and can you blame him when for all his talent he struggles to get a look-in?
M Tilley, Aigburth
WAYNE ROONEY was magnificent against the Turks and was the sole reason England upped the tempo and took maximum points. He proved just how effective he can be if given a chance from the start. Despite David Moyes' obvious caution regarding Rooney, he must play against Newcastle on Sunday if Everton are to keep up the charge for Europe.
Syd Bailey, Liverpool
I SEE referee Alan Wiley has denied targeting Duncan Ferguson in Everton's game with Arsenal.
Surely Wiley would of been better off watching Dennis Berkamp, especially when the Arsenal striker appeared to stamp on Alan Stubbs and did not even receive a caution for this offence.
Phil Hughes, Tattenhall
Rooney's the real diamond with England
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Apr 4 2003
SVEN-GORAN ERIKSSON conned everyone with his England starting XI but at least he was true to his word when it came to the diamond formation. For, as Steven Gerrard admitted, the under-pressure Swede's decision to unleash Wayne Rooney against Turkey proved just what a diamond he is.
Liverpool's midfield enforcer gave another stirring example of his return to top form at the Stadium of Light to help put his country, as he has done for his club, back on course for their main qualification target. Gerrard's display was even more impressive given he was moved to an unaccustomed role on the left and delivered as though a natural for the part - which of course, as he is keen to point out, he isn't. His dominant midfield display earned the man of the match award from England sponsors Nationwide. It was an honour to which he had rightful claim, but Gerrard also was quick to share star billing with the teenage sensation from across Stanley Park. "Wayne's performance was very special," said the Reds star. "For a 17-year-old on his first start for England he was magnificent and I hope he can do it for many years for us. "I haven't seen a full debut as good as that, I don't think many people have. "Talk about confidence in a youngster, he was running around experienced internationals and causing mayhem all night. He put in a great performance. "The ball he sent over to me after he'd juggled it through the middle shows what great vision he's got. That's just one part of his game though. "He's big, strong, he can hold it up, he can change the play and he's clever for his age. "Everton have got themselves a real diamond."
Gerrard has been one of the Everton hero's closest confidantes throughout the 10 days away with England, as the shy striker has had to find his international feet off the pitch as well as on it.
He added: "He lives local to me, so we've got things in common and we've got on well in training.
"I know how lonely it can be when you first break into the England squad so it's important to put an arm around him at times. He's good company." David Moyes will no doubt privately agonise over Eriksson's rapid promotion policy with Rooney, and the fact his performance was so special means the Blues star is certain to stay in the England side for a long time to come. Michael Owen, another who urged the Swede to handle the teenager with care in the run-up to Wednesday's Euro 2004 qualifier, believes Eriksson got it right in only telling Rooney he was playing four hours before the game. The Anfield striker said: "I don't know the manager's exact reasoning but I think not letting him know early was the right thing to do. "I know what it can be like from a few years ago. There would have been a lot of pressure on him, so I thought he handled it well. "He's looked sharp in training all week and chipped the keeper to score a great goal. In fact it's been an enjoyable 10 days for us all." With six points from two games and a place back on top of Group Seven, England's Merseyside contingent have helped deliver when Eriksson needed it most. "It's gone as well as we'd hoped," revealed Gerrard. "We didn't put in the great performance to beat Liechtenstein three or four nil but we got three points and then we delivered the performance to beat Turkey. "We had to be patient. Turkey are a very good team, well organised, and we had to be disciplined. Thankfully we got the goal in the end. "We're in the driving seat now but there are still a lot of important games to come, particularly over there in Turkey where it will be very hostile." Hostility is guaranteed in Istanbul in what could be the deciding game in the group. What Gerrard's role will be, however, remains to be seen. As the Reds midfielder says: "The diamond formation worked very well against Turkey. Those tactics might not work in every game but they were spot on against Turkey and it helped give us a great result. "My job was not to be a left winger or a left midfielder but the manager told me just to be on the left of a three and keep tight, and just to get out there when we had to defend. I enjoyed it out there but it doesn't mean I can do it every game!"
Harvey looking for same again
Academy Football With Chris Wright, Daily Post
Apr 4 2003
HAVING finally put Liverpool under-19s out of the FA Premier Academy League Group A title race with last week's 1-0 defeat, Everton can do something similar to Manchester United. Manchester City are favourites to win the title and go through to the national play-offs and the Blues also face them next Tuesday. But today they can do the blue half of Manchester a favour and beat United at the Carrington Complex. And Colin Harvey's side go into the fixture in buoyant mood. Last Saturday's derby victory was their sixth in seven matches and although they cannot win the title they can have a big say in who finishes top. And Harvey knows his side are capable of continuing their fine form. He said: "We have got three away games and they are all going to tough. United on Saturday, City on Tuesday and then Crewe on April 12. "But especially United and City because it is between them who is going to win the championship." Last week the Blues fielded a young side against Liverpool, because of a reserve match the night before. But the likes of midfielders David Carney, Steven Beck, Steven Schumacher and Scott Brown may all be back, as well as striker Michael Symes, who have hit 31 goals between them this season. Alan Harper's U17s face a must-win game at West Ham if they are to go on to the knock-out stages of the play-offs. A 3-0 defeat in their first match means Everton will go out if they lose. Coach Harper is hoping that they can at least make their final game against Middlesbrough on April 26 a meaningful fixture at least. He said: "It has made it hard because you need to get a result in that type of league format of the play-offs. But Aston Villa are a very good side so I wouldn't be surprised if they went all the way and got to the final
Eriksson: Don't put pressure on Wayne
By Mark Bradley, Daily Post
Apr 4 2003
SVEN-GORAN ERIKSSON has urged the nation not to burden Wayne Rooney with overblown expectations that he can prove England's overnight saviour. Eriksson entered Wayne's World, in the wake of the 17-year-old's exciting full debut in the 2-0 win against Turkey. The England coach admitted that it would now be almost impossible for him to leave Rooney out of the national side.
Having drawn fulsome applause from the rest of the England squad for an exquisite chipped goal in training, Rooney went on to earn a standing ovation from the Stadium of Light crowd. Eriksson nevertheless challenged him to continue to impress before England reconvene for friendlies against South Africa and Serbia-Montenegro ahead of their next qualifier against Slovakia in June. Rooney may yet come down to earth with a thud of reality if he is left on the bench for Everton's game against Newcastle this weekend, especially in the wake of his exertions in Sunderland. Then again, while Eriksson would no doubt like the teenager to feature more often for his club, he will surely be in favour of not overloading him with too many first-team starts just yet. However, while Everton boss David Moyes was urging caution, the Swede has created the expectations himself by throwing Rooney into the international deep end against Turkey. He can now only try to urge fans not to expect too much, too soon as they look for the inventive player missing since the days of Paul Gascoigne. Eriksson declared: "What I want to say is take it easy. One big game in the national team does not make the whole of your career. "He has to show it many times. But I'm extremely happy about what he did against Turkey. He showed once again that he's mature and ready for those games. "He played excellently and he's an extremely good talent. Very seldom do you see a 17-year-old boy playing football like that. "But people shouldn't expect that he is always one of the best players on the pitch and can always score goals." Eriksson added: "After that, I can't see any reason why I should leave him out, but it's up to him now to carry on showing that form. "I never feel that I'm on top of the roof or under the ground. I'm in between. But I accept that other people (the media) must be one or the other." Eriksson is conscious that Rooney (left) was not even in the England squad before he impressed with a goalscoring display in the starting line-up for Everton at Highbury just under two weeks ago. The Swede quickly added Rooney's name to his squad and he immediately impressed the whole squad in training. While he just failed to make the starting line-up in Liechtenstein, his 11-minute cameo role as a substitute was enough to force Eriksson's hand.
One impudent chipped goal on Monday helped to confirm the calculated gamble, with the entire squad, led by David Beckham, having applauded that moment of inspiration at their Slaley Hall base.
Gary Neville revealed: "He beat a couple of players and then chipped the keeper. It was absolutely outstanding and everyone applauded. "But he's been doing things like that all week. He showed fantastic touches and anyone who saw him would have thought 'this lad just has to play'." Eriksson added: "From what we saw in training since the first day, he shows no fear of going into Rio Ferdinand or Sol Campbell. "You never know his reaction in a game but when I told him he was playing, you could see that he was focused and not that nervous. He is very mature to only be 17."
The consequences for Emile Heskey, especially with Alan Smith to return to the squad, could not have been clearer.
England's new hero must avoid the pitfalls
Fanscene With Mark O'Brien, Daily Post
Apr 4 2003
TELL US something we don't know.
Seriously, the whole country has gone Radio Rental over Wayne Rooney, yet his performance at the Stadium of Light surely came as little surprise to Evertonians. Apparently Sven-Goran Eriksson was left with little choice but to start with him following his displays in training, but Blues supporters have known all season that he is better than any of the other pretenders for the England number nine shirt. In fact, there can't be many countries in the world where he wouldn't be first choice - apart from Canada, obviously. He was at the heart of all England's best moves, yet we still know that he is capable of much more than what the nation saw on Wednesday: away from home on the break - when he can really run at defences - he is even more fearsome. It's possibly a bit tired and unfair to the player but it still has to be remembered that the most important thing is that he doesn't let all this adulation go to his head. He must accept that despite his abundant natural talent he needs to keep learning and improving his game if he's to fulfil his massive potential. It would be churlish to point them out now, but there are definitely things he could do better. The other pitfall he has to avoid is the one that England captain, clothes horse and occasional Manchester United player David Beckham seems to have fallen into. Mr Posh is a superb player, but surely the supporters of his club would love to see him exert the same superhuman efforts for them as he seems to do every time he pulls on an England shirt. Likewise holding down a first-team spot for Everton must be Rooney's highest priority and a good performance against Newcastle United on Sunday would be a great start. Both games at St James' Park this season were epics and this match promises to be no different as both sides seek to cement their European places. While all the attention will be on Rooney, the Everton defence will have to be at their best to deny Alan Shearer and Craig Bellamy, as good a striking partnership as there is in the Premiership at present. Amid all this Rooney hysteria, hardly anyone noticed Lee Carsley's excellent, hard-working performance for the Republic of Ireland in Albania. If ever a player summed up the phrase 'won't let you down', it's our little Harry Hill lookalike.
'So awesome it's a joke!'
Apr 4 2003
DAVID BECKHAM has hailed the "exceptional" Wayne Rooney - and revealed he had urged Sevn-Goran Eriksson to pick the Everton star. The England skipper said: "For a lad just turned 17, Wayne's performance was exceptional. He scared their players and, when you've got a player like that with Michael up front, it's going to be hard to defend. "The manager asked me about Wayne, what he had been like around the hotel and how he had seemed in training, and I said he had been fine. "Was it a gamble playing Rooney? I don't think so. He is a player that is ready to play at this level and he's proved that on Wednesday." Goalkeeper David James said: "Wayne was awesome. I don't want to use cheap cliches about him but he was unbelievable. "He is so awesome in training that it is a joke. You look into his eyes and he looks 17 but if you look at him from behind and the way he plays you'd think he was 32. "He is not trying to be fancy in the way he plays. He does the hard stuff very easily. He scores good goals. He does on the pitch in games what he does in training. What a talent."
Moyes on course for Sven row
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Apr 4 2003
WAYNE ROONEY is on course for a club versus country row after Everton boss David Moyes insisted he didn't want the teenage sensation involved in England's end-of-season friendlies. Just 24 hours after his starring role in England's vital Euro 2004 defeat of Turkey, the 17-year-old star's exposure to the spotlight was under scrutiny again. With Sven-Goran Eriksson going back on his word not to start Rooney (left) at the Stadium of Light, Blues manager Moyes is anxious the Swede starts adopting the protective policy that has guided the star through his debut Premiership season.
The superb full debut in the 2-0 victory that propelled England to the top of Group Seven has almost guaranteed Rooney a starting place in the next qualifier against Slovakia on June 11. But now Moyes is calling on the England coach to leave the young striker out of England's friendlies against South Africa on May 22 and Serbia & Montenegro on June 3 to avoid the risk of burnout. The Blues boss said: "I would hope that England do not include him in any end-of-season trips. "What's the point in us trying to look after him if he is travelling away all over the world? It's not so much the extra games which is the worry, but the length of time he is away. "Sven has spoken to me a few times about him and I am sure he will understand the need to protect him as we have done."
However, Eriksson also insisted it would be "unfair" to start Rooney against the Turks so Everton face another tussle with FA chiefs to ensure their prized possession is protected this summer.
Despite reservations over his increasing international exposure Moyes, insists everyone at Goodison Park was proud of the teenager's international impact. He added: "He was excellent and we are all thrilled for him. "Everybody at the club - the staff, the players - are delighted and especially because he played so well. "We are not surprised, not one little bit. Nothing he did shocked me in any shape or form because he is a great talent. The Blues boss continued: "Before the game we were a little bit worried for him, but we needn't have been because he came through it with flying colours." Everton deputy chairman Bill Kenwright backed his manager's plea for caution. "Wayne needs to be cherished for club and country because he has something special we all need to look after," said Kenwright.
Roon a must to face Toon
Apr 4 2003 By Howard Kendall, Liverpool Echo
EVERYONE is talking about Wayne Rooney after his exceptional performance for England - and rightly so. His pace, strength, vision and confidence are tremendous assets. The only quality I haven't seen from him yet is his heading ability. I'm sure he has got that too. Now it will be very difficult for David Moyes not to select him on Sunday. Even when Radzinski is fit again, Wednesday night's performance by Rooney should have convinced everyone he is good enough to start for Everton. It was a tremendous game between England and Turkey. Moving around the country has helped the national team. At club grounds such as the Stadium of Light the crowd are right on top of you and it is intimidating for the opposition. It helps the England players. Wembley was a magnificent venue to play in, but it was equally good for the opposition. If the result had not gone the right way, Sven-Goran Eriksson would have come in for a lot of criticism for his midfield selection. I don't see Steven Gerrard as the answer on the left. If he is to play, it has to be in central midfield.
Beware Bobby's boys
NEWCASTLE will be all too aware of the danger Rooney will pose them on Sunday, but they won't be changing their tactics. Everton will have to be wary of the Magpies. Bobby Robson has done a magnificent job up there. Most of his signings have been young players with plenty of pace and that is what the Blues have to guard against. Newcastle will feel they are still in with a shout of the title and will go for it at Goodison.
Impose jewel rule
I NOTICED that many of the Turkish players were wearing jewellery during the match against England. What happened to the FIFA rule that such things should be taped up? Referees used to come into the dressing rooms before games and make sure of that. I recall Liverpool's Craig Johnson was one of the first to have an earring and he was made to cover it up The Turks had medallions, chains, the lot. The officials should still be enforcing the rule.
Reid up for challenge
PETER Reid will feel he has enough quality players at Leeds to stay in the Premiership.
He is in a similar position to that of David Moyes last season. Games were running out and the Everton board decided to make a change to avoid slipping into the bottom three. As we know, Moyes made an instant impression and Everton have carried it on into this season. Peter went to Sunder-land when they were struggling and was given a short-term contract to keep them up. He did that and was rewarded with a longer deal. I'm sure that is what he will be looking for at Leeds.
Leeds are a big club and it's a good move for Peter.
Yobo deal is done - Moyes
Apr 4 2003 By David Prentice Everton Correspondent
DAVID MOYES has spiked another round of Joseph Yobo stories by declaring: "He has signed a contract, the money is in place to pay Marseille and he is an Everton player. I don't know what more we can say." The Nigerian internationaljoined Everton on-loan last summer with a view to a permanent £4.5m signing. The Blues announced that they had secured his signature on a long term deal after Christmas, but since then reports have suggested that the player had not put pen to paper and could walk away this summer. A report today claimed that ..TEXT: Everton had to find £4.5m immediately or risk the p layer ret u rning to Marseille. But Moyes countered: "He has signed. There's nothing more to it." Yobo will be in the Everton squad for Sunday's pay-per-view televised visit of Newcastle to Goodison Park (4pm ko). But before he finalises his squad Moyes will have to check on the fitness of midweek internationals Gar y Naysmith and Thomas Gravesen. Naysmith came back from Scotland duty with an ankle knock while Gravesen has an achilles strain. Wayne Rooney returned yesterday with no illeffects from his stunning full international debut and is ready for a hero's welcome at Goodison on Sunday. Former Toffees' skipper Gary Speed, however, is unlikely to recover from a groin strain in time for his usual hot reception.
Stevie happy to help out England team-mate
Apr 4 2003 Liverpool Echo
STEVEN GERRARD and Wayne Rooney left the England camp blood brothers after combining to destroy Turkey in midweek. The Liverpool midfielder had no hesitation in helping the Everton sensation settle into the often difficult environment of an international squad. Gerrard says he can relate to Rooney, having appreciated a friendly welcome when he first broke onto the England scene. "Wayne is a good lad and a great player," said Gerrard. "Franny Jeffers and myself tried to help him settle down as much as we could because it can be difficult. I think Wayne and I come from similar backgrounds and I felt I knew how he felt because it's hard joining a squad when you don't really know anyone. "The fact he plays for Everton and I play for Liverpool doesn't matter. You put all that rivalry aside when you play for your country and I think we proved on Wednesday that a lot of this club or country stuff is a bit of nonsense." Gerrard's own performance was hailed as much as his new pal across the park's and he admits it was possibly as good as he's played for England in 12 months. He added: "I think I took a bit of stick for the way I played against Liechtenstein, but I thought I was pretty solid against Turkey. "Obviously when you're playing in a new position it takes a bit of time to get used to. Everyone knows I'm not a left midfielder, but once I'd worked myself into the game I thought I did well and managed to cause Turkey problems. "I'd say it was my best England game for a while. There have been certain games when I've not been entirely happy and there were other times when I was playing and my club form hadn't been the best either. But I'm happy with the way things seem to be going now."
Flu scareputs Blues tour in doubt
Apr 4 2003 Liverpool Echo
EVERTON chairman Sir Philip Carter flew back from China today from a press launch heralding the Blues post-season trip. But even before he touched down, the tour was in doubt. Ever ton announced matches against Shandong on Friday, May 23 and Shenzhen on Sunday, May 25 - with Aston Villa making up a four-team Kejian Super Cup. But following the out-break of a deadly pneumonia-like virus, the club is carefully considering its involvement. Blues officials were prompted by a World Health Organisation state-ment warning tourists and business people not to travel to Hong Kong or Guangdong. Chinese authorities confirmed that nine more people had died from Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), bringing the death toll to 75. It is the first time in more than a decade the WHO has advised people not to travel. Everton's Head of Corporate Affairs and PR, Ian Ross, said: "We are monitoring the situation and we have already been in contact with the relevant authorities."
Kings Dock D-day looms
Apr 4 2003 by Tony Barrett, Liverpool Echo
REGENERATION company Liverpool Vision has promised a final decision on Everton FC's Kings Dock bid by the middle of next week. Earlier this week Everton launched a last-ditch attempt to save its stadium dream when club officials handed in a document detailing how the club would come up with its £65m share for the £155m arena. The document is believed to say Everton can come up with £30m, with a private partner or partners coming up with the remaining £35m. A spokesman for Liverpool Vision today (Friday, April 4) confirmed Everton's latest communication had been received and was now being considered. "It is going to be given careful consideration by Liverpool Vision and our public sector partners English Partnerships, the Northwest Development Agency and the city council. "Meetings are scheduled to be held early next week and the middle of next week and it would be inappropriate to comment any further before these meetings take place. "But it would be fair to say that we are looking to have an announcement ready by the middle of next week." Liverpool Vision has already made significant progress pursuing alternative proposals for the site after the Blues lost preferred bidder status in December 2002. Everton's original proposals had included a 55,000-seat arena which would double as a major conference and events showcase and a new ground for the Blues. But in the last few weeks the club has been considering alternative sites for a new stadium following approaches from property developers. Club owner Bill Kenwright has been informed of at least two new sites - understood to be on the outskirts of Liverpool - which have previously not been part of the club's considerations.
Bill: Roo made me so proud
Apr 4 2003 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
BILL KENWRIGHT is not prone to understatement, but his famous phrase uttered at the outset of Rooney-mania may yet underplay the Everton youngster's impact on world football. "How can you not get excited about the most exciting thing in world foot-ball?" the Blues' deputy-Chairman said - BEFORE Rooney made his Premiership debut. Last night he was struggling to contain fresh eulogies after witnessing the 17-year-old's astonishing full international debut. "It's difficult to put into words what it means to see a 17-year-old Blue wearing the England number nine jersey and getting a standing ovation," he said from his Hampstead home. "That ovation was mirrored in our house. Jenny and I were standing cheering with tears in our eyes. "It was another wonderful moment from what has been a wonderful season for Evertonians already." Kenwright revealed he knew Rooney was in line to make his full competitive debut - even before the player himself - and he struggled to contain his excitement. "From the moment David Moyes told me he was playing shortly after lunch I couldn't wait for kick off," he declared. I spent most of the afternoon at the Gielgud Theatre where I'm working on Andrew Lloyd Webber's 'Tell Me On A Sunday' starring Denise Van Outen, but all I could think of was Wayne. "I am an Evertonian who got carried away with excitement when David Unsworth got his first cap against Japan in a friendly, so you can imagine how I felt as we approached Wayne's competitive debut. "And for once the experience lived up to the expectation.
"The boy has absolute star quality. We haven't seen anything like that since a young Gascoigne burst onto the scene. "I even thought he was the best at God Save the Queen! When he took control of the game towards the end of the first half the England fans up and down the country experienced what Evertonians have been experiencing all season. "We owe a debt of gratitude to David Moyes for the way he has nurtured him so intelligently and for allowing Evertonians these wonderful experiences. "It was a a very emotional night."
Everton 2, Newcastle U 1 (D, Post)
Apr 7 2003 Andy Hunter Reports From Goodison Park, Daily Post
AFTER MONTHS spent trying to get key messages across David Moyes was left wondering whether to laugh or cry yesterday. All week the Everton manager has been forced to warn Wayne Rooney (left) about the tough life at the top after his stirring full England debut delivered a new icon to a desperate nation. Against Newcastle the teenager showed he has taken not a blind bit of notice.
Whatever Moyes' fears about the trappings of fame the 17-year-old must face, on the football pitch at least the Croxteth sensation remains completely unfazed by anything. There was no evidence of exposure or pressure hindering Rooney's fledgling career at Goodison Park as the striker inspired the deserved victory that ended Newcastle's faint title hopes while setting Everton firmly on course for Europe. The Blues manager's other major concern this season has been the number of high-profile, costly decisions to go against his emerging team. And while the most important target of his advice carried on regardless, at least the referees listened. In his programme notes Moyes wrote: "I cannot, in all honesty, recall a goal that we have scored that has been debatable, or recall a questionable decision that has gone in our favour." As he admitted afterwards, he has now. David Unsworth's 63rd-minute penalty winner drew Rooney into controversy after he continued a run which prompted the decision while Olivier Bernard lay in agony following a foul by Thomas Gravesen. But it was unmerited as it was unwanted. As Sir Bobby Robson said himself, his players would have done exactly the same in the youngster's position and the object of Toon fury could only be match official Neale Barry. After a stirring victory, that lifts Everton back above Liverpool in the Premiership and clear of the chasing UEFA pack, the Blues won't care less. If Rooney hadn't fully appreciated the wider implications of international fame that Moyes has so consistently warned about then one glance at the Sunday tabloids would have done the trick where, shock horror, a teenage lad in girlfriend/ proud mum/eating pizza/going for a Chinese meal sensation provided plenty of enlightenment for the masses. The only way of discovering how it would all affect the teenage star, according to the Blues manager, was when he was able to get back out and play. In that respect, Rooney delivered an emphatic, perfect answer. Within 30 seconds the striker had brought Goodison to its feet, though his smothered shot would have been ruled offside anyhow. The one true shock about Rooney yesterday was the sight of him receiving treatment after coming off second best for the first time in a collision with the first time in a collision with Newcastle keeper Shay Given. But 18 is his number, and he soon recovered to give Everton an 18th minute lead with the first headed goal of his professional career. A corner won by the Blues' best move of the half was played short to Gravesen who drilled a cross into the danger zone. David Weir got their first for the flick on and, unmarked inside the six yard box, the boy everyone had come to see stooped to head home off the post. It was no more than Everton deserved at this point, and the mood could have been improved even further but for the performance of the referee. Mike Riley was in the spotlight at Old Trafford for his interpretation of the letter of the law but here Barry struggled to remember what they were, at one point claiming a back pass is legitimate with the leg! Having waved away one handball appeal against Jonathan Woodgate when the impressive Joseph Yobo's shot struck him inside the area, the official infuriated the Blues by not even speaking to Andy O'Brien when he blatently used his arm to stop Rooney racing through on goal. Professional foul anyone?
The sense of fury - ultimately swung Newcastle's way - was heightened by the booking Gravesen had received minutes earlier for an innocuous foul on Laurent Robert though the real anger should have been reserved for the fact O'Brien's escape proved a turning point for the half. Newcastle's enviable quality and pace in the final third had been well contained by Everton's more dogged midfield but gradually the visitors began to find more space to exploit and more accuracy to their rapid exchanges to take control before the break. The Blues' cause was not helped by a defence creating its own problems before clearing the danger. First Alan Stubbs hooked away Robert's dangerous cross in front of goal after a lightning Newcastle break then Yobo arrived in the nick of time to clear from Alan Shearer after he'd turned clear of Weir and closed in on goal. Everton's survival was looking increasingly precarious despite Rooney testing Given at his near post following a great chip by Kevin Campbell into the area. And, following a sustained exhibition of quick-fire passing around the home box, they were finally undone six minutes before half time - though it did take a sublime finish to break down their defence. Woodgate sprayed an eye-catching pass out to Robert on the left and before Yobo could even get near to close him down, the Frenchman had unleashed a wonderful shot high into the top left hand corner. It took a fine, instinctive save by Everton's number one to keep the teams level at the break, tipping Woodgate's powerful header from a Robert corner onto the bar in the 44th minute and seeing it bounce to safety. Their styles and personnel may have been radically different but it was not only Newcastle who posed a continual threat, however. Another fine start to a half by Everton soon brought momentum back their way, Rooney twisting away from Bernard and stinging Given's palms inside 10 seconds of the restart and Stubbs bravely heading straight at the Newcastle keeper when a long Mark Pembridge throw was flicked into the six yard area. Excellent wing play by Rooney foxed Bernard and produced a great cross which Pembrige could only head over as the Blues stepped up a level, while Campbell ought to have fed the unmarked Steve Watson after skipping clear inside the area but elected for the shot which was blocked. Then a game delicately poised exploded into controversy as an Everton breakaway restored their lead but provoked an inquest along the way. Gravesen caught Bernard badly as the Blues midfielder inspired the charge, then Watson was fouled as he turned the play onwards to Rooney. On both occasions Barry waved play on. With the French full-back prostrate on the ground players from both sides stopped around him though not in the Newcastle half where Rooney, unaware of events 60 yards behind him, continued his mazy run before feeding Campbell in the area who would have gone clear but for a Woodgate trip. With play still active Barry had to award the hotly-disputed penalty, and while the young striker received an earful from Craig Bellamy and the Newcastle bench, David Unsworth stepped up to blast his spot-kick straight down the middle. Bobby Robson was right to question the winner, but only in terms of whether a foul should have been awarded for the initial tackle on Bernard and nothing else. Expecting Rooney to kick the ball out of play is simply nonsense and while Shearer berated the youngster for his part in the goal it's worth considering what the veteran striker or crafty sidekick Bellamy would have done in exactly the same situation. Robson gave the answer to that too. The Blues continued to create the game's clearer chances and only a superb last-ditch tackle by Brian Kerr stopped Pembridge getting on the end of another Rooney-inspired charge. For all their possession and post-match grievances Newcastle's only real threat to Wright's goal after the 44th minute came in an agonising period of injury time for the home supporters. In injury time Shearer flicked the ball inside and gave Jermaine Jenas a clear sight of goal only for a desperate lunge by Carsley to prove just enough to force the fine Toon midfielder to shoot straight at the Blues keeper. It wasn't as straightforward for Wright in the final seconds when Titus Bramble towered onto Robert's deep free-kick and powered in a direct header the Goodison number one just managed to push over his own bar. It was the final dramatic act in keeping with an enthralling afternoon. An afternoon when Rooney, and Everton, answered every question thrown at them in style.
EVERTON: Wright, Yobo, Weir, Stubbs, Unsworth, Watson, Carsley, Gravesen, Pembridge (Naysmith 84), Campbell, Rooney. Subs: Ferguson, Li Tie, Gemmill, Gerrard.
NEWCASTLE: Given, O'Brien (Griffin 77), Woodgate, Bramble, Bernard, Kerr (Ameobi 77), Jenas, Dyer, Robert, Shearer, Bellamy. Subs: Harper, Hughes, LuaLua.
REFEREE: N Barry (N Lincolnshire).
BOOKINGS: Everton's Gravesen (foul) and Newcastle's Woodgate, Ameobi (fouls).
Traders cashing in on Rooney
Apr 7 2003
CHEEKY traders are cashing in on Wayne Rooney's footballing success by selling fake banknotes over the internet. Notes emblazoned with images of the Everton striker have been illegally changing hands on popular website eBay. But the move has angered Rooney's advisers and an investigation could be launched into how they became available. A spokesman for Rooney's representatives, Proactive Sports Management, said: "These are not officially endorsed by either Wayne Rooney or Everton and we'd encourage people to bear this in mind." Everton spokesman Ian Ross said: "It seems some people regard Wayne Rooney as a bandwagon they can just jump on and exploit and I am sure the police will have an interest in investigating this matter. "We would urge all supporters not to buy these banknotes." Other Everton stars, including Duncan Ferguson, Tomasz Radzinski and Kevin Campbell also appear on some of the fake notes. An eBay spokesman said: "We wouldn't ban joke or spoof notes, which these obviously are."
Everton 2, Newcastle U 1 (Echo)
Apr 7 2003 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
LIKE any good couple, Everton and Wayne Rooney are much better together than they are apart.
The 17-year-old returned to the bosom of his true love yesterday and together they celebrated with a slap-up three-point haul against title-chasing Newcastle. After a 10-day fling with the England squad, the Croxteth hotshot was probably feeling a little jaded. But he refused to let it stop him weaving his magic for the Blues, playing the key role in a victory which maintained the club's march towards Europe. He netted the first, provided the pass which earned the match-winning penalty amindst controversial circumstances and tormented a Newcastle side which still has lingering hopes of lifting the Premier-ship crown. David Moyes has been supremely careful with Everton's starlet all season. Now, with six games remaining, his caution looks set to pay dividends. His birth certificate suggests he is a teenager. His body tells you otherwise. He has the power and the pace to mix it with the best. And having been shielded from the demands of a full Premiership campaign, he is now ready to expose the tired legs of defenders as Everton prepare for a sprint to the finish. This victory moved the Blues up to fifth place, one point ahead of Liverpool and, crucially, seven ahead of Charlton and Blackburn. With Rooney and Everton looking such a hot couple, it is hard to imagine them not taking their relationship to the next level on the continent next season. Having wooed the nation in midweek, the 17-year-old was happy to return to his first love. Yes, he may now be the darling of every England fan. But for the player the national teamis just his bit on the side.
And he made that point clear against Newcastle, providing welcome reassurance to any Evertonians who may have felt a tinge of jealousy at the way in which the striker has been taken to the hearts of fans up and down the country. Everybody else who may want a part of him will have to accept the fact Goodison is home to Rooney's heart. Sven-Goran Eriksson, the rival for the youngster's affections, will have realised that fact as he sat in the stands yesterday. Against Newcastle, Rooney's passion was translated into a performance of typical class, guile and invention. All those qualities were needed in the second half as the home side fought to restore a lead that was taken away from oodi-them five minutes before the interval. It had taken him just 17 minutes to write a few more headlines. Having already tested Shay Given twice, Rooney finally found the net following a well worked short corner. Thomas Gravesen whipped a vicious cross in from wide on the left and David Weir rose highest to flick the ball into the path of Rooney inside the six yard box. Having lost Titus Bramble, England's newest footballing hero had the simple task of nodding the ball beyond the Irishman and into the corner of the net. It was the start David Moyes must have dreamt of. But after that moment of illumination there were too many dark moments. Playing Newcastle is a real balancing act. They allow the opposition the time and space with which to play their own game. But get too cocky and Bobby Robson's team of Olympic sprinters will soon have you cursing your complacency. As Laurent Robert demonstrated mercilessly five minutes before the interval, give them space in the final third of the field and they can produce goals of the highest quality. The Frenchman was afforded way too much time with which to control Jonathan Woodgate's searching pass. By the time Steve Watson raced across in a desperate attempt to dispossess the winger, Robert had unleashed a fierce drive from 18 yards which flashed beyond Richard Wright and into the corner of the net. It was a blow for Everton. But it wasn't such a great surprise. The home side's passing had been shaky and at the back there had been enough worrying moments to suggest a Newcastle goal was a distinct possibility. And once they had levelled, the Blues could have fallen behind. A powerful Woodgate header was pushed on to the crossbar from point blank range by the acrobatic Wright. The home side were on the ropes. They needed a spark. Guess who provided it. After the interval Rooney upped the ante. Within minutes of the restart, Given was forced into action to save a shot from a tight angle by the 17-year-old. He turned provider minutes later, curling a cross to the back post. Had it been the imposing frame of Kevin Campbell leaping to meet the ball it would have been a goal. Unfortunately, the diminutive Mark Pembridge failed to test the keeper. Pembridge was played in again by Rooney 20 minutes from time. This time an outstanding challenge from Brian Kerr - who was looking decidedly trim for an international manager - denied Pembridge a moment of glory. But by that stage the anxiety within Goodison had eased somewhat. The goal which restored the home side's lead had come from the penalty spot in the 65th minute in controversial circumstances. A clumsy foul on Olivier Bernard by Gravesen incensed Newcastle but provided the springboard for an Everton break. It should have been a free-kick, but referee Barry waved away the protests and you can't blame the Blues for capitalising. As the home side surged forward many players stopped, expecting to see the ball put out of play because Bernard was lying prostrate on the turf. And when a deft through ball from Rooney sent Campbell racing into the area, only for the striker to be fouled by Woodgate, the Barry's decision to award the penalty was met with howls of derision from the Geordies. The sight of Bernard's Lazarus-style recovery following the award of the penalty helped to kerb the dissenting voices. But when David Unsworth was finally given the chance to take the penalty he made no mistake - launching an exocet straight into the centre of the net. Given did well to get out of the way. Typically, Bobby Robson made a bold change, switching to a 4-3-3 as the Magpies chased the game. It took Wright at his best to deny the visitors, first stopping a Bramble effort and then pawing a Shola Ameobi header over the crossbar. There was a huge sigh of relief when the final whistle finally came in the 94th minute. And as the players left the field, G-son embraced Rooney, back where he belongs and doing what he does best. It is a partnership that is sure to enjoy many anniversaries.
EVERTON (4-4-2): Wright; Yobo, Weir, Stubbs, Unsworth; Watson, Carsley, Gravesen, Pembridge (Naysmith 84); Campbell, Rooney. Not used: Ferguson, Li Tie, Gemmill, Gerrard.
NEWCASTLE (4-4-2): Given; O'Brien (Griffin 78), Bramble, Woodgate, Bernard; Kerr (Ameobi 78), Jenas, Dyer, Robert; Shearer, Bellamy. Not used: Harper, Hughes, Lua Lua.
REFEREE: Mr Neale Barry.
BOOKINGS: Gravesen; Woodgate, Ameobi.
China trip off
Apr 7 2003 Liverpool Echo
EVERTON'S end of season trip to China has been called off. Goodison chiefs took the decision today to safeguard fans and play-ers following the out-break of a Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) epidemic in the Far East. The highly contagious disease has swept across south-east China and Hong Kong and has led the World Health Organisation to warn tourists or business people not to travel to Hong Kong or Guangdong. Everton were due to play against Shandong on Friday, May 23 and Shenzhen on Sunday, May 25 - with Aston Villa making up a four team Kejian Super Cup challenge. But following the out-break of the deadly pneumonia type virus Everton have pulled out.
This morning Ian Ross, the club's head of PR, said: "The health and well being of the club's players and supporters is of paramount importance. There is no way we would sanction a trip which would place anyone 's health in jeopardy." Manager David Moyes (above left) said yesterday: "If we don't go to China it would be disappointing but it would be down to advice taken from the relevant experts."
Apr 7 2003 By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
THOMAS Gravesen was branded "a coward" by former England skipper Alan Shearer last night after Wayne Rooney inspired Everton back into the Champions League hunt. David Moyes insisted the Blues would chase Chelsea to the wire in the race for coveted fourth place after goals by Rooney and a David Unsworth penalty lifted Everton back over Liverpool and to within four points of Claudio Ranieri's team. But Everton's victory was shrouded in controversy after the 63rd-minute spot-kick winner that effectively ended Newcastle's title dream. Moyes admitted he shouted to his players to kick the ball out of play after Olivier Bernard was fouled by Thomas Gravesen in the build-up to the foul on Kevin Campbell. Instead, Rooney ran on to help win the penalty kick to leave the Toon Army fuming. Sir Bobby Robson, however, absolved the youngster of any blame as he admitted his players would have done exactly the same. But it was the initial foul on the French full-back that provoked their anger, with the already-booked Dane escaping further punishment and Shearer livid.
The Newcastle striker blasted: "It was a coward's challenge by Gravesen because OIivier went to win the ball and did win it while Gravesen went in to hurt him and he hurt him badly. "The players could see what he was trying to do. It was scandalous. How he didn't get a red card for it I don't know. It's baffling. "It was a challenge that could finish a player's career and should have been a straight red. For them to go up and score rubs salt in the wounds." Shearer also slammed Rooney out on the pitch for his part in the penalty award but Robson insisted: "David Moyes apologised to me. He tried to get his players to put it out. "But to be honest I'm sure my players would have carried on as well under the same circumstances. But it wasn't up to the players to deal with the situation, it was in the hands of the referee. "It was a foul that I thought could have broken his leg. It was a poor non-decision by the referee that could have been a red and even if it was only a yellow he would have gone as Gravesen had already been booked." Moyes accepted a crucial decision had finally gone Everton's way as he revelled in the win that opened up a seven-point lead on their rivals for a UEFA Cup place. He said: "You look at the goal at Charlton, at Arsenal, and before today I honestly couldn't think of a crucial decision going our way. Today's one was a foul that wasn't given but we still had many men to beat and a lot to do before the penalty was awarded. "We did try to get them to kick the ball out but it was impossible for the players to hear above the noise inside Goodison today.
"I apologised to Bobby when the penalty was given but when the referee doesn't blow you have to keep attacking and you must keep defending. "We were beaten by a wonder goal by Alan Shearer when we played up at Newcastle earlier in the season and while this was a far scrappy goal in comparison, it was a very important result. "We have come a long way since we were beaten 6-2 by Newcastle a year ago. This is a win that can help consolidate a UEFA Cup spot but our aim is still to catch Chelsea. "It would have been difficult had we lost but we hope to keep the pressure on until the end." Rooney showed no ill effects from his international exposure with another superb display.
Moyes admitted: "He took a few knocks and we were worried about him at half time because he had a sore calf. But he played very well, scored a centre-forward's goal for a change and put in a fine performance."
We had to win - Moyes
Apr 7 2003 By Andrew Greenhalgh, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES hailed his Everton side's controversial 2-1 win over title hopefuls Newcastle United at Goodison Park - and admitted anything less than victory would have consigned their Champions League dreams to history. The Blues' win came courtesy of a hotly-disputed David Unsworth penalty in the 65th minute. It came when Kevin Campbell was bundled down in the penalty area after latching onto a Wayne Rooney through-ball following a masterful run by England's new footballing sweetheart. But the controversy had arisen because the 17-year-old had released Campbell despite being told by his manager to kick the ball out of play to allow treatment to grounded Newcastle defender Olivier Bernard. Moyes admitted after the game that he had apologised to Newcastle boss Sir Bobby Robson when the penalty was awarded, but was careful to shield Rooney from any blame. He said: "We shouted to the boys to kick the ball out but with the amount of noise inside Goodison today they did not hear it. "When the penalty was given I went up to Bobby and said sorry, that we had tried to get the ball kicked away. "But even so, we still had to beat I don't know how many of their players to get inside the box for the penalty to be given.
"I have been saying that we needed to get a bit of luck - I can't remember the last time the luck went our way - and we needed a victory. "You can look at the game we lost against Chalrton, the game we lost against Arsenal and the time we lost at Newcastle thanks to an Alan Shearer goal which was a quite unbelievable goal. "It was a great win for us because I think if we had lost then Chelsea would have been a bit too far off. "Obviously the win helps us consolidate our UEFA Cup position but we are still chasing Chelsea and we are going to keep chasing them right to the wire." Perhaps understandably following a week in which he has been hyped to high heaven, Moyes was reluctant to dwell too long on Rooney. He said: "It was eleven Everton play-ers out there today, not just one, but Wayne played very well and scored a proper centre forward's goal. He has played very well." Newcastle boss Robson said the decision by referee Neale Barry not to award a free kick or send off Thomas Gravesen following his challenge on Bernard cost United the match. "It was an odd decision by the referee and it has cost us the match. "He (Gravesen) has come in late and he has come in high. I thought he was off because he was already on a yellow but sometimes you get them and sometimes you don't. "David Moyes has apologised to me but I am not sure my players would not have played on either. "He (Moyes) is a very nice young man and I accept his apology but the referee could have controlled all that by stopping the play." Robson, at 70 the oldest manager in the league, paid tribute to Moyes - the youngest at 39- and his transformation of the Blues from relegation strugglers to European contenders, putting much of their success down to hard work.
He said: "They operate with two banks of four and two up front and Goodison is not an easy place to come. "They work extremely hard - they are one of the hardest working teams in the football league, Everton, that is why they are where they are today."
Watson: We're not to blame
Apr 7 2003 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
STEVE WATSON has leapt to the defence of team-mate Thomas Gravesen after the Danish international was branded a "coward" by Alan Shearer. The Newcastle skipper was furious with Gravesen for the challenge on Olivier Bernard that went unpunished by referee Neale Barry in the build-up to Everton's match-winning goal yesterday. But Watson, who also praised the single-mindedness of Wayne Rooney which led to the crucial penalty, has pointed out the referee was perfectly placed to pas s judgement on Gravesen's challenge. "Whatever happened in front of the referee, he was on top of it and didn't give it, simple as that," explained Watson. Former England skipper Shearer was furious with Gravesen. He said: "It was a coward 's challenge by Gravesen because Olivier went to win the ball and did win it, and Gravesen went in to hurt him and he hurt him badly. "It is a challenge that could finish a player's career. It should have been a straight red and everyone could see it. "For Everton to go up the other end and get a penalty rubbed salt into the wounds." The Newcastle fans were furious Everton did not put the ball out of play in order for Bernard to receive treatment. Instead, Rooney surged forward and played the killer pass for Kevin Campbell. Jonathan Woodgate's sliding challenge denied the Everton striker a shooting opportunity and led to the penalty. David Moyes admitted afterwards he had called for his players to put the ball out of play and then apologised to Sir Bobby Robson when the attack culminated with the award of a penalty. But midfielder Watson was full of praise for the determination of Rooney which led to the goal, insisting it was not the 17-year-old's responsibility to halt the play. "Wayne always has one thing on his mind when he gets the ball and that is to try and create a goal," added the former Newcastle man. "He helped create the penalty which we put away." Robson joined Watson in refusing to blame Rooney, admitting: "The decision in the end cost us the match and has probably cost us any chance we had of the title. "But in the circumstances I'm not sure my lads would have kicked it out either. "But frankly the referee could have taken control. If he had given the free-kick or stopped the play when someone was injured the situation wouldn't have arisen."
* Meanwhile, Everton's end of season tour to China was set to be called off today. Everton have reached the decision because of health concerns following the outbreak of the SARS epidemic in the Far East. Ian Ross, the club's Head of Corporate Affairs and PR, said today: "The health of our fans is of paramount importance. We are in hourly contact with the authorities over the situation but at the moment things do not look promising." The World Health Organisation has advised tourists and business people not to travel to that part of the world.
Moyes: Good fortune was long overdue
Apr 7 2003 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES' contented demeanour this morning was that of a man who appreciates that everything comes to those who wait. In his programme notes for yesterday's Goodison encounter with Newcastle the Blues boss moaned about the lack of good fortune his side has enjoyed this season. He reflected: "I cannot, in all honesty, recall a goal that we have scored that has been debatable, or recall a questionable decision that has gone in our favour." That soon changed. Newcastle fans and players alike departed Merseyside angry over the controversial second goal which gave Everton victory. Referee Neale Barry failed to stop the game following a Thomas Gravesen challenge on Olivier Bernard which left the Frenchman in need of treatment. Everton did not kick the ball out of play, instead mounting an attack which led to the match-winning penalty.
Newcastle boss Sir Bobby Robson was angered by the referee's decision not to award a free-kick or stop the game himself in order to allow the physio onto the pitch. The Blues capitalised. Moyes admitted: "We deserved our good fortune. We played well enough to earn that little bit of fortune and we were very glad of the victory. "The players played well and they were helped by the atmosphere. There was a certain buzz about the place because it was such a big, important game.
"We needed to win so that the teams below us were not closing in on us. We have given ourselves some breathing space, but we are trying not to look back but upwards. "We are in a strong position and are going to try and maintain that and improve it between now and the end of the season."
Everton's win moved them up into fifth place, one point ahead of Liverpool and seven ahead of Blackburn and Tottenham. With UEFA Cup qualification for the side's that finish fifth and sixth, Everton are now a giant step closer a return to European competition with just six matches left to play.
Sunderland Res 2, Everton Res 0
Apr 8 2003
MICHAEL PROCTOR scored two goals in four minutes at the Archibalds Stadium in Durham to send Everton Reserves to their fourth away defeat in the FA Premier Reserve League this season. The home side had a number of players with first team experience in their line-up and always looked comfortable against a young Everton side. The Blues though did have their chances in a first half of very few opportunities for either side. Leon Osman was again dangerous forcing a good save from Mart Poom and also seeing a shot flash just wide of the Sunderland upright. Michael Proctor however gave Everton a taste of things to come when he very nearly gave the Black Cats the lead on 12 minutes. Steven Schumacher went close with a free-kick which went just over but Medina and former Blue John Oster troubled Paul Gerrard at the other end. Oster was involved in the opening goal swinging in a corner for Proctor to head home from close range. Everton didn't have time to organise themselves before the home side were celebrating again and like before it was Proctor who scored. The Sunderland front-man pounced on to a pass before firing a fierce drive past Gerrard and into the back of the net. Nick Chadwick and Niclas Alexandersson had Everton's best chances of the second half but it wasn't to be their night.
SUNDERLAND RES: Poom, Scott, Arca, Dickman, Byrne, McCartney, Black, Medina, Proctor, Oster, Whitley. Subs: Collins, Turns, Flynn, Sullivan, George.
EVERTON RES: Gerrard P, Moogan B, Pilkington, O'Hanlon, Gerrard A, Schumacher, Alexandersson, Moogan A, Chadwick, Symes (Carney 71) Osman. Subs: Turner, Crowder, Potter, Garside.
Pretender to goal crown
Apr 8 2003
ALAN SHEARER might have seen all the reasons at Goodison Park on Sunday why he was right to knock on the head any thoughts he may have had of returning to the England fold. The Newcastle star witnessed first-hand why 17-year-old Wayne Rooney is now being touted as the long-term partner for Michael Owen in the England team, the position Shearer held for so long in a senior role.
All Rooney lacks, obviously, is Shearer's experience. He looks to have everything else, and as Shearer watched the youngster virtually end Newcastle's title dreams, he must have at least realised that his old England shirt is in good hands.
Here PAUL WALKER assess the qualities of both players.
PHYSIQUE: Rooney has great upper body strength, strong, powerful legs and is hard to knock off the ball. Shearer has had all those attributes over the years. Rooney frightens defenders, but, as was seen in the final moments against Newcastle, he managed to get a couple of whacks on his calf and ankle which forced him to receive treatment, something you do not see happening often to Shearer, whose experience helps him avoid such situations.
PRESENCE: Rooney frightens defenders with his pace, Shearer does it just by being there.
His positioning, timing of runs and instinct of where to be at the right time makes him more dangerous than Rooney at present because Shearer is more likely to be in the perfect spot to finish with his clinical know-how. Rooney is an in-your-face player, running from deep and committing defenders. Boss David Moyes was delighted with the headed goal against Newcastle because it was a penalty-area poach. Rooney has made his name with the spectacular. The instinctive, clinical close-range efforts will no doubt follow.
POWER: The strength of youth against the strength of mind over body.
Rooney has all the obvious attributes, a boxer's shoulders and chest and great strength in his legs.
His club goalkeeper Richard Wright says the new England striker hit the ball with the power of a seasoned pro the first time he was on the wrong end of training ground shooting practice.
Shearer has mental strength plus the ability to survive against bigger defenders playing as the target man, which is not Rooney's role and is never likely to be.
SHOOTING: Shearer scored a stunning, ferocious 25-yard drive against Everton this season, at St James' Park, that is a contender for goal of the season.
Rooney, who hit a similar effort against Arsenal, does not have that level of shooting power yet but it will come as his body develops.
Shearer has all the technique, timing and experience of so many years in the top flight.
Rooney always shoots on sight from around the box but as yet these efforts do not really trouble keepers, the Turkey game showed that.
But Shearer from such positions makes goalkeepers work much harder.
HEADING: Again, Shearer is the master here. He scores plenty getting on the end of crosses, gets up high for a relatively short striker and has great accuracy. Rooney does not often get into the sort of positions to score from close-range headers, his effort against Newcastle was more an instinctive dart forward rather than an attempt with any great power or accuracy.
VERDICT: What would be interesting is seeing Rooney and Shearer play together. The old hand would be the perfect foil for the kid, a learning experience that would open his eyes to the science of being a top class international striker. The experienced Kevin Campbell could find himself filling that role at Goodison. What Shearer has is experience, cunning, durability and the knowledge of how to survive and prosper in the top flight. Rooney has the gifts of pace, vision, running power and the sheer exuberance and freedom of youth. The Shearer professionalism will come sooner rather than later.
Perfect proof of Rooney's rapid rise
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Apr 8 2003
BY Wayne Rooney's standards Sunday's strike against Newcastle was almost obscenely scruffy - but for David Moyes it was further proof of his rapid development. The Everton star's 18th-minute opener was the first headed goal he has struck for the club during his professional career, and the first that hasn't had 'wondergoal' written all over it. But rather than signalling the end to his artistry, Blues boss Moyes believes it was a sure sign of Rooney developing the striker's art.
Rooney's natural talent is now well-documented, though it is his willingness to learn that Moyes is also keen to point out. "We keep saying to him that he can't always score great goals," said the Everton manager. He has to score some tap-ins as well. To be fair to the boy, he's listened and he's learned very quickly and he got himself in a good position for his header. "I thought it was just the type of goal which we want him to score more. We want him to get more goals in the six-yard box."
Newcastle's Alan Shearer was livid with Everton's winner on Sunday but - despite branding Thomas Gravesen "a coward" for his part in David Unsworth's penalty - he yesterday absolved Rooney of any blame. The 17-year-old was instrumental in the move which led to Unsworth's decisive penalty, leading Shearer to race over to the teenager to demand why he hadn't put the ball into touch.
"All I did was ask Wayne if he had realised how badly Gravesen had fouled Olivier Bernard and whether he could have kicked the ball out of play," said Shearer. "But to be fair to the lad, he told me he did not know how bad the challenge was from Gravesen and that Olly was down, and if that is the case, you could not expect him to put the ball out of play."
Home and Away
Icliverpool And Daily Post
Apr 8 2003
ON THE issue of Wayne Rooney playing for England I too, like David Moyes, will admit that in some strange way I supported England as a result of Wayne playing. Personally I feel he was put on by Sven-Goran Eriksson just to keep the media quiet. Rooney had a great game and it seemed an inspired choice, but look at James Beattie, scoring for fun and not even on the bench.
Eoghan Sheridan, Dublin, (via e-mail)
ROONEY must play in all England's games, never mind what Evertonians think. The country will demand his inclusion.
P Wiseman, Liverpool
The chase is on
IN TRUTH we scabbed it against Newcastle. I feel aggrieved for the Magpies because of the nature of how we won the match. But on balance, looking at the other decisions which went against us and more importantly the fact that we were robbed at St James' Park earlier in the season, I felt we deserved the result. It was a real six-pointer. Six games to go and we now need about nine points to be certain we'll make the UEFA Cup. Couldn't care about the Reds, other than we need to beat them to ensure we're in the UEFA Cup - more concerned about the chasing pack behind us, especially Blackburn and Boro.
T London, (via e-mail)
Deserved to win
ALAN Shearer calling Tommy Gravesen a coward is a bit rich. Andy O'Brien should have been sent off, and also Shearer with his feet high on Stubbs. We have now played Newcastle three times and won twice. The one time we lost, Newcastle were very lucky against 10 men. So stop your crying!
It was a top performance and we really deserved to win. We took the game to them in the second half and Shearer and Bellamy did not get a sniff.
Thomas Jones, Liverpool
IT'S A thing of beauty. Everton finally get a break at home. O'Brien should have been sent off in the first half for deliberate hand-ball and we should have had an in-direct free-kick when Shay Given picked up Jonathan Woodgate's back-pass. Finally something goes our way.
B MacDougall (via e-mail)
Hardest-working side in the league
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Apr 8 2003
SIR BOBBY ROBSON has hailed Everton as "the hardest working team in the league" as David Moyes reaffirmed his belief Chelsea can be caught in the race for a Champions League place. The Blues virtually ended Newcastle's title hopes on Sunday when once again Wayne Rooney stole the show at Goodison Park. But United manager Robson was swift to praise Moyes' side as he insisted it was Everton's incredible team ethic that has taken them so far. The former England manager said: "They work hard, their ethic is to use two stacks of four men across the park, plus two strikers and they work tremendously hard across the field in defence and in midfield. "They try and pressure and they don't leave you with time on the ball. They work exceptionally hard, are one of the hardest, if not the hardest, working teams in the league and that's why they are where they are." Everton are now fifth, four points behind Chelsea and a point ahead of Liverpool - two teams they still have to play. Robson added: "They have some class in the side, but their real success is their determination and their perseverance, they never let us get on top of them, basically. "It was a big three points for Everton, they worked really hard. It's not easy at Goodison Park, they've got a terrific home record and you can see why. They won't be easy for anyone to beat." Sunday's win was a giant leap towards European football for Everton but, as ever, manager Moyes continues to set his sights higher. Chelsea are four points clear of the Blues but they have been warned to expect a fight to the finish - with the sides set to meet at Stamford Bridge in a fortnight's time. Moyes said: "We have opened a gap, and that for us was the big thing. We needed the result to consolidate the UEFA Cup spot and I believe we have done that. "Now our aim is to catch Chelsea. If we'd lost then they would have been too far ahead but now we have the chance of taking them to the wire. It keeps the pressure on and we aim to keep doing that. "We needed the victory. We have come a long way since this time last season when we lost 6-2 at Newcastle. It's almost a year to the week."
Rooney showed no ill-effects from his dramatic week to add Newcastle manager Robson to his fan club. Robson added: "Rooney got across Olivier Bernard for his goal, once he'd done that and with a pinpoint header he's going to score. "He got a clever goal. He's going to be a fantastic player, although he was curtailed for much of the game. But those flashes showed you what a talent he is. He did some fine things and scored a fine goal."
Blues' China tour called off
Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Apr 8 2003
EVERTON'S ground-breaking end-of-season tour of China is off. Goodison officials were yesterday forced to cancel the two game trip in May to the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) that has swept South East Asia in particular. Both the Foreign Office and the Worth Health Organisation have urged people not to travel to the region unless absolutely necessary. And with Everton due to be based in Hong Kong during their week-long stay and play both matches in the Guangdong province of China - the two areas most affected by SARS - the Blues have been left with no choice but to cancel the tour. It is a huge blow to the club and sponsors Kejian as they looked to increase their profile in the Far East. But as Everton's Head of Corporate Affairs Ian Ross explained: "The simple truth is that we could not take the risk of exposing anyone - be they players, officials or supporters - to the possibility of infection by the SARS virus. "We have taken expert advice on a daily basis over the past fortnight and we have now been advised not to travel to the Far East at this point in time. "Our first responsibility is to our supporters and to our players - we just cannot compromise where safety is concerned. "It is bitterly disappointing but the health of those who work for this club and who play football for this club must come first. "There is an understandable degree of disappointment inside the club because this particular trip had been long in the planning and was eagerly anticipated." No plans have been made to re-arrange the tour but with the Kejian deal lasting for two years Everton officials are hopeful another trip can be organised.
* EVERTON Reserves were beaten 2-0 at Sunderland in the FA Premier Reserve League last night.
Blues eyeing play-off hope
Academy Football With Chris Wright, Daily Post
Apr 8 2003
EVERTON under-17s kept their hopes of making it to the FA Premier Academy League play-off quarter-finals alive with a 2-1 victory at West Ham on Saturday. Saturday's victory means they can still go through if they can beat Middlesbrough at Netherton on April 26. But it is still only a slim chance as Aston Villa followed up their 3-0 defeat of the Blues with another convincing 4-1 victory at Middlesbrough. So Alan Harper's side need to win convincingly against Boro and hope the Midlanders slip up at home to the Hammers. But Harper was delighted his side took the three points in London on Saturday. The home side went ahead in the first half. But two penalties from Andy Fowler after Gavin Lynch and Morgan Jones had been fouled gave the Blues victory. Harper said: "The lads worked very hard but to be honest they got battered. "West Ham are a very good team. They were very big and strong and on reflection, they should have won it." And on the crucial final match, Harper added: "We needed the win and it has kept us in it a little bit. If we win our last game you never know." Colin Harvey's under-19s lost their first match in their last five, going down 3-2 to title-chasing Manchester United at the Carrington Complex on Saturday. The Blues started well and took the lead after Joseph Jones headed home Michael Symes' cross. United replied with two goals but the match was still finely balanced. It turned United's way when Symes' shot came back off the underside of the bar and rebounded to safety. Not long after the home side scored a third and Brian Moogan's late goal was just a consolation. He said: "We took the lead and played really well for the first 20-25 minutes. We had a couple of chances to increase the lead but we didn't. They are a good side but it was a decent performance and I think we deserved something." The Blues now face another of the title hopefuls Manchester City today (kick-off 1pm), before concluding their League programme on Saturday. One win could see them end the season in fourth place.
There was no malice
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Apr 8 2003
THOMAS GRAVESEN moved to defuse the row over his Olivier Bernard tackle last night by insisting he would never deliberately injure an opponent. The Everton midfielder was branded "a coward" by Alan Shearer after his clumsy foul on the Newcastle full-back went unpunished in the move that led to the Blues' spot-kick winner. Gravesen could still find himself in trouble with the FA if they decide to refer the incident to their video panel after studying referee Neale Barry's match report.
But last night the Danish international launched a passionate self-defence, and claimed he had been made a scapegoat by Newcastle for the defeat that effectively ended their title hopes. "I considered it a 50-50 challenge and I had to go for it," said Gravesen, who may need fluid draining from his knee this week. "It may have looked a bit bad and I must admit it looked a bit serious for Bernard at the time, but as soon as I saw him lying on the ground I tried to call to the Newcastle bench to come on and treat him. "I was concerned but it is my style to go into every strong tackle fully committed. I always give it 100 per cent and that's what happened this time. I can state absolutely that I would never go into a tackle with the intention of hurting an opponent. "That suggestion is simply absurd." Both Shearer and Sir Bobby Robson claimed the midfielder should have been sent off for the challenge, which didn't force Bernard out of the game. But Gravesen responded: "Maybe there was some frustration from Newcastle over the way we went up field for the penalty. Maybe that has come across with these comments. "What happened afterwards certainly didn't help the situation and I seem to be on the receiving end. "You have to go in hard and committed because if you are afraid of that you are only going to end up injuring yourself. "I didn't go into that tackle aiming to hurt Bernard, I've never done that and I never will. "They can say what they like but it was just one of those things." The FA, meanwhile, will consider the incident with Gravesen facing a possible suspension if the video panel deems his tackle worthy of punishment. A spokesman said yesterday: "The FA is waiting to receive the match officials' report before examining whether further action can and will be taken."
Rooney is our future
Apr 8 2003 By Rob Brady, Liverpool Echo
GOODISON idol Duncan Ferguson today hailed teenage sensation Wayne Rooney as the future of Everton. Big Dunc has marvelled at the 17-year-old's progress in his first season with the Blues. Rooney capped it with a breathtaking display on his full England debut last week and followed it up with a goal and another man-of-the-match display against Newcastle on Sunday at Goodison.
Ferguson says he can not wait for a sustained run in the Everton attack alongside the teenage sensation. But he admits it will be difficult for him to get back into the starting line-up for the remainder of this season after being sidelined by injury for so long. "Wayne has made a tremendous impact on Everton and now he is in the national team doing fantastically well," he said.
"He's improving steadily and it all looks very good for the future of Everton." For many Evertonians, the Ferguson-Rooney partnership is a dream pairing, but the two have played together just twice because of the Scot's injury problems. Ferguson is now pushing for a regular first-team place after making his first Premiership appearance for 11 months at Arsenal just over a week ago. The pair teamed up at Wrexham in the Worthington Cup last October, when Ferguson set up Rooney's two goals as he became the club's youngest ever scorer. The 31-year-old striker said: "I'm just looking to getting myself fit, getting back into the squad and getting back into the team, but it will be difficult.
"There are a lot of good strikers at the club. Tomasz Radzinski has been fantastic. Kevin Campbell has scored goals as he normally does, so I'm just looking after myself first and foremost, then I'm sure everything will fall into place. "It's been a long time out for me and it has been a bit of a struggle, but I have to start somewhere and it was good to be involved with the squad."
Referees badly lack consistency
Apr 8 2003 By Kevin Ratcliffe, Liverpool Echo
IT IS understandable that players and fans become infuriated with referees.
Standards vary so considerably from one match to the next. Never was that more apparent than at the weekend. On Saturday we saw Sami Hyypia red-carded by Mike Riley at Old Trafford for holding back Ruud van Nistelrooy when clear through on goal. Everton did get the penalty following Jonathan Woodgate's foul on Kevin Campbell but the Newcastle defender was only shown a yellow card by Neale Barry. His challenge on the Everton striker could not have been more similar to Hyypia's. The interpretation of the rules should not vary so considerably between two referees who are at the top of their profession. Another incident in the opening half of Everton's match should have led to an easy decision for Mr Barry. A header forward from Campbell looked set to send Wayne Rooney racing clear. But it was intercepted by the arm of Andy O'Brien, the last Newcastle man back. The referee spotted the foul but no card was branded. I thought an intentional hand ball now warranted a red. The strict guidelines were brought in to make the job easier for referees. That is why I can't work out why so many decisions vary so considerably from one game to the next.
Players not to blame FOOTBALL'S governing bodies are always quick to pounce on players who take the law into their own hands. But there is one notable exception. A new football etiquette seems to have developed in the last decade which eases the burden of responsibility on match officials.
When a player is injured, it seems players are expected to boot the ball out of play as an act of sportsmanship. The failure of Everton to do so during Sunday's encounter with Newcastle infuriated the visitors, mainly because the attack the Blues built up once in possession led to the penalty which won the game. But stopping play should not be down to the team in possession. It is the referee who has that not the players.
Tough trip for Blues
EVERTON should not take anything for granted at the Hawthorns this weekend. The Blues may have some more high-profile opponents to contend with in the weeks to come, but I genuinely believe Saturday's match will be their toughest of the run-in. Gary Megson's sides are always well organised. And while West Brom look destined for a return to Division One, you can be assured that they will be fighting for their lives. They have struggled this term because of a lack of quality. But their work rate means they have never really been given a real drubbing. Everton will have to be on their guard and on top of their game. CONTROVERSY: Riley
I never aim to injure - Gravesen
Apr 8 2003 By Paul Walker, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON midfielder Thomas Gravesen has insisted he never goes out to hurt an opponent. The Blues star has been at the centre of controversy amid claims he should have been sent off for a knee-high tackle on Newcastle's Olivier Bernard on Sunday. The Dane has hit back at Magpies captain Alan Shearer's claims that it was a "coward's challenge" and he was "trying to hurt" Bernard in Sunday's controversial Premiership clash at Goodison Park. Gravesen's tackle on the French full back was not penalised by referee Neale Barry and play continued until Jonathan Woodgate fouled Kevin Campbell to give David Unsworth the chance to hit the winner from the penalty spot.
Newcastle manager Sir Bobby Robson and skipper Shearer were furious after the 2-1 defeat which has almost ended their championship challenge, with Shearer saying that Gravesen, who had already been booked, should have received a red card. But Gravesen revealed yesterday: "I never go into a tackle to injure a player. "I felt it was a 50-50 situation with both of us eager to get the ball, although it did look bad when he fell. "But I was trying to help him by signalling to get help from the touchline for him." Gravesen could find himself in hot water with the Football Association, who may be able to refer the incident to their video panel because the referee seemed not to see or punish It. An FA spokesman said: "We will wait to receive the match official's reports before we decide whether any further action will be taken." Gravesen has expressed his surprise at Robson and Shearer's outburst, and added: "They probably felt very let down because they had lost to us, they were frustrated." Gravesen - booked eight times this season - has won support from team-mate Steve Watson, who claims the official was close enough to see the incident and decided not to penalise Gravesen. Watson said: "Whatever happened, happened in front of the referee, he was on top of it and didn't give it, it's as simple as that."
Euro veteran Watson keen to get back
Apr 8 2003 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
ONCE you've tasted the high life, it is very hard to let it go. But that is what Steve Watson had to do five years ago, bidding farewell to St James' Park just months after enjoying his first taste of Champions League football. He played in each of the Magpies' six European matches in the 1997-98 season, including their opening Faustino Asprilla inspired 3-2 triumph over Barcelona. But within months he was on his way out of St James' after becoming surplus to requirements under Kenny Dalglish. Half a decade on and the 29-year-old admits a return to Europe's premier competition would be a dream. Sunday's 2-1 victory over Newcastle brought that dreama step closer to reality.
The Blues are now four points behind Chelsea, who currently occupy the fourth and final Champions League place. With just six matches remaining, a UEFA Cup place may be the more likely target.
But Watson is in no doubt as to where he wants to be. "I was lucky enough to play in six Champions League games and, without a doubt, that is the stage we want to play on," he said. "It is the top club competition and you have the chance to play against the best. "I played in the UEFA Cup many times for Newcastle and it would be a great reward for everything we have done this season if we qualify for that. But, ideally, the Champions League is what we want. "This has been a season Everton fans have been able to enjoy, and there haven't been too many of those over the last few years. Let's hope we can give them exactly what everybody involved with Everton wants at the end of it - a shot at Europe." West Bromwich Albion are next up for the Blues. And with Liverpool and Chelsea looming on the horizon over the Easter weekend, it is a game Watson admits the side cannot afford to lose. "We know what we want to achieve but we can't look too far ahead," added Watson. "We really needed the win on Sunday because we hadn't won for three games. "Chelsea are playing really well at the minute and they will be tough to catch. It will be a hard game down there and the derby speaks for itself. But as big is West Brom because if we don't perform there it will undermine Sunday's win and hurt us going into Easter. "We are determined not to let what we have achieved this season slip away so late in the campaign." And as the final push begins, Watson is glad to have Wayne Rooney alongside him. "Everybody is extremely proud to have Wayne at the club," added Watson. "When he came back from England duty it was as if nothing had happened at all the next day in training. "He just gets on with his job in training and there is the same craic with him in the dressing room. "But as much as I want him to do fantastically well for England, if it is a choice between doing well for England and performing like that for us every week, I know which I would prefer." Rooney weaved his magic against Newcastle, scoring the first and turning provider for the winning penalty. And along with Kevin Campbell, Tomasz Radzinski and maybe even Duncan Ferguson, he will shoulder the responsibility of firing Everton in Europe. "It is a pleasure to play with our strikers," Watson said. "When you are under pressure you can slip a ball behind the back four and either Wayne, Kevin or Radz will get there the majority of the time. "We have been winning a lot of corners and throw-ins even when we may not have had many options. That is what happens when you have forwards who are so willing to chase down the ball." More of the same in the next four weeks and Watson will be rubbing shoulders with Europe's elite once again.
Beam in to Blues' Euro push
Apr 9 2003
EVERTON'S Premiership clash with West Bromwich Albion will be beamed back live to a big screen at Goodison Park. And the club has teamed up with the Daily Post to give you the chance to be there for free. Thousands of Evertonians will be taking the chance to see the game after the Blues were allocated 2,725 tickets for the 27,200 capacity at the Hawthorns. Those tickets quickly sold out as David Moyes' men look to maintain their European challenge. We have five pairs of tickets to give away in our simple to enter competition. All you have to do is answer the simple question below:
Which former Everton player is now the manager of West Brom? Send your answers on a postcard or sealed-down envelope to Everton Comp, Daily Post sports desk, PO Box 48, Old Hall St., Liverpool, L69 3EB. Or you can e-mail us at email@example.com or fax us on 0151 330-5091. You must include your name, address and daytime telephone number. Winners must be available to pick up their tickets as required. Normal Daily Post competition rules apply. The closing date is 9am, Friday April 11 2003. The beam-back kicks off at 3pm on Saturday. There's no advance tickets (cash turnstiles on the day) with unreserved seating in the Park End Stand. Gates open at 1.30pm. Admission prices are £10.00 adults and £5.00 concessions.
Rodrigo revs up for United return
Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Apr 9 2003
BRAZILIAN Blue Rodrigo last night revealed he aims to put an injury-ravaged season behind him by facing Manchester United on the final day of the season. The Everton midfielder is still recovering from the cruciate knee ligament injury that has ruined his inaugural season at Goodison Park. But as he steps up his bid to earn a contract extension from David Moyes this summer, the 26-year-old star insisted it is the desire to play again this term that is his greatest motivation. Rodrigo, initially signed on a one-year deal last summer, said: "Everything has been going really well. I'm in the final stages of my rehabilitation from the surgery on my knee and the thought of playing competitive football very soon is getting me excited. "Last week I did three days' full training, which is a major boost. This period is crucial and I have to be careful not to push too far. My body is still not used to full training because I haven't trained for six months, so I've been really feeling it the next day.
"But this is the final hurdle and I'm sure I will get back into the day-to-day routine very quickly."
The midfielder added: "I will probably play for the reserves soon, it all depends on how my knee reacts. It's great, though, to be so close to returning and I'm feeling very positive. "There are still six weeks to go until the end of the season and I think I still have a chance of playing in a Premiership game before we break for the summer. "Our final game is against Manchester United at Goodison and it would be a dream to be ready and picked to play."
No more whingeing
Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Apr 9 2003
NEWCASTLE UNITED last night admitted they won't be making a formal complaint over Neale Barry's failure to penalise Thomas Gravesen's tackle on Olivier Bernard on Sunday. The Blues midfielder has been widely criticised this week for the unpunished foul on the French full-back in the move that led to Everton's controversial winner. But Newcastle chairman Freddy Shepherd has revealed the club will accept referee Barry's decision not to penalise the Danish international as they fear being labelled as "whingers". Graham Poll did not take charge of an Arsenal game for 12 months after Arsene Wenger complained about his performance in the 3-1 home defeat by Newcastle on December 18 2001 but, despite believing they have been harshly treated, the Magpies will not resort to similar action. "It was all a bit of a nightmare for us and obviously we are not very happy at what happened," said Shepherd. "We don't think the referee did himself justice and he certainly cannot be accused of favouring Newcastle United. "But we are not whingers and we have never been whingers. It's all in the past now and we will soldier on in the true Newcastle United tradition." Neither manager Sir Bobby Robson nor skipper Alan Shearer, who described Gravesen's tackle as a "coward's challenge", were so calm in the immediate aftermath of the game. But the 70-year-old is adamant he will bear no grudges. "This is not sour grapes, but the referee did make a bloomer," he said. "Other than that, the referee had a decent enough game and it's not easy for them as they have to be right in every situation. "At least he was right on the spot, and although the decision was clear-cut we did not get it. The Everton boy was high and late and it was a red card on its own. "But we didn't get the decision and we will just have to keep our chins up." Newcastle will return to action in their mouth-watering clash with Manchester United on Saturday still hoping to have a say in the Premiership title race but determined to at least consolidate their third place.
And while their immediate focus is on the remaining six games of the season, club officials have been forced to look a little further ahead. Robson and his players are due to jet out to the Far East in the summer to take part in the Asia Cup along with Premiership colleagues Chelsea and Birmingham, and then head for Hong Kong for a friendly against Dalian United, with whom they have strong links. However, the current SARS scare gripping the continent has thrown the trip into doubt with Everton having already called off their planned visits to China and Hong Kong in May. "Obviously we are aware of what is happening in Asia and we are taking advice from all the right people," said a club spokesman. "But it's still three months until we are due to go out." Meanwhile, both skipper Alan Shearer and the Magpies have expressed surprise at claims that the 32-year-old is in talks over a £7.5million contract which will see him end his playing days on Tyneside but not take over as manager. "It's all news to me," Shearer said.
Key dates on Blues' high road
Len Capeling, Daily Post
Apr 9 2003
TWO massive wins over deadly rivals Liverpool and title-chasing Manchester United could do for Everton what everyone thought was impossible - propel them into the heady surroundings of the Champions' League. There are other barriers to that dream ending to an extraordinary season for David Moyes' men - notably Chelsea away - but the Goodison clashes on Saturday, April 19, and Sunday, May 11, are key to Everton's vaulting ambitions. A derby game is crucial for reasons other than the fierce heat of local pride. Bragging rights are a major consideration of course, but of much greater significance is the physiological lift any rout of the Reds would bring. Not only that, a victory would help to keep Liverpool some distance from the final Champions' League place that Gerard Houllier needs to save his side's season. Chelsea at Stamford Bridge is another toughie, particularly as Everton were over-run there in the Worthington Cup. But a point there and a good return from games against Aston Villa and Fulham would usher in a final confrontation with Man United that promises to be an early sell-out. Of course, it could all go horribly wrong, as dreams sometimes tend to do. But in a season when Everton have suffered few crisies of confidence, the next month offers Blues fans a chance to experience a heart-stopping end to a season that doesn't involve teetering on the brink of a trap door. ONCE again Wayne Rooney proved to be the difference, which is why Sven-Goran Eriksson wants to see much more of the young man. Newcastle and Everton suffered a joint off-day as flowing football kept itself as well hidden as a transfer fund for David Moyes. But then there was Rooney, the only Everton player who seemed capable of running at someone and beating them, effortlessly. You could see Sven purring in the main stand and making plans for Wayne's wondrous summer. That won't please David Moyes. But Rooney is ready as he showed against Turkey and again in providing the rare splashes of colour in a generally drab Goodison encounter. Everton can play better than this and will have to. Aimless punts towards Rooney may sometimes deliver a goal, but more often than not it merely delivers the ball straight back to the opposition. Rooney deserves better than that, although his greatest gift is turning base metal into gold. Taking unpromising material and, with a muscular swerve, investing it with massive threat.
* THERE has been some fascinating cross-pollination between the war in Iraq and the world of football. One Evertonian mum out in the Gulf thanked her family for their good wishes and for the prized collection of Everton flags. May they soon flutter over a liberated Baghdad. Even more enthralling was the e-mail read out by Adrian Chiles on his unmissable Saturday morning slot on Radio Five Live. On the face of it, the message it contained was an angry plea for more balanced coverage of the conflict as it affected ordinary Iraqis. But the PS highlighted another crucial battle for survival. "Good luck to all Baggies," it said. "Don't give up now, we can stay in the Premiership, no problem." Talk about getting your priorities right.
* THE burning question after the rampage by English thugs was what can we do with the vile perpertrators of these cowardly attacks. I think I have the answer. Round them up whenever they raise their Neanderthal heads and airlift them to the front lines in Iraq. Herded ahead of the Anglo-American push, they could provide the perfect kind of ground cover for coalition forces. Eminently expendable, the very best kind of cannon fodder, a human shield to delight the hearts of those of us who see the value of rough justice. Minefields could also be swept by the sub-humans who turned up at Sunderland to scream anti-Moslem filth. As for the FA they should stop wetting themselves and immediately get together with the home office and UEFA to prevent any fans travelling to Instanbul for England's return match in October. But then, when did the FA ever act with any speed or any sense?
Gazza: Home is where the art is
Alan Easel, Daily Post
Apr 9 2003
EVERTON is the place to be if Wayne Rooney is to fulfill his awesome potential. That's the view of former England and Everton midfielder Paul Gascoigne. Rooney's emergence on the international scene with his stunning display in England's 2-0 European Championship qualifier win over Turkey has drawn comparisons with Gazza's dramatic arrival on the world stage. Gascoigne was just 23 when the took the 1990 World Cup by storm and was catapulted into the headlines. Now Rooney is coming under close media scrutiny and finding his every move monitored by photographers. But Gascoigne believes the 17-year-old Everton star has a bright future if he avoids making the same mistakes as the young Geordie. "So many people have said how much Rooney reminds them of me," he said. "Now the world knows about him, his life will never be the same again. "There was a lot of pressure from the media and it backfired on me. I went on benders at the wrong time and that was my fault. "To him I say: 'Be careful, enjoy your football and don't change anything for anybody. Learn from my mistakes and you'll be one of the greatest players of all time.' Gascoigne was also a teenager when he burst onto the scene with his home town club Newcastle before joining Spurs in 1988. However, the 35-year-old believes that it is a case of home sweet home for Rooney. "I would tell Wayne to stay exactly where he is and listen to the people closest to him - his manager, older team mates and parents," he added. Wayne has everything he needs where he is. He has already got a very good contract and is at a club which is going places. "Everyone at Everton will help him, and in David Moyes he has an understanding manager. This boy is our next world-class player. I can see him getting over 100 caps."
Blues ace Rad making a quick recovery
Apr 9 2003 Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
TOMASZ RADZINSKI is in line for a return to fitness in time for Everton's game at West Bromwich Albion on Saturday. The Blues' top scorer has missed the club's last two matches because of a groin strain. Despite being absent for the matches against Arsenal and Newcastle, Radzinski has been involved in more matches this season than any other Everton player. He was expected to be out for four weeks. But the former Canadian international has made such a remarkable recovery he is now a genuine contender for Saturday's game. With a tough doubleheader against Liverpool and Chelsea coming up over the Easter weekend, Everton assistant boss Alan Irvine admits it would be a major plus to have the fast forward back in contention. "Tomasz is continuing with his rehabilitation but we are hopeful he will be okay for the weekend," Irvine told the ECHO today. "There are no guarantees but we are hopeful. "We would like to have him and all our players back for the run in. After this weekend's match at West Brom we will have two big games in three days over the Easter weekend. "We have got to make sure we are ready and that we have plenty of players available because obviously, if we get a few knocks in the Liverpool game the lads will not have much time to recover for the Chelsea game." Meanwhile, Everton's Brazilian ace Rodrigo has set his sights on returning to the first team in time for the final game of the season at home to Manchester United. The winger has missed almost the whole of this season because of a cruciate knee ligament injury picked up in training last September. Now back in training at Bellefield, the 26- year- old is optimistic. He said: "Everything has been going really well. I am in the final stages of my rehabilitation from the surgery on my knee and the thought of playing competitive football very soon is getting me excited. "Our final game is against Manchester United at Goodison and it would be a dream to be ready and picked to play."
* Newcastle are not planning to report Thomas Gravesen for his controversial challenge on Olivier Bernard.
Dunc's plans spark row
Apr 10 2003 by Nicky Tabarn, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON hero Duncan Ferguson has been caught offside - in his own back yard. The Blues striker wants to build a block of luxury apartments in the grounds of his Formby home. But his near neighbours have cried foul and plan to tackle his plans full on. Ferguson, 32, is seeking planning permission to build 12 two and three-storey flats. He has also submitted an application to build a detatched house. He is battling to get back into the Everton first team after a recent return from long term injury. But now it seems he is facing a tougher challenge from his own neighbours, who claim he is going back on his word. The former Scottish International bought the property for just over £2m two years ago, and demolished the main five storey building and landscaped the area.
He lives in another house within the grounds with his wife and daughter. But now he wants to build on the area he landscaped. Residents were expected to receive letters outlining the planning application today (Thursday, April 10). Trevor Douce, Ferguson's next door neighbour, said: "I would be strongly opposed to any flats being built next door. Some neighbours got up petitions in the past to stop other developments and no doubt the same would happen for this." Neighbour Ian Edwards said: "I will be strongly objecting to apartments being built. It is already a really busy road and a block of flats would create all sorts of problems with parking and traffic. I definitely do not agree with it." Although Dunc has submitted two applications to Sefton council this week, it is believed he will only be granted permission to go ahead with one development. The apartments would cover 1.25 acres of land and the house would be where the former house was, on 0.35 acres of land, causing an overlap. Each apartment could be expected to sell for around half-a-million pounds. A spokesman for Sefton council said: "We can confirm that two planning applications have been received for this plot of land." The plans are initial stage outline planning applications, and are expected to come before a Sefton council planning committee in the summer. Tory councillor Sydney Whitby added: "I am totally opposed to the apartments being built. "The trend at the moment seems for people in Formby to build in their gardens. "Flats bring in more money but they are destroying the character of the roads. Houses are disappearing and flats are appearing - which destroys the ambiance." Ferguson decided to rebuild the house after it was broken into by drug addict Carl Bishop in January. The soccer star was unavailable for comment today. In January 2001 his former luxury home, in Rufford, West Lancashire, was also broken into. A spokesman for Everton Football Club said: "This is a private matter for Duncan Ferguson. What he does with the land has nothing to do with the club."
Paintball attack on Rooney home
Apr 10 2003 By Clare Usher, Liverpool Echo
THE family of Everton soccer star Wayne Rooney had their home targeted by a paint ball gun.
Thugs fired paint-filled pellets at the house as his family sat inside watching television. The attack is the latest in a series of incidents at the family home. In last night's incident, several paintball pellets hit the wall of the house. Another hit the family car which was parked on the driveway of the Croxteth semi. The attack comes just months after their Ford Galaxy was attacked by vandals twice in a week. Wayne's dad, Wayne senior, had to fork out £140 for replacement tyres after they were punctured with nails. This morning, Mr Rooney said Wayne's younger brothers were in their bedroom when they came under attack. He added: "We don't know if people are doing it because they are jealous but we are not going to report it to the police. "We've had tyres slashed on cars before, but what can you do? "The kids were in the bedroom where the window was hit and they thought it was stones being thrown. "I don't know why it happened but there's nothing we can do."
Wayne was brought up in the house but since his rise to fame, the family are considering moving to a larger property.
Blues' new look inspired by legends
Apr 10 2003 Liverpool Echo
TODAY Everton reveal three new kits for next season. The strips are being launched to commemorate the club's 125th anniversary. Designed by Puma, all three are based on popular Everton kits of the past. The home strip has a white collar which evokes memories of one of the Blues greatest ever games - the 1966 FA Cup final win over Sheffield Wednesday. "It's another excellent kit," said chief executive Michael Dunford. "We are delighted with the new design, which reflects the great tradition of Everton." The players will wear the new home kit for the first time against Manchester United on the final day of the current Premiership season. It will be officially launched on May 8. The amber second strip draws on the inspiration of Harry Catterick's 1970 side.
Everton spokesman Ian Ross said: "Although fans don't normally like change, the feedback we have had from supporters is that on this occasion they are perfectly happy to have new kits in consecutive years to mark this important anniversary." The third kit echoes the 1970s strip worn by Bob Latchford and co. It is faded denim in colour with a navy V-insert collar and navy and white taping down the arms. The away strip will be launched on July 10 and the third kit will go on sale on August 14. They are expected to be the same price as the current strip.
Ex-Blue Speed blasts referee's decision
Apr 10 2003 By David Prior, Daily Post
THE FOOTBALL Association have still to decide whether further action will be taken against Thomas Gravesen after his x-rated challenge on Newcastle's Olivier Bernard - as ex-Blue Gary Speed blasted the "gut-wrenching" decision that saw the Magpies' Premiership challenge effectively ended on Sunday. Last night the FA confirmed they had received referee Neale Barry's match report - but claimed bizarrely that it made no mention of the Everton midfielder's clumsy foul which saw him branded "a coward" by Alan Shearer. However a spokesman said that may only be because Barry did not see the incident, which went unpunished at the time and indirectly led to the Blues' penalty winner, and will speak to Barry personally to determine whether he deliberately made no mention of it before deciding whether to refer it to their video panel. Speed has however decided to take his own swipe at the official, insisting his "appalling" refereeing had been entirely to blame for the St James' Park club's long-held title dream being extinguished. He said: "I was gutted for the lads against my old club Everton on Sunday, but there was not much anyone could have done against such appalling refereeing. "I was watching the game on TV and I'm still fuming that nothing was given against Thomas Gravesen for his tackle on Olivier Bernard. I just can't understand what the referee was thinking of. "That's at the very least two points the referees have cost us and without those points now we're certainly out of the title race." He added: "That's the second time we've been fouled in midfield when the referee has been right on top of it, nothing has been given and the opposing team have gone on to score the winning goal! It was a similar scenario against Boro a couple of weeks back when we lost 1-0. "Against Everton you could see the referee look back a couple of times after it happened so he'd obviously seen the foul. I just can't understand why he hasn't given it. "And as if that was infuriating, the one thing that no-one's mentioned was that it wasn't even a penalty that Everton then went on to get awarded. Kevin Campbell just tripped over himself. "Believe me, it's not sour grapes or bitterness. It's just very hard to take, especially when you're watching it at home. It's gut-wrenching really. "As you may know I was an Everton fan as a kid and loads of my mates are Everton fans so to make things worse I got a barrage of text messages after the game which rubbed salt into the wound." Welshman Speed, who played 58 games for the Blues between 1996 and 1998 after signing from Leeds United for £3.5million, also warned against the hype currently engulfing 17-year-old sensation Wayne Rooney. Speed himself became a regular in the Leeds side at the comparatively veteran age of 20, and said he hoped Rooney would not be "spoiled by the circus" waiting to pounce on his every move at the moment. He said: "Take nothing away from the man of the moment Wayne Rooney, who scored the opener (against Newcastle).
"He's a great player but I think it's unfair to him that there's so much hype around at the moment and that they're calling him the new Gazza or the new Alan Shearer - he's only 17. "I think everyone is waiting for him now to slip up and have a bad game, but every player has the odd bad game. So far he's been fantastic but I just hope people give him a chance and let him make mistakes. "The media attention on Rooney is so intense at the moment it's crazy. It's certainly a different story from when I played for Leeds as a teenager. "Leeds wasn't a top club then but even so there was nowhere near the same media focus on young players at the top clubs. I just hope that such a great talent doesn't get spoiled by the circus around him at the moment."
Blues not one-man team - Johnson
Apr 10 2003 David Prior, Daily Post
EVERTON are more than just a one-man team, West Brom midfielder Andy Johnson has warned his team-mates ahead of Saturday's crunch game at the Hawthorns. Wayne Rooney has been the name on everyone's lips after his stunning first start for England against Turkey was followed by the opening goal in the Blues' 2-1 Premiership win over Newcastle last weekend. But Johnson, whose Baggies side are almost certainly destined for the drop, claims other members of David Moyes' team must not be ignored. He said: "Everton are a good side and all the hype with Rooney has helped them progress this season. "For a boy of 17-years-old he really has got the world at his feet and I'm sure he's going to be a big star. "But with the spotlight on Rooney it's easy to forget they've got some other great players." Last November Everton secured a narrow 1-0 win over Gary Megson's men at Goodison Park, with Tomasz Radzinski providing the goal and Rooney an 87th-minute substitute. Johnson added: "Joseph Yobo was absolutely outstanding at centre-half at Goodison Park when we played up there - we couldn't win a header up front. "He had a real big game and Li Tie was excellent and Tomasz Radzinski's movement off the ball was brilliant that day. "It was a tough game up there and it's going to be a tough game down here," the Welshman added.
Apr 10 2003 By David Prior, Daily Post
DUNCAN FERGUSON has claimed the pressure of trying to get into Europe is "nothing" - compared to the stress of a relegation battle. The Scot, now back in Everton's senior squad as they fight for a Champions League place, has played a regular part in a near-constant battle to stay in the Premiership during his two spells at the club. David Moyes' rejuvenation of the Blues has however put those dark days firmly behind the club for the time being, and as they prepare for Saturday's trip to West Brom and the following weekend's showdown with Liverpool, Ferguson cannot wait for this year's end-of-season battle. He said: "This season there's no pressure on us. Pressure at the top of the league is nothing compared to the pressure you feel at the bottom of the league. "We just have to go out, enjoy the game and keep on playing the way we have been - and I'm sure we'll reap the rewards at the end of the season." The Scot added: "There's always pressure because there's tremendous optimism around the club. "We've got pressure to win and to do well, but real pressure is when you're facing relegation in the face. "This is a different type of pressure, it's a good type of pressure and we should be enjoying playing in this situation." Having occupied a UEFA Cup spot since the beginning of November, Everton stand on the verge of playing in a European competition for the first time since the 1995-96 season. With Wayne Rooney, Kevin Campbell and Tomasz Radzinski - back in the frame for Saturday after a groin strain - Ferguson faces fiercer competition than ever to make the starting line-up as the Goodison Park club approach the crucial last five games of the season. If, however, the Blues do achieve European qualification, it will cost them £250,000. When Swedish international Tobias Linderoth moved to Goodison Park from Norwegian club Stabaek in January 2001, a clause in his contract stated Everton would have to pay the extra sum if they qualified for Europe this season. Due to a combination of injury and illness, Linderoth has only made five Premiership appearances - but the Scandinavians will still get their money. Stabaek director Tom Schelvan said: "We have a deal that says we will get £250,000 if Everton qualify for Europe. We have looked at EvertonÕs league position all the time of late."
Everton give up on Kings Dock
By Larry Neild, Daily Post
Apr 11 2003
THE dream of a £155m stadium at Liverpool's Kings Dock will finally be buried today when Everton FC pulls out of the project. A statement is to be issued by the club and Liverpool Vision, the public and private development company responsible for the city centre area. It will be the final nail in the coffin for the scheme after more than two years of intensive discussions and planning. Just days ago Everton FC were insisting that they had come up with their portion of the money needed to carry out the ambitious water-front scheme. The club had, until December 31, been the preferred developer for the showpiece site, creating the prospect of a stunning 55,000-seater stadium.
It appears that club officials now recognise that even with the financial package in place other hurdles have doomed the project. Spiralling costs mean that Everton will be unable to give a cast iron guarantee that the scheme could be contained within its £155m target price, or on the level of income to be generated by the project. It is understood that as late as last night club officials and executives at Vision were fine tuning a public statement. Everton may be walking away from the project but want to do so with dignity and with the club's good name and reputation intact. One source close to the debate said last night: "Everton's dream of a super stadium was not pie in the sky, but a project that could have been delivered. The club has worked hard and flat-out to have the scheme designed and the expectation had been that it would go ahead. "It is a great shame that it has all come to an end." Everton FC will now have to decide whether to stay at Goodison Park or seek an entirely new site for a stadium to replace its old home. Vision chief executive Jim Gill has already paved the way for talks to open with "interested parties" on a Kings Dock scheme that will include a 20,000 seater arena, exhibition hall and conference centre as a centre piece to a major development.
Icliverpool And Daily Post
Apr 11 2003
Keep Big Dunc
I KNOW a lot of Everton fans think we should offload Big Dunc but I can't help feeling he's going to score some important goals for us some time before the end of the season. The winner in the derby would be particularly nice. Personally I'd give Duncan one more season to show he's capable of leading the line regularly. I am sure he would do well if rested from time to time much as Chelsea used to do with Mark Hughes.
B Mac, Kirkauldy
On the other foot
THOMAS GRAVESEN apologised, David Moyes did too. Sir Bobby accepted it and was brave enough to say that he wasn't sure what his own players might have done in the same circumstances.
Steve H (via e-mail)
Play to whistle
RE: GRAVESEN, the guy admitted it was bad challenge but in no way intentional. Note: Shearer/Lennon, Gerrard/ Naysmith incidents. All nasty incidents, but who admitted immediately he'd committed a foul? Mr Barry thought otherwise and let play continue, hence Everton playing to the whistle, Bellamy, Dyer, Shearer would have continued. Gravesen's tackle was bad but I think if any supporter or player is to complain it should be directed at the players that fall over regularly because during most games players feign injuries or mistimed tackles, thus mistakes and oversights will be made.
Marc Worcester (via e-mail)
Not Blues' fault
TOON supporter here. Okay fair dos. A lot of what has been said by my fellow Geordies comes from the frustration of having our chance of glory taken away in such circumstances. Referee Barry should have blown up but didn't. I don't believe any blame can be attached to your players for carrying on as they did but as a result we were taken by surprise resulting in the penalty and yes of course it was a penalty. Circumstances conspired against us, not Everton FC. Best of luck for the rest of the season. I hope you finish above the Reds. Rooney is a gem as is Moyes.
Tony Toon, Glasgow
WHO does Shearer think he is? Has he had a close look at Richard Wright's leg? Was he being a coward when he went in thigh-high on the keeper? I don't think anyone would have complained if the foul had been given against Gravesen or if the penalty had not been given - it was just nice to get a bit of luck. In the case of Gravesen I think the tackle was more clumsy than malicious and as for Campbell - well I think he took a dive which I wasn't happy with. However the through ball from Rooney was brilliant - I can't get over the lad's all-round ability - he is certainly more than a goalscorer.
Gareth Bradshaw, Merseyside
Peace determined to keep Megson
John Curtis, Daily Post
Apr 11 2003
JEREMY PEACE yesterday became West Brom's major shareholder - and immediately spelled out his desire for manager Gary Megson to be part of his long-term vision for the club. Baggies chairman Peace has purchased around 28,000 shares from predecessor Paul Thompson to give him a stake of just over 50 per cent in the Barclaycard Premiership strugglers, who welcome Everton to the Hawthorns tomorrow. Peace had been involved in a boardroom battle last summer with former chairman Thompson, which at one stage cast a doubt over the manager's future at The Hawthorns.
But he wants Megson to help him realise his hopes for Albion to become an established Premiership force in the next five years, even though this season they look certain to make a quick return to Division One. Peace said: "I think it is good we have a situation where the club is now under the control of a shareholding group that can take it forward and provide a platform for the future.
"That future is to hopefully establish ourselves in the Premier League. Our aim is to do that over the next five years and I hope this gives us the base. "We are relatively strong financially and hopefully that provides us with a base to go forward. "It is now necessary for the club to have a solid foundation. The club itself has been run very prudently over the last couple of years and we are relatively strong financially." Thompson is aware Megson could be coveted by other clubs this summer. Megson performed miracles on a limited budget to help Albion gain automatic promotion last season and this term has done well to even keep them in contention to stay up, although their fate could be confirmed if they lose at home to Everton tomorrow and other results go against them.
Peace said: "Gary Megson has done very well for us. He avoided relegation when he first joined us, got us into the play-offs the following year and then automatic promotion the year after that. Gary has done a great job. The side have acquitted themselves very well this season and I hope Gary Megson is part of the long-term future. "I have a continual dialogue with him. He is aware of what has happened today and that is all part of the process of building the club."
Everton Res 3, Sheffield Wed Res 0
Apr 11 2003
A VERY young Everton side swept aside their Yorkshire opponents to register a comfortable victory at the Halton Stadium. The Blues, with not one first-team regular on show, were on top for the majority of the night and created enough opportunities to have won by a greater margin. Once again Leon Osman, captain for the evening, was in top form going close on no less than three occasions in the first half before the home side went in front three minutes before the break.
Sean O'Hanlon found himself up with the attack and played the ball to the edge of the box where it was met by Nick Chadwick, who sent a fierce volley past the helpless Chris Stringer in the Wednesday goal. It was no less than Everton deserved and the visitors were lucky to only be a goal down at the break. Their luck didn't last too long after the re-start though with just 10 minutes gone in the second period Osman drilled a low shot towards Stringer and the keeper could only palm the ball into the path of Michael Symes, who did not fail from a few yards out. Everton were now in complete control and should have added to their tally when first Osman tested the visitors' keeper and then Chadwick nearly doubled his haul with a shot which just cleared the crossbar. The big Blues centre-forward wasn't to be denied his second goal though and on 72 minutes it arrived. Substitute Anthony Barry sent in a cross and Chadwick was on hand to power his header past Stringer. Wednesday huffed and puffed in the dying minutes with John Shaw coming close to getting a consolation but Iain Turner, despite enjoying a relatively quiet evening, was alert to palm the shot away.
EVERTON: Turner, Potter, B Moogan, Pilkington, O'Hanlon, Schumacher, Osman, (Barry 66), A Moogan, Chadwick, Symes, Carney (Beck 76). Subs: Crowder, Gallagher, Gerrard.
SHEFFIELD WED :Stringer, Green, Lowe, McMahon, Crane (Hill 67), Wood, Connelly, Shaw, Donnelly,Knight, Beswetherick. Subs: Smith, Poulter, Shaw, Stone.
Everton can upstage Reds
Academy Football With Chris Wright, Daily Post
Apr 11 2003
AS Merseyside's big two are locked in their own battle for supremacy in the Premiership, Everton under-19s can win their own derby fight. Just a point separates the respective clubs at first team level and in the FA Premier Academy League Group A it is a similar situation. Colin Harvey's side are a point behind Liverpool, but with the Reds having completed their fixtures a win or a draw at Crewe Alexandra tomorrow (kick-off 11am) will see the Blues finish ahead of them in fourth spot.
But despite a superb run of form since Christmas Everton go into tomorrow's match on the back of two defeats. They lost 3-2 to Manchester United last Saturday and they were also beaten 1-0 by Manchester City on Tuesday afternoon. Both those clubs are chasing the title, but the Blues can feel a bit aggrieved not to have taken any points. Although in the first half against City Harvey's side had to thank Scotland under-20s goalkeeper Iain Turner for keeping them in it. He made two superb saves when City were on top. But in the second half the Blues were more than a match for the home side, but could only fashion one or two half chances. Ironically the winner came when Turner dropped a cross for City score late on and keep their title ambitions alive. But Harvey said: "In the first half they were well on top and only a couple of really good saves from Iain Turner kept us in it. He made others but two of them were really top class "But in the second half there wasn't a lot in it but Iain dropped a cross which they scored off just at the end. But he kept us in the game in the first half, so you can't attach too much blame to the lad." With a reserve game the previous night, Harvey fielded a number of promising under-17 players. Daniel Fox was making his U19s debut, and he, along with Robert Booth, Gavin Lynch, Paul Hopkins and Joseph Jones, performed well. Some of the regular players may be back against Crewe tomorrow. Harvey said: "Since Christmas we have had a decent run, apart from the last two matches, so you would like to go out with a decent performance."
Pot calling the kettle black and white?
Fanscene by Mark O'Brien, Daily Post
Apr 11 2003
OH STOP moaning will you?
Yes you, Mary Poppins. The irony of Alan Shearer calling anyone a coward and a cheat was not lost on many people given the Geordie number nine's physical reputation. Honestly, did anyone really believe that Newcastle were going to win the Premiership anyway? Considering they call themselves the Magpies they do seem to have a terrible aversion to all things silver and shiny.
Thomas Gravesen's tackle on Olivier Bernard was shocking, but it came about more through lack of technique than murderous intent on the Dane's part. Quite frankly, when it comes to getting stuck in the man with the 'mad dog' reputation can make Niclas Alexandersson look like Bruce Rioch. On Sunday it looked like he tried to execute one of his patented, infuriating, tackle-cum-clearances which regularly see the ball rebound of the opponent and put us in danger, only to miss completely and almost emasculate the French full-back. It was a bit rough on the visitors that it went unnoticed but so did a blatant handball by Andy O'Brien in the first half that denied Wayne Rooney a clear run on goal. Swings. Roundabouts. You fail to win things because you're not good enough, not because of isolated decisions. Controversial or not the win was a massive one against an excellent side. Any fears about Wayne Rooney being jaded or distracted after his England exploits were proved to be completely without foundation as the youngster ultimately proved himself the difference between the teams. Just as pleasing as his goal and his mesmerising run and pass that produced the penalty was what he did without the ball. It was as if he'd taken a leaf out of Tomasz Radzinski's book, working the width of the pitch and providing an outlet over the top instead of always dropping deep in search of the ball. No doubt West Brom supporters, with little else to cheer, will be looking forward to heaping abuse on Rooney following comedy cart horse Darren Moore's humiliation at Goodison. Hopefully he will rise above it, keep his head and inspire the Toffees to yet another win and another vital three points in the quest for a European place.
Rooney's Henry the second - Jeffers
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Apr 11 2003
WAYNE ROONEY has the skill and self-belief of Arsenal star Thierry Henry, former Everton striker Francis Jeffers declared last night. The Blues sensation has had to contend with numerous comparisons with Paul Gascoigne this season as his strength, talent and profile have drawn similarities with the wayward genius. But now fellow De La Salle School pupil Jeffers has offered a modern Premiership role model for the 17-year-old to follow as he takes the path to superstardom.
Jeffers said: "In a way there are parallels between what's happening with Wayne and the way it started for me. "We are both local lads, playing in the same position, who've grown up watching the club on the terraces and then gone on to play for them. "But I've never seen anything like Wayne though. He's a complete one-off, although he does remind me of Thierry Henry in the way that he goes at players as they both ooze confidence. "I know him quite well and he's a really nice lad and so level-headed. "It must be so difficult with all that attention and being so young, but he's taken it all in his stride." Rooney could face competition for a starting role this weekend as Tomasz Radzinski returns to fitness following the groin strain that forced him to miss Everton's last two games. However, the Canadian international is facing a race against time to prove himself fit for the trip to West Bromwich Albion and is unlikely to be risked ahead of the Premiership run-in. Tony Hibbert and Tobias Linderoth are also closer to a return, though neither will be considered at The Hawthorns.
Blues Dock plan dies
Apr 11 2003 By Jane Woodhead Political Reporter
EVERTON'S Kings Dock dream was killed off today. The 55,000-seater stadium plan was scrapped after the club failed to find enough money. Today's news ends months of speculation as regeneration company Liverpool Vision ruled out a scaled down development put forward by the club. It sends Everton back to the drawing board and in search of a new location for a ground.
Meanwhile, Liverpool council and Liverpool Vision will press ahead with an alternative 12,000-seat stadium with connected 3,000-seat conference centre and an hotel. An announcement was due to be delivered in a joint statement from the club, Liverpool Vision and the council this morning.
But the statement was delayed as the parties struggled to come up with the suitable wording. It epitomised the confusion and conflict that has dogged the proposals for so long. Everton fans have been angered over the lack of information about the development and the accompanying rumours and counter rumours. Today it became clear that the club had failed to come up with enough cash to deliver according to its original plan for a stadium which would double as a major entertainment facility for the public.
Moyes to gamble on Radz
Apr 11 2003 By Scott Mcleod Everton Reporter
DAVID MOYES is ready to gamble on the fitness of Tomasz Radzinski at West Brom tomorrow as Everton maintain their push for Europe. The Everton boss is poised to name a squad which includes all four of his attacking big guns for the match at the Hawthorns. Moyes admits that he is "desperate" for the points with just six matches of the season remaining. Wayne Rooney and Kevin Campbell have led the Everton attack in the club's last two outings agains t Arsenal and Newcastle.
But tomorrow Moyes could throw Radzinski (pictured) into the equation to spice up his side, despite the player having only returned to full training this week following a groin strain. With Duncan Ferguson also fit and available, the manager has no shortage of attacking options. He said: "We have to take risks now. We need people ready to play, we can't give them time because there are only four or five weeks of the season left. Tomasz is making progress. We will make a decision on him based on how he does in training today." Radzsinki was the first player to arrive at Belle-field this morning as he battles to prove he is ready for a return to the Everton first team. He has been absent since the home draw against West Ham last month. Moyes is eager to maintain the club's challenge for a Champions League place and is ready to go at Gary Megson's relegation threatened side with both barrels. Everton are currently four points behind Chelsea, who occupy the final Champions League place. With 18 points left to play for, it is crucial Everton maintain the pressure on the sides above them and keep one step ahead of Liverpool and Blackburn, who are hot on their heels. The manager added: "The Newcastle game has gone now and we need the points from this match desperately. We have to go there to try and gain them. "For me every game has the same kind of intensity, whether we are in a relegation battle or at the top of the league. We have got to be winning games. "We are treating each match in the same way. We have not had an easy game this season and I don't expect it to start now. "This would have been a tough match no matter what position they were in and regardless of how we did in our last match." Moyes is acutely aware of the threat West Brom pose to his side's ambition of challenging for a top four berth. He came across teams managed by Gary Megson on a number of occasions during his time in charge at Preston and knows what to expect. He adds: "I have got a little bit more knowledge because I have come across them in the past. "Gary Megson knows his players have given their all this season and that is all you can ask of players. "He has a strong side that works hard. It looks as if it has not been enough for them, but it means we will not be taking anything for granted."
Making Europe will cap it all - Stubbs
Apr 11 2003 By Scott Mcleod Everton Reporter
EUROPEAN qualification with Everton would rank alongside the greatest achievements of Alan Stubbs' career. The 31-year-old has won tish league and cup honours with Celtic and enjoyed the thrill of promotion with Bolton during a long and successful career. But the lifelong Evertonian insists that if he can help his beloved Blues book a place in next season's UEFA Cup or qualify for the Champions League, it would match anything he has achieved up to now. "It would give me as much satisfaction as anything else I have achieved in football," Stubbs told the ECHO. "I have won championships and cups with Celtic but qualifying for Europe with Everton would cap it all because of the resources we have got here. "It would be a massive ment for the club, the players and anybody associated with Everton because we have not got the same money as all the other clubs vying for those European places. That speaks volumes for the ers and the spirit here at the moment. What we don't spend in money we have got in team spirit." The Blues are currently fifth, four points behind Chelsea and the final Champions League slot and one point ahead of fierce rivals Liverpool. With six matches remaining and just 18 points left to play for, a UEFA Cup slot seems assured. UEFA Cup places are available for the sides that finish fifth and sixth. Everton currently have a four-point cushion over placed Blackburn and are seven points clear of Charlton below them.
But talk of Europe has been muted in the Goodison changing room. And Stubbs is refusing to take anything for granted. Everton must face both Chelsea and Liverpool over the Easter weekend. Those games will be make or break in terms of the club's bid for a Champions League berth. The results will also have an influence on their challenge for a UEFA Cup place in the final few matches of the season. Because of that, the outcome of tomorrow's trip to struggling West Brom is crucial.
"If we can get a good result tomorrow it will put us in a good position for the Easter weekend," added Stubbs. "Because we are playing Liverpool and Chelsea, we will know after those games where we are going to be heading for. I don't think we are that far away from getting a UEFA Cup place but until we have mathematically got it, we are not taking anything for granted. "The win over Newcastle sets us up nicely for the West Brom match. "We knew that game was a massive one for us if we wanted to open up a gap between us and the sides below as well as maintaining a challenge for the Champions League. "Even before that game we have had the self-belief that the Champions League was reachable but now we are getting to the point where we have to make it a reality. "To do that we need to keep picking up points. "The way West Brom line-up suggests they are never going to get beat by a big margin. You expect teams in the position they are in to regularly suffer big defeats but they are very organised and don't tend to give a lot away. They may not have picked up many good results but we know it will be a tough game. "They work hard and will make it tough for us but we are going there full of confidence and aware that we need to set our stall out the right way." A victory on Saturday would not only boost the club's Champions League ambitions, it would leave Everton ahead of Liverpool going into the derby. That is a position they have occupied for much of 2003. And Stubbs believes that fact underlines why the squad has what it takes to live with the country's top teams over the final few weeks of the season. "A lot of people have written us off because we don't have the same resources as the sides we are up against, particularly in the last few games of the season. A lot has been said about our run-in. "But we will try to prove people wrong, as we have done all season. People say we have got some tough games but those sides will know they have got a tough game playing us. "We have come a long way and those teams won't be looking forward to playing us. That was the case with Newcastle last week. That was reflected in the fact they had a couple of injury doubts for the match and those players were involved. "The fact they were willing to risk players coming back from injury speaks volumes."
This season may well have turned into a memorable one for Stubbs and Everton, but the defender has also tasted life at the other end of the table since arriving at Goodison two years ago. And because of his experiences last season, helping the Blues avoid the threat of relegation at the wrong end of the table, the player can appreciate exactly what the Baggies are going through. He added: "I have respect for them because I have an understanding of what they have been going through.
"I understand it is not a nice environment to play your football in. Nobody wants to be down at that end of the table because it is always easier to play football with points on the board and you don't HAVE to win every week. "They have been fighting all season and have struggled to adapt to life in the Premiership. They have not had much money to spend, probably with one eye on the future."
That future could become reality tomorrow. Stubbs concluded: "We know it will be very tough because if they lose the match (and Bolton and Birmingham both win) they will be down.
"It is fair to say these games can sometimes be harder than the matches against the top sides."
Costs spiral beat the blues
Apr 11 2003 By Neil Hodgson Industry Reporter
EVERTON'S Kings Dock dream died because they ran out of time and money. Two years ago fans and city leaders were excited by the prospect of a 55,000-seat arena. Outlining the vision was Everton director Paul Gregg, who had years of experience in the entertainment world through his SFX leisure group. The cost of the arena was estimated at £155m as part of a total £350m package including new housing, hotels and A public/private split on funding worked out at £35m from Objective 1 resources; £35m raised from the sale of housing and surrounding land; £30m from Everton; £20m from a mortgage taken out by Everton and the private sector; with the remainder from Liverpool council. The ECHO understands that the council agreed a deal that capped its exposure to any financial risk and that also allowed it to pay back some of the Objective 1 loan if the sale of houses and land raised more than the estimates. Mr Gregg is even believed to have signed a promisory note guaranteeing Everton's £30m. But as work on the plan progressed it became clear that Everton was struggling to raise all its requirement as costs began to spiral. Last year a boardroom rift over how to pay for the stadium effectively split Mr Gregg and Everton deputy chairman Bill Kenwright. But by then the cost of the development had rocketed from £155m to £193m, which would have meant Everton finding £86m. It is understood a compromise was put forward by the club for a £173m stadium, including £76mfrom Everton. That included a 55,000-seat football ground, minus the sliding roof and pitch, with a 10,000-seat arena for concerts and conferences built alongside the stadium. It would have been a rough version of the original scheme but, say council sources, with the quality and potential taken out. Regeneration company Liverpool Vision, which spearheaded the scheme, balked at the proposal. The consensus was: "There's no way we just wanted a football stadiumat Kings Dock." So a Plan B was devised for a 12,000-seat arena, 3,000-seat conference centre and hotel to slot into the space reserved for the original arena proposal. Late last year Vision set Everton a December deadline. That passed and, with it, their preferred developer status. Vision met earlier this week to consider Everton's latest proposal, but decided to decline. So work now starts on Plan B. Critics will claim the farrago has wasted public money and two years on one of the city's most prestigious sites. But the council would argue that the environmental work, planning and transport issues for Kings Dock would have had to be done anyway and they have done it at a fraction of the cost because it was shared four ways.
'It was such an exciting project for the city'
Apr 11 2003 Liverpool Echo
EVERTON fans today spoke of their disappointment now the club's dream move to the Kings Dock is off. Many blamed the council, others the club. Gaynor Evans, 32, from Crosby, said: "I think it's the council's fault because they put far too much red tape in the way and were not willing to cut through it. "It will be interesting to see what Everton do next because the Kings Dock would have been perfect." Keith French, 33, a promotions executive from Whiston, said: "We were all looking forward to moving to the Dock so it's obviously very disappointing that it's not now going to happen.
"It seems like when it came down to it Everton just couldn't come up with the money." Ian Squires, 48, an Everton season ticket holder from Cressington, said: "I blame the council for the collapse of the move because they are being so short-sighted. "They should have been willing to put more money into the project because it wasn't just about Everton it was also about raising the city's profile." Evertonians were united in the opinion that the collapse of the move is also bad news for the city. Blues fan Suzanne Critchley, 33, from Warrington, summed up the mood. She said: "The move hasn't looked likely to happen for some time. "I don't know who's fault it is but everyone involved should have worked harder to make it happen because it was such an exciting project for the club and the city."
West Brom 1, Everton 2 (D, Post)
Apr 14 2003 By David Prior At The Hawthorns, Daily Post
SO the auditions are over, the read-throughs complete. After a fortunate yet ultimately crucial victory, Everton have the advantage going into the most significant Merseyside derby since Sheedy, Ratcliffe and Southall. No more need for potentials, ifs or maybes. Next Saturday at Goodison Park, Everton, fifth with 56 points, play Liverpool, sixth with 55 points, in a game that will go a long way towards determining local hierarchy and may yet serve as a telling episode in the race for Champions League qualification. It's as simple as that. Following last week's win by the same scoreline against a team still in with a chance at the top, the Blues comfortably side-stepped the banana skin inherent in a game against a side gasping for life at the bottom. In doing so, they amply reiterated why their league position is no fluke. No matter the below-par performance, at this juncture of the season three points are the exclusive aim - and to that end, this could prove to be a critical win. The slightly unnecessary aftertaste was supplied with the dismissal of David Moyes, although his sudden banishment to the stands at least succeeded in directing some of the spotlight off Wayne Rooney. It is likely that the ears of referee Steve Bennett are still ringing following the sustained volley of Glaswegian directed at him towards the end of the first half. The incident was at first perplexing in seemingly having no direct justification - for all the veins bursting on Moyes' head, you'd have thought Bennett had come on whistling 'The Anfield Rap'. As it transpired, there was indeed more to the Scot's 38th-minute remonstration than met the eye. Foremost in his mind had been the penalty awarded to West Brom 20 minutes earlier for an Alan Stubbs handball, but, according to his assistant Alan Irvine, he had also been riled by challenges involving Rooney and Thomas Gravesen.
Whatever action, if any, is taken against Moyes will not be of pressing concern to club nor manager. All minds are solely trained on not throwing away this season, and after a game which could quite accurately be summed up as first half, thrilling; second half, very dull, Everton have not slipped up yet. The Baggies' vociferous crowd sang as if on the first day of the season, not the last throes of their briefest of stays, but such has been their plucky fight that the Blues' fans could only reluctantly muster a couple of bars of 'going down, going down' before quickly withdrawing it. The first half was a blur of excitement edged by the visitors. Albion boss Gary Megson has this season long lamented his side's lack of a goalscoring thrust and to back up his point Larus Sigurdsson, Andy Johnson and Ronnie Wallwork all missed first-half opportunities that should have been gobbled up without too much hesitation. Jason Koumas, West Brom's former Tranmere midfielder, also launched a fierce shot at Richard Wright but the keeper gathered safely, as he did for most of the afternoon. All eyes again were on Rooney, but he was guilty of selfishness after 13 minutes when going for goal with a speculative toe-poke when Kevin Campbell was unmarked to his right. Five minutes later and the hosts were awarded their penalty - the first they'd been given all season - after Danny Dichio had induced a handball from Stubbs. Irvine later claimed it was a "soft" penalty and that Dichio had pushed Stubbs in the back. Igor Balis sent Wright the wrong way, but it was the nudge Everton required and five minutes later they were back on level terms. Mark Pembridge's corner from the right was missed by David Weir at the near post but Albion keeper Russell Hoult met the ball with a two-fisted punch, only to see the ball career straight into the net. A minute later and the Blues were almost in front, with Joseph Yobo, out of position at right-back but providing a flash of speed down the right flank whenever he galloped forward, again beating his man and curling in a cross that Camp-bell despatched into the back of the net. Offside, however, was the referee's verdict. The Nigerian's form clearly delighted the Blues management. "Joseph will be the first to say that he's not a right-back but he looks like a pretty good right-back to me," said Irvine. "As a former winger I don't know whether I would have fancied playing against him." Nine minutes before half-time came the incident that triggered Moyes' ordering off. Rooney was put clear and after his attempted chip was blocked, the youngster was felled. Although the level of contact was debatable, the Everton manager reckoned it was a penalty. A minute later a further incident involving Gravesen (left) and Balis proved the last straw for Moyes and after remonstrating at length on the touchline, at one point colliding with a linesman at full speed, the referee walked over to the Everton dugout and pointed to the stands. From there Moyes communicated with Irvine via mobile phone, and it has to be said with considerable effect as the remainder of the game passed off with little further concern for the visitors. Weir should have found the target with a clear header just outside the six-yard box in the 44th minute, but on the stroke of half-time the deciding goal arrived.
More excellent work from Yobo on the right had future England prospect Hoult flapping, and when the loose ball was collected by Rooney, the 17-year-old showed composure beyond his years to turn in a ball from the byline which Campbell gleefully side-footed home. "The lads have shown character today because we didn't play well and it was important that we hung on in," said Irvine. "People say that's the mark of a good team, and it's certainly the mark of a team with a lot of spirit and character. When we do go a goal down we don't necessarily think that it's all over." After the bustle of the opening period, the second half was inevitably something of a let-down. Rooney picked up a booking early on for kicking the ball away, but aside from that indiscretion it was another good, if goalless, day for the new England striker. Twice after the break he went close, firstly when firing into the side-netting after Sean Gregan's unwise miskick, and then when he cracked another shot narrowly wide when he seemed to have been pushed too wide after Scot Gemmill's long ball. A pre-season glance at the fixture calendar could well have earmarked this game for the 'relegation dogfight' category. Of course, by final whistle on Saturday only one of the sides was staring relegation to the first division in the face. The other has one foot in Europe.
WEST BROM (3-5-2): Hoult; Balis, Gregan, Sigurdsson; Clement (Udeze 81), Wallwork, Johnson, Koumas, McInnes (Dobie 77); Dichio, Hughes. Subs: Murphy, Chambers, Lyttle
EVERTON (4-4-2): Wright; Yobo, Stubbs, Weir, Unsworth; Watson (Ferguson 81), Pembridge (Naysmith 74) Gravesen (Gemmill 66), Carsley; Rooney, Campbell. Subs: Li Tie, Gerrard.
BOOKINGS: West Brom's Sigurdsson and McInnes and Everton's Rooney and Gravesen.
REFEREE: Mr S Bennett.
Spot of bother
By David Prior, Daily Post
Apr 14 2003
DAVID MOYES could find himself in hot water with the Football Association after being sent off during Everton's 2-1 win at West Bromwich Albion on Saturday. The Blues boss was forced to watch most of the game from the stands after clashing with referee Steve Bennett seven minutes before half-time. Incensed by the 18th-minute penalty awarded to Albion which gave the relegation-doomed Midlanders the lead, as well as the referee's failure to award the visitors their own spot-kick for a foul on Wayne Rooney, Moyes launched an impassioned castigation of Bennett from the touchline. That proved too much for the Orpington official - already in Moyes' bad books for having awarded a decisive, debatable spot-kick against the Blues at Southampton earlier in the season - and the Everton supremo spent the res t of the game several rows behind the dugout.
Referee Bennett said: " He was removed from the technical area for using foul and abusive language and improper behaviour." Moyes was later defended by his assistant Alan Irvine. He said: "David complained about the fact it was the same referee who gave a fairly soft penalty against us at Southampton so he complained that the referee had done that twice to us. "It came on top of one or two other little incidents as well, and the feeling was the referee made a few mistakes."
Otherwise it was an excellent day for the Goodison Park men as they consolidated fifth place in the
Premiership and ensured they go into Saturday's eagerly-awaited Merseyside derby a point ahead of Liverpool. Everton fought back from conceding Igor Balis' penalty to claim all three points courtesy of an own goal from Baggies keeper Russell Hoult and a Kevin Campbell tap-in on the stroke of half-time. "It was a very difficult game, but that didn't come as any surprise. We knew it was going to be a very difficult game," added Irvine. "The good thing is we're no further away (from Chelsea in fourth). It was obviously very important for us to get the points. "It's certainly been great to get six points out of the last two games, we knew how tough they would be and it gives us a little bit of a cushion going into what will be another very tough two games. I think West Brom have been a bit unfortunate over the course of the season in terms of creating chances. But it's taking those chances. "The lads have been outstanding this year in terms of the way they've gone about their work on a day-to-day basis." Meanwhile, Campbell is claiming both goals from the weekend victory. West Brom keeper Hoult appeared to punch the ball into his own net under pressure from David Weir for the Blues' equaliser. The Everton number nine grabbed the winner on the stroke of half-time to score his first goal since December. But he says he also got the last touch to the first goal as the ball came off the back of his head. "The keeper has come out for the first one and punched the ball, it's hit the back of my head and gone in," he revealed. "Obviously I don't know much about it, but I'll see if I can claim it." But Campbell is happy that the Blues remain firmly in contention for a European place. Campbell added: "The most important thing was that we got the win because we have European aspirations. "West Brom made it difficult for us but I thought a little bit of quality told in the end. "They tinkered with their system and we found it difficult in the first 15 minutes, but once we came to terms with that we went on and completed the job. "I think they were fortunate to get a penalty, but in the second half they bombarded us and we knew it wouldn't be easy. However, we got through it in the end unscathed." Campbell's winning goal was set up by Wayne Rooney. In Saturday's Daily Post Campbell described playing alongside the teenager as a "joy and a privilege." "Wayne has done great for the second goal," said Campbell. "The 'keeper has tried to push it out but he's read it, fed it back to me and it was a tap in really."
West Brom 1, Everton 2 (Echo)
Apr 14 2003 By David Prentice at The Hawthornes, Liverpool Echo
LIGHTNING doesn't strike twice . . . unless it's the bizarre world of Premiership football which is your subject. On Saturday, in their first visit to The Hawthorns for 14 years, Everton believed they had been hit by the same referee, in the same place for the second time this season right where it hurts.
But they responded by producing their own remarkable same-again statistic. For the sixth time this season, David Moyes' side turned a one-goal deficit into a 2-1 triumph, and that was enough to keep their unexpected push for Europe on target in spite of a patchy performance. That unassailable spirit is the most impressive quality of a season which has seen improvement in so many areas at Everton this season. In previous seasons a goal against an Everton side has been the sign for shoulders to slump, spirits to sag and the Park End to empty quicker than the deep end when Michael Barrymore asks: "Anyone for a pool party?" This term it has simply seen a strengthening of resolve, a defiant roar from the Blues' fans and, usually, a successful comeback. Even Moyes' one-man mission to fiercely challenge every contentious refereeing decision awarded against his side can be interpreted as a symbol of that will to win he has instilled in his team. Sadly, the sub-standard of refereeing in this country means Moyes has had opportunity aplenty to display that desire. Football fans are rarely surprised by the ability of the average Premiership referee to get things wrong, and Steve Bennett belongs in the same bracket as Messrs Wolstenholme and Elleray - below average.
On Saturday he showed, as he had at the St Mary's Stadium earlier in the season, that he is far too easily influenced by vociferous home appeals. His penalty decision against Alan Stubbs was not as appalling as the one he awarded against David Weir at Southampton in September, but it was certainly unsympathetic after the ball had struck Stubbs on the arm after the defender had been shoved by Daniele Dichio. But Everton couldn't have convincingly argued that West Brom didn't deserve to lead. With just a fraction more class in their forward line, The Baggies might have won this match at a canter. Dichio sent a header against the crossbar and Larus Sigurdsson, an Icelandic international, prodded an easy rebound wide. Richard Wright then saved from McInnes and Koumas twice before Bennett decided Stubbs had deliberately handled and allowed Igor Balis to shake off 16 months of spot-kick rust and send Wright the wrong way. Everton's only threat up to that point had come from Mark Pembridge's wickedly swerving corner kicks and Joseph Yobo's impressive overlaps and crafted crosses. It was the former which produced the equal-iser. David Weir might have claimed the 22nd minute equaliser, but the final touch to Pembridge's near-post cross was from Russell Hoult's flailing fists. Yobo thought he had helped put Everton ahead when his cross was beautifully judged and received the emphatic finish it deserved from Kevin Campbell's diving header, but the Blues' striker had strayed offside. Both sides then contrived to stage their own miss of the match competition. Andy Johnson claimed the prize when he side-footed hope-lessly wide from six yards, but Weir was runner-up after planting an unmarked header a yard wide. Rooney might also have done better, attempting to lob Hoult from 25 yards but allowing the keeper to claw his effort out of the air. It was that Rooney incident which proved the final straw for Moyes. The youngster claimed a penalty after he was shoved to the turf trying to head the rebound from his original shot into an empty net. Coming at the vociferous home end, Bennett was never going to award another penalty, and with unfortu-nate timing a West Brom player then needed lengthy treatment in front of Everton's dug-out. It was an opportunity Moyes could not resist, pouring out a torrent of grievances stretching back to September upon the baffled official - and was sent from the dug-out. Moyes was comfortably in his new place, a few rows back, when Everton snatched the lead. Another excellent Yobo cross prompted the danger. Hoult flapped unconvincingly and Rooney retrieved the ball at the far post. The youngster had two choices - act like an excited 17-year-old and try to squeeze the ball into the empty net from an impossible angle, or play the veteran campaigner, holding the ball up intelligently before passing for his strike partner to tap in the match-winner. It surprised no-one he chose the second option. The timing of the goal a minute before half-time did little to quell West Brom's spirit and for 15 minutes after the restart they threatened again. But the lack of quality was evident. Neil Clement delayed and Weir dispossessed him and Dichio side-footed wide from 18 yards. Everton's threat came almost exclusively from Rooney, whipping one effort into the side-netting and then sprinting clear of Gregan, only for Hoult to parry his near post drive behind. By this time, Everton had replaced the earlier booked Thomas Gravesen with Scot Gem-mill, but another substitution 10 minutes from time showed how far Duncan Ferguson has to go before he can approach the form and fitness which characterised his first half-dozen games under Moyes. Twice he was berated by team-mates for failing to chase down opponents, as he moved awkwardly and unconvincingly. Everton are approaching a crucial weekend in their European ambitions. Some of Ferguson's finest moments in an Everton shirt have come against their rivals from across the park. What wouldn't Evertonians give for some Scottish lightning striking in the same place at Goodison next Saturday?
WEST BROM (3-5-2): Hoult, Wallwork, Sigurdsson, McInnes (Dobie 77 mins), Balis, Koumas, Gregan, Johnson, Clement (Udeze 81), Hughes, Dichio. Unused subs: Chambers, Lyttle, Murphy.
EVERTON (4-4-2): Wright, Yobo, Weir, Stubbs, Unsworth, Watson (Ferguson 80 mins), Gravesen (Gem-mill 65), Carsley, Pembridge (Naysmith 75), Campbell, Rooney. Unused subs: Tie, Gerrard.
REFEREE: Steve Bennett.
BOOKINGS: Sigurdsson (37 mins) foul, McInnes (45 mins) foul, Rooney (53 mins) dissent, Gravesen (62 mins) dissent.
The last laugh
Apr 14 2003 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON added Steve Bennett to their referees' hit-list on Saturday - after David Moyes was dismissed from the dug-out for the first time in his Goodison career. The Orpington official angered Everton earlier in the season when he was conned by Marian Pahars into awarding a soft penalty against David Weir at Southampton. That decision cost the Blues the points in a game they had dominated - and on Saturday Moyes believed Bennett had repeated the crime. He awarded West Bromwich Albion a debatable penalty - the Baggies' first for 16 months - then denied a Wayne Rooney appeal 20 minutes later. Moyes remonstrated so long and so vigorously with the referee a minute later that he was sent from the dug-out. Moyes asked assistant manager Alan Irvine to conduct the post-match press conference and he said: "It was the same referee who gave a fairly dubious penalty against us at Southampton and David complained that was twice he had done it to us. "But it wasn't just the penalty. There were a few other incidents which David felt had gone against us and he complained. "Being sent-off didn't make that much difference to us. I got to stand a little bit further forward! "We were in contact with each other through our mobile phones. We had made a tactical change at half-time which wasn't working so we used the phones to change it back. David was only a few rows back." Irvine explained why the Blues felt so hard done by over the spot-kick decision. "Alan Stubbs felt that Danny Dichio pushed him in the back and that meant that the ball bounced up and hit him on the underside of the arm," he said. "But we responded to that without playing too well." Everton came from behind to win a match 2-1 for the sixth time this season. They have also salvaged draws on four occasions when trailing, emphasising the astonishing spirit David Moyes has imbued into his squad. "Yes, we have come back quite a few times this season," added Irvine. "The players have had to show plenty of character. "We didn't play well and it was important that we hung on in there. "But it's certainly a mark of a good team when you can come back from being a goal down so many times." Irvine also had words of praise for Nigerian defender Joseph Yobo, who performed superbly as an overlapping full-back. "Joseph Yobo did very well," he said. "He was the first to admit he wasn't a right-back, but he looks like a pretty good right-back to me. "As a former winger I don't know if I would have fancied playing against him!"
Real cup final's at Goodison this week
Apr 14 2003 By Tommy Smith, Liverpool Echo
FORGET the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff next month - the big cup final takes place here on Merseyside next Saturday in what is the most crucial derby match in years. In the recent history, derbies have been about the pride of being top dogs on Merseyside, but this week's Goodison showdown has far greater significance. Europe and a Champions League place are high on the agenda. After this weekend's matches, nothing has changed as far as the Premiership places are concerned. Chelsea still have a four-point cushion over the Blues, who lead the Reds by one point.
Neither side can afford to lose, and a draw will only benefit Chelsea. However, that point would not only keep David Moyes' side ahead of their neighbours, but edge them a step closer to at least a UEFA Cup place. The weekend wins will have put both in good heart, but I feel the intriguing aspect of the game is the Wayne Rooney effect. He is the unknown factor, the catalyst to the Blues hopes.
When Duncan Ferguson appeared on the Goodison scene, he lifted the crowd, excited them, and Rooney has taken over that mantle. He gets the crowd going, the crowd get the team going, and there is no doubt he has injected into the whole Everton scene something that has been missing for so long. Rivals have yet to figure him out. He has pace, power, ability and a knack of scoring goals, but he is also unpredictable. Rooney is so important in Moyes' plans and it will be interesting to see how the Everton boss prepares for this crunch game. The canny Blues manager has been very positive all season. Gerard Houllier, too, now appears to be committed to an attacking formula, given Saturday's line-up, to try and win the remaining games. So will it be an attacking game? Yes. The Blues have Kevin Campbell, Tomasz Radzinski and Rooney as attacking forces - and what chance Ferguson being on the bench, just in case! With Michael Owen, Milan Baros and Emile Heskey likely to start, the intention from both camps will be clear - victory is a must. If there is a weakness in either side, it is the lack of goals they score consider-ing the chances they create. But Houllier will be conscious, too, that Sami Hyypia will be missing through suspension, which will be a big blow. Whether Stephane Henchoz is fit to take over is doubtful, so the Reds may well have to look to Djimi Traore, who is in good form, and possibly Igor Biscan to control Rooney and co. It's going to be a hell of a game. But while both sides will be positive I can't see there being many goals. It's got the makings of a tremendous match, a great advert for the game but with so much at stake, defeat cannot be contemplated.
Moyes wants hearing
Apr 14 2003 Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES is seeking a personal hearing with the Football Association to defend his name after being sent off at West Brom on Saturday. The Everton manager fiercely disputes the claim from referee Steve Bennett that he used "foul and abusive language" during the discussion with the Orpington official midway through the opening half of the 2-1 victory at the Hawthorns which led to his dismissal. Moyes insists that was not the case and believes the referee's decision was influenced by comments he made following Everton's defeat at Southampton earlier in the season. "I will be indicating immediately that if they want to charge me in any way I will be seeking a personal hearing to put my case forward," Moyes told the ECHO. "I will express my opinion and I will contest every word Mr Bennett has alleged that I said. "I have witnesses who can vouch very strongly that I didn't swear and that I didn't use foul and abusive language. "The referee probably had an opinion of me before the game because of the prior situation at Southampton. "I have the people who were standing next to me to vouch for what I really said. "There doesn't seem to be any way of having your say (with referees) but I will make my views clear when I am given a personal hearing."
Moyes was incensed on Saturday by Bennett's decision to award a penalty to West Brom for a handball by Alan Stubbs. The Baggies scored from the spot kick. Moyes believes it was the wrong decision, explaining: "I have had the chance to watch it a couple of times. The referee doesn't get that opportunity. "But it looks as if Dichio pushed Alan Stubbs and the ball did hit his arm." It is the second time this term Bennett has awarded a dubious penalty against Everton. The same official was described as a "numptie" by Moyes after awarding a penalty to Southampton's Marian Pahars at the St Mary's Stadium earlier this season. Moyes pointed that out to Bennett during the discussion which led to the manager being banished to the stands. Moyes could face a touchline ban, which could begin against Aston Villa on April 26. Referee Bennett will file his report on Wednesday.
Moyes intends to do everything in his power to defend himself and is keen to point out he did not "barge into" linesman Carl Bassindale, as has been reported. "The linesman ran into me," explained Moyes.
Stakes are high for derby day
By Paul Walker, Daily Post
Apr 15 2003
FOR THE first time in years the Mersey derby is about more than just local pride with the winners of Saturday's showdown keeping their dream of a place in the Champions League alive. Defeat for either team would leave them battling to avoid an end-of-season dip that could allow one of the chasing pack to nick a place in the UEFA Cup from under their noses. With Arsenal, Manchester United and Newcastle destined for the first three Champions League places, Chelsea's run of form in fourth place has meant the Merseysiders need to keep winning. Whoever finishes fourth earns a place in the qualifying rounds with a chance to make the group stages and the massive financial rewards which come with that. For Everton to make it would be like a miracle after the relegation battles of recent seasons, while for Liverpool not to make it would be huge financial blow. April 19 at Goodison Park could have a huge impact on the outcome of the race for a place in Europe.
Here PAUL WALKER looks at the chances of a victory for each side
THE CASE FOR EVERTON
ONLY Chelsea have won a league game at Goodison Park this season, where the likes of Arsenal and Newcastle have both faltered. This new-look Everton under David Moyes are a different proposition. Very few of the players from last term's annual relegation fight have changed but what has changed is the desire, passion, team spirit, commitment and top draw organisation. Moyes has turned under-achievers into over-achievers. Goodison Park is full every game and the sizzling atmosphere has driven Everton's changed men to heights few thought possible. They may well believe that a UEFA Cup spot has been achieved, although the likes of Blackburn are waiting for any sign of weakness from fortress Goodison, and the scent of the Champions League is driving them to untold levels. And, of course, they have Rooney. Every Everton fan has been waiting for the day that he is unleashed on Liverpool from the start of a Mersey derby. Rooney had a few minutes as substitute in the early season 0-0 draw at Anfield and the Everton hordes were chanting; "Rooney's going to get yer." Now he is an England star and Moyes looks to be taking the shackles off just a bit, Rooney against Liverpool is a real prospect. Around him he will have toil, effort and a real understanding of the team plan. It is not always very pretty but it works. Moyes is using the best of what he has on offer. Thomas Gravesen, Li Tie, Mark Pembridge, Lee Carsley, Gary Naysmith, Steve Watson and Scot Gemmill form a pool of midfield battlers that Moyes can mix and match to his heart's content. They work, tackle, graft and destroy and they will fancy themselves against Liverpool's midfield stars. Kevin Campbell has a habit of scoring against Liverpool - three in the last three campaigns - while Duncan Ferguson has made it his personal mission each season to beat Liverpool and is now back in contention following his recent injury woes. And then there is Rooney, his Everton heart on his sleeve, the boy from the terraces who will relish a chance to put one over Liverpool. Moyes might go for the experience of Campbell and Tomasz Radzinski if he recovers from injury in time, but Everton fans will expect him to give Rooney a chance, so much does it mean to everybody connected with Goodison.
THE CASE FOR LIVERPOOL
EVERTON fans will not like being told, but Liverpool have the better squad with more experience at the very top and with better players. Ignoring, if you can for a moment Wayne Rooney, how many Everton players would get into Liverpool's best side on a regular basis? The answer is very few.
Liverpool's squad - assembled for well over £100million - is a combination of expensive imports and home-grown talent and has vast international experience. Michael Owen, Steven Gerrard, Sami Hyypia, Emile Heskey and Dietmar Hamann have been around at the top for several years now.
They have been through two Champions League campaigns at Anfield and picked up six trophies in the past three seasons, so they know about winning important matches. Not that it has helped them much this term, the Worthington Cup final apart. Against Valencia and Basle in Europe this term they have failed, and failed badly. But they have managed to turn around a poor, sometimes even embarrassing, sequence of results against Everton in the last decade. At one stage Everton had gone eight matches without a Mersey derby defeat and nine home matches on the trot without losing to Liverpool. Liverpool won 3-1 at Goodison last term and 3-2 the season before, a classic which saw Gary McAllister's long-range stunner clinch things and virtually ensure runners-up spot in the treble season. But Liverpool will be without Hyypia this time and they will be praying Stephane Henchoz is declared fit, because Djimi Traore and Igor Biscan against the likes of Rooney, Tomasz Radzinski, Kevin Campbell or even the fit against Duncan Ferguson - how he loves a derby - could be a painful experience. However, they would bet on their midfield trio of Danny Murphy, Gerrard and Hamann against anything Everton have to offer. Owen should have the pace to expose Alan Stubbs and David Weir while Gerrard, local boy and fan to the core, will take some holding with his surging runs from midfield. Frankly, Liverpool should not crack under the pressure of the occasion, having survived in places like Rome, Barcelona, Kiev, Athens and Istanbul on their travels under Gerard Houllier. And they may just want it more, in terms of their individual futures, finance and the squad's overall progress. The reality of losing and then losing out on anything but the UEFA Cup, will certainly focus a few minds.
PAUL WALKER'S VERDICT
IT IS going to be passionate, very tight and the most important Mersey derby since the days when Howard Kendall's Everton were battling it out with Liverpool for cups and titles back in the mid-1980s. Everton have not finished above Liverpool in the table since the Goodison men last won the championship in 1986-1987, and that is why this golden opportunity has dominated the minds of the blue half of Merseyside for months. At last they can compete again rather than watching the Anfield domination from across Stanley Park. And throughout those lean years, at least Everton have been able to tweak the tail of Liverpool by giving them a hard time in the derbies. In fact, of the 21 league games the two sides have played in the last 11 seasons, Liverpool and Everton have won six each with nine drawn. So even when there has been a gulf between the clubs financially, Everton have been able to hold their heads up. This time the stakes are even higher. Liverpool need desperately that Champions League spot, but after witnessing the hounding of Newcastle last weekend, maybe, just maybe, Everton will sneak this one. But your write off Liverpool at your peril . .
Home and Away
Icliverpool And Daily Post
Apr 15 2003
Blow the whistle
I HAVE to say I feel some sympathy for David Moyes, Everton's last three Premiership games have been marred by some awful refereeing. But saying that most of the games all season have. Isn't it about time somebody took the referees to one side and spelt out the rules of the game out to them.
I hear The Minister for Information from Iraq is looking for a new position, surely he couldn't do any worse than some of the present Premiership officals.
Phil Hughes, Tattenhall
Cole is hot stuff
JOE COLE has said that he would not like to repeat this season in terms of fighting relegation. I don't like players moving before they grow up a bit and at 21/22 maybe that's about the time to move if they are going to early in their careers. I would love to see him in midfield with Linderoth and someone like Rodrigo on the left if we get to see him. The right hand side is a problem. Pembo, Gemmill etc have done well to get to us to Europe but they can't cut it in the Champions League or UEFA. I would love to see Kewell playing Champions League with us for £6m, but know it won't happen
B MacDonald, Llandudno
THE cheek of Alan Shearer calling Thomas Gravesen a coward. Newcastle are only pretenders to the big time; they've no pedigree for success. No club would have gone through what Everton have, and survive.
Tom Bangor, (via e-mail)
KEVIN CAMPBELL and Rooney are going to eat up Traore and Biscan as though they were a pair of giant Easter eggs. Be afraid, be very afraid.
P Jones, Merseyside
NOW that the Kings Dock project has fallen through, I strongly suggest that if we are to build a new stadium (which seems to be the goal) do not build it outside the city. We represent Merseyside and not a Lancashire borderline club.
John Connor, (via e-mail)
A lost vision
IN MY opinion the Kings Dock project was knifed in the back by people who did not want a football ground on the waterfront, which they see as being the new heart of the business community. These people have done their best to destroy a great vision for Liverpool.
Dave Reeves, Eastham
Hard day's knight
FOLLOWING the protestations of Sir Bobby, Shearer, Speed et al, has the noble Knight any comment on their match against Man United where they were once again 'robbed'. What was his view of Saint Alan's studs up challenge on Sylvestre (twice) and the subsequent elbow on Keane.
Tony Newman, Oxton
Durkin's derby challenge
Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Apr 15 2003
PREMIERSHIP officials have asked one of their most experienced referees to handle the white-hot atmosphere of the 168th Merseyside league derby. Paul Durkin has been entrusted with keeping charge of this Saturday's clash at Goodison Park, when the Champions League aspirations of both Liverpool and Everton will be on the line. The decision to appoint the Dorset official should be well received by David Moyes and Gerard Houllier - only Mark Halsey has a lower cards per game ratio this season.
Blues' season ends on high
Academy Football With Chris Wright, Daily Post
Apr 15 2003
GOALS from Paul Hopkins and Gavin Lynch saw Everton under-19s end the FA Premier Academy League season on a high, as they beat Crewe Alexandra 2-0 on Saturday in their final match.
Two opportunist goals from the 16-year-old Blues strikers ena-bled Colin Harvey's side to bounce back from two defeats to eventual champions Manchester City and third-placed Manchester United in fine style. It also meant the Blues finished fourth in Group A above neighbours Liverpool.
Harvey said: "It was decent enough performance. The pitch wasn't the best but we deserved to win. We had a very young side out and they all played their part in ending with a good result."
Both strikers started the campaign in Alan Harper's under-17s, but while they haven't been regulars at U19s level they have proved their worth to the side over the season. Lynch, who is top scorer for the U17s with eight, hit his third goal for the U19s, while Hopkins scored his fourth for Harvey's side.
Harvey added: "They were both goalscorer's goals. It is good when the two strikers get the goals and they earned them because they worked hard all through the game. It has been a very good run in the second half of the season. And we have finished up playing with virtually an U17 team at the end. So it is all good experience for them for next season." Steven Beck finished as the Blues top scorer at U19 level with 12, but the goals have generally come from all areas with next best David Carney and Michael Symes (both 6), Brian Moogan (5) Scott Brown (4) and Steven Schumacher (4). And Scottish under-20s goalkeeper Iain Turner has settled in well since his move from Stirling Albion.
Harvey said: "It has been a good team effort since the turn of the year. I wouldn't like to pick anyone out because they have performed well and worked hard. We haven't relied on one person scoring and we have been fairly solid at the back." Harper's U17s were not in action and have just one fixture left in the play-offs against Middlesbrough after Easter on Saturday, April 26. Although if they can beat the Teesiders by a big score and West Ham defeat Aston Villa they could qualify for the knock-out stage.
I was not in wrong
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Apr 15 2003
DAVID MOYES last night vehemently denied allegations he swore at Steve Bennett and barged into the referee's assistant at The Hawthorns. The Everton manager is prepared for a showdown with the Premiership official after the touchline bust-up that ended with Moyes dismissed from the dug-out during the Blues' win at West Brom on Saturday. Orpington official Bennett claimed Moyes was guilty of "using foul and abusive language and improper behaviour" after blowing his top over a series of tough decisions, including Albion's early penalty for a handball against Alan Stubbs.
But Moyes insists he did not swear at the official and did not barge into linesman Carl Bassindale. The Goodison chief claimed: "He ran into me." Now the Blues boss says he will demand a personal hearing and "will contest every word Mr Bennett has alleged that I said" if, as expected, the Football Association decide to act after receiving the referee's report. Moyes could face serious consequences if he is charged and found guilty of "improper behaviour" regarding the alleged clash with Bassindale. But last night he insisted: "If they want to charge me in any way I will be seeking a personal hearing to put my case forward. I will express my opinion and I will contest every word Mr Bennett has alleged that I said. "I have witnesses who can vouch very strongly that I didn't swear and that I didn't use foul and abusive language." The FA have intervened in a row between Moyes and Bennett already this season, writing to the Everton boss after he called the official a "numptie" - a Scottish saying for half-wit - following his award of a harsh, crucial penalty decision at Southampton. Moyes admitted: "I think that the referee probably had an opinion of me before the game because of the situation at Southampton earlier in the season. "I have the peopl e who were standing next to me to vouch for what I really said. "There doesn't seem to be any way of having your say with referees, but I will make my views clear when I am given the opportunity of a hearing."
The weekend's row was fuelled by Bennett's latest penalty award and after fouls on Thomas Gravesen and Wayne Rooney went unpunished. "I have had the chance to watch it a couple of times, the referee doesn't get that opportunity," said Moyes. "But it looks as if (Danny) Dichio pushed Alan Stubbs and the ball hit his arm." Meanwhile Egyptian defender Ibrahim Said has had his contract cancelled by mutual consent so that he can return home and care for his sick mother.
The Egyptian international has failed to break into David Moyes's first team plans since his arrival in January. His loan spell was not to due to expire until next month, but he is now back in Cairo after asking for permission to be released.
Rooney in danger of burning out, warns Clough
Apr 15 2003 Alistair Grant, Liverpool Echo
BRIAN CLOUGH has warned Everton's Wayne Rooney to be wary of burning out after his impressive England debut. The former Nottingham Forest and Derby manager, who survived an eight-hour liver operation in January, believes the 17-year-old could be in danger of burn-out if he lets fame go to his head. Clough said: "He's absolutely incredible at 17. He's 17 going on 47 now. It is a different world to when I was 17." Clough believes Rooney's full England debut in the 2-0 win over Turkey at Sunderland's Stadium of Light showed the maturity of the player on the pitch. "He put in a mature performance which was incredible for his age," Clough said. "He stood his ground with people who had been in the game 15 years, people who were in the game before he was born." But Clough voiced concern over the long-term effects on Rooney of having fame and fortune at such a young age. "I think 'what's he going to be like when he's 45?' "With the pressure on him, if he doesn't handle it right he will be burnt out. He's getting things so quickly so I am concerned for him." Clough admitted England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson had done the right thing by resisting the calls to put Rooney in the team earlier than he did. "I admire the England manager by not putting Rooney in straight away," said Clough, who also praised David Moyes' handling of the player. "I admire the Everton manager for treating him as one of the lads." Clough also claimed that had he been England manager today he would have been able to help Rooney. "If you could have worked with anybody to keep your feet on the floor, I was the man," he said.
Prime concern is local pride
Apr 15 2003 Kevin Ratcliffe, Liverpool Echo
THE stakes are higher than they have been for a decade in this weekend's Goodison derby.
But while the powers-that-be at both clubs will consider the match vital because of the financial implications of qualifying for the Champions League, the players will have different priorities.
Their prime concern is local pride. They will be desperate to get one over their fiercest rivals and finish the season as top dogs on Merseyside. It is some time since Everton went into a derby this late in the season ahead of Liverpool. It provides the match with a thrilling extra dimension which has been missing for too long. It is a throwback to the derby clashes I enjoyed so much during the '80s. In those days, if you finished above Liverpool you won the title and vice-versa. Merseyside's two giants may not quite be at that level now, but the introduction of Champions League places to the top four sides in the Premiership means getting one up on the Reds is equally important. And in that respect, Everton go into the game in the driving seat. There is much more to lose for Liverpool.
By the standards set over the last few years and the money spent, this has not been a great season for Liverpool. By contrast, Everton have exceeded expectations, having spent the last few seasons scrapping for points at the other end of the table. One thing is for sure, the losers on Saturday can effectively rule themselves out of the race for the Champions League. It isn't quite the win or bust situation of the 1991 FA Cup clash between the two sides at Goodison, but it is certainly much more important than any other derby I can recall since. The fans of the winners will be able to gloat well into next season. THE huge revenue available in the Champions League can transform a club's fortunes. You just have to look at what it has allowed Sir Bobby Robson to do at Newcastle. The millions that become available to the clubs that qualify can help a manager take his side to the next level. Equally, the failure to qualify for the Champions League can have catastrophic consequences for a club that has set its sights on regular involvement. Leeds are a prime example of what can go wrong when expectations aren't realised. Every season there is an elite group of clubs clamouring to make it into the top four. Leeds lost out last season and have suffered the consequences, while Chelsea's failure over the last couple of years has forced the London club to trim their cloth accordingly and force their way back into the reckoning the hard way. Everton, however, have not had such high ambitions. Until now. With five games remaining, qualification for the top competition remains a strong possibility. If it does come, the financial rewards for David Moyes could be significant. But the manager will not jeopardise the club's future by flashing the cash unrealistically. He will not make mistakes and he will spend wisely. DAVID Moyes' row with Steve Bennett is nothing new. Referees have been making the same mistakes for years. But in the modern era the scrutiny is so intense, mistakes are intensified. Just as players could get away with more a decade ago, referees' errors were not picked up on quite so regularly.
Everton applaud Durkin
Apr 15 2003 Liverpool Echo
PAUL DURKIN'S appointment as referee for this weekend's crunch Goodison derby has been welcomed at Everton. The World Cup official will take charge of the most important Merseyside derby for over a decade on Saturday, as both the Blues and Liverpool chase fourth place and a spot in next season's Champions League. Blues assistant boss Alan Irvine said today: "It will be a hard game to referee because of so much being at stake. "There is enough to play for in normal derbies but with this particular position there is even more. I was delighted when I heard Paul Durkin was in charge because I think he is a good referee. "He is certainly one of the best in the country."
The Dorset official will be at the centre of a derby which could be worth millions to both clubs.
With the Blues one point ahead of the Reds and hot on the heels of Chelsea, a victory for either side would put them in a commanding position to challenge Claudio Ranieri's men for the final lucrative Champions League spot. It is a position Irvine admits the Blues are thrilled to be in ahead of the 168th derby. He added: "Being involved in the derby is a fantastic occasion anyway. But to actually be involved in one that means so much to everyone is great. "Both sets of supporters are very interested in it, not just as a normal derby but because of league positions and what we are both going for at this moment. "It makes it that little bit extra special. "We would have obviously been delighted if you had said to us at the start of the season that, come this game, we would be ahead of Liverpool. "We would have been comfortable with that fact because we would have been fairly certain we weren't going to be involved in a relegation battle. It is great to be in such a good position at this stage of the season." Meanwhile, defender Ibrahim Said has had his contract cancelled by mutual consent. The Egyptian international has returned to his home country to be with his ill mother, having failed to break into the Goodison first team since his arrival on loan in January.
Ronaldo: My advice to Rooney
By Ian Doyle And Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Apr 16 2003
RONALDO has offered to help Wayne Rooney deal with the pressures of fame - and has tipped the Everton striker to enjoy a trophy-laden career. The Brazilian superstar has become the latest addition to the Rooney fan club as word spreads across the globe of the Goodison starlet's precocious talent. Like Rooney - who made an outstanding full England debut against Turkey earlier this month - Ronaldo was just 17 when he made his mark in international football as a member of his country's 1994 World Cupwinning squad. And the Real Madrid star said: "I've been in Rooney's position so I'd like to help him. "The most important advice I can give him is to tell him to stay balanced mentally because he must not allow himself to become crazy at his own success.
"That is why so many talents have disappeared without achieving their capabilites." Ronaldo himself suffered from the pressures of success at an early stage of his career, culminating in his infamous "fit" before the 1998 World Cup final against France. The European and World Footballer of the Year exorcised his personal demons by helping his country regain the World Cup in Japan and South Korea last summer. And he insisted: "Wayne will have no choice but to live with the pressure that comes with being a young star. "But he must do his best to forget all about that and enjoy everything about his life and his football." Ronaldo continued: "A football career can fly by very quickly so I hope he has as much fun as possible by playing wonderful football and winning great titles. "There is no reason why he cannot start winning trophies now." He added: "From what I've seen, the boy has a big presence and a big future, but everyone around him must do their best to take care of him when he is away from the pitch. "If this happens, he won't have to lose his objective, which must be all about playing football." Meanwhile, Kevin Campbell last night insisted Everton go into this weekend's vital Merseyside derby with no fear. The Blues have not beaten their arch rivals at Goodison Park for six years and have not tasted derby success of any kind since 1999, when Campbell scored the only goal at Anfield. Everton's centre forward registered his first goal in four months at West Brom on Saturday and is still hoping to claim the first at The Hawthorns.
While he hopes those strikes spark a flurry of goals, the 33-year-old's main wish is to end Everton's long wait for a derby win. And Campbell insists the added pressure of European qualification will only act as a spur to David Moyes' side. "The derby game is always massive and we can look forward to it without any fear because we're not in a relegation battle," said Campbell. "We are looking to stay above Liverpool. "Although we're above them at the moment, we desperately want to be above them at five o'clock on Saturday evening. We want to win it. "We're still on course for a European place which we want. With five games to go, we're aiming for 15 points," he told the club's website. Moyes, meanwhile, will continue to monitor the progress of Tomasz Radzinski and Tony Hibbert this week before deciding on his derby line-up. Hibbert has only just returned to training following an ankle problem but Radzinski, absent for the last three games, could challenge for a starting role if he shows no reaction to his groin strain.
Everton Res 1, Newcastle Res 2
Apr 16 2003
CARL CORT hit the winner as Newcastle United Reserves came back from a goal down at the Halton Stadium to take the points. The visitors fielded an extremely strong line-up against an Everton side which included Duncan Ferguson and Niclas Alexandersson. Despite United's experience, Everton looked more than comfortable in the first half and might have led through Alexandersson's shot which Tony Caig did well to hold on to. On 28 minutes the Blues did take the lead, and in some style too. Leon Osman sent in a great cross from the left which was met in true centre forward style by Nick Chadwick, who powered his header past Caig. Everton's lead, however, was not to last too long as within two minutes United were level. Nolberto Solano cracked a stunning drive against Steve Simonsen' s post, Darren Potter attempted to head clear the loose ball, but unfortunately for him it only went as far as Robbie Elliot who headed past the Blues keeper from close range.
Newcastle then enjoyed a period of pressure and went close to taking the lead through first Solano's header, which Simonsen was alert to, and then Viana's drive. Straight after the break, though, it was Everton who looked more likely to score again. Osman's ball into the area was helped on by Chadwick and Duncan Ferguson's shot was saved one-handed by Caig. Cort should have done better on 58 minutes when in on goal, but his shot was weak. On 70 minutes, though, the tall striker didn't make the same mistake. Hugo Viana raced away down the right and sent in a dangerous cross which Cort met two yards from goal to finish past Simonsen. Ferguson worked hard all night alongside Chadwick, who never stopped running, and another 90 minutes of action after his recent injury lay-off may see the big Scot play some part against Liverpool at the weekend.
EVERTON RES: Simonsen, Potter, B Moogan, Pilkington, O'Hanlon, Schumacher, Osman, Alexandersson, A Moogan, Chadwick, Ferguson. Subs: Crowder, Turner, Carney, Symes, Gerrard,
NEWCASTLE UNITED RES: Caig, Brennan (Beaumont 80), Elliot, Dabizas, Caldwell, Viana, Solano, Acuna (Orr 74), Cort, Lua Lua, Quinn (Gardener 80). Subs: Smith, Makongo.
Kev up for derby goals
Apr 16 2003 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
KEVIN CAMPBELL hopes he can be Everton's new derby match talisman on Saturday - after rediscovering his goalscoring touch at West Brom. The Blues' striker ended a four-month goal drought with the winner at The Hawthorns - and has even tried to claim Everton's opening goal.
And his return to the goal trail has come at the best possible time for Everton. Campbell made his Everton debut in a derby match and was the match- winning marksman the last time Everton triumphed against Liverpool. He said: "It's going to be a cracking game and we can look forward to it without any fear because we're not in a relegation battle, we're looking to stay above Liverpool.
"Although we're above them at the moment, we desperately want to be above them at five o'clock on Saturday evening. We want to win it. "We're still on course for a European place which we want. With five games to go, we're aiming for 15 points." Campbell scored his 10th goal of the season at The Hawthorns, but hopes the FA Premier League's dubious goals committee will credit him with an 11th. Everton's opening goal was originally credited to David Weir, before sources then called it a Russell Hoult own goal. But Campbell said: "The 'keeper has come out for the first one and punched the ball, it's hit the back of my head and gone in. "Obviously I don't know much about it but I'll see if I can claim it - because I want to claim it." With Tomasz Radzinski back in full training and Duncan Ferguson completing another 90 minutes for the reserves last night, Campbell could be part of a fully fit forward package for David Moyes to choose from on Saturday.
Club bosses back culture bid
Apr 16 2003 By John Thompson Sports Editor, Liverpool Echo
MERSEYSIDE'S soccer bosses today stood united to back Liverpool's bid to be named European Capital of Culture. The backing from Gerard Houllier and David Moyes comes just days before a derby clash which is famous all over the world for its intensity - and the banter which exists between two sets of passionate fans. Houllier said: "I really hope Liverpool is awarded European Capital of Culture. The city deserves it and I'm sure the judges will reach the right decision. "I have been in this city for many years and there is a vibrancy about the area. "For art, music and football, Liverpool quite clearly is the capital of culture in Europe." And Blues boss Moyes added: "Liverpool - and the people of the city - made a big impression on me very quickly and I would fully endorse the bid. "People often talk of the similarities between my old home city Glasgow and Liverpool, and I hope those similarities stretch to Liverpool following Glasgow in being named European Capital of Culture."
Teenage Blue who cut his teeth on tough Euro stage
By Andrew Collomosse, Daily Post
Apr 17 2003
MERSEY giants Everton and Liverpool collide on Saturday. For the winners, the prize could be a place in Europe's premier club competition, familiar territory for Goodison Park great Colin Harvey.
Harvey made his debut for Everton as a raw 18-year-old in the seething cauldron of Milan's San Siro Stadium on September 25, 1963. The occasion? The first round second leg of the European Cup against Italian champions Inter Milan. Inter fielded a line-up that featured the great Brazilian forward Jair, Spanish midfielder Luis Suarez and a cluster of Italian superstars like Sandro Mazzola, Mario Corso and Giacinto Facchetti. Over 90,000 Italians and a smattering of visiting supporters were packed into the famous stadium as Inter, who went on to beat Real Madrid 3-1 in the final, secured a passport into round two with a goal from Jair early in the second half. But if Everton's Liverpool-born teenager, a late stand-in for injured midfield man Jimmy Gabriel, was overawed by the occasion, it never showed. And that momentous night in Milan was the prelude to a lifetime's service in the Everton cause. "Yes, I've lived the dream," enthuses Harvey, 58, Everton's youth coach since 1997. "I was born an Evertonian, I played for Everton, won trophies with Everton, coached and managed Everton - and I'm still with Everton today. What more could anyone want?
"I didn't expect to play in Milan. I assumed I was being taken along for the experience and to help with the kit. But a couple of hours before the kick-off, Harry Catterick told me I was in the starting line-up. "I suppose he waited so long to stop me getting nervous but, to be honest, I wasn't worried. As a kid, you just take things as they come - and believe me, I used to be a lot more nervous before big games later in my career." Harvey made his league debut later that season and established himself in the side the following year. He featured in the 1966 FA Cup final victory over Sheffield Wednesday and returned to Wembley with Catterick's re-built side two years later to suffer the disappointment of a 1-0 defeat by West Brom. In 1970, inspired by the marvellous midfield of Alan Ball, Harvey and Howard Kendall, Everton romped to the seventh of their nine league championships and by the time they topped the charts again in 1985, Harvey was installed as manager Kendall's right-hand man. He moved into the hot seat when Kendall left for Spain after Everton's 1987 success, reverting to the number two slot on Kendall's return three years later. In 1994 he linked up with former Evertonian Graeme Sharp at Oldham before going home to Goodison as youth coach six years ago. England sensation Wayne Rooney is the star product of his Everton Academy but, in tune with the club's softly, softly approach to Rooney-mania, Harvey is reluctant to discuss the Premiership's latest superstar. "Wayne has moved on now," he says. "But he is an inspiration to all the kids at the club. He has shown them what can be achieved." Remarkably, while midfield partner Ball collected 72 caps, Harvey played only once for his country, a European Championship victory in Malta in 1971. "I was in a squad of 18 that toured South America the year before the 1970 World Cup but never got a game," he recalls. "It was a disappointment but you have to remember that Alf Ramsey had a lot of top-class midfield players to choose from and he never made changes for the sake of it. At least I played one more game than Howard!"
Now, almost 40 years after that first starry night in the San Siro, this true Blue son of Merseyside football folklore reckons his beloved club could be on the brink of a return to the European big time.
Everton meet Liverpool in Saturday's Mersey derby at Goodison Park knowing the three points at stake could be enough to land the winners a place in next season's Champions League. And for the first time since their championship-winning days of the 1980s, fifth-placed Everton will go into the fray as favourites - outside Merseyside at least. But Harvey insists: "With so much at stake the only guarantee is that it will be tense. Anything can happen in a derby. The first time I played at Anfield, we rolled them over 4-0. "I scored one of the goals and wondered what all the fuss was about. The following year they rolled us over 5-0. Like I say, anything can happen."
Rooney's knockout for charity
Exclusive by David Randles, Daily Post
Apr 17 2003
WAYNE ROONEY has scored a knock-out for charity ahead of this weekend's Merseyside derby at Goodison Park. The Everton and England star was in relaxed mood as he returned to his roots at Croxteth ABC to sign a specially donated punch bag for the club to raffle. As Everton and Liverpool prepare to do battle in what is the most talked about derby match for years, Rooney stepped in to watch over a derby match with a difference. After orchestrating England's 2-0 Euro 2004 qualifier victory against Turkey a few weeks ago, Rooney is expected to play a major part for his club in the Premiership clash against Liverpool, but his role last night was to prevent family tensions from boiling over. Stepping between the ropes once more in the gym where he was once a budding young boxer before nature took its course, Rooney was on hand to referee a meeting of red and blue steeped in Merseyside sporting history. Wayne's younger brother Graeme, who is a North West schoolboy boxing champion, flexed his pre-match muscles in the blue corner, while the red corner boasted the name of another of Liverpool's great sporting families. Kevin Hodkinson, who was a member of Liverpool FC's School of Excellence until two years ago, is the son of former British, European and WBC feather-weight champion Paul 'Hoko' Hodkinson, and fighting out of Kirkby ABC he is looking to follow in his famous father's footsteps. In true derby fashion, the two 15-year-olds, who are also sparring partners, squared up to each other. However this time they had a different kind of points score on their minds - three vital ones in the Premiership at the weekend. Of course, all of this was just for fun but rest assured, come three o'clock on Saturday afternoon, the gloves will be off with no punches pulled as the city's two true heavyweights go toe-to-toe to decide who is the greatest of them all. Until next time that is.
* The raffle for the signed punchbag will take place later in the summer as part of Croxteth ABCs annual fundraising event. Full details will appear in the Daily Post and on icLiverpool first.
Red and Blue past masters
By Dominic King, Daily Post
Apr 17 2003
SATURDAY'S derby has been billed as the most important clash between Liverpool and Everton for years. And it won't just be local bragging rights the two sides are playing for. The winner of Saturday's Premiership crunch at Goodison Park will be in pole position for a Champions League charge as both sides try to oust Chelsea from fourth spot and claim the final place in Europe's premier competition. But over the years there have been numerous clashes of equal and even greater significance between the Merseyside rivals. Titles, cups and much more have been at stake in the past and picking the biggest and best is a tough call. But here Post Sport looks at six of the more significant neighbourly spats from recent years.
Monday, April 17, 2001 (at Goodison) Everton 2 Liverpool 3
WHILE this game carried little significance for the Blue half of Merseyside other than local pride, for the Reds nothing other than three points would do in the quest to win a Champions League spot. With just seven games, Liverpool need maximum points to grab the coveted third place in the Premiership. Everton, however, had become Liverpool's bogey side, losing just two of the previous 13 derby games. And Gerard Houllier's side hardly entered the match with the greatest of confidence, having been beaten 2-1 by Leeds at Anfield two days previously. The Frenchman challenged his side to 'regain their spark' in the derby. With their season delicately poised, it appeared as though those words had been heeded, as Emile Heskey opened the scoring after just five minutes. But Duncan Ferguson equalised for Everton shortly before half-time, thus setting up a cliffhanger. Liverpool began the second-half in blistering fashion, scoring through Markus Babbel (57) and they should have made sure of the points minutes later when Robbie Fowler won a penalty. His spot-kick, though, struck a post and allowed Walter Smith's men a route back into a bad-tempered game of 12 bookings. They seized this after Igor Biscan had been sent off, David Unsworth crashing a penalty past Sander Westerveld with just seven minutes remaining. Then Gary McAllister intervened. Three minutes of injury time had elapsed when Liverpool won a free-kick 40 yards out. Amazingly, McAllister went for goal. And scored. From the elation of that game, Houllier's men went onto win five and draw one of their last six games to qualify for the Champions League, as well as adding the FA and UEFA Cups to the Worthington Cup they had won in February. Everton, meanwhile, finished eight points clear of relegation, ending the year in 16th place.
Monday, November 21, 1994 (at Goodison) Everton 2 Liverpool 0
THE fortunes of both sides going into the match could hardly have been different. Liverpool had begun the year promisingly under Roy Evans and were handily placed behind Manchester United and Blackburn Rovers at the top of Premiership. But for Everton, their season had been nothing short of catastrophic. One win in 14 games saw them rooted to the foot of the table and Mike Walker had been sacked just six days before the sides were due to meet at Goodison. Even allowing for Joe Royle's appointment, a comprehensive away victory had been anticipated. There is, nevertheless, a saying about derby matches that form goes out of the window when the Blues and Reds meet. That is exactly what happened. In order to combat Liverpool's more fluid approach, Royle packed the mid-field with ball-winners - The Dogs of War - to disrupt the pattern of the game.
Never allowed to build up any rhythm, Evans' men struggled through a muddling first-half and were lucky to go in all square after Duncan Ferguson had waged war against Neil Ruddock, John Scales and Phil Babb. But, to the unbridled joy of Evertonians, the on-loan striker didn't have to wait long for a reward. Pinning Liverpool onto the back foot from the off, Ferguson scored his first goal in Blue, crashing a header past David James from Andy Hinchcliffe's inswinging corner and linked to great effect with substitute Paul Rideout, who grabbed a crucial second in the final minute. The result turned Everton's season around completely. The following weekend, Royle masterminded a 1-0 win over Chelsea and put Everton on the road to safety. Snatching the FA Cup from Manchester United - with Rideout scoring the winner - proved to be an unexpected bonus. Liverpool's campaign, meanwhile, flattered to deceive. Though they beat Bolton in the Worthington Cup and won a number of big games, a challenge for the title failed to materialise.
Wednesday, February 20, 1991 (at Goodison) Everton 4 Liverpool 4
FA CUP clashes between Liverpool and Everton have always tended to border on the dramatic. But going into this fifth-round replay, few could have predicted the electrifying suspense that would eventually be generated. With Arsenal placing a stranglehold on the first division title race, the famous old pot represented Liverpool's best chance of winning silverware. The same applied to Everton, who had slipped out of position to challenge for the championship. After holding the Reds to a fraught nil-nil draw at Anfield, Howard Kendall called on Blues supporters to re-create an atmosphere similar to the one produced against Bayern Munich that inspired his side into the European Cup Winners' Cup final in 1985. The din inside Goodison, though, seemed only to inspire both sides. With the floodlights adding to the crackling mood inside the ground, a classic heavyweight collision ensued. Four times Liverpool took the lead - through Peter Beardsley (twice), Ian Rush and John Barnes. Four times they were pegged back, thanks to doubles from Graeme Sharp and Tony Cottee. Poor defending and inspired attacking ensured this game ranked up with the greatest derby matches. The fall-out from the game, though, was if anything more shocking than events on the pitch. Two days after, Kenny Dalglish amazingly resigned after five hugely succesful years in charge of Liverpool. That decision signalled the beginning of the end for the last great Anfield side, as an ageing team was slowly broken up by new manager Graeme Souness. Though Everton won the second replay 1-0, their hopes of reaching Wembley were scotched in the next round by West Ham. Kendall's side lost 2-1 at Upton Park.
Saturday May 13, 1989 (at Wembley) Everton 2, Liverpool 3
Just as it had been three years before, the FA Cup final was a huge occasion. This time, tragically, circumstances were much different when they met at Wembley. With 96 Liverpool fans having lost their lives in the Hillsborough disaster, the Reds could not have had more fitting opponents in the final than Everton. Merseyside once again united in difficult times and appropriately, both teams served up a classic. Liverpool got off to the best possible start when John Aldridge fired them ahead after just four minutes and it appeared as though that goal would be enough to give Dalglish's men the Cup. But, with just three seconds of normal time remaining, Everton substitute Stuart McCall scrambled home an equaliser. Dalglish cajoled another last effort out of his men and Ian Rush - also on as a substitute - restored the lead after turning and driving low past Neville Southall from Steve Nicol's cross. Everton refused to lie down and McCall again restored parity, this time with a magnificent half-volley from outside the box. Still Liverpool came back and Rush's glancing header from a John Barnes cross broke Evertonian hearts once again, allowing Ronnie Whelan to lift the trophy. The superhuman efforts, however, appeared to take their toll on the Reds' pursuit of the championship. While they beat West Ham 5-1 at Anfield three days later, Arsenal grabbed the title in the most dramatic circumstances. Once again, the double had been snatched out of their grasp. But given all that had happened before, somehow football did not seem as significant.
Sunday, March 20, 1988 (at Goodison) Everton 1 Liverpool 0
AN unbeaten run of 29 games from the start of the season ensured Liverpool made the short trip across Stanley Park knowing they had the doubly-difficult task of beating both Everton and history.
Had Kenny Dalglish's men avoided defeat at Goodison Park, they would have broken a record set 15 years earlier by Don Revie's Leeds United. The Reds had been untouchable in the league and already eased past Everton 2-0 at Anfield earlier in the year. They had also won an FA Cup fifth round clash in the Blues' home, too. Everything suggested Liverpool, who entered the game at full strength, would add another glorious footnote to their campaign at their neighbours' expense. Not so. Everton, the reigning League champions, had been the only side to beat Dalglish's men that year - 1-0 in the Littlewoods Cup - and would not give up the title without fight. A tight game was settled by Wayne Clarke's early toe-poke and, try as they might, Dalglish's men couldn't break down Colin Harvey's battlers. History, it appeared, had suffocated their play. Though the title was out of sight, Everton fans walked tall for days after this memorable match. The defeat failed to bring about a wobble the chasing pack hoped it would and Liverpool wrapped up their 17th championship in the middle of April. They were denied a second-double in the FA Cup, however, by Wimbledon's crazy gang at Wembley.
Saturday, May 10, 1986 (at Wembley) Liverpool 3 Everton 1
THE first all-Merseyside FA Cup final was a huge occasion and not just because a piece of silverware was at stake. Liverpool, who had sneaked up Everton's inside to nick the League championship on the last day of the season, had a domestic double in their sights. In the week before the game, media coverage was awash with stories on both sides and houses around the city were decorated in either red or blue. This, arguably, was the biggest derby clash in history. More than 100,000 supporters crammed into Wembley and the occasion didn't disappoint. Howard Kendall's men, who had also been deprived of the double 12 months earlier by Manchester United, were determined not to gain some reward for their toil. The Reds, however, simply dared not fail. But, following a shoddy first-half display, it seemed as they would fall at the final hurdle. Everton had tore into their neighbours with such ferocity that it was a surprise they only led at half-time through a Gary Lineker goal. A similar pattern followed in the second-half. Graeme Sharp was denied a goal by a magnificent Bruce Grobbelaar save and Lineker also went close. Then the tide changed, dragged forward by Jan Molby, Liverpool scored twice in a couple of minutes through Ian Rush and Craig Johnston. Demoralised, Everton couldn't muster a response. Rush sealed the victory late on, hammering a right-foot shot past Bobby Mimms. The win sealed Liverpool's place at the top of the English game. Twelve months later, though, it was all change again....
By Ian Doyle, Daily Post
Apr 17 2003
WAYNE ROONEY has been told to follow Alan Shearer's lead - as he lines up yet another award in a sensational first season. Less than 24 hours after being tipped by Ronaldo to enjoy a trophy-laden career, the Everton youngster is in the running to be named PFA Young Player of the Year. The nomination comes at the end of a remarkable debut campaign for the 17-year-old, in which he has become the youngest-ever England international and helped the Blues move into contention for a Champions League place. Rooney will be up against last year's winner Craig Bellamy (Newcastle), Jermain Defoe (West Ham), Jermaine Jenas (Newcastle), John O'Shea (Manchester United) and Scott Parker (Charlton). The Blues youngster is firm favourite to be honoured by his fellow professionals when the award is announced in London a week on Sunday, and if he is successful he will become the first Everton player to win a PFA award since Gary Lineker was named Player of the Year in 1986.
Rooney has already won the BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year Award as well as its North West regional equivalent, and is in contention to be named World Newcomer of the Year at the sporting 'Oscars' held in Monaco later this year. Rooney shot to global prominence with a number of sensational goals this season - most notably his first Premiership strike against Arsenal in October - but Everton coach Alan Irvine was encouraged by the sight of the teenager netting a more typical striker's goal against Newcastle last weekend. And Irvine has said that if Rooney wants to become a more complete forward, he should follow the example of the Premiership's all-time leading goalscorer, Alan Shearer. "We've told Wayne he won't score 30 a season all from long range, so he's got to get into close scoring positions just as Shearer does," said Irvine. "We'll never stop him from shooting from 25 yards but it was nice to see him scoring a goal you associate with strikers against Newcastle. He was in position to get rebounds and deflections. "Alan Shearer gets those sorts of goals all the time and Wayne can learn that. He won't get 30 goals a season from outside the box, but like Alan he can do that by being in the right place at the right time in and around the six-yard box." Moyes' assistant Irvine, who was previously on the coaching staff at Newcastle and has had first-hand experience of watching Shearer over the years, sees the former England hitman as the right role model for Rooney, who has netted seven goals in 32 appearances for the Blues this season, many of them as substitute. He said: "It's not too much of a gamble now playing Wayne. He has been fantastic, especially with the way things have gone in recent weeks. Wayne was in a position when he was coming off the bench because Tomasz Radzinski and Kevin Campbell were doing very well. "We have tried to be fair to the players who have been in the team and playing well throughout the season. "When someone has come into the team and done a good job we have left them in. "Nothing changes now as far as Wayne is concerned. And Tomasz will now probably have to compete for his place despite the fact that he has had a fantastic season. "He has shown he can compete at international level and Premiership level."
Ablett: Winning derby can put Blues back in the big time
Apr 17 2003 By Scott Mcleod Football Correspondent
GARY ABLETT has tasted Merseyside derby success in both a blue and a red shirt. Now a youth team coach at Goodison, the 37-year-old was on the other side of Stanley Park the last time Everton and Liverpool met in a derby as important as the one coming up this weekend. That was 1991. A thrilling 4-4 draw in the FA Cup was the precursor to Kenny Dalglish's departure as Anfield boss.
In the 12 years since, both clubs have slipped from their position of dominance enjoyed during the late 80s. The days when every Merseyside derby seemed to be a title decider have passed. But this weekend Ablett believes we could be in for the first of a new wave of derbies which will have significance beyond the footballing hotbed of Merseyside. With David Moyes' rejuvenated Blues chasing hard for fourth place in the Premiership and a lucrative place in next season's Champions League, the result against Liverpool on Saturday has taken on increased importance. It is a match which could send Everton back to the future as they strive to return to English foot-ball's top table.
Ablett explains: "I think the next four or five matches will have a massive bearing on where the club will be in the next few years and on where the destination of this season's title will be. "From our point of view it is vital not to lose. Blackburn are riding on the coat tails of us and Liverpool. "We have gone from strength to strength this season and the biggest reward would be finishing fourth. Reaching the Champions League would mean so much in terms of revenue. "But if we don't finish fourth, we must finish fifth, not just because of the UEFA place but also because the higher the position in the table the bigger the payout from the Premiership. "Our final position this season could have a real impact on the team's development. It is a great position we are in and all credit should go to the work the manager and players have done this year. "Saturday isn't just a big game because it is the derby, it is important because of what we are chasing. We have got a good record at home this season and the manager will be looking to keep that going." Moyes has managed to work wonders in the last 12 months despite a limited transfer budget. A European berth could loosen the purse strings slightly and provide the manager with the funds to improve his squad even further. And that could be the catalyst for a return to regular involvement with the division's top six clubs. It is something Ablett is looking forward to. "It would be nice to have those days back when both clubs were at the pinnacle of the English game," he added. "The derby was always the biggest game of the season, not just in Liverpool but across the country, because of its importance at the top of the table. "I was lucky enough to play in more than 20 derbies and was only on the losing side twice. My third senior game for Liverpool was a derby and I had some good memories from those days, but my best moments were for Everton. "Two of my biggest achievements came after I left Liverpool and came to Everton. "In my first derby as a Blue I played the pass which set Peter Beardsley up for the winning goal in a 2-1 win. The following season Howard Kendall asked me to captain the team and we won 2-0, with goals from Mark Ward and Tony Cottee. "They are two of the biggest highlights of my career. One of the down sides was the reception I got from Liverpool fans in that first derby, but I never regretted my decision to make the move. "Liverpool is in the past and Everton is my future." And that future is looking bright. Having returned to England last January following a couple of years playing and coaching at Long Island in the United States, Ablett landed the job as Under-15s coach with Everton. He is enjoying being part of things at Goodison once again, working with young footballers during the week and getting involved in corporate hospitality on match days. He has been able to gauge first hand the impact Moyes has had on Everton. So when he is asked if there is a buzz around the place ahead of this match, the former defender responds: "I think there has been a special buzz all season because of the whole way the club has turned on its head. "There has been a new confidence and self belief around the place.
Having that will work well going into this weekend." And if Everton do manage to record a vital win, it will be a result which will resonate for some time to come. Indeed, Ablett can envisage a time when the Blues are in a position to sign key players from across the park. Ablett moved to Goodison from Anfield for £750,000 in 1992. There has been no transfer activity in that direction since.
"Players moving between Liverpool and Everton is not something that will happen very often ever again and so I was lucky on that score," admits Ablett. "In the last couple of years we have struggled a bit and Liverpool have come in to sign Nick Barmby and Abel Xavier. But now we are at a stage where we would not have to consider selling our players to our local rivals. "Why couldn't we go there sign players if we fancy it?"
Stakes are as high as ever
Apr 17 2003 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
THE stakes have never been higher for a Merseyside league derby. With both Liverpool and Everton hot on the heels of Chelsea in the race for fourth spot and the final Champions League slot, the prize for winning Saturday's Goodison clash could prove enormously lucrative to the victors. Whichever club wins the race for fourth place will receive £8.5m in prize money from the Premier League and face another £10m payday if they reach the first group stage of the Champions League. It is potentially the most important league meeting between the two clubs for over a decade. Liverpool assistant boss Phil Thompson has welcomed such an important game, pointing out it is good news for the city to have the Blues and Reds riding high. He said: "With it being late in the season and with both clubs aiming for the same target it must be one of the most interesting derby matches for many a year. "When the two clubs are doing well it gives the city an extra edge. Both sets of fans are very proud of the city and if both clubs are doing well then we are keeping Liverpool on the map.
"With the Capital of Culture bid coming to a head, it is good both clubs are showing how important football is to the city. "The whole of the city knows this is a massive game." Those are sentiments echoed by Thompson's opposite number at Goodison, Alan Irvine. He concurred: "In normal derbies there is enough at stake. But in this particular position there is even more to play for. "To be involved in a game that means so much to everyone is very exciting. The build up seems to have started a while ago and you can sense exactly what this particular game means to everyone in the city." There have been very few derby encounters of the last 30 years which can claim to have had as much importance. Here are four that come close...
Rooneymania rubbing off on kids
Apr 17 2003 Liverpool Echo
THE Wayne Rooney factor has had an impact at Goodison beyond the first team. The Blues' sensation has become one of the most talked about players in English football since bursting onto the first team scene with Everton as a 16-year-old. Not surprisingly, that increased profile and the success the club has achieved this season has had an impact on the club's youth set-up. As a youth team coach at Everton's Academy Gary Ablett has seen first-hand evidence of Rooneymania. He explains: "Success in the first team makes our job easier because more kids want to be involved with a club that is doing well. "Young players see that Wayne Rooney has been given a chance at 17 and that sends out the message that if you are good enough, you can get into the team. "We have been known to take boys we would like to sign into the first team dressing room and it is good to have senior players saying this is the place to be. They are doing the recruitment job for us by producing on the pitch. "Youngsters always want to be involved with clubs that are doing well on the field." Ablett himself is relishing his role as a coach. "It is great working with good people and kids who want to learn," he adds. "Seeing young players progress is hugely rewarding. I feel I am getting a really good grounding in something I want to do. "When I came back over here from the States, Everton was the club I wanted to get a job with. "I wrote to all 92 league clubs and I had some really nice letters back from people like David O'Leary and Arsene Wenger but once I was offered this position I did not hesitate."
Blues star left tongue Tie-d
Apr 17 2003 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
LI TIE is desperate for the chance to let his football do the talking in Saturday's derby - after admitting he can't understand a word Wayne Rooney says! Everton's Chinese midfielder has been taking English lessons since moving to Merseyside last summer and can understand most of his team-mates. But he admits that Rooney's scouse accent is still impenetrable. "I can understand most of the players - apart from Wayne Rooney!" said Tie. "He is from round here and has a local accent. The people of Liverpool have a different accent and sometimes it is difficult for me to understand. "But when I am playing football with my team-mates I understand everybody okay!"
After 21 successive appearances from the start of the season, Tie was left out of the Anfield derby match in December and is anxious to reclaim his place for Saturday's Goodison showdown. "I know that the derby is a big game," he said. "Unfortu-nately I didn't get the chance to play in the last one as I was on the substitutes' bench, but I could still feel a big difference from the other games. "The atmosphere and the attitude of the play-ers is different and I can feel what it meant to the fans.
"I hope to play in this very special game. I know how important it is." Lee Carsley and Thomas Gravesen are the men in possession of the midfield places at present, but Rooney will also be sweating on his derby place after Tomasz Radzinski has returned from the groin injury which sidelined him for three games recently.
Ablett: Blues can get back in the big time
Apr 17 2003 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
GARY ABLETT has tasted Merseyside derby success in both a blue and a red shirt. Now a youth team coach at Goodison, the 37-year-old was on the other side of Stanley Park the last time Everton and Liverpool met in a derby as important as the one coming up this weekend. That was 1991. A thrilling 4-4 draw in the FA Cup was the precursor to Kenny Dalglish's departure as Anfield boss.
In the 12 years since, both clubs have slipped from their position of dominance enjoyed during the late 80s. The days when every Merseyside derby seemed to be a title decider have passed.
But this weekend Ablett believes we could be in for the first of a new wave of derbies which will have significance beyond the footballing hotbed of Merseyside. With David Moyes' rejuvenated Blues chasing hard for fourth place in the Premiership and a lucrative place in next season's Champions League, the result against Liverpool on Saturday has taken on increased importance.
It is a match which could send Everton back to the future as they strive to return to English foot-ball's top table. Ablett explains: "I think the next four or five matches will have a massive bearing on where the club will be in the next few years and on where the destination of this season's title will be. "From our point of view it is vital not to lose. Blackburn are riding on the coat tails of us and Liverpool. "We have gone from strength to strength this season and the biggest reward would be finishing fourth. Reaching the Champions League would mean so much in terms of revenue.
"But if we don't finish fourth, we must finish fifth, not just because of the UEFA place but also because the higher the position in the table the bigger the payout from the Premiership.
"Our final position this season could have a real impact on the team's development. It is a great position we are in and all credit should go to the work the manager and players have done this year.
"Saturday isn't just a big game because it is the derby, it is important because of what we are chasing. We have got a good record at home this season and the manager will be looking to keep that going." Moyes has managed to work wonders in the last 12 months despite a limited transfer budget. A European berth could loosen the purse strings slightly and provide the manager with the funds to improve his squad even further. And that could be the catalyst for a return to regular involvement with the division's top six clubs. It is something Ablett is looking forward to.
"It would be nice to have those days back when both clubs were at the pinnacle of the English game," he added. "The derby was always the biggest game of the season, not just in Liverpool but across the country, because of its importance at the top of the table. "I was lucky enough to play in more than 20 derbies and was only on the losing side twice. My third senior game for Liverpool was a derby and I had some good memories from those days, but my best moments were for Everton.
"Two of my biggest achievements came after I left Liverpool and came to Everton. "In my first derby as a Blue I played the pass which set Peter Beardsley up for the winning goal in a 2-1 win. The following season Howard Kendall asked me to captain the team and we won 2-0, with goals from Mark Ward and Tony Cottee. "They are two of the biggest highlights of my career. One of the down sides was the reception I got from Liverpool fans in that first derby, but I never regretted my decision to make the move. "Liverpool is in the past and Everton is my future." And that future is looking bright. Having returned to England last January following a couple of years playing and coaching at Long Island in the United States, Ablett landed the job as Under-15s coach with Everton.
He is enjoying being part of things at Goodison once again, working with young footballers during the week and getting involved in corporate hospitality on match days. He has been able to gauge first hand the impact Moyes has had on Everton. So when he is asked if there is a buzz around the place ahead of this match, the former defender responds: "I think there has been a special buzz all season because of the whole way the club has turned on its head. "There has been a new confidence and self belief around the place. Having that will work well going into this weekend."
And if Everton do manage to record a vital win, it will be a result which will resonate for some time to come. Indeed, Ablett can envisage a time when the Blues are in a position to sign key players from across the park. Ablett moved to Goodison from Anfield for £750,000 in 1992. There has been no transfer activity in that direction since. "Players moving between Liverpool and Everton is not something that will happen very often ever again and so I was lucky on that score," admits Ablett.
"In the last couple of years we have struggled a bit and Liverpool have come in to sign Nick Barmby and Abel Xavier. But now we are at a stage where we would not have to consider selling our players to our local rivals. "Why couldn't we go there sign players if we fancy it?"
Red rants reveal the pressure on Anfield
Fan Fanscene, By Mark O'Brien
Apr 18 2003
WHEN it comes to failing regimes making bizarre statements, the Iraqis haven't completely monopolised in the last few weeks. There have been some crackers emanating from Anfield as the pressure starts to tell on the Bootroom Boys. Phil Thompson's attacks on the perfectly reasonable Ian St John, and Jerzy Dudek's 'We can play like Real Madrid' make the now infamous 'We are in complete control' seem almost rational. It's quite clear that some people there are starting to worry about their jobs, and as a result tomorrow's derby is absolutely makeor-break for them. Obviously everyone wants to win a big local clash like this, but when you've spent huge portions of the Moores' fortune trying to build a dynasty like Bill Shankly's, and only ended up with something resembling Brian Little's Aston Villa - a match for anyone in the Worthington Cup - a morale-boosting result at Goodison, even a draw, takes on greater significance. They desperately need something to appease the restless faithful on the Kop. Much is made of the passion and desire that the players need in these games - and the old adage 'whoever wants it the most' will no doubt be trotted out by the usual suspects - but in reality it's the team who can keep their cool at the vital moments who tend to fare best. And on the subject of cool, hopefully the Reds can rein in their more sinister tendencies that tend to surface if things aren't going their way. In recent years Michael Owen and Steven Gerrard - the latter guilty on two occasions - have perpetrated shameful assaults on Everton players. We could do without having our players maimed; after all, we've got a big game with Chelsea on the Monday. Despite the Toffees being genuine favourites for the first time in a long while - we're above them in the league and have lost only once at home - we will need to improve dramatically on the performance at West Bromwich Albion if we're to under-line our status as the ascendant club on Merseyside. Danny Murphy or Steven Gerrard are afforded the time and space that Jason Koumas was allowed at the Hawthorns you can guarantee that Michael Owen will be infinitely more grateful for the service than Daniel Dichio or Lee Hughes. It will also be folly if we give in to temptation and try to bombard their makeshift central defence with long balls - that will be playing into their hands. Igor Biscan and Djimi Traore are more likely to panic and make mistakes if we get the ball into Wayne Rooney's feet and get them turning towards their own goal. Most importantly, let's hope it's a great day, a great occasion and that Merseyside football is the winner.
And if you believe that you'll believe anything.
Moyes is my man of the season - Stubbs
Report By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Apr 18 2003
ALAN STUBBS believes David Moyes should mark his stunning transformation of Everton with the Manager of the Year award. The Blues enter tomorrow's 168th Merseyside league derby ahead of rivals Liverpool and with an eye on a Champions League place. It is a far cry from when Moyes arrived at Goodison Park 13 months ago with Everton 15th in the table and in danger of relegation.
Under the Scot, Everton have won 22 of 42 Premiership matches and lost only twice at home.
And defender Stubbs insists the remarkable revival Moyes has generated on a £5.5million outlay should be honoured at the end of this season. "The gaffer has got to be up there when the votes come in," said Stubbs. "With what he has got and with what he has had to deal with, he's got to be one of the leading contenders. There is the other side of the coin where the managers who have spent a lot will say buying good players with that money is another important aspect of the job.
"Our manager has had very little to spend compared to others. The usual candidates like Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson are up there again, but you can judge how well he's done and how much he's appreciated by the response of the fans. That says it all. "He would be a popular choice if he won it instead of the manager who wins the league. There was a similar case the other year when George Burley won it and I think if he didn't get it many people would be very surprised." While championing Moyes' cause for the Manager of the Year prize, Stubbs admits he hasn't always seen eye-to-eye with the Blues boss this season, having been dropped for four games to make way for Joseph Yobo last September. He admitted: "I was out for a few games and it wasn't nice. Deep down I was raging. I told the manager what I thought and he explained his reasons. It was a decent chat, we were both honest and I walked out the room saying I will prove you wrong. "I was lucky to get back in when Davie Weir got suspended and since then I haven't looked back. That's been helped by the team. We've all played well. "From the start of the season we all knew we had a fight on ou r hands because the competition for places has improved. That was summed up best when Brian McBride was here and Kevin was left out. "Everyone thought Kevin would walk straight back in, but he didn't and it's the same with Wayne when Tomasz has kept his place. That sends out the message that if you play well, you keep your place." Now Stubbs' sights are set on tomorrow's crucial derby. But the lifelong Evertonian admits finishing above Liverpool is not the team's biggest motivation.
"Let's be honest our main aim is to get into Europe, not to finish above Liverpool," he added.
"If we qualify for Europe and finish behind Liverpool it's still been a great season for us and if we can get into Europe while staying ahead of them, then even better. "But we are not kidded by any-thing else, we just want to get into Europe. "Liverpool is just another big game for us as players. We know it's extra special because of what it means to the fans, but it is just another big step towards our main target. "That's how we will approach the game. Our main aim is Europe, even though a lot is riding on this game. We want a good result just to stay on track for Europe and we'll be giving it everything to get one." * The Premier League's dubious goals panel has awarded Everton's equaliser at West Brom last Saturday to home keeper Russell Hoult.
Mersey rivals turn heat up
Report By Dominic King, Daily Post
Apr 18 2003
WHEN a big game is hyped up as much as tomorrow's Merseyside derby has been, there is always a danger that the promise of fireworks is replaced by something a good deal less spectacular.
Sometimes, the expected pyrotechnics fizzle out to produce nothing more than a puff of smoke.
However, with Liverpool and Everton gunning for the fourth Champions' League spot, the season-defining showdown at Goodison Park is unlikely to be short of drama. And the men who have experienced such powder-keg meetings in the past are anticipating a classic. During the 1980s when the Reds and Blues ruled the roost in English football, Ronnie Whelan, Alan Kennedy, Kevin Sheedy and Graeme Sharp played in derby games that are still talked about today. Invariably, collisons between the City's two tribes would determine where trophies were housed.
Silverware may not be on offer tomorrow, but three points, crucial to the European ambitions of both sides, are. And that is likely to mean a spectacle not seen since the sides met in the 1989 FA Cup final is produced. "It doesn't matter how you have been playing before hand, you have always got a chance in derby games," said Whelan, who skippered Liverpool to that Wembley triumph. "When we were the dominant side in the 80s, we always knew when we played Everton it would turn out to be a battle. "Losing Henchoz and Hyypia is a massive blow and Rooney could be the deciding factor. But, then you look at the mid-fields. If Gerrard, Murphy and Hamann hit top form, they should have too much for the likes of Gravesen and Pembridge, honest players though they are." It has been said Blues' supporters will act as a 12th man tomorrow, creating enough noise to suck the ball into the net. Ironically, though, Whelan feels this could actually play into the Reds' hands. Having survived at intimidating grounds such as the Nou Camp in Barcelona, Galatasary's Ali Sami Yen Stadium and Rome's Olympic Stadium, the Irishman reckons the big-game flavour could work the oracle for Houllier's side and bring the best out of his star players. That said, given Everton's home record - only Chelsea have left Goodison with all three points this year - he knows it will take a huge effort to keep their push for fourth spot on the rails. "The atmosphere won't be a problem for Liverpool," Whelan insisted. "They have played enough big games over the last few years to be able to cope with the noise in Goodison and the fact there will be a few tackles flying about will help them get into the game quickly. "Apart from the Celtic games, Liverpool haven't had too much to get excited about since the Worthington Cup final. This could just be the type of fixture they need to get back on track. If they do win, things don't seem half as bad. "It is just nice to see a derby game really mean something. When I was playing in them, there was always something at stake." Like Whelan, Kennedy believes it is vital his former club build on last Saturday's 2-0 triumph over Fulham tomorrow. Indeed, he feels that was just the fillip they needed to go into the game and is backing them to stretch that winning run to the end of the season. But while most observers feel the game will be either won or lost in midfield, Kennedy reckons the men charged with protecting the Glwadys Street and Park End goals will have the biggest outcome. "I think both teams will be going into the game feeling confident," Kennedy said. "At the start of the season, it was unexpected that Everton would be as high as they are and we all thought Liverpool would be challenging in the top two. It all makes for a great game. "Whoever wins will have a great chance of catching Chelsea and I still think that if Liverpool win all their games, they will do it. But they have got to get past Everton and it won't be easy. They are not in a false position. "Midfield and defence will obviously be crucial to the outcome of the game, but I think the real key area will be the goalkeepers. Jerzy Dudek has been in great form and come back from his bad spell better than ever, while Richard Wright has done particularly well. "They will have to be strong characters, because there will be a tremendous atmosphere. You look at both sides and you can't really say where the weakness will be. Some have Liverpool's defence, but who knows how Biscan and Traore are going to play together?"
Confidence is high on the Red side of Stanley Park, but the same can be said of the Blues. Having emerged as serious contenders for fourth spot, Sheedy and Sharp are both of the opinion that Everton's renaissance under Moyes can be confirmed with a derby win. Though many people feel they will start the match as favourites, bookmakers included, the Goodison legends don't see that as being the case. "It's great for Everton to be going into the game above Liverpool in the table because it is so long since that happened," said Sheedy. "Usually Everton have been down at the wrong end and it is great to see the roles have been slightly reversed. "I wouldn' t say Everton are favourites but they will go into the game feeling very confident. The belief among the players will be that they can win the game and go on to qualify for Europe. It is amazing the way things have changed around. "David Moyes has done a fantastic job but I'm sure he would be the first to pass his appreciation on to the part Alan Irvine has played in the job. They work well together and you can see the benefit that has had on the side." "You couldn't really single out one key area, though midfield will be crucial. Li Tie, Carsley, Pem-bridge and Gravesen are all hard working players and won't give Liverpool any breathing space. They will be hoping to provide the opportunities for Wayne Rooney, who is bound to enjoy the occasion. "He has been in tremendous form, as he showed for England and the goal he scored against Newcastle recently. That was a great result and showed Everton have what it takes to beat the top sides. If they can put a consistent run together, then there is every chance they can get into the Champions' League." Sharp, meanwhile, believes Rooney will be primed to ruthlessly expose an weakness in Liverpool's defence, especially as Stephane Henchoz and Hyypia are out. The former Scotland international, though, believes Houllier has a trick up his sleeve with regards h is team selection. But whatever the respective line-ups may be, Sharp feels that it will be an occasion to savour inside Goodision Park and he is adamant the victors will go on to snatch the coveted passport into the Promised Land of the Champions' League.
"With that bit of luck on the day, it's definitely a game Everton can win," said Sharp, scorer of one of the greatest goals in derby history at Anfield in 1984. "I personally don't think their form has been great, even though they have beaten Newcastle and West Brom recently. I also don't think Everton are favourites. "Liverpool have still got a lot of quality players and it won't just come down to whether Wayne Rooney can get the better of Biscan and Traore. In fact, I would not be surprised if Henchoz plays. I think Gerard Houllier could have pulled a bit of a smoke screen there. "This will be a day Rooney has dreamed about and I don't think anything will faze him. He's already shown playing for England that he loves the big occasion. The bigger the better really but it's not just down to him. "Both teams desperately need the points and it promises to be an intriguing battle. David Moyes will be telling everyone they can win and I don't think it is misplaced confidence. Whoever wins will have a great chance of getting the last Champions' League place."
Watch out Wayne.... we've got eager Igor
Fan Fanscene, By Sam Johnstone
Apr 18 2003
AT LAST, a derby game that means something to both teams. Over the past few years, the three points have meant Premiership survival for Everton, or Champions League qualification for us, so it's great to have a game that is so positive to both sides. It'll be the toughest in years, I'm sure, and now that Everton have finally remembered how to play football, and have a few players who can actually do so, we may have to adopt a much more attacking philosophy to the game. Personally, I'm not too worried about the oneman threat that is Wayne Rooney, as Gerard has assigned Igor Biscan to closely man-mark the lad. The loss of both Sami and Steph is a blow, but Djimi's good form at centre-back means that we have adequate cover, and together with Igor we now have a pacey partnership that should keep tabs on Rooney and Campbell (or Radzinski, who seems to be the quickest of the lot). Midfield appears to be no contest, particularly if Danny gets over his neck problems. Didi and Stevie are getting into the groove again, and the Everton engine room looks woefully lacking in CCs compared to the gleaming Harley-Davidson that is the Reds midfield in full flow. Of course, all eyes will be on the comparison between the two boy wonders. It hurts to say it, but Everton do have a very special player in Rooney, but it remains to be seen if he can go on and emulate Michael Owen. It's five years since "that" goal against Argentina, and six since he came into the Liverpool first team, and he hasn't disappointed. He's had a couple of barren spells, a few injuries and many ignorant doubters, but Owen remains the benchmark against which young strikers should measure themselves. For me, there's no-one better at the moment, and I wouldn't swap him for anyone. With Owen in the side we always have a chance of scoring and winning, and though Arsenal and United fans will go on about Henry and Van Nistelrooy (great players both), I'm sure none of them would turn down the chance of having Owen in their team. We just need to find the perfect partner for him, and though Emile may be Michael's favoured collaborator in front of the goal, there is a little bit missing there. So plaudits to Gerard for finally playing an attack-minded formation, and sticking three strikers from the start against Fulham. The display looked a bit incoherent at times, but it was great to see players getting forward into attacking positions, and the defence not guarding the 18-yard line and moving no further. Attack is the best defence, as "they" say, and for once, "they" are right! Three points on Saturday, another three against Charlton on Monday, and I can go into the last couple of weeks of the season feeling a bit better. We need to qualify for the Champions League, and what better way to do it than beating the old enemy, then putting one over on our bogey side Chelsea on the last day of the season. Come on the Reds!
Apr 18 2003 By David Prentice Everton Correspondent
DAVID MOYES will not tone down his passionate touchline technique at Goodison Park tomorrow, even for a match which ranks amongst the most important of his managerial career. The Blues' boss will be in the Goodison dug-out for tomorrow's Champions League chasers' derby, seven days after he was dismissed from The Hawthorns' technical area. And despite the threat of an FA charge following that incident he said: "I will feel exactly the same as I did at West Brom, and if we get the same contentious refereeing decisions against us I will react the same way. "I will behave just as passionately and do everything I can for my team. "Yes, it could be the biggest game I have been involved in as a manager, but I also think there could be bigger games around the corner." Everton go into the 168th League derby a point ahead of their city rivals, exactly the same position they were in before the 167th clash last December. That single point difference remained after a 0-0 draw.
But Moyes hopes that the influence of the Goodison Park crowd this time can tilt the scales in his side's favour. "We are in good shape. The players are right mentally. It's our home game and I know that our supporters will play a big part at Goodison Park," he said. "The supporters have made a massive difference to our home form this season. At the start there were only a few who believed what might happen, but now they are right behind every player. "If they do that again on Saturday and contest every decision - which they have done all season - they will continue to play a big part in the three home games we have left." Moyes is unlikely to spring any selection surprises, with fit again Tomasz Radzinski likely to be held back until the Easter Monday trip to Chelsea, leaving Wayne Rooney to start his first derby. Duncan Ferguson's match fitness is also short of that insisted on by the demanding Blues' manager, leaving him as a psychological substitute. Win, lose or draw, Everton will leave Goodison Park straight after the match on Saturday night for a London training base to prepare for Monday's clash at Chelsea.
'Rooney will have dreamed of scoring winner'
Apr 18 2003 By Graeme Sharp
EVER since Wayne Rooney burst onto a Premiership stage at the age of 16 - and followed that with an inspirational international debut at 17 - comparisons have been drawn with a young striking prodigy from across the park. But Everton legend Graeme Sharp believes the only fair comparison which can be drawn between Michael Owen and Rooney is the age at which they broke through.
"People try to draw comparisons between the two, which is natural, but they are totally different types of forward," he said. "People talk about Owen's pace, and Rooney's strength and power, but for me the most impressive aspect of Rooney's game is his awareness. "For a player so young to have such a grasp of what's happening round about him on the pitch is phenomenal. "Sure, he's direct when he's anywhere in sight of goal, but he also seems to make the time to look up and take in what's happening all around him." Much of the build-up to the Anfield derby earlier this season involved whether Rooney would play or not. This time he looks a certain starter, but Sharp warned: "I would hate to think people are building this derby up to be the Wayne Rooney show - because this Everton side has so many other attributes and so many other individuals who deserve praise.
"But if Wayne Rooney can cap all that good work and be a matchwinner it goes without saying I'll be delighted! "Maybe David Moyes wanted to ease him in gently last time. "I don't think Wayne's temperament will be a problem. He had a little cameo appearance as a substitute at Anfield earlier this season which will help him know what they are about, and he will have been to plenty as a fan when he was even younger. "He's just handled the pressure of making his full debut for England in a must-win European Championship qualifier against Turkey, too, so he'll be okay. "He'll be looking forward to it, make no bones about that. "As a kid he will have dreamed about playing in a derby match and scoring the winner and he certainly won't lose any sleep about playing in it. "He's a special talent - and the likes of Steven Gerrard and Michael Owen will know that from training with him. "Liverpool won't be frightened of him, but they will certainly have a healthy respect and that speaks volumes for what he has achieved already in such a short space of time."
Everton 1, Liverpool 2 (D, Post)
Apr 21 2003 By Andy Hunter Reports From Goodison Park, Daily Post
BASKING in another Goodison derby win, it was a close call as to who Liverpudlians would have been more shocked to see emerge through the haze: Gerard Houllier in a rare show of triumphalism or Lou Reed serenading them with Perfect Day? It may have been more apt but the moody American was nowhere to be seen. Only a proud Frenchman was enticed into public appearances this weekend. Forget the 'worst season in living memory' (copyright Ian St John), this was the 'most important derby in living memory' (copyright everyone else in medialand) and it ended with the Reds celebrating a hat-trick of Goodison victories with the prospect of far greater riches to come.
Not since Gary McAllister sparked that sequence in Easter 2001 has a Liverpool season received such an injection of energy. If it can be channelled in the same way then the same prize, fourth place and the Champions League, awaits them once again. It could have been the day when Wayne Rooney fulfilled a lifetime's ambition at Liverpool's expense, it could have been the day when a Champions League dream died and their arch rivals picked up that torch with relish, with the boast of closing the Merseyside divide looking even more realistic. It was none of the above. It was not even close.
However uncharacteristic Houllier's march over the sun-drenched surface on the final whistle it wasn't the least bit surprising, particularly when the Premiership scores flashed up on the TV screen next to the away section to lure him in. It must have taken all his strength of reserve not to turn into an aminated amalgam of Bob Stokoe, David Pleat and Klaus Toppmoller and cartwheel out of the dug-out when a glorious day turned into one that defied all expectations as both Chelsea and Newcastle lost bankers at Villa and Fulham respectively. In a stroke Liverpool had all but ended their great rivals' Champions League hopes and reeled in two teams who should have been out of reach. A Perfect Day indeed. With his claim the Reds will save their season by winning all of their remaining six games, Phil Thompson is suddenly in danger of turning into Nostradamus. Chelsea, now chased by a team that has won five of the last six and showing signs of their perennial wobble, are just in real danger. At this stage of the season it is all about holding your nerve. Liverpool could not have picked a better place, game or performance to show they are the only ones in the battle for fourth keeping theirs. In a frenetic, furious though rarely malicious Merseyside derby - despite 10 bookings and two dismissals - their European experience came to the fore, as did the big-game players who can be relied upon to make the difference when it matters most. Whenever Everton lifted the tempo, Danny Murphy or Steven Gerrard would inevitably be around to puncture it. After 31 minutes, most of it spent on the back foot, Murphy made his first telling contribution to pick out Michael Owen lurking on the left-hand touchline. In the Battle of the Boy Wonders, round one went to the 'veteran', and after a slalom through the statues of Joseph Yobo and Thomas Gravesen the Reds striker unleashed a blistering low drive into the bottom corner of the Gwladys Street net to silence all but one corner of the stadium. Everton had performed nothing short of a miracle to go into the 168th league derby ahead of their wealthier rivals in points and places and can yet reap the rewards of one with a European place. On Saturday though, when the demand to deliver was really on them, the Blues blew it. The fact this derby had the grandiose billing of the most significant for Everton since the Premiership began can be credited to the team's extraordinary graft and guile this season, of producing more than the sum of their parts. Yet they got nowhere near that level on Saturday, played right into Reds hands and were picked off for appropriate punishment. David Moyes had stirred the Anfield nest with confident predictions that Liverpool's days in the Merseyside ascendancy are numbered - and why shouldn't he? Boasts are not the sole preserve of Anfield and his long-term vision for the Blues involves pursuing greater prizes than fourth place at this stage of the season. Yet while he was right to state neither keeper was over-worked and that Everton had more possession and territorial advantage than their opponents, it was hard to agree with his assessment they deserved better. Liverpool saw less of the ball and less of the opposition half, as is their style on vital away days such as this, but what little they had they used to far greater effect - as the statistic of two shots on target yet two fabulous goals to show for them proves. In terms of intelligence, composure, cunning and quality, they were the clear winner. Crucially, the key players in red delivered. Those in blue didn't. Djimi Traore rose to the responsibility of filling the void left by Sami Hyypia and Stephane Henchoz, as did Jamie Carragher and Salif Diao when Igor Biscan joined the procession of absent centrehalves after only eight minutes. They were turned into key men for Liverpool by circumstance and flourished in the pressure valve, while their usual stars rose to the occasion. In the other corner those that could add the sparkle to Everton's play simply withered when the heat was on. Gravesen and Yobo led a painful cast while Rooney was hunted in packs throughout and rarely broke through. With not one noteworthy pass or move coming his way all afternoon, the youngster escapes any blame for the Blues' downfall, though as Moyes pointed out afterwards, it was still a difficult though necessary part of his development. At times it was a struggle for Everton just to keep the ball in play and to keep their heads. With Rooney at the heart of a bristling start, the Blues attacked Liverpool's makeshift defence from the off and received further encouragement when a hip injury forced the Croatian off and Jerzy Dudek collected a painful groin strain. If ever the Blues were to lay claim to superiority over their neighbours, it was now. Before departing Biscan just did enough to stop Rooney connecting fully on the edge of the area, while Alan Stubbs volleyed the striker's lay-off over and Kevin Campbell failed to get enough power into a dropped ball by Dudek, enabling Carragher to clear off the line with ease. The teenage star fired just over as the pressure mounted and the Polish keeper was forced to put all pains aside to turn Gary Naysmith's vicious free-kick out at full stretch. Liverpool, though, knew the script and stuck to their instructions perfectly. Whatever criticism can be laid at Houllier it is not how to play Everton, and having soaked up the early threat they soon began to control midfield before Owen smashed open the deadlock to leave Moyes rightly wondering how Richard Wright had been beaten at his near post. "He should have saved that, no question," said the Blues manager. Behind, the Blues' nerves began to unravel in line with some appalling passing and the Reds sensed they only had to maintain self-control to win. The only time that was seriously in question came at the start of the second half when the Reds were rattled by another determined opening by the home side, Gravesen inches away from the equaliser when Steve Watson's long throw bounced off Traore and teed him up for a volley from the edge of the area. Three minutes later Everton were level as Carragher gave referee Paul Durkin no choice but to point to the spot when he arrived a second too late for a challenge on Naysmith. David Unsworth, who had played the Scottish midfielder into the area, blasted home into the top corner with his usual precision to become the king of Everton penalty-takers. Watson had a decent chance to head his side in front but any momentum Everton now had was soon undone by their own sloppiness and Liverpool's ability to make their extra class tell. Dietmar Hamann seized on another poor defensive clearance by the Blues, this time by Unsworth, and was only denied on the edge of the area by a last-ditch tackle by Weir. The ball fell to Murphy almost 30 yards from goal, and with almost nonchalant ease he controlled it, picked his spot, and curled a wonderful effort in off the top of the post to restore an advantage that was never again in doubt. The inspired Reds midfielder almost added a second wonder goal 60 seconds later when he returned Stubbs' header with a first-time volley that flashed past the post. With Everton resorting to a series of aimless long balls once the fading Duncan Ferguson came on - a style they should have forgotten about long ago - their prospects of salvaging something were so remote the late dismissal of two of their players was almost an irrelevance. Of seven players booked before the break, Weir could count himself most unfortunate but when he caught Gerrard at the end of a Liverpool break there was only one option for Durkin, who had to repeat the trick when Naysmith's clumsy challenge sent substitute El Hadji Diouf rolling towards Stanley Park in injury time. As if to sum up the difference, Everton lost their two signings from Hearts while Liverpool used their heads.
On the final whistle Houllier punched the air in delight before heading for his fans while Moyes clenched his in anguish. While Champions League football was a dream for one, for the other it is a necessity. And that is just how Everton and Liverpool now view Europe's promised land respectively.
EVERTON (4-4-2): Wright; Yobo, Weir, Stubbs, Unsworth; Watson (Ferguson 68), Carsley, Gravesen (Gemmill 75), Naysmith; Rooney, Campbell. Subs: Alexandersson, Li Tie, Simonsen.
LIVERPOOL (4-4-2): Dudek; Carragher, Biscan (Diao 8), Traore, Riise; Heskey, Gerrard, Hamann, Murphy; Baros (Diouf 66), Owen. Subs: Smicer, Arphexad, Cheyrou.
BOOKINGS: Liverpool's Hamann, Carragher (fouls), Gerrard (dissent), Baros (persistent misconduct) and Everton's Stubbs and Gravesen (fouls).
SENDINGS-OFF: Everton's Weir and Naysmith (both second bookable offences).
REFEREE: Paul Durkin
Blues derby player ratings
Apr 21 2003
RICHARD WRIGHT: Has enjoyed a fine recent few months, but Michael Owen's near-post opener that escaped his grasp was more reminiscent of early-season form. Score 5
JOSEPH YOBO: Endured a torrid afternoon, some distance off with his passing radar all day and leaden-footed for Owen's goal. Score 5
DAVID WEIR: Dismissed somewhat softly late on for two yellow cards, the Scot had been relatively blameless up until then. Score 7
ALAN STUBBS: Put his heart and soul into every tackle and was one of the home side's few bright spots. Score 7
DAVID UNSWORTH: Kept his nerve to convert an exemplary penalty and was a typically committed presence in the Everton backline throughout. Score 8
STEVE WATSON: Eager but perhaps one of those missing the guile and craft that Everton so needed. Score 6
LEE CARSLEY: Rarely outfought but comprehensively out-thought in midfield by the vastly more effective Hamann, Gerrard et al. Score 6
THOMAS GRAVESEN: One of those David Moyes was no doubt referring to when he lamented some of his better players' under-performance. The Dane was all bluster with barely a completed pass to speak of. Score 5
GARY NAYSMITH: Unnecessarily dismissed in the dying seconds for a second bookable offence, the Scot did a reasonable job filling in on the left side of midfield for the absent Mark Pembridge. Score 6
KEVIN CAMPBELL: A relatively anonymous figure, doing little to suggest he will not be the one to step aside withTomasz Radzinski's return imminent. Score 5
WAYNE ROONEY: His first Goodison derby will prove to be another important step in his development. Overshadowed inevitably by Owen, he nonetheless did not have a bad game, enjoying some neat touches amid the smothering Red that accompanied his every touch. Score 6
DUNCAN FERGUSON: Came on midway through the second half to inject some greater directness to Everton's play. Partially successful, but did not threaten a goal. Score 6
SCOT GEMMILL: Replaced the out-of-sorts Gravesen with 15 minutes to go but could not force an equaliser. Score 6
Reds derby player ratings
David Prior, Daily Post
Apr 21 2003
JERZY DUDEK: Given no chance with David Unsworth's pinpoint spot-kick, and otherwise had little cause to warm his gloves. Score 7
JAMIE CARRAGHER: Igor Biscan's early injury meant he was forced to play the bulk of the game out of position at centre-back, but he coped extremely well. Careless though in conceding the Blues' penalty. Score 7
IGOR BISCAN: Sami Hyypia's suspension had given him the perfect chance to prove his worth at centre-back, but a back problem triggered by an early challenge with Wayne Rooney forced the unlucky Croatian's replacement.
DJIMI TRAORE: The Reds' defensive deficiencies demanded a commanding display from the Frenchman, and he did not let himself down with another excellent game. Score 8
JOHN ARNE RIISE: Involved in most of Liverpool's better moves, he proved a real menace down the left. Score 7
EMILE HESKEY: Another unproductive and lifeless performance from the under-fire Englishman. Score 5
STEVEN GERRARD: Wayward early on but grew into the match, relishing his skipper's responsibility and at his harrying and bustling best. Score 8
DIETMAR HAMANN: A towering presence in the heart of the Reds' midfield, seemingly always in the right place to snuff out Evertonian moves before they had barely begun. Score 8
DANNY MURPHY: Capped a superb display with a goal of genuine quality, not to mention as-yet-untold significance. Score 9
MICHAEL OWEN: Is without doubt playing as well now as he has done all season. Caused tangible worry among the home ranks whenever he was on the ball, and his goal should be remembered more for his skill than Richard Wright's failings. Score 8
MILAN BAROS: Did little to persuade Gerard Houllier to give him a regular start, and was replaced midway through the second half by El Hadji Diouf. Score 6
SALIF DIAO: Called into action after just eight minutes following Biscan's withdrawal, and gave a safe performance at right-back. Score 7
EL HADJI DIOUF: Came on just after Murphy's winner and played sensibly as Liverpool closed out the game. Score 7
Rooney faces police probe
By Sam Lister, Daily Post
Apr 21 2003
WAYNE Rooney is to face a police investigation over allegations that he spat towards Liverpool fans during Saturday's derby. The 17-year-old Everton and England star was said to have made the gesture during the second half of an explosive and ill-tempered clash at Goodison Park. The teenager, in action on Saturday, had been taunted by some of the visiting fans in the Lower Bullens Road stand. It is understood he was seen to spit on to the pitch in front of them, provoking a furious reaction from the supporters. Merseyside police last night confirmed they were investigating after receiving several complaints from Liverpool fans. A police spokesman said: "We are aware of an incident. We now have sufficient witnesses and do not need any more to come forward.
"We will be making enquiries as soon as possible and liaising with both clubs." Everton's head of corporate affairs and public relations, Ian Ross, said: "We will speak with Merseyside police within the next 24 hours. It would be inappropriate to make any further comment until we have done so."
The Football Association said they could not comment on the allegations until match reports were received from officials tomorrow. The incident was one of a series of unpleasant episodes surrounding the match, which Liverpool won 2-1. Both the Hillsborough memorial at Anfield and the Dixie Dean statue at Goodison Park were daubed with paint by vandals in the build-up, and one Everton fan ran on to the pitch and threw a blue scarf over Salif Diao's head during the second half.
Everton say they cannot comment on the fan's actions until the conclusion of any criminal proceedings. The board, which has the power to ban any fan for life, will then discuss what action to take against him. There were further ugly scenes between rival fans on Saturday night, when a busy city centre street had to be blocked off by police after post-match brawling. Officers swarmed into Great Charlotte Street when fighting broke out near Wetherspoons pub. The road was closed at both ends as officers tried to calm the clashing groups and the police helicopter was scrambled.
Fans confronted each other at about 8pm and officers stayed at the scene for two hours in a bid to stop trouble flaring up again. But police played down the incident. A spokesman said: "There were several minor incidents. No arrests were made." Police arrested four men at Goodison Park after the match for separate offences. And statues at both grounds were targeted by rivals in the run-up to the game. Anfield's Hillsborough memorial was daubed with blue paint. The attack came in the week Liverpool supporters marked the 14th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster when 96 fans died. A spokesman for Liverpool FC said: "What happened is very, very regrettable. As soon as it was reported that there was some paint on the Hillsborough memorial, we cleaned it up." At Goodison Park shocked groundsmen found the Dixie Dean memorial had been daubed with red paint just hours before the derby. Club spokesman Mr Ross said: "It would appear to us that this was an act of malicious vandalism rather than football-related hooliganism."
* WAYNE Rooney's girlfriend is being lined up for a lead role in teenage soap Hollyoaks, reports claimed last night. Colleen McLoughlin has been approached by television executives, according to an industry insider. The 17-year-old budding actress, from Croxteth, is currently studying for her A-Levels. An insider said: "The message was clear - 'Get this girl signed up'. Desks were being thumped." One of Colleen's friends said: "She's smitten with Wayne and thinks he's her Mr Right."
Moyes: Fourth is now big ask
By David Prior, Daily Post
Apr 21 2003
DAVID MOYES admitted Everton face a tough task in saving their Champions League dream by bouncing straight back from derby defeat at Chelsea today. The Blues' second crucial game in 48 hours sees them return to Stamford Bridge, the scene of their poorest away performance this season. After defeat to Liverpool, failure against Claudio Ranieri's side - currently inhabiting the prized fourth spot in the Premiership despite their loss at Aston Villa on Saturday - would see them drop seven points behind the Londoners and almost certainly out of the race for the final Champions League place. And having already been on the end of two sound beat-ings from Chelsea this season - a 3-1 league defeat at Goodison coming just four days after the 4-1 hammering in the Worthington Cup at Stamford Bridge in December - Moyes knows exactly how tough the game will be. "It's a very difficult game for us, and we've been there already and got well beaten down there," he said.
"We played a different system there that day from what we would normally do. "We brought in one or two different players and tried things out, and I think we've probably improved since then - we've got more understanding of each other. "They also came and beat us in the league but I didn't think that result was quite as it should have been." UEFA Cup qualification will be the Blues' realistic target for the season should Chelsea inflict a third defeat on them this season. But Moyes hoped his players could draw inspiration from other encouraging performances against top-six sides this season and go out for the victory. He added: "We've got to go there and hope to get a result. We've done well against the good sides this year. "It's hard for them to get themselves back ready. But we're on to the next game and we're preparing for it. It didn't work out for us on Saturday but the job now is to try and take three points at Chelsea. "We've always been in the games and always had a chance of winning and I don't see this one as being any different. We want to put on a better show but we know how difficult it will be."
Everton 1, Liverpool 2 (Echo)
By Chris Bascombe At Goodison Park, Liverpool Echo
Apr 21 2003
DANNY MURPHY has more in common with Gary McAllister than the same hair cut. It's exactly two years since McAllister used the Goodison derby to supply the pivotal moment of the treble season, curling in at the Park End to secure the last 'must-win' success at this venue. That victory gave Liverpool the momentum to qualify for the Champions League, having been chasing the rainbow but failing to grasp it for so long. Murphy's stunning winner, which will be celebrated until infinity by delirious Kopites, should repeat the trick for Gerard Houllier's side. The momentousness of this win is immeasurable. Providing slip-ups are avoided in the 360 minutes left of the season, this was the day Liverpool reasserted their Champions League credentials, having had to stay tantalisingly on the fringe of the top four since Christmas. In doing so, they managed to put the cork back into the premature victory celebrations of their closest rivals, sweetening the taste of their own success. The lights went out on the apparent power shift on Merseyside. The surest way of putting extra weight on your shoulders before a derby is to predict a comfortable victory. Just about every Blue, and quite a few Reds, couldn't see beyond a home win during the pre-match build-up. Liverpool know from bitter experience the lunacy of believing such nonsensical hype. Still, at least there was plenty in the build-up to give the visitors the motivation they needed to prove rumours of their irreversible decline have been greatly exaggerated. David Moyes may think his side didn't deserve to lose, but since his players lost every key battle on the park his opposite number may beg to differ. Michael Owen won the clash of the child prodigies. It took a while for Owen to break his derby duck, but his second goal in consecutive Goodison fixtures was worth the wait. Joseph Yobo could only watch in awe as the number 10 skipped past and blasted an unstoppable right-footer which took Richard Wright by surprise. By then, Liverpool's midfield had also taken control. Steven Gerrard and Dietmar Hamann passed the ball better than their opponents. And, in Murphy, the Reds possessed the matchwinner supreme as he added Goodison to the impressive portfolio of scalps already full to the brim with decisive Old Trafford strikes. Had Murphy's volley found the net seconds after his 25-yarder, he would be unavailable for today's game with Charlton, having been waylaid on some cloud beyond our solar system. If there was just one gripe, and it's a minor quibble at times like this, it's the glaring supremacy wasn't put to better use sooner. Liverpool had plenty of opportunities to put greater daylight between the teams, but the final ball wasn't always found, or chances not taken. Milan Baros and Emile Heskey, who ensured the three-pronged attack worked again, wasted easy headers. It meant a glimmer of hope flickered longer for the hosts than it deserved to and those long-ball missiles created an unnecessarily anxious finale. Until Liverpool settled, for long periods it was a scrappy, unfulfilling match. Paul Durkin booked too many players in the first half and there was no flow to the game. Ultimately, two moments of genius won it and Liverpool emerged victorious because their so-called 'weaknesses' were never exposed. The Blues had hoped, or believed, Liverpool's makeshift defensive partnership would be their Achilles heal. We'll never know if Igor Biscan's presence would have been an inspiration or a liability because he had to disappear with a hip injury after just seven minutes. What is certain is his departure didn't weaken the Reds as Salif Diao was an excellent addition to the team at right back. More pertinently, Jamie Carragher's impeccable return to the centre-half role he last filled four years ago was a blessing in disguise. Carragher once won the club's player of the year for his performances at centre back and he proved once more on Saturday just how priceless he is to his club. One blemish apart - the clumsy tackle on Gary Naysmith which conceded the equaliser - Carragher was an inspirational leader at the back. The Naysmith tackle would have been cruel if it had cost victory because the foul wouldn't have been necessary if treatment to Heskey hadn't left their right side exposed. Traore is still mocked in some quarters because of his mid-season struggles at left back. Yet those of us who've seen him deputise at both the start and end of the season for Stephane Henchoz knew there was very little to be concerned about. Traore is a class central defender. On recent form, even if the formidable first choice partnership was fit, Houllier would have to think long and hard before leaving his French prodigy out. Indeed, it will be a pleasant dilemma for the manager at the start of next season. Traore has the youth and quality to make this position his own and won't deserve to be dropped, even if he has to be to make way for the skipper and the best stopper in Europe. The 23-year-old has never endured a tougher examination of his ability and mental strength than this. In the space of two games, he's had to adjust to three different central defensive partners. Not only that, the prospect of facing Europe's hottest young striker without his skipper to guide him was an unenviable one, but Traore passed every test thrust at him. No doubt Wayne Rooney will testify to the quality of Traore after a frustrating afternoon. Rooney had no service, needing more passes to his feet rather than 20 yards over his head. Even when Everton took us on a trip down memory lane to re-enact the 'dogs of war' tactics of the 1990s, 'launching it' as high and central into Liverpool's rearguard as possible, Duncan Ferguson's cameo became nothing more than a sideshow. Liverpool stood up to it, helped, it must be said, by the referee's generosity in dismissing Naysmith and Weir for second bookable offences. The defeated can say what they wish, but Liverpool deserved this win for showing greater quality and overcoming some hefty setbacks. It has been a recurring theme of Houllier's managerial reign how during periods of adversity, when the odds seem to be stacking against them, Liverpool reveal their finest assets. This was such a marvellous win that to lose the spoils of victory by failing to win the final four games would be ridiculous. The steely determination displayed here should be evident from first whistle to last in the remaining fixtures. If it is, Liverpool won't fail. And who knows? Even third spot isn't out of the question at the start of play this afternoon. That won't silence the most unjust, dissenting voices, but it may at least force them back under the floorboards over the summer. Worst season in living memory? Do me a favour.
Watson: Season not over
Apr 21 2003David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
STEVE WATSON believes Everton's season is far from finished - despite the deflation caused by Saturday's derby defeat. Liverpool's 2-1 triumph at Goodison Park sent the Reds above their neighbours in the Premiership for the first time in four months - and also installed them as favourites to chase Chelsea for the final Champions League spot. Ironically Everton could do their neighbours a favour at Stamford Bridge today, but Watson is more concerned with his own side's European ambitions. "We have worked very hard all season to get where we have got and we are determined not to let it slip," he declared. "That's easier to do than say, but we will be ready. "Two games in three days at this stage of the season is a real test for the squad, but we have got a big squad with a lot of quality so hopefully we can get a result. "Chelsea have spent millions and have got an incredible amount of ability and talent in their squad, but maybe they have not always produced the success they should have done in a consistent manner. "This season though, it has all changed. The manager has done a great job, albeit spending a lot of money in the process, but they are getting the rewards for the quality they have got. "We have spent a fraction of the money they have, but we have ground out results and we are narrowly behind them on merit." Chelsea are the only team to have beaten the Blues twice this season, and Watson added: "We didn't play particularly badly against them at home, but we were well beaten down there in the Worthington Cup. During this season we can probably count the number of poor performances we have had on one hand, but that was certainly one of them. We deserved to lose and we are going to Stamford Bridge ready to make amends." Watson will have a late fitness test on an ankle knock sustained during Saturday's defeat before deciding whether he can play today. He spent Saturday night in hospital having a precautionary X-ray, which revealed no skeletal damage.
Vandals ruin derby party
Apr 21 2003Tony Barrett, Liverpool Echo
FOOTBALL fans were left shocked after vandals daubed paint on memorials at Anfield and Goodison Park. The Hillsborough Memorial on Anfield Road was targeted days after the 14th anniversary of the disaster in which 96 Liverpool supporters lost their lives. Blue paint was splattered across the memorial which was surrounded by flowers from victims' families. In another incident in the buildup to Saturday's derby match, the statue commemorating Everton's Dixie Dean was covered in red paint and graffiti. Liverpool and Everton today condemned the vandalism. A minority of fans were also criticised after a number of fights in the city centre in the aftermath of the game. Police were called to incidents in Great Charlotte Street and Hanover Street on Saturday night following reports of brawls involving rival groups of fans. Today, John and Teresa Glover, who lost their 20-year-old son Ian at Hillsborough, told how they were horrified to see the damage to the memorial at Anfield. Mrs Glover tried to wipe the paint off. Mr Glover, of Roxburgh Street, Anfield, said he would like to see a CCTV camera trained on the memorial. He said: "There were a lot of people who had come to pay their respects. "They could not believe what they saw and felt disgusted. "The people who have done this are not football fans, they are hooligans. "I do no think the fact that it was blue paint has got anything to do with Everton fans because I have seen lots of Evertonians laying flowers on the memorial. "I think Liverpool FC should put cameras in place to stop anything like this happening again." A spokesman for Liverpool FC said: "What happened is very, very regrettable. "As soon as it was reported that there was some paint on the Hillsborough memorial, we cleaned it up. "We will have a look at the situation as far as CCTV is concerned, but the most important thing was to clean up the memorial." At Goodison Park shocked groundsmen found the Dixie Dean memorial had been daubed with red paint just hours before the derby. Club spokesman Ian Ross said: "It would appear to us that this was an act of malicious vandalism rather than an act of football related hooliganism. "There is graffiti sprayed on the back of the statue which is in no way related to football or either of the two clubs.. "The incident involving the Dixie Dean statue happened on derby day but I am sure there is not one genuine Liverpool supporter who would support this type of action." Four people were arrested during and after the game at Goodison Park for minor offences. Everton are investigating after one of their supporters ran on the pitch and threw a blue scarf over Salif Diao's head.
Chelsea 4, Everton 1 (D, Post)
Apr 22 2003 By Andy Hunter From Stamford Bridge, Daily Post
IF A Premiership campaign really is a marathon not a sprint, then Everton are the novice runner who has given everything only for the legs to wobble in sight of the finishing line and the shiny cape.
Much has been made of the Blues' extraordinary spirit and work-rate this season - "The hardest working team in the league," says Sir Bobby Robson - but now with the medals so close at hand they are in real danger of running out of steam. It would be a huge blow to Goodison spirits, confidence and coffers if it does not host European football next season after the incredible revival of this campaign. Three steps away from the finish, however, that shadow is creeping ever closer. The only slight consolation from an unhappy Easter for the Blues was Blackburn's failure to take three points at Ewood Park yesterday. That is all that now separates the rivals for the UEFA Cup spot and, with Rovers enjoying the much easier run-in, the pressure is firmly on David Moyes' men. Injuries to key players has not been an over-riding problem this season but they are counting now, as is the tiredness that is weakening the high-tempo gameplan that has carried Everton this far. That much was evident at Chelsea where, for the second big game in succession, the Blues were badly exposed by a team intent on reviving a Champions League dream at their expense. Even if Moyes had wanted to ring the changes following the performance against Liverpool and the close proximity of this game, he would have been severely restricted. With Tomasz Radzinski still absent with a groin strain - and being missed more with every game - Mark Pembridge suffering a recurrence of his worrying calf problems and Steve Watson joining the casualty list with an ankle knock, he had little room for manoeuvre. As it was, only Thomas Gravesen paid the price for his derby display - relegated to the bench - with Li Tie and Scot Gemmill replacing the dropped Dane and the injured Steve Watson. While it gave the Everton central midfield a lightweight look, at least there was a freshness to the visiting midfield. The same, unfortunately, could not be said about their overall approach. The gap in quality with an expensively-assembled side was again evident but the most galling aspect of this defeat for Evertonians desperate for a derby riposte was the sense of self-inflicted punishment. Two of the Chelsea goals smacked of good luck but all four could have been avoided by the Blues. The derby disappointment was never likely to be flushed out of the system with immediate effect once the game began and the visitors brought the worst of Saturday's performance into Stamford Bridge. Route one was again the order of the day with all the aimless balls forward so painfully evident against Liverpool included. It didn't work against Jamie Carragher and Djimi Traore, and it certainly wasn't going to work against Marcel Desailly and John Terry as Chelsea were handed possession on a plate and Wayne Rooney was left searching for scraps once more. The home side were nowhere near their best either, yet such was the comfort they enjoyed at the back they never appeared in any danger and posed the only questions of the opening 45 minutes. Eidur Gudjohnsen was denied in the area by an inch-perfect challenge by David Unsworth on five minutes after ghosting past Alan Stubbs before Joseph Yobo, sloppy in possession and positioning for the second successive contest, gifted the Icelandic striker a free volley with a poor header which he thankfully turned high over the bar. One minute after that reprieve, though, Chelsea edged in front with the first of two goals blessed with good fortune. Having again been gifted possession, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink led the Londoners' charge and crossed towards strike partner Gudjohnsen on the edge of the area. David Weir was the covering defender but just as he looked to have the situation under control he fatefully slipped. Gudjohnsen could hardly believe his luck as a free sight of goal appeared Only now did Everton look to alter their predictable style though it took until the 42nd minute for them to construct their first decent attack when Gemmill beat William Gallas to a poor Carlo Cudicini throw and raced to the by-line. Rooney then Campbell turned the ball across goal and, before Gary Naysmith could pounce, the imperious Desailly stretched out a leg to clear. Clearly the order of the day for the second half was to show more of the same. Yet before those instructions could be put into practice the game was effectively over for Everton as Chelsea doubled their lead less than two minutes after the restart. Emmanuel Petit was first to Wright's clearance though Yobo still had a chance to cut out the threat at source. Instead, Jesper Gronkjaer beat him to the bounce and burst to the by-line unchecked before delivering an inviting cross into the area for Hasselbaink. The Dutchman met the flying winger's delivery with a mis-hit header that looped into the air, and while the Everton defence and even the Chelsea attack assumed the threat had gone it caught everyone by surprise by spinning back in off the far post.
It was a sickening blow - "the key to the match," admitted Claudio Ranieri - and one felt for Wright as he collided with the woodwork in a vain attempt to scoop the ball clear. Fourteen minutes later that pain was shared by every Evertonian when ball-watching criminally allowed their hosts to walk in a third goal unopposed. A simple free-kick was launched by John Terry out of the Chelsea defence and Gronkjaer sprinted clear of substitute Tony Hibbert and Weir, controlled the falling ball with a marvellous touch, and lifted it over the advancing Wright. Far too simple. Frank Lampard almost made it four before Lee Carsley finally gave the travelling supporters something to cheer in the 77th minute when, unmarked and 12 yards out, he turned Gemmill's threaded pass beyond Cudicini and in off the far post. Inconceivably that consolation could have provided the platform for a rousing finale if the Republic of Ireland midfielder had applied the same accuracy from the same position with five minutes remaining. Gravesen picked out his 'Mitchell brother' with a deft chip into the area but this time his volley on the turn sailed a yard wide of the same post. Instead, the final say went to Chelsea and a goal that said everything about the consummate skill of Gianfranco Zola but also the jadedness of the Everton defence. Another long punt forward, this time from Gallas at left-back, saw the veteran Italian beat Weir in the chase and despite the acuteness of the angle, Wright had strayed too far into no-man's land to tempt Zola into an audacious lob which he executed with perfection. The only execution Everton are now heading for is their own. Lest we forget and heads are volunteered for the block too soon though, the Blues are still three steps from heaven and victories in their next two winnable games could be enough. The UEFA Cup is still theirs for the taking, but that second wind cannot come quickly enough.
CHELSEA (4-4-2): Cudicini; Melchiot, Terry, Desailly, Gallas; De Lucas, Petit, Lampard, Gronkjaer (Le Saux 87); Gudjohnsen (Cole 84), Hasselbaink (Zola 81). Subs: De Goey, Stanic.
EVERTON (4-4-2): Wright; Yobo (Gravesen 52), Weir, Stubbs, Unsworth (Hibbert 52); Carsley, Li Tie (Ferguson 77), Gemmill, Naysmith; Rooney, Campbell. Subs: Gerrard, Alexandersson.
REFEREE: Mike Riley.
BOOKINGS: Chelsea's De Lucas (foul); Everton's Gravesen (foul)
Home and Away
Icliverpool & Daily Post
Apr 22 2003
New faces needed
JOSEPH YOBO just couldn't mark Michael Owen on Saturday. The rest of the defenders were even worse. We need good defenders. Please buy John O'Shea from Manchester United and John Terry from Chelsea. We need a good creative midfielder, please get Pablo Aimar frtom Valencia.
K Santoni, (via e-mail)
End of boasts
AS I predicted weeks ago, all of our bravado and boasting went out the window. Liverpool will only improve next season, will we? If we don't finish above them this season we may as well give up (like we did on Saturday). They were still better than us with reserves in. We will be made to look fools in Europe next season and if we go out early we'll never hear the last of it.
S Brown, Liverpool
MOYES said he wants to protect Rooney, but then has played him for a full 90 minutes in subsequent matches. Now he said the dip in form was due to over-playing. Logic please?
Dave Moorcroft, Liverpool.
Worst of season
TYPICAL that we save our worst performance of the season for the Derby match. Pity we didn't score early on as they were worried in the first 15 minutes. Igor Biscan's injury worked to their advantage. Typical Reds, the one player they have criticised all season (Jamie Carragher) was their best player on the day.
Steve Martin, Halewood
Kick and hope
EVERTON need more control on the ground, more imagination with free-kicks, corners and goalkeeper distribution. There is too much kick it and hope! If 40,000 fans can see what's obvious, then why can't the players?
Steve Harrison, Rainhill
THAT wasn't the performance or result we were expecting. All the hype ahead of this huge game and talk about Liverpool being depleted - what do we do? Turn in one of our poorest of the season.
I just don't understand what that or lack of it, was about. Here was the biggest derby match in many, many years and we messed up. What is more worrying is the media talk that has re-surfaced about Yobo - unfortunately it does look like he will leave in the summer
Shez Khan, Birmingham
Blues edged out
THE sensible Reds know they edged it because of one piece of brilliance by Owen and the shooting ability of Murphy. Losing Biscan was the best thing that happened to them and both their goals were against the run of play.
Bill Drew, Liverpool
ALL CREDIT to Liverpool, they had the bottle for the big game which our players didn't. Such a shame, I had such high hopes. Gary Naysmith and Davie Weir let us down with their sendings-off.
It is also time for Wayne to have a rest - he has been quiet for the last few games. UEFA Cup qualification will be hard now with Blackburn on our heels. Well done Davie Moyes, but the Derby means everything to me and we're all gutted.
Dave Symes, Chester
Defeats hurting like hell - Moyes
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Apr 22 2003
DAVID MOYES admitted Everton are now in a desperate race for a UEFA Cup place after a second Easter defeat left him "hurting like hell". The Blues boss conceded his Champions League dream was officially over following the heavy defeat by Chelsea that left his side six points off a top four spot. Everton are now just three points clear of nearest challengers Blackburn for the sixth and final European qualifying place with three matches to go. And Moyes admits Everton must now concentrate all their efforts into staying into the Euro zone to avoid a season of rich promise fading into disappointment. "The Champions League is beyond us now," said Moyes. "We have given it a good go and it is a sign of how well we have done that we are talking about Everton being out of Champions League contention with four games to go. "Finishing above Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea, Newcastle and even Liverpool would have been some going in truth and now we have to concentrate our efforts on finishing sixth. We have to try and do that now but that is a big ask as well. "We have been in the top six most of the season, we are three points ahead of Blackburn with three games to go and we have to aim to stay there. I don't think energy will be a problem, we just need to keep doing what we have done for most of this season. "That is our target. The lads have done smashing to get us into this position but it has been a tough weekend for us and now it is hurting like hell." Eidur Gudjohnsen opened the scoring following a slip by David Weir before second-half goals from Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Jesper Gronkjaer and Gianfranco Zola capped a miserable Easter for the Blues. Moyes, who saw Lee Carsley grab a consolation strike, said: "We can't have any complaints with that result. You couldn't blame the after-effects of the derby, both teams have played twice this Easter. "We conceded poor goals and at this level you have to show more concentration than we did today. "We had a slip for the first goal and that just can't happen in big games like this, and then we let in a few more poor goals in the second half. "I really don't think we made Chelsea work for their goals. They were all too easy and that is disappointing.
"It is a hard run-in for us and we have collected a few injuries to important people at the wrong time but this squad has competed alongside the squads of the so-called big clubs who have spent a lot of money on theirs so they deserve a lot of credit for that." Moyes admitted Wayne Rooney was in need of a rest after making his fifth 90-minute appearance in succession. He added: "In recent games he has been a bit below the standards he has set for himself. If Tomasz Radzinski had been available we would have given Wayne some of the breathing space he needs, and that is why I am concerned he doesn't play too much. "The strikers may not have received great support but Chelsea had two very good midfielders in Frank Lampard and Emmanuel Petit, as Liverpool did in Steven Gerrard and Dietmar Hamann. "That is the bridge we are trying to gap and the lads have done a great job in trying to achieve that."
Chelsea 4, Everton 1 (Echo)
Apr 22 2003 By David Prentice At Stamford Bridge, Liverpool Echo
THE cruel joke doing the rounds at Stamford Bridge yesterday was that Chelsea get to keep Everton now, having beaten them three times this season. Not true, of course, but looking at the respective line-ups yesterday you could see what the mickey-takers were getting at. Everton's entire starting XI had been assembled for the price of Frank Lampard. And he's not even Chelsea's most expensive purchase. But the extra class, craft - and more importantly bodies -possessed by the Premiership's big-spending clubs is proving crucial as the chase for Europe reaches its shake-up. David Moyes has worked wonders to keep the Toffees clinging to the shirt-tails of the Champions League challengers. But it is no coincidence that when the holiday programmes have thrown a series of fixtures in a short space of time at them, they have been found wanting. The Christmas pile-up peaked with the trauma of the FA Cup exit to Shrewsbury. Easter proved almost as torrid. After the devastating disappointment of a derby defeat on Saturday, Everton's ageing back-line creaked and strained to keep in touch with Chelsea's vibrant forwards yesterday, led by the astonishingly fleet-footed Jesper Gronkjaer. They eventually cracked and were swept comprehensively away. But David Moyes' demeanour afterwards reflected the long-term achievement of his players this season, rather than the short-term trauma of Easter. "I'm hurting like hell," he admitted, but then added: "This squad we have got has competed with the squads of these so-called bigger clubs who have spent an awful lot of money, so I think you've got to give our players tremendous credit. "We have given the Champions League a go, but for us to finish above Manchester United or Arsenal, Newcastle or Chelsea - maybe even Liverpool - would have been some going. Now we have to finish above Blackburn . . . and we are three points ahead with three games to go." The return of the attacking outlet which is Tomasz Radzinski cannot come too soon. Moyes tried to freshen up his squad as much as his limited resources would allow, but recalling Li Tie and Scot Gemmill was about as expansive as he could get. The first half was the kind of endurance test which had Sky pay-per-view customers wondering why they hadn't invested eight quid in a good book, or a trip round the Garden Centre. Eidur Gudjohnsen produced the first moment of goal-mouth action in the 24th minute - and even then it took a slip by David Weir to gift him possession 15 yards from Richard Wright's goal, a gift he gobbled up gratefully. Hasselbaink clipped another shot into the side-netting, otherwise Stamford Bridge was an excitement-free zone. The murmur of anticipation which rose from the deflated Everton supporters when Wayne Rooney set off on a careering run at four retreating Chelsea shirts - from the halfway line - simply under-lined just how much hope Everton pinned on their talented young striker. Everton's only first half threat came from a loose Cudicini throw-out, but the ball zipped across the home box a couple of times before the Italian eventually claimed it. Everton's afternoon was as good as over just two minutes after the restart. Jesper Gronkjaer charged to the touchline, clipped back a cross to the waiting Hasselbaink and he looped a header over Wright and in off the far post. David Moyes bravely tried to make a stand with what limited resources he had available. But Saturday's flawed weapon Thomas Gravesen and a not yet matchfit Tony Hibbert were all he could turn to to replace Yobo and Unsworth. Duncan Ferguson was also tossed on 13 minutes from time, but by then Chelsea had embellished their lead with a Gronkjaer strike. From Everton's viewpoint it was an abject goal, but it underlined the tired limbs in the Blues' line-up. Desailly clipped a free-kick forward from deep in his own half, Weir was caught napping and Hibbert had too much ground to make up as the Dane darted onto the ball and produced an immaculate first touch to open up a shooting opportunity and steered the ball confidently past Wright. Everton were facing the prospect of a second Stamford Bridge mauling this season, then they pulled a goal back unexpectedly. Scot Gemmill chiselled out enough space on the edge of the penalty box to find Carsley - and he steered a tidy shot beyond Cudicini. That consolation might have proved even more significant had the Irish midfielder repeated the feat six minutes from time, but he swivelled onto Gravesen's chipped pass and fired a foot wide. The sight of the fourth official's board advising four more minutes of time added on is usually the signal for a cavalry call from the losing side's supporters. In this case it was just a sign for Evertonians to head for the exit doors and beat the rush. At least they were spared the sight of substitute Zola outstripping Weir once again and deftly lobbing Wright with the last kick of the match. The Blues had been well beaten, and the only source of solace came with the news that Bolton had kept out Blackburn at Ewood Park. The gap between the Blues and Graeme Souness' UEFA Cup coveting side is now just three points. But Everton have a few days now to regroup - while Aston Villa and Fulham will surely hold less horrors than Liverpool and Chelsea. Everton can still end this season on a high after this abject Easter.
CHELSEA: Cudicini, Melchiot, Desailly, Terry, Gallas, De Lucas, Petit, Lampard, Gronkjaer (Le Saux 87 mins), Gudjohnsen (Cole 84 mins), Hasselbaink (Zola 81 mins). Unused substitutes: Stanic, De Goey.
EVERTON: Wright, Yobo (Hibbert 52 mins), Weir, Stubbs, Unsworth (Gravesen 52 mins), Carsley, Tie (Ferguson 77 mins), Gemmill, Naysmith, Campbell, Rooney. Unused substitutes: Alexandersson, Gerrard.
Referee: Mike Riley. Bookings: De Lucas (8 mins) foul, Gravesen (69 mins) foul.
GOALS: Gudjohnsen (24 mins) 1-0, Hasselbaink (47 mins) 2-0, Gronkjaer (60 mins) 3-0, Carsley (76 mins) 3-1, Zola (93 mins) 4-1.
MAN OF THE MATCH: ALAN STUBBS - One of the few Blues defenders to show any kind of resilience on a torrid afternoon.
Rooney spitting claims
Apr 22 2003 by Matt Slater, Liverpool Echo
WAYNE Rooney is unlikely to face any police action over claims he spat at Liverpool fans during the Merseyside derby. But he must wait until officers have studied video footage before a final decision is made. Several Reds' supporters told police the 17-year-old striker spat at them during Saturday's game at Goodison Park. Officers launched an investigation and are now studying video footage taken during the clash, which Liverpool won 2-1. It is understood, however, that there is very little chance of any police action being taken against the youngster. The FA have said they will not comment on the incident until they have seen the referees' report today (Tuesday, April 22).
A Merseyside Police spokeswoman said: "There have been a number of complaints in relation to an alleged incident involving Wayne Rooney. "They are being investigated by officers and we are in the early stages of that investigation. "We are looking at the video footage from the game and nothing will be decided until that has been completed. "It is not yet known if anything was captured on film." Rooney, the youngest ever player to win a full England cap, was barracked by Liverpool fans during the derby match. Earlier this season Liverpool striker El-Hadji Diouf was hit with a two match European ban and a club fine after spitting at Celtic fans. He was caught on film spitting at followers of the Glasgow club during a UEFA Cup match in March.
Police study Rooney tape
Apr 22 2003 Liverpool Echo
WAYNE Rooney is unlikely to face any police action over claims he spat at Liverpool fans during the Merseyside derby. But he must wait until officers have studied video footage before a final decision is made. Several Reds' supporters told police the 17-year-old striker spat at them during Saturday's game at Goodison Park. Officers launched an investigation are now studying video footage taken during the clash, which Liverpool won 2-1. It is understood, however, that there is very little chance of any police action being taken against the youngster. The FA has said it will not comment on the incident until it has seen the referees' report today. A Merseyside police spokeswoman said: "There have been a of complaints in relation to an alleged incident involving Wayne Rooney. "They are being investigated by officers and we are in the early stages of that investigation. "We are looking at the video footage from the game and nothing will be decided until that has completed. "It is not yet known if anything was captured on film." Rooney, the youngest player to win a full England cap, was barracked by Liverpool fans during the derby match. Earlier this season Liverpool striker El-Hadji Diouf was hit with a two-match European ban and a club fine after spitting at Celtic fans.
He was caught on film spitting at followers of the Glasgow club during a Uefa Cup match in March.
Blues have sixth sense over Europe
Apr 22 2003David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON will go six-shooting in their final three games of the season - with a sixth place finish the target for UEFA Cup qualification. David Moyes conceded a Champions League place was beyond the Blues after yesterday's 4-1 defeat at Chelsea, while Saturday's derby defeat effectively scuppered Everton's hopes of a back-door route into Europe. UEFA will grant one Fair-Play place into next season's UEFA Cup - to the non-European qualifier who finishes highest up the Fair-Play table. Middlesbrough and Manchester City are currently in pole position, but the Blues weren't far behind before Saturday's two red cards and four yellows. Now they must remain above Blackburn to clinch the final UEFA Cup slot. FA Cup finalists Southampton will earn one UEFA Cup place, with fellow cup finalists Arsenal now Champions League certainties. Everton are also in the driving seat for a UEFA Cup place. Sixth place will be good enough thanks to Liverpool's Worthington Cup win. But if the Blues finish seventh they will not make UEFA Cup qualification. Normally, the team that finishes fifth, plus the two domestic cup winners, qualify for the following season's UEFA Cup.
Liverpool's success in Cardiff means they are already in the competition, so if they finish fifth in the Premiership or make it into the Champions League the sixth-placed team will take their place.
Blues' boss David Moyes said: "We have had one or two little injuries to people recently who have been important to us, but let's be fair, this squad that we have got has competed with the squads of the so-called bigger clubs who have spent an awful lot of money, so you have to give our players tremendous credit for even talking about Europe. "The Champions League is beyond us now, but isn't it strange you are even asking that? "We have given it a go and we have tried to hang in there, but for us to finish above Manchester United or Arsenal, or Newcastle or Chelsea - maybe even Liverpool - would have been some going for any side. "Now we have to finish above Blackburn and that's a big ask, but the players have done really well and been in the top six throughout the season. They will be really determined. We are three points ahead with three games to go. "It's a big thing for us to be back in Europe. It's a long time since we've been there and it's something that the players can be really proud of that we're still in with a chance." Everton were well beaten at Stamford Bridge and Moyes added: "As you can imagine I'm hurting like hell, but I'm doing my best.
"We can't have too many complaints. We conceded poor goals. We slipped for the first goal, and that can't happen in big games, and we were poor on the others. "I really didn't think we gave Chelsea too many problems, which is disappointing because the players have done really well this season. "It was a tough weekend for us fixtures-wise and we still didn't deserve to lose on Saturday." "I don't think energy will be a problem. If the players just keep doing what they've been doing we'll be alright."
Blues can top league
Apr 22 2003 By Kevin Ratcliffe, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON have finally accepted that Champions League qualification is beyond them. But while the Arsenals, Manchester Uniteds and Chelseas are out of Everton's reach, there is rich consolation in the fact that the Blues are still top of their own particular league. It has long been accepted that the Premiership is divided into three separate leagues. And before the season started most experts would have suggested Everton were battling to finish top of the bottom section, and achieve mid-table respectability. They have gone beyond that and now they are still top of the next group - the one usually made up of clubs like Tottenham, Blackburn and Southampton. Distressing though the Easter games have been for Evertonians, now is not the time to roll over and accept that a season of monumental progress is in its death throes. Everton's European dream is still in their own hands.
And two of the last three games of the season are at Goodison Park, where the supporters can play almost as much of a part as the players. If Everton can stay top of their own particular league that will represent an incredible season - and it's still in their own hands.
Roon will learn
THE Wayne Rooney spitting incident is not a matter for the FA. David Moyes should be allowed to have a quiet word with the boy and it should be quickly forgotten. The incident bears absoultely no comparison to the El-Hadji Diouf episode. Rooney was at least 10 yards from the crowd and he spat onto the turf. It was a gesture he should not have made, but so too was Steven Gerrard's tongue-pulling antics at the Goodison crowd last season, or Michael Owen's finger on his lips this time.
Both could be perceived as inflammatory, just like Rooney's gesture, so where do you draw the line?
Rooney is a young kid who was probably suffering crowd abuse for the first time in his career. He will learn from the incident and that should be enough.
WHAT are the idiots who defiled the Hillsborough Memorial, defaced the Dixie Dean statue and engaged in fights in town on Saturday night thinking of? The Merseyside derby is still thought to be unique. Nowhere else can fans from the two clubs go to the game and walk home together. That situation has been created by a hundred years of history and tradition - and it would be tragic if a handful of degenerates ruined that.
No charge - but police will talk to Rooney
By Andy Kelly, Daily Post
Apr 23 2003
EVERTON star Wayne Rooney will not face any police charges after apparently spitting in the direction of Liverpool fans during Saturday's Merseyside Derby. But a senior police officer from Merseyside's football unit is to visit the 17-year-old England international to advise him as to his future conduct. That meeting will take place at Everton's Bellefield training ground within the next 48 hours with Blues manager David Moyes also in attendance. Merseyside Police confirmed yesterday afternoon that the Everton prodigy would not be prosecuted for apparently twice spitting in the direction of Liverpool fans in response to barracking from sections of the Reds support.
A number of Liverpool supporters in the Bullens Road stand at Goodison subsequently complained to police about Rooney's actions and a full investigation was launched. As well as interviewing a substantial number of fans, police visited Goodison Park to view closed circuit television footage of the ground. Television pictures had seemed to confirm Croxteth-born Rooney spitting in the direction of the Liverpool fans during the Anfield club's 2-1 win. A police spokeswoman said: "Merseyside Police have now had the opportunity of speaking with supporters who complained to police regarding Mr Rooney's behaviour. We have also had the opportunity of viewing a video of the incident. "Wayne Rooney will, as a result, be seen by a senior officer at the earliest opportunity in the presence of the club's manager and will be given suitable advice. "No further police action is contemplated once we've done that." The senior officer to visit Rooney will come from Merseyside Police's football unit, normally assigned to monitor hooligans and look after crowd control. Last night, Everton welcomed news that the police were to take no action against Rooney and confirmed he would not face any internal club sanctions either. Club spokesman Ian Ross said: "We are happy that the matter has been dealt with so swiftly." Rooney, whose full England debut against Turkey has turned him into a national hero, is not the only Mersey-side football star to be embroiled in a spitting row this season. Liverpool's Senegalese striker El Hadji Diouf received a two-match European ban and a substantial club fine after spitting at Celtic supporters at Celtic Park last month.
Middlesbrough Res 3, Everton Res 1
Apr 23 2003
A YOUNG Everton Reserves went down 3-1 at the Riverside Stadium as Boro came from behind to take the points. Nick Chadwick gave Everton the lead after 22 minutes and once again the impressive Leon Osman, who has enjoyed a great season for the second string, was involved. Osman played a superb ball to the big centre-forward who then calmly finished past Brad Jones despite the attention of a couple of defenders. Everton should really have been further ahead at the break when Osman looked like he had doubled their lead only to see his header go just over the crossbar.
Middlesbrough, however, were a different side in the second half and in particular when substitute Daniel Graham was introduced with 20 minutes to go. Stewart Downing, Jamie Cade and Tony Vidmar had all seen chances come and go but it was Graham who turned things around in dramatic fashion. The young striker pulled his side level on 74 minutes when he met Downing's cross to force the ball over the line. Graham put the home side ahead for the first time in the game on 81 minutes. Gary Smith's long ball found the striker, who struck a clinical shot past the helpless Steve Simonsen. At this time Everton were ruffled and the Boro substitute completed his hat-trick in the final two minutes killing off the game from close range from Downing's cross. Andy Holden's side took some credit for their first-half performance, but were all at sea in the second.
MIDDLESBROUGH: Jones, Stockdale, Murphy, Smith, Riggott, Vidmar, Parnaby, Johnston, Cade, Dove (Graham 70), Downing. Subs: Russell, Storey, Emms, Agbatar.
EVERTON: Simonsen, Potter, Moogan, Pilkington, O'Hanlon, Osman, Barry, Carney, Chadwick, Beck (Jones 72), Crowder. Subs: Turner, Southern, Gerrard, Garside.
Rooney ready for rest as Radzinski eyes return
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Apr 23 2003
EVERTON hope Tomasz Radzinski will ease the burden on Wayne Rooney this weekend as they look for the final push towards Europe. Rooney has played in all of the Blues last five matches in the absence of the injured Canadian striker, with his workload intensified by two Euro 2004 qualifers with England. Following the winless Easter that killed off the club's Champions League aspirations, Everton boss David Moyes admitted the 17-year-old sensation was in need of a break, insisting: "He can't do something wonderful in every game." And that rest is likely to come against Aston Villa this Saturday, providing Radzinski proves his fitness. The Blues' leading scorer has been absent for a month with a groin strain and just failed a fitness test before the Merseyside derby. Monday's visit to Chelsea was also deemed too soon for the pacy striker but, with further training this week and Everton in need of fresh legs as they try to hold on to sixth place, Radzinski should be back to face Graham Taylor's improving team. "In recent games Wayne's been a little bit below the standard he's set," admitted Moyes. "But you can't expect him to do something wonderful every game.
"He was 16 at the start of season, is still only 17 now and we're pleased with his progress. "I'm concerned about him playing too many games and if we'd had Tomasz Radzinski at Chelsea, I'd have given him a bit of breathing space." Everton reserves, mean-while, went down to a 3-1 defeat at Middlesbrough last night.
* QPR are hoping to extend Kevin McLeod's loan spell at Loftus Road until the end of the season.
Fresh injury rocks Hibbo
Apr 23 2003 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
TONY HIBBERT'S injury plagued season has been hit by a new blow. Everton's young defender had to have several stitches inserted in a fresh ankle injury, after he came on as a second half substitute at Chelsea. Hibbert, who was ever present for the first half of the season when he showed form which earned him an England under-21 call-up, has not figured since December. He suffered a gash to his thigh, which delayed hernia surgery, and since recovering from that problem has struggled with an ankle injury. Manager David Moyes will have to assess his recovery before deciding on any defensive changes he may make ahead of Saturday's vital visit of Aston Villa to Goodison Park.
With David Weir suspended for the final two games of the season, Moyes may be tempted to restore Joseph Yobo to his more familiar central defensive berth a match earlier than absolutely necessary. "I don't know how Tony is at the moment," explained Moyes "but it's typical of the way the season has gone for him. "We only put him on the bench at Chelsea because Alan Stubbs was feeling his hamstring beforehand. He hasn't played for four months but we had to bring him on.
"For the first time we were a little bit stretched and we didn't have as full a squad to pick from as we would have liked. "But I am hopeful Steve Watson, Mark Pembridge and Tomasz Radzinski will all be available for the weekend." Kevin McLeod's loan spell at Queens Park Rangers, meanwhile, has been extended to the end of the season.
Apr 24 2003 by Thomas Martin, Liverpool Echo
HIS great grandad once scored 60 League goals in a single season. Now eight-year-old Daniel Dean Haslam has taken his first steps towards soccer stardom. The great grandson of legendary Everton goalscorer Dixie Dean, Daniel has won an award as the David Campbell Soccer School's "Star of the Future." Following a 20-week soccer skills course held at his school, Streatham House in Crosby, which Daniel attends, David Campbell presented him with the prize and said: "When I watch someone with that type of magic and with so much ability at such a young age, you can't help but feel you are watching a star of the future." A member of Formby Junior Sports Club, Daniel still plays eight-a-side football and hasn't yet decided whether he wants to be a centre-forward or a centre-half. But he recently asked for his first Everton strip ("the one with Granddad Dixie's picture on the arm!") and demanded the words "Dixie Dean" be placed above the number nine, rather than his own name. Mum Melanie, who displayed some neat footwork of her own as a youngster at the Elliott Clarke School of Dance and Drama, is married to the Echo's Everton correspondent David Prentice. She said: "Daniel has already scored at Goodison Park - at the same end my Grandad got his 60th! "He was invited onto the pitch by the club before a match against Spurs in 1997, when he was only two-years-old. "He wasn't a bit bothered and dribbled all the way from the halfway line before rolling the ball into the Park End goal. "It raised the biggest cheer of the day, because Everton lost 2-0!"
* Next month marks the 75th anniversary of Dixie Dean's remarkable goalscoring achievements. To celebrate the occasion the ECHO is publishing a unique souvenir edition on sale this Monday.
Parky backs Blues for Europe
Apr 24 2003 By Ross Heppenstall Echo Reporter
JOE PARKINSON is looking forward to Everton's clash with Aston Villa on Saturday with bittersweet memories. The former midfielder nearly blasted the Blues into Europe when he scored the winning goal against Villa in the final game of the 1995/96 season. With fifth-placed Arsenal trailing 1-0 to relegated Bolton at Highbury, an Everton victory over Brian Little's men looked set to hand Joe Royle's side fifth spot and ensure a second consecutive season of European football at Goodison Park. However, two late strikes from Dennis Bergkamp gave the Gunners victory and significantly, a fifth-placed finish, which clinched the final UEFA Cup spot for the Londoners. Parkinson, who was forced to retire with a cruciate knee injury midway through the 96/97 season, said: "When I scored in front of the Gwladys Street and we heard Arsenal were losing, it gave everybody a massive lift.
"However, it all went a bit flat at the end of the game when we heard the final score from Highbury."
Parkinson, a key figure during Royle's early Goodison tenure in the 'Dogs of War' side, remained philosophical about the disappointment of missing out on the prospect of a second consecutive season of European football. He said: "We had been fighting relegation the previous season, so to finish the following season in a respectable sixth position was an achievement in itself." The Blues' current predicament mirrors that of seven years ago, with David Moyes' side - following a successful fight against relegation last season - now aiming to finish within the UEFA Cup places. However, unlike seven years ago, a sixth-placed finish will this time guarantee the Blues a European spot.
With Blackburn Rovers hot on the heels of Everton, Parkinson is aware of the importance of Saturday's clash, saying: "It's a huge game and one that Everton must win. "Villa have come into form at the moment and it's always a tough game against them. However, with the fans getting behind the players as well as they did last week against Liverpool, Everton are well capable of getting the right result." Parkinson is delighted at the massive strides made by Moyes' side this season and believes a UEFA Cup spot is close to being sealed. He added: "David Moyes is aware of the size of this club. His impact has been very positive and he has taken the club forward so much. "With due respect to Walter Smith, he would often bring a defender on during games but Moyes often prefers a more positive, attacking option. "To be competing for the Champions League for so long is a credit to David and the players. "I have spoken to a couple of the play-ers about Moyes and they have said how positive he is - how he has taken the club one step further. "Goodison Park has become a fortress and people are now talking about Everton being a top six club again. "I am sure they can clinch the UEFA Cup place they have worked so hard for all season."
No rest for Rooney in Blues' run-in
Apr 24 2003 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
WAYNE ROONEY will be asked to carry on striking at Goodison Park on Saturday - despite fears from his manager that his first full season is catching up with him. Tomasz Radzinski was expected to return against Aston Villa after missing five matches with a hamstring injury, to ease the burden on the 17-year-old. But Moyes said this morning: "Tomasz may not be ready for the weekend. He has done plenty of running, but doesn't feel comfortable kicking the ball. "He hasn't played for five weeks either so we have to bear that in mind, too, before we start thinking about putting him straight back in. "I will have to wait and see but hopefully we will know a little more by Friday morning." If Radzinski does not make himself available, Moyes has little option but to persist with Rooney and Campbell. The near year long absence from first team football has stripped Duncan Ferguson of the competitive edge he possessed when Moyes first arrived, while Nick Chadwick has not been named in a first team squad all season. Rooney has now started five successive Premiership matches plus England's European Championship qualifier against Turkey, and the Blues' boss is concerned at asking too much of him too soon. "In recent games Wayne has been a little bit below the standard he has set himself and if we'd had Tomasz Radzinski we would probably have given him a bit of a breather," he said. "But we have had to play him and this is why I am concerned about him playing too many games. "You can't expect some-thing wonderful from him every game. "He was 16 at the start of the season and is only 17 now and we are pleased with his progress. He's a young boy who has done really well for us this season." David Moyes was also forced to play down reported contract talks with Joseph Yobo for the umpteenth time this season.
The Nigerian was reported yesterday as saying: "I am having talks soon. I need to see what Everton's plans are for me because the end of the season is nearly here." But Moyes confirmed once again that the player had already signed a deal with the Blues.
Moyes targets Spurs winger
Apr 24 2003 By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
EVERTON TARGET Matthew Etherington has delayed a decision on his Tottenham future after becoming disillusioned with life on the bench at White Hart Lane. Etherington, who scored against the Blues on the opening day of the season, will only commit his long-term future to Tottenham if he believes he can finally establish himself as a first-team regular at White Hart Lane. That development is sure to alert Blues manager David Moyes, who has been linked with the young winger for months. Etherington, who has 14 months to run on his contract, recently held talks over extending his deal with Spurs director of football David Pleat. But the England under-21 midfielder and his agent Paul Martin decided not to hold a follow-up meeting until the summer, at which point Etherington will tell Pleat and boss Glenn Hoddle if he wants to stay or not. Martin said last night: "We've had initial discussions about a new contract and decided to delay talks until the end of the season. "We will then review the situation and make a football decision based on whether Matthew feels he will get regular first-team football at Spurs or not. "Matthew now wants to concentrate on getting into the Spurs team on a regular basis." But with just three games left this season Etherington has little time to impress before finalising his future. The Truro-born winger, snapped up from Peterborough for £500,000 in January 2000, played only 22 top-flight games in his first two-and-a-half years in north London. He has made 20 more league appearances this term, despite an ankle injury, but is often a substitute or replaced before full-time. Etherington made his first start in a month in Monday's 3-2 victory at West Brom after struggling with a back problem.
Moyes in midfield misery
Apr 24 2003 By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
DAVID MOYES is braced for more international misery ahead of the game that could decide Everton's European fate. The Blues manager has had to contend with the problems generated by Sven-Goran Eriksson's promotion of Wayne Rooney this season. Now he is set to lose an entire midfield in the build-up to next week's crucial game at Fulham. Should Everton triumph over Aston Villa at Goodison Park on Saturday and Blackburn fail to win at Leeds Moyes' men could secure their UEFA Cup place with victory at Loftus Road the following weekend. But the Blues' preparations will be far from ideal - thanks to a series of call-ups for meaningless international friendlies. Thomas Gravesen, Lee Carsley, Scot Gemmill and Gary Naysmith - who all played against Chelsea on Easter Monday - were yesterday all selected for international duty next Wednesday night, just 48 hours before the Blues face Chris Coleman's strugglers. Carsley will head for Dublin where the Republic of Ireland take on Norway while Gemmill and Naysmith are in the Scotland squad to face Austria at Hampden Park. Naysmith is suspended for the Fulham game anyway courtesy of his derby day dismissal but Danish international Gravesen faces an arduous journey to the Ukraine and will only rejoin his Everton team-mates the day they head for Fulham. With Everton in desperate need of fresh legs following their sapping Easter programme the added burden of international friendlies is the last thing Moyes needs. Last night the Blues boss admitted: "It does seem a strange time for friendlies to be taking place. Many clubs are still involved in either relegation or promotion battles and others are chasing European football next season." Moyes does, however, hope to bolster his squad with the return of three key players for this Saturday's clash with Villa. Tomasz Radzinski, Mark Pembridge and Steve Watson are all making steady progress from their respective injuries and Moyes revealed: "I am hopeful all three will be available for the weekend." One fresh and serious doubt for Saturday is Tony Hibbert after the Blues defender's injury jinx struck again at Stamford Bridge. The 22-year-old saw his ever-present record and progress to the England Under-21 squad shattered in December by a gashed thigh and a hernia operation. His return was then delayed by an ankle problem and now, following a second half substitute appearance at Chelsea, he has had stitches inserted into an ankle wound.
Real European dream is over
Fanscene With Mark O'Brien, Daily Post
Apr 25 2003
VICENTE DEL BOSQUE and his band of merry men can now rest easy, safe in the knowledge that barring a miracle they won't have to face Everton in the Champions League next season.
Whatever chance we had of snatching fourth - and in truth it was never more realistic than Newcastle's title hopes - was spurned in a disastrous Easter weekend. The trip to Stamford Bridge produced a distinct feeling of déjà vu. We started energetically but failed to keep hold of the ball while Claudio Ranieri's slick outfit took their time and eventually picked us off at will. Ultimately Chelsea are better than us in every department - that's the top and bottom of it. When they can leave Gianfranco Zola and Carlton Cole on the bench it's obvious that Everton - with one striker in his teens and the other in his thirties, both playing their second game in three days - are going to struggle. Despite the comprehensiveness of that defeat the disappointment did not come close to that experienced on the Saturday. Losing to Liverpool is never pleasant, and often there is a sense of anger or injustice when a derby result goes the wrong way, but this time there was just a feeling of disbelief that Everton could under perform like that with so much at stake. What made it worse was that in the opening exchanges the Reds - with Igor Biscan seeming to take the first route out - looked as if they'd come to lose. They were for the taking, yet a determined, organised unit who have been close to unbeatable at home all season inexplicably chose to play like a bunch of strangers. They failed to close down the visitors when they were in possession and then when we had the ball it was invariably lumped aimlessly forward, with no one wanting to get it down and play.
The wide midfield players were especially anonymous, with someone commenting afterwards: "We miss Radzinski, he makes out full-backs look good". Liverpool simply couldn't believe their luck as we failed to exert any pressure on them and put even UEFA qualification in jeopardy. Unfortunately the events on the pitch weren't the only disappointment as once again malicious individuals from both sides chose to up the ante in the derby hate stakes. Rather depressingly it feels like things will only get worse in the future, as more and more people choose to ignore the fact that it's a tiny minority who engage in these acts of vandalism and violence. While the irresponsible and the blinkered use these regrettable incidents to score points and try and gain some sort of warped moral high ground the divisions between both sets of fans will grow, which is exactly what the paint daubers, bottle throwers, tyre slashers and wasters of police time want.
Icliverpool & Daily Post
Apr 25 2003
Grow up, animals
I AM writing to ask those Liverpool fans in the Lower Bullens Road stand if they are proud of themselves for their behaviour on Saturday. My 12-year-old son and I are both Reds and were stuck in the middle of the most hostile continued expressions of hatred that we have ever heard, and the reason was jealousy. A 17-year-old fellow Scouser with immense talent plays for the local rivals and what do we Reds do? Behave like a bunch of animals. Grow up and get over it.
Kate Turner, Liverpool
I CANNOT avoid putting into print the behaviour of "supporters" Everton) at the weekend's derby.
I have supported Everton for over 40 years and have never witnessed the sort of viciousness between the two sets of supporters. I have close family who support Liverpool and I cannot imagine thinking, let alone saying to them some of the things that were said in the name of Everton Football Club. There was a time not long ago when both sets of fans mingled at the match. Remember the "Merseyside" finals?
Jimmy Hough, Liverpool
I THINK the Liverpool fans who complained about Wayne Rooney spitting are absolutely pathetic.
Let's face it, the lad is only 17 and is from Liverpool. No doubt these are the same fans who verbally abused Rooney with their filthy disgusting language. I liken these so-called supporters to the one Eric Cantona attacked in the crowd several years ago. There is no place for these whingeing cowards in our football grounds.
C Murphy, Cork
AT the final whistle of the weekend derby, Phil Thompson allegedly kissed his Liverpool badge on his tracksuit and shook his fist skywards in celebration, which apparently upset the Blue side of the city and caused irate Everton fans to remonstrate about this on a local radio phone-in. When David Unsworth converted his spot-kick to even the score, he ran away celebrating and proceeded to lift the arm of his shirt and kiss his tattoo. I fail to see why the Evertonians are rounding on this incident when one of their own was guilty of inciting behaviour.
D Salem (via e-mail)
GOODISON PARK has been a fortress this season and the only two Everton defeats there were when we had less than 11 men. I'm confident we can secure a UEFA Cup place. We deserved to lose against Chelsea and I felt Richard Wright was at fault for Michael Owen's goal. I'd like to see us keep Wright but bring in Nigel Martyn as first-choice keeper.
Matt Jones, Liverpool
"WE PLAYED against Steven Gerrard and Dietmar Hamann on Saturday and Frank Lampard and Emmanuel Petit", said David Moyes. "We're trying to bridge the gap to our opposition." Are these remarks from Moyes a signal that we should see some kind of a remake of our midfield this Summer?
C Chandra, Wales
DESPITE David Moyes' miracle work and the players' best efforts, the pieces of the Everton puzzle layed down by Walter Smith are still firmly in place. Slow, average players were signed on ludicrous extended contracts that tie the club's hands. I'm sure Moyes realises this but has to work with them until contracts expire. It's unlikely you could give them away as they are limited at best and too expensive.
P Renzo, Liverpool
IN reponse to the nonsensical passage of twaddle from Nick Jones last week (A False Dawn, Apr 22), he should refrain from commenting on a subject that he is obviously too bitter and ill informed to pass judgement on. When Everton finish in the top six, it will be a miraculous achievement.
And describing Wayne Rooney as "sussed" and comparing him to Stuart Barlow only demonstrates further his ignorance about the game.
R Foster, Wallasey
HOW fickle Liverpool fans are. Only a week or two ago they were criticising their players and manager, now they are once again world beaters having beaten a team of "journeymen" (A False Dawn, Apr 22). Not to mention being outplayed by Charlton Athletic.
R Wynne, Birkenhead
Blues hungry for goal feast
Academy Football With Chris Wright, Daily Post
Apr 25 2003
EVERTON under-17s go in search of goals as they return to action after the Easter break.
Tomorrow's FA Premier Academy league clash at Netherton with Middlesbrough (kickoff 1.30pm) will be the Blues final match of the season unless they can win handsomely. And if Alan Harper's side do trounce the Teesiders by a big score, they still need West Ham to defeat Aston Villa in the other group match in order to qualify for the knock-out stage. The Blues lost 3-0 to Aston Villa in their first match and while they beat West Ham 2-1 before Easter, the Midlands side boosted their goal difference with a 4-1 victory over Boro. But whatever happens, the Blues will be looking for another good performance and result to cap or prolong a good season. Harper said: "We will approach the game the same as we always have. It is tough for us to qualify and I can't see it to be honest, but we'll give it a go. "We will play our normal game because if you start thinking about other things you can get caught out trying to find the best way to go about it. "You have got to finish off on a good note by playing well. And it that happens that gives you confidence for next year." There are no injury worries so Harper should be able to field his strongest line-up, although that will depend on how one or two players have come through their exertions for the Reserves in midweek. Anthony Barry played the full 90 minutes in the reserves' 3-1 defeat at Middlesbrough as did James Potter. Joseph Jones also came on as a substitute for the final 18 minutes. All three may figure again tomorrow, providing they are showing no ill effects from Tuesday's match.
Back on track
By David Prior, Daily Post
Apr 25 2003
DEREK MOUNTFIELD has insisted Everton can get their European chase back on track against his old club Aston Villa tomorrow. The Blues legend, who left Goodison to join the Midlands club in 1988, reckons David Moyes' men can overcome the resurgent threat posed by Villa and regain the momentum that can lead them to a UEFA Cup place this season. Two successive defeats, in last Saturday's derby against Liverpool and at Chelsea on Easter Monday, have led some to believe Everton have finally run out of steam after a campaign that has surprised everyone. But regular Villa-watcher Mountfield has no doubt the club he helped to European Cup Winners' Cup success in 1985 can achieve their continental dream. He said: "Everton have had two poor results. After the derby game I expected them to get something out of the game against Chelsea, so that was a disappointment. "We need a good start and we need to take the game to Villa. I expect us to have the advantage and gain the three points which would leave us in excellent shape for a European place. "I've watched Villa many times this season because I work for the local radio station, and as long as they finish above Birmingham then they will be happy. Some games they have looked very mpressive but sometimes they've been awful. They've had some good results - an excellent and deserved win at home to Chelsea and then a good point at Newcastle." Mountfield proved one of the steals of the 1980s when Howard Kendall picked him up for just £30,000 from Tranmere in the summer of 1982. After collecting an FA Cup winners' medal in 1984, he came to the fore the following season, scoring an extraordinary 14 goals as the Blues clinched their league and European double. He moved to Villa Park in June 1988 where he played under current boss Graham Taylor, then in his first spell at the club. He added: "I'm going for an Everton victory. Villa have a poor away record - they've won 10 games at home but only one away from home, which is very poor. Everton's home form is pretty good, so if you're sticking to the form book, you have to think Everton will win. But then football's a strange game. "It's really hard to say whether they are running out of steam or not. They've had a tremendous season and surpassed all expectations. We thought we'd be back in the bottom half of the table, so what David Moyes has done has been a tremendous achievement. "I'm sure the Everton players who have played in Europe before will be saying to the others let's take it on and get that place. There's so much excitement in playing in Europe. "We don't need the Champions League this season - that would I think be one step too far. It's up to us now to make sure we don't let the last two games affect us." Mountfield claimed Moyes would be a deserving manager of the year winner whatever happens now. He said: "He's in with a very good shout, he's been phenomenal, nothing short of amazing. It's normally given to the managers who get trophies, that's the only problem." The Liverpool-born 40-year-old did admit however that Everton needed to concentrate on two specific areas over the summer if they wanted to maintain their improvement next season. "Managers are always looking because you need to keep improving. We haven't scored as many goals as we should have done, even though we've got three good strikers who can score, as well as Duncan Ferguson. "We maybe need more creativity in midfield. Every fan has a different opinion but it's down to the manager and the finances."
Blues duo in the clear
By David Prior, Daily Post
Apr 25 2003
THOMAS GRAVESEN and Wayne Rooney were last night given the all-clear by the Football Association as Everton prepared to relaunch their push for Europe. The Danish midfielder's controversial challenge on Olivier Bernard in Everton's victory over Newcastle earlier this month had provoked a storm of protest from the north east club. Alan Shearer branded him "a coward" after the clumsy foul on the Magpies full-back went unpunished in the move that led to the Blues' spot-kick winner. Referee Neale Barry's match report initially did not make mention of the incident, but there was still a chance the FA could refer it to their video panel. However, it is now understood that Barry had a partial sight of the incident and decided not to take any action on the field of play, and the video panel can only be triggered if the official was unsighted. The FA, meanwhile, will not be taking any action against 17-year-old striker Rooney after referee Paul Durkin made no mention of his alleged spitting towards Liverpool fans during last Saturday's derby. The police subsequently decided not to take the matter further and the FA will therefore not get involved. Rooney is expected to retain his place in the Everton side on Saturday after all. Manager David Moyes had indicated he was preparing to rest the England forward after a run of five successive Premiership matches. But Rooney looks set to face Aston Villa at Goodison Park after all as Tomasz Radzinski is still recovering from a hamstring injury. "Tomasz may not be ready for the weekend," Moyes said. "He has done plenty of running but doesn't feel comfortable kicking the ball. "He hasn't played for five weeks either so we have to bear that in mind too before we start thinking about putting him straight back in. "We have to wait and see and hopefully we will know more on Friday morning."
Moyes has used Rooney sparingly until the weeks following his brilliant first start for England against Turkey at the beginning of the month, fearing he may suffer from burn-out. "In recent games Wayne has been a little bit below the standard he has set himself," the Everton boss added.
"We would have given him a breather had Tomasz been fit. "But we had to play him and this is why I am concerned about him having too many games. "You cannot expect something wonderful from him every game. "He was 16 when the season started, he is 17 now and we are pleased with his progress. "He is a young boy who has done very well for us this season."
* Everton defender Peter Clarke has had his loan move to Port Vale extended until the end of the season. The England under-21 international has played 12 games for the Valiants since his switch from Goodison Park, scoring once, and has impressed boss Brian Horton. He said: "Peter has done very well, he is a very talented youngster and I think he has got a good future ahead of him."
Blues starting to feel pace
Apr 25 2003 By Howard Kendall, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON have given everything this season, but the players have started to look a little leg-weary in recent matches. They need Tomasz Radzinski fit again to inject a bit more zip into their play. Everton badly need to get back to winning ways after the disappointment of the last two games, in which they conceded six goals. But the defence should not come under too much criticism. Danny Murphy's strike was unstoppable and cost Everton the derby. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink's header against them was a fluke and Zola's goal was simply a piece of magic. You could say David Weir's slip for Chelsea's first goal was a key moment and gave the Londoners a very useful confidence boost. From then on they were in the driving seat. David Moyes will be looking to make clean sheets a priority again. Tomorrow's match at home to Aston Villa is so important if Everton are going to claim a European place. It will be a full house and the fans will get behind the team.
Hopefully the play-ers can keep the season's excellent work going a little longer and secure that European place. I believe they will.
FOR the life of me, I can't understand how Sir Alex Ferguson can defend his decision to leave David Beckham on the bench for such an important game against Real Madrid. He can talk all he wants about the form of Solskjaer, but for me the United midfield is Beckham and the rest. You can find a place for Solskjaer elsewhere in the team, especially with Paul Scholes missing. Who knows what Sir Alex's thinking will be when his team come to Goodison on the last day of the season. If they have already wrapped up the Premiership or cannot catch Arsenal, then Evertonians will be hoping he fields the academy side.
In the thick of it
IT IS interesting to note how many former Everton players are involved in promotion and relegation.
Congratulations to Mike Newell and Kevin Sheedy after Hartlepool won promotion from Division Three. They play bottom of the table Shrewsbury tomorrow and Kevin Ratcliffe could do with a favour from his old team-mates. David Jones' Wolves are in the first division play-offs, although Joe Royle's Ipswich appear to have just missed out. And Peter Reid seems to have got the results that will hopefully earn him the Leeds manager's job next season.
Moyes wants final push
Apr 25 2003 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES wants player-power to push his Everton side over the European finishing line tomorrow (Saturday). The Blues' boss - who celebrates his 40th birthday today - has achieved a miracle transformation at Goodison Park this season. But he insists his players deserve the praise and is backing them to succeed in the race for a UEFA Cup slot next season. "We are currently three points ahead of Blackburn, and if we can remain three points ahead with two games to go we will be so much closer to achieving what would be a tremendous success," he declared. "The players deserve the credit for getting us this close. They have gone from being players classed as relegation-fodder to footballers good enough to be involved in European competition. "They have done superbly this season and we just need them to give us a final push." Moyes is still no nearer to knowing whether Tomasz Radzinski will be involved against Aston Villa tomorrow. The forward was able to run yesterday, but is still experiencing discomfort when he kicks the ball. But Mark Pembridge and Steve Watson are both expected to return from calf and ankle injuries to be involved against GrahamTaylor's revived side. Villa are unbeaten in four nowincluding games against Chelsea, Arsenal and Newcastle in that run. "It's a big game for us," added Moyes, "and we know what the outcome has to be. "The lads have done fantastic for us so far so I don't think the time is right to start making too many drastic changes." Wayne Rooney is likely continue up front alongside Kevin Campbell, but with David Weir suspended for the final two games of the season that may influence Moyes' thinking tomorrow - with Tony Hibbert expected to recover from stitches in an ankle injury. Thomas Gravesen and Wayne Rooney have been told they will not face action from the FA - Gravesen regarding his tackle on Newcastle's Olivier Bernard, and Rooney over the derby spitting incident.
Birthday party put on hold for Moyes
Apr 25 2003 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
ACCORDING to the old saying, life begins at 40.
But while the youngest manager in the Premiership reaches that landmark today, it will feel like the end of his world if Everton don't maintain their astonishing progress this season and qualify for Europe. Just three points separates David Moyes' Everton side from closest challengers Blackburn. But Moyes knows victory tomorrow against Aston Villa, coupled with a Leeds United win over Graeme Souness' men at Elland Road, would leave him on the brink of European qualification.
"You don't get to sixth if you haven't been consistent throughout the season," he declared. "We have had consistency to our performances all season, with one or two dips, but in the main the players have performed at a good level all year. "Everyone knows we have had a dip over Easter, but we can point to our last seven fixtures and say we have also beaten Newcastle and West Brom in that run. "We now have Aston Villa, Fulham and Manchester United to go. We have won two and lost two so far, so if we can win another couple of games I am sure we can hold on to sixth place at least. "Because we have been there all year we feel as if we want to stay there so we can say we have achieved something this season. "If we miss out we would feel as if it has been a disappointing season, which in many ways it would be, even though it has been a season of progress in many other ways." While Champions League qualification was finally conceded following a traumatic Easter against two of their closest rivals for a place in that lucrative competition, the Blues are still in the driving seat for UEFA Cup qualification. "It is going to take a big effort to reach a points total which will be good enough to qualify for the UEFA Cup," said Moyes. "But if we do that I think we will have achieved something. I think it will be great achievement." Even before that issue is resolved, Moyes can pat himself on the back for a job already well done at Goodison Park. When he celebrated the first anniversary of his Goodison reign in March, he said: "My hope is that come next year you won't be able to get in at Goodison. "I hope you won't be able to get into the ground and you're going to have to get your season tickets early because you are going to come and, while you know your team might not win every week, you know that you are going to get a decent level of commitment and you know you are going to see your team try to do their best. Hopefully that will be a team which is involved in big games and getting a bit better." Everton's last three home matches have been 40,000 lockouts. Tomorrow's visit of Aston Villa has been a sell-out for more than a week. And tickets for the final home game of the season against Manchester United will be rarer than rocking horse droppings. If those supporters can roar Everton on to two or three victories, their manager might even celebrate his birthday . . . at the end of the season.
Everton 2, Aston Villa 1 (D, Post)
Apr 28 2003 By Ian Doyle At Goodison Park, Daily Post
IT was with the marvellous sense of occasion and timing which is fast becoming his trademark that Wayne Rooney penned another chapter in his short but sensational career on Saturday. There is little left that hasn't already been said about the boy with as many nicknames as he has years lived. The Croxteth Cannonball, Roonaldo, the new Paul Gascoigne, call him what you will, but there is no escaping the fact Rooney has that indeterminable quality which sets him aside from so many of his peers. He's special. So when the 17-year-old popped up deep into injury time to spectacularly rifle home Everton's winner and keep the Blues on course for the final remaining UEFA Cup place, the biggest surprise was that no-one was really surprised at all. Throw in the added significance of it being Rooney's first goal at the Gwladys Street end from which barely a year ago he was cheering on his team-mates, you start to believe anything is possible from this amazing individual. Aston Villa merely became the latest addition to a roll call which includes the names of Arsenal, Leeds and West Ham to have discovered first-hand the devastating damage Everton's Boy Wonder can inflict.
None of those goals, however, can have the potential financial implications as the one which lit up a gloomy Goodison on Saturday. With Blackburn racing to victory at Elland Road, the Blues could ill afford to drop two home points in their quest to earn a route back into Europe, which has gone from being a pipedream to becoming the very least David Moyes' side deserve for their endeavours.
Rightly, the Blues boss has been driven to distraction in his attempts to play down Rooneymania, and at the weekend he found a sympathetic voice in the opposing dug-out. "Rooney's was a good strike, but I don't want to use the word fantastic," insisted Villa boss Graham Taylor. "He's only 17 for God's sake. "And what worries me too is I even keep hearing him being labelled a role model. I don't know the boy, but don't talk to me about a 17-year-old kid being a role model. I've seen him being discussed as such. That's wrong." Despite his well-meaning put-down, there is little chance of Taylor or anyone checking Rooney's rise to prominence if the youngster continues to produce moments of magic like this. Sometimes it is easy to forget the tender age of Rooney, such is his manner on the pitch. Players of years more experience would struggle to match the grace, poise and alertness which the young striker brings to Moyes' outfit. To think, as the Blues boss intimated afterwards, that Rooney will come back after the summer even stronger and fitter than before.
What a frightening prospect for Premiership defences next season - and, Evertonians must be hoping, European defences too. True, not everything he tries comes off, but his sheer enthusiasm and obvious enjoyment at playing has rubbed off on his team-mates and proven the catalyst for more than one Everton success this season. And don't forget that going into Saturday's game, this was Rooney in need of a rest. Six successive starts had taken the edge off the youngster's game - never more evident than during last week's Easter double despair against Liverpool and Chelsea - but it was hard to tell following a first-half performance in which he was by far the most effective performer from either side. His radar may have been wayward in front of goal and he may have faded during a spell in the second half, but his ability to conjure something out of nothing ensured he remained a threat throughout. No wonder Moyes had second thoughts on substituting Rooney moments before his injury-time intervention. And with just two games to play - away at Fulham and at home to Manchester United - there seems little point in resting the striker, although post-Premiership England excursions are a thorny issue which will no doubt be addressed in future weeks.Rooney's ability to find a second wind was matched by his team-mates, who demonstrated the powers of recovery and steely-minded determination not to be beaten which has been engendered by Moyes in coming from behind to claim victory for a seventh time this season.
Suffering from the hangover of an unhappy Easter, the Blues wore the look of a weary outfit in a low-key first half which failed to live up to the pre-match entertainment provided by an eye-catching local pop group. What few moments of note there were inevitably eminated from Rooney. Five minutes in, a floated Gary Naysmith pass was flicked on by Kevin Campbell to put his strike partner clear, but the youngster dragged his shot wide from a good position. Rooney then turned provider with a perceptive pass to give Steve Watson a shooting chance which was snatched at, before Villa keeper Peter Enckleman's characteristic dallying on the ball allowed Campbell (left) to charge down his attempted clearance and present Rooney with a shot at an unguarded goal which, from an admittedly tight angle, he flashed across instead of into the net. Possibly due to their weariness, Everton resorted to playing too many long balls, by-passing a midfield which, despite running high on effort, was low on real quality. Even so, it was a slight shock when Villa went ahead three minutes after the interval. With the Blues defence on the backfoot after a poor Richard Wright clearance, Joey Gudjonsson - in one of the rare moments when he wasn't rolling about the Goodison turf in supposed agony - whipped in a ball from the right which Dion Dublin flicked on for Markus Allback to turn in at the far post. Moyes responded by throwing Duncan Ferguson on in place of David Unsworth, and the rewards were instant as Naysmith played a one-two with Thomas Gravesen from an Everton corner on the right before whipping in a superb inswinging cross which invited Campbell to head home on 58 minutes. Cue Blue domination. Rooney fed the unmarked Ferguson in the area for a shot which Enckleman saved with his feet, and the keeper was indebted to team-mate Jlloyd Samuel who blocked Rooney's follow-up. Ferguson then brought the best from Enckleman with a twisting volley after a good combination between Gravesen and Campbell, but then blotted his copybook somewhat when Gudjonsson had legitimate reason to hit the turf after his face unwisely butted the Scotsman's elbow. Deep into injury time, it seemed as though it would be two costly points dropped by the Blues. But cometh the hour, cometh the boy, and after the ball had dropped back to him on the edge of the area after Gravesen's free-kick into the area, Rooney took one touch to control before lashing a left-footed shot through the legs of Samuel and into the bottom corner. The victory means Everton need four points from their remaining games at Fulham next week and at home to Manchester United on the final day to ensure European football for the first time since the 1995-96 season. It's a tough task, but the goal on Saturday from the boy who is worth millions could be worth millions for Everton. Should it prove so, it would be no surprise.
EVERTON (4-4-2): Wright; Hibbert, Stubbs, Weir, Unsworth (Ferguson 56); Watson (Osman 90), Gravesen, Carsley, Naysmith; Campbell, Rooney. Subs: Gerrard, Yobo.
ASTON VILLA (4-4-2): Enckleman; Edwards (Whittingham 46), Johnsen (Taylor 46), Mellberg, Staunton; Leonhardsen (Vassell 67), Hitzlsperger, Gudjonsson, Samuel; Dublin, Allback. Subs: Postma, Hendrie.
BOOKING: Villa's Vassell.
REFEREE: Mr G Poll.
Caught on camera
By Ian Doyle, Daily Post
Apr 28 2003
DUNCAN FERGUSON could face an FA charge after being involved in an elbowing incident on Saturday. The Everton striker was caught on camera striking Aston Villa midfielder Joey Gudjonsson in the face in an off-the-ball incident during the Blues' 2-1 win at Goodison on Saturday. The clash was not spotted by referee Graham Poll or his assistants and, if as expected, there is no mention of it in the referee's report of the match, matter is likely to be passed over to the FA's video panel. The body have been keen to crack down on elbowing this season, with Arsenal defender Sol Campbell the most recent high-profile recipient of suspension after being sent off for a similar offence on Manchester United's Ole Gunnar Solskjaer earlier this month. Any ban would almost certainly come into effect next season which would have serious impact on both Ferguson's and Everton's early campaign. Meanwhile, Blues boss David Moyes hailed the more legitimate fighting qualities of his side after they came from behind to defeat Villa and score their 11th home league win of the season. Kevin Campbell and Wayne Rooney scored in the same Premiership game for the first time to cancel out Marcus Allback's opener. Moyes said: "If we're ready to use it, then we can use our fighting spirit. We use our footballing skills, technique, organisation and discipline, all the things we have done well, but when we need to we can call upon that fighting spirit. "When the players have had to use it, they have done it." Everton's win keeps them in sixth place and the final UEFA Cup qualification place, three points ahead of Blackburn Rovers with two games remaining. And Moyes added: "We haven't been in this situation before and we weren't expected to be in this situation, so it is a good experience for us all. "And if we continue to play like we have done for most of this season, then we have a chance of winning our last two games. "I was told when I came here that nothing is done easily at Everton and in my time here I have come to realise that!" Of Rooney's winner, he said: "What a goal he scored. At the time, I thought it was from about eight or nine yards, but I saw it on the TV replay afterwards and realised it was a great goal. "I heard the Blackburn score and I knew that we had to get the goal, and thankfully the decisions that we made in bringing on Duncan Ferguson and Leon Osman paid off. "We have been hurting this week. It has been sore but this result has made things better."
Bruno: I can help Wayne
By David Randles, Daily Post
Apr 28 2003
KNOCKOUT: Graeme Rooney has been learning from Frank Bruno FORMER world boxing champion Frank Bruno is proving to be a big hit with the Rooney family after offering his expertise to Wayne and his younger brother Graeme. Bruno, who is well known for his disciplined approach to health and fitness, reckons his knowledge can help the Everton and England star make the most of his football career, and younger brother Graeme has already spent a week training with Bruno at his Essex home. After turning up at the Rooney's family home last month, the former WBC heavyweight champion invited the budding 15-year-old boxer to his custom-built gym as part of his plan to launch an exclusive sports training academy. "If Graeme listens to me, and if his brother Wayne listens to me, then they'll become big sporting stars and I hope they come out thinking that they've learned something worthwhile," said Bruno. "I'm going to try and get Wayne down here and do a little bit of conditioning and fitness work with him." Just as the name Bruno became part of the national consciousness pver the past two decades, Rooney is fast becoming engraved on our mindsets due to Wayne's heroics on the football pitch but could soon have twice the impact if young Graeme fulfils his potential. "I'd like to go all the way and become a world champion," he said, "that is my ambition." "I'd like to make my mark as a middleweight. Along with the heavyweights, they are the two most glamorous divisions. "It's been something special to be training alongside a world heavyweight champion. This academy is a great idea and we'd love to come back and bring our friends as well." Graeme became a North West Counties Schoolboy champion earlier this year and comes from a family with rich boxing tradition. Before football took over, Wayne was once a talented young fighter, a trait passed down by his father Wayne snr not to mention a host of boxing uncles. Their uncle, Richie Rooney has nurtured Graeme's skills as his trainer at Croxteth ABC and accompanied the youngster and a friend to work with Bruno and fitness trainer Keith Morton.
Bruno, 41, last fought in 1996 when he lost his world crown to Mike Tyson in Las Vegas but recently announced his shock intention to come out of retirement to fight British heavyweight prospect Audley Harrison. The idea to set up a sports academy however, suggests he is looking to develop a new career outside of the ring and what's more, has hinted that Liverpool could be the perfect breeding ground for the nation's stars of the future. "Setting up this academy means an awful lot to me," he said. I'd like to set one up in Liverpool. I owe it to them because John Conteh was my hero. I looked up to him and he gave me the inspiration. "If I could help develop one of these young lads like Graeme into a champion that would be just tremendous. I'm really serious about this academy."
Rooney's PFA snub
By Ian Doyle, Daily Post
Apr 28 2003
WAYNE ROONEY last night missed out on the PFA Young Player of the Year award - but David Moyes insisted the Blues stiker will be even better next season. The 17-year-old came second to Newcastle United's Jermaine Jenas after a vote by his fellow professionals. Arsenal striker Thierry Henry was named overall Player of the Year. Polling for the awards takes place in January, which means the last few months of Rooney's season - which has seen him emerge as an Everton regular and become the youngest-ever England international - would not have been taken into consideration. It could not detract from a memorable weekend for the youngster, who scored his first goal in front of the Gwladys Street End on Saturday to earn Everton a last-gasp victory over Aston Villa. The strike was Rooney's eighth of a campaign in which he has continually confounded expectations. And proud boss Moyes has insisted that the striker is primed to develop physically and mentally during the close season after having taken a well-earned rest. "If you ask the academy directors of clubs what the young players are like, what the 16-year-olds are like after their first full season, then they will say the same as what we are saying about Wayne," said Moyes. "Wayne has had a lot more to cope with than just playing in an under-19 league on a Saturday morning and a few reserve games. "In my limited experience as manager, I've noticed that when the youngsters come back after the summer in their first year they look more like men and more physically ready to perform. "That's what I hope will happen with Wayne's development over the summer." The Blues boss hailed Rooney's contribution to the 2-1 victory over Villa at the weekend which keeps Everton in sixth place, three points ahead of Blackburn in the race for the final UEFA Cup qualification place with two games remaining. "He was an inspiration to us because he continually wanted the ball, and it is a great trait to have because he does not hide," said Moyes. "You can see he has been a bit tired recently. But mental fatigue is really important at this time of the season as well - everybody is a bit tired of football at this stage. "Maybe in the last few weeks he has lost a bit of confidence, but hopefully he has got that back after his goal. "Some of the times he has not been doing the things we have wanted him to, but he is still only 17." Moyes revealed that Rooney - who has started Everton's last six games as well as appearing twice for England in a 33-day spell - was close to being substituted before his winner, and is ready for a rest. "I thought long and hard about bringing him off, but we thought on the bench that Wayne could have been the one to win us the game," said the Scot. "We don't want to flog him to death, but we've not got many games left. "I want Wayne to put his feet up more. He's had a long and hard season when a lot has happened for him and it will take its toll.
Everton 2, Aston Villa 1 (Echo)
Apr 28 2003 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
WAYNE ROONEY'S first goal down at the spiritual home of all teenage Evertonians was a headline-grabbing finale to Everton's dogged pursuit of European football next season. But another astonishing statistic was buried in the ecstacy of Rooney's first Gwladys Street stunner. The Blues came from a goal down to triumph 2-1 at Goodison Park for the sixth time this season. Add to that three dramatic late point-savers against Spurs, Birmingham and Manchester City in front of their own disbelieving supporters - and you have a trend which is surely more than simple coincidence.
So why have Everton refused to lay down and die at Goodison Park this season? Has the grand old stadium suddenly become an intimidating bear pit where reeling opponents must eventually crumble? Are Everton simply slow starters where they consistently give visitors a goal start before they begin playing? Or has David Moyes taken a squad of largely solid, unexceptional players and instilled in them a level of fitness, hunger and character which is too much for teams of similar stock to stay with for an hour-and-a-half? The question's largely rhetorical, of course. It's amazing that 15 of Everton's 17 victories this season have been by a single goal (the other couple were 2-0), but also an example of what Moyes is managing to squeeze out of his squad. If Everton can hold off Blackburn and qualify for Europe - and one more 2-1 win might do it - the achievement will be correctly celebrated. But it will only be of wider consequence if the extra cash generated is used to help Moyes add the extra quality his squad requires to occasionally beat another Premiership side by a couple of goals or more. At present Everton are relying on a sparkle from Wayne Rooney -and even at just 17 the youngster is showing he can be relied upon. Saturday's 92nd minute match-winner contained a couple of firsts. It was his first goal at the Gwladys Street End of the ground. It was also the first with his left-foot. But it was simply another in a long line of quite exquisitely crafted goals. Dion Dublin's half- cleared header left him with plenty to do, 18 yards from goal and a defender and a goalkeeper to beat. But his beautifully struck volley was no hit and hope effort.
It was a controlled, technically superb strike which was drilled through J Lloyd Samuel's legs and into the postage-stamp sized space Peter Enckelman couldn't possibly cover. It capped a comeback which had started almost 40 minutes earlier when Moyes boldly reacted to Marcus Allback's goal by swapping Unsworth for Ferguson and going 4-3-3. Duncan Ferguson's display - typically - was a perplexing paradox. For the first time in a year he showed the form and vigour to suggest the two years outstanding on his Everton contract may still have more to offer than a just series of cameo roles as a faded supersub. He led the line impressively, got himself into good goalscoring positions and chased down defenders to make life thoroughly uncomfortable for the previously excellent Olof Mellberg. But then he clocked Gudjonsson with what appeared to be a premeditated elbow.
In the short term it hampered Everton. Gary Naysmith tried to weave his way into the Villa penalty box to conjure up a late winner, only to be faced with the awkward obstacle of the prostrate Icelander barring his progress. Long term Everton will suffer, too, if the FA react to the profile quite correctly given to the incident by ITV's Saturday night Premiership show. The only relief for the Blues on the day was that the perpetually blinkered Graham Poll was in charge. He angered Evertonians when he missed an obvious red card in the Anfield derby in December. This time he balanced things up. But Ferguson may not be so fortunate in the future. Evertonians reacted with understandable outrage and injustice when Alan Wiley went out of his way at Highbury to tell his assistants "Keep an eye on him!" Saturday's evidence simply suggests his vigilance was entirely appropriate. The Scot escaped a sending-off in a reserve game against Newcastle recently for an identical offence and Premiership officials will monitor his every move with a zeal only usually reserved for a Christina Aguilera video. If Everton had been as careful in their finishing earlier in the match the dramatic late show may not have been needed. Rooney raced clear onto Campbell's flick just four minutes into the match, but pulled his shot wide. Watson miscued a fine opening from Rooney's visionary pass then the teenager sliced wide after Campbell had given Enckelman another of those "Oh my God!" moments by closing down a clearance. After Allback's goal Ferguson saw two clear openings blocked, the second of which was followed up by Rooney and also blocked, before Campbell rose in classic centre-forward style to bury Gary Naysmith's cross. Naysmith had just been switched to left-back, but found himself in a right-wing slot having just taken a corner. It was a profitable wander. Graham Taylor matched Moyes' reshuffle by bringing on Vassell in a 4-3-3 of his own, before Moyes reacted again by asking Rooney to operate left midfield. All the time, though, it showed that the Blues' boss was forcing the issue and asking Villa to respond. When the matchwinner came it was too late for the visitors to react - and left Everton to celebrate another improbable home win. Four times now they have scored in time added on this season - and that doesn't include Rooney's almost premature 89th minute goal which gunned down Arsenal. The lesson is clear. Never consider an early dart at Goodison.
EVERTON (4-4-2): Wright, Hibbert, Weir, Stubbs, Unsworth (Ferguson 55), Watson (Osman 90), Gravesen, Carsley, Naysmith, Campbell, Rooney (Gemmill 93). Unused substitutes: Yobo, Gerrard.
ASTON VILLA (4-4-2): Enckelman, Edwards, Mellberg, Johnsen (Taylor 45), Samuel, Leonhardsen (Vassell 66), Hitzlsperger, Gudjonsson, Staunton, Dublin, Allback. Unused substitutes: Postma, Hendrie, Whittingham.
REFEREE: Graham Poll. Booking: Vassell (85 mins) foul.
Wayne keeps making news
Apr 28 2003 By Tommy Smith, Liverpool Echo
LIKE Michael Owen, it is virtually impossible to keep Wayne Rooney out of the headlines. The teenager (left) once again produced the vital strike on Saturday against Villa as the possibility of European football next season seemed to be slipping away. "Sensational" is an often over-used word, but that describes the effect this teenage star has had on the team and the crowd. He is the young god of Goodison, already hero-worshipped, and you can see why. Rooney played with great intelligence against Villa and used the ball well. As good as he is now, a few more years will see him mature and improve into a tremendous player. If he can develop as well as Owen then Evertonians will have another super s tar striker to salute. He looks to be another in an illustrious line of great Goodison strikers, at a time when fans will be remembering perhaps the greatest of them all, Dixie Dean, on the 75th anniversary of his 60 goals in a season. If Rooney is half as good . . .
Moyes' mood swings Blues
Apr 28 2003 By Scott Mcleod
AN intense fear of David Moyes has provided the inspiration for Everton's remarkable comebacks this season. When the Goodison boss provided that assessment in the wake of Saturday's dramatic 2-1 triumph over Aston Villa - the club's seventh such victory this season where they have come back from a one goal deficit - he did so half-jokingly. But it seems a reasonable explanation for the never-say-die attitude that is now present in a team that is largely unchanged from the one which struggled in the wrong half of the table under Walter Smith. No other side in the Premiership has come back from behind as often as the Blues to record victories. Wayne Rooney's sensational late winner on Saturday was the latest example of how fortune favours the brave. But, of course, there was nothing fortunate about this win. Or the other six comeback victories for that matter. They have all been based on a refusal to accept anything less than three points. Had Everton settled for the draw in those seven matches where they have come back from behind then they would now be on 45 points, just two points ahead of Aston Villa. There can be no doubting it is the manager's will to win which is being reflected in the performances of his players. "I think they have turned into a group of lads who know how down I am when we lose and I think they probably don't want to see my face when I am like that," admitted Moyes, with a wry smile. "We have tried to instill in the side the fact we don't want to be involved with a team that loses. "I like to go out on a Saturday night and enjoy myself and not be sulking like I was last weekend. I hope the players see that and they understand that is the way I want it. "We will work towards winning as many games as we can. It can't be a fluke that we have won 17 games in the Premiership this season. "It is not a bad record considering where we were starting from. Seven from coming behind shows what great character we have." The victory was provided by Wayne Rooney, who blasted an injury time winner courtesy of a half-volley from the edge of the area. But Moyes admitted he had considered taking the 17-year-old off because he saw signs of tiredness in his play. He explains: "It was one of those days where some of the things he did inspired us. And some of the things he did, he would probably agree, showed a boy who probably needs his feet up a little bit more. "We had the decision of whether to keep him on or take him off, but he is always capable of making something happen and I thought he scored a great goal. "When I first saw it at pitch level I thought he was only nine or 10 yards out but since seeing it on the TV it was from the edge of the 18 yard box and on his left foot. It was a good goal. "He is very good at finishing, as he is very good at many things, but we are still trying to make him better." The introduction of Duncan Ferguson as a substitute shortly after Marcus Allback's opening goal had an almost instant impact. But Moyes admits he had to think long and hard before bringing on Ferguson because of the influence his presence can have on the home team. He explains: "I want my team to pass and play and I want us to be a good footballing side. I don't want us to hit Duncan on the head too early. "But you have got to say that if you are one goal down and chasing a European place there is no shame in getting a goal, no matter how it comes. But we want to have a team that can pass, play and entertain. "We don't want to be direct. And sometimes (when Duncan comes on) it goes that way. But in this match we needed it and Duncan played well."
Dunc faces elbow probe
Apr 28 2003 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
ALAN STUBBS has praised Duncan Ferguson's supersub performance on Saturday. But the Blues striker seems certain to be banned after TV cameras caught him elbowing Joey Gudjohnson. Ferguson made his most significant contribution of an injury-plagued season after coming on as a 55th minute substitute. But it was the incident with Villa's Icelandic midfielder which made headlines today. Referee Graham Poll missed the clash, but the FA's video advisory panel is sure to step in after the moment was highlighted by ITV's The Premiership show on Saturday night. Everton hero Alan Stubbs, however, preferred to focus on Ferguson's positive impact when he said: "The gaffer made a couple of substitutions which I thought changed the game for us, because we were huffing and puffing and not really getting the desired effect. "We needed to put them under pressure and we knew that Duncan would do that. He won a lot of the balls up there, which created a lot of chances. His presence really unsettled the Villa defence. "I thought that in the end we deserved the three points. We took the game to them, despite the fact that Villa took the lead."
Any ban for Ferguson will not take effect until next season, which is some consolation for David Moyes with David Weir and Gary Naysmith suspended for Saturday's trip to Fulham and Thomas Gravesen, Lee Carsley and Scot Gemmill all away on international duty this week. Wayne Rooney, meanwhile, enjoyed a couple of days off following his match-winning heroics on Saturday. But his outstanding first season in professional football wasn't quite enough to earn the PFA's Young Player of the Year award from his fellow professionals. Rooney was second in the voting, behind Newcastle's Jermaine Jenas.
Apr 28 2003 Liverpool Echo
TO this day, Dixie Dean is the only man to get 60 goals in a season. And here is your chance to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the year the great Dixie Dean became the only man to complete that incredible feat, with a great ECHO special. "WITH Dean requiring a further nine goals to reach the magical total, bookmakers listed him at 10,000-1 to hit the mark." That solitary passage from an Everton programme of 1928 underlines the enormity of Dixie Dean's incredible 60-goal season.
During the run-in to the 1927-28 season, Dean needed nine goals from Everton's last three matches to beat a record set the season before - in the second division. Of course, he did it - and the 75th anniversary of that astonishing record is celebrated on May 5. It is easy for modern football fans to think goals were much easier to come by in pre-war days. And while that is undoubtedly true, it still should not dilute the magnificence of Dean's achievement. The top-flight record, set two seasons previously by Blackburn's Ted Harper, was 43 goals. In the 75 years since Dean's 60, the closest any striker has ever come to matching it was Pongo Waring's 49 in 1930-31. And if bookies were prepared to offer 10,000-1 it must have been some achievement! Share in the celebrations in our special souvenir edition - on sale NOW. Dixie's 60 also features a great black and white picture offer celebrating the genius of Dixie Dean - don't miss it! In the shops NOW - only £1.
Reformed McFadden in dream chance
By Chris Roberts, Daily Post
Apr 29 2003
PLAYING for Scotland at Hampden Park would be a childhood dream come true for James McFadden - but he confessed there would have been no chance of it happening if he had not cleaned up his act.
Berti Vogts is set to hand the Motherwell youngster his first run-out at the national stadium as the national side take on Austria tomorrow, and it is a prospect that Everton target McFadden is clearly relishing. Every kid dreams about playing at Hampden Park for Scotland and I'm no different," he said. "Hopefully I will get my chance to play and hopefully I will take it." Vogts has labelled McFadden "silly" in the past and told him to address his disciplinary problems after dropping him from the senior squad following the country's Far East tour last summer. McFadden admitted he was stupid and recognised that he had to change his ways to realise his dream of playing at Hampden Park. "It's come on a lot since last year," added McFadden. "In the last few months my discipline has got a lot better. But I know I've still got a lot to do and keep improving. "I probably wouldn't have been called up if that didn't improve. I realised that I can't do that and I've cut that out of my game. "The manager has showed that he will choose people on merit and give players a second chance and I'm looking to take it now." McFadden is praying he is given the chance to start and if Vogts gives him the nod, he aims to seize the opportunity and win a place in the side to face Germany during the summer. The much-coveted frontman added: "Anybody would want to play in that game (against Germany) because it's the biggest game you could play in so I want to play and do well in the next few games. "If I do that there is a big chance that I will be involved. I will train tomorrow and see what happens. I don't know if I'll start yet, it's not up to me, it's up to the manager. "If the manager thinks I'm ready to go into the team then I will do my best. "My confidence is not short, but I'm not going to be over-confident. If I get the chance then hopefully I will take it."
Reds and Blues overlooked amid controversy
Apr 29 2003
THEY may be pushing for Champions League qualification, been top of the Premiership for a spell, boast one of the leading goalscorers in the country and have lifted the Worthington Cup, but Liverpool's players were overlooked by the PFA at the weekend. Despite his record goal haul this season, Michael Owen failed to be nominated for Player of the Year and was even absent from the Premiership's Team of the Year, as voted for by his fellow professionals. It underlined a curious series of selections by PFA members at their annual awards dinner on Sunday night. Hot favourite Wayne Rooney of Everton surprisingly finished second to Newcastle United's Jermaine Jenas in the Young Player of the Year award, while 40-goal Manchester United striker Ruud van Nistelrooy was another star missing from the representative team. Amid the controversy, it has emerged that the deadline for voting by the game's union registered professionals was way back on March 17. And a spokesperson for the Professional Footballers' Association confirmed that, in registering their votes, players are asked to consider the performance of their preferred candidate between February 2002 and February 2003 - rather than from the start of the current season, in August, up to now. There has been a degree of embarrassment over some previous winners of the individual 'Players' Player' award, notably Mark Hughes who scored a bumper crop of goals for Manchester United in the first half of a particular season but ran dry in the last few months after the voting took place.
FA PREMIERSHIP: Friedel (Blackburn), Carr (Tottenham), Cole (Arsenal), Campbell (Arsenal), Gallas (Chelsea), Vieira (Arsenal), Scholes (Manchester United), Pires (Arsenal), Dyer (Newcastle), Shearer (Newcastle), Henry (Arsenal).
Lynch brace not enough
Academy Football With Chris Wright, Daily Post
Apr 29 2003
TWO goals from top scorer Gavin Lynch saw Everton under-17s beat Middlesbrough 2-0 at Netherton on Saturday - but it wasn't enough to prolong their season. The Blues had to beat Boro by six or more goals and hope that Aston Villa lost at West Ham to have any chance of progressing through their FA Premier Academy League play-off group into the knockout stage. But despite an excellent victory, Villa topped the group to go through. Despite the obvious disappointment at not progressing even though they won two of their three group matches they were nevertheless delighted to end the season on a winning note. Colin Harvey, whose under-19s have already finished their Academy League campaign, took charge of the U17s in coach Alan Harper's absence.
Former Blues' favourite Harper was otherwise engaged taking the plaudits from the Goodison gallery during the half-time interval in Saturday's 2-1 victory over Aston Villa. Boro started the better but Lynch opened the scoring halfway through the first half. He ran through on to a long pass and as the goalkeeper hesitated he slotted in his ninth goal of the season for the U17s. His second goal came after Jack Flood sent Paul Hopkins down the right. Hopkins' cross was deflected into Lynch's path, who doubled the advantage with his 12th at youth level. The Blues also had a goal disallowed, and could have won by a wider margin. Kevin O'Brien, Everton's goalkeeping coach at youth level, assisted Harvey on Saturday and he said: "It was a decent game and a good performance. The lads deserved to win and could easily have scored a few more goals. It was good to end with a clean sheet and a win." And on the season, U17s' coach Harper added: "It hasn't been too bad a season. We have had a lot of U16s playing and they have done well all season. "It has been more of a team effort, but the U16s who have come in are giving away two years most of the time so they have acquitted themselves well. "If the lads are doing well they go up to the next level. We have had U17s playing regularly in the under-19s. And that can only benefit them. It is knock-on effect because players are playing at a higher level all the way through the club. "And it can only help their development if they are playing a better standard of football."
Liverpool Res 1, Everton Res 3
Apr 29 2003
EVERTON Reserves took the honours in the first Merseyside derby of the season as the Blues beat their local rivals 3-1 at the Deva Stadium. The visitors fielded a strong line-up with Paul Gerrard, Alessandro Pistone, Li Tie, Niclas Alexandersson and Tobias Linderoth all on show - the latter playing his first game after a long injury lay-off, although the Swede played just 45 minutes of the FA Premier Reserve League clash before leaving the action. Liverpool too had some big names on parade as well - Markus Babbel, Bruno Cheyrou and Patrik Berger all played. Indeed it was Liverpool who took the lead after just 13 minutes when Berger broke down the left and crossed for under-19s striker Steven Gillespie to fire home past the stranded Paul Gerrard. John Welsh very nearly made it two on 24 minutes with a 20-yard drive which the Blues keeper did well to hold. Minutes later though Everton were level. Li Tie looked as though he should have been awarded a penalty, but when the loose ball reached Nick Chadwick he headed home past Pegguy Arphexad. All square at the break, it was Everton who came out for the second period in positive style, taking the lead within a minute. Leon Osman, whose performances for the reserves earned him a few minutes of Premiership football on Saturday, put them in front. A long ball from the back was misjudged by the Reds' defence and Osman was on hand to score. Liverpool were still licking their wounds when Osman pounced again, Sean O'Hanlon crossed from the right and the little Blues' playmaker jumped highest to head home past Arphexad. Liverpool tried hard to get back into the game but without success and it was Everton who might have added to their tally with Osman again at the centre of things. With just 10 minutes left the youngster should have got his hat-trick when another header hit the post and ran out of danger as far as Liverpool were concerned.
LIVERPOOL RESERVES: Arphexad, Vaughan, Wright, Foley, Raven, Babbel, Potter, Welsh, Gillespie, Berger, Cheyrou. Subs: Massie, Luzi, O'Donnell, Wilkie, Flynn.
EVERTON RESERVES: Gerrard, O'Hanlon, Pistone, Clarke, Pilkington, Linderoth (Schumacher 45), Alexandersson, Li Tie, Chadwick, Osman, A Moogan (Carney 78). Subs: Turner, B Moogan, Garside, Crowder.
Icliverpool And Daily Post
Apr 29 2003
GREAT result for Everton on Saturday and a fully deserved win. I thought we played some good football in the first half without finishing them off; who taught David Unsworth to pass it along the floor? A totally different attitude compared to the Easter games. One very low point was the disgraceful elbow from Big Dunc; I would imagine when the FA see it he will be banned immediately and so he should. He may miss what will be the Blues biggest game in years, against Manchester United, and if ever we needed him it will be for that game. Also I can't believe the Boy Wonder didn't get the award in London. Never mind though, bigger and better things lie ahead for him.
Pete Roberts, Liverpool
Point to prove
WE HAVE to beat Man United to prove that we are good enough to be in Europe. Next year please buy Pablo Aimar, Nicky Butt, Mark Viduka and John Terry. Wayne Rooney is still very raw and is best used as a sub. If we lose the last two matches the feeling will be total disappointment and how come we stopped playing Joseph Yobo again after we hailed him as the best asset ever acquired?
B Hanson, Formby
ANOTHER comeback win against the Villa, thank you Wayne! My only concern of late is that our midfield is not "getting a grip" when it matters. This certainly is one of Mr Moyes' priorities to sort next season. And our defence is giving too many silly goals away. Hats off to the lads, though, for making it a memorable season so far. Let's do Fulham and bring on Europe (play Big Dunc and the Radz).
John Marsh, Kirkby
GREAT to get all three points with the win against Villa and Rooney scoring the winner! We must beat Fulham to stay ahead of Blackburn next Saturday, as they have easier games left. Making the UEFA Cup will crown off a great season for the Blues which is all down to David Moyes. I think next season will be the real test though. Can Moyes take Everton on to greater and better things? I would like to see at least another top-six finish, preferably a Champions League place and a cup would be nice! However, this task is going to be difficult with the current squad of players!
Joe Teryl (via e-mail)
EXCELLENT result on Saturday but Thomas Gravesen and Lee Carsley had poor games while Gary Naysmith seemed to lose confidence having played poorly in midfield and was scared to go forward when he went to left-back. Tony Hibbert is not up to speed but that's to be expected and Steve Watson was drifting in field too much.
Mark McKenzie, (via e-mail)
Ferguson sweating on elbow decision
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Apr 29 2003
DUNCAN FERGUSON is still sweating on his disciplinary fate - despite Aston Villa opting not to pursue his alleged elbow on Joey Gudjonsson. Both Villa and their Icelandic midfielder have decided not to call for any action against the Everton striker after he was caught elbowing Gudjonsson by the TV cameras on Saturday. But FA chiefs still have the power to punish the Scot once they receive referee Graham Poll's match report. Poll didn't spot the incident at Goodison Park, just as he failed to penalise Steven Gerrard for his tackle on Gary Naysmith at Anfield in December. On that occasion the Tring official studied replays of the incident and then recommended it be referred to the FA's video panel. That ultimately led to Gerrard being served with a three-match ban by the FA's disciplinary committee, and Ferguson could be facing a similar fate from the start of next season if sent down the same path. David Moyes, meanwhile, was at Chester's Deva Stadium last night to watch two senior stars step out on the comeback trail just in time for the final European push.
Alessandro Pistone and Tobias Linderoth both played for the Blues' reserves as they won 3-1 against Liverpool in the mini-derby. Italian full-back Pistone has been out since March after undergoing hernia surgery while Linderoth has seen his entire season destroyed by two separate hamstring pulls. But their successful returns last night have come at an ideal time for the Blues. With Gary Naysmith suspended at Fulham this Saturday, Pistone may receive an instant recall, while Moyes yesterday recalled Peter Clarke from his loan spell with Port Vale to provide additional cover for the finale. Clarke has made only one first team appearance this season, in the shock FA Cup exit at Shrewsbury. But with David Weir banned for the final two games of the season Moyes has improved his central defensive options.
* Everton's final away match of the season at Fulham this Saturday will be beamed back live to Goodison Park. Only 3,000 tickets are available for the key contest, and must be purchased before Saturday as none are available on the day due to crowds heading for Anfield for Liverpool's game with Manchester City. Tickets are priced £10, with £5 concessions.
Rooney can win next year
Apr 29 2003 By Kevin Ratcliffe, Liverpool Echo
I WAS not surprised to see Wayne Rooney edged out by Jermaine Jenas in the PFA Young Player of the Year voting. But that doesn't mean I'm under-estimating the incredible impact Wayne has had in his first season. It's common knowledge that the players are asked to cast their votes very early in the year, before the season has even taken solid shape. But more importantly, I think Jenas got the nod because of the number of matches he has started. While Jenas has started 27 Premiership matches for Newcastle, Wayne has only kicked off in 12 - and I think his consolation is that he will be a sure-fire winner next season! I am convinced that David Moyes will breathe a quiet sigh of relief that Wayne hasn't picked up yet another award - after the furore which accompanied his BBC presentation. But I have no doubt at all that the timing of the vote should be changed. The voting has always taken place ridiculously early in the season - but that doesn't make it right. Hanging by a thread IT seems like a lifetime ago that I experienced the strange emotions of my Shrewsbury team knocking Everton out of the FA Cup. It was little more than three months ago - but since then we have slumped and if we don't beat Carlisle tonight we will lose our league place. You get very frustrated with your players when you contrast what they achieved in January, to the results since then. We've also suffered some appalling luck, especially in the last six games - but our league position hasn't happened overnight. All we can do now is beat Carlisle tonight, win our last game at home to Scunthorpe - and pray that results go for us elsewhere. Keep your fingers crossed for us!
No complaints over Dunc
DUNCAN FERGUSON looks likely to be found guilty in trial by television once again - and I have l ittle sympathy. Modern player s know that at least half-a-dozen TV cameras highlight every detail of every Premiership match nowadays. Even before I'd seen the TV replays I thought to myself 'Duncan's caught him there' - so there can be few complaints if the FA do act.
Blues will face Fulham battle
SUNDAY'S win by West Ham keeps Fulham's fate in the melting pot, too - which could be bad news for Everton. A defeat for The Hammers at Maine Road would have left Fulham safe. As it is, they will face Everton still scrapping for their Premiership lives. That may, however, leave them nervous and tense but Everton's European fate is still in their own hands - and you can't ask for more than that.
Pistone back to bolster Blues
Apr 29 2003 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
ALESSANDRO PISTONE has pushed himself back into the reckoning for Everton's dash for the European finishing post. The Italian defender made a 90 minute comeback in last night's mini derby victory in Chester, watched by manager David Moyes, and will be available for selection for the crucial last two games against Fulham and Manchester United. His last senior appearance was on March 1 at Middlesbrough, and Moyes said: "Sandro came through it and played well. "It certainly puts him back into the squad for the weekend, so long as there is no reaction over the next day or two." The lightning recovery from a hernia op - almost two months after he was told his season could be over - is an other quicker than schedule comeback for the Italian. Last season he raced back from a cruciate knee ligament injury quicker than anticipated. The news comes at a good time for David Moyes, with David Weir and Gary Naysmith both suspended for the trip to London.
Tobias Linderoth also appeared for 45 minutes at the Deva Stadium, but Moyes admitted the end olf the season would probably come too quickly for the Swede. "We may give Tobias another hour on Thursday against Leeds," added Moyes, "but he's struggled for a while now and we almost certainly won't be able to consider him again until next season." Leon Osman (twice) and Nick Chadwick (for the fourth successive match) scored against the Reds reserves to give Moyes further food for thought. Saturday's crunch clash - for both clubs - will be beamed back to Goodison Park on a big screen. Only 3,000 seats are available for the screening (£10 adults, £5 concessions) and none will be sold after 12 noon on the day of the game. Liverpool's home Premiership match against Manchester City means that seats must be booked in advance from the box office at Goodison Park for the screening.
Dixie's Cup Final antics
Apr 29 2003 Liverpool Echo
OUR 'Dixie's 60' tribute to the greatest goalscorer in football history is flying off the newsagents' shelves as Evertonians and football lovers snap up this rare chance to revisit the career of a true legend - and celebrate his finest hour 75 years ago. Echo Sport's fascinating 28-page special is packed with articles about Dixie Dean - and chronicles every one of the record breaking 60 goals he scored in season 1927-28. Each page is littered with the things said and written about Dixie at the time of his miraculous season - and over the years that followed. Then there are the things Dixie said too - providing a rare insight into the man and his immeasurable make-up. For instance, we recall how Dixie became the first ever number nine in the 1933 FA Cup final against Manchester City, and before the game refused to be hurried when told by a commissionaire to get ready to run out at Wembley as City were already heading for the tunnel. Dean recalled what he told his team-mates: "I said, 'It's all right - don't worry. We'll catch them up later. 'Shut the door.' "Then I lit a cigarette and told the lads, 'There's plenty of time'. "When I got alongside Stan Cowan, the City skipper, he was holding a ball and you could see how nervous he was. "I said to him: 'That ball is shaking in your hand. Put your other hand on top to stop it shaking.' "You should have seen him." Everton won 3-0.
* To read the full article and many, many more, pick up a copy of 'Dixie's 60' for just £1. In all good newsagents now.
Champions pin hopes on Wayne
Apr 29 2003 Liverpool Echo
ARSENAL striker Thierry Henry is pinning his hopes on Everton starlet Wayne Rooney to boost the Gunners' flagging title bid. Manchester United need only win their last two matches to clinch an eighth Premiership crown in 11 years. Sir Alex Ferguson's side will not be expected to slip up at home to Charlton on Saturday morning, but Henry believes they could come a cropper at Goodison Park on the final day of the season. Arsenal themselves went down 2-1 to David Moyes' side on Merseyside in October, with Rooney firing home a spectacular winner. "We are hoping Everton can do us a favour," said newly-crowned PFA player of the year Henry. "Rooney has no fear about who he is playing or where. "He has that lovely arrogance and doesn't worry about the opposition. Rooney respects the opposition and the occasion but doesn't fear it. "When he plays against great defenders like Marcel Desailly, it's like he's playing in the street. It's not a lack of respect, he just wants to go out and play. "We still have games and I'm not a guy who likes to give up. I'm also at a club that doesn't give up. "But we have put ourselves in a position where we have to look at other results to help us," he said. Meanwhile Barcelona coach Raddy Antic has agreed a one-year extension to his contract with the Catalan giants. The Serbian took the helm in January after Louis van Gaal was sacked following a disastrous start to the domestic campaign which saw Barca slip perilously close to the relegation places. Since taking the hotseat, Antic has guided the club to the quarter-finals of the Champions League. And he has also been credited with restoring much-needed morale at the Nou Camp, the club now seven points clear of the drop zone.
Dixie's magic in pictures
Apr 29 2003 Liverpool Echo
CELEBRATE the 75th anniversary of Dixie Dean's record breaking 60-goal season in 1927/28 with a superb rare photo offer. We have scoured the Liverpool Echo picture archives to bring you this never-to-be repeated souvenir opportunity. Firstly, you can purchase for the first time ever from us a unique colour image of Dixie (the picture featured on the front cover of our 'Dixie's 60' special edition which is in the shops now). The 12 x 10" computer-coloured image of the greatest goalscorer in soccer history can be yours for just £15, including postage to your home. You can also own any of the 7 x 5 inch black and white action shots of Dixie for £6 each - or the full set of four for £20 (See next page to view) Or, if you prefer, our fantastic montage of pictures which forms the centre spread of the Echo's Dixie's 60 special edition - you can order a 12 x 9 inch glossy black and white print of it to frame for just £12. Any, or all of these not-to-be-missed pictures of Dixie can be ordered by using the form which appears exclusively in the Liverpool ECHO or send a cheque or postal order with an accompanying note detailing what picture(s) you would like to purchase.
Set of four (A, B, C & D) at £20
Picture A, B, C or D at £6 each
Colour portrait at £15
Montage at £12
The game with two halves
By Tony Mcdonough Daily Post Staff
Apr 30 2003
"CLUB football is in crisis." They are the words of the top man - Sepp Blatter, president of FIFA, world football's governing body. FIFA itself is in rude health, having just reported a cash surplus of £52m. A check of the pulse of many clubs however reveals a different picture. The 1990s heralded a new era for the sport. Here in Britain Rupert Murdoch's BSkyB satellite network appeared with a gigantic bag of cash and the good times rolled. Football League Division One broke away from the lower divisions to form the Premier League and millions of pounds of extra revenue poured into the coffers of the top clubs. Transfer fees and players' wages rocketed. Clubs were spending the TV money as quickly as it was coming in. Former Tottenham Hotspur chairman Alan Sugar called it "the prune juice effect". Most of the cash was going straight through without touching the sides. Player power increased after the Bosman ruling - a European legal case that established players' freedom to move from one to club to another once their contracts were up, without the need for a transfer fee. But, of course, it couldn't go on forever. Few businesses can spend up to 70-80pc of their turnover on staff wages without coming to grief. Alarms bells began to ring last year with the collapse of ITV Digital which had signed a £315m rights deal with the Football League. £178.5m was left owing on the contract leaving several lower division clubs staring into a financial abyss. BSkyB's last deal with the Premiership was worth £1.1bn over three years. Negotiations are due to start soon for the next contract and some observers believe the TV giant may try to strike a harder bargain.
Add to that a legal move by the European Commission to end collective bargaining over TV rights, leaving clubs free to negotiate their own deals. Great for the big boys like Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool, but not so good for the smaller teams. Even Manchester United, the richest club in the world, recently sounded a note of caution. In the past couple of years it has made record breaking plunges into the transfer market buying Juan Sebastian Veron and Rio Ferdinand for £28m and £30m respectively. But, after revealing half year profits of £20m, chief executive Peter Kenyon said such transfer deals for British clubs may be a thing of the past. He also put forward the view that the days of strong growth in the value of TV rights were over. Liverpool, though not exactly facing a crisis, are desperate to qualify for next season's UEFA Champions League. Failure to do so could cost the club in excess of £15m. Chief executive Rick Parry has pledged there will be no major player clearout if they don't qualify but it would almost certainly rule out any summer splashes in the transfer market, and Parry has indicated that Liverpool would have to sell before they could buy.
Further down the Premiership things look grim. Leeds United has debts of £78.9m and recently posted half year pre-tax losses of £17.2m. The club is a frightening example of how quickly things can turn sour. Just two years ago they were in the semi-final of the Champions League but are now in a relegation dogfight. Dropping out of the top flight would be financially catastrophic. Chelsea has huge debts and relegated Sunderland recently reported operating losses of £4.8m for the six months to the end of January. The fall from the top flight will mean an annual drop in income of at least £12m. Everton has grand ambitions under young manager David Moyes but with a lucrative Far East tour now cancelled because of the SARS virus and plans for a new stadium at the Kings Dock in tatters, there may still be rocky times ahead. Everton had an operating loss of £11m last season. With only £8m in the bank at the time it published its latest balance sheet the club will need to act to get its finances back on an even keel. Sepp Blatter believes part of the problem is the legacy from football clubs becoming public companies. Manchester United, Leeds United, Newcastle United and Chelsea are all listed on the London Stock Exchange. He said: "The results of football clubs should be evaluated on the field of play and not to the Stock Exchange. The danger is that if there is a decrease in the value of shares, what will be the reaction of the club? "Football should remain a game and produce a positive spirit and you will see in the future that clubs will think twice about going public." Along with the rest of the stock market the value of soccer club shares has plummeted. Manchester United are worth only a third of the £1bn they were in 2000. Clubs down in the Nationwide League are faring even worse. ITV Digital's demise has caused shockwaves. Leicester City, Coventry and Watford are among those struggling. To add to their woes league chiefs are planning to deduct points from, or even relegate, clubs who go into administration. James Dow, a corporate finance advisor to the football industry, told the Daily Post he believes the gulf between the rich elite of European soccer and the smaller clubs is growing ever wider. "There is a crisis in club football but it is mainly outside the Premier League and has been caused directly by the collapse of ITV Digital," he said. "There are clubs in the Premier League which have over extended themselves. Chelsea is an example - it has huge debts. But it also has one of the most valuable pieces of real estate in Europe so it may not be too badly off in the long run. "If the European Commission does rule that clubs have to negotiate their own TV deals then that will simply bring a European super league closer to reality because the disparity between the elite clubs and the rest would become too great. "I don't necessarily think the number of clubs in the lower leagues would reduce but I think it would be next to impossible for a club to rise up from the lower divisions up to the higher ones." Mr Dow doesn't think clubs will curb their spendthrift ways as long as the money from things like TV deals keeps rolling in. The Nationwide League is to start player salary capping from next season but there is no such plan at the moment for the Premier League. He added: "The problem comes when clubs start spending money they haven't got. A classic example of that was the ITV Digital crash. I can see transfer fees levelling off or coming down but I think players' wages, at least at the top clubs, will continue to rise. "I don't buy this idea of clubs becoming more sensible with their money - I think they will always spend it as quick as it comes in."
A great deal to TV rights
ENGLISH football's top clubs and bosses at BSkyB are set to get round the table to negotiate the next TV rights deal. Sky's current three-year agreement with the Premier League, which expires at the end of next season, is worth £1.1bn and allows it to screen 66 games a season, with a further 40 being offered to viewers on a pay-per-view basis. This time round Rupert Murdoch's satellite broadcaster is in a much stronger position and many analysts believe the value of the contract could drop by at least 10pc. ITV Digital is no more and the cable companies and the BBC don't have the financial clout to compete, which leaves Sky with a clear run. One possible complication comes in the shape of the European Commission which is considering outlawing collective rights agreements - forcing clubs to negotiate their own TV deals. BSkyB's former head of programmes David Elstein told the Daily Post that with such a clear path it was very likely the broadcaster would be able to negotiate a more favourable deal. He said: "The issue for the Premier League is whether it might benefit them to set up their own pay channel. Either way it would not make that much difference to Sky because it would still be the main platform for the channel. "Sky might not lower the price but they might demand more general access to the sport." Some observers believe Sky needs top flight football as much as football needs it, to keep its 7m plus subscribers happy. But Mr Elstein dismisses that view saying that the Sky network would still be the main platform for live soccer, whoever controlled the rights. He added: "Profits from the rights themselves are marginal. Football would almost certainly still be shown via satellite so Sky would still benefit. "I don't think the European Commission would force clubs to negotiate their own rights - why would they - it would simply devastate football."
HOW THE MONEY IS DIVIDED UP
* Every Premier League club receives a starting bonus of £9.4m per season
* Club's receive merit payments, according to their final league position, in units of £503,000. League winners get 20 times that amount which is just over £10m. Second place gets 19 times the amount, third 18 times, and so on.
* Each time a club appears in a live Sky TV game they receive £597,000 and for a feature highlights match on ITV's Premiership they get £59,000 each. Each club gets £150,000 for a TV pay-per-view appearance.
* Division One winners receive £50,000, 2nd place - £25,000. Division Two winners - £25,000, 2nd place - £10,000. Division Three winners - £25,000, 2nd place - £10,000, 3rd place - £5,000.
* Play offs: four semi-finalist share 50pc of gate receipt money. 50pc goes into general pool for whole league. Same deal for finalists.
* Four year TV Deal with Sky signed in July 2002: Division One teams get £697,000 per season, Division Two teams - £340,000, Division Three - £239,000.
* Division One home teams receive £60,000 for a live TV game, away teams - £10,000. Divisions Two and Three, £30,000 home, £10,000 away.
UEFA Champions League
* Each of the 32 clubs receives a starting bonus of £1.1m in addition to £220,000 per match plus £220,000 for a win and £110,000 for a draw.
* Clubs will earn a minimum of £2.5m for taking part in the first group stage and up to a maximum of £15m for the whole competition, not counting TV revenue.
* Allocation of TV money, total pool £166m, is dependent upon the value of the TV market of each country and the number of matches played by each club.
* Clubs can earn a maximum of around £18m from TV revenue meaning maximum possible earnings for one club is around £33m.
Sven was right to make Wayne a soccer-roo!
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Apr 30 2003
WAYNE ROONEY might never have made England history but for Sven Goran Eriksson's international rotation policy, insisted Arsene Wenger last night. The Arsenal boss declared Eriksson is not to blame for the growing club-versus-country divide ahead of this week's meetings between the England coach and leading Premiership managers, including Gerard Houllier and David Moyes. Wenger gave his support to Eriksson's policy of wholesale half-time changes, which were derided by FIFA president Sepp Blatter as a "farce" after two separate teams were used against Australia in February. That game saw Everton star Rooney become the youngest international in English football history, with his impressive second half display propelling him into Eriksson's Euro 2004 plans when he also became the youngest player ever to start an England game against Turkey. But Wenger believes Rooney's international development might never have happened if Eriksson had not tested him out in the Upton Park friendly. "Sven has reacted in an intelligent way," said Wenger. "Everybody wants him to beat the small teams 5-0 and play with David Beckham for 90 minutes in every match. I find the way that Sven reacts is the right way. "I think the Australia game was worthwhile for England even though they lost. If you cannot try things in friendlies, when can you? "Why do you organise friendlies? Is it to flatten everybody you play or to find out who is up to international level? If you can't give a youngster 45 minutes in a friendly, when can you? "The fact that he played Wayne Rooney against Australia helped him come into the Turkey match. Sven needed to know how Rooney would react. If it's a friendly, the manager must have the right to do what he wants and that is what I'd do if I was a national coach." Blatter has vowed to introduce legislation to restrict substitutions in friendlies, which would bring Eriksson into increasing conflict with Premiership managers. Given their inherently conflicting priorities, there is an uneasy truce between the two sides, with Moyes increasingly concerned about Rooney's deployment and anxious he doesn't travel to South Africa at the end of the season. However, Eriksson has sought to broker a peace deal by stressing his commitment to ensuring players are not tired out by too many friendlies.
Indeed, this week's two meetings with nine leading Premiership managers are, ironically, taking place during the time set aside for international friendlies, but when England are not playing. Eriksson will meet Moyes, Sir Alex Ferguson, Sir Bobby Robson, Peter Reid and Alan Curbishley at a secret location in central London today. He will then hold a similar meeting with Houllier, Wenger, Steve McClaren and Gordon Strachan on Thursday. Claudio Ranieri and Graham Taylor were unable to attend due to prior commitments, while Glenn Roeder is still in hospital. However, all three managers, along with other Premiership bosses not included on this guest list as they did not have players in the last England squad, will be invited to a further meeting later this season. enger, who has not deliberately been kept apart from Ferguson, blames the overloaded fixture schedule squarely at the door of FIFA and UEFA, citing the example of the Euro 2004 qualifiers in June.
Alistair aims to cash in for Blues
By Neil Macdonald, Daily Post
Apr 30 2003
EVERTON have named Alistair Saverimutto as their new commercial manager. Saverimutto, from Wirral, will be working with the Blues marketing director Andy Hosie to attract new revenue into the club. That includes responsibility for negotiating and re-negotiating sponsorship opportunities, business development and corporate hospitality. A former professional rugby union player with Bath, Bristol and Gloucester, Saverimutto has extensive experience in sports marketing, which he is now looking to apply at Goodison Park. He said: "I am delighted to be taking this opportunity with Everton. There is no better marketing vehicle than Premiership football and Everton are at the forefront of that. "There is a buzz around the club and I believe the club can benefit from my experience in sport marketing and as a professional sportsman." He added: "In marketing you are only as good as the product and Everton's product on the field has been top class this season."
Saverimutto also confirmed he will be staying on as director of rugby at New Brighton rugby club, a position he has held for two years. The BBH Blues just missed out on promotion to National Division Two, losing their promotion play-off 21-7 at Lydney. "I am committed to the success of New Brighton," he said. "We were disappointed to just miss promotion this time, but next season we would hope to gain natural promotion by winning our division."
Kilbane in Blues sights
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Apr 30 2003
KEVIN KILBANE could be destined for Goodison Park this summer as David Moyes considers swooping for the Sunderland winger. Republic of Ireland international Kilbane is one of a number of players on the Everton manager's hit-list for next season. Moyes cannot finalise his summer plans until Everton's final league position is secured, with his transfer kitty influenced by European qualification. But midfield is a priority and left winger Kilbane will come into the reckoning if the Goodison budget remains tight and cash-strapped Sunderland let him leave for under £1million.
The relegated Black Cats are £26.6m in debt, a figure expected to rise in Division One next season, and have just made 83 staff redundant. High-earners like Phil Babb, Thomas Myhre and Emerson Thome are all being given free transfers to help cut costs and Moyes is primed to pounce if Kilbane joins the list of players Mick McCarthy needs off his wage bill. Moyes worked with Kilbane at Preston, where the 26-year-old made 47 appearances for his hometown club before joining West Brom for £1.25m in May 1997. Two years later he moved to the Stadium of Light for £2.5m and was part of McCarthy's Ireland squad at last year's World Cup. Parma, meanwhile, have been confirmed as the opposition for Colin Harvey's testimonial this summer. The Italian giants, with Japanese superstar Hidetoshi Nakata and former Brazilian World Cup keeper Claudio Taffarel in their ranks, will provide prestigious opposition as Everton honour one of the most loyal servants in their history.
Harvey made his Everton debut against Italian opposition when, as an 18-year-old in 1963, he faced Inter Milan in the European Cup. In a career spanning more than 40 years he made 386 appearances for the Blues, then served as assistant manager to Howard Kendall during the glorious mid-80s, manager and assistant again before developing the likes of Francis Jeffers, Michael Ball and Wayne Rooney as the club' s respected Youth Academy coach. Harvey's dedication has now been rewarded by Blueblood, the Everton Former Players' Foundation, who have chosen the Goodison legend as the recipient of the testimonial game they are granted by the club every two years.
Blueblood and Harvey will spilt the proceeds of the high-profile friendly, which takes place on Sunday, August 10. and provides the culmination of Everton's pre-season build-up.
* David Moyes believes Alessandro Pistone could make an instant return at Fulham this Saturday after showing no reaction to his hernia operation in his reserve team comeback on Monday.
But Tobias Linderoth, who also played in the mini-derby win, won't be considered until next season as the Blues ease him back from hamstring trouble. The Swede could, however, face Leeds reserves tomorrow night.
Moyes set for Rooney talks with Eriksson
Apr 30 2003 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES went head-to-head with England coach Sven Goran Eriksson today over the subject of Wayne Rooney. The Everton boss was in London for a summit meeting with the national coach alongside fellow Premiership managers Sir Alex Ferguson, Sir Bobby Robson, Peter Reid and Alan Curbishley. Moyes was set to use the get-together to voice his concerns about Rooney being selected by England for the end of season friendlies against South Africa and Serbia & Montenegro.
Ahead of today's Soho Square summit Moyes admitted: "Sven-Goran should pick Wayne for real games. "I would never stop him playing for England, but friendlies are an issue." Eriksson hopes to use the meeting to broker a peace deal with Moyes and the other Premiership bosses by stressing his commitment to ensuring players are not too tired out by friendlies. That is the burning issue for Moyes, who is concerned about the 17-year-old striker suffering from fatigue after his first season in the Premiership. Injuries have forced Moyes to start the Croxteth forward in each of Everton's last six matches. Add to that a substitute's appearance for England against Liechtenstein and a starting place against Turkey and it equates to a demanding last three months. After last weekend's victory over Aston Villa, inspired by a late Rooney strike, Moyes admitted the player is beginning to look jaded. "It was one of those days where some of the things he did inspired us but where some of the things he did showed a boy who looks as if he needs his feet up a little bit more," explained the Everton boss. Eriksson is keen to keep Premiership managers happy. But after coming under fire from FIFA President Sepp Blatter for his approach to friendlies, Eriksson is now faced with a headache he hopes to solve with today's meeting and an oth er tomor row attended by Gerard Houllier, Arsene Wenger, Steve McClaren and Gordon Strachan. If Rooney is selected for England's forthcoming friendlies he will have little opportunity to put his feet up. England fly to South Africa a week after the end of the Premiership campaign. Eriksson's side will play South Africa in Durban on May 22 before returning to this country to play Serbia and Montenegro at the Walkers Stadium on June 3. The games are seen by England as essential warm-up matches ahead of the Euro 2004 qualifier against Slovakia at the Riverside Stadium on June 11. Meanwhile, Everton have announced they will play Italian giants Parma at Goodison Park this summer in Colin Harvey's testimonial match.
The Serie A side will bring international stars like Japan's Nakata and Brazilian goalkeeper Taffarel to Merseyside on Sunday, August 10. Everton grant The Blue-blood Foundation a fundraising match every two years - and will split the proceeds with Harvey.
Dreaming of an Everton future
Apr 30 2003 By Ross Heppenstall, Liverpool Echo
KEVIN McLEOD is hoping that his recent run of form at Queens Park Rangers will persuade Everton boss David Moyes to hand him a new contract and a chance in the Goodison first team next season.
The 22-year-old left-sided midfielder joined QPR on loan last month and his impressive displays have been instrumental in edging Ian Holloway's side into a play- off place - and denying Tranmere Rovers a top six spot despite their excellent run recently. The Liverpool-born youngster has benefited greatly from playing regular first team football and said: "The experience of playing in front of big crowds has certainly helped me." Rangers' average home gate is around 13,000 and the overall experience has been a great learning curve. "It has helped me to become fitter and stronger as a player and I have learned a lot from Ian Holloway. I wasn't playing first team football at Everton so to come to a big club like QPR has been great. They are too big for the Second Division, really."
McLeod made his Everton debut in September 2000 against Ipswich but has been unable to force his way into the first team, despite impressive form for the reserves. He is currently lodging in London with close friend and ex-Blues' striker Francis Jeffers. Significantly, with his contract soon to expire, McLeod is hoping that his inspirational form has not gone unnoticed by Blues' boss Moyes, saying: "I know David Moyes came to watch me play against Blackpool recently. "I didn't have the best of games during the first half, but in the second I played a lot better and set a couple of goals up in a 3-1 win, so I was really pleased about that." McLeod also scored twice for Rangers in a recent 2-0 win against Luton, and he added: "The Luton game was really enjoyable and I am confident that I could do it in the Premiership. "I have proved with QPR that I can do it in the Second Division and it is a very physical league, where you don't get much time on the ball. "The Premiership is a massive step up, but I would get more time to play and I think I can make it at Everton." McCleod's agent is currently in talks with Everton to discuss the player's future. "I just need to be given a chance, but it is down to David Moyes," added McLeod.