Everton Independent Research Data


Club accept fine after FA ruling on Riverside rumpus
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Apr 1 2005
EVERTON will not appeal against an £8,000 fine imposed for failing to control their players at Middlesbrough. Both clubs were fined by the Football Association and warned about their future conduct yesterday following a "mass confrontation" at the Riverside Stadium in January. The melee erupted when Duncan Ferguson challenged Boro keeper Mark Schwarzer following a corner, leading to a 21-man confrontation in the hosts' six-yard area. David Moyes played down the incident after the match while referee Dermot Gallagher took no other action than to speak to the respective captains. "If there was an FA inquiry I would wonder why," Moyes said.. "The ball was dropped by the goal-keeper and if I was a player I would definitely have gone for it. "I think the only reason there was a melee was because it was after a corner and it was in such a close, confined space." Everton, however, pleaded guilty to the charge but requested a personal hearing to explain their version of events. And Goodison officials were satisfied with the out-come of the Huddersfield hearing after originally expecting a punishment in the region of £25,000. Club secretary David Harrison said last night: "We are pleased the Football Association noted that while our players did not act in an orderly manner it was a minor incident and this was reflected in the level of the fine. "Our previous good record on team discipline was taken into account at the hearing and the club has no plans to appeal against the fine." A statement by the FA yesterday, who are still investigating the assault on Manchester United's Roy Carroll in February's Cup tie at Goodison Park, read: "At a Disciplinary Commission hearing today, Middlesbrough FC and Everton FC were both severely reprimanded, warned as to their future conduct and fined £8,000. "The clubs had admitted breaches of FA Rule E22a for failing to ensure that their players conducted themselves in an orderly fashion. "The charges related to a mass confrontation during the Premier League match at the Riverside Stadium on January 16, 2005." Moyes, meanwhile, has admitted Everton have no excuses for fatigue in the Premiership run-in - despite the threadbare nature of his squad. Everton played only two games in March and Moyes gave most of his squad a five-day break over Easter. He said: "It has given us time to recharge our batteries and now we are focused on the job in hand. "There can be no excuses as far as fatigue is concerned. We are ready to go."

Fourth place still in our hands
Post Soapbox, icLiverpool & Daily Post
Apr 1 2005
In our hands
DAVID MOYES and his backroom staff need to sit the lads down and say look, it's an eight-game mini-league coming up now with the added bonus that you have a four-point start. Everton have got to get a couple of wins out of the way as early as possible and we couldn't have asked for an easier couple on paper than West Brom away and Crystal Palace at home. Let the chasing pack worry about us, it's in our own hands.
Peter Walker (via e-mail)
We need Cars
EVERTON need to get Lee Carsley back in front of back four and Mikel Arteta in the middle as soon as possible. What about giving Marcus Bent a rest and trying Duncan Ferguson and James Beattie up front?
John McDermott, Walton
Money matters
EVERTON need to get into the Champions League as it will speed up the recovery of our club. It is worth an extra £10million to us, together with the Rooney money (£11m if Manchester United win the FA Cup), an extra £5m compared to last season for TV money and an extra £5m compared to last season for league placements. Only then can we attract the players with European experience we need - preferably by the time we report back to pre-season this time please!
Dave Edwards, Old Roan
Go for glory
WITH West Brom on a high after stuffing Charlton, do Everton go at them from the off, play a 4-4-2 with Beattie and Bent up top, or sit back and grind out another result? I'd like to think we have the quality to go at them. I hope Joseph Yobo plays at the back. Robert Earnshaw has got pace, something David Weir and Alan Stubbs have not. Arteta would be a good signing at the end of the year, he looks creative and that something we're lacking.
Sean Blythe (via e-mail)

Get ready for Rocky journey to the finish
Apr 1 2005
By Mark O'Brien Everton supporter, Daily Post
IS this the weekend where Liverpool, buoyed by their victory in the derby, close the gap between themselves and Everton to a mere one point, or will the Blues and Bolton conspire to restore our lead to a far more respectable six or seven points? Both sides are starting to resemble Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed at the end of Rocky II now: punched out, knackered and just about holding on for the final bell. The end's in sight, and it's now down to who can cling on grimly and scrape together just enough points to take that much discussed fourth place. Liverpool have the tougher test this weekend, but even if they do fail to beat Sam Allardyce's form side, Everton have shown a great reluctance to punish their slip-ups this year, and Sunday's trip to the Hawthorns does not feel like the formality it might have been earlier in the season. That's partly attributable to Everton's stuttering form, but also something of a mini-revival for the Baggies. Apparently, it's Kevin Campbell who has done the most to rejuvenate Bryan Robson's side, rather like he did when he first arrived at Everton from Trabzonspor back in 1999. The veteran, who struggled badly with injuries for so much of his career at Goodison, looks as sprightly as he has done for a long time, and it's surely no coincidence that since his arrival his strike partner, Robert Earnshaw - so often referred to in the same breath as banjos and cows' backsides - has started to find the net a lot more regularly.
It's also a sign of how Evertonians' confidence has been knocked recently when we find ourselves fretting about the likes of those two and Geoff Horsfield. The return of Mikel Arteta is a welcome one for Everton, as we all long to see another midfield performance like the one we witnessed the last time the Blues travelled down to the Midlands, but the Span-iard's return could be offset by the loss of Tim Cahill. However, it will be surprising, and disappointing, if Oceania's player of the year fails to play because of a charity match in which he didn't even get off the bench. Given that our last three games of the season are pretty tough, we need to pile on the points during April if we're realistic about maintaining our Champions League bid. So that means we're going to need all our best players on the pitch on Sunday for what is now, if we're honest, a must-win game.

Beattie back for Sunday service
Apr 1 2005 By Scott McLeod, Liverpool Echo
JAMES BEATTIE is in line for his first start for almost two months as Everton go in search of goals at West Bromwich Albion. The Blues travel to the Midlands on Sunday eager to return to winning ways after suffering back to back defeats to Blackburn and Liverpool in the last month. Beattie (right) has impressed with his work in training since being handed a three game ban for his red card against Chelsea in February. He returned to the side as a second half substitute in the Anfield derby two weeks ago. But now Moyes is contemplating bringing the £6m man back into the starting line-up as Everton seek to maintain their advantage over the chasing pack in the race for Champions League qualification. That could mean a two-pronged attack alongside Marcus Bent against the relegation threatened Albion. Meanwhile, the Blues have been inundated with e-mails after the club's website ran an April Fools Day story suggesting Z-Cars was to be dropped as the music the players run onto the pitch to.

Hard work off pitch is money in the bank for Wyness
Apr 1 2005 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
Part one of our special series examining the financial state of Everton Football Club. WHETHER Champions League qualification is assured or not, the 2004/05 season has already proved a success story for Everton Football Club. Yet it was built on the shakiest, most unlikely foundations imaginable. The Blues ended last season with the lowest effective points total in the club's history, trooping into the close season shell-shocked on the back of a 5-1 thumping at Manchester City.
But, if Blues fans believed a three month break from football would offer them respite, they were proved spectacularly wrong. Bill Kenwright attempted to streamline and modernise the club at boardroom level, moving long-serving chairman Sir Philip Carter and director Keith Tamlin into non-executive positions and replacing chief executive Michael Dunford with renowned football firefighter Trevor Birch. Despite having conducted life-saving surgery on Chelsea and Leeds United, Birch lasted little more than six weeks at Goodison before resigning. It was the start of a spectacular summer of discontent. Director Paul Gregg, previously a sleeping partner in the boardroom, decided to adopt a more vigorous role. Frustrated by a lack of progress in solving the growing financial crisis at Goodison, he announced plans of his own to invest £15m into the club, but on the condition Kenwright stepped aside. Kenwright refused until he had seen evidence of Gregg's funding - and the identity of his backers. Then a crisis descended into a farce. Gregg revealed former Blues director Lord Grantchester as his backer. The Lord released a state-ment claiming he hadn't even seen Gregg's proposals, then changed his mind just hours later, saying he still wanted to see True Blue Holdings dissolved. That dissolution duly took place, but only after an airclearing EGM had been called by concerned shareholders. While flak was flying in the boardroom, on the pitch Wayne Rooney was proving his status as a world class striker at the European Championships in Portugal. But Evertonians looked on more in apprehension than admiration. Newcastle United and then Manchester United lodged formal bids for England's star of Euro 2004, and the player himself made it clear he wanted to abandon what he perceived to be a sinking ship. He wasn't alone. Tomasz Radzinski followed, and with the paltry additions of striking journeyman Marcus Bent, for £450,000, and unproven midfielder Tim Cahill, for £1.7m, Everton were widely tipped to go down. Instead, they flourished. Kenwright announced the Fortress Sports Fund rescue package on the eve of the new season. It couldn't help Everton in their opening day clash with champions Arsenal, but salvation wasn't far away. The same players who had struggled to just above the drop zone the previous season, showed a steely siege mentality, found a formation which ideally suited the personnel at hand - and upset the accepted order of the Premier-ship by lodging themselves in the top four. It was a renaissance which was reflected off the field, too, in the hands of an ambitious and progressive new chief executive, Keith Wyness. He arrived from Aberdeen, was introduced to supporters at the EGM, then just three months later, at the AGM, drew widepsread praise for his financial presentation on how he intended to improve the club's financial performance. He appears to have been as good as his words. "This time last year the tag would have been 'cash-strapped Everton', now it would be 'resur-gent Everton'," he declared proudly this week. "In terms of financial off-field performance that is definitely the case. "We have started to put in place some initiatives which, in a commercial sense, will be leaders in their own right. "We are planning some projects internationally that will be the first of their kind. And that is all going to help us move things forward." Wyness also revealed that David Moyes would have a significant transfer fund at his disposal this summer . . . NOT purely as a result of the £27m sale of Wayne Rooney. "Yes, David will have a significant transfer fund," he explained "probably something close to £ 30m to spend during the summer. "But supporters must understand the split. Say £12m of that is transfer money, the rest would be needed for wages - and there are about a dozen players who have still not signed new deals. "It is a good picture, but it is also prudent and within what is sensible. "This is not money we are going to be borrowing, which is very important. This is money in front of us. "The only debt the club is committed to now is the long term securitisation loan - £2.5m a year - which is manageable.
"The overdraft is very manageable and we only use it when we need to for cash flow purposes.
"Anything we are spending now is controlled. We are not borrowing to spend."

Police close Blues fans' pub for two matches
Apr 1 2005 Liverpool Echo
A PUB next to Everton FC's ground has been closed by police after repeated clashes between fans and officers outside. The Stanley Park, known as the Blue House, will have to shut during the Blues' next two home matches over fears it would be used as a base for violent thugs. The pub was at the centre of the trouble after last week's Anfield derby when a police horse was injured by bottles thrown at officers trying to control rowdy drinkers. A total of 33 people were arrested when violence flared after the match. Now police have responded by persuading magistrates to order the pub to close during matches on April 10 and 20 against Crystal Palace and Manchester United. If there are violent incidents there in future, they could ask the courts to close the pub permanently. Sergeant Paul Douglas said: "The latest incident was the straw that broke the camel's back. There's a serious risk of injury to the public." The landlord of the Stanley Park refused to comment.

Blues progress inspires Jamie
Apr 1 2005 Liverpool Echo
JAMIE CLAPHAM believes Birmingham can make as big an impact in 2005-2006 as Everton have in the current campaign. The Birmingham defender is confident Steve Bruce's side can put a disappointing and injury-hit season behind them. They have been flirting with the fringes of the relegation zone for most of the past seven months after beginning with high hopes of pushing for a top-six place. Long lay-offs to the likes of Mikael Forssell, David Dunn, Muzzy Izzet and Stan Lazaridis have blighted those ambitions. But Clapham is convinced Birmingham can turn their fortunes around in the same way as Everton who finished fourth from bottom in 2003-2004 and are in the top four this season. Clapham said: "Everton have done exceptionally well this season. There is no reason why that shouldn't be us. Come next season I think we are expecting it to be us. "We've had a few injuries but everyone here has been brought in by the manager so it's not like the players aren't good enough to play in this team. "The quality is here to make a challenge higher up the table. Everton's players are virtually no different to the team that finished fourth bottom last season.
"If you get off to a good start to the season it makes all the difference."

West Brom 1, Everton 0 (D,Post)
By Andy Hunter at The Hawthorns, Daily Post
Apr 4 2005
DESPITE being encamped in the top four since September David Moyes remains adamant Everton are not thinking about the Champions League. But if not, why not? As an exercise in keeping the pressure off his players the Goodison manager's psychological ploy has its merits, but their current form indicates a change of strategy is required as quickly as possible. On the cold Boxing Day afternoon when Everton battled past Manchester City to reach the 40-point barrier that almost everyone had feared was beyond them, West Bromwich Albion were on the receiving end of a 5-0 thrashing at home by Liverpool. How quickly times change in football. "Only relegation form will keep them out of the Champions League now," commented one prophetic commentator at Goodison Park on December 26. Everton have duly obliged, with 11 points from the 12 subsequent league games a fair indication of the form that will cost them a lucrative place among the European elite if it continues for one more week. If Moyes is not thinking about the Champions League then his players and supporters certainly are. And with Albion inflicting a third successive defeat on Everton yesterday it is proving a long, painful process as their fingers are slowly prised off the fourth place they have held for so long. One month ago they could have moved 10 points clear of Liverpool with victory over Blackburn. Today the margin stands at one, with confidence ebbing away as rapidly as form while Thomas Gravesen's absence proves more painful by the week. The Everton manager insists any assessment of his team must be based on the season as a whole. But dwelling on the stirring start for which they were rightly praised is putting the team in a comfort zone that threatens to leave them with nothing to show for their extraordinary revival. That can be the only explanation for the slide. As Moyes admitted even his threadbare squad cannot use fatigue as an excuse, having played only three Premiership games since February 19, while the inspiration that polished a fierce work ethic before Christmas is now conspicuous by its absence. Perhaps a proverbial kick up the backside is in order after all. There was an improvement on the lame performances against Liverpool and Blackburn yesterday, but in lacking the final pass to seriously trouble the suspect central defensive pairing of Thomas Gaardsoe and Neil Clement and the self-belief of old, Everton never threatened to take the three points their campaign desperately needed. With Mikel Arteta back in mid-field there was initially more composure and intelligence about the visitors - until they reached the final third when they appeared on a different wavelength to lone striker Marcus Bent.
And with the home defence only stretched by their own mistakes Everton's limited approach allowed West Brom to grow in stature and confidence when, regardless of their recent improvement, it should have been undermined. The over-zealous approach that cost Everton in the derby was again a hindrance at The Hawthorns. On 10 minutes Alessandro Pistone needlessly slid through Geoff Horsfield as the powerful striker chased a harmless long ball into the corner.
From the resulting Jonathan Greening free-kick Gaardsoe stole a march on Alan Stubbs but fortunately for the Goodison skipper slammed his free header against the crossbar instead of beyond the exposed Nigel Martyn. Tim Cahill then clattered into Zoltan Gera in front of the dugout for a senseless booking and with both sides keen to bring allin wrestling to the Midlands, referee Graham Poll struggled to keep the game flowing. Ronnie Wallwork escaped punishment for going over the top on David Weir and Arteta collected a painful blow on his recently damaged ankle from on-loan Manchester United midfielder Kieran Richardson. Thankfully the Spaniard was able to soldier on, but it seemed as though the setback spread among his team-mates. When football entered the equation Everton sought to release Bent behind the West Brom centre-halves at every opportunity. It worked the first time they tried, with the striker beating the offside trap although not Russell Hoult with a shot on the turn, but thereafter the lack of variety about Everton's attack made life easy for the home defence. A calamitous mix-up between Gaardsoe and Hoult almost let in Leon Osman when Bent turned provider in the 24th minute, but the Everton midfielder was unable to capitalise courtesy of a crucial slip. Everton, hit by an injury to James Beattie before kick off that continued his disastrous start to life at Goodison, were not helped by a hamstring strain that ended Pistone's afternoon and disrupted their shape on the stroke of half-time. Joseph Yobo replaced the injured Italian and went straight to right-back with Tony Hibbert switched over to the left. Their roles were then reversed at the interval, and it was the left back Yobo who was caught out when West Brom edged in front in the 63rd minute. The Nigerian has endured a difficult time of late as the square peg in many round holes but in mitigation it was a fine goal that furthered Albion's prospects of pulling off an unlikely escape from relegation. Greening was afforded plenty of room to cross from the left and he took full advantage with an inviting delivery deep into the Everton area. Zoltan Gera rose comfortably above Yobo and steered a textbook header into the bottom corner of Martyn's goal. Only when behind did Everton increase the tempo enough to worry West Brom.
With Duncan Ferguson adding to Gaardsoe and Clement's dis-comfort, although the last 15 minutes did not seem long enough for the big striker to really make his presence felt, the visitors finally promised a response. Bent forced a flailing near post save out of Hoult and dragged another half chance wide while Gera hurt Everton at the other end with his aerial prowess when he cleared Cahill's curling cross off the line. The midfielder had a weak shout for a penalty kick waved away by Poll when he tumbled to the ground following a slight pull by the Hungarian captain. For all the possession and pressure around the home area in the final quarter, however, those chances were a poor return. Though on the back foot for much of the second half Albion were always dangerous on the counter and should have avoided a nervous finale by adding a second. Right-back Martin Albrechtsen struck the post after exchanging passes with Richardson and Martyn produced an outstanding stop to prevent Gera turning in Horsfield's low cross at the back post with three minutes to go. It was a reprieve for Everton but one they were incapable of seizing. Just like Champions League football it seems...
WEST BROM (4-4-2): Hoult; Albrechtson (Scimeca 89), Gaardsoe, Clement, Robinson; Gera, Wallwork, Richardson (Moore 85), Greening; Campbell, Horsfield. Subs: Chaplow, Kanu, Earnshaw.
BOOKING: Richardson (foul)
EVERTON (4-5-1): Martyn; Hibbert, Weir, Stubbs (Watson 85), Pistone (Yobo 44); Osman, Arteta, Carsley (Ferguson 75), Cahill, Kilbane; Bent. Subs: Wright, Plessis.
BOOKINGS: Cahill (foul), Arteta (persistent misconduct)
REFEREE: Graham Poll
ATT: 26,805
NEXT GAME: Everton v Crystal Palace, Premiership, Sunday 3pm

Moyes plays down talk of Champions League
Apr 4 2005 By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
DAVID MOYES insisted Everton were not preoccupied with Champions League football as their qualification chances suffered a double setback in the Midlands yesterday. Moyes's faltering side are now only one point clear of rivals Liverpool in the pursuit of fourth place after relegation-threatened West Bromwich Albion inflicted a third successive defeat on the Goodison club. And the 1-0 reverse, courtesy of Zoltan Gera's 63rd-minute header, arrived after record signing James Beattie was ruled out for a month with a knee ligament injury.The £6million striker, who has made only six league appearances for Everton since signing in January, suffered the injury in training on Saturday as his dreadful start at Goodison continues.Moyes revealed: "James tweaked his medial knee ligaments in training and it looks as though he'll be out for three or four weeks. "Initially we thought he had only bruised his knee after a fall in training but he felt it again when he started some shooting work afterwards."We took him for a scan which revealed ligament damage. It is very disappointing because we have only been able to make very limited use of his resources."Everton's latest defeat means they have collected only 11 points from 12 games since acquiring 40 points on Boxing Day.
But Moyes continued to play down their struggle to secure a place among the European elite by insisting the Champions League has never been on the Everton agenda. The Everton manager claimed: "We have never been thinking about the Champions League, only about having the best season we possibly can and at this moment we are close to that." Moyes continued: "We are not thinking about the Champions League. We think we are in a very good position. We haven't run out of steam. "We had a tremendous points total early on and after 31 games it is wrong to judge us on just the last three. The league table doesn't lie. "There is no fear about not getting in the Champions League because we weren't expected to be here. "There is no pressure on the players at all. They are still doing the right things and I cannot ask for any more from them. "We are disappointed not to get something out of this game but it wasn't for a lack of effort or desire. It is tough coming to West Brom at the moment and I thought we deserved more but a lack of concentration, finesse and quality at times prevented us getting the goal we needed." Moyes denied Merseyside rivals Liverpool are now favourites to beat his side into the final Champions League spot. "I still think Bolton and Middlesbrough are in good positions to go for fourth," he added. "Charlton have been doing well this season too, but I think Bolton are still in with a good shout." Moyes also believed his side could have had a penalty when Tim Cahill was felled by goalscorer Gera as Everton chased an equaliser. He said: "I've looked at it again and it wasn't the referee's fault that it wasn't given. Tim definitely had his arm held by their player as he went into the box. "Whether it was strong enough for a penalty I don't know but Tim had already been booked and if it had been a dive he would have received another, but he didn't."

Campbell salutes bags of spirit
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
April 4 2005
Everton striker Kevin Campbell hailed the spirit which helped the Baggies to a 1-0 win over his old club - and admitted the win could prove crucial in their Premiership survival bid. Hungarian midfielder Zoltan Gera headed in the only goal in the 63rd minute as he outjumped Joseph Yobo to score from Jonathan Greening's cross. Albion have now won four and drawn two of their last eight Premiership games and moved up to 18th, behind Southampton and safety only on goal difference. For Campbell's old club Everton, it was another blow to their Champions League hopes. They have taken just 11 points from their last 12 matches and Liverpool are now just one point behind with a far superior goal difference. Campbell said: "This win is all down to team spirit. The way Everton attacked us we had to be resilient and resolute. They had a lot of possession but they were not really hurting us and we had to weather the storm. "The team is hungry - you could see everyone fighting for each other out there; our will to win showed today. It's a fantastic win for us and that might just make the difference." Manager Bryan Robson was pleased with the battling qualities of his side's performance in contrast to the 4-1 demolition of Charlton at The Valley in their last outing. He said: "The lads put in a different type of performance to against Charlton. Against Charlton they played some good football and created good chances with movement and passing. "But we knew against Everton it would be a hard fight. We were up for the fight, battled against them and worked very hard and then counterattacked very well in the second half. "Months ago we would have wilted when people were putting balls into the box and we wouldn't have competed as well as today and that is why we kept a clean sheet."

Lack of cutting edge is costly
Apr 4 2005
View from the stands by Chris Wood Everton supporter, Daily Post
DAVID MOYES insists Everton are not losing their edge on the final run-in to the season, but something was missing at West Brom - and it was not just record signing James Beattie. The Goodison manager took a substantial punt on the Southampton striker in the transfer window - while watching Thomas Gravesen head for the exit door - and has not had much in return for his hefty cheque. Mikel Arteta arrived in a far more low-key way, a loan deal with the prospect of something more long-term if the two sides take a liking to each other. Again injury has disrupted his potential impact, but yesterday he was again the pick of our players and the one who offers the most invention in a midfield that continues to work hard. However in recent weeks teams have stuck to their own game-plan and snuffed out any threat from our five-man midfield, which is supposed to be able to break late to cause havoc in the opposition box, as they did at Aston Villa.
But that Villa result has proved a rare bright spot as Everton have slipped back towards the clutches of the chasing pack. With massive hurdles against Manchester United and Arsenal still to come, Everton need to recapture a way of breaking down the increasingly mean opposition. Even the introduction of super sub Duncan Ferguson failed to pay dividends yesterday. Everton need to show more of the passing phases we saw at the start of the second half yesterday. And while they did manage to get Marcus Bent in behind the defence on a couple of occasions they need another outlet as Bent's confidence is in desperate need of a winning goal. But he's not the only one . . .

West Brom 1, Everton 0 (Echo)
Apr 4 2005 By Scott McLeod at The Hawthornes
EVERTON have been rubbing shoulders with the elite at the summit of the Premiership all season.
And only now, with the finishing line in sight, are they struggling for breath in that rarefied atmosphere. They went to The Hawthorns in desperate need of the oxygen of league points. But, with their lungs burning after a season spent exceeding even the wildest expectations, David Moyes' mountaineers are struggling to muster the effort to secure the position they have occupied since early September. For the first time this season they have lost three consecutive league games. It was a Zoltan Gera header which sealed their fate at the Hawthorns. He was the difference on a day when neither side managed to light the blue touch paper.What a contrast from the last visit to the West Midlands. The 3-1 drubbbing of Aston Villa was just weeks ago but it seems like a lifetime.
The result and performance at Villa Park provided an opportunity to secure once and for all that fourth place spot. Instead, lacklustre displays against Blackburn and Liverpool, coupled withthe result at Anfield on Saturday, ensured Everton's grip on a Champions League berth was more tenuous than ever ahead of this match. No other side has made such a compelling bid to join the top flight's elite this season. But, with just weeks of the season remaining, the biggest question mark of the campaign has been placed alongside Everton. It is a credit to the Blues that it is a question that is even being asked. But that does not hide the fact that, having started the season among the favourites for the drop, this side has redefined expectations. They have earned the right to be talked about as genuine Champions League contenders. Whatever happens, the side will be lauded. But that does not mean that finishing outside the top four will hurt. This game was the chance the Blues needed to prove they are not now running on empty after a season of faultless endeavour. Try as they might, they couldn't do that. You cannot claim it is a loss of form down to a change in personnel, because this starting line-up was just one player away from being the same side which faced Villa. That was not expected however. This was set to be the game which marked James Beattie's return to the starting line-up. But an injury picked up in training on Saturday has left the £6m man nursing a medial ligament injury which is set to keep him out for up to a month.
And so with the player signed to add firepower to the ranks in the chase for Europe set to miss the lion's share of the remaining fixtures, the men who figured yesterday, with the possible exception of the injured Alessandro Pistone, have to find the balance and form capable of returning to their finest form. It is a challenge for them and their manager, because the side is clearly bereft of confidence right now. It was reflected in the passing and the finishing. It was reflected in vain looks to the referee for decisions they knew would not be forthcoming, and in hopeful rather than focused long balls to the front men. One thing the Blues did not lack was tenacity. They set the tone inside the opening 45 minutes by a number of crunching challenges that over-stepped the mark and which, not surprisingly, led to a couple of bookings for Mikel Arteta and Tim Cahill. Their commitment formed a potent combination when mixed with frustration. That frustration was borne from the fact that, despite their willingness, Everton couldn't recreate the same verve or zip which char-acterised the side's away performance at Villa Park - or in many of the other away games this term. That was down in no small part to the approach of the home side. At time it seemed Albion simply had more men than Everton on the field. The Baggies may not be a graceful side, but they play in manager Bryan Robson's image when it comes to attitude. As a result, Marcus Bent was feeding on scraps in attack for long periods - getting one opportunity to test Russell Hoult before the interval. When the chances finally started to come his way in the final 20 minutes, he couldn't get the better of the keeper. But even during that period, the best openings still fell to the home side and, in particular, the excellent Gera. His goal came in the 62nd minute. He outjumped Joseph Yobo to head powerfully into the corner of the net from a Jonathan Greening centre. It was a lead Albion never looked like relinquishing. Everton's afternoon was summed up in the 70th minute when Cahill tumbled as he chased a Kevin Kilbane flick-on. The replays showed there was minimal contact from Gera. Be it exhaustion or desperation, it was enormously telling.
WEST BROM (4-4-2): Hoult; Albrechtson (Scimeca 89), Gaardsoe, Clement, Robinson; Gera, Wallwork, Richardson (Moore 85), Greening; Campbell, Horsfield. Subs: Chaplow, Kanu, Earnshaw.
BOOKING: Richardson (foul)
EVERTON (4-5-1): Martyn; Hibbert, Weir, Stubbs (Watson 85), Pistone (Yobo 44); Osman, Arteta, Carsley (Ferguson 75), Cahill, Kilbane; Bent. Subs: Wright, Plessis.
BOOKINGS: Cahill (foul), Arteta (persistent misconduct)
REFEREE: Graham Poll
ATT: 26,805
NEXT GAME: Everton v Crystal Palace, Premiership, Sunday 3pm

Pistone keen to prolong Blues career
Apr 4 2005 By Scott McLeod, Liverpool Echo
ALESSANDRO PISTONE remains confident of extending his stay at Goodison beyond this season.
The Italian defender (left) is one of a host of players in David Moyes' Everton squad who is out of contract in the summer. But negotiations are ongoing with the left-back's representatives and while no new deal has been agreed yet, the 29-year-old has reiterated his preference is to remain on Merseyside rather than to move elsewhere on a Bosman. "I am talking with the club about a new contract," revealed Pistone, who hobbled out of yesterday's match at West Brom before half-time with a hamstring injury which is set to keep him out for two weeks. "We are quite far on at the moment but hopefully I can be a part of the team next season as well." Pistone has enjoyed his most successful season in English football since arriving at Newcastle from Inter Milan in the 90s.
He has established himself as Moyes' first-choice left-back having finally overcome the injury problems which restricted his availability during the manager's first two full seasons at the helm.
He has settled on Merseyside and remains confident Everton can still secure the lucrative fourth Champions League slot. He added: "It was hard to get the derby out of our minds because we didn't play as we wanted to play. I think we deserved to lose. "But we have got the advantage and it is still in our hands. It is all about us. "We have to try to get as many points as we can. Anything can happen, but we have the advantage. "It has been a fantastic season up to now, but it is not finished. There are just one and a half months to go so we have to stay together. "We have nothing to lose. There is no pressure on us and I think we can do it. We have to try and do it."

Beattie blow a stunner for Moyes
Apr 4 2005 By Scott McLeod, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON are set to be without record signing James Beattie until the final fortnight of the season.
The 27-year-old striker (right) was pulled out of the squad for yesterday's 1-0 defeat at West Bromwich Albion after suffering a medial knee ligament injury in training at Bellefield on Saturday.
The injury will keep him in the treatment room for three weeks and he is unlikely to be fit enough to return to first team action until the trip to Fulham on April 30 at the earliest. It is more likely he will return to the side for the final home game against Newcastle on May 7. It is a major blow to Everton, who saw their lead over fifth placed Liverpool cut to one point by the weekend's results.
Moyes said: "James tweaked his medial ligaments in training and it looks as if he is going to be out for three weeks. "He suffered a fall which we thought had led just to bruising in his knee. But he did some shooting work and he felt it from that. "We had it scanned and it shows a slight medial tear. It is a blow because we brought him in to help us out and we have had very limited use of his services."
Beattie will miss next week's home game with Crystal Palace followed by the home games against Birmingham and Manchester United later this month. But the manager insisted: "We have not really been thinking about the Champions League. We have only been thinking about having the best season we possibly can. At this moment it is very close to that. "I think we are in a very good position. We are disappointed we didn't get something from the game. "But it wasn't for want of trying or the players' effort. We were coming to West Brom at a tough time. "There was a little lack of concentration and a lack of finesse and quality at times which prevented us getting a goal." Moyes also leapt to the defence of midfielder Tim Cahill after suggestions the Aussie midfielder dived late in the game in an attempt to earn a penalty. Moyes insisted: "Tim had been booked for a stupid tackle in the first half. He knew he would have been booked for diving which would have meant a sending off, so why would he possibly dive? "The player did grab his arm. I don't know whether it was hard enough to warrant a penalty kick, but there is no disputing the fact Gera did grab his arm."

Moyes looking to wider picture
Apr 4 2005 Analysis by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
"YOU don't win anything with kids," a TV sage once claimed . . . incorrectly. But, absolutely and utterly irrefutable is the claim that you can't come fourth without players - and Everton are fast running out of that precious commodity. James Beattie is now out for a month, Alessandro Pistone limped out at The Hawthorns yesterday and Gary Naysmith and James McFadden were already sidelined. For some, the knee-jerk reaction was to criticise David Moyes' decision not to add more than a solitary striker to his squad in January. But once the wounds of yesterday's troubling defeat have scabbed over, if not healed, those doubters may think again. Moyes did not move more vigorously in the last transfer window because the players who would make a difference to Everton's long term future weren't available. The next seven games will be crucial to Everton's season. The summer, however, will be even more important to the club's long term well-being. With 12 players out of contract this summer, the Everton boss has an opportunity for some major resculpting of Everton's first team squad. And he does not want to be encumbered by players enlisted for short term gain - no matter how profitable that short term gain may be. Painful? Maybe. But only the reckless would question Moyes' judgement.

Blues race shame
Apr 4 2005 By Thomas Martin, Liverpool Echo
A GANG of racist yobs is shaming the name of Everton FC. A hardcore of so-called fans, who travel on coaches to away games, sing racist songs and hurl abuse at black and Asian passers-by and swig strong lager and smoke cannabis. Yesterday two undercover ECHO reporters travelled on a coach provided by Liverpool firm Barnes Travel to Everton's away clash with West Bromwich. The coach was packed with people, including families with young children, travelling to the Midlands match, who were horrified by the shameful antics of the gang, who * Smuggled cannabis and lager on to the coach
* Openly swigged the lager and smoked joints
* Made monkey noises and gestures at a group of black men
* Hurled racist abuse at a black child cycling past the coach
The yobs yelled abuse at Asian and black people as they drove through the outskirts of West Bromwich after a 1-0 defeat for the Blues. Three disgusted supporters challenged the group and a brawl nearly ensued as the racists reacted with venom. A Barnes steward warned the group to calm down and returned to his seat. One of the men who challenged the group said as he returned to his seat: "It makes me sick that those b******s get associated with Everton. "They're not fans - they're scum who've drunk too much lager and had too many spliffs. "The club's name is getting dragged through the mud by them treating human beings like that. "Proper Everton fans aren't racist. After what was in the ECHO last time you'd think this would stop." Last month the ECHO revealed how two Everton fans (pictured) who travelled with Barnes to the match against Aston Villa were so horrified by racist chanting they refused to return on the coach. The club launched an investigation when season ticket holder Paula Braynion said a group of fans made monkey noises at black and Asian passers-by and claimed 90% of the full coach responded to the singing of "stand up if you hate n*****s". For the match our reporters posed as fans to book tickets with the County Road-based firm. As fans boarded the coach on Priory Road, Barnes officials checked supporters' bags for alcohol after it was banned from their fleet last month. Barnes has a policy to ban fans who try to take alcohol onboard. Yet stewards who confiscated dozens of bottles of lager allowed the same fans to board - and as soon as the journey started, some produced bottles of soft drinks mixed with spirits and started to drink from them. Minutes later some fans began smoking cannabis but stopped after a steward warned them. In an open letter which was handed to fans as they collected their tickets, Barnes officials warned that alcohol is banned and racist behaviour will not be tolerated. The letter said culprits would be ejected from their coaches regardless of where they are in the country and police informed. But as the coach departed West Bromwich, stewards were helpless against the racists. A group of about 12 men, aged between 18 and 25, produced dozens of cans of high-strength lager bought from off-licences near the Hawthornes stadium. Angered by their team's defeat, they openly swigged the lager and smoked joints as Barnes's string of coaches, escorted by police on motor-bikes, passed through the suburbs of West Bromwich. Then the yobs began making monkey noises and gestures at a group of black men standing outside a petrol station.
The barrage lasted for more than five minutes as the coach came to a standstill in traffic. Once the coach reached the motor-way, the group gleefully chanted about the Pope's death and sang "no surrender to the IRA". Today Paula Braynion told the ECHO she was sickened to hear the abuse was still going on. "It just proves that, although Barnes is trying hard to stamp it out, there is a hardcore of fans who are still ruining Everton's reputation," she said. "This is a really serious issue and it makes my skin crawl."
Club condemns behaviour
EVERTON FC today branded the behaviour of the racist fans unacceptable. Everton's race and diversity manager Alan Johnson said: "We are working extremely hard to eradicate racism but it only takes a minority to tarnish the reputation of the club and hinder the work we are doing and the progress we are trying to make. "These so-called supporters travel independently of the official travel service that we provide - however, we are outraged by these actions. "I will be contacting Barnes and would welcome any information regarding the offenders." Robert Saunderson, manager of Barnes, said: "Following a complaint about racist chants on our coaches to the recent Everton fixture at Aston Villa, we issued a letter to all fans travelling to West Brom reminding them of our policy regarding racism. "All the fans were genuinely concerned at being linked with such behaviour and it would appear that there is a small minority that are spoiling the journey. Once identified, these fans will be banned from travelling with Barnes. "We will continue to take whatever steps are necessary to stamp out this unacceptable behaviour."

Everton Res 0, Man Utd Res 1
Daily Post
Apr 5 2005
EVERTON RESERVES suffered their first defeat in five games as they went down to a strong Manchester United lineup at Haig Avenue. The Blues, with just Richard Wright boasting any real first-team experience, were under pressure from the start with Brazilian Kleberson firing goalwards only for Mark Hughes to clear bravely with a header close to the goal-line. Frenchman David Bel-lion then went close with a shot which was cleared and the dangerous Alan Smith then forced a great save from Wright with a powerful header from an inswinging corner. The former England number one was in inspired form, denying United on more than a few occasions. Everton went to the break with their goal intact however it wasn't long in the second period that they found themselves a goal down. Young striker Guiseppi Rossi ran into the penalty area and the unlucky James Harris touched the heels of the United man and down he went. The referee had no alternative but to point to the spot and Rossi got up to despatch the kick past Wright. Wright was called upon to keep out good chances for Smith, Rossi and Bellion, while at the other end James Vaughan might have levelled with a vicious shot which very nearly caught out Roy Carroll. Pique flashed a shot just over the bar as United finished as they had started looking like the champions that just two more wins will make them. Everton remain ninth in the table.
EVERTON RESERVES: R Wright, S Wright, Wilson, Boyle, Hughes, Harris, Vidarsson (Phelan 64), Vaughan, Plessis, Anichebe (Fowler 84), Seargeant. Subs: Lake, Kearney, Holt.

It's now or never for us - Weir
Apr 5 2005
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
DAVID WEIR admits Everton's season will only be judged on what they deliver in the next seven games. Everton suffered their third successive defeat at West Bromwich Albion on Sunday and now only stand one point clear of Liverpool in the race for fourth place. David Moyes's side have defied all expectations to mount a European challenge since September. But since acquiring 40 points on Boxing Day they have collected only 11 points from 12 games and Weir admits they cannot rest on their laurels with Champions League hopes ebbing away. "We just need to start winning games," said the Everton defender. "We can talk about how well we have been doing this season but at the end of the day it is all in the past and it is what we do week in, week out now. "The last three games haven't gone as we would like and we have to address that. We need to get together, come out as a group and realise that is now or never for us. "We have to continue working as hard as we can and be ready for the final seven games and give our best for Everton Football Club. "Every game is massive, Sunday was massive and it is now a test of character. We have got to respond in the right way, we've got to come out fighting and we have got to start winning games." Alessandro Pistone, who is now in talks over a new contract, added to Everton's injury problems when he limped out of the Hawthorns defeat with a hamstring strain. The Italian will be sidelined for a fortnight.

Baggies blues
Post Soapbox, icLiverpool & Daily Post
Apr 5 2005
Baggies blues
I HAVE yet to read David Moyes's views on the WBA game but I hope that he does not pull out the old cracker of "the ref robbed us because he never gave us the pen". The Blues were awful again and David should be man enough to come out and say we were well beaten by the team that will most likely be facing the likes of Crewe and Watford next year.
Peter Lloyd, Liverpool
Too negative
IT was a bad game against WBA - negative football. As in the last three games, we only started to play when we were one down. The big man should have been on from the start.
Simon Wernli (via e-mail)
Missing Thomas
WHAT'S happening to the Blues? Three straight defeats. Since Thomas Gravesen left, we seem to lack the midfield quality we had before.
Barry Davis (via e-mail)
Go for it
DAVID MOYES says he is not thinking about the Champions League. Well David, the fans are whether it is right or wrong, we are and we have that chance of qualifying - it's not a case of if "if we do qualify that is a bonus we never dreamed of" - we are in that position and second is not good enough. We may not get another chance at this unless we can buy like Chelsea and the other teams in the league who have money do, so why can't we try our darndest now? I will continue to support the Blues, always will, but I believe the determination, will to win and commitment is missing in a few players.
Alan Morgan (via e-mail)
Europe fear
YES it's been a great season so far, but it's in danger of becoming extremely disappointing again!
The team who've been fourth all season are in danger of not only missing out on the Champions League, but also the UEFA Cup. That would be a travesty. Come on Moyes, a bit of positivity and we will get fourth!
L Rhodes, Wirral

Gregg: I'm not the issue in Fund farce
Apr 5 2005 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON director Paul Gregg insists he is not the obstacle barring a £12.8m investment into the Blues. As revealed in Saturday's ECHO, the long-awaited Fortress Sports Fund is now finally open.
Head of the fund, Chris Samuelson, confirmed "the Fund is completed and registered," but it was claimed that Paul Gregg's refusal to endorse the proposals was delaying an EGM to vote on the issue. Gregg, however, insisted today that the delays were not down to him, and that the "whole Fortress exercise has made a mockery of Everton." He said today: "As a director of Everton Football Club, I am not aware of any formal offer having been presented. "As a director I have not received any proof of funds - or that they even exist. "And as a board member I would like to know where the funds are coming from. Speaking as a director of the club I would like to know whether the people who are supposed to be investing are the kind of people that a club with the history and tradition of Everton Football Club should be dealing with. "I think we have been led down the garden path and that the whole exercise has embarrassed the club." Gregg admitted he has had serious reservations about the Fortress Sports Fund since it was first proposed last August, but that he did not want to rock the boat until the current season has ended. "The Fortress saga has dragged on for 10 months without delivery," he said. "There will be an opportunity at the end of the season to discuss the club's future, but until then I think every Evertonian's ambition should be to support David Moyes and the team and see us achieve our best league placing for years."

Blues say ban abusive fans
Apr 5 2005 By Greg O'Keefe, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON fans who dish out racial abuse on away match days should be rooted out and banned for life. That is the verdict of anti-racist campaigners and Everton fans after we reported how a group of yobs shamed the club's name by taunting black and Asian passers-by after Sunday's game in West Bromwich. The gang of up to 12 men, travelling on a supporters' coach, hurled abuse as children and other horrified passengers were forced to listen. Leon Mann, a spokesman for Kick Racism Out of Football, said: "It's disgusting that this sort of thing continues to happen on coaches going to Everton games. "I'm sure the majority of right-thinking fans will be apalled by the nature of the abuse reported. "The fact that the coach company are trying to raise awareness of the problem by handing out letters to fans before they travel is a positive sign. "We know Everton FC will continue their excellent work in combating racism and appreciate these coaches are not affiliated with the club. "However it's obvious something has to change. "The guys behaving like this need to be rooted out and banned from games." Simon Paul, 28, from Anfield, runs Everton fans' website nsno.co.uk. He compiled a tribute DVD which was presented to Kevin Campbell, Everton's first black captain, before Sunday's game against West Brom. He said: "Kevin Campbell was a really popular player when he was at Goodison and his goals saved us when he arrived. "It's a shame that only a few hours after we were cheering him on the pitch those idiots on a coach were abusing black people. "I can't believe they didn't pause to think after the last ECHO article. "If they are actually fans they should fear being banned from following the club and maybe pause to think of the consequences of their actions."
Fighting racism
AN anti- racism wristband was launched by Thierry Henry, the Arsenal and France striker, and Rio Ferdinand of Manchester United and England. The band is part of a Nike-supported campaign, Stand Up, Speak Up, led by Henry. He approached Nike after racially disparaging comments made about him by the Spain coach Luis Arragones. The bands are available for a donation of £1.50 and proceeds go to anti-racism campaigns.

Battling Blues reserves pay penalty
Apr 5 2005 Liverpool Echo
AN EXTREMELY experienced Manchester United reserve side proved too strong for Everton's youngsters as the Blues fell to a second half penalty at Haig Avenue. Everton had just Richard Wright with any real first team experience, and were under pressure from the start with Brazilian World Cup winner Kleberson firing goalwards only for Mark Hughes to clear bravely with a header close to the goal line. Frenchman David Bellion went close with a shot which was cleared and the dangerous Alan Smith forced a great save from Wright with a powerful header from an inswinging corner. The former England number one was in inspired form, denying United on more than a few occasions. Smith was unfortu-nate not to put United ahead when again Bellion broke free but instead of passing to the unmarked former Leeds star, the winger chose to shoot straight at Wright. Everton went behind soon after the break. James Harris sent Guiseppi Rossi tumbling in the penalty area and the striker got up to despatch the kick past Wright. United kept coming and both Smith and substitute Dave Jones went close to increasing the lead, but Wright was on hand to keep Everton in the game. Bellion saw a shot go just wide and Rossi again brought the best out of the Blues keeper. Everton came close to snatching a late point when James Vaughan almost levelled with a vicious shot which very nearly caught out Roy Carroll. Pique flashed a shot just over the bar as the visitors kept the pressure on right to the end to put themselves within two victories of being crowned Reserve League North champions. Everton, who battled hard despite the difference in quality, remain ninth in the table.
Everton Res: R Wright, S Wright, Wilson, Boyle, Hughes, Harris, Vidarsson (Phelan 64), Vaughan, Plessis, Anichebe (Fowler 84), Seargeant. Subs Unused: Lake, Kearney, Holt.
Manchester Utd Res: Carroll, McShane (Jones 46), Eckersley, Pique, Spector, Miller, Bellion, P Neville, Smith, Rossi, Kleberson. Subs Unused: Lee, Fox, Heath, Lawrence

Teenager Vaughan may get Palace call
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Apr 6 2005
EVERTON may look to 16-year-old James Vaughan to ease their mounting striking problems against Crystal Palace on Sunday. David Moyes has only two recognised forwards available for the Goodison Park encounter after James Beattie damaged knee ligaments in training last weekend. The club's record signing is expected to be out for a month, and with Everton registering only one goal in the three consecutive defeats that have placed Champions League qualification in serious doubt the teenager is in contention for the Palace squad. Vaughan impressed Moyes in the Everton reserve team defeat by Manchester United on Monday night, continuing the progress that has elevated him from the under-18 Academy team into Andy Hold-en's second string this season. Over the Easter period the Birmingham-born forward also announced his arrival on the international scene with two goals in his first three games for John Peacock's England under-17s. Vaughan, who joined Everton as a schoolboy, made his debut as a substitute against Serbia and Montenegro in a 3-1 win. Then three days later he was handed a starting role against Northern Ireland and responded with his first international strike in a 3-0 victory. Vaughan scored his second goal after coming off the bench in a 3-1 win over Republic of Ireland to help England book their place in this summer's European Under-17s Championships in Tuscany in Italy, where they will face Turkey, Croatia, Belarus, Holland, Israel and Italy. The striker has already had a taste of senior action this season, first as an unused substitute against Manchester United in the FA Cup and then at Aston Villa in the league. If he appears against Palace on Sunday the 16-year-old will become the youngest player ever to play for Everton - breaking the 37-year record held by Joe Royle. And if he scores, Vaughan will take the youngest goalscorer mantle currently held by Wayne Rooney.

Campbell sees Everton parallel
Daily Post
Apr 6 2005
KEVIN CAMPBELL believes West Brom are showing the same vital qualities that were evident when he helped rescue Everton from relegation six years ago. Campbell remembers how the Goodison side built up a momentum in terms of performances and results to salvage a lost cause in the final stages of the 1998-99 season. And he said: "I went to Everton and we lost our first two games. But we started to win and it lifted everyone. The confidence, tenacity, tackling, everything was there. Everybody seemed a different player. "That is happening here now."

Blues would be keen on Gravesen loan
Apr 6 2005 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON will not bid to re-sign Thomas Gravesen this summer - but the Blues will be in the queue to acquire his services if Real Madrid choose to loan out the midfielder. Contrary to reports, Madrid are not interested in selling the 28-year-old. But with the Spanish giants targeting further additions to their midfield ranks in the closed season, a season-long loan similar to the deal which took Fernando Morientes to Monaco last year could be on the cards. The Blues sold the Danish midfielder (pictured) to Real Madrid for £2.7m during the January transfer window. Gravesen has proved a hit with team-mates and fans since signing a three-and-a-half year deal worth £2.8m a year tax-free at the Bernabeu. His departure would be as unpopular with supporters as Morientes' switch to France, but the player himself could be tempted by a return to Merseyside if he feels his first team opportunities at the Bernabeu will be limited next season. But such a move is likely to depend on Everton ' s qualification for Europe. The Dane's lucrative contract at Madrid means the Blues could not contemplate a permanent deal. The Blues have first refusal on Gravesen as Moyes has made mid-field signings his top priority in the summer, with Scott Parker the top target.
* Reports today suggest Robbie Keane has set his heart on a switch to Everton.

Wyness goes east to build bridges and houses in Thailand
Apr 6 2005 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON have been house-building in Tsunami ravaged Thailand. Big hearted Blues' fans have helped raise 8m Thai bhats (more than £100,000) which will be used to build 50 new houses in the town of Baan Nam Khen. The money was collected at recent Goodison matches and was handed over to the commander in chief of the Royal Thai Army, General Prawit Wongsuwon, whose forces are supervising the rebuilding, by Everton chief executive Keith Wyness. Wyness was in Thailand working on overseas development schemes, and is pictured with a representative of club sponsors Chang, Somchai Suthikulpanit. Everton supporters donated 8m bhats (£105,000), which has been rounded up to £10m bhats by Chang. Because of the manner in which the cash was collected, the donations did not qualify for gift aid, so Everton also made their own donation to top up the figure.
The army is building 800 new houses in various areas of Thailand.

Pressure starting to tell as Blues close in on finish line
Apr 6 2005 Echo Letters, icLiverpool & Liverpool Echo
THERE is too much pressure on the Blues to hold on to fourth. The players should talk less and play their usual composed game - easier said than done considering the loss of Thomas Gravesen. The team is not enjoying itself like it did in the first half of the season. They need to relax and just do their best while enjoying their normal game.
Desmond Bridge, Childwall
ONE point ahead of Liverpool with seven games to go - we all would have taken that at the start of the season. It's time for 4-4-2 now - or it would have been if James Beattie wasn't injured. Maybe it's time to start with Duncan Ferguson and Marcus Bent, but it's just a shame we have not got Nick Chadwick to throw on. Getting rid of him could be an error we live to regret.
Bobby Collins, Liverpool
LET'S all be realistic. We have not performed since the turn of the year and we need to improve somehow, but I have no confidence in any squad member at this time. We need fresh blood as soon as possible.
Rory McRogers, Dublin
AS FAR as I can see Everton are just too nervous in games lately and that's due to David Moyes. He has to stop playing Marcus Bent up front on his own and we have to start going at teams. I know we miss Thomas Gravesen like mad but we have to move on and start believing in ourselves and have a go at teams, starting against Crystal Palace.
Dylan Nuttall, Skelmersdale
DESPERATELY disappointed with yet another bad result, but look at Bolton. The Trotters started off really well then lost a whole load on the trot, before turning the corner and starting to win again.
A good win on Sunday and hopefully defeat for the Reds at Man City will change it round again.
Jim Jones, Aintree
EVERTON appear to have lost the ability to win.
It is so sad that they are now playing without skill and confidence. Poor old Marcus Bent doesn't have the presence to go at defenders and he isn't being helped by the midfield. Everton has changed from an accomplished side to a poor one and they appear to be in freefall. If they play similar football at the start of next season then I'll be worried. We have to ask whether early season form was sheer luck.
Roger Williams, Llanfairfechan
NO ONE doubts Tim Cahill was a good buy but our three most expensive buys - Richard Wright, Joseph Yobo and James Beattie - are letting us down. I think if we go into the transfer market it should be in a market David Moyes is comfortable with and not the upper priced end because it doesn't seem to work out. I know Yobo is played out of position but he doesn't look the player he was.
Sean, Childer Thornton
SUNDAY'S defeat against West Brom was embarrassing. They will have been planning to play against our easy-towork-out system all week, so why not throw a last minute surprise and play Big Dunc with Marcus Bent up front? David Moyes is one of the best motivational coaches in the league and I am a massive fan of his, but some of his tactics over the past few weeks have been questionable.
We simply had to beat West Brom, but we were awful. At the moment it seems that any team who matches our work-rate will beat us. We have got a trickier runin than the Reds and it's in the players' and the manager's hands to make sure we don't fall below them. No matter what happens it's been a great season so far.
Chris McGrath, Liverpool

Support Blues' bid for Europe
Apr 6 2005 Jblue, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON'S chase for a Champions League berth hots up this weekend when they take on Crystal Palace at Goodison Park. With Iain Dowie's men battling to avoid the drop, both sides will view Sunday's encounter as a must-win game. Vocal support has been key to the Blues' prominence in the Premiership this season and Goodison officials are again calling on fans to get behind the team.
Junior tickets start from £16, but if you are a Jblue Plus member, prices start from £11. To book your seat for the clash, call the Everton box office on 0870 442 1878; opening hours are 9.30am-4.30pm up until the day of the game.
* If you are not already a member of the Jblue supporters club, you still have chance to join free of charge: Jblue FREE membership department, Everton Football Club, Goodison Park, Liverpool, L4 4EL.
Grin and bear it
EVERTON are currently running a free prize draw to win a giant teddy bear throughout their official club stores. The big blue bear is on display in the shops and all you have to be in with a chance of winning, is to give it a name - the winning entry being drawn at random.

Moyes is keen to move for Spurs duo
Apr 7 2005
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
DAVID MOYES is willing to spend most of his summer transfer budget on Tottenham Hotspur duo Robbie Keane and Simon Davies. The Everton manager was thwarted in a £3million bid for midfielder Davies on transfer deadline day and has a longstanding interest in striker Keane (right).
But he plans to rekindle his interest in Davies at the end of this campaign - and will be among the front-runners for Keane's signature in a double raid on White Hart Lane costing around £9m.
Republic of Ireland international Keane is expected to leave Spurs this summer after falling out of favour with new manager Martin Jol. The much-travelled striker, who is still only 24, was yesterday fined £10,000 by Tottenham for storming down the tunnel against Birmingham on Saturday when Jol opted to introduce Egyptian striker Mido as a second-half substitute. Despite public denials to the contrary Keane is disillusioned with losing his place to Jermain Defoe and Frederic Kanoute - and is believed to be keen on a move to Merseyside. Tottenham paid £7m to sign the striker from Leeds and would want to recoup that fee. However, his value is diminishing after a season spent mostly on the bench and Everton would hope to strike a £5m deal for the former Wolves, Coventry and Inter Milan player. Yesterday Keane insisted: "Hopefully I will be playing and scoring goals and we will see how far we get. You have just got to get on with it. You cannot moan about it." But the striker's advisors will look to move their client on if he is not restored to the first-team before the end of the season and Tottenham, contrary to claims by Jol and sporting director Frank Arnesen, are unlikely to stand in his way. Everton had two deadline-day bids for Welsh international Davies rejected by Spurs, believed to be £2.5m and £3m. Chairman Daniel Levy demanded £5m for the 25-year-old, who had been sidelined for most of the season through illness. Davies has since returned to the right of Tottenham's midfield but Everton hope an increased offer closer to £4m will persuade Levy to sell.
* EVERTON'S Premiership home game against Birmingham City on Saturday, April 23, will now kick-off at 12.30pm. The game was due to start at 3pm but has been brought forward "due to club and police operational issues centred around the match and other events in the Liverpool north area," according to club secretary David Harrison.

Latchford lays siege to stumbling Palace
Apr 7 2005
Post Past by Philip J Redmond Everton supporter, Daily Post
THIS weekend's vital clash with Crystal Palace, brings to mind one of the last great Everton performances by a true Goodison legend. In September 1980, Gordon Lee's nearly team of the late '70s was on its way out. After a shaky start to the '80-81 campaign, Lee's gamble in blooding Kevin Ratcliffe, Joe McBride and Steve McMahon, looked like it may bear unexpected fruit. In contrast, Terry Venables's Palace had started disastrously finding themselves firmly rooted at the bottom of the table. The big news from Selhurst was the arrival of striker Clive Allen - the first million pound teenager after his move from Rangers to Arsenal. Three pre-season games later, Arsenal promptly swapped him for Palace's Kenny Sansom. By the time of the Everton game Allen looked a bewildered pawn in the transfer merry-go-round. The first half was a tight, cagey affair. Everton, still boasting the experience of Lyons, Latchford and Hartford, pressed forward from the start but were unable to make much headway. The game exploded into life early in the second half, when Allen lobbed against the bar with Jim McDonough in the Everton goal helpless. Almost immediately Everton surged ahead with a remarkable 10 minute hat-trick from Bob Latchford. First he headed in powerfully from a John Gidman cross. The second was the pick of the trio with a neat turn and a powerful low shot. Within seconds he turned in a low Eastoe cross. The fourth came from a Gidman penalty after Eastoe was upended and it was the in-form Eastoe who headed in the fifth from a free-kick. The Blues headed into the top five that night, with Latchford the hero. Little did we know that his Everton career would be effectively over in a matter of weeks after the big striker suffered a bad hamstring injury. How we could do with a Big Bob type performance from someone this weekend.

Palace win is crucial
Apr 7 2005 By Scott McLeod, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES has issued a rallying call ahead of Sunday's Premiership clash with Crystal Palace - insisting it is a must-win game for Everton. The Goodison chief (left) is relishing the significance of the club's remaining seven matches as the race for European qualification intensifies. Everton have lost three games in succession for the first time this season in recent weeks. As a result their lead over fifth placed Liverpool has been cut down from eight points to just one. And by Sunday afternoon, the Blues could have slipped out of a Champions League qualification spot for the first time since early September. But Moyes and his players remain positive ahead of a run of three consecutive home matches. He told the ECHO: "Our home games are going to be vital. But, as always, the next game is always the most important. "This match takes on extra significance for us now - we have to win it.. "Every game we play in the next few weeks is hugely meaningful, and that is what we wanted. "How often in the last 10 years have Everton entered this point of the season with something positive to play for?" Sunday's game with relegation threatened Palace is followed 10 days later by the visit of Manchester United. Birmingham come to Goodison on Saturday, April 23. Following a request from the West Midlands Police the kick-off for that game has been brought forward from 3pm to 12.30pm. Everton secretary Dave Harrison said the change had been made "due to club and police operational issues centred around the match in the Liverpool north area."
Meanwhile, Everton have once again been linked with Tottenham duo Simon Davies and Robbie Keane.

Blues must not lose the belief says Unsworth
Apr 7 2005 EXCLUSIVE by Scott McLeod, Liverpool Echo
DAVID UNSWORTH believes Everton can avoid a repeat of their European disappointment of two seasons ago - by blanking that setback from their minds. The former Blues' favourite was a key member of David Moyes' squad when they missed out on Europe in 2003 after a final day defeat to Manchester United at Goodison. Having seen an eight point lead whittled down to just one point in recent weeks as the race for the Champions League hots up, there is concern that this season could suffer a similar fate. But Unsworth, who is currently leading Ipswich's charge for promotion to the Premiership after being loaned out by Portsmouth in January, is convinced his former team-mates will not miss out on a European place. And he insists they don't have to heed the lessons of two seasons ago to do so. "There are a few players still there who were involved in that game on the final day two seasons ago, " Unsworth told the ECHO. "It hurt not getting into Europe that day. But while nobody wants that to happen again, the players just need to forget about that. "The key is not losing the belief which has been there all season. When you start winning games that belief grows and it becomes infectious. "A side develops a nice kind of arrogance which is reflected in their football. "It can happen in reverse. Last season we had a run of bad results in the new year and we never really recovered. "The side needs to bounce back now while they still have that belief."
The Blues' 1-0 defeat at West Brom was their third straight league reverse. It is the first time this season that has happened. It has led to a growing sense of fore-boding among supporters, aware of how demanding the season has been to Moyes' small squad. Liverpool's resurgence, which has seen them close the gap on the Blues to one point, has added to the anxiety. But Unsworth, who still keeps in regular contact with many of his ex-colleagues - and who even made an appearance on the Gwladys Street earlier this season - is far more positive. He added: "I would certainly rather be in Everton's shoes, in fourth place a point ahead, than in Liverpool's, irrespective of who we have got to play in the last seven games. "There are a few tricky matches but the players should take a lot of confidence from the position they have been in all season. "Everybody is starting to talk about Bolton and Liverpool catching us, but now is not the time to panic. It would be a shame to blow it right at the end. "The results have not gone too well in the last few weeks. But there is belief among the players and there should be with the fans as well. "They have just got to go for it now because the side doesn't want to look back on this season with any regrets. It is a win or bust situation now.
"And, knowing the lads, they will thrive on that. "It has been great to see them doing so well. If you had asked Evertonians at the start of this season what their hopes would be I am sure that most would have said, in all honesty, they would have settled for fourth from bottom. "I know the players were not thinking that way. But after the problems last summer that would not have been an unreasonable aspiration. "So to have spent so much of the season in the top four is phenomenal. They are there on merit. "They are a quality side with quality play-ers and just because they have had a blip doesn't mean it is all over." As for Unsworth, he is enjoying his football again after re-uniting with former Blues boss Joe Royle at Portman Road. The midweek victory over Rotherham reestablished Ipswich in the automatic promotion places and his move to East Anglia could become permanent if he helps them secure promotion. But Unsworth, who still regards himself as an Evertonian after 10 years and two spells at Goodison, misses being a Blue. He reflects: "I watched the derby on TV and the first half was disappointing. But they showed a great reaction in the second half. I agreed with the manager that if the game had gone on another few minutes we would have pegged them back. "Watching it on TV brought home what it is like not to be a part of those games any more."

The Jury
Apr 7 2005 Liverpool Echo
'Tim Cahill seemed the busiest player and he'd been to Australia and back' - James Tyrrell THE ONLY positive we could take out of last weekend's result is that we are still fourth, although I am starting to believe for the first time that Liverpool can catch us. We do not look like a team in the top 10 at the moment, never mind the top four. I can only think of one positive result since Christmas and that was the Villa game. It is hard to believe that a team which lost seven in 28 games, has lost its last three games against average sides. For the last three games we have been really disappointing. Some players have performed well, and others have looked like they don't belong in the Premiership. We must start winning soon otherwise we are going to struggle to make the UEFA Cup, never mind the Champions League. All we need is two more wins to guarantee European Football.
OUR season now comes down to seven games and the performance against West Brom did not instil much confidence for the final run-in. Problems were numerous. We seemed to lack a leader on the pitch, didn't look like scoring and teams seem to have sussed out our formation. With hard games coming up against Manchester United and Arsenal I can't see us getting many points and we may well slip out of the top six. Our form at an important point of the season is awful and like two years ago we look like going out with a whimper. Many players had two weeks off since the derby but still looked jaded. Tim Cahill seemed the busiest player and he'd been to Australia and back. We must be positive and go all out for the points in every game. To miss out on an Europe now would be a travesty.
'Tim Cahill seemed the busiest player and he'd been to Australia and back' - James Tyrrell
AT the start of the season I expected us to be relegated so I should be delighted that we are where we are. However, I can't help but feel we have thrown away our chance of playing in the Champions League just as we threw away our chance of qualifying for the UEFA Cup two seasons ago. We failed again to strengthen the team during the January transfer window just as we did back then and once again it is our form after Christmas that has let us down. We can only hope that the lads have one last push and pray that they will see us into the UEFA Cup at least. Liverpool will pip us to the coveted fourth spot and that makes it a bitter pill to swallow but let's try and keep it in perspective. We got 39 points last season.
AT the start of the season Crystal Palace at home was seen as a vital game in shaping the season.
This remains the case, although not to stave off the prospect of relegation as many had feared.
Barring an unlikely Liverpool defeat at Manchester City, we will be outside the Champions League places at kick-off, and facing the prospect of our season tailing off as it did two years ago.
It is vital therefore that the crowd is patient with the team on what will be a tense day.
Palace will adopt the containing tactics that most have at Goodison this year and it is up to the players to hold their nerve. The performance at the Hawthorns was not the worst the team have produced this year, but it was frustrating that West Brom were not put under more pressure.
With three homes games in a row though, there is a real opportunity to gain momentum for the run-in.

Everton Res 1, Newcastle Res 0
Daily Post
Apr 8 2005
A LATE strike from substitute Alan Kearney continued the reserves' good form in a behind-closed-doors clash against Newcastle at Bellefield yesterday afternoon. The three points takes the Blues up to seventh in the Premiership Reserve League North table, above Bolton and West Brom. Victor Anichebe had almost settled matters considerably earlier but his shot was rebounded across goal after Andrew Fowler had slid the ball into the penalty box. Alan O'Brien and Martin Brittain both had decent chances for the visitors before the game opened up after the half-time break.
Five minutes into the second half, Patrick Boyle and Anichebe both had efforts cleared off the line and then O'Brien tested Sean Lake with a left-footed effort. Bjarni Vidarsson and Christian Seargeant almost found the target for Everton, and Newcastle's resolve eventually broke with 15 minutes left when Kearney sidefooted home following Scott Phelan's hard work down the left-hand side.
EVERTON: Lake, Wright, Wilson, Boyle, Hughes, Harris, Seargeant, Plessis, Anichebe (Phelan 54), Fowler (Kearney 67), Vidarsson. Subs: Jones, Holt, Davidsen.
NEWCASTLE: Smith, Shanks, Gate, Farman, Edgar, McClen, Brittain, Howe, Finnigan (P O'Brien 57), Walton, A O'Brien. Subs: Huntington, Forster, Baxter, Critchlow.

Beattie's despair at injury setback
By David Prior, Daily Post
Apr 8 2005
JAMES BEATTIE has revealed how the latest delay to his stop-start Everton career has left him "devastated". The Everton striker's hopes of a return against West Brom last Sunday were dashed at the last minute when he suffered a knee injury in training a week ago. Beattie is back in light training but a date is yet to be set for his return. The £6million man had only just returned from a three-match suspension picked up for his red card against Chelsea, while his hopes of an immediate impact at Goodison have been hindered by a general lack of match fitness. And a frustrated Beattie said: "I was training, I was fit and I was ready for the Hawthorns but instead I got an injury during Friday's training session. "It is pretty devastating for myself because I haven't played that many games and all I want to do is play football. But for one reason or another since I have been here it has just not been able to happen." He added: "I have to wait and see because the first week is always the most important one with an injury. "I am just assessing it every day to see how it goes and if settles down pretty quickly then hopefully I will be back sooner rather than later. "I am sure I will turn it around and I am sure that the lads will hold on to fourth spot. I just want to get fit and help them do that."

Allardyce keeping tabs on Stubbs' situation
By David Prior, Daily Post
Apr 8 2005
SAM ALLARDYCE has admitted he is interested in bringing Alan Stubbs back to Bolton this summer.
The Everton skipper (right) is yet to sign an extension to his current deal, which runs out at the end of the season, and Allardyce has been alerted to the player's potential availability. Stubbs spent six years at the Wanderers before joining Celtic in 1996, from where Walter Smith eventually brought him to Goodison in 2001. The 33-year-old has been one of the mainstays of Everton's success this season and is unlikely to leave his hometown club, but renowned wheelerdealer Allardyce is still prepared to entertain a move for Stubbs, as well as Celtic midfielder Neil Lennon. He said: "They are on our list of possibles for the simple reason they are free agents. "They (free agents) have been the mainstay of our success and it looks like we will continue that way. "It doesn't look as though we will have millions to spend unless we finish fourth in the table. Then there would be the guarantees the Champions League would bring." Birmingham manager Steve Bruce, has confirmed he will rival David Moyes for the signature of Chelsea midfielder Scott Parker this summer. Parker is likely to be one of Everton's top targets at the end of the season, and Bruce is under no illusions that he faces considerable competition from a host of other clubs too. Bruce said: "I would like to sign Scott Parker - but how difficult is it going to be? "I am sure if you asked 80 or 90% of the Premier League clubs then they would say they'd love to have a player like Scott. "I could think of a few clubs straight away and our neighbours over the road (Villa), Middlesbrough and Charlton would have him tomorrow, as would Manchester City if they could afford him. "Chelsea have made no decision about his future but if there was anything doing, then we would try to get him." Parker cost Chelsea £10million when he was signed by their previous manager Claudio Ranieri from Charlton last season.
But he has made only eight Premiership starts, saw his chances held back after breaking his foot in December and is not considered a first choice by Jose Mourinho. Meanwhile, Andrew Johnson insists he has no intentions of quitting Crystal Palace should they be relegated. Despite 18 goals from Johnson in the Premiership, bettered only by Thierry Henry, the Eagles remain entrenched in a relegation battle. And the 24-year-old has constantly been linked with a big-money move away from Sel-hurst Park, with Liverpool and Newcastle reported to be keeping tabs on the England squad player. But despite all the speculation about his future, Johnson maintains he has no plans to abandon ship should the Eagles fail to stay up. "If we go down, I'm not going to walk out on all the boys I've been friends with all these years," he declared.

Pearce tips Liverpool to clinch fourth spot
By Simon Stone, Daily Post
Apr 8 2005
STUART PEARCE has tipped Liverpool to clinch the all-important fourth Champions League slot this season. Fresh from their outstanding midweek win over Juventus, Rafael Benitez's men head to Eastlands tomorrow knowing a draw would be enough to take them above Merseyside rivals Everton. After being 11 points adrift, Liverpool have clawed their way back into contention with four wins in their last seven games. And though Manchester City will be doing their utmost to hand Pearce his first victory since succeeding Kevin Keegan last month, the former England defender believes no matter what the out-come, the Anfield men will be celebrating at the season's end.
"Liverpool are a good side," said Pearce. "You have to be to reach the quarter-finals of the European Cup. "They have got to get above Everton, not only from the rivalry factor but also from the financial standpoint of getting into the Champions League and I believe they will probably manage it." Given the enormity of next Wednesday's decisive trip to Turin, it has been suggested it could be a good time for City to face the Reds, whose minds may drift elsewhere if the game does not go their way in the opening stages. Pearce is not so sure. Recalling his own playing days, the Nottingham Forest legend thinks the games will only act as a spur to the Liverpool squad, and their performance levels could actually rise. "They will be desperate to win this match," he said. "They have just beaten Juventus and have an excellent chance of getting through if they can nick an away goal. "They are hitting form at the right time, are starting to peg Everton back and are getting very close to sealing a place in the Champions League for next season. "If I was a Liverpool player, I would be wanting to play in every match I possibly could."

Back the team
Post Soapbox, icLiverpool & Daily Post
Apr 8 2005
Back the team
GO ON everyone, we need positive thinking. Everton may not be good enough for the CL but we only need it to be good enough to get us there, or Europe at least. We then have the summer to build and strengthen the squad. We need to encourage the players in the last seven games so they play their hearts out for the club.
Claire New (via e-mail)
Moyes magic
I HATE to imagine what the words would have been if Everton's season had gone as predicted by the masses (including myself). David Moyes has done a great job this year and the only reason it has not been better is because the board did not back him with hard cash earlier in the season when it mattered and no doubt they were keen to get cash for Thomas Gravesen. The six or seven average players that we have need commending for this season which could and should be their last one here.
B Kay (via e-mail)
Keen on Robbie
I THINK Robbie Keane would be a very good signing for Everton. A really hard player to mark, he has a lot of experience, is still young and his goals record speaks for itself. Scott Parker would be better than Simon Davies but I'm sure Villa and Birmingham will be after him too. I think we must get another centre-back as well, one with pace, maybe Matthew Upson? We need a left-back too, while Tim Cahill has got to be player of the year for us.
B Tim (via e-mail)
Target Ferguson
I THINK Everton's best option for the rest of the season is to play Ferguson, Bent and Beattie up front and bypass the midfield. We don't have the midfield players to play football now Gravesen has gone.
We should lump the ball up to Ferguson from any angle as soon as possible. He wins just about every ball and then we need Bent and Beattie to get to the second ball. Why try and play nice football when we have a giant up front? Let's face it, the last 15 minutes of the WBA game were the most exciting and the most productive, when we had Dunc on the pitch.
W Dominic (via e-mail)
Keep possession
GRAVESEN isn't the reason Everton have run out of steam. Admittedly he was our player of the season up until his departure but he'd been average at best for years. Tomasz Radzinski was once our player of the season, but I wouldn't say we're missing him. There are many reasons for our lack of form with the main one being the inability to keep the ball. It frustrates me when I see the ball just kicked downfield. For those criticising Duncan, we play route one when he is not on the field. At least when he has come on in the last few games we have actually had a go at the opposition. Usually when Cahill doesn't play well, neither do Everton.
W Craig (via e-mail)
Salute hard work
LET'S not get carried away and have a pop at the lads after the last few results. The season is simply a month too long. Whether Everton hold on to fourth, or drop to sixth even, this has been a massive season for us and truly must be seen to represent a turn in fortune for the club. The players look tired now, and who can blame them? They have given nothing short of 100% all season and have been a credit to every great name that has ever graced a teamsheet. I'd like to thank the lads for restoring a little pride in the shirt. Let's get behind them for the run-in and applaud one of the hardest working Everton sides in history.
Nick Flack, Warrington

Ferguson firepower needed from start
Apr 8 2005
By Mark O'Brien Everton supporter, Daily Post
DESPITE a week when almost everything that could go wrong did so, it doesn't require a great stretch of the imagination to see Everton's lead over Liverpool come Monday looking a bit healthier than the rather anaemic one point it stands at present. The team couldn't ask for a better game than one against Crystal Palace, despite their heroic efforts of late, in which to try and make amends for the poor showing at the Hawthorns last Sunday. Liverpool, on the other hand, face a Manchester City side apparently improving rapidly under Stuart Pearce, and also have another big game in Italy in midweek. However, despite that bit of positive spin on proceedings, confidence in the Blues' chances of qualifying for the Champions League is fading fast. In fact, if there isn't a significant upturn in form in the next month or so then they could even end up sweating over a UEFA Cup place. Middlesbrough are six points behind, which would normally look like too much to make up in only seven games, but Steve McClaren must be heartened by the fact that we've only been averaging a point a game since the turn of the year. And while Ian Dowie's team are one of the weakest in the division the worry is that it's difficult to see where the next goal is coming from. After looking distinctly weak up front against Blackburn and Liverpool, the Blues created very little against West Brom. Duncan Ferguson, when he comes off the bench, looks the only real threat at present. The manager must be sorely tempted to start with him on Sunday in an effort to take the game straight to Palace. Even if he hasn't got 90 minutes in him, it must be worth trying to put the result out of sight before he fades instead of just waiting and throwing him on when we're trying to salvage something. Admittedly we often become extremely onedimensional with Ferguson as the focus for our attacks, but given that we're hardly playing like Brazil anyway, what is there to lose?
Unfortunately, the poor form in the Midlands wasn't just confined to the pitch, with the unsurprisingly boorish behaviour of some Evertonians making the headlines yet again. It was hardly news to anyone who goes to away games regularly. Let's face it, if they were costing the club or the coach firms money then someone would soon be held accountable and a way would be figured out of doing something about it.

Arteta out to prove his worth
Apr 8 2005 By Scott McLeod, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES is praying for an injury-free run of games for Mikel Arteta so he can decide whether to make the Spanish midfielder's move to Everton permanent. The 24-year-old (left) was signed from Real Sociedad on loan until the end of the season on transfer deadline day in January. But it was with a view to a permanent transfer for £2.5m in the summer if his loan spell goes well. The Spanish playmaker has showed impressive touches in the games he has started since arriving on Merseyside, with the highlight coming in the 3-1 win over Aston Villa last month. But he has only been able to start four of the seven games Everton have played since his arrival - and one of those was the Blackburn game in which he hobbled off because of injury before half-time. However, with seven games still to play including this week-end's Goodison clash with Crystal Palace, Arteta still has a strong chance of making his move to Merseyside permanent. Moyes told the ECHO: "We have been quite pleased with Mikel but we still have not had the chance to see him in a run of games. "It has been bit stop-start for him because he arrived here suffering from injury and he needed time to get up to full match fitness. "He was just getting there with the game at Aston Villa but then suffered his ankle injury against Blackburn. "We will make our judgment when we have seen him in a run of games but at the moment we have been happy with him and he is doing fine."

Yobo ready to keep his tag as Mr versatile
Apr 8 2005 By Scott McLeod, Liverpool Echo
AS with 'journeyman' or 'mercurial', the word 'versatile' takes on a double-edged meaning when used to describe a footballer. Which is why Joseph Yobo was delighted to shake off the tag when he arrived in England almost two years ago. He was used in a variety of positions during his time at first Standard Liege and then Marseille before being signed by David Moyes as a central defender. That is the position he has favoured since idolising former Nigerian international Taribo West as a boy in Africa. He has savoured his time on Merseyside because it has allowed him to master his defensive skills. But this season the combination of the impressive defensive partner-ship forged by Alan Stubbs and David Weir and the lack of options open to the Blues' manager has meant that Yobo has had to revert to Mr Versatile. It is a role he has fulfilled without complaint - most recently coming off the bench against West Bromwich Albion to fill in for the injured Alessandro Pistone. With the Italian defender still struggling with a hamstring strain and a foot problem making Gary Naysmith a major doubt, it is a position Yobo could well fill again against Crystal Palace at Goodison on Sunday.
If he does, the man who has already played at right-back and in midfield this season, as well as in his favoured central-defensive spot, will have no qualms about doing the job. He is focused on doing all he can to help Everton achieve their ultimate ambition of qualifying for the Champions League.
But he admits that helping plug the gaps has made it a demanding campaign. "It is hard for me actually, because I want to be very consistent and do very well in my favoured position," he explains.
"I am not going to turn down an opportunity to play in any position. If the manager thinks I can do a job in a position, that is fine. "But sometimes playing in different positions doesn't help my performance and that does frustrate me because I always want to give my best to the team. "I believe in my talent and I believe in my abilities and I know I can always do a job. "But when it doesn't work well it is very disappointing for me personally because I want to do my best for the club. "It has been a problem since I first came to Europe when I was 17. I was being asked to play in too many different positions with my other clubs. "Because of my skill on the ball and because of my pace the managers thought I could fit in anywhere and I was always called upon to do a job whenever there was a problem. "I was happy with it but before I came to England I realised it was time I became focused on playing in my one favourite position. "That happened when I came to Everton, which made me happy. I have spent most of my time here as a centre-half and I have enjoyed my time here very much. "But this season it has been difficult to play in that position because I have had injuries and because the other players in the team have done very well.
"Because of the size of our squad, it only needs one or two players to be injured and maybe the manager has to switch things around. "I understand the situation and I will do anything the club needs of me." And Yobo has certainly been a vital figure this season, playing some part in 27 of the 37 games so far this term. The ultimate reward for the Nigerian would be to see Everton finishing the campaign in the position they have occupied for much of it - a Champions League qualifi-cation spot. "For me the most important thing is maintaining the challenge for fourth place," he continues..
"It is the ambition of every footballer to play at the highest level and, in club football, it is the Champions League. "We have been in the top four all season and we want to stay in that position. And if I can help the club do that I will be very happy. "I have been patient up to now and I am happy to do a job for the team if I am needed." Having lost the last three Premiership games, Everton ' s advantage over the chasing pack has been cut from eight points to one. It is a run which has coincided with Liverpool, the Blues' closest rivals, producing their best form of the season.

As a result, there has been a growing belief in the media and among opposition supporters that Everton are going to come unstuck at the final hurdle. It is an opinion that Yobo doesn't agree with.
He explains: "It is generally the case in life that people want to see you fall or make mistakes if you are doing well. "But we deserve credit for what we have done this season. "There was always going to be a time when we had a bad patch, because every side has a bad patch. And I think we have just come through ours. "But that doesn't mean people are right to say we are going to keep falling. "We have to put that bad run behind us and to do that we need to win the game on Sunday. "That would be a turning point for us and it would keep us ahead of the other sides with just six games to go.
"Crystal Palace will be a tough game but if we get the result we deserve I am sure that will push us on to keep hold of fourth place. "Liverpool are just one point behind and so we need to start winning games. Playing three matches at home is an opportunity for us and we have to take it."

Dowie plans to put heat on Moyes' men
Apr 8 2005 Liverpool Echo
IAIN DOWIE is hoping to give Everton another taste of what life is like scrapping for points at the other end of the Barclays Premiership table when relegation battlers Crystal Palace head to Goodison on Sunday. West Brom secured what could prove to be a vital 1-0 win over David Moyes' Champions League chasers last week, a result which saw the Eagles drop back down to second from bottom. But Dowie's men are still just one point away from safety going into the next round of games, and is "positive" about the task ahead. "West Brom have dug it out and given themselves a fighting chance, and good luck to them," said the Palace manager. "We have got 21 points to play for and that is a lot, so I am never anything but positive about this group of players." Despite their predicament, Dowie maintains there are plenty of positives which can be taken out of the campaign following promotion via the play-offs last season. "We have got players like Fitz Hall and Emmerson Boyce who have come in and done well, Gabor Kiraly has established himself, Ben Watson and Tom Soares have come through and played a lot." "I think the football side has moved on massively."

When polls provide that added spice
Apr 8 2005 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
THE makers of FourFourTwo magazine were clearly angling for a reader reaction when they produced a "Best and Worst Players at Every Club . . . Ever" supplement - so here's one. For three or four seasons John Barnes burned like a neon inside Anfield - but Liverpool's best player ever? Do me and Kenny Dalglish a favour. Phil Babb was an occasionally hapless defender who deserved the 'Spice Boy' mantle as much as anybody. But Anfield's worst? Not while Sean Dundee, Jimmy Carter and Istvan Kozma (Dunfermline's best, incidentally) can claim first team appearances. Across the park Dixie Dean was Everton's greatest ever player. Agreed. Full stop. But the choice of Alex Nyarko as worst is lazy and illconsidered. I was at White Hart Lane the night Nyarko drifted infield, dummied his way past two defenders and scorched a scintillating 20-yarder past Ian Walker. And I also watched the pre-season campaign where he back-heeled a goal past Manchester City and looked a real star. There are few arguments about Ian Muir's selection as Tranmere's best, except maybe in the Aldridge household, while I honestly don't know anything whatsoever about their worst, Kevin Gray. But I did see Steve Cooper play. Dear old Brett Angell gets in there - Stockport's best ever player; so does Ian Rush - Wrexham's worst; while Mo Johnston bizarrely gets the nod over Slim Jim Baxter, John Greig, the sublime Brian Laudrup, the inspirational Michael Laudrup and 355-goal Ally McCoist as Rangers' best ever. But then these polls are designed to spark debate, which is exactly what this one has done. So how about this? The only fans who vote in these polls generally aren't old enough to have witnessed true greatness (unless you were an Arsenal season ticket holder when Thierry Henry signed). Discuss.
Don and dusted for Gough
WHEN he was, somewhat surprisingly, Everton captain, Don Hutchison took the impetuous, but ill-advised option of waving his fists in Richard Gough's face - during a game. Gough bit his tongue . . . until after the match. In the privacy of the dressing room, after Walter Smith asked what the hell was going on, Gough calmly replied: "Leave it gaffer. Myself and Don will go next door into the coach's room and sort it out." Hutchison instantly apologised. But then Gough was a hugely respected footballer - and a genuinely hard man. Lee Bowyer is neither.

Bent happy to bend ears of Goodison experience
Apr 9 2005 By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
CONTRARY to the perceived wisdom tired limbs do not account for Everton's European stumble. As Marcus Bent admits, it is all in the mind. The confidence that accompanied Everton's impressive ascent to the top four during the first half of the season has been conspicuous by its absence of late.
But for Everton's lone striker the key issue in how to handle the mounting threat from Liverpool is experience, and it is in that department where David Moyes's side need to learn fast if they are to retain interest in next season's Champions League. Relegation battles have hardened many Everton players against pressure, and perhaps put their current trials into perspective. But leading from the front is a new sensation for many at Good-ison Park and Bent admits advice from the team's 'veteran contingent' is in increasing demand as the season enters its defining period. Three successive defeats have chopped Everton's advantage over the men from Anfield to just one point.
But Bent insists: "We are still fourth, still confident, but a few teams are just a bit closer now. We need to start thinking about winning the majority of our games than what other people are doing.
"I think experience is going to count a lot in the run-in and our's is a mixed side. "We have a few youngsters who haven't been in this position before, including myself, and several experienced players who have. We will be listening to their advice a lot over the next few weeks. "We didn't expect to be in fourth place at this stage of the season, most people thought we would be in the bottom three. "But we have worked so hard to get fourth and we are determined to stay there.
"Experience does count in the race for fourth place and even though he doesn't play for us any-more you could see it in Kevin Campbell last week. His experience shines through. "He came into our dressing room after the game and was using all of his experience to help lift us back up and make sure we hang onto fourth. Duncan, Stubbsy, Davie Weir and Nigel Martyn are the same, and they are all giving us good advice." Everton have collected only 11 points in 12 league games since reaching the 40-point safety barrier against Manchester City on Boxing Day. Bent himself has suffered a similar drought in that time, scoring only once in 15 games since December 26, although statistics do not tell the full story for the tireless forward. James Beattie's arrival in January brought an end to the lone striker role in which the 26-year-old had flourished and the subsequent change in formations altered the demands on the Hammersmith-born striker. But as Bent explains: "The thing is James hasn't been here all season, for the most part it has just been me up front. I haven't scored as many goals as I would have liked but when we were doing well that wasn't an issue, it was more about sharing the goals around and me helping the team. "Now we are not doing so well people are looking to me more to score. That's okay, that's what being a striker is all about and I hope to pop in a few more before the end of the season. "It was just good to have a few shots at West Brom last week because in some games I haven't been getting one. I might not be scoring a lot but the table doesn't lie. Obviously I wouldn't be happy if I didn't score again this season but I'd quite happily settle for fourth if that was the alternative." Bent could possibly have a new face alongside him during tomorrow's proceedings against Crystal Palace with 16-year-old James Vaughan expected to be among the substitutes. "He looks sharp, quick and strong, although he's obviously still got a lot to learn," said the former Palace frontman. "If he does get his chance then I'm sure he will take it. I've seen him a few times in training and he looks a good prospect." Manager Moyes has been striving for solutions to Everton's recent dip, whether through the limited personnel at his disposal or different tactically approaches. And Bent believes Everton must learn to cope with the inevitable consequences of becoming a prized scalp if they are to reward their remarkable transformation with a place in Europe. "We've been under pressure all season, although there is more on us now because we are trying to hold on," he admits.. "When teams come up against us they want to battle us and they are more desperate to beat us because we have been one of the top teams in the league all season. For a team in their position it was awesome how well West Brom came at us last week.
"They came right at us for the win rather than sitting back for a point and it will be the same against Crystal Palace on Sunday. They need to win as well, a draw isn't good enough for them and with Andy Johnson in their side they will not be easy. "But it is all about us and what we do now. We have to be positive, and pass the ball better instead of being so direct. Our home record hasn't been the best but we will be working hard to correct that on Sunday." Victory at Crystal Palace in the second game of the season has been credited as the decisive moment when Everton rediscovered belief and, the experience of winning, after the opening day mauling by Arsenal. And Moyes is hoping for a similar effect from tomorrow's Goodison return. "We want to do the double," he explained. "The win we managed at Palace back in August gave us so much confidence and made a few people sit up and take notice. We want to do that again. " "If we can win it will give us the confidence and the right feeling to go on and win five or so of those last seven games. That would settle any doubts in people's minds. "But we are aware that Palace are having a great go of staying in the Premier League. "Their manager is very positive and determined so we know it will be a very tough task for us. "Everyone is saying it is a must-win game for Crystal Palace and I can see why.
"But it is a must-win game for Everton too."

Everton 4, Crystal Palace 0 (D,Post)
By Andy Hunter at Goodison Park, Daily Post
Apr 11 2005
WITH SUCH an equine influence over Merseyside this weekend it was inevitable Everton would finally find a gift horse to look in the mouth. Yet few expected them to take advantage of Liverpool's slip quite as emphatically - and symbolically - as yesterday's destruction of sorry Crystal Palace.
Everton were only expected to expunge a recent run of three successive league defeats against Iain Dowie's struggling team. Instead, thanks to James Vaughan and an exuberant team display, they expunged Joe Royle and Wayne Rooney from the history books and the growing suspicion they are relinquishing fourth place without a fight. Before kick off Everton would have accepted victory at any price. Long before the final whistle, as Mikel Arteta unveiled a dazzling array of tricks and Goodison laughed loudly at the prospect of Champions League football, David Moyes's side had rediscovered the resolve, the purpose and the style that swept them into contention in the first place. Yes it was only Crystal Palace and stiffer tests and twists await, but the return of the feelgood factor should not be under-estimated at this juncture of the season. Especially with Vaughan writing another chapter in this extraordinary season. At 4.36pm the Birmingham teenager walked onto the Goodison pitch and into the history books. Not content with breaking Joe Royle's 37-year record as the youngest player in Everton history by 11 days he walked off the pitch 20 minutes later with two more achievements to his name. When he capped another flowing Everton move with his team's fourth goal in the 87th minute Vaughan, at 16 years and 271 days, became the youngest goalscorer in Premiership history. More importantly to the Goodison faithful he removed the name of Rooney from the honour of Everton's youngest ever goalscorer in the process. And, in a celebration that should bring a tear to the eye and hope for the future, he did not make the ghastly mistake of proclaiming undying love for the club on a T-shirt. There had been a change in tone and urgency from Moyes in public before this game and it transmitted quickly to his play-ers as they established a delightful lead inside seven minutes. Palace goalkeeper Gabor Kiraly was booked for handling outside his area and Arteta set the tone for a fine afternoon by curling the resulting free-kick into the top corner. The Spaniard never looked back from his first Everton goal and finest display so far.
One accusation levelled at Everton recently is that their formation is too predictable and they have, in football parlance, been found out. Moyes, whose limited resources explain the lack of experimentation, therefore hosted the welcome return of 4-4-2 by giving Duncan Ferguson his first Premiership start since December 4 and dropping Lee Carsley to the bench for the only time in this campaign. A notable absentee among the substitutes was Joseph Yobo, who was struck down by a virus on the morning of the game. Almost inevitably, with no natural centre-half on the bench, only 25 minutes had elapsed when an Everton centre-half was forced out of the game. Alan Stubbs came off worst in a 50-50 challenge with Palace striker Andy Johnson that left the Everton skipper unable to continue with a dislocated shoulder and propelled Steve Watson into an emergency defensive role. Only the goalkeeping berth now eludes Goodison's Mr Versatile. The disruption brought some discomfort to Everton's slender lead, although most of it was due to the home side's tendency to over-elaborate on the edge of their own area when a good old traditional hoof was required.
Even so, had their forwards shown more penetration in front of the Palace goal during a dominant spell before the break the result would have been secured even earlier. Three minutes before half-time the Hungarian goalkeeper made amends for his part in Everton's breakthrough with a stunning double save to prevent Ferguson scoring with a trademark header from just six yards. Tony Hibbert delivered a fine cross on the overlap and a second seemed inevitable as the target-man rose unopposed in front of goal to send a powerful header downwards. Kiraly, though diving the wrong way, not only stopped the ball on the goalline with his outstretched hand but hooked it clear with his outstretched foot. Ferguson's incredulity was both obvious and understandable, and perhaps to blame for his delayed reaction a minute later when Kevin Kilbane put him free inside the area only for his first touch to invite a Palace challenge. Leon Osman then headed over an empty goal after Cahill had clattered into Kiraly, a foul which spared Palace further punishment if not the blushes of the Everton midfielder. That promising spell may not have yielded any goals for Moyes's men but it established a momentum not even the interval could interrupt. Within eight minutes of the restart they were home and dry thanks to two excellent goals that illustrated Everton's rediscovered self-confidence. Cahill correctly takes the plaudits for the polished finishes that took him to nine, then ten for the season. But Everton's new leading goalscorer would be the first to acknowledge the reason why Goodison sang of Champions League football with renewed conviction - the team--work behind his 47th and 53rd minute gems. In the first attack of the second half a patient build-up released Marcus Bent down the right. His reverse lob picked out Cahill on one of his superbly-timed runs into the box and the Everton midfielder, having trapped the ball with his thigh, unleashed an unstoppable finish into the roof of the Palace net. Though Palace were unquestionably awful Everton's improvement owed much to the greater industry and accuracy of their wide men, Osman and Kilbane. And that was typified as the Republic of Ireland international created a wonderful third to help send Everton towards their most convincing Premiership victory of the season. Kilbane evaded three Palace challenges to slalom into the visiting area but declined the temptation to shoot and sent over a delightful delivery for Cahill to head home at the back post. Despite Nigel Martyn surviving two scares, as Sandor Torghelle struck a post and Wayne Routledge dragged a Johnson cut-back horribly wide, Everton cruised home. What's more, they enjoyed themselves, which for a side nursing three successive defeats could prove just as important as the points over the final six games.
Such was their measure of control that Moyes even indulged in a spot of history making and brought on Vaughan to a tumultuous reception with 17 minutes remaining. Fourteen minutes into his senior debut he found himself on the end of another fine team move and the rout, plus the records, were confirmed. Kilbane was again at the heart of the move, starting a break from left back that led to an exchange of passes with Osman and another inviting cross into the six-yard box. This time he went for the front post and Vaughan, who had read the intention superbly, slid in to convert with ease and provide the icing on a faultless afternoon for Everton. It was a victory at Palace that provided the spark for Everton's early season run of form. Only time, and a long-awaited Premier-ship victory over Manchester United in their next fixture, will reveal whether it provides similar inspiration in respect of the Champions League now. Regardless, this was a day for Everton, and especially Vaughan, to savour.
EVERTON (4-4-2): Martyn; Hibbert, Weir, Stubbs (Watson, 25 mins), Naysmith (Vaughan, 73 mins); Osman, Arteta, Cahill, Kilbane; Ferguson, Bent (Carsley, 66 mins). Subs: Wright, McFadden.
BOOKINGS: Hibbert (foul)
CRYSTAL PALACE (4-5-1): Kiraly; Leigertwood, Hall, Powell, Granville; Routledge, Hughes, Riihilahti (Watson, 56 mins), Soares, Lakis (Torghelle, 56 mins); Johnson. Subs: Speroni, Hudson, Borrowdale.
BOOKINGS: Kiraly (deliberate handball)
REFEREE: Uriah Rennie
ATT: 36,519
NEXT GAME: Everton v Man Utd, Premiership, 20th April, 7.45pm

Historic Vaughan seals record-breaking treble
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Apr 11 2005
EVERTON teenager James Vaughan replaced Joe Royle and Wayne Rooney in the Goodison history books yesterday as he set three new records in the rout of Crystal Palace. The 16-year-old ended Royle's 39-year reign as the club's youngest player as a 74th-minute substitute in Everton's most comprehensive victory of the season. And he broke Rooney's record as the youngest goalscorer in Everton history, plus James Milner's mantle as the Premiership's youngest marksman, when he converted Kevin Kilbane's cross on 87 minutes as Everton re-established a four-point gap over Liverpool in the race for fourth place. Mikel Arteta helped Everton end a run of three league defeats
with his first goal for the club in the seventh minute before two second-half goals from man-of-the-match Tim Cahill confirmed the home side's superiority. But it was Birmingham-born Vaughan who grabbed the headlines with a fairytale debut that drew inevitable comparisons with former Everton teenage star Rooney. But assistant manager Alan Irvine insisted: "He is a different type of player to Wayne. There will be comparisons because of their age but James is a different type of player altogether. James likes to play right up there whereas Wayne likes to go deeper. "Only time will tell if James gets anywhere near Wayne's level. It would be fantastic for us all if he does, but it is unfair to call him the new Wayne Rooney. He is James Vaughan." Irvine added: "You saw what kind of player James is when he bumped into Darren Powell! He is very robust, works extremely hard and has the happy knack of scoring goals for whoever he plays for. "He has done it for the youth team, the reserves, England Under-17s and now us. "He is powerful, quick, brave and committed and the run he made to get on the end of Kevin's cross for his goal showed the amount of aggression he's got. "He's got a lot to learn and improve technically but he makes things happen. It has been an amazing rise for him. "He has only trained with the first team about 10 times but while the lads haven't seen much of him they have liked what they have seen. We made the decision to include him early in the week. He was given his chance and he took it." Vaughan only discovered he was on the bench for the third time this season a few hours before kick-off. Irvine explained: "We didn't have many other options because of the size of our squad. We were stretched today, but James didn't find out he was on the bench until just before the game. "I don't want to add to the comparisons but he is the first since Wayne to really come through from the Academy." Everton's victory reasserted their claims for a top-four finish as they produced an excellent display against a poor Palace side. And Irvine admitted: "It was a great day. It was really important to get a win and to do it with such style and so many goals was very nice. "We passed the ball a lot better than we did at West Brom last weekend. We produced plenty of passes at The Hawthorns but without any penetration and that was something we were conscious of today. "It is okay to pass well, but if you lack penetration it makes life difficult. So we decided to go for 4-4-2 which was a shame for Lee Carsley who has been terrific all season, but we needed to create more chances and Tim and Mikel provided that and got on the scoresheet themselves."

Stubbs shoulder worry for run-in
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Apr 11 2005
ALAN STUBBS could miss most of the Premiership run-in after injuring his shoulder against Crystal Palace yesterday. The Everton captain was forced off after only 25 minutes following a collision with Andy Johnson that left the centre-half in agony. Stubbs will discover the full extent of his injury today. But the initial verdict suggested the 33-year-old had dislocated his shoulder, causing ligament damage, and will now be out for at least three weeks. Assistant manager Alan Irvine said: "Alan suffered a very bad shoulder injury. It definitely popped up and it looks bad. He could be out for a few weeks now." Head Physio Mick Rathbone added: "He has ruptured a ligament in the top of his shoulder. We don't think he needs surgery, it will settle with time, but obviously at this stage of the season time is not something we have a lot of." Fellow centre-back Joseph Yobo, who missed the game with a virus, is expected to be available for the game against Manchester United in 10 days' time. Rathbone added: "Joseph has been ill, suffering from a temperature and had a rough night on Saturday. The club doctor went to see him and declared him unable to play in the game." Crystal Palace manager Iain Dowie said his side had let down their supporters. "We have wronged our supporters today and that was nowhere near what we expect at this club," he said..

Midfield engine finds new parts to go forward
By Ian Doyle, Daily Post
Apr 11 2005
WHEN Thomas Gravesen departed for Real Madrid in January, the perceived wisdom was he'd taken Everton's Champions League hopes with him. The Dane had been the most prominent part of a midfield engine that had driven David Moyes's side into the top four and ensured they remained rubbing shoulders with the upper echelons of the Premiership. Everton's form since January had done little to quieten the naysayers with only two wins to show from nine league games since Gravesen became Bernabeu-bound. That was until yesterday's visit of Crystal Palace, when some tactical tweaking rekindled hopes of a top-four finish and gave the heirs to the Dane's throne a chance to shine. It wasn't wasted on an historic Goodison afternoon. Gravesen gone, Moyes turned to Mikel Arteta of Real Sociedad, but niggling injury and acclimatisation to life in the Premiership combined to lessen the Spaniard's immediate impact, although his outstanding dis-play at Aston Villa hinted at riches to come. Like Gravesen before him, Arteta provides a much-needed touch of class and guile to a hard-working midfield and even in just six games for the club has shown enough to justify a permanent move once his six-month loan deal has expired. So often it's that little extra that proves the difference, particularly given Everton's insistence on drawing out even the most straightforward victory to a nerve-shredding finale. And Arteta it was who set Everton on their way to a desperately-needed confidence-boosting win yesterday with a sublimely-struck 20-yard free-kick after comedy keeper Gabor Kiraly's unwitting handball outside the area. This time, however, fingernails were spared thanks to the Span-iard's midfield partner. Tim Cahill's £1.8million transfer from Millwall has looked increasingly canny business with each passing game with his goals record from midfield the most notable contribution. And the Australian was on the mark twice yesterday - one a trademark header, the other a brilliant finish from an acute angle - to further underline that prowess. If only his terrace chant was as impressive. Both Cahill and Arteta were in sparkling form, complementing each other perfectly, for which credit must in part go to Moyes for his decision to ditch the 4-5-1 formation that has served him so well for the majority of the campaign. After three successive defeats, change wasn't really that much of a surprise What was eyebrow-raising were the personnel jettisoned - Lee Carsley benched for the first time in the Premiership this season - and, more significantly, the manner in which an eager Everton took to their task. Even with Duncan Ferguson in from the start partnering Marcus Bent up front, Moyes's men largely resisted the urge to lump long balls forward to the big Scot and instead, with the new midfield partnership prompting and cajoling and Ferguson making a nuisance of himself up front, sought to capitalise on the gaps in Palace's porous backline. The likes of Kevin Kilbane and Leon Osman, as if reinvigorated by the improved creativity inside them, were notably livelier than in recent weeks. And while it must be said a poor Palace did little to suggest they are going anywhere other than down come May, these are the games this Everton have made heavy work of; there was no chance of that yesterday.
Palace have been good to Moyes this season. It was at Selhurst Park back in August that the seeds were sown for the successful pre-Christmas period and yesterday's biggest win of the season came at the ideal moment as Everton for once took advantage of Liverpool's continuing inconsistency to again extend their lead in fourth place to four points. With six games remaining, Moyes is unlikely to shift permanently to 4-4-2, the lack of an obvious ball-winner meaning Carsley will almost certainly return for next Wednesday's more testing examination against Manchester United. But with the beatable Newcastle, Fulham and Birmingham among the obstacles between now and the final day, Moyes now knows he has a viable alternative should victory become imperative. Goodison's deserved day of delight was made complete when James Vaughan emerged from the bench to assume from Joe Royle the mantle of Everton's youngest ever player before taking from Wayne Rooney the record as the club's youngest goalscorer and from James Milner the tag of the Premiership's youngest scorer. Not bad for 16 minutes' work. It was the perfect ending to the perfect weekend for the Goodison side. Whether the season culminates in a similar manner is now firmly back in their own hands.

You bet, we can take final hurdle
View from the stands by Will Barnes Everton supporter, Daily Post
Apr 11 2005
EVERTON bided their time on the first circuit before finishing at a canter against Crystal Palace.
Old adages about marathons, and not a sprint, applied equally to Goodison Park as they did to Aintree this weekend. And while it will take more than a loose horse or two to de-rail Champions League favourites Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United, David Moyes's players showed yesterday there is still time for an outsider to steal into the frame for the final fourth spot. And it was very encouraging to see the spring return to the step of the Everton players after a very flat few weeks. True, Palace were one of the plainer obstacles left on the home team's path to Europe, the Becher's Brook of United looms ahead, but the way Everton sailed over on their way to three vital points suggests this race is far from over. It was cagey stuff at the start, with Everton determined they would not come an early crop-per. They were helped by Mikel Arteta's exquisite free-kick that certainly calmed the nerves. The Spaniard went on to deliver his best display in Everton colours and to further suggest that a fully fit, in-form Arteta may more than make up for the absence of Thomas Gravesen. Perhaps Moyes was being far cannier in the transfer market than initially given credit for. Let's hope all those people rushing to invest in the Sports Fortress Funds means Everton will be able to afford to keep the talented Spaniard come the summer. Tim Cahill, too, has proved a shrewd acquisition and when the Australian is on song there is no doubt Everton waltz along. Which means we are still well worth a flutter for that fourth spot.

Everton 4, Crystal Palace 0 (Echo)
Apr 11 2005 By Scott McLeod at Goodison Park, Liverpool Echo
GOODISON Park witnessed the return of Spring yesterday - it was in the steps of each of the players wearing the royal blue jersey. Everton have endured their worst run of form of the season in recent weeks. It has been all the more galling because it has coincided with an upturn in fortunes for Bolton and Liverpool. The vultures have been circling as a result, sensing Everton's Champions League challenge was finally set to wain. But, as this side has proved continually this term, you write them off at your peril. A top four finish remains a big ask for a squad so short of numbers, but this performance, however, was a timely reminder that they are where they are on merit. This was a great day for Everton's league ambitions. And a great day in the history of the club, thanks to the arrival of teenager James Vaughan 17 minutes from time. His sheer presence on the pitch broke one record - that of the young-est player to wear the blue shirt. But his appearance was made all the sweeter when he expertly turned in a Kevin Kilbane cross three minutes from time to provide another record for the books - that of the youngest ever Premiership and Everton goalscorer.
What a perfect way to end such a thrilling afternoon! If the side maintain the swagger which made such a welcome return to their play yesterday then the dark clouds are unlikely to return. That swagger was down in no small part to a bold managerial decision and a new dynamic pairing for the Goodison faithful to celebrate. The Blues have needed a spark in recent weeks - a new blend capable of lifting the team from a period of under-performance. Many had expected that spark to be provided by James Beattie at the Hawthorns, only for injury to deprive the Blues of the £6m man.
Instead, it came yesterday with the combination of Tim Cahill and Mikel Arteta at the heart of a reshaped formation - and that late goal. Gone was the 4-5-1. In its place was a bold 4-4-2 which relied on the effective partnership of the midfield duo. Thankfully, they clicked superbly, both in midfield and in front of goal. Cahill is as clinical as any striker in the top flight when he gets inside the penalty box. Getting in there at the perfect time is his speciality. Two cracking goals from him inside the opening eight minutes of the second period killed this game off and restored smiles to the faces of Evertonians. The lack of options available to the manager have meant there has been little opportunity to shuffle his pack dramatically. Which is why his team selection caught everybody by surprise. Lee Carsley had to settle for a place on the bench for the first time this season and Duncan Ferguson came into the starting line-up for only the second time in the Premiership. Moyes was clearly aiming for the jugular, buoyed by results elsewhere and sensing blood against a side which has struggled badly away from home this season. The ploy worked. For the first time in 12 months the Blues left the field at the interval with a lead to reflect on. Had the side been more clinical, it would have been an unassailable advantage. Instead, they had to settle for the one goal cushion given to them courtesy of Arteta's sweet seventh minute strike. His deft free-kick from 20 yards more than made up for the failure of Uriah Rennie to brandish the red card to goalkeeper Gabor Kiraly for handling outside the area. It was a goal, and performance, which suggests the Spaniard is set to extend his stay at Goodison beyond the initial six month loan period agreed with Real Sociedad. He has the class and quality to become a permanent addition to the ranks. And when he does, he will have an opportunity to swot up on life at Goodison. His lack of familiarity with his new home was exposed as he celebrated his strike, dashing to the touchline to celebrate with supporters. Shame it was the away section! He continued to rub the Palace fans up the wrong way with his play for the remainder of the match. And, combined with Cahill, Arteta and the rest were able to command the centre of the park. Up front, Ferguson was forging a promising combination with Marcus Bent. The veteran striker could be forgiven for conserving energy during a rare 90 minute run out. But his sheer presence clearly benefited Bent, who has taken a great deal of responsibility on his shoulders this term by leading the line alone. It was his pinpoint cross which picked out Ferguson minutes before the break, but his downward header from close range was saved acrobatically by Kiraly's feet. Cahill made sure the misses were irrelevant, thumping spectacularly into the roof of the net a minute after the restart as he dashed on to a deft chipped pass from Bent.
Some of Bent's best football in recent months has been as a creative force. And Cahill is always a welcome beneficiary, as he underlined once again seven minutes later. Great work down the inside left from Kilbane tore a hole in the Palace defence which Cahill exposed, heading in the Irishman's clever cross at the back post. The game was over. All that was left was to make a little history. The cherry on the cake was provided by the arrival of Vaughan in place of Gary Naysmith. At 16 years and 271 days he has become the youngest player to represent a senior Everton side, the youngest to score and the youngest to find the target in the Premiership. There has been talk of his talent in footballing circles all season but the Blues have tried hard to keep them under wraps. Now, though, the secret is out. He is a huge prospect, although comparisons with you know who would be unfair.
For the here and now, though, the Blues' top hotshot is a young midfielder from Down Under. Thanks to his efforts Champions League qualification remains as strong a possibility as ever. The Champions League is what this side deserves. After all, they have occupied a top four berth uninterrupted since early September. Australians, one at least, couldn't give a XXXX for anything else.
EVERTON (4-4-2): Martyn; Hibbert, Weir, Stubbs (Watson, 25 mins), Naysmith (Vaughan, 73 mins); Osman, Arteta, Cahill, Kilbane; Ferguson, Bent (Carsley, 66 mins). Subs: Wright, McFadden.
BOOKINGS: Hibbert (foul)
CRYSTAL PALACE (4-5-1): Kiraly; Leigertwood, Hall, Powell, Granville; Routledge, Hughes, Riihilahti (Watson, 56 mins), Soares, Lakis (Torghelle, 56 mins); Johnson. Subs: Speroni, Hudson, Borrowdale.
BOOKINGS: Kiraly (deliberate handball)
REFEREE: Uriah Rennie
ATT: 36,519

James is Vaughan to be a star
Apr 11 2005 By Scott McLeod, Liverpool Echo
TIM CAHILL believes teenager James Vaughan has the perfect temperament to build on his goalscoring debut. The striker (right) became the youngest Premiership goalscorer and the youngest player to play for Everton during a 17-minute substitute appearance in yesterday's 4-0 rout of Crystal Palace. Vaughan forced his way into the first-team reckoning because of James Beat-tie's knee ligament injury and doubts over James McFadden, who has been suffering with a hamstring problem for the last month. But he made the most of his opportunity, firing in from close range three minutes from time to signal ecstatic scenes. Cahill, who netted two goals early in the second half during a Man of the Match display which secured the victory, has been impressed with Vaughan. He told the ECHO: "It was fantastic. It was great to get two goals but for Vaughany to score as well was special. "The kid is young and enthusiastic. We have seen him in training and every time he gets the ball he shoots and whether he scores or not you can see he has got something in him and he is a gifted kid. "That showed in the game because not many youngsters can come onto the pitch and put themselves about and show the presence he did. The confidence was oozing from him. And he took the goal tremendously. Whether you are two yards or 50 yards out, it still takes a lot of effort to score. "It was a striker's goal and we were delighted for him." Vaughan, at the age of 16 years and 271 days, broke Joe Royle's record as the youngest player to represent Everton. His goal nicked James Milner's Premiership scoring record and Wayne Rooney's Everton scoring record. The victory restored the Blues' four point advantage over Liverpool in the race for the Champions League. But, with six games to go, Everton have been deprived of their skipper.
Alan Stubbs was substituted midway through the first half after a collision with Palace's Andy Johnson. The defender ruptured a ligament in his shoulder which could keep him sidelined for a month, making him a doubt for the club's remaining Premiership fixtures. Joseph Yobo, who was pulled out of yesterday's game after coming down with a virus on Saturday night, is expected to recover in time to take Stubbs' place for the visit of Manchester United on Wednesday week.
Head physio Mick Rathbone confirmed Stubbs' injury, saying: "He's had an x-ray and we don't think he needs surgery. It will settle with time but obviously at this stage of the season - time is not something we have a lot of."

Striking injury problems forced Vaughan's dazzling debut
Apr 11 2005 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
ALAN IRVINE was thrilled to see James Vaughan grab a slice of football history at Goodison Park yesterday. Then the Blues' assistant-manager explained that the 16-year-old had been handed his debut because they didn't have anyone else to turn to! "We only have a small squad and it was a toss up between taking a chance on James McFadden, who has only just come back from a hamstring injury, or giving young James his chance," he said. "We decided to go with the latter and James certainly took his chance well. "You all saw what sort of player he is when he bumped into Darren Powell out there and dumped him on the deck. He's certainly a very robust player and works extremely hard. "And he has a happy knack for scoring goals, whether that has been for the reserves, the youth team or recently for England Under-17s. "He's powerful and quick, brave and committed. The run he made to get into the position to score just showed the amount of aggression the lad has. He certainly has plenty to learn and plenty to improve on in terms of technique. But he does make things happen. "It's an amazing rise for him because he has only trained with the lads a few times. It is not as if he has been with them for a few months, the lads haven't seen much of him because the academy and first team train at different places." On the comparisons with Wayne Rooney, the player whose goalscoring record he claimed, Irvine added: "James likes to play right up at the front. Wayne, as we all know, prefers to drop deep and turn to run at defenders. "Time will tell if James gets anywhere near to Wayne, it would be fantastic for us all if he did but clearly it would be a bit unfair to say he is the next Rooney because he is the first James Vaughan." The 4-0 victory restored their lead over Champions League rivals Liverpool to four points. Irvine said: "We are in a good position. We have six games to go and if we win them all we will be fourth. Are we likely to do that? Probably not. So we have to make sure we win enough matches to hold onto our position." Irvine explained the tactical reshuffle which helped Everton to their biggest goal haul of the season. "It was a shame that Lee Carsley was left out, he has been terrific all season," he said.
"But we felt that we needed more penetration and needed to create more chances. That meant going into the game with two up front and to do that you have to take one out of the midfield.
"That was Lee, because we decided to go with the attacking midfield players and, with all due respect to Lee, more creative players who might score. "We went with Tim Cahill and Mikel Arteta and they both scored and had good games so it worked out well." Palace boss Iain Dowie, however, bemoaned his defenders' ability to track the runs of one-time transfer target Cahill. He said: "We didn't track the run from midfielders into the box. We know all about Tim Cahill and we handled him well until 60 seconds after half-time. "We let in four in our last away game, but that was against Chelsea and that was just a bit different to this. We have 18 points left to play for. "Norwich are still three points behind us so there are lots of twists and turns to come. We shape our own destiny."

Don't let it all go Rooney shaped
Apr 11 2005 Liverpool Echo
Chief feature writer Paddy Shennan looks at what the future holds for Everton's new boy wonder.
I HOPE, by the time I'm 21, I'll be in the first team ... So said Everton's latest record-breaking striker James Vaughan just a few short months ago in an interview with The Evertonian. Well, that's the five-year plan sorted! The 16-year-old announced his arrival on the Goodison Park glory stage shortly before 4.50pm yesterday, when he scored his first goal for the Blues - smashing records and rewriting the history books in the process. He ended Joe Royle's 39-year reign as the club's youngest player when he emerged as a 74th minute substitute, broke Wayne Rooney's record as the youngest goalscorer in Everton history and replaced James Milner as the Premiership's youngest marksman.
And if the teenager thought he received a rapturous reception when he replaced Gary Naysmith
to make his debut, it was nothing compared to the noise which greeted his close-range strike in the dying minutes. He may have been born in Birmingham (don't worry, you're a Scouser now), but James Vaughan is yet another product of the incredible Merseyside production line of headline-grabbing football talent. Everton will never forget the late, all-time great Dixie Dean, while True Blue Joe Royle won't shed a single tear at Everton's latest exciting talent beating his long-held record. Robbie Fowler and Michael Owen couldn't stop scoring when they were the new kids on the block at Anfield, while current Reds' captain Steven Gerrard, still only 24, has already developed into one of the world's greatest players. While back in the Blue corner, it was inevitable that James Vaughan's instant impact meant another name - from Goodison's more recent times - would be on thousands of lips. Suddenly it was no longer a case of James Who? But, as far as the unforgiving fans behind the Gwladys Street goal were concerned, it was a case of Wayne Who? Evertonians are noted for being realistic - oh go on then, I mean pessimistic and cynical (I should know, because I am one).

Which explains why, just a few minutes after yesterday's final whistle, one Blue was heard to say: "Brilliant - another cheque for £27 million is on the way!" ((the sum Manchester United agreed to pay Everton last summer for what's-his-name). Supporters should be punching the air with joy today - and we are. But fans are also hoping that everyone connnected with the club - and James Vaughan, himself - will heed the warnings from very recent history. There are many things to consider and be concerned about, such as:
* Has controversial agent Paul Stretford got the lad's 'phone number? (don't take any calls, James!
* Has James got a 16-year-old girlfriend? And do her ambitions include becoming a model and being rich enough to buy loads of designer clobber?
* How many times will poor Everton manager David Moyes and his assistant, Alan Irvine have to answer questions about "the new Wayne Rooney"? Congratulations, here, to Irvine, who, after yesterday's match, stressed that James is a different type of player. And he added: "It is unfair to call him the new Wayne Rooney. He is James Vaughan." Yes, he is. All the best, James. Keep your head down, ignore all the hype and enjoy any rewards which may come your way. The fans? We've all got our fingers crossed and are hoping that a) you'll do well and b) it won't go all Rooney-shaped.
Let's be positive, though. Just because one circus has recently left town it doesn't mean another one will be allowed to set up camp in Liverpool 4.
Living the teen dream
TEEN dream JAMES Vaughan's record-breaking debut for Everton was the reward for two years of personal sacrifice. At the age of 16 years and 271 days, the striker became the youngest player to represent Everton's first team and the youngest to score in the Premiership during a thrilling 17 minute appearance as a sub in yesterday's 4-0 victory over Crystal Palace. It was a dream debut for the Birmingham-born teenager who confirmed his commitment to the Blues at the age of 14 by choosing to remain on Merseyside despite his family returning to the Midlands. Ray Hall, who has overseen Vaughan's development as the head of Everton's Youth Academy in Netherton, revealed: "He was actually born in the Midlands but his father (Barrington Vaughan) was a top class rugby union player so they came up to the north west. "He gave up a lot to be with us because his mother and father moved back to the Midlands when he was 14. "He was living with a landlady for a couple of years but now he lives in the Academy Lodge. "He is a part of the Everton family. There are so many people who have looked after him, not just on the football side. "The staff have always been there for the times when he has been homesick. It is not just about football, it is about developing the whole package and we have worked as hard with James as we have with all of our players.
"He has stayed with us for two years before actually starting full-time. He has been determined to play for our first team. "There are parts of his game he knows he needs to work on but his dedication and attitude towards making the best of what he has got is great. "What he showed in the game is what he is. He is rough, he is tough, he will have a go. He is 16 years of age, for goodness sake, but he will put himself in the box where it matters."
Scott McLeod

Hall hails Moyes for youth opportunities
Apr 11 2005 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES has been hailed for having the guts to give James Vaughan his big chance by Everton Academy chief Ray Hall. Vaughan made club and league history by becoming, at 16 years and 271 days, the youngest Premiership goalscorer and the youngest player to represent the senior Everton side. The striker netted his famous goal three minutes from time in the 4-0 rout of Crystal Palace after coming on as a 74th minute substitute for defender Gary Naysmith. He had been included on the Blues' bench twice before yesterday without getting into the action. Hall told the ECHO: "I was delighted not just for the lad and for the Academy but also for the manager. He has taken a chance by putting him on and if the lad had come on and things not quite worked out people might have been asking if he had done the right thing. "He deserves an enormous amount of credit for having confidence and faith in the lad. Our job is to provide more for him and I hope we can keep doing that. "We have felt for a while that because of the small squad and one or two injuries we might have a couple of young players coming through." Hall ' s praise was not reserved for the manager though, adding: "The reception for him from the first-team players was great. "When he scored the goal and at the end of the game they all went over to him and were delighted for him. To be a part of that must be a wonderful, wonderful feeling. "It was a hurricane wasn't it. Everybody was hoping he would get on and the circumstances worked for us because we were 3-0 up. "He has come on with 20 minutes to go and I was just hoping he would get a touch. He got a tackle in on the halfway line and it went on from there. "It was like watching the Grand National. He was only on for 20 minutes but he couldn't pick himself up at the end. He gave everything. "And to actually score is fantastic. It is great because he has broken all kinds of records but he has worked very hard to get here." But Hall has reminded Vaughan that this is just the first step. He continued: "The challenge is now for him to take it on and not become one of these young fellas who has been on for 20 minutes and then drifted away. "But the moment is his and the moment is his family's. "When he woke up this morning he will have realised a dream, a dream every footballer has. He has done it at 16 years and 271 days."

It's Royle assent for Blues' new sensation
Apr 11 2005 Analysis by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
IF the stony-hearted traditionalists bemoaned the passing of Joe Royle's youngest-Everton player title yesterday, 16 years 271 day young James Vaughan quickly changed their minds. Royle is a genuine Everton legend, and some may have been initially saddened that his 39-year grip on youthful history was finally loosened. That is until Vaughan darted dramatically into the six yard box to crash Kevin Kilbane's cross into the Gwladys Street net and snatch Wayne Rooney's youngest goalscorer mantle from him as well. There wasn't a dry eye in the house. The youngster was submerged in a derby-day style celebration piley-on. Even Duncan Ferguson hung around at the end to offer his personal congratulations. "You can stick your Wayne Rooney . . . " chanted both ends of the ground. Well, you can guess the rest. Suffice to say the sun doesn't shine there, which cannot be said about Goodison Park yesterday. Everton received a major injection of confidence in a one-sided rout of Crystal Palace - and Vaughan's match-sealing fourth goal topped a buoyant weekend for the Blue half of Merseyside. There's some things in life Evertonians know they can rely on. And while death, taxes and the sight of Les Ferdinand scoring against them hardly offer cause for hope, the sight of a Palace goalkeeper does. Eight months ago a summer of discontent was lurching inexorably into crisis when Julian Speroni inexplicably tried to dribble past Kevin Campbell. The resulting penalty kick and equalising goal effectively kick-started Everton's entire season. Yesterday's howler from Gabor Kiraly might well have resuscitated the campaign just as it looked like faltering fatally.
The free-kick he conceded for carrying the ball outside his box wasn't as inviting an opportunity as that August penalty kick, but given Mikel Arteta's precision from 20 yards it might as well have been.
The Spaniard's deliberately dispatched free-kick sent confidence coursing through Everton veins again with the force of a burst dam. But while the early goal undoubtedly helped Everton to dominate a poor Palace side, so did David Moyes' decision to abandon the much-vaunted 4-5-1 formation and send two out-and-out strikers into the fray. It didn't matter that neither Marcus Bent nor Duncan Ferguson had found the target this year. Two striking targets, rather than the usual solitary outlet, allowed Arteta, in particular, to flourish. While he produced a wide array of tidy, inventive passes, Tim Cahill found even more space than usual as he broke late into the box, with the two strikers occupying Palace defenders' attention rather than one. His double were the kind of finishes fans have come to expect from Everton's undoubted player of the season. He cleverly caressed Bent's hooked pass into his path with his thigh, then provided an explosive finish into the roof of the net. Then he arrived at the far post to ensure Kilbane's thrilling run and cross received the reward it deserved. Everton would probably have settled for that, especially with Alan Stubbs becoming the latest victim of an untimely injury epidemic. But when Vaughan sprinted confidently into the fray 17 minutes from time, he entered the Everton record books. His goal some 12 minutes later ensures he will probably stay there. After all, it took nearly 70 years for Rooney to relieve Tommy Lawton of the youngest scorer mantle. While Vaughan's arrival may ultimately have made this a historic day for Everton, Blues fans will hope the significance of this success is still to come.
Everton can't be overtaken in fourth place for at least another 10 days. And then there will only be four games of their rivals' season remaining. The finishinhg line is in sight and Everton will hope yesterday's win has given them the momentum to surge, rather than limp, towards it.

Defender could be out for season
Apr 12 2005
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
EVERTON fear Alan Stubbs could miss the rest of the season with the shoulder injury that clouded the rout of Crystal Palace. The Goodison skipper ruptured ligaments in his right shoulder after a collision with Palace striker Andy Johnson on Sunday. Stubbs was immediately taken to hospital for an x-ray before returning to watch James Vaughan's record-breaking debut late in the second half.
And though surgery has been ruled out the injury could take four weeks to heal - making Stubbs a serious doubt for the Premiership finale. Everton face three crucial tests in the final week of the season - against Newcastle, Arsenal and Bolton - and though Stubbs may have recovered his lack of match fitness could keep him sidelined. The 33-year-old is yet to reach agreement with Everton over an extension to his contract, which expires in the summer. And this injury raises fears he could have played his last game for his boyhood club, with Sam Allardyce keen to take the defender back to Bolton on a free transfer. Meanwhile, Thomas Gravesen's agent has dismissed the idea of the midfielder returning to Everton at the end of the season. The 28-year-old Denmark midfielder has been linked with a move back to Goodison Park after just a few months at Real Madrid. But Gravesen's agent John Sivebaek said: "I've seen these suggestions but I don't know where it is coming from. It is total speculation. "Thomas is playing well, he's in Real's team and I can't see him leaving." Sivebaek added: "Thomas is enjoying himself in Spain. He loves Real and he has been doing well and has been getting picked in the team, so I do not think he will be coming back."

Cahill dreaming of Champions League
Apr 12 2005
By Paul Walker, Daily Post
A YEAR ago this week, Tim Cahill was scoring an FA Cup semi-final winner for Millwall. And he is on the goal trail again as Everton head for the Champions League. The Australia midfielder's excellent double on Sunday ensured Everton thrashed Crystal Palace 4-0, to open up a four-point gap over Liverpool in their battle for fourth spot in the Premiership and that final Champions League qualifi-cation spot. It ended a run of three defeats on the trot that had allowed Liverpool back into the hunt. And, with just six games each left, Everton are right back in the driving seat heading for Europe. Cahill said: "We know now that it is there for us to take, and we aim to take it. We are now in the box seat, a great position, so we must keep this going and win the next one, that's the target.
"Getting two goals was fantastic but the main thing was getting the win after Liverpool's slip up the day before. "It was a fine performance and even better because there was a lot of pressure on us after losing three on the trot, we had to win to take advantage of Liverpool's defeat because had we not, it would have given them the confidence that they could catch us next time out." For Cahill it has been almost non-stop action for the past year with the Olympics and now a full Premiership season, plus a cup final against Manchester United thrown in. The 25-year-old: "That day at Old Trafford with Millwall in the semi-final against Sunderland and getting Everton to this position are definitely among the the best moments of my career. "It's great to be a part of all this, unbelievable. Joining Everton has been a dream come true and I am taking my chance as best I can. "We are pushing on for the Champions League spot, and it is up to others to knock us down. But we have great characters in our team, no superstars and the biggest thing is looking forward to next week and to get as much out of each match as we can." Cahill's double, a free-kick from Mikel Arteta and James Vaughan's history-making strike put a poor Palace to the sword. Cahill says: "I was pleased with my goals but the icing on the cake was young James Vaughan coming into the side and scoring on his debut, we are all obviously delighted for him. Maybe he's the next big thing. "My target is not goals but playing consistently every week, that is the way for all of us to get what we want from this season."

Vaughan fits in with the Everton spirit
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Apr 12 2005
WITHOUT the hype, the bedroom window stickers or personalised T-shirts that accompanied Everton's last record-breaking teenager into the big time James Vaughan offered the perfect antidote to the Wayne Rooney circus on Sunday. Time and the precarious nature of youthful development will reveal if the 16-year-old goes on to enjoy the fruits of his personal sacrifice at Goodison Park. But Vaughan, who at 14 remained on Merseyside when his parents returned to their Midlands roots, has already made a perfect start in the eyes of the Everton faithful simply by removing Rooney's name from the honour of their youngest goalscorer. As Alan Irvine insisted afterwards, however, age is the only valid comparison between Vaughan and Rooney from now on.
A 19-minute Premiership debut should not provide an accurate assessment of a player's game or potential but Vaughan displayed many of the qualities that have carried him so far, so quickly in the rout of sorry Crystal Palace. Whether harrying Palace defenders into the corners or displaying the predatory instincts to connect perfectly with Kevin Kilbane's near-post cross Everton's new teenage hope illustrated how spirit and work-rate, rather than gifts from the footballing gods, has fuelled his rise. "Andy Holden (Everton's reserve team coach) has been talking about him all season, in fact longer. He's got great hopes for him," revealed David Weir. "He has certainly got all the attributes - strength,, honesty, work-rate and commitment - all the things we have in the side ourselves. "So he is the perfect person to come into the side really. He came on against Palace, worked his socks off and got his reward. It's a great start for him, but he must realise that he has still got a few rough edges and has a lot to learn. As long as he does that, it could be a big future for him." Delight in Vaughan's achievement was obvious as every Everton outfield player raced to celebrate his place in history. And even at 34 Weir admits he can still learn a few lessons from the youngster's thrilling debut. The Scottish international revealed: "It does make you feel old when you see a kid like that come along, but I enjoy it, it freshens you up and gives you a bit of an injection of extra enthusiasm when you see someone like that. "When you see what it means to him, and how much he enjoys it, it rubs off on everyone. "He's not trained a lot with us, just been up the odd day here and there. But when he has, he has done well, and obviously has been doing well in the reserve games.
"We've not see a great deal of him, so he is fresh to us as well. But when he has trained with us, he's shown already that he's a likeable lad and the lads have really taken to him. "He always has a smile on his face, and we just know how well he's been doing from seeing the reserves. We haven't seen him day in, day out, but I think that might change now. "Obviously we all knew who he was, and that he was scoring goals in the reserves, but we are all happy for him. "I've come up against him in training, and he is strong, a real handful, and has done really well." Weir added: "He's as honest as the day is long. He works hard and makes life really difficult for you. He's very physical and nothing is ever dead with him. He'll chase lost causes all day, as he proved when he came on. "He'd only been on for five minutes and the ref was having a little word, telling him to calm down a bit, so he's got a great chance. "Keeping his feet on the ground won't be a problem judging from what we have seen of him so far." Weir believes Vaughan's elevation to the first team is a further illustration of the attitude that has more than compensated for the lack of numbers at Everton this season. And the Goodison defender hopes Sunday's result can inject fresh confidence into Moyes's side ahead of a testing Premiership finale. He explained: "This club gives youngsters a chance because of limited numbers, and everyone has to stand up and be counted. We've shown all season what spirit we have here. "We know we've had a bad spell, and lost three on the bounce, but we have recovered and bounced back well. "We showed a bit of character against Palace, and maybe responded to the critics a little. "The pressure was back on after the recent results, so it was a big day for everyone. In all honesty, Liverpool's result had taken a bit of pressure off, but we're intelligent enough to know that it's what we does that is important." Weir added: "We've given the fans something to cheer about again, and hopefully we are over that bit of a stumble now. Given the circumstances, with the pressure to get a win, scoring four goals and playing like that makes it one of our best performances and gives us a real lift. "We know Palace are a hardworking, well-organised side, so we knew they were going to make life difficult for us. "I'm sure there are a lot of twists and turns still to come before the end, but it's in our hands and we will do the best we can to stay there."

The football wonder who could have played rugby
Apr 12 2005 By Jessica Shaughnessy Daily Post Staff
HE IS another teenage Everton football player with the world at his feet, yet the club's new prodigy could so easily have been a star rugby union player. As an eight-year-old, James Vaughan was a winger with Preston Grasshoppers and looked destined for great things with the oval ball. Luckily for Everton, in the same year that this picture of him was taken playing rugby, the youngster joined the Premiership team's youth academy - and the rest is now history. Today, the 16-year-old is the stuff of dreams after his fairytale debut against Crystal Palace last Saturday, proved that rugby's loss is football's gain. When he came on as a substitute in the 74th minute and buried a cross by Kevin Kilbane - the final goal in Everton's 4-0 victory - he smashed three records, one of them set by the club's previous teenage wonderkid, Wayne Rooney. Vaughan broke Rooney's record as the youngest goalscorer in Everton's history, plus James Milner's mantle as the Premiership's youngest marksman. From the moment he stepped on the pitch, he ended Joe Royle's 39 year record as the club's youngest first team player. His achievements this weekend were the result of two years of sacrifice by the teenager. Born in the Midlands, Vaughan moved to the North West when his father began playing for the Preston Grasshoppers. When he was 14, his parents moved back to Birmingham and Vaughan decided to stay on in Liverpool. Last night, Richard Halsall, chairman at the Rugby club, where Vaughan's father Dorrington was a first team player, said : "He was a very talented player and he knows how far he could have gone in Rugby Union. "Unfortunately for us, it is football that is benefiting from his talent and not rugby. He is one of those wonderful athletes who can turn their hand to anything. "Some of the best sports people can cross over - Sir Clive Woodward did it!. "As a boy, he dreamed of becoming a football player and then ended up playing for and then managing England." The head of Everton's Youth Academy, Ray Hall, said: "He gave up a lot to be with us. He was living with a landlady for a couple of years but now he lives in the Academy Lodge. "He has stayed with us for two years before actually starting full-time. He has been determined to play for our first team." Vaughan's whirlwind start has inevitably attracted comparisons with Rooney. But the club's assistant manager Alan Irvine has shrugged off the likeness saying the two teenagers are very different players. In one department, the pair could not be more different. While Rooney earns thousands of pounds a week, Vaughan is expected to receive a pay rise in June which will take his £80 a week wages up to £90. Vaughan seems happy with his lot though. In a recent interview with the Evertonian magazine, he said: "I like the people and the coaches here - there is no reason to leave." Vaughan also confessed to be being a huge fan of former Liverpool player John Barnes and referred to his rugby union past. He said: "I was too young to judge whether I could have made it as a professional rugby player back then. I gave it up to play football." Former Everton scout Barry Poynton spotted eight-year-old Vaughan at a summer football tournament in Euxton. He said: "There is no special skill in scouting when a player like that jumps out at you. "I remember it was a glorious sunny day and James was scoring goals for fun all afternoon. I think he rattled in six while we were watching and was unstopable. "He was quick and strong and immediately caught the eye. We brought him in to the academy the following week and he has been there ever since, working his way up through the ranks." Poynton, who is now recruitment officer at Manchester City and was responsible for bringing England's Shaun Wright-Phillips to the club, admits Vaughan nearly by-passed football altogether and could have followed in his father's footsteps by choosing a career in rugby. He said: "To be honest, he had only just taken up football then. He was very good at rugby like his father. "Thankfully, he chose football and I must say his parents are unique in their support."

Kenwright feels a sense of deja vu at Goodison
By Paul Walker, Daily Post
Apr 12 2005
EVERTON chairman Bill Kenwright has a sense of deja vu after watching another teenager make Goodison Park sit up and take notice. Wayne Rooney may have departed to Manchester United, for a fee which could reach £27million, but the emergence of James Vaughan could give the Blues faithful a new hero. The Birmingham-born 16-year-old, who was brought up in Preston where his parents were in the pub trade, put one foot on the ladder to stardom with his dramatic late entrance into the Premiership 4-0 mauling of Crystal Palace in which he became Everton's youngest ever player and goalscorer. "You can spend zillions but still there are youngsters who come to you as kids and make the grade and then make you feel pretty good inside when you see them break through on to the first-team stage," said Kenwright. "It was like 'Pinch me I'm dreaming' - but it is totally unfair to co "I suppose to come on at 16, score and break three records takes a lot of doing but you shouldn't compare, it is wrong to both of them. The great thing, though, when you see someone like Wayne come through at a club, is to know that such huge talents are still out there if you look hard enough." The protective shield will go up around Vaughan, who currently lives in Everton's Academy hostel in Crosby and trains at the youngsters' Netherton base rather than with the first team. What we do know about him is that he was spotted as a nine-year-old when his parents, who have since moved back to Shenstone near Lichfield, were running a pub in Preston.

Working hard to make sure youngster's not distracted
Daily Post
Apr 12 2005
EVERTON officials will be working with James Vaughan to ensure the teenager does not get "distracted" after becoming the Premiership's youngest goalscorer, according to the player's advisor.
Vaughan was on target for Everton on Sunday, finishing from close range against Crystal Palace on his senior debut. The 16-year-old became the league's youngest marksman - beating Newcastle's James Milner - and his advisor Gino Culbertson wants to keep the player's feet on the ground.
Culbertson said: "Obviously he has a great future ahead of him but he's got a long way to go and it would be wrong to get too carried away. "Naturally we'll be working very closely with the club to ensure James is allowed to concentrate on his football and not be too distracted by any unwelcome interest. "David Moyes is an excellent manager and he (Vaughan) couldn't be at a better club in terms of future development."

Youth chance
Apr 12 2005
Post Soapbox, icLiverpool & Daily Post
Youth chance
I TRUELY believe if Wayne Rooney would have been at any other club he would have been pushed aside for some third rate French player. But David Moyes puts a 16-year-old in a big game not some cup game against Doncaster in October. Moyes gives these players the chance.
Ant Fuccilio, Liverpool
Everton joy
EVERTON were a joy to watch on Sunday - so much skill, drive and passion. James Vaughan is certainly a player they need to nurture, but allow him time to develop. Cahill was quite superb and Arteta could be one of the best in the Premiership. The game proved Everton can frighten any team. But also it makes one wonder whether Beat-tie is a wasteful buy when compared with the skills and pace of Crystal Palace's Andy Johnson.
Roger Welsh (via e-mail)
Arteta great
THE way things are begining to take shape with Cahill and Arteta I wonder whether having Thomas Gravesen back would be a good thing. What about trying out Plessis to see if he could do as good a job as Davies from Spurs?
E Forsyth, Walton
Academy heroes
IT was good management by Moyes and all the unsung coaches, who work behind the scenes with the younger players. James Vaughan proves yet again that if you're good enough you're old enough. What a fantastic incentive to all in our Academy. C'mon lads, prove that Moyes doesn't need to splash the cash to put together a quality Champions League squad.
B Crow (via e-mail)
Green ban
ALAN GREEN should be banned from Goodison. He should remember that his job is to inform listeners as to what is happening on the pitch and not to make petulant and snide comments about our great club. "The rest of Europe will be quaking in their boots at the prospect of playing Everton next season" he quipped.. The only sensible thing he's said in a lifetime.
Sean London (via e-mail)
Right balance
AN EXCELLENT result and a super performance. It was a better balanced formation and Arteta looks the real deal and well done James Vaughan. But defensively we are still dodgy. Keep 4-4-2 as we need this performance and spirit to go after likes Man United and Newcastle to secure that Champions League.
T Boon, Waterloo

Vaughan agent to protect teen ace
Apr 12 2005 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
JAMES VAUGHAN will be shielded from the spotlight that has been trained on him since his recordbreaking debut for Everton, according to his agent. Gino Culbertson, founder of the Excel agency, has reassured Blues' fans that Vaughan will not be pushed into a media frenzy and that he will be protected from the distractions which have sidetracked other teenage hotshots. Culbertson told the ECHO: "We are very proud of him and were absolutely delighted on Sunday, as are his family. "It was a great day when he made his England Under-17 debut just a few weeks ago but he surpassed even that at the weekend. He always seems to deliver, no matter what is asked of him.
"He has got a great future but it would be wrong to get too carried away. He is still young and is still developing as a player." Culbertson has every confidence that Vaughan will continue his impressive rate of development in the wake of his goalscoring debut. He added: "He is a very modest young man and is his own biggest critic. He loves his football so much and he trains so hard because everything he does is geared towards being better. "If he misses a shot he is tough on himself. He sets high standards, is a great lad with a great character and it is very easy to take to him." Meanwhile, the Blues have been boosted by news that Joseph Yobo will to return to light training tomorrow after a virus forced him to miss the Crystal Palace game. The Nigerian international is in line to replace Alan Stubbs, who ruptured a ligament in his shoulder during the 4-0 win and is unlikely to play again this season. Yobo is set to partner David Weir in Wednesday week's Goodison encounter with Manchester United after returning to full training later in the week.

Vaughan of new era
Apr 12 2005 By Scott McLeod, Liverpool Echo
JAMES VAUGHAN is assured of a place in Everton's history books. But the 16-year-old striker who has shot to prominence this week still has a way to go before he becomes a regular first team player.
The distance he has travelled in the last 12 months suggests he will get there. But the fact he has had to rise so dramatically into the consciousness of coaches and fans alike underlines precisely why any comparisons with Wayne Rooney are hugely unfair. Rooney was the worst kept secret in football. His marauding performances which led Everton into the Youth Cup final in 2002 ensured there was an inevitability about him becoming a senior star. By the time he did make a first team appearance, at the start of the 2002/03 season, he was already being fast-tracked into the England frame for the European Championships. Rooney was a phenomenon. Any 16-year-old would suffer in comparison. It is a point that Chairman Bill Kenwright freely admits. "You can spend zillions but still there are youngsters who come to you as kids and make the grade and then make you feel pretty good inside when you see them break through on to the first team stage," he said. "It was like ' pinch me, I'm dreaming' - but it is totally unfair to compare him with Wayne, even if there was just a moment when you said 'Could he be the next one?' "I suppose to come on at 16, score and break three records takes a lot of doing but you shouldn't compare. It is wrong to both of them."
The refreshing thing is that the player himself acknowledges he still has lots to prove. And that will be music to the ears of all Evertonians. He revealed his weaknesses in an interview earlier this season as "Probably my finishing and my passing - they are just things I need to practice on."
His poacher's goal against Palace suggests he is definitely going about his work the right way and is backed up by Tim Cahill's assertion the striker has the perfect temperament to develop into a first-team player. Sunday was the first step to what could prove a hugely rewarding career for both Vaughan and Everton. But it was a first step. It was a step into the unknown. And a test he passed with flying colours, one all Evertonians have every right to celebrate. With work and commitment he will develop into a hugely useful asset for David Moyes. And it is clear, as his promotion through the ranks this season illustrates, he is willing to put in that work. Which is the greatest complement a young player can be given. His talent has been nurtured. His debut in an England shirt came only last month in a trio of qualifying matches, scoring twice from one start and two substitute appearances. John Peacock, the England U-17s boss, said: "He's very tenacious, he's an old-fashioned centre-forward who can obviously score goals. He works extremely hard. "He doesn't give the opposition any time on the ball. And I know the staff at Everton are working him on what he should do when he has got the ball, or when he is in positions to receive it. "Certainly I have seen him perform to a higher level in terms of movement over the past few months and I am pleased for him. "I've been paying very close attention to James Vaughan over the past few months. "I have a very good relationship with the Academy staff at Everton and they were telling me how well he'd been doing and that he was well worth a look." Vaughan has drive coupled with refreshing humility. It is a combination which bodes well and which should help him shrug off any unfair comparisons with the previous holder of the record as Everton's youngest ever goalscorer. The final word goes to Vaughan. When asked how good he could be he responds self-consciously: "If I get my head down, work hard and keep progressing then hopefully I can make the first team."

Vaughan may miss end of season
Apr 13 2005
By David Prior Daily Post Staff
RECORD-BREAKING striker James Vaughan is set to be ruled out of Everton's Premiership run-in.
The 16-year-old, who became the youngest player to score in both Goodison and Premiership history when he scored against Crystal Palace on Sunday, is a certainty for the England Under-17s squad to compete in next month's European Championships in Tuscany. John Peacock's side are currently scheduled to play group games against Belarus, Turkey and hosts Italy on May 3, 5 and 8, with the top two from each group progressing to the semi-finals on May 11. Should the England side reach the final in Pontedera on May 14, Vaughan would therefore be out of contention for the vital Premiership games against Newcastle on May 7 and Arsenal on May 11. His availability for the potential Champions League qualification decider against Bolton on May 15 would also be highly unlikely. Vaughan's absence would further restrict David Moyes's already limited striking options, with Marcus Bent and Duncan Ferguson his only other recognised frontmen who are currently fit.
Knee injury victim James Beattie is still at least two weeks away from a return.

Moyes urges firms to tackle fitness
Apr 13 2005
Daily Post
EVERTON manager David Moyes has urged businesses in Merseyside to tackle fitness in the workplace. It came as Sport England revealed it has £1m of lottery money to give to Liverpool businesses towards increasing staff fitness. Sport England hopes the money, split up into individual grants of £10-50,000, will stimulate businesses to organise regular exercise for staff. Speaking to representatives from the region's businesses, Mr Moyes said: "A fit and healthy workforce is a productive workforce. I'd encourage businesses throughout the region to encourage and financially support sporting activities in any way they can." He also suggested companies use local fitness experts to advise them on overweight staff. He said: "There are some fantastic Liverpool John Moores University students who have helped Everton and would be willing to give up their time. They could go into workplaces and help them work on their fitness." The Government has told Sport England to increase the amount of people taking regular exercise from 37% to 50% by 2020. It recommends everyone should exercise for at least three hours every week. Andrew Worthington, of Sport England, said: "There are about a third of people who get the recommended amount of exercise. But there's another 30% who are on the subs bench - they would get regular exercise if they got into the habit. "Sport needs to engage the private sector." The event was sponsored by North West law firm Halliwells. Managing partner Ian Austin said: "Employers have a responsibility to look after the well being of their people and as a firm we will be introducing a range of health related initiatives. "The modern workplace is as frantic as it's ever been, and it's important for people to take time out. Team sports in particular can be excellent for character building which, in turn, is good for any business." The Sport England event, staged at Goodison Park, was attended by delegates from businesses including Coutts, Littlewoods, Lloyds Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland and Unilever. It had been sponsored by law firm Halliwells, The Mersey Partnership and North West Regional Development Agency.

Everton duo make squad
Apr 13 2005 Daily Post
TWO Everton players have been included in Hope Powell's England Women's squad to face Scotland at Prenton Park on Thursday, April 21. Rachel Brown joins up with the squad on her return from injury, while midfielder Samantha Britton is back on the international scene for the first time since May 2003. Britton has experienced a long-term injury lay-off, but featured in England training camps in October and November last year, and has played a key role in Everton's road to this season's FA Women's Cup final. Tickets for the match are on sale now from the Tranmere Rovers ticket office or by calling the ticket hotline on 0870 460 3332. Tickets are £3 for adults/ £1 concessions in advance and £5/£2 on matchday. There are special discounts for schools and football clubs, details on 0870 460 3332.

Arteta has given us new dimension - Cahill
Apr 13 2005 By Scott McLeod, Liverpool Echo
MIKEL ARTETA has provided 'a breath of fresh air' for the Everton squad as the race hots up for Champions League qualification. That is the verdict of Tim Cahill, who believes the Spanish midfielder (left) has added a dimension to the Blues' mid-field options with the final six games of the season approaching. Arteta's availability allowed David Moyes the opportunity to switch his side around on Sunday, resting Lee Carsley and switching from a 4-5-1 formation to 4-4-2 for the visit of Crystal Palace. The presence of Arteta along with the Aussie midfielder and Carsley means Everton can continue to surprise opponents in the weeks to come. Cahill told the ECHO: "Mikel has been a breath of fresh air for us. He has come in and done really, really well. He has got great ball skills and is a really technically gifted footballer. "He has got a lot of ability and is a pleasure to play with. That is the case with Lee (Carsley) as well and we all work well together, whoever is playing. "That is a good position to be in. We haven't played a 4-4-2 that often but having Duncan and Benty running around winning headers relaxed us. "Sunday was one of those games where we were able to get lots of the ball and it was good to score the goals as well. Getting the goal early was excellent. We have been struggling a bit but it was always going to just be a matter of time." Arteta is on loan from Spanish La Liga side Real Sociedad until the end of the season. But the Blues have the option of making his stay permanent as part of a £2.5m deal. Moyes is keen to give the playmaker a run of starts before reaching a decision but he has already won over the Goodison faithful. Meanwhile, the representatives of Everton striker James Vaughan have been true to their word by acting swiftly to protect the player and his parents from predatory agents in the wake of goalscoring debut on Sunday. Gino Culbertson, the founder of the Excel agency which is associated with WMG, a commercial partner with both Juventus and Arsenal, said: "Should there be any illegal or unwelcome approaches by any party to James or his family we would take the matter most seriously and take the appropriate action." Culbertson added: "We are working very closely with the club and their excellent young manager to ensure James is protected."
* Mikael Arteta has apologised to the Crystal Palace fans for running towards them as he celebrated his opening goal for the Blues on Sunday. The Spaniard stressed he only did so because he thought they were Everton fans - until Kevin Kilbane caught up with him and pointed out his mistake.

Royle blue so proud to have held record
Apr 13 2005 EXCLUSIVE by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
JOE ROYLE smiled ruefully when he learned James Vaughan had finally beaten his 39-year-old 'youngest player' record, then shrugged: "He still hasn't started a game. I must still have a share of it!" Royle was 16 years 282 days young when Harry Catterick made the shock decision to axe fans' idol Alex Young for a First Division match at Blackpool in 1966 and hand the strapping Scouser his Everton debut. It made him the youngest player in Everton's long history - a mantle he held onto until James Vaughan sprinted into the record books last Sunday, eclipsing Royle's mark by a mere 11 days. "It was something I wasn ' t all that aware of at the time," explained Royle, "but it was something I grew prouder and prouder of as the years passed and it is still a record I am immensely proud to have held. "I didn't even know there was a chance of it being beaten last weekend.
"I hadn't heard that James had been named substitute and I was on the training pitch preparing for our game at Wolves when it was broken. "Our coach driver, who is a Scouser, came running over and told me I wasn't the young-est player any more. I thanked him for letting me know so promptly!
"But I'm delighted for James and it's great for Evertonians as well. "It's another young prospect to look out for and I hope he goes on to become a very good player. But he still hasn't started a game for the first team yet!" Royle's priority at present is trying to complete Ipswich Town's remarkable recovery with promotion to the Premiership. Having turned a £23m deficit into a profit at Portman Road, he has steered a squad of free transfers and loan signings to the brink of promotion from the Championship. Ipswich face table-topping Sunderland next, when victory would make the Suffolk side favourites for automatic promotion . . . and at least one trip back to Goodison Park next season.
It's a return trip Royle hopes to make even more regularly in future. "I don't think it's any secret where I'll be watching my football when I eventually retire," he said. "I'm sure there's a nice seat in the Main Stand at Goodison Park where I will be able to watch from." And maybe watch another young forward wearing Royal Blue making his way in the game . . .

Snap up Arteta - he's better than Gravesen
Apr 13 2005 Echo Letters, icLiverpool & Liverpool Echo
PERHAPS all the moaning and criticism paid off! Well done Blues. We only beat Crystal Palace but you can only beat what is in front of you. Special praise for Mikel Arteta. It was a great free-kick and he was my man of the match. We should definitely sign him. He is better than Gravesen passing-wise and goes in for tackles where Gravesen wouldn't. Tim Cahill was superb, as was Kevin Kilbane for the first time in a while. If Arteta and Cahill can perform like that against the Mancs, who knows?
Anna Jones, Wirral
I'D like to congratulate the boys for the superb win over Palace. There was an awesome atmosphere in the ground so well done to the fans too. Kevin Kilbane and Gary Naysmith played exceptionally and Tim Cahill is a Dura-cell kangaroo! As for James Vaughan, he looks pacy and a real threat.
Dave McDonald, Aigburth
I'M absolutely made up that James Vaughan exorcised the ghost of Wayne Rooney! The club's record books will no longer refer to the biggest sell-out merchant in footballing history as the young-est ever Everton player to score a Premiership goal. Good luck James and if you only ever take one piece of advice in your life, make sure it is not from that money-grabber Rooney!
John Robinson, Birkenhead
THE lads showed against Palace that when they're resolute and confident, they can go for the jugular as effectively as any other side in this division. It was against relatively mediocre opposition, but if this positive formation had been employed against WBA, a win would've been the outcome.
As for Manchester United, Norwich have demonstrated that they're not unbeatable. A win here would be the catalyst for a strong finish needed to qualify the club for the Champions League.
Jim Waite, Birkenhead TAKING the six games after the first Palace game we had three home and three away matches - the same as now. We went WDWWWL so if this happened again we'd beat Manchester United, draw against Birmingham, beat Fulham, Newcastle and Arsenal and lose to Bolton, netting 13 points. The most Liverpool can get is 68 and Bolton 67 so does destiny and the Repeat Coincidence Theory mean we are sitting pretty in fourth spot?
Bill Gard, Warrington
WE'VE been there all season, are still there, and we will finish there! Who said we are not good enough for Champions League football? Two or three more players in the summer and that will all change. Bring on the Mancs.
Bill Gillespie, Dingle
Silence is golden
BILL KENWRIGHT has remained silent on the Fortress Funding fiasco, but as soon as a new youngster pops out of the woodwork there he is again bragging about him. Let's wait and see if he is more of a Rooney than a Cadamarteri before you open your mouth Bill. Stick to the finances (which you're not very good at either) or hand over the reigns to someone who knows what they are doing.
Jeff Smith, Wirral

Search for super fan
Apr 13 2005 JBlue, Liverpool Echo
DO you know someone whose unbridled support for Everton sets them apart from the rest? If so, we're looking to hear from you as we try and find to find Jblue's Young Fan of the Year. We want family or friends to send us their nominations, giving details as to why they think their nominee is worthy of the title 'Fan of the Year'. Include both your name and the youngster you are nominating, plus addresses, phone numbers and, if possible, a picture. Send them to: Jblue, Junior Fan of Year, Liverpool ECHO Sports Desk, PO Box 48, Old Hall Street, Liverpool L69 3EB.
* EVERTON have literally got a huge prize to give away to one lucky supporter over the next few weeks. By entering a free draw in official club stores, fans have the chance to win a giant Everton teddy bear. All you have to be in with a chance of winning, is to give it a name - the winning entry being drawn at random.

Everton ace picks up Young Sports Personality of the Year award
Apr 13 2005 By Tim Johnson, Liverpool Echo
ONE of the hottest young sporting talents around, footballer John Paul Kissock, was named Young Sports Personality of the Year at the City of Liverpool Annual Sports Awards evening staged at Liverpool Town Hall and supported by Capital. As the fifteen-year-old and Everton Academy player stepped forward to receive the award from councillor Tina Gould, he graciously accepted the applause and cheers from an audience that included most of the young gifted sportsmen and women in the city. "I did not have a clue I was getting the award," said the England Under-16 International. "I was made up and really buzzing. It has been a fantastic year. I played for Everton in the Youth Cup, went to Italy and France with England and now getting this award." In his moment of triumph the Archbishop Beck student did not forget those who had helped him along the way.
He continued: "I have a lot of people to thank for my development. My Mum, Dad, and brother Lee. Ray Hall, Neil Dewsnip and Gary Ablett from Everton and Paul Crawford, a learning mentor from school." Helping to distribute more than 70 individual and team awards were a host of sporting celebrities incuding double Olympic boxing gold medallist Mario Kindelman, local Olympians Beth Tweddle and Stephen Parry and a centre-back partnership to dream about of Phil Thompson and Derek Mountfield. Three other major awards were presented on the evening. City of Liverpool Gymnastic coach Sarah Atwell was named Coach of the Year. Alec McGowan received the Club of the Year Award on behalf of the Rotunda Boxing Club. The prestigious Stan Owen Trophy, which recognises the achievements of an individual who has dedicated their life to sport, went to Jean Arnold for services to school sport and hockey. The spotlight also fell on six members of the unique Liverpool City Council Elite Sporting Scholarship Scheme. Kevin Thompson, Nathan Brough, Stephen Smith, Neil Perkins, Joe Selkirk and Anthony Bellew all received awards. Liverpool City Council's executive member for leisure, councillor Warren Bradley, said: "It has been another remarkable year for the city's outstanding sportsmen and women. "Few other cities could host an evening like this to celebrate the outstanding sporting achievements we have enjoyed in the last twelve months.
"These successes are a tribute to the dedication of our athletes and sports clubs and testament to the city's commitment to developing sport in Liverpool."
Award winners - Athletics: Ashley Helsby, Jordan Fleary, William Lowndes, Michael Bomba, Katey Read, Carmen Gedling, Victoria Garrad, Michael Quarless, Tony Corrigan, Matthew Owens.
Basketball: Raheem Thompson
Boxing: Adam McElhinney, Anthony Jeavons, Scott Yoxhall, James McDonald, Ryan Brodie, Anthony Fowler, Peter Fowler, John Dring, Sean Evans.
Canoe Polo: Peter Meakin, Stuart Moffitt, Ginny Coyle
Football: Michael Barker, Fern Whelan, John Paul Kissock, Chantelle Parry, Danielle Hill, Jessica Moore, Faye McCoy.
Fencing: Alan Freel, Brogan McKenzie.
Gymnastics: Melanie Roberts, Aisling Williams, Jodie Standish, Charlotte Cosgrove, Helen Galashan, Abi Louise Kirby, Hannah Clowes, Carol Galashan.
Rugby Union: Carl Fearns, Adam Anderson, Joel Biggins.
Swimming: Ainsley Blease, Michael Preston, Michael Rock, Francesca Halsall, Sean Hassall, Chelsea McCourt.
Tennis: Martin Dalton, Zak Goldsmith.
Trampoline: Natasha Short, Nicole Short, Lara Williams, Jack Helme, Luke Whiteside, Steven Williams.
Team Awards, Athletics: Liverpool Harriers National Young Athletes Under-15 and Under-13 Girls squads; St Julies Catholic HS Under-12 and Under-14 cross country team.
Canoe Polo: Friends of Alenby.
Football: Notre Dame Under-16 Girls.
Gymnastics: City of Liverpool Gymnastics Club.
Water Polo: City of Liverpool Junior Women's Water Polo team.
Trampoline: City of Liverpool Trampolining Club.

Leeds Res 3, Everton Res 0
Daily Post
Apr 14 2005
EVERTON reserves suffered a miserable night in Wakefield, losing 3-0 against Leeds. With just four games left of the reserve season, this match was treated as a typical end-of-term affair. The entire Blues squad were eligible to play for the club's U18 side and it was Neil Dewsnip rather than Andy Holden who took charge. The first half was full of effort but little craft. Everton enjoyed the first chance on 28 minutes when Christian Seargeant's deflected cross deceived the Leeds defence but unfortunately Bjarni Vidarsson couldn't arrive in time to convert the opportunity. Leeds went ahead eight minutes before the break when substitute Jonathan Howson pounced on a long ball which left the Everton defence flat-footed. The midfielder remained calm to slot past Sean Lake. Scott Phelan fired inches wide from 20 yards and in first half injury time Andy Fowler went close with a right-footed volley. Everton started the second half the brighter of the two teams and were desperately unlucky not to have been awarded a penalty just five minutes after the interval when Ben Parker clearly felled Fowler in the penalty box. Instead, Mr Tilling pointed to the corner flag and from the resulting set piece Seargeant's left-wing cross was met by a glancing header from Vidarsson which Ilic managed to claim at full stretch. Fowler should have equalised on 62 minutes when he somehow managed to divert Lawrence Wilson's looping cross wide with the whole of the goal at his mercy.
Leeds added to Everton's misery when with nine minutes remaining on the clock Kevin Smith's 25-yard effort bobbled past Lake at his near post to wrap up the victory.
LEEDS RES: Ilic; Madden, Parker, Rothery, Walton, Keegan, Gray (Howson 21), Woods, Smith (Bayly 89), Jones, Morris. Subs: Stansfield, Wilberforce, McKeown.
EVERTON RES: Lake; Wright, Wilson, Boyle, Hughes, Harris (Hopkins 67), Seargeant, Phelan, Anichebe, Fowler, Vidarsson. Subs: Holt, Gallagher, Kearney, Irving.

Skipper seeking a speedy recovery
By David Prior Daily Post Staff
Apr 14 2005
ALAN STUBBS has refused to rule himself out of Everton's Champions League push despite the injury he suffered against Crystal Palace on Sunday. The Goodison skipper (left) ruptured ligaments in his right shoulder during the 4-0 win and was ruled out for at least four weeks, casting serious doubt over his participation for the rest of the campaign. However, despite the concerns of physio Mick Rathbone, Stubbs is hoping to back this season - particularly with Everton due to play Newcastle, Arsenal and Bolton during the final week. He said: "Baz (Mick Rathbone) seems to think that that's me for the season but if I can I'll be back quicker than that. I don't think I will be but we'll have to wait and see. "I can't set a date because I don't really know. My movement's not too bad right now but then suddenly I'll move it a tiny bit to one position and it kills again. It's one of those where we'll just have to wait and see." Meanwhile, midfielder Tim Cahill has hailed the impact of loan star Mikel Arteta. Cahill said: "Mikel has been a breath of fresh air for us. He has come in and done real-ly, really well."

United outclassed by Kendall's dream team
Apr 14 2005
Post Past by Philip J Redmond Everton supporter, Daily Post OVER the past decade, Everton have had an appalling record against Manchester United. It's just over a decade since Duncan Ferguson's towering header last brought a three-point return at Goodison. At Old Traf-ford meanwhile, you have to go back to August 1992 to find an Everton win. Back in the 1980s it was oh so different.
In those days Everton were very much United's bogey team and probably the most celebrated win came in October 1984 to cap a momentous week. The previous Saturday, Graeme Sharp's booming volley had given Everton their first Anfield derby victory for 14 years and in midweek, Howard's wonder team beat Inter Bratislava 1-0. How would they fair against Big Ron Atkinson's in-form United, a team clear favourites for the title. Their optimism was dashed on a brilliant autumnal afternoon as United were blown away by an Everton display of style, speed and pure aggression. Derek Mountfield had already missed a sitter before Kevin Sheedy gave Everton the lead with a
looping fourth-minute header - before leaving the field for stitches after clashing heads with United's Kevin Moran. Moran never returned, but Sheedy did and soon rounded off a lightening break by stylishly firing past Gary Bailey. United didn't know where they were and before the break, Adrian Heath turned in a low Trevor Steven cross. The half-time interval brought no respite for United as Gary Stevens drove in the fourth. Goodison was now rocking and all that was left was for Sharp to make it a nap hand with a flicked header from a free-kick. After the game, Joe Mercer hailed the performance as the best ever by Everton. Big Ron meanwhile called the result a fluke - it wasn't and the Blues went on to beat United 2-1 the following Wednesday in an Old Trafford League Cup tie.

Watson: Central role is my best
Apr 14 2005 By Scott McLeod, Liverpool Echo
STEVE WATSON has vowed to end his stop-start season on a high - in the unfamiliar role of central defender. A series of injuries have meant the Everton defender has had to spend almost the entire campaign on the sidelines while his teammates have challenged at the top of the Premiership table.
But after an hour-long run out as a substitute for skipper Alan Stubbs against Crystal Palace the 31-year-old, who is out of contract at the end of the season, has set his sights on remaining in the first team picture between now and the end of the season. Watson said: "Stubbsy got a really bad shoulder injury so I got a chance to play in a position which most Evertonians would not have seen me play in - but it is arguably my best position or one that will be. "I thoroughly enjoyed it and playing a part in keeping a clean sheet was thoroughly satisfying. "I would like to think that without pushing the manager into a corner I would warrant another try as a central defender." His appearance last weekend was only his third as a substitute in 2005. A stomach injury picked up against Manchester City over Christmas sidelined Watson for almost three months. Meanwhile, tickets are available for the Women's FA Cup final. Everton Ladies will face Charlton at Upton Park on Monday, May 2. The Bank Holiday clash will kickoff at 1pm and for ticket details visit thefa.com.

I won't give up fight - Stubbs
Apr 14 2005 By Scott McLeod, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON skipper Alan Stubbs has refused to admit defeat in his battle to play again this season.
The defender ruptured a ligament in his right shoulder as the result of a collision with Andy Johnson during the first half of Sunday's win over Crystal Palace. Head physio Mick Rathbone has confirmed the injury will take four weeks to heal, effectively ruling Stubbs out of the Blues' final six Premiership games. But the 33-year-old is more optimistic. "Baz (Rathbone) seems to think that that's me for the season, but if I can I'll be back quicker than that," insists Stubbs.. "I've got to try and keep ticking over now. I've basically just got to go on the bike. "I can't do any upper body work. I can't set a date because I don't really know. My movement is not too bad, but then suddenly I will move it a tiny bit to one position and it kills again. "It is one of those where we will just have to wait and see."
Stubbs refused to lay the blame at Johnson's door for the injury, adding: "I think I just fell awkwardly on it more than anything. "I remember heading the ball out. I don't even know whether he touched me or anything. I just remember falling and landing straight on my shoulder. That was it. I knew straight away I had done something. "I didn't think it was this bad but tests have shown on one point it's good news that it is not broken. But it is still pretty serious. "It's one of the worst places on the body because as a centre-half you need your arms and your shoulders to get up, to try to wrestle players. "No time is a good time but it is disappointing for it to happen now because of the run-in we've got. "We're within touching distance of achieving something, which we've aimed to do all season."

The Jury
Apr 14 2005 Liverpool Echo
'Cahill was inspirational, Kilbane was flying again and Arteta . . . Gravesen who?' – Harrison I AM part of a generation of Evertonians who have never known 4-0 routs on balmy sunny afternoons at this stage of the season before. Sunday's demolition job coupled with Manchester City's victory on Saturday should banish the doom and gloom that had been resurfacing in recent weeks. Whether we finish fourth, fifth or sixth we should be ecstatic that David Moyes has delivered on his first promise - he has Everton challenging at the top end of the table again. Even if "that lot" eventually overtake us, no Blue should consider our best season in years to be a disappointment. That would be unfair on the manager and the players. Tim Cahill was once again man of the match on Sunday, but Kevin Kilbane deserves a special mention because his form of late had dipped below the level he has set himself. But against Palace he was flying.
FOR a few moments on Sunday, the Champions League and the increasingly tense battle for fourth place simply went away. This was exactly what was needed to dispel the recent gloom; a massive burst of feelgood. There was something to celebrate that had nothing to do with final whistles and relief and league table scrutinising. The injury to Beattie was irrelevant, Cahill was inspirational, Kilbane was flying again and Arteta looked a more than adequate creative alternative to Gravesen.
Reverting to 4-4-2 seemed like the answer and the brave introduction of a 16-year-old seemed like the tonic. I only hope that both are abandoned for the Man United game! Yes it was a good day, and I'm forever grateful to James Vaughan for obliterating a certain name from our record books.
SATURDAY'S performance was the greatest way to respond after the recent defeats. Our display showed the hunger and desire that has got us to the position we are currently in. To me the players that stood out were Arteta and Cahill. Many Evertonian's would agree that Arteta should be signed on a permanent basis; also I believe Cahill is our player of the season. The change to 4-4-2 worked very well. It allowed us more attacking options to break down the Palace side. It was unfortunate that Stubbs got injured. He's been a true leader throughout the season and has always played with pride giving his best. But this will give a chance for Yobo to play in his natural position and find good form in the remaining games. Another positive was Vaughan coming on and scoring. It's always pleasing to see Academy players break into the first team and in time I hope he develops into a great striker.
BEN McGRAE, Hunts Cross
ON a historic day at Goodison Park, what was most important were the three points that re-established our hold on fourth position. It was not just the result, it was the manner it was achieved. This was the best team performance for quite a while. In previous games our midfield was absent and many felt that Moyes needed to abandon the 4-5-1 formation and play 4-4-2 - particularly in the game against West Brom. Once again our injuries are starting to build-up after the injury to Stubbs and, with such a small squad, let's hope don't incur anymore. Looking ahead we have some tough games coming up but I feel if we perform like we did on Sunday we will achieve the desired results - I just hope we don't get stage fright as every time we're on live on Sky we get beat!

It's tough going for youngsters
Apr 14 2005 Liverpool Echo
EVERTON Reserves suffered a miserable night in losing 3-0 against Leeds. The entire Blues squad were eligible to play for the club's Under-18 side. Leeds went ahead eight minutes before the break when substitute Jonathan Howson pounced on a long ball which left the Everton defence flat-footed. Scott Phelan fired inches wide from 20 yards and in first half injury time Andy Fowler went close. Everton started the second half the brighter of the two teams and were desperately unlucky not to have been awarded a penalty when Ben Parker clearly felled Fowler in the box. Martin Woods volleyed home the second before Fowler missed a chance. Kevin Smith rounded off the scoring.
EVERTON RES: Lake; Wright, Wilson, Boyle, Hughes, Harris (Hopkins 67), Seargeant, Phelan, Anichebe, Fowler, Vidarsson. Subs: Holt, Gallagher, Kearney, Irving.

Everton prepared to wait over contract talks
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Apr 15 2005
DAVID MOYES admits that Everton are prepared to wait until the end of the current campaign before finalising the futures of their Bosman contingent. The Goodison Park club could lose a host of first-team regulars on free transfers at the end of the season after only tying their goalkeeper Nigel Martyn to a new deal. Negotiations with Alan Stubbs, David Weir, Duncan Ferguson, Leon Osman, Alessandro Pistone and Gary Nay-smith are continuing and Goodison officials hope to agree terms within the next month. But the Everton manager admits the club will not rush into agreements while their pursuit of European football remains a priority. Moyes said: "We have offered contracts to a lot of players and now we will wait until the end of the season for the outcome. "Players have got their choices to make but there will always be an Everton Football Club. "Whether it is a different manager, chairman or players Everton will always be here. "But people have many options nowadays and they are entitled to use them as they see fit." Moyes, however, believes Everton's return to European contention this season offers a reminder to players of the club's future potential.
He added: "I think most players want to be part of Everton. "It is a terrific club on the up and hopefully the contract situation will sort itself out at the end of the season."

Sense of perspective is wise on Vaughan
By Mark O'Brien Everton supporter, Daily Post
Apr 15 2005
SO, in his first senior start, James Vaughan prompted a call to whoever has taken over from Norris McWhirter with a goal that sees the Everton youngster enter the Guinness Book of Records alongside the likes of Robert Pershing Wadlow and those domino-toppling students from Japan.
It's good to see everyone at the club keeping a sense of perspective over his achievement though and trying to play down the comparison with the onetime Goodison darling turned lurid national tabloid mainstay, Wayne Rooney. It was also good to see the Blues get back to winning ways against a Crystal Palace supposedly fighting for their lives. Apart from a spell midway through the first half the South Londoners were comprehensively outclassed by Everton, and their manager Iain Dowie must constantly rue hischairman's decision not to cave in to the demands of Tim Cahill's agent in the summer. The Australian's ability to evade markers and get on the end of balls into the penalty box is positively uncanny at times, and if he was lending that talent to the Eagles' midfield then surely they would have edged clear of the relegation zone by now. Similarly, if Everton were shorn of his goal-getting skills then there is no way that they would still be considering playing European football next season. It's perhaps worth reminding ourselves of that whenever we bemoan our poor fortune in future. Cahill wasn't the only star of the show on Sunday though. His midfield partner Mikel Arteta again displayed great skill with his superb free-kick and, perhaps even more importantly, his ability to keep hold of the ball. It's an absolute joy to watch a footballer like him who plays in what traditionalists would call 'the Everton way'. But the visit of Manchester United next Wednesday will provide a far sterner test. It's been said that their defeat at Carrow Road will spark some sort of backlash, but in all honesty there's no way Alex Ferguson was going to send out a weakened team at Goodison anyway given all that surrounds the game when the two sides meet nowadays. What Evertonians will be hoping is the Blues can test them more than they did in that rather limp cup tie in February and hopefully provide a shock for both Liverpool and Bolton who, for once, will be praying for United victory.

Everton in pole
Apr 15 2005
Post Soapbox, icLiverpool & Daily Post
Everton in pole
THERE'S a lot of over-reaction going on in the red half of the city right now. Fair play to Liverpool - they did magnificently to go through to the Champions League semi and I think they stand a 50-50 chance of beating Chelsea to reach the final. However, if they come up against AC Milan they won't stand a chance. And that is great news to every Evertonian as we are back in pole position in the league and if we just knuckle down and concentrate on ourselves then we should be in the Champions League ourselves next season.
Stu Harrington (via email)
Cahill class
TIM CAHILL has been the signing of the season. There has been a lot of talk about Frank Lampard being the best midfielder in the country, but in my opinion no-one has contributed to their team more than Cahill. He has now reached double figures in the scoring stakes and his work-rate is second to none. David Moyes has picked up one of the best ever bargains and I think there is still plenty more to come.
Stan Hughes, Crosby
Big test
EVERTON will have to pull out all the stops this week when they face Manchester United. It is going to be a real test, but should we win then I believe fourth place is a certainty.
Graham Rogers, Bootle

Beattie boost for Blues
Apr 15 2005 By Scott McLeod, Liverpool Echo
JAMES BEATTIE has handed Everton a major boost with news that he is set to return to training next week. The £6m striker (left) suffered knee ligament damage in training ahead of the visit to West Brom a fortnight ago. The injury was expected to keep him out for as long as a month. Beattie could now play a key part in Everton's run-in, though he is unlikely to be in contention to feature against Manchester United in midweek. Everton physio Mick Rathbone confirmed today: "Beattie will be stepping up his rehabilitation over the weekend. "We are hoping he will be ready to do some training next week, although he remains a doubt for the Wednesday game." Beattie's Goodison career has been hit by setbacks since he arrived in January from Southampton as Everton's record signing. The 27-year-old was struggling for fitness following injury when he signed in. He has netted two goals from just five Premiership starts but his run in the side came to a halt when he was sent off against Chelsea, picking up a three match ban. After returning from that he picked up the knee injury which has kept him out for the past two weeks. Alessandro Pistone is making progress with his hamstring injury, but it is set to keep him out of contention for at least another week.
Meanwhile, skipper Alan Stubbs has been told not to give up hope in his battle against a ruptured ligament in his shoulder. Rathbone added: "It is a serious shoulder injury and I think it unlikely he will play again this season. "But we will give him every chance. We have not just written him off."
Everton have no game this weekend due to Arsenal's involvement in an FA Cup semi-final against Blackburn tomorrow. Instead manager David Moyes is likely to bring them to Bellefield for training ahead of the game against Manchester United. Elsewhere, Moyes admits he is prepared to wait for news on which Everton players will sign new contracts. Moyes said: "We have offered contracts to a lot of players and now we will wait until the end of the season for the outcome. "Players have got their choices to make but there will always be an Everton Football Club. "But people have many options nowadays and they are entitled to use them as they see fit."

Blues set to reap rewards
Apr 15 2005 By Scott McLeod, Liverpool Echo
THE fight isn't over - but David has already proved he can slay Goliath. Everton's continued presence in the top four of the Premiership this season has demonstrated that, while it certainly is the major driving force, money isn't the only driving force in top flight football. Such qualities as spirit, focus, effort and an under-rated level of skill can prove equally effective in climbing up the Premiership ladder - in the short-term at least. But if Everton are to ensure they remain regular fixtures in the division's upper-echelons, then they will have to make the most of the financial rewards this campaign brings them. And, compared to 12 months ago, there will be plenty. The structure of the top flight means that the rich get richer and the poor sink into oblivion - or the Football League to you and me. Which is why this year's success really is remarkable. Last season the Blues finished 17th, ensuring they got the smallest slice of winnings of any side kicking off this campaign in the Premiership - just £2m. They were restricted to just five live TV appearances - only two were weekend SKY games which are by far the most lucrative - and boardroom wrangling in the summer meant there was no investment from elsewhere to bolster the coffers during the close season.
In short, the cupboards were bare. This summer could be very different. If the Blues do maintain their grip on fourth spot then they will guarantee, in Premiership winnings alone, £6.5m more than last season. And the on-field success has also led to far greater interest from broadcasters. Everton have been televised 14 times this season - and that total is set to increase by at least two between now and the end of the season, with next Wednesday's clash with Manchester United and the awayday at Arsenal on May 11 set for SKY. This season the Blues have had two tea-time games on BBC1 and six main SKY matches. In total, there will have been 11 more appearances than last year.
TV revenues vary based on whether you are the home side, the competition you are taking part in, the broadcaster in question and whether it is pay-per-view or not. But if you take £200,000 as an average pay-out, that equates to £2.2m more than last season. And then you add in to the equation the real financial cashcow - qualification for the Champions League. Should Everton finish fourth and then overcome a qualifier in August, they will be assured of £8m for taking part in the group stage of Europe's premier club competition. Progression to the final can net a club as much as £25m. So it is clear that, even before Evertonians start wondering about the prospect of fresh investment in the club from the much vaunted Fortress Sports Fund, the club's financial position will be significantly brighter this summer - particularly if a top four finish is secured. As any millionaire will tell you, money makes money. Sponsors will pay more to be associated with a club, more punters will come through the door and more replica kits will fly off the shelves. Focus those finances in the right direction and Blues can start to get excited about the long-term future.
It is a point the manager David Moyes (pictured) has conceded, telling the ECHO earlier this season: "Twenty years ago, before the introduction of all the Sky money and the Champions League money you would see clubs like Ipswich and Nottingham Forest coming through and enjoying success at the top of the table. "But that doesn't tend to happen now because if you are in the top group you are generating more money every year than the other clubs and so they are falling further behind.
"The only chance of changing that cycle without a serious investment of money is by having one year of decent success which you can then build on. "If you could get one year where you can qualify for Europe, that could then give you the opportunity and maybe a little money to entice players of the right standard to the club. That can kickstart things. "And that is what we are hoping to do. We need to give ourselves a chance of being able to make that lift up the ladder in an attempt to stay up there more often. "If we could do that this year it would be a massive bonus, particularly considering where we were last season."

Naysmith's attitude is spot on
Apr 15 2005 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
GARY NAYSMITH may not have been the name on everyone's lips at Goodison Park last weekend . . . but the doughty little Scot's attitude was exactly what has helped elevate Everton to their lofty position this season. He played against Crystal Palace with a foot injury - because there was no-one else available. He soldiered on for 73 minutes, until he aggravated the problem again - then finally had to make way. From what his agent has said, Naysmith has already accepted that if Everton do reach Europe this season, he probably won't be around to take part. That makes his attitude last weekend even more commendable.

Allardyce hopes for Goodison implosion
By Ian Doyle Daily Post Staff
Apr 18 2005
BOLTON manager Sam Allardyce has admitted he is praying Everton slip up in the race for fourth place. David Moyes's side are two points clear of the Trotters with a game in hand, with the pair set to meet in a potentially decisive last-day match at The Reebok. And after Bolton's 2-1 win at Charlton on Saturday, Allardyce said: "The Champions League is still a long shot for us. We are going to have to rely on Everton slipping up. "But we would dearly love to continue the way we are going and Everton is our last game of the season. "We would really like to have something hanging on it." Meanwhile, Wayne Rooney could miss Wednesday's return to Goodison Park after an injury scare at yesterday's FA Cup semi-final. The striker was substituted late on during Manchester United's 4-1 thrashing of Newcastle United with what appeared a thigh problem. And it casts into doubt the presence of the 19-year-old at Everton's crucial midweek fixture at home to Sir Alex Ferguson's side. Rooney swapped Goodison for Old Trafford in August in a controversial £27million move, and came in for abuse from the Everton crowd on his first return since the transfer during February's FA Cup tie.
* THE agent of Inter midfielder Emre has claimed Everton have had talks concerning signing the Turkish international. "Everton's priority is to sign a top-quality star like Emre," said Frank Schreider. "I have had extensive discussions with them."

Arteta: We can reverse cup defeat
Apr 18 2005 By Scott McLeod, Liverpool Echo
MIKEL ARTETA has warned Manchester United that Everton have heeded the lessons from their FA Cup clash in February. The Blues were knocked out of the Cup by Alex Ferguson's men at the fifth round stage, losing 2-0 at Goodison. But Arteta believes Everton are now perfectly poised to reverse that result and bring an end to the club's 10-year wait for a victory over United. He told the ECHO: "Manchester United will be very difficult and we lost against them last time. "But we have to learn from what we did wrong in that game because we want to win the three points. "You should always try to win the three points when you are at home and that is what we are aiming for from this game." Arteta has quickly won over the fans with his eye-catching performances since his arrival in January. But he insists there is still more to come from both him and the team. He added: "I hope the fans have not seen the best of me or the best of the team yet. We want to improve in every game. "It is not easy to play every game at your best level but we have to try. That is what we will have to do on Wednesday. "Playing Manchester United will be hard but these are the games you enjoy as a player. "We still have some very difficult games and it is going to be hard but we want to keep winning and we want to keep hold of fourth place. That is our target." Victory on Wednesday will maintain the Blues' lead over Bolton and Liverpool in the chase for the Champions League.
Meanwhile, Frank Schreider, the agent of Inter midfielder Emre has revealed Everton are keen on signing the Turkish international. He said: "Everton's priority is to sign a top-quality star like Emre. I have had extensive discussions with them." David Moyes, however, was less enthusiastic about endorsing the agent's comments this morning. A more realistic target could be Juventus' Ghanaian midfielder Steven Appiah. The former Parma star is set to leave Turin in the summer, with Middlesbrough and Birmingham also monitoring the situation. Duncan Ferguson, meanwhile, is a major doubt for Wednesday's visit of United with a back strain. Wayne Rooney is a doubt for Manchester United after sustaining a hamstring strain in yesterday's FA Cup semi-final.

Never mind Culture - this city is capital of European football
Apr 18 2005 Exclusive Interview by Scott McLeod, Liverpool Echo
THREE years before Liverpool officially becomes Europe's Capital of Culture Everton midfielder Mikel Arteta believes the city has already secured the footballing equivalent. When the 24-year-old arrived at Goodison in January it was in the hope he could find a club which felt like home. Less than four months on and he can reflect on a whirlwind romance with the city and Everton's fans which he hopes will lead to a permanent union. Arteta has become enamoured with the passion of the fans, the intensity of the matches and the quality of the football. So much so that he believes the English Premier League is now a more exciting prospect than La Liga. Which is why he is keen to see Everton make his loan switch from Real Sociedad permanent in a £2.5m deal in the summer and why he believes there will be a growing number of La Liga's rising stars being tempted to these shores in the years ahead. "In the past the Spanish players were at home in their own culture and maybe were afraid to try something different," he explains. "But now I don't think it is like that. In Spain the games are very tactical but you cannot see six or seven exciting, entertaining games every week.
"But I think you can in England. Here is more competitive, the atmosphere helps a lot and the games are more open. "In Spain they show a lot of English games because the people want to see them. They are very spectacular. "I think the two leagues are very close but in this country the fans are better. The stadiums help because the stands are very close to the pitch and the crowds are more expressive than in Spain. "Because of that the supporters have more of an influence on games. If the crowd is loud it makes a difference. "In Spain when you play at home the fans are not very warm - not like here. And you can't compare going to Villareal with going to somewhere like Newcastle.
"All foreign players when they come to England are surprised by the atmosphere. And that is why they enjoy every game. "There are some very good Spanish players here now, like Xabi Alonso and Jose Reyes." The passion Arteta has seen on the terraces is very similar to Scotland. But, having experienced two years in Glasgow with Rangers, he believes the balance is right in England and, in particular, in Liverpool. He explains: "Liverpool is different to Glasgow. In Glasgow there is the divide of the Catholics and the Protestants with the supporters and maybe it makes it harder for the two fans to get on the way they do in Liverpool. "In Scotland there are only two clubs that are going to win so if you win it is fantastic but if you lose it is absolutely terrible. The pressure from the fans and from the media is very strong. But here I think the rivalry is more normal. "It suits me because it is quieter in that respect. The spotlight is not as intense when you are off the pitch. "But the people in the city have been unbelievable. They are coming up to me and saying that we have to keep going and that I am doing well and they are very happy with the team. "It is very good for me. It feels like I only arrived just a few weeks ago so to get this support from the fans feels very special. "I am impressed with how quickly my teammates, the manager, the people at the club and the fans are getting so close to me. "That has helped because normally when you go to a club it is not easy to settle very quickly. "I would love to find a place like this to call home. I would love to stay here. "I am in a nice, quiet place in the Albert Dock and I like it very much. "I just want to keep going and stay clear of injuries so I can get better with every game." Arteta, who scored his first goal for the club in last week's 4-0 rout of Crystal Palace, has already won over the fans. And surely he has done enough to win over the man that matters most - David Moyes. Since overcoming the niggling injuries which hindered his regular involvement for the Blues last month, the midfielder has proved he is the ideal replacement for Thomas Gravesen - through craft, flair and a willingness to get stuck in. Coupled with the free-scoring Tim Cahill and the ever-reliable Lee Carsley in the Blues' midfield, things are suddenly looking rosy again as the race for Champions League qualification hots up.
Maintaining that position is sure to boost Arteta's chances of remaining at Goodison. It is a point he accepts. "I have been happy with my performances but when you don't win it is not the same because there are only a few games to go and we want to take fourth place," he adds..
"I would rather not play well and win because getting fourth is so important. But when you play well, the team looks sharp and you win like we did last week against Crystal Palace everything is great.
"We know how much it will mean for the fans to get fourth place. That is something I take very seriously." Achieving that goal will also give Arteta bragging rights over Alonso - his friend from San Sebastian - and the other Spanish play-ers in the city plying their trade on the other side of Stanley Park. He adds: "If we meet and we are both playing on a Saturday we rib each other saying things like 'Good luck - I hope you lose on Saturday'. "It is strange because now we are looking for each other's results every week and we are always wanting them to do badly."

Police act to stop football violence
Apr 18 2005 By James Glover, Liverpool Echo
POLICE are to mount one of the largest anti-hooligan operations at this week's Everton against Manchester United game. Extra officers will be stationed at pubs in the city centre and close to Goodison Park for hours before the game to prevent pre-match fighting. The increased police presence comes after violence erupted following the match between the two clubs in the fifth round of the FA Cup in February. Superintendent Chris Armitt of Merseyside police said: "We're determined that hooligans will not get the chance to fight with each other. "The message to anyone planning to cause trouble is: 'Don't bother - stay at home'. "Anyone who does cause trouble can expect to be arrested and put before the courts and we will seek football banning orders against them." Police arrested 33 fans after the fiery FA Cup clash, which marked the return of Wayne Rooney to Goodison Park. Officers are still trying to track down dozens of yobs from both clubs who attacked each other after the game. Although there will be just 3,000 United fans at Wednesday's evening fixture - half the number at the cup game - the number of police on duty will exceed the operation mounted for the game on February 19. The number of officers outside the city's pubs will be increased and any fans causing problems on their way to the ground will be given a police escort to keep them out of trouble. Police say they do not believe there will be United fans travelling for revenge on Blues fans for the February attacks. But they say they will not be taking any chances because of the short period of time since the last clash.

Wyness warns against repeat of violence
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Apr 19 2005
EVERTON chief executive Keith Wyness has warned there can be no repeat of February's crowd disturbances when Manchester United return to Goodison tomorrow. Everton are expected to be hit with an FA fine after problems flared when the sides met in the FA Cup fifth round. Merseyside Police and the FA are still investigating the incident that saw United keeper Roy Carroll felled by a coin thrown from the Gwladys Street, while Wayne Rooney was also targeted by missiles on his first game back at his boyhood club. And with the threat of a points deduction hanging over Goodison Park Wyness has appealed for order ahead of the Premiership encounter. "We cannot afford to have any repetition of the type of behaviour that took place before, during or after our recent FA Cup fixture with Manchester United," said the chief executive. "We know that the vast majority of our fans will come to support the team at this exciting stage in the season in the right spirit. "The management, playing staff and everyone associated with Everton FC would urge supporters to ensure that the good name of this club is not jeopardised by the actions of a tiny minority. "The club is currently under scrutiny and we all share a responsibility to make sure that the team's efforts on the pitch throughout the season are not put at risk by our actions off it." David Moyes, meanwhile, is facing a defensive shortage as his side aim to strengthen their hold on fourth place against United. Gary Naysmith is still struggling with the ankle injury that hindered him against Crystal Palace. And with fellow left-back Alessandro Pistone out with a hamstring strain, and Alan Stubbs missing due to a shoulder injury, the Everton manager's defensive options could be seriously limited. "Gary has got a problem with the tendon in his ankle," said head physio Mick Rathbone. "He did well to play against Crystal Palace but it is lingering a bit so we are slightly concerned." James Beattie returned to full training yesterday following his recent knee injury. But he is not expected to complete his recovery in time for tomorrow's match.

I wanted United captaincy for first Goodison return
Apr 19 2005 By Simon Stone, Daily Post
WAYNE ROONEY has revealed he jokingly asked Sir Alex Ferguson to appoint him skipper for his first visit back to Everton. The Manchester United striker (right) is due back at Goodison Park again tomorrow, two months after playing a starring role in the Red Devils' 2-0 FA Cup fifth round win.
With passions still high following his £27million move to Old Trafford from the Toffeemen last August, there had been speculation Rooney would sidestep the first opportunity of a return to Merseyside. Instead, the 19-year-old received a hostile reception when he got off the team bus, suffered a barrage of abuse from an unruly Everton sponsor immediately after the warm-up, then had a mobile phone thrown at him as the atmosphere turned ugly. To his credit, Rooney did not react to the intimidation, and insisted he never once considered not playing in the game. "There was no way I wanted to miss that game," he told the official Manchester United magazine. "To go back to Goodison was special for me. "I actually went up to the manager and said 'You should make me captain'. I wanted to be captain but I am not sure Roy (Keane) would have been too happy about that. "I had to go sometime but to go in the FA Cup and with so many Manchester United fans there as well, it was great. "The fans were brilliant and got behind me, so it was nice to come away with a win." Rooney's place at Goodison is not guaranteed tomorrow after he limped out of Sunday's FA Cup semi-final with a calf problem. However, the injury is not as bad as first feared and the England striker is expected to recover in time. Meanwhile Everton midfielder Mikel Arteta insists he can improve further in his spell at Goodison Park. The 23-year-old Spanish play-maker is on loan from Real Sociedad until the end of the season and has impressed as the Toffeemen have pushed for Champions League qualification. David Moyes' side are favourites to land fourth spot in the Barclays Premiership but have a tough test at Old Trafford on Wednesday against Manchester United. "Playing Manchester United will be hard but these are the games you enjoy as a player," he said.
"I hope the fans have not seen the best of me or the best of the team yet. We want to improve in every game. "It is not easy to play every game at your best level but we have to try. That is what we will have to do on Wednesday. "We still have some very difficult games and it is going to be hard but we want to keep winning and we want to keep hold of fourth place. That is our target." He added: "Manchester United will be very difficult and we lost against them last time. "But we have to learn from what we did wrong in that game because we want to win the three points. "You should always try to win the three points when you are at home and that is what we are aiming for from this game." Gary Naysmith (ankle) is a doubt for the United clash, while Alessandro Pistone (hamstring), Alan Stubbs (shoulder) and James Beat-tie (knee) are set to miss out.

Van Nistelrooy buoyed by Cardiff couple
By Simon Stone, Daily Post
Apr 19 2005
RUUD VAN NISTELROOY believes he will go to Goodison Park tomorrow night a far more confident figure after finally finding his form at the Millennium Stadium on Sunday. Almost five months since his last goal in a 3-0 win at West Brom, van Nistelrooy hit the target twice as Newcastle felt the familiar force of the former-PSV Eindhoven man's right boot in a 4-1 defeat. United fans travelling to Merseyside tomorrow will certainly be expecting to see a different player from the listless striker who had barely a chance worthy of note in the first eight games since his return from an Achilles injury. And van Nistelrooy, who has taken his seasonal tally to 14, said: "People have been saying it is a confidence thing and I think they are probably right. "But you have to accept sometimes things do not go your way. It is not possible to score in every match. "I have been in that situation before and all you can do is work hard and keep focused. You also have to remember I missed three months with my Achilles injury, which is the longest time I have been out since I came to the club. "It has been a frustrating time but I always hoped the goals would come - and now they have." Now Ferguson must decide whether to retain the same side for the trip to Everton, or make changes as he looks to reignite United's challenge for second spot and an automatic place in next season's Champions League. The odds are he will opt for the latter approach and bring Phil Neville and John O'Shea back into his squad, while also offering Darren Fletcher, who has been sidelined with a knee injury, his first start since February.

United are beatable
Post Soapbox, icLiverpool & Daily Post
Apr 19 2005
United are beatable
I TRULY believe Everton will beat United. If our defence is resilient and the midfield/forwards are inventive and skilful in attack we can win. David Moyes will choose his best side but we will certainly need to play very well on the night. If Rooney is injured United will be a weakened side. Try to find space and above all play with skill.
B Roger (via e-mail)
Be determined
THE simple fact is that Everton need to win all their remaining games! It is not impossible - they can do it,, they need to show the hunger and determination they did against Crystal Palace.
K New
(via e-mail)
Not so easy
I OFTEN wonder what those who know just how to solve all EFC's financial problems actually do in life.
Have they ever run a business, gone into the money markets to find financing, managed people and all their idiosyncracies? My guess is NO. How about managing a team, recognising players, knowing how they would fit in with the current roster? Tossing out names and financial "know-all" is easy. Just remember names like Bobby Zamora for starters as you check your credit card balance.
Bill Gard (via e-mail)
Not so tough
WHY is everybody talking about what a tough end of season we have compared to Liverpool? On paper the fixtures appear tough but out of the six games three are against teams who have nothing to play for, whereas Liverpool have to play six games against teams who have everything to play for.
F Brian, Liverpool

Mersey Euro boost
Apr 19 2005
Daily Post
MERSEYSIDE'S hopes of European football next season has been given a boost. An extra UEFA Cup spot is now up for grabs in the Premiership now that Manchester United and Arsenal will contest the FA Cup final. With both clubs, along with leaders and Carling Cup winners Chelsea already assured of a place in the Champions League, the team finishing seventh will go into Europe.

Blues pair in talks at Leeds
Apr 19 2005 EXCLUSIVE by Scott McLeod, Liverpool Echo
LEEDS UNITED have moved to try and snap up Blues defenders David Weir and Gary Naysmith.
The agent for the two Scottish internationals has confirmed talks with the Yorkshire club have already taken place. The duo will become free agents at the end of the season and while both have been offered new deals to remain at Goodison, they have yet to put pen to paper. Jim McArthur, the agent for both players, revealed: "Leeds United are a very big club who are presently attempting to get back to a level where they belong. "Both Gary and David are looking around and assessing the options at the moment but I have had an informal chat with Leeds. "There are a few clubs who have asked about them but they would be very interested in Leeds." Everton are believed to have offered Weir (pictured) a 12-month extension to his current contract, while talks over a new deal for Naysmith stalled before Christmas. Naysmith has been dogged by injury problems this term and is a doubt for tomorrow night's Goodison clash with Manchester United because of tendonitis.
Weir has enjoyed an outstanding season for the Blues, forging an impressive partnership with skipper Alan Stubbs. The 34-year-old has made 31 appearances for Everton this season, and also ended his international exile.

Let's get what we deserve - Bent
Apr 19 2005 Liverpool Echo
MARCUS BENT today urged the Blues to reap a well-earned reward for their most successful season in years - by securing a place among Europe's elite. The Blues striker believes Everton thoroughly deserve Champions League football next season, having been in the Premiership's top four uninterrupted for six months. But the 26-year-old, who could play as a lone forward against Manchester United tomorrow, has warned there is still much to do to get there. Everton could find themselves outside the top four for the first time since early September tonight if Bolton beat Southampton at the Reebok. Bent said: "We are in fourth place and to let that go would be hugely disappointing because we have worked so hard to get there and stay there." "There have been games where we could have extended the gap between fourth and fifth and we haven't taken them.
"As a result, we have got a hard few weeks on our hands, but we are confident we will get fourth.
"People say we deserve it because we have been there for so long but football is an unforgiving game and there is a big difference between deserving and getting. "We have got six games left, but each one is going to be tough. Manchester United, Newcastle, Arsenal and Bolton are all very good sides. "At the start of the season we would have been very happy to take a finish in the top half of the table, but it would not be well received now because we will know we could have had fourth place. "That is what we are fighting for now - to finish as high as we can and get what we feel we deserve." He added: "No disrespect to Crystal Palace, but I wish we had them every week. Manchester United. What can you say? "I watched them against Newcastle and they were awesome. They oozed confidence, ability, pace, power. I don't like to big them up so much, but it was there for everybody to see. We have just got to be on top form. "United showed at Norwich last week they can be beaten. Norwich did well and that is what we have got to do to them again.
"I have played against United so many times but I really don't know if there is a secret to getting the better of them. You just have to play your own game and try to harry them." Moyes opted for a 4-4-2 formation against Palace, with Duncan Ferguson partnering Bent. But he now has Lee Carsley pushing for a return in place of Ferguson, who has been troubled by a back strain. The Blues are also set to be without Gary Nay-smith, who is strugging with tendonitis. With Alessandro Pistone also sidelined, that could mean a start at left-back for Steve Watson, with Joseph Yobo coming into central defence in place of the injured Alan Stubbs.

Beattie in running for a return
Apr 19 2005 Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES has not ruled out the prospect of James Beattie being included in Everton's squad to face Manchester United. The Blues go into the game with a mounting injury crisis. Alan Stubbs and Alessandro Pistone are definitely out and there is a major doubt over Gary Naysmith. With Duncan Ferguson also struggling, Moyes' options are limited. But Beattie could provide a fillip. The £6m man returned to full training yesterday and Moyes confirmed: "James has got an outside chance." Moyes is excited by the prospect of facing United in such an important match. He added: "They are still hoping to finish second and they have to try and keep winning league games to do that. But we have got a bigger aim at the moment. "We want to get points to stay fourth so it has the making of a good game. It is terrific that Everton are going into the last part of the season with something so positive to play for." Meanwhile, Everton chief executive Keith Wyness has warned the club cannot afford a repeat of the unruly scenes which marred the cup tie in February. United keeper Roy Carroll was struck by a missile from the Gwladys Street end late in the second half. Merseyside Police and the FA are investigating the incident but have still to find the culprit. There is a threat of a points deduction if the FA come down hard on the club or if there is a repeat. "We cannot afford to have any repetition of the type of behaviour that took place before, during or after our recent FA Cup fixture with Manchester United," said Wyness. "We know that the vast majority of our fans will come to support the team at this exciting stage of the season in the right spirit. "The management, playing staff and everyone associated with Everton would urge fans to ensure the good name of this club is not jeopardised by the actions of a tiny minority."

Turning tables the key for Bent
Apr 19 2005 By Scott McLeod, Liverpool Echo
MARCUS BENT knows all about end of season pressure. This is the third consecutive season in which the striker has been involved in a crucial battle for points in the final weeks of the campaign. But unlike his spells at Ipswich and Leicester, this season the points are required to secure Champions League football as opposed to Premiership survival. The 26-year-old is using his experiences at the other end of the table to help put Everton's current battle into perspective. "It is an exciting position we are in, it is nerve-racking - we are all human beings - but this is a nice pressure," explains Bent..
"I was speaking to Kevin Campbell the other day and we were talking about the difference between being at the top and the bottom. "I have been at the bottom at this stage of the season in the past and it is a different pressure. It is a nervous, intense pressure which you certainly don't want.
"Fourth place is something we desperately want as professionals. But the threat of relegation can impact on you more profoundly. "It is a pressure which everybody feels from your family through the entire club and with the fans." But while challenging for Europe is in stark contrast to last season, Bent is also one of the few players in the current Everton ranks who can claim to have experienced continental action. It is something he is eager to experience again. Bent continues: "The prospect of playing in Europe is obviously something you want. When you are a footballer and a fan of football you want to play on the biggest stage. "That is why I came to Everton. To be fair, I didn't think that chance would come this year. "But since I came here I can't work out how the boys ended where they did last year. "They are a good bunch of lads, great players, great team morale and what stands out for me is the togetherness. That is what has got us here.
"I have been a part of a close knit squad before. We were very tight at Blackburn when we won promotion under Graeme Souness. "But I think you find that when a team is going places and achieving stuff, which is what we are doing this season, you become tight. "You are riding a wave and having fun and that is what we have been doing this season. "I had a taste of European football with Ipswich. I played in two games and scored a couple of goals. "It was an experience, but it wasn't like the big box matches on a Tuesday and Wednesday night in the Champions League.
"I really want to experience it with Everton as well. "We basically started with the target of cementing our place in the Premiership and staying there at the start of the season. "But our targets have changed because it has gone so well." Despite a slow-down in points gathering since the turn of the year, Bent believes the side is now perfectly poised to produce an impressive finish to what has been a thrilling campaign. They have been buoyed by a couple of training breaks in the last month - jetting to Portugal ahead of the Anfield derby and spending a couple of days at the Newmarket races last week. "It has helped getting away a couple of times," he said.. "Sometimes it can work against you because you can come back a bit lethargic. "But we have had a hard season. Don't get me wrong, we all play the same number of games and I am not going to talk about the size of our squad.
"But we have all worked so hard. "I know in some games we haven't played to par. But we are all human beings and we never go out there to under-achieve. "We have all been working hard this season. And the breaks we have had have been good. "We haven't been consistent in 2005 and that is something we want to put right."

Legends in charity dinner
Apr 19 2005 Liverpool Echo
EVERTON and Liverpool legends Graeme Sharp, Kevin Ratcliffe and Ian Rush will take part in a charity sportsman's dinner at De Vere St. David's Park Hotel in Ewloe, near Chester, on Friday, April 29.
The event will raise money for the Wales Air Ambulance service. Tickets are £35 each. Anyone interested should contact Sue Finlay at the hotel on 01244 520800. Liverpool comedian Sean Styles will also provide entertainment.

Everton Res 1, Leeds United Res 1
Daily Post
Apr 20 2005
EVERTON Reserves will feel disappointed not to have taken all the points as they drew 1-1 with Leeds United in the FA Premier Reserve Northern League at Haig Avenue last night. With Manchester United at Goodison tonight David Moyes took no chances with his experienced stars as even last weekend's recordbreaking goalscorer James Vaughan was omitted from the second string line-up. Everton's youngsters had a point to prove after last week's 3-0 drubbing by Leeds and started positively with Victor Anichebe going close in the 10th minute but Leeds keeper Ashley Timms saved. Timms, who was playing at Runcorn earlier this season, was on hand again to deny Andy Fowler. James Harris saw a shot shave a post at the start of the second half. But Leeds's Nicky Gray, who saw one effort saved by Everton keeper Sean Lake, found the net soon after, pushing the ball over the line with his upper body. Everton deservedly levelled as Fowler headed the ball down for Anichebe to blast home.
EVERTON RESERVES: Lake, Wynne, Wilson, Bosnar, Hughes, Harris, Seargeant, Plessis, Anichebe, Hopkins, Boyle. Subs: Gallagher, S Wright, Vidarsson, Phelan, Fowler.

Vaughan won't be rushed - Moyes
Apr 20 2005 By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
DAVID MOYES insists he will have no problem withdrawing James Vaughan from the Premiership spotlight as recordbreaking predecessor Wayne Rooney returns to Goodison Park tonight.
Sir Alex Ferguson has confirmed Rooney is fit to face his former club despite limping out of Sunday's FA Cup semi-final with a calf problem. Rooney lost his mantle as Everton's youngest goalscorer when 16-year-old Vaughan netted in the 4-0 rout of Crystal Palace 10 days ago, becoming the club's youngest player and the Premiership's youngest scorer in the process. Despite the latest triumph for the Goodison Youth Academy Moyes insists there are no comparisons between Vaughan and the £27million superstar. And the Everton manager will not push his latest teenage striker into the first team if it threatens to hinder his development. Moyes said: "We haven't paid any attention to all the fuss and neither has the boy. He still has a lot of work to do but he's a level-headed boy and he's as keen as mustard. "He's one of the youngest play-ers we have at the club, even in the Academy, but he has come on very quickly. We are not going to push him though and we'll put him back in the Academy if we think it is the right thing to do. "He has been training with the first team for the last few weeks but if we feel he is better off back in the Academy for a while we'll move him back."
Vaughan could miss the final four games of the season after being named in the England squad for next month's European Under-17s Championship in Tuscany. He could even be denied a place on the Everton bench tonight if James Beattie returns to the squad and Duncan Ferguson is kept out of the starting line-up by Lee Carsley. But if he does figure against Manchester United the Goodison manager is keen to play down a "battle of the teenagers" with Rooney. "They are not similar in the way they play or in their style," he said. "I don't think you can compare anyone with Wayne."
But Moyes added: "We are very pleased for James and the record he has set. I had no doubts about putting him on, the game and the time were contributory factors in him getting on for his debut.
"He was excited, and I'm sure he was nervous although he'd been on the bench a couple of times before the Palace game so it wasn't entirely new to him. "But we have got people coming back now so we are not quite as short as we were." Moyes's options include £6m striker Beattie, who has recovered ahead of schedule from the knee injury sustained prior to the defeat at West Bromwich Albion. The Everton manager admits: "He has not been able to play a big part yet. We bought him to help us and while I wouldn't say he owes us he'll be disappointed he hasn't contributed more.
"He's worked very hard during this period out. He looks lean and in better condition. But he still needs his sharpness now and he is running out of games to get that. Hopefully, he will help us in these final six games. "It is not too early for him to return against United but we do have alternatives." While Moyes does have options in attack he is facing a defensive shortage against the cup finalists. He revealed: "We have one or two problems. "Gary (Naysmith) has not got a great chance, Alessandro (Pistone) has a slight one and Alan Stubbs is out. "It is not great timing but we have been quite fortunate with injuries this season."

Overdue triumph will speak volumes
Apr 20 2005 By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
THE phrase 'Champions League' has only passed the lips of David Moyes under interrogation this season. It has never been volunteered by the Everton manager, at least not when his own side's prospects of taking part are up for discussion. A comprehensive victory over Crystal Palace helped lift some of the foreboding around Goodison Park following three successive defeats. But Moyes remains determined to keep the pressure off his squad as they embark on a five-game spell that could secure the finest achievement of his managerial career. Moyes knows from past experience of how quickly a season can unravel. Yet despite being in the top four since September he is only now beginning to talk about the prospect of "European qualification". His appeals for perspective and his own self-restraint, however, will be put firmly to the test if Everton can finally record a Premiership victory over Manchester United tonight. Not since Duncan Ferguson headed in the only goal at Goodison Park on February 25, 1995 have Everton savoured league success over Sir Alex Ferguson. And Moyes admits: "A win against United is overdue." He said: "I know our overall record against United is not very good but we had a decent draw earlier this season at Old Trafford. "It would be nice if we could finally change that with a win at Goodison though. "A victory over United would put us in a fantastic position to qualify for Europe but we are under no illusions about how hard it will be to take three points from them. "We are not too far now, and beating United would take us much further down the road towards qualification. "It would be a terrific achievement to finish in a European place. It has been our goal for a long time and while we are a lot closer now we still have to finish the job off and stay there. "It wasn't expected of us from the very start but after six or eight weeks we have been in a good position for Europe." That, with seventh place now securing a place in the UEFA Cup thanks to United's FA Cup semi-final victory over Newcastle, should be well within Everton's grasp now. Three wins from their final six games should guarantee that prize, although the Champions League remains the over-riding aim. Moyes cautions: "It's nice for people to say we are maybe favourites for fourth spot, and certainly for the UEFA Cup. "But when you are in this position you do not count your chickens and I won't do that until we are in a position to say something with certainty. "There are too many good teams playing well behind us so if we want to stay where we are we have to play really well. "We've just got to do our job and win as many games as we can.
"I consider Bolton and Liverpool to be the biggest threats but Tottenham and Middlesbrough are also in contention. "They always have been threats and we will not change our view now. "There are many teams still challenging for a European spot. "We won't be setting ourselves up to be shot down if a few results don't go our way. "As for me, getting Everton into the Champions League will be my greatest managerial achievement so far in my career, but there's a way to go yet." Everton will hope all attention is focused on their European push tonight rather than the return of Wayne Rooney. Moyes added: "The games are running out and now we walk into one with Manchester United, but we are looking forward to it, it's terrific matches like this that you want to be involved in with something important resting on the result. "At this stage of the season it means you have got somewhere if you are playing matches like this. "To beat Manchester United we have to be at our very best, but teams have beaten them this season and we have to use that as our incentive. I don't see why we cannot beat them - but it will be tight." Meanwhile, Leeds United have expressed an interest in Everton defenders Gary Nay-smith and David Weir, according to the players' agent..
But Jim McArthur has played down the chances of either player joining the West Yorkshire club in the summer. McArthur confirmed he had made an informal approach to Leeds manager Kevin Blackwell about Scotland internationals Naysmith, 26, and 34-year-old Weir, who are out of contract at the end of the season. "All this has come from one informal telephone conversation I had with Kevin Black-well," said McArthur last night. "Leeds would be interested but I don't know how far it's going to go and it depends on any offers they (the players) receive from Everton. "Gary has rejected one offer and that has now been withdrawn, while David has had an offer he's thinking about.
"Both players would be interested in Leeds. They are a big club, but other clubs have also been asking about them."

Cup haul can open floodgates - Sir Alex
Apr 20 2005
By Simon Stone, Daily Post
SIR ALEX FERGUSON is hoping Manchester United's FA Cup semi-final goal rush can help the Red Devils secure an automatic place in next season's Champions League. United's Barclays Premiership campaign has been completely under-mined by an uncharacteristic failure in front of goal. Heading into tonight's trip to Everton, the Old Trafford outfit have scored just 48 goals and are on the verge of recording their worst seasonal total since 1990. Despite spending £65million on strikers alone, Ferguson has not seen any of his players reach double figures in the league. United have scored just one goal in their last four Premiership outings, culminating in the embarrassing defeat to Norwich 11 days ago, so it's little wonder they have fallen a massive 14 points adrift of champ-ions-elect Chelsea. "The goals we scored on Sunday were very important to us," admitted Ferguson. "History tells you when Ruud (van Nistelrooy) is scoring goals, Manchester United win matches." It is one of the Premiership's more startling statistics that of the 25 previous meetings between United and Everton since the league was formed in 1992, United have won an incredible 20. Darren Fletcher is a candidate for his first senior start since injuring his knee two months ago, while skipper Roy Keane may be rested, although Wes Brown is likely to keep his place in central defence after surprisingly being preferred to Mikael Silvestre against Newcastle. "It won't be an easy game because Everton have had a great season," said Sir Alex. "David Moyes has done a fantastic job with few resources. But we are chasing second spot and we can only get it if we win all our remaining games."

Ball selling off his World Cup medal
Apr 20 2005 By Alan Weston Daily Post Staff
EVERTON legend and World Cup winner Alan Ball is to auction off his 1966 winner's medal and give the money to his three grandchildren, he revealed last night. The former midfielder is expected to raise between £80,000 and £120,000 for the treasured piece of footballing history. Ball said he decided to sell the medal after his priorities changed following the death of his wife Lesley from cancer. He said: "Winning the World Cup will stay with me forever, but it is time to look to the future, not the past." Ball, who scored 66 goals for Everton in a five-year career which began in 1966, was just 21 and the youngest member of the legendary team which triumphed over West Germany in the World Cup Final at Wembley. He was best remembered for his energetic performance during the famous match and it was his pass that set Geoff Hurst - now Sir Geoff - free for England's "disputed" third goal in the 4-1 victory. Footballer-turned-manager Ball, now 59, said: "My wife passed away a year ago, and my priorities have changed since then. "I have three children and three grandchildren, and the most important thing for me is to make sure that they are looked after as well as possible. "It is always going to be impossible to split a medal three ways, so I have decided that the most sensible thing to do is to offer these items at auction, and use the proceeds to secure the future of my family." The medal will be sold at Christie's in South Kensington, London, on May 19. Ball is also auctioning his 1966 tournament cap which is thought likely to fetch up to £25,000. Ball, who hails from Farnworth, Lancashire, joined Everton from Blackpool in August 1966 for a fee of £110, 000. He made 208 league appearances - these included the FA Cup final of 1967/68, in which Everton were narrowly beaten by West Bromwich Albion after an extra-time goal.
The FA Cup runner's-up medal awarded to Alan Ball after this match will be included in the sale for £2,000-3,000. He was sold in a £220,000 transfer to Arsenal in December, 1971, in a move that shocked die-hard fans, as only months earlier manager Harry Catterick had stated that he would not even sell Ball for £1m. The oldest existing FA Cup will also be in the auction. It has been described by some experts as possibly the most notable piece of soccer silverware ever to be put up for sale.
Its estimated price has been put at up to £300,000. David Convery, head of sporting memorabilia at Christie's, said: "We have been involved with 1966 World Cup memorabilia on several occasions in the past, and it is a particular pleasure to be offering this collection. "The auction of Football Memorabilia in May will also include the oldest existing FA Cup, which is considered to be the most important item of football memorabilia ever offered at auction. To offer a 1966 World Cup Winner's medal and the FA Cup in our May sale demonstrates the continued growth of the Sporting Memorabilia market.'

The boot's well and truly on the other foot
Apr 20 2005 Daily Post
FA cup and League victories are within the grasp of Liverpool and Everton. Wishful thinking? Not for the talented players in the Women's League. Mike Chapple reports. THE men of Merseyside may be struggling manfully to bring back the glory days of football. But the golden age for women's football in the area is here - and has only just begun. Both Liverpool and Everton have teams in the Women's Nationwide premier league the female equivalent of the Barclays Premiership. And the Blues are currently doing particularly well. After a 3-0 drubbing of premier leaders Arsenal in the semi final at Southport, Everton are to meet Charlton ladies in the women's FA Cup Final at West Ham's Upton Park on May 2. Not only that but eight of their players provide the backbone of the England squad for the Euro 2005 football tournament which kicks off in the North West on Sunday, June 5. Goalkeeper Rachel Brown, defenders Rachel Unitt and Lindsay Johnson, midfielders Becky Easton and Samantha Britton, Kelly McDougall, and Fara Williams, plus striker Jody Handley, are also in the squad that plays Scotland in a friendly at Tranmere's Prenton Park tomorrow night. All of which is a source of quiet but great satisfaction for Everton's 38-year-old manager Mo Marley - not just about the success of the club but the burgeoning popularity of the women's game in general. Somewhat ironically, under the stewardship of the Football Association - whose ban in 1921 nearly killed off women's involvement in the English game - female football has boomed with the number of registered exploding from 500 to 5,000 in just under a decade. "I think the image of women's football has changed, generally it is far more professional now," says Mo from Speke, who is also the club's women's development officer and England's under-19s manager. "Younger girls are playing in schools along with boys so it is now accepted. I think we still have to change a few attitudes about the quality of football that is now being displayed but I am sure those men who have an understanding of football will be pleasantly surprised and probably converted if they went to see if for themselves." The former All Hallows Girls School pupil was always encouraged to play football.
"I've always played from as early as I can remember," explains Marley, who was capped 42 times by her country and has won both the FA Cup and the Premier league as an Everton player. "I had an immediate interest because my elder sisters all played ladies football so I was a very early starter. Women's football is an integral part of our family. They all come and support England or Everton ladies even though they are all Liverpool fans." Its growing acceptance among men who previously barred its development and growing popularity as a preferred women's team game to netball or hockey has given women's football a strength of independence that means it no longer needs to justify its existence by constantly being compared to the men's game. "The men who have criticised the game probably never played at a decent level or achieved as much as the women they are criticising," says a defiant Mo. "Basically they have little knowledge about the game and felt threatened because the women were better than them but they couldn't accept it." If fact, says Mo, the women's game now takes positive pride in its differences with the men's and certainly there are ultimately no aspirations to square up to them. "I don't think anyone within the women's game would want to play in the English football league," says Mo whose husband Keith is Everton Ladies reserve team manager. "We want to develop women's football in its own right and play amongst women, we have no desire to play against men." She adds that the women's game in Britain is improving all the time despite the differences and acknowledged weaknesses. "Obviously there are physiological difference because men are quicker, faster and stronger than women. Women goalkeepers have also been a weakness in the past but not any more. Heading the ball was also a weakness in the women's game but there are good quality players who demonstrate good technique. "The most techinically gifted players can deliver long range passes but some women struggle with power, strength and technique to deliver these passes. Players are now starting to develop a better game understanding but this has come hand in hand with the development of better coaching." Whereas at grass roots level Merseyside men's local league football is on the decline, the popularity of the women's game is on the up especially among youngsters. As Marley explains: "Girls's football has always been strong in Merseyside but the difference now is that there is a co-ordinated structure for them to play with clear pathways to elite level. The elite programmes have been successful from schools level to club level and this has generated a lot of media attention which sends positive vibes throughout the game and drives more interest." She admits that the women's game is still very much at an amateur level. This is reflected in the wages which are miniscule compared to that of their professional male counterparts, although some teams pay win bonuses from between £30 and £100 per game. She adds, however: "The players in the Premier League prepare professionally at all times. We have had men working within our organisation commenting that the women's game is far more professional in comparison to some non-league teams. "I think it all comes down to the management or coaching teams's knowledge and understanding of how individual teams play. The women's game is becoming far more tactical now with the emphasis on game strategies to beat the opposition." For the immediate future though Mo's attention is focussed on the FA Cup Final. It has been a great season for the club especially after their victory over holders Arsenal who were previously unbeaten for 34 games in a run stretching back to 2003. "Beating Arsenal in the semis and reaching the final has been the high point of my career so far," says Mo,, who says the team is getting the full backing of the Everton men's first team squad. "We have done some promotion work with the players/staff at the first team squad and they are very supportive. They know exactly where we are in the division and always send on their best regards. Everyone around the club is excited about our progress. Now all we have to do is win it."
Bid for European glory
THE England team bursting with Evertonians - although some, admits Mo, support Liverpool - kicks off its European finals campaign against Finland on June 5 at the City of Manchester stadium.
The other group matches are at Blackburn's Ewood Park against Denmark on June 8 and Sweden on June 11. Favourites Germany share the other group with France, Norway and Italy. All the games including the final on June 19 will be played at stadiums in the North West, although none take place on Merseyside "It would be a massive boost and an achievement if England progressed out of the group stages," says Marley. "But I am disappointed that no games will be played on Merseyside although the semi and other games will be at Warrington. "I think with the strength we have here in the heart of Merseyside a game at one of the big clubs would have been amazing. "It was not to be but we will endeavour to make sure locals support all the other games."

Moyes' pride in Euro dream
Apr 20 2005 By Scott McLeod, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES today spoke of his pride at the prospect of leading Everton into the Champions League - and said pulling it off would mark his greatest managerial achievement. The Blues are just six games away from joining Europe's elite tournament next season having been in the top four since early September. They have a game in hand over Liverpool and two over Bolton and could extend their lead over the chasing pack to at least three points with victory over Manchester United at Goodison Park tonight. Moyes is taking nothing for granted and knows the prize is far from won. But he said: "For me, getting Everton into the Champions League would be my greatest managerial achievement so far in my career, but that's a way to go yet." Just two wins from the club's remaining six games will be enough to guarantee the club a place in the UEFA Cup. But with two home games in the next three days the Blues have the ideal opportunity to significantly tighten their grip on a top four berth. The financial return of European qualification would be a huge boost to Moyes. He explained: "Of course we would be thrilled, as would most clubs maybe with the exception of four or five who plan every year for the Champions League. "They budget for the Champions League and buy their players for that competition, we didn't so any European competition would be terrific for us." Meanwhile, the agent of Everton duo Gary Naysmith and David Weir has opened the door for Everton to keep the defenders. Jim McArthur admitted in yesterday's ECHO that he had held talks with Leeds over a possible switch for the pair to Elland Road when their current deals run out at the end of the season. But he insists that does not mean they have ruled out remaining on Merseyside.
He said: "Leeds would be interested but I don't know how far it's going to go and it depends on any offers they (the players) receive from Everton. "Gary has rejected one offer and that has now been withdrawn, while David has had an offer he's thinking about. "Both players would be interested in Leeds. They are a big club, but other clubs have also been asking about them."

Masters of our Euro destiny
Apr 20 2005 By Scott McLeod, Liverpool Echo
AS Everton try to wade their way through a sea of uncertainty in the final weeks of the Premiership campaign there is one thing David Moyes knows for sure - their Champions League fate is still in their own hands. It is a straightforward assessment for Everton which cuts through the ifs and buts which have been magnified by Bolton's surge up the table in recent weeks. The Trotters' home draw with Southampton last night closed the gap on Everton to just one point. But it also ensured the Blues maintained their grip on fourth spot ahead of tonight's Goodison clash with Manchester United. And so while Sam Allardyce has made no secret of his belief that the Trotters could turn the final day encounter at Bolton into a Champions League decider, Moyes points out a simple fact.
"It all depends on whether we win our games. If we win our games then it won't go down to the final day." However, the Goodison chief is quick to point out that his pragmatic view of Everton's position does not betray arrogance within the Blues' camp - far from it in fact.. Middlesbrough's surprise home draw against Fulham means Everton now require just six points to mathematically guarantee UEFA Cup football next season. In reality, one more win should be enough. But while it now seems inconceivable that Everton won't be back in Europe next season, Moyes is not taking anything for granted - not yet at least. He explains: "It is nice for people to say that they think we are already all but in Europe, but when you are in this position you should never count your chickens. I won't do that until we are in a position where we can say we have got something for certain. "There are good teams playing well behind us so we know that if we want to stay in this position we will need to play well. "I think from where we started this season any European competition qualification would be terrific. Obviously we have our goals set on doing better than that but we are certainly not going to set ourselves up here. "We haven't done that all season and we are not going to start now. "You can't pick and choose where your points are going to come from. It is very hard to predict what is going to happen at this stage of the season - you just have to look at some of the results through all the divisions. "There are a lot of teams fighting to stay away from the relegation area and teams trying to get into European qualification places. It is very difficult to judge which way games are going to go at the moment. "We have just got to try to win the next game and move on. "I have certainly got an idea of what points we need to qualify for Europe. But that depends on us. "If we win our games it doesn't matter what anybody else is doing." There have certainly been unexpected results recently. Bolton's failure to beat Southampton, Norwich's victory over Manchester United and Everton's reverse at the Hawthorns. It is the kind of climate which could finally provide the Blues with their first victory over the men from Old Trafford since the 1995 FA Cup final. Moyes continues: "These are the sort of games you want to be involved in as a manager. I am looking forward to it and I am sure the players are as well. "They are an excellent side and they are a team which rises to the big games. You could see that among the players on Sunday and they were probably stung a little bit by the criticism they received from the defeat at Norwich as well. "They acted in the right manner. "It will be hard again, I am not kidding myself. But we hope to get something. "Teams have beaten Manchester United recently. We need to use that as our gauge. But it will be a tight game because they are in third and we are in fourth. "The players have had a little chance to recharge their batteries and now we are focused and ready for the final six games."

Ferguson's seal of approval for 'talented' Moyes
Apr 20 2005 By Simon Stone, Liverpool Echo
SIR Alex Ferguson has given David Moyes a hefty pat on the back for his work at Everton this season - but that will not stop the Manchester United boss attempting to wreck his fellow Scot's Champions League dream. During his Preston days, Moyes was tipped as a possible assistant to Ferguson at Old Trafford. After two seasons at Goodison, Moyes has steered his team to the brink of a place in the qualifying rounds of Europe's most prestigious club competition. Everton require a maximum 14 points from their final six games to be certain of a top four finish, which, given the club was only one place off the drop zone 12 months ago, is an astonishing achievement. "Everton have had a great season," said Ferguson. "David Moyes has done exceptionally well there with little resources and that is the true test of a manager. "They are chasing fourth place and while there is a bit of competition for it, they are in such a good position we know it will not be an easy game for us at Goodison. "But we did well ourselves on Sunday, beating Newcastle 4-1 in the FA Cup semi-final. We have started scoring again and hopefully we can maintain our own form." It is one of the Premiership's more startling statistics that of the 25 previous meetings between the north-west giants since the league was formed in 1992, United have won 20. United have emerged victorious on nine of their last 10 visits to Goodison, most recently in this season's FA Cup when Quinton Fortune and Cristiano Ronaldo were on target in a one-sided tie overshadowed by the return of Wayne Rooney. Ferguson is expected to make changes to his side, with Darren Fletcher a candidate for his first senior start since injuring his knee at Manchester City two months ago. "Darren Fletcher is a fantastic player and we have really missed him," admitted Ferguson. Rio Ferdinand is also virtually certain to start, despite the row which has engulfed him since news of his ill-advised meal with Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon surfaced last week.

Police hold hooligan suspects
Apr 20 2005 By James Glover, Liverpool Echo
THREE suspected soccer thugs were arrested today as police acted to prevent trouble before tonight's match at Everton with Manchester United. The three are believed to have been at the heart of violence when the teams met in the FA cup fifth round match in February. More than 30 people were arrested before and after that game when fights broke out between supporters.
The worst trouble saw a mob of fans ambushing United supporters in Everton Valley.
Now police have picked up a group they believe were in that disorder and warned anyone involved in the violence could expect a visit from officers. Wayne Rooney's return to Goodison on February 19 saw fights as away fans were escorted to the railway station. Around 300 fans are thought to have been caught up in brawls, with 10 police on hand to try to tackle the fighting. Officers have trawled through CCTV footage to identify offenders. This morning, police detained three people, all charged with violent disorder. Terence Sweeney, 39, of Cockington Close, Northwich, Steven Wetherall, 33, of Hawthorne Avenue, Halewood, and Mark Feeney, 30, of Leyfield Road, West Derby, will appear before Liverpool magistrates on Friday.

Vaughan faces return to academy
Apr 20 2005 Liverpool Echo
JAMES VAUGHAN is set to keep his place in the Everton squad for tonight's Premiership clash with Manchester United - but manager David Moyes has vowed to be patient with the striker. Vaughan exploded onto the scene 10 days ago when he became Everton's youngest ever player and the Premiership's youngest ever goalscorer during a 17 minute substitute appearance against Crystal Palace. In the last week, the 16-year-old has continued to train with the senior squad and is included tonight. Moyes has no qualms about Vaughan's temperament if he is needed at some stage.
"To be honest, we've not paid much attention to the interest around him - and I don't think he has either," explained the Blues boss. "He has a lot to do but is level-headed and as keen as mustard."
But, with £6m James Beat-tie also expected to occupy a place on the bench, Vaughan's chances will be limited. Moyes continued: "James is training with us and when we feel the time is right we will move him back down. We've now got people coming back and aren't so short of numbers. "James is one of the youngest even in the Academy squad. We'll put him back in the Academy when we think it's right to do so and let him develop. "The period of the game against Palace when he came on suited us and him." Beattie has forced his way into the reckoning ahead of schedule after recovering from the knee ligament injury.

Free tickets to see Blues' crunch clash
Apr 20 2005 Jblue, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON, denied a place in Europe after losing to Manchester United on the final day of the 2002-03 season, will be hoping to avoid the same outcome when they take on Bolton in the final game of this season. Although leading the race for the final Champions League spot, the close attendance of Bolton and Liverpool could see the Blues face a similar situation when they make the trip to the Reebok Stadium on Sunday, May 15. As the season reaches its climax, the Bolton-Everton clash will be one all Blues fans will want to see and, thanks to Jblue, you could be one of those lucky fans by entering our greatest and most exclusive competition yet. We have 10 pairs of tickets to give away for the must-see clash - allowing admission to one adult and one child. To be in with a chance of winning, simply answer the following question:
* What was the score when Everton played Bolton at Goodison Park earlier this season?
Send your entry, together with your name, address, telephone number and Jblue membership number to: JBlue Echo Bolton Tickets Competition, Everton Football Club, Goodison Park, Liverpool L4 4EL. Closing date for entries is Friday, May 6. Normal competition rules apply.
Support ladies in final showdown
EVERTON Ladies face one of their biggest ever matches next month when they take on Charlton Athletic Ladies in the final of the Women's FA Cup. On May 2, Mo Marley's team will travel to Upton Park in an attempt to reproduce their semi-final heroics against Arsenal Ladies. The club is keen to make sure they have the best possible support and have arranged coach travel for fans. Tickets to the final cost £15, inclusive of travel, and are available from the Everton box office at Goodison Park.

Back Blues and ignore Rooney
Apr 20 2005 Echo Letters, icLiverpool & Liverpool Echo
TONIGHT'S game is massive and I'm sure the boys will be focused. If Weir and Naysmith are talking to Leeds, we need to sort out the left back position. This has been Pistone's best season in the royal blue shirt, but he is a liability and personally I do not rate him.
Paulo S, Liverpool
EVERTON'S match tonight is a huge one.
The important thing is to get right behind the team all game, rather than giving Rooney constant stick - which is where we went wrong in the cup game. We need to forget him. We made our feelings very clear the last time we played them so let's concentrate on raising the roof for the Blues - we are due a result against Man U. Let's make it an atmosphere you would not get at Old Trafford.
Jason Philpott, Wirral
IT might be unfair to expect James Vaughan to play a key part in the run-in for Everton. He may have broken three records in scoring against Palace but we must remember he has only had a few minutes on the pitch and we can't get too carried away by what he did. That said, we could at least do with having him available in our last few games should we need a goal late on. Yet it looks like we're not going to have him for the last three games because he's going to be with the England Under 17 side in Italy. It's a great honour for the lad and manager David Moyes and all Evertonians are very proud. I just hope England's gain is not our loss.
Craig Taylor, Allerton

Everton 1, Man United 0 (D,Post)
By Andy Hunter at Goodison Park, Daily Post
Apr 21 2005
IT HAS been 10 years since Duncan Ferguson last headed into the Gwladys Street goal and gave Everton a Premiership win over Manchester United, and 10 years since they last savoured European competition. If it wasn't for the fact Wayne Rooney couldn't join in the celebrations the sense of deja-vu at Goodison Park last night would have been complete. It was a different Goodison that greeted the former Everton idol last night, even the matchball sponsors were on their best behaviour. There was no mass reception committee on Goodison Road and no missiles or banners to underline the sense of betrayal. They were not required. All that mattered was that a different Everton showed up from the side that limped out of the FA Cup when these sides last met.
Different? David Moyes's side were simply transformed, displaying the passion, purpose and quality demanded of a top-four side and playing as though they believed they belong in the Champions League at last. By the end of a pulsating contest, one that contained all the cup tie atmosphere and intensity so sadly lacking in February, Sir Alex Ferguson's side were not only beaten and out of ideas they were down to nine men and wracked by indiscipline. While Gary Neville can count himself unfortunate to have fallen foul of draconian laws, although even his manager admitted he should have known better than to kick the ball into the crowd, there was no excuse for twice-booked Paul Scholes or Ferguson himself, who indulged in a furious exchange of "Scottish banter" with Moyes on the final whistle. As Jose Mourinho can testify from his Porto days that is the best compliment a rival manager can hope to get from the Knight of Old Trafford. Just like his team, Ferguson was out-fought and out-thought by his Goodison rival last night and now Everton can genuinely begin to savour European qualifi-cation next season. What competition they will be in remains the only doubt. If they play like this for just five more games, then it will be the Champions League.
With Bolton and Liverpool closing the gap the stakes were high and the occasion even higher last night. For once, Everton did not let the faithful down. With the exception of the injured Ryan Giggs, United were at full strength, and on paper looked an even tougher proposition than the side that comfortably brushed Everton out of the FA Cup fifth round. But in practice, so were Everton.
Moyes has been searching for a system to suit his squad ever since Thomas Gravesen left for Real Madrid, with irregular hits and misses. But his side clearly relished the 4-1-3-2 formation that not only matched United in midfield but carried a potent threat to them as well, and maybe he has unearthed another style that can carry Everton through until the season's end. He must be sorely tempted on the evidence on this performance. Everton, to use the familiar parlance, were 'up for it' from the first whistle and with United also on a high after Sunday's FA Cup semi-final success Goodison was treated to a spectacle, albeit one lacking in clear-cut chances. Central to the formation's prosperity and the home side's tempo was the performance of Ferguson, who produced a genuine throwback to the days when he terrorised United defenders and was the most potent striker on the pitch throughout. He won almost every aerial challenge against Rio Ferdinand, who hasn't had such a torrid evening since Peter Kenyon last told him to pick up the bill, and with Marcus Bent plus Kevin Kilbane in constant support the visitors were unable to dominate patiently from the back. They did, however, manage to restrict Everton to only half chances before the break, although with the game so evenly balanced that was good enough to fill Goodison Park with confidence. Keane cleared under pressure when Joseph Yobo headed Lee Carsley's free-kick back across the area to present Tim Cahill with a chance for an over-head kick that Ferdinand scooped off the line.
With the home pressure growing as the interval approached three Everton forwards just failed to get their heads on an inviting cross on the turn by Watson. And while that was the sum total of the home side's first-half chances it shaded that from United, who stung Nigel Martyn's palms after only six minutes with a ferocious Rooney drive but so often found their route to goal blocked by a resilient blue rearguard. The Everton defence may have been makeshift, but was rarely undone. With Gary Nay-smith and Alessandro Pistone out through injury, Steve Watson was handed an awkward task as an emergency left-back, but it was a role he adopted so stubbornly Cristiano Ronaldo eventually sought an escape on the opposite wing. But not before tripping his marker with major repercussions in the 55th minute. If the first half was encouraging for Everton, the start of the second was simply fantastic. Goodison was enjoying a rare chorus of "Ole!" against United, with the home side first to every challenge and passing the ball sweetly around their illustrious visitors, by the time Watson was sent tumbling on the touchline. But that was nothing to the noise level that erupted seconds later when Mikel Arteta whipped over an immaculate free-kick and Ferguson beat Tim Howard with a diving header from six yards. If Everton deserved the lead they were caught in two minds about whether to defend it or build on it thereafter. To be fair most of their subsequent retreat owed more to the visitors' impressive response.. Scholes, who had earlier been denied by the legs of Martyn when played clean through by a chip from Rooney, blazed inches over and David Weir just managed to prevent Ruud Van Nistelrooy converting a shot from the Portuguese winger that the Everton keeper could only block. Rooney, almost inevitably, went closest to spoiling the party when he burst through a crowd of Everton defenders and put a low shot inches wide in the 76th minute.
But by then the initiative had already swung back to Everton when Neville was harshly sent off for tapping the ball into the Family Enclosure. Referee Phil Dowd's leniency had often infuriated the home crowd, with Roy Keane the first to escape a clear booking when he blatantly sought revenge on Tim Cahill with an elbow in the back. But there was no doubt he helped a captivating game flow where many of his colleagues would not only to fall foul of rigid laws that left him with little room for manoeuvre once Neville rose to the bait of the Goodison crowd. How ironic. Worse was to come for the infuriated United manager as Scholes swung at the outstanding Kilbane in injury time for a second yellow card. In 152 league games United had never had a man sent off against Everton. They made up for it last night. Everton, showing the fight and focus the night demanded, simply made up precious ground in the fight for Champions League football.
EVERTON: Martyn, Hibbert, Yobo, Weir, Watson, Carsley, Bent (Osman 76), Arteta, Cahill (McFadden 86), Kilbane, Ferguson (Beattie 80). Subs: Wright, Vaughan.
BOOKINGS: Arteta (persistent misconduct), Ferguson, Hibbert (fouls).
MANCHESTER UNITED: Howard, Gary Neville, Ferdinand, Brown (Silvestre 72), Heinze, Fletcher (O'Shea 76), Keane, Scholes, Ronaldo, Rooney, van Nistelrooy. Subs: Smith, Fortune, Carroll.
BOOKINGS: Scholes (foul), Ronaldo (diving).
SENDINGS-OFF: Gary Neville (violent conduct), Scholes (two bookable offences).
REFEREE: P Dowd (Staffordshire)
ATT: 37,160
NEXT GAME: Everton v Birmingham City, Premiership, Saturday 3pm

Moyes hails best display of season
Apr 21 2005 By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
DAVID MOYES savoured Everton's best performance of the season as Duncan Ferguson rolled back the years to deliver a first Premiership victory in 10 years over Manchester United last night.
Everton's quest to reach the Champions League moved a step closer as an inspired display over-come the FA Cup finalists and strengthened their hold on fourth place. Ferguson repeated his heroics of 1995 - the last time Everton had beaten United in the league - with a trademark 55th-minute header to reward a team performance which Moyes hailed afterwards as one of the finest of his three-year reign. The result leaves Everton three points clear and with a game in hand on fifth-placed Liverpool with only five matches remaining. With European football now firmly in Everton's own hands a delighted Moyes said: "That comes close to being our best result and best performance of the season. "Now we are going to have to produce a few more like that before the end of the season. It was a terrific result for us. We really needed the three points. It was a victory not many people expected us to get but it was a proper football game and a great result. "I thought Duncan Ferguson was terrific, he worked incredibly hard. From the very start of the game we showed we wanted to do more than we did in the FA Cup tie. "That was evident throughout our display. We changed the formation, changed the game-plan and we knew exactly what we had to do. The players were great. "If we had only taken a point it would have helped us stay in fourth place."
But Moyes cautioned: "Hope-fully we have kicked on again but things can change very quickly, we need to keep this level up now. "This game is over now. I wish we had more time to enjoy the result but we have to try and get ready to try and win on Saturday now. This was an excellent performance, the togetherness and spirit were fantastic. "Back-to-back wins in the Premiership is never easy at this stage but they could be very important. It is a big win. United were excellent on Sunday but we made it very difficult for them." United had Gary Neville and Paul Scholes sent off late on while Moyes was embroiled in a furious row with Sir Alex Ferguson on the final whistle. "It was just a bit of Scottish banter," he said.. And the Everton manager saluted a passionate Goodison crowd too. "They were awesome. I don't think I've witnessed a better atmosphere this season. There have been a few good nights over the road recently but I think this was up there. We were excellent, and the fans responded to the effort of the players." Meanwhile Neville could face a police investigation after being sent off for kicking the ball into the crowd. Merseyside Police have declined to make any comment, but have confirmed they will review video footage and await any complaints from supporters. United manager Ferguson was also critical of Neville. He said: "You can't kick a ball at a spectator and Gary Neville should know that. There was intimidation but you expect that and Gary should have known better. "It was a weak referee and Everton exploited that. Paul Scholes was sent off for a late tackle but how many were there from Everton players." Everton manager Moyes declined to discuss the Neville incident, but added: "Scholes kicked out at Kevin Kilbane and it was his second yellow."

Howard points the way to golden future
Post Past by Philip J Redmond Everton supporter, Daily Post
Apr 21 2005
SATURDAY'S visitors Birmingham provided the opposition on a momentous occasion 24 years ago, when a former Goodison legend made his return to the club as manager. It was August 1981 when Howard Kendall made his bow in front of a delighted Goodison audience. For kids like me, he represented a glorious past that we never witnessed; for punters like my dad his return revived memories of those late 1960s wonder years. After the demise of Gordon Lee, the club needed a new direction and Howard, then a youthful 35, certainly represented that. He had achieved great success on a shoestring at Blackburn Rovers and had taken them from the middle of the third Division to the brink of the first. Now at Goodison he had brought in seven new players and five of them made their Goodison bow against the Brummies. Now time hasn't been kind to the vast majority of Howards so-called "magnificent seven" but on that sultry August afternoon the likes of Alan Ainscow, Alan Biley and Micky Thomas looked bang on the money. City themselves had been busy in the transfer market that summer and they included a couple of little known Dutch players in their starting line-up. Indeed it was Tony Van Mierlo who stunned the Goodison crowd with an early header at the Gwladys St End. Luckily the Everton players seemed determined to impress their new boss and after that early setback played some sparkling stuff to ensure a triumphant Goodison return for Howard. Ainscow levelled with a precise low shot after being played in by Asa Hartford, who before half-time saw a penalty twice saved by the City keeper Jeff Wealands. Early in the second half, Eastoe headed home after Mike Lyons had flicked on a corner. The result was sealed late on when Hartford released man of the match Biley to finish with a classy lob.

Lambrini maker may brew up with Chang
Apr 21 2005 EXCLUSIVE by Adrian Butler Daily Post Staff
HUYTON-BASED alcoholic drinks maker Halewood International has been in talks with Everton FC's Thai sponsor over a distribution deal, the Daily Post can reveal. The company, which makes Lambrini and Red Square, has been speaking to Thailand- based Chang Beer about distributing its brand in the UK. It is one of a number of approaches Halewood has made to some of the world's biggest drinks brands. Last night the company confirmed it had been in talks with Chang but said they were at a very early stage. A spokesman said: "We are in discussions with a large number of drinks companies across the sector. "Chang Beer has been one of about two dozen companies we have approached in the past two months. We approached them as a brand owner about distribution in the UK, but it has not gone further than that. It is part of everyday life in Halewood, and is something you would expect us to do." Both companies have a high profile across Mersey-side. Halewood placed adverts in stations across the region for the Grand National as part of a £5m advertising campaign for Lambrini. The Lambrini "Girls just wanna have fun" theme ran through the ads via oneliners relating to a Lambrini girl's perfect dress and the chances of finding the right man. In November, Hale-wood opened a mass-producing factory and warehouse in Romania, with a line capable of producing 8,000 bottles an hour. Last year, the company was forced to defend its campaign which was criticised by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for containing too much sexual innuendo. The posters led to 12 complaints to the ASA and the company said it was "disap-pointed" with the ruling. Meanwhile, Chang last month said it hoped to renegotiate its contract to sponsor Everton shirts. But the club have been in talks with other companies and are eager to capitalise on the team's success this season. Chang remains hopeful of extending its association with the club after their £800,000 deal for this season proved a hit. Wanna Sirivadhanabhakdi, vice chairman of the Thai Beverages Marketing Co, said: "We are ready to talk to Everton about extending the deal."

Everton 1, Man United 0 (Echo)
By Scott McLeod at Goodison Park, Liverpool Echo
Apr 21 2005
SUPERLATIVES cannot do last night justice. Even before you take into consideration the wider context, it equates to one of the most thrilling nights Goodison has witnessed for many years. Bayern Munich, 1985, anyone? As with that famous night, the mix was perfect. The crowd were rocking, the players were outstanding and the outcome was ridiculously satisfying. All across the city, ears are still ringing and minds are still buzzing. Victory has rarely tasted so sweet, not just because it has been so long in coming against Manchester United but also because there was a young lad from Croxteth on the losing side. There was even something poetic about the identity of the man who proved Everton's talisman on the evening. Only Alan Shearer has scored more goals against United since the Premiership came into being than Duncan Ferguson. It was one of those goals which provided Everton with their last league victory against them before last night - way back in 1995. That was when Ferguson was in his prime. In recent times he has been a shadow of the player who waltzed his way into the hearts of Evertonians all those years ago. But last night he was gargantuan. His monumental frame cast a shadow over the most successful English team of the modern era - and made Rio Ferdinand look more like a £120-a-week player than the £120,000 one his agent claims he should be. Ferguson towered over the England man, winning more battles in the air than Douglas Bader. And he left Ferdinand in his slip-stream for the 55th minute header beyond Tim Howard which secured the victory. It was as if we had been flung back in time to an era when Ferguson was justifiably regarded as one of the finest strikers in the business. Such impressive billing passed him by some years ago. As a result, much of the focus in recent seasons has been on his misdemeanours and on the injury problems which have made him an expensive accoutrement to the Goodison ranks. But last night demonstrated that, when the mood takes him, he can still mix it with the very best. And that could prove to be the clincher towards extending his stay at Goodison for another 12 months. Indeed, if last night's goal proves the crucial strike in securing Champions League football for Everton, then he would be worth it. Which brings us rather neatly to 'the wider context'. If this game was supposed to provide a reality check for the club's Champions League ambitions then the check bounced - spectacularly. On paper, Everton have a tougher run-in than either Bolton or Liverpool. But if the rivals for the final Champions League berth were banking on the Blues lamely relinquishing their advantage, this result unequivocally proves otherwise. It may not be mathematically certain yet, but Evertonians can rest assured the club will be back in Europe next season. And that return will be in the continent's most prestigious club competition if the side maintains the form they showed here. David Moyes got his tactics spot on. But, more importantly, he got his players pumped up to the max. They harried United all over the pitch, won every 50/50 and knocked the Cup finalists out of their stride. The reward came with a goal which was earned through sheer tenacity. Four times United tried to break free from their own third of the field only for fearsome challenges to keep them pinned back. The pressure led to frustration, which in turn led to a rash challenge by Cristiano Ronaldo on Steve Watson 30 yards from goal. The cross and finish were top class - but it was the endeavour which earned the set-piece which reflects the story of the game. Lee Carsley deserves much of the credit for setting such a high tempo. He returned to the starting lineup in place of Leon Osman in a reshaped midfield as the Blues switched from a conventional 4-4-2 to a fluid system which saw Marcus Bent flitting between the right flank and the forward line. Carsley's role was vital. And he didn't let his manager down. He outshone his Irish counterpart in the United midfield, charging into challenges and breaking up United's passing game to great effect. Like Carsley, Joseph Yobo and Watson were back in the starting line-up having missed out against Palace. And, like Carsley, they shone. Yobo silenced Ruud van Nistelrooy magnificently, while Watson did such a fine job at left-back you would have thought he had been playing there all his career. Their performances were typical on a night of relentless effort.
As a result, United had to rely on the unerring ability of Wayne Rooney to wrestle some kind of grip on the game. He charged all over the field on a one-man mission to ruin Everton's night.
But he couldn't muster anything spectacular - bar a couple of fierce shots from distance which Nigel Martyn dealt with impressively and a delicate through ball early in the second half which sent Paul Scholes scampering through. Once again, Martyn was on hand to save. The intensity of the contest ensured there were some tasty challenges. And referee Phil Dowd added spice to the already simmering contest with a display of inconsistency. But while Everton's players kept any frustration in check, Gary Neville allowed his to spill over 18 minutes from time when he drop-kicked the ball at supporters in the Family Enclosure as he stood on the touch-line waiting to take a throw. He couldn't and didn't argue with the red card which followed. A second red card followed in injury-time, Scholes dismissed after picking up a second caution for a poor challenge on Kilbane. It was a decision which led to a heated exchange on the touchline between Sir Alex Ferguson and Moyes. It was a flash of passion which perfectly summed up the whole evening. Too often opposition managers are seemingly in awe of Ferguson, just as teams can be in awe of United. It is to Moyes' great credit that he and his players stood tall against their visitors. There is humility within the Goodison ranks which prevents them from blowing their own trumpet too loud. But this performance illustrated beyond any doubt that such humility is masking an unwavering belief they are more than good enough to keep hold of fourth place. There are no faint hearts or wavering souls in the Goodison dressing room. And when you couple that belief with Everton's point advantage and it would be foolhardy to bet against them.
EVERTON: Martyn, Hibbert, Yobo, Weir, Watson, Carsley, Bent (Osman 76), Arteta, Cahill (McFadden 86), Kilbane, Ferguson (Beattie 80). Subs: Wright, Vaughan.
BOOKINGS: Arteta (persistent misconduct), Ferguson, Hibbert (fouls).
MANCHESTER UNITED: Howard, Gary Neville, Ferdinand, Brown (Silvestre 72), Heinze, Fletcher (O'Shea 76), Keane, Scholes, Ronaldo, Rooney, van Nistelrooy. Subs: Smith, Fortune, Carroll.
BOOKINGS: Scholes (foul), Ronaldo (diving).
SENDINGS-OFF: Gary Neville (violent conduct), Scholes (two bookable offences).

Nobody does it better
Apr 21 2005 By Scott McLeod, Liverpool Echo
DUNCAN FERGUSON was today hailed as 'the complete centre-forward' after leading Everton to victory over Manchester United. The veteran striker headed the only goal of the game in the 55th minute of last night's clash at Goodison to cap a Man of the Match performance. It was Everton's fist victory over United for 10 years and maintained the Blues' lead over Liverpool in the race for fourth spot to three points with a game in hand. Steve Watson, a former team-mate of Premiership record scorer Alan Shearer, believes Ferguson is even better than the Newcastle star when he produces form like last night. "When he plays like that, Dunc has got the edge on anybody," Watson told the ECHO. "He is virtually unmarkable, no matter who he is playing against. "He was up against Rio Ferdinand, a player I regard as one of the best defenders in the world, but when Dunc plays like he did last night he is virtually untouchable. "I don't think he lost a header all night, but it wasn't just about what he can do in the air. His hold-up play was great, he was charging down defenders, he was getting back to defend, he was winning defensive headers at corners. It was a hell of a shift from him. "He gave a complete centreforward's performance and set the tone for everybody. He was awesome." The victory leaves Everton requiring just three points from the remaining 15 to guarantee a place in the UEFA Cup. Ten points will secure the Champions League, assuming Liverpool win their four remaining matches. Watson insists the players will maintain the momentum from their last two victories when they face Birmingham at Goodison on Saturday. He added: "We are totally focused on Saturday's game because we know last night will mean nothing if we let ourselves down against Birmingham. "We may have a small squad of players but you can never write them off." Watson was nursing a calf injury today, ironically sustained in the celebrations for Ferguson's goal.
Saturday (12.30pm): Birmingham City HOME;
April 30: Fulham AWAY;
May 7: Newcastle HOME;
May 11: Arsenal AWAY;
May 15: Bolton AWAY
Saturday: Crystal Pal AWAY;
April 30: Middlesbrough HOME;
May 8: Arsenal AWAY;
May 15: Aston Villa HOME
Saturday: Aston Villa AWAY;
April 30: Chelsea HOME;
May 7: Portsmouth AWAY;
May 15: Everton HOME

Ferguson and fans lead from the front
Apr 21 2005 By David Prentice at Goodison Park, Liverpool Echo
IT is football's equivalent of the chicken and egg question. What comes first? The players responding to the crowd - or the crowd being lifted by the players? Only the deranged or the grimly suicidal would place Duncan Ferguson in the proximity of the word "chicken" - but he was the man who undoubtedly lifted the Goodison crowd last night, already in a state of hostile ferment, to a near fever pitch of hysteria . . . and that was before he scored. Evertonians like nothing better than the sight of a traditional centre-forward terrorising a hapless centre-half - and for 80 minutes last night Ferguson fully deserved the comparisons he craves with names from Everton's illustrious past. Put simply, he was awesome. He rolled back the clock to other individual glory days . . . the afternoon he utterly overshadowed Alan Shearer's Newcastle debut, the night he took on Liverpool almost single-handed in 1996, the hat-trick against Bolton and the last time Everton defeated Manchester United in the Premiership, 10 long years ago. And he made a player his agent believes is worth £120,000 a week look like a journeyman centre-half. For 45 minutes, Everton had swarmed all over United with an intensity which made you fear for their second-half display. But when they were asked to go again after the half-time break, it was Ferguson who lifted them. In the 53rd minute of a precisely poised match, he decided to chase shadows in the United defence. He hunted down Ferdinand, until he passed sharply to Brown, so he turned and sprinted after him. Brown shuttled the ball nervously again, so Ferguson wheeled and chased down the ball again . . . and forced United into gi vi ng up possession. The roar from the home crowd was riotously appreciative - and it was not entirely coincidental that the Blues took the lead 60 seconds later. United couldn't escape the periphery of their own penalty area, conceded a needless free- kick and Mikel Arteta rammed a rapier thrust into the heart of the United defence. The man on the end of the free-kick? Need you ask? Sir Alex Ferguson spoke with an unwitting irony afterwards. Never one to offer gracious praise in defeat, he decided: "Everton knew it was a weak referee and exploited that to the full. I don't blame them. When you've got a chance of that with that crowd behind you, then you're going to take advantage of that. "Intimidation from supporters is always there, and there was plenty of that today. It's a derby game and you're going to get that." So Old Trafford is a welcoming, friendly arena where referees are encouraged to be evenhanded and visiting teams and players are extended the hand of friendship? But this wasn't a night for sour grapes. It was a night for Everton celebration. There were heroes throughout the Royal Blue ranks - Nigel Martyn handling fault-lessly yet again, Steve Watson performing admirably in the last outfield position he had yet to fill for Everton - left-back, Kevin Kilbane reproducing the dashing displays he regularly turned in last season, Mikel Arteta harrying relentlessly but passing intelligently, too, and Lee Carsley providing formidable protection for his back four once again. But there was no doubt who the Man of the Match was. And while Duncan Ferguson played an enormous part in securing arguably Everton's most impressive win of the season, at the most opportune moment . . . he was closely followed by 37,000 screaming supporters. On a night when the behaviour of Everton's followers was being scrutinised closely - they were magnificent. And maybe, as a result, so was their team. What comes first? The performance or the praise? On last night's evidence, it didn't matter. They both went hand-in-hand.

'Goodison fans were awesome'
Apr 21 2005 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES saluted the Goodison fan-fare which swept Everton to their first victory over Manchester United for a decade last night. After a bouncing Goodison Park had helped inspire a famous win, Moyes declared: "The crowd were awesome tonight. "The supporters played their part, but I think that they realised what the players were doing as well. They responded to how the players were going about the job. "Is it our best performance of the season? It's come close, but we're going to need another few like that before the end. "But it was a terrific result for us. We needed the three points, and it was maybe three points that people hadn't got us down for. Nevertheless, it was a proper game." And, like the fans, Moyes picked out Duncan Ferguson as the man who made the difference. "Duncan was terrific," he added. "He worked incredibly hard. From the opening minutes we wanted to try and do a little bit more than we did in the Cup game and I think that was evident. "We changed the formation, knew what we were going to do during the game and how we were going to play and the play-ers carried everything out. They were terrific.
"But I've told them now it's over. I wish we had longer to enjoy it, but we don't, so really we have to try and get ready now to win on Saturday. "The performance was excellent . . . the togetherness, the spirit. I can tell you they are a terrific bunch and they have shown it on the pitch again tonight.
"To get two wins in the Premiership back to back at this time of the season is not an easy thing to do.
"I think if we had taken a point tonight it would still have kept us in fourth. We are there for another few days now and we will see how long we can hang in there. "Hopefully, we've kicked on again but that can change very quickly."

'Neville should know better'
Apr 21 2005 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
GARY NEVILLE could face a police investigation following his stupid dismissal at Goodison Park last night. The Manchester United defender was red-carded for kicking a ball at Everton supporters, in response to taunts - and Merseyside Police confirmed afterwards they will view video footage and await any complaints from fans. The supporters who were on the receiving end were in the Family Enclosure, but seem unlikely to complain as TV footage showed their delight at referee Phil Dowd's prompt action. United boss Sir Alex Ferguson, however, was less thrilled at his player's recklessness,
"I don't know the exact ruling, but you can't kick a ball at a spectator - not nowadays - and Gary Neville should know that," he said. "Intimidation from supporters is always there, and we had plenty of that today. It's Everton, a derby game and you're going to get that type of thing. "Gary should know better. He should never have done that." David Moyes declined to comment on the Neville incident.

15 arrested after Everton match
Apr 21 2005 Daily Post
A TOTAL of 15 arrests were made after last night's Everton-Manchester United match at Goodison Park. A major policing operation took place to prevent a repeat of the disorder which marred the last meeting between the two sides on February 19. Following last night's match, eight Manchester United fans were arrested at Liverpool Lime Street station to prevent a breach of the peace, along with one Everton fan in relation to the violence which occurred in February. Six other men were arrested around Goodison Park - one for possession of a controlled drug, two for criminal damage, one for public order offences and two for anti-social behaviour. Superintendent Chris Armitt said: "The behaviour of genuine football fans was impeccable." Three men were charged with violent disorder yesterday following clashes which took place in February. More than 30 people were arrested in fights before and after that game. Police confirmed the charges relate to the trouble. They are Terence Sweeney, 39, of Northwich, Cheshire, Steven Wetherall, 33, and Mark Feeney, 30, both of Liverpool. They were bailed to appear before magistrates on Friday.

Blitz on match yobs a success
Apr 21 2005
Liverpool Echo
POLICE were today celebrating the success of the anti-hooligan operation at last night's Everton-Manchester United game. Senior officers were concerned there could be a repeat of the violence that marred the FA Cup fixture between the two sides in February. But extra officers at city pubs and railway stations meant trouble was kept to a minimum and only 15 people were arrested. Before the game, eight United fans were arrested at Lime Street station on suspicion of going to cause problems. They had no match tickets and were released without charge after the game. Everton fan Joseph Delap was arrested at the station and charged with violent disorder relating to an alleged incident at the February game. Delap, 25, of Stanstead Avenue, Penketh, Warrington, will appear before Liverpool magistrates tomorrow. Six other men were also arrested at Goodison Park.
One was detained for possession of a controlled drug, two for criminal damage, two for anti-social behaviour and one for a public order offence. Superintendent Chris Armitt said: "The policing operation went exactly to plan. The behaviour of genuine football fans was impeccable."
Police are still hunting men involved in the violence after the Everton/ United fixture on February 19.

The Jury
Apr 21 2005 Liverpool Echo
'Dunc should get a new contract for games like this' - Ken Stewart A SECOND half Duncan Ferguson winner at the Street End, two United players sent off and Christian Ronaldo booked for diving? Only if I'd woken up with half of Girls Aloud could the picture look any brighter this morning. Aside from the excellent save Martyn pulled off from Scholes at the start of the second half, the fact that United were restricted to long shots was of great credit to the team's work-rate. It is an added boost that the result will be as demoralising for Liverpool and Bolton as it is heartening for us. This means it is doubly important that we do not follow this up with a poor result against Birmingham, as an early kick off allows the possibility of turning the pressure back on the others. Aside from at left-back, where Steve Watson did well last night, we have almost a fully fit squad at just the right time, so there is no reason for our challenge to falter.
DUNCAN FERGUSON was rolling back the years last night. When a braveheart performance was required the Big Scot and his fellow blue army duly delivered. Every player last night was on the top of his game. Arteta gets more impressive with every match and has fitted perfectly into a team that no longer misses Gravesen. Let's make it three straight wins against Birmingham this Saturday.
I can't see Liverpool and Bolton winning all their remaining games, it will be harder for Liverpool who are still in the Champions League and have only won two out of 12 games following their European nights. The fourth place doesn't look like it will be settled before the final game on May 15 but it's in our own hands. Let's forget about Liverpool and Bolton and let them worry about us.
WE'RE all going on a European tour and if we can repeat the standard of last night's performance, it will be the Champions League. It is an unbelievable dream, but a dream we are on the verge of making a reality. Last night every player in blue gave their all and we got exactly what we deserved.
David Moyes had the players up for it and they battled for every ball. Some superb individual performances and a great team effort meant three unexpected points in the bag. It's firmly in our own hands now and even with a trip to Highbury still outstanding, there is every chance we could be mixing it with Europe's elite in the Champions League next season. It may be a cliché but winning your home games is so important and beating Birmingham and Newcastle will be vital to us ending a superb season in a deserved position.
AFTER last night's result, words cannot describe how I feel about Dunc and Everton. Once in a while Everton will produce something out of the ordinary. It just happened to be against Manchester United. Awesome everywhere - in defence, attack, midfield, the fans, manager, subs and Duncan Ferguson. The big man has been criticised in his latter years, but Dunc should get a new contract for games like this. It was vintage Duncan, winning every ball in the air, messing with defenders minds and scoring a vintage header. Well David Moyes, if anyone needed it confirming that he will take us to the top then it was confirmed last night. This is what supporting Everton is all about. We've been terrible for so long, but moments like Duncan rising above the United defence and running to the Street end, makes it worth the wait.

Ferguson renaissance set to be rewarded
By David Prior Daily Post Staff
Apr 22 2005
DUNCAN FERGUSON looks set to complete a remarkable renaissance at Goodison Park by winning an extension to his Everton deal. The 33-year-old, whose header secured the vital 1-0 victory over Manchester United on Wednesday, is poised to agree a one-year deal that will see his current £35,000-a-week salary slashed to £15,000, an annual pay-cut of £1million. Ferguson's new deal will however include various performance-related add-ons ranging from appearance fees to goalscoring bonuses. The news is reward for Ferguson's best season for several years, during which he has played a significant role in Everton's unexpected challenge for Champions League qualification. Wednesday's goal was his sixth of a campaign largely limited to late second-half substitute appearances, although Sir Alex Ferguson's side did see the striker start only his third Premiership game of the season. The deal also represents a clear U-turn from manager David Moyes, who fell out with his compatriot last season as Ferguson's lucrative pay packet syphoned his already miniscule transfer fund and hindered his ability to bring in new resources. Moyes had attempted to loan out Ferguson earlier this season, with Wolves interested at one time, but the striker wanted to stick it out at Goodison. His stubbornness has evidently been justified, as his recent form has made him indispensible. The new deal would extend an Everton career that began back in October 1994. Ferguson did leave for a short time to join Newcastle United in November 1998, but returned less than two years later to firmly establish himself as a cult hero on the terraces. Ferguson's goals have had a crucial bearing on Everton's fortunes this season. He has found the net on five occasions in the Premiership, with four of them proving the match-winner. Previous to the Manchester United game, the big Scot had notched the winner twice against Norwich, at home on February 2 in a 1-0 win and at Carrow Road in October in a 3-2 success. His 73rd-minute goal was also enough to beat Fulham at Goodison in November while he scored Everton's first in the 3-2 home win over Bolton in December.
* EVERTON'S match with Birmingham at Goodison Park tomorrow kicks-off at 12.30pm.

We really believe it is our year now, says Carsley
Apr 22 2005 By Paul Walker, Daily Post
JUBILANT Everton midfielder Lee Carsley hailed Wednesday night's 1-0 win over Manchester United as one of the greatest nights in the club's history. Duncan Ferguson's winner also kept Everton in pole position to claim the fourth Champions League place and Carsley claimed: "We really believe it is our year now." Everton's victory over the FA Cup finalists - their first over the Old Trafford men for 10 years - has put David Moyes's men on the brink of Europe. And Irish international Carsley, the man who has stepped into the midfield shoes of Thomas Gravesen now the Dane has joined Real Madrid, summed up the euphoria in the blue half of Merseyside. "It has been one of the greatest nights in Goodison history," he said. "It's been a long time coming, 10 years since we last beat Manchester United, so it was a massive result for us. "The derby against Liverpool was a great atmosphere, especially in the way we won that game, but this was on a par. They were both massive games, massive results. "Perhaps we haven't got the most gifted players, but everyone always gives 100 per cent when they pull on a royal blue jersey, even in training. Every player contributed to this win. "The entire dressing room was buzzing. When we came off we could hear the fans still singing outside, it was a great night for us. "The fans were fantastic from beginning to end. This result sums up the season for us, we've got the feeling that it's our year." Carsley's Irish pal Kevin Kil-bane agreed that the win over United had been a crucial one. He said: "It was a big win, without a doubt. It puts us nicely in fourth position. We have to be strong and try and get a good run of form between now and the end of the season. "The feeling at the final whistle was unbelievable. It was a great game to be a part of and one I really enjoyed. "We knew that we had to get at them because we gave them too much space and respect when we played them in the FA Cup earlier in the season. We couldn't allow that to happen again, so we had to get at them, we had to stop them playing and I felt we did that well. "It was the first time I've ever beaten United in my career and it's the first time for a lot of play-ers in the dressing room as well. "It was a wonderful win for us, but we cannot dwell on it. We've got a game on Saturday and we have to move on. It's Birmingham next, a 12.30 kick-off, so there's not much time to recover." Meanwhile Gary Neville is set to escape extra punishment over his red-card shame at Goodison Park. The Manchester United fullback was sent off for violent conduct by referee Phil Dowd during the second half of his side's 1-0 defeat at Everton after he kicked the ball into the crowd. Sir Alex Ferguson condemned the behaviour, claiming the veteran England defender "should have known better". The incident immediately raised the prospect of intervention by Merseyside Police and the possibility of an FA charge in addition to an automatic three-match ban which will rule Neville out of the Premiership clashes with Newcastle, Charlton and West Brom. However, those fears have are now receding, with Soho Square officials unlikely to investigate the incident further as Neville is already being punished for the offence. Merseyside Police have so far received no public complaint over Neville's conduct and, because there was no incitement element to the defender's actions, are happy to leave the matter in the hands of the FA and Everton, who have privately declared their intention to let the matter drop. Paul Scholes will serve a one-match ban after it was confirmed he was dismissed for a second bookable offence.

Rooney wants Everton success
By Simon Stone, Daily Post
Apr 22 2005
WAYNE ROONEY insists he hopes Everton land the crucial fourth Champions League spot. Everton took a crucial step towards that incredible goal with their 1-0 win over Rooney's Manchester United side at Goodison Park on Wednesday. Just as he did on his first appearance against his old club in the FA Cup two months ago, the £27million England striker was subjected to a barrage of abuse from the supporters who used to idolise him. While Rooney managed to keep his cool, Gary Neville and Paul Scholes both saw red in a stormy encounter that leaves United's hopes of a second place finish in tatters. But, whether the Red Devils manage to scramble above Arsenal or not, Rooney highlighted his desire to see the team he supported as a boy qualify for European football's most prestigious club competition. "Everton have had a great season and I just hope they can hang in there and get in the Champions League ahead of Liverpool," said the 19-year-old. "No-one expects them to get that fourth spot but it would mean a lot to the fans." Though he has moved out of Merseyside since joining the Red Devils last August, he still keeps in contact with his old friends, although he claims to be unconcerned about whether the Everton fans will ever forgive his decision to quit. "I still go down and see the lads and speak to them on the phone," he said. "As for the supporters, I don't know whether they will ever forgive and forget. I am really not too bothered."

Arteta wronged
Post Soapbox, icLiverpool & Daily Post
Apr 22 2005
Arteta wronged
GREAT result for Everton, but how can a team's form change so much in a few days? Man United were sensational on Sunday but looked very ordinary on Wednesday - not that I'm complaining.
Can anyone tell me why the refereee was sounding off at Arteta after Rooney crashed into him? Surely he didn't think Mikel was 'staging'. And what did he do to get booked? I can't see what he did wrong.
Jeff Jones (via e-mail)
Not long to go
ABSOLUTELY stupendous result! Keeps those lowly Reds in their place. What a goal from Big Dunc - up with the best ever. Come on lads - not too many more 1-0s and we'll be getting the phrase books out for some CL foreign travel.
K Bye (via e-mail)
TOP performance and a thoroughly-deserved Everton victory made even easier by United's implosion. I couldn't believe it when Weir went for the tackle on Ronaldo for the foul/penalty - players like him are always going to go down, but it was a masterclass in centre-forward play from Dunc. Let's hope Beattie was taking notes. Also, Carsley and Watson (out of position) were superb.
S Pete, Liverpool
Blues for fourth
WHY can't the FA make a decison on fourth place now? It would allow Liverpool to really make up their minds what is best, fourth place or winning the Champions League? Ideally they would then focus on the Champions League and then get beaten by Chelsea, while the Blues finish fourth.
Tom Coogan, Liverpool
Ahead of game
WELL done the Blues. We need only keep our nerve and we will be there ahead of the 'super-spenders' from across the Park. They can only get 66 points if they win all their games.
If we beat Birmingham, Fulham and Newcastle we will have the same, needing only a draw at Arsenal or Bolton. Come on boys, more of the same on Saturday. Let's be six points ahead with a game in hand when they kick-off against Palace.
A Sam (via e-mail)

Result was payback for suffering of past
Post Soapbox by Mark O'Brien Everton supporter, Daily Post
Apr 22 2005
ONE-NIL in Liverpool's cup final. Who would have thought it after watching Manchester United waltz through Sunday's FA Cup semi-final? Over the last decade we've become used to seeing Alex Ferguson's team rolling into Goodison, making light of the hostile atmosphere and weathering a 10-minute frenzy on the pitch before coolly picking us off and then disappearing back up the M62 with all three points. Therefore, regardless of the importance of the result in terms of Everton's European qualification, Wednesday night's game was some small payback for many of the last-minute winners and three or four-goal beatings we've had to endure at their hands in recent years.
We had all hoped for a better performance than the rather tepid one served up by the Blues during the recent FA Cup game and they didn't disappoint. From the moment that Tim Cahill rattled into Roy Keane in the opening exchanges and then squared up to the United captain, who Alan Hansen and co had salivated over on Sunday, the visitors never really showed the composure and ability to dictate the pace of the game that we have come to associate with them. All teams set out to close United down and deny them space, however it's easier said than done. Everton, inspired by the magnificent Duncan Ferguson did just that though and reduced United to simply giving the ball to Cristiano Ronaldo and the excellent Wayne Rooney and hoping that they could produce something out of nothing. Hopefully all the nonsense surrounding the petulant Gary Neville, who is never short of something to say when he thinks other players have let his club down, won't overshadow what was a superb performance from the Blues against a United team that was far stronger than the one that got turned over at Norwich recently. On the other hand though, it's only three points. It would be easy to start thinking Champions League football is within our grasp, but as this result showed, and also South-ampton's at the Reebok on Tuesday, you can take nothing for granted at this stage.
Another three points tomorrow against Birmingham, the sort of obstinate side who have caused us problems at home this season, are just as crucial as those secured on one of the most memorable nights at Goodison for some time.

Blues on brink of securing landmark
Apr 22 2005 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON can book a return to Europe with four games of the season to spare if they beat Birmingham tomorrow. Victory against Steve Bruce's men at Goodison will guarantee the Blues will finish at least seventh - securing a UEFA Cup spot for next season. It will be the first time for 25 years that Everton have been permitted to take part in European competition as a result of their final league position. Manager David Moyes is aware of the significance of the game but is preferring to focus his attention on simply taking the three points. He said: "We are just trying to keep our winning run going. We have now won two games in a row and we want to extend that. "Winning games is not easy at this time of the season but we want to keep that going. "We have a few injuries to contend with but we will assess them today before making any decisions." Tim Cahill is a doubt after developing sickness on Wednesday night. The Australian international was substituted midway through the second half of the victory over Manchester United after sustaining a blow to the head.
But Moyes revealed: "Tim was sick in the dressing room at half-time and seemed to be coming down with a bug. We will see how he is." The Blues will also decide whether to hand James Beattie his first start since the home clash with Chelsea in February or to stick with Duncan Ferguson. The experienced striker has been used sparingly this season and Moyes may choose to rest his legs ahead of next week's trip to Fulham. Ferguson has started just three Premiership games this season but has proved a useful super sub. It is a role which is set to land the Scot a 12-month, performance-related contract extension. Ferguson's current contract runs out at the end of the season but Everton are confident the player will sign the new deal. Chief executive Keith Wyness has held extensive talks with Ferguson's agent Dennis Roach over the last two months. It would mean Ferguson taking a substantial pay-cut from his current £35,000-a-week salary. The new deal is set to be less than half his current income and will be heavily performance related. But Ferguson is believed to be eager to extend his stay at Goodison, particularly with European football on the horizon. The deal could be concluded before the end could of the season.

Jubilant Cars hails historic win for Blues
Apr 22 2005 Liverpool Echo
JUBILANT Everton midfielder Lee Carsley hailed Wednesday night's 1-0 win over Manchester United as one of the greatest nights in the club's history. Duncan Ferguson's winner also kept Everton in pole position to claim the fourth Champions League place and Carsley claimed: "We really believe it is our year now." Everton's victory over the FA Cup finalists - their first over the Old Trafford men for 10 years - has put David Moyes's men on the brink of Europe. And Irish international Carsley, the man who has stepped into the midfield shoes of Thomas Gravesen now that the Dane has joined Real Madrid, summed up the euphoria in the blue half of Merseyside. "It has been one of the greatest nights in Goodison history," he said. "It's been a long time coming, 10 years since we last beat Manchester United, so it was a massive result for us. "The derby against Liverpool was a great atmosphere, especially in the way we won that game, but this was on a par. They were both massive games, massive results. "Perhaps we haven't got the most gifted players, but everyone always gives 100% when they pull on a royal blue jersey, even in training. Every player contributed to this win.
"The dressing room was buzzing. When we came off we could hear the fans still singing outside, it was a great night for us. "The fans were fantastic from beginning to end. This result sums up the season for us, we feel it's our year."

Why seeing red has made Dunc an idol
Apr 22 2005 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
WAYNE ROONEY, we are told, idolised Duncan Ferguson. Perhaps the young pretender should have taken a lesson or two from the taci-turn Tartan before he jumped ship. Rooney, again, was roundly abused at Goodison Park on Wednesday night. The loudest chant of the night can't be repeated here because Rooney is taking a national newspaper to court over its contents . . . but it is sure to have hurt. Ferguson, however, was cheered to the rafters - as he was even when he, too, left Everton and wore the black and white of Newcastle. But, if you examine the situations, there aren't that many differences between the way Ferguson left Goodison in 1998 and the manner in which Rooney jumped ship last summer. Both were sold with the club in financial crisis, both were portrayed as reluctant leavers - and both, we were told, were true blue Evertonians. Yet, while Ferguson was welcomed back like the prodigal son, Rooney is reviled like some kind of anti-Christ. Maybe Rooney should have rattled in a couple of goals against the sides Everton most love to hate before he left.
For the best part of a decade now, Ferguson has responded like some sort of rampaging bull to a particular shade of red. Only Alan Shearer has scored more Premiership goals against United, while Ferguson has proved just as talismanic in the heat of derby match combat. His contributions on the pitch this season have been more than enough to convince the doubters - of which I have been one - that he deserves some form of contract extension. But it is his demeanour which also speaks volumes. Usually first off the pitch, he made a point of sticking around to congratulate James Vaughan 10 days ago against Crystal Palace. On Wednesday night, he was also at the forefront of the post-match celebrations. Off the pitch, he is hugely influential, and there is little doubt that on it, even as a substitute, he is capable of making match-influencing interventions. Ferguson has never made life easy for the media, but life would certainly be duller without him. I, for one, hope David Moyes tries to keep him around for another season or two.

Now we must turn screw
Apr 22 2005 By Scott McLeod, Liverpool Echo
THERE has been little opportunity for Everton's players to bask in the warm glow Wednesday night's victory over Manchester United has provided. Less than 13 hours after the final whistle sparked widespread celebrations in the stands, David Moyes' squad were reporting back to Bellefield as their preparations began for tomorrow's early kick-off against Birmingham. But, as Joseph Yobo explains, there was no desire to celebrate in the wake of the United result. Instead, the players are keen to turn the screw on their rivals for the fourth Champions League berth by following victory over United with an equally impressive display against Steve Bruce's mid-table outfit. "It was a big game on Wednesday because everybody was expecting us to drop points," reflects Yobo.. "Psychologically, it was a big boost for us. Three points says it all. We are in fourth place but we have got to move on from that result and keep moving forward. "Now we are looking forward to the next game against Birmingham. "There are only a few games to go and to put together back-to-back wins in our last two home games has been a boost. It was an important time to do that and we are keen to take advantage of our home games. "It was a great atmosphere from the very first minute on Wednesday, but the home games are always very special. "We keep taking every game as it comes and if we do that I think we will finish fourth." Everton can guarantee a UEFA Cup place with three points tomorrow. Victory will also leave them requiring two wins and a draw from the final four games to make their Champions League lead unassailable. They are the simple facts which have underlined to both Liverpool and Bolton the task facing them in the remaining matches. Two weeks ago the sides on Everton's tail were buoyed by a run of results which suggested the Blue bandwagon was struggling for momentum. The trouncing of Crystal Palace and Wednesday's thriller have scotched any such suggestion. The wheels are turning at an impressive rate once again. And Yobo believes the Blues have set a standard which, if maintained, will make them uncatchable. He continued: "We have always seemed to struggle against Manchester United. They are a great side and I think we probably would have been satisfied with a draw before the game started. "But to keep a clean sheet and then beat them was very exciting. "United are a great side and if we play the way we played against them it will be very hard for sides to beat us. We got into them, stopped them passing the ball too much and kept them pressed back. "If we do that in each of our games we have a very good chance of winning every game. But we have to maintain that level; keep that form going." That eagerness to be a part of the push for the Champions League has led to a host of players pushing themselves to their limit, regardless of fitness issues. Gary Naysmith played through the pain of a foot injury against Palace. Yobo returned on Wednesday despite the illness which ruled him out against Palace leaving him jaded. He produced a superb defensive display to silence the threat of Ruud van Nistelrooy. "I was out last week because I was sick and I wasn't 100 per cent the other night, but it was such an important game I was so desperate to be there," he said. "It was good to be back playing in my best position for such a big game." The perception outside Goodison may be that tomorrow's game (12.30pm start) is not as big. But the players will tell you otherwise. And that tells you all you need to know about the mood in the camp.

Cops hunt for racist Blues fans
Apr 22 2005 By Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
A TEAM of specialist police officers are leading the hunt to catch racists who taunted black and Asian people after an Everton away game. The six-strong group were formed under direct orders from Merseyside police chief constable Bernard Hogan-Howe. Mr Hogan-Howe demanded the response after the ECHO reported that a hardcore of racist fans are shaming the good name of Everton FC.
Undercover reporters watched as up to 12 yobs on a coach hurled abuse at black children and an Asian family after Everton's game against West Brom earlier this month. Today, Merseyside police community relations superintendent Roly Moore, who is leading the investigation, said: "We will stop at nothing to get them. "It cannot be said enough that this type of race hate crime is just unacceptable. "This simply cannot be allowed to carry on. "I have met with officials from Everton and they are giving us their full support as usual. We have an excellent relationship with the club and admire the work they are doing to stamp out racism. "They have said that when we catch those who behaved in that way they will be banned from Goodison." Everton appealed for witnesses to the incident in the club programme for Wednesday night's match against Manchester United. Three fans confronted the racists during the incident on the Barnes Travel coach. Today, Supt Moore said: "They're not fans, they're just scum who are a stain on the club. "After all the hard work Everton as a club, and the majority of our fans do, they bring us back to square one. "I had to do something. I've felt like saying something for a while and it just erupted. "I told them they were scum to be treating human beings like that. One of them told me not to talk to him like I was his dad - I told him I'd be ashamed if I was his dad."

Time for action on Champions League conundrum
Apr 22 2005 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
WHILE the Everton and Liverpool juggernauts career relentlessly on towards a Champions League collision, the FA have adopted their usual stance, heads down, oblivious or unconcerned by what's going on under their noses. Liverpool are now just three draws and a couple of successful penalty shoot-outs away from becoming European champions. Everton's stunning defeat of Manchester United has left them favourites for fourth place in the Premiership - which gives the FA's chief executive, dyed-inthe-wool Kopite Brian Barwick, a head-splitting dilemma. Which club would represent the Premiership in the Champions League next season?
The answer, surely, must be BOTH.
Now I do have some sympathy with the FA on this issue. Damned if they do, damned if they don't.
But they are not helping themselves. Rather than meet the problem head on, they are sitting tight like a rabbit transfixed by headlights, hoping it doesn't happen. They could always offer to make representations to UEFA now, citing the special circumstances of Everton's unfair expulsion from Champions League football in 1985 and 1987 and, even if they are beaten, at least have shown a willingness to ensure that justice was belatedly done. Or they could just cross their fingers and toes and hope for: a) Chelsea to win the Champions League semi-final or b) Bolton or Liverpool to finish fourth. Neither paints them in a particularly impressive light here on Merseyside.

Fourth be with you
Apr 22 2005 You Bet! with Adam Oldfield, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON have been cut to 8-15 (bet365) favourites for the prized fourth spot following their crucial 1-0 win over Manchester United. The Blues, who are three points ahead of nearest challengers Liverpool and with a game in hand, have the tougher run-in but should still assure Champions League football next season. Liverpool kept up the pressure with their 2-1 win at Portsmouth but remain at 15-8 to finish fourth, while fellow challengers Bolton are rated 8-1. Paula in running
FOLLOWING her London exploits, Paula Radcliffe has been installed at 5-1 (Hills) to win the marathon at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. The Golden Girl of athletics has also been made 4-7 to win the World Championship Marathon later this year and 13-8 to regain the BBC Sports Personality of the Year trophy.

Everton 1, Birmingham 1 (D,Post)
Apr 25 2005 By Andy Hunter at Goodison Park, Daily Post
IT WAS a dramatic late equaliser that prompted David Moyes to first break with his tradition of keeping hype to a minimum and announce: "The more I look at it the more I'm beginning to think it is Everton's season." The declaration came at Southampton on February 6, when the mystic manager's bold statement finished with, "I don't know what that means exactly, maybe fourth."
Two months later and, on the back of another dramatic late leveller for Moyes's resilient side, there should be no "maybes" about it. Two more wins and the finest transformation in the history of the Premiership will be complete. Everton, beset by division and candidates for the drop nine months ago, will have qualified for the closed shop of the European elite, otherwise known as the Champions League. Of course Everton being Everton this simple equation will be more straightforward on paper than in practice. All those who squirmed at their unease with the basics of passing, movement and control against Birmingham on Saturday will be growing their finger-nails in anticipation of final-day tension at Bolton instead of savouring comfortable progress against Fulham and Newcastle. Yet it is thanks to the point they grabbed courtesy of Duncan Ferguson's 86th-minute equaliser that Goodison thoughts are now firmly locked on a top-four finish rather than the still remarkable consolation of the UEFA Cup. Magnificent against Manchester United, barren against Birmingham City, just as Moyes had feared when stressing within seconds of the memorable midweek triumph: "Hopefully we have kicked on again but things can change very quickly, we need to keep this level up now." They didn't, and were just four minutes from suffering a repeat of the Blackburn defeat that was clearly on their manager's mind when he punctured the United celebrations with a necessary dose of realism. Not for the first time this year, however, Everton's closest rivals for fourth place failed to take advantage of their earlier slip and the headers that Fernando Hierro sent into his own net at Villa Park and Andy Johnson glanced beyond Jerzy Dudek at Selhurst may prove just as valuable as Ferguson's flyer against United in the final reckoning. From despondency to delight within two and a half hours, the post-match interrogations in the pubs around Goodison on Saturday swung with the extremes. Everton, and Moyes, had been spared.
Only five minutes had elapsed when Emile Heskey superbly controlled and despatched Jermaine Pennant's through ball to give Birmingham the lead and the home side a challenge they were either too tired or tense to overcome. Passes went astray with alarming regularity and almost every player in blue lost the ability to control the ball as Moyes looked on open-mouthed from the dugout. It was a truly galling spectacle, made worse by the memories of how outstanding they were only three days earlier. But throughout this remarkable season Everton's strength of character has never wavered and on Saturday it carried them home again. Attitude lies at the core of their success and has revealed itself in various guises. For example Tim Cahill who, while not his effervescent self against Steve Bruce's side, only played after convincing the doctors he was in a fit state just before kick-off.
"I had a test before the game to see if I was right physically and mentally," he casually revealed afterwards. "I took a few knocks to the head in the previous game and I was ill at half-time against United. I was a bit dazed and spewing up. I didn't know what was going on but I just took a few tablets and went back out, but I couldn't train on Thursday and Friday." But, of course, it is Ferguson who encapsulated Everton determination this weekend, netting his second crucial goal in two games from close range after Cahill and Marcus Bent were both denied by City keeper Maik Taylor in a goalmouth scramble. It was a just reward for home pressure if not the performance, with Ferguson's fantastic celebrations with the Park End crowd more in keeping with the results to follow than the one he had delivered himself. Although Tony Hibbert could have become the unlikely hero with an injury-time scuff straight at the Northern Ireland stopper. Ferguson's contract offer may not be on the table yet, but it is certainly in the post. The striker again showed his worth to Everton by finally giving them a genuine outlet in attack, with his goal a personal bonus. As Birmingham centre-half Matthew Upson, so commanding before Ferguson grew into the game, admitted: "A player of Duncan Ferguson's ability is always going to have a value. He's an old-fashioned centre forward, and with the way Everton play as well. "They fling him on at half-time or whenever, and he will always stretch the game. He is always going to win balls in the air, with his size and stature. He is so difficult to play against because of his physical presence." But while Ferguson basks in the Goodison limelight once again there was a tale of two centre-forwards on Saturday, with James Beattie providing an abject contrast. Moyes had to make changes after the efforts required to beat United and Beattie for the ageing Scot was, despite the former's lack of match sharpness, understandable. The decision to omit Bent and Steve Watson was not, illustrated by the fact all three were back on the pitch by the 60th minute. The Metropolitan Police have paid more attention to Pennant this season than Alessandro Pistone, whose recall from a ham-string strain was halted after 45 painful minutes. But it was Beattie who suffered most, heading one glorious chance to equaliser wide from six yards in the 13th minute and infuriating the home crowd with a lethargic display that earned ironic applause when he was replaced on the hour. "I think James was just a bit ring-rusty, nothing else," insisted Moyes. "He should have scored the one good chance he had and I'm sure if he had more games and more sharpness he would have done. "We have asked him to come back quickly to help us out and that should be taken into consideration. He's only trained for three or four days after his injury but we needed him against Birmingham. "He had to come straight back in because the likes of Duncan Ferguson and Marcus Bent worked extremely hard against United in midweek and we needed to change things around. "James has had a great goalscoring record throughout his career and I'm sure he will have one at Everton as well. "He knows he was brought here to add something extra to the team and that he hasn't played as much as he would have liked for various reasons. But he is in good physical condition now and I expect him to contribute a lot before the end of the season." The Everton manager added: "I am confident James will fit in here at Everton and do the job we signed him for. He hasn't played many games but I think his confidence is fine. "He has not had a chance to play regularly for us yet but I think he has scored two goals in six starts, which is not a bad record, although it should have been three in six. We will see more of him next season but I think we will see more of him in this one. He just needs to bed in a bit more, that's all."
In reality it is two in eight starts, one of those with the aid of a generous deflection, and the jury is still out. Goodison frustration was also vented at Birmingham's time-wasting tactics once they went in front, with goalkeeper Taylor a constant culprit. The greatest consolation for Everton, however, is that time is rapidly running out for anyone to catch them in the race for fourth.
EVERTON (4-1-3-2): Martyn; Hibbert, Yobo, Weir, Pistone (Watson 46); Carsley (Ferguson 46); Cahill, Arteta, Kilbane; Osman, Beattie (Bent 60). Subs: Wright, McFadden.
BOOKINGS: Cahill, Watson (fouls), Ferguson (excessive celebrations)
BIRMINGHAM CITY (4-4-2): Maik Taylor; Melchiot, Cunningham, Upson, Lazaridis; Pennant (Martin Taylor 88), Johnson, Nifti, Anderton (Clemence 78); Heskey, Pandiani (Blake 67). Subs: Bennett, Morrison.
BOOKINGS: Melchiot, Cunningham (fouls), Clemence (time-wasting).
REFEREE: Andy D'Urso
ATT: 36,828
NEXT GAME: Fulham v Everton, Barclays Premiership, Saturday, 3pm

Confident Cahill: It's in our hands now
Apr 25 2005 By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
TIM CAHILL last night saluted Duncan Ferguson for his 'true professionalism' as he admitted Everton are now firmly in control of their Champions League destiny. Everton need two wins from their last four Premiership games to qualify for a place among the European elite next season after their closest rivals dropped valuable points on Saturday. David Moyes's side were held to a disappointing 1-1 draw at home to Birmingham, with Ferguson rescuing a point in the 86th minute after Emile Heskey had looked to have damaged Everton's top four hopes. But Liverpool's defeat at Crystal Palace, plus Bolton's draw at Aston Villa, means Everton are now just six points away from making fourth place a mathematical certainty. And Cahill beamed: "It is in our own hands. It doesn't matter what Liverpool do. Their result at Palace makes things a bit easier, but they and Bolton are both still breathing down our necks. "They have been for a long time. But we are still there. The best thing we can do is what we have done all season and that is take it game by game and not worry about the Champions League. "As it turned out it was a massive point against Birmingham, absolutely massive, and now we need to keep concentrating on our own game rather than worrying about Liverpool or Bolton. "Expectations are very high now, not just from the fans but from ourselves. We have set ourselves high standards and seem to have hit another good spell. "It is all about where we can take it from here. It is in our hands and up to us whether we stay in the top four or not." Ferguson pounced four minutes from time as Everton struggled to repeat the midweek heroics that secured a first Premiership win in 10 years against Manchester United. And Cahill believes the 33-year-old Scot - who is in preliminary negotiations about a new contract at Goodison Park - again reaped the rewards of his commitment off the pitch. "Duncan is a true professional," said the Australian.
Cahill continued: "When he isn't playing, he is always in on his days off and when he is playing he has real presence. "People say he has a wild side, but I wouldn't change one bit of him. That's what makes him Duncan Ferguson, he is a great player to play with and has shown again how he is worth his weight in gold. "You saw Birmingham took a step back when he came on. That's his presence.
"He affects defenders mentally and he is in a rich vein of form and we have to try and exploit that and get as much out of it as we can. He has been injured and left out here and there, but he is showing his true colours and we are flying as a result." Despite containing three changes from the side that defeated United it was a below-par display by Everton at Goodison. But Cahill admitted: "It was a fantastic point for us in the end. It was a disappointing start - I think the lads were a bit tired after the United game - and Emile Heskey scored a great goal which left it an uphill battle. "But we tried to work as hard as we could to get something out of the game. We got a point and that's a good result. "We would have settled for four points from the two games this week. "We did look flat. The gaffer tried to change it and keep us buzzing but you can only do so much. The way the lads have worked there is only so much your body can give. "We tried to give everything and I think that showed in us grabbing a result."

Moyes feared a United hangover
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Apr 25 2005
DAVID MOYES admitted his worst fears were realised on Saturday as Everton struggled to repeat their midweek heroics against Manchester United. The Everton manager made three changes to the side that beat Sir Alex Ferguson's men for the first time in 10 years in an attempt to freshen up his team's Champions League chase. But they were ultimately grateful to Duncan Ferguson's 86th-minute equaliser against Birmingham - the Scot's sixth of the season - as they stretched the gap on fifth-placed Liverpool to four points. And Moyes revealed: "We were a bit flat and that was always my worry from the minute we came off the pitch against Manchester United on Wednesday. I had to find a way to recreate that performance. The crowd played their part again but we found it difficult to get back up to speed. "We showed a great deal of resilience to get a result. We never gave up, we tried everything to get a goal and it was fantastic that we came up with one. "We knew any result would keep us fourth for another week and it is fantastic that we are still there at this stage of the season. Most teams only have three games left, we have four, and it underlines what a fantastic season it has been for Everton that we still occupy a top four place." The Everton manager was unhappy with the decision by Merseyside Police to kick off at 12.30pm due to St George's Day events elsewhere in the city on Saturday afternoon. "The early kick-off time didn't help matters," he said. "If the police say it should be an early kick-off then you cannot resist but I'd like to think the club asked questions about the decision. It doesn't make sense to me and those extra few hours could have been very important." Moyes added: "I would have taken four points from six at the start of the week but after what happened on Wednesday night we naturally wanted more. But that's how football goes sometimes."

Ferguson's final fling can book Euro passage
By Mark O'Brien, Daily Post
Apr 25 2005
IF Everton win two of their remaining four games, then only Liverpool winning the Champions League can cast any doubts over the Blues' participation in Europe's biggest cup competition next season. To secure those precious six points though, they will have to produce more performances like the one against Manchester United and less of the disappointing fare served up against Birmingham City on Saturday. Most Evertonians feared some sort of hangover from the exertions against United and that proved to be the case. The inexplicable early kick-off didn't help matters; it ensured that the atmosphere was flat from the start and David Moyes's squad rotation, while understandable given the titanic battle in midweek, meant that the team often looked oddly disjointed and unsure of themselves. Poor James Beattie, for instance, still looks like a fish out of water, and the free header he put wide in the first half was the sign of a man playing with little or no confidence whatsoever. Anyone can miss a chance, but what is more worrying is his move-ment in and around the box. For a supposedly natural goalscorer he does very little to evade his marker and subsequently he rarely seems to find himself enough space to get an effort on goal. A proper pre-season is expected to produce a fitter Beattie for the next campaign, but will it also rectify some of the seemingly basic flaws in his game? Everyone wants to see our record signing do well but, as of yet, he has done little to suggest that he is an international footballer or even a top-class Premiership one. Thank heavens, then, for Duncan Ferguson. Tim Cahill is almost certainly a shoe-in for our player of the year, but it's possible to make a claim for the big Scottish centre forward. Despite being used sparingly throughout the season, Ferguson has probably played as crucial a role in propelling this team into fourth place as anyone else. This week alone he has secured four invaluable points with that classic header on Wednesday night and then a poacher's finish against Birmingham. He's been an idol for large swathes of the Goodison crowd for 10 years or so, but there was always a slight air of cynicism surrounding him, even in his pomp; sometimes you got the feeling that if the game wasn't against Liverpool or Manchester United then he would rather be at home with his pigeons or tackling burglars than actually playing. At the moment, though, he seems to be genuinely loving what he's doing. Perhaps he sees the end of his career rapidly approaching - a career that he must look back on with certain regrets despite the huge financial rewards he has reaped - and now he hopes to relish what moments he has left in front of a public who believe that while all Everton goals are special, there is still nothing quite like one scored by 'the big man'.
If playing a big game in midweek takes such a toll on the Everton team, you can't help wondering if playing in Europe next season could prove something a of a mixed blessing. Liverpool have famously struggled in the league following Champions League fixtures, while Middlesbrough and Newcastle's form doesn't seem to have been helped at all by playing European games on a Thursday night.
Obviously Chelsea have proved the exception to the rule here, but they have a big squad of genuine quality to see them through a congested fixture list. Moyes has no chance of putting together a pool of players anything like that of Jose Mourinho, but he must be stressing to the board of directors that he needs proper funds to strengthen the squad in the summer. If he doesn't receive them then we could end up strggling domestically and also failing to give a proper account of ourselves in Europe, which would be criminal given that we've waited so long for our chance to participate again.
Before we start worrying about all that though, we need to finish the job in hand and secure that fourth place in the league. No-one wants to go into that final day at the Reebok needing a result, and very few people would fancy us to get anything from the game at Highbury, so the next two games against struggling Fulham and Newcastle United are absolutely crucial. Can Ferguson produce a little more magic to force us over the finishing line? You wouldn't bet against it at the moment.

Early start quick to take its toll
View from the stands by Paul Cooper Everton supporter, Daily Post
Apr 25 2005
JOSE MOURINHO described playing at 8 o'clock on Wednesday and then early on Saturday as 'impossible.' Well the Blues seemed to find it that way for most of the game against Birmingham. Several players were well under par compared with Wednesday and the game was frustrating to say the least. What didn't help was the unlimited tolerance of time-wasting by the referee. Almost as soon as Birmingham scored they began to take an inordinate amount of time at set-pieces, goal-kicks, substitutions, etc. They never missed a single opportunity! It was obvious to everyone, it seems, but the referee, who took over an hour before booking anyone for it. The game was patchy at best, so these antics only served to break play up still further. I was a little surprised with the team selection, but David Moyes was taking account of how much play-ers had in the tank after Wednesday. There are a few boo boys starting to voice themselves about James Beattie. It's true that he has not demonstrated the same levels of energetic running as Marcus Bent and others, but he is not that type of player. I would prefer to wait until 10 games or so into next season before passing any judgements. I have a feeling that Beattie lives off goals more than any of our other strikers and after he gets a full pre-season under his belt we may see a different player. Thanks to Liverpool and Bolton's slips we actually strengthened our position towards the Champions League. It's all totally unpredictable. The way results are going, four or five points might be enough. All we need from the lads is 100% and a little bit of luck.

Everton 1, Birmingham 1 (Echo)
Apr 25 2005 By Scott McLeod at Goodison Park, Liverpool Echo
LAST week he was the conquering hero, on Saturday he was the guardian angel. Duncan Ferguson is indelibly linked with Everton's past. But in the last two matches he has secured four points which have made the future far brighter than anything he has been a part of in the last decade. Against Manchester United he was on hand to grab the Blues' fully deserved winner. On Saturday, it was a scrambled effort which stole a point from a match which was as disappointing as Wednesday was thrilling. But at this stage of the season quality football is merely the icing on the cake. It is the points that matter. And the one Ferguson earned could prove to be crucial. At the final whistle, it provided the consolation that Everton would be guaranteed to remain in fourth place throughout this week, regardless of what happened for Liverpool and Bolton later in the day. By 5pm, it had become a point of far greater significance. It has left the Blues with a straightforward equation - win two of the remaining four matches and fourth spot is guaranteed. In short, the prospect of qualifying for the Champions League is so close now, you can almost taste it. Having been at the business end of the Premiership table all season, the appetite for that tasty dish has become ravenous. So much so that even the faint-est scraps are devoured with relish. Birmingham learned that lesson all too late on Saturday. Steve Bruce's men arrived at Goodison Park with nothing to play for but pride. However, after a run of torrid form that pride clearly meant a lot to them. As a result, despite producing football that lacked real quality in a match which will not live long in the memory, they still outmanoeuvred a clearly jaded Everton side. Emile Heskey, who has never played with such vigour in a red shirt at Goodison before, set the tone for the day after just five minutes. He received a pass on the edge of the box from the outstanding Jermaine Pennant, turned David Weir and fired low and hard into the far corner of Nigel Martyn's goal. The fear in the press box was that it could prove to be the most important goal he had ever scored for Liverpool. Indeed, there was little in the following 70 minutes which would have suggested to Birmingham they were going to be denied a first league victory at Goodison since 1957. But the visitors hadn't banked on Everton's driving desire to make what was an unlikely dream at the start of the season a reality. David Moyes' bold substitutions in the second period reflected that desire. His team selection had clearly been intended to freshen things after the lung-bursting efforts against Manchester United. James Beattie, Alessandro Pistone and Leon Osman all came into the side. But none were capable of matching the level of performance reached against United by the players they had replaced. It was to the manager's great credit that he soon rectified the situation, introducing Ferguson and Steve Watson at half-time and Marcus Bent early in the second period. Bent's arrival signalled Beattie's departure. It was met with ironic cheers from some sections of the crowd. It was a reaction which reflects the level of expectation on the striker. When you are a club record signing, such pressure is inevitable. And at the moment, Beattie is failing to reach those expectations. Be it a lack of match sharpness or the strain of trying to justify the price tag, he played as if £6m had been sewn into his shirt on Saturday. His cause was not helped by a terrible miss in the 14th minute, heading wide unmarked from seven yards after he had beaten the offside trap to connect with Osman's perfect cross. Such moments are intensified by the fact the player he replaced in the starting line-up has suddenly rediscovered his finest form. And he displayed it once again during his 45 minute cameo in the second period. Ferguson's arrival didn't just galvanise the team, it buoyed the crowd. And when the tension is as tangible as it was on Saturday, that is vitally important. There is a synergy between this Everton side and the supporters. It was at its peak five nights ago and one of the finest sides in the land had no response. Birmingham, however, were able to disrupt that positivity very early in the game and as a result it began to work in reverse. Before Ferguson, every wayward pass or defensive lapse seemed to crank up the pressure inside Goodison which, in turn, led to more errors. As a result, the performance was as uncomfortable to watch as a Paula Radcliffe roadside toilet break. Thankfully, Dunc flushed away all the tension with his late goal. It was a strike indicative of the whole game - it was scrappy and owed a lot to good fortune. But in the context of Everton's current situation it was welcomed with the majesty of the most eye-catching 30-yard sizzler. Weir was the creator, guiding a slide-rule pass through a forest of legs and into the path of Tim Cahill. Having beaten the offside trap, the Aussie was denied a goal by a brave block from Maik Taylor. Bent followed up but his effort was deflected across the six-yard box. It seemed to take an eternity to reach Ferguson. But when it did he made no mistake despite the close attentions of two Birmingham defenders. It was the release valve which suddenly eased the pressure, both for the players and the fans. What followed was five frantic minutes of action. It bore little comparison to the beautiful game but that is by the by - it was infinitely more enjoyable to watch than the 80 minutes which had preceded it. And it very nearly provided the most unlikely of winning goals. With three minutes of injury time played, Osman fed the ball into the feet of Tony Hibbert. The product of Everton's youth system has never scored a senior goal for the club. It would have been a fabulous moment to open his account. His low, side-footed effort was destined for the far corner of the net. But it lacked the power to beat Taylor. His wait goes on. Everton's, however, could soon be over.
EVERTON (4-1-3-2): Martyn; Hibbert, Yobo, Weir, Pistone (Watson 46); Carsley (Ferguson 46); Cahill, Arteta, Kilbane; Osman, Beattie (Bent 60). Subs: Wright, McFadden.
BOOKINGS: Cahill, Watson (fouls), Ferguson (excessive celebrations)
BIRMINGHAM CITY (4-4-2): Maik Taylor; Melchiot, Cunningham, Upson, Lazaridis; Pennant (Martin Taylor 88), Johnson, Nifti, Anderton (Clemence 78); Heskey, Pandiani (Blake 67). Subs: Bennett, Morrison.
BOOKINGS: Melchiot, Cunningham (fouls), Clemence (time-wasting).
REFEREE: Andy D'Urso
ATT: 36,828

Moyes hailed a mastermind
Apr 25 2005 By Scott McLeod, Liverpool Echo
MIKEL ARTETA today hailed David Moyes for the tactical awareness which has guided Everton to within two victories of the Champions League. The Blues need six points from the 12 available in the final four games to ensure Liverpool and Bolton cannot catch them in the race for fourth place.
In the last five days Moyes has masterminded a win over Manchester United and the late rally to earn a draw against Birmingham. Arteta, who has been an influential figure in both matches, believes the manager deserves special praise for the hat-trick of substitutions early in the second half on Saturday which helped secure a crucial 1-1 draw. He told the ECHO: "They were good changes for us. It suited the game we needed to play. "It was difficult to find space after they scored the early goal. We knew Saturday would be a very difficult game. They played well and put pressure on us. "We had the desire to win but after the goal it was difficult to react. It was frustrating.
"It was easier after the changes because we had two big lads up front and it meant we could change our game to get the ball to them earlier. "Duncan ( Ferguson) came on and did very well for us. There are no players like him in Spain. "Everybody was hoping to win the game, but the next four games are going to be very tight. Getting that point could prove to be very important and the manager was very clever doing what he did. "It is a very good result. At the start of the week we would have taken four points from the two games." Arteta also paid tribute to the crowd for staying behind the team in what was a difficult match. He added: " They knew we weren't playing the best game but we were trying hard to get something. The atmosphere was good."

No extra place for English clubs - UEFA
Apr 25 2005 By Rob Brady, Liverpool Echo
ANY possibility of Everton and Liverpool both competing in the Champions League next season has been ruled out by UEFA. European football's governing body is adamant that England can have no more than four clubs taking part in the tournament. It means one of the Merseyside teams will miss out should the Reds lift the European Cup next month and the Blues finish fourth in the Premiership.
The FA is holding talks with UEFA to clarify which side would qualify for the 2005/06 tournament. Any hopes of finding a solution that would allow both to take part have been quashed. Liverpool seem certain to expect to be allowed to defend their title should they triumph in this season's competition, while Everton will be furious if they miss out on the biggest club competition after occupying fourth spot in the Premiership for so long. UEFA chief executive Lars Christer Olsson appears to favour the Blues' cause, but insists the final decision will rest with the FA. He said: "There is no way England can have more than four teams, so we would refer it to the English FA to make the decision if it arises. Normally I would say it is more important if you are qualified through your national league position than if you have won the competition." An FA spokesman said today: "We have not formed a decision on this as yet and discussions with UEFA will continue to take place." The final decision would be taken by the FA board, rather than solely by chief executive Brian Barwick, a life long Reds fan. The situation is not without precedent. In Spain, Real Madrid won the 1999/2000 competition while finishing fifth in La Liga, yet they still qualified for the following season's tournament at the expense of fourth-placed Real Zaragoza. Neither Everton nor Liverpool have issued any comment on the situation.

Beattie just 'ring rusty'
Apr 25 2005 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES backed his misfiring target man after Saturday's 1-1 draw with Birmingham. Record signing James Beattie (right) was recalled for his first start in more than two months, missed a glorious chance to score just nine minutes after Birmingham's shock opener, and was hauled off with more than half an hour to go. But Blues' boss Moyes believes the £6.5m man will eventually come good. "I think he is just a little bit ring rusty," he explained. "He should have scored today, but I'm sure more sharpness, more games will come from that. "We've asked him to come back quite quickly. He's done three or four days training this week, but we needed him today for the squad.
"We had players who had exerted themselves hard in midweek, but he will be fine. He has a great goalscoring record and I'm sure he will do that at Everton as well. "I think that he knows we brought him in here to add something to us and he's probably not played as much football as he'd like for different reasons. "He is actually in good physical condition. His confidence is fine and I never had any doubts about putting him in today. "It was always in my mind to do something different after the midweek game. Duncan and Marcus contributed an awful lot and I was going to make changes.
"He has scored two in six starts, which isn't a bad record. "He snatched at his chance but that's what forwards sometimes do. Hopefully, he'll keep getting the chances. I hope to see the best of him this season, but he just needs a little bedding in." With the match kicking off at 12.30, Moyes spoke before Champions League rivals Liverpool and Bolton had kicked off, but prophetically suggested that Duncan Ferguson's late point-saver could actually have been a step towards claiming their prize, rather than two points dropped. "We knew that whatever happened today we would be in fourth for another week," he said, "and it's great that we're still in this position. "After today it's only three games left for most teams - four games for us - so overall it's been fantastic to say that Everton have been there nearly all season. "Before the week started we would probably have taken four points from the two games but, after beating United on Wednesday, we had hoped for a little more.
"Moyes tried to freshen up Everton's display by recalling Alessandro Pistone, Beattie and Leon Osman to his starting line-up - but Pistone was replaced at half time and Beattie only lasted an hour.
The Blues' boss admitted he was fearful of a reaction following Wednesday's gargantuan effort against United. Probably since the minute I came off the pitch against Manchester United it's been a thing which has been in my head," he added. "I asked myself 'How do we recreate it?' I don't think half 12 kick-offs is brilliant for it, either, but that's not the reason for it. "I would like to think that the club had asked questions about it and got some answers because the kick-off time didn't make any sense. Whatever you say those extra hours would have been important to us. "But I think the crowd played their part in trying to get us going. I think on the day we just couldn't get up to speed.
You mustn't underestimate Birmingham City, either." Their boss, Steve Bruce, admitted that he had hoped to catch Everton cold after the previous Wednesday ' s heroics. "It was nice to come here after the Lord Mayor's Show," he smiled. "There were hysterics here on Wednesday. It was a good time to come here. "I thought we were the better team. We played the better football. The turning point for me was the headed chance we missed which might have made it 2-0. "Everton launched it after that. They brought on about five people who were six feet six and that late goal sums up our season and sums up theirs. "We made a great save from Cahill, then there were about three ricochets before it came to Duncan. When you are a cock-a-hoop and buoyant those breaks go for you."

Far too early to condemn poor James
Apr 25 2005 Analysis by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
FOR most of his inconsistent Anfield career, the £11m Liverpool invested in Emile Heskey was considered an expensive mistake. For 81 minutes on Saturday, however, his turn and smart strike could have been cruelly considered the best goal he'd ever scored for The Reds. But that would be overly cynical. Big Emile did his bit on Saturday. It was the men he left behind who dropped the baton - leaving the focus at Goodison on another expensive centre-forward. James Beattie's Everton career has been a patchwork of bits and pieces. Promising early appearances were halted by a risible red card. A knee injury then prevented further progress - and on Saturday the effort was clearly there, but the touch and timing was clearly lacking. The 13th minute opening Leon Osman's right wing cross carved out must have been the moment Beattie had dreamed of on Friday night. But he put his head through the chance far too deliberately and steered the ball wide from just five yards. And that set the tone for an unhappy afternoon for the club's record signing. He didn't get another chance - although that was as much down to shocking service as it was his own failings - while his all--round game clearly suffered from not having started a match since February 12.
When he was hauled off with more than half-an-hour remaining, it would be kindest to say that the roars from the crowd were an encouraging welcome for Marcus Bent rather than relief at Beattie's departure. It is looking increasingly likely that Everton will not see the best from James Beattie until next season, with a full pre-season and half-a-dozen warm-up fixtures under his belt. Six months into next season is surely the time to judge his worth, not barely three months into his new career.
A couple of phone-in zealots were advocating instant action. Some of the greatest managers of all-time have staked their reputations on admitting expensive mistakes . . . quickly.
Brian Clough bought and sold Ian Wallace with unseemly haste, Clive Allen was sold before he had even kicked a ball for Arsenal, while Everton shuttled on the greatest goalscorer of his generation, Gary Lineker, after one stunningly successful season - because they felt he adversely affected the side's style. By the tone of his post-match comments, David Moyes hasn't even considered that option - although Duncan Ferguson's unlikely renaissance has placed even more pressure on Beat-tie's shoulders. He showed in another hugely influential 45 minute run-out just what is expected of Everton centre-forwards. With Saturday's match kicking off just 62-and-a-half hours after Wednesday's had ended, he was always going to struggle to bring the same air of belligerent menace to the proceedings, but he was still perfectly placed to rap in the equaliser with four minutes left - and spark another memorable celebration to add to his long list of post-Fergie goal shenanigans. Three of Everton's last four fixtures are away from home, which may give Beattie the breathing space to bed in. But such has been Ferguson's contribution in the past few days that the time could be right to add to his paltry four starts. The goal he scored on Saturday was seen as better than nothing at the time. The fates of Liverpool and Bolton, however, mean that it could turn out to be a hugely significant something. That's the trouble with 12.30pm kick-offs. They lend an unreal perspective to proceedings. Fans haven't fully woken up, players' pre-match routines are thrown out of synch - and a point earned with a late equaliser is seen as two points dropped - until a couple of hours later when it turns out to be an invaluable point gained. Everton's next two games could seal their season. Even defeat at Fulham would leave them a point clear of Liverpool, who then go to Arsenal after the emotionally draining second leg of their Champions League semi-final. A victory for the Gunners coupled with an Everton victory over Newcastle would make it impossible for the Reds to catch their neighbours. But that's without working out Bolton's involvement.
Even Einstein would struggle with the possible permutations still involved in the race for fourth. What is clear is that Everton's fate is in their own hands . . . unless Liverpool win the Champions League. But that's a different argument altogether.

Expectations are high - Cahill
Apr 25 2005 By Scott McLeod, Liverpool Echo
TIM CAHILL is revelling in the fact Everton's Champions League fate is now very much in their own hands following Saturday's results. The Blues earned a draw with Birmingham at Goodison, courtesy of a late Duncan Ferguson equaliser. With Liverpool suffering an unexpected defeat at Crystal Palace and Bolton only managing a draw at Aston Villa it means Everton are left with a simple target - win two of the remaining four matches and they qualify for the Champions League. Cahill, who produced a typically robust display on Saturday despite dragging himself from his sick bed to be involved, said: "It is in our hands. It doesn't matter what Liverpool do. "Their result at Palace makes things a bit easier, but they and Bolton are both still breathing down our necks. They have been for a long time. "But we are still there. The best thing we can do is what we have done all season and that is take it game by game and not worry about the Champions League. "As it turned out, it was a massive point against Birmingham, and now we need to keep concentrating on our own game rather than worrying about Liverpool or Bolton. "Expectations are very high now, not just from the fans but from ourselves. We have set ourselves high standards and seem to have hit another good spell.
"It is all about where we can take it from here. It is up to us whether we stay in the top four or not."
Everton's next match is at Fulham on Saturday. That is followed a week later by the final home game of the season against Newcastle. Victories in those games and the results of the final two matches - away to Arsenal and Bolton in the last week of the campaign - will not matter.

Everton win European place after Spurs loss
By Ian Doyle Daily Post Staff
Apr 26 2005
DAVID MOYES was given the perfect birthday present last night when Everton were assured of European football next season. Tottenham Hotspur's defeat to neighbours Arsenal means the lowest Everton can finish is seventh place, guaranteeing them a place in the UEFA Cup. It is the first time since 1995 that the Goodison outfit have qualified for European football, and came on the day manager Moyes' celebrated his 42nd birthday. Two wins in their remaining four games will confirm an even greater reward of fourth place and Champions League qualification - dependent on a Football Association decision should Liverpool win this season's European Cup. Meanwhile, Moyes has praised Tim Cahill after the Australian played through discomfort last week to help guide Everton nearer a top-four finish. The midfielder suffered illness during the midweek win over Manchester United, and despite not training on Thursday or Friday, Cahill played the full 90 minutes against Birmingham on Saturday. "Tim's been terrific," he said.. "He was unwell during the Manchester United game last week and after it. "He's a great lad who always wants to get out there and play the games and again he contributed well to the performance against Birmingham." Of his team's hopes of Champions League qualification, Moyes added: "It would be great if we could. It would be nice if that happens. "The players have done everything they can. They've had a terrific week and we can't ask any more of them. We're really pleased with the way the season has gone here and we're optimistic that it can finish positively." Alessandro Pistone is an early doubt for the weekend visit to Fulham after he was withdrawn at half-time on Saturday still complaining of the hamstring injury that ruled him out for a fortnight.

FA likely to fail in fifth club request
By Ian Doyle, Daily Post
Apr 26 2005
THE Football Association are almost certain to fail in their plea to allow five English clubs in the Champions League next season - leaving open the possibility of Liverpool denying Everton a place in the competition. The FA have began lobbying UEFA over plans to guarantee Rafael Benitez's side a place in next season's tournament should they lift the European Cup in May and finish outside the top four in the Premiership. Everton are favourites to finish fourth, holding a four-point advantage with a game in hand over both fifth-placed Liverpool and Bolton Wanderers. Under Champions League rules, countries cannot enter more than four teams into the competition with only England, Spain and Italy allowed to nominate the full quota under UEFA's coefficient ranking system.
It would mean that if Liverpool beat Chelsea in their semi-final and go on to lift the European Cup in Istanbul next month, and Everton secure their likely fourth place, only one of the clubs could progress to next season's Champions League. That controversial decision would rest with the FA's main board, in consultation with the professional game board and the Premier League. Section 1.03 of this season's Champions League regulations states that "at the request of the national association concerned, the UEFA Champions League title holders may be entered for this competition as an additional representative of that association, if they have not qualified via the domestic league championship". However, the ruling goes on to state "if the title holders come from an association entitled to enter four teams, the fourth-placed team in the top domestic championship has to be entered for the UEFA Cup". FA chief executive Brian Barwick raised the matter with UEFA chief executive Lars-Christer Olsson last week.

Sign him up
Post Soapbox, icLiverpool & Daily Post
Apr 26 2005
Sign him up
WELL done big Dunc. With James Beattie in that sort of form and Dunc prepared to take a big pay cut in order to stay for another year, give him the contract.
Don Crow (via e-mail)
Tactics wrong
WHILE I would not criticise the effort that the Everton lads put in against Birmingham, especially after the 110% they used up againt Man United, I can't understand some of our tactics. Tony Hibbert was constantly throwing the ball forward to a lone attacker, only to lose it when surely it would make sense to give it to the unmarked man, Yobo or Weir? The long ball from Martin on a windy day was like watching a game of tennis.
Steve Smith, Rainhill
More strength
DAVID MOYES must be tearing his hair out. After a very lively and positive performance against United the team shoot themselves in the foot against Birmingham. Duncan to the rescue once again.
Unfortunately, Everton cannot perform consistently and this separates them from the better teams in the Premiership. Moyes needs strength in the team and will have to exercise prudent spending during the summer.
Roger Melling (via e-mail)
Watson steady
STEVE WATSON steadied the ship when he came on at half time for Pistone. He needs to stay in the team.
Mrs Watson (via e-mail)

'Gregg wanted Moyes out'
Apr 26 2005 EXCLUSIVE by Scott McLeod, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON director Paul Gregg wanted manager David Moyes replaced as Goodison boss, it was claimed today. Blues chief executive Keith Wyness said Gregg - who was involved in a boardroom power struggle with chairman Bill Kenwright last summer - was looking to line up a successor to Moyes. The claims came as the Blues last night secured a place in Europe for the first time in 10 years. Spurs' loss to Arsenal means the Blues are guaranteed at least a place in next season's UEFA Cup, with Champions League qualification the next target. It is the first time the club has qualified for Europe since winning the FA Cup in 1995 and Wyness believes it is fitting reward for Kenwright's determination to resist boardroom pressure for Moyes' sacking last summer. He said the the lion's share of the plaudits for that achievement should go to the manager and chairman. Wyness told the ECHO: "It is thanks to the determination and focus of the manager and squad that we are in a position where we can celebrate being in Europe once again. "But, very clearly, the chairman also deserves a great deal of praise because while another director wanted to change the manager last summer, the chairman and Jon Woods stood firm and supported David Moyes. "Bill Kenwright was aware that Paul Gregg had been looking at other management options. "And so the chairman is hugely responsible for creating the platform for what has happened this season. "The chairman has handled himself with great dignity and has always kept the best interests of the club at heart. He was unswerving in his backing of David and we are now reaping the rewards of that support.
"When the pressure is really on that is when you are tested and last summer Bill Kenwright stood firm by David Moyes despite another director seeking a change. We should now thank him for that vision." It was widely reported in the national press last summer that Moyes' position was under threat. And it had been suggested Gregg earmarked Celtic boss Martin O'Neill as a possible replacement for the Goodison chief after the Blues finished the 2003/04 season in 17th place.
A very public row opened up between Gregg and Kenwright last July over investment plans for the club, with Gregg calling for Kenwright to step down. The chairman survived a vote of confidence at an EGM in September and Moyes was given a new five-year deal tying him to the club until 2009 in November.

Lee can be next in line
Apr 26 2005 Liverpool Echo
HUYTON teenager Lee Molyneux is set to become the next high profile graduate from Everton's prodigious Academy - if recent performances are anything to go by. In recent weeks the success of players like James Vaughan and John Paul Kissock, on and off the field, have largely overshadowed the growing reputation of the St Edmond Arrowsmith student. But his recent performances in France for England under-16s, during which he played all four games, drew praise from international team manager, ex-Chelsea and Villa star, Kenny Swain. "He was particularly pleased with how I played in the 3-3 draw against Portugal," said Lee.. "I think I did all right during the whole tournament. "It was not the first time I had played for England - I appeared three times in the Victory Shield last year and scored in the 5-1 win over Wales." The 16-year-old's versatility - he can play left-back and left-midfield - is likely to stand him in good stead in years to come, but he admitted: "Of the two positions I really prefer to play left-back because it is a place from where I can attack and defend. "I really enjoy going forward out of defence." Spotted by Everton scouts playing for Whiston Juniors at a very early age and signed when he was 10, Lee admitted he found the transition into the Blues ranks a struggle in the early days. He said: "I didn't find it easy at first.
"It was really good, but when I first came I found the things I was being asked to do much harder than I was used to. These days I think I work hard in a game and I am good passer and crosser of the ball. "The areas I need to work on most are my tackling and heading." These days he trains four nights a week at the club with a game at the weekend. "Other than my Mum and Dad, Everton coaches Ray Hall, Neil Dewsnip and Gary Ablett have probably been the biggest influences on my development as a player."

Gregg in tribute after oust allegation
By David Prior Daily Post Staff
Apr 27 2005
PAUL GREGG last night sent his congratulations to Everton after their qualification for Europe - as it was claimed the Goodison director had sought to oust manager David Moyes. A day after the Merseysiders were guaranteed a first return to European football in 10 years, Everton chief executive Keith Wyness revealed how during last summer's power struggle with chairman Bill Kenwright, Gregg had been looking at potential alternatives to take over the Goodison helm.
Wyness said: "It is thanks to the determination and focus of the manager and squad that we are in a position where we can celebrate being in Europe once again. "But, very clearly, the chairman also deserves a great deal of praise because while another director wanted to change the manager last summer, the chairman and Jon Woods stood firm and supported David Moyes. "Bill Kenwright was aware that Paul Gregg had been looking at other management options. "Clubs with instability pay the penalty. That is what makes it even more important that people remain loyal and stick together through thick and thin. "When the pressure is really on that is when you are tested and last summer Bill Kenwright stood firm by David Moyes despite another director seeking a change. We should now thank him for that vision." Gregg hastily moved to defuse the situation last night by releasing a statement affirming his unequivocal support for Moyes and the club. He said: "I would like to congratulate David Moyes, his staff and all the players after qualifying for European football for the first time in 25 years as a result of the team's league position. "The next four games are incredibly important as they may result in an even bigger prize of Champions League qualification. Every Evertonian will be anxious to see how the club will move forward following this success." Wyness's revelations will further widen the rift between Gregg and Kenwright, who fell out last July over investment plans for the club. The chairman survived a vote of confidence at an EGM in September and two months later Moyes was handed a new five-year deal.

European qualification is dividing Merseyside
By Carl Markham, Daily Post
Apr 27 2005
CITY rivals Liverpool and Everton were at loggerheads yesterday over which side should take England's fourth Champions League spot should the Reds win the competition this season. The blue half of Merseyside are currently on course to qualify via the Premiership as they are four points above Liverpool in fourth place with a game in hand. But should Liverpool get through their Champions League semi-final against Chelsea and then pull off what would be a remarkable achievement of winning the competition then the Football Association would be left in an unenviable position. As there is no automatic place in next year's Champions League for the defending champions the FA would have to choose between nominating Liverpool or sticking with the side who qualified by right. The FA have tried lobbying UEFA in an attempt to gain an extra place should Liverpool triumph but their pleas have fallen on deaf ears. It is an issue which has raised tensions in the North West with Everton chief executive Keith Wyness claiming the moral high ground by saying his club deserve the place because of their form in the league. However, Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez said the common sense approach would be to allow the hold-ers back in.
"We are still very much in hypothetical territory at present but I do believe the domestic league in any country must take priority," Wyness said. Benitez, understandably, has an opposite view. "If we win this knock-out tournament, maybe there will be a problem, but I prefer to wait until then before addressing the issue," he said. "But it would surely be common sense - normal - for the team who wins the trophy to be able to defend it."

Blues can get better - Moyes
Apr 27 2005 By Scott McLeod, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON boss David Moyes today insisted his Champions League-chasing side are still not at their peak. The Goodison chief (left) has warned the rest of the Premiership his current crop of high-flyers are becoming mentally tougher the longer they remain amongst the division's elite. The Blues have occupied a top four position since the fifth week of the season. They have already guaranteed a return to Europe next term after a 10 year wait, with Arsenal's victory over Tottenham on Monday night securing at least a UEFA Cup spot. But the Blues boss believes his side have the mental strength to take the next step and book a place in next season's Champions League by acquiring the six points they need from the remaining four matches. Moyes told the ECHO: "We have five or six players throughout the team who are really tough mentally. But they are also still improving and getting stronger in that respect. "This season I have seen our players getting into the habit of winning and thinking 'we should be winning and we are capable of winning' no matter who they are playing. "They understand that we have to be at our top level all the time if we want to win games and achieve success. "We have a number of players with a very tough attitude who make it difficult for the opposition no matter what the situation in the game. "That attitude gives the squad added confidence. We have had some bad results at times but in every game I know the players have done their best." That confidence could secure a Champions League place as early as this weekend if Everton can win at Fulham and both Bolton and Liverpool lose their matches against Chelsea and Middlesbrough respectively. But two wins from four games will be enough, regardless of what Everton's rivals do.

Brave Blues reap reward
Apr 27 2005 By Scott McLeod, Liverpool Echo
IF one phrase could define Everton's season, then it would be 'fortune favours the brave'. The Blues are just two wins away from the Champions League, having already booked their place in the UEFA Cup following Tottenham's defeat at Arsenal on Monday. With the odds stacked in their favour, Everton could now shut up shop and attempt to grind out the results needed to make their advantage over the chasing pack insurmountable. But as he has done all season, David Moyes will be bold, brave and will stick steadfastly to his footballing philosophy. "Last year we had a problem conceding goals late in games," Moyes told the ECHO. "This season we have managed to turn that around. "One factor has been the fitness of our players. They have been really strong, which has been important because of the numbers we have in the squad. "But they have not just got themselves into a good condition physically. Mentally we have been much tougher this season.
"We have never given up. That is an attitude which has ensured we have almost always been in with a chance of winning games or taking something from games right up to the final whistle. "We keep going, we keep trying and we have not been scared to throw caution to the wind in pursuit of a result. "If we have been in a losing position or if we have been level on terms we have tried to be adventurous, although some people may perceive it as desperation. "We are always willing to try things to get points and on a number of occasions this season we have scored late goals to get those points." Last weekend's home draw against Birmingham was only the latest example. Leon Osman's winning efforts against Southampton and Portsmouth at Goodison, Jaidi's own goal in the slim 3-2 victory over Bolton and the cracker from Marcus Bent at St Marys have all been struck in the dying minutes and have all earned valuable points. Making a habit of late, late shows is the reward for the manager's adventurous attitude. You can spot the Evertonians in the city centre these days - they are the ones walking along with a spring in their step and a smile on their face. It is a far cry from the doom and gloom of last summer, when boardroom in-fighting and a lack of transfer funds meant the Blues started the season with expectations as low as they have been at any point in the last decade. Only those fortunate enough to have witnessed Everton's squad in action during the gruelling pre-season training camps in Austria and Houston were feeling twinges of optimism.
It was clear there was a special spirit being nurtured within the squad and among the players.
And now, nine months on, it is obvious that the spirit forged last summer was the catalyst for a remarkable campaign. But if the spirit was the catalyst, then the approach of the manager was the driving force, coupled with the under-rated talents of his small but focused squad. Had things worked out differently last summer, Moyes may have been plying his trade elsewhere this season.
Even then, such a move would have been a travesty. But now we can quantify how big a mistake it would have been. Moyes has confirmed this year what Evertonians have always suspected - he is a winner. So much so that even now, with the Champions League within the Blues' grasp, he is looking back at the campaign and rueing mistakes. He explained: "We are always trying to find ways of getting through teams. Some things have come off and others haven't. "We try to be bold, but then looking back there have also been decisions I didn't make which I should had have made.
"I always do what I believe to be right at the time. Maybe there are times when it doesn't always please the players or the fans but I hope people know that whatever I do is for the right reasons.
"For example, on Saturday I would have liked to have introduced James McFadden in the second half to add even more to our attacking options. "But Alessandro Pistone came in at half-time suffering from a hamstring strain which meant bringing Steve Watson on. "That restricted what I could do as we tried to find ways of getting back on level terms. "There are occasions when things like that can restrict you. "We were trying everything on Saturday to get a result, but the players had nothing left. "Because the game was so soon after the Manchester United match it was always going to be a tough match for us. "Jose Mourinho made the same point on Saturday when he said his players were jaded because of the early kick-off and their midweek match. "We had to change things a lot in the game but it is to the credit of the players that they found the energy to bombard Birmingham in the second half." It is to the manager's credit that they were in a position to do so - and that it meant so much at the end of this thrilling campaign. Not that Moyes is satisfied. He never will be.
Which is why the club could not be in better hands.

Table never lies . . .
Apr 27 2005 By Tommy Smith, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON have proved the importance of teamwork. Their victory over United underlined that, but it was more than just a never-say-die attitude - they just outplayed them. The draw against Birmingham was possibly a fair result - but with the Bolton and Liverpool results going their way they are sitting pretty for the fourth spot. The league table never lies and if the Blues can maintain that position it proves what giant strides they have made under David Moyes this season.

Boost for Everton in fourth dilemma
By David Prior Daily Post Staff
Apr 28 2005
THE Football Association board will today open discussions over the final place in next season's Champions League - with it increasingly destined for Everton should they finish fourth in the Premiership. The board will not make any decision until at least the second leg of the semi-final between Chelsea and Liverpool has been completed. But the Premier League would resist any attempt to remove Champions League qualification from the side that finishes fourth - with David Moyes's side clear favourites for that berth - and it is under-stood that a majority of the 12-man FA board, of whom half are league chairman, share those feelings. One neutral club chairman said: "If the situation arises I'm sure the board will take the view that the top four should go into the Champions League - that was the rule everybody was playing by at the start of the season so you cannot change it now. "I can't see the board giving the place to Liverpool if they get to the final and win because they won't have qualified through the league - even the World Cup winners have to qualify for the next tournament now." The FA have asked UEFA to be allowed five clubs in the Champions League should Liverpool win the tournament but that plea is certain to be rejected - their rules clearly state a maximum of four clubs per country are allowed. The regulations also stress that it will be up to the FA board to decide. They say: "At the request of the national association concerned, the UEFA Champions League title-holders may be entered for this competition, as an additional representative of that association, if they have not qualified for the UEFA Champions League via the top domestic league championship. "If, in such a case, the title-holders come from an association entitled to enter four teams for the UEFA Champions League, the fourth-placed club in the top domestic league championship has to be entered for the UEFA Cup." UEFA communications director William Gaillard said: "Should those circumstances arise it is up to the FA to make a decision." It has been confirmed however that the FA's chief executive Brian Barwick, who is a Liverpool fan, does not have a voting role on the board. Meanwhile, Everton have found an unlikely ally in their quest for Champions League football should they finish fourth - Kenny Dalglish. He said: "If the rules say no more than four clubs from England qualify and Liverpool finish outside the top four, they should miss out on the Champions League - even if they win the European Cup."

Weir: We must maintain our good work
By David Prior Daily Post Staff
Apr 28 2005
DAVID WEIR has hailed Everton's return to Europen football as a "big achievement" - but called on his teammates to keep going until Champions League football is assured. The Goodison defender (right) was a member of the squad two years ago that missed out on a UEFA Cup place by a single point, but Tottenham's defeat at Arsenal on Monday night guaranteed David Moyes's side at least a seventh-place finish this season. That would be enough for a UEFA Cup spot, but Scottish international Weir is hoping his side can hold on to their fourth place and so secure a spot in next season's elite tournament. "People have been writing us off since the start of the season and we can use that as motivation," said Weir.. "That's helped us a little bit. But we need to carry it on. "It's a big achievement for the club. It's great. It's nice to have that to look forward to. "Everyone's contributed, I think that's the secret of our success. We've all worked together; no one deserves to be singled out. It's all about the unit, working together, helping each other. "There's a lot of self belief and determination and coupled with hard work, I think that's why we are where we are at this stage. But we realise that there is a lot left to play for, there's a bigger prize on offer if we keep this season going." Weir felt the way his side had overcome the loss of key players like Wayne Rooney and Thomas Gravesen had made their achievement all the more impressive. He added: "Last season was a huge disappointment, but we began this one with a clean slate, we knew that things could only get better. "We have lost key players and there have been obstacles put in our way, but that is when you have to show strength and character and we've done that." He added: "We still have got obstacles in our way - the next one is Fulham. We've treated every game as if it was our last and I am sure we'll do that until the end of the season. "It would be impressive for everyone if we qualified for the Champions League, it's the pinnacle of club football and it would be a great honour to be involved in it. But there is a lot of hard work to do between now and the end of the season to achieve it." Meanwhile, Leeds manager Kevin Blackwell has revealed that Everton made an enquiry for 17-year-old midfielder Simon Walton earlier this year. "Everton did enquire in January about Walton, but there was nothing concrete," he said. "All I can say at this stage is I can't rule anything in or anything out. I'll sit down with the chairman at the end of the season and if there've been offers for any players we'll decide what is in the best interests of Leeds United."

Catterick signing quickly on the ball
Post Past by Philip J Redmond Everton supporter, Daily Post
Apr 28 2005
IT'S A long time since Everton last won at Craven Cottage - almost 39 years to be exact - and while the Cottagers have spent most of that period in a lower division, it's also true to say that they've won all the games down there since their return to the big time in 2001 reasonably comfortably.
It's high time that record was shattered and when better than Saturday. A win would almost certainly ensure that potentially lucrative fourth Champions League spot. Back in August 1966, the Blues were undoubtedly one of the biggest and, more to the point, wealthiest clubs in the land. After the FA Cup win against Sheffield Wednesday, the Toffees had been rather worryingly taken apart by the Reds in the previous week's Charity Shield game at Goodison. With the season only days away, Harry Catterick swooped. A few weeks earlier, England had rather fortuitously won the World Cup and football fever took over the nation. Despite their somewhat rigid formation, certain characters were taken to the nation's heart, including a little ginger bundle of energy called Alan Ball, who played for unfashionable Blackpool. Ball had long been courted by the big clubs and was thought to be heading either to Don Revie's Leeds or Sir Matt Busby's Manchester United. However, with the lack of fuss and decisive secrecy for which he was renowned, Catterick acted before the others and wrapped up a deal for a then British record transfer fee of £110,000. The impact was immediate and devastating and thousands of Blues travelled down to the capital for the season's opener at Craven Cottage. The Blues triumphed 1-0 and it was little Alan who secured the points with a low drive from the edge of the box. Evertonians had a new hero. Over the next five years Alan Ball was the main man and along with Howard Kendall and Colin Harvey formed a legendary midfield.

Moyes is top boss - Wyness
Apr 28 2005 By Scott McLeod, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON chief executive Keith Wyness has backed David Moyes for the manager of the year award.
The Goodison boss (left) has guided the club back into Europe after a 10 year absence this season.
And two wins from the remaining four games will guarantee a place in next season's Champions League. But despite Moyes' remarkable success this season Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho is the favourite to be named this season's top boss. Wyness believes his manager is the most deserving recipient: "There has been a lot of talk about David being the manager of the year and he deserves that. "He is recognised as one of the best young managers, maybe not just in this country but throughout football. "He is a pleasure to work with because he wants to excel, he is completely focused on his job and, without exception, he always has the best interests of the club at heart."
Moyes spent just £2.2m last summer, bringing Tim Cahill and Marcus Bent into his squad.
But he recouped more than £30m through the sales of Tobias Linderoth, Tomasz Radzinski and Wayne Rooney. Nevertheless, he guided one of the smallest squads in the Premiership into the top four before the end of September and has kept them there ever since. Arsenal's victory over Tottenham on Monday night has assured the Blues of, at the very least, a UEFA Cup berth next season.

The Jury
Apr 28 2005 Liverpool Echo
'No matter how bad things got last season, no fan ever lost faith in the manager' – SELLICK
WE'RE all going on a European tour! And even better . . . four games, six points and a place in the Champions League could be ours next season. Winning at Fulham on Saturday would be a huge step towards that but it would be typical Everton to leave us biting our nails in the last game of the season. The away game at Fulham on the same weekend two years ago was our European graveyard and we definitely don't want a repeat this time. Now we're back in Europe the status of the club has risen and the money available from the Fortress Sports Fund seems inadequate for the shares that they were going to buy. The silence seems to indicate that the board think the same.

Money will be the factor that could make or break next season but we don't want to accept inadequate funds for a big share of the club from just anywhere.
AFTER last day UEFA Cup heartbreak two years ago, how surreal it was to qualify for Europe on a random Monday night sitting on the sofa. Happy Birthday David Moyes! One point at home to Birmingham has gradually gained in importance as the week has gone on and suddenly Champions League football doesn't seem like such a laugh any-more, dare I say it - the job is nearly done.
Now, Everton being Everton, this is precisely the point where we are likely to mess it up, and yet while us fans won't actually believe we're in the European Cup until it is set in stone, the players seem to have no doubt that this is their year, and that is priceless. While it is easy to lavish praise on Moyes now that we are doing well, it is important to remember that no matter how bad things got last season, no fan ever lost faith in the manager.
WHAT a week so far.
Relief that we grabbed a point against Birmingham, joy at watching Liverpool blow another chance and delight as Everton reach Europe for the first time in 10 years. All we need now is to ensure that we win the two games needed to secure Champions League football but then again if the results go our way again this weekend it may already be done and dusted. It has been a great season so far and the achievements of the team and ultimately Moyes and his backroom staff has far outweighed everyone's expectations. It's great to see the players find that belief and desire not to be beaten, particularly at this stage if the season. Also, with different players shining in each game I'm sure there is still time for Beattie to show his worth.
IT IS great news that we have now qualified for next season's UEFA Cup. The effort the team have shown in the past week has been at the highest standard and nobody can say that we have not deserved it. Our determination against Birmingham in the second half managed to gain a point after a hopeless first half. It was another inspirational Duncan Ferguson performance that allowed us to play more effective and attacking football. Whenever Everton are in need of a hero on the pitch, Ferguson has always stood up and delivered. His contribution and effort he has shown all season should convince Moyes to offer him a new deal. Another player who has taken his chance well is Steve Watson. Although out of position he has played really well and was much better than Pistone on Saturday.
BEN McGRAE, Hunts Cross

Sunderland Res 1, Everton Res 1
Daily Post
Apr 29 2005
AN excellent display of goalkeeping from Sean Lake gave Everton a share of the spoils in a FA Premier Reserve League Northern Section game that could have gone either way. The Blues went behind in the 22nd minute after James Harris lost possession in midfield and the ball was chipped into the path of Sunderland striker Niall Flynn, who drove home powerfully. Seven minutes later, Everton were almost level when Christian Seargeant's cross from the right was met by Paul Hopkins's overhead kick, butunfortunately it went just wide. Guillaume Plessis then beat two defenders before he hit a powerful shot from 18 yards, which Sunderland keeper Trevor Carson tipped round the post. From the resulting corner, which was delivered by Seargeant, the ball fell to Eddy Bosnar on the six-yard line, who looked certain to score but the Sunderland keeper again saved well. The breakthrough came in the 37th minute when another Seargeant cross from the right again caused problems for Sunderland. This time Victor Anichebe was the recipient and he gratefully fired home.
The Black Cats almost took the lead on 63 minutes when Leadbitter hit a low, right footed shot from 25 yards which Lake did well to save at full stretch. Anichebe, Hopkins, and Patrick Boyle all had efforts saved late on.
EVERTON RESERVES: Lake, Wright, Wilson, Bosnar, Hughes, Harris, Seargeant, Plessis, Anichebe, Hopkins (Kissock 80), Vidarsson (Boyle 65). Subs:Gallagher, Holt, Fowler.

Appetite is key for Hibbert - Moyes
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Apr 29 2005
DAVID MOYES believes an insatiable appetite to improve has helped Tony Hibbert establish himself on the Premiership stage this season. The 24-year-old (left) has been almost ever-present in Everton's successful pursuit of European football this term, making a total of 37 appearances for a side only two wins away from the Champions League. Hibbert has been a regular throughout Moyes's Goodison reign, but endured a difficult campaign as Everton flirted with relegation last year.
However, he has been in commanding form ever since and, with talk of a call-up for England's summer games in America and Columbia circling around the Huyton-born defender, Moyes admits he is reaping the rewards of his willingness to learn. "You can see in training that Tony is much more comfortable on the ball now, much more assured," said the manager. "He is becoming a very good listener, which is always important if you are going to improve your game. "He is always listening in training, always willing to improve. In him, you can see someone who is becoming much more comfortable with being a Premier League player. "I think he is a lot more confident that he was."
Moyes added: "We all know he's a gritty, tough defender. If you add those other bits to his game, hopefully that will make him a very good full-back. "I think Hibbo's distribution is the one thing we need to work on, but overall he is a tough little defender. "He does things people like. "He is a good tackler, and enjoys that part of the game. "If he keeps his drive and determination, hopefully there is no reason why he won't continue to improve. "He has had a very good season for us," he added.

Sad indictment of Europe's gravy train
Apr 29 2005
By Mark O'Brien Everton supporter, Daily Post
THE results this last week, both domestically and in Europe, bring the doomsday scenario ever closer. Liverpool still have a lot to do, obviously, to win the Champions League, although they must have been heartened by both their own performance at Stamford Bridge and the dispelling of the whole Milan myth at the San Siro. Everton, too, despite being in an enviable position - four points clear with a game in hand - still have to actually apply the coup de grace in their upcoming fixtures, all of which are starting to look awkward to say the least. Should the unthinkable happen though, many have commented that it would be unfair for the Blues to be denied Champions League football because of the way they missed out in 1985 following the Heysel disaster and the ensuing ban. Frankly though, what happened 20 years ago is by the by. It will be a scandal if the Blues, or Bolton, are denied because the Premiership season has been played out on the under-standing that the team finishing fourth will enter the Champions League. It's the only thing that makes the whole competition at all interesting for those clubs outside of the impenetrable triumvirate at the top and the stragglers at the bottom. Take the punters who have already shelled out cash for tickets for the three remaining away fixtures, for instance. They are expecting to go and watch their team battling to clinch a big prize. If the FA then decide that the fourth-placed side won't be entering 'Europe's premier cup competition' then surely those fans have been sold those tickets under false pretences: UEFA qualification is already in the bag, there's nothing to play for, so they could save that money for next season's travels to exotic locales. It's an indictment of the whole ugly Champions League format, and the way the wealth it imparts to a select few clubs is margin-alising domestic competitions, that there weren't clear guidelines in place to cover a side winning the European Cup outright but failing to qualifying through their own league. And while Evertonians are naturally desperate for their team to finish off the job they've started - hopefully with a good result at Fulham - and reap some of the rewards that those Amstel and Mastercards adverts normally only bestow upon the chosen few, the fact still remains that the inception of the whole Champions League concept is one of the worst things that has ever happened to football.

John hoping to stay for Everton
Daily Post
striker Collins John believes he has forged a productive strike partnership with Brian McBride - and wants manager Chris Coleman to continue playing two up front. John was given a rare start last Saturday when Andy Cole was ruled out of the Premiership game against Chelsea through injury - and promptly scored in the 3-1 defeat. Now John wants to retain his place in the team for Saturday's clash with Everton. He said: "I hope I'll be playing on Saturday and that I can do well again. The goal will have given me a lot of confidence."

True Blue
Apr 29 2005
Post Soapbox, icLiverpool & Daily Post
True Blue
IF EVERTON fans are looking for a new hero, once a blue always a blue, they need to look no further than Duncan Ferguson. Over the years he has had his injuries and his critics, but cometh the hour, cometh the man. Just how important were Duncan's two goals and performances last week to the Everton cause in this season's campaign and how much could they be worth to Everton FC?
Everton - Champions League - you're having a laugh, well maybe, just maybe, now we're not.
David Denner (via e-mail)
Tears of joy
I JUST want to wish Davey Moyes and the lads the best of luck for the rest of the season. It's a fantastic time to be an Evertonian. It brings a tear to my eye when thinking that my Everton will be in the Champions League next year. Credit to every player who has pulled on the royal blue shirt this season you've done us proud! Come on you blue boys.
Paul Smith (via e-m
I THINK we need to put things into perspective here. This talk of whether Everton or Liverpool should get the Champions League spot is completely irrelevant at the moment. Come on guys, this is Everton we're talking about here. We have not qualified for the Champions League yet and we need to ensure that before we kick-off with them lot over the park. This talk of who gets what is not doing us any favours. So let's concentrate on beating Fulham and Newcastle - then we can worry about the Champions League.
S Khan (via e-mail)

I'll get better, vows Beattie
Apr 29 2005 By Scott McLeod, Liverpool Echo
JAMES BEATTIE has spoken of his bitter disappointment at his form since arriving at Everton - and vowed 'there are better times to come.' The 27-year-old striker (right) became Everton's club record signing when he arrived from Southampton for £6m in January. But since moving to Goodison he has struggled for fitness and form - and has endured the first suspension of his career after being red carded against Chelsea. He insists though that fans will see what he is really capable of next season.
"There's nobody more disappointed with the start of my Everton career than myself," Beattie said.
"I am a big self-critic and I know there are better times to come. "I'm fit now, but obviously with injuries and suspensions it hasn't been the start with Everton I would have wanted, but there is nothing I can do about that now. "With the lack of matches between now and the end of the season and for the fact I haven't played many games since I signed, it is probably going to be next season before the fans see me at my best. "It is disappointing and it kills me to say it but it is a sensible thing to say. "I'm looking to get a good pre-season in, stay injury-free and I am sure I will be flying."

But the striker, who was subbed an hour into his first start for two months last weekend, is also confident of playing a role in helping Everton book a place in the Champions League. He added: "If I am involved in some way at Fulham that will be fantastic. "I am just here and ready to do my best whenever I am called upon. "We will keep going and try to get the results to get us into the Champions League. We won't be satisfied until we have got what we want."

Coach's praise for Blues boss
Apr 29 2005 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES deserves all the accolades that are certain to come his way in the weeks ahead as Everton move ever closer to the remarkable feat of qualifying for the Champions League. But the success of his Goodison regime also owes a great deal to the team he has put in place around him - and Moyes' willingness to encourage a boot room philosophy at Everton. Moyes, his assistant boss Alan Irvine and his head coach Jimmy Lumsden have clocked up dozens of hours inside the confines of the manager's office this season masterminding the tactics which have been put into operation so successfully by the Blues' squad. The manager's approach has nurtured a strong team ethic for the team behind the team. "The players and the manager are the ones who have played the major part in what has happened this season," insists Irvine.. "The manager is the one at the end of the day who makes all the decisions. The players are the ones who have to put what he wants into practice, so they deserve enormous credit for that. "As a backroom staff we discuss absolutely everything at length and we will all put our own views forward. "In the main, it will be the manager, Jimmy (Lumsden) and I who will talk over things for many hours. At the end, the manager will decide whether to go his way, my way or Jimmy's way. "We always give him our honest opinion. The reason the meetings go on quite as long as they do is that we don't agree all that often. "But once a final decision is made we all feel that is the right decision because we talk around all the possibilities." Before his arrival at Goodison three years ago as Moyes' assistant the pair had never worked together before. But the Blues boss made the former Everton winger his top target because of the reputation he had gained as the head of Newcastle's youth academy. It is a reflection of Moyes' desire to surround himself with the most accomplished, knowledgable football men. Lumsden followed him from Preston, having first impressed the Everton chief when he was working on the coaching staff at Celtic during Moyes' time there as a promising young defender. All Scots. The meetings they share can become heated because they are all so passionate about achieving success for Everton. Irvine continues: "It is vitally important for me that we have a manager who is so willing to take on board the opinions of the people around him. "I have my own opinions on the game and about how it should be played. They are fairly strong views and if I was working for a manager who only wanted me to agree with him all the time it wouldn't work and I would look elsewhere. "From my point of view it is fantastic. And it is a great quality in a manager that he is prepared to listen and digest what his staff have to say and then be strong enough to still make his decision. "There are times when David will listen and still say, 'no, I am doing it the way I think'. "But no matter what decisions he makes, we always back him to the hilt. "There are times when we find ourselves arguing against our own points because we want to explore every possibility and we want to analyse the 'what if' scenarios.. "Of course, it doesn't do any harm that we are all Scottish. We are all strong minded in terms of how we think things should be done. But we all know that if you work hard you are far more likely to get the rewards." Irvine was adamant before a ball was kicked this season that Everton would defy everybody ' s expectations. But even he has been taken aback by exactly how far beyond those expectations the Blues have gone in the last nine months. Victory at Craven Cottage tomorrow would leave Everton one win away from guaranteeing a place in next season's Champions League. Irvine admits: "If you had said to me at the beginning of the season we would be in the position we are in at this moment I would have been surprised. "But I was saying in pre-season that I felt the spirit was fantastic."

Irvine: We'll see best of Beattie next season
Apr 29 2005 Liverpool Echo
ALAN IRVINE has backed James Beattie to show his true credentials next season. The £6m signing from Southampton has struggled to make an impression since his arrival in January because of a shortage of fitness, niggling injuries and a three-match suspension. But Irvine believes the 27-year-old will make a real impression with fans once he has been put through the rigours of a pre-season at Everton. He said: "Pre-season is vitally important. That is when the players get their fitness base but it is not just a physical thing - it is also psychological. "If you feel you are fit and strong you will feel more confident about going out and being able to beat your opponents. And our players have definitely felt this season that they have been fit and strong. "That is reflected in the number of games where we have scored late on or where we have defended a lead very well late on. "If you look at James Beattie who has come in not having had a proper pre-season and having had injuries and suspensions, I honestly believe he will benefit hugely from doing our pre-season in the summer. "That is no criticism of what happened at Southampton because I believe he missed their pre-season. But if you don't get a decent base then you can struggle all season physically and mentally."

Moyes learned lesson of 2004
Apr 29 2005 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
THE schoolkids who hang around the gates of Everton's Bellefield training complex, hunting down autographs, photographs and glimpses of their heroes, have been disappointed in recent weeks.
And that is a sign that David Moyes is learning lessons as adeptly as his team has been putting them into practice this season. Two years ago, when Everton last had a European spot in their sights, the Blues ran out of steam in the final furlong. It may have been the result of a very small squad. But Moyes' unswerving attitude to tough training may also have played a part. Moyes ran his men hard. When the squad was taken away on a mid-season break to the Mediterranean they were thrilled. Until they spotted a running track at the 'holiday' camp! It has been different this season. Everton didn't have a match over the Easter weekend and enjoyed a long weekend off. There was another gap in the fixture list a couple of weeks later. So Moyes took his squad down to New-market for three days, where the only thoroughbreds running were horses. If those days off had any impact, it was witnessed during the spectacularly lung-burning performance against Manchester United and the ultimately rewarded fight three days later against Birmingham. "There are signs that we may have kicked on again," Moyes said recently. If so, he has been as responsible as anybody.

Upson inspired by Blues season
Apr 29 2005 Liverpool Echo
MATTHEW UPSON wants Birmingham to take inspiration from Everton after a injury-strewn season.
There were high expectations for City this season, but the absence for lengthy spells of Mikael Forssell, David Dunn, Stan Lazaridis and Muzzy Izzet have wrecked their aspirations in 2005-2006.
Upson is confident that Birmingham could enjoy similar success to the Blues if their big name players manage to stay fit. The former Arsenal defender said: "You look at the success that Everton have had this season and I don't think we are a million miles away from them in terms of the quality of our squad. "The difference has been that they have been able to field a settled side and maintain a level of consistency. "Everton have an excellent work ethic and have been organised and their success just shows where those qualities can take you. "We have the potential to be just as good and it will be interesting to see just what we can achieve with everybody fit. "It is very rare that the manager has been able to field the same side two games running."

Alcohol ban for rail-bound football fans
Apr 29 2005 Liverpool Echo
FANS travelling to Liverpool and Everton games tomorrow will find themselves in court if they take alcohol on trains. Officers from the British Transport police will travel with supporters to and from the two matches to stop fans getting drunk during their journeys. The operation, part of a nationwide blitz on football hooliganism this weekend, will see alcohol bans enforced across the rail network. Anyone found with booze will be prosecuted. Everton's match at Fulham and Liverpool's game at home to Middlesbrough are among 11 fixtures around the country where police believe there is the possibility of trouble if fans spend the journey to the ground drinking alcohol. If Everton win and both Liverpool and Bolton lose, the Blues will guarantee themselves a fourth-place finish in the Premiership and the chance of Champions League football. But their fans who travel to Fulham would have to celebrate by staying sober until they arrive back on Merseyside. Notices have now gone up at Lime Street station warning passengers that the services to London and Middlesbrough will be "dry". Inspector Neil Moffatt, from the BTP, said: "If we can take the alcohol out of the trains going to and from matches we will create a better atmosphere for the travelling public." The campaign supports the Association of Chief Police Officers' request for all forces to push for football banning orders against troublemakers travelling to games. Anyone with information about football hooliganism call 0800 405040.




















































April 2005