Everton Independent Research Data


Bad luck undoes U18s’ dominance
Apr 1 2008
Academy FootbaLL
By Chris Wright, Liverpool Daily Post
TWO deflected goals meant Everton under-18s suffered a cruel 2-1 defeat at Nottingham Forest despite dominating for much of the match on Saturday. In their pursuit of the runners-up spot behind runaway leaders Manchester City in the Premier Academy League north west section, Neil Dewsnip’s side were the dominant side and had numerous opportunities to have won. Everton’s Moses Barnett went close with a couple of early openings. Then Eunan O’Kane shot over the bar when in a good position. But against the run of play near the end of the first half Forest went ahead when James McCarten’s attempted clearance rebounded off a Forest striker and left Everton’s Australian keeper Michael McEntagert with no chance. Everton came out for the second period in determined fashion and grabbed an equaliser when Tom McCready scored from close range following Lee McArdle’s cross from the right. Dewsnip’s side continued to press for the winner and brought on attackers Kieran Agard and Lewis Codling. London-born forward Agard hit the post as he was sent through on goal by Jose Baxter. Then to compound that missed opportunity Forest went straight down the other end and grabbed the winner on the break in the last 10 minutes with a deflected shot. Dewsnip said: “We were very unlucky to lose. We played really, really well, possibly as good as we have done all year.There were some smashing individual displays and a very good team performance. I was very pleased with the performance and we had plenty of chances without just being able to take them. “Both the goals we conceded were unfortunate.” Everton will look to get back to winning this Saturday when they travel to Middlesbrough. Bootle-born attacker Baxter and keeper Adam Davies both featured in Kenny Swain’s England under-16s squad as they won prestigious Montaigu tournament over the Easter holidays. England beat Japan 3-1 in the opening game with Baxter scoring the opening from the penalty spot. Then they beat Germany 1-0 and although they lost to USA by the same scoreline they topped Group B to progress to the final. In the final they beat the hosts 5-4 on penalties after the match ended goalless. Baxter, who skippered the side, scored one of the give spot-kicks. EVERTON U18s: McEntagart; McArdle, Sinnott, Barnett, McCarten; McCready, Krenn, O’Kane, Baxter; Powell (Agard 75) Sheppard (Codling 75). Sub: Stubhaug.

Steven Pienaar's battle for fitness
Apr 1 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
STEVEN PIENAAR is battling to be fit for Sunday's clash with Derby County after he underwent a scan to assess the damage to his injured calf. The South African, who had only just returned following a bout of gastroenteritis, hobbled off during Sunday’s frustrating 1-0 defeat against Liverpool and left Anfield on crutches. Fears that he had broken a bone were allayed yesterday, but x-rays showed he has suffered severe bruising to both the calf muscle and bone in his right leg. Given that Tim Cahill and James Vaughan are both out for the rest of the season and Victor Anichebe and Andrew Johnson are still unfit, being without Pienaar is the last thing David Moyes needs. In a further blow for the manager, Leon Osman is also receiving intensive treatment for a knock he picked up against Liverpool. Johnson should be ready to return this weekend but Everton’s medical staff will continue to monitor Anichebe, who spent Saturday night in hospital with an illness and had tests to diagnose the cause. But even though they are down to their bare bones at present, there is a determination in the camp to avert a slide that has seen the Blues collect just one point from the last nine available.Meanwhile, Mikel Arteta’s agent is likely to face a backlash from Evertonians after he claimed the Spaniard would have won international honours had he been at one of the top clubs in the Premier League.
“He is one of Everton’s shining stars and one of the highest rated players in the Premier League,” Inaki Ibanez told the San Sebastien-based newspaper Diario Vasco.
“Mikel Arteta deserves better. If he was playing for one of the best four clubs in England or Spain he would be an international.”

Nigel Martyn: Break can rekindle old sparkle
Apr 1 2008 by Nigel Martyn, Liverpool Echo
WHEN you have spent your life in football, you learn to never say never, but suddenly hopes of securing fourth place are slipping from our grasp. Defeat at Anfield on Sunday was hugely disappointing and Liverpool will probably feel that they now only need 10 or 11 points from their final six games to secure a place in next season’s Champions League. If they get that kind of return, the Blues are, in all likelihood, going to have to take maximum points from every match between now and May 11. It is a huge task and one that many will feel is beyond Everton, but nobody will be thinking that way in the dressing room. Looking at the way things have gone over the past three weeks, it seems as if they have been unable to get over losing to Fiorentina in the UEFA Cup. Playing with broken hearts? Possibly. Whatever it is, something needs to change. Maybe, then, that’s why David Moyes has taken the squad away for a couple of days training in warm weather. A change is as good as a rest and I know from past experience what a bonding trip can do to bring everyone together.
A couple of years ago, when we had that absolutely horrendous start to the campaign that saw us lose eight of our opening nine games, the gaffer took us up to the Lake District for a break and it worked a treat. There will always be a couple of funny stories coming out of these trips and when you get back to the training ground and those tales are recounted, the lads start laughing and the atmosphere improves, which invariably means results follow suit. After returning from the Lakes, we drew with Chelsea then beat Birmingham and Middlesbrough to get ourselves away from the bottom of the table. Of course the situation is not anywhere near as desperate now, but this sequence needs nipping in the bud quickly. We were never at the races against Liverpool and that hurts mostl. We were never able to get into a rhythm and, as they have better players, were able to make that tell – the small mercy was Fernando Torres’ goal was all they had to show for their efforts. We looked a tired side at times and though the lads at the back stemmed the flow in the second half, it was one of the most disappointing trips across Stanley Park that I can remember. Hopefully a trip away will help recapture the old sparkle.
Blues must Stubb out threat quickly!
DERBY County are this week’s visitors to Goodison Park and will be viewed as cannon fodder but, in many ways, they will be particularly dangerous opponents.
Having been relegated, they arrive on Merseyside without a care in the world and Paul Jewell will be telling his players to go and express themselves. After being condemned men for so long, maybe this is just the release they need.
That’s why Everton must score the first goal to settle the nerves and make Derby’s players think they are in for another hammering. We did it to Crystal Palace the year we qualified for the Champions League, beating them 4-0 when they were on their way down. Conversely, though, we drew 2-2 at Goodison with Sunderland after their fate had been sealed and were quite fortunate to escape with a point. That scenario cannot be repeated if we are to have any intention of securing European football.
One man, though, will be desperate to throw a spanner in the works. Alan Stubbs moved to Pride Park in January after giving so much great service to the Blues and it will be very emotional for him to return to the club he loves. He will be rooting for Everton to finish in fourth place. But Alan is also a model professional and will want to show his former employers that there is life in the old dog yet; he’ll do everything to keep Ayegbeni Yakubu or whoever quiet. All things being equal, however, we should have too many guns for them and I would be extremely disappointed if three points aren’t collected. It’s absolutely vital that we show a ruthlessness from the first whistle.
Cahill’s chance to recharge batteries
TIM CAHILL is blessed with that typical Australian outlook on life that means he thinks he is unbreakable or never needs to rest. It’s part of the reason that he has been such a fantastic player for Everton. But he might just benefit from a significant spell on the sidelines this summer. Hopefully, surgery will cure his foot problem and he can have a holiday before coming back recharged for training in July. In the meantime, though, he will be missed.

Police probe into Merseyside derby claims
Apr 1 2008 by Michelle Fiddler, Liverpool Echo
POLICE were today due to speak to Liverpool and Everton FC officials after Sunday’s derby. Officers were expected to investigate claims Blues captain Phil Neville, 31, was spat on and punched by Liverpool fans as he prepared to take a throw-in. They are also looking at reports Anfield captain and England international Steven Gerrard, 27, was subjected to hate-filled chants about his daughter.
Cameras captured Neville being abused by several fans in the second half of Liverpool’s 1-0 victory, and police are planning to examine CCTV footage.
Today a police spokesman said: “We will be speaking to the clubs involved today.”
The force’s football liaison officer Dave Lewis, who travels with the teams when they play in Europe, will head the discussions. Today Everton spokesman Ian Ross said: “We felt it necessary to try to involve the safety officers and police because we cannot have a situation where supporters are having physical contact with professional footballers during the game. “We want to make sure that doesn’t happen again at the Merseyside derby or any other game.” Responding to reports Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez was “very disappointed” by the attack on Gerrard he added: “Whilst we would never condone the singling out of individual players for vitriolic insults, it is a shame that Mr Benitez chose to ignore the actions of his own club’s supporters.
“Not only was Joleon Lescott subjected to an afternoon-long barrage of quite disgusting and quite audible abuse, Phil Neville was seemingly spat at several times and was also punched in the back by a supporter as he took a throw-in.
“We have asked Merseyside police and our safety officer to look into the matter.
“In calling for Everton supporters to respect his players Mr Benitez should, perhaps, remember his comments of 12 months ago when he sought to belittle one of world sport’s oldest and most respected institutions by describing us as a ‘small club’.
“Respect is a two-way street.”

ECHO comment: Personal abuse of players has now gone too far
Apr 1 2008 by John Thompson Sports Editor, Liverpool Echo
THERE’S an old saying which many a parent and schoolteacher has used to chastise errant children. ‘Two wrongs don’t make a right’. Right now it might well be directed at certain supporters from both Everton and Liverpool who are hurling unseemly criticism at each other today over ugly terrace chants being highlighted across the country. Because supporters on both sides who took part in songs which were nothing more than abusive personal attacks on players should all feel some sense of shame today. The sickening chants against Steven Gerrard, those counter-directed at Joleon Lescott, plus other remarks heard around the stadium on Sunday, have no place in modern-day football, even in the unique heat of a Merseyside derby. It is of course impossible to know where to draw the line with chanting at football matches. And no one wants to suddenly sanitise the game we love, one where there’s no room for faint hearts or much political correctness. But surely common decency tells us these songs now fall well below the line of acceptability? Everton supporters must accept the wincing chants about the Liverpool captain’s family, heard at too many games for some time, are a step too far when it comes to berrating the opposition. Equally Liverpool supporters, publicly criticised for a distasteful chorus directed at broken leg victim Alan Smith a couple of years back as he played for Manchester United, must agree the songs aimed at Lescott are below the belt too. We also have counter claims Blues captain Phil Neville was punched in the back while taking a throw in, claims which must be seriously investigated, of course. It must be stressed herewe are not talking about all fans on both sides. We’re probably not even talking about the majority. But a very vocal minority let themselves and their clubs down on Sunday by over-stepping the mark. And it’s all such a shame - because Liverpool is home to two traditional Premier League giants, two clubs who do so much to make us proud of our football heritage and lofty status in the game. Remember, only a few months ago Liverpool fans paid a touching tribute to young murder victim Rhys Jones. a devoted Evertonian, while Reds will never forget the support and sympathy which spilled from Goodison after the Hillsborough Disaster as the Blues shared their grief. Apart from today’scontroversy, let’s not forget that the things the fans here always do best is actually the humour and the wit, not the bile and the vitriol.There was plenty of singing - and a good few banners - on display at both ends of Anfield which actually brought a smile to everyone’s faces, red or blue, as well as to the rest of the nation.
That’s what the derby should be best known for - its passion and its humour.
So let’s keep that passion. But ditch the personal. And that goes for both.

Planning delay for Everton FC's Kirkby stadium
Apr 2 2008
By Richard Down, Liverpool daily Post
EVERTON FC’s bid to move to Kirkby is unlikely to go before the authority’s planners until July at the earliest. The club has also been accused of being heavy-handed after serving a group protesting against the stadium move with notice of a legal action for defamation. The controversial application to site the new Everton stadium in Kirkby had originally been expected to seek planning permission this month but is likely to be put back until the May local elections are concluded. It is understood the decision is thought too highly charged to be dealt with ahead of the elections when a whole new party will contest traditional Labour safe seats in Kirkby. Long held council wards are being challenged by First For Kirkby which is putting the finishing touches to its election campaign launch. It intends to put up three candidates to contest Westfield, Cherryfield and Central. Meanwhile, Everton FC has threatened to sue campaign group Keep Everton In Our City (KEIOC). It is focused on the assertion on KEIOC’s website that the Everton fans ballot over the stadium move last summer was unfair.

Everton Res 0, Liverpool Res 1
Apr 2 2008, Liverpool Daily Post
THERE was a touch of deja-vu at the Halton Stadium as Liverpool Reserves emulated their senior counterparts with a 1-0 victory over Everton in the mini-derby. Everton were fielding a very inexperienced side with most of the first team players on a training break abroad, Liverpool too had their youngsters on show, with the exception of Jermaine Pennant, thanks to a Champions League clash with Arsenal at the Emirates tonight. Everton certainly started the strongest with Eunan O’Kane firing just over after seven minutes. The Liverpool defence was again under pressure when Jack Rodwell looked odds on to score at the far post, but somehow shot wide. Liverpool slowly got into the game and began to take control, confirmed when they took the lead on 62 minutes. Stephen Darby worked his way to the by-line and crossed for Jordy Brouwer to turn into the net at the near post. Everton worked hard to get back into the game but Liverpool were always comfortable at the back with Darby in good form. The result means Liverpool stay top of the Barclays Premiership Reserve League Northern Section, well on course to win the title. EVERTON RESERVES: Jones, Densmore, Molyneux, Irving, Dennehy, Harpur, O’Kane, Rodwell, Agard, Morrison (Baxter 70), Connor (Codling 71). Subs: Stubhaug, Sinnott, McCarten. LIVERPOOL RESERVES: Martin, Darby, Insua, San Jose, Huth, Plessis, Pennant (Bruna 76), Spearing (Flynn 80), Brouwer (Simon 71), Nemeth, El Zhar. Subs: Gulacsi, Kelly.

Everton call for return of old 'friendly derby' spirit
Apr 2 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON officials have called for a return to the "friendly derby" spirit of the 1980s, as the fall-out from Sunday's 207th Mersey clash continues to reverberate around the city. The Blues issued a fresh statement following one from Reds manager Rafael Benitez last night, insisting Liverpool and Everton do share a mutual respect.
Immediately after Sunday’s game Benitez criticised Everton supporters’ behaviour at Anfield in relation to the abusive personal chants aimed regularly at Steven Gerrard and his family. Yesterday Everton spokesman Ian Ross made a renewed appeal for more respectful behaviour from both sets of supporters. “There is an almost accepted level of abuse that takes place in all derby games,” he said. “The Merseyside derby is usually laced with humour but on Sunday that was not the case. “I think both sets of supporters crossed the Rubicon and went that step too far. “From our point of view we would like to see this reined back in and we could return to a situation where the Merseyside derby, going back 15-20 years, was seen as the friendly derby.
“We don’t want a situation where this starts to snowball and the meetings next season are even more acrimonious than this one was.” Merseyside Police will speak to both clubs after claims that Blues skipper Phil Neville was spat at and punched by Reds fans as he tried to take a throw-in during the match. Benitez has now insisted there is no problem regarding respect the two clubs have for each other. “It is important to stop these things (chanting) between the fans,” he explained. “Especially against families and children, it is important to stop these things if it is possible and just talk about football. “I do not believe we have any problem with Everton, we have respect for each other.”

Everton threaten to sue fans' group over web claim
Apr 2 2008 by Nick Coligan, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON FC have threatened to sue a fans' group over claims made on its website.
Club solicitors demanded Keep Everton In Our City (Keioc) remove some statements from the internet or they would be “forced to take action”. Keioc, which is campaigning against the Blues’ controversial move to Kirkby, today said it had taken down some information from its site. But the group, made up of lifelong Evertonians, described the action as “totally unnecessary” and has written to club chief executive Keith Wyness calling for a public debate. Spokesman Dave Kelly said: “We accepted some of the criticism and removed some information. “But we are campaigning against something the club wants to do, so of course we are going to disagree on some things. “If they have a problem with anything on our website, they should sit down and speak to us.” Everton’s letter focused on an assertion on Keioc’s website that a fans’ ballot over the stadium move last summer was unfair. Its solicitors said that “if offending passages (were) not removed (from the KEIOC website) by no later than close of business on Friday, March 28, our client will be forced to take action against you, including bringing any actions for defamation.” Everton’s stadium application is likely to be put back until after the May local elections.

Everton Res 0 Liverpool Res 1
Apr 2 2008 By Dave Usher, Liverpool Echo
LIVERPOOL Reserves followed up their senior counterparts’ win on Sunday with a 1-0 victory over Everton in the mini derby. Both teams were fielding inexperienced sides with most of Everton’s first team players on a training break abroad.
The Reds had their minds on tonight’s clash at the Emirates Stadium, but Jermaine Pennant played three quarters of the game. Everton started the strongest with Eunan O’Kane firing just over after seven minutes and the Reds defence was again under pressure when Jack Rodwell looked odds on to score at the far post but somehow shot wide. Liverpool slowly got into the game and began to take control, confirmed when they took the lead on 62 minutes. Stephen Darby worked his way to the byline and crossed for Jordy Brouwer to turn into the net at the near post. Everton worked hard to get back into the game and saw chances from Rodwell and substitutes Baxter and Codling go begging. Liverpool were always comfortable at the back with Darby in good form. The Reds could and should have scored more, as both Brouwer and Jay Spearing had opportunities to increase the lead but failed to convert. Liverpool’s victory keeps them top of the Northern Division, on course to win the league with three games remaining. Everton have completed their home campaign with one more game against Blackburn away to come.
Everton Reserves: Jones, Densmore, Molyneux, Irving, Dennehy, Harpur, O’Kane, Rodwell, Agard, Morrison (Baxter 70), Connor (Codling 71). Not used: Stubhaug, Sinnott, McCarten.
Liverpool Reserves: Martin, Darby, Insua, San Jose, Huth, Plessis, Pennant (Bruna 76), Spearing (Flynn 80), Brouwer (Simon 71), Nemeth, El Zhar. Not used: Gulacsi, Kelly.

It’s time to blow the whistle on derby misery
Apr 2 2008 by Paddy Shennan, Liverpool Echo
NEVER mind an exclusion zone around referees, perhaps there needs to be one around the hate-filled Merseyside derby. It could be the only way to save it – if it’s worth saving. Assuming that the alleged “human” behaviour surrounding this fractious fixture won’t get any better – and there’s been no sign of it in the past few years – perhaps the powers-that-be ought to look at some radical solutions.
How about playing the games behind closed doors and banning everyone from talking and writing about them? But if all those people who have helped turn the derby into one of the most tiresome and tedious spats on the sporting calendar feel they are missing out, perhaps the city council could invite them to get together on match days in the city’s infant schools. That way all the childishness, spite, baiting, “banter” and tit-for-tat chit-chat could be contained in suitable premises. I arrived at work on Monday stupidly assuming that the previous day’s drab affair – when was the last time we saw two teams play for a 1-0 after just seven minutes of a game? – would ensure a week mercifully free from controversy, comment and hot air. The game was played, the Reds deserved to win and they did win. End of story. The behaviour of certain elements of the Liverpool and Everton support? Yes, it was as depressing as it has been for years – which is why I and many others stopped going to derbies long ago.
But such is the nature of these destructive duels that, despite the apparent lack of fresh talking points, there was still too much bluster, bile and bitterness for people to keep bottled up. Rafael Benitez unhelpfully fuelled the fires of derby distrust by referring to the sickening chants of just one set of fans, prompting Everton Football Club to issue a strongly-worded reply highlighting the behaviour of Liverpool fans.
But the first thing I was shown on Monday was something that had been published before the game on The Times Online – an irresponsible and astonishingly arrogant, self-righteous, poisonous, provocative, insulting and bitter rant spewed out by Tony Evans, the deputy football editor of The Times newspaper. You can read the whole thing by going to http://times online. typepad. com/fanzine_fanzone/ 2008/03/mersey side-derb.html ... unless someone has now seen sense and taken it off the website.
Here’s a taster: “For some, the shame of Brussels was that it stopped the 'People's Club’ from claiming their rightful place as the best team in Europe. The 39 dead? Extras in Everton’s ‘tragedy’.” The piece has provoked much disgust and many angry responses. As one person, Steve, posted: “Trivialising the loss of these 39 lives in order to denigrate Evertonians and lay the blame for the current derby atmosphere solely on blue shoulders is irresponsible, inflammatory and, above all, shameful.
“It is people like you and pieces like this that contribute to the changing derby atmosphere.” Tony Evans has had his say. Fans who read his diatribe have had their say. And I’m having my say here. But is this a good thing? Is this “democracy” helping anyone? Perhaps we should all just shut up about the derbies. I’m willing to give it a go. Anybody else?

Andrew Johnson targets Derby return
Apr 3 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
ANDREW JOHNSON is battling to give Everton's depleted striking resources a boost and return to action against Derby County this weekend. The England international has been sidelined since hobbling off during the 1-0 defeat at Fulham last month with a groin strain but though he has responded to treatment, it is still touch-and-go whether he will be declared fit. Everton had hoped that Johnson would have been ready for last Sunday’s trip to Anfield, particularly as James Vaughan is out for the remainder of the season with a knee injury and Victor Anichebe was sidelined with a virus. But he did not make the anticipated progress and that’s why Johnson – who has scored 10 times this season – will be given until the last minute to prove his well being as Everton chase a win that will take them a step nearer to European qualification. One consolation for manager David Moyes is that Anichebe should come back into contention after he returned to training yesterday at Finch Farm, having stayed on Merseyside while the majority of the squad travelled to Spain.
“I came back from Nigeria on a high last week and looking forward to the derby,” said Anichebe, who scored for Nigeria’s Under-23 team in their 3-0 defeat of South Africa in Abuja. “But I could feel myself getting a little ill. I thought it was nothing. Then during the day I came back, I kept getting bad pains in my stomach. I tried to sleep it off but couldn’t really eat because I was so bad. “So then I had to go into hospital and I was in all night on a drip. It was a bad experience and I never want to go through it again. “I didn’t eat for four days. Hopefully I can get my strength back in time for the weekend.” Meanwhile, Tim Cahill has promised he will return “better than ever” for pre-season training after starting his rehabilitation after breaking the fifth metatarsal in his left foot for the third time in 12 months. “I started my rehab programme the day after I broke it again,” said Everton’s Australian international. “One thing is that I am experienced in this game, and I know exactly where I stand with my foot injury.

The jury: What are your expectations for the rest of the season?
Apr 3 2008 Liverpool Echo
Lee Molton, St Helens
THE derby game has gone now and we have to move on after a disappointing afternoon for the Blues. It could have been very different with Tim Cahill or Andy Johnson fit though and I think Phil Neville needs to look at himself over his attitude at being substituted. Looking ahead to the rest of the season, fifth spot is still very much in our own hands with three wins possibly being enough to seal it. This week’s game will be tricky against a relegated Derby side who will play with no fear. With Johnson hopefully back to partner the Yak, I’m sure we can bounce back and get the win to keep us in fifth. At the end of the season, some money is needed for Moyes to attempt to break into the top four with the emphasis on central midfield. We clearly lack a tall, strong, central midfielder who can mix it with the best. Let’s go again Everton, finish the season off in style and claim fifth spot to secure another pop at Europe.
Debbie Smaje, Upholland
WHILE it’s easy to think that fourth place has gone for Everton, I think it’s the wrong approach to take. Granted, we are now relying on a good run of our own as well as Liverpool slipping up, but we can’t just assume they won’t drop points.
At the same time, we need to keep winning to make sure we at least keep hold of fifth place. Portsmouth are closer to us than Liverpool and it would be a mistake to assume that while fourth is out of reach, fifth is also safe. We have to get back to form, pick up as many wins as possible in the remaining six games, and finish as high as we can.
It’s important not to think of fifth place as a failure, if that is where we end up. With the size of our squad, coupled with two cup runs, this season has been a success.
It will represent a big improvement on last season’s placing, and one more good season from the talented squad we have gradually built up here.
Cole Fraser, Litherland
SADLY we didn’t really turn up on Sunday and it has dealt us a big blow in the race for fourth. Although fourth place is still a realistic target, it will be difficult to achieve it if we have to continue playing with only one available striker. We saw at Anfield last Sunday that having only one striker available leaves us particularly vulnerable when we go behind, as we are unable to turn the game around in our favour.
We also lacked creativity in midfield and therefore never looked like scoring a goal.
But I think people who have written us off are being a little premature with their predictions. After all, there’s a good possibility that we will be back within two points of the Champions League spot this weekend. We must beat Derby to stay in contention, and we should do so with ease. A win will also be needed at St Andrew’s, which will send us into the Chelsea match confident that we can take at least a point.
Michael Drummond, Speke
IN the space of two weeks we have gone from serious challengers for fourth place to borderline for the UEFA Cup. The media have basically written us off for fourth place since the derby defeat, although that could all change this weekend.
We must beat Derby to stand any chance of Champions League football next season, but if Liverpool win at Arsenal then fifth place is probably the best we can hope for.
However, given the amount of games we have played this season, along with the injuries and still having to play Arsenal and Chelsea, is fifth place really a disappointing way to end the campaign? The fact that we could not even get into Liverpool's 18-yard box and that there was no-one on the bench to come on and attack shows that our squad is tired and depleted. I don't think we could have coped much longer playing in Europe as well as challenging for a European place, so finishing fifth in my eyes would be a great achievement.

Alan Stubbs tips Everton push for fourth
Apr 4 2008 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
ALAN STUBBS today backed his former Everton team-mates to finish the season in style and secure the place in Europe their efforts deserve. A calf injury has deprived Stubbs of the chance to make an emotional return to Goodison Park this weekend following his move in the last transfer window to Derby County. But for 90 minutes on Sunday, lifelong Blue Stubbs will be hoping that Derby – who were relegated to the Championship last weekend – can make things uncomfortable for an Everton side that has only picked up one point from the last nine available. Given that the sides immediately above and below them have started picking up points, this blip in form could not have come at a worse time but Stubbs has no doubts they will emerge from their mini-slump to end the campaign on a high. "It’s a big game on Sunday, particularly after the disappointment of losing at Anfield last week," said Stubbs, who made 193 appearances for Everton over the course of two spells. "Everyone will be looking for them to get back on track right away. "There is no doubt there has been a bit of a blip and injuries have played a part but I know there is no way the lads in that dressing room, or the manager, will let the season fizzle out or down tools. It just won’t happen. "It was a big ask for Everton to finish fourth this season but, until it is a mathematical impossibility, the players will keep going, I’m sure of that.
"They have come too far this season to throw it away. They have made huge strides."
Stubbs’ move to Pride Park came as a surprise and went through so quickly that he never had a chance to say goodbye to Everton’s supporters, but he does not expect to make an appearance on the pitch this weekend. "There are far more important things to worry about than me going out to wave to the crowd," said Stubbs. "I was given a fantastic welcome every time I pulled on a Blue shirt and that’s all that matters.
"I grew up dreaming as a boy what it would be like to play for Everton and I was fortunate enough to realise that as a man. "I had an unbelievable time playing for Everton, seven absolutely fabulous years but the time came to move on."
The outstanding form of Joseph Yobo, Joleon Lescott and Phil Jagielka meant Stubbs only played a bit part for the Blues earlier in the campaign but he was thrilled to see the way they developed and expects big things from them in the future.
"I did not want to be there just for the sake of it, picking up my money," said Stubbs, who feels he can keep playing for "at least" another 12 months . "Other players might do that but I’m not one of them. "But it was great to see Joe, Joleon and Jags develop. Their form meant it was going to be difficult for me to get back in the team and all credit to them. Maybe me being in the background helped in some way."

Optimistic Lee Carsley is in no mood to surrender
Apr 4 2008 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
THERE comes a point in every season when clairvoyance and mathematics become just as much a part of every football fan's life as tickets and travel details.
Supporters spend just as much time wondering where their team will pick up and drop points, studying the fixture list over and over again in the desperate hope that the goal they have been dreaming of all year will be realised. Players and management, on the other hand, tend to stick the old cliché about not looking further than the next game but Lee Carsley is only too happy to admit that he is completely different.
With six matches to go and Champions League place still within touching distance, Carsley knows every nuance of what both Everton and Liverpool have to tackle before the final ball of the campaign is kicked on May 11. Having emerged victorious at Anfield last weekend, it is clearly ‘Advantage Liverpool’ at present and, if bookmakers’ odds are anything to go by, Fernando Torres may have inflicted a fatal blow to Everton’s dreams of clinching fourth spot. Carsley, though, is not the kind of person who will give up without a fight and while many believe the Blues should be worrying more at Portsmouth gaining ground on them, he - rightly - is more interested in bridging the gap with their neighbours. Picking up one point from the last nine available has made things difficult - and there is absolutely no margin for error against Derby County this weekend - but Carsley has warned anyone who is considering writing Everton off to think again. "In the meeting we had before the game last week, the gaffer told us that no matter how it went, he was proud of everyone of us for what we have done so far," said Carsley. "But there is one thing we need to keep bearing in mind - we haven’t achieved anything yet. "We are five points behind Liverpool with six games to go. We’ve looked at their fixtures and I’m sure that they have looked at ours too. The way I see things, I think our next three games are winnable.
"If that happens, you are looking at collecting nine points. If you look at Liverpool’s next three (Arsenal away, Blackburn home, Fulham away) they have got some tough games. It won’t be easy for them. "I’m not too sure that if we go level on points with them somewhere along the line, with all they have got going on, that it might unsettle. You never know what happens in football. It’s game on but we’ve got to get back to winning ways quickly." Certainly Everton could not have wished for a better assignment on Sunday than a home game against already relegated Derby but, as Carsley points out, these games do not always go to plan. Sunderland were doomed when they arrived at Goodison Park on April Fool’s Day 2006 but still managed to secure a 2-2 draw and the Republic of Ireland midfielder knows anything but maximum concentration may leave Everton paying a heavy price.
"It could be a funny game as they won’t have a care in the world when they come here," said Carsley, who spent the first seven years of his career with Derby. "We’ve also reached the stage of the season where funny results become something of the norm. "Who would have thought that Newcastle would have gone away to Tottenham last Sunday and beaten them 4-1? These teams that don’t have much to play for seem to be the form teams at the minute. "We know how difficult it is going to be for us. To win any game in the Premier League is tough and we are going to have to be at our best. We’ve had a few days to get the Liverpool result out of our system and now we are looking forward to playing Derby. "I was at Derby a long time and hold them in great esteem. They are a fantastic club. Perhaps they had to have a go at the Premier League with one eye on the Championship. But I’m sure they won’t be in the same boat as they were a few years ago." Who lines up alongside Carsley on Sunday depends on Everton’s medical staff as lengthy injury list is playing havoc but, after a mini-break in Marbella earlier this week, there is a determination to book their places in Europe next season as soon as possible. "There is no doubt that the lads who were missing last week could easily have come in and started but the fit lads are the ones who matter at the minute," Carsley said. "Our strength has always been the fact that we can bring players in who can do just as well. "I think we need to get back in to Europe. I think we deserve it and I think that we’re at the stage now where we can cement ourselves as a top six club and with that comes the UEFA Cup." It’s great we have got something to play for in the last month of the season."

David Prentice: Why Everton fans should not be feeling down right now
Apr 4 2008 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
A SIZEABLE number of Blues had braced themselves for a season of discontent last summer. Judging by the moaning minnies who complained to this office when only Phil Jagielka had arrived at the club by July 4, many expected nothing more exhilarating than a slog to stay up. The season they’ve sat through, so far, has been anything but. A Cup semi-final, a thrilling run in Europe which yielded eight wins, one draw and a solitary defeat, an astonishing 78 goals scored and a league campaign which looks like ending in back to back European qualification for the first time in 20 years. Yett there were still a handful of murmurs after last weekend’s derby defeat.
You know the type. "He’s taken us as far as he can," "Ken-wrong" and "where’s the investment?" That’s the problem with raising expectations. Some people are never satisified. Because Everton have threatened fourth place so seriously all season, the possibility of finishing fifth is being seen in some quarters as a disappointment.
That's understandable, but wrong. It's also why David Moyes has been trying to put such a brave face on in the past three weeks and describing home draws with West Ham as a point gained in a chase for fifth rather than two dropped in the pursuit of fourth. Everton have exceeded expectations throughout this season, which is why it should be considered a success.

Chelsea offer fans free tickets for Everton clash
Apr 4 2008 Liverpool Echo
CHELSEA are giving their fans free tickets for this month’s rescheduled Barclays Premier League match at Everton. The Blues are unhappy at being asked to play two league games in the space of 72 hours after their trip to Goodison Park was rescheduled for television. The club insist the change, which sees the game put back two days to Thursday April 17, "undermines the sporting integrity of the competition", as it comes three days after they host Wigan. Chelsea will use the TV money gained from the game to pay for tickets and travel for their supporters. "We’ve continued to make very strong representations for the date of the Everton away game to be changed," Chelsea said in a statement. "This now seems unlikely. "Under these circumstances, Chelsea believes it would be inappropriate to profit from the television fee for this match as per normal." Chelsea have been allocated 2,900 seats for the game and will offer refunds to fans who have already bought tickets. They also plan to pay for train or bus tickets to get supporters to and from the Premier League game.
Everton have previously described the fixture change as an "uncomfortable precedent". At the time of the switch, the Premier League defended the move, saying: "The compilation of the fixture list is a complex procedure. "It faces enormous pressure from international match and European competition dates.", as well as the need to balance the important requirements of the police and our broadcasters.
"We are also required by the European Commission to televise 138 matches per season, which brings its own inevitable pressures."

Mikel Arteta eases exit fears
Apr 5 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
MIKEL ARTETA has apologised to Blues boss David Moyes for his agent’s comments which caused fears about his long term future this week.
And he has reassured the club he has no intention of leaving. The Spanish crowd favourite signed a deal last summer keeping him at Everton until 2012.
But his agent, Inaki Ibanez, gave an interview this week where he said: “He is one of the highest rated players in the Premier League and deserves better.
“Let me explain why. If he was playing for one of the best four clubs in England or Spain he would be an international under Luis Aragones. I am not exaggerating anything.” Moyes, however, revealed that last season’s Player of the Year had already spoken to him about the story. “It’s a load of rubbish,” said Moyes. “I spoke to him and he’s comfortable and I’m comfortable with him, so there’s no problem.
“Has he made it clear that he wants to stay? Definitely. He apologised to me this morning and I said I don’t think anything of it anyway. That’s the end of it.”

Barry Horne: Everton caught cold in derby
Apr 5 2008 by Barry Horne, Liverpool Echo
FOR once we had no on-field controversy during the derby. The best team on the day won, but from Everton’s perspective the thing which stood out was the alarming comparison with the Fiorentina game in Italy. Everton seemed surprised by the urgency, aggression and tempo with which Liverpool started, very like the season changing game in Italy. In effect the Reds outdid Everton at their own game.
Fernando Torres might have been the matchwinner, superbly finishing his only chance but the foundations were laid by a very impressive Liverpool back four.
It was too aggressive, too strong and too dominating for some of Everton’s players. A few seemed intimidated. But the undoubted star of the show, a man who didn't receive the credit deserved, was Steven Gerrard. He was everything you want from a skipper - powerful, aggressive and actually looked like he was relishing the occasion.
After the match both managers went to great lengths to deny the race for fourth place was over. It is. It would take a remarkable turnaround for Everton to pull back a five point deficit, and the Blues now have to ensure they finish in fifth.
I've said from day one that fifth place would be a major achievement - finishing top of the other Premier League if you like - and it's vitally importantEverton defeat Derby tomorrow. The match after they have just been relegated is always a dangerous time to meet a team. But Everton have to win and make sure they secure that fifth place.
This summer can be a really big time for the Blues in terms of what money is made available and what players they bring in. The break into the top four will not be made next season, but that must be the long term objective and at present Everton are moving steadily towards that.
Culprits should be banned
THE Merseyside derby was historically known as the ‘friendly derby’.
While it was never friendly on the pitch, off it the camaraderie and banter among fans was always unique, never moreso than in the Cup finals of the 1980s. Society, however, has moved on. Levels of what is acceptable and what isn’t have shifted.
Both sets of fans were as bad as each other last Sunday. Individuals spitting or making physical contact with players can bebanned. That would be a step in the right direction.
How the other half live
I WAS at the mini derby in midweek and was fully expecting to see a young Everton team. With the first team squad away and with all the injuries around the club, Andy Holden was forced to field a very young reserve side. Liverpool's line-up looked stronger, more mature and more like experienced professional footballers taking on inexperienced youngsters. What was surprising, however, was that if you took Jermaine Pennant and Nabil El Zhar out of the equation, the Liverpool team actually was a similar age to Everton's. What was also apparent was that eight of the Liverpool team had been brought in from abroad for large transfer fees. It was indicative of the way the top four do things. Chelsea played Aston Villa in an FA Youth Cup semi-final with a team of local lads, but there is a real schism between the top four and the rest. That's not a criticism or a slur against the way they do things, but it would be interesting to see how many of those players and the reserves who played this week, go on to become first team Liverpool players.

Andy King: A special signing for the Everton’s Ram-raiders
Apr 5 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
ANDY KING was an effervescent, impudent midfielder who played football with a carefree abandon – and he announced his arrival to Evertonians against Derby County in April 1976. Signed for just £35,000 from Luton Town – after the transfer deadline – League Secretary Alan Hardaker gave special permission for King to make his debut against Middlesbrough on Easter Monday. He impressed, setting up a goal for John Connolly, so Evertonians were delighted when the League also allowed him to continue on the Wednesday night at Derby just two days later. The Rams’ hopes of retaining their league title had gone, but they were still chasing a UEFA Cup place, making the League’s decision surprising. But Everton weren’t complaining when the 19-year-old scored twice in their shock 3-1 win. The Daily Post’s Horace Yates reported: “Andy is King of Everton and a mascot as well after the team’s scintillating display at Derby last night, easily the finest display they have given all season and their only regret is that this is not the halfway stage of the season instead of the finale.
“Everton badly needed strength in the middle and here a piece of astute talent spotting has produced it.” The ECHO’s Alex Goodman was just as impressed.
“It is always dangerous to pass instant judgements on players,” he wrote “but at first glance Andy King looks like being a more than usual acquisition. “As Billy Bingham said later: ‘He excited me and he was always involved in the action’.”
It wasn’t just Everton fans who were thrilled by King’s introduction to the first team.
The two goals he scored at Derby took Everton to 40 points for the season and earned himself and his team-mates a trip to Marbella. “Ole! We’re off to sunny Spain. And after last night’s brave 3-1 win at Derby no-one can deny Billy Bingham and his Everton men the right to a few days on a Marbella beach,” added Goodman.
King went on to become a fans’ favourite at Goodison, and seemed to take regular delight in tormenting Derby. He scored against The Rams the following season, again in 1978/79 and in 1979/80 chipped a rare stunner at the Baseball Ground in front of the BBC Match of the Day cameras.

Words should strike a chord at Goodison
Apr 5 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
HONESTY is the only policy by which Bill Kenwright knows how to abide, so a statement he issued last week should have struck a chord with his manager.
During Everton’s push for a Champions League place this spring, a sub plot has been developing around David Moyes’ new contract. Depending on what you have read or listened to, the key to him signing another deal depends on his summer spending power. Compared to some of their rivals, Everton’s approach to player recruitment has been prudent and Moyes has often quipped in the past that he has spent any money that has come his way as if it were his own. Such a policy has reaped dividends. While the likes of Newcastle United, Manchester City, Tottenham and West Ham shelled out fortunes last summer, every one of those clubs would pay double that amount to have Everton’s current position. Now, though, the time has come where the Blues need to invest in their playing staff once again to cement their position in the top six and - all being well - make the next jump forward. Moyes, naturally, wants reassurances that he will be supported. There is a danger, however, that the longer Moyes puts off committing his future, a sense of unease will start to spread around the club. If the manager has not put pen-to-paper, why should the players who have agreed long-term deals stick around? This is not scaremongering, far from it. Nor is it suggesting that Moyes and Kenwright have irreconcilable differences and that his six-year reign will end this summer. Moyes, for one, has publicly declared he will not walk away.
Of course, he is right to be anxious about Newcastle, Tottenham, City and Villa spending during the close season, as will Blackburn and Portsmouth, while Liverpool are sure to go on a spree, too, but Everton have made too much progress recently to stand still. And if Moyes wanted any reassurances, he need only look back at the last two years. On each occasion, he has been given every single penny that the selfless Kenwright could muster to improve things and, as he pointed out during a revealing conversation with Sir Bobby Robson in a recent interview, the same will happen again. “The easiest thing would be David and Bill sitting down and sorting out his contract,” he said. “It is what surrounds that contract that’s the difficult thing. If you get into Europe it’s different to finishing sixth or seventh, and I’m talking about financially different. “There are loads of equations. Look back at the past three or four years: last year we spent well over £20 million. We are not a club with a Champions League-type of income. But we broke our transfer record with (Ayegbeni) Yakubu last summer. “That was a risk and look at how well it has worked. The year before, I remember sitting with David and he asked if we could go to X for Andrew Johnson because that would have been our transfer record. We not only went to X, we went to X-plus. “The January of the season before that we broke our transfer record for James Beattie. We have been willing to back our manager and we will be willing to do that this summer. The chairman-manager relationship is like a marriage. “You have to be honest with each other. I have seen over the years the digs that managers can give to chairmen and vice-versa. That would never work for me. I have to be able to say the good, the bad and the ugly to David’s face, which he has to do with me.”

A word of warning over Everton star Mikel Arteta
Apr 5 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
MIKEL ARTETA would have been capped by Spain were his employers a top four side in England or Spain - so says his agent, one Inaki Ibanez.
An interview with Ibanez appeared in the San Sebastian-based newspaper Diario Vasco, where he was asked for his thoughts on a couple of clients, primarily about Bolton’s Mikel Alonso and the progress of Everton’s midfielder. For those of you who were unaware what Ibanez said - and you will be forgiven if your mind wanders back to John Sivabeck with Thomas Gravesen three years ago. “He is one of Everton’s shining stars and one of the highest rated players in The Premier League,” Ibanez declared. “Mikel Arteta deserves better. Let me explain you why.
“If he was playing for one of the best four clubs in England or Spain he would be an international under Luis Aragones. I am not exaggerating anything.”
Alternatively, he might want to look at things another way. If Arteta had improved upon his wonderful performances of last season, then he would be playing for Spain but, quite simply, he has struggled for form this year. He might have been carrying an injury for sometime but, other than the Goodison clash with Fiorentina, Arteta’s sparkle has been sadly missing and he has played as if there has been something on his mind. One is loathe to make the suggestion but statements such as the kind Ibanez has made tend to be the first step on road that leads to endless speculation and, ultimately, a move. Fingers crossed it was an attempt to get Arteta to Euro 2008 and nothing more sinister.
Remote control shames game
THE ‘best league in the world’ has revealed its true colours and shown who decides when football matches are played. In announcing last weekend that Everton’s match with Chelsea would be brought forward 48 hours from Saturday, April 19 to Thursday, April 17, the Premier League and Sky TV have thumbed their noses at football supporters everywhere. Despite protests from both clubs, the Premier League will not back down nor will Sky, who have a quota of fixtures that needbroadcasting before May 11 and, no matter what, will ensure that happens. Money, not sport, is all that matters. Everton are enraged by the decision, as are Chelsea and not just because they are being asked to play at a most ridiculous time imaginable - Thursday evening at 8pm? Hardly smacks of tradition, does it? But supporters don’t matter, do they? Never mind thousands of people must drastically alter plans or give up tickets, as long as fat cats likes of Richard Scudamore are getting their enormous salaries, everything is fine. Best league in the world? Try greediest.

Everton enter final straight aiming for a County stand
Apr 5 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON have had to take second billing to the world’s greatest steeplechase this weekend. The Blues’ home clash with Derby County has been put back until 3pm tomorrow because of the Grand National. But boss David Moyes is hoping his flagging side can take a tip from the big race. Favourites rarely win the National, and after last weekend’s derby match defeat the Blues are very much second favourites for the fourth and final Champions League place this season. But that hasn’t stopped Moyes hoping for a Devon Loch style collapse from his rivals. His side has taken just one point from their last three games, but with Liverpool kicking off at lunchtime today against Arsenal there’s a better than even chance that gap could be shortened by teatime tomorrow. “We have to do our job first and whatever Liverpool do we can’t do anything about it,” he said. “We just have to try and keep the pressure on them, but we can only do that by getting results. “The Derby County game’s the first chance we have to do something about it. “But if Liverpool beat Arsenal I don’t think you’ll be asking me the questions any more, but we have to do our bit and look for Liverpool to have one or two slip ups. “I’ve not thought about where we might finish, because teams behind us can still catch us and that’s also a worry. “So I’m not going to be daft and make predictions. I know people have made a big deal about the possibility of us finishing fourth and obviously we have to answer questions about it.
“But we’ve not been coming out and making silly statements. “We could be two points behind after this weekend, but I can’t say that until the games have been played. We could go wrong, Liverpool could win, you can’t really talk about it.
“Obviously Liverpool are big favourites. They’re five points ahead. But we said that when we were ahead of them.” Regardless of their finishing position this season, Moyes is already making plans for next term – and his words suggest he plans on sticking around as Blues boss for several seasons to come. “We need to keep adding quality to the squad,” he explained. “I think I know what we’re after. Whether they will be available or we can get them is a different thing. But I have people in mind.
“Are they big money signings? I have both in my mind, ones which might not cost too much and ones which would cost a bit more, but we’ll have to see what ones we will be able to attempt to go for. “I’m still waiting for that (my situation) to be sorted but I’ve had a conversation with Bill Kenwright and I’ll know more in the next couple of weeks probably, but we won’t get down to contracts until the end of the season, but we have had a conversation. “The club know what I want. I’ve had an opportunity to do tell them what I want to do and I’m waiting now on their response back.”
That’s for the future, but in the short term Moyes is focusing on tomorrow’s visit of newly relegated Derby County. That’s the first in a run of four home games from the Blues last six matches and Moyes added: “I’d rather have four at home than four away. Obviously some of those games are really hard and we can’t take anything for granted, but the advantage of having four at home is much better.
“If we can keep our home form going and win the majority of those games it will give us a finish with a good total.” Moyes is hoping to welcome back a couple of his walking wounded tomorrow. “I hope Andy Johnson will be fit,” he said.“He’s not trained all week but he did a bit Friday morning, so too has Victor Anichebe who hadn’t trained all week. “Tony Hibbert has a problem with his hip, although he has trained and Steven Pienaar has not trained with a bad calf strain. “We’d prefer to go two up top but we’ll have to see how everyone is.” Anichebe didn’t travel with the Blues on their warm weather training camp last week to Marbella, but Moyes revealed that the party which did make the trip enjoyed the experience. “It was a good break,” he added. “We trained Tuesday and Wednesday and I think everybody needs a little bit of break at this time of year because of the weather. “It’s been a hurricane for a month near enough, but it’s the first time we’ve had a chance to get away.
“We would normally have done it earlier if we could have, but there were no dates available. “Mentally we would have preferred to have been playing a UEFA Cup tie last week, because you don’t turn off then. “But because we didn’t have that it was important that we tried to freshen the players up a little bit and hopefully we’ll see the benefit against Derby County.”

Everton 1, Derby County 0 (Echo)
Apr 7 2008
By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
THIS victory ensured that Everton are now just a single win away from securing their highest Premier League points total – but the sighs of relief around Goodison Park from the home support suggested that David Moyes’s side are currently a long way off their best form of the season. Derby County are on course to receive the dubious honour of becoming the worst-ever side to find themselves out of their depth in Premier League history having so far failed to accumulate enough points to stop them from driving. Yet at no point yesterday afternoon did any of the watching Evertonians feel that an all-important three points were secure until Andre Marriner blew the full-time whistle. The statistics of how truly awful Derby have been this season are quite alarming. This loss created a new Premier League record of 27 games without a win – and their 1-0 home success against Newcastle remains their only league victory of the season. Unless the Rams can average a point a game over the remaining five fixtures of the campaign – their current figure is a paltry third of a point – then they will eclipse Sunderland’s all-time low points total of just 15 set two years ago. Yet with the shackles of their miserable season finally lifted with relegation having been confirmed following last weekend’s 2-2 draw at home to a Fulham side who are also seemingly doomed, a more carefree Derby were able to give Moyes’s European hopefuls a real scare. Even after Everton had finally broken the deadlock through Leon Osman 56 minutes in, they laboured through the remainder of this contest as the Rams threatened to equalise on several occasions. Such has been Everton’s progress this season that it would now be a major catastrophe for the team not to go on to achieve the twin goals of European qualification – whether it be another UEFA Cup campaign or even the unlikely crack at the Champions League that remains a possibility – and their highest points total of the Premier League era. The current best, which has been reached twice, stands at 61, which secured an Andrei Kanchelskis-inspired sixth spot in 1995-96 – Joe Royle’s only full season in charge – and fourth place under Moyes in 2004-05 when Everton finished above European Cup-winning neighbours Liverpool for the first time in 18 years. Much of Everton’s success this season has come from winning the fixtures that they’d be expecting to and avoiding any potential slip-ups and yesterday was no different as in the time-honoured fashion of successful teams they secured the three points without playing well. But worryingly for Evertonians as the campaign enters its final month, these kind of poor displays have become the norm since their cruel penalty shoot-out defeat to Fiorentina in the UEFA Cup. Perhaps the loss to Fulham could be put down to Everton’s illogical Craven Cottage jinx which sees the home side triumph whenever these two clubs have met in a league clash since 1966. However, since then there has been the 1-1 home draw with West Ham when Everton lost their way and only the width of the post saved them from defeat and the 1-0 derby defeat at Anfield when Moyes’s injured-hit side looked toothless. Moyes made three changes to the side that had started that game as Leighton Baines came into the defence at left-back with Joleon Lescott switching to the centre and Phil Jagielka dropping to the bench while injury victims Tony Hibbert and Steven Pienaar were replaced by Manuel Fernandes and the fit-again Andrew Johnson as captain Phil Neville reverted to right-back in a 4-4-2 formation. Unable to give injured January recruit from Everton Alan Stubbs a Goodison return, Paul Jewell named an unchanged line-up to the side that had faced Fulham. The hosts started brightly and almost netted early on when Dean Leacock headed towards his own goal during a penalty box scramble but after failing to break the deadlock, they failed to take a grip on proceedings. Tim Howard did well to save from Mile Sterjovski after Manuel Fernandes has lost possession to Hossam Ghaly but it was Everton’s top scorer Yakubu, just a single strike away from becoming the club’s first 20-goal marksman of the Premier League era, who was guilty of the worst miss. Indeed, the Nigerian’s blooper could almost rival that of Liverpool’s Ronny Rosenthal’s infamous miss at Aston Villa. Leighton Baines, whose debut season at Goodison has been overshadowed by a serious of injuries since he fell victim to an uncompromising challenge by Derby’s Darren Moore in the corresponding fixture at Pride Park back in October, was producing one of his liveliest displays of the campaign and whipped a low delivery across the box from the left wing. Although the ball did bobble before it came to Yakubu’s feet, it seemed inexplicable for any player, never mind a scorer as prolific as the former Portsmouth and Middlesbrough man to miss – but the Nigerian somehow hit his effort over the bar from barely five yards out. After the break, Yakubu scuffed another effort across the face of Derby’s goal after Roy Carroll had parried a 25-yard snap shot by Fernandes but luckily for him and Everton, his misses did not cost his side the game thanks to Osman’s 56th-minute effort. Ever since Fernandes returned to Everton on loan in January he has been trying to threat through ambitious ‘killer passes’ to his team-mates but has often only succeeded in giving the ball away, often in dangerous positions. However, this time the Portuguese under-21 international showed the class he is capable of producing as he cut inside from the left wing and picked out Osman between Moore and Leacock with pinpoint accuracy and the Everton youth team graduate composed himself before slotting home with a smart left-foot finish past Roy Carroll just as the sleet started to fall. The Northern Ireland international saved well from Osman on at least a further two occasions while at the other end, Howard , who used to contest the goalkeeper’s jersey at Old Trafford with Carroll, ensured he kept his 14th Premier League clean sheet of the season, with an impressive block with his feet to deny Emanuel Villa. Having now returned to winning ways, no matter how unconvincing the performance was, Everton, who played this game yesterday because of the John Smith’s Grand National at Aintree on Saturday, will now hope to avoid falling at the final hurdle or limping over the finish line in their quest for a European spot.

Everton 1, Derby County 0 (D,Post)
Apr 7 2008
By Christopher Beesley, Liverpool Daily Post
THIS victory ensured that Everton are now just a single win away from securing their highest Premier League points total – but the sighs of relief around Goodison Park from the home support suggested that David Moyes’s side are currently a long way off their best form of the season. Derby County are on course to receive the dubious honour of becoming the worst-ever side to find themselves out of their depth in Premier League history having so far failed to accumulate enough points to stop them from driving. Yet at no point yesterday afternoon did any of the watching Evertonians feel that an all-important three points were secure until Andre Marriner blew the full-time whistle. The statistics of how truly awful Derby have been this season are quite alarming. This loss created a new Premier League record of 27 games without a win – and their 1-0 home success against Newcastle remains their only league victory of the season. Unless the Rams can average a point a game over the remaining five fixtures of the campaign – their current figure is a paltry third of a point – then they will eclipse Sunderland’s all-time low points total of just 15 set two years ago. Yet with the shackles of their miserable season finally lifted with relegation having been confirmed following last weekend’s 2-2 draw at home to a Fulham side who are also seemingly doomed, a more carefree Derby were able to give Moyes’s European hopefuls a real scare. Even after Everton had finally broken the deadlock through Leon Osman 56 minutes in, they laboured through the remainder of this contest as the Rams threatened to equalise on several occasions. Such has been Everton’s progress this season that it would now be a major catastrophe for the team not to go on to achieve the twin goals of European qualification – whether it be another UEFA Cup campaign or even the unlikely crack at the Champions League that remains a possibility – and their highest points total of the Premier League era. The current best, which has been reached twice, stands at 61, which secured an Andrei Kanchelskis-inspired sixth spot in 1995-96 – Joe Royle’s only full season in charge – and fourth place under Moyes in 2004-05 when Everton finished above European Cup-winning neighbours Liverpool for the first time in 18 years. Much of Everton’s success this season has come from winning the fixtures that they’d be expecting to and avoiding any potential slip-ups and yesterday was no different as in the time-honoured fashion of successful teams they secured the three points without playing well. But worryingly for Evertonians as the campaign enters its final month, these kind of poor displays have become the norm since their cruel penalty shoot-out defeat to Fiorentina in the UEFA Cup. Perhaps the loss to Fulham could be put down to Everton’s illogical Craven Cottage jinx which sees the home side triumph whenever these two clubs have met in a league clash since 1966. However, since then there has been the 1-1 home draw with West Ham when Everton lost their way and only the width of the post saved them from defeat and the 1-0 derby defeat at Anfield when Moyes’s injured-hit side looked toothless. Moyes made three changes to the side that had started that game as Leighton Baines came into the defence at left-back with Joleon Lescott switching to the centre and Phil Jagielka dropping to the bench while injury victims Tony Hibbert and Steven Pienaar were replaced by Manuel Fernandes and the fit-again Andrew Johnson as captain Phil Neville reverted to right-back in a 4-4-2 formation. Unable to give injured January recruit from Everton Alan Stubbs a Goodison return, Paul Jewell named an unchanged line-up to the side that had faced Fulham. The hosts started brightly and almost netted early on when Dean Leacock headed towards his own goal during a penalty box scramble but after failing to break the deadlock, they failed to take a grip on proceedings. Tim Howard did well to save from Mile Sterjovski after Manuel Fernandes has lost possession to Hossam Ghaly but it was Everton’s top scorer Yakubu, just a single strike away from becoming the club’s first 20-goal marksman of the Premier League era, who was guilty of the worst miss. Indeed, the Nigerian’s blooper could almost rival that of Liverpool’s Ronny Rosenthal’s infamous miss at Aston Villa. Leighton Baines, whose debut season at Goodison has been overshadowed by a serious of injuries since he fell victim to an uncompromising challenge by Derby’s Darren Moore in the corresponding fixture at Pride Park back in October, was producing one of his liveliest displays of the campaign and whipped a low delivery across the box from the left wing. Although the ball did bobble before it came to Yakubu’s feet, it seemed inexplicable for any player, never mind a scorer as prolific as the former Portsmouth and Middlesbrough man to miss – but the Nigerian somehow hit his effort over the bar from barely five yards out. After the break, Yakubu scuffed another effort across the face of Derby’s goal after Roy Carroll had parried a 25-yard snap shot by Fernandes but luckily for him and Everton, his misses did not cost his side the game thanks to Osman’s 56th-minute effort. Ever since Fernandes returned to Everton on loan in January he has been trying to threat through ambitious ‘killer passes’ to his team-mates but has often only succeeded in giving the ball away, often in dangerous positions. However, this time the Portuguese under-21 international showed the class he is capable of producing as he cut inside from the left wing and picked out Osman between Moore and Leacock with pinpoint accuracy and the Everton youth team graduate composed himself before slotting home with a smart left-foot finish past Roy Carroll just as the sleet started to fall. The Northern Ireland international saved well from Osman on at least a further two occasions while at the other end, Howard , who used to contest the goalkeeper’s jersey at Old Trafford with Carroll, ensured he kept his 14th Premier League clean sheet of the season, with an impressive block with his feet to deny Emanuel Villa. Having now returned to winning ways, no matter how unconvincing the performance was, Everton, who played this game yesterday because of the John Smith’s Grand National at Aintree on Saturday, will now hope to avoid falling at the final hurdle or limping over the finish line in their quest for a European spot.

Make mine a double - Leon Osman
Apr 7 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
MATCH-WINNER Leon Osman today mapped out his dream end to the season - to score 10 goals and help Everton book a place in the Champions League.
The Blues made hard work of closing the gap on fourth placed Liverpool yesterday but, thanks to Osman’s seventh of the campaign, the deficit between them is now three points after they beat Derby County 1-0 at Goodison Park. Though time is running out for Everton – there are now only five games left – Osman believes their first victory in the Premier League since March 9 has given everyone at the club a lift at just the right time. Now he wants to help lead the charge by embarking on a scoring spree between now and May 11 to reach double figures for the first time in his career and help ease the pressure on forwards Ayegbeni Yakubu and Andrew Johnson.
“I’m always happy with every goal I score but that one was very nice,” said Osman, who broke the deadlock with a fierce left foot shot after Manuel Fernandes sent him clear. “Can I get to 10? I hope so. I want to score in every game. That’s always the way. But if I score three in the next three games, I’d then want to get to 12 and wouldn’t be happy if I missed that target. “That’s the way I work. We have played very well this season and scored a few goals. I’m fifth in the charts at the minute and while I feel as if I have had a decent return, I still think I can get a couple more before the end.” While Osman was thrilled to get on the scoresheet, he was more pleased with what it meant for the team. Everton were certainly not at their best but the midfielder reckons they have now turned the corner. “As everyone knows, we have had a little stumble recently,” said Osman. “No wins in three and only one point wasn’t good enough and it was vital that we got back to winning ways. Thankfully, we put that right. “Derby made it difficult and they played some really good football. They showed why they got into the Premier League in the first place. The first half was pretty ugly and we gave the ball away too much. We knew we had to up it in the second half. “The gap between ourselves and Liverpool is not insurmountable and we will keep going.”

It wasn't pretty but Euro bid is back on track
Apr 7 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
IT costs £33 for a main stand ticket at Goodison. Which means leaving your seat a quarter of an hour from time to miss the car park crush is the equivalent of tossing a fiver down the drain. Usually. The frozen and frustrated fan who left his seat with a full 17 minutes remaining yesterday missed . . . not very much at all. A couple of injury time corners, Mikel Arteta breaking the habits of an afternoon by over-hitting a cross rather than under-hitting it, and even a booking for Robbie Savage – which failed to raise any ironic cheers so bored were the fans. There were plenty more empty seats by the time the fourth official’s board was raised, so turgid was this end of season encounter. But at least Everton avoided any more upsets after the points dropped against Fulham and West Ham. Taking three points from newly relegated Derby was an absolute necessity, not because any hopes still linger about catching Liverpool, but because Aston Villa found a fantastic result just when their season appeared to have foundered and Portsmouth now have the kind of spring in their step only FA Cup finalists possess. The Blues have been playing like a team which has seen two major prizes snatched away from them in the space of a fortnight and are now left with a consolation prize. It should be noted, however, that back to back European qualification is a significant consolation. It’s 30 years since Everton enjoyed that kind of consistency, the third and fourth place finishes of the late 70s securing back to back UEFA Cup campaigns. And ragged and tatty though yesterday’s win was, it ensures the Blues are still bang on target for achieving that aim.
That’s cause for celebration, although there was little else to commend on a wretched afternoon. In truth warm weather training in sunny Spain is hardly ideal preparation for a freezing April afternoon punctuated by sleet and snow showers.
And while Derby played with the release and the freedom from pressure a newly-relegated side can enjoy, they are still a relegated side – in other words one of the three worst sides in the top flight. Hossam Ghaly was a playmaker of rare drive and vision, but was surrounded by so much flotsam. Perhaps the only time a chant of “the baby’s not yours” can be justified inside a football stadium is in regard to Andy Todd.
Dad Colin was one of the most cultured, composed and classy centre-backs of his era. Andy is a junkyard dog of a defender and a yellow card for a lunge at Leighton Baines was an inevitability. Everton’s players are comfortably more accomplished. But far too many appear to be wilting now the finishing line is in sight. Arteta’s groin problems must surely still be niggling, given the sloppy distribution he displayed, Yakubu’s touch was uncharacteristically heavy while Joseph Yobo always gave the impression of being just one moment of indecision away from a monumental blunder.
Then there was Manuel Fernandes. The on-loan midfielder’s first half performance seemed mere confirmation of his imminent departure. But in the second half he produced enough flashes of inspiration to give his manager at least some food for thought. One was the moment which settled the match. The Portuguese paused to assess the options in front of him, in the manner only the truly talented can do, then drilled a precisely weighted pass into the path of the defence splitting run Leon Osman had made. Fortunately Osman was equally talented enough to take advantage.
Moyes has a big decision to make this summer on Fernandes’ future, and his words afterwards did little to discourage. “He has everything in his locker to become a top midfielder. I think he’s a talented player,” he declared. “I thought bits of him recently have been very good. I thought he came on in the derby last week and actually passed the ball very well. “He’s a young player who probably needs a bit of settling down in his career, maybe a wee bit of love and attention.” The most telling comment, however, was Moyes’ final sentence. “It might be a bit unfair to judge him on today.”
You could apply that to everybody. Everton should be happy to take the points and run . . . just like the Main Stand early darter.

David Moyes tells Everton duo: Keep impressing
Apr 7 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES has tossed down the gauntlet to yesterday's Goodison matchwinners.
The Blues boss wants more goals from Leon Osman – and has urged on-loan Manuel Fernandes to prove he’s worth a permanent contract. The two players combined to break down Derby’s stubborn resistance at Goodison Park. Fernandes played the defence-splitting pass and Osman applied a comprehensive finish. Afterwards Moyes said: “We are always looking for quality players. “He’s not done as much as we’d hoped so far. But he might get his opportunity in the coming weeks to see if he can do that. “He has everything in his locker to become a top midfielder. I think he's a talented player and I thought bits of him recently have been very good. He came on in the derby last week and actually passed the ball very well. “He’s a young player who probably needs a bit of settling down in his career; not so much moving around and maybe a wee bit of love and attention.” On match winner Osman, Moyes added: “I thought Leon Osman made the difference to the team when he moved into the middle of the park. The 20 minutes or so that he spent in there was probably the difference.
“I think his best position is central midfield, but for a lot of the time he has been in the wide positions. “He can score goals as he did today – and he nearly got a second.
“He did well, but I expect more goals from him. I think he has to add that. I think consistently he plays well for us and he is reliable when he plays.
“I move him around into three or four different roles and he does it without a murmur.” The Blues boss added: “We’ve won 18 league games and that’s 60 points we have now. Sixty one is our best ever in the Premier League and we’re looking to smash that. We can end with a very healthy points tally.”

Victory over Middlesbrough secures second spot
Apr 8 2008
Academy football
By Chris Wright, Liverpool Daily Post
GOALS from Jose Baxter and substitute Danny Redmond made sure of second place in the Premier Academy League north west section as Everton under-18s side scored an impressive 2-0 win at Middlesbrough on Saturday. Neil Dewsnip’s side are too far behind leaders Manchester City to catch them, but at least they will finish as runners-up after another excellent display. Everton started brightly, and Kieren Agard went close with one effort, while Cory Sinnott headed another chance over the bar. Middlesbrough, though, came into the match more and ironically Everton took the lead during this period. England youth international forward Baxter curled a superb 25-yard free-kick into the top corner. Middlesbrough tried to hit back but on 65 minutes Everton doubled their lead. And it again came from a free-kick as substitute Redmond delivered the ball in from out wide and it evaded everyone and went into the net. Dewsnip was delighted with the performance but feels they could have had even greater reward for the season’s efforts. He said: “Once we knew we couldn’t finish top of the section we wanted to finish as high as we could. We have done that, but we could easily have run Manchester City closer, because there were a few games at the start of the year we should have won. “To put it into context, though, we have played almost all the season with an under-17s team and our best U17 (Jack Rodwell) has been with the first team a lot. So if we can keep the group together, potentially we could be stronger.” Everton will look to continue in the good form they have been right up to the end of the campaign. They have just two matches left. The finish their campaign at north west section winners Manchester City on April 19. But first they play their final home match of the campaign at Finch Farm this Saturday against Barnsley. Dewsnip said: “We will try and finish the season properly. Now we are confirmed second we will refocus and try and win these last two games.” EVERTON UNDER-18s: Stubhaug; Barnett, McArdle, Sinnott, McCarten; McCready, Krenn (Redmond 60), O’Kane, Baxter; Agard (Powell 80), Codling (Sheppard 80).

Tim Howard sets his sights on Everton record
Apr 8 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
TIM HOWARD has five games left to make another entry into Everton's record books. The United States international recorded his 14th Premier League clean sheet of the campaign during Sunday’s 1-0 win over Derby County to move within one of Neville Southall’s best of 15, set in 1995-96. Howard already boasts one Goodison Park best in that he became the first goalkeeper with an average of conceding less than one goal a game in his first 50 appearances and now he has his sights set on another target. He came close last season to achieving the feat but was denied on the final day of the campaign when Didier Drogba scored for Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
However, Everton’s outstanding defensive form has been one of the highlights of this campaign and the former Manchester United man has faith in the men in front of him.
“I am really happy with the situation here and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.
“Joleon (Lescott) and Joseph (Yobo) have been at the back most of the season and I feel very comfortable with those guys. But it’s been the same when Jags has been there too.” Meanwhile, Manuel Fernandes is determined to raise his game to help Everton finish as high as they can - and possibly win himself an extended stay at the club. The Portugal midfielder has struggled with injury and, when he has played, looked a pale shadow of the player who sparkled 12 months ago, but after setting up Leon Osman’s winner against Derby, he is hoping to push on. “It’s been a little bit disappointing for me,” said Fernandes. “Things are starting to get better but when you get injured it’s always a blow. “I’m just trying to get past that and help in the five games ahead.”

Nigel Martyn: Moyes has to be the signing of the summer
Apr 8 2008 by Nigel Martyn, Liverpool Echo
SOME will say a midfielder, others may suggest pursuing a forward but, in my view, Everton’s main signing this summer must be the man who prowls the technical area.
There has been a lot of talk recently about whether the manager will put his name to a new deal, but I don’t really see how there can be any doubt about him not doing so – he and Everton are the perfect match. David is the right man at the right club. He knows the expectations of the supporters and he understands the history – I’ll never forget him emphasising to James Beattie when he signed how the crowd here love their strikers and had such a great tradition. It’s little things like that which confirm how much he has bought into the place himself and could you honestly imagine anyone else being in charge of the team at this moment ? Exactly. That’s why he needs to be tied down on another long term deal. It has taken time but, finally, Everton are established as a top six club and now David will be looking to take the next step. I can guarantee that nobody will be working harder than he to make it happen.
All being well, that deal will be penned shortly after the final ball of the campaign has been kicked and then I’m sure he will begin the search to make a couple of additions to his backroom staff. Andy Holden, Chris Woods and Jimmy Lumsden have all helped fill the void left by Alan Irvine’s departure. But another body is needed there, someone who can help ease some of the demands on the manager’s time. He is not the type of person who can do anything at less than 100 per cent. He is one of the first at the training ground every morning and normally doesn’t leave until late in the evening. The success he has had has got nothing to do with good fortune.
Of course, what he has done at Goodison Park will have made other clubs sit up and take notice but, if and when the time comes for him to move, the only place he will be going is up – moving to a Newcastle or Tottenham, say, would be going sideways or down. Hopefully, though, that scenario will not happen for some time and I’ve no doubts that Bill Kenwright will have matters in hand. What’s more, signing the core of the squad on long deals shows he is planning for the future. The one thing he wants to do more than anything else is bring a piece of silverware back and, all being well, that will happen in the next couple of years. First things first, however. Let’s see that contract signed once and for all.
Leon Osman deserves place in spotlight
THERE were huge sighs of relief that winning ways were resumed against Derby County on Sunday and the identity of the match winner was especially pleasing.
Leon Osman doesn’t always get the credit he deserves but he was man of the match by some distance at the weekend and he showed exactly what he is capable of with a wonderful run and finish. He is a very good footballer and if he maintains this progress in 12 months’ time we could be talking about him receiving an England call-up. At present, Ossie is doing an outstanding job for Everton. When he first emerged, there were some question marks whether he would go all the way. It would have been easy to fall by the wayside, as there were times when he was overlooked and struggled to get in the team. But he has matured into a top player and deserves every credit for maximising his talent. More gifted individuals than he have not achieved anything in football because they could not match his work rate, application and dedication.
In some ways, he reminds me of Gareth Southgate, who looked a decent midfielder when he was with me at Crystal Palace but dug in, reinvented himself and ended up winning a stack of England caps. It would be terrific, then, if Ossie could follow Gareth’s lead.
Brum will be a tense test
THE victory over Derby might not have been a classic but three points were the only thing that mattered and it sets us up nicely for the run in. Saying that, we will be in for a tough time at Birmingham on Saturday. They need the points as much as we do and it promises to be another tense affair. Only time will tell if James McFadden is fit enough to return after knee surgery and if he is back, we will need to keep a close eye on him. He, after all, will want to prove a point.

Brett Angell pays tribute to David Moyes
Apr 8 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
DIXIE DEAN was the theme of the Everton Shareholders' Association annual dinner on Saturday - but it was another centre-forward who captured the imagination with a stirring after dinner speech. Brett Angell made just 16 starts for the Blues in the mid-1990s, but he spoke about the dramatic change in attitude and expectations since then.
“It was a time when Everton was perhaps content to avoid relegation and maybe enjoy the occasional cup run,” he said, “but under David Moyes people are talking about winning silverware again and that’s the way Everton should be thinking.”
Angell was joined by former Blues heroes Derek Mountfield, Jimmy Harris, Gordon West and Dave Hickson at Goodison Park. Chairman Bill Kenwright spoke of his disappointment at the club’s European exit, but his pride at the progress which had been made this season, while deputy Chief Executive Robert Elstone was also present.
Local TV company Tabacula offered a tantalising glimpse of their planned Dixie Dean documentary, a moving trailer which left some of the audience in tears, while there was a special presentation to Evertonian innovator Dr David France.
Association chairman Anne Asquith paid tribute to the man who created the Everton Former Players’ Foundation, established the Gwladys Street Hall of Fame, wrote 16 Everton books and recently handed over the world renowned David France Collection to the Everton Charitable Trust. “As well as his incredible achievements he’s one of the nicest men I’ve ever met,” said Anne.

Steven Pienaar eager to sort Everton future
Apr 9 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
STEVEN PIENAAR today voiced his concerns over Everton's failure to turn his loan move into a permanent deal. The Blues had been confident they would secure Pienaar’s services long term after positive discussions with his representatives last month. But, since then, haggling over certain issues has resulted in deadlock.
However, Goodison officials remain confident the deal will be completed shortly.
But the South African international, who is wanted by at least two other Premier League clubs, is becoming increasingly anxious. Everton have until April 30 to take advantage of the cut-price £2.2m fee they have agreed with Pienaar’s present club, Borussia Dortmund. “I’m in the dark,” said Pienaar, who missed Sunday’s 1-0 win over Derby County with a calf injury. “I’m still under contract to Borussia Dortmund until June 2009 and only when they give me the go-ahead can I start to negotiate with any club. “They will only give me this permission when they have reached an agreement with a club that wishes to buy me. So far, I have not been informed by Dortmund that they have reached agreement with Everton.” Pienaar may have been one of the least heralded of David Moyes’ signings last summer, but he has emerged as a hugely important player, and is settled on Merseyside. Pienaar is quick to stress that he has not been in discussions with any other clubs and wants to stay at Goodison – but admits time is running out. “I came to Everton with the aim of establishing myself in the Premiership,” said Pienaar. “I have worked really hard and tried to play my part in helping the club have a memorable season so far and I have enjoyed my time here. “I think I have done well and much more than that in my first season in a new league would be difficult to achieve. “The fans have also been so fantastic – the way they get behind the team and the way they have accepted me has been special.
“ But the clock is ticking for me. “I have a maximum transfer fee of 3 million Euros in my contract with Dortmund that is only valid until 30 April. “I cannot allow this deadline to expire because this is a transfer fee that is affordable to a number of clubs, particularly in the Premiership. “I can only wait for a few more days for Everton to reach agreement with Dortmund.”

Mikel Arteta doubt for Birmingham City trip
Apr 10 2008 Dominic King Liverpool Echo
EVERTON are sweating on Mikel Arteta’s fitness as they prepare for Saturday’s crucial trip to Birmingham. The Spanish midfielder was substituted late on during last Sunday’s 1-0 win over Derby County and has not trained all week after complaining of muscular pains in his stomach and abdomen. Arteta has been dogged by fitness problems throughout the second half of the season and has even been back to Spain to see a specialist to try to find the cause of the problem. David Moyes admitted today that Arteta is "doubtful" for a clash at St Andrews that Everton must win if they want to put pressure on Liverpool in the race for fourth, as are Steven Pienaar and Tony Hibbert. Though he is short on numbers, Moyes has no doubts about the belief and commitment of his squad and knows they will give him everything they have got in the final five games. "We didn’t play against Derby but we got the win, which was vital," said Moyes. "Obviously we want to play as well as we can in every game but at this stage of the season, the only thing that matters is winning. "Just look back at the game against Fiorentina. We played terrifically that night but didn’t get through, so all we are really interested in now is getting three points. "We have not done awfully well against the teams down in the bottom half of the table recently and we want that to change against Birmingham but they will make it as difficult as they can for us.
"But the players have shown great leadership throughout the season and I’m sure they will continue to do that in the last five games. I have got no worries on that score.
"They have been terrific for us all season, so I see no reason why that will change now." Liverpool’s progress into the Champions League semi-finals has raised suggestions that Rafa Benitez may take his eye off the ball domestically but Moyes does not subscribe to that theory. "I haven’t even considered what Liverpool are doing at the minute," he said. "All I am worried about is my team and the trip to Birmingham. We have got a chance to get a result on the board.

Kevin Ratcliffe: Blue meanies are tribute to David Moyes
Apr 10 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DURING a season when records have tumbled with increasing regularity, Everton’s defenders are homing in on another landmark. While last Sunday’s victory over Derby County will not live long in the memory, for Tim Howard, Joseph Yobo and company it was another step nearer achieving the Blues’ best defensive record in two decades.
Since their first Premier League clean sheet against Middlesbrough on September 30, another 13 have followed, meaning their goals against column makes impressive reading. To date, Everton have conceded just 27 times in domestic combat and – provided they maintain their miserly ways between now and May 11 – are on course to achieve the best figure since Colin Harvey’s side in 1987-88. The Blues failed to defend the First Division title that year but it was not down to the efforts of the men at the back, who were breached on just 27 occasions during a 40-game campaign.
At the heart of that rearguard were Kevin Ratcliffe and Dave Watson, two men who made defending an art form, and the former believes the current crop have all the attributes to make sure their present tally stays under 30. But what has impressed Ratcliffe most this year is the fact David Moyes has not had a settled central partnership. Whether it has been Yobo and Joleon Lescott or Phil Jagielka, it hasn’t made a difference – Everton have remained difficult to break down.
“I’m still not sure who the best two to play together are, so for the record to be so good at the moment shows how well the three lads have played,” said the most decorated captain in Everton’s history, who made 491 appearances during his time at Goodison. “There has never been a steady partnership, like there was with myself and ‘Waggy’ back then, which makes things all the more remarkable. “It also tells you how much the squad has improved when David can make changes yet not dilute the quality.” Quality is certainly a word you would associate with Everton’s current number one and just as Neville Southall used to rescue Ratcliffe and Watson on occasions, the same is true now as Howard has proven himself to be ultra-reliable.
“He has been a really big plus,” Ratcliffe agreed. “When you have someone behind you who fills you with so much confidence, it makes things easier and I’m sure that’s how Jagielka, Yobo and Lescott feel with Tim Howard. “If ever a striker managed to get past us, we never used to pull them down because they still had to beat Big Nev. More often than not, they couldn’t do that. “The first thing a defence needs to prosper is a good keeper and Everton have that.” Yobo and Lescott are likely to be the men in the middle on Saturday at St Andrews, as the Blues look to keep the pressure on Liverpool in the race for fourth place, and Ratcliffe is an admirer of both men.
He, though, has been taken with the way Jagielka – who made way last weekend so Leighton Baines could return at left-back – has progressed since moving to Goodison from Sheffield United last summer and believes he has plenty more to offer.
“I’ve been most impressed with Jagielka,” said Ratcliffe. “Central defence is going to be his long-term position. “He’s not the tallest but he leaps well, has got good pace and doesn’t tend to make too many mistakes with his distribution. “But the defence in general has been terrific this year and you expect them now to keep clean sheets wherever they go. “Can we still get fourth place? You never know. We’ve just got to hope Liverpool take their eye off the ball and we can capitalise.”

The Jury: Has the Goodison atmosphere gone flat this season?
Apr 10 2008 Liverpool Echo
David Wallbank, Huyton
EVERTONIANS have seen lots of wins at home this season, and when called upon we have been amazing. During the games against Chelsea and Fiorentina I thought we were a credit to the club. We pushed the boys as far as we could, but did we get what we deserved as supporters? Sadly, the answer was no I can’t think of another club more deserving of silverware. I would dismiss any calls for the Newcastle fans to be given praise for their support. Unlike the Geordies, Everton and the majority of the fans have stood by David Moyes and this has proved a success. It does seem that Evertonians need motivating to create a good atmosphere. It’s usually a poor refereeing performance that raises the fans’ voices and makes Goodison an intimidating place to play at. I would rather it be the passion on the pitch encouraging the blues fans to raise the volume.
Mike Williamson, Chester
GENERALLY, the support the fans have given the team this season has been terrific.
Both the manager and players have acknowledged that during the season – and the team has reacted superbly. You only have to look back over the superb UEFA Cup run as an example of the vociferous backing – and that includes the away legs when the travelling armies certainly made themselves heard! A packed Goodison has always been regarded as an intimidating cauldron for any opposition, and even the likes of United, Chelsea and Arsenal have found that out down the years. The atmosphere at home can be second to none as the fans have shown their appreciation for the performances which have taken us so close to the Champions League.
You can put the subdued atmosphere at the West Ham game down to the tenseness of the occasion. Derby County? Well, that was simply one of those games . . .
Richard Knights, West Derby
WITH football there’s that strange reciprocal relationship where the crowd can affect the players and vice versa. Bill Shankly was the first to explain and articulate it with his theory of the fans as ‘the 12th man’. It’s been a weird atmosphere at Goodison recently. Yakubu’s miss against Derby County cast a pall of gloom, unsettled the crowd and their nervousness was communicated back to the players. Games against Liverpool should bring out the best but Everton’s insipid, listless and passionless display didn’t lift the spirits. Next Thursday’s match against Chelsea is the perfect opportunity to get the crowd back behind the team. Goodison is still an ‘intimidating’ venue. Three years ago there was that game against Man Utd with Gary Neville and Scholes red carded, Duncan’s headed winner and his wild Braveheart goal celebration that set the crowd alight. The players and the crowd have to play their part. The prize of European football and fifth place is still within our grasp.
Tony Scott, Walton
"I LOVE to play Everton, especially at Goodison Park, where the atmosphere is magnificent," – Jose Mourinho "Everton's ground is a lot more aggressive than Liverpool's. It's been one of the noisiest I've been to." – Arsene Wenger.
"They had a big crowd behind them . . . Intimidation from the crowd is always there and we certainly had plenty of that." – Alex Ferguson Three highly decorated, title-winning managers give their accounts of the cauldron of noise that Goodison Park can be. Just ask Fiorentina coach Cesare Prandelli what he thinks of the recent Goodison crowd. Since then, our famous old ground has been muted by comparison. But which stadium would be bouncing during nerve-shredders against West Ham and then a woeful show against the worst side, while everyone is freezing and soaked with snow?
An official survey in 2007 found Goodison to be the fifth noisiest ground in the country, and one with the most incessant chanting.

David Moyes: We can break points record
Apr 11 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES today challenged his Everton squad to break another record and move a step closer to securing a return to Europe next season. If the Blues beat Birmingham tomorrow, they will move on to 63 points – the highest tally achieved by the club since the inception of the Premier League in 1992. With his side already on course to concede the fewest goals in a season since 1988 and also on the verge of achieving their finest scoring return under his management, Moyes wants this campaign to be laced with personal bests. Most importantly, though, the manager wants a victory at St Andrews to boost Everton’s hopes of finishing in the top four and believes they can build on last Sunday’s hard-fought triumph against Derby.
“The motivation is there for us this weekend,” said Moyes, who will assess the fitness of Mikel Arteta (groin), Tony Hibbert (hip) and Steven Pienaar (calf) before naming his starting line-up. “We have set a couple of records already this season and I want us to try and set a few more before we finish. “It would be great to get three points for our best ever tally but we need them even more so we are guaranteed to finish fifth at the very minimum. “We have done well away from home (Everton have won 14 times on their travels in all competitions so far) and with only two games left, maybe people will see this as our most realistic chance to get another victory. But we will need to be at our best.” Birmingham are hoping that former Everton striker James McFadden will return to their starting line-up after undergoing keyhole surgery on his knee and, if he is fit, Moyes knows the Scotland international will be fired up. Chances for McFadden to shine at Goodison Park were limited before he moved to Birmingham in a near £6m deal during the last transfer window but Moyes has nothing other than praise for the man he brought south of the border in 2003. “Faddy was terrific for us,” he said. “We never had a problem with him. It was right for him to leave, as he wanted regular football and we ended up getting a good price for him. “Do I have regrets about selling him? There have been times because we have had a few injuries to our strikers but I couldn’t have said to James in January ‘wait here as you might be needed in a couple of months’. That wouldn’t have been fair to him.” Meanwhile, tomorrow’s game will be the last time Everton kick-off at 3pm on a Saturday afternoon until next season after the Premier League confirmed that the trip to Arsenal has been switched – solely for television purposes – from Saturday, May 3 to Sunday May 4 (1.30pm).

Leighton Baines: Patience the key in battle for Everton starting spot
Apr 11 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
IN an era when big price tags are usually accompanied by big egos and even bigger demands, it is refreshing to hear Leighton Baines’ views on his lack of first team involvement. Baines became the most expensive defender in Everton’s history last summer when he was signed from Wigan Athletic in a £6m deal, but, for one reason or another, his chances to impress have been few and far between. For some capricious individuals, that would be enough to phone their agent and demand they start seeking a move to a club where they would be guaranteed a regular starting place, but Baines is certainly not cut from that cloth. Rather than spend his time moping around and wallowing in self pity, the one-time England Under-21 left-back tried to take as many positives from his inactivity as possible and he has reaped rewards for that approach in recent weeks. Two starts against West Ham and Derby, plus a brief substitute appearance at Anfield, has shown that Baines is back on David Moyes’ radar and he should keep his place in the first XI tomorrow when the Blues tackle Birmingham City. But even if Baines is returned to the sidelines, there will be no sulking. With Everton still in the race for a Champions League place, he knows this is no time to rock the boat and will help out whenever and wherever he can
“I’ve played a few games in the last couple of weeks, which has been good, and hopefully I’ll get a couple more before the end of the season,” said Baines.
“These are the games that you want to be involved in. We are aiming to achieve something here and the pressure is on but it is good pressure. This time last year, I was fighting relegation with Wigan and that was awful. “It’s been a difficult season, different from anything I have ever experienced. You just have to make sure you use it to your advantage. It’s been challenging mentally but I hope I can finish the year on a positive note. Then, next season, I have got to make sure that I push on.
“When I have played, I think I’ve done reasonably well. But the injuries - plus the great form of the other lads - has made it difficult. I’ve just got to make sure I keep doing my best and look at what has happened in a positive light.
“It’s been a new experience but it’s all part of being a footballer. I’m sure I can learn from it. What I have got to do now, if the chance arrives, is make sure I make the end of the season in the kind of form I showed when I arrived.” Baines certainly hit the ground running following his switch from the JJB, but troubles began when he picked up an ankle injury at Derby on October 28. There were fears he would need surgery to correct the problem, but intensive sessions in the gym have brought about an improvement. “I’m keeping on top of it,” said Baines, who also tore his hamstring against Fulham in December. “I’m working with fitness coaches every day and hopefully with a summer to rest and recuperate, the ankle will heal completely in time for the new season and I’ll be able to start afresh.” Before then, though, he and his team-mates will be going flat out to try and pinch fourth place off Liverpool and Everton can strike a psychological blow tomorrow by exacerbating Alex McLeish’s relegation worries. Beating Derby stopped a malaise that had been apparent since Everton’s UEFA Cup dreams were ended in the cruellest fashion, but Baines is confident they have finally recovered from that heartbreak and are ready for one final push. “This time of year, you get some funny results and Derby was potentially a banana skin for us,” said Baines. “The fact that we got three points without playing anywhere near as well as we can bodes well for the last couple of weeks.
“That win was absolutely massive and we are back in the race for fourth place. But we know it is going to be tough going to Birmingham. They will see this game as their chance to get three points to get some peace of mind. “But we know what we have got to do and the win last week might just be the spark we needed. Subconsciously, maybe that defeat against Fiorentina affected us more than we thought. We were all so desperate to go all the way. “Part of being a footballer is being able to pick yourself up and move on after nights like that, look at what went wrong and put it right again. But losing to Fiorentina was tough to take and now we have got to make sure we have something to celebrate at the end of the season.”

Joseph Yobo may miss start of season
Apr 11 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON’S Nigerian defender Joseph Yobo may miss the start of next season.
The Nigerians have put Yobo on standby for August’s Olympics, as one of seven overage players selected by coach Samson Siasia. Only under-23 squads take part in the Olympics, which runs from August 8-24 in Beijing, but nations are allowed to add three overage players. Blues defender Yobo and Watford’s Danny Shittu, both 27, are the only England-based players on a shortlist of seven, while Victor Anichebe would be expected to be in the original under-23 squad. Tim Cahill represented Australia at the last Olympics in Athens, missing the start of the 2004/05 season. FIFA regulations do not oblige clubs to release players for the Olympics but president Sepp Blatter has asked for co-operation if players are selected. Siasia’s other possible overage choices are Lokomotiv Moscow’s Peter Odemwingie, Ike Uche of Getafe, Yusuf Ayila from Dynamo Kiev and goalkeepers Austin Ejide and Vincent Enyeama. Siasia last week discounted taking Chelsea’s John Obi Mikel, who qualifies to play for the under-23s but ignored several call-ups in the qualifying campaign. Siasia said he called up Mikel for last month’s qualifier against South Africa but the Chelsea player did not turn up.
Everton teenager Anichebe made his debut in the 3-0 win in Abuja as a substitute and scored the final goal.

Howard Kendall: Everton paying penalty for being fair
Apr 11 2008 by Howard Kendall, Liverpool Echo
LEN SHACKLETON once wrote a book that famously contained a chapter about what club directors knew about football – and he left the page blank.
In summing up last Sunday’s win over Derby County, we could quite easily have done the same as there was nothing to talk about. Other than Leon Osman’s goal and the three points it secured, I don’t think too many people would disagree with me saying it was ‘dull’. But, then again, who is complaining? Three points were absolutely vital and I’m sure the players will be back on song when they tackle Birmingham City tomorrow. With the home team fighting for Premier League survival, the atmosphere is sure to be a lot livelier. As we head towards the finishing straight, though, one thing that continues to amaze me is the fact Everton have still not been awarded a penalty in domestic combat this season? Surely David Moyes has the fairest players in the country? I have watched a number of games in recent weeks and players are going down at the slightest contact, so maybe David may consider – and I feel awful suggesting this – telling his players to fully exploit every contact that is made with them in the penalty area. It is noble being the fairest team in the land, but also bizarre that Everton should unwittingly be punished for it when other sides are getting penalties. Hopefully, it won’t cost us in the final reckoning.
Top rivals to Ron
BARRING an incredible shock, Cristiano Ronaldo will be named Footballer of the Year in the next couple of weeks and it is difficult to argue otherwise.
To say the season has been just about him, though, would be wrong and I think there are three other candidates who deserve mentioning, two of whom are based on Merseyside. Though it goes against the grain to say it as an Evertonian, you have to admit that both Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres have been special this season and have scored a phenomenal amount of goals. Had Ronaldo not been in such scintillating form for such a long time, Gerrard and Torres would have been worthy winners. So, too, would David James. If you look at what Portsmouth have achieved this season, getting to the FA Cup Final and being in with a chance of securing a top five finish, it’s fair to say that James has made the defining contribution, proving the best English keeper around. Harry Redknapp has assembled a talented squad but, time after time, James has come to the rescue and made tremendous saves, kept out penalties and proven himself to the best English goalkeeper around.
It’s not long since he was known simply as ‘Calamity James’ but nobody is talking about errors now because he doesn’t make them anymore. He is in terrific condition and there is no reason why he can’t carry on for another couple of years at least.
Deserving of salute
IT would be remiss to let this column go by without a special mention for two Everton old boys who have enjoyed terrific weeks. Dave Jones used to clean my boots when he was a kid but has blossomed into an excellent manager, who fully deserves his big day out with Cardiff in the FA Cup Final. Alan Irvine, meanwhile, is another cracking bloke who can breathe easier now Preston have all but guaranteed their position in the Championship. He was not faced with an easy task when he arrived at Deepdale but has turned things around superbly.

Brett Angell’s delight at Everton's progress
Apr 11 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
BRETT ANGELL isn’t an obvious choice to speak about success at Everton Football Club. He was the first signing of the most hapless manager in Everton’s modern history, he made just 16 appearances in Royal Blue – and he scored just one goal.
But on Saturday night, as a guest of the Everton Shareholders’ Association, he hit the target fairly and squarely at Goodison Park. Angell spoke eloquently, impressively – and most of all, accurately, when he charted the dramatic shift in attitude and outlook at Goodison Park since he was an Everton player. I was a supporter of Walter Smith.
I still am. He inherited a club built on sinking sand and brought some desperately needed stability. But there’s also no doubt that, without significant investment, he saw his route to anything greater than mid-table mediocrity barred. Expectation levels in the early years of the new millennium were hardly any higher than avoiding relegation and enjoying a cup run or two. That mindset was shattered when a voraciously hungry, eager young manager arrived from Preston North End. And it continues to be the case. Brett Angell knew David Moyes from their time in the lower divisions. And he’s watched his managerial reign with interest. “Under David Moyes people are talking about winning silverware at Everton again – and that’s the way the club should be thinking,” he declared. Everton have changed. But now they must continue to change. When Angell was last at Everton as a player the Blues were on the brink of a summer which threatened to elevate the club back into the big time.
They’d won the FA Cup, were back in Europe and had just finished sixth.
But they failed to build on that progress and a chance was lost. Now Moyes has pushed Everton to a potentially pivotal position in their modern history once again.
It seems strange to be talking about June and July, when April and May could still be so significant for Everton Football Club. But a big summer beckons for the Blues.
A wind of change has already swept through Goodison Park. It’s imperative now they don’t stop blowing.

Fingers crossed there’s no hitch over Steven Pienaar
Apr 11 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
ONE man has created more goals for his team-mates at Everton this season than any other – despite missing a month for the African Nations Cup. Which is why Steven Pienaar sounds like a steal at just £2.2m. Of course, that may not be the full story.
Agents have a habit of moving the goalposts the second their client has enjoyed a solid spell of form – and the delay over Pienaar’s permanent signing suggests something similar is happening here. But, barring ridiculous wage demands, the little South African is a player Everton can ill afford to lose out on.

Barry Horne: Arsene Wenger critics wide of mark
Apr 12 2008 by Barry Horne, Liverpool Echo
SO everybody’s favourite second team will end another season trophyless.
It must have been a particularly frustrating campaign for Arsene Wenger, having seen his team produce the type of football most Premier League fans can only dream about.
But despite the quality they have failed through missing too many chances – many beautifully carved out – and through a blind spot regarding the consistently hapless Philippe Senderos. The Gunners’ boss is not without his irritating traits, but to question his reputation as a “team builder” or even a “club builder” is wide of the mark. The charge last week that he hasn’t actually built his current team seemed based around the fact Cesc Fabregas et al are, in fact, not precocious kids but experienced campaigners having played at the top level for some time and even featured in a Champions League Final. But surely that reinforces the point that he has built his team. Fabregas has played all of his senior football under the tutelage of Wenger, as have so many of his other players. In fact who can forget Fabregas’ senior debut when he enthralled a packed Goodison Park as a 16-year-old. Hoyte, Fabregas, Walcott, Traore, Bendtner, Clichy, Senderos, Song, van Persie, Diaby, Toure, Eboue and Adebayor all had an average age of less than 18-years-old when they signed for the Gunners, at an average cost of £1.6m. Add David Bentley to that list, and what value would you put on that squad now? In the time Fabregas has been at the club Wenger has overseen the move to a magnificent new stadium without burdening the club with onerous and restrictive debts, while enduring an ongoing boardroom struggle.
At the same time his team has usually been playing the kind of football with which only Manchester United can compare. He’s won Premier Leagues, FA Cups and been to a Champions League final, so you would have to say he has done a decent job building a team and a club.
Vital Blues don’t slip up
EVERTON’S performance against Derby last weekend will hardly have sent confidence levels soaring. But regardless of the performance, it was a win.
They now go from playing a side which has been consistently poor to facing a side which, while not as poor week in week out, is still far from brilliant. Birmingham will be going full tilt as they try to scramble away from the relegation zone, but while I believe fourth place is beyond the Blues, fifth is still in Everton’s control.
Results are what matters most at this stage of the season – and victory this afternoon could be a very big result for Everton Football Club.
Time to sort Pienaar
NORMALLY when a player makes demands of Everton Football Club I have little sympathy. But while Steven Pienaar’s situation may not be as straightforward as the player is suggesting, he does seem to have a point by asking for a resolution of his future before the April 30 deadline which exists between Everton and Borussia Dortmund for a £2.2m transfer. When statements are made like this you always suspect the agent or the player is trying to attract interest from other clubs.
But on this occasion the player’s argument seems valid. Everton have given him the opportunity to display his talents at the highest level, and he has taken that opportunity. That suggests that Everton could get a much higher sell on fee than £2.2m if he moved on in the future. Clearly the squad will need strengthening and a quick resolution of Pienaar’s situation would be a logical step.

It's time for the real Manuel Fernandes to stand up
Apr 12 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
TO borrow the title of a recent television programme: how do you solve a problem like Manuel? For a brief moment against Derby County last weekend, we were given a glimpse of the player many believe Manuel Fernandes can really be, his wonderful pass and vision picking out the penetrating run of Leon Osman to settle a woeful contest. Too often in that game, though, he was a passenger, looking short of fitness and seemingly unable to make a telling contribution, which is why it came as a surprise that he helped create the defining moment. With injuries to key personnel, David Moyes is going to have rely on Fernandes even more in the final few weeks of the campaign and maybe the extra responsibility will trigger an improvement in his hitherto disappointing efforts. Some have suggested that the Portuguese international has simply been going through the motions because he knows that his time on Merseyside is about to come to an end but it would be dangerous to jump to such a conclusion. Valencia may want to recoup most of the £12m they paid for his services last summer but who is to say that they would not be receptive to another loan agreement? In football, you learn to never say never and Fernandes could easily stay at Goodison Park for another 12 months. Should it really be a surprise that he has failed to set the world alight during his second spell on Merseyside? After all, he arrived with an injury, picked up another groin problem in the win at Manchester City and has played catch up with the rest of the squad. But there is more to it than just fitness. He has been moved five times in the space of the past two years, from Benfica to Portsmouth, back to Benfica before joining Everton, off to Valencia before finally ending up at Goodison once more. A nomadic lifestyle would stop even the most settled individual showing their true worth and maybe Fernandes just needs to find a club where he will feel loved to really flourish; if he wants to have that opportunity with Everton, though, now is the time for him to produce. This column has been critical of Fernandes in the past, as there were doubts whether he had what it takes to fit into the dressing room or buy into the relentless work ethic that has made this squad such an impressive unit. It is understood, however, that his training has improved in the past couple of weeks and if he can transfer what he has been showing in patches at Finch Farm onto the pitch, the player that dazzled against Arsenal and Manchester United 12 months ago may just return. In fairness to Fernandes, he has acknowledged that he has not produced what was expected of him and has been as frustrated as those who wanted to make him one of Gwladys Street’s darlings at the end of last season. “It’s been a little bit disappointing for me,” said Fernandes. “Things are starting to get better but when you get injured it’s always a blow. I’m just trying to get past that and help in the five games ahead. “The injury has been related to both my groin and the previous surgery I’ve had for a hernia. Now things are settling down so I feel much better. I’m just going to play these five games and try to do my best, try to help the team and try to produce better performances as soon as possible.”
Everyone knows that Fernandes is blessed with talent and you only have to think about the way he and Mikel Arteta passed the ball between each other when Everton confirmed their return to Europe last May in the 3-0 dismissal of Portsmouth.
If Fernandes is in the mood, he can make a contribution during the run-in; if he is not, the Blues are going to start these games a man down. Who, then, will emerge? The Dr Jekyll who can split defences open in the blink of an eye or the liability Mr Hyde? We will soon find out.

Alex McLeish: 'James McFadden has been a bargain for us'
Apr 12 2008
ALEX McLEISH believes Birmingham striker James McFadden is already proving a bargain buy at £6million ahead of today’s clash with his former club Everton.
McFadden is battling to be fit to face the Blues after undergoing keyhole knee surgery three weeks ago and McLeish will make a "last minute assessment" on whether to risk the Scottish international. But McLeish feels McFadden has quickly shown he is key to City’s fight for Barclays Premier League survival with four goals and a number of assists since moving from Goodison Park in January. McLeish said: "Myself and David Moyes go back a long way to our playing days in Scotland and we have kept in touch ever since but friendships don’t come into it when you are conducting business.
"I tried to get McFadden cheaper but David stuck to his price. We were getting close to the maximum we would pay at the time and I am just glad we got him.
"Have I still got a bargain? I think in Premier League terms, he probably is when you consider most players you ask about starts at £4million – whether it is a first team player or a reserve team player. "James, in that respect, has shown he is promising to be a player much more valuable than that but he is the guy who has got to prove that."
McLeish will be guided by Blues head physiotherapist Neil McDiarmid in deciding whether to play McFadden this weekend. He said: "We will make a last minute assessment. We want to give him to the wire until we decide if he will be available for selection. Of course, we want to be careful we don’t put him in and his knee balloons up again. "In saying that, we can put him in next week and it might do the same so you are never quite sure. But I think it is suffice to say when the physios give us the green light, we won’t hesitate to involve him again." McLeish has huge respect for what Moyes has achieved at Everton but insists his side will not be fazed by playing a side still in contention for a Champions League spot. He said: "David has done a great job at Everton and he is a good yardstick for aspiring Premier League managers.
"Everton are a huge club, probably bigger than Birmingham, but David has taken them from relegation danger to a really strong Premier League team and it has been achieved in stepping stones and not been overnight." "There have been gradual levels of consistency achieved. I never realised he had coaching ambitions but he started to do his badges when moving to England and what he has done since has been a terrific achievement."But we are not scared of what is ahead. We have just got to be ready for the next challenge which is Everton and then we will look at the one after that.
"Things at the bottom could turn around again this weekend. We are two points behind Reading. We could catch them so we’ve got to retain the positivity we have shown - especially in the the performances at St Andrews. "I know there have been a few draws but the performances have generally been good." McLeish confirmed centre-back Liam Ridgewell will return to the side after completing a two-game ban and he is likely to partner Radhi Jaidi. Defender Franck Queudrue is also available after serving a one-match suspension. But skipper Damien Johnson will start a three-game ban for his red card at Wigan and he will be replaced in midfield by Medhi Nafti.

Heroes ready to come together
Apr 12 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
ONE of the most eagerly awaited Everton events of the calendar year takes place next month. A plethora of genuine club legends will be present at the Everton Former Players’ Foundation Annual Dinner. This evening, staged once again in the Goodison Park Marquee, is invariably a sell-out and always a fantastic occasion. Tickets are already selling rapidly so don’t miss out on the chance to mingle with some of your all-time heroes. The cast list is still being completed but, suffice to say, a huge number of former Blues will be in attendance. BBC Radio Merseyside’s Mike Hughes will be the MC for the evening and tickets are available at £50 each from Dave McDougall on 07957 121127. As a high-profile Everton event, the Former Players’ Foundation Annual Dinner gets plenty of publicity and media coverage and a sponsorship package is available. Once again, Dave McDougall is the contact if you or your business would like to put your name to the event, mingle with the stars and enjoy all-night VIP treatment.

Groundhog days of cup marathons
Apr 123 2008 David Prentice Liverpool Echo
CAN we play you every week? Liverpool’s recent three game Gunners glut might have seemed like too much of a good thing, but it was nothing compared to some of these marathon matches. This week’s top 10 highlights the teams we were sick of the sight of . . .
1 Everton v Liverpool 1986/87 WE think it’s the greatest derby in the world – and in 1986-87 it was underlined just why.
The Mersey rivals met in the Charity Shield (August 16), the two-legged Screen Sport Super Cup Final (Sept 16 and 30) – a tournament supposed to compensate the teams banned from Europe – a goalless draw at Goodison in the league, a League Cup tie at Goodison won by Ian Rush and another league game at Anfield where Liverpool postponed Everton’s title celebrations with a 3-1 win. They’d only met four times the previous season – after Phil Neal had the bright idea to play his testimonial against the Toffees!
2 Liverpool v Spurs 1972/73 BETWEEN November 25 and March 31 Liverpool and Spurs clashed an astonishing six times! The series started and finished with FIrst Division matches, games which bookended two League Cup ties (December 4 and 6) and two UEFA Cup semi-finals (a 1-0 win at Anfield and an away goals celebration at the Lane after a 2-1 defeat).
By the final match Pat Jennings had certainly learned how to read the Liverpool strikers. He saved penalties from Kevin Keegan and Tommy Smith in a 1-1 draw at Anfield.
3 Liverpool v Arsenal 1980 FIVE games in 19 days, with just one goal splitting them at the end. Sadly it was scored by Brian Talbot in an FA Cup semi-final fourth replay!
4 Everton v Sheffield Wednesday 1988 EVERTON saw in the New Year at Hillsborough, then between January 9 and January 27 met four more times in an FA Cup saga. After three successive 1-1 draws in 330 minutes of action, Everton then led 5-0 at half-time in a third replay! It took them another three games to get past Middlesbrough in the next round too!
5 Liverpool v Chelsea 2004/05 NINE times in 16 months in four competitions and at four different venues . . . familiarity certainly did breed contempt.
From January 1, 2004 the Reds met Jose Mourinho’s side three times in the league, a Carling Cup final, two Champions League semis, two Champions League group games and an FA Cup semi-final. As if that wasn’t bad enough they met in another two-legged Champions League semi the following season!
6 Liverpool v Luton 1987 THEY actually only met four times in two months, but that’s because Luton failed to turn up for an FA Cup replay after claiming to have been snowed in - even though some fans made it! When they did turn up again they drew 0-0, won the toss for the replay and won 3-0 at Kenilworth Road. Liverpool got revenge in a League match in March.
7 Everton v Aston Villa 1977 AFTER losing 2-0 at Villa Park, Everton met the Midlanders in the only domestic cup final to need three matches to settle. Villa won with seconds of extra time left at Old Trafford.
8 Liverpool v Ipswich 1982 BOBBY ROBSON’S easy on the eye Ipswich were one of the best teams to watch of their generation. Which was just as well.
The Reds met them in a two-legged League Cup semi-final on February 2 and 9, with a league match in the middle, then in a two-legged League Cup second round tie eight months later, just three days after a league match at Portman Road!.
9 Liverpool v Forest 1978 SIX months after a League Cup final which took two games to settle, the Reds drew Brian Clough’s men in a two-legged European Cup tie. Forest had the edge each time.
10Everton v Oldham 1990 AFTER taking three games to dispose of Middlesbrough, and remarkably one to beat Sheffield Wednesday, Everton faced Joe Royle’s Oldham in the FA Cup – but after another three games the Blues bowed out.

David Moyes: ‘Agent fee delaying Steven Pienaar deal’
Apr 12 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES has revealed Steven Pienaar’s permanent move to Goodison Park is being held up by a wrangle over his agent’s fee. The on-loan Everton midfielder set alarm bells ringing earlier this week when he suggested in an interview with a South African magazine that he might be forced to look for another club if a deal was not concluded before April 30. That is the date Everton have to secure his services for a knockdown fee of £2.2m but Moyes has no worries that Pienaar will end up somewhere else because a contract has already been agreed with the 25-year-old.
In his view, the only thing stopping the transfer from going through completely is the amount of money Pienaar’s representatives receive for facilitating the deal.
"As far as I know Steven Pienaar's contract is agreed, it's all done,” Moyes claimed. “I think it's his agent’s money that isn’t agreed. As far as I know everything has been done for a while, so I think it is to do with money for the agent.”
Pienaar missed last Sunday’s win over Derby County with a calf problem but trained yesterday morning and is hoping to be involved in this afternoon’s game against Birmingham City at St Andrews. Since returning from the African Cup of Nations, Pienaar’s form has fluctuated but there is no disguising the impact he has made since arriving from Borussia Dortmund last July and Moyes has been delighted with his efforts. “Steven has done well for us,” said Moyes. “Since he came back from the African Nations he hasn't reached the standards he reached prior to that but that can happen. "He has picked up one or two injuries which haven't allowed him to get a head of steam. Steven is one of the reasons our football has improved. He is a really good football player." Moyes, meanwhile, will be without his current assistant Andy Holden for the games against Aston Villa and Arsenal after the reserve team coach was handed a two-match touchline ban following an FA hearing at Manchester City’s Eastlands Stadium yesterday. Holden also received a £500 after he was sent-off during the reserves' 2-2 draw with Manchester United at the Stobart Stadium in Widnes on February 9.

Jokes are off the agenda as Leon Osman gets serious
Apr 12 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
FRIENDS will be reunited at St Andrews this afternoon – but the practical jokes in which Leon Osman and James McFadden used to indulge are off limits.
When McFadden was on Everton’s books, one of his closest allies in the dressing room was Osman and mischief was never far away when the pair were together – just ask Tony Hibbert, whose attempts to read a best seller last summer were sabotaged.
During Everton’s pre-season tour of the United States, Osman and McFadden decided to use the time they had spare in Salt Lake City airport to read the final chapter of ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’ before running off and shouting: “Hibbo! Guess what happens!” Yet with McFadden hoping to be fit to lead Birmingham City’s fight against relegation and Osman confident he will recover from a hip problem to join Everton’s push for the Champions League, the outcome of this game for each man is anything but a laughing matter. While Osman will be delighted to see his old mate, who left Goodison Park during the last transfer window, his top priority is getting three points to pile the pressure on Liverpool and he knows there is no room for sentiment. Like the rest of his colleagues, the midfielder is desperate for the Blues to be crowned the top dogs in this city come May 11 and as the finishing line comes into view, Osman has promised Everton will be giving everything they have got to make that happen. “Birmingham are one place above the relegation zone and will be desperate to get a result,” said Osman, who was last weekend’s match winner. “They are fighting for their lives and we know that it is going to be a difficult match. It goes without saying that we will have to be at our best. “But we are fighting for something as well, so that should make it interesting. I know Faddy is looking forward to the game and he is desperate to be fit. He will be trying his best to put one over us but we’ll have to see what happens. “I’ve spoken with him and the banter has been good. We were close when he was here and got on really well and I’ll look forward to the banter on the pitch if he is fit. The main priority, though, is to get three points.
“It’s a great battle with Liverpool. The fact that we are both in the same city obviously gives it that extra edge. Whether we were both fighting for fourth or tenth, there would always be a bite about it because we want to be above Liverpool in the league.
“As long as there is a chance we will keep fighting, even if it means going right to the last minute of the final game. We will not give up without a real fight now. And it could well go to that last match for both of us. “We have big games and probably a harder run-in than Liverpool, with games against Chelsea and Arsenal. It would be great if we went into the last game with the race for fourth still not decided. It will say a lot about us and how we have gone about the final part of the season.” Osman’s goal against Derby County was the only bright spot of a desperately dull game but the three points it secured could be just the spark Everton need to finish the campaign with a flourish following a brief slump. The huge disappointment of exiting the UEFA Cup at the last 16 stage may have been exacerbated on Thursday when the line-up for the semi-finals was completed – Everton beat two of the last four – but, as Osman points out, now is not the time for feeling self-pity. Top priority is ensuring Everton qualify to play in Europe once again next season and there is no reason why the UEFA Cup should represent the peak of their ambitions. “We have done well this season and do not want things to slip away from us now,” said Osman. “We have some difficult games left. Every match we have left is against teams who are fighting for something. Birmingham are first and then we have Chelsea at Goodison. “It won’t be getting any easier. But we aim to enjoy the last five games and give it everything we have. The season has gone well, but it was so disappointing to go out of the UEFA Cup in the way we did against Fiorentina. “Since then we have been without some important players and it has knocked us back a bit. But AJ was back against Derby, and he gives us something extra with his pace and running. It was hard against Derby and we had to dig in but we got the result. “We have put the pressure back onto Liverpool. While we have the chance to catch them we will go for it. We will keep fighting and see where that takes us.”

Birmingham 1 Everton 1
Apr 14 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
IF only Freddie Starr had done the decent thing, maybe we would have had something to laugh about. Then again, not even the sight of the mad-cap comic marching on to the pitch complete with a hamster and two slices of bread would have provided solace to anyone of a Blue persuasion on Saturday, as a place in next season’s Champions League faded from view. Though mathematics say Everton can pinch fourth place off Liverpool, the momentum which carried them into a challenging position is draining away and further evidence was provided in a frustrating draw with Birmingham City that the petrol tank is empty. Starr, a man who was at the centre of one of the most famous tabloid headlines of all time, was at St Andrews along with another 2,500 Blues to see whether David Moyes’ side could conjure up a performance to put pressure on their neighbours. Yet all he saw was a team that - in the words of Moyes - is “struggling for form” take a point from a game they would have won at a canter six weeks ago. Birmingham were desperate and, on this evidence, it would be no surprise if they end up relegated. Six weeks, however, is a long time in football and Everton, sadly, bear little similarity at present to the side that ruthlessly dismantled Manchester City in February with an exhibition of pace and power. Fast forward to the present day and you will see that Everton’s passing lacks zip and they offer little threat up front. Only the determination, honesty and commitment of a handful of players is getting them through. In normal circumstances, the lead Joleon Lescott gave Everton 12 minutes from time would have been clung on to but there was always a suspicion the Toffees were vulnerable in England’s second city and so it proved. It can be argued that the free-kick from which Mauro Zarate equalised should have been ruled out, as Ayegbeni Yakubu was fouled in the build-up before Lee Carsley handled and Radhi Jaidi was guilty of unsporting behaviour towards Tim Howard. But, quite simply, Everton did not do enough to take the spoils as Maik Taylor had to deal with far less traffic than the outstanding Howard did at the other end and Moyes was honest enough to admit so afterwards. “We were disappointed not to take three points but in the end maybe we didn’t deserve it because we didn’t play well enough,” the manager conceded. “We had to somehow grind out a result and we knew it wasn’t going to be easy.” And it certainly wasn’t pretty. So drab was the first half action and so funereal was the atmosphere that Starr must have finally realised what it was like for anyone who had the misfortune of being subjected to his recent appearance on Wife Swap with Samantha Fox. Then again, should we really be expecting Everton to be playing with the swagger they showed through winter, given the players who Moyes does not have available? How Mikel Arteta, Leon Osman, Tim Cahill and James Vaughan were missed here. Vaughan in particular. Yakubu has enjoyed an excellent first campaign at Goodison Park but, at this minute, his legs look heavy, his movement is laboured and he looks frustrated that his team-mates are struggling to provide genuine chances for him. With Andrew Johnson also out of sorts, this would have been an ideal time to unleash Vaughan, whose enthusiasm is infectious. Think back to his last appearance, that energetic cameo from the bench against Reading, and surmise what he could have added now. Cahill’s loss has been lamented on plenty of occasions since he hobbled off in the 1-1 draw with West Ham, while the diligence and persistence of Osman was equally missed against Birmingham. No wonder, then, that Lescott’s header aside - a smart finish after superb play from Carsley and great awareness on behalf of Yakubu - Everton’s threat was minimal and their best moves tended to break down just when they were getting into good positions. Mind you, had it not been for Howard things could and probably would have been much worse. He deserved a slice of fortune in the first half, when Cameron Jerome’s header bounced off a post, but there was nothing lucky about the remainder of his efforts. Superbly positioned throughout, assured with his handling, Howard’s best moment came midway through the second period when he flung himself acrobatically to repel Jaidi’s thumping volley then followed up with a one-handed save from James McFadden. He was, by some distance, Everton’s top performer and it is hoped that Howard keeps at least one more clean sheet in the last four games to equal the club record of 15 Premier League shutouts set by Neville Southall in 1995/96. That said, Howard was not the only one who played well. Lescott and Phil Jagielka never put a foot wrong, vindicating Moyes’ decision to drop Joseph Yobo, while Tony Hibbert and Leighton Baines did little wrong on the flanks. Phil Neville, meanwhile, enjoyed a return to form, using possession sensibly and snapping into tackles, trying desperately to lead his team to the three points that would have kept the dream alive. Sadly, reaching the lucrative promised land that is the most prestigious club competition in the world now looks beyond the Toffees but, while there is still a chance, they have got to keep going. Having three of their four remaining games at Goodison Park should help and there is little doubt that backing from the terraces can help provide an injection of energy and revitalise aching limbs. One final push is needed to lift Everton over the line and ensure they have European football to look forward to again next season. Just imagine what kind of boost a win over Chelsea on Thursday evening would provide. The memory of losing in the Carling Cup semi-finals is still fresh in the mind and after pushing them so close in recent years, Everton are due a change of luck. If that happens, then everyone really would have something to smile about.

Birmingham 1, Everton 1 - post match analysis
Apr 14 2008
IT wasn’t just the thousands of plucky London Marathon entrants who demonstrated signs of running out of steam in the final straight at the weekend. At a time when David Moyes was expecting a charge for the line, so his Everton team are once again stumbling their way towards the end of the season. The evidence was there on Saturday when a depleted Goodison outfit passed up the opportunity to maintain maximum pressure in the battle for fourth place and Champions League qualification. By surrendering a late lead at relegation-threatened Birmingham City, Moyes’s men extended their indifferent run of form to only five points from their last five games. Put into perspective, Everton earned 23 points from their previous nine Premier League outings since the turn of the year. Now another season of significant progress could end in an undeserved whimper rather than a bang. Such a failing has been an undesirable feature under Moyes’s tenure, one which the Goodison manager sought to address with his squad strengthening during the past 12 months. The extended runs in the UEFA Cup and Carling Cup, concurrent to the continued challenge for a top-four place, underline the improvement both in quality of personnel and numbers. But those efforts, combined with a clutch of untimely injuries to key players and a dip in form of other first-team regulars, would now appear to be taking their toll. That said, a ninth goal of a hugely profitable campaign for Joleon Lescott and an inspired performance from Tim Howard was almost enough to grab a precious three points at St Andrew’s. The goalkeeper was ultimately beaten by a magnificent free-kick from Birmingham loan star Mauro Zarate, although circumstances surrounding the set-piece left the visitors disgruntled. But few could argue the point was not a merited reward for a spirited display from a committed if limited Birmingham team. Portsmouth’s failure to beat Newcastle United later in the day means that, at least in terms of securing fifth place and a guaranteed UEFA Cup berth, this was not a damaging result as it could have been. And with three of their four remaining games at home, Everton still have good reason to concentrate on looking up the table rather than peering nervously over their shoulders. Moyes, though, will hope Mikel Arteta and Leon Osman are fit for the visit of championship-chasing Chelsea on Thursday night. Both were missed on Saturday. Without the classy probings of Arteta and the busy intelligence of Osman, Everton’s midfield was shorn of two integral creative cogs. A patently unfit Steven Pienaar struggled manfully before his substitution while Manuel Fernandes, though improved, has yet to truly stamp his authority on a game since his return to Goodison. Factor in the extended absences of Tim Cahill and James Vaughan, and it’s easy to see why Everton have scored a meagre six goals in the last eight games, the lack of service to Yakubu and Andrew Johnson contributing to the strike pair’s underwhelming performances on Saturday. Even Victor Anichebe, such an effective impact player arriving from the bench, suffered one of his infuriating afternoons, particularly when screwing one presentable opening wide. Everton’s best performers instead came in a defence of which the pick was Lescott, partnered at centre-back on Saturday by Phil Jagielka with the unlucky Joseph Yobo dropped to the bench. Given his lack of midfield options, how Moyes could do with James McFadden right now. The Scot, who moved to Birmingham in January, marked his return from injury with a lively show, determined to show his former employees what they had let go. McFadden fashioned the first half’s best chance when his cross from the left to the far post was met by substitute Cameron Jerome, who leapt above Leighton Baines but saw his header clip the outside of the post. The previous truly dreadful 40 minutes were encapsulated by a shot from Mehdi Nafti that was so poor that it didn’t even have the energy go out for a throw-in. Indeed, the subdued atmosphere was more reminiscent of St Andrew’s the golf course than the football stadium. Everton’s only first-half openings were gifted to them. In the very first minute, Liam Ridgewell thumped his clearance against Johnson and was relieved to watch the ball drop harmlessly wide, while later dithering between the centre-back, Stephen Kelly and goalkeeper Maik Taylor allowed Lescott to gather Pienaar’s flick-on only to shoot into the side-netting. With the stakes huge at either end of the table, the lack of conviction from both teams was puzzling. Had Everton grasped the nettle from the outset, victory was there for the taking. But they could easily have fallen behind after the interval when McFadden’s right-wing corner found its way to Ridgewell but the Birmingham skipper volleyed embarrassingly over from three yards with the goal at his mercy. Howard had already confidently clutched a McFadden free-kick when he produced a fantastic double save midway through the half, diving to his right to beat out Radhi Jaidi’s volley and then back on his feet to parry over McFadden’s angled drive at his near post. Those stops assumed greater significance when Everton went ahead on 78 minutes with a goal that owed much to the tenacity of Lee Carsley. A rare glimpse of Fernandes skill found the Portuguese space to fire in a low shot from 20 yards that Taylor was forced to turn around. With the subsequent corner creating confusion in the Birmingham area, a composed Carsley did well to keep possession on the byline and clip a deep cross that Yakubu nodded towards goal for Lescott, showing tremendous presence of mind, to twist his neck muscles and guide the ball beyond Taylor. Unfortunately, Carsley also had an unwitting hand in Birmingham’s equaliser five minutes later. The ball struck the Everton man on the arm 20 yards from his own goal and Zarate, the 21-year-old on-loan Argentine who has shone during his brief spell in the Midlands, curled in a fantastic free-kick beyond Howard. The goalkeeper claimed Jaidi, facing the goalkeeper and not the ball and jumping with his arms in the air, was a disruptive influence as the free-kick prepared to be taken. Replays, however, suggested that while hardly the most sporting in behaviour, the Birmingham man was in an onside position when the shot came in. Everton netted twice in injury time to seal victory over the Midlanders at Goodison in November, but there was to be no late show this time. Moyes must now ensure the same does not apply to his team’s season or risk a nervy last few steps towards the finishing line.

Injuries now hitting Everton hard, says David Moyes
April 14 2008
By Ian Doyle, Liverpool daily Post
DAVID MOYES is concerned the absence of too many first-team regulars could jeopardise Everton’s Premier League run-in. The Goodison outfit were held to a 1-1 draw at relegation- threatened Birmingham City on Saturday. Joleon Lescott’s 78th-minute header appeared to have earned the visitors the points only for on-loan Mauro Zarate to curl home a free-kick five minutes later. Everton have picked up just five points from their last five games as they battle with Liverpool for fourth place and the final Champions League qualification berth. With Tim Cahill and James Vaughan already ruled out for the season, the pair were joined on the sidelines at the weekend by Mikel Arteta and Leon Osman. And Moyes admits the unavailability of so many key players is having a detrimental effect on his team’s fortunes. “It’s obvious that we aren’t firing on all cylinders right now,” said the Everton manager. “I think we have to say we are missing players who are important to us. “We’d have liked the freshness of James Vaughan, who missed the start of the season, and we were without Mikel Arteta, Leon Osman and Tim Cahill, who are big misses to any team. “It’s really made it very difficult to see how we can put out a midfield which we feel we will get us some form of result just now. “What it shows is that with injuries it is very difficult, whatever club you are. Especially if the injuries are to key players, it always takes an effect. “You can have as many players as you like, but you always need your best players in the team. And we’re missing too many of them at the moment.” Lescott’s goal was his ninth of the season, and Moyes has challenged the England international to reach double figures before the end of the campaign. “To get nine for a centre-half is fantastic,” said the Goodison manager. “I’ve said to him that he should aim to get 10 goals and if he does it will be a great return for a centre- back. Hopefully he can try and do that before the end of the season.” Of the game, Moyes said: “It was an opportunity missed. We are disappointed not to take three points but in the end maybe we didn’t deserve it because we didnt play well enough. “We got the goal and I thought we would see the game out. I actually thought our defenders were our best players. I thought Jagielka, Joleon Lescott, in the main, did the job cleanly, and our goalkeeper did very well, so I expected them to keep us in it. “I think there’s a great spirit among the players. They are really strong; we’ve worked really hard this week to try and make sure they got a result. We’re struggling a little bit for our form, but we’ve just got to try and keep picking up points.”

Joleon Lescott calls for strong Everton reaction
Apr 14 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
JOLEON LESCOTT urged his team-mates to forget their weekend frustrations and concentrate on securing a return to Europe in double quick time. Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Birmingham City, coupled with Liverpool’s 3-1 win against Blackburn, means the Blues’ hopes of reaching next season’s Champions League are all but over.
Fifth place, though, is still firmly in their hands and, with three home games left, Everton are clear favourites to finish best of the rest. But Lescott knows there is little margin for error. If anything, he feels a return to the form Everton showed during winter time is required to make sure of a place in the 2008/09 UEFA Cup and can think of no better place to start than against Chelsea on Thursday evening.
“We know it is going to be tough now but if you had told us in August that we would be in contention for fourth place with four games to go, we’d have taken it,” said Lescott. “We can’t afford to be too disappointed. We have got to take the positives and remember that we have made progress again this year. “Last season we finished sixth but already we have got more points than then. “Now we want to make sure that we finish no lower than fifth. We believe that we are improving all the time.
“But the way we played earlier in the season is not going to guarantee anything for us.
“We have still got a lot of hard work to do. There are a lot of hard games to go and we have got to make sure that we work exceptionally hard to get that place in Europe.
“But if the boys keep doing what they have been, we’ll be fine.” Lescott had given Everton the lead at St Andrews with his ninth goal of an outstanding campaign and Blues boss David Moyes believes he can reach double figures but the England international is not thinking that way. “It was nice to score but getting to 10 isn’t important to me,” said Lescott. “Of course, it would be nice to get there but my main concern is helping the team pick up three points.” Despite having a couple of chances to finish the game after they had gone in front, Everton never really threatened to wrap up victory and Lescott had no complaints about the final outcome. “It was disappointing that we couldn’t hang on to the lead,” he agreed. “We battled to stay on an even keel and didn’t create a lot of clear cut chances. “Credit to them for fighting back and Zarate has scored a great free-kick. “In the end, a draw was probably the fair result. Tim Howard was on fire for us and pulled off three or four first class saves.”

David Moyes in tribute to his injury-hit squad
Apr 14 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES paid tribute to his depleted Everton squad after they ground out another point that took them a step closer to qualifying for Europe once again.
Although the Blues were not at their best against Birmingham City, Joleon Lescott’s header secured a point that keeps them four points ahead of sixth-placed Portsmouth and makes them favourites to win the ‘league within the league’. With injuries wreaking havoc at present, Moyes was again forced to juggle his starting line-up at St Andrews and was pleased that his makeshift side managed to hang on for a 1-1 draw despite coming under late pressure. That determination is going to be needed in the final four matches of the campaign but Moyes has no doubt his players will continue to rise to the challenge - starting when Chelsea come to Goodison on Thursday night.
“I think there’s a great spirit among the players,” said Moyes. “They are really strong.
“We worked really hard to try and make sure they got a result. We’re struggling a little bit for our form, but we’ve just got to try and keep picking up points.
“What it shows is that with injuries it is very difficult, whatever club you are. Especially if the injuries are to key players, it always takes an effect.
“You can have as many players as you like, but you always need your best players in the team. “And we’re missing too many of them at the moment. I think we have to say we are missing players who are important to us. “It’s really made it very difficult to see how we can put out a midfield which we feel we will get us some form of result just now.” There were some positives to take from this latest draw, however, not least Lescott’s ninth goal of the campaign and Moyes has challenged the England international to see if he can get into double figures before May 11. But given that Lescott’s goal came 12 minutes from time, it was no wonder that Moyes was left frustrated that Everton could not hang onto their lead, even if it took a superb free kick from Mauro Zarate to peg them back. “For a centre-half to get nine is fantastic,” said Moyes. “I’ve said to Joleon that he should aim to get 10 goals and if he does it will be a great return for a centre-back. “I just think that centre-halves can do that. They come up for corners, they come up for free-kicks. “If they aren’t going to score then there’s not a great deal of point coming up. “Fortunately he does and he gets a few goals. At the end of the day we got the goal and I thought we would see the game out. “I actually thought our defenders were our best players today. “I thought Phil Jagielka and Joleon, in the main, did the job cleanly, and Tim Howard did very well, so I expected them to keep us in it.”

Lewis Codling stars in rout of Barnsley
April 15 2008, Academy Football,
By Chris Wright, Liverpool Daily Post
LEWIS CODLING’S hat-trick was the highlight of Everton’s superb 6-1 victory over Barnsley at Finch Farm on Saturday. Having confirmed second place in the north west section of the FA Premier Academy League with a 2-0 win over Middlesbrough last week, Neil Dewsnip’s side continued their impressive end-of-season form with a fine win in their final home match of the campaign. Now they will look to end the season on a high at north west section winners Manchester City. Saturday’s victory came despite Everton going 1-0 down on 10 minutes following a disputed free-kick. But five minutes later Codling equalised as he smashed in a superb overhead kick after his initial effort had rebounded up in the air off the goalkeeper. Despite dominating Everton didn’t go ahead until just before the break after full-back Moses Barnett ran the length of the pitch with Jose Baxter before coolly slotting home. Then moments later centre-back James McCarten headed home following a free-kick. Everton continued to press for more goals after the break and Codling grabbed his hat-trick, scoring twice in 10 minutes early in the second half. Luke Powell completed Everton’s victory with the sixth goal on the hour. Dewsnip said: “We played very well in the final third, which if I have had a criticism this year it has been we haven’t been good enough in those areas. But on Saturday we were outstanding. It was an excellent result and very encouraging. “They actually scored first, from a dubious free-kick, and they played nicely on the ball, but once Lewis Codling equalised we took over and scored six great goals and could have had a few more. “We made all our substitions when we scored the sixth to give others a chance, but as it can do the game died a bit. When the score is that big and you make changes it can change the rhythm.” Everton complete their season this Saturday at Manchester City (kick-off 11am) and Dewsnip said: “It is a top-of-the-table clash to end the season, which is a nice way to finish.” EVERTON UNDER-18s: Stubhaug; McArdle, Sinnott, McCarten, Barnett; McCready, Redmond, Baxter (Krenn 60), O’Kane; Powell (Sheppard 60), Codling (Akpan 60). Subs: McEntagart, Agard.

No disgrace if Everton finish in fifth-place
April 15 2008
By Marl Lawrence, Liverpool Daily Post
DAVID MOYES reckons his players could do with a holiday – which is right because they’re currently playing like there’s nothing left in the tank. But nobody can say they and their manager don’t deserve a nice long break at the end of the season. Against Derby they just managed to get over the line but the problem Everton have a the moment is that they’re playing teams who are involved in big games themselves. It’s title-chasing Chelsea on Thursday, just a few days after going to St Andrews to play a side fighting for their lives to stay up. Give that scenario, coming away from Birmingham with a draw is not a bad result. Yes, it might not do much for their slim hopes of getting into the top four but let’s be realistic here for a moment. Liverpool have a much better, deeper squad than Everton and it can hardly be classed as a major disappointment to finish behind them, can it? If Everton can manage their highest Premier League points total and that’s still not enough then sometimes you just have to hold your hands up and admit the opposition is too good. Fact is, outside the top four, getting into the top 10 of this league is a real achievement. So if anyone thinks David Moyes has taken Everton as far as he can, they should remember this club has the best manager outside the top four. Harry Redknapp might be flavour of the month at the moment, challenging for European qualification in the league and on the verge of winning the FA Cup. But you wouldn’t swap David Moyes for him.

FA rap for David Moyes over Mark Clattenburg derby blast
Apr 15 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES has escaped punishment for his comments about last October's derby referee, Mark Clattenburg, but has been warned about his future conduct.
The Blues boss was found guilty of improper conduct by an FA commission in London yesterday. Moyes faced two charges relating to Clattenburg’s controversial handling of the Goodison derby. The FA was forced to drop one charge, concerning comments made in the immediate aftermath of the match, thanks to evidence supplied by the Liverpool Echo. However, a second charge relating to comments made later in the week at a press conference to preview the UEFA Cup tie against Larissa was proven, and Moyes attended the hearing in London yesterday – six months after the original incident. A commission spokesman said: “Having considered all of the evidence and submissions, the commission concluded that the comments would reasonably be interpreted as calling into question the referee’s integrity and implying that he was motivated by bias. “The commission recognised the charged atmosphere of the game and the frustration that Mr Moyes was feeling. “It also took into account his exemplary disciplinary record. “However, the commission also stated that it is very important for managers to exercise great care in making comments about referees as they set an example for others.” Graham Bean of Football Factors, who worked on behalf of Moyes, was refused permission to see the marks awarded to Clattenburg following the derby match. Bean believed the assessor’s marks would show that Clattenburg’s display was sub-standard, but after years when the Professional Game and Match Officials board have been happy to assist when there have been queries over a referee's handling of a game, the PGMO has recently decided not to release any more assessor reports. Bean also asked for a meeting with Peter Heard, chairman of the PGMO – but that request was also refused.

Nigel Martyn: We need ideal tonic - so beware, Chelsea
Apr 15 2008 by Nigel Martyn, Liverpool Echo
SO we have reached the most difficult time of year, as injuries, tiredness and a lack of bodies threaten to derail Everton's push for Europe. The weekend draw against Birmingham City has made qualifying for the Champions League extremely difficult, but anyone who thinks that the Blues are going to allow entry into next season’s UEFA Cup to slip from their grasp would be advised to think again. Having enjoyed the adventure they had during this campaign, the supporters won’t let the players stop, the players themselves are all hungry to sample the experience again and there is no chance that David Moyes will let the pace slacken. He will be driving the players on and while some of the lads are running on empty, they will know nothing other than one last big effort is acceptable – it’s the very least you can do when playing for a club like Everton. Some people have concerns that we might not pick up another point from our four remaining matches. But I don’t envisage that doomsday scenario coming true. For a start, I fully expect us to take something off Chelsea on Thursday evening. Say what you like about Chelsea but the Premier League have not done them any favours by making them play two games in three days when they are battling for the title. But we have got to be ready to take full advantage if they are out of sorts.
Fortune hasn’t been on our side in games against them down the years. We’ve been hard done to a few times after playing well, only to end up with nothing. Hopefully, things are about to change. There is no doubting that Chelsea are a fine side but they do not have the pace and power that was so evident when Jose Mourinho led them to the top in his first season. They seem inhibited now, almost as if they don’t know how to attack with pace any more. That said, they still have some terrific players and if Everton are operating at anything less than their best, it is going to be very difficult to take something off them. I just get the feeling, however, that we have one big performance left in us. The ground should be bouncing come kick-off and the manager will have the lads fired up, so don’t be surprised if we throw a spanner in the works. And if we do get a positive result, that will go a long way to wrapping up fifth place. Yes, Aston Villa have been in good form and Portsmouth are lurking behind us as well. But we have got enough quality to finish the job off.
Lescott quality and goals are priceless
MIDFIELDERS who can score regularly are worth their weight in gold. But defenders who can repeat the trick are priceless. Joleon Lescott grabbed his ninth goal of the season at Birmingham on Saturday and it would be terrific if he could finish the year in double figures. Yet even if he doesn’t, his return has been fabulous.
He has become a quality addition to the team from the moment he set foot inside Goodison Park and it is a testament to his fitness and durability that he has made 91 consecutive appearances – not bad for someone who many felt would struggle because of an old knee injury. Having been given a big chance, Joleon has repaid the faith shown in him with a string of top performances and has now become an England international. You have got to take your hat off to him, as he is playing to his full potential. I’m sure he will be after that elusive 10th goal and would you bet against him doing it on Thursday evening? With Mikel Arteta struggling to get his name on the scoresheet, Joleon’s efforts have been all the more important and his team-mates will be urging him to get one more.
Set piece stunner was so frustrating
IT was disappointing to see the lads pegged back on Saturday after establishing a lead.
But the manner of the goal they conceded was particularly frustrating. I always favoured having a man on the post for free-kicks in that area, as that puts another element of doubt in the mind of the person taking it. If the far post is covered, it has to be an incredible strike to beat both a defender and a goalkeeper, yet few teams play that way any more. We paid the price on Saturday. So, too, did Arsenal.

Tesco make late Everton stadium substitution
Apr 15 2008 by Nick Coligan, Liverpool Echo
LAST-MINUTE changes were today made to plans for Everton FC’s new stadium in Kirkby. Tesco, which wants to build a huge store and shopping district, has amended the £400m proposal it submitted to Knowsley council in January. It says the revised scheme reflects the views of residents and businesses over the past few months, and wants to know what people think of the altered plan. The changes include: Slightly repositioning the stadium and replacing its basement car park with a surface-level car park for club directors. Removing a petrol station from the development after complaints from residents. Resurfacing Cherryfield Drive and adding extra space for cafes, restaurants, a bar, and extra financial and professional services to the north of that street. Replacing some park-and-ride facilities with park-and-walk. Demolishing the derelict Kirkby pool so the site can be redeveloped. The amended proposal will be shown to the public so they can have their say before the council makes its decision, which will now be after the May elections. Council chief executive Sheena Ramsey said: “This is an opportunity for anyone with an interest in Kirkby to give their views on the changes to the plans. “I would urge people to come along to view the plans or visit the drop-in event next week. “This application offers the chance to significantly develop the town centre and is a one-off opportunity to change Kirkby forever, creating thousands of jobs and other much-needed regeneration benefits.” Tesco’s corporate affairs manager Michael Kissman said: “From day one, we have always stated we would listen to the concerns and suggestions of Kirkby residents. “One example was removing the proposed petrol station, following feedback from residents. “The new additional improvements to the planning application demonstrate our desire and commitment to create a town centre that residents will not only be proud of, but enjoy working, shopping and relaxing in for future years to come.” But Ian Morris from Kirkby residents action group (Krag) said Tesco were playing “a game” rather than listening to opponents. He added: We have consistently said we would welcome a major retailer to redevelop the existing town centre with shops and bars, etc . “But what we don’t want is a huge supermarket away from the town centre which will just draw business away from the town and we are not against football or Everton FC but a 55,000 seater stadium is simply inappropriate for a small town with a 40,000 population.” ECHO essentials THE plans are available to view at Kirkby one-stop shop, Huyton one-stop shop and on the council’s website. Council officers will also be hosting a two-day community drop-in event at the Kirkby suite on April 22 and 23, between 2pm and 7pm. The consultation period ends on May 7. Its findings, along with those already received, will be considered by council planning officers, who will present a final report on the application to the council’s planning committee when they are in a position to make a recommendation.

Leighton Baines: Tim Howard can be a record breaker
April 15 2008 Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
LEIGHTON BAINES today hailed Tim Howard's "amazing" year and tipped him to become a record breaker before the end of the season. Everton’s goalkeeper has four games to equal or possibly even beat Neville Southall’s club best of 15 clean sheets in a League season – but will need to maintain his excellent form if he is to do that on Thursday night against Chelsea. Howard is presently one clean sheet short of equalling Southall’s record. The Blues have not stopped the Londoners scoring in a game since they drew 0-0 at Stamford Bridge in April 2004 but, as they aim to secure a return to Europe, Baines believes they can buck that trend at Goodison.
His confidence comes from the way Howard has been playing recently – he was Everton’s star man at Birmingham – and Baines feels it is time the US international’s contribution to the team was recognised. “Tim has been amazing for us,” said Baines. “Some of the saves that he made on Saturday were top drawer, but he has been top drawer all season. If anyone deserves a record, he does because he’s been so consistent. “You may say that some keepers are just good shot stoppers but with Tim you get the full package. He has got a great spring when he comes for crosses and commands his area as well. “As a defender, it makes you feel so much better to have a keeper like him behind you. He fills you with confidence. We pride ourselves in being hard to break down, but if anyone gets past you can rely on Tim to stop them.”
Howard, though, is not the only member of Everton’s defence chasing a record and the back four are hoping to achieve the best goals against tally since 1988. But Baines knows Chelsea will give them a stern examination. “Everyone has pitched in at some point through the season and it would be nice to achieve that target,” said Baines, who is hoping to retain his place in the starting line-up after a solid display at St Andrews.
“If we keep setting little records, it is a sign of improvement and shows how well the lads have been doing. We want to make sure we get back into Europe as soon as possible.” Blues boss David Moyes has no fresh injury worries after the weekend but is waiting to see how Leon Osman (hip) and Mikel Arteta (groin) responded to treatment before naming his side. Meanwhile, Everton today expected to finally complete the deal to make Steven Pienaar’s stay on Merseyside permanent.
After several weeks of negotiations, personal terms have been thrashed out and the South African international will now put pen to paper on a contract that keeps him at Goodison until the end of the 2010/2011 season. The Blues had already agreed a £2.2m fee with Borussia Dortmund for Pienaar, who has made such a big impression during his initial spell at the club on loan, but only had until April 30 to take advantage of that cut down price. That led to fears last week that the move had stalled, but Everton insisted there was no problem. Pienaar, has played a starring role since he arrived at the club, making 24 Premier League appearances and scoring twice.

Blackburn Res 3, Everton Res 0
April 16 2008 Liverpool Daily Post
EVERTON RESERVES signed off the 2007/08 season with a defeat to Blackburn. The visitors fielded a young line-up and lost out 3-0 at Morecambe’s Christie Park. Rovers striker Alan Judge was the star of the show as he netted a hat- trick. Judge put the home side ahead after four minutes with a volley from distance. Steven Morrison, Kieran Agard and Jose Baxter all attempted to level the scores before the break, while Jones denied Jamie Clarke not long after the opener. Agard was repelled by home keeper Jason Brown who went full length to deny the striker midway through the half. Everton’s hopes of an equaliser were extinguished in the 53rd minute when Judge got his second goal. Sergio Peter was impeded by Shaun Densmore in the box and a penalty awarded, with the young forward making no mistake from the spot. He completed his treble with 15 minutes left, cutting in from the left and powering the ball past Jamie Jones. Jones was in action again moments later, denying Andy Haworth. Everton substitute Lewis Codling went after a consolation goal late on, but Brown was again on hand to save his side. BLACKBURN: Brown, Bateson, Nolan, Hodge, Paterson, Winnard, Haworth, O’Keefe, Judge (Marshall 76), Clarke, Peter. Subs: De Vita, Bussman, Marrow, O’Connor. EVERTON: Jones, Densmore, Molyneux, Irving, Sinnott, Rodwell, Morrison, Harpur, Baxter, Agard (Codling 67), O’Kane. Subs: Stubhaug, McCarten, Barnett, Powell.

Everton are struggling to maintain solid form
April 16 2008
Liverpool Echo Letters
I SAT and squirmed through 93 minutes of the worst game of football I've seen in the last two seasons at Birmingham. How can we expect to compete with the 'big four' when we fall into every bad habit imaginable when we face the worst teams in the Premier League? We struggled to pass a ball 10 yards and defenders (including the keeper) continually hoofed the ball long up the middle only to have it come straight back at them. I know the squad has had a busy year, but so have all the sides involved in Europe, the two cup competitions and international matches - and they all seem to be performing well as the season progresses. I wouldn't single out any individuals but if it hadn't been for Howard's shot-stopping ability and Jags timely tackles, we would have been well and truly up the swannie. Graham Dawson, Aigburth
IT IS horrendous to be facing this run-in to the end of the season without the services of Cahill, Vaughan, Arteta, Osman and, a patently unfit Pienaar. All we can do as supporters is to pray to the great God of football that those lads will recover in time, Cahill and Vaughany excepted obviously. Matt Hall, Mossley Hill I’M SORRY Tim, but you are totally wrong on the analysis of the goal you conceded at Birmingham. Yes, Jaidi was waving his arms about in front of you but this was no worse than the way goalkeepers behave before a penalty. His actions were perfectly legal. He was initially standing in an offside position but, as Zarate ran up to kick the ball, TWO Everton players (Neville and Lescott) ran towards the goal and played Jaidi onside before the ball was actually kicked. Chris Wigley, Ainsdale TIM HOWARD is a decent goalkeeper but he is not yet in the same class as Big Nev. He's a good shot-stopper but doesn't command the penalty area. His kicking and general distribution could be better. If he wants to rival Southall then he must put some hard work in to improve his kicking. But having said that, he has been one of our best players this season and saved us in many matches - not least against Birmingham. Simon Rogers, Everton DOES anybody else think we look clueless at attacking and defending set pieces? I love Baines and would love to see him used as a wing-back, but as a left full-back he is targeted every time because of his height. We cannot even take throw-ins and, judging by the Fiorentina game, we struggle with penalties too. Owen Thomas, Hunts Cross

Let's beat a top four side - Phil Neville
Apr 16 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
PHIL NEVILLE today called on his Everton team-mates to show their European credentials and finally beat a top four team. In six games against Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea this season, the Blues have only picked up one point – at Chelsea in November. So with Everton almost certain to need a fifth place finish to secure a return to Europe next year – the FA’s Professional Game Board have backed FA Cup Finalists Cardiff bid to be allowed into the UEFA Cup – the skipper has demanded they finish the campaign with a flourish. Chelsea arrive at Goodison tomorrow, while Everton’s final away trip is to the Emirates on May 4, and Neville believes a victory in either of those games would lift David Moyes’ side over the finishing line. “We have not beaten a top four team this season and to have any aspirations of finishing fourth – and that is still a possibility – we have got to change things,” said Neville. “The fact that we haven’t beaten one of those sides above us is not because we are lacking quality – far from it. It has just been lapses of concentration at key moments. Manchester United beat us twice with goals in the last couple of minutes. “Liverpool beat us at Goodison Park with a last minute penalty. But that still does not change anything. Our record against the big four has not been good enough. Now we are faced with two games against them in the last three weeks and we need to pick up four points.” Everton trail fourth-placed Liverpool by five points and with four games to play, many believe the final Champions League place is destined for Anfield but Neville thinks a win tomorrow would blow the race wide open again. “I’m still really positive about our chances,” said Neville. “Football is a funny game, particularly at this time of year. “Maybe one of the sides Liverpool are playing down at the bottom will spring a surprise. But we have just got to make sure we do our job. “If we keep picking up maximum points from our games and forget about anything that is going on around us, I’m sure we’ll be fine. Everyone is looking forward to the game against Chesea and we hope the atmosphere is like it was when we played Fiorentina.” This will be the first time Everton have faced Chelsea since they were knocked out of the Carling Cup semi-finals by them in January but, according to Neville, “revenge” is not a motivating factor. “We can’t afford to think that way,” said Neville, who returned to form in Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Birmingham. “What we need to do, though, is raise our game three or four gears from what it has been recently if we want to get anything.

David Moyes: We need spirit of 2005
Apr 17 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES urged his squad to summon the spirit of 2005 and grab the win that will thrust them back into Europe. Everton face Chelsea tonight bidding to win for only the second time since they were knocked out of the UEFA Cup last month.
They will be without key midfielders Mikel Arteta and Leon Osman, neither of whom have recovered from injury. But as frustrating as that news is for the manager, he is in upbeat mood and believes the Blues, who have looked out of sorts in recent weeks, are ready to emerge from their lull with a bang. During the run-in that secured Champions League qualification three years ago, Moyes felt that his side would have to win a big game somewhere and did so against Manchester United. Now he wants something similar to happen against Avram Grant’s men. “This could be a big week and teams could get right on our shoulder if we don’t do our business,” said Moyes, whose side are being pursued by Portsmouth and Aston Villa. “I am aware we have to do things right. “I don’t think we are going to be able to qualify for the Champions League, but I think we might have to win a big game on the run in to qualify for the UEFA Cup. It’s a similar scenario to three years ago. “We have had great belief all season and there have been periods when we would have fancied ourselves playing anybody. This game might be just what we need. I actually feel things are due to change for us.” If Everton are going to record a first win over Chelsea since November 2000, the goals that followed so freely earlier in the campaign will need to return and Moyes has let Ayegbeni Yakubu and Andrew Johnson know his feelings.
“With goalscorers, you have to be patient. They are going to go through periods where it is not going to happen for them,” said Moyes. “Yak has had a bit of a dip and so has AJ. One problem we have had recently is not scoring enough goals. Hopefully that is going to change.” Moyes, meanwhile, has voiced his concerns over the way this game – originally due to be played on Saturday at 3.00pm – was so hastily rearranged for television purposes and hopes it has not set a dangerous precedent. “It is unfair on the supporters who had bought tickets and have to travel a long distance to come and see their team,” said Moyes. “It’s not as easy on a Thursday night as it is on a Saturday.
“We need to be careful that this isn’t going to be something that pops up at the end of every season when things are getting tight and tense. “The Premier League have to support the clubs.”

Everton v Chelsea: Cup agony is spur for Joleon Lescott
Apr 17 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
JOLEON LESCOTT may have enjoyed another season of outstanding progress but, rather than feeling great satisfaction, one split-second slip continues to rankle him.
For all his man of the match performances at the heart of Everton’s defence, the important goals he has scored and the international caps he has won, Lescott, understandably, remains irked by an incident in the Carling Cup semi-final first leg at Stamford Bridge. There is no need to pore over the implications of what happened when he put through his own net in the dying moments, handing the initiative to Chelsea in the race for Wembley. But it is no surprise to learn he is desperate to make amends. What could be better, then, than leading Everton’s charge at Goodison Park tonight? The Blues may have given the impression they are running out of steam recently, but the thought of locking horns with the Champions League semi-finalists is enough to invigorate the squad. Lescott and company, desperate to secure the place in Europe that their efforts deserve, are fired up for one last push and, though Chelsea are desperately trying to catch Manchester United at the top, there is no chance of them receiving a favour on Merseyside. So even arriving at Goodison unbeaten in the Premier League since December 16, Lescott believes Chelsea will be wary of the threat Everton pose and is confident that David Moyes’ side can finally scalp one of the ‘Big Four’. “We are always confident, no matter what game we are going in to,” said a bullish Lescott. “We’ve played Chelsea three times this year and we’ve come close to getting results against them. Now we have got to make sure we actually achieve it. “They are still trying to win the title and are going to be up for the game. They have got world class international stars and a side full of quality, but they will know coming to Goodison isn’t going to be easy. “We believe we can win every game and there’s no reason why we can’t win this one. Teams are coming to Goodison and feeling they have got themselves a good result if they get a point, as they know we can cause them problems. “We have got Yak and AJ who can score goals and we always seem to be strong at the back. The semi-final defeat was very disappointing, particularly for me after what happened in the first leg. “But that has gone now and we are not looking for revenge. We are just looking at getting three points to improve our hopes of qualifying for Europe. That’s the most important thing. “The fans will be right behind us and we just hope to get the right result.” If Everton can beat Chelsea for the first time since November 2000, it would certainly provide the impetus for them to end the season in a positive fashion, and give them a chance to show they are not a team that habitually runs out of gas at this stage of affairs. It is a theory that skipper Phil Neville is desperate to smash for a number of reasons, although the main one is that Everton still need to make sure they book their ticket for the 2008/09 UEFA Cup as quickly as possible. With Portsmouth and Aston Villa breathing down their necks, any slip-ups could mean the one word which is guaranteed to send shivers down every Evertonians’ spine – Intertoto – starts being mentioned. Neville won’t tolerate any lapses now. “Games do not come much bigger than this in the Premier League,” said Neville. “People have been going on about us having a fantastic season and it has been, but if we do not finish fourth or fifth, it will turn out to be hugely disappointing. “I know we have suffered injuries recently but we can’t afford to worry about them. We have just got to dig in. There aren’t too many teams playing fantastic football, as everyone is feeling the effects of a long year. “But let’s not lose sight of something– we are unbeaten in three games and it’s certainly not all doom and gloom. Let’s attack these last four games with everything we have got. The minimum requirement now is to finish fifth. Not doing that would be a major disappointment.
“We have worked so hard, travelled all over Europe and taken the plaudits that have come our way, so it would stupid to let it slip now. Let’s have a great end to the season and lay down a marker. “In the last couple of years, people have had Everton down for being notoriously poor finishers, so let’s put an end to that. “We’ve all ready put an end to the ridiculous theory that had us down as a long ball team, so let’s end this one, too.”

The Jury: Where does Tim Howard rank in Everton's goalkeeping greats?
Apr 17 2008 Liverpool Echo
Cole Fraser, Litherland
WHILE we have enjoyed one of our most successful seasons since the Premier League was formed, and the goal scoring exploits of Yakubu and Joleon Lescott have snatched the headlines, one man has quietly gone along doing his job.
That man, Tim Howard, instantly became an integral part of the Everton set-up when he arrived last season and has put in some fantastic individual performances.
Looking back at some of the goalkeepers who have passed through Goodison Park in recent years, Tim’s presence between the posts is a reassuring one.
Debbie Smaje, Upholland
EVERTON have been blessed with some great keepers over the years.
While I’m too young to remember Big Nev in his prime, Nigel Martyn was a hell of a keeper – despite coming to us very late in his career. I always rated Howard at United, but wasn’t sure if he’d be able to fill Nigel’s boots. Over the last two seasons, he certainly has. His kicking seems to be his only real weakness – every other aspect of his game is excellent, especially for a keeper still so young. He has saved us on many occasions. He has proved he is the kind of keeper who can withstand shot after shot, as his performance at Chelsea this season proved, as well as being able to keep his concentration to make a crucial save from the only shot he has to deal with, as he did against Derby. A realistic contender for one of our players of the season, Tim Howard inspires confidence in his defence and is a keeper who will continue to get better.
The defence’s confidence in their goalkeeper is evident, something which has not been present at the club since the departure of Neville Southall. Howard, like a few of the current squad, has the talent to become an Everton great – all they are lacking is some silverware – and hopefully he will be able to break the club record for the number of clean sheets in a league season in tonight’s game.
Lee Molton, St Helens
EVERTON have been blessed with some great keepers down the years in Gordon West, Neville Southall and Nigel Martyn. Tim Howard has been a good keeper for us but still has a bit of a way to go to meet the heights of these. He is a great shot-stopper and won us many games with his saves, and his only weakness is his kicking, which he needs to improve on. As the season draws to an end it’s the time to give out awards. This season has been great so far with some outstanding performances from Howard, Pienaar, and the Yak with his 19 goals so far. However, the performance of Joleon Lescott makes him my player of the season. He can play at centre-back and left-back and to come up with nine goals is some going. Phil Jagielka is a close second as he has produced consistently terrific performances, putting his body on the line to stop goals being conceded. It’s now time for one last push from the Blues to get that fifth spot.
Michael Drummond, Speke
SINCE Neville Southall, we have never really had someone reliable in goal.
Firstly there was Thomas Myhre, who never seemed to have enough confidence in goal. Then there was Paul Gerrard, who, to be fair, should never have put on an Everton shirt. Neither should Steve Simonsen, who didn't justify his £3.5m price tag.
Richard Wright was next. He started his career at Everton faultlessly, keeping clean sheets and producing some great saves. Then he had a freak accident, leaving behind any confidence he had, and was never the same. There was promise with Nigel Martyn but he was too old when he came and, unfortunately, he was forced to retire.
Having Tim Howard in our team seems a blessing and it is of no surprise to me that he is close to becoming a record breaker. He is commanding, experienced and still young so we should see more top performances from him in years to come. However, credit does need to go to the defence who too have been brilliant!

This years Rumour mill
David Moyes wants to sign Sylvan Ebanks-Blake from Wolves in the summer for £4.5M. The former Manchester United and Plymouth striker who has hit nine goals since signing for Wolves for £1.5m in January. Add him to the list... According to the News of teh World, Everton are planning a £4 million bid for Blackburn Rovers midfielder Steven Reid. Everton, Tottenham and Newcastle are all interested in Middlesbrough's England U-21 winger, Adam Johnson who is apparently looking for more first-team opportunities than he's currently getting at The Riverside Serbian starlet Miralem Sulejmani has alerted potential Premier League suitors Chelsea and Everton by revealing he is keen to leave Heerenveen this summer. Scouts of both clubs are believed to have been casting an eye over the 19-year-old who has scored 14 goals in 33 games for the Eredivisie side this season. Fiorentina midfielder Mariano Santana admits he's unsure of his future. The Argentine is attracting interest from Tottenham and Everton and said: "I'd like to stay in Florence as I'm again finding my best form. I just hope the club wants to keep me. Either there's something to the link between Kim Kallstrom and Everton or the media are making a bigger deal out of this than is necessary. For what it's worth, anyway, Lyon's Swedish midfielder has not ruled out the possibility of playing for the Blues, saying, "At the moment I’m concentrating on playing in France. Lyon is a great club and I hope I stay there for a long time. “It’s the first time I've heard anything about [Everton's interest] so I don't know actually. But why not? Why not? It’s a great club that plays at the top of the Premier League so why not? You never know, we'll see in the summer after the Euros.” Everton are looking seriously at Liberian youngster Abhraham Dozo, 14, a hot prospect with Canadian team Ottowa Fury. If you believe The Sun, Everton have had an 'unofficial bid' of £6M turned down for Standard Liege youngster Marouane Fellaini. Perhaps they realised the transfer window is CLOSED! Everton are one of three clubs interested in Besiktas' Argentine midfielder, Matias Delgado according to the News of the Screws yesterday. David Moyes wants to steal Steve Round from Newcastle to be his No 2... so says The People. Both Arsenal and Valencia are interested in stealing Steven Pienaar from under Everton's nose... so says the Daily Mail. Mali midfield maestro, Seydou Keita will be the subject of a bid from David Moyes... according to The Mirror. Hmmm... I wonder if he knows the transfer window is CLOSED!. It wouldn't be Sunday without a new name from the News of the World... Olympique Lyon midfielder Kim Kallstrom... and a cool £5M for Moyes to pay... but it doesn't say when... which is just as well... becasue the transfer window is ... CLOSED ... for at least THREE MORE MONTHS!!!. Talks between David Moyes and Everton are likely to begin "soon" to negotiate an extension of the manager's current contract with the club, which runs through the end of next season. ridiculous take on this by the News of the World is that Everton are stalling! — all because they did not come through with a £15M deal that paper predicted months ago! Unbelievable! Everton will head to head with the likes of Roma and Bayern Munich this summer in a battle to sign Marseilles Albanian international midfielder, Lorik Cana. Borussia Dortmund have confirmed that Everton have opened talks about making Steven Pienaar's loan move to the club a permanent one. The price tag for Barnsley midfielder Brian Howard is £5M... but the transfer window is actually CLOSED for the next 3 months!!!. Suggestions that Cardiff City want to take Victor Anichebe on laon until the end of the season seem likley to remain unfullfilled as the young striker is obviously needed right where he is. According to The People, David Moyes is looking for a foreign coach to be his number 2 as he looks to replace Alan Irvine. David Moyes said he didn't expect any activity at Goodison today — although how last-minute the Stubbs deal was and whether it's affected the gaffer's thinking is anyone's guess — and Dominic King said in the Echo that the club weren't interested in making any deadline-day moves but Sky Sports News suggested that Everton are working on two last-minute loan deals. Rumours elsewhere said that the players in question are Chelsea's Steve Sidwell and Spurs' Anthony Gardner and while based on prior experience it would have been prudent to assume nothing was in the pipeline, news came at 10:15pm that Gardner had indeed signed. Current rumour has it that Anderson Silva de Franca has joined Barnsley, creating a nice vacancy in midfield for Sidwell! Cardiff City have rebuffed an approach by Everton for midfielder Joe Ledley who is valued at £3m. Everton have apparently been told that Stuart Downing is going nowhere — not even for £9M — by no less a figure than Boro Chairman Steve Gibson. Manchester United and Arsenal are "monitoring" Joleon Lescott, presumably with a view to launching a bid for the star defender in the summer. The fee mentioned in the various speculative articles is around £10m but unless the player himself indicates a desire to leave Evertonians would hope they'd have to double that to tempt Everton to sell. Former Rangers forward Peter Løvenkrands is again being linked with Everton according to Danish newspaper, BT. The 28 year-old, who can operate up front or on the wing, currently plies his trade with Schalke 04 in Germany but was a rumoured Everton target before he left Rangers 18 months ago. (Linked article is in Danish.). TribalFootball suggest that David Moyes is keen on making a bid for 20-year-old American midfielder Michael Bradley who moved to the Eredivisie from New York Red Bull three years ago. Faty (that's Ricardo, not Arbuckle) has revealled he turned down the offer of a 15-day trail with Everton. That hotbed of up-to-the-minute footy transfer roumours,... the Lancashire Evening Post reckons that Everton are in with a £10M shout for Boro's Stuart Downing... They don't explain why. David Moyes is once again apparently keen on bringing Sean Davis to Goodison a couple of years after the midfielder's move to Everton collapsed over concerns over his knee. The former Fulham man has hardly set the world alight at Portsmouth so if there is any truth in the rumour of a £2.5m bid it must surely be a case of padding out the squad along the likes of Johann Vogel. Hardly in the realm of Arshavin, though, is he?. Barnsley have not won a game since Anderson da Silva returned to Everton following a three-month loan, and a bid for him is not out of the question. The Daily Post adds to the speculation linking Everton to Russian forward Andre Arshavin. The Zenit St Petersburg player is valued at around £8m and his agent says that he and his client are weighing up three offers from "big clubs". Arshavin himself, meanwhile, says that his aim is to play for a "strong team" and while he is aware of interest from Spain, Everton would be his choice of destinations. The 26 year-old is keen to play in the Premier League and, of course, got a taste of life at Goodison when he turned out for Zenit in their Uefa Cup Group A game in December. And, there is, of course, the added bonus of his old teammate, Martin Syrtel, having been signed by Liverpool which would help him no end in settling on Merseyside. Steve Sidwell may have turned his nose up at a loan move to Sunderland but he could yet jump at the chance of first-team football for the remainder of the season at Everton or Portsmouth. The speculation first showed up on the The Sun's website but has now been picked up by more reputable sources, including David Prentice at the Liverpool Echo. Representatives of Thomas Gravesen are apparently hoping that Celtic will smooth the Dane's path to Galatasaray with a golden handshake that would compensate for the pay-cut he would have to take by joining the Turkish club. Celtic fans site, Randalstown CSC, suggest that Gravesen is currently on $40,000 a week at Parkhead but with first-team opportunities slim both there and at Goodison, the 31 year-old is hoping to resurrect his career with a move to Turkey. Galatasaray are reportedly looking for midfield cover for the injured Tobias Linderoth who played with Mad Dog at Everton a few years ago. The Randalstown site cites a Sportsmail report that Everton would not stand in Celtic's way were they to find a buyer for the Gravesen this month. The Danish international has made just a handful of appearances since returning to Goodison at the end of August. Birmngham will increase their offer for James McFadden to £5M plus, and that will be enough for Everton to sell the "Scottish Rooney", says The Guardian. Everton and Marseilles lead the chase for Russian international, Andrei Arshavin, according to the latest rumours.
The midfielder, who turned heads in a recent Uefa Cup game at Goodison, is a viable target this transfer window as the Russian league is currently in its close season. Zenit St Petersburg are likely to want upwards of £8m for Arshavin and if Moyes is even interested, he may move for him if he gets an offer of £5m or more for James McFadden. Sunderland, Everton, Wigan, Tottenham & Fulham are all interested in signing Daniel van Buyten, claims the Bayern Munich defender’s agent.

Everton 0 Chelsea 1
Apr 18 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
ONCE again the margin of defeat was a single goal and, once again, its impact was particularly sobering. Scorelines may suggest that Everton have pushed Chelsea and Liverpool close in recent weeks but only the most blinkered Blue would attempt to argue that their side has been hard done by in either game. As has been the case on all bar two occasions this season, Everton lost another contest against one of the four sides currently above them because of a deficiency in quality. Given the amount of injuries with which they currently have to contend, there was certainly no disgrace for a patched up side to lose 1-0 against Chelsea, but it still doesn’t make things any easier to stomach. Far from it. Having pushed themselves to the absolute limit all season, fears are mounting in certain quarters that the wobble Everton are currently experiencing might be so severe it may be enough to see their efforts unravel completely. Using last night as evidence, it is easy to see why. While there was nothing wrong with their effort, the ability to bustle Chelsea up was missing due to a lack of energy – the fizz that was so evident in their play before Fiorentina arrived in these parts has now gone flat. It is almost as if that cruel defeat on penalties has sucked the life and enthusiasm out of this campaign and the hearts that were broken four weeks ago have yet to mend; no amount of rallying or cajoling helps. Having been vying for a Champions League place and entertained real ambitions of lifting a piece of silverware, suddenly the fifth place for which Everton are now aiming to secure is scant consolation. Bullseye comes to mind: ‘Have a look at what you could have won.’ From contemplating the star prize, now all they are left with is the thought of what might have been had their luck been different. Heaven forbid they end up with just their bus fare home. Perhaps, then, the period before returning to action against Aston Villa will do everyone the world of good – a chance to get away from things before coming back refreshed and raring to go again. That might just allow Mikel Arteta and Leon Osman to recover from injury and give David Moyes something different to play with as, no matter how he has shuffled his pack recently, the manager has had little option but to deal the same hand. Moyes made just the one change to the side that had drawn 1-1 with Birmingham City but it was significant, the manager replacing Joseph Yobo for Leighton Baines and shuffling Joleon Lescott across to left-back. There is no disputing that Moyes is blessed with defensive options and he certainly didn’t dilute the quality of his rearguard by making that switch. But one wonders what Baines needs to do to start a high profile game. When the chips have been down, Moyes has preferred to go for the option where he has height at the back. Yet one struggles to recall an occasion when Baines has played that he has been caught out at the back post. True, injuries have compromised his chances since he has been at Goodison Park and maybe next season will be the time he really blossoms but, given the quality he provides down the left flank, it seems a shame to see Baines sitting in the stands so often. The men who did start soon found it tough going. Love them or loathe them, Chelsea have some outstanding players and always looked to be holding Everton at arms length through the first period. Danger beckoned every time they went forward. Passing the ball at a pace with which the Blues struggled to live, the hope was that referee Martin Atkinson would blow his whistle to provide temporary respite but, unfortunately, the goal they threatened to muster arrived just before the break. Michael Essien bulldozed his way past some flimsy challenges and, after earning himself a lucky break when the ball ricocheted into his path off Phil Jagielka, poked a shot past the helpless Tim Howard. Hard as it is to admit, it was no more than they deserved. Judging by the groans which accompanied the goal, many felt that moment signalled ‘game over’ and there was little indication after the re-start that Everton could turn things around. Chelsea simply had too much savvy and were able to play within themselves. Everton’s best (only?) hope of clawing something back was from a set piece and so it proved when Manuel Fernandes saw a wonderful free-kick skim a post after John Terry had flattened Yakubu. That was as good as it got. Apart from that moment, Fernandes was once again a bitter disappointment, threatening to take the game by the scruff of the neck but, more often than not, ended up getting caught in possession or giving the ball away in dangerous areas, much to Moyes’ exasperation. His status as a crowd favourite, however, means that he tends to escape criticism from the terraces, unlike skipper Phil Neville, whose name is enough to trigger howls of derision in certain quarters. He might not be the best footballer in the world, nor does he have an array of defence-splitting passes in his armoury, but one thing you can guarantee is his resolve to succeed for Everton. Some of his team-mates would do well to copy that attitude. Neville never missed a tackle when he was in the centre of midfield last night, used possession sensibly, yet he ended up getting the loudest heckle of all when a cross deep in added time ballooned out of play. So, then, a miserable end to a rotten evening when it was difficult to find positives. But the feelings of despondency cannot persist. Everton, after all, have got to ensure they finish best of the rest. EVERTON (4-4-2): Howard; Hibbert, Jagielka, Yobo, Lescott; Pienaar (Anichebe 62), Neville, Carsley, Fernandes; Yakubu, Johnson (Gravesen 62) CHELSEA (4-4-2): Cech; Ferreira, Terry, Carvalho, A Cole; Wright-Phillips (Makelele 81), Essien, Mikel Obi, J Cole (Malouda 77); Kalou, Anelka. Goals - Essien (41) Bookings - Carvalho (23 foul), Ferreira (58, foul) Attendance - 37,112 Referee - Martin Atkinson (West Yorkshire)

Everton 0, Chelsea 1 - post match analysis
Apr 18 2008 by Ian Doyle, Liverpool Daily Post
UNDER the gaze of the Harlem Globetrotters, Everton showed there remains work to be done to ensure more globe-trotting of their own next season. The celebrated basketball ensemble were in attendance last night to watch David Moyes’s side take another stumble towards the Premier League finishing line. Michael Essien’s 41st-minute strike was enough to keep alive Chelsea’s championship hopes while delivering a significant blow to Everton’s challenge for Champions League qualification. And like their esteemed guests from across the pond, the Goodison Park outfit badly need a three-pointer to make their return ticket to the UEFA Cup that bit less fraught. Don’t be fooled by the scoreline. This was a comprehensive defeat in which the gulf in class and resources between the teams was painfully exposed. Everton don’t deserve for their hugely encouraging and enjoyable campaign to end with a mad scramble to secure their place in Europe. But unless Moyes can rally his troops for one final push, there is an increasing danger their magnificent efforts will amount to nothing tangible come the final analysis. Certainly, they appeared a tired team last night. At least there are nine days to prepare for the visit of Aston Villa on Sunday week and hopefully patch up the walking wounded who were again missing. How important that fixture is shaping up to be, with both Villa and Portsmouth having the opportunity to close the gap to fifth over the weekend. It was the same old story for Everton last night, who have now gone 20 games without a win against the Londoners. In eight previous outings against ‘top four’ opposition this season, they had won none with only Tim Cahill’s last-minute equaliser at Stamford Bridge in November preventing a clean sweep of defeats. It’s a shortcoming that Moyes accepts his team must address if they are to regularly compete for honours and Champions League qualification. This was a key evening for both sides. Chelsea’s surprise 1-1 draw at home to Wigan Athletic on Monday night had left the Londoners needing victory in all four remaining fixtures to have any hope of overhauling Manchester United at the top of the table. Everton’s indifferent form, meanwhile, had seen them fall five points adrift of fourth place and come under increased pressure for fifth and a UEFA Cup place. Moyes had admitted before the game that clinching a top four place would be “difficult” and this result means all energies should be concentrated on holding on to fifth. The goals have dried up at precisely the wrong time for Everton, with their last nine games yielding a paltry six. Yakubu never looked close to reaching the 20-goal mark last night while Andrew Johnson, on his 50th Premier League start for the club, was desperately ineffective before being replaced. To be fair, the pair were once starved of any decent service from a midfield in which conjurors Mikel Arteta and Leon Osman remain sorely missed. Set-piece prowess aside, Manuel Fernandes was again hugely disappointing and will have done little to convince Moyes he should remain at Goodison beyond the end of the season. The controversial decision to bring the game forward two days at less than a fortnight’s notice for television coverage had upset both camps. Chelsea in particular were aggrieved, and responded by using their Sky TV fee to pay for the tickets and travel of their away support. Moyes made only one change from the team that was held at St Andrew’s on Saturday, Joseph Yobo recalled at centre-back for his 200th Everton appearance – the first overseas player to reach that landmark for the club. And the Nigerian and his team-mates were kept busy during a first half in which an impressive Chelsea, showing no hangover from Monday night, dominated. The Londoners are often criticised for a lack of style, but the pace and accuracy in which they shifted possession around the Goodison Park turf threatened to overwhelm their hosts. The biggest surprise was that Chelsea had to wait until four minutes before the interval to finally get the goal their play deserved. Essien accepted a pass from Salomon Kalou then burst into the area and played a give-and-go with Shaun Wright-Phillips that, via a deflection off Phil Jagielka, fell for the Ghanaian to lift over Tim Howard into the net. It was a quality finish from Essien, and Howard will have to wait a little longer for the chance to equal Neville Southall’s club record of 15 clean sheets in a Premier League season. The United States international did well shortly afterwards to palm over a vicious dipping shot from Jon Obi Mikel, while earlier Jagielka was alert to clear from off the toes of Wright-Phillips after a brilliant Kalou pass dissected the home defence. Everton, short on ideas and confidence going forward, fashioned only one real chance during the first half, a 16th-minute free-kick from Fernandes bouncing in front of Petr Cech and forcing the goalkeeper to turn the ball behind for a corner. With his skullcap now joined by a chin strap to protect the facial injury that required 50 stitches, it’s surely only a matter of time before Cech steps out wearing an iron mask. And Chelsea began the second half determined to tighten their iron grip on proceedings. Everton, though, were the next to threaten on 68 minutes. John Terry gave Yakubu a nudge on the edge of the area and, after an age lining up his attempt, Fernandes curled a free-kick agonisingly inches wide. The near miss finally sparked the game into a contest during the closing quarter. Saving tackles from Yobo and Terry halted Kalou and Yakubu respectively, while Essien came mighty close with a dipping 25-yard effort. However, Chelsea’s lead rarely came under threat. Everton must now dig deep to ensure their European aspirations stay likewise.

Howard Kendall: Owners pile pressure on managers
Apr 18 2008 by Howard Kendall, Liverpool Echo
THE number of top flight managers apparently ‘under pressure’ appears to be growing. But I find it astonishing that three of those under-pressure bosses currently manage top four clubs. Avram Grant could lead his club to a Champions League triumph, yet there are calls for his head, there is huge disappointment at Arsenal because they have seen their hopes of a double dashed, while Rafael Benitez is under threat because of warring owners. It’s incredible – and it’s also spreading.
West Ham and Manchester City have both enjoyed much improved seasons under new managers, yet there are people who want Alan Curbishley out while Sven Goran Eriksson’s position will be ‘reviewed’. For me the common denominator in this growing trend is foreign ownership of English clubs. Men are coming in with little knowledge of the English game, not seeing an immediate return on investment and demanding instant change. There can only be so many winners every season, and if those managers who narrowly miss out are under threat, what chance do the rest of us have?
Gravesen tonic
NEVER mind the results, Everton’s performances in recent weeks have not been up to scratch. There’s little doubt that the massive effort, and the even greater disappointment, of that night against Fiorentina has affected the players badly.
The players look tired, but it is not a physical tiredness, it’s mental.
And it’s at times like this that you look to the characters in your squad to provide a spark and lift the place. I am not a massive fan of Thomas Gravesen, but in certain games he can lift a stadium. There is no discipline to his play, but there is a natural enthusiasm and sometimes you have to put up with the negatives for the spark he can provide. In the past, when a match was drifting and the crowd was dead, you would shout onto the pitch "Someone give us a tackle." That would inevitably rouse the game, but nowadays that is dangerous advice to give and could lead to a red card.
David Moyes gave him half an hour last night, and perhaps Gravesen could still have more of a role to play in what’s left of Everton’s season.
Break will be no benefit
DESPITE the obvious signs of mental tiredness among some Everton players, I don’t think the 10-day break between last night’s match and the Aston Villa game is a benefit to the Blues. After you’ve lost a match you desperately want to get back out there and put things right as quickly as possible. But the Blues now have effectively two weekends to mull over last night’s reverse. Chelsea are a very effective side, and fans who were unhappy with the entertainment level on Monday night will have been delighted by last night’s performance. That’s the difference between playing at home or away. But Everton’s next game is at Goodison, where their record is still good despite last night’s result. I just wish we didn’t have to wait so long.

Making progress - but time Everton had final flourish
Apr 18 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
HOWARD KENDALL knew how to finish a season well. When he was still finding his feet as a top flight manager, still searching for the balance that would create the most successful football team in Everton's history, he was a master at buying himself a little extra time. His debut season as Blues boss had been patchy. And that's being kind. Then five wins and a draw from the last six matches ensured a respectable eighth place finish and a feel-good factor to take into the summer. It was the same the following season. This was the campaign of the traumatic 5-0 derby defeat, but six wins in the last eight matches again generated optimism for the following campaign.
The close of 1984 will always be remembered for landing the first silver- ware in 14 years at Wembley, but in the league, too, a last lap flourish of four wins and two draws lifted the Blues from 14th place on April 21 to a healthy seventh.
Close season optimism is why it's so important for Everton to rid themselves of their current post-Easter exhaustion. A solid finish to a season has been an Achilles heel of David Moyes. Perhaps it’s a product of constantly operating with a small squad . . . but only once in recent years have Everton enjoyed a respectable run-in to a season, when they finished fourth in 2005 with three wins and a draw post-Easter.
But even then any feel-good factor was dissipated by the embarrassing 7-0 scoreline at Arsenal. Alarmingly, the Blues haven’t won their last match of any campaign since 1996. This has undoubtedly been a season of progress at Goodison. But the inventive and entertaining defeat of Larissa was in October, the expansive 7-1 slaying of Sunderland came in November and even the 8-1 aggregate against the Norwegian champions was back in February. Everton need a big finish – badly.

Deadline looms for early bird Everton season tickets
Apr 18 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
EVERTONIANS have been reminded that they have until midnight tomorrow to take advantage of the club’s early bird season ticket prices. The Blues have implemented a 10 per cent discount on renewals made before April 19 and already 15,000 supporters – a record number of sales at this time of year – have taken advantage.
The Park End box office will be open until 4pm tomorrow afternoon but online renewals can be made until midnight and, if supporters choose that option, a further £10 is knocked off the price of a ticket. Everton’s Chief Operating Officer Robert Elstone has been delighted with the response this initiative has received but has urged anyone who has thought of taking advantage of the early bird prices to move quickly.
“It’s great news for the club,” said Elstone. “Any fans who want to come down and renew today or tomorrow will see that there is a cabin set up on the Park End car park that deals specifically with season ticket renewals, while the box office is open too.
“Our supporters have enjoyed another great season but expectations will continue to rise and we have to ensure we continue helping to meet those expectations. Revenue from ticket sales is our club’s biggest income. “We want to drive up attendances in the future again – our average this season has been close to 36,000 – as everything we get we want to be able to give to the manager so he can invest in the team.
“We want to ensure the special Goodison atmosphere that helps aid the playing performance on the pitch.”

David Moyes sets UEFA Cup challenge to his Everton players
Apr 18 2008 Liverpool Echo
MANAGER David Moyes has challenged his faltering Everton side to finish their season on a high and claim a UEFA Cup spot. The Everton boss admitted Chelsea fully deserved their 1-0 win at Goodison Park last night, which took them to within two points of leaders Manchester United thanks to Michael Essien’s first half goal.
But Everton fell away badly at the end, with their hopes of a fourth-place finish all but extinguished. Now Moyes wants to make sure of fifth and said: “Maybe we are suffering from a lack of confidence at the moment, but we have to pick ourselves up and win a couple of our final games to give us a good finish. “We must pick ourselves up, we still have to qualify for the UEFA Cup and we know we must achieve that.”
He added: “Chelsea have been difficult again, no arguments. We didn’t play well enough to win the game. “We kept at it, we gave ourselves a chance in that second half, but we lacked any quality and that made a difference. “Our goalkeeper wasn’t troubled much, but neither was their’s. That was disappointing, but we have not been creating chances recently. “We should have stopped the one-two in the box when they scored, and I was hoping we could get through to half-time on level terms but it wasn’t to be. “Maybe we could then have made things different. But goals change games, Chelsea had a lot of the ball and although we tried with two up front, we couldn’t achieve much.” Everton have just three games left, against Arsenal, Aston Villa and Newcastle, and will need to win two of those to make sure they stay in fifth.
On the title race, Moyes said: “Chelsea made sure they did their job properly. We know we are a bit away from them, but there has been a lot of spending put into these four teams above us. “I don’t like talking about our injuries, and we were missing creative players. But we have played them this season with all our top players and still lost. “I still believe that Manchester United will win the Premier League. If Chelsea had beaten Wigan on Monday it might well be a bit different, but I think it is over, United are still favourites.”

Phil Jagielka: Losing fifth spot would feel like huge failure
Apr 18 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
PHIL JAGIELKA admitted that Everton's players will feel "failures" if they finish outside the top five. Any remaining hopes the Blues may have had of pinching the final Champions League spot from Liverpool were extinguished last night, as Michael Essien’s first half goal was enough to give Chelsea a 1-0 win. While there was little wrong with what Everton did in terms of effort, a lack of quality cost them dearly and they have now picked up just five points from their last six games to let Portsmouth and Aston Villa back in the hunt for UEFA Cup qualification. Given Everton have been in either fourth or fifth place since New Year’s Day, there is now a chance they could get squeezed out at the death, but Jagielka has promised that he and his team-mates will not allow that to happen. “Fourth place would have made it a fantastic season but we can kiss that goodbye now,” admitted Jagielka. “We will obviously keep trying until the end but we have to make sure we do finish fifth now.
“That’s why it will be a very interesting game next weekend against Aston Villa. It would feel like a failure if we didn’t get fifth after such a fantastic season, both in the cups and the league. “The fans have had quite a few decent nights here and maybe they are frustrated now because we’re not playing as well as we can do and the form isn’t quite there. But all the boys want to finish in fifth and, hopefully, a couple more decent results will see us there.” For all the progress Everton have made this season, their results against the top four sides do not make pleasant reading, as in nine league and cup matches, they have lost eight times. But seven of those contests have been decided by a solitary goal and Jagielka is adamant that the Blues are not as far behind Chelsea - who he says deserved victory - as results would suggest. “We have come so close on three occasions against them this season and that was the story again,” he said. “They have spent hundreds of millions of pounds on their squad so that makes a difference. When they did get an opportunity - although how they got it was fortunate - there was no doubt Essien was going to put it inthe net. “We were more like us in the second half. We were in the game and we created a few chances. “There’s nothing bad about losing to Chelsea 1-0 and being in the game right until the end. They have been champions or in the top two for a few seasons, so it proves how close we are that we feel so disappointed to get nothing.”

Dan Gosling tipped to make Everton breakthrough
Apr 19 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
* CATCH up with the all the latest comment from star columnists, journalists and fans on our new site, Everton Banter DAVID MOYES has tipped Dan Gosling to become the next Boy Blue to stake a claim for a first team starting place.
Everton paid £1.5m to sign the 18-year-old from Plymouth Argyle during the last transfer window and he showed up well during his early weeks at Finch Farm.
A cartilage problem, though, sustained last month could not have come at a worse time, as Gosling had been on the bench for the UEFA Cup tie against Fiorentina in Italy. Rest was prescribed as the best option to heal that injury and Gosling - a strong running, right-sided midfielder - has now recovered. He played for England Under-18s against Austria in midweek and, there is a chance he will figure before the end of the season. “Dan has been injured for the last few weeks and had a slight tear in his cartilage,” said Moyes. “We have rested him for four weeks now and we are hoping that he will be okay but, if he hadn’t been injured, he would have been close to being in the squad by now. “If I had to put him in the side, I would. At the moment, we are quite short, so he could find himself very close to the squad. Jack (Rodwell) has been involved already (he came on as a substitute at Sunderland and was on the bench against Chelsea) and Dan would have been, too, had he been fit.” Given that he has a number of midfield injuries, it would not be a surprise to see Gosling among the substitutes. Next season, though, is likely to be when he really starts to push for a first team place. “We think that he has got good potential,” said the manager. “We brought him here in January and he seems to be settling in fine. It’s just a shame that he’s had that injury.” The Blues are waiting to discover when Tim Cahill finally undergoes surgery on his broken metatarsal. A number of options are being discussed.

Someone will feel backlash after recent slump – Phil Jagielka
Apr 19 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
FROM optimism to deflation in the space of seven days. The Champions League has gone, but Everton cannot allow their season to fizzle out.
Having drawn with Birmingham City and lost to Chelsea, suddenly Everton are faced with an anxious end to the campaign and now everyone of a Blue persuasion will spend this weekend keeping an eye on how Portsmouth and Aston Villa fare.
But after looking so assured for so long, why has it come to this? The side that was showered with bouquets after a thrilling European adventure and an equally eye-catching run of form domestically now looks dead on its feet. Picking up just five points from the last six games has left supporters fretting, the manager puzzled and players flummoxed. Sure, there are fitness issues, but even accounting for that, Everton should be better than they have shown of late. As David Moyes searches for answers this weekend, he will not be alone but, try as he might, Phil Jagielka – one of only a handful of players to emerge from the Chelsea game with credit – cannot see any rhyme nor reason for Everton’s loss of form. One thing Jagielka is sure of, however, is that he and his team-mates will summon a response in a game at Goodison Park next weekend against Aston Villa that some will hype up to be ‘make or break’. Someone soon is going to feel a backlash.
“It’s hard to put our fingers on it and if we could, we would love to correct it,” said Jagielka. “So I’m not too sure. But you do have ups and downs in the season and maybe we had a lot of our ups back to back and now we’re having a couple of downs.
“We’ll be looking at the games at the weekend and if Portsmouth and Aston Villa both lost it wouldn’t make this week too disastrous. But if they win they would still be behind us and with three games to go we can roll our sleeves up. “Hopefully, then, we’ll get the points required. It’s easy for people to assume that, but look at the second half on Thursday. Chelsea’s legs seemed to go a lot more than ours. It all depends on how the game is going. “If you’re chasing after the ball for the whole game you’re going to feel more tired than if you have possession and create a lot of chances, but our legs definitely haven’t gone. We’ll get a good rest now and come back as fresh as daisies ready for the Sunday.” In Jagielka’s eyes, that break will be more than beneficial, particularly if Leon Osman and Mikel Arteta respond positively to treatment on respective hip and groin problems and return to the fray.
“It should get a couple of injured players back and we can have a couple of days off to get nice and refreshed and hopefully come out all guns blazing,” he noted.
But while some may be feeling the pinch after a relentless campaign, the extra work load has not fazed Jagielka in the slightest and, in his view, it is a case of the more games, the merrier. He, after all, once made 116 consecutive appearances for his former employers Sheffield United in the hustle and bustle of the Championship, and – if anything – extra games at the highest level have helped him improve.
Although he was dropped for the win over Derby County, the England ‘B’ international returned in fine style at St Andrews last week and followed up with another impressive display against Chelsea to provide further evidence why Moyes signed him last July. “I’m used to this schedule,” he said. “I’ve played in the Championship for years and that’s a lot more games in a season. It’s two games a week virtually every week. So I’m more than used to playing a lot of games in a season and happy to play all of them. “It was always going to be hard to get into a team like Everton’s but it’s nice to have a role in the team. Hopefully I can have that not only for this season but for many seasons to come.” Another man who will be around for the foreseeable future is Steven Pienaar, who is expected to formally become a full-time Everton player this weekend. But he is desperate to banish the memory of Thursday evening as quickly as possible. “It is one of the worst games I have played for a long time,” said Pienaar. “And I think the team was just tired. It’s getting at us playing so many games. I think for ten minutes in the second half we showed intent again. “But it was difficult.”

Why Vaughan supremacy has been missed
Apr 19 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
* CATCH up with the all the latest comment from star columnists, journalists and fans on our new site, Everton Banter TO make progress in football there can be no room for ‘what ifs’ which is why questions to managers about injured players are, more often than not, futile. Yes, they will give updates on their fitness and talk about how their stricken squad members are progressing but, for most, that is where it stops. Rarely will you hear in-depth analysis on why certain individuals are being missed.
The reasons are simple. It is not down to a lack of compassion or a lack of interest but the situation for any manager must always be ‘the next game’ and, if they are going to be without someone, why think about them if they are unable to contribute?
Significant, then, that David Moyes felt compelled to specifically mention four of his wounded soldiers at Birmingham City last Saturday but, given the circumstances, it was completely understandable. If Liverpool were forced do without, say, Fernando Torres, Steven Gerrard, Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano or Manchester United were missing Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, Anderson and Owen Hargreaves, their results would unquestionably suffer. So it should come as no surprise that the absence of Mikel Arteta, Tim Cahill, Leon Osman and James Vaughan has resulted in Everton’s stride shortening during spring and see them pick up five points from the last six games. Certainly, anyone who has seen Everton’s recent efforts would agree that the play which was so adventurous and slick not so long ago has gone stale. A spark is needed to lift everyone again. While Arteta’s guile and Osman’s industry has been missed and Cahill’s belligerence and goalscoring has been yearned for, the biggest disappointment of all has been the fact Vaughan has succumbed to another serious setback. It might not be along the lines of a dislocated shoulder or the knee problem he suffered nearly three years ago, but the impact of this latest cartilage operation is only just starting to be felt now. Ayegbeni Yakubu and Andrew Johnson have a more than respectable return of 29 goals between them this season, but they looked woefully out of sorts against Chelsea and this is where Vaughan’s infectious enthusiasm would have been a Godsend. Remember his last appearance against Reading in February? His relentless front running and determination lifted the crowd from its slumber, dragged his team-mates out of a stupor and helped Everton nick a victory. No wonder Moyes gave him a special mention at St Andrews, as that was the type of game in which Vaughan would have thrived, his freshness providing something to cling on to. Too often we have made this wish in the past but, all being well, once this problem has been corrected, Vaughan – who does not celebrate his 20th birthday until July – will finally be able to launch his Everton career.
Similar sentiments apply to Cahill, who has endured wretched injury trouble since April 2006, damaging his medial ligaments twice and breaking the fifth metatarsal in his left foot three times. How his ability to drive the team forward has been missed.
But once these fitness problems clear up, it should be remembered that Everton have a fine squad that will be added to in the close season. Were people who bombarded phone-ins after the Chelsea game really serious that a mass overhaul is needed?
Perhaps with a weekend to recover and a free week to prepare for next Sunday’s date with Aston Villa, Everton will be seen in a better light and there is every chance that Osman and Arteta should be back to help out. Provided that is the case, the Blues can hang onto fifth place but, if anything, the situation recently proves that more players, not less, are needed to move forward. Had these injuries occurred earlier on, the winter adventures may never have happened.
Happy to set the record straight
IT appears this column owes Chelsea’s obsequious head of communications, Simon Greenberg, an ‘apology’ for an article published after the classless club’s last visit to Merseyside back in January. Mr Greenberg was heard chunnering in the tunnel at Goodison Park on Thursday evening how it was “typical” that a “Northerner” should publish something so “bizarre” about him missing a press conference in Los Angeles last summer as he was having a pedicure. So, in the interest of fairness, Royal Blue is only too happy to rectify that mistake and today takes great delight in revealing Greenberg was actually otherwise occupied due to him having an eyelash tint and a manicure. And very nice your nails look, too, Simon.

Barry Horne: No point taking Avram for Granted
Apr 19 2008 by Barry Horne, Liverpool Echo
AVRAM GRANT delivered a very quirky post-match press conference at Goodison on Thursday night, when he seemed to be intent on answering every question in the fewest syllables possible. It was a pre-meditated performance because half an hour later I heard him talking effusively about the match, his tactics and his team's performance to a small group of hand picked journalists. There was clearly nothing wrong with his mood or his vocal chords, which made the seven or eight minutes in the Goodison press room all the more embarrassing. We can only guess at his reasons for that reaction. Presumably, he was angry at the press reaction to his team's draw on Monday against Wigan, and the generally harsh treatment he has received from the English press. With the exception of the Carling Cup final and maybe a handful of other matches, his record has been second only to Sir Alex Ferguson. In fact, I think he even has a better points per game ratio than Jose Mourinho. But one of his perceived failings , and one that the press is happy to perpetuate, is that he does not have the charisma of his predecessor, which makes the news hacks' job so much more difficult. I remember Howard Wilkinson, still the last Englishman to manage a title-winning team in this country, quipping that if there ever was a second life, he wanted to come back with a personality. He was never given the credit for his achievements, although its worth noting that his title-winning team did play a particularly simplistic brand of football. That, however, is something you could never accuse this current Chelsea team of. The usual list of press box moaners were at it again on Thursday.
I didn't think the match deserved such negativity. In the first half, especially, Chelsea played some scintillating football. All too often that final ball fell to Joe Cole or Shaun Wright Phillips, two men singularly out of form. Some people, however, refuse to give Chelsea any credit. On Thursday there were three wonderful examples of what Grant is trying to do. All through the match the two full-backs played as virtual wingers, and there was one 75 yard crossfield pass from Ferreira which was immaculately controlled by the furthest man forward, Ricardo Carvalho!
Then we witnessed Carvalho on the left wing producing a Ronaldo step-over, cutting inside Tony Hibbert and crossing into the centre . . . where John Terry was foraging. And finally, we saw Carvalho play a one-two on the edge of the Everton penalty area, with his skipper and central defensive partner, John Terry. I think Grant is fighting a losing battle by taking the press on. But equally, his team are not getting the credit they deserve. inside Tony Hibbert and crossing into the centre . . . where John Terry was foraging. And finally, we saw Carvalho play a one-two on the edge of the Everton penalty area, with his skipper and central defensive partner, John Terry.

Heswall to host Brian Labone memorial
Apr 19 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
THE Everton Former Players Foundation has announced that the annual Brian Labone Memorial Golf Day will this year be staged at Heswall Golf Club on 23 May.
Once again, a whole host of Everton greats will be on parade on a day that is not only great fun but also raises much-needed funds for the foundation – as well as honouring the name of one of Goodison Park’s all-time favourite sons. Dave Watson, Duncan McKenzie, Graeme Sharp and Graham Stuart are amongst the ex-players who will be playing on the day. The cost is £400 for a four-ball, which will consist of three golfers and one ex-player. Bacon rolls and coffee will be served before the start and the price also includes a four course meal and entertainment at the evening’s gala dinner. For further information, regarding participation or sponsorship, ring Dave McDougal on 07957 121127.

When Sunderland felt Thursday blues
Apr 19 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
THE new UEFA Cup format means Thursday night football is more common than it used to be. But league matches staged on a Thursday are still rare.
It was the demands of Sky TV which saw this week’s Everton v Chelsea clash rearranged, but 31 years ago it was simply the only way to squeeze in an outstanding league fixture. The visit of Sunderland to Goodison Park in 1977 wasn’t any old game either. The Mackems came to Merseyside knowing a point would guarantee safety from relegation. Anything less would mean Jimmy Adamson’s men banking on a positive result from the Coventry-Bristol City match being played the same night.
Despite an enormous army of Sunderland fans cramming into Goodison Park, Everton won with an 11th minute Bob Latchford header and a 92nd minute Bruce Rioch shot.
But the cruellest blow was still to come. The Echo’s Charles Lambert took up the story, “The night had its moments of hideous irony,” he reported. “News from Highfield Road was as eagerly seized upon as the action from the Goodison Park pitch and when the false scoreline of Coventry 3, Bristol 1 somehow got around the ground the thousands of Sunderland supporters at the Stanley Park End went into raptures.
“Then, when the final whistle went, came the loudspeaker announcement that the score was Coventry 2, Bristol 1. Renewed celebrations on the terraces, but those around the press box knew that the score was in fact 2-2. Youngsters with red and white scarves danced in jubilation on the pitch believing all had ended well – until at last the truth dawned and the brown ale suddenly turned flat.” Coventry chairman Jimmy Hill had delayed the kick-off at Highfield Road as many Bristol supporters were held up by traffic. With Coventry holding Bristol 2-2, word got round that Sunderland were losing at Everton and the score was displayed on the Coventry scoreboards, so that both sets of players were aware. A Sunderland supporter recalled: “The two teams spent 15 minutes kicking back and forward to each other, condemning Sunderland to relegation with Stoke and Spurs.”
A Football League inquiry was held but Jimmy Hill, who was in a senior position at the League, did not stand to one side while the inquiry was held.
Coventry were asked to try not to do it again (yeah, right) but the result stood.

Manuel Fernandes: We mustn't slip up in Aston Villa showdown
Apr 21 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
MANUEL FERNANDES has warned there can be no slip-ups on Sunday if Everton want to play in Europe next season. Having only picked up five points from their last six games, the Blues’ grip on fifth place has started to loosen, particularly as Aston Villa have embarked on a winning run that now makes them the most likely challengers for that spot. With Portsmouth losing against Manchester City yesterday and now concentrating on the FA Cup final, Everton’s clash with Villa at Goodison Park effectively becomes a shoot-out for the one UEFA Cup spot that can be obtained from the Premier League. If David Moyes’ side beat Villa, they will go six points clear with two games – against Arsenal and Newcastle – remaining plus a better goal difference. But, should the unthinkable happen, Martin O’Neill’s outfit will certainly become firm favourites to finish best of the rest. That scenario has already registered with Everton’s players and Fernandes – who showed brief flashes of his true ability in last Thursday’s 1-0 defeat against Chelsea – knows how critical the impending Goodison showdown has now become. “The Villa game is really important. If we don’t get points, it’s going to be difficult to stay in fifth,” he said. “All the games until the end of the season are really important because if we don’t win then staying in fifth position will be difficult and then we won’t even be in the UEFA Cup.”
By his own admission, Fernandes has not hit the heights many had hoped for since he returned to Everton on loan in January but the 22-year-old feels he can finish the campaign with a flourish and make a difference. It is too early to say what will happen during the summer with regards to his future but if Ronald Koeman remains as Valencia manager, Fernandes is going to find opportunities at the Mestalla limited and it could be that another year with the Blues beckons. Moyes will not be making any decisions over that until the final ball of the campaign has been kicked but Fernandes is desperate to prove to his manager that he is back to his best and has taken confidence from his efforts against Chelsea. Fernandes, after all, came closest to rescuing a point for Everton with a terrific free-kick that dipped just wide of the Park End goal and now he is free from injury, the Portugal international is determined to show that kind of magic for a full game. “I feel I am getting better and better,” he said. “I’m happier. It’s always important to play a full 90 minutes. “Fitness levels for me are really important. I need to have a good fitness level so I can get up and down the pitch. “I hope I am really close to full fitness. Although we lost on Thursday, I enjoyed the game personally. “I thought my free-kick was in. I almost started to celebrate, but it was just off so I was really disappointed.”

Everton stadium moves closer as Tesco buys heart of Kirkby
Apr 21 2008 by Neil Hodgson, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON’S dream of a new stadium in Kirkby moved a step closer today after a rival company sold up to Blues’ backer Tesco. Development Securities planned to redevelop much of the existing town centre with a supermarket and other shops, but no football ground. But the London-based firm, landlord to about 100 traders, today announced it had sold its land north of Cherryfield Drive to Tesco. The ECHO understands Development Securities sold up because it felt Knowsley council would support Tesco’s £400m plans for a stadium and shopping district ahead of its own scheme. In a statement today a Development Securities spokesman said it received its original price for the land which, according to its 2007 interim report, was about £60m-£65m. Development Securities chief executive Michael Marx said: “We regret our departure from Kirkby. “But this is the right decision for our business.” Tesco said it will continue to work with Everton on their Destination Kirkby proposals in “close dialogue with local businesses, residents, the council and other parties”. A planning application is in the council’s hands but no decision has yet been made. Tesco’s corporate affairs manager Michael Kissman said: “This deal ensures that the whole of Kirkby town centre can be included in the project’s exciting regeneration plans. “Our plans have always been about adding to the town centre, rather than replacing it, and this deal proves that point. “We want to work with traders to ensure this site benefits from the wider investment for new shops and an Everton stadium.” Opponents to Everton’s move from Goodison Park to Kirkby today urged Tesco to build its new supermarket on part of the current town centre, rather than open land south of Cherryfield Drive. Ian Morris, of Kirkby residents action group (Krag), said: “Now Tesco has control of the town centre and there is no obstacle, we would ask them to build their supermarket there instead. “We were never opposed to Tesco’s investment, but we wanted it to be part of the existing town centre.” But Kirkby traders association chairman Tom Norman described the deal as “one hell of a blow”. He said: “This will knock the stomach out of a lot of people.” Nick Coligan says . . . OPPONENTS of Everton’s move to Kirkby pinned their hopes on Development Securities’ rival regeneration plan last year. It appeared to offer a real alternative to the Blues’ Tesco-backed scheme - a new town centre without the need for a football stadium. Now that option has gone, attention will now swing back to Tesco, which has already made substantial changes to its original proposals in light of objections from hundreds of passionate and motivated Kirkby residents. People in Kirkby are now asking whether the firm will make the biggest alteration to its scheme yet by shifting it lock, stock and barrel into the existing town centre.

Derby County poised to make move for Lee Carsley
Apr 21 2008 By Dominic King Liverpool Echo
DERBY COUNTY are plotting a summer move to whisk Lee Carsley away from Goodison Park. Everton midfielder Carsley, who is out of contract at the end of the season, began his career with the Rams and made 166 appearances between 1992 and 1999 before he moved to Blackburn Rovers, then Coventry. Carsley has been a mainstay for the Blues since he arrived on Merseyside in February 2002 but, with no talks due on his future at Goodison until the end of the campaign, Derby boss Paul Jewell intends to launch a bid for his services. The Republic of Ireland international’s family are still based in the Midlands and Jewell - who has already made one successful raid on Goodison for Alan Stubbs - hopes the offer of a two-year deal will be enough to turn Carsley’s head. Everton, however, would be reluctant to lose Carsley, who has once again this season been the model of consistency, particularly after he came so close to joining Wigan Athletic in similar circumstances 12 months ago. Meanwhile, Australia coach Pim verbeek has joined David Moyes in lamenting Tim Cahill’s broken metatarsal and believes his absence will jeopardise the Socceroos bid to qualify for the 2010 World Cup. Verbeek and Moyes have not always seen eye-to-eye over the way Cahill is used for Australia but the Dutchman has promised that once the midfielder is back to full fitness, he will do everything he can to make call-ups less problematic than they have been. "Tim is always a starting member in the team," he said. "We know how good he is and important he is. He’s a fantastic guy off the pitch also and we missed him a lot for the China game. It looks like we will miss him in June now as well so we are not happy. "The biggest problem is travelling, and we try to be very careful with the boys because we know how important it is for them to be playing in their own leagues. But on the other hand I have 20 million people on my back wanting Australia to qualify for the next World Cup. "We always send a doctor and a physio to Europe to pick up boys, they are supported in the aeroplane. Then after the game we bring the doctor and the physio back to Europe again. So we try to do everything for the players and the clubs that they are playing for."

Liberian ace Johnson urges Donzo to grab Everton chance
tribalfooball.com - April 21, 2008 Liberian ace Dulee Johnson has urged young prospect Abraham Donzo to grab his chance at Everton with both hands. fortunate for this great opportunity. A lot of his peers are dying to get such a chance. Don't look back. Press on. Keep your focus. "You must learn from others to gain experience and don't look down on anybody. Football is a game for humble people and it will take you places. I wish him the best and say to him 'I hope you soar higher in your career. I'm happy for you and hope we meet sometime soon'."
Cut-price striker chase
Why spend £29M on a striker when you can pick one up for just £1M? Step forward Nuremberg's Bosnian striker Zvejdan Misimovic. Everton — working within a sensible budget but keen to recruit — are set to move in, according to the Daily Mirror.

Luke Powell goal helps to end season on a high
Apr 22 2008
Academy Football
By Chris Wright, Liverpool Daily Post
LUKE POWELL’S goal made sure Everton under-18s ended the season with a fine 1-0 victory at Manchester City on Saturday. While City celebrated their double triumph of finishing top of the north west section of the FA Premier Academy League and securing the FA Youth Cup for a second time, Everton at least ended their own excellent campaign on a high note. They finished the season as runners-up to City and with a young side lining up on Saturday further progress and success next season looks likely. Seven of the starting XI were first year Academy scholars, with two schoolboys also playing. Everton started well and Lewis Codling almost opened the scoring early on but couldn’t find the target when one-on-one with the City goalkeeper. Cory Sinnott was also denied by the home keeper who superbly saved his header following a free-kick. Everton were on top and Codling and Powell linked up well to open the scoring on the half-hour. Powell finished well after being set up by his strike partner. City came back strongly in the second half, but Everton defended superbly to keep them at bay. And they also created a number of opportunities themselves with substitute Kieran Agard being denied by a superb save. While both Danny Redmond and James McCarten went close to adding to Powell’s strike. In the end though, one goal was enough to secure the victory. Dewsnip said: “It was a great way to finish the season and I am delighted with them. “We started really well and we had four or five really good chances to score. “We were on top for the much of the first half and City hadn’t really troubled us. They had an awful lot of the ball in the second half, but found it very difficult to break us down. I think they only had one shot, but at the other end we had quite a few chances on the break. We could have won by two or three really, which probably would have been a bit unfair on City. But we did play well and deserved to win.” It has been an excellent season for Everton and with the young make-up of the side they are already looking ahead to next season. Dewsnip said: “With there being seven first years and two schoolboys playing on Saturday they would all be available for next season. With the experience they have got and how they have played that bodes well. “It has been a great season and other than one little patch of four or five games just after Christmas the lads have done really well. That was just a little bit that probably cost us first place or at least competing for it. “The lads are in for three or four more weeks and we will try and get a few more (friendly) games in before the break and we can start looking ahead to next season.” EVERTON UNDER-18s: Stubhaug; McArdle, McCarten, Barnett, Sinnott; McCready, Akpan, Baxter, Redmond; Powell (O’Kane 65), Codling (Agard 70). Subs: McEntagart, Krenn, Sheppard.

Everton ‘face inquiry into Kirkby stadium’
Apr 22 2008 by David Bartlett, Liverpool Daily Post
EVERTON FC’s plans to relocate to Kirkby alongside a new Tesco superstore will almost certainly face a Government inquiry. A senior government source last night told the Daily Post that, if the £400m scheme receives planning permission from Knowsley later this year, it is likely to be “called in” by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Hazel Blears. This could delay the scheme by a year, or even stop it being built. The source said: “This is a large and complex project that has a lot of retail in it. The development would reposition Knowsley in the Merseyside retail hierarchy. “So, yes, it is likely to be called in; I would be very surprised if it were not. But it would not be the end of the road for the scheme.” Everton FC and Tesco declined to comment, but a source close to the consortium said they were proceeding on the basis it would escape call-in and a delay would mean additional costs. The source said: “Those com-ments are surprising, given how quickly the scheme is moving in a positive way. Clearly it would have an impact on the costs.” Kirkby residents action group (Krag) said it had long campaign-ed for the plans to be called in. Last night, Knowsley Council said it was in the process of carry-ing out a three-week consultation on changes to the application. A council spokesman said: “We have only recently received the amended planning application, and are still getting feedback from the local community. “On that basis, it would be inappropriate for anybody to have decided when and where any deci-sions on the application should be taken. It is simply too early to say whether the application should be approved and, if so, called in.” Rosie Cooper, Labour MP for the neighbouring area of West Lanca-shire, supported an inquiry.She said: “I would be delighted if the plans were called in because such a scheme would have a detri-mental affect on Skelmersdale.” West Lancashire Council has £350m plans to transform Skelmersdale town centre. Knowsley MP George Howarth, whose opinion on the develop-ment could be crucial, has been carrying out his own consultation on the scheme. Last night, he said he would make his findings public later this week. Earlier this year, he told the Daily Post he might lobby to have the plans called in. At that time he said: “Because it’s a major departure from the Unitary Development Plan, then the option I have is of asking the Secretary of State, Hazel Blears, to ‘call it in’. I am carrying out my own consultation on whether I should do that or not. “There are advantages to calling it in as there would be a locally held planning inquiry and Kirkby people would have the opportun-ity to ask their own questions. But there’s no guarantee what the outcome would be, so I don’t want to make out it would solve all issues.” Ian Morris, spokesman of Krag, said: “We have said from the start with the way Knowsley Council have conducted themselves, that this decision should be put in the hands of a planning inspector.” The revelation comes a day after Tesco revealed that it had bought a tranche of Kirkby town centre owned by Development Securities which had rival plans for the town. It is understood that Dev Sec sold their holding because the company felt Knowsley Council would support Everton and Tesco’s scheme ahead of its own, which did not include a stadium. Dev Sec said it had been paid the original sum it paid out for the land, which included around 100 leases for traders, which, according to its 2007 interim report, was between £60m and £65m. Chief executive Michael Marx said: “We regret our departure from Kirkby, but this is the right decision for our business.” Michael Kissman, Tesco corp-orate affairs manager, said: “This deal ensures that the whole of Kirkby town centre can be included in the exciting regeneration plans of the ‘Destination Kirkby’ project. “Our plans have always been about adding to the town centre, rather than replacing it, and this deal proves that point. “A key priority will now be to meet the range of tenants on this site. “We want to work with local traders to ensure this site benefits from the wider investment for new shops and an Everton stadium currently being considered by Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council.” On top of a huge supermarket and a 50,000-seater stadium, Destination Kirkby also includes plans for around 50 shops and other developments. It is estimated that the project would create around 2,000 jobs. It is now expected Knowsley Council will consider giving the project planning permission in the summer.

Nigel Martyn: All set for a cup final - without silverware
Apr 22 2008 by Nigel Martyn, Liverpool Echo
THERE will not be any silverware on offer but there is no other way to say it - Goodison Park will stage a cup final this Sunday. Having looked as if we would comfortably wrap up fifth place, Everton’s loss of form and the late charge of Aston Villa effectively means that the clash this weekend will see the winner take all: i.e. the one remaining UEFA Cup place. After taking maximum points from each of their last three games, not to mention scoring 15 goals in the process, Villa will arrive on Merseyside brimming with confidence but, with the best will in the world, you can’t say the same about the Blues. I am loathe to put any unnecessary pressure on the lads ahead of this clash but it really would be a travesty if they allowed all their hard work to go to waste in the final weeks. Don’t let the last few weeks fool you – Everton absolutely deserve to finish fifth. My only fear, though, is that football can be such a cruel game and you don’t always get your rewards, so Villa could quite easily pinch what is rightfully ours away in the dying stages. If, heaven forbid, they were to win at Goodison, I think it would be very difficult for Everton to peg them back, as if you look at the respective run in of each club, you would pick Villa’s - they play Wigan and West Ham – every day of the week. But hang on a minute. I know from experience that the dressing room is packed full of determined souls, both in terms of players and coaches, and there is absolutely no way we will be rolling over against Villa. Quite the opposite, in fact. Maybe this is the game the players have been yearning for since that fateful night against Fiorentina, a high-octane occasion where the stakes are high and the atmosphere will be raucous throughout. So while Villa have suddenly become favourites in some people’s eyes to finish best of the rest, who is to say they won’t freeze on the big day? It’s all very well chasing something, achieving it is completely different and they could choke. We need one big push now and - all being well – Mikel Arteta and Leon Osman should come back to give us the cutting edge that has been sorely lacking; if that is the case, I’ve no doubt we can get three points. Should that scenario unfold, I am convinced that will mean another European tour for the boys, as we won’t lose at home to Newcastle on the final day of the campaign. Fingers crossed, we can put the issue to bed this weekend.
Fatigue may have hit, but don't doubt Yak's quality
GOALS may have been hard to come by lately but I don’t think that David Moyes will drop Ayegbeni Yakubu this weekend. It was interesting to read before the Chelsea game that the manager was worried about Yakubu’s form and, no doubt, that will have left some of the Nigerian’s critics pointing to the record books about his lack of goals from March onwards with Middlesbrough. Of course, it was well documented that Yakubu had barren spells on Teesside towards the end of a campaign, but I don’t believe he has downed tools intentionally. Fatigue appears to be the only explanation.
Had the manager other options, maybe Yakubu would have dropped down to the bench, but what is David supposed to do when he is without James Vaughan and both Andrew Johnson and Victor Anichebe have been up and down?
Yakubu might not always give the impression he is firing on all cylinders but he knows where the net is and that quality is going to be absolutely vital against Aston Villa. Certainly, he has the killer instinct to be a match winner and this is the type of game you want to see him at his best. Who knows? Maybe the 10 days he has had between games will rekindle the fire in his belly.

New Everton FC stadium: The true cost
Apr 22 2008 by Nick Coligan, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON chief executive Keith Wyness described it as the deal of the century, but his opponents were far less charitable. Today, the ECHO can reveal details of the financial package which could take Everton FC from Goodison Park to Kirkby. The Blues must contribute £78m towards the project, a mixture of borrowed money, future income streams, naming rights and sale of current assets, such as Goodison and the old Bellefield training ground. That will be topped up with a £52m contribution from the Tesco-led shopping development next to the proposed new ground off Cherryfield Drive. It means the stadium alone will cost £130m, including £30m to fit out the Blues’ new home and pay for the lock, stock and barrel move from Goodison. Like any football club, Everton have kept their financial dealings under wraps as much as possible, other than Mr Wyness’s statement that the tie-in with Tesco and its developer Barr would leave it more or less debt-free. But a document compiled by internationally-renowned property advisor DTZ and commissioned by Tesco and Everton, lifts the lid on how much it will cost the Blues to build a new stadium, and how they plan to pay for it. It also sets out the club’s case for why such a large shopping district, dominated by a Tesco supermarket, is required between the ground and Kirkby town centre. It concludes that the financial package is so finely balanced that reducing the number of shops Tesco wants to build would make the stadium “unviable”. The DTZ document points out how Everton are not considered one of the Premier League’s financial big-hitters. It says: “While the club has stabilised its position in the past few years, there has been a legacy of debt, which is long-term in nature and impacts on present and future borrowing possibilities.” It also describes how the amount of money Goodison Park can generate is “constrained” compared with other Premier League grounds, specially in London. But a combination of different cash sources, with the addition of £52m from the Tesco “enabling” development, will make the project possible – just. The document adds: “The club has indicated that additional borrowing beyond this point could expose the club to an unsustainable level of debt. “The combination of funding methods, along with the enabling development, allow a Premiership-standard stadium to be funded, suitable for the club’s purposes.” It also describes how enabling developments are now a “typical” way of paying for new stadia, such as the modern homes of Arsenal, Bolton, Reading and Coventry City. Developer Barr estimates the Kirkby ground would cost £99.9m to build, about one third of which is the frame, roof, floors and external surfaces. The DTZ document says this price tag reflects that it would not be a like-for-like replacement for Goodison. Instead, it would be “an iconic and attractive, yet highly functional, ‘mid-level’ football stadium” with better facilities for spectators, players and press. Everton want their new home finished for the start of the 2010-11 season. The stadium must be ready for the August curtain-raiser so season-tickets can be sold, staff trained up and the ground registered for European competition, or the move would be delayed by a year. The other reason for the 2010 finishing date is cost. The document says: “There is currently a window of opportunity to deliver the stadium and a comprehensive regeneration of the town. “This opportunity clearly exists at this moment in time and, as such, could be lost for a variety of business and commercial reasons. “The Tesco team has estimated that a delay of one year will increase the cost of the project by about £15m and the stadium cost by about £6m, excluding the fitting-out. “The impact of new legislation or guidance on stadia design could further increase costs and reduce capacity.” Everton hope the stadium could eventually be self-financing. Club spokesman Ian Ross believes a naming rights deal alone could generate up to £6m a year for the club over an extended period. “We are currently in the throes of finding the best naming rights deal. That has involved meeting some of the biggest companies in the world. “We could be looking at deals which generate maybe £5m or £6m a year. As Keith Wyness has hinted already, the whole thing could be self-financing. “The simple truth is that although £78m is a huge sum of money, when you break it down, you are left with a fantastic deal for this football club. “We do not believe it will impinge on David Moyes or have a negative impact on his team-building. “We have always made it perfectly clear from day one that our share (of the ground costs) would be raised by the sale of existing assets, a naming rights deal and a percentage of long-term debt. “That debt will not be crippling. Among other things, the increased capacity in the new stadium should cover the payments.” But opponents from campaign group Keep Everton In Our City (Keioc) disputed claims the stadium could be self-financing. A spokesman said: “This most recent forecast indicates a cost of £78m to Everton, which will be funded through additional debt and realisation of their few remaining assets, namely Bellefield and Goodison Park, which the chief executive reported as being somewhat optimistically worth up to £15m. “What has been conveniently omitted from these costings is that, just like Leeds and Newcastle, Everton have an existing £30m loan, securitised against future ticket sales and corporate revenues, which will need to be repaid or transferred to any new playing facility. “The major portion of the proposed funding package would appear to rely heavily on a stadium naming deal. “We would suggest this is hugely optimistic, given that Arsenal, a top four, consistent Champions League entrant based in a capital city, receive only £3.3m per year for their stadium deal alone.” Yesterday, the ECHO revealed how Development Securities, the firm which owned much of Kirkby town centre, has sold its land to Tesco. Keioc have also frequently criticised Everton’s insistence there is no plan B alternative to moving to Kirkby. The spokesman said: “We are gravely concerned by the total lack of the development of a contingency plan by the management team at Goodison. We will be conducting a poll, through which all fans of the club can have their say on the future direction of the club should this project fail.”
Fears over size of plans
ONE of the chief criticisms of Tesco’s plan for Kirkby is that it is simply too big. As well as its own Tesco Extra superstore, Evertonian Sir Terry Leahy’s firm wants to build a range of other high street shops south of Cherryfield Drive. Opponents argue the town is not big enough to sustain such a large shopping district, or that it would generate huge amounts of traffic as shoppers from other areas visited. But the DTZ document claims Everton’s stadium move would be viable only if such a large development was built, because the Blues need it to generate £52m of investment for the stadium. Tesco’s investment advisor, Morgan Williams, insists the number of shops proposed is vital to completely change Kirkby’s image and attract top-class retailers to the town. DTZ uses letters from Marks & Spencer and TK Maxx as evidence. TK Maxx, which admits an interest in coming to Kirkby, said the scheme’s key benefits “would not exist” if it was a smaller development. M&S said the scheme would attract new retailers and shoppers to the town but that “a significant development” would be needed for it to commit to Kirkby. The DTZ document supports Tesco and Everton’s claims that reducing the size of the shopping district would reduce the amount of money to invest in the stadium, making the project “unviable”. From our Forums SO this will be the living breathing Tesco town of the future? A warning to us all that one day Tesco or Wal Mart will own our cities and 'living' will be priced to those who can afford it. Magicjuan I'm delighted Ablue Now Tesco can build their superstore on existing town centre land and Knowsley have little excuse in surrendering green space for a football stadium that dwarfs the town and has everyone up in arms. Job done. evertonL4 Everton don't even have a choice where the stadium goes. The whole thing is pathetic.

Home record can lift us against Villa - Leon Osman
Apr 22 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
LEON OSMAN is backing Everton's strength at Fortress Goodison to carry them back into Europe next season. Though the Blues have come up short in home games against the Premier League’s big four, their record against the sides below them in the table makes impressive reading, with 13 games yielding 10 wins and three draws.
That is why Osman, who returned to training yesterday after missing the trip to Birmingham and last Thursday’s defeat against Chelsea with a hip problem, is confident Everton can repel Aston Villa’s late challenge for fifth spot.
Villa visit Merseyside this Sunday and, following a trip to Arsenal, Everton wrap up the campaign with a Goodison Park clash against Newcastle. Osman believes positive results in both fixtures will clinch a UEFA Cup place. “They are going to be difficult games but our home form has been good this season and we need that to continue,” said Osman. “We always fancy our chances against the best of them at Goodison Park and we proved that in the games we played in Europe. “I think we play better in bigger games and against the better teams. We always have a bit more room to play and that really suits us. “With the greatest respect, the sides lower down the table come here and set their stall out. They are a lot more difficult to breakdown. “We know it’s going to be really difficult but we are fighting to get into Europe and we want to make sure that happens.” Provided that he suffers no reaction to his injury, Osman should return to Everton’s starting line-up this weekend and David Moyes, whose side have lacked a cutting edge in recent weeks, will welcome him back with open arms.
Apart from scoring seven goals, Osman has carved a niche for himself in the centre of Everton’s midfield and Moyes hopes the match-winning ability he has shown this season will surface once again against Aston Villa. “Leon is a boy who should score more goals for us,” said Moyes, who also hopes Mikel Arteta will be fit for the visit of Villa. “He has got quality in the area, a cool touch and can influence things, so he should be looking to get himself a few more. “He has had a very good season, one of his best since he came into the team. “He has thrived in the middle of the park and it looks as if this can be his best position. But he is valuable as he can play two or three roles for us.”

Everton seal £2m move for Steven Pienaar
Apr 23 2008
By Ian Doyle, Liverpool Daily Post
STEVEN PIENAAR has finally ended the uncertainty surrounding his future by agreeing to join Everton on a permanent transfer. The South African will sign a three-year deal that ties him to Goodison until July 2011. Everton will pay the agreed fee of £2,050,000 to Borussia Dortmund for the midfielder, who has been on a season-long loan from the Bundesliga outfit. There had been fears the deal was under threat with Everton manager David Moyes revealing earlier this month that negotiations over an agent’s fee were proving a stumbling block. But a deal has now been finalised for the 26-year-old, who has become an integral part of the Everton midfield having made 35 appearances and scored two goals so far this season. With his first business of the summer concluded, Moyes was in Moscow over the weekend to run the rule over a number of possible targets. Reports in Russia have suggested the Goodison manager was watching CSKA Moscow’s Brazilian midfielder Dudu and highly-rated Zenit St Petersburg player Andrei Arshavin. Dudu, 24, was appearing for CSKA against Lokomotiv Moscow on Sunday, while Russia captain Arshavin starred for Zenit in their 1-1 draw at Saturn the previous day. Moyes has tracked playmaker Arshavin since the 26-year-old was the outstanding performer when Zenit lost 1-0 at Goodison in the UEFA Cup in December. Arshavin, who was part of the Russia team that prevented England reaching the Euro 2008 finals, has also been watched by London rivals Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur. Meanwhile, Tim Cahill arrives in Australia this morning for surgery on the metatarsal problem that has restricted him to only 49 Everton appearances in the past two seasons. The midfielder is expected go under the knife within the next 10 days before embarking on a 12-week rehabilitation program. Cahill, who will be accompanied by Everton physio Matthew Connery, will consult esteemed foot surgeon Kim Slater, the man who treated fellow Australian Harry Kewell last year. Cahill will undergo much of his rehabilitation in his homeland under the supervision is Australian national team physio Phil Coles. “The aim is to fix the problem for good,” said Cahill. “I’ve missed a lot of football and I’m determined to do whatever it takes to prevent another recurrence. My aim is to be back fitter and stronger for next season, and I have no doubt I’ll achieve that. “I’ve missed a lot of football in recent times and it’s frustrating. “But I know I’ll get back to where I want to be,” he added.

David Moyes reassures Leighton Baines over Everton future
Apr 23 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES handed Leighton Baines a message of reassurance - and provided an upbeat report on Mikel Arteta’s fitness. Since becoming the most expensive defender in Everton’s history last summer, Baines has consistently caught the eye when he has played but, from time to time, has found himself dropped for big games. Once again last Thursday when Chelsea arrived at Goodison Park, Baines was forced to settle for a place on the bench when Moyes shuffled Joleon Lescott across to left-back to accomodate Joseph Yobo and Phil Jagielka in the centre of defence. Moyes, however, has taken time to speak to Baines and reminded him that he will have a key role to play in Everton’s future. Now the manager intends to find a solution - most likely by signing a midfielder this summer with acommanding presence - to ensure Baines becomes a fixture in his starting line-up. “At times this season, we have struggled with the stature of the team and it has been unfortunate that Leighton has been the one to suffer,” said Moyes. “It’s not got anything to do with how he has played or anything else. We have just wanted a bit more stature at the back in certain matches and we’ve played Joleon at left-back. “It might be that we need to find players with bigger stature elsewhere to get Leighton into the team again much more in the future.
“But I have spoken with him a couple of times and explained the situation.
“He knows what we think about him and he will be here for many years to come.”
Moyes stepped up preparations today for Sunday’s must-win home clash against Aston Villa and it is looking likely that he will receive a boost with the return of Arteta. The influential midfielder, who has been troubled by groin and stomach problems for most of the season, has been in Spain receiving intensive treatment in the past week. He missed the games against Birmingham and Chelsea but is winning his battle to be ready for Villa, and should also be joined by Leon Osman, fit again after hip trouble. “Leon started training on Monday,” Moyes confirmed. “We hope he’ll be fine. “Mikel is still in Spain. We’ve been speaking with him regularly. He’ll be back on Friday and hopefully will be available.” Meanwhile, Derby boss Paul Jewell is remaining tight-lipped about making a move for Lee Carsley. He said: “Lee Carsley has been one of Everton’s best players this season. “I wouldn’t be so silly as to comment on players who are in other manager’s teams at the moment. That would be unfair and unwise.”

Steven Pienaar signs three-year deal
Apr 23 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
STEVEN PIENAAR has finally become a full-time Everton player - as David Moyes has started to weigh up who will join the South African at Goodison Park this summer. After weeks of uncertainty, Pienaar has dotted the I’s and crossed the T’s on a deal that will keep him at Goodison until the summer of 2011. Pienaar, who has been such an influential figure since arriving on loan from Borussia Dortmund last July, cost the Blues a fee of just over £2m. So good has his form been - particularly in the first half of the campaign - that Moyes claimed recently it was one of the reasons Everton’s football has improved. “Steven has done well for us,” said Moyes of a player whose 35 appearances have yielded two goals and a plethora of assists.
“He is a really good football player.” Now that Pienaar’s deal has been completed, the manager has drawn up a list of potential targets and spent the weekend in Russia, where he ran the rule over a couple of players. Reports from Moscow suggest that centre of attention where CSKA Moscow’s Brazilian midfielder Dudu and Andrei Arshavin of Zenit St Petersburg. Arshavin - who impressed for Zenit when they were beaten at Goodison in the UEFA Cup last December - has long been held in high regard by Moyes and sparkled in his side’s 1-1 draw with Saturn on Saturday.
The following day Moyes saw CSKA tackle Lokomotiv Moscow, where Dudu - a strong, energetic player who can occupy a number of positions - figured prominently in a 0-0 draw. Capped 11 times by Brazil, the 25-year-old has played for CSKA since the summer of 2005 and has helped his side win five trophies in the last three seasons. He was also top scorer at the FIFA Youth Championships in 2003. Meanwhile, Tim Cahill has arrived back in Australia for surgery on his broken metatarsal - which is expected to take place some time in the next week - and hopes to be fully fit for the start of pre-season training. “The aim is to fix the problem for good,” said Cahill, who will be operated on by foot specialist Kim Slater. “I’ve missed a lot of football and I’m determined to do whatever it takes to prevent a recurrence. “My aim is to be back fitter and stronger for next season and I’ve no doubt I’ll achieve that. I’ve missed a lot of football in recent times and it’s frustrating. “But I know I’ll get back to where I want to be. I hope to be back for pre-season ready for the first game of next season.I’m just going to work hard. Nothing’s going to stop me coming back.”
Cahill has endured wretched fortune in the past two years with his fitness. Aside from breaking the same metatarsal in his left foot three times, he has also suffered medial ligament damage twice, meaning he has only made 49 appearances in two seasons.

Derek Mountfield backing Joleon Lescott to beat goal tally
Apr 24 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
JOLEON LESCOTT is the type of player who thrives on a challenge, so the end of year test he has been set by one former Blue should really capture his imagination.
As a regular in arguably the greatest Everton side of all time, Derek Mountfield’s place in Goodison Park legend has long since been secure. He is a man who, alongside Kevin Ratcliffe, made defending an art form. Mountfield, however, holds a particularly special place in the affections of all Blues thanks to his ability to thrive in the opposition penalty area, so it is no surprise that Lescott’s goalscoring feats this season have left him nodding his head in approval. Nine goals so far certainly makes impressive reading but, as Everton gear up for a season defining clash against Aston Villa, Mountfield hopes Lescott is thinking beyond just getting to a perfect ten.
With a place in the UEFA Cup up for grabs, Mountfield – who also played for Sunday’s opponents – would love to see Lescott lead the charge and equal his 1985 tally of 14 goals. It may seem a tall order but, such is the esteem in which he holds the England international, Mountfield believes he can do it. “I thought Joleon should have been Player of the Season last year,” he said. “The way he coped with the step up into the Premier League was magnificent but, obviously, Mikel Arteta was special too and, as a midfielder, is more likely to grab headlines. “But this season there is only person in the running for me and that’s Joleon. Who’s to say he won’t get somewhere near the total I did in 1985? “With the threat he poses at set pieces, he should be looking to get a goal every week. “I was lucky back then as the side I played in created chances. Even though I got 14, I was only fifth top scorer. Some strikers are delighted with that figure now. “But for Joleon to get close to double figures has been a magnificent achievement.” No wonder his efforts at the other end of the pitch have struck a chord.
After all, Mountfield’s 154 appearances between 1982-1988 for the Blues yielded 25 goals, the majority of which came in one memorable campaign. During the Blues’ charge to a League championship and European Cup Winners’ Cup double, Mountfield had the knack of being in the right place at the right time, notably when his header against Luton Town sealed Everton’s place in the FA Cup final.
Lescott has not scored a goal quite as dramatic this year but, nevertheless, there have been a number of hugely important strikes – particularly against Manchester City in the Premier League and one in each leg of the UEFA Cup clash with Metalist Kharkiv. But with Everton’s forwards lacking a cutting edge at present, it could be that his most important is still to come, and Mountfield – who is now a school sports co-ordinator on the Wirral – sees no reason why that can’t be the case. “He has got some great goals this season,” Mountfield said. “Some of them have been absolutely critical and we owe our position to them. “Joleon has enabled us to win some crucial points. It shouldn’t just be down to him though. “There are other lads at the back who should be chipping in. I’d love nothing better than to see Tony Hibbert lash one in from somewhere or Joseph Yobo get in on the act. “Then again, I couldn’t care less who scores on Sunday as long as we get the win.” That last statement confirms that – in case there was any ambiguity – Mountfield will be bedecked in Blue at Goodison this weekend. He may have enjoyed his three-year spell in the West Midlands but that will not mean a jot when his former employers clash. “It’s all in the melting pot now isn’t it?” he said of the race for fifth place. “Before the Fiorentina game it looked as if we had a really good chance of getting fourth place and would comfortably hang on to fifth, at the very least. Now it’s going to be very close. “We have stuttered and stumbled in recent weeks and don’t look like we have got a cutting edge, whereas Villa have taken off and will arrive at Goodison full of confidence. “They will really fancy their chances. “Maybe we have suffered from a lack of confidence but there’s something that we just can’t put a finger on. But hopefully this game will be just what we need to get going again. “It could be a terrific match, one of the best of the season.
“I had three great years at Aston Villa – they are a fantastic club and I still go down there a couple of times a year. “But they all know where my allegiances will be on Sunday. You know what the saying is – once a Blue, always a Blue.”

Reliable Phil Jagielka deserves plaudits - David Moyes
Apr 24 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES today paid Phil Jagielka a glowing tribute - then challenged him to end an outstanding first season at Goodison Park on a high. Jagielka endured a shaky start to his Everton career following a £4m move from Sheffield United, but has blossomed since reverting to central defence. Such has been the level of consistency he has shown, Jagielka has become one of the first names on the team sheet and Moyes has been thrilled with his development. Now, however, Moyes wants to see Jagielka remain on top of his game and aid Everton’s final push towards next season’s UEFA Cup - starting against Aston Villa this Sunday. “There have been positives to take in recent weeks, it hasn’t been all bad,” said Moyes. “The form of the defenders has been very good and the same can be said of Tim Howard. “But we have been really pleased with Jags. He has played very well since he came back into the team and has had a really good season. He deserves his plaudits. “He has done exactly what we hoped he would do. He has fitted in and become an important member of the squad. “We know that he can play in a couple of different positions and do different jobs for us but he is going to be a central defender.” Jagielka’s form was one of the reasons Moyes allowed Alan Stubbs to move to Derby County during the transfer window and also why Leighton Baines has struggled to nail down a starting place on occasions. It would be no surprise if Fabio Capello ran the rule over a player who was capped by England at ‘B’ level last May. Moyes said: “When we bought Jags, we did so knowing that Joseph Yobo was going to go to the African Cup of Nations and that we might need some fresh legs. He has slotted in well and is maturing into a top class central defender.”

The Jury: How crucial is Everton's game against Aston Villa?
Apr 24 2008, Liverpool Echo
AS our season staggers towards its conclusion we’re summoning up our last reserves of energy and like a marathon runner we’re glancing nervously over our shoulder as the finishing tape appears. After coming so close in the Carling and UEFA Cups it would be harsh to fall in the finishing straight. Our squad isn’t just paper-thin, it’s transparent. Without Cahill, Arteta, Osman and a half fit Pienaar, we’ve looked woefully short of quality in recent weeks. Phil Neville ballooning the ball over the crossbar in the last minute against Chelsea summed it all up. You only had to look at the substitutes benches for the Chelsea game to spot the difference; Everton - Wessels, Baines, Gravesen, Anichebe and Rodwell; Chelsea - Hilario, Makelele, Shevchenko, Malouda and Alex. The omens aren’t great – one win in the last six games and only three goals scored. We struggled against Derby and were lucky to scrape a draw with Birmingham. Aston Villa put both of them to the sword. Logic and form favours Villa, but being Everton when you expect A you’ll get Z. A draw would be acceptable, defeat a disaster.
If Everton fans are dreaming of going to Istanbul for next season's UEFA Cup final then the players have got to give us a massive performance on Sunday. Aston Villa are no mugs, especially on the road where they have taken points from Anfield, Stamford Bridge, White Hart Lane and The Emirates this season. I can see a cracking atmosphere on Sunday, and hope the players respond and give us a well deserved second consecutive European adventure since 1978. Everton fans have been restless over the past few weeks with the side’s current form. But we need to start looking at the big picture and see what David Moyes is building – and also see if the chairman backs the manger's ambition in the summer. The current side have achieved more points this season than any other Everton side in the last 20 years. We finished sixth last year and have progressed massively in the Uefa cup and the League cup. We are asking every Everton player to give us a massive result on Sunday and make sure we have to renew our passports again.
EVERTON face an in form Villa in one of the most crucial games since Moyes took over at Goodison. We should be pleased with our progress this season, but it will all be for nothing if we don’t finish at least fifth and get into Europe. We’ll make Goodison a wall of noise, but ultimately the players on the pitch more than owe us a performance to be proud of, with three points the only option. Recently, Everton have been a shadow of the team which showed so much promise earlier this season when,
AFTER a year of so much promise – and definite progress – we again face a game at the end of a season with so much depending on it. We’ve been here before, of course. None of us will ever forget the heart-stopping afternoons against the likes of Wimbledon and Coventry. Looking back, it seems difficult to believe we were that close to relegation – and even harder to believe we actually got away with it.
The importance of the game against Villa on Sunday cannot be understated. To end the season without UEFA Cup qualification will have to be regarded as failure. If we really have ambition to become a “big” club again, we simply cannot afford to be out of Europe. The need for extra money is obvious but we also have to try and market ourselves to players who want to be linked with a club that’s going places and not just content to sit mid-table year after year. So let’s hear some noise at Goodison on Sunday – there really is everything to play for.

Kirkby is now sounding less like the real deal
Apr 24 2008
By Mark O’Brien, Liverpool Daily Post
THIS report from DTZ, detailing the actual cost of a new Everton stadium in Kirkby, would certainly appear to suggest that Tesco are not in fact in the habit of giving money away, whether their chairman is an Evertonian or not. Any new ground is certainly not going to be free, with the club expected to stump up a £78million share of the costs. The question raised then, is whether that still represents ‘the deal of the century’. Actually, perhaps even the rhetoric isn’t really that important, although given the recent experience with the Kings Dock, the powers that might have considered reining in their hyperbole from the start. What matters, ultimately, is whether, given these figures, moving to Kirkby still represents the best way forward for the club. We all know that the decision to go was purely based on looking at the numbers, because everyone would rather stay at Goodison, etc. So do they still indicate that a partnership with Tesco and Knowsley Council is the best option for the football club? The figure of £78m is certainly a lot of money, especially for Everton who have already got a fair chunk of debt hanging over them. Presumably the powers-that-be at Goodison would argue that any other move would cost even more than that, while we seem to have established that staying put isn’t an option that allows us much potential for growth. They would be reasonable points too, however, the fact does remain that there was very little talk of £78m, or anything like that amount, before the fans’ vote on the move. That ballot took place with the understanding that this was a far better deal for Everton – the proverbial no-brainer. Now, no-one expects to see the ballot taken again, and there are those who wonder whether it should have ever taken place in the first instance. We all know at the end of the day, Bill Kenwright owns the club and if he chooses to move it to Kirkby, Carlisle or Karachi he can if he so pleases. However, during the ongoing debates and discussions about this move, the powers-that-be at Everton might be advised to think long and hard about talking about their mandate, because there is definitely some validity in the argument that they obtained it under false pretences.
· WHAT do you think? Have your say at www.evertonbanter.co.uk
Manager could pay price for raised expectations
IT USED to be that the clubs near the foot of the Premier League were the ones mostly likely to sack their managers, but nowadays it appears that being at the right end of the division is where all the danger lies. Presumably that’s because the teams in the top half tend to be the bigger spenders, and with extra money comes an increased expectation from the fans and added pressure from investors. As well as Avram Grant, who is clearly unravelling before the nation’s eyes, Sven-Goran Eriksson is also under threat from a wealthy owner who isn’t happy with what he’s seeing on the pitch. It’s hard to imagine what exactly Thaksin Shinawatra expected from the Swede. He had to basically build a new side from scratch and although they have tailed off somewhat, a bit like Everton, they’ve still played some good football, had some great results and basically improved overall. Even the fans there don’t want to see the manager given the boot, which must be some sort of first, surely? riksson himself is undoubtedly sanguine about the whole situation. Once again he has the opportunity to do his little shrug, smile, and walk away from another job with yet more millions in his pocket. The man’s a genius.

Kirkby MP George Howarth backs Everton stadium plan
Apr 24 2008
By Nick Coligan, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON FC’s planned move to Kirkby today received vital support from the town’s MP. Last year, Knowsley North’s George Howarth threatened to haul the £400m project before a public inquiry if potential problems were not dealt with. Today, he formally threw his weight behind the plans, which centre around a new home for the Blues and a shopping district dominated by a Tesco superstore. In a letter to Knowsley residents, he said he would “choose progress” after Tesco made commitments which he believes will “bring real benefits to local people”. Mr Howarth also said he would not ask the government to “call in” the scheme for a public inquiry as it would “leave Kirkby in limbo for at least a year” and “even jeopardise the project”. He said Tesco’s pledges to create 700 jobs for residents, spend £10m on road and parking improvements, and transform the town centre had convinced him to back it. Mr Howarth today said: “There are big divisions among residents, but over the last few weeks developments on issues like jobs and housing have tipped the balance in favour of it. “I do not think everything is perfect, but there is a much stronger commitment from Tesco and a big reassurance was its decision to buy the existing town centre. “They will not allow £60m of investment to rot.” Mr Howarth’s letter said: “Kirkby now faces a choice. We can leave the town to stagnate with no realistic prospect of any major regeneration for the foreseeable future. “Alternatively we can choose progress and a new, modern, successful town,. I choose progress.” Last year, Mr Howarth said he would ask for the scheme to be called in if his concerns about traffic, anti-social behaviour and housing were not addressed. He now feels Knowsley council should make the final decision whether the stadium and shops should be built. Mr Howarth said: “The council has listened to people’s concerns.” The project’s opponents today said they would still push for a public inquiry. Ian Morris, from Kirkby residents action group, said: “Throughout his career as an MP he has consistently failed to listen to the people of Kirkby, so this letter comes as no surprise. “The vast majority of residents are still against the development while it includes a football stadium. “I think this could prompt more people to vote against Labour next week .”

Dear constituents,
Re. The Proposed Regeneration of Kirkby Town Centre
The proposed Tesco/Everton development of Kirkby town centre represents a significant opportunity for Kirkby and wider Merseyside. As an MP, I have no formal role in the planning process. However, I believe I have a duty to ensure that concerns of residents are addressed and I have met a large number of residents’ groups recently with that aim in mind. There are a range of opinions in the town and it is sometimes easy just to hear the small but very vocal hardcore opposition. By contrast, a large number of residents, although they have concerns, recognise the need for regeneration. I was most struck by the fact that even those opposed to the Tesco/Everton proposal stress the need to breathe new life into the town. I have given a great deal of thought as to whether or not I should request the Department for Communities and Local Government to call in the application. If this were to happen, it would leave Kirkby in limbo for at least a year and it could even jeopardise the whole project. The last few weeks have seen a number of developments which shed considerably more light on the proposals and Tesco has made a number of commitments that will bring real benefits to local people: * Guaranteed jobs for local people – the new Tesco Extra store will provide 700 jobs for long-term unemployed people in Kirkby. This will reduce the number of local people claiming Job Seekers Allowance by at least 25% and a similar number of new jobs is expected from other parts of the development. * Traffic and transport management – the proposals include a 4,500 space Park & Ride scheme, additional transport options including coach, buses, trains and walking routes. At least £10m will be spent on improving road junctions and a residents-only parking scheme. * Merseytram – these proposals have revived the prospect of a new Merseytram that will benefit all in Kirkby. * Merseyside police – discussions are underway to locate the police headquarters for Knowsley in Kirkby. * A revived town centre – an unprecedented £400 million will be invested in Kirkby including the existing town centre, acting as a catalyst for sustained future investment in shops, jobs, houses, transport and leisure. * A voice for local people – the developers, including both Everton and Tesco, have already set up a group to monitor the development to respond to residents concerns. * Plans to re-house and compensate residents directly affected – there is progress towards a solution for residents who have to be relocated because of the development. * A new NHS walk-in centre – the regeneration plans bring the promise of a new NHS centre based in the heart of Kirkby. Without the redevelopment, it is unclear how this could be funded. These developments place us in a different position now compared with a few weeks ago. Putting Kirkby at the heart of Merseyside is good for Kirkby and the sustainable level of retail development which it brings will benefit the whole of Merseyside. I have listened to concerns raised by residents and it is true that we still need strong safeguards. Opponents of this proposal have been completely unable to give any realistic alternatives that would bring any of these improvements. This proposal represents a once in a generation opportunity to breathe new life into Kirkby town centre. We have within our grasp the chance to halve unemployment in the area, better healthcare facilities and a new Merseytram. Knowsley Council has carried out extensive consultations and the most recent planning application reflects the fact that they have listened to what people have said. They have also persuaded Everton and Tesco to make changes that address those concerns. Kirkby as a town now faces a choice. We can leave the town to stagnate with no realistic prospect of any major regeneration for the foreseeable future. Alternatively we can choose progress and a new modern successful town bringing new jobs and better facilities for local people. I choose progress.
Yours sincerely,
Rt Hon George Howarth MP
Knowsley North and Sefton East

Yak will be back - Yobo
Apr 24 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
JOSEPH YOBO today backed Yakubu to come roaring back to form against Aston Villa and fire Everton towards the UEFA Cup. The Blues’ club record signing has not scored since he grabbed his 19th goal of the campaign against West Ham on March 22 and manager David Moyes has reminded Yakubu that he needs to recapture his sparkle. But Yobo has seen enough on the training pitches at Finch Farm this week for him to declare that Yakubu has the bit between his teeth once again and senses he is set to become Everton’s match-winner in the shoot-out for fifth place. “I’ve spoken to Yak because – like everyone else – he hasn’t been the same since we got knocked out of Europe,” said Yobo. “Yak hasn’t scored for a few games but others need to score as well. But the thing with strikers is if they score, they are going to get confidence and if Yak gets a goal in the first half on Sunday he will change the game completely.
“You never know what he is going to do next on the pitch and that’s why I’ve got no doubt that goals are still going to come before the end of the season. “He knows Aston Villa is a big game for us and he is ready to step up for it.” During Yakubu’s two seasons at Middlesbrough, he never scored a goal after the end of February and endured barren runs of 16 and 12 games respectively. Even though he scored three last month for the Blues, some critics have said he has switched off. Yobo, however, says such remarks could not be further from the truth. He believes his compatriot has simply suffered from a lack of service and if Everton’s midfielders provide the ammunition, he expects Yakubu to come good. “If you a professional player, these are the games that you want to be involved in and we know there is something big at stake,” said Yobo, who has again been a model of consistency at the heart of Everton’s defence. “As a team, we realise the position we are in and we need to step it up. If you watch Yak in training, he scores goals for fun. I have played with Yak for Nigeria and I knew he had everything before he came here. “He makes finishing look so easy. He’ll miss a few, of course, but he doesn’t miss many. If gets a couple of chances against Villa, you know he is going to slide on in. We have got to make sure the service is good, he has got to find the space.” Meanwhile, Steven Pienaar is relieved his protracted signing from Borussia Dortmund has finally been completed and is now looking forward to having a successful time on Merseyside. “I have signed a deal for three years so I am looking forward to the next three years at the club,” said Pienaar. “It has been on my mind for quite a while and I just wanted to get it over with.”

David Moyes waits on Mikel Arteta's fitness
Apr 25 2008
DAVID MOYES will be forced into a last-minute decision over whether Mikel Arteta is fit enough for Everton’s crunch home clash with Aston Villa on Sunday, a game that could decide who qualifies for the UEFA Cup. The midfielder was due back at the club’s Finch Farm training complex today but at the last minute asked for an extra day of treatment in Spain. It has left Everton boss Moyes clearly frustrated, because he had hoped that his influential playmaker could be thrown into the Villa game.
Now Moyes must wait until tomorrow’s training session, less than 24 hours before the Villa confrontation. Arteta has been struggling for months with a stomach and groin problem, and has been sidelined for three weeks. Moyes said: "Arteta has not returned from Spain yet, he will be back tomorrow and it will be a very late shout on him. He has asked for another day in Spain and we have agreed to that. "I don’t know how the injury has progressed, but I believe that it is not something that can be solved with surgery." Arteta has been back home in Spain having intensive treatment on his increasingly worrying problem, and was due back for training today. Moyes added: "Mikel is really important. He has not come back today as expected, he will be returning on Saturday."We will then make a judgement, he has asked for more time to have treatment in Spain. It is very short notice, he has not played for us since Derby three weeks ago and he has not trained with us since then, either. "We will assess him and hopefully he will be back in training tomorrow. "We do not think it needs surgery, it is something that has been an on-going problem for him for a little while now."
However, Everton do have concerns about Arteta’s long-term fitness with an injury that also troubled him at previous clubs. Everton will have midfielder Leon Osman back after a hip injury, but Arteta’s impact could well have been decisive.
If Everton win, they go six points clear of Villa with just two games each left. If they lose, Villa’s better goal difference will see them overtake the Toffees in the race for fifth place. Moyes said: "This weekend could be the deciding factor, but it could still go right to the last game because everyone will have two more still to play.
"I said at the beginning of the season that it would be difficult for us to finish in the top 10 with all the money that has been spent by lots of other clubs.
"So to be up around fifth and sixth spot all season is very good. And it is difficult to stay there, there is pressure, but we have to prove we are worthy of that fifth spot in these last three games. "We would have preferred not to be in this position, we have let a few points slip recently that we should not have done. But that is the way it goes, we have had great runs when others have been dropping points. "Now it is down to the nitty-gritty, very important, and we aim to win it to make the position clearer."
He added: "People keep blaming the Fiorentina defeat in the UEFA Cup last month for what has happened, but who knows? It is difficult to tell, it might have had an effect, but we really should be over it by now. "We are not thinking about sixth and the Intertoto Cup, we are only concerned with finishing fifth. "If I knew what has been wrong with us I would have done something about it. We had a tremendous run up until March-time. This is a sticky patch but there is not one thing to put it down to.
"I don’t believe in tiredness. Players are paid to play a lot of games. "We were a long way further ahead of Villa a few weeks ago, and they have done well and got much closer to us."

‘Time for us to sparkle again’ - David Moyes
Apr 25 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES tipped his Everton players to recapture their sparkle and seize the initiative in the race for a UEFA Cup place. The Blues return to action after an enforced 10-day break against Aston Villa on Sunday desperate to end a shaky run of form that has seen them collect just five points from their last six games.
That has given Villa a chance of snatching fifth place from Everton, and they would leapfrog Moyes’ side if they win at Goodison Park, but the manager has not entertained any thoughts of defeat. He believes the extra rest Everton have had since losing to Chelsea last Thursday can only be of benefit and thinks it could be the catalyst for them to finish the season with a flourish. “We hope it has done us some good,” said Moyes. “We would rather have had a game last weekend, and the break was forced upon us, but the players have come back in good spirits. “Yes, we were playing better when the games were coming thick and fast, we were happy and we were meeting all the challenges head on. “Everything was good then. We were playing with a lot of confidence and that’s something we have been lacking a bit in recent weeks. “There is no getting away from the fact we have had a dip in form but we have got three big games to go, starting against Aston Villa on Sunday. “We want to keep going right until the end of the season and I still believe we can regain our form. The lads are ready and that has been pleasing to see.” Though Tim Cahill and James Vaughan are long-term absentees, Moyes is hoping to have everyone else available for selection, including Leon Osman, who has recovered from a hip problem, and Mikel Arteta, who was expected back at Finch Farm today. It has left Moyes, who is relishing the opportunity to go head-to-head with Martin O’Neill, in an upbeat mood, and feels both the occasion and what is at stake will help rouse Everton from their slumber. “This is an exciting game for us, it’s what football is all about,” said Moyes.
“These are the games that you want to be involved in. “It is important for both clubs but we know how much is riding on it for us. I wouldn’t say it is ‘winner takes all’ though. “Looking at the fixtures, I still think there are going to be some twists and turns. We have just got to make sure that we look after ourselves.”

It's make or break for us - Joseph Yobo
Apr 25 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
SIX weeks have passed since Lady Luck turned her back on Everton but Joseph Yobo knows the time has now come for brave hearts to replace broken ones. Like so many of his team-mates, Yobo looked at the line-up for last night’s UEFA Cup semi-finals and wondered what might have been, particularly as the Blues had beaten two of the quartet in recent months. If seeing Zenit St Petersburg face Bayern Munich wasn’t bad enough, frustrations have been exacerbated by the progress of a Fiorentina side who were pummelled to the point of submission at Goodison Park last month yet somehow emerged victorious. Undoubtedly, losing to the Italians in the last 16 on penalties was the moment when the wheels started to come off Everton’s season but a glance at the Premier League table shows there can be no more wallowing in self-pity.
There is little doubt that Everton’s efforts deserve to be rewarded with a place in Europe again next year but a rapidly-improving Aston Villa side have other ideas and will intend to upset the odds when they arrive on Merseyside this weekend.
The consequences of failing against Martin O’Neill’s side do not bear thinking about, so it is no wonder that Yobo is drawing on the memory of this year’s UEFA Cup campaign to provide inspiration. He is desperate to sample it again.
“There were so many great experiences,” Yobo recalled. “Nuremburg was unbelievable, so too was the game against Metalist. They are the type of nights that a club like Everton needs. We are close to being a stable, top five team.
“That’s a massive achievement from where we were when I first came. Every year, you want to be playing in Europe, the feeling of being involved in the competition is great and we want to be in it again. “If we had beaten Fiorentina, we probably would have got to the final. We believed that. We were confident and it was just that bit of luck which deserted us. But we have learned from the experience and we want it again.” That may be true but in order to take their place in next season’s UEFA Cup, Everton will need to recapture their early season swagger immediately as Yobo acknowledges that Sunday’s contest is make or break. Having scored 15 times in their last three matches, Villa have moved ominously onto Everton’s shoulders and – judging from the sounds that have been emitting from the Midlands – fancy their chances of bridging the three-point gap. “It’s a massive game for both teams,” said Yobo. “Probably the most important of the season. They are in good form and have scored a lot of goals but we have been in fifth place for a long time and we don’t want to lose it. “It is going to be very tough and we haven’t been at our best in the last couple of weeks but we will raise our game for this. I’m certain of that. Villa are going to find it very difficult when they come here.” If Everton are going to triumph, Yobo and company will be required to batten down the hatches, particularly when flyers such as Ashley Young and Gabriel Agbonlahor start running or high balls are tossed into the hulking John Carew. The challenge, however, does not faze Yobo in the slightest. He has been a model of consistency at the heart of Everton’s defence and is rightly proud of the way he and his colleagues at the back have played.
“Carew is tough to play against because of his size but they have got other good players as well,” said Yobo. “They are full of confidence and all the strikers are scoring goals, which makes things difficult for a defender. But we don’t concede many.” Recently, though, Everton haven’t been scoring many either but Yobo senses things are about to change and, provided they can conjure one final effort in the three matches that remain, he is confident the campaign will end on a high.
“We want fifth place,” he said with a noticeable defiance. “It is going to be very difficult now to get fourth spot, so the least we can do is hang on to fifth. There are a couple of teams chasing us but we have got to step up our game now.
“It would be very disappointing for everybody involved with the club if we didn’t get fifth place. It would be a disaster. Mentally and physically, we have given everything we have got to get into this position. “But this is a great opportunity for us. It would be great to put distance between those clubs chasing us with a win against Villa. I can’t say how it is going to turn out, what I do know is we will try as hard as we can to get three points. “If we lost, they would be level on points with a better goal difference but we can’t think like that and the fans need to know they have a big role to play too. If we all join together, we will nearly be there (in Europe) again.”

Why Everton's roll must not be rocked
Apr 25 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
THE current Everton team has an advantage over Joe Royle’s UEFA Cup wannabes of 1996. They know that if they beat Aston Villa on Sunday, a European place next season is all but guaranteed. That was a luxury Everton didn’t enjoy when the Blues’ last trophy-winning manager faced Villa in a similar Euro shoot-out, back when Manchester United had only won as many league titles as the Toffees.
That afternoon the Blues celebrated a late Joe Parkinson match winner – only for Dennis Bergkamp to break their hearts with an even later Arsenal goal at Highbury.
The significance of this weekend’s showdown can be underlined by the ramifications of that 1996 blow. Robbed of back-to-back European campaigns despite finishing sixth, Everton didn’t trouble the top six places in the Premier League again for a decade. Star names like Andrei Kanchelskis and Anders Limpar were deflated, went on strike, then jumped ship; fans began to fear another false dawn – and even the manager himself was seeking new employment 10 months later. It was a malaise which took the arrival of David Moyes to shake off. It’s a history some Blues fear repeating itself as Villa come to Goodison again for a win or bust showdown with UEFA Cup football the prize. It’s an overly gloomy outlook, of course.
Sixth place may still be enough for Europe next season, depending on the outcome of the FA Cup final and what mood the FA are in today regarding qualification, and the Blues also have the Intertoto Cup as a fall back. But anything less than fifth would be seen as failure after the heightened expectation levels of this hugely enjoyable season.
Everton have experienced a progressive and relatively successful season so far.
They’ve enjoyed their longest European run for 23 years, reached the semi-finals of a domestic competition for the first time in 13 years – and threatened to break up the established top four order for all but the last three weeks. So failure to clinch the automatic UEFA Cup slot would be a devastating disappointment – a disappointment which would test all but the steeliest characters at the club. The visit of Villa is a must-win match for Everton – or at the very least a must-not-lose affair – for reasons above and beyond three Premier League points. Moyes has established a momentum at Goodison. He has the Blues on a roll – and it’s crucial they don’t start to roll backwards again.

Your chance to nominate an Everton hero
Apr 25 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON’S third annual end of season awards night takes place on Wednesday, May 7, and Echo readers have a key role to play in picking out the winners.
The People’s Club Award has been won by two genuine Everton legends in the past two years. Brian Labone in 2006 and Alan Ball 12 months ago were posthumous winners, as voted for by the supporters. The outpouring of grief that followed the devastating deaths of Labone and Ball – who tragically passed away on this day last year – led to overwhelming backing for the People’s Club Award to be given to them.
But this is an award for, quite literally, anybody associated with Everton Football Club. We want you to cast your vote for the individual that you think has made a contribution to the club that merits this unique honour. The key word when considering your nomination is ‘appropriate’. The fans considered it entirely appropriate that Labone and Ball should be the names on the trophy for the last two years and it’s up to you again for 2008. It could a current player, an ex-player, a member of the staff, a supporter . . . it could be anyone. Once the nominations have been collated a distinguished Everton panel, including Howard Kendall, Joe Royle and Sir Philip Carter, will sift through the leading names and select the eventual winner. To vote for the 2008 Everton People’s Club Award winner simply send your nomination to the People’s Club Award c/o Dominic King, Liverpool Echo, Old Hall Street, PO Box 48, L69 3EB. Nominations to be received no later than Thursday, May 1

Howard Kendall: Everton must rise to big occasion
Apr 25 2008 by Howard Kendall, Liverpool Echo
SOMETIMES as a football manager, you are presented with a game that only requires a one word team talk and David Moyes faces that situation on Sunday.
Aston Villa, the side who want to wrestle fifth place from Everton’s grasp, will arrive at Goodison Park brimming with confidence, but David is only going to have to tell his players to “win” in order to fire them up. Make no mistake about it, this is as big a game as Everton have faced in a long time, and the incentive of putting six points between them and Villa with two games remaining should surely have the players ready to run themselves into the ground. Hopefully, the energy and enthusiasm will transmit to the crowd and it will make for a special occasion. But there is no doubt that we have got to drastically improve on anything we have produced in recent weeks to see off Villa. It’s so important to get a good start, and a crunching tackle to set the tone is just as important as a good shot. Hopefully, if the players can get the crowd on side in the early exchanges, I would fancy us to win. Take nothing away from Villa, however, as they have been one of the success stories from this campaign. Martin O’Neill has done a fabulous job down there – in time, I believe the FA will rue the decision not to make him England manager. Martin has enjoyed great success wherever he has been and I can see bits of Brian Clough in him. But he is his own man, too, and that is why he has thrived. Cloughie was a one off and those who tried to copy him as managers invariably failed. I thought Martin was the ideal man for England and would have gone for him before Fabio Capello. He might speak Irish but whenever Martin opens his mouth he talks a lot of sense.

Buzzing with Bs
WITH the season drawing to a close, thoughts are already turning towards potential summer signings. I’d love to see two players here whose names begin with ‘B’
The first is Gareth Barry, who has enjoyed a terrific year for Aston Villa, and the second is Blackburn Rovers midfielder David Bentley. Without question, these would dramatically improve Everton’s squad. Getting them may prove difficult. It all depends how much is in the kitty. But Everton really need to be going for that calibre of player. We’re at the stage where the squad needs more star quality.

Steven Pienaar - Low down of a top deal
Apr 25 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
THERE are fans out there, plenty of them, who will look you straight in the eye and declare that Everton Football Club do not operate as efficiently as they should at times. Then the Toffees make another low key announcement like Wednesday night’s.
“Everton have confirmed that Steven Pienaar will join the club on a permanent basis,” ran a short news story on the club’s website. The transfer fee was £2,050,000 . . . or Scott Parker’s wages for a year. Or put another way, Everton have snapped up Tim Cahill, Mikel Arteta and now Pienaar (pictured) for less than the price of Joey Barton – combined. That’s stunningly good business in anybody’s book.

Three points for Everton against Aston Villa would put icing on cake for David Moyes
Apr 26 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
A QUIET meal with his family last night was how David Moyes chose to mark his 45th birthday – but he hopes the real celebrations can take place tomorrow evening.
The only thing Everton’s manager wants to recognise turning another year older is three points from a game against Aston Villa that, following the respective results of both teams in recent weeks, has assumed huge significance. “When you get to my age, you probably start to forget about your birthdays a bit more,” he said, with rueful grimace. While Villa have buried some poor opponents under an avalanche of goals, the Blues have lurched through the past four weeks and seen what had been a comfortable buffer over their UEFA Cup rivals whittled away. But rather than worry about an in-form Villa side arriving at Goodison Park, Moyes has faith that his players are ready to give him the gift he so desires. Training at Finch Farm has had an edge about it in recent days and the signs suggest they are ready to deliver. Then again, they need to. With many believing this contest will ultimately decide which side finishes best of the rest Everton, who are chasing a third top six finish in the last four years, must make home advantage pay. “I’d have preferred not to be in this position (needing to win to see off Villa) as we’d been on a great run, but we have dropped off a bit recently,” said Moyes, who could have squad that, with the exception of James Vaughan and Tim Cahill, is close to full strength. “But now it has got down to the nitty gritty and this is an important game that we want to win. “Our home record has been good this season and we have to try and maintain that, but we are going to have to perform well to maintain that. “Aston Villa are a good side and Martin O’Neill has done an excellent job. I’m not surprised they have improved under him.”
Having Leon Osman and Mikel Arteta available again, however, gives Moyes attacking options that he has sorely lacked in recent weeks. But whether Arteta deserves an immediate recall is open to debate. He has been in Spain under going treatment or, more accurately, intensive massages, on the abdominal problem that has plagued him all year and was not due back at the club until today. He was originally expected back yesterday, but asked for more time. It has been a huge show of faith on Moyes’ behalf to allow Arteta to leave the club for 10 days and seek his own treatment, fully supporting whatever he needs to do get himself right again. But does the midfielder owe a big performance if he plays? “I wouldn’t go as far as to say that,” Moyes replied. “We don’t want to put undue pressure on Mikel. He has done really well for us in the last couple of years and we hope the treatment he has received has helped with his injury. “We don’t think it is going to need surgery to correct whatever it is. Mikel wants to do what he feels is best and we fully support him. We’ll see how he is when he gets back before we make a decision on whether he plays.”
One man who will almost certainly be in the starting line-up is Phil Neville. He has come in for some ferocious criticism from certain sections of Everton’s support but Moyes has no concerns about his captain’s efforts. “At this time of the season, people have got to be brave and bold to take things, to keep wanting the ball. That’s the only thing I'd say about Phil Neville, he always wants the ball, is always brave and never hides from any situations. “You have to give him 100 per cent credit for that. Phil does a great job for us in many positions. He is an example to others to make sure you don't hide when maybe it's not going as well as it should be for you. You have to keep wanting it and keep taking it. “I think he can play a real role, a captain’s role and his experience will be important to us. We have tried to make sure we get them right physically, but mentally and psychologically you have to also make sure they are right.” The challenge, then, is to recapture the swagger and belief that made them such an irresistible force earlier in the campaign. Do that and Moyes will be celebrating much more than just a birthday. “It’s easier when things are going well,” said Moyes. “When they aren’t going well, that’s where you have to keep giving them confidence.
“But some- times a player needs to do it themselves. It can trigger itself with just the simplest thing. Now and again, you just need to believe in it and suddenly something will come right for you.”

Barry Horne: Back Everton for UEFA Cup spot
Apr 26 2008 by Barry Horne, Liverpool Echo
WITH the FA finally making their position clear on who will get their nomination for next season’s UEFA Cup, the significance of tomorrow’s match at Goodison Park is magnified. To qualify for Europe next season Everton must finish above Aston Villa.
The game between the two this weekend is a defining moment of their season and while the Blues go into the game below par, Aston Villa have been on top of their game in recent weeks. That is why it is imperative everyone approaches the match – on the pitch and in the stands – in a positive frame of mind. Martin O’Neill is a master psychologist and he will have his team prepared for any sign of dissent in the stands or self doubt on the pitch. He has always been complimentary of David Moyes and the work he has done at Everton, but he will also be ready to employ any slight edge he can if the match is still all square after half-an-hour and there are signs of restlessness from the crowd. Hopefully the team can give the fans the positive sign they need – and the Blues can go on to win a match that would all but secure UEFA Cup football next season.
All to play for in Euro crunch
THERE was a feast of tense European football this week.
There wasn’t much to set the pulses racing – apart from Barcelona’s beautiful short passing – but there was plenty of tactical and technical football to savour.
People say that Alex Ferguson got his tactics wrong against Barcelona, just as he did in the same stadium against Bayern Munich. He might respond that he won the first game and would have done on Wednesday, but for Cristiano Ronaldo showing us he is human. The Liverpool v Chelsea tie is finely balanced. I’d say it’s an even money match, although some Reds fans might say they are going down to Stamford Bridge with confidence. Walter Smith, meanwhile, proved what an astute and inspirational manager he is, rallying his threadbare and battle weary troops to a comfortable goalless draw with Fiorentina. Zenit St Petersburg produced the result of the week, coming away from Germany not only with a draw, but with a vital away goal.
Everton beat St Petersburg with relative comfort and, but for a poor performance in the first leg in Fiorentina, came desperately close to knocking out the Italians.
Added time is not tough to work out
JUST in case you have been living in a bunker for the last five years, here’s how a referee calculates time added on at the end of a match. For every sub he adds 30 seconds and a discretionary amount is added for injuries which require treatment and any other stoppages outside of the usual ball going out of play. For further clarification, the amount of time added on at the end of the first half is completely independent of the second half. Often there is more time added on in the second half than the first because that’s when most managers make their substitutions.
You may also have noticed that a board is held aloft after 90 minutes to indicate the time to the crowd, always accompanied by a PA announcement which says “minimum time to be added on”. Statistically it has been proven that teams usually score roughly the same number of goals in time added on as they concede. (Actually I just made that last bit up!) So now you know.

Everton season ticket bonanza at Goodison Park
Apr 26 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
KEITH WYNESS has urged Everton season ticket holders to move quickly and snap up their seats before the ‘house full’ signs are placed outside Goodison Park.
Everton officials have been thrilled with the response to their ‘Early Bird’ offer – which ended last week – and are on course to meet their target of having 25,000 season ticket holders for the start of the new campaign. The next phase now allows existing season ticket holders until May 11 to secure their current seats, while applicants for new tickets can join the ‘wait list’ to receive priority on the best seats available before general sale commences on June 16. “We’d like to thank all our supporters who have already renewed for next season and urge anyone yet to make their purchase to hurry before the May 11 deadline in order to guarantee the best possible seat in the house. “There are well over a 1000 people already registered on our wait list who want to watch Everton regularly next season, so the early indications are that it may not be as easy to get a ‘good’ seat as in recent years.” As thrilled as he has been with the initial response, Wyness acknowledges that a successful team is the best way to sell seats and believes the progress this season augurs well for capacity crowds in 2008/09. “A figure of 20,000 is a fantastic number to reach so early in the season ticket campaign and is testament to the continued loyal support Evertonians show their club,” said Wyness. “Goodison Park, as in the case of any football stadium, is always at its best when it is packed out and our aim is to ensure we continually have full houses each time. “David (Moyes) and the team have ensured there is a real sense of optimism at the club and this is clearly demonstrated by the huge numbers already renewing their season ticket with still three games left to play in the current campaign.”

Charity race in honour of Everton legend Alan Ball
Apr 26 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
YESTERDAY marked the first anniversary of Alan Ball’s untimely passing but his memory continues to burn brightly in the mind of Evertonians. It is well known that Ball had three passions in his life - his family, football and horse racing - and plans are afoot to stage a raceday in his honour next month at Goodwood and the feature contest could not have a more fitting title. Charlie McCann, mad Evertonian and head of PR at bookmakers Stan James and Bet Direct, is the driving force behind the day, which will be staged on Wednesday, May 21, and the proceeds from the ’Evertonians Remember Alan Ball’ race will go to charity. “A couple of days before Alan passed away, I had a phone call from Rob McCaffery, who had been at function with him and Chris Kamara,” said Charlie, taking up the story. “Alan had been saying that a horse called Shot Gun was a certainty for a race at Epsom. “Anyway, it was declared to run on the day he died, so I had £50 on and Shot Gun duly won easily at 10-1. I said that day I would give the money back for a race in Alan’s honour and hopefully it will come to fruition at Goodwood. “The day at Goodwood, which was Alan’s favourite track, will be held in his honour but we want the race to be called the ‘Evertonians Remember Alan Ball’ handicap but maybe supporters can come up with better?
Charlie is also trying to arrange for losing bets to be refunded if a horse 8 or 7 (Alan’s Everton and England numbers) wins. More info from Charlie on 0207 257 8449 or by email on cmccann@stanjames.com.

Everton stars can turn into Fabio Capello gems
Apr 26 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
INTERNATIONAL football is unlikely to commandeer too much attention this summer but a couple of fixtures may be of huge importance to a couple of Everton players. Unless Luis Aragones performs an amazing about turn and calls Mikel Arteta into Spain’s squad for Euro 2008, Everton interest in the showpiece tournament will be reliant on Manuel Fernandes and Nuno Valente featuring for Portugal.
Before things get underway in Austria and Switzerland, though, Fabio Capello has another couple of opportunities to run the rule over his England squad and, in all likelihood, he will experiment once again against the USA and Trinidad & Tobago.
As he tries to separate the wheat from the chaff and get England firing on all cylinders for the start of the 2010 World Cup campaign, Capello has made it clear that there is plenty of time for would-be candidates to stake a claim. The incentive is there, then, for Phil Jagielka and Leon Osman to give the Italian food for thought and end what have been extremely encouraging seasons on a high by winning inclusion for those two games. While another Blue, Joleon Lescott, has progressed so much that it now seems as if he is a fixture in Capello’s plans, there is nothing to say that Jagielka – who has been the model of consistency this season – cannot join him.
It was at this time last year that Jagielka had come to Steve McClaren’s attentions and he was on the verge of being selected for ‘B’ team duty in a friendly against Albania. Who knows? Had McClaren still been in charge, he may well have made the step up already. Though he endured a slow start to his career at Goodison Park, he refused to be overawed and since getting into the team at Christmas, Jagielka has vindicated David Moyes’ claim that Everton got “one of the best deals around” last July.
Such has been the form Jagielka has shown, his manager has felt compelled to champion his cause on a number of occasions, most recently when he said Jagielka “deserved every plaudit” that came his way. Only time will tell if Capello feels the same way but there is no reason why the indefatigable Jagielka cannot end up in England’s 22; especially as he can fill a number of gaps. Central defence, though, is where he will thrive in the long-run and while John Terry and Rio Ferdinand are first choice, why can’t Lescott and Jagielka wait in the wings as their understudies?
For all his talent, Jonathon Woodgate’s fitness issues are always going to be a problem, while Ledley King is another who appears to have perennial injury problems. The same cannot be said of either Jagielka or Lescott – who makes his 92nd consecutive appearance for Everton against Aston Villa tomorrow – and they have both benefited from playing in Europe this season. Similar sentiments apply to Osman. True, the task he faces to catch Capello’s eye is more difficult as there is surfeit of midfielders but, when you think of some of the players who have been afforded a chance over the years, surely he deserves an opportunity?
Here is a player who never fails to give anything other than his best and is still open to improvement. So with nothing riding on the outcome of those forthcoming friendlies, Capello may well give Everton’s rapid improvers a shot at the big time.
Arrow blow for Beattie!
AFTER a less than profitable time at Goodison Park, James Beattie has got back among the goals for Sheffield United. A popular figure in the Everton dressing room but not so much on the terraces, Beattie has grumbled recently about the lack of opportunities he was afforded last season. Maybe, then, an incident when Premier League darts came to the Echo Arena will teach him to keep his own counsel.
One autograph hunter beckoned him over from the ‘VIP’ area with a pen and paper. Here’s what happened. “James, can you…?” “No problem, who do you want it made out to?” “No. Can you get Ricky Hatton to sign this for me?”

Clinching Europe would help attract top stars – David Moyes
Apr 26 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES has challenged his players to maintain Everton’s reputation as one of the Premier League’s more attractive destinations by booking their return to Europe. The Blues boss, whose side could all but secure fifth place tomorrow by beating Aston Villa at Goodison Park, has already started looking for the players to help Everton take the next step with a scouting trip to Russia last weekend.
Moyes is unsure what type of kitty he will have to play with during the summer but is confident that Everton’s progress in the past 18 months will be able to entice players from the top end of the market to Merseyside. However, he acknowledges that being able to offer European football is a minimum requirement nowadays, which is why he is anxious for Everton to hang onto the place in the top five they have occupied since new year’s day. “I’ve been given no indication whether it will make any difference if I finish fifth or sixth as to what backing I get,” said Moyes, whose side have an Intertoto Cup entry as security in case anything goes wrong. “In terms of attracting players, we’re an attractive club, a progressive club that people can see are making strides and challenging. “If you can’t play in England for maybe some of the other (top four) teams, then Everton are a team that you’d be interested in coming to.
“Any Intertoto Cup commitments could have an impact on what we do, but people use those matches as pre-season games.” Moyes, meanwhile, does not believe Everton’s season would be classed as a failure if they ended up swopping places with Villa.
“At the start of the season, you’d have said for us to finish above Tottenham and Newcastle would be a great thing to do and it looks like that will happen.
“We are looking at it positively and hoping we can have another strong finish in the Premier League, and have three of the last four in the top six,” Moyes added.

Everton 2, Aston Villa 2
Apr 27 2008
The race to reach the UEFA Cup is set to go to the wire after a dramatic Goodison Park showdown between the fifth and sixth-placed clubs in the Barclays Premier League. Everton led twice, with Phil Neville’s deflected effort and Joseph Yobo’s close-range finish. But Villa just refused to give up the chase, and Gabriel Agbonlahor and John Carew grabbed vital equalisers in a remarkable late spell of three goals in six minutes. The gap is still three points, with the midlanders having a better goal difference. But crucially Martin O’Neill’s men have what looks the slightly easier run-in with Wigan at home and West Ham away, on the last day. Everton must still face Arsenal at the Emirates with Newcastle on Merseyside for the last match. It will be touch and go for either side, but Villa look to have the momentum. Everton had Leon Osman back in their midfield after a hip injury, which allowed skipper Neville to revert to full-back with Tony Hibbert dropping to the bench from the side beaten by Chelsea last time out. Mikel Arteta was also back, on the bench, after returning from a week of treatment back home in Spain on his stomach and groin problems.
Aston Villa, with 15 goals in their last three matches which has seen them wipe out Everton’s goal difference advantage, were not surprisingly unchanged from the side that beat local rivals Birmingham 5-1 last weekend. The importance of this match was not lost on anyone. Both sides played instantly at a high tempo, launching into tackles and searching for the opportunities to grasp fifth spot, rather than be left in the Intertoto Cup. Gareth Barry, occupying a floating role on the left, and Carew saw efforts go wide, Villa having the better of much of the first period midfield exchanges.
Everton’s best effort in the early stages came when Ayegbeni Yakubu surged down the left, holding off and then bustling past Nigel Reo-Coker before firing in a shot that Scott Carson could only palm out. But Manuel Fernandes mis-hit his effort badly wide as he tried to fire home the rebound, a rare clear opening at that stage against Villa’s solid back-line. Carew’s clever chip almost put Ashley Young clear in the box, before the former Watford player crashed a free-kick against the bar after Phil Jagielka’s rash challenge on Agbonlahor. For Everton, Andrew Johnson’s right-sided run created yards of space, but his low cross was behind both Steven Pienaar and Yakubu as they raced into the box. With the tackles still flying in, referee Phil Dowd was inevitably soon involved. Stiliyan Petrov was booked for a late challenge on Osman before Yakubu was cautioned for dissent and Lee Carsley saw yellow for a lunge at Petrov.
Everton emerged after the break with genuine purpose, looking for width and pace to unsettle Villa’s defence. Olof Mellberg, Martin Laursen and Zat Knight had given very little away, but after 56 minutes they were undone by Yakubu’s strength and Neville’s rare shot. Yakubu’s first touch sent him powering away from Knight on the left, but his cross was wayward until the ball fell into Neville’s path 25 yards out on the opposite flank. It would have been easy to lash the effort over the bar, but Neville saw only his second goal of the season and his effort flicked off Laursen and past Carson. After 65 minutes, Moyes felt he could risk Arteta, who had not trained for a fortnight and only arrived back from Spain on Saturday. He replaced Fernandes.
Villa sent on attacking players Patrik Berger and Marlon Harewood for defenders Knight and Wilfred Bouma, the need for goals now critical for Villa’s European dreams. And after 80 minutes they succeeded. Barry’s corner swirled into the box and Agbonlahor was free eight yards out to side-foot the equaliser past Tim Howard’s flaying hands. Everton’s response was to inject the extra strength and height of Victor Anichebe for Johnson after 82 minutes, Everton now in greater need of a goal.
And it came two minutes later when Carsley’s clipped cross to the far post was met by Yobo, who slammed the ball into the roof of the net. Everton thought they were home and dry, but two minutes later Villa were level again, Barry’s cross being headed in by Carew, under intense pressure from Joleon Lescott. Everton were still not finished and Yobo’s header was saved by Carson. Harewood and Anichebe were booked for a flare-up, the tension electric as the teams fought to a standstill.

Everton 2, Aston Villa 2 (Echo)
April 28 2008
By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
AS Bill Kenwright knows only too well, the key to good theatre is keeping an audience captive until the final act with a plot full of twists and turns. Nothing excites more than high drama but, occasionally, there is no harm in having a storyline with a predictable ending. If only Everton’s season was headed for such a conclusion – instead, a ‘nerve shredder’ beckons. Having looked set to all but secure their place in next year’s UEFA Cup by winning an absorbing contest with their nearest challengers Aston Villa, 23 seconds of madness mean Everton’s hopes of finishing fifth are back up in the air. Though the Blues have a three point lead over Martin O’Neill’s impressive side with two games remaining, some observers understandably believe Villa now have the momentum after fighting back to secure a 2-2 draw at Goodison Park yesterday. Twice Everton led, only to twice surrender the initiative due to uncharacteristic lapses in concentration. While a draw was a fair result, David Moyes, his players and supporters know a glorious opportunity has been squandered. If it was not bad enough seeing Gabriel Agbonlahor cancel out Phil Neville’s opener from a corner, the header which John Carew salvaged a point for Villa will ensure Finch Farm is going to be a quiet place in the first half of this week. No wonder. Joseph Yobo’s 84th minute volley should have carried Everton over the finishing line and back into Europe. But now the much derided Intertoto Cup has crept into view because of nothing other than a lack of concentration. Had Villa levelled with a strike from the Gods or a move that eviscerated the Toffees’ defence, it would have been easier to take. Not so. Everton simply shot themselves in the foot and now require two outstanding performances to rectify the situation. Given the form they showed here, it does not take a vivid imagination to see Villa beating Wigan and West Ham, which means that Everton need four points from their remaining fixtures against Arsenal and Newcastle. Can they do it? Of course. They might have had a dip in form but the quality in Everton’s squad is still there and it would not be the greatest shock of all time if they secured a draw at the Emirates Stadium next Sunday. Also, it must be noted that it was not all doom and gloom here. Far from it. The manner in which Villa clawed themselves back may have deflated everyone of a Blue hue but it should not cloud the fact that Everton, at last, showed signs of turning the corner. There was plenty to like about the way they started this contest – the zest and energy that had been missing in recent weeks seemingly returning – but the goal that would have given the side lift-off, frustratingly never materialised. Ayegbeni Yakubu went closest for the Blues – his thumping drive after a powerful surge beyond Nigel Reo-Coker forced a good save from Scott Carson, but Manuel Fernandes could not divert the rebound back into the Park End net. An upbeat Moyes noted: “We were terrific in the opening stages and if we had a been a bit more careful with some of our passing early on, I thought we could have got in amongst them.” All the while though, Villa remained calm and composed – unlike their jack-in-the-box manager Martin O’Neill, who prowled around his technical area, kicking every ball and jumping for every header. Moyes, not surprisingly, was rather more subdued and visibly anxious as Villa started to threaten. There was a tangible sigh of relief, then, when Ashley Young cracked a free-kick against the crossbar. Happy to get to half-time all-square, the break gave Moyes an opportunity to galvanise his men. In the second half Everton were a different proposition and, with the decibels increased from the stands, they showed in patches what they really can do. And, crucially, fortune was also on their side. Ask Neville to describe his goal and he will say his shot was headed like an arrow for the top corner but, in truth, the deflection off Martin Laursen’s chest was important. No matter – it was just what was required. Spot the delicious irony: from Public Enemy Number One to Mr Popular in the blink of an eye, Neville was showered with bouquets by those who normally fling brickbats at him. He was excellent here, showing once again that right-back is his position. That said, the move that led to him shooting demanded a fine finish as the slick interchange of passes between Joleon Lescott, Leon Osman and Yakubu had Villa chasing shadows. This was much more like it. Yet, for some reason, they could not find a second goal to kill off Villa’s challenge and the visitors grew in belief that a chance would arrive to even things up. So it proved as Agbonlahor nipped past Osman to thrash Gareth Barry’s corner past Howard. Refusing to cave in, back Everton came when Yobo finished a cross from the terrific Lee Carsley with the kind of swagger normally associated with his compatriot Yakubu. Such a shame that he didn’t have time to savour it. Only time will tell whether Carew’s header was the decisive moment in settling the race for fifth place, but now is not the time for worrying. Everton have 180 minutes left of what has generally been an exhilarating campaign and a big push is required. If, for some reason, their best turns out not to be good enough then so be it, but they need to be in a position on May 11 when everyone can look at one another and be able to say: “We gave it everything that we had.” Forget about the fact that so far seven games against the top four have been hitherto fruitless when heading to the Emirates, never mind that Newcastle have run into form and will arrive on Merseyside wanting to finish on a high. Everton are still in control of their own destiny and more than capable of securing gains in the capital six days from now – if they can do that, the dreaded final act might not be so torturous to sit through after all.

Everton 2, Aston Villa 2 (D,Post)
April 28 2008
By Ian Doyle At Goodison Park
JUST as Everton were reaching for their passports, so they promptly find themselves stranded at the check-in desk. A return ticket to the UEFA Cup was in the hands of David Moyes’s side before twice being swiped from their grasp by Aston Villa following a remarkable Goodison Park finale. Three goals in a crazy last 10 minutes in which the visitors twice came from behind have left further work required before fifth place and European qualification can be secured. Not for the first time, Moyes’s side are struggling to finish the job off as Villa kept their own hopes of a UEFA Cup place alive. This was a microcosm of the season for Everton who, having done the early spadework, struggled to see their efforts through to the desired conclusion. When Moyes called for his players to make a bold statement, he cited Phil Neville as setting the example for his team-mates. Neville demonstrated the wisdom of those words with a deflected opener in the 55th minute – only his third goal in 129 appearances for Everton – which helped silence the detractors for whom the skipper can do little right in a blue shirt. If that was a collector’s item, so too was Joseph Yobo’s 84th-minute strike that regained the lead after Gabriel Agbonlahor’s equaliser four minutes earlier. In netting his first of the season, the Nigerian became Everton’s 13th different Premier League goalscorer, a sign of the collective nature of this team. Given the travails of their strike-force – only six goals had been netted in their previous nine games – it was telling that both goals came from defenders. Even then, Yobo’s goal wasn’t enough to seal victory as John Carew nodded home 60 seconds later to keep Villa within three points of Everton while boasting a worryingly superior goal difference. As the 14th time Martin O’Neill’s side have fought back from a losing position to earn at least a point in the Premier League this season, the Goodison outfit can’t say they weren’t warned about the Midlanders’ powers of recovery. And with Villa entertaining lowly Wigan Athletic on Saturday, Moyes’s side are likely to need a point at Arsenal the following day to keep their European destiny in their own hands. It shouldn’t be like this. Everton have now taken just six points from their last seven games and appear to once again be stumbling towards the finishing line. Certainly, the Goodison outfit have been poor at closing out a season under Moyes. In their last six run-ins, the best Everton have tallied from their final nine games is the 15 points that earned a UEFA Cup place last season. However, this was a much more improved performance than of late, their rejuvenated desire epitomised by a fine midfield display from Lee Carsley. As well as shining in his role of protecting the back four, the Republic of Ireland international provided the cross for Yobo’s goal and had strong claims for a second-half penalty when his shot appeared to strike the arm of Stiliyan Petrov. Yakubu, too, was a more lively presence in attack even if a 20th goal remains elusive. Sadly, by contrast, Andrew Johnson continues to toil in attack. Portsmouth’s defeat to Blackburn Rovers earlier in the day had effectively made the battle for fifth a straight shoot-out between the two Goodison Park combatants. As Everton have wavered, so Villa have found their second wind in recent weeks after a miserable March and went into yesterday’s game with15goals in three straight wins against Premier League strugglers. The visitors’ late season revival suggests they are benefiting from a less hectic schedule; while this was Everton’s 52nd game of the season, it was only Villa’s 39th. The Goodison outfit had 10 days to mull over their home defeat to Chelsea, but it gave time for the medical staff to patch up some of their walking wounded. Leon Osman returned after missing the two games with a hip problem although Mikel Arteta, who arrived back from treatment in Spain on Saturday, was restricted to a second-half cameo. Osman, keen to make up for last time, raised the Goodison volume with a crunching tackle and flashed a shot wide during a lively start from the home team. But it was Villa who had the better of the first half, Gareth Barry and Nigel Reo-Coker taking a stranglehold of midfield while Carew, Agbonlahor and Ashley Young were a continual threat going forward. The latter was nearest to scoring before the interval, Phil Jagielka upending Olof Mellberg on the edge of the area and Young stepping up to smash a right-footed free-kick that smacked against Tim Howard’s crossbar. Such was Villa’s dominance, the Everton threat was mainly restricted to counter-attacks as evidence by their clearest opening in the 19th minute. Yakubu embarked on a 50-yard run down the left flank and eventually held off the challenge of Reo-Coker before unleashing an angled drive Villa goalkeeper Scott Carson could only parry into the path of the incoming Manuel Fernandes. However, the Portuguese was always stretching for the ball and side-footed harmlessly wide. As in the first half, Moyes’s side were the brighter after the restart but this time had the reward of Neville’s goal for their efforts, the captain latching on to Yakubu’s loose pull-back and striking a shot from 20 yards that deflected in off Villa centre-back Martin Laursen. Everton were confidently seeing out the game until 10 minutes from time when Barry won and delivered a corner from the right that evaded everyone at the near post and landed at the feet of Agbonlahor to stab home into the roof of the net from six yards. Four minutes later, the home lead was restored when, following a bout of concerted pressure, Arteta fed Carsley and the ball was crossed to the far post for the unlikely figure of Yobo to volley home. But within a minute Villa were level again, Barry given too much time and space to advance and curl in a cross that Carew, showing good strength to hold off Joleon Lescott, headed beyond Howard. There was still time for Yobo to draw a fine save from Carson as both teams pressed for the winner. It was an incredible end to a tense, tight encounter. Everton must now ensure their European return is merely delayed rather than grounded permanently. EVERTON (4-1-3-2): Howard; Neville, Yobo, Jagielka, Lescott; Carsley; Fernandes (Arteta 66), Osman, Pienaar; Johnson (Anichebe 83), Yakubu. Subs: Wessels, Hibbert, Baines. BOOKINGS: Yakubu, Carsley and Anichebe (both fouls). ASTON VILLA (4-4-2): Carson; Mellberg, Laursen, Knight (Berger 76), Bouma (Harewood 78); Young, Petrov, Reo-Coker, Barry; Agbonlahor, Carew. Subs: Taylor, Salifou, Routledge. BOOKINGS: Petrov, Young and Harewood (all fouls). REFEREE: Phil Dowd. ATT: 37,936. NEXT GAME: Arsenal v Everton, Barclays Premier League, Sunday 1.30pm.

We’ll still do it - Lee Carsley
Apr 28 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
LEE CARSLEY admitted Everton's failure to secure three precious points against Aston Villa was "criminal" - but promised it won't cost them a place in Europe.
The Blues twice led during an exhilarating game against the side immediately below them in the table but lapses in concentration proved their Achilles’ heel.
Most frustrating for the Blues was the fact that John Carew’s second leveller came just 23 seconds after Joseph Yobo had put Everton 2-1 ahead six minutes from time.
Carsley, though, is refusing to dwell on the matter and knows Everton are still in the driving seat to finish fifth and wants to see the job finished when they travel to Arsenal next Sunday. “To concede like we did so quickly was poor and so unlike us,” said Carsley. “Usually, we have been so tight at the back, but to give the lead away twice in such an important game was criminal really. “Everything is still in our hands but I feel like we lost against Villa. When you lead twice at home, you see the game out. “We need to learn from our past experiences and learn to shut up shop. To let them back in once was bad, letting them back twice is unacceptable. “But it is gone and we have got to take some positives. “The pitch was fantastic and our football improved. It was good to get back to something close to ourselves. “We seemed to have a bit of energy again which was pleasing. “We are more than capable of going to Arsenal and getting something. “They will know that they are going to be in for one hell of a game. “Our attacking players are coming into form again and I can see us going there to attack and get a result.” Having only taken six points from the seven games they have played since being knocked out of Europe, Everton could not have picked a worse time to have a dip in form. But Carsley – Everton’s man of the match – feels there were spells against Villa when they showed exactly what they can do.
Replicating that against Arsenal is now the challenge. “Fiorentina took a lot out of us emotionally,” said Carsley. “We had a hangover but we have drawn the line under it now. “Enough is enough and we have got to make sure we see the season out now and finish fifth. “There was going to be a point in the campaign when things didn’t go right for us. It’s just unfortunate that it has come at the business end. “You have to give credit to the teams below us who have strung some great results together.
“But we are due a good result somewhere ourselves. “I don’t want to be one of these players who says ‘at least we played well even though we lost’ every time we play a top four team. “I’d love it if we play crap and win at the Emirates.”

Transfer talk is rubbish - Andrew Johnson
Apr 28 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
ANDREW JOHNSON has angrily refuted claims that he has paved the way for a summer move away from Goodison Park. The Everton striker was linked with a host of clubs in a Sunday tabloid after it was suggested he had become disillusioned with life on Merseyside as he has ‘dropped down’ the strikers’ pecking order.
However, Johnson – who signed a contract extension last October – insists that nothing could be further from the truth and says his only thoughts are helping Everton ensure they finish the season in a UEFA Cup place. “I have seen the story in the newspaper and it’s absolute rubbish,” said Johnson, who was substituted after 83 minutes in yesterday’s 2-2 draw with Aston Villa. “I have recently signed a new deal at Everton, which I was delighted to do. “Of course there is competition for striking places here. But I wouldn’t have it any other way and neither would the manager.
“Stories like this make me really angry and I can only promise the fans that I love being at Everton.” Johnson became Everton’s record signing when he moved from Crystal Palace for £8.6m in May 2006 and could not have wished for a better start at Goodison, scoring six goals in his first seven appearances. The undoubted highlight was his double in the 3-0 drubbing of Liverpool but, since then, a couple of frustrating injuries – he has had two ankle operations – plus the arrival of Ayegbeni Yakubu has meant that things have not gone according to plan. Still, the England international has chipped in with 10 goals so far this season and Johnson has made it clear that he wants to be part of David Moyes’ squad for a long time to come as he believes the Blues are on the verge of something exciting. “I am fully prepared to fight for a place in the side like everyone else in the squad and leaving the club has never even entered my head,” said Johnson. “We’ve had a great season and I look forward to helping this club progress even more in the next few years.”

Phil Neville: Aston Villa show should inspire us
April 29 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
PHIL NEVILLE called on Everton's players to take inspiration from their best 45 minutes of the season and move a step closer to booking a return to Europe.
Neville is not fazed by the prospect of a trip to the Emirates stadium and believes the most recent meeting between the sides will provide confidence. Arsenal may have won 4-1 at Goodison in December but the final score was determined by three catastrophic mistakes in the second half, which came after Everton had dominated the first half and led through a Tim Cahill header. Neville said: “The first 45 minutes we played that day were up there with the best of our season. “Arsenal are a world class side – they play some of the finest football in Europe – but I’m convinced we’d have got a result at Goodison had it not been for silly mistakes. “We have to go down there next weekend and be confident that we can get something. If we eradicate the mistakes that we’ve made in matches against the top four, there’s no reason we can’t get our rewards.” Errors again proved costly in Sunday’s 2-2 draw with Aston Villa, but Neville believes his side are starting to emerge from their lull. He added: “Our play in the second half against Villa was positive. There was a vibrancy about it again. We had three days off after we were beaten by Chelsea and that has done us the world of good because the pace of training has stepped up again. “The banter has returned, tackles are flying in and we are looking forward to the last two games. We have come a long way this season and are determined to finish the job off.” Neville, who opened the scoring against Villa, feels the spark has returned to the side just in time.
“When we play well, we play with energy,” the captain said. “You could see the spark back in some of the players against Villa. Steven Pienaar ran himself into the ground, Yak worked his socks off for us. We’ve had a long season but this might just revitalise us. “The way I see it, we’ve got to win one game and, possibly, get a draw in the other to make absolutely certain of finishing fifth.”

Dixie Dean's 60: A missed sitter which hid start of legend
April 29 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
Dixie's Sixty: Part One - The First Dozen
IT'S the most celebrated season of individual goalscoring in football history, yet it's never been analysed in close-up detail. Eighty years ago this week, William Ralph Dean set a goalscoring record which is likely to stand for all time. On May 5, 1928, Everton’s 21-year-old centre-forward scored a hat-trick to reach the fabled total of 60 league goals in a single season. It eclipsed the 59 goal tally George Camsell had scored in the Second Division the year before, and set a record which is unlikely to ever be broken. Bank Holiday Monday marks the 80th anniversary of Dixie Dean’s 60-goal season. And to commemorate the occasion we’ve raided the Echo archives to produce a new series detailing every single one of those precious 60 goals.
We look at the match reports of the games, reveal who was Dean’s chief supplier and highlight what people were saying about him at the time. All this week we pay tribute to Dixie’s 60 . . . dozen by dozen. DIXIE DEAN opened his record-breaking season in “sensational” fashion. But missing a sitter just yards from goal wasn’t the sensation fans were hoping for! No-one expected Everton’s 20-year-old centre-forward to set any goalscoring records in 1927. He had finished the previous season with three goals in his last seven outings, part of an overall tally of 21 in a campaign where he had made his comeback from a life-threatening motorcycle accident. And when he miskicked with the goal at his mercy against Sheffield Wednesday, an opening day Goodison crowd of 39,485 could barely believe what they had seen.
“Then came the first real sensation. What a sensation, too! It left the spectators speechless,” reported the Football Echo. “This is what happened. Everton had made an attack through Cresswell, who had intercepted a pass in the Wednesday half and punted it right into the middle. Dean, thinking he was offside, allowed it to go by him and even Troup could hardly believe his own eyes when he saw the referee signal ‘play on.’ “At all events the little fellow did play on by pushing the ball right in front of goal, where Dean had only to touch it to make a scoring point.
“Here the sensation. Dean, to everybody’s dismay, kicked right round the ball and although Irvine came up in an effort to retrieve his colleague’s error, the Wednesday goal did not fall.” Undaunted, Dean “bumped a header against the crossbar” then sent another inches wide with the goalkeeper beaten. And he finally claimed an opening day goal when he added the last goal in the 75th minute of a 4-0 romp.
No-one realised its ultimate significance at the time. Indeed it was overshadowed by an Alec Troup wonder goal. Dean’s strike merited just a single sentence in the Football Echo. “Dean took Irvine’s well-timed pass on the run and slipped the ball well out of the reach of Brown.” A few more words were written the following Saturday, but this time it was the record-breaking George Camsell who stole Dean’s limelight. His 59-goals had catapulted Middlesbrough to promotion the previous season, and he showed that he could score against top flight defences, too, when he hammered all four in Boro’s 4-2 defeat of The Toffees at Ayresome Park.
But Dean got one, subject of a bizarre description in that day’s Pink Echo.
“Tarrant and Hart collided and Hart rode jockey pattern for fully three yards. It was a piggy-back seat, but the limit was reached when Hart, on the floor, headed the ball a foot away and this was was the beginning of the equalising goal - if it can be believed. The ball went backwards to the right, was transferred backwards and inwards, and Dean, taking it in his stride, scored an easy goal.” Despite Camsell’s four goal performance, Dean proved he could also deliver, regularly. He scored in Everton’s first nine matches, and after eight games already had a dozen for the season.
This is how the Echo reported them . . .
September 5, 1927. Bolton Wanderers 1, Everton 1.
THREE: Dean was again on the mark, guiding the ball home from a square pass by Critchley.
September 10, 1927. Everton 5 Birmingham City 2
FOUR AND FIVE: Dean scored his usual goal at the 58th minute, but most of the credit must go to Forshaw who dribbled clear through the defence before offering Dean a simple scoring chance.
Only three minutes remained to play when Dean scored a brilliant goal following good work by Weldon.
September 14, 1927. Everton 2, Bolton 2
SIX: Dean was offered ‘the dummy’ by Finney and made the full back pay for his effort. He charged at Finney and caught him rather late in the impact. Dean hurt his leg in the charge but that did not prevent him sending the ball to the inside of the goalpost, Pym falling too late to smother it.
September 17, Newcastle 2 Everton 2
Everton netted in the first minute.
SEVEN: The ball was turned to Dean, who at the second attempt, shot in with a very definite and practical result.
EIGHT: Dean scored in 52 minutes. He challenged, put the ball to his outside right Critchley, who trapped it and centred. The eeper advanced and Dean headed with his customary accuracy.
September 24, 1927. Everton 2 Huddersfield 2
NINE: Cresswell, with a superb tackle, pushed the ball forward to Virr and this was the starting point of Dean’s shot. Virr wisely took the ball forward a little before finally transferring it to Dean, who first headed it sideways and as the ball dropped he smashed in a terrific drive which left Turner not the slightest opportunity of keeping it out of the net.
TEN: If there is a better header of the ball than William Dean, I would like to see him. No man could have scored a goal the like of which gave Everton the lead at the 52nd minute but Dean. Both he and Goodall went up for Critchley’s centre at one and the same moment, but Dean’s head was the one that counted. He didn’t drive the ball. He simply helped it on his way and it was in the net before the majority of us had realised. It was one of the finest goals of the season.
October 1, Tottenham 1, Everton 3.
ELEVEN: His first was from an upward punt by O’Donnell and he veered to the left before shooting a fine goal.
TWELVE: Critchley centred and Dean’s headed goal left Britton, the goalkeeper, bewildered as to what position he should take up to stop this visiting centre-forward.
* Tomorrow: The day Dean hit Manchester United . . . for five!

Nigel Martyn: Confidence points to big show at Emirates
Apr 29 2008 by Nigel Martyn, Liverpool Echo
A POPULAR theory has it that Everton's draw with Aston Villa on Sunday means they have surrendered the initiative in the race for Europe. Don't believe it for one minute! Things will become much clearer following the next round of games, but I am still convinced that the Blues will finish fifth, and have every confidence they will defy the odds by getting a point at Arsenal next weekend. Sure, it was disappointing to surrender the lead twice against Villa, but there were signs that we were starting to get back to something like our best. And I would much rather be in our position than Villa’s with two games to go. It is dangerous to make assumptions in football. Just because Villa’s run-in appears to be the easier on paper, why does that automatically mean they are going to get six points? West Ham, for one, will have something to say about that on the final day. But we have to look forward to the Emirates Stadium visit and there were enough positives to take from the Villa game to ensure we travel with confidence. This is a game to look forward to rather than be terrified of.
Of course, one win in the seven games we have played since being knocked out of Europe is not inspirational form, and critics will point to Everton not being the strongest of finishers. But there is a reason why results dip at this stage.
The players put so much effort into accruing a good total early on, and the relentless style we play inevitably means that fatigue will become a factor towards the end of a campaign. But, as has been the case in recent years, we have been adept at nicking a win just at the right time. Three points from our remaining two games might just be good enough for us to clinch fifth place but four will make it absolutely certain and it’s high time Everton got a result against one of the sides above them this season.
Arsenal might be a fabulous side, who play some outstanding football, but they are not the best at chasing a game. A goal for us early on would put a different slant on things all together. I’d also be pretty confident if that happens of us being ahead of Villa when the league table is updated.
Driving force Blues can't do without
MIDFIELD destroyers rarely grab the headlines but Lee Carsley deserved every bit of praise that came his way after the Aston Villa game. He might not get to do the prettiest of jobs but Cars is certainly the top man in his position at Goodison Park.
David Moyes might have tried a couple of different alternatives throughout the season, but he keeps coming back to one man. That, though, is not down to a lack of alternatives or favouritism. The manager studies ProZone statistics religiously and monitors the distance each player runs in a game. If Cars wasn’t doing his job, he wouldn’t be in the team. There is much more to his game, however, than just blocking tackles. He can pass the ball well, can hit quality crosses like the one against Villa, and the support he gives the defence is absolutely crucial. Cars has proved valuable this season and Everton need to be adding to their squad in the future, not losing good players like Cars.

Government advisor attacks Everton stadium plan
April 30 2008
By David Bartlett, Liverpool Daily Post
EVERTON FC’s proposed new stadium in Kirkby was the subject of a scathing attack by the Government’s key architectural advisor last night. The Commission for Architec- ture and the Built Environment (Cabe) said the proposed new stadium and Tesco superstore was a “lost opportunity” and would “have a detrimental impact on the town and is not of a standard that Kirkby deserves.” While supporting the principle of a Premiership football club coming to Kirkby, Cabe strongly criticised the overall design of the £400m masterplan and said it should be refused planning permission. That could force both Everton and Tesco into a major re-evaluation of
their plans which, it is understood, will be the subject of a special Knowsley Council meeting before the end of May. Cabe’s report emerged as planning officials in neighbour-ing Sefton said the authority should formally object to the plans because of the project’s impact on nearby towns like Bootle and Southport. Developers St Modwen have also lodged an objection to the major redevelopment of Kirkby town centre, fearing it will have a negative impact on the huge Project Jennifer, in north Liverpool, and another scheme in Skelmersdale. Liverpool City Council, which has tried to persuade Everton FC to stay within its boundaries, last night said it was also “considering its position”. Last week it was revealed that Hazel Blears, Secretary of State for Communities, was likely to “call in” the plans so a public inquiry could be held, in the event of planning permission being granted. As the Govern-ment’s adviser on buildings and public space, Cabe’s analyses are likely to make that more likely. Sefton Council said the scheme should be “called in” as a depart-ure from Knowsley’s Develop-ment Plan. It warned a failure to do so was likely to spark a judicial review from affected parties, which could include the owners of Bootle’s Strand Centre and Aintree Retail Park. Last night, George Howarth, MP for Knowsley and Sefton East, defended the Kirkby plans. He said: “Kirkby deserves the opportunity to make progress and other local authorities ganging up to try to stop it frankly smacks of bullying.” A Knowsley Council spokesman said: “The comments made by Cabe have been brought to the attention of the applicant. “Tesco has since submitted amendments to plans to develop Kirkby, and Knowsley is mid-way through a consultation exercise on the amended plans.” The Keep Everton In Our City (KEIOC) campaign group, which is opposing the move to Kirkby, welcomed Cabe’s report. A spokesman said: “This is another major blow to the project and brings the proba-bility of an inquiry and planning refusal ever closer.” On top of a huge supermarket and a 50,000-seater stadium, Destination Kirkby includes around 50 shops and other developments and it is estimated to create around 2,000 jobs. The Cabe report said: “The re-location of a premiership stadium here creates a unique opportunity to bring forward retail develop-ment for the benefit of the Kirkby and the surrounding area. “However, we think that the masterplan proposed fails to translate this opportunity into a positive vision of transformation. “We also think that Everton and Kirkby deserve a stadium of first-class design quality, and we are not convinced this has been realised by the current proposals. “While we welcome the develop-ment of the proposed uses on this site, we feel that this scheme is, at best, a lost opportunity.” The Commission was not con-vinced there was “a clear under-standing of the space required for managing large crowds converging on the stadium”. It added: “We do not feel that an inspiring sense of arrival, as one would expect to have upon approaching a stadium of this size and significance, has been achieved.” Cabe also states other uses for the ground should be found, while not in use for matches, to avoid having a detrimental impact on the public realm around it. Other uses such as for different sporting events, a music venue, and conference facilities are suggested. Meanwhile, Sefton Council’s planning committee will be asked to formally object on Wednesday, May 7. Planners in Sefton are concerned about the sheer scale of the retail element of the scheme, which is nearly half the size of Grosvenor’s Liverpool One project. The council commissioned international planning experts White Young Green (WYG) to assess the impact of it. WYG expressed “significant concerns” with regard to the analysis undertaken to support the planning application. Sefton Council said WYG had found the approach taken was “too simplistic” and “excludes important background information”. nOfficials said Sefton should object because the scale is
“disproportionate to Kirkby’s existing role and status, and would seriously prejudice the vitality and viability of other centres”.

My plan for Everton FC at Walton Hall Park
April 30 2008
By Neil Hodgson, Liverpool Echo
IN A NEW twist to Everton's proposed ground move it emerged today that supermarket giant Sainsbury's considered building a new stadium. The major store rival to Tesco, which is leading the Blues’ bid to relocate from Goodison Park to Kirkby, held meetings with Liverpool council leader Warren Bradley last August. The group said today it was not progressing the plans, although did not rule out revisiting them if the Kirkby plan fell through. The original proposal to build a ground on Walton Hall park was suggested by Liverpool businessman John Seddon, who set up Mersey Cablevision in the 1980s, which was eventually taken over and became Telewest. He said: “Sainsbury’s were one of the people interested in the whole concept of Walton Hall park and took a serious interest, as Tesco have in Kirkby. “They presented a brochure to myself and Liverpool council.” Council leader Cllr Bradley said today that he rejected the proposal to build on park land but offered the neighbouring Longmoor Lane industrial estate as an alternative. The Sainsbury’s document shows a section of the park earmarked for a store and Everton stadium, including car parking and a train station. It reveals Sheffield architect Hadfield Cawkwell Davidson, Manchester development consultants NHR chartered surveyors and Manchester planning specialists Turley Associates worked on the ground scheme. Mr Seddon added: “Following the meeting, Sainsbury’s withdrew but said if it did raise its head again they would be interested. “I think Walton Hall park, even in spite of what Warren Bradley is saying, is a fabulous place for a ground. It is a no-mark park that has trouble with youths on motorbikes and is used by only a small amount of people.” Cllr Bradley said today: “Mr Seddon came to see me about the possibility of Sainsbury’s building on Walton Hall park. I am against any proposal to build on parks but we could talk about the Longmoor Lane industrial estate just at the back. “Sainsbury’s came to the table but obviously Everton have to be there as well. But if Kirkby is refused Everton will come back to the table and, presumably, Sainsbury’s. I assume a bidding war will start then with Tesco, and if Everton came to us and said we want to discuss something the council would be happy to facilitate that.” A Sainsbury’s spokeswoman said: “We are not progressing these plans at this time, but if there are opportunities that are viable for a new store we would always consider them.” Everton spokesman Ian Ross declined to comment. A spokesman for KEIOC (Keep Everton in Our City) which is campaigning against the club’s move to Kirkby, said: “Everton should be looking at any proposed site. On a survey we are running Walton Hall park is coming out after Goodison Park as favourite.” “We are trying to promote alternative sites and get Everton to consider them.”

Everton's Tesco dream for Kirkby is ‘too big’
April 30 2008
By Neil Hodgson, Liverpool Echo
PLANNERS claim Everton and Tesco's move to Kirkby could badly damage other Merseyside town centres. A new report says the size of the stadium and shopping development is “wholly inappropriate” and would drag trade away from Bootle, Southport, St Helens and Skelmersdale. Sefton council is now set to formally object to the £400m project, which includes a huge Tesco store and other high street shops. Officials claim Tesco’s plans to double the size of Kirkby town centre would threaten the “vitality and viability” of Bootle and Southport, which they say share the same shoppers. And they suggest the owners of Bootle’s Strand shopping centre and Aintree retail park could challenge the government in the courts if it does not hold a public inquiry. The report states: “We do not believe the need for the proposed development has adequately been demonstrated and, as a result, the scale is clearly inappropriate.” Consultants acting for Sefton council believe Tesco’s scheme is too big for Kirkby to support and its aims could be achieved with a smaller development. The report adds: “The scale of development proposed is disproportionate to Kirkby’s existing role and status.” The document also reveals Tesco’s estimates on how much trade the shopping district could divert from surrounding areas. Tesco reckons it could take 11% of Southport’s trade, 9% from St Helens, 8.6% from Skelmersdale and 7% from Liverpool city centre. But the Sefton report warns the effect could be worse. Tesco’s corporate affairs manager Michael Kissman today said Sefton council’s concerns were covered in the scheme’s planning application. He said: “It shows this will be a good scheme for Kirkby, with benefits for the economy of the wider area as well. “Other areas have seen significant development and investment over recent years. This is a great opportunity for Kirkby.” Knowsley council is expected to make a decision on the plan later this year. Colin Fitzpatrick, secretary of Keep Everton In Our City, said: “We welcome these latest objections and hope Everton’s board will finally begin to address the difficult subject of contingency plans that fans and shareholders have been demanding.”

Government advisors "not convinced" by stadium plan
by Nick Coligan, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON’S stadium plan has come under fire from the government’s architecture advisors. The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (Cabe) said it was “not convinced” the Blues’ proposed new ground has “first-class design quality” and described the overall proposal as a “lost opportunity”. In a report to Knowsley council, it said: “We are not convinced there is a clear understanding of the space required for managing large crowds converging on the stadium. “Also, we do not feel an inspiring sense of arrival, as one would expect to have upon approaching a stadium of this size and significance, has been achieved.” Cabe also suggested more details are needed about what the stadium will be used for on non-matchdays, such as a music and conference venue Tesco’s corporate affairs manager Michael Kissman claimed the firm had already addressed many of Cabe’s concerns. He added: “We announced changes to the masterplan recently and they are out to consultation.”

David Moyes' warning to Everton's UEFA Cup rivals
April 30 1930
By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES warned that anyone doubting Everton's fifth-place credentials should think again - because his side are close to recapturing their best. Though the Blues are three points ahead of Aston Villa in the race for the UEFA Cup spot, there have been suggestions in some quarters that Villa will overhaul them as they appear to have the two easier fixtures. Moyes, however, is in bullish mood ahead of Sunday’s trip to Arsenal and believes last weekend’s 2-2 draw with Villa showed that, after a lull in their fortunes, Everton are primed to give one last big effort. “The boys played well and it was a decent game,” said Moyes. “Apart from conceding the goals, I don’t think we can really complain about their effort. “They knew exactly how important the game was and that showed in what they did. “We looked as if we were back to something like we know what we are capable of. “There was more energy than there has been in recent weeks, we passed the ball well at times and that was very pleasing. “We don’t know how things are going to work out and it would be dangerous for anyone to start making predictions. “I saw signs on Sunday that we were coming back to form and we are looking forward to the last two games.” Everton have won only one of their last 12 away days against Arsenal - a 2-1 victory at Highbury in January 1996 – but their first visit to the Emirates Stadium saw them secure a 1-1 draw and Moyes sees no reason why they can’t repeat the feat. He believes Everton showed when the sides last met in December that they have enough quality to go head-to-head with the Gunners but, at the same time, appreciates Arsenal will provide a stern test of their credentials. “It should be a great occasion at the Emirates,” said Moyes. “Arsenal have been very good this season, they are a really good team. “But we are going to try and get a result there if we can. We played very well in the first half against them at Goodison and that was at a time when we were in really good form. We just made a couple of crucial mistakes.” Yakubu, meanwhile, has pledged to break through the 20-goal barrier before the end of the season and fire Everton into Europe. The striker has been stranded on 19 since March 22 and said: “We strikers are under pressure when we don’t score. “But I am used to being under pressure but keep working and I still believe I can score goals. I still believe I will score 20 goals.”

Dixie Dean's 60: Famous five in United romp
April 30 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
Today we continue our five-part series to commemorate the 80th anniversary of Dixie Dean's remarkable feat of scoring 60 goals in one season, a record which is likely to stand for all time.
DIXIE DEAN’S start to the 1927-28 campaign had been impressive. On October 8, 1927, it became spectacular. Dean claimed all five of his side’s goals in a 5-2 rout of Manchester United – and for the first time that season there were tentative suggestions that the Toffees’ young lionheart might become a record-breaker. Of course the possibility of scoring 60 goals wasn’t even mentioned. “It is very difficult to know what to say about this young, breezy man Dean,” reported Echo correspondent Bee, a man never usually short of words. “William is himself again; a year ago we were going about the clubhouse, one lot saying he would never play again, another lot saying ‘you can’t keep a good man down’ and declaring that Dean would be back before Christmas. “I remember the director, Mr Andrew Coffey, telling me he believed Dean would be back with the football task in October, and I thought it a sort of fatuous optimism. “Yet Dean came back to his side in October and is gaining strength every day. He is not putting on weight and, indeed, his poundage is somewhat similar to that of years ago; he touches 12st 4lbs and touches the hearts of all who like to see big heavyweight men capable of being dainty in their movements.
“Not until January does he touch manhood’s estate, 21 years of age, and all being well he will break a new record in two years’ time, for he will be due a benefit match at 22 years of age. That is a thing unheard of in football life.” His five-goal haul against United was also a rarity, and the first time Dean had managed such a feat in senior football – although Bee did recall an occasion when the youngster scored seven goals against Bradford City in a reserve match at Goodison Park, five of them with his head.
United’s goalkeeper Richardson was particularly impressed. “Dean is the best forward I have met,” he declared. “There was no fluke about his goals. Two or three of them passed me like cannonballs. His placing was to the inch.” Dean’s first four goals came in the first, eighth, 30th and 40th minutes, adding one more in the 65th minute.
October 8: Everton 5 Manchester United 2
13: Everton scored from their first opening. Silcock was caught upfield allowing Critchley to place the ball for Dean to score in magnificent fashion.
14: Critchley beat Silcock and placed the ball well for Dean to place it in the net.
15: Silcock had joined in the attack again when Dean completed his hat-trick, which was warmly applauded by the crowd.
16: Dean raced away from midfield. Richardson turned his shot against the post and although the Manchester United players appealed, the referee, who was in the other half of the field, allowed the goal to stand.
17: Dean found the Manchester defence in a weak position and had little difficulty scoring his fifth goal.
October 29:Portsmouth 1 Everton 3
18: Cresswell cleared a dangerous move and Dean, on the halfway line so that he should not be offside, awaited the pass that duly came.
Away he went, veering to the right with his big strides and ignoring a bump in the back by a charging defender and, ignoring also the outcoming of the goalkeeper, slipped the ball into the left-hand side of the net.
19: Dean’s second came when Critchley crossed and McPhail made quite a good save from Dean’s header, but he had no chance with the rebound shot which Dean drove in from three yards.
20: Five minutes later Dean completed his hat-trick after hard work by Weldon had laid on the chance.
November 5: Everton 7 Leicester 1
21: Troup was fully entitled to try his luck, for although his angle was somewhat acute, he could have scored. But rather than take the risk he put the ball across the goalmouth and Dean, moving up a little, put his head to the ball and it was in the net while Maclaren had been covering Troup.
22: Dean received a perfect pass from Critchley, moved between the backs, and although Maclaren narrowed his angle he could not deny Dean.
23: Dean trapped O’Donnell’s big clearance without a moment’s hesitation and crashed the ball into the net with Maclaren helpless.
November 12: Derby 0 Everton 3
24: In three minutes Dean had scored. It took a second in the making and was begun by Kelly, who made a useful push without hesitation and Dean collared it, sized up the situation and blazed (there is no other word for it) into the left- hand corner.

April 2008