Copyrighted by James Smith © 2010





Duncan Ferguson: Memories of our hero
1 August 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Greg O’Keeffe
ECHO staff recall their memories of Duncan Ferguson
Duncan Ferguson was admired by Blues young and old but became a true folk hero to a generation of Everton fans. Here three ECHO journalists recall their favourite Big Dunc Memories ahead of his testimonial at Goodison Park tomorrow.
Early Blue Christmas Gift - Ian Croll
It was Christmas Eve. I can't be certain of the year, but I'm pretty sure it was 1996.
I was a 10 year-old fanatical about Everton Football Club and in particular Duncan Ferguson.
As you can imagine with it being Christmas Eve, I was excited for what the next day had in store - but it's what happened on the 24th that will live with me forever. Early that morning my dad received a phone call from a friend of his who lived at the back of Everton's old training ground, Bellefield.
“The players are out on the training pitch, get Ian down here and he can watch them train from our back garden” he said.
Of course, I jumped at the chance.
It was extra cold that day, but nothing was going to stop me.
I couldn't get there quick enough. But no sooner had I arrived and got into position, it was time for the players to head back indoors. Not everyone headed inside straight away though. I was still beaming from ear to ear when I realised Big Dunc was heading towards me.
This was a time before camera phones, but luckily I had my Everton player autograph book with me.
Duncan penned his signature on a blank page and spoke to me (in the broadest Scottish accent ever) about all things football and EFC. It made my Christmas and if you thought I was Duncan mad before, you should have seen me afterwards.
There are so many Ferguson moments that will live long in the memory; his countless goals against Liverpool, his two headers against United - 1995 and 2005 and the two comeback goals against Charlton.
They are just a handful of many, but the one I will never forget is Christmas Eve spent with Duncan.
The Second Coming - Chris Beesley
Though I have plenty of vivid memories about Duncan Ferguson's first spell at Everton, and I recall what a coup it seemed at the time to initially get him in the autumn of 1994 with Mike Walker's Blues struggling so badly - it's his second coming that sticks with me.
Evertonians had been through it all with 'Big Dunc' from the hero worship, derby goals, time in jail to his bizarre exit in 1998 when he was supposedly in tears in the corridors of the main stand when sold Newcastle United - as the Blues beat the Magpies 1-0 in a Sky Monday night game.
It just seemed wrong to see Ferguson in a black and white striped Newcastle jersey and given that he was managed by Ruud Gullit at St James' Park and partnered up front by fellow target man Alan Shearer, the whole thing was odd.
He got plenty of stick when he returned to Goodison to play for the Toon and even picked up a booking to great cheers from the home crowd, but from the moment his adoring public on Merseyside got a sniff of him coming back he was obviously welcomed home with open arms like the Prodigal Son. Handed the number 24 shirt - Kevin Campbell had earned the coveted number 9 - it would be a long way back for Ferguson for his favoured number, moving to 10 before he eventually returned to 9 in his final season. Despite being half-fit, he clambered off the bench for his Goodison return midway through the second half of the visit of Charlton Athletic on August 23 2000, and with the Addicks tiring after being reduced to 10-men by former Blue Carl Tiler's first half dismissal, Ferguson plundered two late goals in front of the Gwladys Street in the 84th and 90th minute. He promptly got injured straight away and did not play in the first team again until he came on as a substitute in the reverse f
ixture at the Valley on December 23 when Everton lost 1-0.
For better or for worse, than was Ferguson's Blues career in a microcosm.
Derby script torn up - Greg O'Keeffe
The early Nineties had been, at best, an inauspicious time for young Blues trying to gain an upperhand in the playground bickering stakes. Not quite old enough to recall the halcyon days of the previous decade in detail, it was difficult to muster robust replies to barbs from red mates who mocked our period of recent medicority. Mike Walker's brief reign has left the Blues in genuine danger of losing their top flight status, and a certain November derby had nerves jangling.
Duncan Ferguson and Ian Durrant join Mike Walker's Everton on loan from Rangers in October 1994
Enter Big Joe, and in particular another big man who arrived from the North with little fanfare.
"If he's that good why are Rangers getting rid?"
The jury was well and truly out on Duncan Ferguson when he arrived with Ian Durrant the month before.
By the morning of Tuesday, November 22 it certainly wasn't any more.
The electric feel of that Monday night; the Goodison chill, the white hot derby heat, and the first of many unstoppable headers had me eager to get to school and face the Kopites.
We had a new hero.
Everything else, Barlinnie (I wrote to him and bought the t-shirt), suspensions, injuries, a shock exit and a romantic return, could never tarnish the bracing, primal, glorious sight of Ferguson terrorising defenders in the colours he was born to wear for the club he still loves now.
Everton's Duncan Ferguson celebrates after the match with a blue nose
His name on the team sheet made us all feel like Giants. Along with the manager that coaxed the best from him, Duncan - and the rest of that team - gave us our pride back; culminating in that glorious day the following May.

Everton FC transfer rumours: Tottenham look elsewhere after failing to sign James McCarthy
1 August 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Chris Beesley
Spurs unable to prise midfielder from Blues
After the London Press spending most of the summer trying to tout Everton midfielder James McCarthy for a move to Tottenham, it seems that Spurs have decided to look elsewhere.
There’s been much mischief making over the Irish international’s future at Goodison but the Mirror say that Tottenham have failed in their bid tor 24-year-old after the Blues kept repeatedly turning them down. Anyway, Mauricio Pochettino has now turned his attentions to Borussia Dortmund’s Sven Bender instead. Arsenal's Mesut Ozil in action against James McCarthy of Everton Action Images via Reuters / Jeremy Lee
Perhaps the scenario went something like this?
Tottenham: We want to buy James McCarthy.
Everton: No thank you. He’s one of our best players, we don’t want to sell and frankly you’re not really much better than us.
Process continues over and over again, maybe with Aaron Lennon thrown into the mix for an extortionate £9million price tag.
To understand the situation with Kevin Mirallas, just replace the words McCarthy with Mirallas and Tottenham with West Ham.
Thomas Heurtaux has reportedly been close to sealing a move to Everton but could stay put at Udinese for the forthcoming season, according to Italian outlet Tutto Mercato.
Thomas Heurtaux
The 27-year-old impressed with his performances last season as he went on to make 28 appearances across all competitions and has been linked with a move away from the Stadio Friuli.
Blues boss Roberto Martinez is in the market for a centre-back after releasing both Sylvain Distin and Antolin Alcaraz this summer while Juventus and Fiorentina have also been linked with a move for Frenchman Heurtaux.

Savour Duncan Ferguson's testimonial
1 August 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
These games could soon become a thing of the past
Everton FC's Duncan Ferguson at Finch Farm,Halewood,ahead of his testimonial.
Savour tomorrow.
If you’re one of the expected 30,000 who will be at Goodison Park to honour Duncan Ferguson, make the most of it. Because days like it, afternoons to remember and reminisce about a club legend, are dying out. As Everton assistant manager Graeme Jones put it this week: “Duncan’s an iconic figure. Newcastle have one in Shearer and Everton have one in Duncan.
“Sadly they are becoming few and far between in the game.”
Ferguson is a one-off.
He was a hero when Everton needing lifting off from the bottom of the Premier League, a leader through dark times and a fearless defender of the badge.
Ferguson was also a character and the fans loved him for it.
In two spells, the towering striker wore the shirt with burning pride for 10 years and pulls it on once more tomorrow afternoon for his testimonial game. In recent seasons we’ve had matches for Tony Hibbert and Leon Osman to mark decade-long service to the club, while Phil Jagielka and Tim Howard are both fast approaching that milestone.
Leighton Baines would be next but after him, then who?
Or, as Jones suggests, are men like Ferguson, who become synonymous with just one club, a dying breed? And in the modern-era, a PR polished and watered-down version of Ferguson’s times, are we ever going to see his likes again? Goodison has been fertile ground for powerhouse number nines.
Giant figures both on and off the pitch.
Everton's Tony Hibbert with chairman Bill Kenwright before his testimonial match
Pillars of the club, ingrained in Everton life and willing to do anything and everything to please the Blues faithful.
Romelu Lukaku could be the latest in a long line.
In fact, the club’s record signing could be all that and more.
Lukaku could be the world-class striker to take Everton places and keep them there.
He could be iconic like Big Dunc.
But, in the modern era, do any of us truly believe he will be at Everton for life?
Or at least for a decade of his career?
Not because Lukaku doesn’t love playing for this club or because there are any question marks over this desire, but it just doesn’t happen anymore, does it?
Can we honestly see Lukaku committing 10 years of his career to Eveton?
Sure, Lukaku and Ferguson’s situations are different. Lukaku could soon have the cream of Europe’s top club’s chasing his signatures, but the point remains: is it foolish to expect players stay at one club long enough to earn a testimonial anymore?Maybe Ross Barkley, the boyhood fan who bleeds royal blue, could buck the trend and play his entire career at Everton. Or, maybe, it’s naive to think that way. Maybe, we can no longer take games like tomorrow’s for granted.

John Stones is a rock-solid bet if Chelsea pay Everton the right price
Daniel Taylor
Daniel Taylor
The centre-back has beaten Andrea Pirlo at his own game and can make the play as well as breaking it so any transfer fee must meet his market value
Saturday 1 August 2015 Guardian
As baseball fields go, there aren’t many better views than the one from AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants, on the edge of the bay as it sweeps towards the Bay Bridge and close enough to McCovey Cove. There is always the temptation for anyone in the batter’s box to add their name to the list of sluggers who have sent one into the water for a “splash-hit”.
Arsène Wenger ready for duel with José Mourinho after shortest of summers
It was an unusual place to find Everton playing Juventus in a pre-season friendly in 2013 but, glossing over the fact Roberto Martínez’s team were competing in a tournament called the International Champions’ Cup, something happened in the penalty shootout at the end of that match that has lingered in the memory. A couple of things, actually, because that was also the evening Andrea Pirlo showed he was not as infallible from 12 yards as everybody thought. Pirlo strolled up to his penalty with the insouciance of a man walking his dog in Pacific Heights. He always looked so effortlessly suave, with that immaculate hair and the pirate’s beard, and the mind went back to the previous summer, at Euro 2012, and the exquisite chip to bring the gurning, arm-flapping Joe Hart down a peg or two. Except Pirlo put his shot wide of Tim Howard’s goal and he was still shaking his head when the youngest player in Everton’s team crossed him on the walk from the centre-circle. John Stones
was 19. He had never played a competitive first-team fixture for Everton at that stage and Pirlo, one imagines, probably didn’t even know his name. Stones played his shot with the delicacy of a champion golfer holing in from off the green. It was the Panenka again, followed by a little hand gesture, as cocky as it gets, beckoning the goalkeeper, Marco Storari, to pick himself off the floor. Stones, a lanky kid from Barnsley, had done a Pirlo with the man himself among the audience.
There are not many footballers, never mind teenage centre-halves, with that kind of audacity and self-belief and, two years on, it is easy to see why David Moyes, the manager who signed him for £3m, always felt Stones was so elegant on the ball he could easily play in midfield.
Moyes’s only reservation about Stones as an out-and-out defender was that he needed to add some old-fashioned studs-and-thuds ruthlessness to prevent himself being vulnerable against a centre-forward in the mould of, say, Mick Harford. Except there aren’t many Harford-type players in the Premier League these days. Stones represents a more refined type of stopper – a playmaker as well as a play-breaker – and when it comes to Chelsea’s advances we need only think back to his performance at Stamford Bridge in February to understand why they clearly have no intention of following Everton’s request to back off. Stones was the outstanding performer that night by some distance, desperately unlucky to be on the losing side, and there was one moment, chasing after Loïc Rémy, when he won the ball so cleanly, sliding in at full-length but still having the control and skill to emerge with it at his feet, it was reminiscent of some of Bobby Moore’s tackles.
If that sounds like a dangerous comparison then Stones is still some way short of the defensive knowhow that once compelled the sportswriter David Miller to observe that trying to find a way past Moore was like searching for the exit from Hampton Court maze. Stones can be too casual sometimes. There are occasional moments to remind everyone he has started 38 games in the Premier League and, as might be expected for someone of that age, he is still at that stage where his concentration can occasionally waver. However, it isn’t difficult to understand why José Mourinho wants to make him his next acquisition and, if anything, it is just surprising Chelsea have not gone higher with their opening attempts to break Everton’s resolve. The first bid of £20m was little more than a tease. The second one, £26m, was comparatively high but in today’s market another piece of positioning. Neither bid was ever going to be accepted and, though it isn’t always easy working out how clubs
value players these days, let’s think back to the conversation Moyes had with Wayne Rooney when he started as manager at Manchester United a couple of years ago and Chelsea were trying to sign the striker. Moyes felt Rooney had slipped into the comfort zone and asked him whether he thought he was still a top player. Rooney replied that he did. Then Moyes came back with the killer line: “Then why have Chelsea offered only £25m for you?” Stones is undoubtedly a grade-A player in the making, a potential England international for the next 10 years, and if Luke Shaw was worth £30m a year ago and Raheem Sterling is now valued at £49m, Everton are fully entitled to think Chelsea have come in pretty low. Chelsea sold David Luiz for £50m last summer and, whatever that says about Paris Saint-Germain, it still influences the market. If Mourinho believes Stones is qualified to graduate as John Terry’s successor, he cannot possibly think Everton are going to accept less than they b
anked for Marouane Fellaini two years ago. What we have now is a staring contest between the two clubs. The assumption is that Everton will blink once Chelsea – and so far it has all been a strategy on the part of the London club – get to a more realistic figure of £35m and it is a surprise, perhaps, that the two Manchester clubs have not tried to intervene given what they could gain and, just as importantly, what they stand to lose. United, in particular, have been looking for a centre-half for longer than they would probably care to remember. Ideally, that would be a more experienced player who could immediately slot in as the lynchpin of their defence, but they were led down Sergio Ramos’s garden path earlier in the summer. The gate was slammed shut and Ramos, with utter predictability, now has a new contract from Real Madrid.
As for City, they appear to be pinning their hopes on Eliaquim Mangala having a far more productive second season in English football and Vincent Kompany no longer being troubled by the recurring injury issues that have undermined his performances and damaged his status as one of the league’s more authoritative players. Neither, however, can be guaranteed. Kompany turns 30 this season and Martín Demichelis will be 35 in December. There has been a dearth of outstanding centre-backs on the market for the past few years and Stones – young, English, exceptionally talented – would be a formidable opponent. Mourinho has an appreciation of defence that Martínez does not possess and the improvement in Stones could be considerable.
All of that is assuming Stones’s current employer will eventually agree to sell him. Everton are a proud club and will not want to bend for anybody if it makes them look weak. They did, lest it be forgotten, repel United’s advances for Leighton Baines two summers ago and, in one sense, it would be nice to think that when a club say their player is not for sale at any price – as, say, Liverpool did for Sterling – they mean it, rather than it simply being part of the bargaining process. Martínez’s whole ethos has been to build a team around his best young players. They could make a fortune selling Stones but, in another sense, they would be poorer for it. Unfortunately for them, the clubs at the top always come knocking when there is someone worthy of their attention and it isn’t always easy turning them away at the door. That is just the football business, just like it was for Barnsley lower down the food chain, and that presumably is why Chelsea seem sure they will get
their man. There are not many occasions in the modern era when the super-rich don’t get their own way.
Slaven Bilic is mistaken about Croatia’s history of racism Presumably it is because Slaven Bilic has only just returned to English football, where he has always been well liked, that so little has been made of his comments that it was “not racist” to mark a swastika into the pitch before an international match. According to Bilic, the people who applied a chemical agent on the grass to form the swastika before Croatia’s last game against Italy were “doing it just for the sake of doing it”. The new West Ham manager went on to explain it was basically attention-seeking rather anything more sinister “because, nowadays, with this media, if you do something you are on YouTube all over the world, and you find yourself a hero for that group of people.” To recap, Croatia’s record for offences of these nature is so long and comprehensive – including supporters forming a human swastika at one international – the latest case led to them being docked a point from their
Euro 2016 qualifying campaign, as well as being fined and ordered to play two matches behind closed doors. They were already playing the Italy game in front of an empty stadium because of racist chanting in their previous match against Norway, when the CFF, the national football federation, turned its anger on Zoran Stevanovic, who works with Uefa as head of Fare – Football Against Racism in Europe – and publicly blamed him for having the temerity to report what had happened. Bilic has spoken out about racism before so, to give him the benefit of the doubt, maybe it was just a poor choice of words. But when you consider Croatia’s history of reoffending and the number of people involved it does stick in the craw a bit when he says the CFF could not be doing any more and claims that it is “maybe 10 or 100, but it is no more than that, who are doing these things”.

Tranmere Rovers sign former Everton FC goalkeeper Iain Turner
1 August 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Ian Doyle
Shot-stopper signs season-long deal at Prenton Park
Tranmere Rovers have signed former Everton goalkeeper Iain Turner on a one-year contract.
The 31-year-old shot-stopper has signed in to provide competition to Rovers’ first-choice shot-stopper Scott Davies with manager Gary Brabin keen for young keepers Sam Ramsbottom and Luke Pilling to gain experience on loan to other clubs. Turner spent last season at Sheffield United, making 13 appearances with his last outing coming in a 4-0 win over Scunthorpe United in March.And Brabin said: “I’m really pleased to bring Iain to the club. He has really good experience at a higher level.
“He’s coming in as cover for Scott Davies, who is our number one. But, at the same time, we know he’ll be ready if and when he is called upon. “And it will give us the opportunity to loan the two young goalkeepers, Sam Ramsbottom and Luke Pilling, to aid their development by playing games.”
Turner spent eight years at Everton having been signed from Stirling Albion in 2003, but made only six appearances for the Blues. During his time at Goodison, he was loaned out to Chester City, Doncaster Rovers, Wycombe Wanderers, Crystal Palace, Sheffield Wednesday, Nottingham Forest, Coventry City and Preston North End. He then moved permanently to Preston before another spell on loan, this time at Dunfermline Athletic, before moving to Barnsley and then Sheffield United.
Remarkably, in 12 years playing in England he has made only 94 senior appearances.

Report: Leeds United 2 Everton 0
Phil Hay
Saturday 01 August 2015 Yorkshire Evening Post
Leeds United signed off their pre-season campaign with a deserved win over a young Everton team at Elland Road.
United set themselves up for next weekend’s opening Championship game against Burnley with a strong and organised display and second-half strikes from Alex Mowatt and Chris Wood secured victory in front of a crowd of over 17,000. Mowatt - the club’s player of the year last season - finished off a well worked move on 57 minutes and Leeds afforded their visitors few chances to reply before Wood’s first United goal ended the contest nine minutes from time. Everton’s line-up was relatively inexperienced, in part because the club will host a testimonial for Duncan Ferguson against Villarreal tomorrow. On top of a few injuries, including one affecting striker Romelu Lukaku, Kevin Mirallas, Tom Cleverley and Leon Osman were left on the bench but Ross Barkley started alongside Steven Naismith, James McCarthy and Bryan Oviedo. United’s side in comparison cannot have been far away from the team that Rosler will use when the Championship season starts at home to Burnley next weeke
nd. Leeds are closing in on a £1.3m deal to sign Stuart Dallas from Brentford but with that move set to be finalised on Monday, Souleymane Doukara featured on the left wing against Everton, just as he had against Hoffenheim last Saturday. United employed Rosler’s tactics from the outset, pressing Everton high up the field and looking for opportunities to counter. Wood produced the best of the early chances with a 25-yard volley which Joel saw late in the Everton goal and punched away to safety at full stretch. Everton were patient but only managed to stretch Leeds once before half-time. Sol Bamba, who looked dominant throughout, lost possession in his own half, allowing Everton to play Steven Naismith into United’s box. His cut-back ran beyond an unmarked Arouna Kone and Kieran Dowell’s effort deflected wide. Mowatt came closer to scoring on 28 minutes when a quick break involving Wood and Lewis Cook ended with Mowatt curling a trademark, left-footed effort past Joel’s
left-hand post. WOod then found the net just before half-time - amid a scramble inside Everton’s box - but his finish was ruled out for offside.
Everton’s best opportunity came 11 minutes into the second half when substitute Conor McAleny produced a goalbound header which Silvestri did well to parry and Leeds responded by breaking the deadlock with their next attack. Robert Martinez’s defence was caught trailing as Mowatt exchanged a 1-2 with Sam Byram inside the area and the midfielder sized up Joel before beating him with a deft effort. Byram almost added a second when he seized on Wood’s crossfield pass and guided a lob over Joel’s crossbar and Wood put the result beyond doubt on 81 minutes when his 20-yard shot hit a defender’s leg and looped over Joel.
Leeds United: Silvestri, Berardi, Bamba, Bellusci, Taylor, Adeyemi (Wootton 81), Cook (Phillips 70), Mowatt (Antenucci 81), Byram, Wood (Morison 81), Doukara (Erwin 72). Subs (not used): Turnbull, Coyle, Cooper, Sloth, Horton.
Everton: Joel, Robinson, Pennington, Browning, Jones, McCarthy (Cleveley 46), Barkley (Ledson 76), Oviedo, Dowell, Naismith (Mirallas 76), Kone (McAleny 46). Subs (not used): Stanek, Osman, Grant, Walsh.
Referee: Martin Atkinson (West Yorkshire)
Attendance: 17,057

FULL-TIME REPORT: Leeds United 2 Everton 0
1 August 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Youthful Blues side beaten at Elland Road
Everton suffered their second defeat of pre-season as a youthful side fell 2-0 at Leeds United.
Goals from Alex Mowatt and Chris Wood in the second-half handed the Championship victory at Elland Road today. Everton struggled to create many chances of note with Conor McAleny’s header, excellently saved by Leeds goalkeeper Marco Silvestri, their best opportunity of the match.
Kieran Dowell, one of a number of the Blues Academy players to feature in the game, went close with a pair of strikes while Bryan Oviedo saw a shot saved by Silvestri.
But Leeds proved worthy winners and opened the scoring 11 minutes into the second-half when Mowatt finished off a neat one-two by squeezing the ball past Joel Robles.
And the second came in the 80th minute as Chris Wood, who had earlier forced a fine save out of Robles, saw his deflected shot loop over the Everton goalkeeper.
Everton’s final warm-up game of the summer arrives at Goodison tomorrow when Villarreal are the visitors for a friendly that doubles as Duncan Ferguson’s testimonial.
EVERTON (4-2-3-1): Robles, Jones, Pennington, Browning, Robinson, McCarthy (Cleverley 46), Barkley (Ledson 76) , Dowell, Naismith (Mirallas 76), Oviedo, Kone (McAleny 46). Subs: Stanek, Osman, Grant, Walsh.

Leeds United 2-0 Everton: Cleverley impresses, Browning the unsung hero and other things we learned
1 August 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Phil Kirkbride ponders how defeat at Elland Road will impact Blues' start to the season
It would be fair to assume that many of those who started today’s game at Elland Road will not be in the 11 to face Watford in a week’s time. Joel Robles remains Tim Howard’s understudy, the Blues youthful backline will make way of Phil Jagielka and co while last season’s midfield regulars will come back in.
And too, we hope and pray, will Romelu Lukaku. James McCarthy, replaced at half-time here, is surely the only starter from this game who will be on the pitch at kick-off next weekend when the Premier League season begins again. On today’s performance, Ross Barkley, Steven Naismith and Bryan Oviedo are not going to be among the first 11 names on the teamsheet although Arouna Kone’s place is dependent on the state of Lukaku’s legs. Everton’s four Academy players who started against Leeds handled themselves well, as did Tyias Browning who marshalled the defence. But the rest of the starting 11? They will hardly have given Roberto Martinez a selection headache.
Tom Cleverley continues to impress, though The summer recruit was one of two half-time substitutions Martinez made at Elland Road. And Cleverley, along with Conor McAleny, added an urgency, direction and quality that Everton were lacking in a lethargic first-half.
The question, however, is where would the manager play him?
Cleverley picked Everton over a host of other clubs because he trusted Martinez to get the best out of him. Leeds United v Everton - Pre Season Friendly. Tom Cleverley of Everton in action. Action Images / John Clifton
Tom Cleverley impressed at Elland Road
The 25-year-old – and Martinez – believe that is as an attacking midfielder, as one of the three to line-up behind the lone striker in the Everton side.
Cleverley has impressed this summer but the bulk of his performances have come in a deeper role.
Whether that has been because of circumstance, rather than design, and because Martinez knows his new signing is comfortable in any midfield position or because the manager has changed his thinking, who knows? But what is for certain is that Cleverley is in the running for a place in the side against Watford.
Tyias Browning has been the unsung hero of pre-season
There’s been plenty of talk about Everton’s young defenders in recent weeks.
But, flying under the radar with minimal fuss, has been Tyias Browning.
While John Stones is the subject of a public transfer tug-of-war and Brendan Galloway’s stock continues to rise, Browning has quietly gone about making his own statements.
The Everton fans who have managed to watch his performances since July will have seen a maturing young centre-half perform solidly, steadily and, at times, stylishly. Browning, however, does not earn the plaudits as easily as Stones and Galloway but his development from under-21 defender to first-team squad member has been smooth and swift. A loan move remains likely for the 21-year-old but it won’t be long before Browning his putting pressure on those in the first team.
It's been a frustrating time for Steven Naismith
Captain for the day, Everton’s Scottish dynamo will have been desperate to impress.
But it just didn’t happen for Naismith. In truth, it’s not happened for him all summer.
The 28-year-old has ran as hard as anyone in blue this summer, chased as many balls down, tried as many defence-splitting passes and attempted to offer Everton a spark as much as the next player.
But it just hasn’t happened. And, not for the first time this summer, Naismith cut a frustrated figure here. Moves breaking down, poor passes from himself or a team-mate and both of Leeds’ goals all left him exasperated, annoyed and wondering when his luck is going to turn. Naismith has been forced to fight his way back into form before and, in Martinez’s first season, he did that with emphatic results.

Replaced with 15 minutes to go, Naismith had his head bowed as he left the pitch. Martinez made sure to offer to shake his hand because he knows that he’s desperate to find some form.
Everton are not short of left-backs
Such is Everton’s luxury of left-backs that Luke Garbutt has been allowed to spend the season out on loan. It’s a decision that has not sat comfortably with some supporters but the Blues are hardly lacking options in that position. Leighton Baines remains first-choice, the returning Bryan Oviedo provides an international-class understudy while Brendan Galloway – being primed as a centre-half for the future – filled in there for the final two games of last season and was excellent. Now Everton have offered another taste of first-team action to the latest player to drop off their left-back production line: Antonee Robinson. Leeds United v Everton - Pre Season Friendly. Everton manager Roberto Martinez. Action Images / John Clifton
Roberto Martinez has plenty of left-backs at his disposal
The 17-year-old – named Everton under-18s player of the year – followed his cameo against Dundee on Tuesday night with 90 minutes at Elland Road. Robinson, who goes by the nickname ‘Jedi’, shook off some early jitters to deliver an accomplished performances for someone so young.
Quick feet, decent in the air and with the confidence to attack, Robinson showed flashes of why he is so highly-rated at Everton. There’s a long queue ahead of him but he looks like an Everton left-back of the future.

Leeds United 2-0 Everton full-time report: Youthful Blues slip to friendly defeat
1 August 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Two goals in second half make the difference as Martinez's men fall short
Everton suffered their second defeat of pre-season as a youthful side fell 2-0 at Leeds United.
Goals from Alex Mowatt and Chris Wood in the second-half handed the Championship victory at Elland Road today. Everton struggled to create many chances of note with Conor McAleny’s header, excellently saved by Leeds goalkeeper Marco Silvestri, their best opportunity of the match.
Kieran Dowell, one of a number of the Blues Academy players to feature in the game, went close with a pair of strikes while Bryan Oviedo saw a shot saved by Silvestri.
But Leeds proved worthy winners and opened the scoring 11 minutes into the second-half when Mowatt finished off a neat one-two by squeezing the ball past Joel Robles.
And the second came in the 80th minute as Chris Wood, who had earlier forced a fine save out of Robles, saw his deflected shot loop over the Everton goalkeeper.
Everton’s final warm-up game of the summer arrives at Goodison tomorrow when Villarreal are the visitors for a friendly that doubles as Duncan Ferguson’s testimonial.
EVERTON (4-2-3-1): Robles, Jones, Pennington, Browning, Robinson, McCarthy (Cleverley 46), Barkley (Ledson 76) , Dowell, Naismith (Mirallas 76), Oviedo, Kone (McAleny 46). Subs: Stanek, Osman, Grant, Walsh.

Everton FC striker Romelu Lukaku WILL be fit for start of season, says Roberto Martinez
1 August 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Blues boss confident of striker's availability - but Belgian unlikely to feature against Villarreal
Roberto Martinez insists Romelu Lukaku WILL be fit for the new Premier League season.
But the Everton manager says he is unlikely to play the striker against Villarreal on Sunday in Duncan Ferguson’s testimonial. Lukaku came off after half an hour in Tuesday night’s friendly with Dundee at Dens Park. The £28million forward left the field clutching his left leg but Martinez was quick to allay fears the Belgian had suffered a hamstring injury. Lukaku was feeling muscle fatigue, Martinez said, and was taken off as a precaution. But the 22-year-old has not trained with the rest of the Everton squad since and the Blues boss says he will not gamble with Lukaku’s fitness by fielding him at Goodison for the final warm-up game of the summer.
“I don’t think we are going to take any risks on him,” Martinez said.
“From a medical point of view he is fully fit. He hasn’t worked with the group yet and I wouldn’t risk him in a friendly game. “But Rom will be fit for the start of the season against Watford at home.”
Everton’s penultimate friendly of the summer ended in a 2-0 defeat at Championship side Leeds United.
A youthful Blues side included a number of the club’s emerging Academy players and Martinez was pleased with the exercise. And he says the game reinforced the need for a number of those young guns to be sent out on loan this season to ensure they are ready for the first team. “It was exactly what we needed in order to see our young talent,” he said. “They showed all the good work that they do on a daily basis. “We faced a Championship side at full strength and they are going to have a really good season but we competed well. There were very few chances and maybe we should have taken ours.
“Today was important for us to see where the younger players were in terms of the first-team and I think it is going to be very difficult to allow these players to grow without sending them out on loan.
“We saw that we need to put something in place to develop our young players and make them more prepared for the first team.”

Everton's friendly with Leeds United interrupted - by a very bold streaker
1 August 2015 Daily Mirror
By Will Magee
This guy doesn't do streaking by halves...
Pre-season friendlies aren't always the most captivating of games. Often fans find their minds wandering mid-match - supporters find themselves becoming, well, a little bored. Most people react to this by chatting with their mates, one eye on the game. Some go and get a hot dog a bit earlier than usual, or have an extended half-time drink. However, there are a few - a select few - for whom such minor distractions are not enough. For these people, the only thing that will alleviate their boredom is for them to get completely naked, invade the pitch and run about with reckless abandon.
This guy is one of the select few.
In the middle of Everton's 2-0 friendly loss to Leeds United at Elland Road, the fellow stripped off and charged onto the field of play - nude as the day he was born. He wasn't messing about with his streaking - this was full on stuff. A bold and ridiculous effort - though, of course, it could have gone badly for him. Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images Chris Hala'ufia of London Irish tackles a streaker during the Aviva Premiership match between Leicester Tigers and London Welsh
Chris Hala'ufia brutally tackles a streaker during an Aviva Premiership match - exhibitionists beware
Be warned, streakers of the world - sportsmen aren't always going to tolerate your wanton nakedness.
The Elland Road streaker was escorted off the pitch peaceably - this time.

Jose Mourinho hints Chelsea could give up on bid to sign Everton FC defender John Stones
1 August 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Ian Doyle
Portuguese sounds frustration... but Blues still braced for third bid from Londoners
Jose Mourinho has hinted Chelsea may be about to give up in their pursuit of Everton defender John Stones. But the Blues are still expecting the Premier League champions to return with a third bid for the highly-rated 21-year-old. Stones has been pinpointed by Chelsea boss Mourinho as the long-term replacement for long-serving centre-back John Terry. Everton, though, have no appetite to sell, and have already rejected bids worth £20million and £26m for the England international.

And that appears to have discouraged Mourinho, who said: “The market sometimes has no rules.
“We, as Chelsea, we make our own rules. “To make our own rules is to evaluate the players, and to know the players’ value, and to know when we have to stop and turn to another side, and think in another option.” Reports have previously indicated Chelsea were willing to go in excess of £30m in their attempt to lure Stones into leaving Goodison. However, Mourinho’s comments would suggest the Londoners are growing frustrated at Everton’s steadfast refusal to entertain parting with the defender.

Everton beat Manchester United to Aleksander Askilsrud transfer
Jamie Sanderson for 2 Aug 2015 8:00 am
Everton have signed young midfielder Aleksander Askilsrud from Valerenga, according to reports.The 14-year-old is rated as one of the top talents in Norway, and was recently linked with Manchester United after being spotted by their scouts.But Everton have moved in and after bringing in Askilsrud for a trial last month, a deal has now been agreed to bring him to Goodison Park.The deal was confirmed by Askilsrud’s agent Daniel Lambert on Twitter, who said the player will start in the Toffees’ Under-18 team next term.

Return of Villarreal to Goodison for Duncan Ferguson's testimonial brings back memories of Everton heartbreak
2 August 2015
By Chris Beesley
The selection of Villarreal as opponents for Duncan Ferguson’s testimonial was always an intriguing choice.Back in 2005 what should have been one of the grandest occasions of the Scot’s Everton career turned out to be one of the greatest disappointments.Now 43 and a first team coach at the Blues, Ferguson is considerably more mellow than he was during his playing days when he regularly courted controversy.The former striker brought many of his troubles on himself with disciplinary problems but against Villarreal he was an innocent man – along with the rest of his Everton team-mates.Perhaps it was that infamous reputation for being so aggressive that went against him in Spain but Pierluigi Collina claimed to have saw a foul that never existed when disallowed a late goal by Ferguson that would have taken the tie into extra time.
The Italian Job
It was particularly galling for Blues to fall victim to such a bad mistake from a match official who for a long time was considered the best in the world.Collina, was named FIFA’s Best Referee in the World for six consecutive years between 1998-2003 and took charge of the 2002 World Cup final but by the time of that steamy night in Castellon, the Italian’s powers appeared to be seriously on the wane.Conspiracy theorists can wax lyrical about the problem Everton’s participation as a fifth English team in the Champions League group stages that season would have caused but it seems that David Moyes’ side were just victims of a rotten decision.It’s telling that despite it being the start of a new season, the game proved to be the last of Collina’s career.So why open up an old wound for Ferguson’s big day?It was joked about on social media that Collina would be coming to Goodison to take charge of the friendly while other inappropriate potential guests such as Steffen Freund, Paul Scharner and Gabriel Tamas – some of Ferguson’s old foes – were mooted.
Beware the Yellow Submarine
The truth is that ‘The Yellow Submarine’ as they’re jovially referred to in Spain, have already been back to Goodison since the 2005 Champions League qualifier when they won 1-0 in a friendly on August 5, 2011.But 10 years on from the heartbreak – both personally for Ferguson and collectively for that plucky squad of players who had defied the odds just to finish fourth in the first place given they’d come 17th on a paltry 39 points just 12 months early – will have many Evertonians wistfully pondering “what if?”...again.As the “Sorry we’re 20 years late. Had trouble with the neighbours,” banner declared at the time, there were already long standing issues with the Blues participation – or rather non-participation – in European football’s elite competition.Was Heysel and the subsequent arbitrary blanket ban on English clubs’ participation in UEFA tournaments the start of a deterioration in Everton’s fortunes?At the time the ban was implemented in 1985, Everton had their best ever team. They’d just been crowned League Champions and had cruised to victory in the European Cup-Winners’ Cup final.
In an era when English clubs dominated the European Cup, the 1985/86 competition would have been Everton’s to lose.But of course we’ll never know.Fast forward to the Blues belated participation with Ferguson and company two decades later.Everton were handed an eliminator with La Liga’s third best side who would go on to reach that season’s semi-finals.And that’s the only saving grace of the Collina débâcle. Over the two legs, Manuel Pellegrini’s team were the better side.
Cheers to jeers
Across Stanley Park, Anfield is known throughout the continent for his cauldron-like atmospheres on big European nights but the smattering of Reds who were present at Goodison for the first leg against Villarreal were taken aback by the vocal support their Blue brothers received as the primeval roar that greeted the teams as they took to the field was the result of a generation of pent-up frustration, anger and determination.If only the home players on the pitch could matched the efforts in the stands as James Beattie’s effort was sandwiched between vital away goals from Luciano Figueroa and Josico to leave the Blues with a mountain to climb in the second leg.Despite being back by a huge travelling following in the return game, Everton fell further behind on aggregate when Juan Pablo Sorin put the hosts in front.However, they rallied strongly in the second half, equalising through a Mikel Arteta free-kick and hand a shell-shocked Villarreal rocking until they were left deflated by Collina’s decision to chalk off Ferguson’s late effort that would have taken the tie into extra time and to rub salt into the wounds Diego Forlan struck an injury time winner for the home side on the break.
Reaching the promised land
A decade has past and while Ferguson has long since hung up his boots – 2005/06 was to prove his farewell season – the anguish of missing out on the Champions League has not dulled much for Evertonians.They were in the running on a few more occasions under Moyes but ultimately never got that close and even a club record Premier League points haul in Roberto Martinez’s first season wasn’t enough to break up the top four and deny Arsenal of their seemingly obligatory spot under Arsene Wenger.When being unveiled as Blues boss, the Catalan declared: “I will get you into the Champions League”, and with a youthful spine of Romelu Lukaku, Ross Barkley and John Stones he still hopes to achieve it.But as we’re seeing with an aggressive pursuit of the latter this summer from those sides who can offer a place in the Champions League instantly, unless you can actually get yourself into the land of milk and honey (or money) then the viscous circle of being on the outside means you’ll always be susceptible to losing your best talent to those who are enjoying the benefits of being inside that elite club.

Leeds 2 - Everton 0: Toffees suffer second pre-season defeat
CHAMPIONSHIP Leeds inflicted top-flight Everton's second pre-season defeat.
Sun, Aug 2, 2015
Sunday Express
Goals from Alex Mowatt and Chris Wood in the second half handed Uwe Rosler's side a deserved victory as the visitors struggled for any rhythm.Everton's best opportunity fell to Conor McAleny but his header was well saved by Leeds goalkeeper Marco Silvestri.Kieran Dowell, one of a number of the visitors' academy players to feature, went close with a pair of strikes while Bryan Oviedo saw a shot well saved.But Leeds proved worthy winners, Mowatt opening the scoring after 56 minutes before Wood netted 10 minutes from time to settle matters.

Ian Doyle: Why Everton FC cannot afford to be slow out of the blocks
2 August 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Ian Doyle
Poor starts have proven so costly for Blues in the past... plus our Premier League predictions
Tom Cleverley and Everton can't afford to hang around against Watford next week
First impressions often count for much. And with Everton, the start of the season usually gives a taste of things to come.
Take last year. The Blues were cruising towards a 2-1 victory at promoted Leicester City until needlessly conceding a late equaliser. It would set the tone for a stuttering start to the campaign that saw leads surrendered and the defence worryingly porous. Rewind 12 months, though, and a similar 2-2 draw at Norwich City was met much more positively, not least with Roberto Martinez’s first competitive game being lit up by goals from Seamus Coleman and Ross Barkley.
Both would go on to have impressive seasons. So too the Blues under the Catalan.
There are plenty of other examples.
Beating Manchester United on the opening weekend in 2012 provided such momentum that the Blues had only lost three Premier League games by the time they travelled to Old Trafford for the return fixture in February.
By contrast, losing 1-0 at Blackburn in 2010 left David Moyes’ men waiting until October for their first Premier League victory, recording only three before Christmas.
Frustration for Everton as Leicester level late on
There was a bad ending to the opening day at Leicester City last season
There have been times when the trend has been bucked, notably in 2008 when another loss to Blackburn didn’t prevent the Blues finishing fifth and reaching the FA Cup final, while the 2004-05 season opened with a 4-1 home loss to Arsenal.
But given Everton’s dreadful record on opening day – they have won their first league match only six times in the last 26 years – that’s not been often enough. With murmurs of discontent among supporters regarding a lack of action in the transfer window – indeed, no Premier League team has spent less than the Blues – Everton can ill afford a poor start against Watford at Goodison next Saturday.
It has been difficult to take any pointers from pre-season, such has been the mixed bag from Martinez’s men. Clean sheets against Swindon and Stoke City were blown away by Arsenal, and wins in Scotland over Hearts and Dundee were undermined slightly by defeat at Leeds United.
The lack of many new faces, though, mean there can be no excuse for not being up to speed immediately come the first whistle. Indeed, there’s every chance the entire starting XI against Watford will consists of players who have been at the club for at least 12 months.
They’ll know a slow start could leave Everton playing catch-up for weeks to come.
I'm backing United - sorry
Bad news. Manchester United are going to win the Premier League.
So says this column which, of course, has a tremendous record at picking the title winners (well, we kept on saying Chelsea until they finally won it last season).
Chelsea will be too bothered with the Champions League, while Arsenal are still not there and Manchester City have got too old.
Liverpool and Everton? Fifth and seventh on the evidence so far. But with a month to go in the transfer window, that could all change. Hopefully.
Football could learn from Super League
When the Rugby League announced they would be splitting the top two divisions of 12 into three leagues of eight during the season, it appeared one reinvention too far.
Yet the feedback ahead of next week's split has been nothing short of unanimously positive.
Rather than have a succession of meaningless games towards the end of the regular season, every match, every point has counted, whether it to be secure a top eight berth or ensure a greater number home games during the next stage of matches.
St Helens and Leeds have been leading the way in Super League this season
Attempts to grow its fanbase means Super League has always worked hard to innovate.
Not everything has worked.
But the fact even the die-hards have been won over by the Super Eights suggests they may be on to a good thing. Football should take note. Innovate with meaning, not just for the sake of it. And not just to bolster the coffers.

Everton 1-2 Villarreal: Duncan Ferguson and Wayne Rooney back in action at Goodison Park
2 August 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Match report and pictures from an emotional day for Big Dunc's testimonial
A late cameo from Everton legend Duncan Ferguson could not prevent the Blues from losing to Villarreal in his testimonial game today. Everton signed off for pre-season with a 2-1 defeat at the hands of their Spanish visitors but it could not dampen the fans' delight at seeing Ferguson and Wayne Rooney playing at Goodison again. Tyias Browning bagged Everton's consolation with three minutes to go as Roberto Martinez's side - inspired by the introduction of Big Dunc and Rooney - staged a late rally. Villarreal scored goals in either half with Gerard capitalising when the Blues switched off from a corner before Nahuel got the better of Seamus Coleman before slotting past Tim Howard Howard made two excellent saves to prevent Villarreal from adding to their lead, denying Gerard a second and then Ivan Alejo. Everton improved in the closing stages and before Browning headed home, Phil Jagielka and Leon Osman saw headers of their own cleared off the line while Rooney fizzed a shot just wide. But the day belonged to Ferguson and an emotional 43-year-old said: "The day has been absolutely tremendous.
"It has been a fantastic day. It has been a fantastic 20 years.
"Honestly, these fans are the best, I mean that. We live for you. We love you. Everton loves you."
On Rooney, Ferguson added: "It is incredible he showed up today to play in royal blue colours again. It's quite amazing."
EVERTON (4-2-3-1): Howard, Coleman, Stones (Browning 72), Jagielka (c), Baines, McCarthy (Mcaleny 55), Barry, Mirallas (Naismith 39, Ferguson 84)), Osman, Cleverley (Rooney 75), Kone (Barkley 46). Subs: Robles, Oviedo, Galloway, Grant, Ledson, Walsh.
Goals: Browning (87)

Wayne Rooney back in an Everton shirt as Manchester United captain plays in Duncan Ferguson's testimonial
England skipper received a standing ovation from former club
Tom Sheen Author Biography
Sunday 02 August 2015 Independent
Manchester United and England captain Wayne Rooney was given a standing ovation by Everton supporters as he returned to play for his boyhood club.Rooney left Goodison Park as a teenager 11 years ago to join Manchester United and has been booed mercilessly by Toffees fans on numerous returns, though the reception has been better in recent years.The England skipper, who burst onto the scene with a goal against Arsenal, famously wore a 'once a blue, always a blue' t-shirt before making his big-money move as a teenager.
But Rooney, now 29, was given a huge standing ovation by Everton supporters as he returned to play in Blue for the first time at Duncan Ferguson's testimonial.
Rooney, who appeared in his old No 18 shirt, played the final 15 minutes as the home side lost 2-1 to Spanish side Villarreal.
"As a young lad, Duncan Ferguson was a hero of mine," Rooney said. "As a young player at the club he was an inspiration and when I broke into the first team he helped and looked after me.
"I cannot think of a better way to thank Dunc for all he did for me than turning out in his fully-deserved testimonial match."Ferguson played the final seven minutes of the game, with youngster Tyias Browning scoring for Roberto Martinez's team.

Everton manager Roberto Martinez says three more players required
2 August 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Greg O’Keeffe
Martinez to target another striker along with playmaker and centre back
Roberto Martinez admits Everton need another striker along with a playmaker and a centre back after his side were defeated 2-1 in their final pre-season game of the summer. The Blues have spent the least of any Premier League club in the transfer window so far, recruiting only Tom Cleverley and Gerard Deulofeu, but Martinez said he is prepared to wait in order to get the right players in.
Speaking after the loss to Villarreal in Duncan Ferguson’s Goodison testimonial today, the Toffees boss told the ECHO: “We know we need two to three new players and we are going to make sure we get the right ones. “We are looking for that area [up front], the number 10 position, and I think we need a centre-half; the three areas are quite clear. “I have been very impressed with some youngsters and I think they are ready to help the first team as well.” Asked specifically abut his ongoing hunt for a ‘number 10’, the Blues boss added explained why finding the right player has been a challenging prospect this summer. “They aren’t players that are easy to find,” he said. “You want players with great vision and technical ability but who can also cope with the physicality of the league. “I do feel we need to use the full window and try to bring the right people. We have got a clear idea of what we want to do.” Everton had to do without main striker Romelu Lukaku against the La Liga outfit, with the club record signing being rested after picking up knock against Dundee on Tuesday. In his absence Arouna Kone struggled to make any impact, and while Martinez has previously said he feels he has enough cover in his current options he told the ECHO that he now recognises more depth is required. On a positive note the manager said he is still expecting to have Lukaku fit for the season opener against Watford next Saturday. “He trained this morning and had no bad reaction from that,” said the Catalan. “I now expect him to join the group on Tuesday and then from that point on be ready to consider him fully fit and ready."

Everton are a big enough club to keep hold of John Stones says Roberto Martinez
2 August 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Greg O’Keeffe
Everton are not a selling club insists Blues boss
Roberto Martinez is up for the fight of keeping John Stones at Everton
Everton are a big enough club to keep hold of John Stones insists Roberto Martinez, as he emphasised that the defender has not become unsettled by Chelsea’s pursuit this summer.
The England defender was typically impressive during the Blues final pre-season friendly, a 2-1 Goodison defeat by Villarreal, and remains a target for Jose Mourinho's outfit. But asked whether he has had to speak with the 21-year-old about his future in light of the constant speculation regarding a move to Stamford Bridge, the Toffees boss was in bullish mood. He said: “We feel that we are a big club. You’re going to get clubs that are working with big budgets because they have been working in the Champions League but we are a club with nine league titles, the history and you seen today we celebrated a special memory. “We are a big club. What we want is to build and what we want to do is concentrate on the future and we are not a selling club by all means. I don’t see anything apart from I love the players I have in the squad and I understand others keep an eye on it and that is a healthy sign. “The current situation with John is as you would expect. He is one of the most talented centre backs in European football not just in England and we are really, really feel we have a special footballer with us. “We have a group of young players with the potential to be as good as they can and I think he is one of those. “Clearly he is a player that we admire, clearly that is going to be the same in other clubs. They are going to be admiring his ability and what he is as a footballer but he is an Everton player and as you can imagine he is a big part of what we are trying to achieve in the future.” Martinez reiterated that Stones remains focused on preparing for the forthcoming season at Goodison, at a club where he has become a full England international and last term made 28 appearances. “Remember John is a young man who has lived incredible experiences already in two years but he is still a young man that he wants to take responsibility,” said Martinez.
“He is in a very good moment of his career, he has four years left [on his contract]. Every experience is a good experience in order to mature. On the outside it seems turmoil and many things happening but internally John comes in and trains and needs to try earn his place and keep improving, keep taking responsibility in the group and nothing else.
Everton's John Stones during the pre-season friendly at Dens Park, Dundee.
“There is nothing to discuss, he is not a player that is out of contract in ten months, he is not a player we don’t want, he is a player that has a fantastic future with us and there is nothing to comment because teams putting bids in that doesn’t mean anything.” Stones had to be withdrawn in the second half after injuring his ankle on 72 minutes, but Martinez is hopefully it will not be a significant set-back. He added: “John had a knock in his ankle. The ankle he had surgery in last season. Don’t think it is serious but we will have to check it out.”

Wayne Rooney delighted with Everton fans' reception
2 August 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
England captain played for the Blues in Duncan Ferguson's testimonial
Wayne Rooney admits he wasn’t sure if the Everton fans would welcome him back to Goodison Park – so was thrilled to receive a rousing reception. Rooney made a 15 minute cameo against Villarreal on Sunday as almost 35,000 fans turned up for Duncan Ferguson’s testimonial game. The 29-year-old Manchester United striker, who left Everton in 2004, embraced with chairman Bill Kenwright before kick-off and had his name chanted by fans as he warmed up on the touchline.
Rooney says he was “delighted” with the response of the Blues fans as his children watched him play in an Everton shirt for the first time, when he replaced Tom Cleverley on 75 minutes.
“I enjoyed it. It was nice to come back here and the fans gave me a great reception which I was delighted with,” Rooney said.
“But most importantly it was a big day for Duncan and he really enjoyed the game and it was nice to see him back on the pitch. “I was delighted with the fans’ reaction because I didn’t know what to expect. But it was great for my kids today, as well, to see me in an Everton shirt.” And Rooney, who has played for Man United at Goodison several times since leaving the club, added: “Of course, it was a bit different today going into the home dressing room. It was a bit weird at first. I didn’t know what to expect with the reception but it was a great reception and I really appreciated it.” Rooney idolised Ferguson as a boyhood Blue and says he relished another chance to play alongside the club legend. The England captain was just disappointed that Everton lost out 2-1. “Before the game it was the most nervous I’ve seen him,” Rooney said. “He deserved this day and this game.
“It was nice to get some minutes on the pitch alongside Duncan, I was delighted with that and we nearly got back in it.”

How Duncan Ferguson's Everton thank-you turned into a team-talk
2 August 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Phil Kirkbride on Everton's defeat to Villarreal and the Blues' pre-season performance
In emotional Duncan Ferguson was holding court on the pitch at Goodison Park when his thank-you speech became an impromptu team-talk. At the end of his testimonial game against Villarreal this afternoon Ferguson, with his voice cracking and breaking due of the poignancy of the moment, delivered as passionate address as you’ll hear all season. And the watching squad of Blues players, huddled together on the touchline and hanging off his every word, could not fail to be moved.
“Honestly, these fans are the best, I mean that,” Ferguson declared.
“We live for you. We love you. Everton loves you.”
Everton signed off for pre-season with a 2-1 defeat but Ferguson’s rallying cry lifted the spirits of the near 35,000 supporters who had turned up to honour him on his big day. Just like one of his trademark leaps, it was perfectly timed. Everton would have been hoping to sign off for pre-season, in their only game at Goodison, with a performance to set pulses racing ahead of the Premier League opener in six days’ time. But apart from in the final 15 minutes, inspired by the introductions of Ferguson and Wayne Rooney, the Blues struggled to offer much suggestion that they will hit the ground running against Watford on Saturday. There was plenty of neat and tidy approach play against Villarreal and lots of possession but for long spells they lacked a cutting edge.
Roberto Martinez knows this remains a pressing issue and after the game stressed that he is still working to bring a playmaker to the club and, for the first time in public, said he is looking to add a striker to his options as well. Everton manager Roberto Martinez
Everton manager Roberto Martinez
But he also hopes that Romelu Lukaku is fit enough to face the league new boys on Saturday.
Of course, that is when the real judgements can be made about the merits of Everton’s pre-season.
Today, and the six previous games played over the past four weeks, can only provide us with an indication as to how the new campaign is to unfold, and never a true prediction. But where the Blues were undercooked last summer from a haphazard schedule, and welcomed players back from Brazil still burdened by their exploits in the World Cup, there are none of those concerns this time.
Martinez was able to plan a summer in fine detail months ahead of the end of last season’s league campaign and has seen his side play more games, and face significantly better opposition, than 12 months ago. Throw in the gruelling week’s stay in the sapping conditions of Singapore and there is no danger of Everton not lasting the pace in the games this season. Those of Martinez’s men who have not picked up injuries this summer, looked fit and strong but, as he knows, that simply won’t be enough. Everton will need to play with tempo this season, creativity, flair and a cunning that deserted them on too many occasions last term - and here as well. Ferguson and Rooney helped add a spark and urgency to Everton’s play that had largely been missing against Villarreal.
A brief spell in the first-half, where Kevin Mirallas fizzed a dangerous ball across the Spaniard’s six yard box and Leighton Baines injected the odd moment of quality, promised more but the Blues failed to build on the momentum.
Villarreal would be in front soon after, capitalising on shoddy Everton defending from a corner, before doubling their lead not long into the second-half when Nahuel got the better of Seamus Coleman.
By this point, Everton hadn’t had a shot on goal.
Villarreal would have more but Tim Howard twice pulled off excellent saves to keep the Spaniards out. Thankfully Rooney’s introduction, soon followed by Big Dunc’s, lifted the fans and the other players.
Everton's Wayne Rooney in action
Phil Jagielka’s header came back off the post and Leon Osman had a header of his own cleared off the line before Tyias Browning leapt highest – and in front of the waiting Ferguson – to finally break Villarreal’s resolve, but Everton would get no closer to their visitors.
The Blues came up well short of expectations last season but there’s a genuine feeling of optimism within the squad, and between Martinez and his staff, about putting that right, despite the disappointing performance today.
“Let’s all have a great season,” Ferguson added.
“I know we’ll have fantastic backing from the fans, you’re the most passionate fans in the world.
“For next year, come on!”
Here’s hoping Duncan’s words have resonated with the players.

Everton 1-2 Villarreal: Blues can't let nostalgia paper over cracks and four other things we learned
2 August 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Greg O’Keeffe
Everton still toothless without Lukaku and Stones' importance remains vast
It goes without saying that from a Blue-tinted perspective it was a heart-warming afternoon in many ways. Duncan Ferguson back on the Goodison pitch with number nine on his back, and a redemptive cameo for prodigal son Wayne Rooney. Evertonians were misty-eyed as they savoured memories of days past, taking in the surreal sight of Rooney spraying passes and Duncan winning headers.
But more importantly the defeat by Villarreal was the club’s last pre-season friendly, and as an indication of their readiness for the imminent campaign it was less encouraging.
No cutting edge, little creativity in the final third and two soft goals conceded. It suggested the woes of last term still persist and while Roberto Martinez admitted he needs three more players, history suggests the incomings will arrive late.
Four games may have passed by the time the new boys are signed, so Martinez needs to find solutions from within or risk another poor start to the campaign.
The only spell of the game when Everton looked like posing a genuine threat was when a player came on who was only on loan for the day. Just in case all those medals and wonder-goals at Old Trafford had gone unnoticed, Evertonians were given a timely reminder of just how gifted their former boy-wonder is. And yet - he will be back in red by the weekend trying to help another club win more trophies.
There is something unpalatable in the thought that, while it was a tremendous gesture of him to play, he is part of Everton’s past when they need someone like him more than ever to progress.
What of the future though? Did the rousing reception he received at Goodison today perhaps pull on Rooney’s heart-strings enough to make him ponder a permanent return? Contracted at United until he is 33, might he consider a return to the club he loves before then - and while he still has the stamina which is a key part of his game?

It would be a thrilling prospect.
He says all the right things Duncan Ferguson. “Honestly, these fans are the best, I mean that,” he said on the pitch after his testimonial. “We live for you. We love you. Everton loves you.”
But the thing is, Everton’s legendary former striker isn’t just trotting out trite cliches or regurgitating the banalities of an overly media-trained modern footballer, He means it. Every word.
Although photographic evidence of the numerous occasions he out his body on the lien for Everton suggest otherwise, Ferguson’s blood is royal blue.
He speaks from the heart and has a special connection with the fans, a chemistry which is rare in the modern era. By all accounts he continues to become a highly impressive coach too.
The odds on the next Everton manager when Martinez’s era ends must surely suggest Ferguson will be his successor.
In a first half when only the Spanish visitors played any compelling football, at times it seemed like it was a case of John Stones versus the attackers clad all in yellow. Villarreal scored eventually, but it could have been worse were it not for Stones’ usual repertoire of expertly timed interventions.
The 21-year-old was superb and only underlined just why Martinez remains so desperate to keep him.
Encouragingly though, he did not give the mrest hint in his body language of being a player with his mind elsewhere; namely West London. The Everton manager insists his brightest young player’s head has not been turned by Chelsea’s advances, and it seems like he is correct.
Everton must firmly hope that remains the case until September 1.
34,718 for a pre-season game albeit the testimonial of a Goodison great. The gate was the biggest at the Old Lday for a non-competitive match since 36,870 attended Dixie Dean’s testimonial in 1964.
Bravo Blues. It’s the sort of home crowd several Premier League clubs would kill for during the season proper.

Everton legend Duncan Ferguson admits to suffering with nerves ahead of testimonial
3 August 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
But Everton great says his first touch settled him down
Duncan Ferguson admits he was wracked with nerves ahead of his testimonial game.
Everton honoured the club legend with Sunday’s game against Villarreal at Goodison.
Nearly 35,000 fans watched on as the Ferguson made a late cameo alongside former Blues striker Wayne Rooney. Big Dunc says he had been nervous in the build-up and even worried if he would fit into his number nine shirt. But Ferguson’s jitters disappeared once he won his first header and the ball found an Everton team-mate. “I was very nervous, more so because I didn’t know if the shirt was going to fit,” Ferguson said. “I’d not had chance to put it on. So that was one hurdle I had to overcome.
“It was nerve-wracking but it was a proud day to play in front of these fans and for my family to be here and to play in front of the chairman and these top players, it was really amazing.
“I wish I could roll back the clock 20 years.”
And on winning that header, Ferguson added: “It felt brilliant. “You just worry, when you’re lying in your bed, that your first touch is going to a Blue shirt. “Luckily when I headed it, because I didn’t see the boy behind me, it went to Wayne. “I didn’t know Wayne was there but instinct takes over and I’m just glad that I got the touch and that it went to a Blue player.
“I could’ve walked off then to be honest with you.”
Ferguson received a standing ovation when he got off the bench and began warming up in front of the Main Stand and the Gwladys Street. And the 43-year-old says he was bowled over by all the support - including from the younger generations of Everton fans.
“The fans have been special to me,” Ferguson said.
“I remember the great atmospheres when I was playing but, nine years later, to have kids on the terraces shouting for me is special.”
The club legend came on for the final 10 minutes and looked like he was poised to score.
But as Leighton Baines’ corner dropped into the box, young defender Tyias Browning headed home Everton’s consolation. Ferguson, now a first-team coach, was happy Browning got there before him.
“I’m glad he did,” said Big Dunc, with a smile.
“It might have just hit me in the face!
“I’ve not headed a ball for 10 years. I don’t even join in the five-a-sides because I’m that worried about my body but it was a tremendous feeling.
“It was a great feeling.
Ferguson, who intends to get his testimonial shirt signed and then hang it on the wall in his house, wanted to thank the 34, 718 in attendance, saying: “For the Blue army to turn out like that is amazing.”

John Stones to Chelsea: Roberto Martinez insists Everton are big enough to keep England defender
Toffees hope England defender will stay at Goodison Park this season
Samuel Stevens
Monday 03 August 2015 Independent
Everton boss Roberto Martinez insists the Merseyside club are big enough to prevent Chelsea from buying England defender John Stones. The Spaniard has been forced to comment on the matter after weeks of speculation linking him with a move to Stamford Bridge, but Martinez says Stones has not become unsettled by the speculation. 21-year-old Stones delivered a typically assured display as the Toffees fell to a 2-1 defeat to Villarreal and the Everton boss believes his club are capable of keeping hold of him this season. He told the Daily Mirror: “We feel that we are a big club. You’re going to get clubs that are working with big budgets because they have been working in the Champions League but we are a club with nine league titles, the history and you seen today we celebrated a special memory.
Roberto Martinez is confident John Stones will stay Roberto Martinez is confident John Stones will stay “We are a big club. What we want is to build and what we want to do is concentrate on the future and we are not a selling club by all means. I don’t see anything apart from I love the players I have in the squad and I understand others keep an eye on it and that is a healthy sign. “The current situation with John is as you would expect. He is one of the most talented centre backs in European football not just in England and we are really, really feel we have a special footballer with us. “We have a group of young players with the potential to be as good as they can and I think he is one of those. “Clearly he is a player that we admire, clearly that is going to be the same in other clubs. They are going to be admiring his ability and what he is as a footballer but he is an Everton player and as you can imagine he is a big part of what we are trying to achieve in the future.”
Wayne Rooney back at Everton
Martinez is keen to remind any suitors that Stones is settled at Goodison Park and happy to play for a club who gave him the opportunity to make his England debut at such a young age.
“Remember John is a young man who has lived incredible experiences already in two years but he is still a young man that he wants to take responsibility,” said Martinez.
“He is in a very good moment of his career, he has four years left [on his contract]. Every experience is a good experience in order to mature. On the outside it seems turmoil and many things happening but internally John comes in and trains and needs to try earn his place and keep improving, keep taking responsibility in the group and nothing else.
“There is nothing to discuss, he is not a player that is out of contract in ten months, he is not a player we don’t want, he is a player that has a fantastic future with us and there is nothing to comment because teams putting bids in that doesn’t mean anything.”

Gerard Deulofeu injury doubt for Everton's season opener
3 August 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Greg O’Keeffe
Deulofeu unlikely to recover from hamstring problem in time for Watford says Martinez
Gerard Deulofeu is unlikely to be fit for Everton’s opening game of the new season against Watford on Saturday, says Roberto Martinez. The former Barcelona winger, who became the club’s second signing of the summer when he joined in a £4.3m deal in June, suffered a hamstring injury during the Asia Trophy defeat to Arsenal in Singapore. Speaking after Deulofeu missed yesterday’s 2-1 defeat by Villarreal at Goodison, Martinez said: “Geri is very good. He’s been very lively and was in the dressing room and very happy today. “He’s already working at 60% so I don’t expect him to be too far away. Maybe the weekend will be too early for him but he won’t be too far away from coming back.”
The 21-year-old has had problems with hamstring injuries before, missing two months of his loan season at Goodison after being stretchered off at home to Fulham in December 2013.
It would represent a blow for Martinez, who brought Deulofeu back to Merseyside this summer on a three-year deal and has seen his side struggle for cutting edge in the final third.
The winger had previously impressed during Everton’s pre-season schedule with bright cameos against Swindon, Stoke and Arsenal.
He made 25 appearances in his loan spell throughout the 2013-14 and is one of two summer signings made by the club so far, along with midfielder Tom Cleverley.
Everton also have concerns about the availability of another winger, Kevin Mirallas, for the weekend after he twisted his ankle during Duncan Ferguson’s testimonial against the La Liga outfit yesterday.
Mirallas will be assessed by Finch Farm medical staff tomorrow.

Everton pre-season player ratings: Cleverley shines as Kone's chances fade
3 August 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Neil Jones
As Everton complete their summer schedule, we look at who impressed and who didn't...
Everton duo Tom Cleverley and Arouna Kone who have had contrasting pre-seasons
Pre-season is over and the new Premier League campaign is just five days away.
Everton have had mixed results from their warm-up fixtures, but Roberto Martinez has been able to give playing time to almost all of his squad during games in the Far East, Scotland and the UK.
So who has forced their way into his plans for the starting line-up against Watford on Saturday, and who has done their cause little good with the performances they've produced?
We rated the Blues squad based on their performances during pre-season.
Tim Howard 7
His penalty save helped the Blues to victory over Stoke in Singapore, made some excellent saves against Villarreal and will again start the season as undisputed No.1.
Joel Robles 6
A few useful saves, in particular against Arsenal in Singapore, but again looks set for a season of bench duty.
Seamus Coleman 6

How Everton would love a return to the marauding forward raids of two seasons back. The Irishman, though, had a low key summer.
Everton's Seamus Coleman (left) challenges Dundee's Nick Ross during the pre-season friendly at Dens Park, Dundee. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday July 28, 2015.
Tony Hibbert 5
Played the second half against Swindon, and the first against Stoke, but is back on the treatment table again after picking up an injury against Arsenal which was serious enough to require a knee brace. Unlikely to have a major role this season, surely?
Antonee Robinson 7
Young left back will spend the year honing his skills in the U21s, but will be better for spending time around the first team this summer. Acquitted himself admirably against Leeds.
Tyias Browning 7
Furthered his claims for a regular squad place with some solid outings, showing his comfort across the defensive line.
Brendan Galloway 8
Impressed against Stoke, but has been managing a slight knee issue thereafter. However the highly-rated defender has done enough this summer to disuade Martinez from sending him out on loan and consider keeping him in the Blues first-team squad instead.
Everton FC V Stoke City FC in the Barclays Asia Cup,at the National Stadium,Singapore. Brendan Galloway tracks Peter Odemwingie.
Phil Jagielka 7
The skipper showed his technique to score a match-winning penalty against Stoke in Singapore, but was left exposed against Arsenal three days later. Remains one of the Blues’ most important players, though.
John Stones 7
Not seemed fazed despite the ongoing speculation surrounding his future. Looks more a leader with every game he plays and was superb in the first half against Villarreal.
Matthew Pennington 5
Made his first Blues start in the defeat at Leeds and whiile he is unlikely to make a major impact on the first team any time soon, ther youngster certainly seems to have a future in Martinez’s plans. 7
Leighton Baines 6
Pre-season was all about fitness for the England man, who has overcome a long-standing ankle injury and is ready to start the new season afresh.
Everton's Leighton Baines with Dundee's Gary Harkins at the start of the pre-season friendly at Dens Park, Dundee
Bryan Oviedo 5
Another to use pre-season to put injury issues behind him. Useful when fit, but not fit often enough last season.
Gareth Barry 7
Another year wiser, and has enjoyed a stellar summer in midfield. Doubts over his mobility, of course, remain, but he has been one of the few to produce consistency in pre-season.
James McCarthy 6
Nursed through pre-season carefully, given his muscle problems last term. His all-action style remains central to the Blues’ way of playing.
Mo Besic N/A
Picked up a hamstring injury in the Blues’ first friendly at Swindon, and will frustratingly miss the start of the season as a result.
Ross Barkley 6
High point came with a fierce left-footed strike in the defeat to Arsenal in Singapore. Admitted he had lost confidence during a difficult period last season; how the Blues need him to regain it going into the new campaign.
Darron Gibson N/A
Absent through injury all summer, which is sadly a common theme with the Irish international.
Ryan Ledson 6
Brief cameos in Dundee and Leeds, the midfielder, who turns 18 later this month, says he needs to go out on loan in order to experience “the real world.” Highly thought of at Goodison.
Tom Cleverley 7
Some bright performances, in particular in a generally poor showing at Leeds, have put him in contention for a starting berth. Has looked comfortable in a deeper midfield role.
Leon Osman 6
Remains one of the better technical players in the Blues squad, though could find opportunities harder to come by following the arrivals of Cleverley and Deulofeu.
Kevin Mirallas 6
Picked up a slight injury against Villarreal on Sunday. The Belgian scored twice in the win at Swindon in the opening friendly of the summer, but has been inconsistent since.
Football - Heart of Midlothian v Everton - Pre Season Friendly - Tynecastle - 26/7/15 Heart of Midlothian's Kevin McHattie (R) in action with Everton's Kevin Mirallas
Has missed the whole of pre-season with a hamstring problem, and looks unlikely to play his way into the first team.
Gerard Deulofeu 6
Set to miss the start of the new season after picking up a hamstring problem in the defeat to Arsenal. The Spaniard’s signing, though, should give Everton an extra attacking dimension.
Steven Naismith 5
Produced his usual graft, but did not really further his claims for a starting berth. Could be set for a ‘super sub’ role this season, although generally cut a frustrated figure in the warm-up games.
Steven Pienaar 5
More fitness problems for the South African, who is in danger of becoming a forgotten man at Goodison.
Romelu Lukaku 7
Crucial to the Blues’ chances of success this season; the Belgian grabbed a hat-trick in the win at Hearts, but limped off early against Dundee. Everton simply have to keep him fit.
Conor McAleny 7
Started the summer superbly with a man-of-the-match display at Swindon. Not hit those highs again since, but is arguably a better option than Kone at present.
Arouna Kone 4
Endured a miserable summer, marked by poor touches, wasteful finishes and laboured movement. Easy to see why most Blues fans are desperate for another forward to be brought in and now why their manager agreed more cover is necessary.
Kieran Dowell 8
Eight minutes at Hearts, and an impressive hour at Dundee. Martinez admits he has a dilemma over the talented 17-year-old over whether to send him out on loan this season, but he knows he has a potential star on his hands with the gifted young playmaker.

Mike Jones to referee Everton opener again
3 August 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Chris Beesley
Chester official to take charge for Watford's visit
Mike Jones, match referee
Chester referee Mike Jones will take charge of Everton’s first game of the Premier League season for the second consecutive year.
Jones will be in the middle against Watford next Saturday.
The 47-year-old officiated just two Blues matches throughout the 2014/15 campaign but one was the 2-2 draw at Leicester City on the opening day.
He also did the 1-0 win over Burnley in April – handing Roberto Martinez’s side a penalty which Ross Barkley took only for it to be saved.
Everton's Leighton Baines argues a decision with referee Mike Jones
Jones made 117 bookings last season in 34 games, which is a pretty average 3.44 per game, and issued 10 sendings off.
His only Everton assignment the previous year was the 4-0 home victory over Stoke City on November 30 2013 while in David Moyes’ last season he presided over four Blues matches – all at Goodison – with three draws against Newcastle United (2-2), Norwich City (1-1) and Aston Villa (3-3) before another win over Stoke, 1-0.
On April 22, 2012, Jones also took charge of Everton’s memorable 4-4 draw against Manchester United at Old Trafford.

Everton exile forced me to think whether to carry on or not: Sylvain Distin
3 August 2015 Liverpool Echo
By David Prentice
But former Everton defender is revitalised by Bournemouth challenge
Sylvain Distin admits that his long spell in Everton exile last season forced him to reflect whether he wanted to carry on his long and distinguished football career. But just weeks into his new life at Bournemouth he feels revitalised and raring to go. After making 17 appearances from the opening day of the season, Distin fell out of favour with boss Roberto Martinez following an FA Cup draw with West Ham on January 6 and didn’t feature again until a poignant cameo farewell appearance on the final day of the season against Tottenham. Everton's Sylvain Distin applauds the fans as he walks around the pitch after the Barclays Premier League match at Goodison Park, Liverpool. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.
He said: “I went through a tough place last season so I needed to reflect a bit and make sure I wanted to carry on. “At Everton the last four months were just about training and keeping fit, so it wasn’t enjoyable. As a player you want to be able to compete. “It took me two weeks to think about the move to Bournemouth, but the passion was still there and fitness-wise I still felt good, so I decided to carry on.
“And from that moment I felt excited by this challenge. I could have waited to see what other offers would come.” The Frenchman may be 37 now but he says he loves the thrill of playing more than ever.
He said: “Ask the manager and the other players, who have seen me in training, whether they think I’m here to retire or here to compete. I’m a competitor and I love it. That’s my passion. “I don’t watch football on TV, I don’t know the name of every player or every stadium and I can’t remember the results of matches I played two weeks ago. “Instead, I just love to play games and train hard. I also love to compete and that’s why I’m here.” Everton's Sylvain Distin (l) and Phil Jagielka Distin insists the prospect of playing at a club unspoilt by the trappings of Premier League fame was also appealing.
Six years ago Bournemouth were facing administration and in danger of dropping out of the Football League altogether. Now they are preparing to meet Aston Villa in Saturday’s Premier League opener at the Vitality Stadium. “Bournemouth’s story stimulates me. It’s very refreshing and I told the manager that. All the lads are very humble and generous in their work,” Distin said. “They haven’t been touched by the amazing things that the Premier League brings, maybe, but also they haven’t been touched by the downside. The complacency, taking things easy, taking it for granted. “They know they are living the dream now and they want to fight hard to keep that dream alive. It’s beautiful and refreshing for me to experience that.”

Rio Ferdinand tells John Stones Manchester United better than Chelsea
• Former England man doubts Everton defender will displace Terry or Cahill
• Ferdinand says Stones can become defensive linchpin at Old Trafford
John Stones
John Stones shows the kind of defensive quality, for Everton against Villarreal in Duncan Ferguson’s testimonial, that has attracted interest from Chelsea. Photograph: BPI/Rex Shutterstock
Paul Doyle
Monday 3 August 2015 Guardian
Rio Ferdinand has urged Manchester United to sign John Stones to bring much-needed defensive solidity to Old Trafford and believes the Everton centre-half would be foolish to join Chelsea.
José Mourinho’s club have attempted to prise Stones from Everton, who insist that the player is not for sale and have rejected two bids from Chelsea, but United are also interested and Ferdinand says his former club would be well-advised to weigh in with an offer.
John Stones is a rock-solid bet if Chelsea pay Everton the right price
The former England captain argues that any choice for the 21-year-old between joining United or Chelsea ought to be straightforward owing to the competition for places at Stamford Bridge. Ferdinand says the state of Louis van Gaal’s defence is such that Stones would immediately become its linchpin but that the former Barnsley player may not be ready to dislodge John Terry or Gary Cahill from Chelsea’s backline. “If he goes to Man United, he plays every week so that’s the right club for him,” Ferdinand said. “If he goes to Chelsea, he’s not playing every week. He’s at that stage of his development where he wants to play every week. If you say to any young footballer to leave a club to sit on the bench, you’ve got to be a lunatic. You have to be.” Stones has yet to play in the Champions League and has four England caps but Ferdinand sees qualities that persuade him the player is “the real deal”. Ferdinand was on the substitutes’ bench at Queens Park Rangers when Stones played there for Everton in March.
“He’s very good on the ball,” said Ferdinand, speaking at a BT Sport event to launch the broadcaster’s football coverage for the coming season. “I took a real interest in him and watched him at Loftus Road against Bobby Zamora, who gave most centre-halves problems last season physically, and he handled Bobby well, and that physical element. That was one of the areas that I hadn’t really seen him under pressure with and he looked up for that battle. With all the other stuff he’s got, he’s got a real good chance.” Ferdinand is clear that United’s backline is in need of improvement. “I don’t think [Van Gaal] knows his best defence – that’s a problem in itself,” he said. “Part of the reason he doesn’t know it is because he hasn’t had a chance to watch them all play over a long time – consistently for 12 or 15 games. If you don’t get that familiarity between you as defenders, it’s difficult to build foundations.
“I played with [Nemanja] Vidic for six years with no fitness problems between us. I woke up on a Saturday knowing that Vida was going to be fit and he was the same with me. At the moment these guys aren’t doing that. They don’t know if Chris Smalling is going to be fit, if Phil Jones, Jonny Evans or Marcos Rojo are going to be fit. So how can you start to build relationships? That’s been part of the problem for Van Gaal.” United have spent much of this summer trying to reinforce their defence by tempting Sergio Ramos from Real Madrid but Ferdinand doubts whether that was ever likely to happen. “I always knew that was never a goer. I said at the beginning on Twitter that he’s obviously up for a new contract [at Real] and he may be using United in that respect. Whether that’s true or not I don’t know but he’s signing a new deal according to what we read.” Given that Chelsea have had bids of up to £26m rejected for Stones, and Roberto Martínez reaffirmed on Sunday Everton’s determination to hold on to a player on whom they are counting heavily, it would probably take an exceptionally large fee to alter the status quo. Ferdinand, who moved to Manchester United from Leeds United in 2002 for a then world-record fee for a defender, says that would pose challenges for Stones in addition to the more intense focus that would come from moving to Old Trafford. “The difference is the mentality,” says Ferdinand. “Physically he knows he can do it but it’s mentally. “Mine was different. I first went from West Ham to Leeds, not West Ham to Manchester United – to huge expectations of winning the league. Leeds were happy to develop and get in the Champions League and, wherever they got in that, it was a great bonus. So the pressure was different. He is not going to be afforded that. Huge price tag, he is not going to be able to go in under the radar and bed in. “He’s got to ask himself: ‘Am I ready for that? Can I deal with that?’ Those are the questions he has got to ask. I don’t know him personally. Looking at him as a footballer, technically he plays with a certain amount of maturity; I think he would be ready to go and do that. But he is the better judge of that.” Defence is not the only sector of the United team that Ferdinand has concerns about. He says the club looks set to be heavily reliant on Wayne Rooney for goals and is baffled by Van Gaal’s apparent reluctance to use Javier Hernández. “The pressure is huge for Rooney. He has got a big season ahead of him. He has to score 20-25 goals this season for United to win the league and be successful. “In any capacity the No9 for United has to score 25 goals a season. He’s not on his own, he has [Memphis] Depay, [Juan] Mata and [Marouane] Fellaini chipping in but, if he gets injured, unless they go in the transfer market ... They have got Chicharito there and he is a fantastic player – how he is not a regular in that team baffles me. I think in terms of movement, when the ball goes wide, he has the best movement in the world. But he has not been afforded that confidence from the manager as yet to say: ‘You are my No9, you get me 25 goals this season, you are playing every game.’ And until he gets that, you will not know if he is capable of doing it.”

Everton analysis: How Roberto Martinez might cope without Gerard Deulofeu & Kevin Mirallas
4 August 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Neil Jones
Injured duo could miss weekend opener against Watford - here's what the Blues boss could do....
Evertons Kevin Mirallas chats with manager Roberto Martinez during the pre-season friendly at Dens Park, Dundee. He’s not a manager who is prone to superstition, but Roberto Martinez could be forgiven for wondering if he might have run over a few black cats or broken a few mirrors of late.
Preparation is everything, where pre-season is concerned, but while there has been enough promise in Everton’s summer programme, the accumulation of injuries is a growing concern for their manager.
Monday brought the news that Gerard Deulofeu, laid low for the past fortnight with a hamstring problem, is unlikely to be fit for the Blues’ opening Premier League fixture at home to Watford this weekend. Kevin Mirallas, who injured an ankle against Villarreal on Sunday, is also doubtful.
Concerning, particularly as Martinez is already without, for one reason or another, Aiden McGeady, Steven Pienaar, Darron Gibson, Muhamed Besic and Tony Hibbert.
Gerard Deulofeu's potential absence on Saturday is a headache for Martinez
Mirallas and Deulofeu, potentially, are two of Everton’s most important players, offering pace, width and threat. To be without one would be a blow, but to miss both would give Martinez a serious headache. How, then, might he compensate for the loss? Here are a few of his options...
Utilise the utility men They may lack the kind of speed and mobility which mark Deulofeu and Mirallas down as such special talents, but Martinez knows he has reliable utility men in the form of Leon Osman and Steven Naismith – either of whom could, if needed, fill in in either of the wide positions.
Naismith, probably, would be the better option, given his ability to come inside to link the play in and around the penalty area. The Scot is by no means prolific, but eight goals last season was a handy return. And in a side not blessed with goalscorers, that extra threat might just prove crucial.
Clever move?
It took 12 months, but Martinez eventually got his man in Tom Cleverley. The pair shared a productive time together at Wigan, and are now set to resume their working relationship at Goodison.
Martinez sees Cleverley’s role, long-term, as part of the three in a 4-2-3-1 system. The England international’s mobility, neat touch and short, sharp passing game was on show at Aston Villa during the second half of last season, and Everton fans will hope he can continue that form on Merseyside.
Could Cleverley do a temporary job out wide?
For now, though, it may be that Martinez needs his energy and tactical awareness as a more orthodox wide midfielder. Not ideal, but Cleverley is certainly capable of filling in if needed.
Bank on Barkley
It was an unpopular move when, last season, Martinez chose to shift Ross Barkley away from his favoured central role and use him as a wide man. It didn’t really work, either. The 21-year-old is a huge talent, but looked ill at ease whenever he was stationed on the flank. He was wasted, unable to impose himself and growing visibly frustrated. Everton's Ross Barkley (left) battles for the ball with Leeds United's Sam Byram, during the Pre-Season Friendly match at Elland Road, Leeds. Martin Rickett/PA Wire
Should Martinez shuffle Ross Barkley to the flank again?
Unlikely, then, that Martinez would return to that plan now, although with his options limited, he may decide that Barkley’s talent should be able to shine, wherever he is played.
Narrow it up
It was one of the most common complaints among Evertonians last season; a lack of attacking width from their side.
Mirallas and Deulofeu should, in theory, be able to solve that issue, but with one or both missing against Watford, the temptation must be there for Martinez to eschew his favoured 4-2-3-1 system and play something a bit more narrow.
Is going narrow the best bet?
Maybe a 4-4-2 diamond, with Gareth Barry holding, James McCarthy and Tom Cleverley shuttling on either side, and Barkley probing behind Romelu Lukaku and one other – either Naismith or Arouna Kone – would be an option? It’d be a significant move, but not necessarily a bad one, given the personnel available.
Go radical
Or Martinez could, if he were feeling particularly adventurous, recalibrate his line-up entirely by switching to a wing-back system. Radical, of course, but in Leighton Baines and Seamus Coleman he has the perfect players for those roles, and he has enough options in the centre of midfield to come up with a workable combination. Asking Tyias Browning, Brendan Galloway or Matthew Pennington to slot in as the third centre back, however, could be a risk too far at such an early stage in the season.

Everton FC transfer rumours: Blues face competition for Dennis Praet, Defender not moving to Goodison, Ferdinand says Stones would be a 'lunatic' to join Chelsea
4 August 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Joe Rimmer
A round-up of transfer rumours and gossip from around the web
Everton have been named as one of four Premier League clubs chasing Anderlecht midfielder Dennis Praet. The Toffees, along with Aston Villa, Southampton and West Brom, are said to be willing to take the 21-year-old to England, with newspaper Het Neiuwsblad reporting that Anderlecht face a dilemma as to whether the keep the player or cash in. The Belgian club are said to want around 15m euros for the player, and West Brom are reported to have made an 11m euro bid. The Baggies are reportedly the closest to Praet, meaning Everton would have to act fast should they want to bring the midfielder to Goodison. Blues boss Roberto Martinez confirmed to the ECHO that he was interested in a creative midfielder. He said: We know we need two to three new players and we are going to make sure we get the right ones. “We are looking for that area [up front], the number 10 position, and I think we need a centre-half; the three areas are quite clear."
The Blues remain in the hunt for a centre-back, but one man not joining Everton is Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly. The Frenchman was linked with a move to Goodison Park yesterday but his agent, Bruno Satin, quickly shot down the rumours, confirming the 24-year-old is set to stay in Italy. He said: "I don't know anything about interest from Everton for him. "He hasn't asked to leave, he's played in these first few friendlies and is 100 per cent at the centre of Napoli's project." And finally, Rio Ferdinand reckons John Stones would be a "lunatic" to join Chelsea - but instead urged the defender to join his former side Manchester United. He says: "If he [Stones] goes to Man United, he plays every week so that's the right club for him. "If he goes to Chelsea, he's not playing every week. If you say to any young footballer to leave a club to sit on the bench, you've got to be a lunatic. You have to be.
Funny that, because Stones plays every week right here on Merseyside. No problem - he doesn't have to go anywhere.

Everton FC news and transfer rumours RECAP: Watford build-up, injury update, Ferdinand on Stones, Martinez on his typical day
4 August 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Joe Rimmer
Live updates throughout the day on all things Everton FC
Joe Rimmer and the team will be with you today from 7am to ensure constant coverage of all things Blue, including news, great photos, nostalgia, live interviews and much more.
There will be polls, stats and live webchats with our brand new EFC reporter Phil Kirkbride each week, plus the inside line from Finch Farm as we bring you every press conference and interview.
We want you to get involved too - tell us your thoughts on what's happening at Goodison by tweeting Joe @joerimmer88. You can also tweet our EFC Twitter page @LivEchoEFC with all your thoughts on the days events.
Today's top stories:
Why Z-Cars will make Watford feel right at home in Merseyside on Saturday
Former Everton defender joins La Liga newcomers Las Palmas
How Martinez might cope without Deulofeu & Mirallas
Everton exile forced me to think whether to carry on or not: Sylvain Distin
Helllo, good morning once again and welcome to the Everton FC liveblog. I'm Joe Rimmer and I'm here to bring you all the very latest Blues news and views throughout the day.
Five more days (including today).. Then it's Saturday and the Premier League season starts again. I'm just about ready for it. Are you? We will have all the best build-up to the opener against Watford throughout the day.
I'll be back in a moment with our top stories.
Tactical analysis
Joe Rimmer
How Roberto might cope with Deulofeu & Mirallas
Roberto Martinez has problems, big problems.
The Blues boss seemingly has a never-ending injury list, with Gerard Deulofeu joining the likes of Kevin Mirallas, Aiden McGeady, Steven Pienaar, Darron Gibson, Muhamed Besic and Tony Hibbert all on the sidelines going into the Toffees' opening game against Watford.
How will he solve this dilemma? Luckily Neil Jones, the man labelled "Genius Jones" by some fans, is here to help.
Here's what Roberto could do this weekend - let us know if you agree.
On this day
Joe Rimmer
Everton sign Neville
Everton's new signing Phil Neville poses for photographers following a press conference at the club's Bellefield training ground, Merseyside, Friday August 5 2005. See PA story SOCCER Everton. PRESS
On this day in 2005 Everton signed Phil Neville from Manchester United for a fee of around £3.5m.
The younger Neville brother would go on to make 303 appearances for the Toffees, becoming club captain in the process.
He's now in Spain with Valencia, where he is assistant manager.
They are getting the big guns out now.
In a shameless attempt to turn John Stones' head, Chelsea's Gary Cahill has already urged the young defender to move to Stamford Bridge.
Now it's Rio Ferdinand's turn, saying Stones should go to Man United for first-team football. Funny that, because he plays every week right here on Merseyside. No problem.
He says: "If he [Stones] goes to Man United, he plays every week so that's the right club for him.
"If he goes to Chelsea, he's not playing every week. If you say to any young footballer to leave a club to sit on the bench, you've got to be a lunatic. You have to be.
We do have a transfer rumour mill coming right up..
But seriously, Everton do need to make transfers - Neil Jones has pointed this out.
Dennis Praet, RSC Anderlecht.
As promised, here's the latest round-up of transfer rumours - with reports today suggesting Everton face Premier League competition for Anderlecht midfielder Dennis Praet.
As I mentioned earlier, Sky are busy heading to each and every one of the 92 Premier League clubs.
We've already had the terrifying sight of Phil Brown getting his back waxed, but Roberto chose to have a much more civilised cup of cappuccino as he discussed his typical day at the club down at Finch Farm.
If you get past the stuff about him loving coffee, which anyone who has ever been to an Everton press conference knows all too well, then it's quite interesting to hear what he has to say.
And here's what he had to say: "For me at the start of the day I always have a bit of coffee. Caffeine allows you to start the day brighter. "We start at 7.50am, meeting my PA and from the point we start the day at 8am. That allows you to use the whole day in a better way.
"I think its important to have a structure to allow all the department to work more efficiently and we try to help every player get the biggest benefit from the day so those early meetings are important to help every player when they arrive at 10am. "It's very much an imp moment of the day when you start planning the week, it allows the coaches to develop their own plan. That introduction is vital in order to utilise every member of staff in the best possible way. The players need to leave having benefited from the day, it can be any aspect, whether it is physical, psychological or tactical we can give to the player and to the team. "As a manager everyone will tell you that you work around the clock and you need as many hours as you can. When a player goes home is when the most important time for the manager starts, you need to plan ahead and need to have a clear plan what we need to do next as a club.
"So you need to have long days. Especially in August, it is a period we are trying to finalise the squad and you need to get a lot of good work done with the recruitment department and sometimes the days aren't long enough to get all the things done you want to do. "
Everton v Watford
Watford's new coach Quique Sanchez Flores says he's pleased to pit his wits against compatriot Roberto Martinez in his first game of the Premier League season.
The Spaniard says that Martinez is well-respected in Spain because of the success he's had in England.
Everton manager Roberto Martinez on the touchline during the pre-season friendly at Dens Park, Dundee.

He said: "We know Everton like to play football and we will need to find a strategy that will suit this game. “We are the only Spanish coaches in the Premier League. For me, it is not easy to train another club in Spain at the same level as Atletico Madrid and Valencia. “The best thing was to change the competition. And if I only want to work in an amazing league, then for me it means working in Spain or in England. “Roberto is well-respected in Spain because he has played and worked as a coach here in England for many years. “Although the way we play here and over there is a little different, the level of intensity is similar.”
EFC v Watford
Joe Rimmer
Watford travel to Goodison Park this weekend in their first game back in the Premier League - and they will feel right at home.
Why? Because Watford run out to Z Cars, just like the Blues.
Dave Prentice writes: "Watford introduced the evocative Fritz Spiegel arrangement of a traditional Liverpool folk song in 1963, 12 months after Everton had done so, and the reasoning is intriguing.
"Watford’s Centenary history written by Oli Phillips reports that the club’s manager of the time, Bill McGarry, liked the tune, asked for it to be played as the teams ran out – and his side duly went on a 29-match unbeaten run at their Vicarage Road ground!
"After losing at home to Peterborough on October 5, 1963, suggesting the first playing of Z Cars was the 3-1 victory over Crystal Palace on 15 October 1963, the Hornets didn’t taste a home defeat again until December 1964."
Martinez on Flores
Joe Rimmer
Martinez praises new Watford boss
No sooner has Watford's new Spanish boss praised Roberto Martinez than the Everton boss returns the favour. Here's his take on Quique Sanchez Flores, the man who will lead the Hornets at Goodison Park on Saturday. “I have a very good understanding of the manager,” he said. “He had a terrific career as a player in Spain and he has gone on to manage a few different clubs before he went abroad.
“He is a very experienced manager with a very clear idea of the way he wants his teams to play.
“It will be difficult for anyone to predict how quickly their new players will gel together, but I expect a team who make very good use of the ball and who play their system really well and with a lot of structure.”
Roberto has also revealed why he links that Watford will hit the ground running in the Premier League.
He believes the Hornets will remain full of confidence after winning the Championship.
"As a newly-promoted side you expect a really good start to the season,” he explained. “You bring that winning mentality that you had in your promotion campaign up with you.
“We have seen season after season that promoted sides are very difficult to play against with their enthusiasm and their bravery in the early stages of the campaign.
“Watford will come with a belief that they can compete with anyone. They will be desperate to start enjoying the Premier League again after achieving promotion.
“But, in general, without knowing the small details, I think we know what type of team we can expect at the weekend and we'll be ready for that.”
It's time for me to go now, but Ian Doyle is here.
And if you don't know who you're talking to let me club you in.
He is the danger.
He is the one who knocks.
Ian Doyle, sitting at his desk in the ECHO offices

Sorry for getting carried away but, seriously, Ian Doyle looks exactly like Walter White today.

Former Everton defender joins La Liga newcomers Las Palmas
4 August 2015 Liverpool Echo
By David Prentice
Alcaraz becomes second Everton player to sign for Las Palmas
La Liga newcomers Las Palmas have signed Paraguay international defender Antolin Alcaraz.
Alcaraz was available on a free after his contract with Everton ran out at the end of last season following two years at Goodison Park. The 33-year-old, who has won 24 caps for his country, has agreed a one-year deal with Las Palmas with the option of another on top of that, the Canary Islands club announced in a statement on their website. He is the second Everton player to join Tenerife's only top flight club, Vinny Samways enjoying a successful spell on the island after leaving Everton for £700,000 in 1996.
Vinny Samways after signing for Walsall in 2002
Bizarrely, a player with a reputation for his silky passing, he developed a reputation as a hard man in Spain , collecting 69 yellow and six red cards before leaving for Walsall in 2003.
Las Palmas haven't been back in the Spanish top flight since then, but are back after a 13-year absence having won promotion from the Segunda Division alongside Real Betis and Sporting Gijon last season.

Why Z-Cars will make Watford feel right at home in Merseyside on Saturday
4 August 2015 Liverpool Echo
By David Prentice
The Toffees and the Hornets have shared theme tune for half-a-century
WATFORD will make their first visit to Goodison Park for nine years on Saturday – and will feel right at home. Because, like the Toffees, the Hornets run out to the Z-Cars theme ... and have done for almost as long as Everton. Watford introduced the evocative Fritz Spiegel arrangement of a traditional Liverpool folk song in 1963, 12 months after Everton had done so, and the reasoning is intriguing.
Watford’s Centenary history written by Oli Phillips reports that the club’s manager of the time, Bill McGarry, liked the tune, asked for it to be played as the teams ran out – and his side duly went on a 29-match unbeaten run at their Vicarage Road ground! After losing at home to Peterborough on October 5, 1963, suggesting the first playing of Z Cars was the 3-1 victory over Crystal Palace on 15 October 1963, the Hornets didn’t taste a home defeat again until December 1964. A scene from Z Cars featuring James Ellis as Inspector Lynch and Douglas Fielding as Sergeant Quilley Z-Cars’ status as a good omen was reinforced during the campaign Everton first used it. They won the league in 1962/63 and went an entire league season unbeaten at Goodison Park, the last time they achieved such a feat.
Watford fans’ forums added texture to the tale.
One claimed that: “Before becoming the programme hut a taxi firm used to run five cars from it. It was called N CARS, because of the slogan ‘N E Where N E Time’ which was plastered on the taxis. However, after Jim Bonser purchased the hut the N broke free to look like a Z.
“Bill McGarry saw this and thought it was an omen, Z Cars had just been released as a single and so Bill adopted it for us!” The origins of Everton and Z-Cars have been published in the Echo before.
The real story behind Everton's enduring anthem
And the theme still proves hugely popular outside of Goodison Park and Vicarage Road.
The premierleagueowl website declares: “Football’s evolution over the past twenty-five years has been akin to a steamroller ploughing through a carefully manicured garden, flatterning almost every subtlety to make way for the future. “As a consequence, anything that has survived has become that bit more precious and any facet with roots beyond BSkyB and Gloucester Avenue is worth clinging to that bit more tightly. “Z-Cars is that. It’s so much more enviable than any money, Oligarch or Oil Baron, because it’s such a cheeky middle-finger to brand-building, network expansion and populism.
“Long may it continue.”
'My dad was the only genuine Scouser in the cast'
And so say all of us – including the family of actor Leonard Williams, the Scouser whose appearance in the crowd at Goodison Park first prompted the playing of the tune.
Following publication of the original article Leonard’s daughter, Marianne Williams, wrote to David Prentice. “My father was Leonard Williams (Sergeant Twentyman) and he was indeed a guest at Goodison in November 1962 - shortly before his untimely death some days later,” she wrote.
“My mother always told us that because of the huge success of Z Cars and the fact that my dad was the only genuine Scouser in the cast, he was invited to the match and it was because of that, that Everton decided to play the Z Cars theme as a tribute to him after his death. “I don’t think any of us could have envisaged that the theme would still be played all these years later, but it is a lovely memory for me and all of his family.” And for thousands of Everton and Watford supporters every other weekend.

Everton Premier League Preview 2015/16: Lukaku can help Blues bounce back from second season syndrome
4 August 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Phil Kirkbride looks what to expect for the upcoming Everton FC season
Roberto Martinez will be hoping lessons learned from last season turn Everton into a European-chasing force once more as they look to make amends for a disappointing campaign.
After a thrilling debut term at Goodison saw the talented Martinez steer the club back into Europe, the Blues had a heavy dose of second season syndrome last time out ... even admitting at one point they were in a relegation fight. Expectations were sky high, but Everton’s players never fully recovered from some early setbacks, and though the Europa League provided an outlet, their Premier League form dipped as a consequence.
Europe gave with one hand ... took with the other
The Blues dropped 16 points post­Europe and went through a torrid run that saw them win just once in 10 games. It was as if Europe gave with one hand and took with the other. The lowest point came on a windy night at the Britannia Stadium in March, when Martinez’s men lost meekly to Stoke, and accepted they were officially in a relegation battle.
A win over Dynamo Kiev in the last 16 of the Europa League and a comfortable victory over Newcastle momentarily eased the tension, but a capitulation in Ukraine the following week saw the pressure return. Martinez and his players had to dig in, grind out a win over QPR and went on a run that saw victories over Southampton, Burnley and Manchester United that at least saw fears of the drop eased.
However, almost fittingly, Everton finished an underwhelming season inconsistently and Martinez knew changes had to be made for the upcoming 2015­16 campaign.
The manager wasted little time in making key personnel decision this summer. Veteran defenders Sylvain Distin and Antolin Alcaraz were released, while Martinez was quick off the mark to bring in Tom Cleverley on a free transfer. The former Manchester United midfielder was soon followed by fans’ favourite Gerard Deulofeu after Everton agreed a cut­price £4.2m deal with Barcelona for the winger, while defender Luke Garbutt committed his future to the club before joining Fulham on loan.
More signings are expected, with Martinez targeting a No.10 to bring creativity to Everton’s forward play, but keeping the spine of his side together is equally as important. John Stones has been the subject of well­ documented bids from Chelsea, while Tottenham continue to circle around James McCarthy.
Martinez insistent Everton are NOT selling club

Martinez has been insistent that Everton are not a ‘selling club’ any more and is determined to hang onto his stars. Those London clubs have certainly tested his resolve.
The Catalan sees vast potential if he can keep his squad together and this is the season for him and the players to realise it.
Key will be the form of Romelu Lukaku up front, Everton’s record signing possessing the ability, power and presence to elevate the Blues into possible top four contenders.
Lukaku showed what he can do in the second half of the season, plundering 13 goals since January to finish with 20. He became the first Everton player to hit that tally since Yakubu. At £28m, the Goodison fans will be expecting an even bigger return this time around.
A push for Europe and a run in one of the cups are a must for those fans.
Lukaku’s goals can determine whether Everton achieve those targets or not.
Injury and poor form saw the Belgian make a slow start to his time as a permanent member of the Everton squad last season.
But after being dropped over Christmas he came back with a bang and began firing in the goals. The Goodison fans will want even more in 2015­16.
Everton have to rediscover their fearless streak and make Goodison Park a fortress once again.
Martinez's side were badly missing a cutting edge last season. The signing of a playmaker remains an absolute must before the transfer window shuts.
Expectations weighed heavy, fears of relegation grew. 11th
Martinez overseeing a turnaround in Everton's fortunes. Expect more of the exciting football that took them within touching distance of the top four in his first season. Europa League qualification is a realistic target.
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Everton under-21s to face Porto as part of Premier League International Cup campaign
4 August 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Blues' second string to play all group games at Goodison Park
Everton Under-21s manager David Unsworth before kick-off against Tranmere at Prenton Park. Photo by James Maloney
EVERTON under-21s will face Porto as part of this season’s Premier League International Cup.
The young Blues have been invited to play in the second season of the competition after taking part in the inaugural International Cup last term. Everton have been drawn in Group B alongside Porto, Schalke and Tottenham Hotspur. David Unsworth’s side made it out of the group stage last season but lost out to Leicester City in the quarter-finals on penalties. The Blues’ second string play the first of their three matches on Monday, August 31 against last season’s losing finalists Porto. Everton then have to wait until October 20 for their second fixture, which sees them face Schalke.
And the final Group B game takes place November 22 against Porto.
All of Everton’s group games will be played at Goodison Park.
“The Premier League International Cup provides exactly the sort of high level competitive opportunities for the 18-21 age group that we had in mind when we launched the Elite Player Performance Plan in 2012, Premier League Director of Youth, Ged Roddy, said.

“It is testament to the success of last season’s competition that all of the international sides involved are back again and excited to be part of the 2015/16 Premier League International Cup, and we are extremely pleased that Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur will be taking part for the first time.
“This season’s competition will pit some of the top home-grown players in the country against their international counterparts and I can’t wait for it to get started.”
Everton v Tottenham, Monday 31 August, 2pm.
Everton v Schalke, Tuesday 20 October, 7pm.
Everton v Porto, Sunday 22 November, 12pm.
Everton u-21s open their Premier League season on Monday, August 10 against Spurs (12pm).
There are four groups in the International Cup with the top two in each group progressing to the quarter-final stage.

Roberto Martinez insists Everton will be ready to deal with Premier League new boys Watford
4 August 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Blues boss expects Watford to come with "winning mentality"
ROBERTO MARTINEZ insists Everton are ready to wreck Watford’s Premier League party.
The Blues open the new campaign by welcoming league newboys Hornets to Goodison Park on Saturday afternoon. Martinez, whose side face promoted Leicester City on the first weekend last season, expects to face a confident and “brave” Watford this weekend. But the Catalan says the Blues will be ready to damped the enthusiasm of Quique Flores’ side. Everton were pegged back by a late Leicester equaliser last season but is confident of starting the new season on a winning note. “As a newly-promoted side you expect a really good start to the season,” Martinez said. “You bring that winning mentality that you had in your promotion campaign up with you. “We have seen season after season that promoted sides are very difficult to play against with their enthusiasm and their bravery in the early stages of the campaign. “Watford will come with a belief that they can compete with anyone. They will be desperate to start enjoying the Premier League again after achieving promotion. “But, in general, without knowing the small details, I think we know what type of team we can expect at the weekend and we’ll be ready for that.” Everton v Watford, 3pm.

Watford midfielder Valon Behrami accepts he will have to control himself when the Hornets take on Everton this Saturday
Adam Newson, Senior sports reporter August 5 2015 Watford Observer
Watching Valon Behrami snapping at the heels of opposition players has become a recurring theme during Watford’s pre-season campaign. However, the Swiss midfielder admits he will have to control himself against Everton on Saturday. Quite how easy that will be in front of a raucous crowd at Goodison Park remains to be seen. In the heat of battle it is difficult to believe the Switzerland international will be measured in his approach. He is all action. A midfield terrier. And someone who has been booked twice in friendly matches this summer. The 30-year-old, who spent two-and-a-half years with West Ham United earlier in his career, enjoys the intensity of English football. “It never stops but it’s the kind of game I like,” he admits. But Behrami is experienced enough to know he has a responsibility at curb his enthusiasm at Everton. “I’m a different player to when in was at West Ham,” he says. “I was quicker then. A box-to-box player. Now I’m better in different areas. I’m more of a holding midfield player. “But sometimes my natural instinct comes out. I will need to control myself in some zones of the pitch and not commit any stupid fouls that lead to free-kicks. Because in the Premier League there are some very good free-kick takers.”
Watford travel to Merseyside this weekend after suffering defeats in their final two pre-season friendlies. The two results – a 2-1 defeat at Cardiff City and a 1-0 loss against Sevilla – are unlikely to worry Hornets boss Quique Sanchez Flores. What might be a cause for concern, however, is how few times Watford tested the opposition goalkeeper in both matches. The Spaniard, like his predecessors, wants the Golden Boys playing proactive passing football. It is a style Behrami has been impressed with but the former Napoli and Fiorentina midfielder accepts there is no point keeping possession if chances are not created. “The style here at Watford is very good,” he says. “But if we play good football and are not able to get an end result in the final third then we will have zero points. Then it’s not so good.
“We have to be very careful. We can play very well but we need to do more in the last 20 metres of the pitch.” Behrami continues: “We need to stay solid and not concede a goal because we have a great talent up front. We can always take something from the game. “The first thing is not to lose our heads whatever happens. Even if we concede a goal we must stay positive, keep going and keep playing.
“That’s the most important thing. Everton is only the first game – there are 37 others after that.”
And after a frustrating year at Hamburg Behrami is looking forward to every single one of them.
“I’ve missed the English game,” he admits. “There’s a great atmosphere and passion everywhere you go. I also like the mentality of the players. “They play hard but they are fair. They don’t cheat and I like the honesty. It’s the right way to play football. Hard but honest.”
Hopefully Behrami will remember those last three words on Saturday when he is trying to nullify the threat of Romelu Lukaku and his Toffees teammates.

Everton boss Roberto Martinez believes Watford will bring a winning mentality to Goodison Park on Saturday in their Premier League opener
Adam Newson, Senior sports reporter August 4 2015 Watford Observer
Watford will bring a winning mentality to Goodison Park on Saturday according to Everton boss Roberto Martinez, who says he knows what to expect from the Hornets in their Premier League opener.
After spending countless hours on the training pitches with his players over the summer, Golden Boys head coach Quique Sanchez Flores will put his plans into action in Merseyside.
Quite what those plans fully entail remains unclear. New signings - ten to be exact –have been integrated into the squad and Flores admitted after last Friday’s friendly defeat to Sevilla that he didn’t yet know who would start against the Toffees.
The formation, however, is likely to be 4-2-3-1. It is a system Watford have used throughout their pre-season campaign and it is highly unlikely the Spaniard will change that now. The style will be no different to last season. Watford want to dictate possession and create chances.
It is no different for Everton. Martinez demands his sides play passing football. His football philosophy will not change no matter where he manages.
But what does he anticipate from Saturday’s contest and what does he make of Flores' impact at Watford since his arrival. “I have a very good understanding of the manager,” Martinez told Everton's website. “He had a terrific career as a player in Spain and he has gone on to manage a few different clubs before he went abroad. “He is a very experienced manager with a very clear idea of the way he wants his teams to play. “It will be difficult for anyone to predict how quickly their new players will gel together, but I expect a team who make very good use of the ball and who play their system really well and with a lot of structure.” The Everton boss continued: "As a newly-promoted side you expect a really good start to the season. You bring that winning mentality that you had in your promotion campaign up with you. “We have seen season after season that promoted sides are very difficult to play against with their enthusiasm and their bravery in the early stages of the campaign.
“Watford will come with a belief that they can compete with anyone. They will be desperate to start enjoying the Premier League again after achieving promotion.
“But, in general, without knowing the small details, I think we know what type of team we can expect at the weekend and we'll be ready for that.”

Roberto Martinez decides Everton starting 11 to face Watford
4 August 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
But can you second guess the Blues boss?
ROBERTO MARTINEZ has decided his starting 11 for the opening game of the season - injuries permitting. The Blues kick-off the new Premier League campaign at home to new-boys Watford on Saturday (3pm). Martinez’s side signed off for pre-season with a 2-1 defeat against Villarreal on Sunday, in a game that doubled as Duncan Ferguson’s testimonial. Following a win over Hearts at the end of July, Martinez revealed he had a preferred starting team already pencilled in.
But the Catalan insisted he would leave the door open until after Everton had faced Villarreal for players to force their way into his thinking. Now, Martinez has confirmed that he has made up his mind on the side that will kick-off against the Hornets this weekend. But the Catalan will have to tweak his plans if a clutch of players fail fitness tests. Romelu Lukaku joined back up with the first-team today after missing out the weekend’s games with Leeds United and Villarreal. Martinez insists the Belgian will be fit for the season curtain raiser despite suffering from “heavy legs” against Dundee last week.
Kevin Mirallas and John Stones both came off early against Villarreal with knocks but the Everton boss is confident they will be fit to face Watford.
Everton FC V Stoke City FC in the Barclays Asia Cup,at the National Stadium,Singapore. Gerard Deulofeu goes on the attack. And so asked if he now knew his starting 11 for the Watford game, Martinez responded: “I would say so, yes. “Sunday was important to see a couple of partnerships.
“Obviously Romelu Lukaku is a player is very important in everything we try to do in that forward play and he will be essential this week of preparation. “But I am very, very clear in the way we are going to play on Saturday. “Pre-season has been really, really intense, and it has stretched all over us working in Singapore in different time zones and the amount of games we have played but I can say, now, I am very, very clear what we have do to and that we have to use the window in the best possible way.”

Everton FC transfer rumours: Fenerbahce make bid for Mirallas, Fenerbahce don't make bid for Mirallas
4 August 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Ian Doyle
Want to know what might be happening with the Blues in the future according to the grapevine of possibilities? Then read on...
Kevin Mirallas is being eyed by Fenerbahce
Rumour: noun – a currently circulating story or report of uncertain or doubtful truth; verb – be circulated as an unverified account.
Mill: verb – move around in a confused mass.
Therefore... Rumour mill: noun – a confused mass of uncertain truth.
Which leads us nicely into the latest tittle-tattle surrounding Everton.
And we start in Turkey, where Kevin Mirallas has been commanding the headlines once more.
Mirallas has been linked with Fenerbahce for most of the summer, and according to latest reports in the Hurriyet newspaper, the Turkish side offered the Blues 8million euros to take the penalty-stealing Belgian off their hands.
The story goes that Fenerbahce board member Mahmut Uslu states the bid was made but Everton wanted more money. “We have requested Kevin Mirallas from Everton with an offer for 8 million euros, but he would not come,” Uslu is quoted as saying. “The player is not on good terms with his coach, therefore we have to convince him.” Another website, Fanatik, have said Fenerbahce boss Vitor Pereira was pushing for the move.
That said, Fenerbahce recently issued a denial of having made any offer for Mirallas.

Which, given the way these things work, probably means they really want to sign the player but don't want to make it known. The quotes, though, would suggest they aren't making a very good fist at that approach. Fenerbahce recently signed a big sponsorship deal with global biscuit giant Ulker over the naming rights of their stadium, and are aiming big – they already have Robin van Persie, Nani and Simon Kjaer and also want Arjen Robben.
Meanwhile, in case you missed it earlier, Everton are not interested in Napoli centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly .
How do we know this? His agent said so!
And hey, agents always tell the truth.
“I don't know anything about interest from Everton for him,” said Bruno Satin, whose name would make for some good headlines.
“He hasn't asked to leave, he's played in these first few friendlies and is 100% at the centre of Napoli's project.” That's that sorted, then.

Have Everton's 2014/15 trials made Roberto Martinez stronger?
5 August 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Everton are in the middle of a Catalonian culture change
Everton manager Roberto Martinez on the touchline during the pre-season friendly at Dens Park, Dundee.
WHAT doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
Or at least Everton hope so.
After the highs of a record breaking debut season under Roberto Martinez, the Blues finished last term in the bottom half of the table for the first time in almost a decade. The huge expectations of a new season weighed heavy on the players as their league campaign, that started slowly, lurched from one disappointment to another. And on a wind-swept, sobering March night in Stoke, Everton officially hit rock-bottom. For a side and a manager who kicked-off against Leicester City last August with designs on another top four assault, to be facing a fight against relegation with only 10 games remaining was a chastening experience. Martinez, usually a beacon of positivity, had the strains of a worrying season etched across his face as he admitted that his side were in danger of being dragged into the mire.
Evertonians were angry and worried but, most of all, confused. How had it come to this?
But the Catalan gritted his teeth and at a time when the scrutiny on him and his misfiring players was acute, Martinez and the Everton squad found a response. A win over Newcastle United offered some breathing space before a hard-fought victory at QPR brought a collective sigh of relief.
Coleman scores the first goal against Queens Park Rangers during the Premier League match at Loftus Road. Everton would finish the season having won six or their final 10 games in the Premier League to ease worries of the drop with room to spare. But it could do nothing to mask what had been a bitterly disappointing season, one that had seen a 25-point swing from 12 months earlier. Some Evertonians, who fell head over heels with the Martinez revolution, suddenly began to question whether the first season was a fluke, a 10 month run when everything fell into place and the seeds sown by David Moyes began to flower in his absence. Goodison Park was, at times, a toxic place where players were booed, the manager’s decisions were jeered and the sense of discontent grew as Everton’s bleak mid-winter stretched into Spring.
Martinez was sensitive to the mood change, of course he was, and he knows that Everton finishing in 11th place is, simply, not good enough.
'One day we will be able to reap the rewards'
As driven as he is, Martinez can’t accept it either but the Blues boss says there will be bumps in the road if they are to get where he wants them to. “You are going to get real highs and real lows but you need to see yourself developing and progressing and one day we will be able to reap the rewards,” he said.
The rewards Martinez is chasing is to turn Everton in to regular top four contenders.
Martinez wants to smash the glass-ceiling into pieces and make the Blues into a team pushing hard for the Champions League every season. But to get there, he believes, they must do it his way.
That means playing a specific way, recruiting a particular type of player and, above all else, altering the mentality of the whole club.
'Everton are in the midst of a culture change'
Everton, without doubt, are in the midst of a culture change.
The transition was smooth in the first season, worryingly tough in the second and in the third?
Time will tell but the feeling among Martinez, his staff and the squad is Everton will be back on track this term. Moyes’ 11 years brought a top four finish while European football was on the table in five of the seasons he was in charge but Martinez believes he can, ultimately, deliver that every season – and do so playing attractive, attacking football. The Europa League gave with one hand and took with the other last season. It provided the Everton faithful with their highlights of the season, a lowlight in Kiev and made Sunday afternoons feel like a chore. But those burdens don’t worry Martinez and the Blues this season. Like when he first joined the club, the Everton boss can focus on domestic matters.
After the campaign Evertonians have just endured, it will stretch the faith of plenty to believe that process of rehabilitation will begin this season. But we must remember what Martinez did in his first campaign and what he can continue to do. This is a smart and tactically astute manager. A motivator of players and a manager of players, who previously wouldn’t consider Everton, want to play for. Martinez aims high but he’s not wide-eyed dreamer – a man who has spent the bulk of his career at various levels of the English game, he is far more street-wise than given credit for. Sure, he gets it wrong at times and his stubborn approach grates with some but though he insists Everton must play his way, Martinez is a flexible manager. But given what went on last season, hopefully a stronger one as well.

John Stones to Chelsea: Everton 'fear losing' England defender as bidding nears £30m
Toffees may lose young defender as Jose Mourinho turns the screw
Samuel Stevens
Wednesday 05 August 2015 Independent
Everton are growing increasingly concerned that John Stones will join Chelsea despite insisting the England defender is going nowhere.
According to the Daily Telegraph, the Blues are preparing a third bid of around £30 million for the former Barnsley man, despite Toffees boss Roberto Martinez continuing to repeat the 21-year-old will not be leaving Goodison Park.
Chelsea are believed to be preparing a £30m offer for Stones after seeing two lower bids rejected out of hand by their Premier League rivals and Everton are already looking for defensive cover if they do indeed lose their man. Jonny Evans, the Manchester United defender, Celtic’s Virgil van Dijk and Swansea City star Ashley Williams are all possible targets if Stones opts to move to Stamford Bridge this summer.
Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck and his Everton counterpart Bill Kenwright have staged private talks in an attempt to quell any hostility between the two clubs after both Martinez and Jose Mourinho went public over the saga. Stones is seen as the perfect long-term replacement for Blues captain and club legend John Terry but will seek assurances about his first-team options this season before agreeing to any switch.

Everton transfer rumours: Chelsea line-up new bid for Stones - or do they?
5 August 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Joe Rimmer
A round-up of transfer rumours and gossip from around the web
Everton v Arsenal in the final of the Barclays Asia Trophy,at the National Stadium,Singapore. John Stones warming up before kick-off. Everton may have to brace themselves for yet another bid for John Stones if today's transfer rumours can be believed. But then again, Jose Mourinho says they won't. He reckons he's finished with his transfer business this summer. Indeed, it's a case of conflicting reports this morning, with many newspapers reporting that Chelsea simply won't take the hint, as they return today with a third offer for John Stones. The Toffees have rejected two bids from Jose Mourinho for the 21-year-old, with Chelsea believed to have offered £20 and £26m for each player respectively.
And, according to the likes of the Daily Telegraph and The Independent, the Premier League champions believe a bid of around £30m will be enough to prise Stones from Merseyside.
Meanwhile, the Daily Mail report that Mourinho has simply squashed talk of a bid for Stones - saying the transfer window is over once the season is underway. The Chelsea boss insists he'd rather concentrate on the football once the Premier League kicks off this weekend. The Portuguese said: "I repeat the same thing every season. For me, the transfer window is over. I don’t like the transfer window when competition starts.' "I know it is open and my club is able to buy or sell, but I don’t like that feeling. As a football coach I am now thinking about my players, about my squad and I don’t want to think about the transfer window. "What happens happens, but I’m not going to lose one minute of my time thinking about the transfer window and I’ll try to get the best out of my players. "These are the rules and I have to adapt but I don't think about it."
Whether Jose can be believed is another matter, of course.

Duncan Ferguson photobombs two unsuspecting Blues fans
5 August 2015 Liverpool Echo
By David Prentice
Blues legend gives young fans - and their dad - the thrill of a lifetime
DUNCAN FERGUSON gave two young Evertonians the post-match thrill of a lifetime on Monday morning – when he photobombed a family snapshot at the Dixie Dean statue.
Six-year-old Conal Patterson and his seven-year-old brother Rory had attended Big Dunc’s testimonial the previous day – their first visit to Goodison – and were posing for a picture at the iconic landmark, when they felt a tap on their shoulders. “D’ye mind if jump into that picture boys?” said a familiar sounding Scottish voice, and they turned to find the beaming centre-forward towering over them.
Duncan had spotted the boys in their Everton shirts, quickly pulled over and ran around the corner to surprise them.
Father Paddy, who had idolised Big Dunc since he was a youngster, was just as shocked as his boys.
“We couldn’t believe it,” he said. “When I heard the voice I just thought it was another fan messing around, then we realised it was Duncan. “I’d spent the morning showing them Duncan Ferguson videos and we’d just come back from the club shop. “Conal had chosen ‘Conal 18’ in homage to Rooney, and Rory chose ‘Patterson 9’ for Big Dunc. “I’m crouched down doing my best to take a great picture whenI looked up and there he was, the Big Man himself, beaming from ear to ear.
“I was absolutely stunned! Turned out he’d been driving past the ground and saw the boys in their shirts, pulled over quickly and ran around the corner to see them. “He did the pics, had a chat with the boys and myself and then had to go as obviously he’d abandoned his car on the roadside!
“What a gesture, and special for me as well. For him to do that for my boys was incredible, a moment for a dad to treasure forever.

“He said himself after the game on Sunday that it was the job of players and the club to ‘make the fans happy’, but I think even that understates the impact they can have through what they do, both on and off the pitch. “Players, particularly those of his stature, are makers of memories.
“Happiness is often fleeting, but memories last a lifetime.
“For Rory and Conal, it’s given them the greatest first game experience and a new hero.
“And I briefly became the 15-year-old again who found the same hero when he scored THAT first goal against Liverpool all those years ago!”
Paddy and his boys had travelled up from Banbury for the match and stayed over afterwards.
Paddy added: “I’ve got two wee Blues hooked for life now. They will probably live in their new kits for the rest of the summer!
“We’ll be back up again, no doubt. The only downside is I don’t know how I’m going to top that when we go next!”

Everton FC fans are Premier League's most prolific tweeters
5 August 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Chris Beesley
Blues supporters the most active on Twitter
Evertonians are the most prolific tweeters among fans of Premier League clubs according to a study conducted by social scores network CrowdScores. The experiment looked at fans’ interaction with their club’s official Twitter accounts and found that Blues supporters average 6.3 tweets per fan, ahead of second placed Arsenal with 4.7. To get the results they compared how many followers each club’s official Twitter account had against the number of mentions of that Twitter handle. It also analysed the sentiment of each tweet, marking each as positive or negative. Overall top tweeters were fans of Leeds United - who beat Everton 2-0 in a pre-season friendly on Saturday - with followers of Championship club averaging 7.7 tweets per fan over the last six months with Middlesbrough second at 6.6 tweets per fan. David Walker, chief executive of CrowdScores, said: “When you combine Leeds United’s rich heritage with the various goings-on during the last season, it may not seem too surprising that their fans are vocal on Twitter. “But to see them top all 92 teams demonstrates just how passionate they are. Football fans are increasingly taking to social, forums and in-app discussions to praise and vent about their teams before, during and after the big matches. This is only set to increase and we look forward to the various debates in the upcoming season.” Fans get ready for Everton legend Duncan Ferguson to take to the pitch as the atmosphere begins to build for his testimonial
Fans get ready for Everton legend Duncan Ferguson to take to the pitch as the atmosphere begins to build for his testimonial The most positive fans, according to the study, were those of Sheffield United, who posted nine times as many positive tweets compared to negative ones. QPR fans were found to be the most negative, with almost twice as many tweets about the London club deemed to be pessimistic rather than optimistic. There were some surprising results among the clubs with the biggest Twitter followings. Manchester United have more than 5million followers but mustered only 1.8 tweets per fan - sixth out of Premier League clubs. Premier League champions Chelsea have 6million followers but managed only 0.95 tweets per fan, to leave them 12th. Newly-promoted Championship club Preston were fourth overall in the study with 6.1 tweets per fan; League Two Northampton punched well above their weight, taking eighth place overall while Peterborough had the lowest engagement figures out of all 92 clubs in the study.

It's over! Jose Mourinho unsure of Chelsea move for Everton's John Stones
CHELSEA boss Mourinho has refused to rule out a move for John Stones but has described the transfer window as 'over'.y Uche Amako
Wed, Aug 5, 2015 Daily Express
The Blues have had two bids - £20m and £26m - turned down by Everton for the England defender but were expected to make a final offer close to the asking price of £34m. Mourinho said recently that Chelsea are short of defenders in their squad but speaking at the launch of the new Premier League season, he claimed the transfer window is over when the season begins. He told talkSPORT: "What happens happens, but I won’t lose any time thinking about the transfer window. "For me the transfer window is over. I don’t like the transfer window open when the competition starts. I know it is open, I know my club can buy or sell, but I don’t like that feeling.
Jose Mourinho has suggested Chelsea may not be doing any more business
"As a coach I am thinking about my players, my squad, and I don’t want to think about transfers. Clubs and players need quiet time and respect when the competition starts.
"Imagine a Swansea player plays against Chelsea on Saturday and then goes to Manchester City, then he plays against Chelsea again the next week. I cannot get that into my head."

Everton's Luke Garbutt out for six weeks with ankle ligament injury
5 August 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Chris Beesley
On-loan Blues left-back injured with Fulham
Arsenal's Hector Bellerin in action with Everton's Luke Garbutt
Everton’s Luke Garbutt has suffered a blow ahead of the new season as the left-back revealed he will be out for six weeks with an ankle ligament injury. The 22-year-old has joined Championship club Fulham on a season-long loan and said he was ‘gutted’ by tweeting: “The latest on my injury is disappointing I’m out for six weeks, I will do everything to get back on the pitch as soon as possible.”
Everton FC training ahead of the Barclays Asia Cup,at the National Stadium,Singapore. Luke Garbutt takes a drink during training. Garbutt, who limped out of the Cottagers' pre-season friendly on Saturday, was linked with a move away from the Blues this summer as he let his previous contract run down but after playing with England in the European Under-21 Championship finals he penned a new five-year deal. At the time, Fulham boss Kit Symons hoped that Garbutt's withdrawal was just a precautionary measure. He said: “Garbs tweaked his ankle a little bit so we are not sure how bad that is but he did a similar thing at Everton the day before he came into us."
Signed from Leeds United aged 16, the Yorkshireman played 10 games for Everton last season and is tipped to be the long-term successor to England international Leighton Baines with the Blues with Roberto Martinez declaring that he would return ready to make a major impact at Goodison after his year in west London.

John Stones: Jose Mourinho claims Chelsea will make no more signings this summer
5 August 2015 Liverpool Echo
By David Prentice
Mourinho seemingly rules out a move for the Everton defender
Everton's John Stones during the pre-season friendly at Dens Park, Dundee.
Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho has claimed that for him “the transfer window is over” – and appeared to give himself a 48 hour deadline to sign Everton’s John Stones. Chelsea have made two bids for Everton’s talented young defender - both instantly rejected by the Blues who have remained steadfast in their declaration that the 21-year-old is not for sale. The Chelsea boss said: “I repeat the same thing every season. For me, the transfer window is over. I don’t like the transfer window when competition starts.” That appears to give Mourinho just two days to complete his transfer business before the Premier League kicks off on Saturday - should he stay true to his word. “I know it is open and my club is able to buy or sell,” he added “but I don’t like that feeling. As a football coach I am now thinking about my players, about my squad and I don’t want to think about the transfer window. “What happens happens, but I’m not going to lose one minute of my time thinking about the transfer window and I’ll try to get the best out of my players. “These are the rules and I have to adapt but I don’t think about it.”
Of course Mourinho has been known to change his mind....

Why Romelu Lukaku is crucial to Everton success in 2015/16
5 August 2015 Liverpool Echo
By David Prentice
Only Suarez, van Persie and Aguero have outscored the Belgian youngster
ROBERTO MARTINEZ has spent the summer searching for a new number 10.
He still is.
A positional number 10, that is. A man to operate between the lines. Not the actual number 10.
Because the man who wears that iconic shirt number, Romelu Lukaku, will be crucial to everything Everton aim to achieve this season.
Lukaku scored 20 goals last season – comfortably Everton’s top scorer. The season before he scored 16, in significantly fewer matches. And once again he was unchallenged as Everton’s leading marksman.
That’s 36 goals in two seasons as an Everton centre-forward – for a young man who only celebrated his 22nd birthday in May.
Lukaku is in some elite company
That puts him in some elite company.
Look at the list of players with more Premier Legaue goals than Romelu Lukaku since August, 2012. It’s a short one. Luis Suarez, Robin van Persie and Sergio Aguero. Each one a world-class finisher – and each one at least half a decade older than the Everton striker. It is uncertain whether Lukaku will ever reach those levels, but he is surely only going to improve as a footballer. Look at the last young Everton prodigy to rattle goals before he’d barely started shaving. Blues fans were given a brief reminder of Wayne Rooney's talents at Goodison Park on Sunday - at the grand old age of 29 and three-quarters.
But he scored his 100th career goal aged 22 years and 88 days young, after grabbing his first as a precocious 16-year-old for Everton.
Lukaku compars more than favourably.
Last February the Belgian scored his 99th and 100th career goals against Young Boys of Berne.
The date was February 26 – three months short of his 22nd birthday.
Lukaku’s goalscoring achievements are already topped only by his promise. It has become fashionable to raise eyebrows at the £28m Everton were forced to pay Chelsea for his signature.
But, if Everton can play to his considerable strengths, that sum will start to look like a bargain.
And he is keen to learn.
“In Belgium, you grow up watching all the leagues - Germany, France, Spain, Italy, England - and I watch them all,” he said. “I remember watching Bayern Munich v Man City last year and Muller was always running in behind, running in behind.
“He never got the ball four times. But the fifth time he did it – goal. I tried that in a game and the third time I did, I got it and scored.”
He is still adding tricks and experience to his armoury.
No flat track bully
A large portion of last season’s 20-goal haul came in European competition, but Lukaku is no flat track bully. He has scored against Liverpool (twice), Arsenal (twice) and Manchester City in his two-year spell at Goodison.
But it isn’t just goals which underline Lukaku’s worth to the Blues. It was his hooked cross-shot which set up Bryan Oviedo for an historic first Everton win at Old Trafford for more than 20 years in 2013.

That was one of eight goal-creating interventions from the Belgian in 2013/14, to which he added another half-dozen last season.
He scores goals, he creates them – and he is still getting better.
Yet the forward still doesn’t inspire complete devotion from the fans in the way that a Latchford, an Andy Gray or a Duncan Ferguson did.
A couple of misplaced quotes to a Belgian journalist - “I want to develop so I can eventually get back to playing for a club like Chelsea” - and an admission by his new agent Mino Raiola that “If we had met each other earlier, he wouldn’t have played for Everton,” might have cooled Evertonian ardour.
But the truth is, Lukaku is integral to any success Everton are hoping to achieve this season.
Everton must keep him fit.
Everton's Romelu Lukaku with manager Roberto Martinez after being subbed during the pre-season friendly at Dens Park, Dundee.
When asked back in May if he was looking for a new striker, Roberto Martinez was adamant.
“No,” he declared. “We want to keep two number nines. And we have other players who can play in that position if needed. So that is the way we are going to structure the squad.”
He appears to have had a change of heart since, admitting after Sunday's defeat by Villarreal that perhaps Lukaku may need some support after all.
Since the unsuccessful experiment with Lacina Traore in the second half of the 2013/14 season, Lukaku has effectively led the Everton forward line single-handed.
Steven Naismith and Kevin Mirallas can play up top, but neither has the physical presence to be a traditional line leader.
Arouna Kone has been struggling to find form and fitness ever since he arrived at Goodison from Wigan Athletic – and still seems no closer to either.
While Conor McAleny is an untried youngster still striving to overcome the traumatic affects of a broken leg sustained on loan at Brentford.
If Everton are going to repeat the promise they showed during Roberto Martinez's debut season at Goodison Park in 2012/13 - keeping Romelu Lukaku fit and firing will be crucial.

New Blues: How Everton's signings so far will fit in
5 August 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Greg O’Keeffe
What role will Cleverley and Deulofeu play for Everton this term?
They are Roberto Martinez’s only two additions of the summer so far, but both Thomas Cleverley and Gerard Deulofeu are welcome faces at Finch Farm. The Blues boss has been planning for the potential of having both as permanent additions for some time, and believes they can become important players for the present and future. But while the arrival of Barcelona wide-man Deulofeu certainly attracted significantly more excitement from fans, it is the less glamorous Cleverley who could make a more consistent and immediate impact. The former Manchester United midfielder is a little older, and a little wiser than his new Catalan team-mate. While Deulofeu is all about potential, and there is so much of it at his mercurial feet, the fleeting glimpses fans have had of him this pre-season will have reminded them that he has rough edges which linger. Specifically Deulofeu, who hopefully has Sevilla boss Unai Emery’s words ringing in his ears after an unsuccessful loan spell there last term, still has questionable decision-making. His creativity and dynamism are beyond question, but the end product remains a little erratic.
Consider again what Emery had to say.
Gerard Deulofeu gets his hands on the Europa League trophy... but that he didn't feature in the final for Sevilla said it all “He has incredible qualities but lacks others. Put him out there, one on one and ... pfff,” Emery told the Guardian’s Sid Lowe. “But make him play football with team-mates, on a big pitch, and it’s hard. He doesn’t have the maturity or capacity for sacrifice yet. “I told him: ‘There are players here who aspire to a contract like yours, men with less talent but more hunger: Iborra, Carriço, Vitolo. They know what it costs. You haven’t experienced that. When you do, you’ll grow. I hope you get that. If not here, somewhere else.’” That “somewhere else” is now Merseyside, and it would be rash to start drawing conclusions about the £4.3m new recruit after a few run-outs in pre-season.
There was as much to savour as to frustrate against Swindon, Stoke and Arsenal.
But Everton lack spark in the final third and – with no other new signings yet added and Martinez hinting he may wait until September 1 to get his business done – they could do with a more mature “Geri” hitting the ground running. That could be beyond him for Saturday’s curtain-raiser against Watford, with a hamstring complaint meaning he is touch and go, but the Toffees need him to learn quickly and show more consistency than he did at times during his last loan spell. Everton target Tom Cleverley and Alexis Sanchez battle for the ball during the FA Cup final
Tom Cleverley did play in a final last season, but his Aston Villa side lost 4-0 to Arsenal in the FA Cup final
Cleverley, on the other hand, has been a consistent presence so far, building on the quietly impressive displays at Aston Villa last term which had clubs such as Arsenal expressing an interest.
He has a wise head seemingly beyond his 25 years and suggests there was more than just hyperbole about what Martinez said about him last summer when he missed out on his signature.
“I will always be interested in Tom in terms of the experiences I had with him,” he said. “I think Tom is going to be one of the best midfielders in the England camp.
“I have said it before, when he was with us, that his tactical ability is not normal for a player of his age in this country. He is someone who could easily fit into the Dutch or Spanish way of playing quite easily, such is his technical ability and awareness.”
Martinez lost no time heralding the player he helped hone at Wigan after his eventual arrival this summer. “He had a good connection with the England footballers, but straight away he has adapted really well in the way of working and playing, and you can see that he has terrific Premier League experience,” he told the ECHO.
Cleverley does seem to offer something extra for the Blues. He has been earmarked for a more advanced role this term, although only played in that further up-field band of three midfielders once, against Villarreal for Duncan Ferguson’s testimonial.
His composure and intelligence were noticeable.
He looks every inch like a player who came through the youth system at Old Trafford, and with added self-belief could become another bona-fide Blues bargain. That, too, could be a tag for Deulofeu at £4.3m, but the winger may benefit from watching Cleverley’s mature decisions on the ball and take heed. In turn, Cleverley could benefit from a bit of the younger man’s supreme self-confidence to rub off on him, as he seeks to move on from the questions marks which haunted his ability at United.
If they can each assume some of the qualities of the other, Everton’s very own Tom and Geri can be excellent additions.

Everton FC transfer rumours: Path clear for Shaqiri move and Christodoulopoulos linked
5 August 2015 Liverpoool Echo
By Ian Doyle
Want to know what some people are saying might be happening at some point in the future regarding Everton? Say hi to the rumour mill!
Roberto Martinez, what have you done?
If there's one thing certain to send the rumour mill into overdrive, it's a statement suggesting your squad is shy of a couple of players in key areas. And, after Martinez admitted Everton needed three more before the transfer window slams shut (it never eases shut or is gently put to, is it?) in September, our fine chums on the interweb and beyond have been quick to link the Blues with several players.
Most notably a centre-back, a playmaker and a striker, given what the Blues boss said was needed. But it's a name we've heard before that is knocking around once again. Everton are being informed they have received a boost in their apparent pursuit of Inter Milan midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri after Schalke passed up the chance of signing the Swiss chubster. “Shaqiri is not of interest to us at the moment,” said Schalke coach Andre Breitenreiter (good name, by the way) to German publication Sport Bild.
“We don't even have meetings with him on our schedule.”
More Everton FC news today:
The fact Schalke may have such a schedule tickles us. Hopefully it's not a Google Doc and is instead an old-fashioned diary with 'Meetings with possible transfer targets' written on a sticker on the front.
Anyway, Newcastle United are said to also be tracking Shaqiri, although that would suggest somebody else is tracking him, which Schalke aren't and Everton may not be. Hey, even Newcastle might not be. But that's the chance you take with the RUMOUR MILL. A somewhat less well-known name to start doing the rounds is Verona midfielder Lazaros Christodoulopoulos. According to Corriero dello Sport, the Greece international is on Everton's radar, despite struggling with injuries and form last season.
At the very least, if he signs then expect the club shop to do a roaring trade in letters on the back of his shirt. And the ECHO to have lots of Lazaros-based puntastic headlines.

Time running out for Roberto Martinez to satisfy impatient Everton fanbase
6 August 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Chris Beesley
Blues are frustrated at lack of incomings this time around
This summer Evertonians are once again sweating over the lack of new additions to their first team squad. Free transfer Tom Cleverley – who previously played for Roberto Martinez on loan at Wigan Athletic – was joined by returning former loan star Gerard Deulofeu back in June but there have been no further incomings since. It’s been a familiar theme in recent seasons but there was one year in which the Blues did their major business early, back in 2006 – the last time they dropped into the bottom half of the Premier League table. David Moyes was often criticised for his patient approach when courting players and was subsequently handed the moniker ‘Dithering Davey’ in the transfer market.
However, after a post-top four slump in 2005/06 that saw his shot-shy squad net just 34 times as they finished 11th, the Scot was galvanised into action.
Joleon Lescott bolstered the defence
A loan deal for Manchester United goalkeeper Tim Howard was announced within 48 hours of the season ending, the then club record £8.6million signing of Andrew Johnson from Crystal Palace was sealed before May was out and the £5million purchase of Wolves’ Joleon Lescott was completed by June 14 – and even that was held up because of haggling due to the player’s past injury record.
The Blues were rewarded for their early business with a flying start to the new season.
Just like this year, they faced newly-promoted Watford at Goodison first off and their new trio all figured as the Hornets were beaten 2-1 with debutant Johnson netting just 15 minutes into his Everton career.
Everton under Moyes endured several sluggish starts to campaigns but this time around they were unbeaten in their opening eight fixtures – winning four and drawing four – before finally tasting their first defeat at Middlesbrough on October 14.
Contrast such relatively lavish outlays to the frugal approach that has so far been a feature of this summer with Everton currently bottom of the Premier League spending table.
Are the Blues basing their squad-building around a potential windfall from John Stones?
Officially the club remain adamant that the England international defender is not for sale.
But even if they are able to hang on to the young Yorkshireman beyond September 1, they remain short of at least one centre-back following the release of both Sylvain Distin and Antolin Alcaraz, plus - as Martinez explains - a playmaker. At long last, he admits they need another striker too. Will the necessary pieces of the jigsaw be put into place before the transfer window slams shut? There were no late dramas last year but 12 months earlier, Martinez played the final day impressively as despite having to part with Marouane Fellaini, albeit for a hefty £27.5million fee, he was able to draft in James McCarthy, Gareth Barry and Romelu Lukaku. The Catalan is going to have to be equally creative this time around if he’s to satisfy an increasingly impatient Blues fanbase.

Compared to Riquelme and D'Alessandro - who is Everton new boy Tomas Andrade?
6 August 2015 Liverpool Echo
By David Prentice
Tomas Andrade - teenager ready to join Everton Academy
Everton are ready to tie up a deal for River Plate teenager Tomas Andrade – four months after the Argentinian scored against an Everton Under-19 team in the Dallas Cup. Andrade, a playmaker likened to iconic Argentinian number 10 Juan Riquelme, scored the first goal as River Plate beat the young Blues 3-1 at the Cotton Bowl Stadium in Dallas. Blues boss Roberto Martinez confirmed today that Everton are close to bringing the teenager in on loan with a view to a permanent signing.
He will join the Blues' Academy squad.
Born in Temperley in 1996 Andrade started at Club Park at the age of six, moved to Lanus as a seven year old and proved so impressive that he spent time as a 10-year-old with Atletico Madrid and then Barcelona – but returned to South America because of homesickness.
The Spanish giants tried to lure him back to Spain after he was voted player of the tournament at the Under-17 World Cup in Madrid – but again preferred to stay in South America. In an interview in Argentina he explained his work ethic, starting his day at 5.30am leaving home at 6am for a 90 minute train journey to River Plate where he starts training at 8am. With staggered training sessions sometimes his day would not end until midnight so he took the decision to quit his schooling. “I decided with my family to finish school,” he said. “Obviously it's a big responsibility, but last year I was exhausted.
“I told my parents that I would not miss any training and I was going to dedicate 100% to my football career.” That commitment already looks like paying off, with Argentinian experts comparing the youngster to Argentinian international Andres D'Alessandro. “Many say I'm like Andres and he is a player I like very much,” he said.

Everton close to Tomas Andrade signing
6 August 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Everton boss on "talented young" prospect
Everton are close to tying up a deal for teenager Tomas Andrade.
The 19-year-old River Plate midfielder has been training with the Blues ahead of a proposed move from Argentina. Roberto Martinez has confirmed that Everton will look to sign Andrade on loan with a view to making it a permanent deal. “Tomas is a very talented young man,” Martinez told the ECHO.
“He has raw, natural talent to use in the attacking play. “He can play between the lines, he is left-footed, he’s has a very, very interesting profile. “He will need an adaptation period because he is very young still but he will fit in fantastically well in our development squad and we will try and do a deal where we can get him on loan with a clear plan to develop him and see if that will allow him to fulfil his potential.” Andrade scored against Everton’s in the Dallas Cup in March.

Everton’s Roberto Martínez admits Chelsea bids have affected John Stones
• Martínez says Everton are not looking to sell their best players
• Stones and Mirallas expected to be fit for season opener against Watford
Roberto Martínez praises John Stone’s talent and says Everton is not actively trying to sell the defender

Thursday 6 August 2015 Guardian
Everton manager Roberto Martínez admits John Stones has been affected by interest from Chelsea but has emphasised once again that the Merseyside club are not looking to sell their best players.
There has been talk of Chelsea preparing a third bid for England defender Stones after so far having £20m and £26m offers rejected by Everton this summer.
Sorry Rio but John Stones would be daft to dismiss Chelsea’s advances
Rio Ferdinand has had his say on the Everton centre-half’s future but would a player be wise to choose Manchester United over Stamford Bridge at present?
And asked on Thursday whether the situation had affected the 21-year-old, Martínez said: “Yes, and it is something where you hope you learn from it and you get more mature and those experiences are good experiences. “Clearly John is one of the outstanding young talents that we have in the squad and you are going to get that sort of interest from the outside. John is an Everton player and there is nothing else to comment on that.” When asked about the prospect of Chelsea coming back with an improved offer, Martínez said: “You shouldn’t worry about situations you cannot affect or control. “I said from the beginning – when you are not a club that is trying actively to sell players, the focus is just to try to be as good as we can at the weekend and see how ready we are individually and as a team. Everything else is stuff that does not bother me now at all.” Martínez expects Stones and the winger Kevin Mirallas to be available for the opener against Watford despite the pair picking up ankle knocks in last Sunday’s friendly against Villarreal. But Gerard Deulofeu is a doubt due to a hamstring problem while the striker Romelu Lukaku, who has had a hamstring issue of his own, will be assessed over the next 48 hours but Tony Hibbert, Steven Pienaar, Darron Gibson, Muhamed Besic and Aiden McGeady all miss out due to injury. Martínez has indicated he would like to make three more new signings before the transfer window closes. Deulofeu and Tom Cleverley have already arrived and a loan deal for the teenage River Plate midfielder Tomas Andrade looks set to be wrapped up soon. “He is a young man with a terrific talent who is already with us,” Martínez said of Andrade. “Hopefully we are going to agree a loan to allow him to get used to the British game. He is one for the future, not for the first team straight away.”

Highlights of Everton manager Roberto Martinez's press conference
6 August 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Greg O’Keeffe
Martinez on John Stones, Watford and injuries
Roberto Martinez has spoken to the media today as he prepares for Everton's curtain-raiser against Watford on Saturday. The Blues boss has been talking about John Stones and how Chelsea's pursuit is affecting him, the Blues injury concerns and how he plans to deal with unknown quality of the Hornets.
Martinez said: "The fixture list hasn’t been too kind to us but we are ready to face a strong challenge in the first 10 games - we face seven of the top 10 sides in the league from the last campaign.
“As a team we have to achieve, be successful and do a lot better in the league than we did in the last campaign. “Last season we wanted to win games early on but we never got that momentum. The experiences of last season will help us immensely. “I am very excited with the feeling in the dressing room and we know that every game at home we are going to make it a really special place to play our football. “We need to use the home support in our favour and enjoy our home environment from the beginning."

James McCarthy signs new Everton contract with Kevin Mirallas to follow
• McCarthy agrees new five-year contract at Everton
• Players have been linked with moves away from Goodison Park
Everton’s James McCarthy is expected to sign a new five-year contract in the coming days. Photograph:
Andy Hunter
Thursday 6 August 2015 Guardian
James McCarthy has signed a new five-year contract and Kevin Mirallas is close to ending uncertainty over his Everton futures by signing a new deal. Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City had been linked with McCarthy this summer although the Everton manager, Roberto Martínez, who brought the midfielder with him from Wigan Athletic for £13m in 2013, was consistent in his stance that the 24-year-old is not for sale. Spurs’ interest materialised amid reports that the Republic of Ireland international was unhappy that his initial contract with Everton had not been improved as agreed. But that issue has been resolved and McCarthy has signed a deal to keep him at Goodison Park until 2020. Mirallas, who was linked with a transfer to West Ham United this summer, is also close to agreeing a contract extension. Speaking to the club’s official website, McCarthy said: I’m buzzing and delighted to be committing my future long-term to Everton. I’ve loved every minute I’ve been here, with the fans having made me feel so welcome from day one, as well as the players and staff. “This is a brilliant club with a brilliant fanbase and what we want to try to do is bring some success here and push forward. The gaffer is trying to build a team and a squad for the long-term and I’m excited to be a part of that and to be a part of this team.” Earlier on Thursday before confirmation of McCarthy’s signing, Martínez said: “The situation is James is not going anywhere. There are reports of a possible sale and I can guarantee that is not going to happen because he’s a player we want to build our future around and he has got a long, long-term contract, another four years, and we made a big investment in him. “He was a big investment from the Championship when we brought him in, we want the player to be happy, and we hope we will get the positive news over the next few days – on everyone; on any player that has been mentioned that could be leaving.”

Everton FC renews ticket deal with StubHub
6 August 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Neil Hodgson
New agreement will run for a further two season
Everton FC has renewed its deal with ticket reseller StubHub until the end of the 2016/17 season.
StubHub will remain the club’s official ticket marketplace for the next two seasons.
The partnership offers Everton season ticket holders the chance to resell their seat for Premier League home matches at Goodison Park if they are unable to attend.
Sam Lucas, head of partnerships at Everton, said: “We are pleased to extend our partnership with StubHub. “Season ticket holders have been using the ticket resale service for the past three years as it offers them flexibility. “Buying a season ticket is a big commitment, so knowing you have the option to sell your seat for games you cannot attend on a safe and trusted site is very reassuring.”
StubHub has been a partner of Everton since 2012. Nick Harford, head of business development and partnerships at StubHub International, said: “We’ve worked closely with the club over the past three seasons and have evolved our platform in a way that we feel works for Everton and its fans.”

Comment: James McCarthy's new deal is Everton's best bit of summer business
6 August 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
McCarthy pens new five year deal at Goodison
Evertonians don’t need reminding that the Blues haven’t done much business so far this summer.
But what dealings Everton have completed have been smart. None more so than handing James McCarthy a new five-year contract today. The influential midfielder has been rewarded with deal that sees him reaffirm his commitment to the club and end rumours of a move away while also nudging his weekly wage packet north of £50,000 a week. And how thoroughly deserved it is as well. Ask many opposition fans and they just don’t get McCarthy. They don’t get why Evertonians adore and admirer him but to fully appreciate the 24-year-old, and understand why Everton have handed him this new deal, you have to watch him week in, week out. Do so and you realise how Everton are weakened without him. Everton's James McCarthy celebrates scoring his sides first goal of the match.
You might say the relentless McCarthy is the heartbeat of Roberto Martinez’s side, but really he’s the engine room and their driving force. He’s irrepressible. He’s irreplaceable as well. And so the news of his new contract is reason for all Blues to celebrate.

James McCarthy "buzzing" with new Everton deal
6 August 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Blues midfielder puts pen to paper on five year deal
Everton star James McCarthy enjoyed meeting youngsters from Everton In The Community's Soccer School at the Sutton Leisure Centre in Elton Head Road, St Helens. Photo by James Maloney
James McCarthy is buzzing after signing a new five-year deal James McCarthy says he is “buzzing” after signing a new deal with Everton. The 24-year-old has today put pen to paper on a five-year contract, keeping him to the club until 2020. “I’m buzzing and delighted to be committing my future long-term to Everton,” McCarthy said. “I’ve loved every minute I’ve been here, with the fans having made me feel so welcome from day one, as well as the players and staff. “This is a brilliant club with a brilliant fanbase and what we want to try to do is bring some success here and push forward. “The gaffer is trying to build a team and a squad for the long-term and I’m excited to be a part of that and to be a part of this team.”

James McCarthy signs new Everton contract — and Roberto Martinez plans to build around him
Daily Mirror 6 August 2015
By David Maddock
The midfielder felt under-valued and had attracted interest from Arsenal and Spurs but is now staying... and Mirallas is likely to be next
Rex Features James McCarthy celebrates after scoring the opening goal
Building for the future: McCarthy (right) will remain a key part of Everton's midfield
Roberto Martinez is ready to build a bright new Everton future around James McCarthy, after the talented midfielder agreed a fresh five-year contract. The Ireland international became a target for both Arsenal and Spurs after hinting he was unhappy with his current deal, even though it had four years left to run. But that prompted the Blues to put together a new, improved five-year package, and after the 24-year-old signed to commit his long-term future to the Goodison club, manager Martinez said: “When you are trying to shape a squad, the new faces are always important, but it’s vital to be able to build also on the continuity of top performers at the Club and James represents that.
“That vital element of continuity in the squad is a great boost for the Club, with James committing to a new, long-term contract. “He has gone from strength to strength since his arrival here at the Club and he’s still a young man whom we want to see grow and continue to help the team to achieve success.
“At the age of 24, he’s already contributed immensely towards the team these past two seasons and the fact that the best years of his career lie ahead of him is something that is tremendously exciting for the team and for the fans.” McCarthy felt under-valued after signing a long-term deal when he joined from Wigan in 2013, and was given assurances his terms would rise according to performances following his £13million move. Those promises were not delivered last season and that prompted serious speculation about a move. But now Everton have responded to ensure they keep the midfielder during his peak years. The Republic of Ireland international said: “I’m buzzing and delighted really to be committing my future long-term to Everton. I’ve loved every minute I’ve been here, with the fans having made me feel so welcome from day one, as well as the players and staff.
“This is a brilliant club with a brilliant fanbase and what we want to try to do is bring some success here and push forward. The gaffer is trying to build a team and a squad for the long-term and I’m excited to be a part of that and to be a part of this team.” Everton are also likely to give a new contract to winger Kevin Mirallas, as they look to keep him at Goodison, too.

Howard Kendall - My fear over goal-shy Everton's transfer inactivity
6 August 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Howard Kendall
Everton legend Howard Kendall's hard-hitting first column of new season
Everton's lack of transfer activity this summer is concerning plenty of supporters. And the big worry for me is goals – or rather where they are going to come from. You can usually work out who is going to contribute to your scoresheet during a season. Players who regularly score five goals a season don’t suddenly become 20-goals a season men. And it’s also unusual for a 20-goal marksman to suddenly slump and become a five-goal a season man. Romelu Lukaku scored 20 goals last season and 16 the season before, but when you are relying on one player to provide the bulk of your goals you are either going to have problems or you have to be very good defensively. In our successful times we had four or five players who you could rely upon to hit double figures every season and that is not the case at the moment – although it is more difficult to score goals now. While we know what to expect from Everton tomorrow, we won’t really know what to expect from Watford. They have been one of the busiest clubs in the transfer window this summer and no-one is quite sure how they’re going to line up at Goodison. That might mean it is a good time to play them. It’s a massive gamble bringing in so many new players and expecting them all to gel straightaway. Other Premier League clubs have tried that tactic in recent seasons and struggled to make it work. I’ll be at Goodison hoping that Watford struggle to gel straightaway too. It’s very important to get your first win on the board as quickly as possible and hopefully Everton can hit the ground running.
Blues missed out on Gestede
Plenty of Evertonians I have spoken to are disappointed that we haven’t brought in more new faces this summer. I’m sure that new signings will arrive eventually, but I do think the Blues might have missed a trick by allowing Rudy Gestede to join Aston Villa from Blackburn. I must stress I’ve only seen the lad on TV, but he looks a really effective striker. He has height, good movement, is good in the air and most importantly of all he can score goals. Kendall: Everton should have bid for Gestede, who left Blackburn Rovers to join Aston Villa this summer I was a little surprised to see Everton linked with Swansea’s experienced defender Ashley Williams. He is not a man to sit on the subs bench and I hope it means Everton aren’t being tempted to sell John Stones. If Chelsea do come back, maybe the Blues should suggest a swap deal for John Terry!
Bid Dunc Blues boss? Maybe one day but they already have right man
The result apart, Sunday was a great day at Goodison Park – and the biggest cheer of the afternoon was when Duncan Ferguson won a great header minutes after coming on. Duncan was unstoppable in the air and that moment was a real flashback. And he’s looking more and more like a manager in the making. I did a Q&A session in the Dixie Dean Lounge after the match and I was asked about his credentials as a future Everton boss. I preferred not to answer because Everton already have a very good manager. But if the job ever became available I think you could safely say that Duncan would be a very popular choice! Hopefully he won’t be needed to fulfil that potential for a long time.

Everton hope to tie up new deal for Kevin Mirallas
6 August 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Kevin Mirallas expected to agree new terms with Blues soon
Everton are close to agreeing a new deal with Kevin Mirallas.
The Belgian forward has entered the final year of his contract after joining the Blues in 2012 from Olympiakos. Everton have the option of extending Mirallas’ deal by an extra season but are looking to tie the 27-year-old for longer. Mirallas was the subject of an approach from West Ham United earlier this summer but Everton rejected the offer. And now they hope the Belgium international will follow James McCarthy and Luke Garbutt in players who have signed new contracts with the club this summer.
Mirallas has been linked with a move back to Greece this summer and, this week, Fenerbahce board member Mahmut Uslu revealed their interest. He said: “We have requested Kevin Mirallas from Everton with an offer for 8 million euros, but he would not come.
“The player is not on good terms with his coach, therefore we have to convince him.”

Everton transfer rumours: Blues eye move for Keisuke Honda
6 August 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Chris Beesley
Milan star could fill playmaker role
Everton are looking to rev up their midfield engine with a Honda – Keisuke Honda of Milan – who is eyeing a move away from the Italian giants. Calciomercato say that despite featuring in 29 games last season, the Japanese international is unhappy and has been left out of their recent friendly matches.
The 29-year-old’s representatives have met with Milan chiefs to discuss the player’s future and with the arrival of Sinsa Mihajlovic as new coach he could find himself surplus to requirements.
Honda arrived at Milan on a free transfer from CSKA Moscow in January 2014 after his contract expired with the Russian club. Before he agreed the move the previous October, Roberto Martinez had been an interested suitor. The Catalan has admitted that he is in the market for a playmaker and he believes he might have to go abroad to find the right type of player but the Blues could face competition from Tottenham this time around. Honda has been capped 73 times by Japan and has scored 29 international goals and is one of a trio of Serie A-based players being linked with Everton today.
Football Italia say that the Blues have reportedly prepared a 5million Euros offer for Genoa defender Sebastian De Maio but they are still some way off the club’s asking price.
Gazzetta dello Sport quoted Genoa’s president Enrico Preziosi as demanding 9million Euros for the 28-year-old but negotiations are likely to develop as Everton seek to find a compromise.
The 6ft 3in centre-back was born in the Parisian suburb of St Denis and played for Nancy as a junior player before joining Brescia where he had a seven-year spell. Meanwhile, the rumour that won’t go away has resurfaced with the Metro saying that Everon are ‘cleared’ to sign Inter winger Xherdan Shaqiri after Schalke pulled out of the race to sign the Swiss international winger. The report claims that the Blues tabled a £12million bid last month but with a return to the Bundesliga no longer on the cards, he is now able to seal a switch to Merseyside. Schalke coach Andre Breitenreiter told Sport Bild: “Shaqiri is not of interest to us at the moment. We don’t even have meetings with him on our schedule.”
Inter only signed the 23-year-old in January from Bayern Munich but have been trying to offload him all summer. Stoke City tried to sign Shaqiri last month but he failed to agree terms before their allotted deadline.

Everton youngster Calum Dyson joins Stockport County on loan
6 August 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Teenager agrees youth loan with National League North club

Everton youngster Calum Dyson has joined non-league Stockport County on a youth loan.
The Academy forward links up with Blues team-mate Jordan Thorniley who signed on a short-term deal at Edgeley Park earlier this summer. County boss Neil Young is thrilled to add the 18-year-old to his ranks and thanked Everton for making the deal happen.
He said: “Calum is a goalscorer and, as well as scoring for the under-18s, scored for the u-21s when they were in Ireland not so long ago. “Everton rate him highly; he was one of only two youth players to get two-year pro contracts and they aren’t easy to get from a professional club. “We’re thankful, again, for Everton’s co-operation and we’re grateful that they’re trusting us with the development of their players.” Stockport play in the National League North and start their season on Saturday at home to Boston United.

Roberto Martínez: John Terry in Chelsea campaign to tap up John Stones
• Everton manager says Terry comment on Stones was ‘illegal’
• Martínez has rejected two Chelsea bids for central defender
Andy Hunter
Thursday 6 August 2015 Guardian
Roberto Martínez has accused John Terry of involvement in a Chelsea campaign to tap up John Stones and insisted Everton are under no financial pressure to sell a player with “the potential to be the best centre-half England has produced”. Everton have rejected bids of £20m and £26m for their 21-year-old defender from the Premier League champions this summer and informed Chelsea in writing that Stones is not for sale. That has not prevented José Mourinho, Gary Cahill and Terry from publicly discussing Chelsea’s pursuit of the England international, in breach of Premier League guidelines, and their captain returned to the subject on Wednesday when he said: “One day I won’t be in the team but Chelsea are looking to the likes of John Stones for the future, so the club will continue to grow and do well.”
Martínez claimed that Terry was guilty of an illegal approach to the Barnsley-born defender, although Everton have not added substance to their manager’s view by reporting Chelsea to the Premier League.
Rio Ferdinand tells John Stones Manchester United better than Chelsea
“That is wrong; that is illegal,” said the Everton manager on Terry’s comment. “The rules don’t allow you to comment on players who are registered at other clubs in that open manner. That is disappointing.”
Everton appear content at present to register their complaint with Chelsea rather than with the authorities. Martínez added: “We have a fantastic relationship between the two clubs. In the past we made our biggest investment in Chelsea [when signing Romelu Lukaku]. We all know there are rules and regulations and it is something we don’t want to see when other clubs speak about your players. It is wrong and it shouldn’t happen. As clubs we have a good understanding of where we are.”
The Everton manager reiterated that Stones was not for sale but with the caveat: “I am not stupid enough to say I know what will happen.” He also evaded several questions on whether Stones has expressed an interest in joining Chelsea.
“We haven’t been in that situation,” said Martínez. “The whole John Stones situation has come through the media because a club made a bid and made it public. We have never been in a situation of commenting. We have a very talented young player who really has the potential to be the best centre-half England has produced, so you are going to get that attraction. That is natural, healthy and very, very positive. But a player can make a decision when the clubs say he can make a decision. There is nothing to make a decision on. There is no negotiation. There is no relationship between the clubs in terms of trying to find a deal.”
He added: “The modern game has gone in such a way that sometimes there are things you cannot control. But what you can control is your own finances and we are not a football club that has to sell to balance the books. If you think we need to sell John Stones to balance the books, that is not the case. As a club we are brave enough to give young players a big role and we know we will have to go through situations where these players might get interest from elsewhere. But as long as we can control our finances that is not a problem.”
Everton have spent only £4.2m on one transfer fee this summer, for Gerard Deulofeu, with Tom Cleverley arriving on a free. Martínez wants to sign a central defender, striker and No10 before 1 September. He insists those targets are not dependent on Stones leaving and may arrive late in the window, with clubs’ involvement in European qualifiers one possible factor in delaying business.
James McCarthy has banished uncertainty over his Everton future by signing a new five-year contract. Tottenham Hotspur were interested in the Republic of Ireland international amid claims he was unhappy the Everton contract he signed when he arrived from Wigan Athletic for £13m in 2013 had not been improved as agreed. That issue was resolved this week and the midfielder has committed himself to Goodison Park until 2020.
McCarthy said: “This is a brilliant club with a brilliant fan-base and what we want to try to do is bring some success here and push forward. The gaffer is trying to build a team and a squad for the long-term and I’m excited to be a part of that and to be a part of this team.”
Kevin Mirallas, who has been the subject of interest from West Ham United this summer, is also expected to sign a new Everton contract in the coming days.

"Illegal" pursuit of John Stones is wrong blasts Everton FC manager Roberto Martinez
6 August 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Chris Beesley
Blues boss unhappy with Londoners' vocal courting of England international
Angry Everton manager Roberto Martinez has blasted Chelsea for what he describes as their “illegal” attempts to try and persuade defender John Stones to join them. The Blues boss believes the Londoners have attempted to unsettle the England international with their public and vocal pursuit of the player but while he is deeply unhappy with their tactics he says Everton will not make a formal complaint to the Premier League. Chelsea have had two bids of £20million and £26million rejected by Goodison Park chiefs for the 21-year-old but their captain John Terry this week repeated that he felt that Stones would be a good addition to their squad while fellow centre-back Gary Cahill has also urged the Yorkshireman to join them. Martinez said: “That is wrong - you know that is illegal. The rules don’t allow you to comment on players that are registered at other clubs in that open manner.
“That is disappointing. We don’t want to see it when other clubs speak about your players. It is wrong and it shouldn’t happen.” The Catalan refused to be drawn on whether Stones has indicated that he would like to join Chelsea. He added: “That conversation can only happen when the two clubs have a will to form an agreement. “We have had the two bids, they were both rejected, a very clear stance that the player is not for sale.”

Prentice: If Carlsberg did fixture lists, they didn't do Everton's
7 August 2015 Liverpool Echo
By David Prentice
Opinion: Why Everton simply have to beat Watford on Saturday and Martinez must get busy in market
Nevermind Dithering Davie - is Martinez becoming Reluctant Robbie in transfer market?
Opening matches rarely define an entire season.
Everton lost their first two games in 1984 – and won the league with five games to spare.
Twenty years later they were walloped 4-1 at home by Arsenal – then secured their highest Premier League finish so far. And if you think flying starts set you up for a successful season, in 1993 Everton won three out of three – and still ended the season needing to beat Wimbledon to avoid relegation for the first time in half-a-century. So first days don’t define a season – but they can certainly set a tone.

Which is why Everton simply have to beat Watford on Saturday. After a summer of transfer torpor – no club has spent less than the Toffees this summer - Evertonians, not exactly renowned for a spirit of optimism and joie de vivre, are worried. Two experienced centre-backs have been released – and not replaced. Everton’s best young prospect has been publicly and persistently tapped up by the reigning champions. And the sight of Romelu Lukaku clutching his hamstring at Dundee after bizarrely being asked to start a second match in 48 hours has left Blues fans wondering just where goals are going to come from this season. If Arouna Kone is the answer, the question must be a particularly perplexing one. Everton discovered just 12 months ago that downwards momentum is difficult to halt.
They threw away winning positions in their opening two matches - and never really recovered any consistent domestic form until March.
Win over Watford so vital
Which is why the visit of Watford tomorrow is so vital to the Toffees’ season.
It may even be the most important Watford match Everton have contested since 1984.
Because if Carlsberg did fixtures lists, they didn’t do Everton’s this summer. Pulling out last season’s top seven for their first 10 fixtures was a particularly cruel trick of the fixture computer. Fortunately Watford are a team Everton routinely do well against (a staggering 17 wins from the 20 fixtures ever played between the two clubs). Unfortunately Southampton are next. The last time Everton won there Wayne Rooney was still at school. And before that it was the opening day of the 1993/94 season.
If Arouna Kone is the answer, the question must be perplexing...
Then it’s Manchester City, Spurs away – another unhappy hunting ground – champions Chelsea, the brief respite of Swansea and West Brom – then an October from hell with visits from Manchester United and Liverpool followed by a trip to Arsenal. The beauty of football – even in the modern, big-four dominated age – is that we simply don’t know who is going to do what next season.
With no Europa League football Everton may flourish again.
But a small squad is already beset by injuries. And Everton can’t really afford to add any more names to their injured list.
Mystery over why Everton have been transfer market slouches
Quite why Everton haven’t bought early this summer is uncertain.
During his first campaign as Blues boss Roberto Martinez had Arouna Kone, Antolin Alcaraz, Joel Robles and Gerard Deulofeu all tied up before Bastille Day. (That’s July 14 for all you non Francophiles).
Perhaps Everton’s recent policy for recruiting loan signings necessarily means later arrivals? Clubs rarely agree to let players leave on loan until they’ve been unable to shift them permanently.
Or has Roberto Martinez got cold feet?
A former manager of Everton Football Club was often unfairly labelled Dithering Davie. Has he been replaced by reluctant Robbie?
From Dithering Davie to Reluctant Robbie? Why are Everton always so slow in the market?
Or maybe, as he suggested yesterday, the Blues boss simply refuses to fill spaces in his squad for the sake of it? Whatever the reasons, for Roberto’s sake, Everton must beat Watford tomorrow.
Remember 2011, when riots in London left Everton kicking their heels on the opening day, then a belated first day defeat by QPR left Goodison a very fractious place?

Everton transfer rumours: Inter want Shaqiri to join Blues, Serie A defender 'locked in talks'
7 August 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Joe Rimmer
A round-up of transfer rumours and speculation from around the web
Those Xherdan Shaqiri rumours just refuse to go away, and today's transfer rumours suggest that Inter Milan are trying to persuade the midfielder to leave the San Siro. It's reported that the Serie A side want the Swiss midfielder to agree to join Everton or Dortmund so that they can free up funds for manager Roberto Mancini. Inter accepted an offer from Stoke City for the 23-year-old earlier this summer, but Shaqiri promptly rejected a move to the Potters. Signing Shaqiri would no doubt excite Everton's fans, he's starred for FC Basel and Bayern Munich in the past and caught the eye at the World Cup last summer, scoring a memorable hat-trick against Honduras - however Gazzetta dello Sport report that Inter's eagerness to offload the midfielder could put off interested clubs. Shaqiri only moved to Inter Milan from Munich in January, but has quickly fell out with manager Roberto Mancini.
The Blues are also today being linked with a move for another Serie A star, 28-year-old centre-back Sebastian De Maio. It is reported that the Blues have offered £3.5m for the defender, but Genoa president wants at least £6m before he will sanction a deal. It's once again Gazzetta dello Sport who report the news, with the Italian newspaper confident a compromise could be reached.
De Maio moved to Genoa in 2013, he's made 46 league appearances for the club, scoring twice.

Roberto Martinez stays calm over lack of transfers
7 August 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Everton boss targeting three more additions before window closes on September 1
Roberto Martinez insists Everton’s lack of transfer activity is no cause for concern.
The Blues have added only two players to the first-team squad this summer, with Gerard Deulofeu and Tom Cleverley arriving at Goodison at the start of July. Martinez has revealed that he wants to bring in three more players before the close of the transfer window on September 1 - but confirmed that no new signings will be made before the start of the new season tomorrow. The Catalan is willing to wait until the end of the window to secure the “right targets” even though that would mean they miss Everton’s first four games of the season. Blues supporters have grown anxious over the lack of transfer activity but when asked there was any worry at the club over a lack of business, Martinez said: “No.
“We worked really hard to get those two signings straight away because they were important. they were the ones we felt were needed in the group for different reasons. “Then I wanted to assess the youngsters and give them an opportunity to show what they can do in the first-team and we have been able to do that in pre-season. “From that point on it is making sure we bring in the right targets.
“It is not easy to get the players you want early in the window but I am not concerned at all.”
Everton manager Roberto Martinez is not panicking over lack of incomings so far Martinez wants a new central defender, a playmaker and a striker and added: “There’s a real clarity that we need three new players and that’s what we’re going to work as hard as we can on from now until deadline day.
“The important thing is that we have a real continuity from what we’ve done in the last two seasons and we have that. “We need to carry on and growing those players and that is the way we will be able to compete with teams with bigger budgets because of their participation in the Champions League.
“There’s always work done behind the scenes, that’s the nature of the transfer window. We are very clear in what we want and what we need. “I’ve been very impressed with the young players but I think it’s fair to say we need to get some experience in that would help them further develop into what they can be.”

Everton v Watford - which team should Roberto Martinez pick?
7 August 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Greg O’Keeffe
Everton line-ups as suggested by ECHO writers - now pick yours!
Romelu Lukaku with Roberto Martinez after being subbed during the friendly at Dundee. But will he be fit for Watford? Everton are preparing for the big kick off and the chance to make a strong start against Premier League newcomers Watford. But it wouldn't be the eve of a new season at Goodison without a few concerns, and duly the Blues are sweating on the fitness of record signing Romelu Lukaku; and one of only two new recruits Gerard Deulofeu. Kevin Mirallas and John Stones are expected to shake off knocks in time but it will be interesting to see where new-boy Thomas Cleverley fits in?
Here's what our writers think - and why not pick your starting XI at the bottom too?
Injuries and slow movement in the transfer market mean that the options ahead of the first game of the season are hardly extensive. We are all hoping that Romelu Lukaku comes through training unscathed and is passed fit for the visit of Watford. Behind him, Tom Cleverley has earned a place in the starting line-up while Kevin Mirallas will provide some essential pace and width. Leon Osman, whose importance to the squad was emphasised, should start alongside them. The back four picks itself.
4-2-3-1: Howard, Coleman, Stones, Jagielka, Baines, McCarthy, Barry, Mirallas, Osman, Cleverley, Lukaku
Much depends, of course, on the fitness of certain players. But Roberto Martinez reckons John Stones and Kevin Mirallas will be fit, and Romelu Lukaku should make it too. With that in mind, the only real issues concern the attacking trio behind Lukaku. Me, I'd go with Tom Cleverley from the left hand side, supporting Leighton Baines, and Mirallas down the right using his pace and running ability.
That leaves Ross Barkley as the No.10, his preferred role. Plenty of eyes will be on the England man this season; now is the time for him to stand up. My team (4-2-3-1): Howard, Coleman, Stones, Jagielka, Baines, Barry, McCarthy, Mirallas, Barkley, Cleverley Don't want to jinx it but I suspect Lukaku will be Okay to lead the line, cue sighs of relief across the Blue half of Merseyside as they are spared Arouna Kone. Kevin Mirallas will play and Leon Osman is a trusted figure much valued by the manager so they'll both figure. 4-2-3-1: Howard, Coleman, Stones, Jagielka, Baines, McCarthy, Barry, Osman, Cleverley, Mirallas, Lukaku.

Everton season 2015/16: Opposition fans discuss Blues' Premier League chances
7 August 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Joe Rimmer
What do the other 19 clubs make of Everton's chances this year? And which Blues players do they love and hate? We found out
Nevermind Dithering Davie - is Martinez becoming Reluctant Robbie in transfer market?
What do the other 19 Premier League clubs think of Everton's Premier League chances this year? We asked fans of each side to find out. Some think the Toffees will be right up challenging, others believe that it's another season of mid-table mediocrity on the cards for the Blues. One fan even thinks Everton might find themselves in relegation trouble. We also found out which players the opposition fans love, and love to hate and while John Stones and Ross Barkley and popular - quite a few fans don't have much time for Kevin Mirallas or Steven Naismith.
Arsenal - Andrew Mangan
Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech during the FA Community Shield at Wembley Stadium, London.
1) How will Arsenal fare this season?
Hopefully we can build on the two successive FA Cup wins and really have a good go at winning the Premier League. While any squad can be improved, Arsenal's problems in recent times have been down to lack of depth, and that's not an issue this time around. Getting off to a good start is imperative though.
2) Which player will be key to Arsenal's hopes this season?
Well, Alexis Sanchez and his goals are the obvious choice, but I think if Mesut Ozil gets going then he could be the creative force that makes the difference in tight games.

3) How do you think Everton will get on?
I think if they get into the top 6 they'll do very well.
4) Which, if any, Everton player do you secretly admire, and why?
Obviously John Stones looks a real prospect, it'd be good to see Everton hold onto him. And if Arsenal didn't already have a clutch of tricky, diminutive attacking midfielders, Gerard Deulofeu is an eye-catching player.
5) And which, if any, Everton player to you dislike, and why?
None of the current squad.
Aston Villa - Joel Sheldon
1) How will Villa fare this season?
Almost impossible to say. So many unknowns in the squad now but I'm hoping we'll have enough to avoid the drop again. No doubt there will be the usual flirtation with relegation though. The optimists will be dreaming of a top 12 finish and safety by April.
2) Which player will be key to Villa's hopes this season?
Where do I start? Somebody needs to step up given the outgoings and the new boys are important. Gueye, Ayew, Veretout and Amavi have to hit the ground running, but for me Scott Sinclair has a big season ahead. Needs to kick-start his career in the Premier League and he has to continue his goalscoring form from pre-season to take the pressure off the strikers.
3) How do you think Everton will get on?
I think Everton have done some shrewd business with Cleverley and Deulofeu. They've also kept hold of all their assets (so far). They'll do better than they did last season for me with Lukaku, Barkley, Stones and McCarthy a year wiser.
4) Which, if any, Everton player do you secretly admire, and why?
Leon Osman - unbelievable servant and criminally underrated. Honourable mention for Villa legend Gareth Barry.
5) And which, if any, Everton player to you dislike, and why?
Steven Naismith - One of those players who doesn't seem to be that good at anything and has no position but has still forged a successful career. Barmy.
Russell Ackrill - AFC Bournemouth
1) How will you fare this season?
I think AFCB will shock a few teams this season and will comfortably finish mid table. The way we keep possession of the ball will ensure we create lots of chances. 12th!
2) Which player will be key to your hopes this season?
Matt Ritchie for me. Scores goals and provides plenty of assists as well. If he can keep this up he will have a great season.
3) How do you think Everton will get on?
Struggled for consistency last year and can see no reason why anything will be different this year. Will just avoid relegation
4) Which, if any, Everton player do you secretly admire, and why?
Ross Barkley - brilliant with the ball. Martinez needs to let him flourish - as does Hodgson!
5) And which, if any,Everton player to you dislike, and why?
Kevin Mirallas - what managers see in this player I will never know!
(if it was from the past it would be Duncan Ferguson!)
Rory Jennings - Chelsea Fans Channel
Cesc Fabregas and Jose Mourinho celebrate winning the league last season. Mike Egerton/PA Wire.

1) How will you fare this season?
I think this is the first season in a while where 4 clubs are capable of winning the league. I think it is going to be incredibly tough but ultimately we will be crowned champions on the last day against Leicester. (Or in a dream world 2 games earlier against Tottenham)
2) Which player will be key to your hopes this season?
Our title aspirations rest on the fitness of Diego Costa. If we can't get his hamstring to behave itself we really are going to struggle. in most areas of the pitch we have strong cover, despite Remy's eye for a goal and Falcao's previous brilliance, up front we rely heavily on one man. Its worrying.
3) How do you think Everton will get on?
Everton are in a bad state I fear. Goodison is my favourite away day of the year but I just think that last season's abject performances, combined with Martinez's slow work in the transfer market (Cleverley for example) could be a recipe for disaster. Word at Chelsea is that we are pretty confident of signing John Stones as well, causing yet more unrest for the club.
4) Which, if any, Everton player do you secretly admire, and why?
Ross Barkley. I think everyone finds players of his ilk exciting. Seems to have an aptitude for all the facets of the game. Strong, quick, eye for a goal. A perfect, dynamic central midfielder.
5) And which, if any, Everton player to you dislike, and why?
Like most Chelsea fans I don't have any love for Romelu Lukaku. He cost us victory in the Super Cup in Prague with a pathetic penalty and handed in a transfer request before I'd even made it back to Prague airport. His entire attitude is a disgrace and I doubt it will be long before he rocks the boat at Goodison Park.
Crystal Palace - Chris Waters
1) How will you fare this season?
It's clear from the signings of the likes of Wickham, Bamford, and Cabaye in particular, that the Board and the manager want the club to push on from last season. Finishing 10th was an incredible achievement; to threaten the 7th-9th positions this campaign would be incredible. The addition of a quality centre-back to partner Scott Dann would definitely help in that aim.
2) Which player will be key to your hopes this season?
Zaha and Souare have looked very strong in pre-season and will hopefully help the team to get off to a good start, which has been a weak spot in previous years. Scott Dann is a rock at the back, and it is hard to look past the likes of Cabaye and Puncheon as being our key players as they try and provide the chances and score the goals we need to seal a top half finish.
3) How do you think Everton will get on?
Everton underachieved last season so I'd expect them to be around high mid-table this time round.
4) Which, if any, Everton player do you secretly admire, and why?
I have always liked Lukaku; pace, power, and great finishing - he would be a great fit at Palace!
5) And which, if any,Everton player to you dislike, and why?
No-one really. Palace have had great success against Everton in the past couple of years, so it is hard to dislike any of them.
Leicester City - Ian Bason
Football - Birmingham City v Leicester City - Pre Season Friendly - St Andrews - 1/8/15 Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri
1) How will you fare this season?
I think most City fans would admit they really don’t know. Ranieri’s appointment has received a mixed reaction, with the main worry being the squad togetherness that Nigel Pearson maintained despite a long run of poor results (but not performances) mid-season. That said in the final pre-season friendly we just pulled back from being 2 nil down to beat Birmingham 3-2 in a one sided game (despite the score).

Many of the summer signings, other than Huth are unknown imports for the majority of fans, but we have strengthened in all the right areas. Ranieri has stated he is targeting a point more than last season, our hope is that we sit in the 10th to 14th area through the season, as the final two away games are Man Utd & Chelsea making another Houdini act unlikely.
2) Which player will be key to your hopes this season?
With Cambiasso departed, we need other players to step up and control games. Certainly Huth’s arrival on loan last season seemed to sort the defence out. We hope Vardy’s end of season run of form continues, but at least we have more alternatives up front now. Andrej Kramarić has plenty of skill but we don’t quite seem to have found the best way to utilise it as yet, however the creativity is most likely to come from Albrighton’s crosses and Mahrez is the most difficult player to mark
3) How do you think Everton will get on?
Everton have more of a settled squad, yet I can’t really envisage any improvement on last season. As an example, we have more striking options and several of the strikers in the Everton squad are hit & miss. At home last season it was your attacking down the left wing that caused us problems, but once we re-organised you seemed to lack ideas and we pulled the game back
4) Which, if any, Everton player do you secretly admire, and why?
Tom Cleverley played well for us earlier in his career during an extended loan spell and it was a great shame when he seemed to go backwards at Man Utd, so hope he has a good season with you (other than against us)
5) And which, if any, Everton player do you dislike, and why?
Nobody from your current squad
Liverpool - Ollie Bond, Anfield HQ
Brendan Rodgers' return to Stoke with Liverpool will be live on Sky at 4pm on Sunday on opening weekend
Brendan Rodgers' return to Stoke with Liverpool will be live on Sky at 4pm on Sunday on opening weekend
1) How will you fare this season?
All depends how how we start, but if we're in the top four at Christmas then I think we'll finish there. Domestic trophy would be nice as well - Rodgers has to win something.
2) Which player will be key to your hopes this season?
Benteke for me. Our new No.9 will be vital and could prove the be the difference between 4th & 5th.
3) How do you think Everton will get on?
With a proper pre-season and no Europa League this season, I think they'll be much more of a threat. 7th.
4) Which, if any, Everton player do you secretly admire, and why?
I'm a big fan of John Stones. He's got all the makings to be a top top centre back, and I'm not surprised Chelsea want him.
5) And which, if any, Everton player do you dislike, and why?
Kevin Mirallas - can't stand him.
Manchester City - David Mooney
1) How will you fare this season?
At this moment in time, I’m not feeling too confident. The attack has been spruced up quite significantly with the arrival of one of the brightest young players in the league in Raheem Sterling and with the regularly-injured Stevan Jovetic and the occasionally-frustrating Edin Dzeko moved on. But the defence is still looking suspect and could be the club’s downfall this season.
2) Which player will be key to your hopes this season?

This will be little surprise to anybody reading this, but it’ll be Sergio Aguero. He’s head and shoulders above anybody else in the league and it’s a matter of keeping him fit for as long as possible. He will be injured at some point because he has those problems, but for the amount of time he misses each season with injuries his scoring record is phenomenal. If he’s on the pitch, there’s a good chance City will score.
3) How do you think Everton will get on?
It’ll be an interesting year for Everton. They’ve got Tom Cleverley added to the midfield and they’ve re-signed Gerard Deulofeu, but they seemed very inconsistent last year and they’ve spent very little in trying to change it. It’d be a huge bonus if they can keep John Stones from Chelsea’s grasp. Perhaps no European competition will help them out, but Roberto Martinez needs to rekindle the inspiration from his first season in charge. This could be a campaign at either end of a scale topped by European qualification and bottomed by a relegation dogfight. If pushed, I’d say I’d expect at least a solid top half finish.
4) Which, if any, Everton player do you secretly admire, and why?
I am honestly surprised that City haven’t been going all out to try and bring in John Stones, especially with Chelsea’s interest in the defender. It’s no secret that the club have been looking for homegrown players and it’s equally been fairly obvious that the defence hasn’t been up to scratch for some time, so I’m not sure why they wouldn’t be after one of the brightest young defenders from last year.
5) And which, if any, Everton player do you dislike, and why?
Oh, any of them that were there throughout the David Moyes era! No matter what City did, they just couldn’t raise their game against that Everton team and it was ridiculous the number of times that side just shut down City’s ability to play – be it pre or post-2008. Probably Leon Osman from that era that’s still around more than any for his uncanny ability to always score against City. If Tim Cahill was still around, he’d have that “honour” by quite a distance, though.
Manchester United - Ste Armstrong
Wayne Rooney chats to United boss Louis Van Gaal, who gave him permission to play for his former club at Goodison on Sunday
1) How will you fare this season?
Fourth. Again. As it stands United haven’t sorted out the spine of that side and that means that
progress won’t be anything like what we need to get past those above. If that does get sorted then it boils down to whether the lunatic running our asylum can piece it all together to make a real assault on the top 3. I’m not sure he can create the dressing room culture needed to be champions.
2) Which player will be key to your hopes this season?
Wayne Rooney. One of the longest serving players left at the club, wearing an armband and one of a few who can recall what sustained success looks and feels like. He’s likely to pass Denis Law by Christmas and Bobby Charlton in all time goals scored by the end of the season. Amazing contribution. Unless of course he ends up at centre half which none of us have ruled out.
3) How do you think Everton will get on?
You’d expect Everton to do better than last season. As always there’s clubs of prey circling for the talented youth that Everton develop. Holding onto that is key. They’ve got a tough start and could easily have just a point after 5 games. If they negotiate that and build on it they could kick on.
4) Which, if any, Everton player do you secretly admire, and why?
Been an admirer of Barkley since he came on the scene at Everton as well. I wouldn’t admire him in secret though. That would just be weird.
5) And which, if any, Everton player do you dislike, and why?
Everyone at Everton is pretty inoffensive really. I’d probably say Phil Jagielka as that’s who Steve Round kept telling Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic to model themselves on. And Steve Round just offends me full stop so ‘Jags’ purely by association.
Newcastle - Steve Wraith
Newcastle United manager Steve McClaren during the pre-season friendly match at the Gateshead International Stadium.
1) How will Newcastle fare this season?
We have made a few signings and kept the majority of last year’s squad so I’m confident of a top 12 finish and a run in the league cup.
2) Which player will be key to Newcastle's hopes this season?
Tim Krul our keeper and new signing Mitrovic who has claimed he will be as good as Shearer and Drogba!
3) How do you think Everton will get on?
Everton need a better season to and better luck with injuries. I think they will both challenge for Europa places and we may see one of them at Wembley.
4) Which, if any, Everton player do you secretly admire, and why?
I like Leighton Baines a lot - he’s my type of player.
5) And which, if any, Everton player to you dislike, and why?
I don’t care much for Romelu Lukaku, he likes the back of our net!
Norwich - Richard Balls
Norwich City manager Alex Neil on the touchline during the Pre-Season Friendly match at Carrow Road, Norwich.
1) How will you fare this season?
We haven't lost any key players from last season and have a demanding young manager in Alex Neil, so we have a good chance of staying up. Prediction 15th.
2) Which player will be key to your hopes this season?
Robbie Brady is a potentially a very exciting signing for us and if Neil can bring out the best in him, he will give us an attacking edge.
3) How do you think Everton will get on?
Tenth place.
4) Which, if any, Liverpool/Everton player do you secretly admire, and why?
Ross Barkley is a gifted young player who is very positive with the ball and can score a goal when least expected.
5) And which, if any, Everton player to you dislike, and why?
Nobody in the current squad.
Tottenham Hotspur - Martin Cloake
Harry Kane celebrates after scoring
1) How will you fare this season?
I think we will probably end up slugging it out with Liverpool for fifth place. I don’t think we’re quite good enough for the top four.
2) Which player will be key to your hopes this season?
You’ve got to say Harry Kane. Is he going to succumb to second season syndrome? He was such a success story last year and he lifted everybody. Football wise it will be on him. He also seems to be the only striker we’ve got at the moment.
3) How do you think Everton will get on?
Everton seem to be drifting a little bit at the moment. I really like their manager and they have some good players but nothing seems to have happened over the summer and I can’t really see anything else other than mid-table mediocrity, which we’ve had quite a lot of so I'm familiar with that!
4) Which, if any, Everton player do you secretly admire, and why?
We were being linked with Ross Barkley and I think he’s been pretty decent over the past two seasons. He’s a good young prospect and he seems to have a bit of energy about him.

5) And which, if any, Everton player to you dislike, and why?
I’ve not really got a player I dislike for Everton - I like the way they play football.
Southampton - Chris Rann, George Weah’s Cousin
1) How will you fare this season?
Good question, always difficult to tell with us. Last season we performed well beyond expectations, so not living up to that in this campaign should not be perceived as a failure, but our transfer business has looked strong and I would expect us to keep upsetting the odds again.
2) Which player will be key to your hopes this season?
Sadio Mane. We've unearthed another gem. Such and exciting footballer and still only 23. His ability to both create and score goals will be crucial to performing on four fronts this season. Don't be surprised if we double our money on him in the near future, he is destined for the biggest possible stage.
3) How do you think Everton will get on?
Sadly I see them stagnating as a mid-table club at the moment. Martinez got found out last season and there is more chance of them losing star players than bringing any in. They are in danger of yielding their position as regulars in the second tier of the Premier League to the likes of ourselves, Swansea, Stoke and Palace. For a club of Everton's size that can't be good.
4) Which, if any, Everton player do you secretly admire, and why?
It's hard not be a fan of Ross Barkley and I'm surprised he is still at Everton to be honest. He is still rough around the edges but I think he will reach the top eventually. I also like Leighton Baines, mainly for his snubbing of trendy footballer haircuts and keeping it Britpop.
5) And which, if any, Everton player to you dislike, and why?
Tim Howard because.... Hipster beard.
Topher Knowles - Stoke City
1) How will you fare this season?
Losing Begovic, N'Zonzi and now Shawcross to injury takes the spine out of our team so it's suddenly an uncertain future, but we have faith in Hughes and the players he's signed. Hopefully top-half again and dreaming of better.
2) Which player will be key to your hopes this season?
We're expecting big things from Bojan after he came good for 5 glorious games last season. We also need Jack Butland to step up and fulfil the potential he clearly has.
3) How do you think Everton will get on?
Could be a difficult one for Everton. It seems like there's a bit of unrest among the supporters over transfers and their form came in fits and starts last season. Can't see them being in any danger but don't think it will be a glorious season either.
4) Which, if any, Everton player do you secretly admire, and why?
Seamus Coleman. He's one of those players who just gets on with his job without any fuss and seems like a down-to-earth bloke.
5) And which, if any, Everton player to you dislike, and why?
Everton generally seem pretty likeable! Steven Naismith winds me up when we play against them as he's a master of the dark arts but if he played for us I'd love him for it (he's their Jon Walters).
Sunderland - Chris Thompson
New Sunderland signing Jeremain Lens
1) How will you fare this season?
I'd like to think that we have enough about us this season to break the relegation battling habit, but I don't think we've signed enough quality to do that just yet. Jeremain Lens certainly looks like a good signing, but we still need to bring in a goalscorer.
2) Which player will be key to your hopes this season?

In the creativity department you have to look to Jeremain Lens, but in terms of keeping things together, Lee Cattermole is the key man. The team is much more organised and disciplined with him in it, visibly and statistically. If he can stay fit, and referees judge him fairly, he will show the world that he's much more than just a bruiser, because on his day he can control the game as well as any midfielder in the league.
3) How do you think Everton will get on?
Martinez's third season at Everton could go either way. Deulofeu is a great signing, while Cleverley is unglamorous but probably quite a wise addition. Lukaku needs to step up his game if they want to have an easier ride than last term, and I think they should probably take the money for John Stones and run - it could go a lot further than his absence would hurt them.
4) Which, if any, Everton player do you secretly admire, and why?
Steven Naismith is fantastic. Absolutely fantastic. He's a massive goal-threat and I like his off-field work as well; I'd love to have him at Sunderland.
5) And which, if any, Everton player to you dislike, and why?
I dislike Darron Gibson. He was very close to joining Sunderland from Man Utd a few years ago, but the move broke down. It was probably Steve Bruce's fault, but I'm more than happy to blame Gibson anyway.
Joshua Kilmister - The Swansea Way
1) How do you think you’ll fare this season?
I think it’s fair to say that, after last season’s success, the footballing world have given us a bit more of a chance this season than they would have previously. It’s easy to get carried away with the hype surrounding us after last season, but I’m keeping my feet firmly placed on the ground and still see anything other than relegation as a reasonable season for us. Of course that isn’t what I expect, but with the money coming in from the new TV deal in the 2016/17 season Garry Monk has already said he has his sights on the forty point mark before anything else. I think out of the teams I like to tag as the ‘best of the rest’, we’re more than capable of finishing the highest. Last season’s eighth place finish will be tough to match but it’s definitely achievable if we find ourselves on a good run. I stand by what I said last season when I say that I feel we have one of the most consistently quality defensive partnerships in the league with Fernandez and Williams, and if Fabianski can kick on from his debut season then I think he’ll be up there for the golden glove again this season.
If I had to give you a prediction, I’d say that we’ll finish comfortably in tenth place.
2) Which player will be key to your hopes this season?
There’s a few I could give a mention to, but I think our main man this season will definitely be new signing Andre Ayew. I’m still pinching myself a little bit to be honest. It was only a year ago that people laughed off any suggestions of the Ghanaian signing for us, so it’s a signing that I think shows how far Monk and Co. brought us last season. We’ve lacked goal-scorers from out wide since Scott Sinclair made his excellent career choice in moving to Manchester back in 2012, so capturing Ayew was a big boost for us. Ashley Williams is someone else who will have a big influence on our season after missing only ninety minutes of football last year.
3) How do you think Everton will get on?
As for Everton, I think they’ll be happy just to have last season out of the way. Lukaku’s ten goals and five assists in the league last season is perhaps complimentary on the sort of season he had and I do expect him to kick on even further this season. They’ve yet to let anyone significant leave yet this season, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that changes before the transfer window slams shut. I’m a huge John Stones fan and think, despite being denied first team football, I think that a move to Chelsea would further his development so I think that will probably done within the next few weeks.

Apart from that, if they can keep hold of the talent they have in the squad in the likes of Seamus Coleman, they should definitely see an improvement on last season - especially without any distractions in the form of European football. I think Gerard Deulofeu may just light up Goodison this season, but it’s the other wing that’s a bit less convincing with the apparent demise of Steven Pienaar. They’ve got every chance of challenging the top six again this season, but I think they may struggle. I’m going to predict a ninth place finish.
4) Which, if any, Everton player do you secretly admire, and why?
John Stones. Whether he be an Everton player come next month or not, I really do love Stones. He’s a future England captain, and I’m sure he’ll go on to captain whatever club he ends up at. For such a young player he’s strong, composed and has fantastic tactical awareness. He’ll be a huge loss for the Toffees should he be on his way out, but at least they’ll get some decent cash for him.
5) Which, if any, Everton player do you secretly dislike, and why?
I struggled with Everton, but ended up going for Tom Cleverley. A bit harsh, I know but there wasn’t really anyone who stood out to me. If he hadn’t have been thrown in at the deep end with Man United a couple of years ago I’m sure he wouldn’t have the reputation that he does. He had a few good games for Villa last season, particularly when they hit form for the final few games, but apart form that he was nothing special. Not too much against him, but more than others.
Watford - Mike Parkin, presenter of Watford podcast From the Rookery End
1) How will you fare this season?
By adding to the squad in key areas we've given ourselves a chance. The players we've signed don't have much Premier League experience but they have enjoyed success in the top leagues around Europe, so there's hope that their pedigree will shine through. With a new manager and almost completely revamped squad, the big question is whether we will be able to recreate that team spirit that won promotion from an extraordinarily tight Championship last season - both the manager and the squad will have to hit the ground running if we're to achieve our main aim of survival. It would be foolish to suggest that Watford face anything other than a tough challenge to avoid relegation, but I think it can be achieved. In terms of a final position, 16th feels about right. If you can't be optimistic before the season starts, when can you?!
2) Which player will be key to your hopes this season?
There's rightly been a lot of attention focussed on Troy Deeney and rightly so. He's genuinely talismanic and a lot will depend on him staying fit and finding his feet in the Premier League as quickly as possible. He'll cause problems for defenders and works incredibly well with Odion Ighalo who seems to have the midas touch when it comes to goals. I also think that Matej Vydra could prove to be a pivotal player. His previous foray into the top flight was unsuccessful, so he'll have something to prove. His pace is frightening and when on song, his finishing is lethal. On a more general note, we'll need to be considerably stronger in defence this season; we were far too porous during the last campaign. The performance of Gomes in goal and the new-look defence in front of him will be crucial.
3) How do you think Everton will get on?
There seem to be mixed messages coming out of Goodison about the manager and whether or not he's doing a good job. Everton always strike me as being consistently inconsistent and that seems to be their undoing. There is certainly a feeling that they are slow starters - Watford in particular will hope that proves to be the case! I enjoyed a few of the Toffees' games in the Europa League last season, but I think they will struggle to finish in contention for another tilt at Europe. Mid table for Martinez.
4) Which, if any, Everton player do you secretly admire, and why?
Tom Cleverley made a huge impact when he spent a season on loan at Watford, so I've always kept an eye on his progress. It would be great to see him flourish into the fantastic player Hornets fans assumed he would become. I've also got a soft spot for Phil Jagielka. I rated him when he was at Sheffield United and it was good to see a player successfully make the step up. Also, it's impossible not to like a player whose middle name is Nikodem.
5) And which, if any, Everton player do you dislike, and why?
Does Andy Gray count? His "goal" in the '84 Cup Final still gives me nightmares. Apart from that I haven't really got any strong feeling towards any of the current Everton squad, apart from being a bit annoyed that Lukaku was immeasurably better on loan than he has been since he signed permanently. This is clutching at straws a bit too, but I do have an immense dislike for referee Peter Walton, who in 2006 awarded Everton a penalty against Watford for handball, when the ball clearly struck Chris Powell's head. Grim.
West Brom - Mark Thomas, Albion Til I Die
1) How will WBA fare this season?
With Tony Pulis now in charge at The Hawthorns, Baggies’ fans will be hoping for a far more comfortable season than we had last time out. The signings of James McClean, James Chester and Rickie Lambert look good acquisitions and with two or three more quality additions to the squad I fancy us to finish around 12th
2) Which player will be key to the Baggies' hopes this season?
Saido Berahino – His goals have been vital for us over the last couple of years and will be again this season, that’s of course if he remains a Baggie. With Manchester City reportedly now showing an interest the chances of him leaving have sadly increased.
3) How do you think Everton will get on?
Another mid-table finish beckons for the Toffees in my opinion. For me Roberto Martinez’s side needs major investment if they are to pose any serious challenge to the big four or five.
4) Which, if any, Everton player do you secretly admire, and why?
Not too sure how he got on last season but it has to be Romelu Lukaku. He only spent one season at The Hawthorns but the impression he made on everybody was huge. Very much like Benteke, he has all the attributes required of a top-class striker.
5) And which, if any, Everton player to you dislike, and why?
I’ve never really taken to Tom Cleverley. The Villa fans that I know were never impressed with him and very few were sad to see him leave Villa Park.
West Ham - Sean Whetstone
1) How will you fare this season?
First season for Slaven Bilic so a top ten would be great, no need to get carried away too soon. No shame in mid table obscurity in our journey to the Olympic Stadium. A 9th place finish would be an amazing season. It is too early to speak about our ambitions to be a regular top eight side in the Premier League.
2) Which player will be key to your hopes this season?
New signing Dimitri Payet will be our key man feeding in assists to last season's top goal scorer Diafra Sakho. They could make an awesome partnership. Put Payet in your dream team if you haven't chosen it already.
3) How do you think Everton will get on?
I see much the same season as last season with a mid table finish but they should still finish in the top ten. If pushed I would go for 10th, one place better than last year.
4) Which, if any, Everton player do you secretly admire, and why?
Well we have allegedly tried and failed to land Kevin Mirallas from Everton. I could see him fitting into our West Ham team.
He can play wide and down the middle so would have made a great replacement for Stewart Downing.
5) And which, if any, Everton player to you dislike, and why?
West Ham fans have a dislike of Romelu Lukaku because he always scores against us. If there is one thing guaranteed to get our backs up it is constantly scoring against the Hammers. That said, I would be happy if he played for us.

Kevin Mirallas signs new Everton deal
7 August 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Belgian forward Mirallas puts pen to paper on new three-year contract
Kevin Mirallas has signed a new deal with Everton.
The 27-year-old has put pen to paper on a fresh three-year contract.
Mirallas’ future has been the subject of constant speculation over the last six months, with a host of clubs eyeing up the Belgium international.
But Mirallas has agreed new terms today and said: “I’m very happy to sign.
“I’ve signed at Everton to win a trophy. I’m at a good team and I can continue my performances here.
“Now I am very happy because I can concentrate on my team and our future, starting with the Premier League tomorrow.”
Mirallas follows James McCarthy is signing a new deal with the Blues this week.
Everton's Kevin Mirallas has a shot on target during the pre-season friendly at Dens Park, Dundee.
The forward has scored 29 goals in 85 starts since joining the club from Olympiakos in the summer of 2012. Mirallas was entering the final year of his contract at Everton.

Everton v Watford - All you need to know
7 August 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Neil Jones
The key info ahead of the Everton's season opener at Goodison Park
Everton v Watford
What time is kick off?
3pm at Goodison Park.
How can I watch it?
Unfortunately, the game is not being screened live on UK television. You can catch the action on 'Saturday Night Football: Match Choice' (10pm, Sky Sports 1), or hang on for the highlights on Match of the Day (10.20pm, BBC1). Although, if you want to chance your arm that the local pub might show it on Saturday afternoon, we won't dissuade you...
Who is the ref?
Mike Jones will be in the middle. The Chester-based 47-year-old was also in charge of Everton's opening-day fixture last season, presiding over their 2-2 draw at Leicester. He last refereed the Blues back in April, for their 1-0 win over Burnley at Goodison, sending off the Clarets' Ashley Barnes as well as awarding Everton a penalty, which Ross Barkley missed.
Mike Jones, match referee
Who should I look out for in the Watford team?
Good question. The Hornets have been one of the more active sides in the transfer market this summer, making a total of 11 new signings. Of those, the likes of Jose Manuel Jurado, Valon Behrami and Etienne Capoue arrive with stellar reputations, though Watford's main goal threat is likely to come from skipper Troy Deeney, who netted 21 times in the Championship last season. Odion Ighalo, the Nigerian international, scored 20, while Matej Vydra chipped in with 16.
Seamus Coleman is brought down by Etienne Capoue while at Tottenham
Who is their manager?

Quique Sanchez Flores will be taking charge of his first game as Watford boss on Saturday, having replaced former Chelsea midfielder Slavisa Jokanovic at the end of last season. The Spaniard has won honours with both Benifca and Atletico Madrid in the past, though his last spell in management, at Getafe, lasted just over a month.
Watford manager Quique Sanchez Flores
Any injury news?
For Everton, Kevin Mirallas and John Stones are expected to shake off knocks, but Gerard Deulofeu is expected to miss out with a hamstring problem. Romelu Lukaku will face a late fitness test, but the Blues will be without Tony Hibbert, Darron Gibson, Mo Besic, Aiden McGeady and Steven Pienaar.
Watford, meanwhile, will be without defender Joel Ekstrand (knee) and newboy Miguel Britos, who is serving a three-game ban after an incident playing for Napoli last season. Midfielders Steven Berghuis and Almen Abdi are both doubts, too.
What happened last time the sides met?
Everton 3-0 at Vicarage Road back in February 2007. Manuel Fernandes scored his first Blues goal that day, while Andy Johnson and Leon Osman were also on the scoresheet.
The last time Watford visited Goodison was for another opening-day clash, back in 2006. They were beaten 2-1, with Everton's goals coming from Johnson and Mikel Arteta. Alan Stubbs' own goal was the Hornets' consolation.
Any memorable meetings from down the years?
Of course. The 1984 FA Cup final for starters. Everton and Watford didn't actually meet in a competitive game until 1982, but two years later they would be pitched together at Wembley.
The Blues won 2-0 on the day, thanks to goals from Graeme Sharp and Andy Gray. Watford's side, managed by Graham Taylor, contained both John Barnes, who went on to star for Liverpool, and future Everton striker Mo Johnston.
Interestingly, the sides met again just four months after the cup final, this time at Vicarage Road. The score? 5-4 to Everton!
Any other interesting stuff I should be aware of?
Much is made of the approach taken by Watford's owners, the controversial Pozzo family. The Italians also control Serie A side Udinese and La Liga outfit Granada, and have come under fire for their policy of switching players between the clubs. As such, the Hornets dressing room boasts no fewer than 22 nationalities, with the likes of Lithuania, Venezuela and Algeria all represented.
What should I be betting on, then?
Well Everton are 8/11 to get off to a winning start, with Watford 19/4 and the draw at 29/10. Not too much value there. A repeat of the 2006 meeting, though, looks tempting. The 2-1 correct score (to Everton) is 8/1, while you can get 5/2 for 'Everton win and both teams to score'
Fantasy Football tip?
Having returned to full fitness in time, Leighton Baines is a good candidate to get your team points from his laser-guided assists and defensive nous in helping keep clean sheets.

John Stones to Chelsea: Jose Mourinho in thinly veiled dig at Everton manager Roberto Martinez
Chelsea are pursuing the Toffee's young defender
Matt McGeehan
Friday 07 August 2015
Jose Mourinho has made a veiled criticism of Roberto Martinez for the Everton manager's outspoken rebuke of Chelsea for their pursuit of John Stones.

Martinez was unhappy with John Terry's comments in praise of Toffees defender Stones, whom the Premier League champions have pursued this summer and had offers rebuffed. "I'm not speaking about Everton or Stones. I'm just speaking in general," said Chelsea boss Mourinho, speaking ahead of Saturday's season-opener with Swansea at Stamford Bridge. "If I could, I would speak with you (the media) once in a month. "And there are other people in football who, if they could, they would have a press conference every day. And I don't want to say anything else." Chelsea have five first-team defenders and Mourinho is keen to recruit more, with a left-back high on the agenda, but he insists he is not preoccupied by the transfer window. Another concern is up front. Mourinho is uncertain whether Diego Costa will be fit to begin the Blues' title defence after his troublesome hamstring injury flared up once more, forcing the striker out of last Sunday's Community Shield loss to Arsenal. "I don't know. I promise you, I don't know," Mourinho said. "I think he's going to train with the team (on Friday evening). "His reaction after that and his decision to be confident to play is another story."
Chelsea injury news and suspensions Mourinho dismissed the suggestion Chelsea might need to buy another striker due to Costa being an ongoing fitness concern. "Three is the perfect number and we have three," said Mourinho, who is prepared to field Loic Remy or Radamel Falcao against the Swans.
Put to him he has only two and a half strikers due to the uncertainty surrounding Costa, Mourinho said: "The half when he plays is one and a half, so (that) compensates, because he's a fantastic player.
"I cannot say I don't need him. He's such an important player for us. "Not just for the goals he scores, but also for the football he produces and also for the mentality he helps to create in the team."
Chelsea are bidding to be the first team since Manchester United in 2008/09 to win back-to-back Premier League titles, a feat Mourinho achieved during his first spell in 2004/05 and 2005/06.
Asked what would constitute success this term, Mourinho said: "I really don't know, because it depends not just about you, it's also about the others. "You can have a good season and somebody was better than you. And I don't consider that failure. I don't consider that a bad season. "If somebody was better than you, a little bit better, a couple of points more than you, one goal more than you in a knockout phase, then I don't think it's a failure. "I just think credit to the others. Let's try to be a good team and let's try to be here in March, April speaking to you about the possibility of winning something."

John Stones: Everton Podcast Special
7 August 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Greg O’Keeffe
Everton defender John Stones' future discussed
Everton's John Stones in action during Duncan Ferguson's Testimonial against Villarreal at Goodison Park. It is the transfer saga on the lips of every Blue this summer - and unfortunately John Stones' future remains under the spotlight. In the first Everton podcast of the new season Blues correspondent Phil Kirkbride, Greg O'Keeffe and Tony Scott discuss Chelsea's pursuit of the 21-year-old and whether they think he will still be at Goodison when the window closes. Jose Mourinho hasn't given up on prising the talented defender from Roberto Martinez's hands, and the Toffees themselves have been slow in adding substantial numbers to their own squad.
We discussed whether Stones will push for a move, and gave our verdict on what price tag he should command.

Everton FC transfer rumours: Charlie Austin set to start for QPR despite Blues move odds being slashed
7 August 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Chris Beesley
Ramsey determined to use hot shot while he can
Queens Park Rangers' Charlie Austin is a transfer target for Everton?
QPR hot shot Charlie Austin is set to start at Charlton Athletic reveal getwestlondon despite Everton being installed as bookies favourites to land the striker. Odds on £15million-rated Austin joining the Blues were slashed today with Bet Victor (2/5) and Sky Bet (4/7) both giving odds-on verdict that the prolific marksman was on his way to Goodison Park by the time the summer transfer window shuts.
At the time of writing, Unibet are still offering a more backable 7/4 but at the moment, Everton are way ahead of rival suitors Tottenham (5/1), Newcastle (6/1) and West Ham (8/1).
QPR boss Chris Ramsey is determined to get as much out of his most prized asset while he can though and said: “We’ve had good game time from Charlie over the last two years. “So for how long he’s here we’re hopeful of the same. “But if he does go, we’re ready to use the players we’ve brought in over the summer to good effect.”
Staying in west London, the Express report that Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has made a thinly-veiled dig back at Roberto Martinez after the Blues boss slammed the Premier League champions’ public pursuit of John Stones as illegal. When asked about the situation, Mourinho said: “My feeling is just one and I’m not speaking about Everton or Stones. I’m just speaking in general. “If I could, I would speak with you once in a month. And there are other people in football who if they could they would have a press conference every day. And I don’t want to say anything else.” Everton's John Stones in action during Duncan Ferguson's Testimonial against Villarreal at Goodison Park. Martinez had spoken out after both John Terry and Gary Cahill urged Stones to join Chelsea and said: “You know that is illegal, the rules don’t allow you to comment on players that are registered at other clubs in that open manner, that is disappointing. “You know, I know. We all know there are rules and regulations and it is something we don’t want to see when other clubs speak about your players. It is wrong and it shouldn’t happen.
“As clubs we have a good understanding of where we are and I don’t think it is something to get the managers involved in.”

How Roberto Martinez will prepare to face a team which didn't exist before the summer
7 August 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Kristian Walsh
Watford have a new manager and new team ahead of their Premier League adventure
Most football managers, if not all, are meticulous in their pre-match preparation. Videos, dossiers, meetings; all designed to scout, and suss out, the opposition. The percentage of long balls, their favoured formations, weak links and strong point. Pity Roberto Martinez this week, then, as he prepared to analyse Watford. Earlier in the week, the Catalan boss said it made little difference that the newly-promoted side had essentially changed their team – and manager – over the summer. Such is life under the Pozzo family, owners of the club. Since finishing second in the Championship in May, they have waved goodbye to manager Slavisa Jokanovic, appointing Europa League winning boss Quique Sanchez Flores in his place.
They have also brought in 10 new faces – 11 counting the permanent deal of on loan striker Matej Vydra - many of them expected to be pushing for starting positions. Some, like Etienne Capoue, Jurdao and Valon Behrami, are recognisable names; others – such as Steaua Bucharest goalkeeper Giedrius Arlauskis – are not. Of course, watching the Watford side of last season would show a number of things. Quick, direct and with a penchant for creating chances, the Hornets would have presented a difficult test for the Blues on the opening day – especially with the buzz of Premier League football to boost them. But that style of play, that mentality, came under a different manager. That different manager tweaked a squad of different players.
What, then, does Martinez do?

There hasn’t been wholesale changes, granted. Troy Deeney and Odion Ighao still remain following their combined 41 league goals last season; likewise, Heurelho Gomes is likely to stay in goal, with Craig Cathcart in defence. Watford's Troy Deeney celebrates promotion during the Sky Bet Championship match at Vicarage Road, Watford. But it still makes a traditionally tricky tie – an opener against a promoted side – even trickier. Curiouser still, Everton have been the most stable club of the transfer window so far; a kinder way of saying they have done little business. Gerard Deulofeu and Tom Cleverley are the only additions so far, with Deulofeu unlikely to feature at Goodison on Saturday.
A settled side, then. Sanchez Flores will know what to expect, even in his short time at Vicarage Road; the only uncertainty perhaps comes from the niggling injury list Martinez is dealing with. The Blues boss revealed he knows his starting line-up for the opening game, but that does not account for the injury doubts. If he doesn’t know, then nor will Sanchez Flores. The two teams will meet at opposite ends of the spectrum. Martinez is a manager who is renowned for his thoughtful pre-match approach; no stone left unturned, no angle left unchecked. Some, understandably, find fault with this, preferring it if the opposition worried about Everton, not Everton worried about the other team. Despite his public protestations, part of that will be stripped away on Saturday. He would have, no doubt, analysed the new Watford players at their former clubs, as well as their pre-season performances. But until the first whistle blows, he will not know how the pressures of the new Premier League season will affect them.
The same can be said for his own team. Martinez will just hope recognised quality wins over unqualified quantity.
Jose Manuel Jurado: Spanish attacking midfield who has spent time in Moscow, pulling the strings for Spartak. Etienne Capoue: One of Spurs’ big-money signings after Bale; holding midfielder who deserves a chance. Steven Berghuis: Assist machine from AZ Alkmaar but touch and go for the opener.
Valon Behrami: Former Hammer who has played at the highest level in midfield with Napoli.
Jose Holebas: Uncompromising Greek full back looking to prove something after sole season in Serie A.
Juanfran: Deportivo loanee who can play in either defence or midfield.
Matej Vydra: Spent last season on loan with the Hornets and his 16 goals were enough to keep him.
Allan-Romeo Nyom: Powerful right back who was with Udinese and Granada – the Pozzos’ other clubs.
Sebastien Prodl: Austrian centre back at Werder Bremen who is expected to start.
Miguel Britos: Napoli centre back from Uruguay, so naturally comes with hard man reputation.
Gledrius Arlauskis: Lithuanian reserve goalkeeper; a big score in Scrabble.

Sylvain Distin reveals how final months at Everton FC almost forced him to quit
7 August 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Chris Beesley
Former Blues defender speaks out on tough end to his Goodison career
Former Everton defender Sylvain Distin says that being frozen out of the first team squad during his final months at Goodison almost forced him to quit the game but ultimately he decided it still wasn’t time for him to retire. The 37-year-old who has now joined Bournemouth after six seasons with the Blues says he did not speak to manager Roberto Martinez after a proposed deadline day move to West Ham broke down at the start of February, but he prefers to remain discreet about the specifics of what happened.
Distin said: “I would love people to see things how they really are but I have too much respect for this club. “We had one conversation on deadline day and he gave one interview afterwards saying I was part of the squad and fighting for my place, but from that day I was never in the squad until the last game. We never had a talk [about it]. I started to come and watch the games, but it was nerve-wracking so I ended up not coming and just checking from time to time on the internet. “I trained every day and put myself physically through some really tough weeks. When you go through a tough time like that at my age, you think, ‘That’s enough, I’ll stop next season’ but I wasn’t sure I wanted that.
“I started to play with the reserves up to the point when I was told it was not possible.” Distin returned to the side on the final day of the season at home to Tottenham as he came off the bench for a farewell cameo appearance as a substitute when he was given a rousing reception by the Blues faithful.
He said: “No matter if some people wanted it or not – maybe they were forced, I don’t know – but I was able to be part of that after not being in the squad for four months. That was a very emotional moment for me, it was really intense and I won’t forget that.”

Barry Horne: Everton are competing against Stoke etc and losing transfer race
7 August 2015 Liverpool Echo
By Barry Horne
Everton must bring in more new faces and fixture lost has been cruel
We might have been treated to the women’s World Cup this summer – and I’ve regularly been up at stupid o’clock working on the International Champions Cup – but the real deal starts again this weekend and I, like so many others, can’t wait. But while I’m eagerly looking forward to the season, as an Everton fan I have to be honest and say I’m not sure we’ve moved forward. Manchester United have bought big, City have spent money, Liverpool have signed some very good players and Spurs are trying to improve.
But unfortunately we are not competing with that tier of clubs.
We are currently competing against Southampton, Stoke, West Brom, Crystal Palace and Swansea – and most of those clubs have spent well. We have brought in a player who was with us a year ago and Tom Cleverley, who whilst having been well schooled at Manchester United and who enjoyed a good season at Aston Villa, really only improves our squad strength. Would he get into a starting line up if James McCarthy, Gareth Barry, Ross Barkley and Leon Osman were all fully fit? I’m not so sure.
Horne is not sold on Everton new boy Cleverley
I am not surprised Antolin Alcaraz was released, but we haven’t replaced Sylvain Distin, who I think could have a great season at Bournemouth, we are still looking for replacements for Steven Pienaar and Leon Osman and the squad is looking a little threadbare. As I write I am worried about cover at centre-back and we need additions elsewhere. As brilliant as he has been and as much as we all want Tim Howard to carry on, he is another year older, too. I can’t wait for the season to start again – but I’ll enjoy it more when we bring in some new faces.
Fixture list has been cruel to Bobby but he doesn't deserve dreaded bookies list
More often than not managers complain at this time of year about the dreadful hand they have been dealt by the fixture computer. And usually it’s a gross exaggeration – three or four tough fixtures balanced out by three or four easier games. But I have to say that Roberto Martinez is absolutely spot on with his assessment of Everton’s opening 10 games.
Facing seven of last season’s top eight in the opening 10 games is cruel.
Those opening matches will be crucial in terms of the atmosphere generated at Goodison Park and many fans’ opinions of Roberto Martinez.
While we decry and moan about the tabloid gossip and rumours – people read them and enjoy them.
And this season the stories seem to be more about managers than players.
Brendan Rodgers and Manuel Pellegrini could be quickly under pressure, Tim Sherwood likewise, Mauricio Pochettino is at a club with a reputation for sacking managers quickly and Claudio Ranieri is a brand new boss who is already one of the bookies’ favourites to go first!
It’s all part of the rich tapestry of Premier League football – but I dearly hope we don’t see Roberto Martinez’s name anywhere near those lists.

Ross Barkley likely to be at very best, says Everton manager Roberto Martínez
• Midfielder has improved fitness and decision-making during close season
• ‘He is a different footballer in terms of decisions he makes on the pitch’
Ross Barkley
Ross Barkley is ready to kick on this season, according to the Everton manager Roberto Martínez.
Andy Hunter
Friday 7 August 2015 Guardian
Roberto Martínez believes Everton will witness a different Ross Barkley this season, the midfielder having improved his fitness and decision-making.
The 21-year-old struggled last year to maintain the standards of his breakthrough season under Martínez. Having missed the opening three months of the campaign with a knee ligament injury, he failed to find consistent form – or a consistent role in the side – once he recovered. Barkley said recently that his confidence also suffered but, having missed the European Under-21 Championship with England this summer, he has shown signs of benefiting from an overdue break during the close season.
“Ross is ready to kick on this season,” the Everton manager said. “Last season was challenging throughout because of the injury he picked up, which stopped him starting the season, but he always took responsibility and never shied away. “I’ve seen a huge difference in him as a player. He is a completely different footballer in terms of the decisions he makes on the pitch. A player of his quality and physicality, if we get that decision-making right, he is going to be at his very best.” The responsibility will be even greater on Barkley this season: Everton have made two signings and Martínez is looking to develop a team around his young talents rather than for wholesale change. Gerard Deulofeu, one of the new recruits, is among seven players likely to miss the opening game against Watford through injury. Martínez has stated he wants three more signings before the transfer deadline, with a creative No10-type among them. That would appear to affect Barkley’s role in the team but the Everton manager believes the England international is suited to a different position.
“I really enjoy when he has that real freedom as a No8 and he can get box-to-box in those positions,” he said. “At times as a No10 he feels a little bit more claustrophobic – if that’s a football word. You can give him a bit more freedom in a midfield role or in a different type of role than a No10.”
Barkley is not the only person at Everton with something to prove after the team slumped from fifth in Martínez’s first season in charge to 11th last term, their lowest league finish for nine years. The manager accepts there must be improvement and doubts dispelled.
“If you don’t reach your target then you are going to get doubters, it is normal,” he said. “But, in the same way, what we are concentrating on is to follow the line of the last two years with the young players we are developing, keeping the team together and having some continuity. That is part of the job from my point of view. “Last season was a very challenging campaign. The Europa League did not help us and knowing how to deal with it in the first half of the season in the league. Are we a stronger group than we were last season? Without a doubt. Mentally and psychologically I feel that we are more mature. All we want to do is to get that momentum we had in the back end of the season and two seasons ago. Without the distraction of Europe, we will find it very different.”




























August 2015 - Week 1 (1st - 7th)

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