Everton Independent Research Data


Osman stalling on new contract
By Ian Doyle, Daily Post
Dec 1 2004
LEON OSMAN is ready to test David Moyes's improved financial flexibility by rejecting the offer of a new contract. The Everton midfielder (right) is stalling on a proposed new three-year deal which has been tabled by Goodison officials. The contract is believed to be worth in the region of £8,000 a week, but Osman is thought to be seeking a figure nearer £12,000. The 24-year-old has been a virtual ever-present on the right side of midfield in an Everton side which has this season exceeded all expectations by challenging for a Champions League qualification place. Osman is one of 11 Everton players out of contract at the end of the season, and follows defender Gary Naysmith in rebuffing the initial approach of a new deal. Kevin Kilbane, Nigel Martyn and Thomas Gravesen are also set to be handed new contracts while a decision has yet to be made on the futures of a number of other players, including Alan Stubbs and David Weir. Gravesen's agent has said he expects the Danish international to make a decision soon on where he will be plying his trade next season.
Moyes is confident Gravesen will extend his stay at Goodison, where he has been in outstanding form this campaign. However, a number of potential suitors - including Italian giants AC Milan - are thought to have an interest in the 28-year-old. Gravesen has previously intimated a desire to remain at Goodison should the club's aspirations match his own. "As I've said before, there are a few interested clubs," said Gravesen's agent, John Sivebaek. "It's difficult to say (whether he will stay at Everton). The manager (David Moyes) knows what Thomas is up to. We'll decide what to do in one or two months." Sivebaek admitted Gravesen would find it hard to resist the lure of the big clubs from Italy and Spain, but added that the midfielder would prefer to remain in the Premiership.
"If it is a big club, then yes (he would go), but he likes the Premier League," he added. "He wants to stay in England, but we need to look at all our options and decide what he wants to do."

Talks on shared ground
Daily Post
Dec 1 2004
LIVERPOOL and Everton will hold talks with sports minister Richard Caborn today over the possibility of sharing a new stadium. Everton supporters have rejected any suggestion of renting a stadium from Liverpool while Anfield officials insist they are committed to single ownership of a new ground.
Liverpool already have planning permission for a new 60,000-capacity stadium in Stanley Park but are around £30m short of meeting the £110m cost. They have applied for a grant from the North West Development Agency but in doing so have had to agree to talks on the possibility the ground could be shared. It is understood Liverpool would be happy to allow Everton to share the ground under a rental arrangement, but that is unacceptable by Blues fans. Ian Macdonald, spokesman for Everton Independent Blues fans group, said: "That idea is a non-starter. Everton fans would be walking down Bill Shankly Way and sitting in the Bob Paisley Stand - can you imagine that? "The only proposal we would even consider is sharing a stadium that we own 50-50 and managed by an independent body such as the council." Macdonald conceded Goodison Park was in urgent need of redevelopment but insisted that was the fans' preferred option..

Ossie eyes new deal
Dec 1 2004 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
LEON OSMAN will enter fresh talks within a fortnight aimed at keeping him at Goodison Park.
The 24-year-old (right) is one of 11 senior squad players who is in the final year of his current deal.
But he is one of only a handful who has been given the opportunity to extend his stay with the Blues after impressing this season. Reports today suggested talks have stalled because the player has turned his back on the offer of £8,000-a-week and is keen to test Everton's new financial muscle by holding out for a deal worth nearer £12,000-a-week. But his agent Dave Lockwood, from the Stellar Group, has refuted the claim, insisting no offer has been rejected and that talks are set to continue within a fortnight. He said: "I was surprised to read deatils of contract negotiations in this morning's papers because the matter is private and confidential. "We have been discussing extending Leon's contract and that process is on-going. "There is a desire from both parties to try and reach an agreement and I am looking forward to meeting with Everton again in the near future to continue talks. "He is keen to remain at Everton and the club want to negotiate to keep him."
Osman has become a fans' favourite this term after securing a regular place in David Moyes' midfield, scoring three goals from 14 starts.

Gravesen close to committing future says agent
Dec 1 2004 Liverpool Echo
THOMAS Gravesen's agent John Sivebaek has suggested the Danish international is close to committing his future to Everton. The 28-year-old (left) is out of contract at the end of the season but a new three-year deal to remain at Goodison has been on the table since the summer.
Sivebaek has revealed a decision will be made before the end of January, although he did warn the player could yet be tempted away from Merseyside if the right offer came along. Gravesen has continuously been linked with with Aston Villa and SV Hamburg, although AC Milan and Manchester United have also been mooted in recent weeks. "If it is a big club, then yes (he would go), but he likes the Premier League," said Sivebaek. "He wants to stay in England, but we need to look at all our options and decide what he wants to do. "As I have said, there are a few interested clubs."
When asked what Gravesen's chances were of staying at Everton, Sivebaek replied: "It is difficult to say. "The manager knows what Thomas is up to. We'll decide what to do in one or two months."
Despite the interest from elsewhere, Everton officials are confident the midfielder is keen to remain with the Blues.

Lack of credit starting to grate
Dec 1 2004 Echo Letters
Lack of credit starting to grate
THE lack of attention and credit Everton are receiving this season is finally frustrating me. Apart from Chelsea, we have been the most consistent team in the Premiership this season and have graced the top three for 10 weeks now. Despite this we still find ourselves with bit-parts on Match of the Day, and we are still viewed by the press as a team that can only work hard. For instance, on Match of the Day 2 on Sunday night, the Blues did not even get a mention after the highlights. Instead the focus was on 10th placed Newcastle. Let's hope this continues to inspire the boys to shove it back down the throats of a somewhat blinkered media.
Mark Lawson, Liverpool
Build a stadium for all
I WANT the Reds and Blues to ground share. Historical as it may be, Goodison is a shambles nowadays. If we are to have any chance of keeping up with the big guns, we have to move to a bigger, better stadium. Liverpool cannot afford £110m for their new ground. A 70,000 stadium on the waterfront would be great for the whole city.
Paul Mullally, Liverpool
Working hard
PEOPLE say we were lucky again at Newcastle, but I dis-agree. It's down to hard work as a team.
I know the Toon hit the bar and the post but if the ball doesn't go in the net it may as well have hit the corner flag. As for the one Pistone blocked on the line, that's what he is paid to do - defend the Everton goal.
Peter Woods, Southport
Bargain Blues
WHAT a superb result for the Blues at Newcastle! The Everton first 11 cost around £10m - roughly the same price as for Laurent Robert.
Keith Gibson, Seascale
Souness fooled
GRAEME SOUNESS thinks he should have had a penalty for the challenge by Kevin Kil-bane on Keiron Dyer. It's a good job he is not a referee as he would be fooled very easily by cheats. Dyer kicked himself and fell over, whereas Tim Cahill was pushed over in the box.
Martin Lynch, Formby

Reds say no to shared stadium
Dec 1 2004 By Chris Bascombe, Liverpool Echo
LIVERPOOL FC were today telling Sports Minister Richard Caborn they will not share a stadium with Everton. The two clubs were meeting the minister in London after talks were initiated by the Northwest Development Agency. But Liverpool's participation is merely an obligation as part of a £40m grant application to fund part of their own scheme. The Reds hope cash from the NWDA will pay for the redevelopment of the area around the new stadium, such as Stanley Park and the nearby cemetery. NWDA chairman Bryan Gray wants the groundshare issue fully explored before agreeing Liverpool's grant application. His insistence led to today's talks, which were being attended by Everton chairman Bill Kenwright, chief executive Keith Wyness and Anfield chief executive Rick Parry. Liverpool were also registering disapproval that the government allowed the confidential meeting to become public knowledge five days before it took place. Club insiders believe this has wrongly given the perception Liverpool are still willing to consider a joint stadium. Everton chief executive Keith Wyness said he was attending the summit with an open mind. Since his arrival in September he has made finding Everton a new home one of his top priorities. He told the ECHO last month: "We are exploring the three options of building a new ground, redeveloping Goodison or looking at a groundshare. "But if you go to a new ground development you have got to have a lot of grant funding from local developers or from central government. Because of that, a new stadium must be the lowest of the three options." But Wyness has made it clear that redeveloping Goodison to boost revenue is still on the agenda. "I have to make sure the prospect of a Goodison Park redevelopment is something that has been explored properly because there are a lot of emotional ties and sound business reasons why that can be done," he said.

Everton looking at Aussie hopefuls
By David Prior Daily Post Staff
Dec 2 2004
EVERTON have handed trials to two of Australia's most promising youngsters. Kristian Sarkies and Adrian Leijer, both 18, will arrive on Bellefield this week as David Moyes considers further in-roads into a market that has already yielded Tim Cahill (right) and Eddy Bosnar. Sarkies is a goalscoring midfielder who spent last season with South Melbourne, while Leijer is a defender for Melbourne Knights. Both teenagers, who came through the Victorian Institute of Sport together, have just finished a tour of South America with Australia's youth squad. They are expected to spend up to a week at Bellefield. Moyes, meanwhile, has appealed to Everton's fans to play an even bigger part as the Goodison club look to extend their superb season into the New Year. The manager cited the travelling support as an integral part of his team's hard-earned point at St James' Park last Sunday - and wants even more noise from the home section when Everton entertain Bolton on Saturday.
He said: "The players showed terrific character to come back, especially with the home crowd up there - they were very hostile and were shouting for everything, so it was good for us to come back.
"We've had a great backing all season and we could certainly hear our supporters, albeit they're up near the gods at St James' Park. "At Newcastle they helped a lot so we need the same at Goodison. The backing we get at Goodison is great and let's hope that they can turn the volume up again even more." Everton can leapfrog Arsenal into second place on Saturday if the Merseysiders beat Sam Allardyce's men and Arsenal fail to take all three points at home to Birmingham. That would further enhance the magnitude of Everton's turnaround this campaign - and Moyes sees no reason for it to stop yet. "We're all enjoying it," he said. "I think everybody connected with Everton is enjoying it.
"It's much nicer to be in this position than the one we were in last year and we don't take it for granted. "We know that every week we have to work very hard to keep this feeling going and I don't see any reason why we can't. We're playing well enough at the moment and the boys have got lots of confidence."

Moyes instills pride at The People's Club
Post Past by Philip J Redmond, Daily Post
Dec 2 2004
THE TALK this week has been of David Moyes' first 100 games as Everton's manager. At times it's been a rocky road, but even during during the darkest days of last season, you wouldn't have found more than the obligatory website crank, questioning the man with red hair. While the club still has major issues off the pitch, David Moyes has wrote himself into Everton folklore with the incredible job he's done over the past two and a half years. It is easy to forget what a mess, the club was in when Moyes breezed in with his famous 'People's Club' speech in March 2002. Walter Smith's dispirited team was sinking fast towards the dropzone. Hope was fading. Luckily Moyes managed to galvanise his players immediately and when Bolton arrived at Goodison on a wet Easter Monday, survival was likely. Bolton had problems themselves and a full house was entertained by a nerve-shredding encounter. The Blues started the brighter and things were looking good until Duncan Ferguson punched Bolton striker Freddi Bobic, duly getting the first use of the communal soap. Fortunately it wasn't long before the Lancastrians found themselves a man light. It was game on.
Everton got the breakthrough when Alessandro Pistone scored his one and only Everton goal with a blockbuster from distance. After the restart Tomasz Radzinski took centre stage, first missing from a yard before turning sharply and doubling the lead. With 10 to go, Bruno N'Gotty gave Bolton hope but in a tense finish Radzinski used his pace to fashion an opening for young Nick Chadwick to clinch the points, securing Everton's top flight status. This Saturday, three points against Bolton could put Everton second, which underlines the progress made under Moyes. He's got red hair, but we don't care.

Ground share talks deadlocked
By Andy Kelly, Daily Post
Dec 2 2004
EVERTON chairman Bill Kenwright last night ruled out the possibility of his club renting their ground from Liverpool after talks about the possibility of a Merseyside ground share ended in deadlock.
It now appears the issue will be decided once and for all by the end of December, though it is widely expected that no deal can be reached. Mr Kenwright (right) joined LFC chief executive Rick Parry, Sports Minister Richard Caborn, Walton MP Peter Kilfoyle and Regional Development Agency chairman Bryan Gray in London yesterday to discuss the shared stadium at the request of the Government. While the obstacles to such an arrangement continue to look insurmountable, the clubs have agreed to make a final decision before the new year. Everton chief executive Keith Wyness said: "All parties have agreed we will have one last look at the option of a ground share with a view to finalising our thoughts by the end of the year. "It was an exploratory meeting and the ground share option is one of several under review by the club." Liverpool already have planning permission for a new 60,000-capacity stadium in nearby Stanley Park but costs have gone up by £30m to around £110m. The club has applied for a grant from the North West Development Agency (NWDA) but it is thought that will only be available for a shared ground. It is understood Liverpool might be happy to allow Everton to share the ground under a rental arrangement, but that is regarded as unacceptable by Everton fans and their own chairman. After leaving the talks last night, Mr Kenwright said: "Everton are not interested in the slightest in renting from Liverpool. We're not interested in sharing their stadium, we are discussing a joint stadium. Those talks are ongoing."
Sources at Westminster said Mr Caborn - a long-time supporter of clubs sharing grounds wherever possible - had helped to "focus minds" at yesterday's meeting. However, his role had been to offer advice to the two Merseyside clubs rather than to dangle carrots of Government help if they decided to go ahead. The Sports Minister himself said: "It was a very interesting meeting. A number of things have been explored and it is now down to the clubs to make a decision on what they want to do.
"I am very hopeful they will do that before the end of the year."

Goodison spell proves Smith has ability - Stevens
By Lisa Gray, Daily Post
Dec 2 2004
FORMER Rangers and Everton star Gary Stevens insists Walter Smith has already proved in the past he can make a success out of limited resources. Smith is expected to be confirmed as the new Scotland manager when the board of the Scottish Football Association meet at Hampden today.
He will take over the hot-seat with the nation's morale is at an all-time low following Berti Vogts' two-and-a-half year reign. Smith's first task will be rejuvenating the squad of players he inherits from the German - a team widely regarded as lacking in talent. Stevens worked under Smith at Rangers and although their paths never crossed during their respective spells at Everton, it is Smith's time at Goodison which Stevens believes shows he can make a success of the Scotland job.
Smith took on the Everton job after they had been saved from relegation on the final day of the season under previous manager Howard Kendall. A lack of funds and being forced to off-load big-name players such as Duncan Ferguson meant Smith was shown the harsher side of club management following staggering success at Rangers. But Stevens argues that simply keeping Everton in England's top flight during a difficult time for the club was an achievement in itself and that Smith is better prepared to take on the Scotland job for the experience, having shown he can work with limited resources. He said: "To a degree he did that at Everton. He wasn't given a lot of money and he was left with a weakened squad. "He didn't bring success to Everton but I personally think success was staying in the Premiership at that time." Vogts' decision to quit after the draw in Moldova left Scotland with just two points from their opening three World Cup qualifying games sparked the hunt for his successor. Stevens believes the SFA could not have turned to a better manager to stop the decline of the national team. He added: "He had a tremendous spell at Rangers and then came to Everton under very difficult circumstances. "I thought he did well there considering his hands were tied with regards to funding."

Team-mates are helping Tommy to top - Moyes
Dec 2 2004 By Scott McLeod, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES believes Thomas Gravesen's team-mates have helped him to become one of the top midfielders in the country. The Danish international (right) has been the best midfielder in England this season according to the Actim Index, the official player rating system for the Premiership.
He is third in the list, behind Thierry Henry and John Terry and ahead of Frank Lampard, Andy Johnson, Lauren and team-mate Lee Carsley. The Goodison chief believes the Blues are benefiting from a greater maturity from the 28-year-old. But he thinks the key is the form of his midfield teammates, who have enabled Gravesen to utilise his flair as an attacking playmaker. Moyes said: "The way we are playing seems to be suiting Thomas. But he is also maturing a little bit as well and that is helping his all-round game. "It is easier for good players to play when teams are doing well and Tommy has shown that in a number of games this season. "But the players around him are giving him great support and they are helping him to perform at the level he is at the moment."

Gravesen has scored four of his 11 goals as an Everton player this season. He is out of contract at the end of the season and attracting increasing interest from other clubs. But Everton remain confident the Dane will put pen to paper on a new three-year deal when they sit down with his representatives for further negotiations in January. Meanwhile, Moyes has welcomed two Australian trialists to Bellefield. Kristian Sarkies and Adrian Leijer, both 18, will train with the first team this week. Sarkies is a goalscoring midfielder who spent last season with South Melbourne, while Leijer is a defender for Melbourne Knights.

Moyes: We have nothing to fear
Dec 2 2004 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES believes fearlessness is helping maintain Everton's place in the Premiership's top three. The Blues have kept the likes of Manchester United, Newcastle and Liverpool at arm's length for 11 weeks since moving into third spot. But far from feeling the heat of the chasing pack, the Goodison chief (right) has revealed his players are comfortable in their heady position because they have proved themselves against their rivals. "We have still got three or four teams to play before we have faced everybody, but up to now we have been a match for virtually every side we have faced and that is giving us confidence to go out and get results," explains Moyes. "We are not looking too deeply into why things have turned out like this. "Maybe other people are looking too deeply into it, but we are just enjoying training and playing at a weekend. "There is a desire to keep it going as long as we can." Having earned creditable draws away to Manchester United and Newcastle and beaten Middlesbrough at Goodison, the Blues must contend with two more of the teams with aspirations of leap-frogging them in the next 10 days. Bolton arrive on Merseyside this weekend, with the 200th derby served up a week later. Having described November as the toughest month of the season, Moyes admits December is not much easier. "The only difference with December is that we have more home games to contend with, which we didn't have in November," adds Moyes..
"But they are still difficult games. At the moment, our focus is Bolton this weekend. "Both clubs would have settled for being in the position they are in at present when the season started.
"And I am sure, like us, they will be desperate to hang in there as long as they can. "We are only interested in maintaining our good form. "Teams will be looking at us and realising we are doing something right, but I don't think we have made teams alter their own systems too much. "Opposition managers will just pick their strongest teams to play against us rather than altering things to stop us, I am sure of that. "We will just have to go out and earn another good result on Saturday." Moyes currently has a fully fit squad at his disposal, with the manager revealing long-term absentee Li Tie is now four reserve games away from making a return to the senior squad.
He added: "He does need more games under his belt but he is improving. "He has fully recovered from the broken shin but the ankle problem which came with the spell on the sidelines is getting much better." The Chinese international should be pushing for a place in the squad in time for the festive fixtures.

Ground sharing deadline looms
Dec 2 2004 By Scott Mcleod And Ian Hernon, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON and Liverpool are expected to abandon discussions on a shared stadium before the end of the year. Everton chairman Bill Kenwright and chief executive Keith Wyness met yesterday with Liverpool chief executive Rick Parry, sports minister Richard Caborn and the regional development agency chairman Bryan Gray in London. No agreement could be reached over a groundshare but both clubs have agreed to have one more meeting before making a definitive decision by the end of December. However, there now seems little chance of the two clubs sharing a home, with Everton making it clear they will not entertain the idea unless ownership is a 50/50 split. Liverpool are keen to continue with plans for Stanley Park, having planning permission for a 60,000-seater stadium.

With costs rising from an estimated £80m to £110m, the Reds have applied for a Northwest Development Agency grant. The NWDA prefers the idea of shared stadium to benefit the whole community, hence the recent meetings. Kenwright said: "Everton are not interested in the slightest in renting from Liverpool. We ' re not interested in sharing their stadium, we are discussing a joint stadium. Wyness added: "It was an exploratory meeting and the groundshare option is one of several under review by the club." The sports minister is keen on a shared stadium but has not offered government help. He said: "It was a very interesting meeting. A number of things have been explored and it is now down to the clubs to make a decision on what they want to do. "I am very hopeful they will do that before the end of the year." A possible groundshare could delay the Stanley Park project for another two years, as the planning application may have to be resubmitted if both teams would be playing their home games there.

The Jury
Dec 2 2004 Liverpool Echo
"Lee Carsley's wonder strike on Sunday enabled us to sing the praises of the ultimate unsung hero" - Jon Sellick THIRD at the start of December and still we are not getting the credit we deserve from the national press. However, I think for once it is working to our advantage as the longer we go unnoticed, the less pressure on the players. It was a good point on Sunday. It's a small criticism but it surprised me that we didn't take advantage of Newcastle's weakness in defence after Carsley's fantastic free-kick. Instead we defended deeply and didn't seem to have the positive attitude Moyes usually adopts. Saturday's game against Bolton will be a tense one because players have to avoid injuries or bookings which will lead to them being suspended for the derby match. We have not been cruising in any game this season and have had to play at full-stretch. Sooner or later that will catch up with the players.
LEE CARSLEY'S wonder strike on Sunday enabled us to sing the praises of the ultimate unsung hero.
His post match comments were equally thrilling, it seems third place is not good enough for the players, and why should it? The five man midfield is rapidly gaining legendary status. How typical of eternally lucky Liverpool that two other key members, Kilbane and Cahill may both miss the derby.
Certainly, a highly physical encounter with Bolton isn't an ideal fixture in terms of avoiding bookings. Saturday's match is the first of three home games out of four, so what chance of us reaching the 40-point mark by Boxing Day? We more than match Bolton in all departments and will be able to attack with confidence.
LADY Luck was on our side last Sunday. That was the worst performance I've seen from us this season and it was a true indication that we need to strengthen the squad. You have to give the team a lot of credit; they've worked tirelessly this season. But the past few games have highlighted a lack of quality in certain areas. In the Newcastle game, Marcus Bent was awful. For the first 35 minutes he just strolled around the pitch. Also Pistone allowed Newcastle to penetrate us numerous times.
But it was unsung hero Carsley, with one of the best goals I've seen from an Everton player in a long time, who gained us a point. A string of top draw displays and his tenacious style of play have added to the unique midfield which has been one of the huge positives this season. Keep it up Everton, keep proving the critics wrong. December 11 should be an interesting day.
BEN McGRAE, Hunts Cross
WITH the AGM drawing near it means we're getting closer to the January transfer window and the money we hope will be in place to help out Davie. There are still a lot of doubters who believe this money doesn't exist. They may be right but these are the same people who believed Wayne Rooney wanted to stay and left against his own will. So, if and when we get this money, who should we spend it on? A few names keep appearing like Parker, Beattie and Huth. I hope that only one of the three mentioned is true. But a name I have heard mentioned is that of Robbie Keane. To coin a phrase from across the park, he's a player that "gets you out of your seat" and can do the unexpected. He'll score goals, take players on, drop deep, in fact, he's ideal and I want him at The School of Science. If he does arrive, we may have a new "Golden Vision".
KEN STEWART, Thatto Heath

Weir will not be tempted back by Smith - Stubbs
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Dec 3 2004
WALTER SMITH'S appointment as Scotland manager will not tempt David Weir out of international retirement, according to fellow Everton centre-half Alan Stubbs. The former Everton manager, who brought Weir (right) to Goodison Park for a bargain £200,000 in February 1999, is viewed as the only man who could persuade the 34-year-old to rejoin the Scotland fold. Weir won the last of his 37 caps in a European Championship qualifier against the Faroe Islands in September 2002. But he refused to play for Berti Vogts again after the failed former coach made him a scapegoat for the disappointing 2-2 draw. The Everton defender recently announced he would prefer to concentrate on club football than revive his international career. And team-mate Stubbs believes that not even his former manager can alter that stance. "It'll be a tough job for Walter to persuade David out of retirement," said Stubbs. "He's definitely playing well enough to get back into the squad, but I'd be surprised if he did come back." He added: "I'm delighted for Walter that he is back in football. The players here won't say a bad thing about Walter. They have massive respect for him and a lot of the Scottish lads are delighted he has got the job. "Hopefully Tommy Burns can get the number two job because he was another of my former managers. I hope they can take the team forward because even though I am English, I don't like seeing Scotland struggle." Smith's successor at Goodison Park, meanwhile, insists the new man should not be judged purely on the results of the struggling senior team. David Moyes said: "It is a good appointment but if it's a case of being judged on the first team in Scotland then that would be harsh on anybody because I don't think anything can be done with that at the present time. "I think he knows the system and how the Scottish FA work and maybe there's a case for Walter to come in and restructure what's going on behind the scenes to see if that can possibly produce teams for the future." Meanwhile Everton's Scotland international James McFadden believes the appointment of Smith as his new national manger will prove to be a successful one. McFadden said: "I hope the fans will be happy to see a Scot in charge again and I think everybody will be. There can be no complaints about Walter being the manager. "It is a big job but I don't think he would have taken it if he didn't think he could make a go of it and make it a success."

Evans: Wales should follow Everton's lead
By Paul Walker, Daily Post
Dec 3 2004
FORMER Liverpool manager Roy Evans starts his new job with Wales believing they should follow Everton's blueprint for success. Evans has been reunited with former Anfield legend John Toshack - now manager of Wales - to take over from the Mark Hughes regime. Evans will work as one of Toshack's assistants, having been persuaded back into the game by a man he first managed in the Liverpool reserve team in the 1970s. The pair learned their football beliefs from the Boot Room era and mentor Bill Shankly, and must now haul Wales through a transitional period which has seen several play-ers quit following Hughes's departure and the poor start to their World Cup qualifying campaign. And Evans, who played, coached and managed Liverpool in a 30-year association with the club, currently sees in cross-city rivals Everton the sort of team ethic and spirit he hopes to produce from the Wales squad. Evans explained: "We have a team with talent but we need to work as a team. "There are only a few players we have in the Premiership so you have to find quality lower down the divisions and hope they can blossom. "You have to work as a team. Everton, for example, maybe have less talent than some of the other sides in the Premiership but have been far more effective in terms of the way they work and their team ethic." Everton have cemented their position in third spot under David Moyes, who has produced a team with tremendous belief, organisation and workrate this season. And Evans uses that example to explain the route he and Toshack will go down. He said: "I know about the Welsh passion and the ability the players have. "It is strange that over the years they have not been as successful as they would have wished with the great players they have. "I know all about the Premiership players in the Wales squad, but I will be going out and looking at the under-21s and the youth players to establish just what we have got. "You are always looking for what is coming next. "There are a few guys who have packed up so that leaves gaps for new players to come in. "It is important to search for the ones trying to force their way through."
Evans continued: "The Boot Room ideas haven't changed, there may be more scientific things brought into the game but it is still about players and organising them into a winning team.
"John has had a fantastic career as a manager, from achieving a miracle with Swansea to working success-fully in several countries - but he still has those basic roots that we had at Anfield. "He is his own man, even if he has taken a bit from lots of people. "He has not tried to emulate anybody, but those teachings from Anfield are still with him. You can't take Liverpool out of the man."

Room for compromise and manoeuvre on groundshare
By Mark O'Brien Everton supporter, Daily Post
Dec 3 2004
ACCORDING to Richard Caborn, by the end of the year we should know once and for all whether Everton and Liverpool really are willing to share a new stadium. Both sides are acting suitably coy in public, but the mere fact that the issue has been rumbling on for so long, and that they sent such high level representation to London in midweek, suggests that behind the scenes they're maybe not as averse to the idea as they are making out. Since the collapse of the Kings Dock, Everton have always seemed quite amenable to the thought of sharing. The powers-that-be at Anfield have always appeared distinctly sniffy about it, concerned as they were with their own development in Stanley Park, but now that they too have fallen foul of 'spiralling construction costs' it would seem that they may have to consider a climb-down. If the people in charge at both clubs do decide that a joint venture is the best way forward they will have to sell their vision to the fans. Invariably, whenever a club wants to do something that feels unnatural to the majority of the supporters, they present the argument: if we do this then we will get more money; more money equals better players, which in turn equals success. And so the support will be divided into roughly two camps. The first is those who see the slavish pursuit of success - this is measured as Champions League qualification these days, not necessarily trophies - as the be-all and end-all of a club's existence; therefore the ends justify any means. The others are those who feel that there are lines that you don't cross, that there is a point at which you become so far removed from your tradition and your roots that your reasons for going to the game in the first place no longer exist. Both sides can make compelling arguments. Still, it might not come to that, as Bill Kenwright and Keith Wyness have thankfully rejected any suggestion of moving as Liverpool's tenants, and the Reds must be loathe to share any non-football revenues from a new ground on an equal basis. The fact that they would seem more then willing to let us rent their stadium though shows that their objections to sharing are more financial than ideological, whatever they say. And while that's the case, there remains plenty of room for manoeuvre and compromise. Richard Caborn, along with the rest of us, could be waiting a lot longer than a month for a definitive verdict on this issue.

Tim wary of Euro talk as Blues avoid complacency
Dec 3 2004 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
AFTER last weekend's hard-fought draw against Newcastle, Everton boss David Moyes admitted that the side's impressive points gathering has put them on course for European football. It was a reluctant admission by a manager who has been keen to temper expectations around a side which is performing far better than anyone expected this season. But he needn't have worried if he thought his comments may have led to the onset of complacency within the dressing room. Despite having maintained a place in the Premiership's top three for almost three months - losing just three times in the opening 15 games to record the club's best start to a season for more than 30 years - the players are refusing to be drawn on the topic of European qualification. They may not have drawn up a pact, but there is a mutual understanding. Tim Cahill explains: "The best thing for us to do is to avoid shooting ourselves in the foot by saying we are going to do this or that. "We shouldn't really be talking about things like Europe. And from my personal point of view, I am still new to the Premiership, I am a little fish in a big pond and I don't want to get ahead of myself. "Personally, I am not even thinking about the Liverpool game yet. "As players, we can only look week to week because anything could be around the corner. "The best moments are now and we would rather enjoy everything that is happening right now rather than put pressure on ourselves by saying we have got to achieve a certain target." It is a position unique to Everton among the sides in the Premiership's upper echelons. For the likes of Manchester United, Newcastle and Liverpool -teams all currently below the Blues in the table - not qualifying for the Champions League constitutes failure. That brings its own kind of pressure - a weight of expectation which Everton are not having to deal with. And that helps explain why the Blues are playing with such zest and honesty.
It is a point Cahill picks up on. "Personally, I am really enjoying my football right now and I am sure it is the same for the rest of the lads," he continues. "The games can't come fast enough right now. I just want to go out against Bolton and help us get another three points. "I am just happy to keep plugging away and doing what I do best." And that has been marshalling the Everton midfield.
Alongside Lee Carsley, Cahill has provided the bite in the centre of the park which has given Thomas Gravesen the space and time to make an impression in the final third of the pitch. But that full-blooded approach has brought its own headaches. The Australian international is now one booking away from an automatic one-match ban, having already served a suspension earlier this season for a red card at Manchester City. It is a problem the 24-year-old has learned to deal with. He adds: "You want to start every game and you want to be a part of things but obviously cards come into play. "But it is something I don't think about. Last year I got something like 15 yellows and two reds, but they were all from challenges. "I am not a cynical player, but I am competitive and sometimes that is just the way it goes. "I just want to be consistent and I am taking as much as I can out of training and out of playing with such good players." That consistency has helped him become a firm favourite with fans since his arrival in a £2m deal from Millwall in the summer. "I think the players you work with help your own form," he explains. "It is all about getting the right balance and knowing what your limits are. "You just do what you feel is right and at the moment everything feels right. "We are just working as a team and even if you make mistakes you work harder and win the ball back.
"It will be the same approach against Bolton. They are similar to ourselves in that they are working hard and are grinding out results. We just need to be prepared for that and we will be."

No holding back as Cahill walks derby tightrope
Dec 3 2004 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
TIM CAHILL insists he will not curb his committed approach against Bolton tomorrow, even if it means missing the 200th Merseyside derby. The Australian international, along with team-mate Kevin Kilbane, is now one caution away from an automatic one-match suspension. Under new FA guidelines introduced this season, if the player picks up that yellow tomorrow his ban will begin seven days later - on the day the Blues entertain Liverpool at Goodison. But Cahill told the ECHO today: "The Bolton game is just as important as the derby for us, if not bigger because they are the next set of points available to us. "We need the three points and to do that each player has to go in at 100 per cent. "Obviously, the prospect of getting a suspension is in the back of the mind. But it is something you have to leave there because I need to do a job for the team and I can't think about myself. "The approach from myself and Kevin (Kilbane) will be the same as normal. We have just got to focus on this match." Cahill's fourth booking came in last weekend's 1-1 draw at Newcastle.

If he can avoid a caution until the end of February, the threat of a ban will be lifted as that is when the FA lifts the five caution rule. With such a small squad at his disposal, manager David Moyes could be forgiven for issuing special instructions to his players regarding yellow cards, particularly with the derby looming. But the Goodison chief said today: "I will just tell them to do what they have been doing all season. The only game we are interested in is Bolton."

Walter wants duo to return
Dec 3 2004 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
WALTER SMITH is prepared to talk to Everton's retired international duo of Duncan Ferguson and David Weir in a bid to tempt them back to Scotland duty. The former Goodison chief (right) was finally appointed Scotland's new manager yesterday, replacing Berti Vogts who resigned last month.
And he wasted no time in admitting he would explore every avenue to ensure he can field the strongest possible Scotland side - including tempting Ferguson and Weir out of international exile.
"If there are players who have said they no longer want to play for their country then I will sit down and talk to them," he said. Ferguson has not played for his country since falling out with the Scottish Football Association in 1997. The striker is highly unlikely to end his self-imposed exile. Weir quit playing for Scotland two years ago after being criticised by Vogts following a 2-2 draw with the Faroe Islands. The veteran defender is expected to resist any attempt to lure him back. He admitted following Vogts' departure: "Playing for Everton is great - and it is hard enough staying in this side.
"I want to give 100 per cent to this team. International football is so competitive and it takes so much of your energy and I don't think that is the right thing for me to do." And team-mate Alan Stubbs believes Smith has little chance of changing Weir's mind. He said: "It will be a tough job for Walter to persuade David out of retirement. "He's definitely playing well enough, but I'd be surprised if he did come back. "I'm delighted for Walter that he is back in football. The players here won't say a bad thing about him. "They have massive respect for him and a lot of the Scottish lads are delighted he has got the job." But Richard Gough, a former team- mate of Weir's, is not so sure he will say no. He said: "I was in California when Walter rang me and asked me to come out of retirement for Everton. "He will want the best players he can get for Scotland and players will want to play for Walter." Smith's appointment has been welcomed within the game, with David Moyes backing the man he replaced at Goodison. He said: "It is a good appointment, but if it is a case of being judged on the first team in Scotland then that would be harsh on anybody. "He knows the system and how the SFA work and maybe there is a case for Walter to come in and restructure what's going on behind the scenes."

Contract 'carrot' will not soil our season - Stubbs
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Dec 4 2004
OF THE most credible explanations put forward for Everton's dramatic transformation this season is the fact 11 players are fighting for their futures. The question is, how long can the carrot be kept dangling? The incentive to earn a new contract is as strong as the motivation to prove last season was merely a blip under David Moyes amongst the Goodison squad. But with free foreign transfers available from January, along with domestic deals in March, there is an obvious danger that the unity of Moyes's squad could be disrupted by outside distractions or divisions between those with new contracts and those without. Not so, insists Alan Stubbs. It is testament to the professionalism of the Everton squad that this double-edged sword has in no way punctured their season so far.
And the Everton skipper, out of contract next summer but close to agreeing a new deal with his boyhood club, insists the desire to maintain present day pride will remain the over-riding motivation for a squad playing for its future. "I don't think standard of performance will drop from the play-ers the longer there is no decision over their contracts," he declared. "I don't think it's even a question that the players' standards would be compromised over the contract situation. With the spirit we have got here, that's the last thing on their minds right now. "The sooner we get to 42 points then the better it is for us. Hope-fully we can do it by Christmas, because then we can concentrate on other things like a top 10 place and European qualification. "Obviously, there is a carrot dangling in front of us all now. In my time here, I don't think you can question the players' professionalism.
"If it comes to March and no contract has been offered, then players can speak to other clubs, January if there are foreign clubs involved. So it works both ways. That's why the clubs have big decisions to make, not only the players. "I've spoken to the club about my contract and I don't think we are that far away. I'm hopeful something can be sorted." Stubbs, along with Leon Osman, Thomas Gravesen and Gary Naysmith, is one of several first team members approached by chief executive Keith Wyness over an extension to his existing deal. At 33 the defender is at an age where his career is measured in performances rather than contracts but if there is a vulnerability around the 'Everton 11' then that applies to the club too. He explains: "In an ideal world, the manager would like to give everyone a contract who is playing well in the team. But it isn't an ideal world, and the club's finances will influence things. "A few of the older lads go out there, and to be honest we're happy to be playing. If we get a new contract then great, but it's not the end of the world if we don't get one. I'm sure there are other clubs who have seen how the play-ers have performed and would be willing to take them on. "The ball is in the club's court, it's as simple as that. The most important thing for the players is to keep going and playing. "The longer the club leave it, the more it forces their hand. To let 11 players go out of contract at the end of summer would cost them a fair bit of money to replace them. Personally, I don't think they can let all 11 players go." As the events of this season have already shown uncertainty does not automatically lead to an unsettled side.
Stubbs admits: "If things are not all right now, they never will be. The results have been good. We just can't wait for every game at the moment, we are looking forward to it. It's a complete contrast to last season. Quite a few things have changed since then, but a lot of it is down to the confidence in the team now that we have started winning games. Everyone can see we are playing to our maximum week in, week out. "We have a similar belief to the season before last, where we'd win a lot of games 1-0 and we'd be coming back from a goal down to get draws. "Last season, when you lose a few games and things don't go your way, then the confidence drops away. We lost a lot of games by one goal last season and we started to worry and look at the table, and that affected us.
"At home we have done pretty well and away from home we have been even better. The games we have lost at home, we didn't deserve to lose against Tottenham at all but against Arsenal we were well beaten. "But apart from that Arsenal game, we have had no other major blips. We played well at Chelsea and came away with nothing, and there haven't been any game were we've dipped below the standards we are setting ourselves." Certainly Everton can ill-afford a dip in form when Stubbs welcomes his former club Bolton to Goodison this afternoon. Though far more direct than Everton Sam Allardyce's team have also shown the profits of organisation and maximum effort this season, taking points off Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool along the way. "Bolton have done well the last few seasons," said Stubbs.. "Sam has done a great job there with a restricted budget and done a lot of wheeling and dealing in the transfer market with loans and short-term contracts. "You have to admire what he has done, and it isn't really a surprise to see where they are in the table. Bolton are a top 10 team now, and that is what our aim at Everton is at the moment.
"We want people to look at us as a top 10 team, and once we have established ourselves as that, then we can move on to the next thing. "We have to look at the kind of consistency Bolton are managing in the Premiership and try and copy that. There will be a bit of money for the manager to spend in January and I'm sure that he won't want to be searching around for free transfers at the end of the season." With only 15 games gone David Moyes understandably kept talk of Europe at bay for as long as possible. The draw at Newcastle last Sunday, however, prompted the Goodison manager to openly admit that the time has come for the club to start aiming high. Stubbs is happy to accept any increase in pressure such talk generates. And he hopes money will be made available, with the club still awaiting the promise of the Fortress Sports Fund investment just days before the AGM, to take Everton even further than their first season of rich promise under Moyes. The defender states: "The blip in our form isn't this year. It was last year when we didn't do well. But that is in the past and we are looking forward now. We are all pulling in the right direction and we are looking at what is ahead of us and not what's behind us. "We've proven in the past we can be up towards the top of the table, and we only fell away last time because the size of the squad started to take its toll. Hopefully we will learn from that this season, and the experiences of the past will stand us in good stead. "Pre-season was the key, I think. We all had a good talk and spoke about a number of things. We were honest with each other and took things on the chin and moved on. "We went away to Austria and America and had a good time out there, worked our socks off and had some good nights out together. It seems to have snowballed from there. "We had the worst possible start against Arsenal and from then people wrote us off straight away. But we went down to Crystal Palace and got a good result and it's been good ever since. "The Wayne situation being sorted out also made things a lot clearer. £27million for the club made things a whole lot clearer. It makes it easier to make decisions and take the club forward knowing that you have that much money at hand. What we are doing on the pitch is also helping move things forward off the pitch."

Everton 3, Bolton 2 (D,Post)
Dec 6 2004 By Andy Hunter at Goodison Park, Daily Post
IF this doesn't make "proposed" disappear from the Fortress Sports Fund's investment in Everton, then nothing will. The blood was up throughout Everton's passionate encounter with Bolton on Saturday but release of victory should ensure a more convivial air than usual surrounds the club's Annual General Meeting tomorrow night. Up to a point. Bill Kenwright and the Goodison board bought themselves precious time at September's EGM by promising news of investment, stadiums and long-term business plans by the time they next met their shareholders. With David Moyes's team continuing to defy expectations on the pitch, it is now up to the club's hierarchy to deliver what has always been expected of them. Hopefully, for the sake of the unity that has helped carry Everton into third if nothing else, a positive announcement about the multi-million pound investment will be made in the Alex Young Suite tomorrow. Assurances that the Fortress money is almost at hand have been given for several weeks now. And if the Swiss-based consortium did require one final push in the right direction, then it is no wonder chairman Ken-wright was "in heaven" after Saturday's exhilarating performance and result. Investing in football no longer pays immediate dividends for the emotionless businessman. Investing in a debt-ridden club like Everton would appear to bring no dividends at all. Until you consider what Moyes has now generated at Goodison Park, that is. First of all he has a team that has gelled and has momentum behind it, flashing in the pan or otherwise. More importantly, the Everton manager is now only nine more victories away from taking the club into Europe. In recent years 60 points has been a guarantee of European football. Therefore, if Everton collect another 27 points from the final 22 games of this extraordinary campaign then any would-be investor stands to make an instant return on his millions.
Everton are the cheapest club to invest in of any in the Premiership's top seven and if someone is willing to back Moyes's fine deeds with transfer action in January, then the potential is obvious.
But there do need to be additions in January. That is not being disrespectful to the players who have made outstanding contributions all season, just a fact. Those nine victories will seem an arduous challenge once injuries and suspensions bite, and Moyes withdrew two players on Saturday - Tim Cahill and Kevin Kilbane - who would have missed the derby had they collected a booking in a feisty contest with Bolton. But, as Alan Stubbs insisted before the game when discussing the amount of contracts still to be earned this season, Everton are not easily distracted from the task of winning this season and Saturday provided the clearest illustration of that. "We are strong mentally. Physically? I am sure it will take its toll at some point but it doesn't look like it at the moment and this was a big win for us," said Moyes afterwards. "Now I hope we get a similar number of wins in the second half of the season. We are in a cycle of doing well at the moment, one good win leads into another, and the players are giving it everything they can to keep it going. "To come from behind and beat Bolton late on shows there is no sign of fatigue, just how strong they are physically and mentally." Those qualities were tested to the limit on Saturday as Everton overcame the awkward, aggravating obstacle of Bolton to record perhaps their finest victory of the season so far.
It was not one for the coaching manual of "The Beautiful Game", but thrilling, engrossing and memorable nonetheless as Kevin Davies twice put the visitors in front only for Everton to rise above intimidation and finally beat Bolton into submission. Both sides began with a 4-1-4-1 system, as Moyes gave Duncan Ferguson his first Premiership start of the season in order to help quell the visitors' aerial and set-piece threat. Initially, it didn't work. Ferguson failed to prevent Radhi Jaidi pressurising Nigel Martyn into spilling Stelios Giannakopoulos's corner, with Davies on hand to return the loose ball through a crowd of bodies and into the Gwladys Street net on 16 minutes.
Bolton's four-man support team to their lone striker were far more effective in the first half while Liverpool target Ivan Campo kept Thomas Gravesen in check and revelled in the space Everton afforded him. In stoppage time, however, Ferguson met Alessandro Pistone's exquisite cross and with a trademark finish headed the home side level. When the second half restarted, Campo was instantly crowded out and Everton finally began to assert control, though not without falling behind once again when Davies rose at the back post to send Nicky Hunt's cross looping over the stranded Martyn in the 59th minute. Having drawn with Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United this season and beaten Liverpool and Newcastle, Sam Allardyce's team would have expected Davies's goal to settle matters at Goodison, and Henrik Pedersen might have had he not completely missed Jay-Jay Okocha's throughball 10 minutes later. But perhaps because of such confidence they ultimately left Goodison Park beaten and ludicrously bitter. Everton were in the ascendancy when Davies scored and deservedly levelled when Gravesen arrowed a free-kick from the edge of the area into Jussi Jaaskelainen's bottom corner, albeit at the second attempt after Okocha was booked for stepping out of the wall and blocking the first effort. The goal incensed Bolton and drew this tiresome, ridiculous response from Allardyce afterwards: "I am bitterly disappointed in the performance and the result. We should have got at least a point but the referee had a major influence on us losing this game, especially with their second goal. Ivan Campo was fouled on the edge of their box yet he gives Everton the free-kick. They went straight down the other end and got another free-kick on the edge of our box. "Jay-Jay stepped towards the ball and jumped out of the way and the ball hit him. 99 referees out of 100 wouldn't have punished that, he certainly wouldn't have give it at the other end, but he was influenced by the crowd. "When a referee comes into the Premier League he needs to have the mental resilience for when the going gets tough. He didn't treat us fairly." On this evidence the referee's panel should take all of three seconds to dismiss Allardyce's moaning with the contempt it deserves. Let us go over that complaint once again. Allardyce admits his player committed an offence by stepping out of the wall yet it is the referee's fault for punishing it? No wonder paranoia engulfs match officials. Yes, Howard Webb had a dire game as far as both teams were concerned, but bizarrely his leniency lent to this game's appeal and Bolton should just be thankful at how far their gamesmanship took them. By allowing several elbows, lunges and theatrics to go unpunished, Webb gave the crowd something to get worked up about. Allardyce was understandably upset at not taking a point from this game, they could have had all three, but the longer his rant continued the more he made Arsene Wenger appear the most gracious loser in the game. Bolton are like Jose Mourinho's Porto only without skill or flair. Extremely well-organised and effective, yet by resorting to every trick in the book and reacting bitterly when penalised they merit no sympathy. They are a horrible side, and it is to Everton's credit that they were not swayed from the scent of victory which arrived five minutes from time when Jaidi sliced Leon Osman's half volley beyond his own goalkeeper to send Goodison, and hopefully the Fortress Sports Fund, into raptures.
EVERTON (4-1-4-1): Martyn; Hibbert, Weir, Stubbs, Pistone; Carsley; Bent, Cahill (Osman 68), Gravesen, Kilbane (McFadden 68); Ferguson (Yobo 86). Subs: Wright, Watson
BOLTON (4-1-4-1): Jaaskelainen; Hunt, Jaidi, Hierro, N'Gotty; Campo; Giannakopoulos (Nolan 85), Okocha (Ferdinand 85), Speed, Pedersen; Davies. Subs: Poole, Barness, Cesar.
BOOKINGS: Davies (foul), Okocha (encroachment), Hunt (dissent)
REFEREE: Howard Webb
ATT: 35,929
NEXT GAME: Everton v Liverpool, Premiership, Saturday 12.45pm

Ferguson in running for derby duty
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Dec 6 2004
MARCUS BENT believes Duncan Ferguson has handed David Moyes a derby dilemma after his towering contribution against Bolton on Saturday. Ferguson scored his fourth goal of the season in his first Premiership start as Everton came from behind to beat Sam Allardyce's side at Goodison Park. The big Scot (left) also won the free-kick that produced Thomas Gravesen's leveller after Kevin Davies had put the visitors in front for a second time. Bent admits he welcomed extra support from Ferguson after being deployed as a lone striker for most of the season. But with Leon Osman playing a key role in the 85th-minute winner after coming off the bench, Bent believes his manager faces a difficult selection call for the 200th Merseyside derby with Liverpool. Bent, who delivered another tireless display in Everton's 10th win of the season, said: "Duncan has done well in the last few games and started against Bolton and scored, so he is showing what he can do on the pitch. There is no question he can still do it at this level. "Duncan isn't going to chase everything like I do, his game is different, but he gives me a little bit more freedom to get on the end of his flicks. Duncan's game helps mine and hopefully it will continue next week but the gaffer has been changing things around and it has been getting us results all season. "Leon has been doing really well and helped us get the winner when he came on, Duncan has scored a few after coming on as a substitute and Faddy, bless his heart, has been desperate to get a chance and did really well when he came on. "We were winning before Duncan came in and with him in. That's all that matters so I am not going to tell the gaffer what to do." He added: "I've been on my own so long this season that it feels a bit alien when there is someone else alongside me. To start with I was in between the right and attack and to be honest I didn't really know where I was going, it was a bit of a weird position, and I didn't know whether to track back or help Duncan. "The gaffer changed it around and put me up front and I felt more at home there. It was a bit strange having someone flick the balls on and running on to them but we started to put more pressure on them and that changed the game. With two up front and we started to pressure them a lot more." Davies twice gave Bolton the lead as Everton struggled to contain the visitors' aerial prowess. But Bent believes the home side's response showed another side to their game as they recorded a pulsating victory that Moyes rated as "our best win of the season".
"Bolton are a physical side and we had been working all week on what we were going to face," said Bent.. "They work hard, battle hard, they get a lot of free-kicks and throw-ins and have turned a lot of good teams over this season. "We are not renowned for the physical side of our game but we stood up to the test and came through it. That is another positive to our game. "The gaffer tried another formation and maybe it didn't work early on but he changed it around and we got our rewards in the second half." Gravesen's equalising free-kick, after referee Howard Webb penalised Jay-Jay Okocha for encroachment and ordered a retake, brought bitter complaints from the visitors.
But Bent said: "I don't know what they were complaining about. I was asking the Bolton players what was going on and they said Okocha went forward before the ball was kicked so the referee gave another free-kick. "I thought he would move the wall back 10 yards but he said that's not the case anymore. The referee did his job, he did it well for us and we got a goal out of it so who cares?"
Bent was also involved in a mix-up when he left the field to a standing ovation in the 86th minute - only to discover he wasn't being substituted. He explained: "I saw Joey Yobo about to come on and a number seven so I just thought I was coming off. So I jogged over and when I got to the touchline I realised it was the Bolton number seven! "It was nice to stay on, I've come off in the last few games and I like to finish them, but to be honest I felt like a right idiot!"

Squad is doing the job for us - Moyes
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Dec 6 2004
DAVID MOYES has hailed the impact of his fringe players after Everton extended their stay in the top three on Saturday. The 3-2 victory over Bolton included goals from Duncan Ferguson - making only his second Premiership start of the season - and a deflected shot by Leon Osman, who came off the bench. James McFadden and Joseph Yobo were also given rare run-outs and Moyes insisted all the squad will have a part to play as Everton head towards the hectic Christmas period. "We don't have the biggest squad but everyone will get a chance and everyone is playing their part," said the Everton manager. "I was delighted to see James McFadden get a good run-out and play really well, we all know about Leon Osman, Duncan Ferguson started and scored and even in the five minutes he was on I thought Joseph Yobo looked immense. Everyone will play a part at some point.
"The players know that if there is a dip in form we can replace them. Joseph keeps Alan Stubbs and Davie Weir on their toes, we can move Alessandro to right-back if Tony Hibbert dips, or Gary Naysmith at left-back if Alessandro dips. "Of course we would like more players if we can, it wasn't designed this way, but you can only use 16 players and everyone wants to be involved on a Saturday." Midfielder Osman described the desire within the squad to succeed: "We always believe we can win games. We say that all the time. The circumstances were that at that time we were getting beaten, but the desire and belief doesn't change." Bolton manager Sam Allardyce was still fuming at what he perceived as a poor performance from referee Howard Webb, with Allardyce aggrieved in particular at a booking for Kevin Davies. "Kevin Davies didn't simulate or dive," he said. "He got booked because David Weir wrestled him to the ground with a forearm smash and he got up and took his frustration out on him."

Blues on their travels after Cup draw
Daily Post
Dec 6 2004
EVERTON face a long journey to Coca-Cola Championship side Plymouth Argyle after FA Cup third round draw was made yesterday. David Moyes's men will travel to Home Park to take on Bobby Williamson's side, who are currently mid-table and beat Burnley 1-0 at the weekend. Everton last played Plymouth in the FA Cup in 1989, when they were held 1-1 away in the fourth round before winning 4-0 in the replay en route to the final. The side also clashed at Plymouth at the same stage of the competition in 1975, with Everton emerging 3-1 victors. FA CUP THIRD ROUND DRAW: Arsenal v Stoke, Swindon/Notts Co v Middlesbrough, Man Utd v Exeter, Plymouth v Everton, Leicester v Blackpool, Derby v Wigan, Sunderland v Crystal Palace, Wolves v Millwall, Yeading v Newcastle, Hull v Colchester, Tottenham v Brighton, Reading v Stockport/ Swansea, Birmingham v Leeds, Hartlepool v Boston, Milton Keynes Dons v Peterborough, Oldham v Man City, Chelsea v Scunthorpe, Cardiff v Blackburn, Charlton v Rochdale, West Ham v Norwich, Sheff Utd v Aston Villa, Preston v West Brom, Rotherham v Yeovil, Burnley v Liverpool, Bournemouth v Chester, Coventry v Crewe, Watford v Fulham, Ipswich v Bolton, Portsmouth v Gillingham, Northampton v Southampton, QPR v Nottm For, Luton v Hinckley/Brentford. Matches to be played January 8-9

Great how team refuses to buckle
View from the stands by Miles Shackley Everton supporter, Daily Post
Dec 6 2004
LET'S be honest, it wasn't pretty. Two sides matching each other for effort, commitment and determination over 90 minutes, separated only by the footballing equivalent of the toss of a coin.
Bolton will doubtless feel aggrieved at the result. Their collective fury at the twice-taken free-kick that led to Everton's second equaliser was manifest. It would be easy for me to dismiss that in a churlish fashion, so let's crack on with it. If the free-kick is taken 18 yards from goal, and the ball strikes the defender 12 yards from goal, that makes six yards between the free-kick and the defending wall. I'm no statistician, but I make that less than 10 yards. Rules is rules, Lancashire.
It was a pleasure seeing Everton stand up in the face of an increasingly physical and irate Bolton side and walk away laughing, knowing that victory was ours. We've been steamrollered and intimidated into submission in games like that in the past, and it's nice to see that the side can look after themselves in the face of a real battle. Bolton settled very well in the first half and missed a couple of half-decent chances before opening the scoring through the clearly not fat Kevin Davies. Everton, to their credit, didn't lose their shape or resort to launching the ball long at Ferguson. Having equalised on the stroke of half-time, surrendering the lead again could have had huge repercussions. In the corresponding fixture last year, Everton did just that and never recovered. It's been almost half a season now, and we keep not losing. Our aristocratic southern cousins seem unconcerned. In the meantime, 33 points and not an Easter egg in sight. Long may it last.

Everton 3, Bolton 2 (Echo)
Dec 6 2004 By Scott McLeod at Goodison Park, Liverpool Echo
KNOWING your history is all well and good. But this Everton side seem more intent on making it.
And as they do so they are providing echoes from the past. A splash of the School of Science, an injection of the Dogs of War and a dose of the Spirit of 85 are making David Moyes' class of 2005 a joy to behold - even when things don't go to plan. This was a long way short of the best performance of the season. But it was easily the most thrilling game - and satisfying result.
Twice the Blues were behind. Twice they came back. And when the tension was cranked up to the max in the closing stages it was the home side which showed the greater desire to snatch all three points - all on an off day. The glass-jaw analogy is often used in football. Everton's is made of granite. They utilised it against the toughest, most competitive outfit they have faced all season.
Sort of makes a mockery of the suggestion this Everton side is going to capitulate its way down the league table, doesn't it? Whatever challenge Everton have faced, they have risen to. And there is no sign of the momentum stopping. But why should it? They are playing as well as any side in the division, combining organisation and effort with a fair degree of flair. It has provided 33 points already. And with 22 games left to play, the Blues are now just 27 points away from the mark at which European qualification is normally guaranteed. Maybe I am getting a little carried away, but I have faith in the players in the Goodison ranks notching up those points. Saturday justified that faith. Bolton are cynical, petulant and committed in equal measure. And they know how to ping the ball around as well. Those characteristics combined in the opening 45 minutes of this contest to ensure Everton were second-best. The Blues deserved to be a goal down to Kevin Davies' 16th minute half volley. For the first time in more than two months Moyes chose to make an unenforced change to his starting line-up, bringing in Duncan Ferguson in place of Leon Osman. The Scot started up front on his own, with Marcus Bent slipping onto the right flank. If it was a switch aimed specifically at combating the visitors, it failed. The manager wasted no time in switching things around. But it was the players who deserve all the credit. Forget tactical nuances, this result was all down to their heart, guts and, crucially, maturity. The overly-physical approach of the likes of Kevin Davies and Jaidi could have distracted the Blues. But Everton remained focused, with even Ferguson showing restraint despite undue attention from the opposition and very poor referee Howard Webb.
On this evidence, playing the full 90 minutes in the Premiership is something the veteran striker is going to struggle with on a weekly basis. Yet he can still call on enough of the qualities which made him a hero in the mid-90s to impact on matches, albeit fleetingly. And he remains a decent target-man, as Alessandro Pistone demonstrated on the stroke of half-time, producing a great early cross from the left which the striker headed home. It proved the turning point which teed up Goodison for an enthralling second half. Davies fluked a second goal, looping a back post header over Nigel Martyn from the tightest of angles to restore Bolton's lead. There should have been a sense of foreboding. Last season, there would have been. But there is something about this side. They don't know when they are beaten. Yes, the squad is threadbare. But with the players feeding off each other to produce that spirit, it doesn't seem to matter. The equaliser came 15 minutes from time - and was the signal for an onslaught of moans and groans from the Trotters. There was no dispute with the award of the free-kick for a foul on Ferguson on the edge of the box. But Thomas Gravesen's initial thunderbolt was charged down by Jay-Jay Okocha's untimely charge from the defensive wall, leading the ref to order the kick to be re-taken. At the second time of asking, the Dane drilled the ball through a gap in the wall and into the bottom left corner of the net. "The first one would have gone in as well if the player hadn't run out," the midfielder joked after the game.
Most sides would have settled for having restored the status quo. But Everton kept pushing forward.
Gravesen, who was majestic during the second period, was at the heart of much of the best moments. There were others who stood out. David Weir was outstanding in the heart of defence, Pistone produced his finest display of the season and if Marcus Bent was sponsored by Air Miles he would have enough for a Christmas shopping trip to Milan this week. The Blues needed to have those players on form. Because Bolton were the toughest opposition they have faced, not in terms of quality but in terms of guile. It is easy to understand why they have done so well. But on this evidence, it is wrong for critics to put Everton in the same bracket. There is greater quality to Everton's football. It wasn't muscle which won this game. It was tenacity. It was rewarded six minutes from time when a Gravesen corner deep into the area picked out Osman. His half-volley was destined for the far corner before Jaidi intervened, mis-cueing and deflecting the ball beyond Jaaskelainen inside the near post. It was another example of how a side can create its own luck.
So in those terms, yes, Everton are lucky to be where they are in the table. And I suspect they will still be making the most of their good luck right to the end of the season, just as Arsenal and Chelsea will. The reluctance to talk of Europe is understandable. But, based on the way they have played in the opening 16 games, I find it easier to comprehend Everton remaining where they are than falling away. Moyes has been guaranteed a transfer kitty in the region of £10m for January, regardless of whether the Fortress Sports Fund investment is secured or not. That money will add numbers to the ranks. And the Goodison chief is intent on ensuring the players that do come in fit, not just in terms of ability but also temperament. That will be a tough task, because the players he already has are playing well enough to earn comparisons with some of the teams from Evertonians illustrious history.
EVERTON (4-1-4-1): Martyn; Hibbert, Weir, Stubbs, Pistone; Carsley; Bent, Cahill (Osman 68), Gravesen, Kilbane (McFadden 68); Ferguson (Yobo 86). Subs: Wright, Watson
BOLTON (4-1-4-1): Jaaskelainen; Hunt, Jaidi, Hierro, N'Gotty; Campo; Giannakopoulos (Nolan 85), Okocha (Ferdinand 85), Speed, Pedersen; Davies. Subs: Poole, Barness, Cesar.
BOOKINGS: Davies (foul), Okocha (encroachment), Hunt (dissent)
REFEREE: Howard Webb
ATT: 35,929
NEXT GAME: Everton v Liverpool, Premiership, Saturday 12.45pm

We are flying high - Grav
Dec 6 2004 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
THOMAS GRAVESEN has warned the rest of the Premiership that Everton have found the perfect balance of character and talent to maintain their sizzling start to the season. The Blues have come from behind in their last two Premiership outings against Newcastle and Bolton to claim four points from the six available. Those results have exposed the self-belief in the side and helped Everton open up an eight point cushion on the sides outside the European places. But, with the 200th Merseyside derby on the horizon, the Danish international (pictured) believes the squad has not received the recognition it deserves for the talent in the ranks. Gravesen said: "There are some world class players in our team. Talent always shines through in the end. "It would be wrong for me to say the team hasn't got any stars and our success is all about team spirit. We have a lot of really good players. "But the character is in the team right now too, and it showed against Bolton with us coming from behind twice before Leon (Osman) got the winner. We believe in our strength and in our team. "We don't get too nervous anymore because we believe in our strength. With Duncan (Ferguson) and Marcus (Bent) up front we have two terrific goalscorers and with Leon and Tim (Cahill) from midfield and Cars (Lee Carsley) with his free-kicks, we have a strong team going forward. "And defence tells its own story because we have the second best record in the league.
"We seem to have found the right way of playing. But it is also about preparation and talent."
Those factors combined perfectly to over-come the substantial challenge of Bolton on Saturday.
He continues: "I love every win we get, but this match was very difficult because Bolton have a specific style of playing and it doesn't suit us. "But we coped with it the best way we could, we tried to prepare ourselves the right way to engage them and we knew what they were about. We watched videos of how they were playing, so we were ready for them. "For us to win the game was a massive result. It was never going to be polished football which won it, it was always going to be a scrap. We managed to deal with that the best way we could." Gravesen netted his fifth goal of the campaign on Saturday. That is already his best ever return in a season. But it is not a statistic he is focusing on. He added: "I am more pleased with the way the team is playing than the number of goals I have scored now. It has always been like that, because if you are a good player you become a better player in a good team. "But of course it is nice to score goals and be a part of it. That means a lot to me."

Aggression can only take a team so far
Dec 6 2004 Analysis by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
IRECT, physical football can still be an effective tactic even in today's officious, aggression tamed game. But it can only take a team so far. Which is why Bolton Wanderers appear to have temporarily run out of ideas, while Everton ground out their most impressive result of the season so far on Saturday. The Blues have been ridiculously labelled "ugly," "unattractive" and "worth watching only from behind the couch" this season.. Quite how often Alan Green and Mark Lawrenson have been at Everton matches this season is unclear, but at least Lawrenson had the good grace to confess he might have called Saturday's match wrong. Green, of course, is never wrong. So let's just call his comments plain stupid. Everton do not play route one football - any fool with an ounce of tactical knowledge and a pair of fully functioning eyes can see that - they have more midfield marksmen than almost any other club - and they have committed fewer fouls this season than (take a deep breath) Aston Villa, Birmingham, Blackburn, Bolton, Charlton, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Fulham, Manchester City, Norwich, Southampton, Spurs and West Brom. Boorish Bolton, however. . . let's just say it's easy to see how El-Hadji Diouf fits in there. Kevin Davies may be angel-faced, but his cynical, calculating, bumpercar brand of front-running had the Goodison crowd howling for refereeing action long before he decided he had got away with so much for so long that he might also get away with a crude, tackle from behind on David Weir. He didn't. Referee Howard Webb finally spotted that foul and brandished a belated yellow card. There was some press box confusion before the match as to Mr H Webb's christian name. A couple of misguided souls thought his name must be Harry - making him a namesake of the man AKA Cliff Richard. That was patently ridiculous. Everyone loves Cliff, while this Mr Webb managed to upset almost everybody. His reluctance to clamp down on any of Bolton's wilful gamesmanship saw him loudly booed as he left the pitch at the interval. He appeared to be trying to redress the balance in the second half, missing a McFadden foul on Ivan Campo which allowed Everton to break and win the free-kick which yielded the equaliser. But after so much petty niggling and whingeing, it was hard not to feel that the visitors had it coming. And complaints surrounding the equalising goal were utterly unfounded.
Duncan Ferguson was hauled down by Jaidi just as he was about to complete a sugar-sweet turn, Jay Jay Okocha was one of three Bolton play-ers clearly encroaching and Thomas Gravesen's re-taken strike ensured they were punished. What may have been a justifiable complaint was Alan Stubbs' American Football style charge to splinter the Bolton wall and offer Gravesen a clean target to shoot through. But that wasn't spotted until the TV cameras slowed things down five-and-a-half hours later. Sadly the cameras didn't also show Jaidi's bizarre kung-fu kicking challenge on Gravesen in time added on - but by then the team actually trying to play some football had won. Gravesen was an integral part of that triumph, but so, too, was Alessandro Pistone, an unsung example of the technical accomplishment Everton do possess. Echo columnist Barry Horne described him as "Rolls Royce of a player" this week, and while his breakdown record has often been more second-hand Skoda, it is easy to see what he meant. The cross Pistone effortlessly curved in during first half injury time - a feat he is capable of executing with either foot - was expertly converted by Duncan Ferguson, but it was the kind of cross which demanded the finish it received. There was another example of the Italian's athleticism in the 68th minute. He made a lung-burning overlap to the Bolton byline, which created the space for Kevin Kilbane to dash straight into the penalty area and slam a shot at Jaaskelainen. Bolton instantly broke out in a lightning counter - and who accelerated smoothly back into view to close down Okocha just yards from his own byline? Alessandro Pistone, of course. This current spell is the longest injury-free run the Italian has enjoyed since he moved to Everton three years ago. Perhaps the prospect of Gary Nay-smith breathing down his neck from the sidelines has proved a motivating tool. Duncan Ferguson, of course, decides himself when he is going to be motivated - and thankfully for Everton, Bolton is a team which usually brings out some reaction in him. His only Premiership hat-trick came against The Trotters, so did his last Goodison goal at the tail end of last season - as did a reckless red card a couple of seasons further back.
This time he hurt Bolton with his football, guiding a header past Jaaskelainen for the first equaliser, being brought down for the free-kick which yielded the second and playing on despite a painful neck injury for all but the final few minutes. It's quite something for a team with Duncan Ferguson up front to claim the moral high ground, but Bolton's boorishness allowed Everton to do just that.
Happily they also claimed the actual high ground, now clear in third place with Manchester United offering the only immediate challenge. Misguided critics take note.

Counting down to the big derby
Dec 6 2004 Liverpool Echo
ON Saturday, Everton and Liverpool will contest the 200th Merseyside derby match. It is the most played domestic dust-up in England - it was also the first - and to celebrate the landmark tonight we kick-off a special Echo build-up to the big match. Every night this week we will bring you some of the stories and highlights which have made the Mersey derby the most celebrated local rivalry in the country. The sides first met on October 13, 1894 - three weeks before Manchester's big two met for the first time, four years before Sunder-land and Newcastle kicked off their North East rivalry and 20 years before Arsenal and Spurs first fired shots in anger. Every league clash since then has been in top flight action (170 of them). There have also been 20 FA Cup ties - including two finals, four League Cup ties (in its Milk Cup and Little-woods Cup guises), three Charity Shield clashes and two Screen Sport Super Cup meetings. No other domestic rivalry can come close to matching that achievement - and tonight we commence the countdown to the double century.
McInnes gets ball rolling for Blues
THERE have been 508 goals scored in Merseyside derby matches. The first - scored by Tom McInnes 110 years ago - was received just as riotously as every one since. Huge interest surrounded the first meeting of the two teams at Goodison Park. The great split from which Liverpool were born had taken place only two years earlier - and the Reds spent all week at Hightown undergoing special training in preparation for the match. Everton made the brighter start. Only 10 minutes had elapsed when Stewart took a free-kick into the Liverpool semi-circle (penalty areas and six yard boxes were still many years off) and Tom McInnes headed the first derby goal. The goalscorer was injured 10 minutes before half-time and in the days before substitutes Everton had to continue with 10-men.
He returned after the interval when, according to the ECHO "the crowd had assumed abnormal proportions, estimated at between 35,000 and 40,000." The second goal came from Alex Latta, who shot in from a difficult angle, then after Everton had seen a third goal disallowed they did add another. Most record books give Bell the credit for the goal, but according to the ECHO report "Everton attacked strongly, the ball being put into the net by one of the Liverpool backs, this making Everton's third goal." As it would so many times in the years to follow, the first Mersey derby had ended on a controversial note.
Ref blunder robs Reds of landmark victory
CONTROVERSY surrounded the 50th meeting of the clubs on November 12, 1921 - when "Anfield was agog with excitement." Liverpool had the better of the game, but Everton escaped with a draw thanks to an 82nd minute equaliser from Sam Chedgzoy which led to "the booing of the referee."
Monday's analysis of the incident concluded that Everton's crowd-pleasing Irishman, Bobby Irvine, had picked up possession when he was ruled offside by the referee. The referee, however, realised he had made a mistake and threw the ball down. The quick-thinking Chedgzoy (pictured right) immediately drilled it into the Liverpool net. "The Liverpool partisans did not relish this unexpected development," ran the report "but Irvine might well have scored had he not been wrongly judged offside." The report stated that "Liverpool were the better side," and in Dick Forshaw had "the best forward on the field. He was the mastermind of the Liverpool attack and as a shooter had no equal."
Predictably he opened the scoring for the Reds, but the home side missed numerous chances to make the game safe. This was the age of the Sufragette movement, and Monday's report also added: "I ought to mention that the Press-box was partially filled with femininity - which is a compliment to our good looks, though rather distracting when one's mind is seriously bent upon the game. "The operations of the fair sex, however, were inspiring and stimulating and add a new attraction to the winter pastime. The mere male, in cheering his side on, utters a raucous roar. The ladies cheer on their champions in dulcet tones attuned to the highest pitch of passion." After the 50th Mersey derby both sets of supporters were screaming.
Toffees land big upset
Football League Division One. 19 September, 1964. Liverpool 0, Everton 4.
ACCORDING to the special preview edition of the "Liverpool Evening Express and Echo" ahead of the 100th Merseyside derby: "You can't be without internationals of the calibre of Alex Parker, Roy Vernon, Alex Young an Liverpool only had Alf Arrow-smith missing from their championship-winning side of the previous season. Everton were forced through injury "to turn out what can only be called a makeshift side." In true derby upset tradition, Everton triumphed 4-0! The atmosphere was as fraught as ever. Reports noted that: "The Kop supporters, who reached the heights with a fine reception for the Reykjavik team on Monday night, touched the depths of bad sportsmanship before the great derby game at Anfield this afternoon. "When the young lady dressed as Mother Noblett who walks round the ground before Everton matches, dispensing toffees to the crowd, appeared, she was greeted when she walked in front of the Kop with a barrage of abuse, orange peel and rolled up pieces of paper." The Reds fans were silenced, however, when Derek Temple struck after just 54 seconds. Fred Pickering, making his derby debut, then struck a shot which Tommy Lawrence misjudged to make it 2-0 in the 32nd minute and four minutes before half-time another derby debutant, Colin Harvey, "breasted down Harris's cross from the right and with the assurance of a veteran lobbed it neatly and accurately into the top of the net for a beautifully taken goal." Johnny Morrissey, who started his career at Anfield, rubbed salt into the wound with a magnificent individual goal midway through the second half. And with 2004 marking the 10th anniversary of Eric Cantona's famous one-man crowd invasion, how about this postscript - which merited just two paragraphs at the end of the 1964 match report. "When referee Finney was speaking to Stevens and Thompson after a mild altercation, a large, irate fan emerged from the Kemlyn Road Stand and swung a hefty fist at Stevens. "He connected slightly on the back of Stevens' head.. the police chased and caught the man in the stand, took his name and address and an inspector subsequently asked Stevens if he wished to prosecute. Stevens declined - and on that felicitous note ended one of the most memorable games ever between the clubs."

Barton treble puts Dixie in the shade
HIGHEST SCORING Liverpool 7, Everton 4. February 11, 1933.
HAROLD BARTON was a crowd-pleasing Liverpool right winger who just 12 months earlier had scored all four goals in the Reds' 4--2 FA Cup win at Chesterfield. But on the afternoon of February 11, 1933, he was widely expected to shrink into the background. After all, he was in direct opposition to the experienced and formidable Warney Cresswell, and Everton also had Dixie Dean in their starting line-up. Dean did score twice - the second "a sensational header" - but for once he was upstaged by Barton's glorious hat-trick. In a stunning match, Everton weren't just beaten. . . they were taken apart by a youthful Liverpool side. Dean opened the scoring within nine minutes, exploiting a mistake by Tiny Bradshaw and crashing a shot past Elisha Scott. But just as the home crowd feared the worst, Barton equalised, Hanson gave the Reds a 22nd minute lead and Morrison made it three before half-time. Tommy Johnson tapped in on the stroke of half-time to reduce the deficit to one goal. Rather than an end-to-end tussle, the second half was a procession. "Barton, a mere pretender among such class, showed the value of enthusiasm when he seized on the ball as Cresswell stumbled and forced it over the line." Four-two. Then "Barton again moved through brilliantly for Liverpool's fifth." Dean broke free of Bradshaw's shackles again to make it 5-3, but Roberts and Barton added a sixth and seventh before Jimmy Stein scored a fourth for the visitors which was scant consolation.
Monday's report concluded: "No wonder someone sprang the gag - 7-4, and that was only the first innings score!"
Wilkinson upstages legendary names
THE 150th Merseyside derby had nothing but local pride at stake - but despite Everton being without three-quarters of their title-winning midfield plus top scorer Graeme Sharp, and Liverpool leaving out Lawrenson, Gillespie, Kennedy and Walsh ahead of the following week's European Cup final - more than 51,000 fans still crammed into Goodison. "Baptism of Fire for Wilkinson" declared Thursday night's ECHO ahead of the big game. But Paul Wilkinson overshadowed more celebrated strikers like Ian Rush, Kenny Dalglish and Andy Gray on the pitch by scoring the only goal of the game - while John Wark sent a penalty kick scudding wide of the target. Everton had already clinched the championship three weeks earlier, but the victory gave them their first double over their rivals for 20 years (a treble if the Charity Shield nine months earlier was included). The following day Howard Kendall was named Manager of the Year to cap a stunning season for the Blue half of the city.

Blues chiefs urge: leave cars at home
Dec 6 2004 By Jon Tunney, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON officials have urged fans to leave their cars at home when heading to the derby match.
Fans from both sides of the city's football divide will converge on Goodison Park on Saturday.
But a club spokesman insisted there was no reason to fear traffic gridlock in the north of Liverpool - as long as fans followed a few simple instructions. He said: "To an extent, all clubs in the country are trying to tell fans to leave their cars at home when they go to a football match. "There simply aren't enough parking spots to cater for everyone who wants them and that will certainly be the case this weekend. "There is always a certain amount of congestion when either team plays a home match so the pressure on car parking spots will be doubled this weekend." The spokesman said advice on turning up promptly and looking for other means of transport would be even more important for Saturday's 12.45 kick-off. He said: "Given the time of year there will be a lot of traffic on the roads anyway. The fact that it's also an early kick-off could make things worse. "There are bound to be some fans who forget the start time and turn up to the ground late. "But I would urge fans to follow the advice for other matches despite Saturday's early kick off - get to the game at least 90 minutes before the start. "The last thing we want is congestion at turnstiles just before the game - safety is paramount." The spokesman asked fans to think carefully about they get to the ground, even bearing in mind the instructions on time of arrival. He said: "If people can leave their cars at home then they should do that and they should think about using buses or trains to get to the game.

"If you must come to the game in a car, get here as early as possible and ask friends and family to share the ride."

Dunc has given us so many options
Dec 6 2004 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
MARCUS BENT does not envy David Moyes the selection dilemma Duncan Ferguson has given him for this weekend's 200th Merseyside derby. The Goodison chief made his first unenforced change to a Premiership starting line-up since the trip to Portsmouth at the end of September for Saturday's 3-2 victory over Bolton. Leon Osman was dropped to the bench in order to accommodate Ferguson for his first start in the league this season. And after scoring Everton's opening goal and earning the free-kick which provided the second, strike partner Bent believes Moyes will find it hard to leave out the big Scot for the visit of Liverpool on Saturday. He said: "We had been winning before Saturday. But Dunc came in on Saturday, did really well and now we have another winning side. It is just a question of what the manager favours. "Ossie came on and did well, Dunc has scored and even Faddy is in there." Bent has admitted he found it hard to adjust to playing up front alongside a strike partner on Saturday. He has spent much of the season working alone up front but is ready to develop a partnership with Ferguson if the manager perseveres with a twopronged attack.
He added: "I started out not so much on the right wing, but somewhere in between and I didn't really know where I was going. "It was a bit of a weird position because I didn't know whether to track back or go and help Dunc. It didn't work at first but the gaffer changed it around, put me up front and I started to feel a little bit more at home. "I have always said it feels a little bit alien playing with somebody else. I have got used to playing on my own. "Getting someone else flicking them on and me running after it is a bit strange for me now, but it got better as the game went on.
"And we started putting pressure on them and I think that is where the game changed.
"Dunc isn't going to chase anyone. But if he is there to focus defenders' attention it gives me a little more freedom to get on the end of the ball after Dunc has battled to bring the balls down.
"He has come on and done a job in the last few games and then started on Saturday and scored. He doesn't really need to talk to people because he does it on the pitch. "He is not going to chase around like I do, because that is not his game. His game is getting the ball, holding up and getting into the box and feeding off crosses. "It makes it interesting for next week's game." Everton go into the derby nine points ahead of their local rivals, courtesy of Saturday's victory. It was a game in which the Blues had to call on all their strengths to maintain their third position, coming back from behind twice to secure all three points. "We are not renowned for our physical strength, but I think we stood up to the test quite well and got through it," Bent continued. "That is another positive to our game. "Bolton are a physical side and we had been preparing for that all week. They work hard, they battle hard and that gets them a lot of free-kicks and throw-ins. "They will turn a lot of sides over this season, so it was a good result for us."

Everton group dissolved
Exclusive by Andy Kelly, Daily Post
Dec 7 2004
THE majority shareholding group of Everton Football Club has been dissolved and is expected to clear the way for up to £30m of new investment into the club, the Daily Post can reveal. True Blue Holdings, which owns 72% of Everton, was put into liquidation last Thursday. Club chairman Bill Kenwright - who pledged in September to dissolve TBH as soon as "practically possible" - is due to officially announce the move at Everton's AGM at Goodison Park tonight. True Blue, consisting of directors Mr Kenwright, Paul Gregg and Jon Woods, has been accused of preventing new investment into the club, which will confirm debts of £42m tonight. The group has been in charge at Everton since January, 2000, when it bought the club from Peter Johnson. Last night, Mr Gregg said: "I'm delighted that the campaign which the Shareholders Association and myself have fought for so energetically over the last six months has been achieved. "True Blue Holdings was placed into liquidation last Thursday and we shall now become Everton shareholders. "On the field, David Moyes has delivered fantastic results for both fans and shareholders alike. "The club now needs to move forward and to support every Evertonian's ambition both on the field and off the field with new initiatives and fresh energy." Mr Gregg has been calling for True Blue, in which he and wife, Anita, hold around a 35% stake, to be dissolved since July to allow for new investment to arrive.
The end of True Blue will make it much easier for the former Apollo Leisure owner to dispose of his shares if he desires. The Daily Post understands Mr Gregg may be ready to sell his interest if he can recoup the £7.2m he originally invested. But the move will also allow the Fortress Sports Fund investment supported by Bill Kenwright to proceed. That deal, revealed by the club chairman at an Emergency General Meeting in September, should be completed within two weeks. It will allow FSF to buy a 50.1% stake in the club through two new share issues, the first worth around £12.8m for 29.9%, with an option for a second investment of £17.2m giving them a majority shareholding of 50.1%. Mr Kenwright was unavailable for comment last night, but told September's EGM: "True Blue was simply a vehicle for us to buy the club from Peter Johnson, nothing more or less." Nick Williams, secretary of the Everton Shareholders' Association, said the end of True Blue was "excellent news."
"This is what we were calling for when we brought the petition which created the EGM," he said.
"True Blue Holdings was a block on investment in the club. By removing them, it opens up the possibility of new money. "I'm sure that will follow, possibly after the AGM, and, provided it is not conditioned on anything that is against the principles of the club, I'm sure it will be warmly welcomed. "It's not the announcement but what the dissolution of True Blue means for the club in the long term that is of such major importance."

Everton made to wait on funding
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Dec 7 2004
THE Fortress Sports Fund last night asked for two more weeks to complete its £12.8million investment in Everton after announcing it has raised the capital for the deal. Chris Samuelson, the Swiss-based financier leading the consortium, had hoped to purchase an initial 29.9% stake in Everton ahead of tonight's Annual General Meeting. But he has asked for another 14 days to make his proposal a reality after the exclusivity clause that gave the FSF first option to invest in Everton expired yesterday. The FSF plans to invest £12.8m for a 29.9% stake in Everton, with an option to increase its shareholding to 50.1% for an additional £17.2m. As the Daily Post exclusively reveals today the dissolution of True Blue Holdings has now cleared the way for any potential investor at Goodison Park. But chairman Bill Kenwright has spent months working on a deal with FSF and has granted their request for an extension after receiving assurances the money is in place. Mr Samuelson, who will become an Everton director under the terms of the deal, said: "We are in the final stages of completing the transaction and while we had hoped to have this in place by the AGM, the extensive administration with international regulators has delayed the closing of the transaction.
"I have assured Bill Kenwright that the money is in place and that we are close to being able to release it as we have indicated. "I am grateful to everyone for their patience and we are focused on delivering this investment to ensure we can help to keep Everton going on the successful path it is on this season." Chief executive Keith Wyness added: "We are obviously keen to see this through and have agreed to extend the period of exclusivity for the Fortress Sports Fund. "We have relied on their under-takings that the money will be forthcoming and we are hopeful that this will be the case." The delay in the Fortress investment, however, will not affect David Moyes's spending power in the transfer window. The Everton manager will have between £8m-£10m to spend irrespective of whether the Fortress money is in place or not, with proceeds from the sale of Wayne Rooney generating a sizeable pot for the January sales. Moyes's transfer budget will not rise if the Fortress investment is completed ahead of the transfer window but his recent five-year contract was signed in the knowledge £8-£10m was available, with more to follow next summer. Chief executive Wyness will unveil a new three-year business plan at tonight's AGM and an announcement on the club's new training complex and youth academy is also expected to be made. Everton plan to move into state-of-the-art facilities in Halewood if they can sell their existing Belle-field site to a residential developer. And despite a Liverpool City Council moratorium currently restricting those plans, Goodison officials hope to strike a deal with a prospective buyer that would allow work to begin on the new site next month.

Derby countdown - your memories
Daily Post
Dec 7 2004
Andy's the king
By Paul Cooper Everton Supporter
IT'S goin' to fall to Andy King - BANG.... GOAL! "Number seven is his number and seven years it is since this last happened." Derbies are guaranteed to provide memories, whether it be the words of the commentator, the winning goal or a two-footed challenge. That particular game was my first derby memory. I was seven at the time and looking back, I think that my elders must have been protecting me during the previous years of derby heartache for the Blues. However, the pictures of bobble-hatted, sideburnladened jubilation from around Goodison really brought home to me what beating Liverpool was all about. It is not just about football, it was about head held high in school on Monday, being able to give a little bit back for once. When you're seven, that means a lot. It means something whatever age you are. During the years since we have experienced quite a few (mostly Ian Rush-inflicted) lows but also some more memorable highs: Sharpy's thunderbolt, Rats's 'curveball', Kanchelskis's double and Big Dunc's first goal for the club. In my experience, the recognised better team does seem to win the majority of derbies. Looking at the league table at the moment, that bodes well for the Blues!
Everton 4 Liverpool 4, 1991
POSSIBLY the most exciting derby match ever played, and certainly the most famous, regularly featuring highly in 'Greatest Match Ever' polls. Four times Liverpool went ahead in this FA Cup fifth round replay, only for Everton to remarkably drag themselves back level on each occasion.
Peter Beardsley sent the visitors on their way, only for Graeme Sharp to equalise just after half-time.
Beardsley then made it 2-1 but Sharp scored again, then Ian Rush headed what seemed the winner until substitute Tony Cottee levelled in the last minute. A sublime John Barnes goal looked to have won it in extra time for Liverpool until Cottee scored his second towards the end. It was all too much for Kenny Dalglish, who quit as Liverpool manager two days later.
The replay? Everton won 1-0.
Immortal Brown
By Andy Proudfoot Liverpool Supporter
I SHOULD really be nominating the 3-2 win at Anfield in November 1970 - the famous comeback after falling 2-0 behind early in the second half. However, having queued for tickets for three hours in the rain (we used to do that) I caught the flu and missed the match! So I'll have to go for the 3-0 win at Goodison almost 12 months earlier. Everton had won their first 10 home games, and were hot favourites to make it 11. Although Colin Harvey was missing through injury, the other members of their famous midfield trio, Alan Ball and Howard Kendall, were in good form and so Shanks pulled one of his master strokes, drafting in Ian Ross to mark Ball so closely they came off wearing the same pair of shorts. Goalless at half-time, Emlyn Hughes opened the scoring, practically erecting scaffolding around John Hurst to climb up and over him to head/shoulder the ball into the net.
Then Sandy Brown earned immortality with the best own goal ever scored, before Bobby Graham rode several tackles before rounding Gordon West for the third. And all at the Park End in front of a horde of rapturous Kopites, including one delirious schoolboy celebrating the best possible present just days before his 15th birthday. More of the same, please.

Should our two great clubs share a stadium?
Daily Post
Dec 7 2004
Chris Brown explains the background to a heated debate THE proposed groundshare between Liverpool and Everton football clubs is currently in deadlock. It now appears the issue will be decided once and for all by the end of this month. Liverpool already have planning permission for a new 60,000-capacity stadium in nearby Stanley Park but costs have gone up to around £130m. The club has applied for a grant from the North West Development Agency (NWDA) but it is thought that will only be available for a shared ground. Last week, Bill Kenwright, Everton chairman, joined LFC chief executive Rick Parry, Sports Minister Richard Caborn, Walton MP Peter Kilfoyle and Regional Development Agency chairman Bryan Gray in London to discuss the shared stadium at the request of the Government. After the meeting, Mr Kenwright ruled out the possibility of his club renting their ground from Liverpool. In July, Liverpool released a statement signalling ground sharing with neighbours Everton will not happen and called for a line to be drawn under the whole matter. Meanwhile, the fans continue to debate what a groundshare would mean to them. Both sides are very loyal to their club and, whether red or blue, they do not want a situation where the team's identity is diluted.
Liverpool and Everton would lose their identity
NO SAYS Richard Pedder, chairman of the LFC Supporters Club
OBVIOUSLY I don't want the ground share. Liverpool, along with Everton as well, would lose their identity. The name of the ground would go and there would be all kinds of complications on sharing a new stadium. Liverpool and Everton football clubs are both historic. Where they play now carry their own identity and are part of their history. Liverpool as well, simply with the name Anfield, carries a meaning. The plaque as the players run out warns them that "This is Anfield." The proposal for a groundshare would lose the name Anfield altogether and hopefully if Liverpool do decide to move then the new ground will keep that name. It is important that the name and identity of the club is kept. With a groundshare, there is a possibility that you could be playing at the stadium three or four times a week. When Everton get into Europe that is going to cause complications. You have got cup replays and all different types of tournaments that happen now which would cause no end of problems for two teams trying to share one stadium pitch-wise. Another problem would be Derby day. With a shared ground and even with season tickets a home advantage would be lost.
With the same ground every time something would be missing for one of the most important games of the season. They say that it is possible to change the colour of the seats for whoever is playing but that does not wash with me. It is not the same. The Government is getting involved with this but a decision still has to be made in the next two or three weeks. It depends on the money as well now. Originally the cost was going to be £80m and now it has gone up. I think that the time has come now where Liverpool have got to make a decision to go for it on their own or stay at Anfield.
Prices of projects do tend to escalate and the decision depends on whether or not they get a grant from the North West Development Agency (NWDA). If they do not get this grant then the club has to sit down and think seriously about making a decision. I cannot speak specifically about Everton but for Liverpool a decision will have to be made soon. There is talk that a joint stadium will regenerate the area. I have been involved in the regeneration myself. You have to see Liverpool as another business that wants to stay in the area and expand. I cannot see a problem with that. Regeneration is important but a separate issue from the ground. Liverpool just want to stay in the area and expand. I can't see a problem with that once all the initial problems such as travel are ironed out.
The decision has got to be made. In two weeks time, Liverpool have got to come out and say where they stand. With such an important decision to be made you cannot take your time, for the sake of the club and the fans.
Two kids' gangs refusing to play with each other
YES SAYS Peter Kilfoyle, Labour MP for Walton
MENTION groundshare to Everton or Liverpool supporters, and you are guaranteed a "free and frank exchange of views" In short, you are in for a passionate argument about the pros and cons of the issue. What you will not get is an objective view of what is in the interests of the clubs, the fans, or those who live around the grounds. If we look at Italy, for example, we discover that great clubs like Inter and AC in Milan, Roma and Lazio in Rome and Juventus and Torino in Turin all happily co-exist using the same stadium. They do not own their respective stadia, either. The municipality, the city council, tends to rent the ground to them. Their concentration is on the playing side, not on maintaining an underused and expensive capital asset like a stadium. In any business other than football, using such an asset perhaps once a fortnight would be seen as madness. Then again, otherwise sensible businessmen forget normal business practice when they enter the fantasy world that is football. Like the fans, they tend to attach an almost religious significance to a stadium.
The fact that it is the performance on the pitch which ultimately counts, is secondary for many.
Fans are tribal in their devotion to "their" club,, although they rarely have any owner-ship of it. In fact, the fans generate the income for a club, but have little or no control of any part of its operations. It is this irrational perception of their team and stadium which stands in the way of groundshare. Modern technology could, for example, turn a club from red to blue to whatever with seats, emblems, the lot at the simple flick of the switch. What it cannot do is change the passion which demands a footballing church, unsullied by other footballing faiths. However, there is another issue here. As can be seen in Barcelona or a number of American cities, a stadium can be the engine for regeneration in a community. Anyone who knows the grounds of Everton and Liverpool, also knows that their neighbourhoods need fundamental renewal. The proposed Liverpool stadium will trigger that regeneration. Everton will be left as the poor relation unless they either rebuild their stadium, or relocate to a new site. Either option requires massive input of cash; and Everton just don't have it. Everton will not agree to be a tenant of Liverpool in the new stadium, nor can the present board raise the necessary funds to finance co-ownership of it. In truth, neither club wants to share. Forget the economics of this, as this has nothing to do with common sense. It is simply a case of two kids' gangs refusing to play with each other.

Ferguson's a sub
Post Soapbox, icLiverpool & Daily Post
Dec 7 2004
Ferguson's a sub
I DON'T think big Dunc should start for the derby. It's worked all season leaving him on the bench and bringing him on as a super-sub so why change now? Bring him on at half-time when we're 2-0 up!
Gale Williams (via e-mail)
Use Duncan
YES, we must play Duncan on Saturday, but I'm not sure whether I would play him from the start or bring him on when the Liverpool defenders are getting tired. He is a threat to any defence.
Marion Mahon, Aintree
Starting role
WE must start Big Dunc in the derby. He is always up for the big games and I think he still has a point to prove to David Moyes and the fans. Liverpool will be dreading it if he starts. The threat from Liverpool has to be their midfield. We have got to snub out Gerrard. We must not give him any space or he will hurt us.
Martin Bills (via e-mail)
Moyes money
I JUST pray that the board gives David Moyes the proposed £12-15million that he's been told he's getting and he spends it on Parker, Ashton, Hangeland. If there's enough left over I think we should put in a cheeky bid for Barry Ferguson. Just think, Gravesen, Parker, Ferguson and Cahill in midfield, with Ashton and Bent up front. The defence would still need strengthening but we could go mad and play it like Brazil used to - they score four we score five.
D Rogers, Liverpool
Bolton bruisers
UP until Saturday I had a lot of time for Sam Allardyce and a lot of respect for Bolton. However the 90 minutes I saw changed all that. I have never seen such a bunch of cheating, whining and moaning bunch of players in my life. Virtually every player would fall down even if an Everton player looked at him. They are embarrassing in my opinion and Hierro in particular is a disgrace. Shez Khan
(via e-mail) Perfect present
I ENJOYED the Everton match on Saturday as after last season's woeful display I was tempted to ask for a refund. The lads showed such great attitude today - it's so good being an Evertonian at the moment. I am looking forward to next Saturday although I can't remember when we last won a derby. What a nice early Christmas present if we stuff them good and proper - who's got the Paxo?
Jan Longthorn, Southport

Blues shop at Tesco
Dec 7 2004 Exclusive By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
TESCO supremo Sir Terry Leahy has joined Everton. His appointment as the club's special advisor will be confirmed at tonight's annual general meeting. The chief executive of the country's largest retailer, he was named as the European Businessman of the Year in February. Sir Terry will not be leaving his post with Tesco but will regularly attend Everton board meetings and work closely with chief executive Keith Wyness. "Terry's involvement will show the fans the club is moving forward," said Wyness. "I am delighted he is coming on board and his expertise will be greatly appreciated. "Sir Terry is widely acknowledged to be one of Europe's leading businessmen and just as he is anxious to help the club he has always supported, we are anxious to utilise his expertise in the months and years which lie ahead. "One of our primary objectives is to enhance, modify and expand our operation. Sir Terry is superbly qualified to offer guidance as we seek to realise our full potential." Everton owner Bill Kenwright added: "Sir Terry and I have been talking for some time as fellow Evertonians about ways in which he could assist in taking us forward. "While his other commitments will not permit him to join the board, Sir Terry has agreed to offer advice to the football club." It is a move which has delighted Leahy. He said: "I am a lifelong Everton fan and I look forward to playing a small part in moving Everton Football Club forward." Meanwhile, True Blue, the majority shareholding group of Everton, has been dissolved, clearing the way for the £30m twophase investment from the Fortress Sports Fund. Their investment is expected to be secured within a fortnight. True Blue holdings owned 72 per cent of the club and was formed by chairman Kenwright and director Paul Gregg during the buyout of Peter Johnson in 1999. It was placed into liquidation last Thursday, a move which will be confirmed at tonight's AGM. The dissolution of True Blue makes it easier for outside investors to buy shares in the club. It also makes it easier for True Blue shareholders to sell - a situation which is set to be well received by Gregg. He is believed to be keen to offload his stake if he can recoup his initial 7.2m investment.

My three-year plan for Blues
Dec 7 2004 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
KEITH WYNESS has promised to make the most detailed presentation ever to an Everton Annual General Meeting at Goodison tonight. And it will include his plans for a three-year strategy aimed at improving the club's turnover by 50 per cent and helping provide David Moyes with the raw materials to maintain the club's stay in the top half of the Premiership. It is Wyness' first AGM since his appointment in September. He told the ECHO today: "Those people who attend tonight will see the most detailed presentation a shareholders meeting at this club has ever seen in terms of where the business is right now, where it should be going, how we are going to get there and how we are going to measure that improvement. "That kind of detailed look forward has never been done at this club before and I hope the shareholders will respond to that. "That should give people a good feeling that we have got our arms around the situation. "In clichéd terms, we have already stabilised the ship and now we have the potential to move on. "I am looking for a 50 per cent increase in turnover in the next three years. That is a very aggressive target, but it would only mean us getting back to where we should be. "That would take us to the level of clubs like Newcastle and Tottenham, which is where we should be." Evertonians will arrive at the meeting on a high following the club's thrilling start to the Premiership campaign. Saturday's victory over Bolton equalled the number of wins the club achieved in the whole of last season and maintained the Blues' third position. But Wyness refuses to use the success on the pitch as a reason to rest on his laurels as he attempts to improve the club's financial position. He continues: "The reality from my part of the business is that I am trying to stabilise the club regardless of results on the pitch. "Everybody is in a positive frame of mind but I have still got a lot to do off the pitch because we cannot miss this opportunity we have. "My challenge is to make this sort of season more of a regular event rather than the ups and downs we have had over the years. "My aim is to give David Moyes the resources to make it easier to enjoy the success we have had this season. "If, as a club, we can consistently finish in the top 10 of the Premiership that will provide a major boost." There were alarm bells raised by fans last month when they received the agenda for tonight's AGM. It revealed the club's debts were £42m. But the Blues were quick to point out the finances are very different now. Wyness explains: "There have been a number of post-balance sheet events which should be considered, including the sale of Wayne Rooney, which has made the financial picture dramatically different." Wyness' presentation tonight is also set to include details on the club's new training complex and youth academy. Everton have drawn up plans for a state-of-the-art home at Halewood but the project has been delayed because of planning problems regarding the sale of the club's current Bellefield site to housing developers. Despite a Liverpool City Council moratorium currently restricting any plans, Goodison officials hope to strike a deal with a prospective buyer that would allow work to begin on the new site next month.

People power will be driving force behind Wyness' ambitions
Dec 7 2004 Liverpool Echo
EVERTON'S chief executive plans to clock up the miles next year in a bid to involve all Blues supporters in his plans to transform the club. Keith Wyness explained: "If we say we are the People's Club we have to live up to that, which we intend to do. "I have had good feedback from supporters since I arrived but I want to develop further my contact with them. "Next year I will be visiting every single club supporters group in the country. I want actions to speak louder than words.
"And it will not just be a case of paying lip service to supporters. I have always taken at least one or two good ideas away from every meeting I have had with fans and I am sure that will continue.
"I know how hungry the fans are to see things moving forward. I want to show them I share that ambition and that the club is genuinely moving on. "The reality of the situation is that we are getting our sleeves rolled up to turn things around and you start doing that by doing the simple things better. "I have never worked so hard in my life but I have never enjoyed my work so much.
"I have felt welcomed by the club and the fans and I am determined to transform the club's fortunes off the pitch. "David Moyes has set the example for me with what is happening on the pitch and together I am sure we can make the future much more appealing."

The men who bossed city
Dec 7 2004 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
THE Merseyside derby has always taken a tremendous toll on managers. Kenny Dalglish quit after one frenzied eight-goal set-to, while Mike Walker never really enjoyed the confidence of Evertonians again after he lost his only derby at Anfield, then blithely claimed he had "enjoyed" the atmosphere.

Joe Royle got his managerial stint off to the greatest start imaginable with an unexpected derby triumph - and did not lose one for his whole reign - while Bill Shankly had to wait five years to even sample one (al-though Liverpool Senior Floodlit Cup ties did give fans a short-term fix) and six years to win one. But who was the most successful derby match manager of all-time? Statistically, Liverpool's Don Welsh boasted a perfect record. With Everton in Division Two between 1951 and 1954, then Liverpool swapping places when Everton were promoted, derbies were rare occurrences.
But the two clubs were drawn in the FA Cup fourth round on January 29, 1955 - and Second Division Liverpool scored a stunning 4-0 win at Goodison Park. It was Welsh's only derby, giving him an impeccable record. Blues' boss Joe Royle, though, also boasted an unbeaten record against the old enemy - and managed the feat over five successive derbies. His first match in charge produced a remarkable upset, with Everton bottom of the Premiership and Liverpool riding high in third. He took Liverpool by surprise at Anfield the following season, using two wingers, Anders Limpar and Andrei Kanchelskis, and celebrated a 2-1 success. Then was party to three draws, with only an 87th-minute Robbie Fowler leveller denying him victory in another. The most impressive run of results was racked up by David Ashworth, a former referee who was in charge at Anfield between the wars.
He won five out of eight derbies, including a 3-0 win at Goodison Park in 1920 and a 5-1 mauling at Anfield two years later. When Everton finally reversed the trend in October 1923, Ashworth had moved on to Oldham. Almost as impressive was Gerard Houllier's record. Excluding a goalless draw at Goodison when he and Roy Evans were in joint charge, and an Anfield draw when Phil Thompson
had stepped into the breach during his hospitalisation, he took charge of 10 derby matches, winning six - including four in a row at Goodison - and losing just one.. Bob Paisley took charge of a mammoth 21 derby matches - losing just two - but perhaps even more impressive were Kenny Dalglish's achievements a decade later. He was in charge when Everton and Liverpool were the leading powers in the land. Like Paisley, he also held the reins for 21 matches, and won one more.
So who was the best derby manager? Liverpudlians cannot look further than Ashworth's inter-war achievements, while Evertonians can crown Royle as their only unbeaten boss. But who is to say David Moyes and Rafael Benitez won't have something to say about that in the years ahead?

Samuelson handed two-week deadline
Dec 7 2004 Liverpool Echo
THE Fortress Sports Fund has been given two more weeks to come up with the money to finance a two-phase £30m investment in Everton. Chris Samuelson, the Swiss-based financier who has put together the consortium, is expected to be at tonight's AGM to make a presentation to supporters explaining his plans and the delay in concluding the deal. He had hoped to complete the purchase of an initial 29.9 per cent stake in the club worth £12.8m by now. A series of delays have prevented the deal being concluded, but Everton owner Bill Kenwright is prepared to be patient after undergoing due diligence and being given proof the FSF money is in place. If the deal comes off, Samuelson will join Everton's board. Samuelson said: "We are in the final stages of completing the transaction and while we had hoped to have this in place by the AGM, the extensive administration with international regulators has delayed the closing of the transaction. "I have assured Bill Kenwright the money is in place and that we are close to being able to release it as we have indicated. "I am grateful to everyone for their patience and we are focused on delivering this investment to ensure we can help Everton going on the successful path it is on this season." Chief executive Keith Wyness confirmed: "We are obviously keen to see this through and have agreed to extend the period of exclusivity for the Fortress Sports Fund. "We have relied on their undertakings that the money will be forthcoming and we are hopeful this will be the case." Chairman Kenwright first revealed plans for the FSF investment in September and admitted to supporters at that month's EGM he hoped to have finalised the deal in time for tonight's AGM. He said: "I am in daily contact with Fortress and we remain confident a deal will be in place by then." The proposed £30m two-phase injection will see an initial £12.8m followed by a further £17.2m. Any new investment is expected to earmarked for team rebuilding and will be added to the funds already set aside for David Moyes' dip into the transfer market in January. The manager is believed to have a £10m kitty for the New Year

Merseyside winner from first derby final
Dec 7 2004 Liverpool Echo
AFTER 90 years of trying, Everton and Liverpool finally met in a major cup final at Wembley Stadium.
And when the Milk Cup final of 1984 broke the floodgates, two more FA Cup final appearances in the next five years seemed to strengthen claims that the sides had deliberately been kept apart in the past! For many years, Mersey fans had craved a Scouse Cup final. But every time the sides made it through to the last four of the FA Cup, they drew each other - leading many fans to cry "Fix!" Everton overcame Liverpool on their way to winning the Cup in 1906, while Liverpool exacted full revenge in 1950, 1971 and 1977. When the two sides were finally drawn apart in a semi-final, in 1980, both failed to negotiate the penultimate hurdle - an all-Mersey Cup final being replaced by an all-London version. Four years later an all-Mersey Cup final finally became a reality. Everton disposed of Aston Villa in a two-legged Milk Cup semi-final, while Liverpool saw off Walsall. The goalless draw contained plenty of incident, Alan Hansen smuggling a goalbound Adrian Heath shot off the line with his hand, unseen by referee Alan Robinson, and Ian Rush uncharacteristically scooping over the bar from five yards. But it was off the pitch where the real story lay. With both the Football League and the London police nervously anticipating a Mersey invasion, both sets of supporters produced a stirring advert for the city. "Merseyside, Merseyside!" rang around the famous old stadium, the two teams posed, shoulder to shoulder, at the end of a goalless draw, the police reported a marvellous atmosphere and no arrests - and if the answer to the question 'Who was the best team on Merseyside?' proved inconclusive, the rest of the country had to admit that the nation's best fans were from Merseyside. Liverpool won the replay four days later at Maine Road, Manchester. But after 90 years of waiting, Everton and Liverpool proved the relationship between their fans was a unique one.

No swoop for Davies
Dec 7 2004 Liverpool Echo
EVERTON will not announce plans to swoop for Simon Davies at tonight's AGM. Reports this morning suggested that would be the case, ahead of a £2.8m move in January. Tottenham have made the Blues aware of Davies' availability, but David Moyes has no plans to push forward with a transfer. The right-sided midfielder is one of a host of players to be linked with a switch to Goodison in recent weeks, ahead of an expected £10m spending spree in the New Year. The Welshman has fallen out of favour at White Hart Lane, with boss Martin Jol focusing on Crystal Palace's Wayne Routledge as a replacement.

Everton Res 1, Blackburn Res 3
Dec 8 2004
Daily Post
EVERTON RESERVES' last game of 2004 ended as the year had started with defeat at home as the Blues went down to Blackburn at Haig Avenue. Li Tie played 89 minutes of the game as he continues to prove his fitness after a broken leg. The home side were soon behind. With 12 minutes on the clock, Jemel Johnson hit the post only for the rebound to fall nicely for Jonathan Douglas to prod home. Everton responded well and Nick Chadwick attempted a long-range effort. However, it wasn't long before Everton were further behind. Gary Harkins crossed from the right and Peter Sergio was on hand to finish from close range. Again Andy Holden's side refused to lie down and chances for Chadwick, Vidarsson and Tie all went begging. Everton were the brighter of the two sides in the early part of the second half but Blackburn were soon to seal the points with a third goal.
Matt Darbyshire rose above everyone after Rovers had won a corner, leaving Turner with no chance.
Chadwick pulled a goal back with what was probably the best of the night. The tall striker ran 30 yards before cracking home past Drench in the visitors' goal, but with just eight minutes remaining it was too little to late. The reserves have now gone seven games without a victory.
EVERTON: Turner, Wright, Fox, Gerrard, Bosnar, Tie (Harris 89), Seargeant, Vidarsson, Chadwick, Vaughan (Hopkins 56), Wilson (Boyle 46). Subs: Gallagher, Phelan.

Fortress 'will not launch takeover'
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Dec 8 2004
CHRIS SAMUELSON last night insisted the Fortress Sports Fund was not interested in a takeover of Everton as Paul Gregg refused to lend his support to the potential £30million investment. Samuelson, the financier behind the FSF's plan to buy into Everton through a new shares issue, flew in from his Swiss base to make his first public appearance before shareholders at the club's 125th AGM. The FSF have offered £12.8m for an initial 29.9% stake in Everton but could gain a majority shareholding of 50.1% if both sides exercise the option for an additional £17.2m investment.
But Samuelson denied the fund was seeking to take control of the club or that it was after a quick profit on shares that are based on 1999 prices when True Blue Holdings bought out former chairman Peter Johnson. "Every fund invests for some gain, but the investors want to see a successful football club and to see the club grow," said Samuelson.. "We are not asking for dividends and we have no intention of selling our shares. We are prepared to be locked in and to put more money in to help the club grow. "We have no intention of taking control. It is not a takeover." Samuelson continued: "We will have two people on the board, so we will be outnumbered but we want to help."
Chairman Bill Kenwright confirmed the initial stake would not swell David Moyes's transfer budget in January. "It is not for the immediate, it is to give us a cushion for the future," he said as he admitted concern over the club's net liabilities of £23.1m. Samuelson, who asked for two more weeks to complete the deal, added: "I decided to form the Fortress Sports Fund to invest in sports in general. When we were asked to invest in the club, initially we said no, and when we were asked to buyout True Blue Holding's 72% stake we also said no. "Having looked at the finances it is clear the club needed new money and on that basis we opened negotiations, on the same share price as True Blue bought the club originally. "We cannot go above 29.9% because of regulations that are in place but we have raised £12.8m and we are just waiting for regulatory approval now. It is a protected cell fund based in Brunei and as we are the first fund to be set up there that has also added to the delay.
"We are not looking for control of Everton in any way but want to invest in Everton because it is a great club with great support, it has an outstanding manager at its core, an excellent chief executive and a dedicated chairman. "We believe that Keith Wyness's business plan is attainable and more, and investing in the club when it has been valued at a fraction of other Premier League clubs we believe its value will rise in time and become highly successful." Director Gregg, however, refused to confirm if he supported the proposal and claimed it has still not been properly discussed at board-room level. The leisure tycoon controls around 25% of Everton after True Blue was dissolved into ordinary shares and could object to the investment, although he would require support from other shareholders to put a block on the move. But he said: "I still need to see the facts of the proposal and we need to see the money is in the bank. If it is in the best interests of the club then it is acceptable but we have not had a board meeting to discuss it and it is a question of whether it is at the right price. "The value of the shares is what True Blue put into the club so that seems reasonably fair, but we will devalue our own shares if we take the investment on, and do we want to give away control? That needs to be discussed in more detail." Both Kenwright and chief executive Wyness were re-elected to the board at an uncharacteristically straightforward AGM.

'I would rather resign than be a tenant of Liverpool'
By Andy Hunter Daily Post Staff
Dec 8 2004
EVERTON chairman Bill Kenwright has said he has not given up completely on the idea of a shared stadium with Liverpool. Other options which emerged at last night's annual general meeting was that Everton was looking to expand its existing Goodison Park base - but had not ruled out moving to another site completely. The appointment of Tesco's Liverpool-born chief executive Sir Terry Leahy as the club's special adviser was also confirmed. Mr Kenwright told shareholders that sports minister Richard Caborn had made it very clear that the government was behind the idea of a shared stadium initiative but would not give financial support, and that chief executive Keith Wyness was to come up with a plan to see if it could work within the next two weeks. Mr Kenwright added: "If it does work financially, the idea is not dead, and we are meeting the council again next week.
"The council are being a lot more responsive to our requests for a bigger footprint around Goodison than they were six or seven years ago. "There are mid-term improvements we can still make at Goodison. If a ground share goes ahead that won't be for three years and if we go it alone that will be four years. "I would rather resign than be a tenant of Liverpool's stadium." Mr Wyness added: "We are working with the council to see if we can improve the footprint around Goodison Park so we can expand here. There is also one site that is possibly coming up that looks good." As chief executive of the UK's largest retailer, Sir Terry was named European Businessman of the Year in February. "Terry's involvement will show the fans the club is moving forward," said Wyness..
"I am delighted he is coming on board and his expertise will be greatly appreciated." Bill Kenwright added: "Sir Terry and I have been talking for some time as fellow Evertonians about ways in which he could assist in taking us forward. "While his other commitments will not permit him to join the board, Sir Terry has agreed to act in an advisory capacity. He has already had a few productive meetings with Keith and he will be a real plus to our team." It is a move which has delighted the lifelong Evertonian. He said: "I am a lifelong Everton fan and I look forward to playing a small part in moving Everton Football Club forward."

Wyness unveils long-term plan
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Dec 8 2004
KEITH WYNESS delivered a damning verdict on Everton's recent business history last night and announced plans to increase turnover to above £60million a year. Goodison's new chief executive has conducted a thorough review of the club's business operation since arriving from Aberdeen three months ago. And he revealed: "There was no clear strategy for going forward, in fact a strategy was non-existent. We had a tendency to take smash-and-grab deals, we rushed to the Far East last year without any real strategy as to why - there was a lack of co-ordination, we were reactive rather than proactive due to the old-style approach to the club, we were slow to innovate, tended to follow other club's ideas and the board was separate from its executive team. "This is a damning indictment of what I found, but I have to be realistic about what is in front of us." Wyness admitted Everton should be on a par with Newcastle, Tottenham and Aston Villa, but suffered from a poor turnover, poor hospitality and corporate returns and a "con-fused" sponsorship strategy. He plans to increase turnover to over £60m over the next three years and increase fans' average spending from £28 to £70 a year by offering better products. "These have to be achievable targets if we are to survive in the top 10 and they are crucial if the current TV deal collapses and leading clubs begin to sell their own TV rights," he said. Wyness also confirmed he was confident of securing David France's remarkable history of the club through an independent fans' body.

Derby countdown - your memories
Daily Post
Dec 8 2004
End of a long wait
By Les Pennington, Everton Supporter
AS an Evertonian of some vintage, I've seen a fair few derbies in my time - and not all of them had a happy ending, let me tell you! One that springs instantly to mind is the derby at Everton in September 1962 when Liverpool came back up after a spell in the second division. It was the first time there had been a league derby in 11 years and the one thing I remember most - unless my memory is playing tricks on me - is when Roy Vernon went up to take a penalty. He ran up to take it, and instead of striking the ball he stepped over it and Liverpool goalkeeper Jim Furnell dived. Vernon then put the ball into the net but the referee made him take it again. Roy still scored anyway but I remember thinking I'd never seen that before and how unusual it was! The game ended 2-2 and there were 73,000 there, which isn't surprising given how long we'd waited for a proper derby.
Then there was the FA Cup fifth round game in March 1967 at Goodison which was one of the first to be televised back at Anfield on a big screen. Just about everyone in Liverpool must have seen that game, and I can certainly remember how crazy Goodison went when Alan Ball knocked in the winner to send us through. I'm not sure they greeted it with such cheer back at Anfield, though!
Liverpool 6 Everton 0, 1935
THIS 6-0 drubbing remains the record victory in derby history. Liverpool came into the game on the back of a defeat to Manchester City and Everton had the legendary Dixie Dean leading their attack.
The form book went out of the window, however. In the ninth minute, Liverpool opened the scoring through a header from Fred Howe who scored again before the break. The Liverpool directors surprised many with the selection of South African Gordon Hodgson at inside left. But it was to prove inspired as he scored two terrific goals. Everton were handicapped in the second half by injuries to Williams and Dean - who had to leave the field with a chipped toe - but by then Liverpool were already four goals ahead. Howe was to add another two goals to seal a memorable win.
I'm semi conscious
By Derek Witherspoon Liverpool Supporter
NOT wishing to sound smug, but I can't remember us preparing for a derby as slight underdogs.
That's not to say I wasn't around when Everton were half decent, it's just a fact that some seasons simply disappear from the memory vault. One of my earliest happy recollections goes back to the semi-final of 1971 at Old Trafford. Memorable, not just because we won, but because I didn't expect to be there. It was a last-minute surprise from my Dad and I'm almost sure we didn't have tickets. Did we just waltz in at a cash turnstile? Imagine that today? Remember before the game being in a pub near the ground, Reds and Blues everywhere and not an ounce of bother between us or from the locals. For the record we won 2-1. The game of a couple of seasons ago when Gary Mac scored that late, late winner will live long. I was in their main stand and will never forget the look on so many faces when the ball went in. It's human nature to obliterate the bad memories but one that remains quite vivid was when Sharp scored that cracker at Anfield. It's not so much the goal, but the memory of one particular bluenose running on the pitch in his anorak and "sawn-off sauce bottle" specs. Was he Sgt Bilko's brother? Is he still alive? As he still got the coat?
I'm semi conscious
By Derek Witherspoon Liverpool Supporter
NOT wishing to sound smug, but I can't remember us preparing for a derby as slight underdogs.
That's not to say I wasn't around when Everton were half decent, it's just a fact that some seasons simply disappear from the memory vault. One of my earliest happy recollections goes back to the semi-final of 1971 at Old Trafford. Memorable, not just because we won, but because I didn't expect to be there. It was a last-minute surprise from my Dad and I'm almost sure we didn't have tickets. Did we just waltz in at a cash turnstile? Imagine that today? Remember before the game being in a pub near the ground, Reds and Blues everywhere and not an ounce of bother between us or from the locals. For the record we won 2-1. The game of a couple of seasons ago when Gary Mac scored that late, late winner will live long. I was in their main stand and will never forget the look on so many faces when the ball went in. It's human nature to obliterate the bad memories but one that remains quite vivid was when Sharp scored that cracker at Anfield. It's not so much the goal, but the memory of one particular bluenose running on the pitch in his anorak and "sawn-off sauce bottle" specs. Was he Sgt Bilko's brother? Is he still alive? As he still got the coat?

Dunc is a doubt for the derby
Dec 8 2004 By Scott McLeod, Liverpool Echo
DUNCAN FERGUSON is a doubt for Saturday's 200th Merseyside derby. The Everton striker has been on the treatment table this week and his starting place for the match is under threat. David Moyes revealed: "Our only injury worry at the moment is Duncan. He has got a badly bruised knee." Ferguson picked up the injury during Saturday's hard-fought 3-2 victory over Bolton. That was the 32-year-old's first Premiership start of the season. He marked the occasion by scoring the opening goal of the game and then earning the free-kick which provided Thomas Gravesen with Everton's second. That performance, after coming into the side at the expense of Leon Osman, was expected to give Moyes a major selection headache for the clash with Liverpool. Missing the derby would be a major blow to the big Scot after finally earning a starting berth against Bolton. The player is eager to impress this season. His current £35,000-a-week contract expires at the end of the current campaign and it is widely accepted it will signal the end of his Everton career. However, he is believed to be willing to take a £20,000-a-week cut in wages in an attempt to convince Moyes into offering him a new short-term deal.

Blueprint for bright future
Dec 8 2004 By Scott McLeod, Liverpool Echo
KEITH WYNESS revealed plans to radically transform Everton as a business at last night's AGM - after delivering a damning verdict on the state of the club's recent business history. The Blues' new chief executive delivered on his promise of giving shareholders the most detailed presentation of a commercial business plan it has witnessed in modern times. His three-year strategy outlined his targets for the business, with the most significant figure being his aim to increase the club's turnover by 50% to more than £60m a year, putting Everton on the same footing as the likes of Newcastle, Tottenham and Aston Villa. But he also revealed plans to:
* Begin work on the club's new Academy base at Halewood at the earliest opportunity, even before the problems with the sale of Bellefield are overcome.
* Increase commercial internet sales from £0.9m a year to £3m a year and megastore turnover from £2.6m a year to £7m.
* Increase season ticket sales from 23,000 to a regular figure of 28,000.
* Increase average attendances from 36,000 to 37,500, increasing annual gate receipts from £13m to £18m.
* Implement initiatives to improve contact with supporters, making it easier for them to spend their money with Everton. He wants to increase the levels of spending per fan from a current rate of £28 to £70.
* Increase hospitality and catering revenues from £2.5m a year to £4m a year.
* Introduce a sponsorship plan aimed at giving fewer sponsors a better deal, encouraging greater investment through supply and demand.
* Extend the Park End of Goodison to increase office space, bringing all Everton staff together to work in the same building. He believes it is a blueprint the club was desperately in need of.
"There was no clear strategy for going forward (when I arrived)," he explained. "We had a tendency to take smash-and-grab deals, we rushed to the Far East last year without any real strategy as to why - there was a lack of co-ordination. "We were reactive rather than proactive due to the old-style approach to the club. We were slow to innovate, tended to follow other club's ideas and the board was separate from its executive team. "That is the most damning indictment of what I found."

Having set his goals, he added: "But on the plus side, we have a strong fan-base to work from, a rich heritage which we can use, the IT system is well-off, there is a strong community programme and we have a lot of competent staff. "There has been an over-emphasis on tradition. We need to make a quantum leap to modernise. "We have a strong, large fanbase but our turnover is low. We are worryingly close to being on a par with a club like Manchester City, which is a yo-yo club. "If you look at the turnover figures over the last five years we are £100m behind Tottenham and £200m behind Liverpool. It is a big chasm we have got to cover in some way. "In terms of turnover, we are £20m a year behind clubs like Tottenham, Newcastle and Aston Villa. We have to change that position as quickly as possible. "We have to be at a turnover between £60m and £70m in three years to give David Moyes the right resources to make sure we are consistently a top 10 team." The Premier League estimates that Everton have a fanbase in the region of 840,000 people, a huge figure which Wyness wants to access. "In marketing, it is the clubs with the most names that win. But when I came here the number of active names on our database was lower than what I had at Aberdeen," he added.. "We want to grow the database from 200,000 to 500,000 by adding 100,000 fans a year in the next three years. We need to offer those people more of what they want to buy." As part of that philosophy, the club's new e-ticketing system will be up and running in time for the home clash with Portsmouth on January 4, giving fans the opportunity to buy match tickets over the internet from anywhere. He also warned that there will be ticket price increases over the next three years as he seeks to achieve his targets. But he added: "I am being up front about that, but the increases will be more selective and we intend to give the fans greater choice and better value for money. "There will also be shirts launched every year because we have to offer them to new fans coming in."

Boss salutes best-ever Blues
Dec 8 2004 Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES has hailed his current Goodison squad as the finest he has ever worked with.
The Everton boss (right) was speaking at last night's AGM, where he was given a standing ovation before even saying a word. He said: "We are smiling at Belle-field. I hope you you're smiling too.
"What was really impressed upon me when we came back in pre-season was that the players were as sore as me and that gave me hope. To see them like that and then to see their attitude in training was good. "That group of players has gone from being one that people thought was not good enough to the best I have ever worked with in terms of character and determination.
"But it is also important not to forget how well they can play. The players think they can win every game and that this can continue. "Right now we are four points better off than we were two seasons ago and about 104 better off than last season. We thought we did well two years ago, but I think we can do even better this year and the players share that view. "We are full of confidence and self-belief. I just want to say thank you to the players because they are the ones who cross the white line, take on board instructions and they are the ones winning the games."

It is not a takeover bid - Samuelson
Dec 8 2004 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
CHRIS SAMUELSON was unveiled as the public face of Fortress Sports Fund at Goodison Park last night. But if the Geneva-based financier couldn't name the winning goal scorer in the 1966 FA Cup final, after professing lifelong allegiance to Everton, he gave Evertonians all the answers they wanted to other searching questions at an uncharacteristically upbeat Blues' AGM. Samuelson claimed to have the proposed £12.8m investment in place - and was adamant the FSF had no plans to take over the club. He claimed the FSF was in "for the long term" and said that the Blues' management set-up was the main reason for wanting to invest in the club. "We have raised the £12.8m. We are just waiting for the last regulatory checks to put the money into the fund," he told a packed meeting. "It is based in Brunei because that has the best jurisdiction and is the right place for this kind of structure. "It is also where I have one of my offices so it will be easier to look after. "The Fortress Sports Fund is the first protective fund to be set up in Brunei which is why it has taken so long to put together. "But we are not looking for control of Everton Football Club in any way. "Every fund invests for some gain, but we want to see a high, successful football club. We are not looking for dividends. I have supported the club all my life and I am delighted to be able to bring money to the table which is useful. "We have no planned exit strategy and we are prepared to put money in and keep the club growing." The Fund is made up of individual wealthy investors unearthed by Samuelson and his business partner, Kevin Neill. Many are clients of his own financial advice company. But why were Samuelson and his business partners interested in investing in Everton?
"When we were asked if we were interested in investing in a football club we said 'no.' That was until we were told the identity of that football club. "Any club we invested in needs wonderful supporters. Everton has that. "Every successful club has to have an outstanding manager. You have one. "You have to have an excellent chief executive. You have one of those also. "And you also have a devoted chairman who, if he cut himself, would bleed blue. "I believe that all of Keith Wyness's aims are attainable and we are here for the long term. "We are getting in while the club is valued at a fraction of what other Premeirship clubs are valued." While some supporters questioned Samuelson's Evertonian credentials, director Paul Gregg refused to offer his support for the proposal. But the leisure tycoon only holds around 25 per cent of Everton shares so would need support from other shareholders to veto the move. "I still need to see the facts of the proposal and we need to see if the money is in the bank," he said. "If it is in the best interests of the club then it is acceptable, but we have not had a board meeting to discuss it and it is a question of whether it is at the right price. "The value of the shares (£857) is what True Blue put into the club so that seems reasonably fair, but we will devalue our own shares if we take the investment on and do we want to give away control? That needs to be discussed in more detail." Chairman Bill Kenwright and chief executive Wyness were both re-elected to the board, Wyness unanimously. Tom Cannon withdrew his proposal for election to the board but will work with directors on funding initiatives.

Deal is close over France collection
Dec 8 2004 Liverpool Echo
EVERTON intend to secure the most impressive collection of one-club memorabilia ever seen - but want supporters to suggest how best to display it. David France has put his collection, which has been valued by Sotheby's in excess of £500,000, up for sale. Blues chief executive Keith Wyness says he has reached agreement with Dr France over the collection. But he has dismissed the idea of a museum as "a white elephant." "I understand the David France collection represents the heritage of the club and for me it was not about whether we got it, but how we got it and what we did with it," he explained. "I am working with two groups to ensure we secure it and place it in an independent body. "We want fans to help us decide how we best utilise the collection."

New-look Goodison is the favoured ground option
Dec 8 2004 Liverpool Echo
THE redevelopment of Goodison Park appears to be Everton's favoured stadium plan for the future.
But the club will not completely rule out the possibility of a shared ground with Liverpool for another 12 days. "After our discussions with the Sports Minister Richard Caborn, Keith Wyness has two weeks to come up with a plan to see if a shared-stadium works financially. If not, we have plans b, c and d," said chairman Bill Kenwright. Wyness added: "When the minister for sport asks you take one last look at things you do so because you want to stay on the right side of the government long-term. "But we are also talking to the city to see if we can improve the footprint around Goodison Park - which is looking better than it was even a month ago. "We are also looking at new sites and one possibility came up which is starting to look good. My job is to make sure we do the right thing. The most feasible project is working on the footprint of Goodison Park." Kenwright added: "The city is being a lot more responsive now to our requests for a bigger footprint here."

One memory Sharp as ever
Dec 8 2004 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
GRAEME SHARP was a veteran of 30 derby match appearances for Everton - and seven derby-day goals - but asking him to pick out his favourite is as daft as asking the Pope his religion. Sharp smashed every Evertonian's favourite derby goal on October 20, 1984 to end a 14-year run without a win on enemy territory. "I have plenty of derby memories," said Sharp, now Fans' Liaison Officer at Everton, "but that's easily the best. "We hadn't won there for ages. It was the start of something decent and, of course, I scored the winner." Rarely a day goes by without Sharp being reminded of the moment he latched onto Gary Stevens' pass, darted behind Mark Lawrenson and Alan Hansen and crashed a 25-yard volley over Bruce Grobbelaar's head - with John Motson screaming into a BBC microphone: "I haven't seen a goal quite like that in a Merseyside derby for years!" "I don't go out of my way to watch it," admitted Sharp, "but it always seems to be on somewhere. I'm glad the TV cameras were there, though! "My old fella used to come down from Scotland all the time to watch me, be he couldn't make it for that one. "When he couldn't get there he would quiz me about my performances and my goals, and I would tell him if it was a scruffy one from six yards or a decent one. "After that goal at Anfield I couldn't explain. I just said: 'Don't miss Match of the Day tonight!'
"He rang me on the Sunday morning and said: 'Yes, son, that was a good goal!'" Sharp confesses the derby atmosphere was something you could not prepare for - and even now he feels a special tingle during derby week. " I suppose there were less foreign players at both clubs in the 80s and the atmosphere on the pitch was maybe a little more intense," he added. "I'd been told to brace myself ahead of my first derby, but you can't prepare yourself for that moment when you run up the tunnel and hit that wall of noise. "I'd had heard lots of people say that they wouldn't be able to go to work the following week if we'd lost, and I couldn't really understand that. "But now I work for the radio and I go to the match as a fan I can see where they're coming from. "It's a special game and I just hope that Liverpool, playing on the Wednesday night this week and the match kicking off a couple of hours earlier than usual, works in Everton's favour. "But, with derby matches, you can never really tell."

D-Day looms for the Gang of Four
Dec 8 2004 Liverpool Echo
Paddy Shennan talks to the four men who help stage the Merseyside derbies IT takes more than two sets of players and fans to make a Merseyside derby. The games wouldn't be able to take place at all if it wasn't for the work put in by those responsible for ensuring the safety of fans, and keeping order both inside and around the ground and in the city centre afterwards. As the city prepares for the 200th Merseyside derby, the ECHO brought together a very important Gang of Four - the Merseyside police football liaison officers for Everton and Liverpool and the clubs' safety officers - for a special pre-match meeting at Goodison Park. Not that they're strangers. Inspector Lindsay Veitch (in the Blue corner) and Inspector Bernie Swift (in the Red corner) work together day in, day out, while Goodison ground safety officer Norman Whibley and Ged Poynton, Anfield's stadium manager and safety certificate holder, meet regularly. And Ged obviously has the greatest respect for his friend across the park, because he turned up at Goodison in blue jacket, blue shirt and blue tie! But how friendly - or otherwise - are Everton-Liverpool games these days?
And how different are they to other high-profile Premiership games on Merseyside, involving matches against clubs from, say, Manchester, London or the Midlands? "I don't think we can bury our heads in the sand and say all fans from both clubs arrive at the games hand in hand," says Inspector Bernie Swift, who's been on the Anfield beat since 1996. "I think it's great that there is such a passionate atmosphere at the games, but there can be unpleasant incidents. One thing which has certainly increased in recent years, for example, is the number of complaints being made by fans about the behaviour of players on the pitch, regarding alleged incitement and provocation."

Although, he adds, the police have to be cautious about such complaints, and what may motivate them: "I've never known of an incident in which a fan wants to complain about the behaviour of one of his or her own players." That's tribal loyalty for you, I suppose. Paddy Shennan talks to the four men who help stage the Merseyside derbies Inspector Lindsay Veitch took over from the retiring Inspector Tom King in the summer, but has many years of derby experience in other police roles. And he says: "While there is an element that may look for confrontation, the vast majority of fans are decent people." To back this up, all present point to the small number of officers who will be inside Goodison Park on Saturday. Norman Whibley, who is in his eighth season at Goodison, explains: "We will have up to 500 stewards on duty but, inside the ground, only in the region of 60 police officers." Bernie Swift stresses: "It is a small amount when you consider the thousands of police that they seem to need in some grounds abroad." And Norman Whibley believes that it's the relationship between the fans which makes the Merseyside derbies special: "They have a great atmosphere - they're more like cup ties than league games - but there is always the potential for people to become over-excited." In some cases, it's merely a case of families falling out, as Ged Poynton, who has been in his Anfield role since 1992, explains: "Three years ago at Anfield, two fans were removed from their seats and arrested for thumping each other - it turned out they were brothers; one a Red and the other a Blue. "There are pockets of away fans who end up sitting among home fans at both grounds, but I would be more concerned if those pockets were from other clubs. If it was a game against Manchester United and there were small groups of United fans in the home sections I don't think the game would kick off - you would have to remove them." Saturday's game kicks off at 12.45pm, which raises the question: "Is there a good or bad time for a derby to be played?" Norman Whibley is quick to suggest that 8pm on a Bank Holiday (it has happened before) is not a good time, but the police officers believe it's a case of swings and roundabouts: whether the kick off is early or late, a hard core of fans will drink for all the available hours that day and end up being a potential source of trouble - either around the ground or, perhaps, in the city centre.
Although it may be overlooked by some fans, city centre policing is a vital part of derby day: "We will have an operation running for about 24 hours," explains Inspector Veitch. "We're not just concerned with what goes on inside and around the ground, but also what happens afterwards in the area and the city centre." The police's motto on the day will, as ever, be made up of the three F words: "We'll be friendly, firm and fair," says Inspector Veitch, who adds: "Ideally, we want to be able to just blend into the background." Inspector Swift adds: "The games have a great atmosphere and are great occasions for the fans, but we enjoy being a part of them as well." There may be a lot at stake on the pitch this Saturday, but there'll be plenty at stake off it, too. And those responsible for keeping the fans safe - and in order - will be working hard to help ensure it's the players who grab all the headlines.

After wartime famine, Scouse fans gorge on return of rivalry
Dec 8 2004 Liverpool Echo
"ANY spares?" will be the words heard all over Mersey-side in the build-up to Saturday's 200th Merseyside derby. But in the days before all-ticket derbies, it was a case of first come, first served.
And on September 18, 1948, an astonishing 78,299 supporters managed to cram into Goodison Park before the "house full" signs were posted.. The nation was rediscovering competitive football again after a wartime diet of friend-lies and regional clashes, and the first clash of the 1948-9 season saw an attendance which is unlikely ever to be topped on Merseyside. Goodison's previous ground record was 74,721 - set in a match that did not feature Everton! With Manchester United's Old Trafford ground closed because of bomb damage sustained during the War, United's fourth round FA Cup tie the previous season had been played at Goodison Park. But even that astonishing mark was eclipsed for the showdown of the Mersey giants in 1948. "Each section of the ground looked to be well and truly packed and there were many thousands outside. "There were many casualties and some swaying in parts of the paddock," reported that night's Football ECHO. The match itself ended all square. With TG Jones forced to the touchline to receive treatment, Liverpool took advantage of the gap in the Everton rearguard to snatch a late lead through Joe Fagan. But with Liverpool seemingly set for victory, Shepherd handled a Wally Boyes shot. Jones was the ordained penalty taker but, still carrying his injury, declined the responsibility. Instead, Ephraim 'Jock' Dodds stepped up and drove the ball past Sidlow. The match ended 1-1, but the most memorable statistic was a gate of 78,599 - later amended officially to 78,299, and still a record on Merseyside. Goodison derbies topped the 70,000 mark on a further three occasions - in August 1949, September 1950 and finally in September 1962, the last occasion a league fixture attracted a crowd of more than 70,000 in this country.

Boss salutes best-ever Blues
Dec 8 2004 Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES has hailed his current Goodison squad as the finest he has ever worked with.
The Everton boss (right) was speaking at last night's AGM, where he was given a standing ovation before even saying a word. He said: "We are smiling at Belle-field. I hope you you're smiling too.
"What was really impressed upon me when we came back in pre-season was that the players were as sore as me and that gave me hope. To see them like that and then to see their attitude in training was good. "That group of players has gone from being one that people thought was not good enough to the best I have ever worked with in terms of character and determination. "But it is also important not to forget how well they can play. The players think they can win every game and that this can continue. "Right now we are four points better off than we were two seasons ago and about 104 better off than last season. We thought we did well two years ago, but I think we can do even better this year and the players share that view. "We are full of confidence and self-belief. I just want to say thank you to the players because they are the ones who cross the white line, take on board instructions and they are the ones winning the games."

How Reds great Liddell made most of rare derby
Dec 8 2004 Liverpool Echo
WITH Everton and Liverpool swopping places in the top-flight in the 1950s, Merseyside derbies were rare occasions to be relished when they came along. One, in particular, which always stood out in Billy Liddell's mind. Speaking before his death a couple of years ago, he recalled vividly: "Of all the derby games I played in, one stands out - when Liverpool, then in the Second Division, went to Goodison in the Cup in 1955 and won 4-0. "I scored the first goal and the thrill of winning so convincingly was even more than that of the 1950 semi-final when we beat Everton 2-0 at Maine Road. "Although the papers and radio used to build up the derby so much, I never found it a great deal harder than any other. I didn't seem to suffer from any nerves. "There has always been tension surrounding the fixture. That's one of the troubles - no-one wants to get beaten in this particular match. "Even so, there has always been a close link between the players of both clubs. "I used to see Peter Farrell quite a lot - speaking at youth clubs together - but friendship had to be put aside at least twice a year. "Maybe I'm prejudiced, but I have always said that the Mersey derby is the best in the country. "There often seems to be trouble in Manchester and, of course, a different type of fervour causes problems in the Rangers-Celtic match. "Anfield is a little better than Goodison for atmosphere - maybe it is because the ground is more compact compared with the high stands at Everton. "But the supporters seem more mature than at most other grounds. "Though there are younger supporters, the average age seems higher than in most places - and, above all, everyone seems to appreciate good football."

Chadwick's cracker is bright spot
Dec 8 2004 Liverpool Echo
EVERTON Reserves made it seven games without a victory at Haig Avenue. On a brighter note, however, Li Tie played 89 minutes of the game as he continued to prove his fitness after a broken leg. The home side were behind in the 12th minute. Jemel Johnson hit the post, only for the rebound to fall nicely for Jonathan Douglas to prod home. They soon fell further behind. Gary Harkins crossed from the right and Peter Sergio finished from close range. The Blues hit back but chances for Nick Chadwick, Bjarni Thor Vidarsson and Li Tie all went begging. They were the brighter of the two sides in the early part of the second half, but Blackburn sealed the points when Matt Darby-shire rose above everyone at a corner, giving Turner no chance. Nick Chadwick reduced the arrears with the best goal of the night, racing 30 yards before cracking home past Drench.
EVERTON:Turner, Wright, Fox, Gerrard, Bosnar, Tie (Harris 89), Seargeant, Vidarsson, Chadwick, Vaughan (Hopkins 56), Wilson (Boyle 46). Subs unused: Gallagher, Phelan.

Bent is quietly confident for derby
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Dec 9 2004
MARCUS BENT admits Everton are "quietly confident" of claiming a first win over Liverpool in five years on Saturday as he prepares for the biggest derby of his well-travelled career. Everton's leading goalscorer, with five goals since his £450,000 arrival from Ipswich in the summer, has experienced several local duels during his time at eight different clubs. But Bent (left) believes the 200th Merseyside derby will be unrivalled in its intensity as David Moyes's side search for a first win over Liverpool since September 1999. "This will be the biggest derby I've played in," insisted Bent. "I've played in Blackburn v Burnley, Sheffield United versus Sheffield Wednesday, Stoke v Port Vale, Crystal Palace v Wimbledon - I'm sounding like an old man! - and they are all great occasions. But this will be the biggest. "They are both big clubs that have been at the top for years. No disrespect to anyone else but they haven't been at the top for years, Everton and Liverpool have. They are world-renowned clubs. "It's a big game, we're excited about it, and we are quietly confident we can get a result." The 26-year-old insists he is fully aware of the importance of Saturday's fixture despite only arriving on Merseyside six months ago. He said: "I know what it means already. We've bonded together from the start of this season and so we want to work hard for each other. Derbies mean a lot to the fans but they mean a lot to the players as well." Bent added: "I am not a Scouser but I play for Everton and I know how much it means to the fans and as a professional I will be working as hard as ever on Saturday. "We want to win it, as we do every game, but there is more emphasis on this game because of the intense rivalry between the teams." Everton go into the game nine points ahead of their local rivals and unbeaten in four Premiership games. But Bent cautioned: "Form doesn't mean anything in a derby. Liverpool are a good outfit, a big side, so it will be 50-50 going into it but, as I say, we are quietly confident of getting three points." Duncan Ferguson, meanwhile, is a slight doubt for Saturday's game with a knee injury picked up on Saturday. He is receiving intense treatment.

Kenwright admits to pain of his 'worst year'
By Paul Walker, Daily Post
Dec 9 2004
BILL KENWRIGHT admits the past year battling through Everton's financial turmoil has been the worst of his life. The Everton chairman (right) is within touching distance of a potential £30million cash injection - the first £12.8m of which he hopes will be in the club's bank account within 14 days.
With his club third in the Premiership and facing Liverpool at home on Saturday with their biggest points lead over their rivals for 17 years, Kenwright is still cautious about allowing himself any optimism. He has battled through a power struggle with fellow director Paul Gregg which is now little more than an uneasy truce - and the club owner said: "I can't begin to think about a happy end to 2004 yet, because without a shadow of a doubt it has been the worst year of my life. "It is something I will never ever go through again and never want to go through again. It is something that I hope has been sorted out, and there seems to be a bit of light at the end of the tunnel. I want everything sorted for Evertonians and I want the money in the bank." Kenwright had wanted to be able to announce to shareholders at Tuesday night's annual general meeting that the first instalment of cash from the Fortress Sports Fund was already in the club's accounts. But even that plan fell through, and the financier behind the scheme - Geneva resident Chris Samuelson - flew in for the meeting and faced hostile questioning by some shareholders who doubted his motives and sensed a potential takeover. It was the last thing Kenwright needed. He has overseen savage cost-cutting at the club, the axing of 15 senior play-ers and a power battle which at one time in a summer of discontent saw the dreaded thought of administration rear its head. Now Kenwright just prays the 14 days granted to Samuelson to come up with the money will have a satisfactory conclusion. He explained: "Obviously I am not an idiot. But you say 'where's the money, why isn't it in the bank?' "I have gone to Chris (Samuelson) and asked for the reasons, not the excuses, as to why the money is not parked in our bank account. "We asked would the money be there so we could tell the shareholders, and I was told 'no' because of regulations. Then I asked 'do you have the money in your bank?' - and I was told 'yes'. "He said it would be a matter of six or seven days, and that's why we agreed to a 14-day extension." Kenwright retains faith in his club's new backers. "I am optimistic," he said. "The only thing I cannot do is grab him by the throat and tell him to put the money in our bank."

Joy and the pain: Rats on the derby
By Nick Hilton, Daily Post
Dec 9 2004
THEY don't appear on the roll-call of the 199 meetings between Everton and Liverpool and most of the games are long forgotten, the results and the stories behind them locked away in dusty record books. But these games were once a vital and vibrant part of derby day for the two Merseyside teams, when not so long ago, derby day would begin with teams of young men clad in blue and red clashing in the early morning light. It would not be laid to rest until the events of the afternoon's main event had been talked out over the last pint of the night. Kevin Ratcliffe, the most successful Everton captain of all time and a veteran of more than 30 senior encounters with Liverpool, served his derby 'apprenticeship' in the Lancashire League and Central League meetings between the clubs, which were very often scheduled on the same Saturday as the first team game. He recalls those junior games were no less fierce and intense than the first team battles later in the day and provided a valuable schooling for a number of players who went on to make formidable reputations in derby games. Ratcliffe said: "When I was coming through the ranks at Everton during the late 1970s, derby day wasn't just for the first team, it was about the whole club - all the teams,, Lancashire A, B and the Reserves played Liverpool on the day. "The A and B games would kick off at 10.30 or 11, the reserves at noon or 2pm. By the time the first team kicked off or reached half-time in the main game, they would know the rest of the scores for the day. And by that I mean they would need to know not just the results but how many players on each side had been booked and sent off. That's how deep the rivalry went. "I remember those junior games were just as ferocious as the first-team games back then. Perhaps more so because we all had something to prove." Among Ratcliffe's opponents in those A and B derby games of the 1970s was a midfielder called Kevin Sheedy, who would cross Stanley Park to become a creative force alongside Ratcliffe in the great Everton side of the mid-1980s. Ratcliffe also recalls reserve-team derbies in which he would be playing alongside the likes of Steve McMahon, Dave Jones, Terry Darracott and Roger Kenyon against Liverpool sides that might include David Fairclough, Sammy Lee and Steve Nicol. Ratcliffe said: "We learned so much from those games that stood us in good stead for the future. It does not happen now and I think derby day has lost something for it." Ratcliffe believes modern derbies have lost some of the ferocity of 20 years ago because fewer players on each side have Merseyside or even British backgrounds. He said: "When I think about the tackles that went in, it makes me wince. Most of the derbies I played in were not for the faint-hearted. "These days, you hear commentators and pundits talking about the conduct of players on the pitch affecting how supporters behave on the terraces and outside the ground. "But in the 70s and 80s it did not matter how heated things became on the pitch - and in derby games they got very hot - it did not filter out to the behaviour of the supporters. They were marvellous." The derby games of the 70s were often low-scoring affairs in which Liverpool held the ascendancy. They did not lose in one seven-year spell. The games began to open up and provide more goals by the time Ratcliffe became a mainstay of the Everton defence in the 1980s. Ratcliffe added: "I think there was a little but of a fear factor in the way Everton approached derby games in the 70s. They were not enjoying much success during that period and tended to be quite defensive. "The games were more open in the 80s when Everton enjoyed success of their own. We became more creative and that meant more goals and more excitement, although the games were still contested a fiercely as ever. "That was the period when the city boasted the two most successful teams in the country. You could not put a single sheet of paper between them in terms of quality during the mid-1980s. "Each of us thought we had the better side than the other. If you asked the players from one side if they would be strengthened by the inclusion of players from the other, neither would pick many out." The derby memories that linger longest in Ratcliffe's mind are inevitably those coloured with the blue of Everton's success. His first derby, an FA Cup tie at Goodison won by a goal from Imre Varadi - whose celebrations were cut short by a meat pie thrown by a brassed-off Liverpool supporter, hitting him full in the face. A 4-4 draw in another FA Cup tie at Goodison a decade on in which Everton game back from a goal behind on four occasions. The Liverpool manager, Kenny Dalglish, resigned the next day but Ratcliffe remembers the game for difference reasons. He said: "Our manager changed the system that night, and I wasn't too happy about it. "I was asked to play as a marker and Martin Keown played the sweeper which was my normal position. "Martin had never played sweeper in his life and I didn't enjoy being a marker. I think it was one of the reasons we conceded four goals. But at least we won the replay."
Ratcliffe scored a rare goal in Everton's 2-0 win at Anfield early in 1986. He said: "It wasn't much of a goal but it was at the Kop End and made sure of a great win. "The worst thing was that Liverpool did not lose a game all season after that and pipped us to the league title. We finished second. "We had the chance to put things right in the FA Cup final and lost that 3-1. Losing the double to Liverpool was the ultimate heart-breaker." Ratcliffe's work as a football analyst with BBC Wales may keep him away from Goodison on Saturday when the 200th derby takes place. But he has seen enough modern-day derbies to form the opinion that they are not quite as intense as they used to be.
Ratcliffe said: "I don't think derby games evoke the same feelings in a lot of the players who contest them these days. To many of the foreign players on either side, it's just another Premiership game.
"They have not been brought up in the city, the area or even this country. So how are they to know about the passions of the fans. "Twenty years ago there were a good many local lads who would come up through the ranks, playing on both sides. "That's why the games were so hard-fought and tense at times. Play-ers had a little bit more than just professional motivation driving them on." Ratcliffe is confident about Everton's prospects on Saturday. "I can't see them losing," he says.. "Steven Gerrard will be a problem for us, because he is someone on the Liverpool side who knows what a derby is all about. "It will be interesting to see how the Spaniards on the Liverpool team react to the occasion. "But it's tricky making predictions these days, because games can so easily be changed by a refereeing decision. One misjudgement of a tackle can cost a player a red card and you end up with an unbalanced game between 10 men and 11. "But I am delighted with the way that Everton have progressed this season. They have demonstrated the importance of starting a season well and building up some confidence. "Now they are collecting results people would not have expected them to get last season."

Derby countdown - your memories
Post Past By Philip J Redmond, Everton Supporter
Dec 9 2004
AS someone who's seen a large percentage of derby games over the past 30 years, I've got loads of memories, both good and bad of an occasion that to be honest, I can't stand. The tension is way too much and I'd take two points at the start of every season in exchange for not playing them. As it is, I'll be there on Saturday and when I think of derby games, my mind always goes back to the first one I saw Everton win, back in October 1978. Liverpool (the European champions) and Everton were one and two in the old first division and setting a blistering pace. Liverpool, with Dalglish and Souness in their prime, went into the game with a four-point lead over Gordon Lee's Everton. I remember the Street End and old Park End being at least half full at 1.45pm as the respective ends chanted at each other. Eventually the match started and as I remember, Everton started like a whirlwind with Bob Latchford very close with two early headers and Martin Dobson having another one cleared off the line. Liverpool themselves were suitably dangerous on occasions and Blues keeper George Wood, being watched by new Scotland boss Jock Stein, had to make a couple of smart saves. Half-time saw the teams level. By now the game had settled down into a typical 70s derby stalemate. Around the hour mark, a long cross from the right was headed down by Martin Dobson into the path of Andy King. With defenders closing him down the Cockney midfielder had to take it early on the half volley and his drive flew away from Ray Clemence into the top corner....ecstasy! Like every other Blue in the ground, I wanted the match to end there and then, but there was still half an hour to go. For a few minutes, Everton looked like they felt the same and ex-Blue David Johnson looked unlucky to have a close-range effort ruled out for offside. At last the final whistle sounded and the Evertonians were able to party. Being only a couple of weeks past my 13th birthday, I wasn't able to join in fully, but up to this point this was definitely the high-point of my Evertonian life. I'm sure there's plenty of young Blues today who've not experienced the joy that a derby victory can bring. Let's hope they're celebrating this weekend.

Police raid house of Everton star
By Liam Christopher Daily Post Correspondent
Dec 9 2004
POLICE found a sizeable cannabis farm when they raided a luxury home owned by Everton star Steve Watson yesterday. Officers swarmed into the house in the exclusive Darras Hall area of Ponteland, Newcastle, at dawn, taking away a huge haul of cannabis plants. The million-pound house in Runnymede Road is owned by the former Newcastle United player, although detectives last night stressed the full back was renting the property out and knew nothing about the drugs. The house was one of two homes raided at 7am yesterday morning. An address in Lemington, Newcastle was also targeted. It is understood an extensive part of the large garden was under polytunnels and police were seen taking a large number of plants from the property. Residents in the luxurious neighbourhood - where homes regularly sell for upwards of £2m - were stunned last night at the raid. A man and a woman have been arrested in connection with what police describe as "two sizeable cannabis farms - one at each address". They were still helping police with their enquiries last night. Police would not put a value on the cannabis plants, which were still under forensic analysis last night. The house, number 91, stands out a little among its luxurious neighbours.
A large dormer bungalow, it is one of just a handful on the street without electronic entry gates and the cars on the driveway last night - a silver Peugeot and an old BMW - were rather modest compared with the Bentley's, Mercedes and Audi's outside other homes. Shaun Murphy, 53, of Burnopfield, County Durham, who was laying a drive next door when the raid took place, said: "We didn't know what was going on. At around 7am all these police cars rushed up to the house and about 10 officers dashed to the door. "Then, they started bringing all these plants out in paper bags - it was quite obvious what they were. "We've been here for around a week and haven't spoken to the woman who lives in that house, but we've seen a blonde woman coming and going in her Peugeot" A police spokesman said last night: "We executed search warrants at addresses in Darras Hall and Lemington early this morning. "We can confirm that the house in Darras Hall is owned by ex-Newcastle United footballer Steve Watson, but we are not planning to speak to him in connection with this matter." A spokesman for Steve Watson, who signed for Everton in 2000, said: "Steve Watson bought this house some six years ago as an investment. He does not, and never has, lived there."

Bent wants derby start
Dec 9 2004 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
MARCUS BENT is desperate to lead Everton's line against Liverpool on Saturday - even though Duncan Ferguson looks like winning his fitness race for the 200th Merseyside derby. Goalscorer last week, Ferguson has been receiving intensive treatment on a bruised knee, but is responding well.
But Bent is anxious to get manager David Moyes' nod to face the Reds. "I don't want to jinx myself, but if I play this will be the biggest derby I have played in," he admitted. "Before this, I have played in the derby matches involving Blackburn v Burnley, Sheffield United v Sheffield Wednesday, Stoke v Port Vale, Crystal Palace v Wimbledon. They have all been good occasions and different in their own way, but this is the biggest. "It is the one everybody in the country takes notice of because we are both big sides that have been at the top for years. "That is no disrespect to the other clubs I have played for, but Everton and Liverpool are world renowned football teams." The prospect of such a daunting occasion is something Bent believes he will thrive on. But he knows he has plenty of players around him with the experience of a derby day to help him acclimatise. He continues: "This is an occasion I haven't played in before and some of the other lads haven't played in before. "We are quietly confident we are going to get the result. I may be a new boy but I am already engrossed in the local rivalry."

Southall frustrated Reds with saves
Dec 9 2004 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
THE Merseyside derby is a potent expression of civic Scouse pride. But the fixture's two most celebrated stars statistically were Welshmen. No-one made has made more appearances in the fixture than Neville Southall, Everton's legendary goalkeeper who took a derby bow in March 1982 - and stood down 15 years and 41 derby matches later; while nobody scored more derby match goals than Liverpool's predator supreme, Ian Rush, who netted 25 goals against the team he supported as a boy, in five different competitions. Ahead of Saturday's 200th derby day showdown, we examine the record of Neville Southall. TO put Neville Southall's astonishing derby day longevity into context, Saturday will be the 200th showdown between the Merseyside rivals - and the enigmatic but outstanding goalkeeper has played in 41 of them. That is almost 25 per cent of all the Mersey derbies ever played. He made his bow on March 27, 1982 - when Liverpool put three goals past him at Goodison Park, then after a broken ankle ruled him out of the 1986 FA Cup final, the subsequent Charity Shield and two Screen Sport Super Cup finals - he made an unbroken run of 30 successive derby appearances. Some of the saves he made in those games are imprinted on Evertonian memory banks. A stunning, twisting, onehanded tip over from a point-blank John Barnes volley at Anfield, a scrambling double-save at John Aldridge's feet in the first post-Hillsborough derby - and a crucial block, low-down to his right to parry a Steve McManaman shot at Goodison Park. The Reds' winger shook his head in disbelief and congratulated Southall on the save. He was less magnanimous 20 minutes later when the Blues built on that save to win the derby 2-0. That incident came in the November 1994 showdown - Joe Royle's first as Everton manager. Southall outlasted Royle, as he did Colin Harvey and Mike Walker during his Everton reign. The manager who named him on a derby team-sheet for the final time, on October 18, 1997, was the same man who had given him his derby-debut 15 years earlier, Howard Kendall. By the time Everton went to Anfield in February the great man was out on-loan at Southend. Reds' supporters and players everywhere breathed a sigh of relief.

Rush broke Dixie's record and Blue hearts
Dec 9 2004 Liverpool Echo
THE Merseyside derby is a potent expression of civic Scouse pride. But the fixture's two most celebrated stars statistically were Welshmen. No-one made has made more appearances in the fixture than Neville Southall, Everton's legendary goalkeeper who took a derby bow in March 1982 - and stood down 15 years and 41 derby matches later; while nobody scored more derby match goals than Liverpool's predator supreme, Ian Rush, who netted 25 goals against the team he supported as a boy, in five different competitions. Ahead of Saturday's 200th derby day showdown, we examine the record of Ian Rush. IAN RUSH holds Liverpool's record for derby match appearances, featuring 37 times in the fixture. But it is another statistic which is most celebrated by Kopites everywhere.
Rush struck 25 times in derby-day action to become Everton ' s nemesis for a decade-and-a-half.
For more than 50 years, Dixie Dean's 19 derby goals (18 League and one FA Cup) were the most amassed in the fixture. Then Rush took over. By the time he had finished his one-man demoliton job on the Blues he had celebrated 25 times - 13 in league games, five in FA Cup ties, one in a League Cup tie, one in a Charity Shield and five in the Screen Sport Super Cup competition. The first, uncharacteristically, was bundled in off his chest during an Anfield derby on November 7 1981.
The most talked about statistic that afternoon was an Eamonn O'Keefe sending-off for a high tackle on Ronnie Whelan, making him only the third player sent-off that century in a Mersey derby.
Rush's next derby appearance, however, is still sung about on the Kop now - 22 years later!!
In one of the best goal-poaching displays ever seen in a Merseyside derby, Rush scored four times at Goodison Park in a 5-0 rout. Glenn Keeley was sent-off on his derby debut for hauling back Kenny Dalglish, and Rush took ruthless advantage of the gaping holes in the Blues' defence to run riot.
Long balls out of defence from Alan Hansen set up his first two, Mark Lawrenson slid in the third, then Rush completed his hat-trick off a goal-post from a Kenny Dalglish assist. Now strutting around Goodison as if he owned the place, Sammy Lee released Rush for a fourth - equalling the achievements of Fred Howe and Alex 'Sandy' Young.. That haul merely whetted his appetite and goals flowed regularly against the old enemy - four famously coming in FA Cup finals - before his final strike, appropriately enough another match-winner, came at Anfield in March 1994. Even after leaving Anfield, Rush hadn't finished with the Blues. He returned to Goodison Park with Newcastle in an FA Cup tie - and scrambled his only goal in a black-and-white jersey into the Gwladys Street goal to knock the Blues out of the cup.

The top 10 . . . who crossed Stanley Park
Dec 9 2004 Liverpool Echo
FRED GEARY was the first player to switch derby-day allegiances, Abel Xavier the last, but there have been plenty more throughout the 110 years of the fixture. Here is our top 10 of derby side-shifters:
"IT'S not as if he's changed his religion," bleated Gerard Houllier after paying Everton £6m in the summer of 2000 for Everton's Player of the (previous) Season. He was right. Evertonians would have forgiven him for such a religious trifle. Abandoning the Blues after one of their steadier seasons in recent years was deemed unforgiveable and spawned one of the funniest - if grimmest - Mersey derby chants. "We know where you live, we know where you live," chanted the Everton fans . . . followed by the exact address and town.
THE colourfullycoiffured Portuguese international was out of contract when he swapped sides in January 2002. After two-and-a-half years at Everton when the closest he got to scoring was in the Living Room, he netted on his Liverpool debut - but even that wasn't enough to incite emotions on either side of Stanley Park. Evertonians weren't sorry to see him go, Liverpudlians were equally nonplussed to have him on-board.
STILL the only man to feature for all three Merseyside clubs - Everton, Liverpool and Tranmere - when Hickson's second spell at Everton ended with a switch to Anfield both sides of Stanley Park erupted. Evertonians were appalled, Liverpudlians weren't much happier. But they changed their tune when he scored twice on his debut and went on to claim 38 goals in 67 appearances.
THE young Irishman was the first player since Johnny Morrissey - 20 years earlier - to directly cross Stanley Park, and there was no doubting who got the best of the deal. One of the finest left-sided players the club has ever had, he also flourished on an international stage for the Republic of Ireland. Scoring a stunning free-kick at the Kop - then celebrating Winston Churchill fashion - did little to make Liverpudlians recall him with much in the way of fondness.
Such was the quality and dominance of Bob Paisley's Liverpool squad of the 1980s, they could afford to let gems like Alan Harper leave without fear of consequence. They might have questioned the decision a year later, when he buried a Goodison derby day equaliser.
ONE of the few players who can claim the distinction of scoring for both sides in a Merseyside derby. Beardsley also enjoyed the unique distinction of being universally liked. Adored at Anfield, Graeme Souness believed he was a spent force and allowed him to cross the Park. He wasn't, but such was his style and demean-our he was cherished by both sides.
HIS switch from Liverpool to Everton sparked one of the more embarrassing phone calls Howard Kendall has ever taken. Sat in his office completing the formalities of the deal, he took a call on his private line. Daughter Hayley told him: "Dad, the Liverpool fans at school say you're buying Gary Ablett," she said. "Yes, that's right love," replied dad. "Don't do it," she said. "They all say he's rubbish!"He wasn't - and he ended up claiming an FA Cup winner's medal for the Blues to add to the one he won for the Reds six years earlier.
AN Everton legend who rattled the astonishing total of 86 goals in 98 appearances. He joined the fledgling Liverpool Football Club in 1895, but despite four years at Anfield his powers were clearly on the wane. He managed just 14 goals in 45 appearances from 1895 to 1899.
NOT a direct switch - but the two seasons McMahon spent at Villa Park before Kenny Dalglish made him his first Liverpool signing failed to dim Evertonian ire at his defection.
THE striker didn't just cross the park once - he did it twice! A promising young Everton talent, he was bizarrely swapped to Ipswich Town for the dreadful Rod Belfitt. Liverpool spotted his potential and took him to Anfield for the most productive years of his career. When Everton took him back in 1982 his best days were sadly behind him.

The Jury
Dec 9 2004 Liverpool Echo
"We must not let Thomas Gravesen go. His attitude and creativity are second to none" - Gareth Scott

IT'S been quite a busy week and as usual with Everton at the moment there seems to be just as any things to talk about off the pitch as on it. At the AGM it appeared the board have actually listened to some of the points raised at the EGM. I will, however, feel a lot happier when the some actual investment is in the bank and Paul Gregg declares what his intention are at Everton. With regards to the playing staff the Bolton game tested their willingness to fight for the points and it is definitely true that when you are playing well and working hard the luck is with you. Let's just hope this Saturday Steve Bennett can resist booking most of the Everton team before half-time. As for the derby, just remember all you Reds fans, it's Christmas time and there's every need to be afraid.
SO Everton can't come back from behind? I guess we have proved the national press wrong - again!
All the credit must go to the players and management for Saturday's performance. We have showed in the last two games we do deserve to be where we are. Thirty-three points from 16 games is championship form, and when we think there is still 22 games left and only 27 points to more or less guarantee us Europe. I don't think just a top ten finish will be good enough. As David Moyes has said, we are 13 points ahead of Newcastle and they still consider themselves in the Champions League race. Thomas Gravesen (pictured above) was the main man on Saturday. His attitude and creativity was second to none. We must not let this man go. He is irreplaceable. If he puts on the same display this Saturday, it is going to be an interesting day.
SATURDAY'S win against Bolton was an excellent achievement after going behind twice. The team really doesn't know how to lose at the moment and fights right to the end. It was good to see a bit of variation and depth with Big Dunc coming in and Leon Osman and James McFadden doing well.
Thomas Gravesen was outstanding again. We have to keep hold of him next year and build around him. Even when we weren't playing too well he dragged us forward. We've played nearly every team in the league now and have nothing to fear. Only Arsenal gave us a beating. We go into the derby on a real high, and another win would put us 12 points ahead of our neighbours which I never though we'd be at the beginning of the season. If we play to our strengths and take our chances we should win and then it would be a very merry Christmas for all Blues.
AFTER the third goal flew in against Bolton the atmosphere at Goodison was electric. We need that sort of support on Saturday. I know it will be difficult to get excited for the visit of an average mid-table team but if we are to secure the win then extra effort is needed all round. Despite Duncan Ferguson's performance on Saturday I would make a return to the usual formation we have used this season, pushing Marcus Bent forward. It's important to get a grip of the midfield early and stop their one good player from being effective. If we can keep Steven Gerrard quiet, three points should be easily acquired. Quite what our loveable neighbours are going to do when he moves to Chelsea or Madrid is unknown. They could always bring El-Hadji Diouf back from Bolton I suppose!

Let big Dunc loose - from the bench
Let big Dunc loose - from the bench
I'D prefer Big Dunc to be a sub this Saturday. Put him on for the last 20-30 minutes, along with James McFadden. It should do both of them good. The middle of the park is the key. I hope Lee Carsley can frustrate Steven Gerrard for the entire match and Tommy Gravesen can be at his brilliant best. I would love to see Leon Osman do what our beloved - but lost and confused - son failed to do: Score in a derby. But, don't kid ourselves, we know what damage our neighbours can inflict on us. Come on the Blues, win this one for David Moyes (yet to win a derby), the fans and, more importantly, EFC.
Jack B, Merseyside
EVERTON just do not know how to give up and that's fantastic! Keep fighting like a true champ. We love it. The crowd at Goodison Park was fantastic, too. Keep the volume up all the way!
Simon C, via e-mail
TESCO chief executive Sir Terry Leahy joining Everton as a special advisor is a positive move. Let's hope Keith Wyness and Blue Bill can get this club into the position it should be in. Looking ahead to the derby, Dunc should start on the bench, keep the midfield tight and Gerrard out of the game and we will win it.
Steve Allen, Liverpool
DO people realise what is involved in raising millions? Just try taking out a secured loan for a few thousand and see how long that takes. We are talking multi-millions. As soon as it doesn't go exactly to plan people get on Bill Kenwright's back. Lay off him. He's doing a superb job. He's got us a manager who will create an Everton dynasty to rival that of the East Lancs lot.
Tony Walsh, Merseyside
Miracles on shoestring
DAVID MOYES should be given credit by everyone who loves soccer. The man is working wonders on a shoestring - Brian Clough style. It is obvious the manager has a miracle to perform if we are to stay where we are. We have been beaten this season by all the big spenders: Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United. Now we have to face big spenders Liverpool. No matter how it turns out, it will not be the end of the world. So let's enjoy the derby on Saturday and give outsiders less chance to criticise Merseyside.
John Brown, Kirkby
Let's rebuild Goodison
ONE thing not mentioned on groundshare is that the location of the new Anfield won't allow anything bigger than a 60,000-seater stadium. Liverpool already had to jump over plenty of hurdles just to get this far. There's no way the authorities would allow more seats and another club on that same location. So you would have a situation where both clubs must leave the area to go bigger. The residents wouldn't mind that, but that will surely add more years and cost to the project.
Let the new Anfield be built and single use. Let Everton rebuild Goodison.
Rick C, Wirral
£12m not sufficient
JUST when you thought everything was going in the right direction, the promised investment disappears into thin air. What's with the 14-day extension? I'm sure Chris Samuelson was saying the money was ready to be spent back in October and now they need another 14 days?
Something is not quite right, but I'm not sure what. We need that money. The proposed £12m isn't enough, Mr Kenwright, so don't even begin to feel your job is done.
We need more cash!
S Khan via e-mail

Beating Liverpool is not our main priority
By Ian Doyle Daily Post Staff
Dec 10 2004
DAVID MOYES has insisted finishing above Liverpool in the Premiership table is not the limit of Everton's ambition for this season. Victory in tomorrow's 200th Merseyside derby at Goodison would be the Everton manager's first derby success since taking charge in March 2002 and end his club's five-year wait for a win in the fixture. It would also move Everton 12 points clear of their neighbours - their largest league advantage over Liverpool in almost 20 years - and extend their stay in the top three. But Moyes has dismissed the notion that local bragging rights are the primary aim of his revitalised team. "If we finish above Liverpool this season then it means we will finish in a very good league position because they are a good team who have spent a lot of money on their squad," said the Everton manager. "But finishing above Liverpool is not my goal for the season or the team's goal for the season, we have our own agenda. "We are not thinking about finishing above Liverpool, we are only thinking about where we can get to as a team. We are due a victory in the derby, however. "It would be nice to end the season above the likes of Liverpool or Newcastle, because it will mean we have had a good season, but it is not our primary objective."
Moyes, who expects Duncan Ferguson to recover from a bruised knee in time to challenge for selection, added that recent history means his players are still refusing to be carried away by their continuing excellent Premiership form. "Expectations won't get too high at Everton because we've been up and down too often," he said.. "We are doing a lot better than many people expected, and it is a manager's job to raise expectations, but the fans understand where we have come from and they appreciate that we are moving in the right direction." The derby marks the run-up to a hectic Christmas schedule which Moyes hopes will prove profitable. After Saturday's game, Everton face Premiership visits to Blackburn Rovers, Charlton Athletic and Tottenham Hotspur along with home games against Manchester City and Charlton Athletic before travelling to Plymouth Argyle in the FA Cup third round in early January. None of those games would appear to hold much fear for the rejuvenated Goodison side, and Moyes has intimated the next month will be crucial in shaping the remainder of Everton's season. "Football changes so quickly with three points for a win," he added. "There is an awful long way to go this season and we will never take anything for granted at Everton. We need to keep working hard to keep this going. "There are still many points left to play for this season. Things only really start to take shape at the end of January and we will do well to keep everyone fit and available over a busy Christmas period." Crowd trouble marred the Carling Cup clash at Millwall Duncan Ferguson, who is expected to be fit for the derby, is mobbed after scoring Everton's first against Bolton last weekend

Moyes is among Everton greats, proclaims Kenwright
By Paul Walker, Daily Post
Dec 10 2004
DAVID MOYES aims for his first Mersey derby victory being told he can match the great managers of Everton's past. The Scottish coach has failed to mastermind a victory over Liverpool in any of his four derbies in charge at Goodison Park. But with Everton third in the Premiership and nine points ahead of their local rivals, tomorrow's 200th derby showdown sees them as favourites for the first time in Moyes' reign.. And considering the standing ovation Moyes received at Everton's annual general meeting earlier this week, it is clear the club's fans agree with chairman Bill Kenwright's assessment of his manager. Kenwright has just awarded Moyes a three-year contract extension, and is so confident about the club's future under the the 41 years-old he is prepared to compare him with Everton's two greatest-ever managers, Harry Catterick and Howard Kendall. Kenwright says: "This club owes an awful lot to Harry Catterick, and to Howard Kendall. But it owes an awful lot also to David Moyes and he certainly will be up there with them soon. He is the man who has brought the glory days back to Everton." Kenwright added: "At the time he joined the club we were in trouble, relegation-wise, and he just said to me, you are not going to go down, and that was inspirational. I know this man is a great manager and I have felt that he was always destined to be 'the' great Everton manager. I thought that from the first seconds that I met him. "All I can say is that it is a great, great thrill and privilege to be where we are now and to work alongside this manager and work with this squad."

Every little helps as Tesco man joins up
Fanscene By Mark O'Brien, Daily Post
Dec 10 2004
THE build up to tomorrow's derby seems to have been far more low-key than usual. Presumably this is because there was an AGM and some match midweek to distract both clubs. As ever, anyone waiting for any sort of revelation from the AGM was left pretty disappointed. Chris Samuelson turned up, and must have wished he'd brought his 'Big Book of Everton Facts' along,, but unfortunately he didn't hand over one of those great big cheques that lottery winners and charities often receive. He never actually said 'it's in the post', but he might as well have, given the amount of suspicion that this delay in producing the Fortress Sports Fund's money stirred up. Bill Kenwright seems just as in the dark as the rest of us about it, with only Samuelson's word that the first instalment will be in Everton's bank account in the next week or so. The only other vaguely promising news from the meeting was that the council are willing to discuss plans concerning the redevelopment of Goodison and that Terry Leahy, above, is to - sort of - get involved with the club.
The Tesco man is obviously well regarded within his field, but just how he is going to translate his skills to the footballing arena during four meetings a year still seems a little unclear. But, as they say, every little helps. As for tomorrow's game, the sides look as evenly matched as ever, and no doubt we will read and hear that the result will be down to 'whoever wants it most'. Both sides displayed their fighting qualities this week - the Blues against Bolton while the Reds fought back against Rivaldo and his Sunday taverna side - but in recent seasons Everton's biggest downfall, especially at Goodison, is that we've perhaps wanted to win it too much. Last season was the perfect example, when we tried to blitz Liverpool from the first whistle and, with the crowd going nuts, punched ourselves out, George Foreman style, after quarter of an hour. The Reds have already shown this season that they're dangerous when games get spread out and they can use their pace, but teams who keep hold of the ball and use their heads can very quickly frustrate them and make them look ordinary. For that reason, even if Duncan Ferguson recovers from his bruised knee in time, he should start the match on the bench despite his heroics against Bolton.

Unsung Clarke
By David Jenkins, Daily Post
Dec 10 2004
REEL OFF some derby heroes and names like Andy King and Graeme Sharp spring to mind.
But how about Wayne Clarke? March 1988 and the stage was set for Everton to put the brakes on a Liverpool side that had gone 29 games unbeaten since the start of the season. They had already matched the Leeds United side of 1973-74, but were seeking to go one better at Goodison.
And who better than Wayne Clarke to emerge as the hero? Older brother Alan, of an era when being known as 'Sniffer' meant you had an eye for goal and not a nose for white lines of a different kind, had been part of that Leeds side. Clarke was typical of the sort of player Everton brought in during the '80s, playing his part in their second Championship in three years by scoring important goals even though his opportunities were limited. Remember how he lobbed John Lukic from 35 yards after the Arsenal keeper had miskicked straight at him? It may not have been a signing to get the pulses racing, but he ended up in a Champion-ship-winning side. And here he was again, putting the mockers on Liverpool's hope of a recordbreaking run. Crumbs of comfort, maybe, but there have been times when Evertonians have had to be grateful for small mercies.
No minor success
BACK in March 1972, things were different. They'd won the title a couple of years before, with that midfield axis we're always hearing about. The term 'School of Science' may even have had more basis than wishful thinking. There was also a view that Shankly's Mark 1 model had been based more on perspiration than inspiration. By the early '70s it had failed its MoT and been part-ex'd anyway (Nobody knew back then it was for a Porsche!). So, imagine the mood on derby day as I made my way to Anfield with my mate Brian in his dad's clapped-out Moggie Minor. The Reds had been steadily clawing back towards credibility, largely on the back of the dynamic play and Noddy Holderesque sideboards of a certain Kevin Keegan. But we still had some way to go. The Blues had largely the same personnel who'd won the title, but we're rapidly going south. Anyway, the game was a procession. We murdered them 4-0. The icing on the cake was a typical 30-yard screamer from the late, much lamented Emlyn. After that, there was only one way our lift was heading. And theirs!
In fact, they didn't win a derby for nearly seven years. We became the greatest club side in English history. And my mate Brian became Chief Exec of the FA (no, honestly).
Everton 3 Liverpool 0, 1894
AS THE 200th occasion steadily approaches, it's worth remembering the date of October 13, 1894 - the first ever Merseyside derby. Goodison Park was packed with 40,000 spectators to watch the Blues take on a Liverpool club that had only been established two years previously and were playing only their ninth game in the top division. Moreover, the Anfield visitors were without a win after their promotion in the summer. Everton were in no mood to be generous, however, taking the lead after 10 minutes through McInnes. Minutes later the goalscorer turned provider for winger Latta to make it 2-0. Bell finished off Liverpool with a deflected third. The Goodison club went on to finish runners-up in the title race to Sunderland, while Liverpool's poor return of seven wins from 30 games saw them relegated.

False dawns
Icliverpool And Daily Post
Dec 10 2004
False dawns
I AM waiting now for the Board to announce that the planned investors have pulled out, as I have seen too many false dawns. This Board could mess up a boiled egg. Only the fact that the players and David Moyes are doing a brilliant job is the reason the pressure has come off the Board. But they are not out of the woods, yet.
C Orpington (via e-mail)
Peace talks
WAS that really Everton's AGM? The near certainty of funds, a three-year business plan (when was the last time our great club had one of them?), Sir Terry on board, no real arguments, everyone pulling together apparently, although a certain Mr Gregg seems to be waiting in the wings to put the proverbial spanner in! It seems that this great club is starting to get its act together, addressing problems and moving forward. Long may it continue. Well done to all! I just hope I haven't spoken too soon!
Tommy Rylance, Liverpool
Tasty starter
WHY NOT start big Dunc in the derby match? We need someone who is not afraid to put his Blue body on the line. The lads are doing the same in the middle of the park for us. The team has balance and looks good going forward.
Dave Hamilton (via e-mail)
Beat off Beattie
AS THE transfer rumours increase every day, I feel worried that the James Beattie one just won't go away. I think he would be a step backwards. We need young, fast and aggressive players to move forward.
R Enzo (via e-mail)

Blues left fuming over ref
Dec 10 2004 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
A ROW is set to erupt over the FA's appointment of Steve Bennett as referee for tomorrow's 200th derby. David Moyes declined to comment on the appointment today, but players and coaching staff at Bellefield are appalled by the insensitivity of the decision. The Blues have a long history of grievances with the Orpington official stretching back to September 2002. Mr Bennett awarded a nonsensical penalty at Southampton two years ago which consigned Everton to defeat, then six months later sent David Moyes to the stand for complaining about another harsh penalty award against his side at West Bromwich Albion. He also upset Everton at last season's Anfield derby, when he ignored an incident when Sami Hyypia appeared to trip Tomasz Radzinski as he raced through on goal, then sent Tim Cahill off for raising his shirt over his head at Manchester City earlier this season. On that occasion the official was applying the letter of the law, but the incident gave rise to Everton fears that when Mr Bennett is around, they usually suffer. Referees' chief Keith Hackett was in Scotland yesterday - and uncontactable even by his own Press Office. But it is believed he has been made aware by Everton of their dismay at the appointment.

Moyes hunts a Red scalp
Dec 10 2004 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES received not one, but two standing ovations at last week's Everton AGM. The first was just for being there, the second for a brief summary of the season so far. The Blues boss has given the club back its pride and his stock could not be higher. But there is still one glaring omission from his cv. "I am fully aware I have not got a derby win under my belt," he said "but I hope to put that right sooner rather than later. "I am desperate to get a win under my belt if I can and we go into the derby in good form. "I have been in charge of four - two draws and two defeats - but it was only the last one at Goodison where I felt we didn't really do ourselves justice. The others have all been very close. "I know how important a derby win is. I would swap a healthy league position for not winning the derby if it ever came to that, but I know how important the fixture is to the fans, and to me."
A Glaswegian who played for Celtic, Moyes is very aware of what the supporters go through on derby day. "I went to Glasgow derbies as a young boy," he said. "It was always difficult to get tickets, but I did get into a few and I know exactly what a fan goes through on derby day.
"There are are similarities between the Glasgow and the Merseyside derby - and differences, too.
"The rivalry is similar in as much as what it means to both sets of supporters - but without the religious bigotry which exists in Scotland, albeit that aspect is not as intense as it was years ago. "But the bottom line is that it means everything to beat your local rivals on derby day."
As a result of the intensity of the fixture, Moyes has tried to keep his players out of the media spotlight as much as possible. " We've been able to give the play-ers a little time off to relax, but that's not because of the derby," he smiled " it's just because of the period we're coming into."
But the Blues boss also switched the time of his final press conference to 9.30am today - then switched training until after lunch - to ensure his players are not swamped by interview requests.
"Just coincidence," smiled Moyes again. "We have been working with a small squad this season and we have been having to do things to get the players in as good a shape as possible." The Blues boss has been doing plenty of smiling this season - and hopes to be doing the same again by half past two on Saturday afternoon. "Maybe the expectation is a little greater because we are at home and because of the way results have gone this season, but all I can say is that we will be focused and we will be ready. "Everybody knows how important the game is - and we will go out there and give everything, as we have been doing all season. "Hopefully that will be enough."

Keeper Martyn warns Blues of danger posed by 'wounded animal'
Dec 10 2004 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
NIGEL MARTYN has revealed Everton have a simple philosophy ahead of tomorrow's 200th Merseyside derby: 'Beware the wounded animal'. The Blues go into the game as many people's favourites, having started the season in sensational form. A return of 33 points from the opening 16 matches has taken David Moyes' men to third in the table, nine points ahead of their local rivals.
And with Rafael Benitez entering the cauldron of the Merseyside derby match atmosphere for the first time, it has led to a growing sense of expectation amongst Evertonians eager to taste victory for the first time in five years. But those fans will be reassured to hear Martyn and his Goodison teammates are not willing to undermine their strong position by allowing complacency into the ranks. "We are under no illusions as to the threat they pose," says the goalkeeper. "They are probably more dangerous in that they have had players missing at a time when we are doing well, so that will probably galvanise them. "It has been well documented about the players they have had missing, but to field as strong a team as they have shows you they have the strength in depth to maintain a challenge." And Martyn insists there are no nerves amongst the Everton players.
He adds: "You have got to look forward to these big games. "At the moment this team is not feeling any pressure. We are just enjoying playing the games. "The lads were buzzing after Saturday's game. To go behind twice only to come back and win it shows some character." The victory over Bolton had to be earned against a side which was cynical, petulant and committed in equal measure.
"It was a good dress rehearsal in that it was a lot like a derby. "But I don't think it will be exactly the same against Liverpool. Derbies are all about 22 players flying around the pitch trying to win every tackle and every header. "I suppose the last big city derby I was involved in before coming here was in Bristol at the start of my career. That was two fiercely supported clubs in one city and in its own context was very big. "But you look at it and think: 'Although they are passionate, it is a smaller scale'."

Pubs set to take maximum points on derby day
Dec 10 2004 By Jon Tunney, Liverpool Echo
PUBS on both sides of the football divide are gearing up for tomorrow's derby. Evertonians and Liverpudians are expected to gather in their regular bars before heading to Goodison for the lunchtime kick-off. But although takings before the match are likely to be good, not all landlords are looking forward to the game. Reds fan Stephen Smith will get some banter from regulars at the Blue House - otherwise known as the Stanley Park - whatever the result. He was not worried by the possibility of some ribbing, but a repeat of last year's violence would not be welcome. He said: "Last year the match finished at 2.30pm and we were closed 20 minutes later. There were windows smashed and stuff was being chucked everywhere. "It can be one of the best days of the year or it can be a nightmare. It all depends on the result and how the match goes." Evertonians will also gather in numbers at County Road's The Royal Oak. But landlord Derek Salmon is not expecting trouble. In his 14-year association with the pub he has seen many derby days come and go and is not expecting anything out of the ordinary this year - except, perhaps, an Everton win. He said: "I've got a feeling it's our year. Everything's going right for us so far this season, so I think we could be lucky on Saturday. "It'll be a good day with a good atmosphere. About 90% of the punters will be Evertonians, although there will be some reds coming in with friends. "Having said that, friend-ship can go out of the window on derby day. We'll be busy no matter what the result." The Sandon, in Walton Breck Road, has a historical foot in both camps, but is now very much red. Everton's first changing rooms stood on that very same site, before the club was forced around the corner by a rent hike. Liverpool was formed soon after, and the boys in red took over the building. It has stayed red ever since. Manager Pat King said the crowd would be similar for any away match, despite this one being so close to home. She said: "I know it's only five minutes up the road, but we probably won't be that busy on Saturday. "The regulars will be in before and after, but not many others. The bar staff are split 50-50 so there will be a good bit of banter on the day."

Reds tipped to deny Moyes a first victory
Dec 10 2004 You Bet With Adam Oldfield, Liverpool Echo
THEY haven't been given much credit, but Everton have still managed to forge a standing of high repute. It wasn't so long ago that beating Liverpool was their season's top expectation. Now, it is an afterthought to their primary objective - reaching Europe. Which is why losing at Goodison tomorrow won't necessarily send Evertonians into the inescapable doldrums a derby defeat once did. The fact they will still boast a higher league position means a grimace rather than riotous booing may greet the full-time whistle. It is with a heavy heart that anyone tipping the Reds should deny David Moyes his first derby victory. His enterprise has been the cornerstone of what has made Everton so alluring, and why Match of the Day schedulers no longer restrict his side to a five second slot in the early hours of Sunday. But, with a midfield of Steven Gerrard and Xabi Alonso, Liverpool have the capacity to control and win the landmark 200th meeting. An industry-best price of 30-17 further enhances the Reds' appeal (Gamebookers), while 7-4 (Bet Direct) can be found in favour of the Blues, and 11-5 (Paddy Power) the draw. As ever, a fiery temperament is expected to grip the game, so tote-sport's first booking special should merit an investment. Josemi and Tim Cahill are 9-1 joint favourites for the yellow peril, with Hamann (10-1), Baros (11-1) and Carsley (11-1) in close attendance. But Thomas Gravesen (12-1) could find the presence of Alonso (12-1) and Gerrard (12-1) too frustrating and lash out. HOT SHOT: Mellor

Everton 1, Liverpool 0 (D, Post)
Dec 13 2004 Andy Hunter At Goodison Park, Daily Post
AN HOUR after the final whistle and the sound of jubilation was still pouring through Goodison's windows. "Bloody hell, listen to that," remarked David Moyes as he halted his final press conference to savour the moment. "That is what this means." Moyes was right to leave it to Everton's vocal supporters to underline the significance of their first local triumph for five years. Ultimately, it was what both managers didn't or wouldn't say about the 200th Merseyside derby that revealed more about the causes and effects of this result. "All this singing in the street reminds me of when we beat Arsenal and Wayne scored that goal," added the victorious manager. "It does mean a lot. It is more than three points. "It is great for me to get my first derby win but it's more important that those people out there can go into work on Monday and not get pelters from the red half of the city." Moyes manages his own thriving work-shop at Goodison these days, and the indefatigable spirit and energy he has installed in his small band of brothers were at the core of this first home derby win since 1997. But strip emotion out of the equation and the positives for Everton do not end with a restoration of local pride. On Saturday night they were second in the table, three points off the lead, 12 points ahead of Liverpool and, most importantly of all, another win closer to Europe - this is now the bigger picture at Goodison Park. Moyes, however, is still fighting against the tide of expectation and playing all questions about realistic targets with the straightest of bats. The main reason for ignoring the bait is the knowledge of how quickly fortunes can change at Everton, but there is also incomprehension that mid-way through the campaign and six months after the worst season in living memory he is now involved in talk of a title challenge. Had the Everton manager collapsed into a fit of giggles after conceding "Yes, I suppose we must be championship contend-ers" he would not have been heard above the singing outside, but his rider that a top-10 finish still represented a good return smacked of a stock-in-trade response nonetheless. What if, what if, his players did avoid the pitfalls of injury and suspension this season, would Europe seem such a far-flung destination then? All those waiting for the bubble to burst are losing patience and with players like matchwinner Lee Carsley, Kevin Kilbane and Alessandro Pistone improving by the game - plus the pillars of Alan Stubbs, David Weir and Nigel Martyn holding firm - Everton,, whisper it quietly, are getting stronger. Few players epitomise the transformation between this season and last than Carsley, whose 68th minute winner capped an afternoon in which he performed two thankless tasks with studious application. Not only did he produce his usual holding role to give Thomas Gravesen licence to roam, he kept Liverpool's midfield marauder, Steven Gerrard, on a tighter leash than anyone has managed in a long time. The key to Everton's success. But if the pattern of Everton's season remained steadfast on Saturday then so did Liverpool's and, understandably, Rafael Benitez was not in the mood for thoughtful conversation after a week of European highs ended in domestic blues. Given the performances of one or two of his players, and questions about his own game plan, that was hardly surprising. By encapsulating a season of continual peaks and troughs with two contrasting displays in the space of four days Liverpool gave their manager plenty to digest privately, little to discuss publicly. The only consistency at Liverpool this season has been Benitez's calm, confident assurance his team will bridge the gap into the top four with a strong second half to the season. But it can be a frustrating, agonising wait when you have to endure results like this and, as recent pronouncements illustrated, time is a luxury Liverpool do not have. There is no need for a postmortem on a team in the last 16 of the Champions League and a finely-balanced derby with high levels of spirit and low levels of football is no stage to assess their development. But Liverpool are losing ground on the chasing pack and Saturday stirred several concerns that recent results and performances had appeared to wash away. One was a starting line-up by Benitez that delivered a message most people assumed had left Liverpool in the bags of their previous manager - caution. Fresh resources were necessary after Wednesday night but five changes from the side that physically and mentally destroyed Olympiakos derailed the momentum of that result and several - Salif Diao instead of Xabi Alonso, Josemi instead of Steve Finnan - were with stifling Everton, not inspiring Liverpool, in mind. The teams largely cancelled each other out on Saturday with similar formations and individual standards. However, what few weaknesses were on display came in the Liverpool ranks as Josemi and Chris Kirkland gave Everton the only avenues either team had to exploit. Kirkland spread needless fear throughout a largely resilient defence by missing several high balls into his area but it was his failure to stop a shot down the centre of his goal for a third successive game that provoked most alarm. There have been mitigating circumstances against Aston Villa, Olympiakos and Everton, the latter when he was unsighted by Sami Hyypia and Tim Cahill, but their regularity and his slow reactions have created an unwel-come problem for Benitez. Not that Carsley would have caught sight of Liverpool's goal but for another wasted pass by Josemi, the only one of Benitez's Spanish acquisitions to start the game and whose second half collapse gave Everton every encouragement to edge the second half after an even first. Both teams missed a glorious headed chance to take the lead when the ball finally returned from orbit during a neck-breaking first 45 minutes. Everton midfielder Tim Cahill had the first of few genuine opportunities in what developed into an eventful derby debut for the Australian international. On 21 minutes he was perfectly placed to convert Marcus Bent's accurate chip beyond Kirkland but having leapt too early the usually outstanding aerial marksman fluffed his invitation wide. Twelve minutes later Neil Mellor went even closer when Gerrard's free-kick picked him out unmarked at the far post only for Nigel Martyn to instigate an almighty goalmouth scramble with a superb point-blank save, with the Liverpool striker eventually heading over at the second attempt. Everton gave possession away far too cheaply at the start of the second half but Liverpool's failure to capitalise and the increasing productivity of Kilbane and Pistone down the left gave them the momentum to settle the contest during their strongest spell of the game. It began when the industrious Kilbane cut out another loose pass from Josemi in the 68th minute. He fed Gravesen, whose dangerous cross was headed away from Cahill by John Arne Risse only for Bent and Leon Osman to combine and offer Carsley a low shot from 20 yards. His swerving drive caught Kirkland unsighted and un-balanced, and disappeared into the middle of the Gwladys Street net before the goalscorer himself vanished under a wave of screaming blue shirts. Cahill could have doubled the home side's advantage a minute later when he miscued from close range after a Gravesen corner landed at his feet and Riise cleared off the line. The last 15 minutes, with Alonso finally in the action, belonged to Liverpool. Even Carsley's superb shackling of Gerrard could not suppress the visiting captain's irresistible force all afternoon and with Goodison nerves fraying he came closer than anyone in red to salvaging a point. Twice in three minutes he almost levelled from distance but without the directness of his Olympiakos winner in his first attempt and denied by the outstanding reflexes of Martyn at the second he was unable to produce a second, successive salvation. The goalkeeper was finally beaten in stoppage time when substitute Djimi Traore knocked Jamie Carragher's hooked ball out of his hands only for Cahill to head off the line and Weir to hack the ball into the safety of the Bullens Road Stand. That was the cue for the home fans to start dancing in the streets and, just like their team, every step is taking them ever closer to Europe.
EVERTON (4-5-1): Martyn; Hibbert, Weir, Stubbs, Pistone; Osman (Watson, 86), Gravesen (Yobo, 82), Carsley, Cahill, Kilbane; Bent (Ferguson, 75). Subs: Wright, McFadden. BOOKINGS: Hibbert (foul), Ferguson (ungentlemanly conduct)
LIVERPOOL (4-5-1): Kirkland; Josemi, Carragher, Hyypia, Riise; Sinama-Pongolle (Traore, 75 mins), Diao (Alonso, 78 mins), Gerrard, Hamann (Nunez, 65 mins), Kewell; Mellor. Subs: Dudek, Finnan. BOOKINGS: Diao, Riise, Josemi (fouls)
REFEREE: Steve Bennett
ATT: 40,552

New groundshare proposal as decision D-day looms
By Andy Kelly, Daily Post
Dec 13 2004
LIVERPOOL and Everton fans could find out this week whether the question of a shared stadium between the clubs has finally been put to rest. It is thought unlikely any deal on a joint home on Stanley Park between the two clubs can be achieved despite the intervention of Sports Minister Richard Caborn, who hosted talks in London earlier this month. He asked the clubs to make a final decision by the end of December though Liverpool council leader Mike Storey said last week he believed it was likely to take only around another week. Cllr Storey reiterated his support for a shared stadium in a recent BBC radio debate but added he did not think it would now happen.
With Saturday's hard-fought Derby match fresh in their memories, most Liverpool and Everton fans will not return to the sharing question with any relish. But while all the debate has centred on the possible sharing of Liverpool's Stanley Park development, one Merseyside businessman is convinced the clubs are looking in the wrong place. John Seddon, from Waterloo, has been investigating the possibilities of a sports development on Walton Hall Park, just across Queens Drive from the current stadiums, for the past four years. Mr Seddon, who built up a cable technology firm as well as producing football LPs for Liverpool and Everton in the past, believes Walton Hall Park offers a perfect opportunity for a joint stadium as part of a "soccer village". 0ShareHe told the Daily Post: "We have in our great city two great football teams but it is ironic they are playing in 'yesterday' stadiums.. "But with all things there comes a time to move on and that is where both clubs are right now. "This is a wonderful opportunity that may never occur again. At 90 acres, Walton Hall is bigger than Stanley Park and the transport links could be much better." Walton Hall Avenue is situated at the start of the East Lancs Road and links directly into the M57. Mr Seddon has also investigated the possibilities of securing a reopening of the old Mersey Loop Line railway, which ran between Aintree and Hunts Cross and is now used as a nature walk and cycle path. He said Walton Hall Park would be a much more sensible site for any joint stadium between the clubs. LFC ruled out 17 sites across Merseyside before deciding on Stanley Park as the location for its new stadium and Walton Hall Park was one of those. The club praised the public transport links available at Walton Hall but said they felt it unlikely it would be made available by the city council.

Cahill relieved that his miss didn't prove costly
By David Prior, Daily Post
Dec 13 2004
TIM CAHILL could afford himself a sigh of relief on Saturday night in the knowledge his extraordinary miss had not turned him into Everton's derby day villain. The Australian, who was playing in his first Merseyside derby, squandered a glorious first-half chance to give the home side the lead when he somehow glanced Marcus Bent's centre wide of a gaping Liverpool goalmouth. Lee Carsley's goal ensured the miss did not matter, but it was clearly still playing on midfielder Cahill's mind afterwards. "It was one of those things that happens," he said.. "But it's not about me. It's disappointing that I didn't score but I've just got to work hard and keep going and hope the ball falls for me. Another day that would have been in the back of the net. "The cross was perfect, I just had a million things going through my head - should I stick it to the left, or stick it to the right. "I was going to stick it into the bottom left but I just didn't catch it right. It was one of those ones you think you've scored before you've hit it, I'm really disappointed in myself, but it was just one of those things that didn't work for me." The 25-year-old had almost an easier chance to score moments after Carsley's strike, but he scuffed a point-blank shot in the midst of a goalmouth scramble.
But Cahill added: "It was a bit behind me but I'd start worrying when I don't get the chances. If I keep getting in the right positions I'm still quietly confident I going to get a goal. But it's a team game and not just about myself." Carsley's goal was reason enough for Cahill to be thankful for the midfielder's contribution, but the former Millwall man also pointed to the match-winner's success in muzzling Steven Gerrard. Cahill added: "He was fantastic - he didn't let Gerrard play at all. He had his moments, but Lee is a tremendous player and everyone knows that. We're very grateful to have him in our squad. The way we play, we try to lock things up and stop the playmakers playing."
Cahill admitted the derby was not the "prettiest" game,, but that it was further evidence that Everton's "bubble" was not about to burst. He added: "You work so hard to get results like this. It's a massive game for everyone involved in the club, especially the fans - they deserve something like this. "They've been through the highs and lows and at the moment it's a high. You mustn't try and complicate things - just keep it simple.. "It wasn't the prettiest game I've ever played in, but we're not just grinding them out, we're actually deserving the results. "Goodison Park's not a place you're going to come to and play pretty football, because we're going to get on them as soon as possible."
He added: "There's always a feeling we can keep it going. "I think everyone is waiting for the bubble to burst but that's not from us, that's the media. "We're very confident, but we're not going to get ahead of ourselves, and we're just going to worry about the next game."

No bubble to burst - we're here to stay
By Ken Stewart, Daily Post
Dec 13 2004
OH, how I smile. Second in the league, 36 points and 12 points ahead of Liverpool, it was never in doubt. At times we got lucky and our play was rather scrappy but we made up for it in heart and commitment. We must be doing something right to be where we are in the league.
The pundits aren't happy and they'll keep patronising us and saying our "bubble" will burst but there is no bubble, we're here for the long term and in that, the Champions League is and has to be our main target this season. When I look around at the rest of the Premier-ship there are really no teams that we should be afraid of. Chelsea and Arsenal will most probably take the top two places but the rest is open and we have to believe we can get one of the other two places.
Liverpool were meant to be Champions League contenders before Saturday's game, and they probably still are, but they are some way off it now. We controlled the game on Saturday. At the time it seemed like every time they got in our half they would score but after watching the game back, there was never any real danger apart from when Steven Gerrard got the ball. But the midfield did what was asked of them and he hardly had a sniff. There is something special happening at Everton at the moment and to be second in the league at Christmas and near the halfway point is a proper, real achievement. Remember we were tipped for relegation, we had no money, we sold our "best" player and we where going to be the next "big" team to go down the trap door.
The pundits, don't you love them? 'And now you're gunna believe us, we're going to win the league?'

Signings won't disrupt our march to Europe
By Ian Doyle Daily Post Staff
Dec 13 2004
DAVID MOYES has reiterated he will not spend during next month's transfer window unless the right players become available. The Everton manager saw his side record their first derby victory in five years on Saturday when Lee Carsley's second-half goal was good enough to defeat Liverpool.
It moved the Goodison side into second place in the Premiership table ahead of Arsenal, and closed the gap on leaders Chelsea to just four points. Moyes - who insisted his team must now be regarded as genuine title contenders - will be handed a kitty of £8m-£10million to spend on new players when the transfer window reopens in three weeks. And while he admits he needs to bolster his threadbare squad and that suitable reinforcements have already been targeted, Moyes will not run the risk of unbalancing the squad and hampering his side's hopes of European qualification.
"We know players who we think would possibly come to Everton," he said. "But trying to pick and choose the right players is very difficult. "There is no right or wrong way of doing it unless you have the mega money of Chelsea, and we don't have that. "I'll try and do it with the best aims in mind. Even Jose Mourinho has been saying that he doesn't want to sign any more players because it would unbalance the squad, and he has more money to spend than anyone else. "However, we are light with numbers and that's the main difference between us and most of the other Premiership clubs."
Moyes added: "I've always thought this was an attractive club to come and play for. We didn't have a lot of finances in the summer but that didn't mean we didn't try things and I spoke to lots of players and in the end we weren't attractive enough to them." Saturday's victory was Everton's 11th Premiership win of the season and moved them 12 points clear of Liverpool - their biggest league lead over their neighbours since they won the championship in 1985. And Moyes has admitted he is now realistically looking at his team aiming for a top-five finish and qualification for Europe.
"I don't think we're going to get relegated now, but I think we're still a few months away from being able to judge what success will be this season," he continued.. "Being in the top 10 would have to be seen as success at the end of the season. Things can change very quickly over Christmas, but the end of February is usually when you know whether you will be in with a chance. "I'm hoping we can be in the mix with the top four or five teams at that point. What we are aiming for is a place in Europe, but if you shoot for the moon you sometimes hit the stars. We'll see. "If we are second at the end of February then people would have to consider us as title contenders. We don't have the infrastructure in place at Everton to make us able to make the leap up to join Manchester United and Arsenal at the moment, but we are trying to move forward." He added: "We still haven't bridged that gap to the top teams in terms of strength of squad and finances, but on the pitch for 90 minutes we are doing well. On that field we have to try and bridge the difference in terms of quality, money and ability, and I think out players have done that. "The lack of expectation at the start of the season was probably a rallying call. If you are someone who is gritty inside, such as myself, if there is a challenge presented you tend to respond to it, and I think that applies to the players also.
"Let's be fair, two seasons ago we did very well and this season we are doing well, so maybe last year's performance was just a oneoff." Moyes also reserved special praise for midfielder Carsley, who not only scored the 68th-minute winner but also largely negated the influence of Liverpool midfielder Steven Gerrard. "Lee Carsley is a tremendous team player and did a job on Steven Gerrard which was as good as any has done," said the Everton manager. "Gerrard is the best midfielder in the country and we had to make sure he didn't hurt us. "Lee deserved his goal for the effort he puts in, the type of lad he is and if you asked the lads in the dressing room if there was one person they would want to score a goal for the team, they'd say Lee Carsley. "I think we forced Gerrard to play so far forward because of our set-up. Although that maybe meant we didn't have as many attacking options as we would have liked, we had to do what was best. "We knew he'd played very well against Aston Villa and exceptionally well against Arsenal, so we knew we had to do something to counter him. Even so, he still had one or two opportunities so that shows how good a player he actually is."

Goodison victory was the high point of my Everton career so far, says delighted Pistone
By David Prior Daily Post Staff
Dec 13 2004
ALESSANDRO PISTONE claimed Saturday represented the finest moment of his four-year Goodison career. The Italian, enjoying his most successful season at Everton, was an assured figure on Saturday as the home defence repelled everything Liverpool could throw at them. And after his first taste of victory in the Merseyside derby, Pistone ranked the moment above all others at Goodison since he moved from Newcastle in 2000. He said: "I'd say it was the high point of my Everton career so far. It's a combination of things - the way we are playing at the moment, the way we are getting results, our great team spirit, and the fact we are now second, at least for a time. It's a great, great season. "I think we deserved the win. I think it is difficult to pick out any individual players, everybody did well. It's always difficult to see a good derby in terms of quality, but everybody gave 100% in every tackle, everybody was there when needed and that was the difference." With Everton almost at the halfway point of the season, Pistone claimed it was now the appropriate time to take confidence from the fact they had played - and matched - virtually every team. He added: "At one point you have to stop, look around and see, because now is nearly the half-way point of the season. We have now played virtually everybody, and we did well with everybody, apart from the first game of the season, so we can go out and be confident against everybody." Europe, added the defender, was now very much within touching distance. He added: "I would not say Europe is the minimum requirement, but it would be a great thing to achieve. I think everybody is looking to Europe now, and the Champions League is a possibility." Pistone's defensive colleague David Weir said Everton's ability to ride out setbacks was a central factor in their rejuvenation. Tim Cahill's horrendous first-half miss had looked set to prove costly for Everton in a game with clear-cut chances at a premium. But Weir, who enjoyed another outstanding game at the heart of defence alongside Alan Stubbs, said: "It's easy to dwell on your disappointments and let them lie for the rest of the game, but we're not that here, we responded in the right way and we got a goal. "It was the same last week, we went behind twice but we responded in the right way, and that's what it's all about for us. It's easy just to say 'well it's not going to be our day', but we're like that." He added: "It just keeps getting better and better. It was a sweet victory. We're all about being a team, we've got nobody that takes the headlines. Everybody works together and we look after each other. Right throughout the team everybody played well, everybody works together and that's why we're getting success right now. We're fancying ourself in every game, we've just got to keep doing what we've been doing. Every win gives you confidence. Every win gives us more momentum." Weir was however refusing to get carried away with talk of qualification for Europe, adding: "We're not looking too far ahead. "If we start thinking about Europe and things beyond that we could take our eye off it. "But the fans deserve this, they've had the hard times as well and the worries in the summer, it's nice for them to get an early Christmas present."

Everton star wins fight over album
By Will Batchelor, Daily Post
Dec 13 2004
EVERTON footballer and fledgling music mogul Kevin Campbell won a court order yesterday to prevent notorious R&B singer Mark Morrison from releasing an album. The striker, who signed Morrison to his own music label 2 Wikid Records, claims to have spent hundreds of thousands of pounds recording and promoting the album, which was due to be released next month. He believes Morrison, best known for his 1996 hits Return of the Mack, Crazy and Horny, was planning to release it today through another record company. The injunction forbids Morrison, Mona Records Ltd and distribution firm Jet Star Phonographics from releasing the album, or any of its individual tracks.
Campbell said he was "gutted" at having to take the drastic action and blamed Morrison for wrecking his dream of working in the music industry. He said: "I'm glad we were granted the injunction but I'm completely gutted that we have had to go that far. "Mark Morrison was given everything he asked for by 2 Wikid but it seems that he couldn't help but return to his old ways.
"Ever since I was a little boy I've had two passions - football and music. "I've worked hard to realise my ambition in football but had hoped that my future career would be in the music business. "I have always dreamt of starting a record label but now Mark Morrison has spoilt that dream for me. There is no loyalty in this business - just greed." The case will be heard at the High Court on Monday.
His solicitor, Chris Farnell, said: "We are delighted that the court has upheld the action and we look forward to going back into court to make Kevin Campbell's position absolutely clear." Morrison, who grew up in Leicester, was jailed in 1998 for hiring a stand-in to carry out a Community Service Order he was sentenced to after being convicted of possession of a stun gun. In August this year, he was involved in a fracas in a Leicester nightclub, in which he claimed a £10,000 diamond pendant was ripped from his neck. Last night, Morrison hit back at Mr Campbell and the injunction yesterday, pledging: "The Mack will return - and no judge is gonna stop him." He said: "The injunction is ludicrous. "I signed a new deal with a new record company because I was not getting the support I needed from 2 Wikid. "I was with that label for a year and in that time released just one record, which was not properly promoted. "He was not running the label well and that reflected badly on me. He might be a name in football, but I am a name in music. "The whole world is waiting for this album and it will come out on December 27. No injunction or judge will stop it. The Mack will return." Morrison also pledged that the first single from the album, titled Blackstabbers, will be released on January 31 next year. He said: "I might dedicate it to Kevin Campbell."
A small man with bodyguards and a violent past
* CONTROVERSIAL R&B singer Mark Morrison is no stranger to the workings of the British criminal justice system. The self-styled bad boy of pop has been behind bars on more than one occasion and has a criminal history of violent and threatening behaviour. The Leicester-born performer was jailed for 12 months in 1998 after hiring a stand-in to carry out a Community Service Order he was sentenced to after being convicted of possession of a stun gun. He had been jailed for three months the year before for the original offence of threatening a policeman with the electric weapon. The diminutive star drips with gold and is usually surrounded by bodyguards. Aside from his stints in jail, Morrison's criminal history includes being banned from driving for motoring offences and being fined for threatening behaviour and criminal damage.

Semi misery
Daily Post
Dec 13 2004
EVERTON returned to winning form as they dispatched Bristol City 3-1 in the FA Nationwide Women's Premier League. Rachel Unitt, Jody Handley and Kelly McDougall scored the goals.
Liverpool lost in the FA Nationwide Women's Premier League Cup semi-finals, 3-0 to Charlton. All the goals came after the interval. A Nicky Davies own goal gave the visitors the advantage on 69 minutes, with two goals in the last three minutes giving a lop-sided look to the scoreline.

Team spirit the key to Everton glory - Carsley
By Paul Walker, Daily Post
Dec 13 2004
EVERTON'S matchwinner Lee Carsley insisted the great team spirit at Goodison Park was the key to their Merseyside derby victory over Liverpool. Carsley curled a low shot past an unsighted Chris Kirkland to end Liverpool's run of nine derby matches unbeaten. The former Republic of Ireland international said: "It means a lot to us. The fans are buzzing and it's a big day for us all. "Everyone's waiting for us to fall over, but we have a great team spirit here at Everton and everything's going really well." Midfielder Thomas Gravesen added: "This win showed the team has come far.
"The fans are always really involved here, they are really behind the team and everybody is together at this club at the moment. There was a lot at stake out there today." Everton manager David Moyes added: "It's great for us. That's the first time in seven years we've won against Liverpool at Goodison, so we've waited a long time for that. "It's not just the three points today; it's the 33 we got before today that are also important. "The team defended so well when they had to. They keep putting themselves on the line and keep picking up wins. "We didn't get many chances to celebrate victories last season and we are enjoying the wins we get and the goals we score." Asked what this long-awaited derby win said about the club, the Scottish boss added: "It says we are moving on when a lot of people didn't think we could do so. "We have an honest bunch of lads; we've got great self-belief - we don't quite have the quality some other clubs have got but we are bridging that gap with every ounce of effort we've got. "Our job is just to keep playing. Tonight will be as enjoyable as the other 10 wins we've had this season, and I think the blue half of Merseyside will have a very good night." Moyes' opposite number Rafael Benitez rued the chances his side missed. He said: "There were clear chances for us; we didn't score, and they did. Everton are an aggressive side, but the question is if you have the opportunity you need to score. "We're thinking about this game - and we need to learn from it."

Everton 1, Liverpool 0 (Echo)
Dec 13 2004 David Prentice At Goodison Park, Liverpool Echo
THERE was a rumour - later confirmed - that David Unsworth was sat on the Gwladys Street for Saturday's derby. His presence seemed to confirm the status the derby match holds in Evertonian hearts - and why they triumphed in the historic 200th staging of the fixture. While even ex-Everton players were queuing up to be a part of the occasion, the Reds decided that it was better to leave a number of current players out. With the derby match sandwiched between a Champions League decider and Tuesday's visit of Portsmouth, Milan Baros, Steve Finnan - and most crucially Xabi Alonso - all sat on the sidelines.. There were a couple of unusual sounds around Goodison Park when Rafa Benitez handed in his team-sheet. First there were a series of loud thuds from the press room as journalists' jaws hit the floor. Then there was a murmur of relish from the home dressing room, as the Blues banked a slight psychological lift. If it was a mistake - and the result suggests it was - it is an error Benitez will not make again. Even a comprehensive humbling of managerless Pompey will not soothe the pain of a first derby defeat in five years - a result which leaves the Reds a hefty 12 points behind their neighbours. Not since the championship season of 1969-70 have Everton lorded it so comprehensively over their neighbours in December - and at least the Reds had Sandy Brown then to console them. The Spanish coach has been nicknamed Rafael Beneath-us by the Blue half of the city, and it could be some time yet before he can drop the tag. But it would be wrong to ascribe Everton's 1-0 win to Liverpool deficiencies. True, Lee Carsley placed an effective restraining order on Steven Gerrard, but elsewhere Everton tried to be as expressive as a team can be under the constricting restraints of a derby match. Kevin Kilbane terrorised the hapless Josemi, Leon Osman's constant probings ensured Riise couldn't advance down the opposite flank and Thomas Gravesen took advantage of what rare chinks of space emerged in the midfield area to chisel out openings in the Reds' rear-guard. But Everton's real unsung heroes were at the back.
Alessandro Pistone has always been a Rolls Royce of a performer, but with a mechanical record of a second-hand Skoda - but in his 19th consecutive performance for the Blues he was polished and precise in everything he did. To his right - the redoubtable Stubbs and Weir were heroic, the skipper's injury-time challenge on Mellor was the stuff of derby-day legend. The pair summed up Everton's attitude, not just to this fixture but to the season so far, in the 32nd minute. Nigel Martyn made a stunning point-blank stop from Neil Mellor, then Stubbs flung himself to block Diao's shot, Weir did the same to get in the way of Gerrard's follow-up before Mellor finally headed over the crossbar. The Reds' boss claimed afterwards Liverpool controlled the match and lost because they didn't take their first half chances. A Hyypia half-chance, hooked over the bar, apart, those chances all came in that frantic five second scramble. With the possession figures later reflecting 52%-48% in Liverpool's favour, that 'control' was, at best, marginal - and if Mellor wasted Liverpool's best opening of the first half, it was no more glaring a miss than Tim Cahill's fluffed header in the 21st minute. That miss from Bent's excellent check-back and cross had the biggest Goodison attendance for 15 years fearing the worst. Opportunities are few and far between in derby matches - and this was a real, old-fashioned version of the fixture. Football only occasionally broke out, while the opening 20 minutes resembled Mick Lyons old saying in the 70s . . . they'd let us kick lumps out of each other for half-an-hour then someone would throw a ball on. But the aggression was largely controlled, and the much criticised Steve Bennett did an excellent job of allowing the game to flow, while trying to keep the lid on the more explosive elements of the game. The second loudest cheer came when Steven Gerrard slipped over and miskicked a free-kick into touch, but the most explosive came when Carsley carved in the matchwinner. He was a popular goalscorer. After he picked up a loose clearance and curled in a 20-yard drive with the inside of his right-foot on 68 minutes, he was promptly submerged beneath a battery of ecstatic team-mates. There is a newspaper clipping pinned to the notice-board at Bellefield which says "Blues chief warns leave cars at home" to which a team-mate has jokingly added - "and play 4-4-2!" It is very much a joke, because Carsley's influence on the Everton side stretches far beyond the wickedly clipped right-footed strikes he has weighed in with this season. Chris Kirkland was undoubtedly unsighted by Saturday's, but coming so soon after a similar strike from Rivaldo (I wonder how often Carsley has been compared to a Brazilian?) and Nobby Solano, there will be some eyebrows raised around Anfield. To my mind, he is still a young goal-keeper who is amongst the best in England - like his veteran counterpart at the other end.
That left Carsley as the derby-day hero. Perhaps it is the year for the ordinary blokes to succeed after all. Greece won Euro 2004, an old crooner called Steve won X-Factor, Danny Williams demolished Mike Tyson and a down-to-earth kid called Khan took the Olympic Games by storm. Everton will hope the run doesn't end with the passing of the year. Everton's record in the other milestone derbies throughout history. Saturday's 200th derby day triumph now sits alongside Everton victories in the 150th (1-0 at Goodison), 100th (4-0 at Anfield) and the first (3-0 at Goodison), only a 1-1 Anfield draw in the 50th interrupting the record. It's a long time to the 250th, but Everton will celebrate Saturday's success at least until the next one in March. If they are still above their neighbours then, this really will be a season to celebrate.

Let's have it wrapped up!
Dec 13 2004 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES today declared his intention to build on Saturday's derby success and give Evertonians the perfect Christmas present. Yesterday's draw between Arsenal and Chelsea capped the ideal weekend for the Blues, leaving them clear in second place in the Premiership. And the Everton boss wants to hang onto that slot as long as possible. "We go to Blackburn on Saturday and if we win there we know we can go into Christmas in second place," he said. "That has to be our aim." Moyes celebrated his first derby success at home with wife Pamela. "I was just so relieved that we stayed in and had a couple of drinks," he explained.. "Although I did watch Match of the Day and every other bit of televised football I could find all weekend! "It was great driving home on Saturday afternoon. Every pub between Goodison and the motorway seemed to be heaving with Blues and they all looked like they were having a great time. "That was what Saturday was all about because it's been some time since they could celebrate a win over our neighbours. "We'll enjoy it now, then we'll put it away and concentrate on the next match." Everton skipper Alan Stubbs added: "You could see how much Saturday meant to everyone in the way they were flying around and throwing their bodies in front of everything. "There's a lot of happy Everton fans now and this result was for them. This was for them to enjoy. "Now we are bothered about how many points behind Chelsea we are. What Liverpool does now doesn't concern us." Everton's youth team take on Charlton in the FA Youth Cup at Goodison tonight (kick-off 7.00pm).

Signings won't disrupt our march into Europe
Dec 13 2004 By Ian Doyle, Daily Post
DAVID MOYES has reiterated he will not spend during next month's transfer window unless the right players become available. The Everton manager saw his side record their first derby victory in five years on Saturday when Lee Carsley's second-half goal was good enough to defeat Liverpool.
It moved the Goodison side into second place in the Premiership table ahead of Arsenal, and closed the gap on leaders Chelsea to just four points. Moyes - who insisted his team must now be regarded as genuine title contenders - will be handed a kitty of £8m-£10million to spend on new players when the transfer window reopens in three weeks. And while he admits he needs to bolster his threadbare squad and that suitable reinforcements have already been targeted, Moyes will not run the risk of unbalancing the squad and hampering his side's hopes of European qualification. "We know players who we think would possibly come to Everton," he said. "But trying to pick and choose the right players is very difficult. "There is no right or wrong way of doing it unless you have the mega money of Chelsea, and we don't have that. "I'll try and do it with the best aims in mind. Even Jose Mourinho has been saying that he doesn't want to sign any more players because it would unbalance the squad, and he has more money to spend than anyone else. "However, we are light with numbers and that's the main difference between us and most of the other Premiership clubs."
Moyes added: "I've always thought this was an attractive club to come and play for. We didn't have a lot of finances in the summer but that didn't mean we didn't try things and I spoke to lots of players and in the end we weren't attractive enough to them." Saturday's victory was Everton's 11th Premiership win of the season and moved them 12 points clear of Liverpool - their biggest league lead over their neighbours since they won the championship in 1985. And Moyes has admitted he is now realistically looking at his team aiming for a top-five finish and qualification for Europe.
"I don't think we're going to get relegated now, but I think we're still a few months away from being able to judge what success will be this season," he continued.. "Being in the top 10 would have to be seen as success at the end of the season. Things can change very quickly over Christmas, but the end of February is usually when you know whether you will be in with a chance. "I'm hoping we can be in the mix with the top four or five teams at that point. What we are aiming for is a place in Europe, but if you shoot for the moon you sometimes hit the stars. We'll see. "If we are second at the end of February then people would have to consider us as title contenders. We don't have the infrastructure in place at Everton to make us able to make the leap up to join Manchester United and Arsenal at the moment, but we are trying to move forward." He added: "We still haven't bridged that gap to the top teams in terms of strength of squad and finances, but on the pitch for 90 minutes we are doing well. On that field we have to try and bridge the difference in terms of quality, money and ability, and I think out players have done that. "The lack of expectation at the start of the season was probably a rallying call. If you are someone who is gritty inside, such as myself, if there is a challenge presented you tend to respond to it, and I think that applies to the players also. "Let's be fair, two seasons ago we did very well and this season we are doing well, so maybe last year's performance was just a oneoff." Moyes also reserved special praise for midfielder Carsley, who not only scored the 68th-minute winner but also largely negated the influence of Liverpool midfielder Steven Gerrard. "Lee Carsley is a tremendous team player and did a job on Steven Gerrard which was as good as any has done," said the Everton manager. "Gerrard is the best midfielder in the country and we had to make sure he didn't hurt us. "Lee deserved his goal for the effort he puts in, the type of lad he is and if you asked the lads in the dressing room if there was one person they would want to score a goal for the team, they'd say Lee Carsley. "I think we forced Gerrard to play so far forward because of our set-up. Although that maybe meant we didn't have as many attacking options as we would have liked, we had to do what was best. "We knew he'd played very well against Aston Villa and exceptionally well against Arsenal, so we knew we had to do something to counter him. Even so, he still had one or two opportunities so that shows how good a player he actually is."

'Mr Popular' is a worthy hero
Dec 13 2004 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES saluted Everton's 'Mr Popular' on Saturday afternoon. The Blues' boss revealed after the 1-0 win that staff and players were delighted that the derby matchwinner was unsung hero Lee Carsley. "The people who know Lee will tell you if there's any player they'd rather score the derby winner it was him, because of what he's given to the team," said Moyes. "But it wasn't just his goal which was important. Lee did a good job in holding Steven Gerrard. I think people know how influential Gerrard is and we decided that we weren't going to let him be that player if we possibly could. "It took away a little bit from us slightly, but not too much, and he did a great job on him.

"It's great when your midfield players are getting you a few goals. Tommy Gravesen, Tim Cahill . . . they're all beginning to chip in with goals from the middle of the park." Moyes himself was thrilled to break his derby duck, at the fifth time of asking. "It feels great, not just for myself and for the team, but for everybody who has had to wait such a long time to win a derby game," he added.. "I've had other days here I've enjoyed as much, and hopefully this is just one of many more to come. We want to do it regularly and hopefully it won't just be a one-off. "We are battling from an almighty distance away from clubs like Liverpool. We are really scrapping against it and you mustn't forget that.
"People will say Liverpool this and Liverpool that, but at the end of the day Everton, with what we have available, have beaten Liverpool and that's all credit to the players we have here. "There was loads of hard work which went into the win, but there was also some smashing tackles and some real, good honest committed football and I think a lot of people were delighted to see that. "There will be a few choking at us being in second place, but all we can do is to carry on picking up the points. That's 36 points now and we can nearly have an end of season staying in the Premiership party now rather than a Christmas party!"

Sleeping soccer giant stirs at last
Dec 13 2004 By John Thompson, Liverpool Echo
SOMETHING is stirring at Goodison Park. Some might fear it is just another false dawn. There have been a few so give the doubters the time they need to rebuild their faith. But the truth is this looks like, feels like and sounds like a sleeping giant of British football finally awakening. Last week Blues chief executive Keith Wyness left shareholders in something near stunned silence with a warts-and-all business presentation in which he publicly exposed and damned the club's outdated operational failings - then offered solutions for every one of them, which he pledged to pursue with a vengeance. It was all served up as part of a single-minded plan to give a talented young manager the funds he needs to build Everton into the side they should be. A top ten side at the very least; a club proud of its history in a city proud of its football. One which exploits its tradition more than it wallows in it. On Saturday afternoon, David Moyes and his team showed why the club's executives are right to be in a hurry. Because the boys in blue are giving the men in suits one hell of an act to live up to. They'll be sweating under their collars as they pedal like mad now to keep up.
You can argue all day long as to whether this was a typical derby match or not. But there's no doubting this was a typical performance from Everton. We've seen them toe to toe and eye to eye with all the so-called big teams this season and, save for the opening day capitulation against Arsenal, they've emerged from every contest with heads held high. Those heads have never been higher than on Saturday afternoon after yet another clean sheet provided the platform to win their first Goodison derby in seven years. Oh how the resurgent Blues must love these milestone encounters. They won the first ever derby, drew the 50th, won the 100th, the 150th and now the 200th. The fact that they hadn't won one for so long explained the singing and chanting which went on in the streets long after the final whistle and which briefly stopped David Moyes in his tracks as he momentarily abandoned his answers to the press and lent a satisfied ear to listen in. By then Rafael Benitez had already spoken of missed chances being the difference between the sides. While technically he may have been right, Everton deserved this win because they showed the greater spirit and appetite for the occasion against a Liverpool side which, for all its questionable changes, looked at times leg weary and disjointed after the exploits against Olympiakos in midweek. So, thanks to the indomitable Lee Carsley, Everton leapfrogged Arsenal to go second. Yes, leapfrogged Arsenal to go second. It's true. They are there because they have a unity of purpose and belief and more craft than they are being given credit for. You don't amass 36 Premiership points in early December just through guts and organisation. Remember, if the Blues manage to win at Blackburn next weekend they will have equalled their points total of last season. And if the flip-flops and swimming trunks came out far too early last summer as they lost their last five games, there's no danger of it happening again. And anyone who dares think of believing their own hype now will surely feel the heat of Moyes' disapproval. And that of his team mates, for that matter. Liverpool, meanwhile, must continue their uncharted course under Benitez: re-examining, rebuilding and remaining together amid all the unhelpful, not to say self-imposed, uncertainties on and off the pitch. Remember, just days before this defeat the Reds enjoyed one of their most glorious European nights ever. The forecast is that we're likely to be seeing all four seasons in one day for some time yet at Anfield. But this was Everton's day. And surely no one will spare the Blues their moment of Merseyside triumph after a summer in which the club almost imploded. For all that turmoil, at its root was simply a desire from those who genuinely care about the club to see change and something better than the torpor of last season. What we're seeing on the pitch now amounts to something more astonishing than change. Where it goes from here is now up to everyone at Goodison Park. The doubters will remain and no one will blame them for their caution. But they say that if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, then it probably is a duck. The same might just go for sleeping giants.

Benitez joins Moyes in talking up Blues' title credentials
Dec 13 2004 By Chris Bascombe, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON manager David Moyes says his side have earned the right to be considered title contenders following their derby win. Lee Carsley's drive ensure Liverpool tasted defeat at Goodison for the first time in seven years. The gap between the clubs is now 12 points and with Everton maintaining a viable challenge to Arsenal and Chelsea, Moyes wants credit where it's due.
"I don't believe any other club where we are in the table at this stage would not be considered serious challengers," said Moyes. "It will be marvellous if it continues, and if it was anyone else everybody would consider it right to say we were in the mix. "People have said it can't happen, that we haven't got the resources. But why can't we prove it can be done with a small, committed squad?
"This win is very, very satisfying. It was our first derby win in five years and our first home derby success in seven. That surely shows the progress this club has made with a tremendously committed bunch of players. "They are a fantastic bunch of lads that I am proud to manage. It is a massive jump to the big boys, but by hook or by crook we are doing all we can to bridge it without having the finances." Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez backed Moyes' claim the Blues can stay in hunt for the title. "They are winning games, they are a strong, aggressive side and have great spirit," Benitez said. "Of course they must be considered challengers, and certainly for a top-four finish." Benitez defended his team selection which controversially left Xabi Alonso on the bench. "We had to look at the players and see who was tired after the Champions League game, that is why we made the changes," Benitez added. "It has taken the shine off the win over Olympiakos. I felt we had enough chances to be ahead at the break, but in tight games like this you have to score them."

Cahill thankful Carsley winner ruled out sitter
Dec 13 2004 Liverpool Echo
TIM CAHILL'S derby delight was tinged with disappointment, after he missed a golden opportunity to break the deadlock midway through the first half. The midfielder steered a free header wide of Chris Kirkland's goal and was as relieved as he was delighted when Lee Carsley curved in the match-winner. "I honestly can't believe it. It's one of those things which happens. But it's not about me it's about the team," he declared. "I've just got to keep going until things start to fall for me, because at the moment things aren't falling for me and I just need to play for the team and not for myself.
"Any other day that would have been in the back of the net. My jump was perfect but a million things went through my head, whether to stick it to the right or stick it to the left or put it in the bottom. "I just didn't connect right and it's one of those that you think you've scored before you've headed the bloody thing. It's one of those things. "I had one cleared off the line at the end as well, but I'll start worrying when I don't get the chances. If I keep creating chances and keep getting in there then I'm quietly confident the goals will come." Cahill admitted that the miss would soon be forgotten after Carsley's strike yielded the first Goodison derby success for seven long years. He added: "Lee did a fantastic job. What Lee does emphasises that he is a team player. He made it very difficult for Gerrard to play. He had his moments, but Lee's a tremendous player and everyone knows that. "I think the way we play in midfield we try to lock things up, but with them using Diao and Hamman as holding players showed they worried about us and the way we play. "I am really happy and it is something we really deserved."

Chelsea our target now - Stubbs
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Dec 14 2004
ALAN STUBBS last night insisted Everton have set their sights on Premiership leaders Chelsea as he declared the 12-point gap over Liverpool an irrelevance. Saturday's victory in the 200th Merseyside derby, combined with Arsenal's draw with Jose Mourinho's team, left David Moyes's team in an astonishing second place in the table. And Stubbs, who savoured his first taste of derby success with Everton in the 1-0 win, believes the club must now focus on its Champions League challenge rather than dwell on their biggest lead over their Merseyside rivals for 19 years. "People keep going about about the incredible statistic that we are 12 points ahead of Liverpool now, but that's not the statistic we are interested in," said the defender. "We're more concerned with the fact that we are four points behind Chelsea at the top of Premiership. "We are in second place, and we are looking above us, not behind. Being ahead of Liverpool gives you a bit of local pride, but we are serious about our position, and you have to keep looking forward, not back. "We are serious about what we are doing here. I know people are finding it hard to accept that Everton are in second at the half way stage, but we have got here, and we have got to give it our best at staying here. It would be foolish to get into this position and then let it all slip away. So the mentality is that we are looking at Chelsea, not a team that is eight places below us. "That's the honest truth. We are at the top, and that's where our focus is - we have to keep it going." Stubbs, who hopes to sign an extension to his current Goodison contract within the next few months, cites the win at Crystal Palace on August 21 as the key result of Everton's season so far. And with 36 points from 17 games the defender insists Everton have the momentum to secure a European prize. He added: "We are here because we have a good team, and some good quality in the team, and we have got great team spirit and great belief. There is a massive will to win."

Kilbane pays tribute to three wise men
Dec 14 2004 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
KEVIN KILBANE paid tribute today to Goodison's three wise men, who have brought a wealth of experience and no little expertise to Everton's unexpected assault on the Champions League places this season. The Irish midfielder picked out the experienced trio of David Weir, Alan Stubbs and Lee Carsley as being instrumental to the Blues' revival. All three were outstanding again during Saturday's derby victory and Kilbane said: "I think those three have been the key to us doing so well this season, because they give Thomas Gravesen and Tim Cahill licence to get forward. "They are crucial to the way we play. We are extremely happy at the moment, but we are still taking each game as it comes. "We had a great win over Liverpool and we are second. It's a great feeling to have and we are looking forward to Blackburn now." The Blues will take a travelling army of more than 7,000 fans to Ewood Park and after enjoying a day off yesterday Kilbane revealed the Goodison dressing room was just as buoyant as the terraces on Saturday. "It was electric in the dressing room after the game," he added.. "It was as good as it was in the stadium. It was absolutely wonderful to be part of it. "It means so much to everyone connected to the club - the supporters, players and staff."

Challenge now is to remain in top four
Dec 14 2004 By Andy Gray, Liverpool Echo
A COUPLE of days after a derby win is not the time to be dwelling on negatives. So Everton should forget about whether they can win the Premiership or not, because I think most fans will accept that their squad will come up just a little short in the long run. But I think a realistic target for the Blues now is to see how long they can stay in the top four. They have thrown down the gauntlet to the other sides now. And with every fabulous result they achieve, they are challenging the teams below them to see if they can match what they are doing. Saturday was a wonderful performance and result, and a continuation of what Everton have been doing all season. They hassled Liverpool, broke up the play and used it well when they got possession. It's funny how derbies often seem to throw up unlikely heroes. If you think back there have been unusual goalscorers on both sides of the park - Gary Stevens, Alan Harper, Alan Waddle . . . Kevin Ratcliffe even rolled in one of only two career goals in a derby match! - and Lee Carsley was a little like that. He had done an excellent job shackling Steven Gerrard all afternoon, so he was the last person anybody expected to pop up on the edge of the penalty area to bend a shot in. The longer Everton keep churning these results out, the harder it will be for teams below to drag them out of the top four. That's Everton's challenge now. To keep hanging on in there as long as they can - and it's a realistic target to aim for.
Mountfield still the ultimate goalscoring defender
JOHN TERRY'S goalscoring prowess from centre-half was commented upon again on Sunday, when the Chelsea defender bulleted another priceless strike. "That's three league goals before Christmas," said my co-commentator Martin Tyler. Praiseworthy though that is, I couldn't help but mention the record of the best goalscoring centre-half I ever played with. Derek Mountfield ended the 1984-85 season with 15 goals - 10 of which were league goals, and not a single one of which was a penalty-kick. Steve Bruce was another prolific goalscoring defender, but he had the advantage of taking penalties. Derek didn't, but without them his record was still phenomenal. If you think back, during that successful campaign I scored the same number of goals as Derek, Kevin Sheedy got about the same and so did Trevor Steven - and we were the alleged goalscorers in the side!
There was a goal in particular which was absolutely priceless, when we were losing an FA Cup quarter-final at home to Ipswich. Our left-back, Pat van den Hauwe, crossed the ball from the right wing and our centre-back, big Derek, smashed in a last minute equaliser! That seemed to sum up the philosophy of that side. So John Terry is a fine goalscoring defender, but he has to take second place to Derek Mountfield!
I want best for British clubs
I APOLOGISE if I upset any Evertonians with my reaction to Steven Gerrard's goal last Wednesday night. But I don't feel I need to defend myself. When I'm doing my job I am a neutral, whether I am watching Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea or even Liverpool. I wanted to see four English teams in the knockout stages of the Champions League and it looked like Liverpool weren't going to make it for a long time. When Steven Gerrard pulled a rabbit out of the hat it was a spontaneous gesture of appreciation for what was a hugely important goal for a British club in Europe. But I still consider myself to be an Evertonian. And I was delighted by the result at Goodison Park on Saturday!

Everton Youth 1, Charlton Youth 0
Dec 14 2004 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
STEVE SEARGEANT scored only one Goodison goal during his 10-year Everton career - but it was a spectacular matchwinner good enough to beat Don Revie's famous old Leeds side. Son Christian proved a chip off the old block last night. The young midfielder drove home a 103rd minute winner to end Charlton Athletic's Youth Cup resistance and earn Everton a fourth round visit next Wednesday to the winners of tonight's Yeovil Town v Luton Town clash. Seargeant struck from a corner flicked on by Paul Hopkins, survivor from the Blues' Youth Cup final side of two years ago, when he came on as a substitute alongside Wayne Rooney. This current crop of under-18s is very young, although several have featured regularly for the reserve team this season. The win was deserved, with the Blues creating a number of goalscoring opportunities. Laurence Wilson saw a 35-yard piledriver acrobatically tipped over, then from the resulting corner Seargeant headed over from close range. Striker James Vaughan then saw an effort frantically scrambled off the goal-line before Andy Fowler's swerving effort just veered wide of the target on the stroke of half-time. Charlton improved after the interval, but Everton still looked the likelier scorers. Vaughan saw another 20-yard effort tipped round the post then crashed another shot narrowly wide. The youngsters were forced to drag their weary legs through a punishing spell of extra-time, but Everton proved the stronger and Seargeant struck in the opening period. Hopkins clipped in a corner, the ball was flicked on and Seargeant drove in the matchwinner. Victor Anichebe might have made the tie safe, but blasted over the bar, but Seargeant's solitary strike proved sufficient.
Everton: Gallagher, Wynne (Wright 101), Wilson, Boyle, Hughes, Harris (Vidarsson 97), Fowler (Anichebe 65), Phelan, Hopkins, Vaughan, Seargeant. Unused subs: Lake, Kissock.
Charlton: Randolph, Cottrell, Ashton, Phillips, Wilson, Tanska, John, Carvill (Sodje 80), Walker (Burt 114), Kamara (Clifford 117), Weston. Unused subs: Agu, Kurrant. Attendance: 443.

Martyn to be rewarded with new deal
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Dec 15 2004
EVERTON are to reward Nigel Martyn for his Indian Summer at Goodison Park by offering the veteran goalkeeper a one-year contract extension. The 38-year-old (left) is among several players out of contract at the end of this season and, along with Alan Stubbs, Leon Osman, Thomas Gravesen and Gary Naysmith, will be offered a new deal. Martyn, a £500,000 capture from Leeds United, has been outstanding since replacing Richard Wright as Everton's number one 15 months ago and was again in top form to deny Neil Mellor and Steven Gerrard in Saturday's derby.
The former England international has kept eight clean sheets in 17 Premiership games this season - a tally only bettered by the 11 clean sheets of Chelsea stopper Petr Cech. And with no sign of age catching up on the keeper David Moyes is keen to keep Martyn - and healthy competition - at Goodison Park for another 12 months. Martyn said: "I'm playing for another season. I'm out of contract at the end of the season, and there are an awful lot of us in that same situation. The way we are playing, I don't think those players and myself could do any more. "Obviously, the message is that we all want another contract. Possibly that is having an influence on the team and the way we are playing, but that suggests players weren't trying beforehand and that's not the case.
"It's a difficult position to be in. You can't really say you demand a new contract in that position, you just have to keep playing and hope you are offered another deal. "I want to go on. I think I am playing well. I don't think I am doing anything much different to how I've gone throughout my career. I'm not a flashy goalkeeper and I've maintained my consistency. I do feel as though I can go on, but obviously that's not my decision." David Weir, meanwhile, has urged his euphoric team-mates to forget about their derby triumph and concentrate on their European push at Blackburn on Saturday. The in-form defender was part of the last Everton team to taste derby success back in September 1999. But it was another nine games before Walter Smith's team followed up that Anfield win with another league victory and Weir is anxious to avoid a repeat. "We don't want to rest on our laurels and say we have achieved anything yet," he said. "I think you start taking your eye off the ball if you make statements and look too far into the future. "If you start making predictions you will soon fall back into trouble. The only thing that matters is the next game at Blackburn." * Everton's third round FA Cup tie at Plymouth Argyle is to be screened live by the BBC. The game will take place on Saturday, January 8 with a 5.30 pm kick-off at Home Park.

Martyn to be rewarded with new deal
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Dec 15 2004
EVERTON are to reward Nigel Martyn for his Indian Summer at Goodison Park by offering the veteran goalkeeper a one-year contract extension. The 38-year-old (left) is among several players out of contract at the end of this season and, along with Alan Stubbs, Leon Osman, Thomas Gravesen and Gary Naysmith, will be offered a new deal. Martyn, a £500,000 capture from Leeds United, has been outstanding since replacing Richard Wright as Everton's number one 15 months ago and was again in top form to deny Neil Mellor and Steven Gerrard in Saturday's derby. The former England international has kept eight clean sheets in 17 Premiership games this season - a tally only bettered by the 11 clean sheets of Chelsea stopper Petr Cech. And with no sign of age catching up on the keeper David Moyes is keen to keep Martyn - and healthy competition - at Goodison Park for another 12 months. Martyn said: "I'm playing for another season. I'm out of contract at the end of the season, and there are an awful lot of us in that same situation. The way we are playing, I don't think those players and myself could do any more. "Obviously, the message is that we all want another contract. Possibly that is having an influence on the team and the way we are playing, but that suggests players weren't trying beforehand and that's not the case. "It's a difficult position to be in. You can't really say you demand a new contract in that position, you just have to keep playing and hope you are offered another deal. "I want to go on. I think I am playing well. I don't think I am doing anything much different to how I've gone throughout my career. I'm not a flashy goalkeeper and I've maintained my consistency. I do feel as though I can go on, but obviously that's not my decision." David Weir, meanwhile, has urged his euphoric team-mates to forget about their derby triumph and concentrate on their European push at Blackburn on Saturday.
The in-form defender was part of the last Everton team to taste derby success back in September 1999. But it was another nine games before Walter Smith's team followed up that Anfield win with another league victory and Weir is anxious to avoid a repeat. "We don't want to rest on our laurels and say we have achieved anything yet," he said. "I think you start taking your eye off the ball if you make statements and look too far into the future. "If you start making predictions you will soon fall back into trouble. The only thing that matters is the next game at Blackburn." * Everton's third round FA Cup tie at Plymouth Argyle is to be screened live by the BBC. The game will take place on Saturday, January 8 with a 5.30 pm kick-off at Home Park.

Kendall backs Moyes to keep riding high
By Jamie Gardner, Daily Post
Dec 15 2004
FORMER Everton manager Howard Kendall has backed the club to claim a Champions League place and believes David Moyes has put the foundations in place to bring back the glory days to Goodison Park. Not since Kendall's first spell in charge has the club held a 12-point advantage over city rivals Liverpool, and they are second in the Premiership with just big-spending Chelsea above them.
Now Kendall believes the collective spirit and managerial acumen of Moyes will make them trophy challengers for years to come. "David Moyes has an opportunity now to establish Everton as a genuinely top club - the foundations are there, it's a case of keeping the momentum going," he said.
"People have said they can't sustain their position, and that's lovely for them really because there's no pressure on them. Everyone at the club is just delighted to be where they are in the table.
"All the talk is about Manchester United, Chelsea or Arsenal for the championship, yet Everton are sitting second, with no pressure on them. "You never know, there are other distractions for the other clubs with the Champions League. I can certainly see Everton finishing in a Champions League place, it's whether or not they can keep it going, and carry on with that work-rate and that will to win." Everton enjoyed their most successful period ever under former Goodison player Kendall in the 1980s. They won two league titles, one FA Cup and the European Cup Winners' Cup before he stood down after the second title success in 1987. However, they have never recaptured those days since and finished a dismal 17th in the Premiership last season, but now Kendall can see good times ahead under Moyes. "It's a dramatic change from last season. David came in and started well, had a good first season but things started to go wrong last season," he added. "What is the secret? It's good manmanagement, the players look as if they want to play together. There's togetherness right from the top. They are working hard as a team and as a unit. "They're not conceding many goals which is pleasing for the manager and for all the players. Nigel Martyn's performed brilliantly.
"The new signings, Marcus Bent and Tim Cahill, have done very well. A few people were waiting to see what would happen with them because they weren't household names. "Bent had had a number of clubs, I don't think many people knew too much about Cahill either. He's very good in the air, though he did miss one on Saturday against Liverpool. "The system they play suits a lot of the players, Thomas Gravesen and Lee Carsley in particular. Gravesen likes to get forward, but if you play with four in the middle it is difficult for whoever is partnering him in the centre, but with the five in there he has that licence to roam and go wandering."

Don't waste good work, warns Weir
Dec 15 2004 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
DAVID WEIR wants his Everton team-mates to pack away the euphoria of Saturday's derby success - and concentrate on the Blues' next Premiership clash at Blackburn. Weir (left) was the only member of Saturday's winning squad to feature in the Blues' previous derby success at Anfield in 1999.
But he remembers what happened next - and is keen not to repeat the experience. Everton went another nine games without a win after that 1-0 triumph, including hidings by Arsenal and Manchester United, not to mention being held by Exeter in the FA Cup. And he is anxious that Saturday's win doesn't deflect from the greater target of maintaining the club's incredible run.
"It's been a great season. It just keeps on getting better and better," he said. "We just want to enjoy it and keep things going. "We believe that we can win every game. We realise that we have to work hard, we have to stick together as a team and if we do that we will be a match for anyone in the Premier League. "We don't want to rest on our laurels and say we have achieved anything yet. I think you start taking your eye off the ball if you make statements and look too far into the future.
"If you start making predictions you will soon fall back into trouble. The only thing that matters is the next game at Blackburn."
* Everton's FA Cup third round tie at Plymouth Argyle will be screened live by the BBC - with a 5.30pm kick-off. The tie takes place on Saturday, January 8, and the Blues will benefit by £150,000 from the FA's competition broadcast fund.

Chance to see Blues' second half!
Dec 15 2004 Liverpool Echo
TAKE your seat for the second half - as Everton's half-season ticket application deadline is Friday.
Evertonians are urged not to miss out. Half-season tickets give the holder entry to every home Premiership match in the second half of the season, starting with the visit of Portsmouth on January 4. Prices range from £219-273. Half-season tickets are also available for the Blue Brasserie, costing £836. Meanwhile, the ECHO have joined forces with Everton to offer one lucky reader the chance to win a half-season ticket. To go into the hat with a chance of winning, just answer the following question: "What was the attendance at Saturday's Goodison derby, the highest home gate for 15 years?" Send your replies on a postcard or sealed down envelope to Half-Season Ticket competition, Liverpool Echo Sports Desk, PO Box 48, Old Hall Street, Liverpool L69 3EB. Or email your answer to sport@liverpoolecho.co.uk Deadline for entries is next Monday. If you want to avoid the luck of the draw, get your application in to the Park End Box Office by Friday. Personal applications only.

Search is on for the 2004 Merseyside football fans of the year
Dec 15 2004 Liverpool Echo
TODAY the ECHO begins its search to find Merseyside's best football fans. We want to honour the die-hard Evertonians, Kopites and Tranmere supporters whose loyalty to their club knows no limits.

The winners will get to rub shoulders with the stars at our prestigious ECHO Sports Personality of the Year Awards in February. But we need your help to uncover the super fans. Tells us about the Everton faithful who have inspired the Blues to get within touching distance of the Premiership summit, the Liverpudlians who have backed their club to the hilt during a year of change and the supporters who have cheered on Rovers' promotion challenge. Last year's winners displayed the kind of loyalty that would make any club proud. Paul Thomas was determined not to let illness keep his disabled sons from watching their beloved Everton, Pat Murray has been a Reds fan for more than 50 years, while London-based Ian Chapple made regular 400-mile round trips to follow Tranmere. They all enjoyed a memorable night at our star-studded awards ceremony.
So if you know someone - a relative, friend or workmate - who goes that extra mile to support their club, tell us their story. They could be fans who have not missed a game in decades, who have turned their homes into red, white or blue shrines, or who have a touching story of devotion.
Over the coming weeks we will be collecting your nominations, then a panel of judges will select a winner for each of Merseyside's big three clubs. Send the name and daytime contact details of your nomination, plus your own contact details, to ECHO Fans of the Year, Sports Desk, Liverpool ECHO, PO Box 48, Old Hall St, Liverpool L69 3EB. You can also e-mail them to: sport@liverpoolecho.co.uk
Don't forget to tell us why you think your nominee deserves to be crowned Fan of the Year 2004.

Goody bags up for grabs
Dec 15 2004 Jblue, Liverpool Echo
CHRISTMAS is indeed a time for giving, a sentiment Jblue are only happy to endorse. And the prizegiving continues this weekend with the trip to Ewood Park. In association with the Official Away Travel Club, 25 readers and their adult companion will join the Blues' contingent in cheering on David Moyes' men at Blackburn (winners listed below). The benefits of being a Jblue member also extends to the exclusive Goodison Christmas parties. All this week, 100 names are being drawn at random from the 20,000 listed on the club's Jblue membership database, the lucky winners then being invited to join in this year's festivities at Goodison on Tuesday, December 21.
The winning doesn't end there either. Now we have two Christmas goody bags filled with Everton gifts to give away. Simply tell us: Who scored the winning goal in the Mersey derby last weekend?
Send your entries (on a postcard or sealed down envelope) to: Everton Goody Bag Competition, Jblue, Liverpool Echo Sports Dept, PO Box 48, Old Hall Street, Liverpool, L69 3EB.
As well as your answer, please include your name, age, address, and daytime phone number.
Winners will be picked at random. Closing date is Monday, December 20. Normal competition rules apply.
* Jblue Plus membership makes an ideal Christmas present for young Evertonians.
For just £18, members will receive ticket priority to home games, plus a host of other benefits. If you would like to join, contact 0870 794 1985.
Blackburn ticket competition winners: Rebecca Evans; Bethany Wallace; Zach Alger; Matthew Roache; Nicholas Marsh; Naomi Gates; Robert Greenwood-Lee; Megan Callaghan; Matthew Woods; John Burns; Dean Howard; Shaun Parker; Philip Mahon; Jo Hesketh; Charlotte Evans; Hannah Bradshaw; Rachel Burns; Tom O'Leary; Chloe Griffiths; Nicki Brown; Dominique Burke; Rhys Noble; Brendan Gates; A Woods; Daniel Sage.
Black and blue
FOR the first time this season, Everton will be playing in their third choice black kit against Blackburn at the weekend. To mark the occasion, official club stores are offering a £10 discount on replica shirts. All mail order/online customers are also reminded that today is the last day for guaranteed Christmas delivery on club goods, while Friday is the last date half season tickets will be on sale.
Meanwhile, Jblue Platinum members will receive £5 off the first home game of the New Year against Portsmouth on January 4.

Derby pain and gain
Dec 15 2004 Echo Letters
CONGRATULATIONS to the boys for a great result at the weekend, but let's not get carried away with our high-flying league position. While I am as delighted as anyone with our position and form, let's remember it is still only December. The hectic Christmas period will test our small squad and high energy game. If we come out still in the top four in January, it will be an excellent achievement.
Mark Lawson, Liverpool
THE best thing about Everton's form at present is the fact that it defies what the doom merchants want - the club's demise as a traditional championship force. Everton's ability to soak up pressure and come back and grab the game by the jugular was shown in the derby and is truly something to marvel at. Bill Kenwright for his part must pull out all stops to resign Thomas Gravesen.
Geoff Liddell, via e-mail
SEVEN years of hurt, tears and waiting for a home derby win has ended. I've had three kids, four jobs, one divorce, one marriage, five holidays, two cars and three homes since we last beat Liverpool at Goodison. I didn't realise until Saturday how much it really means to beat them. It would be a Christmas miracle if we manage to finish above them.
Allan Jones, Bangor
ALAN STUBBS is right when he says the points gap from Liverpool is now irrelevant and it's the four point gap to the top we've now got to look at. There's nothing for us to fear against Chelsea. Our game against them was even until Arjen Robben produced one bit of magic.
Paul, via e-mail
IT was fantastic to be at Goodison on Saturday - worth the price of a season ticket on its own.
If we can get to January in a similar position, then the right reinforcements should ensure we grab a European berth. We now need only eight or nine wins to secure at least a UEFA Cup place.
Steve, Harrogate
Blues can find another park
HEARING that Liverpool have again clearly stated that they do not wish to groundshare, I don't understand why further discussions are needed. I don't agree with the city council allowing Liverpool to build on public land, but I hope Mr Wyness, Everton's chief executive, gets the message loud and clear. He talks of a possible redevelopment of Goodison being a better option than building a new stadium - in other words, it is a lot cheaper. But that is the wrong choice.
The only option is extending the Park End, although a further expansion of Bullens Road stand is possible. On the other hand, if Liverpool can build on Stanley Park, then why can't Everton build - finances permitting - in Walton Hall Park? This, to me, is a better alternative than to tart up an old Victorian stadium. It is a false premise to suggest there are emotional and financial reasons for redeveloping Goodison. Ask Liverpool.
Phil Frederickson, Liverpool 12
Programme for change
WHEN it comes to TV coverage, Everton are bottom of the league. Looking at Sky's fixtures from now until the end of the season, Chelsea have six televised games, Manchester United five, Liverpool four, Arsenal two, and Everton just one. I don't believe we get our fair share.
Paul Jones, Aigburth

Campbell poised for early departure
By David Prior Daily Post Staff
Dec 16 2004
contract as he looks to revive his playing career elsewhere. The 34-year-old striker (right) has not started an Everton game since August 28 and has been a virtual spectator in their extraordinary rise up the Premiership. Indeed Campbell has not even figured in the 16-man squad since Everton's defeat at Stamford Bridge on November 6 and has stopped travelling to away games. Despite impressing David Moyes with his professional attitude amid his shortage of playing opportunities, Everton may now be ready to offer the frontman - whose £35,000-a-week deal runs out at the end of the season - a lump sum. That would save the club money and free up Campbell, a £3million signing from Trabzonspor five years ago, to enjoy more regular action with new employers. There is known to be interest in the Londoner from several Premiership and Championship clubs.
Campbell, who has been top scorer in four of his six full seasons at Everton, had promised much after a pre-season that yielded four goals. Moyes' new-look formation has restricted the opportunities for out-and-out strikers, however, and allied to Marcus Bent's successful start to his Goodison career, Duncan Ferguson's resurgence and the lack of injuries suffered by Everton's players this season, Campbell has found himself on the periphery.

Savage bemused by pundits overlooking Everton
By David Prior, Daily Post
Dec 16 2004
ROBBIE SAVAGE claims he is "at a loss" as to why Everton are not being talked of as potential Premership champions. The Birmingham midfielder (right), who has been linked with a move to Goodison, believes David Moyes's men have not been given enough credit for their meteoric rise up the league table. And Savage cannot understand why they are excluded from most observers' predictions whenever the subject of next May's eventual winners is raised. He said: "What has amazed me most is that noone outside the blue half of Merseyside has yet identified Everton as potential champions. "Perhaps that's not so surprising given the widespread obsession there is about Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United but I'm still at a loss to understand why what the Goodison Park lads have achieved so far has attracted so little attention. "David Moyes and his players deserve massive credit for their form this season, especially when you consider where they finished last time round, the fact that little money was available to strengthen the squad during the summer and, of course, the loss of Wayne Rooney to their Old Trafford rivals" Savage pointed to next month's transfer window as being an opportunity for the Goodison club to address the issue most critics see as the most likely cause of a slippage in their league position - a perceived lack of depth. And the Welshman said he would like nothing more than his boyhood club to confound the predictions. He added: "To be second in the Premiership and with 36 points in the bag before the halfway mark is not to be sniffed at - and there's the little matter of being 12 points clear of their neighbours, Liverpool, to boot. "Okay, Everton maybe won't have the staying power to be up there challenging for the title in May but at the moment I believe it's an insult to them that they are not even rated worthy of a mention in the same breath. "And, who knows, if things work out off the field and there's a substantial transfer kitty available for Moyes during the January transfer window, who is to say he won't bring in the fresh faces to help them go all the way?"

Pacey winger wreaks havoc at Ewood Park
Post Past by Philip J Redmond Everton supporter, Daily Post
Dec 16 2004
BLACKBURN is one of the season's most anticipated aways as it involves a large ticket allocation and a short journey. Evertonians have enjoyed a number of happy days at Ewood, including the game on Grand National day 1996. Blackburn had endured a torturous defence of the league title which they'd won the previous season. Joe Royle's Cup holders, meanwhile, were starting to look good after patchy league form and a disasterous cup defeat against Port Vale. Everton were looking the smart bet for a return to European football with then record signing Andrei Kanchelskis beginning to demonstrate just why he'd been so highly rated. Blackburn, meanwhile, had just splashed out big money on the young Manchester City midfielder Gary Flitcroft. As usual a huge following accompanied the Blues to East Lancashire and they witnessed a dramatic opening with Flitcroft red-carded in the second minute of his debut after a high challenge on Tony Grant. Faced with having to see out 88 minutes with 10 men, manager Ray Harford reorganised to a stifling defensive formation and as a result Everton found it difficult to score. Rovers held firm until the last 15 minutes when Duncan Ferguson headed on a corner for striker Daniel Amokachi to fire home. Now Rovers had to come out of their shell and the Blues, and Andrei Kanchelskis in particular, were able to captalise. First Amokachi sent the speedy Ukranian racing away with a neat flick. Andrei left his marker for dead before squeezing the ball past Flowers from an improbable angle. With the away end bouncing, Tony Grant released Kanchelskis with a raking 40 yard ball. There was only ever going to be one outcome. 3-0, game set and match. A repeat performance this Saturday would be nice.

The Jury
Dec 16 2004 Liverpool Echo
"Derby wins often act as a springboard, so hopefully our good form will continue into the New Year" - Hannah Bargery FIVE years has been a long time to wait for the scenes that greeted a hugely satisfying derby win and the chance to claim local supremacy. While in recent seasons it would have been the peak of our achievements, it now represents a potential springboard to greater prizes. The warm glow I got on Saturday afternoon was not only lager-related, but also increasing satisfaction that those around us were dropping points. The togetherness among the players has led some to suggest that it would be a risk to disrupt this bond in January. With suspensions for the likes of Cahill and Kilbane likely and injuries a possibility, trust must be placed in David Moyes to bring in the right individuals. I can't be the only one dreaming about watching Ronaldinho, Del Piero or Zidane at Goodison next season can I? Thought not.
I THINK it has been generally agreed that the derby win on Saturday was a deserved one. We looked like the side that wanted the three points more. It was a great day for Blues everywhere. It shows how much it means when someone like David Unsworth chooses to sit in the Gwladys Street End. Once a Blue, always a Blue! I think Leon Osman particularly deserves praise for his first derby performance. He restricted Riise from getting forward and his excellent touch stood out among the high speed mayhem. After missing a sitter, Cahill's attitude was typical of Everton this season. His work rate was exceptional and he continued to make runs into the box including the one which led to the goal. Derby wins often act as a springboard, so hopefully our good form will continue into the New Year.
FUNNY how being third got us so much credit.
Sections of the media were happy to voice their amazement at our position and praise the manager and his threadbare squad. But going second? This appears to have launched us into a void of nothingness. At least four times during the coverage of the Fulham-Man United game, different pundits referred to 'the top two' when discussing United's inability to catch Arsenal and Chelsea.
We've obviously gone too high. We no longer exist. And I must admit it is all a bit dreamlike. As 'Carsley Alberto' curled in another beauty on Saturday, I did lose my sense of reality. I don't like smugness, but I'm going to say it and make it realEverton are second in the league, they are part of 'the top two' and they exist!! And there are lots of points ahead of Liverpool.
"THE team that scores more goals wins games" - the only thing the manager of the side we look down on got right on Saturday. The derby performance was the most satisfying so far in the season. It's now increasingly hard to praise individuals with every player doing his job to full potential.
They played their hearts out and the end result was fully deserved. It was shown in the celebration of the goal that had established us as 'the pride of Merseyside'. Compared to our mediocre opponents, our squad has come from limited funds and play-ers whose careers were heading downward. Looking at the player's backgrounds to what they have become today is quite extraordinary. Martyn was sitting on the bench week in, week out at Leeds, Kilbane was an average winger at a relegated club and Bent a fading journeyman striker. Who bought these players? David Moyes. He has really turned the club round.
BEN McGRAE, Hunts Cross

Blues not tempted by Savage
Dec 16 2004 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
ROBBIE SAVAGE has issued the clearest 'come and get me' plea yet to Everton. But the Blues are unlikely to react by swooping for the controversial Birmingham midfielder (right) when the transfer window opens in January. Brum boss Steve Bruce said today he would not stand in Savage's way if the Welsh international wanted to leave. And Savage fuelled reports of an Everton bid when he launched a spirited defence of the Toffees' title prospects this season. "I believe it's an insult to Everton that they are not even rated worthy of a mention in the same breath as the title challengers," he said. "Who is to say David Moyes won't bring in the fresh faces in January to help them go all the way?" Moyes appreciated the comments, but while he has considered moves for Savage in the past, he is not planning a January swoop for the Wales international. The Blues boss also stressed that forgotten man Kevin Campbell may still have some part to play in the club's future.
Campbell is out of contract next summer, hasn't started a match since August and hasn't figured in a first team squad since the trip to Chelsea on November 6. There are suggestions the Blues might seek a compromise pay-off on his contract to allow him first-team football elsewhere. But Moyes said: "We will need Kevin during the Christmas period. Things can change very quickly at that time of year and Kevin has been training really well. We are not in a hurry to do anything regarding Kevin's situation. Alessandro Pistone, meanwhile, is Everton's only doubt for Saturday's trip to Blackburn.
The in-form Italian has not trained this week with a knee strain. The defender has undergone a precautionary scan and was set to receive more treatment today. If he does miss out, Gary Naysmith is standing by for his first start since the Carling Cup game at Bristol City in September.
Everton's youth team, meanwhile, face a fourth round FA Youth Cup trip to Yeovil Town next week, after the Glovers beat Luton Town 2-0 last night.

Pistone's 21st is cause for real celebration
Dec 16 2004 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
ALESSANDRO PISTONE described last Saturday's derby victory as the highlight of his time at Everton.
But it represented another significant milestone for the refined but sometimes fragile Italian defender. It was the 20th consecutive match he had been involved in since the start of the season - comfortably the longest injury-free run of his Everton career. Ever since he signed from Newcastle in the summer of 2000, Pistone resembled the kind of flashy sports car his country was famous for. Oustanding acceleration, classy and with the ability to turn heads, all too often his body-work needed attention. Injured 38 minutes into his home debut against Charlton, sizeable chunks were ripped out of each of his first three seasons. Hernia problems - one on each side - a cruciate knee ligament trauma, hamstring pulls and a back problem all contributed to an intensely frustrating introduction to life at Goodison. But whenever he did play, the ability the Italian possessed was never in question. The versatility to play across the back four - effortlessly - was underlined by a natural twofootedness rare in a modern footballer. His first goal in an Everton jersey was exquisitely volleyed in from 25-yards with his right-foot - from a player most often recognised as a left-back.
At Blackburn on Saturday he is set to make his 21st consecutive appearance this season - coming of age, if you like - but Pistone is more concerned by another statistic. After that, Charlton Athletic will be the only team Everton have not faced this term - and the defender has seen nothing to suggest Everton's rise to Premiership prominence cannot continue. "Now is nearly the halfway point of the season," he said. "We have now played virtually everybody and we have done well against them, apart from the first game of the season, so we can be confident against everybody. " Europe is the minimum requirement, but it would be a great thing to achieve. I think everybody is looking to Europe now and the Champions League is a possibility." Pistone is as much at a loss to explain the dramatic transformation at the club as anybody, but he ventured: "It's a combination of things - the way we are playing at the moment, the way we are getting results, our great team spirit and the fact that we are now second. It's a great, great season." If that goes for Everton, it could apply to Alessandro Pistone, too.

Harding on Moyes January wish list
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Dec 17 2004
DAVID MOYES has resolved to spend a slice of his January transfer budget on Brighton's highly-rated left-back Dan Harding. Harding, an England under-21 international, has been linked with a move to Goodison Park for several months after rejecting a new contract offer at the Withdean Stadium.
And Everton are understood to have now moved ahead of several rivals for Harding's signature with a view to completing a deal worth around £750,000 in the transfer window. Glasgow Rangers and Cardiff City are also interested in the fullback, who celebrates his 21st birthday next Thursday. But Harding would prefer a move to the Premiership high-flyers and is attracted by Moyes's plans to develop a young, successful team at Goodison Park. Moyes's interest in Harding would cast doubt on the long-term future of Alessandro Pistone, who is out of contract at the end of this season and yet to be offered an extension. However, with Gary Naysmith rejecting Everton's offer of a new two-year deal and linked with an Old Firm move in January, the inform Italian could be retained to help nurture Harding if he makes the step up. Brighton are loath to lose their Academy product but would receive only a nominal compensation fee for his development if they opted to keep him until the end of the season. Manager Mark McGhee admitted recently: "We know there is interest there from a number of clubs and we are trying very hard indeed to secure him on a longer contract at Brighton. "Unfortunately, Daniel isn't keen to do that at this stage and that might well mean we have to sell him in January." Moyes has also been linked with Birmingham midfielder Robbie Savage and Crewe striker Dean Ashton as he considers where and whether to spend his £8-£10million transfer pot. Despite doubts over Savage's future at St Andrew's, however, Moyes is not considering a January move for the Welsh international although £3m-rated Ashton is being monitored by the Everton manager. Pistone is a slight doubt for tomorrow's trip to Blackburn with a knee strain. A precautionary scan has confirmed no serious damage but the defender, enjoying the longest unbroken spell of his Goodison career with 20 appearances, will continue to receive treatment ahead of the game. Naysmith is on standby to make his first start since the Carling Cup defeat of Bristol City in September if Pistone is ruled out. Bill Kenwright, meanwhile, gave his backing to the three-year business strategy unveiled by new chief executive Keith Wyness last week. Wyness announced plans to raise Everton's turnover by an annual £20m over the next three years at the AGM but was fiercely critical of the operation he inherited in September. But despite condemnation of how the club has been run in recent years Kenwright said: "I thought Keith Wyness was excellent at the AGM in showing his strategy for the next three years. "I don't think Keith was shocked with what he found when he arrived. Keith and I had been talking for a good two months before he arrived so he was primed. "He was negative about some of the stuff that he found at Everton but it didn't hurt me. I don't run the club and I don't want to run the club. I want to be a figurehead."

Evertonians letting table do the talking
By Mark O'Brien Everton supporter, Daily Post
Dec 17 2004
YOU can tell how well Everton are doing at any given time by what their detractors go on record as saying the Blues can't achieve. At the start of the season, with big players leaving and only a couple of new additions to a small squad, we were told that we wouldn't stay up. After a few nice surprises and a handful of points on the board it was pointed out that it wouldn't last and that finishing above Liverpool or in a UEFA Cup spot was pure fancy. As the wins kept rolling in and there was no sign of this bubble bursting, it became 'Champions League? You're having a laugh.' And now, having played just about everyone in the league once, and finding ourselves sitting second in the table, the pundits and experts are going out of their way to make it known that winning the title is simply impossible for Everton. With all due respect though, of course. Evertonians, for their part, are saying very little.
Why should they, the facts are there in black and white for all to see. Let the rest of the country deal in 'ifs, buts and maybes' while we stick to simple arithmetic. For instance, if Rafael Benitez had had enough faith in a £10million footballer to let him start the derby then the Reds would have won, apparently. The transformation of Liverpoolonce Xabi Alonso was in the team for the Portsmouth match is testament to this fact. If Arsenal hadn't conceded stupid goals against West Brom and Southampton - teams the Blues managed to despatch - then they would be in their rightful place above Everton as they, along with Chelsea, play football from another planet. Unfortunately for the likes of Alan Green, you still only get one point for a draw and three points for a one-nil win in this particular corner of the universe. The derby was fabulous; one of the most satisfying for a very time. For once the win wasn't a consolation for a disappointing season, rather it was affirmation of just how good we are. However, no matter how wonderful the win was, it still only represents three points; tomorrow's game at Ewood Park is just as important. We've got to carry on as we are, picking up points, ignoring the conjecture, and at the end of the season we can add them all up and only then will we see exactly what can't be achieved.

Everton FC cashier convicted of ticket sales theft
Daily Post
Dec 17 2004
AN EVERTON FC box office cashier was yesterday convicted of stealing money from ticket sales.
Abbey Albahaithre, 23, from Fazakerley, pleaded guilty to taking £200 in November. Albahaithre said through his solicitor that the money, which came from sales of match tickets, went almost exclusively to his disabled father and his mother who was a full-time carer. Judge Fletcher, sitting in the new Community Justice Court based temporarily at Dale Street Magistrates' Court,, sentenced him to two years conditional discharge and ordered him to pay £200 compensation and £65 costs.
Judge Fletcher said: "I am making you subject to a two year conditional discharge. You will have that hanging over you." Albahaithre began work for Everton part-time in 1998 and went full-time in 2001 until recently when he resigned "under a cloud", added Mr Linskill. A spokesman for Everton Football Club said: "Mr Albahaithre is no longer employed by the club."

Moyes: I won't splash cash in January
Dec 17 2004 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES today revealed he may not spend at all in the January sales and save his cash for a summer spending spree. The Blues have been linked with a host of players in recent weeks, with money banked from the sale of Wayne Rooney to Manchester United and the Fortress Sports Fund investment now very close to completion. But boss Moyes wants his high-flying Everton stars to help him resist a punt. He believes the players who have carried the club to second place in the Premiership deserve the chance to see if they can finish the job off. "I've seen all the transfer speculation and none of it has come from inside the club," said Moyes. "I would never make our interest in anybody public - and the players we have here and who have done so well this season deserve the chance to maintain that form. "We have been fortunate with injuries so far," he added "and we have Tim Cahill and Kevin Kilbane both close to a suspension. "If they were banned at the same time as we picked up a few injuries, we might have to look at one or two new faces.
"But it's not certain that we'll spend at all in this transfer window." Moyes has earmarked high profile players for his squad, but his prime targets are unlikely to be available until the summer.
Moyes would prefer to wait until then to capture players he really feels will make a difference, but will be driven by how his current players perform. It is a tactic which has proved highly profitable on the pitch already this season - and given freedom from injuries it is one Moyes hopes could continue.
Meanwhile, Alessandro Pistone has shaken off the knee problem which caused him to miss training earlier this week and will carry on at Blackburn tomorrow. Everton legend Neville Southall, meanwhile, has been appointed manager of Ryman League Division One club Hastings United.
Hastings chairman Dave Walters said: "I have been greatly impressed with the ideas Neville has already come up with to take the club forward and am really looking forward to working alongside him to bring success to the club."

Ossie's bid to mend Ewood anguish
Dec 17 2004 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
SIX years ago, Ewood Park was the venue for a wonder-goal which Leon Osman hoped would propel him into the Everton first team. Just minutes later he sustained a devastating knee injury which put his progress back by a year. And this time he hopes it is a stage which confirms his emergence as an enduring Premier-ship player of real quality. Osman has sat out just two Premiership games since he made a goalscoring debut at Wolves last season - one enforced by injury - and has proved himself an integral part of Everton's climb to second in the table. "Ossie has come in and done very well for us," said manager David Moyes. "We let him go out on-loan a season ago, but that was always with a view to bringing him back because every time I watched him play for the reserves he was always the best player on view. "Given his size and stature, he had to keep progressing in order to get into the first team - and full credit to him, he did just that. "Now he has to maintain that progress to stay there. But there is no doubt he has been a very important part of an excellent team contribution this season." That wonder-strike which first marked Osman down as a potential star of the future came in the first leg of an FA Youth Cup final. It was a delicious, looping volley which put Everton 3-1 up and effectively rendered the second leg a dead rubber. But while names like Richard Dunne, Francis Jeffers and Danny Cadamarteri from the Everton line-up, and David Dunn and Martin Taylor from the Rovers' ranks, quickly established themselves in the Premiership, Osman was left a frustrated by-stander. Damage to his exterior knee ligament saw him sat on the sidelines for months, then a cruciate knee ligament injury quickly followed. Everton's youth team coach at the time, however, always had faith in Osman's ability to bounce back. "Considering the injury problems he had, Ossie has done fantastically well," said Colin Harvey. "They were both serious, long-term problems - but he was always the type of character likely to bounce back from them. "Everyone could see his skill and his ability, but he was also very, very brave. He was always small but you'd often see him putting his head in where it hurt. "He is as brave as a lion and I was very confident he would come back and establish himself." Harvey even thinks there could be more to come from Osman, depending on where he is used. "At the moment, the position he is playing wide on the right is the best role for him, but I think he could be even better in a more central attacking role. "He doesn't have the kind of pace where he will run away from defenders, but his quick feet and his skill are good enough to outwit any defender and he can have a great influence in that position. For now, though, he will just be delighted to be playing every week." Tomorrow's match will be his 18th start of the season - and while Ewood Park holds mixed emotions for Osman, it will be the same for many of his team-mates.
Everton have one more skeleton to expel from their closet this season. After exorcising the ghosts of Manchester City and Bolton, only Blackburn remain from the 2003-04 horror stories. The Blues found themselves 2-0 down in 13 minutes there last season, but boss David Moyes wants to focus more on the positives ahead of tomorrow. "I remember the night well because we were so poor," said Moyes "but we are over it now. I don't know if that will give us any more motivation, but we don't want to dwell on the past." Moyes is also unconcerned by the lack of media attention being given to his team. The Blues are second in the table with games against lowly Blackburn, mid-table Manchester City and inconsistent Charlton looming next. " The lack of attention doesn't irritate me," he added. "I am comfortable just preparing to try and win the next game if we can.
"We are not daft enough to think we can go through the season unbeaten. We will just take things one at a time and move along. We can't ask people to think about us too much and we'll just try to carry on doing what we're doing." Leon Osman feels exactly the same . . .

No great title expectations
Dec 17 2004 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
PAPA BOUBA DIOP's stunning late equaliser on Monday night ensured Evertonians squeezed every last drop out of the most memorable weekend of their season so far. Everything went right for the buoyant Blues. They won the derby, Arsenal and Chelsea slugged out a draw the next day to ensure they stayed second and then Manchester United failed to make up more than a point on them, thanks to Diop's piledriver. An outstanding weekend for Everton? Not if you listen to the so-called experts, who include among them a Premiership manager and skipper of the league leaders.
"Manchester United missed the chance to make up ground on Chelsea and Arsenal at the top of the table," went every news report on Tuesday. Sir Alex Ferguson agreed. So did John Terry. But you know what? The new Premiership crime of ignoring Everton suits David Moyes just fine. It means he can carry on his outstanding work this season unhindered by any weight of expectation. The last Everton manager to drag the Blues so far up the table knew exactly how that felt. Joe Royle had just watched his record signing, Nick Barmby, divert a Joe Parkinson cannonball off the crossbar and into the Derby County net to take his team level on points with champions Manchester United, in December. He then had to field questions from Richard Keys about whether his team could be considered dark horses for the title. He deflected the question as skilfully as an Anders Limpar side-step, but Sky had already decided on the label they wanted to attach to the Blues. Title dark horses they were, until an ill-equipped squad collected all manner of injuries, the chairman started listening to media criticism and barely three months later Royle had been mutually consented and Everton had to endure five years of listless drifting. So Moyes will happily listen to assessments of title challengers' merits, without his team's name figuring. A quick learner in the art of psychology, he may even be able to use that omission to fuel the sense of grievance which has been part of Everton's incredible revival. Everton's tiny squad means they won't win the title. I know that, so does Moyes and, I suspect, so does every right-thinking Blue. But while they are genuinely in the shake-up, surely they should be spoken of as such. Remember Ipswich Town's unexpected 2000-01 season? For much of the season they were riding high in the runners-up spot, and everybody waited for them to blow up. They didn't. They eventually amassed 66 points, finished fifth and qualified for Europe. Everton are capable of doing even better. Much will hinge on when injuries and suspensions strike - but until then Moyes will carry on conjuring, without any weight of expectation halting his progress. And that suits Everton just fine, thank you.

Blackburn 0, Everton 0 (D,Post)
Dec 20 2004 By David Prior at Ewood Park, Daily Post
IT WAS probably appropriate that this game was preceded by the biggest party night of the year so far. Hungover was the inescapable feeling that saturated Ewood Park on Saturday, a festive over-exertion that produced the thick heads and blurry eyes through which this Christmas turkey could be endured. But there was also an undeniable sense of Everton paying for a good time in another way - one that not even a pint of water and a handful of Rennies could fix. Post Derby Fatigue, you could call it. Then again, given the choice, all Evertonians would sit through a 100 bore draws in the bitter East Lancashire cold just to experience the joy and relief triggered by Lee Carsley's strike nine days ago. And while David Moyes would not explicitly admit as much, the fact he couldn't provide much of an alternative explanation was telling. Perhaps by the time the postmortems had begun in earnest on the coach back down the M6, the Everton manager would probably have conceded that the energy, not to mention emotion, sapping heroics against Liverpool were the most likely account for his side's showing. For this was an unwelcome throwback to last term, as uncreative and lifeless as Everton have been since that horrible final nail in the coffin at the City of Manchester Stadium. Not that bad, obviously, but there were plenty of Lancastrians left somewhat under-enthralled by the Premier-ship's story of the season. But Moyes was right to draw strength from the fact his side can put on their worst performance of the season and yet still enhance their points tally, particularly at a notoriously difficult place like Ewood Park. Indeed, there is nothing wrong with the result itself. For all this season's enormous strides, it's a bit early to start getting upset when visits to places like Blackburn yield only a solitary point. The concern came more from Everton's performance, plus an acknowledgement that had either of Blackburn's late chances gone in, there could not have been too many complaints from the magnificent, 7,500-strong travelling support. But then one step back for the four or five Everton keep taking forward this season is not a bad ratio. "In 38 games in the Premier League there's always going to be games which aren't quite as clean as you'd like them," said Moyes. "The players knew they weren't at it - and that's another pleasing point about it. From the opening minute actually I thought they looked a little bit behind it, maybe still thinking about the win last week." That's enough doom and gloom, however. The great thing about success, as Moyes has appreciated this season, is that you can place the setback in its proper perspective.
Everton's last two setbacks, against Tottenham on October 2 and at Chelsea on November 6, drew minimal criticism from Moyes and Saturday - which actually involved a much worse performance than either of those narrow defeats - produced a similarly philisophical verdict from the Scot. It'll do no harm to Everton's long-term ambitions this season to have an occasional wake-up call. The game itself is barely worth recording. Mark Hughes claimed he was "delighted" by his side's display, which says enough about the limited ambitions of a side clambering out of the Premiership's nether regions. And a side which now hasn't scored for 283 minutes. In truth, while they battled hard and probably possessed the game's best performer in Barry Ferguson, their gameplan had long been constructed around the notion that containment was a considerably higher priority than creativity.
And who could blame them, as Everton have a fear factor about them this season. Not necessarily that they're going to thump four or five goals past you, but more that they are going to make you the latest victims of the 1-0 result of which they are patent masters. With the visitors noticeably out of sorts from the first minute, the eventual outcome was hardly surprising. Ironically, the game had started in entertaining fashion. With a blundering Mark Halsey winding up both sets of supporters, Rovers could well have taken an early lead when Paul Dickov's goalbound volley was bravely blocked by Tony Hibbert. From the resulting corner, the young defender then had to be alert to slice Gary Flitcroft's scuffed shot off the goalline. "Tony Hibbert has been tremendous in his form all season," Moyes highlighted afterwards. "He's really got himself back playing well. He's a good defender, an old-type defender if you like who likes a tackle and likes to compete." Hibbert was arguably Everton's one man playing to full potential, but he could so easily have been the villain. As the half-hour approached, he hauled Dickov down in the penalty area and replays confirmed Rovers were unlucky not to be awarded a penalty. The fact Halsey inexplicably then gave Rovers a corner suggested he may only have been giving Hibbert the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps the most galling part of Everton's play in the opening half was the quality of their set-piece delivery, with Thomas Gravesen a particular culprit. Time and again balls were wastefully over-hit, and it was not until a minute before the break that a ball from the Dane finally found its target, Kevin Kilbane heading harmlessly over. The second half somehow managed to lessen the excitement level produced by the first, and it took until Marcus Bent's smart turn and volley from an acute angle after 76 minutes for Everton to register a shot on target. By that stage, Moyes had signalled his own displeasure at the way his team were under-performing by bringing on Duncan Ferguson and James McFadden, muted pair Tim Cahill and Leon Osman making way. "I wanted to try and see if we could change the flow of the game. It worked to an extent but not as much as I would have liked it too," he admitted.
Hardly - the changes almost cost Everton the game. McFadden, again showing commendable effort if not yet the potency, conceded a throw-in with a lazy backheel. The loss of possession instigated Rovers' best move of the game, with Steven Reid running on to Dickov's pass and forcing a desperate one-handed save from Martyn. Paul Gallagher tapped in the rebound but was flagged offside, but not before Moyes had given McFadden an earful. Ironically, it could be the kind of break the young winger needs, as he would have been berated by many more than his manager had the goal stood.
Further incident was to test Moyes' nerves still more.. With the clock winding down, Brett Emerton drove in a shot that took a slight deflection and clattered off the outside of the post with Martyn beaten. "I thought we stepped back too much in the last five or 10 minutes," admitted Moyes. "But we've got good character and we're going to hang in there." They've got plenty of incentive to. On each of the 16 occasions Everton have been in the top two on Christmas Day, they've finished the season in a top-four position. Sol Campbell's goal at Fratton Park yesterday means the theory will now be given a 17th test another time, but there is still every reason for Everton to believe they will be playing Champions League football next year. Hanging in there will certainly come with a fabulous prize.
BLACKBURN (4-4-2): Friedel; Neill, Short (Johansson 21), Todd, Matteo; Emerton, Ferguson, Flitcroft, Reid; Bothroyd (Gallagher 83), Dickov. Subs: Enckelman, Stead, Pedersen.
BOOKING: Todd (foul).
EVERTON (4-5-1): Martyn; Hibbert, Stubbs, Weir, Pistone; Osman (McFadden 64), Carsley, Gravesen, Cahill (Ferguson 64), Kilbane; Bent (Watson 87). Subs: Wright, Yobo.
BOOKINGS: Hibbert (dissent), Carsley (foul).
ATT: 25,191
NEXT GAME: Everton v Manchester City, Boxing Day, 3pm

Resilience earned us our point - Stubbs
By David Prior Daily Post Staff
Dec 20 2004
ALAN STUBBS reckons Everton would have lost Saturday's game 3-0 were it not for this season's new-found resilience. Everton ground out a point in a lacklustre draw at Ewood Park with manager David Moyes admitting it had been his side's worst performance of the campaign. Skipper Stubbs (left) agreed that the Goodison club had not played well, but said the fact they had still come away from East Lancashire with a point was testimony to the side's improvement this campaign. He said: "We have to be better than that but at least we have managed to secure a point from the game. A lot of games like that last season we would have been beaten two or three-nil. "But we have a resilience about us at the moment and all credit to the lads for keeping another clean sheet.
"I think it is just important at the moment not to get beaten. We have to carry on the recent run and pick up points away from home where we can. "Obviously we came to Ewood Park and people expected us to get three points. "The fans were here in their droves again, which is fantastic, and it is such a shame we couldn't send them back home with three points." Arsenal's win at Portsmouth yesterday means Everton are down to third going into the busy Christmas period. And Stubbs added: "We were our own worst enemy and we were brought down to Blackburn's level and they made it a scrap. We have been forced to scrap in recent weeks and maybe today we didn't do it as well as them. "They are scrapping for points and playing like that is the way they look like they are going to try and get out of the situation that faces them. "Throughout the game they sat quite deep and it was hard to get in behind them, but it was just one of those frustrating days and to be honest one that was crying out for someone to grab the game by the scruff of the neck and win it. "We never played well and I suppose Blackburn are bit low on confidence and that probably sums the afternoon up." Moyes was at a loss to explain his side's under-par display, but could in the end take satisfaction from a draw that extended his side's unbeaten run to six games. "We have played well all season - this is the first time today I think we didn't perform as well as we should have done.
"But we've taken seven out of nine from Bolton, Liverpool and Blackburn, and I would have been the first to take that before the three games. "I think this just happens over the course of the season - there'll be some games not quite as good. But it's a great thing when you don't play that well and still come away with a point. "I don't think there's been a game this year where we we've felt we haven't deserved to win or at least get something from it. Today was one which was close to the wire today. "But we got something from a game in which we didn't perform as well as we have done this season. So we are pleased to get that point and add it to the others. It was a good point."
Blackburn, who moved out of the relegation zone with their point, also snatched victory late on when Paul Gallagher saw a tap-in correctly ruled out for offside and Brett Emerton crashed a shot against the outside of Nigel Martyn's post.

Manager hails fitness levels as point made
By David Prior Daily Post Staff
Dec 20 2004
DAVID MOYES is counting on his players' fitness levels to see Everton through the festive period.
The Goodison side face four games in nine days over Christmas and New Year which could shape the remainder of their Premiership season. Everton were under par at Blackburn Rovers on Saturday but came away from Ewood Park with a point following a goalless draw. And Moyes praised the condition of his squad for helping keep Everton in the top three. "The players are in good condition and we will need them in that condition," he said. "We have a bit of sickness about the place, a couple of players were not at Blackburn, but we are doing okay. "We have one or two little knocks but it wouldn't be right if I wasn't saying that after the game because they are committed and go in for all the challenges." For the sixth time in eight matches, Blackburn manager Mark Hughes was left to reflect on another drawn match, which on this occasion was enough to lift his team out of the bottom three. "We are heading in the right direction," he maintained. "I like to look at a glass as half full rather than half empty and I see it that we are on a run of one defeat in eight games. That's not the form of a team that's struggling. "We are working hard, doing the right things and we'll continue to do the right things, both in games and in training. At the moment we just can't convert the chances that come our way in order to see out games. At times we just need a little bit more care and quality to punish teams. "But the desire and determination of the team is there for all to see. So we will keep going and keep applying ourselves because we are a difficult side to beat and we will continue to be. "It's important everybody is positive, and we are. I'm looking to kick on in the second half of the season now and I have no doubt we will turn this around, and turn those draws into positive, three-point results." Hughes added his players "didn't look intimidated or over-awed" by Everton,, and that must remain the case, especially throughout February and March when Blackburn play the current top six in a seven-game spell. "Luck plays its part," insisted Hughes, who saw Paul Gallagher denied a late winner by an offside flag and Brett Emerton shave the post.
"I always say the harder you work the luckier you get, but it doesn't ring true, as we know. We're working hard, but not getting the luck we deserve. "Overall, though, I'm pleased with the way we are approaching games. Physically we look strong and defensively we look solid. It's just a question of unlocking the door at the other end."

Shows how far we have come
View from the stands by Will James Everton supporter, Daily Post
Dec 20 2004
THIS WAS the type of performance the critics had been waiting for. We always told you it would never last, they sneered, as Everton stumbled their way to a point at Blackburn, who might even have pick-pocketed all three at the end. The euphoria of the derby victory evaporated quicker than a rain drop in the Sahara on the back of a desperately poor showing at Ewood Park. But the very fact that David Moyes's side were flatter than yesterday's beer - and still came away with a point and third place in the Premiership - shows the extra resilience that has been infused into the side this time round. It is exactly the sort of game they would have lost 12 months ago, when a point gleaned from one of their relegation rivals would have been greeted with a collective sigh of relief. The fact that it is now seen as two points dropped shows how far Everton have travelled in such a short space of time. So put it down as a bad day at the office, the sort that sees your computer crash, the fax machine jam and the canteen run out of Christmas pud. Everton now face the hectic holiday programme needing to find some extra fizz. Given the paucity of the squad it is going to be a very demanding spell and having seen their season run out of steam two years ago, a nagging worry at the back of every Evertonian's mind. Moyes says he is in no hurry to spend in the transfer window, but the canny Scot knows as well as anyone a couple of new faces could provide welcome relief for players who have done so well, so far, this season. The injection of a few fresh pairs of legs could yet see Everton leaving those critics overdosing on humble pie.

Hackney leaves Everton sitting pretty on summit
Women's football by Alan Easel, Daily Post
Dec 20 2004
PHIL HACKNEY was delighted as his Everton team took advantage of a lack of action in the National Division to reclaim the top spot from Charlton - then announced he was to step down as coach.
Everton completed a hard-fought 2-1 win over a determined Fulham side in the league's only game at the weekend, and Hackney was impressed with both his team's work ethic and the visitors' defence. "It was a well-earned win, we worked hard and to give Fulham credit they defended in numbers and made it difficult for us," he said. The home side enjoyed most of the possession but it took them until the 67th minute to open the scoring in what was a purple patch that heralded all three goals in a matter of minutes. Firstly England Under-19 left-back Michelle Evans opened the scoring for Everton before they were rocked by a superb Cottagers equaliser. There looked to be no danger as Marie O'Brien took possession 20 yards out but she thought differently and fired home a superb shot. However, the visitors' celebrations did not last long as Leanne Duffy grabbed Everton's winner after England goalkeeper Leanne Hall had spilled the ball. Hackney revealed the game would be his last at Everton as he is stepping down due to personal reasons, but he was happy that he leaves the team in pole position in the league. "It was a tremendous win and it puts the team in top spot for 2004 which they deserve because they're such a hard-working bunch," he said. "They can enjoy their holiday."

Blackburn 0, Everton 0 (Echo)
Dec 20 2004 By David Prentice at Ewood Park, Liverpool Echo
BLACKBURN'S giant electronic scoreboard optimistically advertised the sale of half-season tickets all through Saturday's shocker. If they sold any after this grim goalless draw, Ewood Park's head of marketing is clearly capable of handling a real challenge - like promoting holiday homes in Baghdad, selling cooler bags in Iceland - or convincing the rest of the country that Everton can and do deserve to maintain their place near the top of the Premiership. This tepid, torpid fare was seized upon in 'told you so' fashion by some media agents afterwards. "Does this result epitomise your season?" one brave, or should that be foolhardy questioner put to David Moyes afterwards. I think he was trying to suggest that Everton can grind out results when they don't play well, but it didn't come across like that. Moyes didn't think so, either. "No," he rapped. "We have played well all season. This is the first time we have not performed well, but it does epitomise we have great character and we are going to hang on in there." Credit the BBC for not falling into that trap, and showing as much of the clash as they dared on Saturday night. Believe me, that two-minute, ahem, highlights, package showed absolutely everything worthy of note. The wonderful travelling support had ensured that, before kick-off at least, there was a sense of anticipation around Ewood Park.
More than 7,000 spectators travelled from Merseyside, filling both tiers of the Darwen Road End Stand. Ewood officials must love North-West derbies. Struggling to scrape past 20,000 gates all season, the visits of Everton, Liverpool and Manchester United are the only games which have sent the attendance figure soaring past 25,000. But then this is a club which has resorted to leaving electronic messages at bus-stops in the past, trying to persuade Lancastrians to watch their local team. Evertonians have needed no such encouragement, but even they must have found their patience tested on Saturday. The only memorable statistic was the point Everton prised from the match, to add to the 36 they had gathered in usually more entertaining fashion this season, plus another solid defensive display which guaranteed a ninth clean sheet of the season. Joseph Yobo can be forgiven for feeling thoroughly fed up with his lot so far, but the simple fact is that David Weir and Alan Stubbs have been outstanding all season - and were so again. The only time a chink of space opened up between them was in the second minute - and Tony Hibbert covered quite magnificently to block Paul Dickov's shot. The full-back also cleared off the line from Flitcroft from the resulting corner, in the only incident of note before half-time. Dickov produced his usual intense display, performing like an enraged bee trapped in a bottle, with a mischievous schoolboy training a magnifying glass on his backside. But Everton usually had enough to subdue him, until five minutes from time that was. Dickov's turn and pass on the edge of the penalty area was sweet, Flitcroft's shot was parried by Martyn and substitute Gallagher tapped in. The officials up until then had been caught in the general malaise of the afternoon, producing a substandard performance - the assistants especially failing to assist with a series of dreadful decisions. It was fortunate for Everton that the one they got right ruled out Gallagher's 'goal' for offside. Seven minutes later, with only one of the three minutes added on still remaining, Everton got lucky. Brett Emerton's 25-yard drive clipped off Weir's heel and arrowed out of reach of Martyn's dive. Fortunately it struck the base of a post and bounced away to safety. If Everton did get lucky in that instant, it was only a case of luck evening itself out. Think back to the home games against Tottenham and Aston Villa when Everton did play well and dominated, but managed only one point. David Moyes was at pains to point out after this one that his team had now taken seven points from three very difficult looking fixtures against Bolton, Liverpool and Blackburn. That never looked like becoming nine, but the all blacks - this was the first time Everton haven't won while wearing their lucky strip - did manage one shot on target. Marcus Bent turned and screwed a shot from a tight angle goalwards, which Friedel parried behind. Otherwise he was left largely unsupported, Cahill, Osman and Kilbane for once failing to pile forward in numbers into the penalty area. But Everton didn't lose - and they have now put together a six-match unbeaten run in the Premiership. That's worthy of celebration - even if Saturday's sixth leg of the run was not.
BLACKBURN (4-4-2): Friedel; Neill, Short (Johansson 21), Todd, Matteo; Emerton, Ferguson, Flitcroft, Reid; Bothroyd (Gallagher 83), Dickov. Subs: Enckelman, Stead, Pedersen.
BOOKING: Todd (foul).
EVERTON (4-5-1): Martyn; Hibbert, Stubbs, Weir, Pistone; Osman (McFadden 64), Carsley, Gravesen, Cahill (Ferguson 64), Kilbane; Bent (Watson 87). Subs: Wright, Yobo.
BOOKINGS: Hibbert (dissent), Carsley (foul).
ATT: 25,191
NEXT GAME: Everton v Manchester City, Boxing Day, 3pm

Blues in top condition for tricky spell
Dec 20 2004 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES reported a clean bill of health today, as his Everton side look ahead to a crucial spell of five games in 13 days which could reinforce or wreck their season. Starting with the visit of Manchester City on Boxing Day, the Blues then travel to Charlton and Tottenham, entertain Portsmouth then make another long trip to Plymouth in the FA Cup. Moyes (right) will need all of his small squad available for the gruelling schedule and he said today: "They are in good condition and we will need them like that. "We have a bit of sickness about the place; a couple of players are not here today but we are doing okay. "We have one or two little knocks but it wouldn't be right if I wasn't saying that after the game we had on Saturday because they are committed lads and go in for all the challenges." The Blues have a free week to prepare for the frantic festive fixture list - with no reserve clashes to complicate matters until after Christmas. Everton's youth team, meanwhile, will travel to Yeovil Town in the New Year for their fourth round FA Youth Cup clash. A provisional date has been set for January 19.

Faultless display earns plaudits for Hibbert
Dec 20 2004 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
DAVID Moyes paid tribute to his defensive 'throwback' on Saturday night. Tony Hibbert (left) is still just 23-years-old, but the Blues' boss described him as a real old fashioned full-back after an outstanding display of the defensive arts in Everton's goalless draw at Blackburn Rovers. "Tony has been terrific in his form all season," he said. "He is a good defender . . . an old style defender if you like. He likes a tackle, loves competing and he has done well for us today." But there was little else for the Blues' boss to celebrate other than a point to take his side to 37 points and stretch their unbeaten Premiership run to six matches. "We didn't play particularly well," he admitted. "But we have taken seven points from matches against Bolton, Liverpool and Blackburn now and I would have been the first to take that if we'd been offered it beforehand." Moyes tried to open the game up when he introduced James McFadden and Duncan Ferguson with half-an-hour still to play. The winger in particular produced one or two flashes of individual skill, but couldn't create a goalscoring opportunity. "James is someone we have high hopes for and don't forget, he is still relatively a young player," added Moyes.. "Like will happen with all these players in the coming weeks, opportunities will come to show what they can do. James is getting a little bit more playing time and he will get even more in the weeks ahead. "We had to try and change the flow of the game, because we hadn't performed well. It worked a little bit, not as much as we would have hoped. "But there are going to be lots of games this season which aren't as clean as you would like and it's important we don't lose them. "Give Blackburn credit. They worked hard and they have a decent home record. They haven't won many, but they don't lose many here either. "It happens sometimes that you're not on your game, but it's a great thing when you don't play well and still come away with a point from somewhere you didn't do well at last year. "I don't think there's been a game this season where we haven't won or not deserved something from the match, but today was a bit close to the wire. "But we have performed well this season and as I say, if you'd given me seven points from the three games we've just had I would have taken that."

Pistone expecting festive fight
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Dec 21 2004
ALESSANDRO PISTONE believes Everton's defining festive programme will be harder than ever now that David Moyes's team represent a prized Premiership scalp. Everton have three games in a week against middle-ranking Premiership sides who have spent far more than Moyes in an attempt to qualify for Europe this season - Manchester City, Charlton and Tottenham. And Pistone (left) admits they will be desperate to dent Everton's continental ambitions after being left in the shade by the Goodison Park club this season. Despite a disappointing display at Blackburn on Saturday, Everton are unbeaten in six outings and six points off the Premiership summit. And the Italian defender admits: "Teams play us now and they'll want to beat us simply because we are doing so well. Everybody who will face us will try to beat us because we're there now. But it's a great position to be in. "We didn't lose on Saturday, that's a great point, and we didn't concede any goals. "The most important thing is a clean sheet. A clean sheet gives us confidence, even when you have a bad day, to finish the game without conceding a goal is a good result." Moyes has a clean bill of health ahead of the hectic schedule he fears could expose the fragility of Everton's first team resources.
But Pistone believes Everton's unlikely assault on the summit will continue if they escape any fitness setbacks. He added: "It's busy but it's busy for everybody. We have to keep concentrating, continue what we have been doing and hopefully we can keep getting the results. "This is definitely the toughest period in the season because there are so many games with not much time to recover.
"We have a small team so we just have to concentrate and be a bit lucky in terms of not having any injuries."

New cash blow at Everton
Daily Post
Dec 21 2004
SHAREHOLDERS in Everton FC last night called for Bill Kenwright to deliver on "empty promises" - after yet another deadline for investment in the club ran out. At Everton's AGM on December 6, the investors behind the Fortress Sports Fund deal being negotiated by the club chairman were given another two weeks to finalise their move. That extension ran out at the close of business last night with no announcement of a deal and nothing to report from either Mr Kenwright or the club.
Fortress now loses its "exclusivity" regarding negotiating a deal with Everton, and club shareholders are now demanding that Mr Kenwright clarify the position. Nick Williams, secretary of the Everton Shareholders' Association, said: "Bill Kenwright promised at the club EGM that everything would be cleared up by the time of the AGM. It came to the AGM and he said it would take another two weeks. "Two weeks later there is still no firm news, and it looks more and more likely these were a series of empty promises. "The players, the manager and the fans have stood up for Everton this season - we took 7,500 to Blackburn on the weekend - and it is time for Bill Kenwright to explain why he can't seem to bring Fortress to the club or if he can when it will happen." Fortress is proposing a 12.8m investment into Everton in return for a 29.9% stake in the club with an option of increasing its shareholding to 50.1% for an additional £17.2m. Last night, the Daily Post saw evidence which suggests neither Everton chief executive Keith Wyness nor club solicitors Cuff Roberts have had any official written contact with the Fortress Sports Fund since September 28, almost three months ago.
That does not preclude Mr Kenwright having conducted talks on his own but with Fortress now having lost their exclusive negotiating rights, the way appears open for a new investor to emerge.
That could be Mr Kenwright's major shareholding rival Paul Gregg, who had suggested last summer he had his own £15m investment proposal in place before stepping aside for the Fortress plans, but he too remained silent last night.

We need to buy
Post Soapbox, icLiverpool & Daily Post
Dec 21 2004
We need to buy
I DON'T want to sound like all the other doom-mongers, but all this talk of Everton not needing to buy players next month is just crazy. I know it would be unfair for some of the lads to lose their places to new arrivals, but who said anyone would lose their place! The performance at Blackburn speaks volumes of our strength in depth or lack of it.
J McEvoy (via e-mail)
You're arrogant
I CAN'T understand the anti-Everton attitude that everyone seems to have adopted. I know the media largely has never had time for our club but some of the vicious and arrogant remarks made after the game were completely out of order. We had one media outlet claiming our bubble had burst and our ordinary players had been found out. Another moron claimed we had no talent in our entire squad and Robbie Savage was a better player than Gravesen!
Brian Howarth, Allerton
Luck won't last
I THINK David Moyes should enter the January transfer market. It's true that the current players deserve a go, but come the second half of the season we need to bolster the ranks. To date our injury and suspension toll has been minimal. Our luck can't last and Cahill, Gravesen and Kilbane will all be called for internationals.
Peter Sydney (via e-mail)
Striker light
I AM concerned by Everton's lack of goal power - but then maybe Moyes is waiting until we pass the magic 40-point barrier and will then change the formation to accommodate goals coming. We do walk a fine line though, and I don't think it does the fans' hearts any good waiting for the final whistle if there is a goal in it between winning or losing.
Peter Charters, Garston

Blues wait for Fortress money
Dec 21 2004 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON were still hoping to make an announcement today about the proposed Fortress Sports Fund investment - after the deadline for exclusive dealing expired last night. No-one from Goodison was today commenting on the situation, though the club remains in talks with Chris Samuelson, who heads the fund, and the board is still optimistic. Club officials have been verbally informed that the £12.8m investment has been transferred into the Fund, but they are waiting for documentary evidence before making a formal statement. But pointedly, the club's bankers have expressed their satisfaction at what they have seen. At Everton's AGM on December 6, Samuelson asked for a further two weeks to finalise the investment. Shareholders have since grown uneasy at the lack of public information, and secretary of the Shareholders' Association, Nick Williams, said: "Bill Kenwright promised at the club EGM that everything would be cleared up by the time of the AGM.
"It came to the AGM and he said it would be another two weeks. Two weeks later there is still no firm news and it looks more and more likely these were a series of empty promises. "The players, the manager and the fans have stood up for Everton this season - we took 7,500 to Blackburn at the weekend - and it is time for Bill Kenwright to explain why he can't seem to bring Fortress to the club, or if he can, when it will happen." A report that Everton have had no official written contact with the FSF since September 28 was dismissed as irrelevant by Everton. Chairman Bill Kenwright is in daily contact with Chris Samuelson, who attended the club's recent AGM to address shareholders at Kenwright's request. The Fortress Sports Fund proposes to invest £12.8m into Everton in return for a 29.9 per cent stake in the club.

Blues play a waiting game over Osman
Dec 21 2004 By Scott McLeod, Liverpool Echo
LEON OSMAN underwent a knee scan today amidst concerns the midfielder has picked up a serious injury. The 23-year-old has been unable to train since the goalless draw with Blackburn on Saturday.
Head physio Mick Rathbone ordered today's exploratory scan as the club seek to gauge the severity of the injury. Manager David Moyes revealed: "Leon has picked up a knee problem which is causing us some concern. We have sent him for a scan today but we will not know for a day or two if it is serious or not. "It is a worry, particularly at this time of year with so many games to contend with in the next 10 days." The Blues face their most hectic run of fixtures of the season next week, beginning with the Boxing Day clash with Manchester City and followed by the visit to Charlton on Tuesday and Tottenham on New Year's Day. It is a run of games which is set to stretch Moyes ' small squad - and the prospect of losing Osman will add to his troubles. The midfielder has burst onto the first team scene in dramatic fashion in 2004, setting the tone by scoring within three minutes of his first Premiership start against Wolves at the end of last season. Since that eye-catching opening he has been omitted from the starting lineup in the league on just two occasions, away to Portsmouth in September through injury and for the 3-2 home win against Bolton because of a tactical switch. He has become a favourite with supporters, netting four goals from his 19 Premiership starts as a forward-thinking midfielder. However, he is the only player rated as a doubt for the start of the Christmas week. Moyes adds: "Our only other injured player is Kevin Kilbane. He picked up a bruised ankle at the weekend but it is nothing too serious and he should be available for Boxing Day."

Transfer window won't be a pain - Moyes
Exclusive by Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Dec 22 2004
DAVID MOYES insists he is under no pressure to prove himself in the transfer market next month as he looks for the reinforcements to maintain Everton's European challenge. Moyes has the first significant transfer fund of his managerial reign to spend next month with £8-10million available regardless of the Fortress Sports Fund investment. But the Everton manager denies that has placed more responsibility than usual on his spending or that the club's recent frugal past means he is untested in the transfer market. Moyes has spent around £15m on new players since his arrival from Preston in March 2002 - a sum that also includes several loan purchases. And he insisted: "Joseph Yobo, Nigel Martyn, Tim Cahill, James McFadden, Kevin Kilbane and Marcus Bent have all been part of a team that has taken Everton into third place in the Premiership for most of this season. "I don't believe having more money to spend puts more pressure on me at all. I don't feel there is even more responsibility on me than there has been in the past. "A lot of managers have spent big money on named players and it hasn't worked for them and nothing is said. "All the players we have brought in have had an important part to play and we will be looking for that again this time out." James Beattie remains high on Moyes's wanted list as he targets a new striker for the January window although Robbie Keane, who is struggling to land a starting role under Martin Jol at Tottenham, is an alternative. Everton had a £6m offer for Beattie rejected by Southampton in the wake of Wayne Rooney's exit in August but could get him for less in January as new manager Harry Redknapp looks to rebuild at St Mary's in order to escape relegation. Moyes, however, will face strong competition from Aston Villa if he revives his interest in the centre-forward next month. Leon Osman, meanwhile, will discover within the next 48 hours if he will miss Everton's festive programme with a knee injury. The midfielder has not trained since Saturday's draw at Blackburn and underwent a scan yesterday to determine the full extent of the injury. "We are concerned there could be a buildup of fluid on his knee but we will have to wait and see what the scan reveals," said Moyes.
"It is a worry for us, especially with us having so many games to contend with in the next 10 days."
Kevin Kilbane also picked up an ankle problem in the goalless draw at Ewood Park but is expected to be fit for the Boxing Day visit of Manchester City. Meanwhile, Everton are hoping to announce today that the £12.8m investment from the Fortress Sports Fund is now in place. Monday's exclusivity deadline passed without a deal or comment from Everton. But the saga is close to completion and Everton hope to confirm the funds, that will prompt a new share issue, have been raised.

Blame game not fair on Bill
Dec 22 2004 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
THE head of the Fortress Sports Fund today urged Evertonians to lay off chairman Bill Kenwright.
And Geneva based financier Chris Samuelson has reassured supporters that the £12.8m investment is still on track - despite the 14-day extension for exclusive dealing granted at the club's AGM having passed. Kenwright came in for criticism yesterday, just hours after the extension deadline passed, with secretary of the club's Shareholders' Association Nick Williams saying: "It looks more and more likely these were a series of empty promises." But Samuelson spoke exclusively to the ECHO today and declared: "To accuse Bill of failing to deliver is wrong. "If anybody has failed to deliver, it has been me. Bill has done everything in his power to complete this investment." And he added that the complicated deal was now very close to completion. "We are completing the transaction. Everything is going forward as planned," he added. "The fact it is a day or so late is due to circumstances beyond our actual control. I don't run the banking system." It is believed that the delays are not related to the existence of the £12.8m funds, which Samuelson says are in place. The Fund is the first of its type to be set up in Brunei and Samuelson says is subject to ratification from a number of regulatory panels. Until these panels have given the green light to the Fund, the deal cannot be completed. Everton FC will refuse to comment on the Fund or the process until they have received absolute documentary evidence that the monies have been transferred into their bank, but Samuelson believes that moment is not far off. The deadline for exclusive dealing has now passed, but there are no new investors waiting to challenge the Fortress Sports Fund's position. Once the money has been transferred into Everton's bank account, the club would then issue 30 days notice of an EGM to vote on the new investment. The proposal is for Fortress to invest £12.8m in return for a 29.9 per cent shareholding in the club.

Flu bug no match for battling Blues
Dec 22 2004 By Scott McLeod, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES has not needed any further proof in recent months of how committed his players are to the Everton cause - but he has had some in the last week anyway. Bellefield was hit with a debilitating flu bug last week. But the Goodison chief intentionally made no reference of it. "I didn't want anybody thinking we were making excuses," he explains.. The way his players responded to the illness served to underline what Moyes already knew - they are giving their all for the club this season. "We have had a lot of sickness in the camp in the last 10 days and a lot of the players have had a dose of it but all credit to them, those that have had it have played their way through it. "Tim Cahill, Kevin Kilbane, Lee Carsley and Marcus Bent have all had it but it has not stopped them playing. That says a lot about the players and now we are coming through it." The onset of the illness in the camp helps explain why the performance at Blackburn lacked some of the usual vigour and panache of recent away trips. The bug could not have hit at a tougher time, with the Blues facing their most hectic run of fixtures of the season. The Boxing Day encounter with Manchester City at Goodison is followed two days later by a trip to The Valley before returning to London on New Year's Day to face Tottenham. Thanks to very few injuries, Moyes has been able to name a settled side for the opening 18 games of this season. He accepts that is likely to change next week. "We would love to start the holiday period with everybody fit because the games in such a short space of time can take their toll," he continues.. "We want everybody fit and ready and hopefully everybody will be, although there is a concern over Leon Osman's knee. "But we will not be afraid to make changes between games next week if we feel it is necessary. We have got a small squad but they will all play their part in the weeks and months to come."

Blues stars spread more festive cheer
Dec 22 2004 By Jon Tunney, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON stars played Santa Claus for the day by dishing out presents to youngsters at Alder Hey.
The full first-team squad and manager David Moyes made the annual visit to the children's hospital.
Although not all of the youngsters at Alder Hey may be Everton fans, they were thrilled by the visit of the Premiership stars. Everton are third in the Premiership. Gifts worth about £2,500 were handed out after a collection among players was matched by the club. Manager Moyes said he was delighted to lead his club around the wards. He said: "Our visit to Alder Hey is one of the highlights of the year for me and the players. "Everton is a family club and many of the squad are family men. They can see the happiness it brings to the children. "My players know they are in a privileged position and they are happy to give something back." A club spokesman said the trip to Alder Hey was difficult to plan because the ward visits always ran into extra time. He said players were particularly touched by their visit to cancer patients on the oncology ward. The spokesman said: "Many of our players devote a lot of their time to charity, but it is entirely unheralded. They appreciate the lifestyle they have and they know there are a lot of people who are not so lucky.
"That's why they look forward to Alder Hey as a highlight of the year, it generates absolute joy among the kids before Christmas. "We like to call Everton the people's club and this is a way of bringing something back to the community."

Party time - with their Blue heroes
Dec 22 2004 Jblue, Liverpool Echo
LUCKY Jblue members invited to the Christmas party saw stars in their eyes. Rubbing shoulders with the youngsters and signing photographs and autographs were Everton first team players, who have had such a wonderful first half of the Premiership season. The party was a huge success, everyone had great fun and thor-oughly enjoyed themselves. DO you know someone whose unbridled support for Everton sets them apart from the rest? Do they travel the length and breadth of the country following their beloved Blues; is their bedroom littered with Everton paraphernalia; or do they have an encyclopedic knowledge of the club. If so, we're looking to hear from you as we try to find Everton's young Fan of the Year. We want family or friends to send us their nominations. Include both your name and that of the nominee, plus addresses, phone numbers and, if possible, a picture of the person you are nominating. Send them to: Blues Fan of the Year, Jblue, Liverpool Echo Sports Dept, PO Box 48, Old Hall Street, Liverpool L69 3EB.
* For more information on jblue visit our website: www.evertonfc.com/
A great Plus to boost your Christmas
WHY not visit the shop before Christmas for your last chance to get your Jblue Plus Platinum membership pack (only £18). It will make the ideal Christmas present. All the replica shirts now have £10 off, and the official Everton junior training range has one third off. Don't forget, Jblue Platinum members get £5 discount on the Portsmouth game on January 4 -the first home game of the new year. We hope you all have a lovely Christmas and we will see you in the new year.
Look out in 2005 for more great competitions, prizes, interviews with players and the Fan of the Year!
* WINNERS of our recent Goody Bag competition are Liam Lawrenson, of Aintree, and Amy Woods, of Wallasey. Congratulations to you both.

Reality check at Ewood
Dec 22 2004 Echo Letters
Reality check
THE Blackburn game was a reality check. A hard earned point when many expected three.
Great though it's all been so far, have we been getting a little too carried away? A timely reminder that we do need replacements. It's unrealistic to expect this squad can keep us in this position. We also have players out of contract at the end of the season. So well done the current squad for getting us where we are and making amends for last season. But without reinforcements we will not sustain this excellent form. I have every confidence Moyes is on top of all this, but wish I could say the same about our Board.
Terry Holland, Waterloo
Buy now!
IF DAVID MOYES has any transfer targets, he should get the business done in January. We may not look such an attractive proposition at the end of the season if we finish mid-table.
Graham Trubshaw, Rainhill
Vital point
GOOD point at Blackburn when we were well below par. There's nothing wrong with an away point in the Premier-ship and it may turn out to be just as important as the ones we earned at Old Trafford or St James'.
Frank Black, Liverpool
Good memories
IT'S been an amazing season so far and no matter what happens from now on, we've had something great to remember. To everybody worried about our 11 players out of contract, don't be. Most aren't world stars and the club are in the power position. They have done us proud so far but I'm sure David Moyes is not about to give out 'emotional' contracts.
Robert James, Maghull
Short of goals
I THOUGHT we looked short of a striker against Blackburn. We don't score four or five like the other contenders but fans will be patient and Moyes will make shrewd transfer market moves.
Mike Dayton, Aigburth

Campbell loan move to Leeds rejected
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Dec 23 2004
EVERTON have rejected an approach by Leeds United to take Kevin Campbell on loan with immediate effect. Campbell, who has made only three starts for Everton this season and will leave the club at the end of this season, has been targeted by the first division club as they attempt to pull clear of the relegation zone over the festive period. But despite his inactivity this season and the prospect of reducing their wage bill, Goodison officials have turned down the offer due to the meagre resources at David Moyes's disposal. Chief executive Keith Wyness said: "Leeds have been in contact with us regarding taking Kevin Campbell on loan. This request has been rejected and Kevin will be staying at Goodison Park." Moyes is keen to bring a new striker to Goodison Park in the transfer window, with James Beattie and Robbie Keane his leading targets. But until he does so, the Everton manager cannot afford to weaken his strike-force and insists Campbell still has a part to play this season. "We will be very reluctant to let any of our players leave because the squad size here at Everton doesn't allow that," he said.

Campbell gets blues as judge backs The Mack
Daily Post
Dec 23 2004
EVERTON footballer Kevin Campbell has lost the latest round of a court battle to stop R&B star Mark Morrison releasing his latest album. A High Court judge lifted an injunction obtained by Campbell which banned Morrison from releasing the record. Campbell had signed the notorious singer, also known as The Mack, to his record label 2 Wikid. When he discovered Morrison planned to bring out the album through another record company, he went to court to stop it. But earlier this week a judge ruled a further injunction should not be granted and Morrison is now free to release the CD, Innocent Man. The star - jailed in 1998 for hiring a stand-in to carry out a community service sentence - said he was pleased with the decision. "The album will now again be available to all," he said in a statement.. However, Campbell vowed to fight on and sue Morrison if Innocent Man appears in the shops. His solicitor Chris Farnell said: "Kevin is disappointed that the injunction was not continued. If the album is released we will pursue Mark Morrison and the companies for breach of copyright." Campbell claims he has spent hundreds of thousands of pounds recording and promoting the album.

Weir set for new Goodison contract
Exclusive by Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Dec 23 2004
DAVID WEIR has become the latest Everton veteran to convince David Moyes he is worthy of a contract extension at the end of this season. The 34-year-old (right) has been outstanding since replacing Joseph Yobo at the heart of the Goodison defence and his partnership with Alan Stubbs has been crucial to Everton's resurgence this term. Weir struggled to hold down a regular first-team place last season and only three months ago admitted this campaign is likely to be his last at Goodison Park. But such has been his value on and off the pitch that Moyes is prepared to offer the former Scottish international a short-term extension in the New Year. The Everton manager has 11 players out of contract at the end of this season and is still considering the merits of each individual case. But Weir is expected to join Stubbs and goalkeeper Nigel Martyn in a trio of veterans who will still be at Goodison Park next season. Chris Samuelson, meanwhile, has insisted the Fortress Sports Fund investment will be in place by Christmas and has given Everton written confirmation that the deal is still on. The Brunei-based fund has been unable to complete the initial £12.8million deal due to a series of financial complications but Samuelson, who will become an Everton director once the offer is accepted, has reassured the club the FSF will purchase a 29.9% stake. The financier said: "Yes we have the money, yes it is being processed and yes, Everton will have it as soon as possible.
"If anybody understands the complications of money transfers around the world, they will know that these things take time. "In fact the consortium was over-subscribed, but the money is being paid in dollars from New York and the man who has the final say on its release is in New Zealand. "We actually have the money in our account but we are now waiting for the final agreement to set up the fund in Brunei. Cash transfers can take three or four days, and I hope it is with Everton by Christmas." Chief executive Keith Wyness is believed to have received written confirmation the money is in place and, once that is the case, Everton will then have to call an EGM for its shareholders to accept the deal. Samuelson added: "I have been working all week to tie up the final bits of the deal and I understand that people in Liverpool were expecting the money by Monday. "This is not Bill Kenwright's fault, the problems are technical ones at our end." Leon Osman, meanwhile, could be fit for Everton's festive programme after a scan revealed he did not sustain serious injury at Blackburn last weekend. Manager David Moyes had feared the 23-year-old would miss the games against Manchester City and Charlton due to a build-up of fluid on his knee. And though Osman has a history of knee problems, including a cruciate injury three years ago, he will be considered for the Boxing Day game if he returns to training by the end of the week. Moyes said: "The scan didn't show an awful lot. Ossie has had a problem with his knee over the years and as everybody knows he had a cruciate injury earlier in his career. "So we were a little bit concerned but the scan has shown no major damage, which is good news. We feel that it is probably bone bruising in the knee and hopefully he will not be too far away for the games over the Christmas period."

Lineker hat-trick had that champion look
Post Past by Phillip J Redmond Everton supporter, Daily Post
Dec 23 2004
WHEN Manchester City came to Goodison on a freezing night in February 1986, they'd won their previous five matches. After a tough return to the top flight, the cash-strapped Citizens seemed to be adapting to life in the top division with Billy McNeill putting together a hard-working team. But they ran slap-bang into an Everton team on the top of their form. The classic mid-80s Blues had hit the top of the league the previous week after a hard-fought win over Tottenham. With the country in the middle of a big freeze, Everton took advantage of their undersoil heating to play the rearranged game with City and hope-fully steal a march on their championship rivals. The star of the show was undoubtedly England striker Gary Lineker, who ruthlessly plundered a hat-trick.
These days Lineker's stay at Goodison has largely been underplayed, partly because of Gary's perceived reluctance to talk about his time as a Blue and partly because ultimately Everton failed to win anything during his season at Goodison. In my view this is a shame, because Lineker was devastating for Everton and the City game was one of the highlights. Lineker got the Blues off to a flyer, finishing emphatically after latching onto an underhit backpass by future Blue Paul Power. For much of the half, City keeper Eric Nixon kept his team in it with a string of spectacular saves. The match was over as a contest almost immediately after the break, when City defender Nicky Reid stood on the ball on the edge of the area and Lineker did the rest. Now Everton cut free and with Trevor Steven causing mayhem on the right and Sharp and Lineker combining impressively, it was only a matter of time before there were more goals. The hat-trick goal came after about an hour with a neat lob from Lineker. All that was left was for Graeme Sharp to score the goal his hard work deserved. Unfortunately this was a season that would end in ultimate heartache, but on that night against Manchester City, Everton and Gary Lineker played like true champions.

Weir starts talks over new deal
Dec 23 2004 By Scott McLeod, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON have confirmed that talks have begun aimed at extending David Weir's stay on Merseyside. The experienced defender admitted at the start of this season that he expected it to be his last with the Blues. But the 34-year-old could now be rewarded with a 12-month extension to the deal, which runs out at the end of this season, after becoming one of the key figures in Everton's climb to third in the Premiership. Chief executive Keith Wyness told the ECHO: "We are in talks with his agent at present and are in the process of discussing the parameters (of any deal)."
Weir, who was dogged by injuries last season, was expected to be a peripheral figure this term. But after being handed an early chance to impress at Old Trafford in August following an injury to Joseph Yobo he has been an ever-present in the Premiership. His partnership in the heart of defence with Alan Stubbs has been the bedrock of the Blues' impressive defensive form. If his representatives can agree terms, the Scot should remain at Goodison. Meanwhile, the scan on Leon Osman's knee injury has revealed no ligament damage. If the bruising subsides, the midfielder will be in contention for a place against Manchester City on Sunday. Everton insist they have not tabled a bid for James Beat-tie, despite reports suggesting the club had offered £5m for the Southampton striker. He is among David Moyes' transfer targets. The Blues are now eagerly awaiting confirmation that the first phase of the Fortress Sports Fund investment is ready to take place, allowing the 30-day countdown for an EGM of shareholders to begin. Everton have received assurances the money is in place and are awaiting its transfer from offshore accounts.

Watson seeks a leading role
Dec 23 2004 By Scott McLeod, Liverpool Echo
STEVE WATSON is eager to answer the call to arms he believes will be forthcoming during the hectic festive period. The Everton midfielder (left) has had to settle for a role in the Blues' supporting cast this season. But he is ready to take centre stage as David Moyes' third placed outfit prepare to deal with four games in the space of eight days over Christmas and new year. Moyes has a small squad of 18 senior outfield players to select from for those matches - against Manchester City, Charlton, Tottenham and Portsmouth. And with Leon Osman nursing a knee injury and Kevin Kilbane and Tim Cahill both one yellow card away from automatic suspensions, Watson expects to get a starting berth sooner rather than later. He admits it would be the ideal time to make a return to the first team, with the transfer window set to open on January 1 and the manager having a £10m transfer kitty at his disposal. "It would be nice to think that when we come out of Christmas the manager will have a selection headache because we will have picked up a great string of results over Christmas, thanks to people coming in and doing well," admits Watson. "Obviously, the manager will be looking to bring extra people in when the transfer window opens and the club could be in a great position. But it is vital we come out of this spell without letting ourselves down, despite the size of the squad.
"Yes, it is very small, but we are all ready for the challenge and nobody wants to miss out on games.
"We probably will have to rotate things a little bit more in the next couple of weeks because we have four games in such a short space of time. "And the lads, like myself, who have been involved in every game in some way but who haven't started for a while could well get a chance. "I haven't started a game for probably about five or six weeks. And people like Gary Naysmith, Faddy (James McFadden), big Dunc, Joseph (Yobo) have all been there or thereabouts without playing too much football. We are all eager and ready to come in if the manager decides to change things."
That is the irony of the situation. Despite the size of the squad, there are a number of players, like Watson, who have played very little Premiership football this term, so impressive has been the form and fitness of Moyes' first choice starting line-up. The 30-year-old has started just six Premiership games. Ferguson has started one, McFadden likewise and Naysmith two. Yobo is in a similar situation, having found no route back into the side despite being the best player in the opening three matches of the campaign before picking up an injury. And yet, between them, they have made more than 30 substitute appearances. Watson continued: "I would have liked to have played a lot more because two or three of that group which has been on the bench for much of the season is called in over the next couple of weeks without having played a game for a long time. But we are a very fit group of players and I think that will tell in the games we have coming up. "Our training session on Tuesday, for instance, was very tough. It was a lot of football, followed by running.
"The training has been very intense, but I think people can see those benefits on a Saturday. We may be easing down ahead of the games themselves, but our work early in the week has been hard.
"The lads have responded well to that and I don't think it is any coincidence that we have had hardly any injuries this season. "That has been a key factor and I am sure it will be equally important over Christmas. If we steer clear of injuries, I am sure the general fitness of the whole squad will have an impact." It is a point Watson is keen to under-line sooner rather than later.

Window of opportunity may be closed for Moyes
Dec 23 2004 By Scott McLeod, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES is bracing himself for frustration during the January transfer window. The manager (right) has been handed a £10m transfer kitty. And the imminent arrival of the £12.8m first-phase of the Fortress Sports Fund means the Goodison chief will have even more money to spend at the end of the season. But his sudden transformation in financial fortunes is not making it any easier for Moyes to attract the players he wants. "At the moment, I have been given indications that the players that would interest me are probably not going to be available at this time of the year," he told the ECHO. "If they are not, we will continue with the same group of players who have served us so well because we will not waste the money. We will look at the situation and only spend if it is right in terms of the player, the availability and the valuation." Southampton's James Beattie, Tottenham's Robbie Keane and Chelsea's Scott Parker are among the names on Everton's wish-list.
Beattie and Keane are both at clubs that have undergone recent managerial changes, clouding the issue of their potential availability. Tottenham coach Chris Hughton has admitted that the London outfit have no intention of losing Keane. Chelsea have also made it clear they are unwilling to let any of their players go in January, which rules out Parker, as well as the likes of Joe Cole and Glen Johnson. With Moyes also having cooled his interest in Birmingham's Robbie Savage, his most eye-catching midfield acquisition in the new year could be from within his own group of players. Thomas Gravesen is set to enter fresh contract talks next month, with the club increasingly optimistic the Danish midfielder will choose to put pen to paper on a new, long-term deal. There are also long term targets - Brighton's Dan Harding and Crewe's Dean Ashton - whom the Blues are watching. Meanwhile, Leeds have revealed they have had a loan bid for Kevin Campbell turned down. Everton are refusing to let any of their senior squad depart Goodison because of the lack of numbers in the ranks. Campbell is out of contract at the end of the season and will not be offered fresh terms.

Moyes hoping Cahill will be Boxing clever
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Dec 24 2004
DAVID MOYES hopes the Boxing Day visit of Manchester City can help Tim Cahill re-discover his clinical touch in front of goal. The Australian international (right) scored his first goal for Everton in September's 1-0 victory at the City of Manchester Stadium - and was promptly sent off by Steve Bennett for raising his shirt in celebration. Cahill then scored another matchwinning header in Everton's next away trip at Portsmouth as he made an immediate impact at his new club.
But since those two strikes in his first four games the midfielder has failed to find the target in his last 13 outings. And with Everton reliant on goals from their five-man midfield, Moyes admits he needs Cahill to find his range again soon. The Everton manager said: "Tim may not have scored for a while but, with the exception of the Blackburn game last week, he has had opportunities in every match recently. "Against Liverpool, Bolton and Newcastle he had chances to get a goal so he is still a threat, although I am looking for him to take a few more of those chances now. "Some players go off and on with their goalscoring, it happens to strikers too, and hopefully Tim will be back on again soon. "He has been great for us in both boxes this season and what tends to go unnoticed is how well he helps us defensively as well, especially at set-pieces." Cahill's debut goal helped Everton erase memories of their 5-1 drubbing by Manchester City on the final day of last season. And Moyes believes that performance, which saw 10-man Everton hold out for 30 minutes, marked a defining moment in the club's season. "That was probably the win when I really believed we would have a good season," he admitted. "We had beaten Crystal Palace away, drew at Manchester United and then to beat City at their place after what happened the season before brought a real belief to a side whose confidence was starting to grow anyway. We don't have any demons to banish against City now because of our win in September. Now we are thinking positively about how we can move on.
"We are not satisfied with what we have done so far. We are looking to achieve even more in the second half of the season. But City are a good side with good players." Everton have only one injury concern ahead of the Boxing Day clash - a knee injury to Leon Osman that may keep the midfielder out of the entire festive programme. Moyes said: "Hopefully Leon has a chance of being fit but we are not sure. We think it might be a bit of bruising to the bone but he has a history of knee problems so we need to be careful."

Character is the key for Moyes
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Dec 24 2004
DAVID MOYES insists he will not waste Everton's money in the transfer window and will be looking only for players with the right character to enhance his current Champions League chasing squad.
The Everton manager (right) has been linked with a string of players since it was made clear he has between £8million and £10m to spend in January - with another £12.8m on its way into the club once the Fortress Sports Fund investment materialises. But as Moyes approaches a crunch holiday period of five games in 14 days - starting on Sunday at home to Manchester City - he has made it plain he will not buy without good reason. Moyes is considering moves for James Beattie or Robbie Keane in the transfer window, although any hope of luring Scott Parker away from Chelsea is now over after the midfielder suffered a broken metatarsal in training this week. And the Everton manager admits he will have to look care-fully, and fight hard, to get the right kind of player into his improving team. "We will look very closely at who we bring in. There is unity and team spirit here, and we would not want to disrupt that," said Moyes. "I have been given indications that the players that would interest me are probably not going to be available at this time of year. "We are going to make signings in January, but it can only be done if it is the right players - partly to do with the types they are as well as their talent. "It would be unwise to waste any cash. We have some, and it was not long ago that we didn't have any - so we are not going to be like a kid in a sweet shop and buy anything." Moyes is reluctant to talk specifically about transfer targets. "James Beattie is one of many players we are being linked with, but that is because we are one of the few clubs who have some cash available," he said. "I would not wish to talk about players at other clubs - that is not the right thing to do. "I have a picture in my mind of what an Everton player is. We will not be able to take giant steps like Chelsea, so the idea is to sign the right type of players to take us forward. It might not be this year but the year after. "We have got to make sure we have a squad at Everton which will give us an opportunity of competing in the future. "We do not want players who will be short term; we want people who will be here for three or four years." Moyes, who has spent only £15million in 36 months at Goodison Park, added: "We will do as much homework on people as we can and we would not bring them here if they did not have the right character. "You always try to find out as much as you can about people, and character is high on the list here. "There are situations where you have to bring people in. Steve Bruce at Birmingham a couple of seasons ago had to do that, because they were struggling at the bottom. That kept them up that January. "If you are short of players to do it for you you have have to buy. "But we are not in that situation; we are comfortable in the league and we do not have to do anything in a panic - and we will not be pushed into anything." The Everton manager is anxious not to disrupt the unity that has kept his team in the Premiership top three for most of this season. And he will want characters that show the same kind of commitment as those who carved out a goalless draw at Blackburn last weekend despite illness.
"We had a lot of players out at Blackburn who have been feeling unwell recently, Tim Cahill, Kevin Kilbane, Lee Carsley and Marcus Bent, while Kevin Campbell and Nick Chadwick were not able to travel," he revealed.. "They all had a few days off at some point but it shows how much they want to play for this team and are not prepared to risk losing their place that they all played. "That is everything a manager wants from a team." And Moyes is also full of praise for his head physiotherapist Mick "Baz" Rathbone,, who has helped keep the treatment room relatively quiet this season as a threadbare squad continues to avoid serious injury. "Baz is the best signing I have made at Everton," added Moyes. "Not only is he a top physio but he is also a great character, a very funny man, who has also played professionally and who the players like and respect. And he's the fittest man at the club too! "I decided to make a few changes behind the scenes this summer in terms of our sports science department and training techniques and it is working well."

A Boxing Day win - and no cigar please
By Mark O'Brien Everton supporter, Daily Post
Dec 24 2004
IT FEELS like crunch time is approaching for Everton, both on and off the field. The first half of the season has been nothing short of miraculous but, as managers are so fond of saying, you win nothing in December. The panic that gripped Evertonians when Leon Osman's knee injury looked serious gives an indication of how thin the squad is at present. Therefore it will be some feat for us to continue our form through the slog of Christmas and January, especially given that we also have a couple of players on the verge of suspensions. Hopefully the squad players such as James McFadden, Joseph Yobo and even Kevin Campbell can pull out some big performances if and when they're called upon. Off the field, it still seems unclear whether the Fortress Sport Fund's money is ever going to material-ise. In fairness to Bill Kenwright, he is often pilloried for opening his mouth prematurely and building up people's hopes unnecessarily, so you can't really blame him for remaining tight-lipped at the moment while Chris Samuelson and his cohorts apparently deal with the vagaries of the international banking system. Similarly David Moyes, after being linked with just about every player in the country who falls into the five or six million pound price range, also seems loath to discuss the idea of any new signings in January. He says that the players he wants won't be available, and obviously we don't want to buy just for the sake of it, but it still seems highly unlikely that he won't attempt to strengthen the squad at all. Everyone at the club must realise that it would be madness not to try and push on from the position we're in now to try and ensure European football of some description next season. On the pitch, the game at Ewood Park was obviously a bit of a disappointment - although the fact that we can feel like that about a point away from home speaks volumes for our progress - and anything short of victory against Manchester City on Boxing Day will feel like a poke in the eye with a hot cigar given that the next two games are potentially awkward trips to London. However, if you want to stay near the top you have to take those sort of games in your stride. So, here's to a good Christmas and more of the same for the New Year and the remainder of the season.

Groundshare set for final rejection
By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
Dec 24 2004
EVERTON and Liverpool met once again to discuss the Stanley Park ground-share issue last night.
It is believed to have been a final gathering before providing a definitive answer next week. The clubs are expected to announce the ground-share is off the agenda once and for all. Goodison chief executive Keith Wyness, his Liverpool opposite number Rick Parry and representatives from the North West Development Agency are believed to have attended last night's meeting. It followed last month's summit with Sports Minister Richard Caborn in London. The NWDA are keen to invest money in a ground development if it will be home to both clubs. But that now looks doomed because Liverpool's Stanley Park plans are so far advanced and Everton are unwilling to contemplate anything less than a clear 50/50 split on ownership of the ground. If there is no further government intervention there will be no further meetings. That will allow Liverpool to press ahead with their plans for the £120m Stanley Park development and leave Everton free to explore the possibility of re-developing Goodison or finding a new home elsewhere. Wyness (right) has confirmed there are no suitable sites for a new home currently available. But the club is working with city council over the Goodison site, with talks taking place over the possibility of the club acquiring more land around the ground in order to extend to a potential 50,000 capacity. Wyness revealed: "I think that without doubt the footprint would have to be expanded for us to do a sensible redevelopment, if we were to stay in this area. "It is something I am giving a lot of attention to in terms of feasibility and looking at what can be done. "There are a lot of things beginning to coincide which lead us to the conclusion that something will have to be done, either here or on a new site. It is inescapable for everybody.
"It has been coming for a long time. It is a question of whether it will be done here or elsewhere."

Wright-Phillips is biggest threat to tight defence
By Colin Harvey, Daily Post
Dec 24 2004
EVERTON look to continue their excellent season with a festive victory over Manchester City.
Kevin Keegan's side go into the game on the back of a good win at Bolton Wanderers but have seen their preparations hampered by the incident involving Joey Barton the other night.
EVERYONE knows Manchester City's defence is not their strongest point, but they appear to have tightened up in recent weeks. Up until a month ago, they looked suspect down the middle, but their hard work on the training ground is finally coming to fruition, with Richard Dunne in particular demonstrating the talent which made him a success during his early days at Everton. The partnerships in the back four have improved, plus they have also been helped by the lack of individual errors which have so hampered City during Keegan's reign, with David James also proving a more steady influence. That said, they aren't the quickest at the back and the movement of Tim Cahill off lone striker Marcus Bent will be Everton's main threat, I believe. Whenever Everton attack, Cahill's first thought is to get into the box between the centrebacks who have until that point been marking space. This is how he scored his goal at the City of Manchester Stadium earlier in the season, so City will know all about his effectiveness.
ALTHOUGH Everton have been lining up with five in midfield, I expect City to stick with four across the centre of the park. Of these, Antoine Sibierski on the left wing is one Everton must watch. Taking aside what has gone on recently, Barton has been in good form and scored the winner at Bolton last weekend. He will have an added incentive of playing against the club which released him as a youngster. Shaun Wright-Phillips, however, has proven himself to be a top-class player this season and he is the biggest danger.
NICOLAS ANELKA is fit again which is a massive boost for Keegan. Against Bolton, he started with Anelka and Robbie Fowler up front, and I expect him to keep faith with that duo on Boxing Day. Anelka's fleet of foot will be the biggest threat to Everton. Alan Stubbs and David Weir can be exposed when up against pure pace, and that is why Lee Carsley will be asked to not only protect the centre-backs but also keep one eye on the marauding Wright-Phillips.
SHAUN WRIGHT-PHILLIPS - his pace is a major asset but he allies that with the ability to take on players and deliver good crosses.
Overall verdict
CITY should arrive at Goodison in confident mood by I think Everton will nick the points with another slender victory.

We need a bit more fire in our eyes again
By Nick Saint Everton supporter, Daily Post
Dec 24 2004
CIGARS have been a bit of a theme in the build-up to this game, and I just hope there's a bit more fire to this clash than last week's smokeless dud at Ewood Park. It's not that a goalless draw at Blackburn is particularly bad, although most of the 7,000 who made the trip soon wished they'd opted for a few glasses of mulled wine by the fire instead. No, it's more that the whole afternoon fell alarmingly below the high standards Everton have set for themselves this season, and even the most hardcore Blue would admit in the end we were fortunate not to lose by a couple of goals.
So what better time than to get back on form than Sunday against City, a club who've spent most of the week trying to sort out the ramifications of Joey Barton's latest attempt to bond with his team-mates. They're still a dangerous side, however, even if they are just as unpredictable. Last week they pulled off an Everton-style result at Bolton - edging the game courtesy of a second-half goal through, that man again, Joey Barton. But back to ourselves. It's vital we get the crucial festive programme off to a good start - four games in nine games is not good news when you've got the playing resources we've got. I expect Moyes to spring a few changes in our settled line-up over the next few days, if only to make sure we keep things fairly fresh. So step up James McFadden, Joseph Yobo, Steve Watson, Duncan Ferguson - even Kevin Campbell. It's your chance to help out and keep the pin from the bubble for another week.

Savage the man
Post Soapbox, icLiverpool & Daily Post
Dec 24 2004
Savage the man
WHEN Gravesen signs his pre-contract agreement with a bigger team, who are we going to buy?
Don't keep talking about first division players. We don't have time. Another player who has the crowd eating out of his hand and controls games is Robbie Savage. I've had a lot of arguments about this but I just watched a replay of Birmingham v WBA and he was brilliant. Even if Gravesen decides to stay, we need people pushing for his place and I can't think of anyone else who wants to come here in that mould. He's a proven Premiership player who Birmingham are desperate not to lose.
Bill Jones, Skelmersdale
Heskey's whiff
I GO along with those that aren't for Everton signing James Beattie; he has a whiff of the Emile Heskeys - all tip and no iceberg. I'm sure that Moyes' astute ability to sniff out genuine talent will again be exemplified in the near future. As for Mr Gravesen, the gaffer surely has an idea whether he'll stay or not by now, and if he goes, I sense it'll be his loss. Three points against the pale blues for Christmas thanks.
Jim Bulls, Merseyside
Fernando steal
IF MORIENTES is available for £3.5-5million then that should be within the Blues' price range and we should get involved. For someone who wants Champions League football next season, as Morientes does, we are a good bet. And God knows we need someone who knows where the goal is and can find it without a GPS. There was no threat against Blackburn and a team with a decent striker would have creamed us. We have to do better over the holiday or this great season will start to go downhill very fast.
J Kennedy, Leigh
Dyer need
I'D LOVE to see us sign someone like Kieron Dyer who could give us that bit of something extra in midfield when we need it, then maybe another midfielder to cover Tommy and Cahill when they are suspended/ called up. I just think we are a bit short there with the current 4-5-1 formation which has worked so well this season.
Chris Adams, Woolton
Keane interest
ROBBIE KEANE is a player we should bring to Goodison - he's sharp and dangerous and makes things happen around the box.
Lee Bloom (via e-mail)

Stubbs' Blues warning
Dec 24 2004 By Scott McLeod, Liverpool Echo
ALAN STUBBS is eager to see Everton signing players in January - but the skipper has warned any new arrivals they will not walk straight into the first team. David Moyes has been given a £10m transfer kitty. And while the Blues boss is reluctant to disrupt the harmony in his squad with a swathe of signings, Stubbs (left) has reassured him the players want to see additions to the ranks.
He said: "I think we would all like to see the squad added to. "As a player you want to try your best in order to stop the manager bringing players in in your position. "But if people come in you have to deal with that and it is up to them to get in the team. "I don't think anybody would walk straight into our team at the moment because of the way the lads are performing. "But when you sign a few players you tend to find it brings a bit more out of the lads already at the club and that could take us to the next level." Meanwhile, Moyes believes the time to assess Everton's European chances is at the end of February. The Boxing Day clash with Manchester City marks the midway point of the season, and victory over Kevin Keegan's side on Sunday will give Everton 40 points, surpassing last season's total. But despite the remarkable opening half of the campaign, Moyes will not set any European targets until the start of March. "Now is certainly not the time to start talking about Europe, " he insists. "I think we are very close to what should be enough points to stay in the Premier League. "So from the turn of the year we know that if we get another bagful of points we will have a chance of making one of the European spots. "But if we don't, even finishing in the top half of the league would be a good season for us. "The managers who tend to be competing for things at the top end every season will tell you that the end of February or beginning of March is the time when you should start looking at anything regarding a final position. "I will follow them and see where we are when we get there." He added: "We are satisfied with what we have done, but that is not stopping us trying to drive for more. "I am determined now that the first half of the season is gone and should regard it as starting again now. "For me, the challenge is seeing what points tally we can get from the second half of the season rather than reflecting on the total we have achieved in the first half." Moyes knows City will be arriving on Merseyside intent on making amends for their 1-0 defeat to the Blues in September. " A lot of Premier League sides this season have found their form to be a bit hit and miss," he noted. "But you only have to look at us and the way a good run has given us the confidence to keep it going. "I am sure that can happen to any other side and we have to guard against that because Manchester City have some really good individual players so we know it is going to be hard. " Moyes goes into the game with Leon Osman his only injury doubt.
But the midfielder is only a minor doubt after scans on his knee injury revealed no serious damage.

Bent on making early Marc
Dec 24 2004 By Scott McLeod, Liverpool Echo
MARCUS BENT believes victory over Manchester City on Boxing Day would be the Christmas gift which keeps on giving. The encounter with Kevin Keegan's side is the first of four games in eight days and signals the start of the most gruelling run of fixtures of the season. Which is why the club's attacking talisman, believes the out-come is so important in setting the tone for the festive period, with trips to Charlton and Tottenham and a home game with Portsmouth following in quick succession. "It is a massive week for us. And a good test," admits the 26-year-old. "City will be a big one because it will be a full house at Goodison with everybody in Christmas spirit and we want to make sure they (the fans) leave even happier than when they arrive. "If we can get three points against City it will set us up nicely for the Charlton and Tottenham games. "The more confidence you can get at this time of the year then the better things click together. "That is the way it has been going this year and we want to maintain that." Indeed, the players are eager to make amends for the display at Ewood Park last week. He continues: "We didn't play very well against Blackburn. There was a bit of a bug doing the rounds (in the squad) but we are not going to use that as an excuse. "We just didn't play well, simple as that. But despite that we still got a point away from home, which you have to take as a positive. "It has kept the points ticking over for us and we know we can play much better." And if the Blues can keep their impressive rate of pointsgathering going they will continue to keep the chasing pack at arm's length in the pursuit of European places. Sunday marks the halfway stage of the season. Victory will move Everton on to 40 points, surpassing the total for the whole of last season and leaving them just 20 points short of the total generally regarded as the mark at which European football is secured. With 19 games left to achieve that total, it would be a hugely realistic target. That is why Evertonians are now being joined by general pundits in daring to talk about Everton finishing in the top five. But inside the corridors of Bellefield it is a taboo subject. "We are not thinking of Europe, or even the end of the season," continues Bent. "The simple fact is that if we get three points against City we will at least stay in the position we are. "I know it sounds like the cliché of taking one game at a time, but that is just the way it is and there is no other way of looking at it. "Last season the club ended fourth from bottom and we are already close to beating last season's total and reaching the point which is generally regarded as guaranteeing you stay in the division. "At the start of the season I think a lot of people outside the club would have settled for that. "So from now on we are just going to get on with things and see where we are at the end of the season. "There is no point looking ahead and setting targets because we have not done that all year. Why start now?" The next week will stretch the squad more than any other period of the campaign. Thankfully, Moyes has very few injury worries to contend with but Bent admits there are one or two tired legs. "I must admit, I am feeling a little tired because it is hard work we are doing," he said. "The fitness coaches are still constantly on our backs but I am sure the more they do that the better we will do. "Sometimes we do feel a little tired and in need of rest, but whenever we get onto the pitch we are still giving our all and I think our strength is showing through." That strength will be crucial in the next four matches. The tone for that festive run of points-gathering will be set on Sunday.

Outspoken Joey faces barracking
Dec 24 2004 Liverpool Echo
JOEY BARTON has been warned by Evertonians there is no chance of him receiving a sympathetic welcome at Goodison on Sunday following a controversial week for the Manchester City midfielder.
The 22-year-old, facing a £60,000 fine after stubbing a cigar out in a team-mate's eye at the City Christmas party, angered Blues fans with a claim that City are potentially "10 times bigger than Everton". Barton, who was rejected by the Blues as a teenager, said: "Everton have done well this season, but City are a bigger club. In fact, everything is in place for us to be about 10 times bigger."
John Munro, a spokesperson for the Southport branch of the Everton Supporters Club, has warned Barton to expect a heated reception at Goodison on Boxing Day following his comments. He said: "I am sure the fans will let him know how they feel about what he has said but deep down we will be laughing at him because we know, and I am sure he knows, that there is no comparison between Everton and Manchester City. "Evertonians know he was a boyhood blue but that will not stop them treating his comments with the contempt they deserve."

'Not as big' jibe is not very clever
Dec 24 2004 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
JOEY BARTON'S bizarre behaviour at Manchester City's Christmas party wasn't the only stupid decision he made this week. The City midfielder's action in stubbing out a cigar in a youth team player's eyes was appalling. It wasn't Barton's only appearance in the headlines this week, for he also announced that City are a club "ten times bigger than Everton." The name Manchester City might be twice as big as Everton (14 letters to poor old Everton's seven) and Manchester City Council does allow them to play at a very impressive new stadium, but that's about the only areas I can see for claims of superiority. City have been champions just twice, have spent almost as much time in the Second Division as the top flight, and have even plunged as low as the third tier of English football. Everton? Well, Joey is an Everton fan, so he'll know all about nine titles, five FA Cups, founder members of the Football League, 100 seasons of top-flight football and only four seasons outside the top division. If he doesn't, I'm sure a full house at Goodison Park on Boxing Day might remind him. During a week when the Christmas party season has been in full swing it was also refreshing to read how Everton's players have conducted themselves this past seven days. Last weekend they enjoyed a civilised Scottish-themed break with their manager to celebrate Christmas, went as a group to the Empire Theatre on Monday to watch Jesus Christ Superstar with Goodison staff, former players and chairman Bill Kenwright, then on Tuesday turned up at Alder Hey Hospital for their traditional Christmas visit. Everton getting it right on and off the pitch? This could be a happy New Year after all!

Barton set for Goodison return
Dec 24 2004 Liverpool Echo
MANCHESTER CITY boss Kevin Keegan is set to stick by midfielder Joey Barton for the Boxing Day trip to Everton. The Huyton star was fined six weeks' wages for his cigar attack on team-mate Jamie Tandy during the club's Christmas party. Tandy's fine of two weeks' wages, like a third of Barton's, is supended for a year. But he is almost certain to make Sunday's short trip to the club where he spent his formative years, and will be part of an unchanged side from the one which beat Bolton. Keegan has already received some good news after learning ankle injury victim Ben Thatcher could make his comeback in the FA Cup tie at Oldham on January 8. "Ben trained with us for the first time on Tuesday," Keegan said. "He will need another week to 10 days but he is already three weeks ahead of schedule and that is down to him," Keegan said. Steve McManaman (Achilles) and Claudio Reyna (groin) also miss the trip, while Trevor Sinclair and Jihai Sun (both knee) have long since been ruled out for the season.

Backing Blue Bill to ghost into top four
Dec 24 2004 You Bet with Adam Oldfield, Liverpool Echo
IF tonight, Bill Kenwright wakes up in a cold sweat and is greeted by a pale figure wrapped in chains, he's either walked home in a drunken stupor and ended up in Jamie Theakston's basement, or a former business partner has arrived to show him the error of Everton's miserly ways. Aided by the three Christmas spirits - whiskey, brandy and egg-nog - Bill's unconsciousness takes him to the past where an encounter with Peter Johnson heralds a new era for the club. Moving to the present day, Bill finds himself in a predicament - how big a New Year's bonus can he give his long-suffering employee, Davie Moyes, without endangering the club's Christmas futures? A tear rolls down his cheek as he sees Tiny Tom (Gravesen) clutching what appears to be a contract offer and praying for improved terms. As he considers his dilemma, Bill hears a knock at the door. He opens it too see Davie, cap in hand, belting out in his best Scouse accent: "Deck our halls with boughs of lolly, ta la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la." Transported to May 2005, Bill's golden vision is complete. Everton have secured their highest Premiership finish - beating their Merseyside neighbours in the process - and qualified for Europe. It's a theatrical performance Mr Kenwright would be proud of, but it is far from fiction. As a lifelong Evertonian, the Blues chairman has been doing his utmost in the last few days to secure the funds for Moyes to use in the January transfer window. And given Moyes' astute spending powers, who could argue the afteraffects won't be too dis-similar? Most fans would agree the Premiership title won't adorn the Goodison trophy cabinet this season, but a price of 100-1 is still insulting. Even more wounding is the bookmakers' continued efforts to refer to Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United as the top three. In terms of ego they are, but from the perspective of current league standing, it's a falsehood. Still, it presents punters with an ideal opportunity to take advantage of the 5-2 (Canbet) on offer for the Blues to top the table without the 'top three'. And though they trail Liverpool (7-4 Ladbrokes) in the betting, they head Middlesbrough (3-1) and Tottenham (20-1). Assuming they haven't already over-indulged on their Yuletide banquet, the Blues should feast on Kevin Keegan's turkeys when they visit Goodison on Boxing day. And to ensure the same kind of success as last week's accumulator, add home wins for Arsenal (v Fulham), Chelsea (v Aston Villa), Manchester United (v Bolton), West Ham (v Notts Forest), Bradford (v Wrexham) and Hartlepool (v Oldham). A £5 seven-timer with Stan James pays just over £110. Here's to a prosperous Christmas.

Everton 2, Man City 1 (D,Post)
Dec 27 2004 By Andy Hunter at Goodison Park, Daily Post
BEFORE burning eyes Joey Barton raised eyebrows last weekend with the assertion Manchester City are equipped to be "10 times" the size of Everton.. Perhaps it was the pain of being rejected by his boyhood club that clouded the view of the violent Jimmy Saville impressionist. Yet regardless of his motivation, and a 17-point gap that suggests the midfielder's grip is stronger on cigars than reality, Barton does indeed have a point. Manchester City have provided an accurate gauge of Everton's standing throughout 2004 - and that is why David Moyes's sights will rightly be set on Europe when he saunters into the transfer market next week. Whereas May's 5-1 reverse at the City of Manchester Stadium was an appropriate climax to an awful season September's 1-0 triumph with 10 men was the moment Moyes began to believe there would be no repeat of that ugly flirtation with the drop. Fast forward to Boxing Day and Everton have reached the 40-point mark that was their initial objective with their first double of the campaign. Though ambitions have long since advanced the rate at which the tally has arrived, with other European hopefuls like City trailing, means the continent is well within Everton's reach in 2005. In the first 19 games of this year, which culminated in that dreadful day in Manchester, Everton collected only 16 points. The last 19 have yielded a magical 40. Merely a slight improvement on the relegation form of last season, therefore, should take Moyes's side beyond the 60-point mark that prompts the search for passports. The results and the signs continue to suggest they will do it. A hard-fought yet deserved defeat of City yesterday brought Everton's work-rate and not inconsiderable talent to the fore, while the celebrations that greeted Marcus Bent's 63rd minute winner - where the 'derby pile-up' was exaggerated at ridiculous lengths - again illustrated the unity that has underpinned their remarkable transformation.
That success has not yielded any financial rewards through improved television coverage, with the established elite continuing to monopolise that revenue stream, but compliments are at least now coming from opposition managers. Keegan is hardly averse to attacking ambition but his three-pronged attack was designed with Everton's stubborn, consistent formation in mind rather than a return to type. The initial disruption would have satisfied the City manager as Everton had to rely on desperate defending to quell the first three-line whip they have faced at Goodison this season.
Nicolas Anelka, Jon Macken and Robbie Fowler gave David Weir and Alan Stubbs their most problematic opening of the campaign with their respective pace, power and intelligence on the break. But at least Keegan has the luxury of such options. Without three recognised strikers in his squad of 16, nevermind his starting line-up, Moyes and Everton have to combine a fierce work ethic with astute tactical awareness. It has served them well all season and, once they overcame a testing start in which Keegan's system thrived, they rediscovered their composure to stifle the City threat and took the lead through a well-drilled set-piece. A three-man attack also resulted in a three-man midfield from City and Everton began to exploit the space down either flank at every opportunity. Fullbacks, wide men and strikers took residency on the visiting wings and on 22 minutes Bent was shoved to the floor by Richard Dunne with serious repercussions for the former Evertonian. Everton caused pandemonium in the City area as they awaited Thomas Gravesen's free-kick, spinning, jostling and pulling to spread the confusion that saw them lose Cahill amidst the chaos and the Australian promptly beat David James with ease. Cahill had gone 13 games without a goal for Everton and having announced his aerial prowess with two in his opening four matches for the club - his debut against City in September - the midfielder was under orders from Moyes to rediscover his clinical touch. The £1.8m summer capture's relief was therefore understandable, although this time he was able to savour the moment by keeping his torso under wraps and a yellow card at bay. Steve Watson, a straight replacement for the injured Leon Osman, almost added a second six minutes later when he latched onto Gravesen's threaded pass and brought a low save from the City keeper. James's greatest contribution, however, was in dealing with the incessant supply of backpasses from his central defenders as Bent and the Danish playmaker chased and pressed City at every turn.
The only threat from the visitors came from a Fowler free-kick that sailed high over Nigel Martyn's bar and prompted the usual outburst of "Smack Head" from the Gwladys Street end. But two minutes before the break one flick of the head from Fowler shattered Everton's usual comfort when in possession of a one-nil lead. Anelka and the industrious Shaun Wright-Phillips both had long-range efforts blocked but when Macken crossed with the third attempt the former Kop idol was perfectly placed to plant an unstoppable header beyond the otherwise commanding Martyn.
Fowler responded to the taunts by smacking his head as he sprinted the length of the Bullens Road Stand in celebration. Though less humorous than his by-line snorting in 1999, or sniffing the grass if you still believe Gerard Houllier, it brought him a booking from referee Phil Dowd nonetheless.
Thereafter, however, the only danger Martyn faced was from distance as Everton ultimately controlled the second half and carved out another slender though merited victory that has become their hallmark. Stubbs and Bent almost capitalised on another inviting Gravesen free-kick and when the winner arrived it was inevitable the Dane would stamp his mark. Tony Hibbert, in another fine dis-play, crossed into the area where Sylvain Distin scuffed a clearance straight into Gravesen's path. The shot looked on, but the midfielder intelligently chipped across goal instead and Bent buried the third headed goal of the game into the bottom corner. There was little response from the visitors, except to resort to more agricultural tactics that saw Danny Mills booked for a deliberate lunge at Gravesen and Christian Negouai dismissed within two minutes of entering the field as a substitute for an over-the-top swipe at the match-winner. Indiscipline is rife at City this Christmas, with even Keegan spoken to by police for his reaction to Fowler's equaliser. They clearly have a long way to go before they can dream of catching Everton, let alone Europe.
EVERTON (4-5-1): Martyn; Hibbert, Weir, Stubbs, Pistone; Watson (Ferguson, 72), Gravesen (Yobo, 81), Carsley, Cahill, Kilbane; Bent. Subs: Wright, McFadden, Naysmith.
BOOKING: Gravesen (dissent)
MAN CITY (4-3-3): James; Mills (Onuoha, 81), Dunne, Distin, Jordan; Wright-Phillips, Bosvelt, Sibierski; Anelka, Macken (Negouai, 81), Fowler. Subs: Waterreus, Barton, Flood.
BOOKINGS: Fowler (ungentlemanly conduct), Mills (foul).
SENDING-OFF: Negouai (serious foul play)
REFEREE: Phil Dowd
ATT: 40,530
NEXT GAME: Charlton v Everton, Premiership, tomorrow, 3pm

Irreplaceables writing their own fairytale
By Mark O'Brien, Daily Post
Dec 27 2004
Bang Bang.
Nowadays however, the kids are more sophisticated and expect a seasonal treat from the likes of Disney's Pixar Studios. These computerised cartoons are often about disparate characters thrown together and defying the odds, so if they're ever short of inspiration they could do worse than making a feature about Everton's season so far. Moyes Story, perhaps, about our amazing manager, or how about Monsters Sink, the full tale of the recent derby victory? They're possibilities, but even better, in the light of yesterday's game against Manchester City and the impending opening of the transfer window, would be the Irreplaceables, the story of the individuals who Everton simply cannot do without. First and foremost, there's Thomas Gravesen. In the last year the wild-eyed Dane has transformed more dramatically than any superhero entering a phone booth or revolving door. Where he was once consistently inconsistent, dreadfully over-ambitious and often a downright liability, he is now the man who makes Everton tick. When he plays well, so do the Toffees. Work-rate and organisation can take any team so far, but when the opposition are willing to match those attributes then you need to find a bit of quality to give you an edge, and that's what Gravesen gave against a City line-up that Kevin Keegan had clearly rejigged in the hope of nicking a point from Goodison. The free-kick that set up Tim Cahill's opener was perfect, whipped into the area that pundits used to hilariously call 'the corridor of uncertainty', allowing the little Australian to do what he does so well. And the cross for Marcus Bent's winner was even better. In truth, the Blues should never have allowed themselves to slip behind and allow Robbie Fowler the chance to indulge in his head-tapping celebrations - although in fairness, if any player deserves the opportunity to give a fraction of stick back to the Goodison crowd then surely it's him, given how much he's taken down the years. The patrons of the Paddock had the last laugh though, as Gravesen chipped a perfect ball onto Bent's head whereas almost everyone expected him to smash a shot somewhere up towards the 'Floors 4 U' or 'Hume Building Contractors' hoardings. David Moyes knows that he must do everything in his power to keep the midfielder, who is said to be coveted by clubs from Manchester to Milan, because, regardless of how much cash he has to spend, he would find it almost impossible to attract another player with Gravesen's particular blend of ability and commitment.
The other Irreplaceable is obviously Bent, a fact that was highlighted when Christian Negouai almost hacked his leg off 10 minutes from the end. The City substitute held his head, Bent held his shin, Goodison held its breath and James Beattie's excited agent no doubt told his secretary to hold his calls. There were times earlier in the season when the big striker looked a little too raw, but that's no longer the case by any stretch now as so many areas of his game have improved. He seems cannier now - he has to be playing up from on his own - and the way he suckered Richard Dunne into pushing him over in the build up to the opener was worthy of the likes of Alan Shearer. He certainly deserved his goal, and if any striker does arrive in January he must be aware that he will have some job on his hands if he wants to be anything more than Bent's under-study. That's not bad going for a player who cost next to nothing and arrived with a reputation for having a poor attitude. And on the subject of attitude, the Evertonians never got a chance to chant 'Joey, Joey give us a light' to a lad who used to be one of their number - top Jimmy Saville impersonator, Joey Barton. Keegan didn't drop him altogether as punishment for his misdemeanours at the Christmas bash, he did make the bench: a case of close, but no cigar. So, while it has been a miserable festive season for the Blues of Manchester, their Merseyside counterparts took yet another three points, ensuring that the fans can keep saying 'It's A Wonderful Life'.

Plaudits for Dane after slick display
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Dec 27 2004
THOMAS GRAVESEN was last night hailed as one of the finest talents in the Premiership as he provided the inspiration for Everton's Boxing Day defeat of Manchester City. The Danish international created goals for both Tim Cahill and Marcus Bent as Everton reached the 40-point mark and maintained their hold on third place. Gravesen is free to sign a pre-contract agreement with a foreign club from Saturday, although Goodison officials still hope to convince the 28-year-old to extend his four-year stay on Mersey-side. And assistant manager Alan Irvine underlined the Dane's importance to Everton when he admitted the midfielder was the difference between the teams at Goodison Park - and was substituted for his own protection. "I think Thomas is one of the best players in the Premiership," enthused Irvine. "He is a very talented player and he showed the quality he has with those two crosses for the goals, but also in many other aspects of his game.
"We know that if we get the ball to Tommy as often as possible he will create something for us, but we also took him off because he is important to us and we didn't want to risk losing him.
"He was a bit tender after that tackle from Danny Mills and with having a small squad we couldn't afford to lose him for any of these Christmas games." Cahill responded to David Moyes's pre-match call for goals with the opener in the 23rd minute before Robbie Fowler levelled just before the interval. But Bent's sixth goal of the season, from an inspired chip by Gravesen, ensured Everton remain six points behind leaders Chelsea and only a point behind champions Arsenal. "I felt we deserved to win," Irvine added. "We felt it was harsh to be one-one at half-time, although we had given away some silly fouls, and though they started the second half strongly we were the better side overall. "The work-rate and the spirit was fantastic. The lads are very strong mentally and physically and they kept going despite the setback of losing a goal just before half-time.
"It is amazing how many games we have won by the odd goal this season. We never crumble.
"It is always good to get to 40 points but hopefully we can build on it now and who knows where it will take us?" City substitute Christian Negouai was sent off within two minutes of replacing Jon Macken for a needless lunge at match-winner Bent. But Irvine admitted: "I honestly didn't see the incident and I'm not just saying that or trying to sound like other people! "I was trying to find out what happened and was concerned that it could develop into a group problem and a few people would get sent off if it got out of hand. "David Weir doesn't usually get involved in those sort of things but reacted straight away which suggests something had gone on." Bent had to be replaced shortly after the incident but the Goodison number two is confident the striker will be fit for tomorrow's trip to Charlton. He said: "Marcus should be okay. "He was caught above the ankle rather than on the ankle so while it will be sore tomorrow it shouldn't cause him any serious problems."

Safety achieved, next stop Europe
By Paul Jenkins Everton supporter, Daily Post
Dec 27 2004
SO WITH the turkey dinner barely digested, Everton have reached the magical 40 point mark and with it Premiership safety. Only this time the lavish feast does not represent an Easter treat, but traditional Yuletide fare. Only that Everton are in anything but a traditional position. Third in the Premiership and with 40 points the present every Evertonian would happily swap their Christmas socks for, David Moyes's side can look forward to the second half of the season looking up and not over their shoulders. If the 40 point mark represents objective one, the fact that there are so many more points still to be played for suggest an exciting few months ahead with the promise of Champions League football moving tantalisingly closer. Halfway through the season, and all those critics expecting the stuffing to be knocked out of Everton by Christmas are still choking on their words. The wafer-thin squad remains a cause for concern, which means Moyes's canny warnings not to expect too much in the transfer window may simply be a way of avoiding the price tag for every Goodison target being hiked up. Signing number one must be Thomas Gravesen. He controlled the game against City, provided the sparks of genius required to puncture and deflate Kevin Keegan's puffed up visitors, and must not be allowed to slip away. The fact that he may need to take his passport with him on Everton away trips next season will be a healthy inducement to stay. And given that when the words spirit and Everton are mentioned in the same sentence it refers to their team bonding and not party shenanigans, there is every reason for all the boys in Blues to be checking their passports are up to date.

Everton 2, Man City 1 (Echo)
Dec 27 2004 By Scott McLeod at Goodison Park, Liverpool Echo
THERE is one surprising statistic which backs up the argument that it is Everton's excellent organisation and superior stamina which has provided the bedrock for this season's success. They have been ahead at half-time in a Premiership game on just one occasion so far this term - the 3-2 win at Norwich. Yesterday was the 11th of the 12 league wins this season earned in the second period of matches. As has become the norm, they proved the better outfit by capitalising on their impressive resolve and reserves of energy. Marcus Bent was the hero, heading home in the 63rd minute. It was no less than Everton deserved. They were tenacious, gritty and skilful. It was great to watch. It roused the spirit, clearing the groggy heads of those fans still recovering from the excesses of Christmas Day. But it is what we have come to expect from David Moyes' men. If somebody challenges them, they come back stronger than ever. And they refuse to accept anything less than victory - even if it means running into walls right up to the 90th minute. Those attributes have taken Everton to where they are in the table. But, with another three games to come in the next eight days, they need to find the guile and craft to secure results with a little more ease. Because no side can survive the kind of intense displays this outfit have been churning out week in, week out when asked to do so day in, day out. This is the week in which Moyes' squad will be stretched to the limit. You know they will defy expectations - because they have been doing that all season. But the volume of games on the horizon and the small number of players available has provided a timely reminder of exactly how important Moyes' new transfer funds are to the prospect of this six month run being turned into the norm for years to come. The money certainly couldn't be in better hands. Moyes's transfer record is exemplary. And that has been on a tight budget. Yesterday was the prime example. Both goals were netted by the only two players drafted into the senior squad in the summer - Tim Cahill and Marcus Bent. The duo couldn't have picked a better time in which to bring their respective goal droughts to an end. Cahill's stretched back 13 games, Bent's nine. But they found the target with two headers which produced a victory which seemed inevitable early on.
The Blues started at breakneck pace, could have been two up after five minutes and then slipped into a sloppy lethargy for 20 minutes. It was Cahill who brought that period to an end. The Aussie international is magnificent in the air. Despite standing at little over 5ft 10ins tall, he can leap and hang in the air as well as Andy Gray in his pomp. Which is why it is staggering that he went into the festive period having failed to find the target for three months. It certainly hadn't been down to a lack of opportunities. Liverpool, Newcastle and Bolton have all been thankful in recent weeks for some miscued headers from the Aussie international. But having opened his Everton account against City with the shirt-celebration goal back in September, it was apt that he rediscovered his eye with a well-timed near post header here. That effort was nodded in from a Thomas Gravesen free-kick in the 23rd minute. And it should have been followed by more, with Steve Watson twice denied by David James and Bent tantalisingly close to breaking through on a couple more occasions.
It was a period of domination the home side had earned, with Gravesen and Bent leading from the front - hunting down the ball like a gran sniffing out the last piece of Chocolate Orange on Christmas Day. The City defence were flustered, while in midfield they were being out-muscled by the likes of Lee Carsley, Kevin Kilbane and Watson. Only Shaun Wright-Phillips seemed to possess the composure to secure the visitors some respite by maintaining a grip on possession and posing a threat as an attacking force. And it was his running which meant the three-pronged attack of Jon Macken, Nicolas Anelka and Fowler were not left stranded. Nevertheless, it was something of a surprise three minutes from the break when Robbie Fowler got his head on to Macken's centre to score after both Wright-Phillips and Anelka had seen efforts blocked. It was Fowler's headed goal which ensured the Blues did not go in at half-time ahead for only the fifth time in 38 Goodison matches. He took great pleasure in antagonising the Goodison faithful, sprinting along the touch-line smacking his head with delight. It was an over-the-top celebration which justifiably earned the former Red a booking. But, thankfully, it was the home side who enjoyed the last laugh. And the fans made sure he realised it. Normal service was resumed 20 minutes later. And it was the magnificent Gravesen who turned provider once again. A Tony Hibbert cross was half-cleared straight to the Dane on the edge of the area. Most players would have drilled in a shot. Everton's number 16 opted to produce a deft chip, wrong-footing the defence and teeing up Bent beautifully for a close range effort. Clearly City were unhappy at being outmuscled. And in the closing 30 minutes they tried to even out the balance by producing a string of reckless and dangerous fouls.
Danny Mills was lucky to only receive a yellow for a two-footed challenge on Watson. But it was substitute Christian Negouai who really earned the abuse of the crowd. A horrific challenge over the top of the ball on Bent less than two minutes after entering the fray led to a straight red. Thankfully Bent, who has been so influential and so important, was able to play on after receiving treatment. But the sight of him hobbling off to be replaced by James McFadden seconds before the end was not a welcome one. It makes him a major doubt for tomorrow's game at Charlton. But I fear that could be a common problem in this toughest of weeks.
EVERTON (4-5-1): Martyn; Hibbert, Weir, Stubbs, Pistone; Watson (Ferguson, 72), Gravesen (Yobo, 81), Carsley, Cahill, Kilbane; Bent. Subs: Wright, McFadden, Naysmith.
BOOKING: Gravesen (dissent)
MAN CITY (4-3-3): James; Mills (Onuoha, 81), Dunne, Distin, Jordan; Wright-Phillips, Bosvelt, Sibierski; Anelka, Macken (Negouai, 81), Fowler. Subs: Waterreus, Barton, Flood.
BOOKINGS: Fowler (ungentlemanly conduct), Mills (foul).
SENDING-OFF: Negouai (serious foul play)
REFEREE: Phil Dowd
ATT: 40,530
NEXT GAME: Charlton v Everton, Premiership, tomorrow, 3pm

New Year treats on the horizon
Dec 27 2004 Analysis by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
SO that's two parties down, one to follow on Friday . . . and who knows what celebrations lie in store next May? The season may be halfway through, but Everton's cup is over-flowing. The Blues followed the Christmas bash by staging their annual staying up party - three months earlier than last season's, five days before the end of the year and with the season exactly at the halfway point. And a lively, spiky, occasionally fractious 2-1 defeat of Manchester City, coupled with the 37 points already garnered before Boxing Day, has now given the Blues the security to push on to all manner of unexpected treats in the New Year. Top ten? UEFA Cup? Maybe even the incredible dream of the Champions League? Who knows? That is all in the future. The present shows Everton clear in third, eight points clear of fifth placed Middlesbrough, and still grinding out results as if their lives depended on it. Until Marcus Bent's 62nd minute winner, this game was in the balance. But if the end result was unpredictable until that point, some things in life are nailed-on certainties.

Like Santa taking one nibble out of the mince pie left out for him - but drinking all the scotch - Robbie Fowler scoring on Boxing Day, and an Everton-Manchester City clash throwing up a goal celebration controversy. Tim Cahill kept his shirt on this time after ending a 13-match scoring drought, but Robbie Fowler couldn't keep his emotional after-burner under control. For the fourth year in succession the man Goodison loves to hate scored the day after Christmas. And not for the first time he found himself in hot water. An elaborately constructed goal celebration in April 1999 wasn't punished by referee David Elleray. Yesterday Fowler raced half-the-length of the Gwladys Street and almost the full stretch of Bullens Road, smacking his head furiously. It was Manchester City's first headed goal of the season, you see. But contained in those manic gestures was a career's worth of taunting, abuse and villification from Everton fans. He was booked - and guaranteed that the abuse volume control was twisted up from snooze-level to window-shaking levels for the rest of the afternoon. Fortunately for Everton, Fowler's 42nd minute bullet-header made little difference to the game's eventual outcome - thanks to Thomas Graves-en's cool head. Now there's a phrase you don't often hear. One of the more infuriating aspects of Gravesen's game is his refusal to take the obvious option . . . why do something simple when you can try the much harder alternative?
But it was just that bloody-mindedness which brought about Everton's hard-earned victory. Tony Hibbert charged aggressively down the right, but produced a disappointing cross. Even more disappointing for City was the half-clearance which found Gravesen about 15 yards from goal.
With the massed banks of the Gwladys Street screaming for a piledriver, Gravesen teed the ball up, and dinked it ever so delicately into the six yard box for Marcus Bent to end his own personal goalscoring drought with a firm header. After that City self-destructed with a series of reckless and silly challenges. They remain the Premiership's great inconsistents. Capable of beating Chelsea - still the only domestic team to achieve that feat this season - they are equally as likely to lose at home to Arsenal reserves. But if this wasn't exactly a must-win match for Everton, with two difficult away games looming it was certainly a could-do with winning match. They did so, and ended a barren run for Tim Cahill in the process. The little Australian has been unnecessarily hard on himself in recent weeks. His contribution to Everton has been more than just expertly poached goals from midfield - but after failing to score since the trip to Portsmouth back in September - his drought appeared to be weighing heavily on his shoulders. The spring in his step was back and the confidence was there for all to see - like the way Everton have been playing all season, and there's no sign of it disappearing just yet.

Blues have abroad appeal - Pistone
Dec 27 2004 By Scott McLeod, Liverpool Echo
TALK of Europe may have been avoided in the Goodison dressing room. But on the continent, talk of Everton is rife. The Blues' astonishing opening half of the season, culminating with the Boxing Day victory over Manchester City, has helped David Moyes' men consolidate their grip on third spot - extending the gap over the sides outside the Champions League places to eight points. It is a run which has caught the attention of Europe's journalists, as the club's foreign players learned last week. Ahead of the hectic festive fixture schedule, David Moyes allowed the likes of Alessandro Pistone, Thomas Gravesen and Joseph Yobo the opportunity to return to their families abroad to celebrate Christmas. The club's Italian left-back was surprised by the attention he and Everton have been receiving in his native country. "Many people came to me in Italy and congratulated me on how well we are doing," explains Pistone.. "I have many friends who were talking to me about it, but even journalists were calling me and asking me about what we are doing. "Everybody wants to know the secret because it was not expected. "But it is great for everybody because the fans who live in this city deserve that. "What we are doing has taken people by surprise and that has brought us the attention. That can only be good for the club and the players." Pistone's part in that success is significant. Prior to this season the accomplished defender had gained a reputation for being injury-prone. But this season he has played some part in every single match, coming on as a sub on the two occasions he was replaced in the lineup by Gary Naysmith. Only Tony Hibbert has played more football in an Everton shirt this season. It is his longest ever run of consecutive games in English football. "This is the best opening to a season I have ever had," he admits. "Even in the two seasons I was with Inter before going to Newcastle we had to recover after poor starts. "It is a great feeling to have started so well and kept it going. It is something that is new to a lot of us but we are enjoying it. "We all want it to keep going. And that is bringing the best out of everybody, even the players who are not in the side. They want to prove they are ready because they want to be a part of it."
And that is one of the reasons why the Blues' high-intensity approach to games is not diminishing.
Had the players taken their foot off the pedal, then Sunday's victory over Manchester City could have turned out very differently. Kevin Keegan's side arrived at Goodison intent on making amends for their 1-0 defeat to the Blues earlier in the season. It is something Pistone believes Everton are going to have to get used to, with Charlton the last of the other 19 clubs in the top flight Moyes' men have not yet faced.. "It is definitely going to be tougher from now on because everybody wants to prove themselves against us," adds the defender.. "But it will also be harder for us mentally after what we have achieved in the first-half of the season. "This is one of the most important periods of the season because the games are coming so fast. "We have to do our best. We do not have a big squad but we will stick together and do as best we can. "It is a tough schedule this year because we have four games rather than the usual three. But we are enjoying it because we are looking forward to every game." That mentality has served the Blues well - and has helped them catch the attention of football fans beyond the Premiership.

Spending power
Dec 27 2004 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
KEVIN KEEGAN believes Everton's bank balance could be the key to them sustaining their magnificent form into the second half of the season. But he has warned David Moyes (right) he must avoid the Asprilla Factor! Keegan watched Everton grind out a 2-1 victory over his Manchester City side at Goodison Park yesterday, then said: "I was more impressed with them at our place. But the great thing for Evertonians at the moment is they have money to spend. "That's what will really help them. With this squad, and the number of players David's got at the moment, I don't think they can sustain it because they will get an injury to a key player and they will get a suspension. "But if he has got, as has been reported, £10m to spend, that's worth £20-25m in yesterday's market. "He can go and get the sort of players he thinks can keep them looking up, because there are some good teams up there with stronger squads than Everton, without being unkind. "Everton are in a great position and if they buy correctly there's no reason why they can not only sustain it, but go beyond that.
"But if they buy and it's wrong, it could be the end of it. I got that label at Newcastle when I bought Asprilla. He played well for me, but people say he cost us the league!" Keegan also defended striker Robbie Fowler, after he was booked for an over- zealous goal celebration. Fowler raced half-the-length of the field, smacking his head in response to crowd provocation, following his 42nd minute equaliser. But Keegan responded: "He got his goal which he enjoyed, but 50 years ago players scored and just walked back. You almost deserve a booking for that. "If you have no emotion, if you don't enjoy scoring goals what's the point? "The referee booked him for leaving the field. He never took his shirt off or anything like that. "They call him smack head here and he was smacking his head. "They give him stick, he scores and he gives it back. The sense of humour round these parts is that if you give it, you have to take it."

Moyes: Jeffers didn't get a chance
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Dec 28 2004
DAVID MOYES admits he is to blame for Francis Jeffers's failure to resurrect his career during his Everton homecoming last season. The Charlton striker had hoped to secure a permanent return to his boyhood club when he accepted a one-year loan move from Arsenal last August. But his return turned sour and after making only 18 appearances for the Goodison club his frustration erupted into a furious row with the Everton manager, who declined the option to sign him in a £3m deal.
Moyes, however, insists Jeffers was a victim of circumstance as his four main strikers - Wayne Rooney, Tomasz Radzinski, Duncan Ferguson and Kevin Campbell - remained fit and available throughout the campaign. And as he takes his third-placed team to The Valley this afternoon, Moyes accepted the 23 years-old's claim that he never received a fair chance to prove himself at Goodison Park. The Everton manager said: "I have to agree with Franny on that. It didn't work out because I didn't give Franny the opportunity to have a good run in the side. "There was a lot of competition for places in attack last season and it was down to me that Franny didn't get many games, although it was nothing personal against him. "I understand where he is coming from and the fact he feels he didn't get a chance at Everton, but I didn't give him the opportunity because of the amount of strikers we had available throughout last season. Wayne, Tomasz, Duncan and Kevin were all fit and so it was hard for Franny to get a decent run in the team. "I always felt that if he could get a good run in the team then the goals would start coming from him again and despite the fact he didn't get that run at Everton, I still believe that. The Everton manager, meanwhile, is still refusing to set his side targets for the rest of the season despite reaching the 40-point mark with Sunday's 2-1 victory. He said: "We are in a good position but all the managers who have been at the top say that you cannot tell how the season will shape up until the end of February or the beginning of March. "So I am not going to make predictions now. But we are looking to hold the position we are in now and build on it in the second part of the season."

Charlton 2, Everton 0 (D,Post)
Dec 29 2004 By David Prior at The Valley, Daily Post
SET-PIECE fragility, a Duncan Ferguson elbow: talk about the ghosts of Christmas past. Everton's miracle season saw out 2004 with a performance that contained too many bad memories for David Moyes to welcome in the new year with as much enthusiasm as he had perhaps been expecting.
Just as the favourable comparisons with a year ago were being prepared, so his side slipped back into old ways, contriving to gift Charlton two set-piece goals as their defensive solidity - as responsible as anything else for their incredible success this campaign - suddenly gave way.. Seen in perspective, as Moyes was eager to remind afterwards, this defeat which ended Everton's seven-match unbeaten run was merely a blip amid all the positives this season has thrown up so far. Even Ferguson's tiresome irresponsibility, while serving a reminder as to why his services will not be required beyond this season, should not hurt even Moyes's threadbare resources with the promise of new striking recruits imminent. Of much more immediate concern to the manager will be the lengthy spell on the sidelines that Nigel Martyn must endure after the goalkeeper was forced off with a calf injury at the Valley yesterday. Six weeks was last night's estimate after doctors had seen the 38-year-old soon after he limped off moments before half-time, and suddenly Moyes may have to consider adding goalkeeping cover to his shopping list next month. At least Richard Wright can finally haul himself out of the doldrums. All in, it was a dispiriting way for the year to end. What made the defeat even more galling was the fact they were beaten by a side effectievly playing them at their own game. Indeed Alan Curbishley afterwards admitted how he had decided to employ the 4-5-1 formation fairly recently having witnessed the success with which David Moyes had enjoyed with it since August. Charlton's display also confirmed that sides are learning how to deal more effectively with Everton. Having been lucky to escape with a goalless draw at Ewood Park last week, courtesy of Blackburn tactics that sucked all the creativity out of the Merseysiders, yesterday Everton were similarly deprived of attacking invention - and this time there was to be no escape with a point. Rightly, Moyes was keeping his eye on the whole picture afterwards, and again jumping on any suggestion that here was an indication of any bursting bubbles. "It is a shock when Everton lose now, isn't it?" he said.. "In the overall picture, it is a blip and we will get ready for the next one. Do you not think we are a breath of fresh air to even be challenging with the big boys?
"We should be encouraging teams to try and break the mould that you have to have billions to spend to be successful. Nearly everybody had us down for relegation, so we are going to try and do the next bit, which is stay there as long as we can. "We have not said we will do, but we think we have got a decent chance. We have only lost four all season, only twice away from home, we have 40 points before the new year and a similar response to that during the second half will be fine."
But there does linger some concern over Everton's away form. Coupled with the goalless draw at Ewood Park, Moyes' men have now offered up two completely uninspiring performances on the road. Everton's last foray away from home had seen them truly under-perform for perhaps the first time this season, resulting in a deathly dour game, and the first 45 minutes at the Valley did not suggest we were in for too much more excitement yesterday. With both sides' 4-5-1 set-ups creating a congestion that mirrored the motorways on this last day of the festive holiday, chances were scarce for both sides. Marcus Bent came by far the closest on either side to breaking the deadlock, connecting on to a stray pass in the 14th minute, dancing through two tackles and unloading a 25-yard shot that Dean Kiely needed fingertips to turn round the post. Steve Watson's stomach bug ensured a rare outing this season for Joseph Yobo, who slotted in midfield and inevitably ensured there was even more of a defensive look to Moyes' side.. Even more of a collector's item this term came moments before half-time, when Richard Wright replaced a limping Martyn. The latter's form has meant the former England international has had to bide his time amid a smattering of reserve games - indeed this was his first Premiership appearance this season - but this was just the kind of opportunity Moyes has told Wright to expect. The rousing welcome he received when filling in between the posts suggests Evertonians retain considerable confidence in the current number two. Given the post-match news, now is Wright's chance. The home fans' audible frustration was earned by a distinctly unambitious approach, particularly during the first half, which saw them reduced to a half-volley from Jonathan Fortune as perhaps their best opening.
Since a 4-0 home defeat by Chelsea last month, Alan Curbishley's mean have tightened up and were defending a four-match unbeaten run going into this game. They did brighten up immediately after the interval, with Jerome Thomas slicing a good opportunity wildly into the crowd, but they - as with so many of Everton's opponents this season - were finding little joy with the visiting back four.
With Alan Stubbs and David Weir again largely immoveable, and Tony Hibbert and Alessandro Pistone sweeping up on the flanks, Everton were once again demonstrating that they possess a back four that befits a side currently fourth in the table. At the other end of the pitch, Everton were however enjoying even less possession than in the first half, at least until Thomas Gravesen's 67th-minute corner provoked the game's most controversial incident up to then. Tim Cahill missed his flick-on, but the ball continued into the six-yard box where it appeared to be clearly handled by Hermann Hreidarsson. Still the ball only needed a toe poke to find the back of the net, but somehow Charlton managed to clear through Matt Holland, with again the suspicion of an arm used. Moyes for once was in no doubt, charging down the touchline to lambast the assistant referee who he claimed should have spotted at least one infringement. The game swept straight back up the other end as Charlton continued to up the pace, and after Lee Carsley's unfortunate miskick had allowed Holland to thread through Shaun Bartlett, Wright was forced into an excellent stop, although in truth the South African had left his shot too late. It was, however, a further sign of what was to come. Few, though, could have anticipated that such a tepid game would end in such incident, and ultimately disappointment for Everton. Perhaps even more surprising was that the goal originated from Stubbs's failure to clear successfully. His two miscued swipes handed Charlton a corner that Everton could clear only as far as Paul Konchesky, who chipped the ball back in for Talal El Karkouri to head into the bottom corner of the net. Disappointment then turned quickly to dismay for the visitors as Ferguson, who had only been on the pitch for 10 minutes, delivered a blatant and wholly unnecessary elbow to the face of Hreidarsson to receive his seventh red card as an Everton player. Even though the Charlton midfielder was standing closely behind the Scot at the time, there was little doubt that he had been guilty at best of recklessness, at worst of deliberate use of the kind of act that is most derided in football. Moreover, Hreidarsson was to have the last laugh, as Danny Murphy's corner was headed out only as far as the Icelander, who sneaked in a low shot at the near post. A bad day for Everton, then, but at the end of it all, what a year. Let's just hope 2005 can bring the true rewards.
CHARLTON (4-5-1): Kiely; Young, El Karkouri, Fortune, Thomas (Euell 70); Rommedahl (Konchesky 79), Murphy, Kishishev, Holland, Hreidarsson; Bartlett. Subs: Andersen, Hughes, Johansson.
EVERTON (4-5-1): Martyn (Wright 44); Hibbert, Weir, Stubbs, Pistone; Cahill, Yobo (McFadden 86), Carsley, Gravesen, Kilbane; Bent (Ferguson 74). Subs: Campbell, Naysmith.
SENDING OFF: Ferguson (violent conduct).
ATT: 27,001
NEXT GAME: Tottenham Hotspur v Everton, Premiership, Saturday 3pm

Martyn injury misery caps capital calamity
By David Prior, Daily Post
Dec 29 2004
DAVID MOYES believed Everton should have been awarded at least one penalty before Charlton's goals yesterday as a long-term injury to Nigel Martyn further marred a disappointing Bank Holiday in London. Everton went down to two late goals from Talal El Karkouri and Hermann Hreidarsson and saw their afternoon further clouded by a straight red card awarded to Duncan Ferguson.
Referee Mike Riley had no hesitation in dismissing the Scot - who had been on the pitch for just 10 minutes - following a blatant elbow on Hreidarsson in between the Addicks' goals.. Moyes was saying little about the distateful incident afterwards - the seventh time Ferguson has been red-carded in his Goodison career - and means the striker will miss games against Tottenham, Portsmouth and the FA Cup third round clash against Plymouth. But of more concern to Moyes will be the calf injury that rules goalkeeper Martyn out for six weeks, the 38-year-old having been replaced by Richard Wright shortly before half-time yesterday. Moyes was also aggrieved that Everton were not awarded a 67th-minute penalty when Thomas Gravesen's corner led to a goal-mouth scramble during which Kevin Kilbane was pushed and at least one Charlton player appeared to handle the ball. "It was a definite handball and also a push on Kevin Kilbane," he said.
Moyes continued: "It was nothing-each at the time, and we didn't get the penalty-kick which could have made it 1-0. That is sometimes the difference between winning and losing sometimes, and that was the one today." On the sending-off, Moyes would only say: "It was a sending off, that's it. I will do what I have to do. I am not going to elaborate on it." Moyes added: "We did okay before they scored the first goal, and I thought it was going to be a draw. It was disappointing because we wanted the three points. "We would have liked to have created more, but I don't think either side created many. Both teams played very similar." Meanwhile, Martyn looks set to be sidelined for Everton's entire January fixture list. Martyn has returned to Merseyside with the rest of the Everton squad and will undergo a scan within the next 48 hours to determine the full extent of the problem.
Head physio Mick Rathbone said: "Nigel has strained his calf muscle and it looks relatively serious and it may mean him missing maybe several weeks."

Substitutes changed game - Curbishley
By David Prior Daily Post Staff
Dec 29 2004
CHARLTON Athletic manager Alan Curbishley hailed the role of his substitutes in ending Everton's seven-match unbeaten run at the Valley yesterday afternoon. Both sides' 4-5-1 formation had produced a stalemate in the first half but Curbishley feels the fresh legs of Jason Euell and Paul Konchesky helped up the tempo to allow the Addicks to secure a 2-0 victory in the second half.
"The two substitutes livened it up a bit, which is what we were hoping for. They've both been training like Trojans to be fair, waiting for their chance," said Curbishley. "The players that are out at the moment aren't very happy, but we had 18 fit players today with Graham Stuart and Mark Fish on top of the squad of 16. "When you have a small squad like we do it keeps everyone involved. I felt we needed to up the tempo at half-time. The game was a bit lethargic in the first half because we were both playing the same sort of shape. "It was always going to be a hard-fought match.
"Everton haven't let many goals in this season and I knew that whoever would score first would win the game - that's how it turned out." Charlton are now up back up to seventh in the Barclays Premiership after defenders Talal El Kakouri and Hermann Hreidarsson scored within three minutes of each other late on in the match, and the Valley manager has now set his sights on staying in the top 10. "I felt that this was going to be a big game for us because if we could get something from it, we could start looking upwards rather than downwards," said Curbishley. "We needed to get a win from either this game or the Southampton game, and I was disappointed not to get three points at St Mary's. "We haven't done too well against the big teams so far this season, so this result will give us a big lift going into the Arsenal game on New Year's Day." Former Everton striker Francis Jeffers was not in the Addicks squad with joint top scorer Jonaton Johansson taking his place on the bench.
Jeffers has been sidelined for a fortnight with a toe injury that will deny him the chance to face another of his former clubs when Arsenal visit on Saturday. Curbishley explained: "Jeffers has been training with in-growing toenails and they got too sore at Southampton so he had them operated on yesterday. We knew he'd be out for two weeks and we were hopeful that he could hold out, but he had to have it done so he'll be out for the Arsenal game." Everton, meanwhile, will check on the fitness of midfield duo Steve Watson and Leon Osman today to determine whether they will be fit for Saturday's trip to White Hart Lane.

Title challenge is losing its steam
By Miles Shackley Everton supporter, Daily Post
Dec 29 2004
WE might have to wait another season for the league title, chaps. Everton's relative success so far this season has been built on a backbone of doing the simple things well, concentrating for 90 minutes and remaining professional at all times. We fell short on all three counts at Charlton and paid the price. Everton started well, prompted by Thomas Gravesen's intelligent use of just about every bit of his body. You don't often see players fend off challenges with their backsides, but Gravesen makes it look very easy; hope for those of us feeling a little bottom-heavy after the Christmas period. But as Gravesen's influence began to wane, so too did the chances of an Everton breakthrough. A fine effort from Bent in the first half and a goalmouth scramble in the second would be the sparse-looking summary sheet of acceptable opportunities for Everton. This was in the face of a Charlton side who misplaced passes, fell over when defending and looked unsure about themselves whenever Bent ran a bit. Alan Stubbs has to shoulder some of the blame for the first goal after his comedy flapping at a relatively innocuous ball conceded the corner from which we eventually conceded. Any chance of a recovery disappeared when Ferguson was sent off for pure idiocy. Again. If I had my way, he wouldn't have been allowed to stop walking once he reached the changing room. That sort of behaviour is simply not acceptable, but he doesn't seem to learn. Time, please. To err is human. To make the same mistake repeatedly is just plain infuriating. More points soon, team.

Redknapp: Beattie is on his way
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Dec 29 2004
HARRY REDKNAPP last night confirmed James Beattie wants to leave Southampton after three Premier-ship clubs made offers for the £6million-rated striker. The former England striker (right) was left out of the 1-0 defeat at Liverpool with new Saints manager Redknapp insisting he wants to "do some business" as soon as possible. Redknapp admitted three clubs - believed to be Everton, Aston Villa and Newcastle - have all declared an interest and have made bids. Beattie's move could be done as soon as the weekend with Redknapp claiming he needs money to bolster Southampton's squad as they battle against relegation. Redknapp said: "I have several clubs interested in James. I had chat with him today and we put our cards on the table and I asked him what he wanted to do.
"He said that he likes it at Southampton, but if the opportunity was there for him to go then he would like to move on. "I understand that and, from my point of view, if we get enough money for him it gives me the chance to strengthen the team in maybe three or four positions, which is important, and I need to do if we are to stay up. "We have had offers and there are three clubs interested in him. "They are decent offers, good money, and it gives me the chance to strengthen the team up all round. If I can get four players in, it is better than relying on just one. "I need to get the business done very early. I can't leave it until the middle of January because it is not going to be easy because I haven't got too many targets. "It is not easy to find players and for clubs to let them go. Who is going to release players at this stage of the season? Big clubs like Chelsea are not going to release players at this stage. "I left Beattie out because I did not want to run the risk of him getting injured and when I had my chat with him I just felt that if he is going to to go it needs to be done by January 1. "It wasn't worth the risk, we need to do some business and get some money in as soon as we can so that we can find a couple of players. "Three clubs have rung us and made offers, I am sure that my chairman will now deal with that. We will accept offers and he will be able to talk to who he wants." Redknapp's side battled hard against Liverpool at Anfield yesterday but lost 1-0. Redknapp added: "They did okay, I felt we were always in the game and with a patched up team we did well.
"But we are in a relegation battle, there is no doubt about that."

Charlton 2, Everton 0 (Echo)
Dec 29 2004 By Scott McLeod at The Valley, Liverpool Echo
AND so the second half of the season has started just as the first did - with Everton tasting defeat at the hands of opposition from the capital. But this was in very different circumstances. On the opening day against Arsenal the Blues were out-classed. That was far from the case at The Valley.
The only Everton player guilty of letting down the fans - and the team-mates who have made this such a thrilling campaign - was Duncan Ferguson.. When the big Scot's power and presence was required in Everton's front-line as they battled to get back on level terms after Talal El Karkouri's late opener, he instead chose to focus his muscle in a manner which is sadly all too familiar.
The elbow he rattled into Hermann Hreidarsson's face right in front of the fourth official and yards from referee Mike Riley ensured there could be only one outcome. In that moment he didn't only tarnish what had been an otherwise outstanding professional performance, he also undermined the Blues' hopes of coming out of this hectic festive schedule with a haul of points befitting their status as one of the top flight's finest sides this season. David Moyes deserves more. Everton's players deserve more. And the club's fans who have idolised him so intently for more than a decade definitely deserve more. Within seconds of his departure, Hreidarsson rubbed salt into the wound by half-volleying the goal which confirmed the result. With Ferguson's departure surely just six months away, Moyes should set about adding an attacking talisman to his ranks capable of matching Ferguson for presence but not for misplaced braun. Is that man James Beattie? On the day Southampton were reported to have received a £6.5m bid for Beattie from Aston Villa the Blues endured a result which suggests maybe the Midlands would be a more suitable destination for the hitman. But if he gets hold of a video of this contest Beattie will realise the form which has made Everton such an attractive prospect has not disappeared. Charlton came into this game on impressive form, having recovered from a woeful opening three months. But they couldn't get the better of an Everton side which has forgotten how to lose throughout an enthralling but uneventful opening 82 minutes. And then a decent cross from Paul Konchesky and a header from Karkouri broke the deadlock and, for the first time this season, Everton were undone in the latter stages of a contest. Normally, it is they who are doing the undoing. But maybe this game came too soon after the hard-fought victory over Manchester City. Because prior to Karkouri's goal they had been more than a match for their hosts. They are a side which is now playing with the composure of an outfit which knows it has the ability to remain with the big boys until the end of the season. There has been a settled side because they have been consistently good. Indeed, if Beattie, or any other potential new arrival, think they will walk straight into this Everton side they will be disappointed.
The players who have produced the goods so consistently will take some budging. Just ask Joseph Yobo. The Nigerian international is undoubtedly one of the finest defensive talents in the English game. But he has been unable to demonstrate his class on more than a handful occasions this season, thanks to the form of Alan Stubbs and David Weir. He was finally given an opportunity yesterday. But it was as a defensive midfielder, with Steve Watson and Leon Osman absent through injury. As you would expect of a player of his calibre, he fitted in without any fuss. And did his job effectively. As did all his team-mates. In the opening 15 minutes of what was an uneventful first half, Charlton were guilty of five unforced errors - relinquishing possession because of sloppy passes or misunderstandings. During the same period, Everton didn't make one error. And it is that level of consistency and efficiency which simply wears down opposition sides. But on this occasion, the high intensity approach which provides such rewards took its toll on the Blues. The one problem for the Blues was an inability to turn possession into a decent return of goal- scoring opportunities. That was partly down to some decent defending from the home side. But the absence of Osman also had an impact. With Yobo and Carsley patrolling deep in midfield, it was left to Thomas Gravesen to provide a creative cutting edge, with Tim Cahill stranded out wide and not enjoying one of his best afternoons. The Dane, who has discovered far greater consistency this term, was his usual effervescent self. But the close attention he was receiving meant he had little chance to hurt the Addicks. As a result, the only chance from the opening 45 minutes came courtesy of a misplaced pass by Jonathan Fortune. Marcus Bent was inches from producing the most emphatic punishment imaginable, gaining possession, skipping two tackles and then unleashing an early shot from 22 yards which Dean Kiely did well to finger-tip around the base of his left-hand post. That was the closest either of the keepers came to the action in the opening period - although Nigel Martyn was given a standing ovation from the travelling faithful when he had to withdraw from the action with an ankle injury two minutes before the interval, allowing Wright to make his first Premier-ship appearance of the season. He had more to do than his more experienced team-mate after the interval, with the home side upping the tempo in a bid to break down a defence which arrived in London having only conceded 15 goals in the opening half of the campaign. But he wasn't called upon to make a save until the 68th minute when he plucked a Radostin Kishishev effort from 30 yards out of the air. Moments earlier the Evertonians inside The Valley had been up in arms when a Gravesen corner had cannoned off the chest of Matt Holland inside the six yard box. Moyes sprinted down the touchline to remonstrate with the linesman, not because he believed the ball had crossed thel ine but because Holland had handled the ball and Kevin Kilbane was then bundled over in the melee. The officials ignored the protests and Everton's best hope of success was gone. But this result should be taken in context. The Blues have three days to recharge their batteries now. Ferguson has a couple of weeks. Ideally, that time would give him chance to realise how costly his moments of mad-ness are for Everton. But by the time he has completed his ban he could find that a new arrival has made him surplus to requirements.
CHARLTON (4-5-1): Kiely; Young, Fortune, El Karkouri, Hreidarsson; Rommedahl (Konchesky 79), Holland, Murphy, Kishishev, Thomas (Euell 69); Bartlett. Not used: Andersen, Hughes, Johansson.
EVERTON (4-5-1): Martyn (Wright 44); Hibbert, Weir, Stubbs, Pistone; Cahill, Yobo (McFadden 84), Carsley, Gravesen, Kilbane; Bent (Ferguson 71). Not used: Campbell, Naysmith.
REFEREE: Mike Riley
SENT OFF: Ferguson 83

Blues' record bid for Beattie
Dec 29 2004 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON have bid to make James Beattie their record signing. But the Blues will not become embroiled in a bidding war for the 26-year-old centre-forward . We can reveal that the Blues are one of three clubs - Aston Villa and Newcastle the others - who have offered around £6m for the Saints' star. That would top Everton's eight-year old record transfer fee of £5.75m - spent on Nick Barmby in 1996, but the Blues have set a limit on how far they will go to land Beattie. David Moyes has been encouraged by reports that Beattie would prefer a move back to his native north west, but he has other targets in mind if Southampton try to push the price up. Saints' boss Harry Redknapp, however, indicated yesterday he wanted a quick sale. Redknapp left Beattie out of his starting line-up for yesterday's 1-0 defeat at Anfield and said: "Three clubs have made offers for James. "It's down to the chairman to deal with it now. But it's important it is all done early. It is no good to me if this drags on until mid-January because I need to get players in. "With the money we get for the lad I will be able to go out and bring in three or four new faces which we need, because we are in a relegation fight. "I had a chat with James before the Liverpool game and we both put our cards on the table. I understand his situation. He wants to move on if the opportunity arises. As far as I know they are all decent offers." Moyes wants to add to his squad, after Duncan Ferguson recklessly landed himself a three-match ban with a needless red-card at Charlton yesterday and goalkeeper Nigel Martyn was ruled out for six weeks with a calf injury. The 38-year-old hobbled out of the action moments before half-time of yesterday's 2-0 defeat at Charlton. He will be missing until the middle of February, giving Richard Wright an opportunity to stake his claim for a permanent return as the Blues' number one. David Moyes said: "Nigel hurt his calf in the warm-up but then aggravated it further when he was running to gather the ball late in the first half." Martyn is not set to be available again until the home clash with Chelsea in mid-February.

Moyes refuses to excuse Dunc rage
Dec 29 2004 By Scott McLeod, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES refused to defend Duncan Ferguson after the striker was sent off for the seventh time in his Goodison career. Ferguson was shown a straight red card by referee Mike Riley after elbowing Hermann Hreidarsson in the face six minutes from the end of Everton's 2-0 defeat at Charlton.
His dismissal came minutes after Talal El Karkouri had given the home side the lead, with Hreidarsson dusting himself off to grab the second four minutes from time. Ferguson will now miss the Blues' next three games, beginning with Saturday's trip to Tottenham and followed by next week's home game against Portsmouth and the FA Cup third round tie at Plymouth. When asked about the incident, Moyes would say no more than: "It was a sending off. That is it. "And I will do what I have to." Ferguson is now expected to receive a club fine for the incident. And his hopes of extending his stay at Goodison on reduced terms beyond this season are now doomed. But Moyes was more willing to talk about the refereeing decision he believed wasn't correct. The Everton boss was angered by Riley's failure to award a penalty midway through the second half for a hand-ball by Matt Holland. He added: "There were two penalties. There was a definite handball but then there was a push on Kevin Kilbane. "There were no chances in the game and an incident like that can mean the difference between winning and losing. "But that result should be put into context. We should be praising my players for doing so well in our 20 games so far. "In the overall picture it is a blip and that is what I have told the players. "We are a breath of fresh air even to be challenging with the big boys. "We should be encouraging teams to try and break the mould of spending millions to be successful. "We will try and stay where we are for as long as we can, but we haven't said we will, although I think we have got a decent chance." The 2-0 reverse was only Everton's fourth defeat of the season - their second away from home. Charlton boss Alan Curbishley has backed Everton to break up the monopoly at the top of the Premiership. He said: "We flirted with doing it last year and couldn't make it, but I think it would be nice to come into a Premier League season knowing the Champions League places will not be taken by Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool in any particular order. "Everton are in there now and have done very well, but it is a long second half of the season. "It would be nice for somebody to break the monopoly because predictability in the Premiership could become a problem."

Moyes hopes European dream can tempt Beattie
By David Prior, Daily Post
Dec 30 2004
EVERTON hope the increased likelihood of European football at Goodison next season will persuade James Beattie to choose the Merseysiders ahead of Aston Villa. Although neither Everton nor Villa would last night confirm they had lodged an official bid, it appears they are leading the chase for the Southampton striker's signature. Villa, currently languishing nine points outside the European places in 11th position, have reportedly placed a £6.25million for Beattie, who has several friends at Villa Park and was close to signing for the club last summer. The Midlanders are confident of securing 26-year-old Beattie, but Everton hope the strong chance their superb form this season will culminate in qualification for European competition will help convince Beattie that the next stage of his career will be better served by a return to his native North West. Chief executive Keith Wyness said yesterday that while Everton had an interest in Beattie, an official bid had yet to be tabled. Assuming a bid is made, Everton's eight-year-old transfer record of £5.75m - spent in signing Nicky Barmby in 1996 - will have to be broken.. Wyness also revealed that Everton are still waiting on ratification for the £12.8m investment from the Fortress Fund. Several regulatory panels are still to give the green light for the Brunei-based Fund, but Wyness claims the continuing delay should not cast doubt on the money finally coming through. "We're taking their assurances at face value," he said. Meanwhile, Duncan Ferguson will be fined two weeks' wages for his sending-off at Charlton on Tuesday. The Scot was given a straight red just 10 minutes after coming on as a 74th-minute substitute at the Valley when he elbowed Addicks midfielder Hermann Hreidarsson in the face.
Ferguson's latest indiscretion - the seventh dismissal of his Goodison career - has scotched any hope of a contract extension for the 33-year-old. The striker's lucrative deal runs out in the summer but his resurgence this season, which has seen him claim four goals despite just one Premiership start, had raised the possibility of a one-year extension.

Defeat will spur us on, says defiant defender
By Jim Van Wijk Daily Post Correspondent
Dec 30 2004
DAVID WEIR believes talk of Everton's demise will only spur them on to maintain a Champions League challenge. The 2-0 defeat at Charlton on Tuesday was their first since losing to Chelsea on November 6. It did, though, result in Everton being overtaken by Manchester United, albeit only on goal difference, and allowed Middlesbrough to close the gap to five points. Manager David Moyes preferred to concentrate on the positives last night, with the club going into 2005 in much better shape than anyone outside Goodison Park would have predicted. And it was a sentiment echoed by his central defender as they prepare for the New Year's Day clash with Tottenham. "I'm sure people are starting to write us off now and saying 'the bubble's burst' - but we have to prove them wrong," he said.. "We've felt that we've put in a lot of effort and we thought we deserved something at The Valley. "It was a disappointing end to a tight game. There didn't look as if there would be a lot in it.
"They sneaked a goal at a bad time for us, when it looked as though it was going to be a goalless draw. But Tottenham is the next game and that will be a really difficult game. It's all about how we react." Moyes heads to White Hart Lane without the services of first-choice keeper Nigel Martyn, who will miss a month with a calf strain picked up at The Valley. Richard Wright came on just before half-time and the former Arsenal stopper looks set for a warm welcome from the Spurs faithful.
Martyn will undergo a scan to determine the full extent of the problem, and Everton's head physio, Mick Rathbone, commented: "Nigel has strained his calf muscle and it looks relatively serious.
It may mean him missing maybe several weeks." Steve Watson (stomach muscle) and Leon Osman (knee) also face fitness tests, but Duncan Ferguson will definitely miss the next three matches after he was sent off for elbowing Charlton full-back Hermann Hreidarsson. With the transfer window fast approaching, Moyes admitted he would be in the market for a couple of new faces to freshen up his squad for the challenges ahead. "We will try and bring people in to add to who we have got," he reflected. "If we do, then hopefully they will be good characters - that is what everybody hopes for so we would be no different." The Everton manager, though, maintains he has every faith in his players. He said: "We have now played 20 games and the squad that we have got at the moment have done all right."

Gravesen's confident Everton's Premiership life begins at 40
Daily Post
Dec 30 2004
EVERTON midfielder Thomas Gravesen believes his team-mates can play with confidence now they have reached the 40-point mark in the Premiership. The 28-year-old Dane has played a vital role in his side's brilliant start to the season, and Everton finish 2004 in fourth place. With Wayne Rooney moving to Manchester United, David Moyes' side were tipped as relegation candidates. But they have been grinding out results and have reached the points benchmark to which all teams looking to beat the drop aspire. Beating Manchester City on Boxing Day all but ensured survival, although Everton now have far greater objectives, and Gravesen is confident of continued success in 2005 despite defeat at Charlton. "Everybody has dreams and we have dreams as well, but we are also realistic as well. We're taking one game at a time," he said.. "Against City we made sure that we couldn't go down, we're on 40 points, so every thing that comes now is a bonus. We can play on with no nerves, so it's all good. "We have constantly said this season that we want to change people's perceptions of Everton. We want them to start thinking about us positively. "We know what we are doing here and we know that this has been the best start to the season we've had for many years. We want to keep that going."

Everton break White Hart Lane hoodoo
By Philip J Redmond, Daily Post
Dec 30 2004
IN recent years, Everton have an appalling record at White Hart Lane. Indeed you have to go back to August 1985 to find our last victory at Tottenham. Since then, Everton have regularly played well but found it impossible to return with the three points. However, one game stands out when you discuss games at Spurs. In April 1985, Everton and Tottenham were joint top and according to the media, Spurs were about to win their third title. With the likes of Hoddle, Ardiles and Clive Allen Spurs had the stronger team, Everton were over-achieving and would surely overstretch themselves in their pursuit of the title, FA Cup and European Cup Winners Cup. Added to this was the fact that Spurs had had already walloped the Blues 4-1 on the opening day. Despite it being a midweek clash around 8,000 Evertonians travelled down, swelling the crowd to nearly 50,000. They were not disappointed. The breakthrough came early for the Blues when Paul Miller misjudged a massive Neville Southall clearance heading to Andy Gray who smashed home a first time shot. Then another lightning break and the goal which looked to seal Everton's first title for 15 years. Trevor Steven caught full-back Mark Bowen dawdling before rounding Ray Clemance to slot home. Tottenham's Graham Roberts halved Everton's lead with a booming 25-yard drive. before the moment that ultimately broke Spurs' hearts and arguably sealed the title for the Blues. With minutes left a cross found Mark Falco who powered his header in for what seemed a certain goal except for the intervention of Southall - then possibly the greatest keeper in the world. Southall's save has rightly gone down in Everton folklore. Let's hope somebody can do likewise this Saturday and break that 20-year hoodoo.

Moyes urges Wright to seize chance
Dec 30 2004 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES has urged Richard Wright to make it as hard as possible for Nigel Martyn to return to the Everton line-up. Wright is set for an extended run in the team after Martyn picked up a calf strain at Charlton on Tuesday which could rule him out for up to six weeks. Having spent much of 2004 on the substitutes' bench, Moyes has backed Wright to make the most of the opportunity - starting with the New Year's Day trip to Tottenham. "Richard is an excellent keeper and I have no problem at all putting him into the side," said Moyes. "This is a big chance for him after spending so long on the sidelines. He lost his place through injury to Nigel last season but he has worked hard in training and has been patient. "And goalkeeper is probably our strongest position at the club because of the quality of the players we have. Now Richard has got the chance to prove it.
"It is difficult when players have not played regular first-team football for a while and it does take a few games to adjust, even for goalkeepers. "But we train all our players hard to keep their eye in because, as we have told them, they will all get an opportunity at some stage. "They have to be ready and they have to be able to take the chance because if they don't they are unlikely to get a second and a third, thanks to the way so many of our players are performing. "Richard has got his chance now and we have faith in him." Martyn's injury is the latest in a growing list. The 38-year-old keeper was undergoing a scan on his calf today which was expected to confirm he will be out for between four and six weeks. He joins Steve Watson (stomach strain) and Leon Osman (knee) on the treatment table. But the Goodison chief, pictured above right, believes Martyn would still be available had Everton not been asked to play two games in the space of three days. "It is hard at this time of the year, and it is inevitable you pick up injuries," he continued.. "Nigel would not have strained his calf had he not been required to play twice in three days, I am sure of that."
Meanwhile, Everton have yet to receive a response from Southampton to their offer of £6m for James Beattie. The Blues are battling with Aston Villa and Newcastle for the striker's services.
However, Everton do not anticipate an outcome to the transfer saga until early next week.
The Bank Holiday means no player can be registered with the FA until January 4. Everton expect a conclusion to the battle for Beattie's services then, with Southampton keen to offload the player as quickly as possible. Meanwhile, David Moyes was set to meet Duncan Ferguson today, with the Scot facing the prospect of a two week club fine for his sending off at Charlton.

England beckons if Wright takes his chance - Moyes
Dec 31 2004 By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
DAVID MOYES has told Richard Wright he can propel himself back into Sven-Goran Eriksson's England plans if he capitalises on his sudden Everton recall. Wright has at least a month to reclaim his place as the Everton number one after Nigel Martyn tore a calf muscle in Tuesday's defeat at Charlton. And the Everton manager, who bought the 27-year-old for £3.5million from Arsenal two years ago, is convinced the keeper has the talent to revive his career with both club and country.
Wright won his last England cap in a friendly against Holland in 2002 but has made only three Carling Cup starts for Everton this season after losing his place to the outstanding Martyn. And Moyes - who remains confident of signing £6m James Beattie despite strong competition from Aston Villa - said: "Richard lost his place in the side through injury and because we had bought Nigel who took his opportunity when it came. Now Richard has to take his opportunity. "He will have a run of games in the team now and this could be the chance he needs to propel him back into the England squad. I am sure he can do that if he takes this chance. To me he is still one of the top three or four goalkeepers in the country. "He has been out for a long time and that has been difficult for him but Nigel's performances have given him no choice but to accept the situation. "Richard will have to play well to keep Nigel out of the team when he recovers as goalkeeper is the strongest position-we have at the club and I am confident he can do it." Moyes admits Wright will need time to readjust to Premiership football but insists his confidence has not been unduly affected by his lack of first-team action. The former Ipswich and Arsenal stopper will make his first league start of the season at Tottenham tomorrow, with youngster Iain Turner deputising on the bench. Moyes added: "Richard was the best available goalkeeper at the time we bought him but we couldn't wait for him to recover from injury and bringing-Nigel into the club has proved an excellent buy. But that's football, we want competition, and now he has his chance. There is no great pressure on him to prove himself, he is going to get a run of games until Nigel is fit whatever happens and only then we will see how he has done and assess the situation." Martyn, meanwhile, underwent a scan on his damaged calf yesterday. Everton are still awaiting confirmation of the results but anticipate a tear which will keep the 38-year-old sidelined for between four and six weeks.

Moyes sure Blues can halt their White Hart Lane jinx
Dec 31 2004 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON boss David Moyes has tipped his side to avoid their first back-to-back defeats of the season by ending the club's 20 year White Hart Lane hoodoo tomorrow. The Blues have not tasted victory in the league at Tottenham since August 1985. It is the longest uninterrupted run without an away win Everton are currently enduring against any top flight side. Moyes said: "We would like to get back on track. "We haven't lost back-to-back games this season and I hope that statistic is still there at the end of the season. It is good to get to Christmas time with that record because it is difficult in the Premier League to keep winning games. "Spurs has always been a hard place to go. But throughout this season before games people have been reminding us of poor records at various grounds and I think we have got rid of all of them. "So hopefully we can get rid of this record as well. "We played Spurs at Goodison earlier in the season and we were unfortunate to lose the game."
Everton are set to be boosted for the game by the return to the squad of Leon Osman. The 23-year-old midfielder has missed the last two games because of a knee injury. But he trained yesterday and has travelled with the squad to London today. Moyes admits he has been cautious with Osman.
He added: "We are hoping he will be ready to come back. We have treated the knee injury very conservatively because of the serious problems Leon has had with his knees in the past. "We are not willing to take any chances with him, which is why we have not included him in the last two matches." Osman's expected return means Steve Watson and Nigel Martyn are the only players on the injured list. Duncan Ferguson starts a three game ban tomorrow following his sending off at Charlton. The striker has been fined two week's wages.

December 2004