Everton 2, Leeds Utd 0 (D,Post)
Feb 3 2003 By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
IF LEEDS' suffering supporters were looking for any consolation from the new era of realism blowing like an ill wind through football, then at least they were in the right place on Saturday. When the demoralised visiting fans broke into a refrain of 'Sack the Board', it was like presenting the Evertonians with a favourite old record, so they happily joined the chorus with more relish than mere sarcasm would usually provide. Goodison Park has been home to more than its fair share of protests, cloak-and-dagger departures to Newcastle and crown jewel sales in recent years for the home fans not to empathise with the misery now gripping Elland Road. But there is little room for charity in Premiership football and with Leeds spending more money in 18 months than Everton have seen in a decade, Goodison was a place where Peter Ridsdale was never going to receive sympathy, only valuable lessons. Thanks to the lavish gamble for Champions League gold, the board of Leeds put their Goodison counterparts on a par with Athina Roussel - the grand-daughter and sole heir of Aristotle Onassis - in terms of financial security, even if an extra £200,000 for Colin Healy and Kings Dock serve as reminders of Everton's own continuing hardship. The biggest gamble from the Everton hierarchy in recent times was the appointment of a young manager with no Premiership experience to preserve the club's top-flight status. But David Moyes arrived armed with more than that in mind. And with a determination to install a long-term strategy that would see emerging young talent driving the change, coupled with an honesty about financial restraints that Ridsdale sorely lacked, the Blues boss is showing troubled clubs the way forward - even if namesake O'Leary still holds the self-proclaimed title of best young manager in Britain. The irony, of course, was that Everton took another step in the direction of the Champions League on Saturday at the expense of the former semi-finalists turned crisis-club. Europe will represent a deserved bonus this season if it can be reached, but for an indication of how far they have come and how quickly, Leeds provided a useful barometer. Even without disillusioned, misled fans it was still like old times at Goodison as a chairman arrived at a game with his own security guards. Before the game two burly minders stood outside the boardroom after death threats had been made against Ridsdale, although there was no truth in the rumour he later sold the hardest one to Manchester With so many distractions the actual football itself was in serious danger of turning into a sideshow and for 45 minutes that is precisely what happened. It was seriously dour stuff, a Steve Watson chance blazed over the bar from 12 yards at one end and a Harry Kewell goalbound shot blocked by David Unsworth cancelled each other out. Unsworth later admitted an oldfashioned rollicking was dished out at the interval and Everton heeded the warnings to dominate the second half. Yet it is worth pointing out that for all the hardship suffered this season, Leeds still had the quality and experience to have stretched the Blues on Saturday and found themselves ultimately and comfortably beaten. heir captain Dominic Matteo admitted: "I know the supporters will feel that this is a desperate situation, but we still have a very strong squad, there is still plenty to be optimistic about. "We had a team of internationals at Everton, and we had internationals on the bench. It is still a strong squad." Yet it was a strong squad that, unlike Moyes', is not playing to the sum of its parts. The Blues made their intentions clear from the opening seconds of the restart to gradually take control of a game and seized it once the breakthrough arrived from the 56th-minute penalty that deflated Leeds' fragile morale. Three minutes into the second half Li Tie, who celebrated the Chinese New Year with a sparkling midfield display, sent Tomasz Radzinski racing clear of the depleted Leeds defence with a raking pass only for the striker to scuff his shot narrowly wide of the far post. That was the Canadian's only bad touch, however, as the miss galvanised him into action and he tore the York-shiremen to pieces thereafter.
An identical ball from Alan Stubbs sent the striker scurrying away again shortly afterwards and as he shaped to shoot from the same spot he was clearly felled by a combination of Danny Mills' trip and push. Referee Mark Halsey had no doubts, nor did his linesman who instantly signalled for a spot-kick, and neither did Unsworth as he despatched a confident penalty into the bottom corner with Paul Robinson heading the wrong way. Strangely the only contentious note about the incident was from a Blue perspective. Halsey dismissed Joseph Yobo at Newcastle for the same offence, yet here there was only a yellow for Mills. "I've seen players go for less," mused Moyes. "But then no-one wants to see players sent off." The opener marked the start of sustained Everton pressure, which peaked when the move of the match allowed the man of the match to make the points safe. Li Tie and Unsworth added to a flowing build up with a neat one-two and the midfielder slipped such a precision pass through the Leeds defence that Radzinski had time and space to take a careful touch before curling the ball beyond the advancing keeper. The striker then peppered the Gwladys Street goal with two volleys while the only contribution from the Leeds' attack was a late foul by Alan Smith that brought chants of "You're being sold in the morning, sold in the morning!" from the Goodison gallery. Substitute Kevin Campbell tried to pick Radzinski out for a late third only for Gary Kelly to intercept on the goal-line, but the decision to be generous was only made because the Blues were home and dry long before then. Everton's push for Europe continued with ease on Saturday, but for Terry Venables the reminders of his plight didn't end with the final whistle. In the TV interview room an hour after the game he was asked if he could see any light at the end of the tunnel. Just at that precise moment, someone switched the lights off. "Not in here anyway," he sighed.
EVERTON (4-4-2): Wright; Pistone, Weir, Stubbs, Unsworth; Watson, Gemmill, Li Tie, Naysmith; McBride (Campbell, 72 mins), Radzinski. Subs: Pembridge, Gravesen, Yobo, Gerrard.
LEEDS UNITED (4-4-2): Robinson; Kelly, Mills, Matteo (Radebe, 71 mins), Lucic (Harte, 46 mins); Smith, Bakke (Milner, 79 mins), Okon, Wilcox; Kewell, Viduka. Subs: Martyn, Johnson.
REFEREE: Mark Halsey
BOOKING: Leeds' Mills and Bakke (fouls)
Spectre on Radzinski's shoulder
By Len Capeling, Daily Post
Feb 3 2003
POOR Tomasz Radzinski. Try as he might, he can't quite edge out of the shadow cast by his young nemesis, Wayne Rooney. Even as he basked in the glow of being Everton's most influential player - by some way - against a belligerent Leeds United, down from the stands drifted the haunt-ingly familar chant of Roooneee . . . Roooneee . . . Roooneee . . . Admittedly these now famous harmonies had everything to do with the arrival on the pitch of Elland Road's teenage sensation James Milner, who purloined Rooney's title of youngest Premiership scorer within a week of big boy Blue setting the new mark. But if Typhoon Tomasz didn't shudder then he did, all too clearly, when a cruel journo reminded him, mid-congratulation, that the suspended super-hero was now free to continue his reign of terror against reeling defenders. And you-know-who. Radzinski didn't throw his dummy out of the pram, to use Joe Royle's colourful phrase once aimed at Roy Evans. But just when he thought he had a decent chance of enjoying the moment as Everton's man-of-the-match, up steps a spoilsport to douse the candles on the celebration cake. You don't need that after a performance of power, pace and purpose. You don't need that when you're in the best form of your career. Yet, sadly for the Canadian that appears to be his fate - to suffer when change is required.
He has been reprieved in Rooney's absence, but must fear what lies ahead. I hope I've done enough to stay in the side, he said on Saturday. Or words to that effect. You hoped his optimism was not misplaced, for he is the oil in Everton's attacking motor. Against Leeds he was the vital difference in a game where Everton only awoke to their responsibilities to a capacity crowd during a stirring second half. Earlier, Leeds showed that the turmoil at the January sales hadn't affected them too much as they gave the Blues a footballing lesson. All that was missing from their play was a goal - the elusive Harry Kewell might have nicked a couple - and a little more belief when Radzinski started to expose their sluggishness in central defence. Not for the first time this season, David Moyes needed to do some sorting out at the interval and his intervention was telling. Neither Kewell nor the nimble but slothful Mark Viduka figured prominently during a second half when Everton's dilatory central midfielders at last put the brakes on the industrious Paul Okon and found some more space to work in. Radzinski gave notice of damage to come when he sped through to send the ball spinning wastefully wide. The next time he accelerated into the Leeds penalty area, Danny Mills decided that discretion wasn't the better part of valour and left him in a heap. The coolheaded David Unsworth converted the spot-kick to ease the pressure. It only remained for the awakened Li Tie to produce the pass of the match to release Radzinski yet again, this time the squat striker cleverly defeated the underworked Paul Robinson in the Leeds goal. Red-hot Rad might have snaffled a hat-trick, Kevin Campbell - on for the tiring Brian McBride - was desperately close to making it 3-0. But that would have been greedy. With Goodison finally singing, the groans and gripes of the first half could be dismissed as pessimism run wild. The only glum faces belonged to the large Leeds contingent, principally escape artist Terry Venables and his disingenuous chairman Peter Ridsdale.
Ridsdale, in particular, had to face up to a piercing explosion of protest from a horde of cleverly-disguised Leeds supporters - tremendous make-up - who'd smuggled themselves into the stadium along with a mass of clanging cymbals, pounding drums, and enough Chinese dragons to populate any fantasy movie. I jest. I think they were something to do with the Chinese New Year. Apparently, this is the year of the goat. Evertonians may wish to suggest it's the year of hoarse or the husky as they stretch their vocal chords around a repertoire of triumphal songs that haven't been aired since the immortal Howard Kendall was crowned king.
Goal-hero Radzinski is relishing Rooney return
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Feb 3 2003
TOMASZ RADZINSKI believes the return of Wayne Rooney can spur him and Everton to even greater heights this season. The Canadian international went joint-top of the Blues' scoring charts on Saturday with his ninth goal of the season to cap a miserable week for Leeds United and Terry Venables. Radzinski also won the 56th minute penalty that gave David Unsworth the vital breakthrough at Goodison Park in a superb display that brought Everton a third straight victory.
But while the Blues strengthened their grip on a European place the former Anderlecht star set his sights on gatecrashing the top four - with Rooney the biggest incentive of all. The teenage sensation is available for this weekend's trip to Charlton after completing a fourgame ban. And while that increases the pressure on Radzinski, the 29-year-old believes the extra competition will ensure he and Everton deliver. "I know Wayne's back from suspension next week which is great for the team but I don't think about what it might mean for me," said the Polish-born striker. "I know with that sort of competition I've got to just go out there and produce my best every week and I think I did that against Leeds. I can't be worrying about what Wayne's return might mean for me, I've just got to concentrate on my game. "All I can do is try to help the team's performance and train hard, then it's up to the gaffer to decide who plays but I think I've pushed my claims this season. Every big club needs a lot of competition for places if it is going to achieve anything so I don't see it as a problem, I see it as a good sign for Everton, it's a bonus. "With Wayne coming back we have five strikers chasing two places. It's a big task for the gaffer to decide and I don't envy him." Everton are now joint fourth in the Premiership, having collected nine of a possible 12 points in Rooney's absence.
Radzinski added: "I hope we can stay in the European places now but the more we win the more I think our goal should be beyond Europe. We should be looking to go even higher up the the table.
"We should be looking at the teams in front of us and trying to catch them, not thinking about the pack behind us. We should try and push the leading teams all the way. "It is going to be difficult, there are great clubs above us with great players. But if we keep ticking over and picking up points as we have been doing, then maybe we will climb even higher before the end of the season."
Radzinski ran the Leeds defence ragged in the second half on Saturday, with Venables later admitting they couldn't handle his lightning pace. And the striker admitted: "This is definitely the most consistent spell of my Everton career. Last year I was in and out a lot because of injury but now I'm fit, playing regularly and really enjoying my football. When you get to the point where you're happy and confident, then the two combine and your football explodes." David Moyes was forced to issue a half-time rollicking to his players after a drab opening 45 minutes and was delighted with the response. The Blues manager said: "I told them at half-time they had to do much better with their passing and force Leeds further back. "For the first 30 minutes Leeds played well and we found it difficult, but once we got the penalty I felt we were always in control. That is only the second penalty we have had in the Premiership and I'd be interested to know how many other teams have had. "I've seen players go for less (than Danny Mills' foul on Radzinski) but I don't like to see players sent off."
Everton 2, Leeds Utd 0 (Echo)
Feb 3 2003 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
THE last thing Ell Tel needed at the end of the week he had just endured, was a trip to Merseyside.
Fifteen times he had been to the city as either Crystal Palace, QPR, Tottenham, Middlesbrough and now Leeds United boss. The number of wins he has celebrated is exactly the same as the number of Leeds players currently convinced they will still be at Elland Road next season . . . none. There were spells, before the break particularly, on Saturday when the visitors were comfortably the better side.
But any vestiges of self-belief and swagger have been thrashed out of Venables' side by the footballing equivalent of a fire sale. Evertonians enjoyed the irony of it all. It's a long time since they have been able to laugh at another team's financial misfortunes . . . but laugh they did, loudly and cruelly. When Alan Smith upset them with a typically too-tough tackle, they roared: "Sold in the morning! You'll be sold in the morning!" And it was almost a knee-jerk reaction to days gone by at Goodison, when they gleefully joined in with one chant of "Sack the board!" But in truth, Evertonians can hardly quibble with any aspect of Everton life at present. Saturday's success was almost symbolic of life under David Moyes. The Blues' boss took charge of his 39th Everton match. During that spell he has lost 13, only three less than his predecessor did in his final 39 games in charge. But where Moyes has succeeded is in turning draws into wins, through his own adventure, enterprise and strength of character. While Walter Smith's record was won 11, drawn 12, lost 16 in his 39 steps to the sack, Moyes has engineered 18 wins, eight draws and 13 losses. Leeds' last four visits to Goodison have all ended drawn, and in another age Saturday's match, too, would almost certainly have ended in a similar stalemate. But after a drab opening half when Leeds were the more coherent team, Moyes sent his side out on a mission to attack after the interval. The result was a thoroughlydeserved victory. If Tomasz Radzinski was the undoubted focal point of those attacking efforts, Li Tie was the fulcrum. The Chinese midfielder celebrated the Chinese New Year with a bright and purposeful performance - including the sweetly dispatched reverse pass which put Radzinski in for the match-clinching second. But he was helped by the pace and persistence of Radzinski. Evertonians have long since accepted that the little Polish-Canadian will squander more than his fair share of chances, and he rolled a one-on-one chance wide in the 47th minute, predictably from Tie's pass. But his strength of character means that he is not afraid to speculate to accumulate - and he continued to torment Leeds. Alan Stubbs' challenging long ball from the back released Radzinski to duel for possession with Danny Mills. Radzinski's pace got him goalside, a stumble may have necessitated his tumble to the ground as much as Mills' challenge, but the assistant referee got a good enough view of the incident to award a penalty kick. Mark Halsey passed over the responsibility on that one, but produced a fine performance otherwise. Just one quibble, though. At Newcastle earlier in the season he dismissed Joseph Yobo for tugging back Craig Bellamy much further from goal than Radzinski. On Saturday Mills escaped without even a yellow card. Consistency? At least David Unsworth showed his consistent reliability from 12 yards, drilling a low shot precisely past Robinson's left hand. Any conviction Leeds might have possessed evaporated from that point and Everton coasted. Gary Naysmith directed a free header straight at Robinson, then in the 67th minute Radzinski tied up the points. Tie's pass gave him the chance to run at goal from his favourite left-channel - and he finished superbly, clipping the ball above and beyond Robinson. He might even have finished the match as out-and-out top scorer - Kevin Campbell trying to square the ball across goal for a last minute tap-in only for Kelly to smug-gle the ball away, but it hardly mattered. The victory left David Moyes considering a bright future at Everton, while his rival in the opposite dug-out was simply considering his future. Saturday was hell for Tel.
EVERTON (4-4-2): Wright, Pistone, Weir, Stubbs, Unsworth, Watson, Tie, Gemmill, Naysmith, McBride (Campbell 72 mins), Radzinski. Unused substitutes: Pembridge, Gravesen, Yobo, Gerrard.
LEEDS UNITED (4-4-2): Robinson, Kelly, Mills, Matteo (Radebe 70 mins), Lucic (Harte 45 mins), Smith, Bakke (Milner 78 mins), Okon, Wilcox, Viduka, Kewell. Unused substitutes: Martyn, Johnson.
Referee: Mark Halsey.
Booking: Bakke (77 mins) foul.
No stopping rocket Rad
Feb 3 2003 Liverpool Echo
DAVID UNSWORTH paid tribute to Everton's new joint-top scorer on Saturday - a man he rates as one of the quickest players he has played alongside. omasz Radzinski's jet-heeled performance earned David Moyes' men the decisive penalty, which Unsworth converted to break the deadlock, and his own ninth goal of the season - a Premiership haul only one fewer than Ruud Van Nistelrooy.
Unsworth was especially impressed. "This is the best run of consistent form Tomasz has produced at Everton without a shadow of a doubt - and he is scoring goals with it as well," he said. He is working his socks off for the team, too, and his pace can make a bad ball into a good ball and a good ball into a great ball. His pace is phenomenal and he is one of the quickest I have played alongside.
"If he carries that form on who knows what we can achieve. Having a forward like that makes you play a little bit bigger. Instead of being precise you can drop the ball into an area. "If you look at the great forwards, like a Lineker or Ferdinand in his heyday, people have always hit balls in to the channels for them to chase. It's the same thing with Tomasz." The 2-0 defeat of Leeds, Everton's third successive Premiership victory, has left the club with sights firmly focussed on a European place next season. "We have got a consistent run going and our aim now is Europe," added Unsworth. "We want European football. We're not going to get carried away, but that is our aim. "In the first half we didn't play anything like we are capable of, but the second half full credit to us, we came out, passed the ball, created a few chances and scored the goals. "What made the difference? A bit of a rollicking at half-time from the gaffer! That would have done it! He just wanted us to pass the ball more and get forward a bit more - and we did that. "There are times when you need a bit of a kick up the backside and it was justified on Saturday. "We were just a shade off what we normally are in the first half, but we certainly did the trick in the second." Unsworth hopes that the penalty kick award - Everton's first in the Premiership since August - will prove the prelude for a few more spot-kick opportunities in Everton's remaining 12 matches. "We've only had two in the League all season. The gaffer says you usually get six on average, so we've got all ours to come hopefully."
Feb 3 2003 By Tommy Smith, Liverpool Echo
WHAT chance Merseyside having its own Battle for Europe? Pretty good, if the excellent results produced by Liverpool and Everton at the weekend are anything to go by. The Blues' fine win over Leeds takes them joint fourth with Chelsea - bang on course for a Champions League place - and with the Reds returning to top form at West Ham, the stage is possibly set for our own thrilling local shoot-out . . . with a place in the premier European competition at stake. Don't rule that out as just a dream, either. I think there is every possibility one or the other could finish in the top four - and there's a chance it might be both. Wouldn't that be a terrific end to the season? Under David Moyes, the Blues have been transformed, playing without the inhibitions of the past and producing football that could easily see them in European action next season. Relegation tussles seem to be a thing of the past. Meanwhile, across the park, the Reds appear to have shaken off the dreadful form that saw them go 12 games without a win and they have every chance now of fighting their way into top four contention. The message from Upton Park was emphatic: Liverpool are well and truly on the way back. Gerard Houllier's men did a demolition job on the Hammers. It wasn't just the 3-0 scoreline, but the manner of the victory. I criticised them strongly during their poor run that they had to go a goal down before they came alive, but yesterday they started as they meant to go on. They began positively, earned an early two-goal cushion, and then took complete control. Everyone in the team looked as if they wanted to play - and were enjoying themselves. Jerzy Dudek was never in trouble, only had one shot to save, and that was down to excellent defending. Both Sami Hyypia and Stephane Henchoz were magnificent and John Arne Riise and Jamie Carragher played their part by getting forward a lot more and forcing the Hammers back. All three goals came from Riise corners. Milan Baros' header gave the Reds the perfect start, the excellent Steven Gerrard cracked home the second after David James had punched out, and then Emile Heskey nodded in from Hyypia's headed pass. The whole team played as a unit and the football was a delight to watch. Heskey, for me, has looked like a different player in the past few games. His unselfish running, tracking back and tackling, plus his goal threat is making him look a complete player again. El-Hadji Diouf, too, produced a good performance, but this was all about a fine team effort with everyone contributing. That is just what Houllier needs. After all the hullabaloo over Leeds' financial problems, I expected some reaction from Terry Venables' side at Goodison. I thought the players who haven't been sold might just respond on the pitch after all the off-the-field problems and fans' reaction. After a low-key first half, when Leeds posed little threat, Everton were transformed, scoring twice through David Unsworth and my man-of-the-match, Tomasz Radzinski. But, again, it was the manner in which they went about the task. The players look extra fit this season, with everyone running off the ball and creating space and therefore chances. But a key to their success is that they have been playing football with a confidence that has been missing over the past few years and they are looking capable of winning games without a struggle now. As far as Leeds are concerned, I haven't a clue where they are going. Harry Kewell did little and Viduka just strolled around. The only thing he was missing was an armchair! It was a thoroughly professional show by the Blues and their position in the table is totally justified and I can see an intriguing contest developing with their neighbours in the hunt to clinch European places. David Moyes is doing a great job and how people can slag off Gerard Houllier I just don't know.
Rooney ready for run-out
Report By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Feb 4 2003
WAYNE ROONEY could make an instant return to Everton action tonight - blizzard conditions permitting. The Blues teenage star is being considered for a run-out in the reserve game against Sheffield Wednesday at the Halton Stadium in Widnes after completing a four-match suspension.
David Moyes will bring the striker straight back into contention for the weekend trip to Charlton. But with Rooney short of match-sharpness after exactly one month on the sidelines - his last appearance coming in the FA Cup upset at Shrewsbury - he may get a much-needed run-out tonight. The game, however, is still in doubt after recent bad weather took its toll on the Halton Stadium pitch. Three matches have also been staged at the stadium in the last five days to add to its poor condition, leaving the Blues and Rooney awaiting the go-ahead this afternoon. Despite his potential striking dilemma at The Valley, Moyes last night backed in-form Tomasz Radzinski to respond to the threat of Rooney in style. The Canadian took his season's tally to nine goals in a man-ofthe-match display against Leeds on Saturday and afterwards admitted he was enjoying the most consistent spell of his Goodison career. But Moyes - who is keen to ensure Li Tie remains a Blue beyond this summer - insisted: "It is not that he's currently the man in possession, he has always been the man in possession, no question about that. "Tomasz has started the majority of games for us this season which shows how well he has done. He is getting goals but his work rate is perhaps one of his biggest strengths which is a real credit to him. "That has perhaps been questioned about him in the past but now he does it as second nature which has made him an important part of the team unit."
Magic man Moyes has his sights on Europe
Peter Reid, Daily Post
Feb 4 2003
NOWING how much the FA Cup means to Evertonians, I am sure the defeat at Shrewsbury hurt like mad. But the measure of a team is how they respond when football springs the kind of result it can from time to time. Everton have bounced back in the most positive manner and their win over Leeds completed a run of three successive victories to keep them firmly in the hunt for a place in Europe next season. I think David Moyes has done a great job since arriving at Goodison. After ensuring their Premiership survival last season, I am sure Everton started out this year determined to consolidate. But when you look at the league table now, this year's efforts have exceeded many expectations. I saw them in midweek at Bolton when the strides they have made were clear to see and I spoke to Adrian Heath - who was at the game against Leeds - who said they deserved their win, especially on the back of their second-half performance. They stood off a bit in the first half, but played the game at their own pace in the second and with everybody working hard for each other there is a very positive feel about the side. Moyes has always been a conscientious worker, on the ball with the latest thinking in the game and he likes his sides to play football in the right manner.
He has not had much money to work with in the transfer market, but having experienced dealing with a limited budget at Preston, he has come in and done remarkably well with his deals for the Blues. The transfer window signing of Brian McBride has been inspirational. With injuries still dogging Duncan Ferguson and catching up with Kevin Campbell, Moyes obviously felt he needed someone in that mould and McBride has been an excellent addition to the squad. The arrival of Joseph Yobo, even though he has not been a regular in the team recently, has also been a massive boost. Equally players all over the park seem to be raising their game, like Alessandro Pistone, while David Unsworth has looked a different player. Tomasz Radzinski, a Walter Smith signing who was hit by injuries in his first season, looks much more positive and is creating problems for defences with his pace. And all this, in the last few games, without Wayne Rooney! Moyes has done a great job in easing the way forward for a player who is an exceptional talent. But I have been disappointed with some of the media hype Wayne has attracted. I was at the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year award and thought Wayne, who was very nervous, handled himself very well for someone so young. Some of the comments afterwards were just outrageous. I also thought he was harshly done to over his sending off against Birmingham. It's fair to say he did lift his foot and therefore his studs were on show but his only intention was to try and win the ball. Allied to his skill, Wayne has a tremendous will to win which makes for a fantastic combination. But I don't think Moyes will necessarily rush him back in this weekend, particularly after recent results. Everton are showing the kind of form again that served them so well before Christmas. They came to the Stadium of Light when I was manager at Sunderland and kept it very tight to win 1-0. The only worry is whether the clubs around them have got more depth to the squads if injuries start to bite.
But if Everton can keep the majority of their squad fit and keep on winning games, then Europe is not out of reach.
Kendall completes award set
Feb 4 2003 By David Prentice, Everton Correspondent
THE most successful manager in Everton's history is the latest winner of the award which carries the name of the club's greatest ever player. Howard Kendall was presented with the Dixie Dean Memorial Award at a glittering presentation evening at the Moat House Hotel in Liverpool last night - completing the set of the famous Ball-Harvey-Kendall midfield trio to have claimed the trophy. "It's always Ball, Harvey . . . and then Kendall," he joked. "I hope that's just alphabetical!" Current Blues' boss David Moyes made the presentation, announced for "one of the greatest Everton players and the greatest manager." Kendall said: "That's the second time that David Moyes has presented me with an award in recent months. Hopefully I will be presenting one or two to him in the future."
The Dean Award was first presented in 1980, months after the legendary goalscorer died at a Goodison derby match. Inscribed with the legend "For Sportsmen in the Great Tradition" early winners included names like Ian Callaghan, Mick Lyons, Joe Fagan, Kevin Ratcliffe and Ray Mathias.
Since the inception of the Bill Shankly Memorial Award in 1996, the winners have been exclusively Evertonian - Graeme Sharp winning it last year in succession to Goodison legends Brian Labone, Dave Watson and Alan Ball. Members of Bill Dean's family, daughter Barbara and grand-daughter Melanie, were there to represent the family.
How boss beat ace Wayne to top award
Feb 4 2003 By David Prentice, Everton Correspondent
THE manager of the People's Club received the people's vote last night. Everton boss David Moyes was voted the 31st Liverpool Echo Sports Personality of the Year - by a landslide margin. In a year of spectacular progress for The Toffees, Moyes' closest rival was also from Everton, his teenage protege Wayne Rooney. Accepting the award, Moyes couldn't resist another of those quips which have endeared him to Evertonians. "I have great respect for Gerard Houllier and what he has achieved at Liverpool," he said "and I have sat here tonight and listened to Ron Yeats speak with great passion about Liverpool and the rivalry here on Merseyside. But, just for the moment Ron, we are ahead of you in the table and that's something we are proud of." Moyes added: "It's a special honour, especially when you have just come to a city like Liverpool and had the people take to you. "From my first day - it took us 29 seconds to score a goal - I felt that someone was looking after me.
"I would like to thank the Everton Board of Directors for taking a gamble on me. I was a not very good player and an inexperienced manager, but they gave me a chance and I know there are plenty of other managers in the Nationwide League who could do it too. "Alan Irvine and Jimmy Lumsden have helped me tremendously and the players have been wonderful. "The last thing you want to see when you are a young, inexperienced manager in the dressing room for the first time is the sight of David Ginola and Paul Gascoigne sitting in front of you. Nothing can prepare you for that!"
Moyes was only the third Everton manager to claim the prize, following Howard Kendall (1984) and Joe Royle (1995). The presentation of the trophy set the seal on a remarkable year's progress at Everton under Moyes. After taking over in March for a must-win match against Fulham, he was celebrating the first goal of his managerial reign just 29 seconds later! Everton's progress since then has been equally meteoric. Everton avoided the threat of relegation with three games still to go, then this season mounted a charge for European qualification which is very much alive now.
Bench typifies Moyes' impact
Feb 4 2003 By Kevin Ratcliffe, Liverpool Echo
AN indication of the transformation David Moyes has inspired at Everton this season can be gauged by a glance at their substitutes' bench in recent weeks. In the very recent past, players like Kevin Campbell, Thomas Gravesen, Mark Pembridge and Joseph Yobo would have been automatic selections in the Blues' first team. But they have been forced to make do with berths on the bench because of the way the reshaped side has been performing. That is, arguably, the reason behind the quite remarkable turnaround David has brought about. He has created competition for places at a club where very little existed previously. Many of the individuals David has introduced have replaced like with like. At the start of the season no-one would have suggested Li Tie was significantly better than Thomas Gravesen, Scot Gemmill or Tobias Linderoth, but the consistency of his performances has created intense competition - and that has resulted in improved displays from other men who have come in. Look at the displays of the two central defend-ers recently. I've gone on record earlier in the season to state how highly I regard Joseph Yobo as a player, but he has been unable to dislodge Weir and Stubbs in recent weeks, and no-one would argue. It has been an astonishing transformation, without making too many changes in personnel - and for that reason it was completely understandable that David Moyes was voted the Echo's Sports Personality of the Year last night. To be presented with that prestigious prize, in a year when the side across the park finished runners-up in the Premiership, is a considerable achievement.
Howard's award is well deserved
WHILST we are on the subject of the Echo's Awards night, I would like to offer my congratulations to Howard Kendall for being presented with the Dixie Dean Memorial Award. I was immensely proud to receive this same trophy way back in 1987 - and I have to say I was surprised to learn that Howard had never won it earlier. Of course he was the very first winner of the night's main award, way back in 1972 - and became a double winner in 1984, but he has always been overlooked for the Dixie Dean Trophy. It seems particularly apt. Dean was, without argument, the most famous and successful player the club has ever produced, and Howard has no equal when it comes to managers who have taken charge of the club. It seems a long, long time since he created a squad which regularly challenged at the top end of the top division table - but it's pleasing to finally see some light at the end of the tunnel now. Howard still remains as big an Evertonian as anybody and I'm sure he will be as delighted about that as anyone.
Well done Howard!
It all points to success
IF Everton lose every single match between now and the end of the season - and hopefully that's not going to tempt fate! - they have still collected enough points to have guaranteed an 11th place finish last season. Last term 45 points was enough to ensure a comfortable mid-table place. That's an incredible statistic. With 12 games still to go, Everton already appear to have a top 10 place sewn up.
Another nine or 10 points should not be beyond the Blues in the next dozen games, and that should be enough for European qualification.
Here's hoping . . .
David Moyes is Merseyside Sports Personality of 2002
Feb 4 2003
EVERTON Football Club Manager David Moyes has been named the Merseyside Sports Personality of the Year for 2002. The Scotsman who has transformed the fortunes of the Blues in less than a year was last night presented with the prestigious award - now in its 31st year - by the Editor of the Liverpool Echo Mark Dickinson. Accepting the award at a ceremony involving sports stars of the past and present at the city's Moat House Hotel, Moyes couldn't resist another of those quips which have endeared him to Evertonians. He said: "I have great respect for Gerard Houllier and what he has achieved at Liverpool. "I have sat here tonight and listened to Ron Yeats speak with great passion about Liverpool and the rivalry here on Merseyside. But, just for the moment Ron, we are ahead of you in the table and that's something we are proud of." Moyes added: "It's a special honour, especially when you have just come to a city like Liverpool and had the people take to you.
"From my first day - it took us 29 seconds to score a goal - I felt that someone was looking after me.
"I would like to thank the Everton Board of Directors for taking a gamble on me. I was a not very good player and an inexperienced manager, but they gave me a chance and I know there are plenty of other managers in the Nationwide League who could do it too." Moyes succeeds Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier in winning the Liverpool Echo trophy, which is voted for every January by the readers of the Echo. Houllier last year made his first public appearance following life-saving heart surgery to collect the award. Moyes was shortlisted for the honour alongside Everton prodigy Wayne Rooney, Liverpool and England midfielder Danny Murphy, World Champion boxer Peter Culshaw; St Helens and Great Britain Rugby League ace Paul Sculthorpe and Commonwealth triple medal winning gymnast Beth Tweddle. Also honoured last night were former Liverpool captain and Anfield Chief Scout Ron Yeats. who collected the Bill Shankly Memorial Award from another former Shankly Skipper, Tommy Smith. The award was sponsored by Cheshire Racing. Yeats said: "I'm incredibly proud to receive this award. I loved Bill Shankly - I just wish he was here to hand me this award himself." Yeats also paid tribute to Reds manager Houllier, who sent him a message of congratulations on the night. Said the Scotsman: "I must mention Gerard Houllier because as far as I'm concerned he's the hardest working manager I have ever worked for. "He is a wonderful man, a disciplinarian and somebody who will lead Liverpool back to where they belong" Former Everton player and manager Howard Kendall - the most successful boss in the Goodison club's history - picked up the Dixie Dean Memorial Award, which was presented to him by Moyes. The award was sponsored by Littlewoods Football Pools. St Helens Rugby League Club won also won the Rugby League Achievement Award for yet another success as Super League Champions last year. It was presented to coach Ian Millward and his skipper Chris Joynt by comedian and Saints fan Johnny Vegas. Beth Tweddle collected the other award on the night - the Commonwealth Games Achievement Award, which was presented by former Olympic Gold medal winning cyclist Chris Boardman to mark the staging of the event in the North West last year in Manchester.
Blues ace's pitch blow
Feb 4 2003 By David Prentice, Echo Reporter
WAYNE ROONEY'S hopes of an instant return to action following his four match ban could be turfed out - by the playing surface at the Halton Stadium, Widnes. The youngster had been pencilled in for some much-needed match sharpness in Everton Reserves' clash with Sheffield Wednesday tonight.
But a pitch which has been badly cut up has placed the game under serious threat of postponement. Since Everton Reserves played there last week, Runcorn FC and Widnes Vikings have also played games at the Halton Stadium. The pitch is described as "heavy, badly cut up and full of puddles."
Blues' boss David Moyes added: "There's a few of the lads who need a game, but it's not that big a problem if we can't play because we train them hard here - and if we need to give anyone a match we can always organise one behind closed doors." Plans to switch the reserve game to Goodison Park were also tossed out, as the playing surface at Goodison has been re-seeded. Niclas Alexandersson, Lee Carsley and young Scottish goalkeeper Iain Turner were all expected to join Rooney in the reserves. There was bright news, meanwhile, on the progress of injured youngsters Tony Hibbert and Nick Chadwick. Both have undergone surgery, but Moyes explained: "They joined in a bit of training yesterday and we are hoping they will be back with us full time by the middle of next week." England entertain Australia in a friendly match next week, but it is expected that Wayne Rooney will join up with the England Under-21 squad for the first time for their trip to Italy.
Alessandro Pistone and Steve Watson both missed training yesterday with a groin strain and heel injury respectively.
Benched Gravesen happy at Goodison
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Feb 5 2003
THOMAS GRAVESEN insists he is happy at Goodison Park despite spending most of 2003 on the substitutes bench. The Danish international hasn't started an Everton game since the FA Cup embarrassment at Shrewsbury, when he was withdrawn at half-time following a poor display.
Gravesen was then suspended for the trip to Spurs and has been unable to break up the Blues' new central midfield partnership of Scot Gemmill and Li Tie. But the 26-year-old, who was this weekend linked with a summer move to Newcastle, yesterday dismissed suggestions he was unhappy and insisted Everton's winning streak makes it easier to accept being benched. "I'm fine with being benched. The most important thing is that we are winning," said Gravesen. "The manager knows that I'm ready, there's no conflict between me and him. We have a rotation system at Everton and if you don't know what that means then call Jon Dahl Tomasson at Milan." Former Newcastle striker Tomasson moved to AC Milan from Feyenoord last summer and has found himself competing for a place with the likes of Andriy Shevchenko, Rivaldo and Filippo Inzaghi. "We have played about 25 matches this season and I have participated in 20, so there's no problem," added the Dane. David Moyes, meanwhile, has injury scares surrounding his team's right flank as he prepares for the weekend trip to Charlton. Both Steve Watson and Alessandro Pistone have been forced to miss training this week after picking up minor knocks in last Saturday's defeat of Leeds. Watson is currently receiving treatment on a heel injury collected after a second-half foul by Eirik Bakke while Pistone is nursing a persistent groin problem. However Moyes, who welcomed Duncan Ferguson back into training yesterday, is hopeful the duo will be fit to face Alan Curbishley's side. Meanwhile, Everton have been linked with a summer move for Italian striker Emiliano Bonazzoli. The 24-year-old, who is on the books at Parma, is currently on loan at Reggina and scored at the weekend in their 3-1 win over Perugia. Bonazzoli had been bought by Parma from Verona, but has not made the expected impact at the Serie A side and was loaned out to Reggina last month.
* WAYNE ROONEY'S Everton return was postponed last night after the reserves game against Sheffield Wednesday was called off due to the poor state of the Halton Stadium pitch.
Trialist praises Rooney
Feb 5 2003 By Rob Brady, Liverpool Echo
SCOTTISH starlet Lee Miller hopes rubbing shoulders with Wayne Rooney will earn him a permanent move to Everton. The 19-year-old striker has returned to Falkirk after impressing during a four-day trial with the Blues. At Bellefield he witnessed at first hand Rooney's devastating finishing. Miller, who has just received his first call-up to the Scotland Under-21 squad to face the Republic of Ireland, said: "Wayne came to training and we did crossing and finishing together. His strike rate was incredible. He missed only about one chance from 50 balls. "I've been impressed by his performances on TV, but he's even better in the flesh. Tomasz Radzinski was another who scored for fun. "I hope the things I learned from Rooney and the rest can help me at Falkirk and to get a move.
"David Moyes pulled me aside at the end and told me I had not looked out of place and he will be keeping an eye on me. I appreciated his words of encouragement. "The facilities at Everton are incredible. It really is a different world. The players were great and down to earth. They made me feel welcome and the likes of Davie Weir and Gary Naysmith couldn't do enough for me." Miller, who had a trial with Nottingham Forest last summer, has scored 10 goals for the Scottish first division leaders this season. He travelled to Everton with Falkirk's other highly rated striker, Trinidad and Tobago Collin Samuel. Miller's agent Mark Donaghy said: "Everton were very impressed and they will travel to see him in a competitive game soon." It is thought the Scottish side would ask in the region of £250,000 for the teenager. Meanwhile, Naysmith and Scot Gemmill have been rewarded for their recent Everton displays with call-ups to the full Scotland squad to face the Republic on February 12. They could face team-mate Lee Carsley, who has been selected by new Ireland manager Brian Kerr for the friendly with the Scots. Thomas Gravesen has been called up to the Denmark squad to face Egypt, when he could play against Everton new boy Ibrahim Said.
Gravesen has not started a game for Everton since the FA Cup defeat at Shrewsbury, with manager David Moyes preferring the midfield partnership of Gemmill and Li Tie. The Dane said: "I'm fine with being benched. The important thing is that we are winning. "The manager knows that I'm ready. There's no conflict between me and him," Gravesen added.
Moyes: We're measuring up
Feb 5 2003 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES hasn't been in charge at Everton for a full calendar year yet. But a chronological trifle wasn't enough to prevent the Blues' boss being voted the Echo's Sports Personality for 2002. Moyes collected the prestigious award, voted for by the people of Merseyside, at the city centre Moat House Hotel on Monday night. And he admitted that he has measured the progress Everton have made against their rivals across the park. "We went into the derby game in December above Liverpool and we finished that game above them," he explained. "I don't know whether we can stay there between now and the end of the season, but it shows that we have come a decent way in a short period of time. It's been excellent. "As for Europe, we are up there with the teams who have been aiming for that for a long time. "If you'd asked Everton fans whether they'd been looking for Champions League or UEFA Cup qualification they'd probably have said no. "Generally that's not what people were thinking. Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United, Tottenham, all those clubs expect to be in there but I don't think Everton do. "We just keep going and hopefully on the last Friday of the season I will be able to answer the question again - whether we still have aspirations of the Champions League - and I will be able to tell people then. "We have more points now than we finished with last season and I now know that I won't be the manager who takes them down in the 100th season of top flight football!" The seemingly inescapable seasonal prospect for Evertonians of a relegation struggle has never looked like an issue this term - even over Christmas and the New Year when Everton went six matches without a win. "All the teams have had bad periods during the season where they didn't do well," added Moyes. "We had ours around December and January, but we didn't lose many. We drew at Anfield, we drew with Manchester City, Bolton and Birmingham. We didn't lose those. "We weren't playing as well as we should have done, but we are now getting much closer to the form that we were in during October and November. "I hope our football is developing. People are now saying we are trying to play good stuff and we are doing the right things more often than not. "It's not just the 11 on the pitch, it's throughout the squad. They all want to play. There's no sulkers. There's people on the bench who are top players and suddenly we have a strong squad. "If we have shown character and maturity that's good. The players deserve enormous credit for the way they have turned things around. "This time last year a lot of them were very low and the club was very low. A year in football seems a long time, but if you look at those players now they feel much better in themselves and they ooze confidence. "They know now what they have to do on the pitch and what they are capable of and how to achieve that. They can't be given enough credit for the way they are going about their work." Moyes added: "I would never criticise what went before - and anyway it was nothing to do with Walter Smith. I'm giving the players credit but they have to look at what they were like a year ago. "These players have worked tremendously hard to get where they are and at the moment they are a credit." The people from the blue half of Merseyside, however, have directed the credit elsewhere . . . to Merseyside's Sports Personality for 2002.
Stay fit to reach top, Pistone told
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Feb 6 2003
DAVID MOYES believes Alessandro Pistone has all the attributes to become one of the Premiership's top defenders - providing he can stay fit. Pistone has eased the potentially damaging loss of Tony Hibbert this year with a starring role in Everton's return to form. Blues boss Moyes believes there is even more to come from the 27-year-old who was heralded as the next Paolo Maldini when, as a youngster at Inter Milan, he skippered Italy's under-21 team. However, Moyes insists Pistone must banish lingering doubts over his fitness before realising his true potential. Pistone has made only 41 starts for Everton since arriving in a £3.5million deal from Newcastle three years ago. After overcoming a serious knee injury he missed the first three months of this season with a hamstring strain and has seen several minor problems - such as the groin injury threatening his starting place at Charlton this Saturday - dog his campaign. But now he has recaptured top form the Goodison chief is challenging the defender to see Everton's European bid through to the end of the season. Moyes, who is hopeful Pistone will play at The Valley, said: "Since he came back into the side four games ago Sandro has done very well. "Now he needs to produce this kind of form consistently. He needs to get himself known as the talented player he undoubtedly is. "He has to be reliable and available for selection every week so that he can improve with games and improve with the training we give him as well. "He's got so much natural talent. He's got pace, strength, gets forward well and can use the ball well with both feet. Now he needs to become a player who gets the games under his belt.
"It would be better to judge him after 20 games rather than just a few but there's no doubt he's a good allround defender. He can play anywhere across the back line, which gives me great options, but the bottom line is he needs to keep himself fit." After missing out on the Blues' impressive start to the season there were doubts about Pistone's future at Everton under Moyes. But the Blues manager revealed: "He has always been in my thoughts. Before the first game of the season against Tottenham he broke down in training on the Thursday. If he hadn't he probably would have started.
"But I can't afford to think about players who are not fit, only the ones who are. "There is a lot of competition for places at the moment and you don't want to drop out of the team too quickly once you're in."
Nic: I'm worth Sweden place
Feb 6 2003 By Rob Brady, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON'S out of favour midfielder Niclas Alexandersson has hit back at the criticism that followed his call-up to the full Sweden squad. Pundits in his native country have voiced concerns at the lack of first team appearances the 30-year-old winger made for the Blues this season. Alexandersson has not played since the FA Cup defeat at Shrewsbury almost five weeks ago, in which he scored Everton's only goal. A knee injury has kept him side-lined for much of the season, limiting his appearances to just eight so far. Since returning to fitness, he has been unable to force his way into the first team. Free-scoring Steve Watson has excelled in the right-sided midfield role that Alexandersson would normally occupy. But the Swede insists he is fit enough to merit a place in both the Everton and national sides. Alexandersson said: "It's hard to get into the team. We have won three on the trot and the manager has kept the same team and that is understandable.
"I don't play, but that is not due to me. The others are in such good form. I have done well when I have come on late in games and the manager gives me credit for the games with the reserves. There is nothing wrong with my shape." Alexandersson, a £2.5m Walter Smith signing from Sheffield Wednesday, has been named in the Swedish squad for the friendly against Tunisia later this month.
Despite the critics pointing to his lack of match practice at Everton, he is adamant he is ready to face the North Africans. He added: "I under-stand them, that they don't think my situation is ideal. However, I still feel I can add something. In the long run it's no good not to play for the first team. It remains to be seen if I can keep the same level." Alexandersson has played 66 games for Everton since joining in July 2000, scoring five goals. He has been capped 67 times for Sweden, scoring seven goals.
* FORMER Everton midfielder John Collins is ready to move into coaching when his playing contract with Fulham ends this summer. The former Scotland international, who was at Goodison for two years, has had to settle for reserve team action this season, making just five league and cup appearances for the first team. After a loan move to Coventry City fell through, the 35-year-old ex-Celtic and Monaco player has turned his attention to coaching. His agent Raymond Sparkes said: "John is in the process of doing his badges and he is interested in coaching in the right environment."
Moyes' faith in Tommy
Feb 6 2003 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES has urged his sidelined World Cup star Thomas Gravesen to be patient - and predicted that when the Dane does get back into Everton's starting line-up he will be better than ever.
Gravesen (right) missed the trip to Spurs last month through suspension - and the form of Scot Gemmill and Li Tie since then has seen him left on the substitutes' bench. But despite unfounded speculation linking him with a move to Newcastle, Moyes said: "Thomas Gravesen is someone who we think is a marvellous player. He is going to be part of our plans here for a long time to come.
"He had a spell where he wasn't performing as well as he should have done and he has admitted that himself, but we know that when he does come back he will be better and stronger than ever.
"Competition for places here is tough and that's the way it has to be. "We like Tommy a lot and we have high hopes for him. At times this season he has been exceptional and we just need to get him back to the top of his game again. "It could be that the World Cup is catching up on him a little. He has played a lot of football." Gravesen will travel with the Blues for this weekend's trip to Charlton, but Steve Watson's participation could hinge on a bizarre training ground experiment. The in-form midfielder has been struggling with a bruised heel all week and has been unable to train - but the Blues' medical staff will ask the player to try and join in wearing a boot with the heel cut out! Watson will wear the footballing equivalent of mules and Moyes said: "It's something we've been asked to try so we'll give it as go." Alessandro Pistone, meanwhile, has also missed training with a groin strain and is a doubt for the trip to London.
Pressure off for European charge
Fanscene By Mark O'Brien, Daily Post
Feb 7 2003
LAST WEEK'S assertion that going out of the FA Cup at Shrewsbury was part of a plan to concentrate on the league was only meant as a joke. It obviously lost something in translation as Liverpool's esteemed manager Monsieur Houllier repeated the sentiments following his side's exit against Crystal Palace. No doubt the fans who paid good money to travel and watch the tie saw defeat as a blessing in disguise as well. All in all it's been a vintage week for one-liners from Le Boss.
With regards to Steven Gerrard's FA hearing concerning his disgusting challenge on Gary Naysmith it's perhaps understandable why Houllier tried to defend the indefensible. If he thought that it was worth sacrificing what credibility he had in a bid to prevent the ban and avoid losing the player, then that's his prerogative. To continue to insist afterwards that the incident was practically an accident simply beggars belief. Maybe he needs the board to sell a few players to ease the pressure on him - which is what seems to have happened to Terry Venables. Suddenly Leeds fans are hailing him as some sort of Messiah in the wake of the sale of Jonathan Woodgate. They seem to forget that Leeds were struggling well before anyone was sold, hence Everton beat them at Elland Road before completing the double on Saturday. Without it ever being a dazzling contest, the Blues put in another solid and professional performance, just as they did at the Reebok Stadium, and eventually showed that extra bit of quality and confidence that secured three more points. Tomasz Radzinski (above right) starred yet again and will no doubt start the game at the Valley tomorrow despite the return of Wayne Rooney. The Addicks are a decent side - certainly one of the better ones to come to Goodison so far this season - but at the moment we expect to beat everyone, home and away.
Obviously a European place is our aim now that Premiership safety is assured, but there should be less pressure on our players compared to those of other clubs for whom the Champions League is a must in financial terms. Every three points is a bonus for us - we can afford to go out and play attacking football in every game and just see where it leaves us in May. If we're looking in atlases for Honved and Skonto Riga, then great, but if not, we will still have exceeded all our pre-season expectations.
Niclas worry over Sweden career
By Ian Doyle, Daily Post
Feb 7 2003
NICLAS ALEXANDERSSON has admitted that his international career is being threatened by a lack of first-team football at Everton. The Blues midfielder has not played since scoring in the 2-1 FA Cup third round defeat at Shrewsbury Town on January 8. A knee injury and the excellent form of his team-mates have restricted Alexandersson to just eight appearances this season under David Moyes. But that hasn't stopped Sweden from calling him up for Wednesday's friendly against Tunisia - a move which has been met with criticism in his homeland. And Alexandersson admitted: "I understand them when they say they don't think my situation is ideal. However I still feel I can add something. "But in the long run it's not good not to play for the first team. It will remain to be seen if I can keep the same level." The 30-year-old added: "It's hard to get into the Everton team. We have won three on the trot and the manager has kept the same team and that is understandable.
"I have done well when I have come on late in games and the manager gives me credit for the games with the reserves. "I don't play, but that is not due to me. The others are in such good form."
Meanwhile, Moyes has told Thomas Gravesen he remains an integral part of his Goodison vision. The Danish international has been on the substitutes' bench in recent weeks, but insisted on Wednesday that he was happy at Everton. And Moyes said yesterday: "Thomas Gravesen is someone who we think is a marvellous player. "He is going to be part of our plans for a long time to come. He had a spell where he wasn't performing as well as he should have done and he has admitted that himself, but we know that when he does come back he will be better and stronger than ever. "We like Tommy a lot and we have high hopes for him. At times this season he has been exceptional and we just need to get him back to the top of his game. It could be that the World Cup is catching up on him. He has played a lot of football." Steve Watson (heel) and Alessandro Pistone (groin) are doubts for tomorrow's trip to Charlton Athletic.
* CASH-STRAPPED Preston North End are selling off former boss David Moyes' old training kit. The Everton manager's training gear can be bought on the Preston website, www.pnefc. premiumtv.co.uk for as little as £5 per item.
Blue boys fed up on sidelines
Academy Football By Chris Wright, Daily Post
Feb 7 2003
EVERTON under-19s look to put their frustrations behind them with a run of three home FA Premier Academy League matches, starting against Barnsley tomorrow (kick-off 11am). Colin Harvey's side have only played once since they returned from the Christmas break - a disappointing 1-0 defeat at home to Nottingham Forest. Although several of Harvey's squad have been in action for the Reserves, even at that level they have hardly been overstretched, with Tuesday's fixture with Sheffield Wednesday at the Halton Stadium also being postponed. So all the squad are in need of some match practice. Craig Garside, Colin Thorbinson and Damon Martland are still out. The under-17s travel to Wolver-hampton Wanderers tomorrow (kick-off 11am). And they will be looking to get back to winning ways after the defeat to unbeaten Academy League leaders Manchester City two weeks ago. That was one of only two matches Alan Harper's side have played since December.
Harper said: "It has been too long without any games. The lads don't like inactivity. At their age all they want to do is play games. They prefer that to training so it has been frustrating for them, but they are all looking forward to Saturday." The last time the two sides met was at Netherton in October, and a close match ended in a 1-1 draw, with Blues top scorer Gavin Lynch's goal earning a share of the points. Harper is expecting a similar game in the Midlands. He added: "Wolves are a big side, but they are not brutal with it. They like to get it down and play football, just as we do. "They have a good set of players so I expect it to be a good football match." Defender Jack Flood and Welsh midfielder Morgan Jones are both likely to be missing after injuring their ankles in training. So Harper will call upon a number of schoolboys, who will be looking to impress in the hope of earning a scholarship at the club in the summer.
Wright time to turn back England clock
Feb 7 2003 Liverpool Echo
RICHARD WRIGHT hopes to turn back the clock two years at Everton - by qualifying for Europe and earning an England recall. The Everton goalkeeper was between the posts for Ipswich during the 2000-01 season in which the Tractor Boys shocked the football world by finishing fifth. His performances that season earned him an England call-up. He hopes to repeat that achievement this season, by qualifying for Europe with Everton and getting back into Sven Goran Eriksson's international set-up. "Everyone expected us to be struggling," said Wright, "but when I was at Ipswich, people were saying we were relegation fodder before a ball had been kicked and we ended up qualifying for Europe. "It is all about setting high standards. Don't be content with mediocrity, always try to perform and progress. If you do that, you can't go too far wrong." Speaking to official FA website, TheFA.com, Wright added: "I've been able to sit down with Chris (Woods, Everton's goalkeeping coach), look at certain things and David Moyes has give us the licence to work at the things we want to concentrate on. "I was convinced Everton was the right move for me from the moment I've started and the number of clean sheets we've had reflects well on me. "England is something I have always targeted and I know if I play well at a club like Everton, I will be in the England manager's thoughts and the opportunity will come." Eriksson's international squad for next week's friendly match against Australia will be announced on Saturday night.
Stu is backing Moyes
Feb 7 2003 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
GRAHAM STUART was in typically chirpy mood ahead of tomorrow's clash between his current club and his former favourites. "You can tell The Toffees they've got off the hook by a fortnight!" joked Charlton's club captain, referring to the date he finally hopes to return from a cruciate injury nightmare. But behind the light-hearted banter is a serious admiration of the transformation David Moyes has wrought at his old club. Stuart opened the scoring when Charlton embarassed Everton with a 3-0 drubbing at Goodison Park on December 29 last season. Almost a year later he watched appreciatively as the reborn Blues comfortably strolled to victory. He admits it was a turnaround he would not have thought possible as boos rang around Goodison as he left the pitch 13 months ago.
"You couldn't see it happening because, I think, any Evertonians you ask would say that the turning point was the arrival of David Moyes as manager. He came in and brought a freshness back to the club," he explained. "People I've spoken to back at Everton tell me how hard David is working them and how he is getting some players performing better than they ever had done previously. "In many respects it's a little like the ethic we had at Everton under Joe Royle and Willie Donachie. When you face Everton now you know you are going to be in a game from the first minute, whereas previously they had become a little bit of a soft touch. "Now they are chasing every ball down and working from the front - and everyone trusts everyone else to do their own jobs." Graham Stuart's name will be forever linked with relegation battles at Everton. It was "Diamond's" goals which helped Everton pull off one of the most dramatic escape acts of recent times, when the first penalty kick he ever converted flew clinically past Hans Segers, then the most miscued half-volley he ever mishit followed it. But he also contributed significantly to the one moment of true glory during his Goodison sojourn. After scoring in an FA Cup semi-final demolition of Spurs, it was his shot which rapped the Manchester United crossbar, enabling Paul Rideout to score the goal which brought the Cup back to Merseyside in 1995. The following season he scored 14 goals as Everton secured their highest ever Premiership placing - a sixth place finish the current squad is hoping to emulate. But he has warned his old employers they won't have it easy at The Valley. "Since that defeat at Everton we've had an outstanding run," he declared. "We've only lost two from our last 15 and we see Saturday's game as a huge one for us. If we win we can move to within three points of Everton, so there's an enormous incentive for us. "Tomasz Radzinski gave us a lot of problems earlier in the season with his pace and movement, but David Moyes doesn't seem to be the kind of person to pick out individuals, he is more concerned about Everton as a team unit and we are anticipating another tough match." Stuart will be there to watch the game, but is not quite ready to reclaim his first team place just yet. "It's been a long slog for me," he explained, "but I'm nearly there now. I've started training again and I'm hoping to be ready for a match again in about a fortnight." More than five years have passed since Stuart left Goodison in the deal that brought in Carl Tiler and Mitch Ward, but Evertonians will still be genuinely pleased to welcome back the "diamond geezer" who sparkled for four years at Goodison Park.
Moyes wants to keep Tie
Feb 7 2003 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
LI TIE has played himself into a long term future at Everton. The Chinese international been on-loan at Goodison since the summer, as part of the sponsorship deal with Kejian. But Blues' boss David Moyes revealed for the first time today that he hopes to make Tie a permanent addition to his squad. "I think we would look at the possibility of keeping Tie here for longer," he said. "He is still a young midfielder, but he is also very experienced. We will see what we can do about taking him permanently." Tie would cost a transfer fee, but it would be unlikely to stretch Everton dramatically. The 25-year-old has shown remarkable consistency in his first season in English football, failing to start just three games. After tomorrow's trip to Charlton he will return to China to take part in a prestigious friendly match against Brazil - and Moyes is convinced he is a better player than the one he first spotted at the World Cup last summer. "He has improved," he said, "but I think that is down to continually playing in the Premiership which has given him a chance to develop. "His football knowledge is greater now and maybe since Thomas Gravesen has been missing he has taken a little bit more responsibility further forward." Tie is in the squad for tomorrow's trip to inform Charlton, along with injury doubts Steve Watson and Alessandro Pistone. Of the two, Watson is the more likely to figure. He trained yesterday in a special cut-away boot and if there is no reaction to his heel injury he will be pencilled in. Pistone's chances, however, are rated at "no better than 50-50." "It will be a blow if either miss out, let alone both," said Moyes, "because their partnership down the right hand side has been very effective. "Before that Tony Hibbert and Lee Carsley did very well, and they have taken up that mantle." Joseph Yobo could return at right-back, while Moyes must also decide whether to recall Kevin Campbell up front. Wayne Rooney is back in the squad for the first time since his four-match suspension.
Charlton 2, Everton 1 (D,Post)
Feb 10 2003 Andy Hunter At The Valley, Daily Post
WITH IMPECCABLE timing Wembley's Twin Towers disappear just as Merseyside constructs a formidable striking duo to spearhead England's brave new era. Thankfully for those of us who put clubs first and don't lie awake at night with dreams of Frank Lampard junior lifting the World Cup in 2006, and itching to crucify Wayne Rooney and Michael Owen if he doesn't, the region can spare enough intrigue to keep us preoccupied in the real world. Many viewed this weekend as one that could define the outcome of the Premiership run-in. If that is the case then Champions League football now represents an almighty struggle for both Everton and Liverpool. Nevertheless, they are brewing up a parochial battle for league supremacy and a passport to Europe that should enthral everyone until May even if, right now, neither side seems particularly keen to win it. Throughout this season of revival/reversal (delete where appropriate) the Merseyside giants have spurned countless opportunities to open up a healthy lead on each other. It was Everton's turn again at Charlton where instead of a five-point cushion after the stalemate at Anfield their advantage was reduced to two. Ultimately frustration found both sides this weekend, and there were plenty more connections on offer to suggest this season will continue with the pair trapped in their own private title race. Evertonians can now appreciate the dubious experience of having their own teenage striking sensation burdened with the expectations of a fallen football nation. They too have now tasted defeat at The Valley this season and, just like Gerard Houllier before him, David Moyes will be delighted if he never reads the name of Jeff Winter on a teamsheet again. The Blues boss will no doubt be receiving his latest FA rap this week after describing the match official as a "Big-time homer who was more interested in his rub-on tan than giving us anything". The description would be even funnier if it wasn't so true. Everton stalled during winter and Winter stalled them again on Saturday. He revels in controversy and stealing the show so we should delay his moment a while and, unlike the Teesside mauler, let the actual football take precedence. This was an excellent Premiership contest, even if the final outcome was hard for the visitors to stomach. End-to-end, passionate without menace and with two well-balanced sides trying to out-play the other rather than cancelling each other out, it was quality fare. Not that Moyes was left in the mood for tributes. The Goodison chief was infuriated that Charlton's offside opener was allowed to stand and for the inconsistency surrounding the fierce challenge that could have broken Alan Stubbs' ankle. But while he was right on both those counts, his assertion that Everton looked the more likely winners was highly debatable. True, the Blues stepped up another gear after the interval to dominate possession and pressed the Addicks relentlessly. Yet throughout the game they lacked conviction with the final ball and struggled to find a cutting edge as some players failed to find the form of recent weeks. In contrast, an excellent Charlton side near always threatened an end product and, but for the impressive Richard Wright, could have established a comfortable lead by the break.
Ironically though, it took two gifts to beat the Blues, one from Winter, the other from Li Tie.
Something had to give at The Valley where both sides arrived boasting a three-match winning streak but sadly this painful referee's infuriating style was never going to budge. It's sad, and says everything about the FA's strength, that up and down the country supporters arrive at grounds knowing the game they have paid good money to watch will be spoiled because Winter is there too.
Crucially it was the Charlton breakthrough that had the greatest effect, but straight from the off, where he insisted Tomasz Radzinski walked 20 yards to stand at his feet for a quiet word and moved the ball at an Everton free-kick no more than six inches, he threatened to ruin an absorbing contest.
Both sides had penalty shouts waved away but it was on 18 minutes when the major controversy arose. Claus Jensen fed Kevin Lisbie's run into the area, but when the ball arrived Shaun Bartlett intercepted with his strike partner at least a yard offside. Not only did the Everton defence stop but Lisbie did too. However, Winter, aided and abetted by his assistant, allowed play to continue and while Wright parried Bartlett's shot it rolled into the path of Radostin Kishishev who tucked the ball home with the Blues caught cold. As Moyes said: "You had to be blind not to see that. He was definitely in an offside position and the pass was intended for Kevin Lisbie as well so of course he was interfering." It's impossible for a striker not to interfere with play in an opposition penalty area unless he's called Brett Angel. Even the Charlton celebrations were muted, with Bulgarian captain Kishishev checking the referee's decision twice before accepting an embarrassed hug from Jensen.
There were no complaints about Charlton's half-time lead, however, as Everton struggled for composure after the decision and the home side took full advantage, Jensen twice denied by the flying Wright who went one better to deny the Scott Parker at point-blank range at the end of an incisive move. Everton's afternoon took another turn for the worse when Stubbs fell victim to a heavy tackle by Parker after a clumsily-worked free-kick on the edge of the Charlton area.
Moyes' post-match comments were later construed as an attack on the impressive Charlton midfielder, who threw himself at the ball as Stubbs shaped to shoot and caught the Blues defender's ankle with his knee. It was not: it was an appeal for consistency. His words were: "The challenge on Alan was very similar to the one Wayne got sent off for at Birmingham. I'm not saying I wanted the player sent off, I don't want any player sent off, but we had a player dismissed for that sort of challenge and today we didn't even get a free-kick. We didn't get a decision all day." Talking of Rooney. . . The Blues' second-half response was instant although Dean Kiely's 29th-minute stop from Radzinski was still their clearest chance until Brian McBride levelled 40 minutes later with his fourth goal in five games after Li Tie had flicked a flowing move into his path inside the area. Just prior to the equaliser, Rooney and Kevin Campbell had been warming up ready to come on and, Moyes admitted, would have done had Everton not found a way through. With hindsight, they should have done as soon as McBride struck but by the time guile and power did arrive from the bench, the Blues were behind again. Jason Euell and Jonatan Johansson both gave reminders of the Charlton threat and with seven minutes remaining it arrived when Li Tie slashed at a loose ball and sent it straight towards his own area. The ball hit Johansson on the thigh and fell kindly for Lisbie who, if he hadn't inflicted enough punishment on the Blues already, made sure with a low finish wide of Wright.
Sven-Goran Eriksson had left two minutes earlier (perhaps he's a Blue?) and also missed Rooney's belated cameo which almost saw him produce headlines for Everton, not England, when he unleashed a venomous 20-yard drive inches over the bar. The draw would have been a true reflection of the game but then Moyes, who tussled with England in the best interests of Rooney and lost, probably knew not to expect a fair break this weekend.
CHARLTON ATHLETIC (4-4-2): Kiely; Fish, Rufus, Fortune, Powell; Kishishev, Euell, Parker, Jensen (Konchesky 86); Bartlett (Johansson 67), Lisbie. Subs: Rachubka, Bart-Williams, El-Khalej.
EVERTON (4-4-2): Wright; Pistone, Weir, Stubbs (Yobo 44), Unsworth (Rooney 85); Gravesen, Li Tie, Gemmill (Campbell 88), Naysmith; McBride, Radzinski. Subs: Gerrard, Carsley.
BOOKINGS: Everton's Li Tie (foul).
REFEREE: Mr J Winter.
Stubbs injury fillip for Blues
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Feb 10 2003
EVERTON received another boost last night when it was confirmed Alan Stubbs did not break his ankle at Charlton. The Blues defender was stretchered off in agony at The Valley after a 44th-minute collision with Scott Parker. There were fears Stubbs' season was over but scans yesterday morning revealed he had suffered severe bruising instead - giving him an outside chance of facing Southampton in two weeks' time. Everton physio Mick Rathbone confirmed yesterday: "Alan had X-rays this morning and thankfully there is no sign of a fracture, so it is just bad bruising. "We have no fixture for two weeks so there is a reasonable chance that he could actually be available for the next game."
Platt: Why I'm happy to miss out on Wayne
Feb 10 2003
ENGLAND Under-21 coach David Platt has no qualms about losing Wayne Rooney to the senior squad for Wednesday's friendly with Australia. Everton's 17-year-old star has bypassed the under-21 squad, bar a get-together in November, and has been drafted straight into Sven-Goran Eriksson's 27-man party for the Upton Park showdown with the Aussies. Opinion is divided as to whether Rooney should be with the seniors given his age and the fact he has made just six starts and 16 substitute appearances for Everton, scoring three goals in the process. Eriksson has pointed to the fact Pele was just 17 when he helped Brazil win the World Cup in 1958, and the side he fields in the second half will be very much an experimental one, with an eye towards the future. In many respects, Rooney cannot lose for if he does well then his place is likely to be assured for the European Championship qualifiers later this season, and if not then he has the fallback of the under-21s. "Wayne is obviously the name everybody will talk about and will go on about," said Platt, who will call upon a 19-man squad for tomorrow's friendly with Italy in Carrara. "To be honest we spoke a while ago about Rooney. Because Wayne was suspended for a few games - with his first game back being this weekend - there was a feeling Wayne would be with me and the under-21s. "But as soon as Sven decided to go with a younger second-half team, then I think the clamour was there for Wayne, so quite rightly he steps up with another three or four players from my squad. "If he does well enough and he continues to do well enough for Everton, then fine, he should stay in that squad. If he doesn't and he comes back down to the under-21s, then good. It will still be very good experience for him." Rooney-mania is certain to take hold over the next few days, but Platt feels the teenager will be able to cope with the limelight which will undoubtedly be focused on him.
"The best quote for me was from David Moyes, and I know he is a Scotsman, who said 'if we are pinning our hopes on a 17-year-old kid then we've got problems'," smiled Platt. "It was very tongue-in-cheek because we haven't got problems. You only have to look at the kind of players who are in my squad and in Sven's squad as well. "But it's unfair to keep throwing the pressure onto Wayne Rooney, although yes, he has broad enough shoulders to take it." With the likes of Rooney, Francis Jeffers, Jermaine Jenas and Joe Cole in the senior squad, Platt has named five potential debutants in his group. Derby goalkeeper Lee Grant, Blackburn defender James McEveley, Bolton midfielder Kevin Nolan and Ipswich duo Darren Ambrose and Darren Bent all now have the chance to press home their international claims.
How big gamble paid the top prize
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Feb 10 2003
RICHARD WRIGHT'S England recall has rewarded his bold decision to drop down the Premiership and the pay-scale, David Moyes insisted last night. While Wayne Rooney is the headline maker in Sven Goran Eriksson's squad, Wright's elevation was another success story for Everton and their revival under Moyes. The former Ipswich keeper's last international appearance came on August 15, 2001, when he replaced David James in the 2-0 friendly defeat by Holland to win his second cap. And Moyes believes his recall has justified Wright's courage in the summer when he turned his back on the Champions League and double winners Arsenal in favour of regular first team football with Everton. The Blues manager said: "Richard deserves to be called up by England. Chris Kirkland and Paul Robinson have both done very well, but I don't think people have been talking about Richard as much. And he's had more clean sheets than anyone. "There is a lot of competition for Richard, there are a lot of good goalkeepers in the country. He's kept 11 clean sheets this season and I think that's testimony to how well he's done. "He was outstanding against Charlton. He had a superb all-round game and made two or three smashing saves. He handled the ball well. "I also think he will be an even better keeper two or three years down the line. He's done really well so far. There have been a few games where he could have done much better, but we are not pushing him because we know experience and time will make him better. "I hope he goes on to realise his full potential because he's got an awful lot going for him." Yesterday Wright backed Moyes' view that the call justified his fight for recognition with Everton. The Blues keeper said: "I am absolutely delighted because that is one of the reasons why I came to Everton. I came to Goodison to get myself back in the spotlight and playing well again. It has been a gradual progression for me since I came here.
"The manager has stuck by me when things haven't gone too well and I really appreciate that and the fans have been phenomenal, too. "I am just glad that I have been given the opportunity and if I can perform well who knows what might happen during the week." Wright took a pay cut to join the Blues in the summer, rejecting pleas from Arsene Wenger to remain at Highbury despite a difficult debut season in north London. And Moyes believes the 25-year-old has earned this reward.
Moyes added: "We always said he needs time to get over, not the disappointment of Arsenal but the experience of Arsenal. He took a few knocks to his confidence and maybe things that came naturally to him, he started thinking about a bit more. "He needed time for that. He had to leave the Double winners and I think that was a major thing for him. That wasn't easy to do. "He could have sat in the reserves and picked up more money than he gets at Everton but he made the decision that he wanted to play football. That was a brave decision, especially in the modern game. A lot of players don't want to do that but Richard did to push himself."
Rooney is ready
Feb 10 2003 By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
DAVID MOYES put aside reservations about Wayne Rooney's international call-up last night to admit the Everton sensation deserves his place in history. Rooney will become the youngest ever England international when he plays against Australia on Wednesday after just six Premiership starts convinced Sven Goran Eriksson he was ready for the big time. Moyes has made no secret of his belief the 17-year-old should be shielded from the extra publicity and pressure of an international career. But, as Richard Wright also celebrated an international recall after 18 months in the wilderness, the Blues boss believes it is another sign of Everton's progress that they have two players in an England squad for the first time since the 1980s. And he conceded teenage hero Rooney was worthy of a leading role in Eriksson's new youthful squad. Moyes said: "He's now mixing with all the top players. Maybe he might be overawed by it, I don't know. He's not fully mentally developed or mature yet but on a football pitch he's as good as any of them. "If he's good enough then it's right he should be selected, and Wayne is good enough. It doesn't matter how old he is. "He's delighted to be included and we're all really pleased for him. It's a credit to himself and how far he has come so quickly. But this is just the start of a long road for him. He's only a young boy and everyone must be careful not to put too much pressure on him. But now all his Christmases have come together."
Record-breaker Rooney will shatter the 124-year honour held by James Prinsep if he plays at Upton Park. The Clapham Rovers player was 17 years and 252 days old when he made his England debut against Scotland at The Oval in 1879. Michael Owen, the youngest player to appear for England in the 20th century, was 18 years and 59 days when he played against Chile in 1998, while Rooney will be only 17 years and 111 days old on Wednesday. The Blues star revealed: "When the gaffer told me I was in the squad I was really happy and asked when the under-21s report. "He just laughed and said 'No, it's the full squad'. I just couldn't believe it." Eriksson (left) missed Rooney's five-minute cameo at The Valley, where Moyes blasted Jeff Winter for "being more interested in his rub-on tan" than handling the game fairly, but is confident the youngster can handle the responsibility. The Swede said: "Pele was 17 when he won the World Cup in Sweden in 1958 and he scored two goals in the final. "I'm not trying to compare Rooney to Pele, that would be stupid of me. "However, players such as Rooney are the real talents, the special talent. "He has great, great quality. "He is very strong and he makes things happen. "I have decided to name a young team so of course Rooney should be there. "So yes, he will play. It will be good for him." Former Evertonian Francis Jeffers joined the Blues' pair in Eriksson's newlook squad but it is Rooney who is the biggest attraction in Wednesday's friendly. Moyes added: "I think your club can be judged by how many internationals you have in your team and particularly how many England internationals you have.
"So with Richard and Wayne in the squad it's fantastic for us and is another step in the right direction."
Charlton 2, Everton 1 (Echo)
Feb 10 2003 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
MAYBE Nancy had the dinner on. In which case, following recent indiscretions, you could understand Sven not wanting to upset her. But when he slipped out of The Valley in the 81st minute the most recent object of his affection wasn't even on the pitch. The England coach should have known that evidence of Wayne Rooney's prodigious talent currently comes in fragmentary flashes. Three minutes later, England's youngest international duly arrived, easily time enough to come as close to scoring a second Everton equaliser as anybody else had managed. After all, Rooney was an 80th minute substitute the day he shot to national attention against Arsenal, and only enjoyed five minutes longer when he sensationally struck at Leeds a fortnight later. But if Eriksson missed another Rooney cameo, he was present for the majority of an enthralling Premiership clash between two sides who exemplify the ethics of hard work, adventure and ambition. Disappointingly, ITV have still not woken up to the refreshing approach to the Premiership Charlton and Everton offer. Fifth versus eighth? Shovel it into a 60-second slot just before midnight. Maybe ITV were allowing the thousands of Evertonians who made the long and difficult trek to South-East London to arrive safely home before screening it. Somehow, I can't really see it. For those who want a little more than a snap-shot analysis, Charlton and Everton attacked each other with a zeal which produced a wide open match. For 45 minutes, Charlton did it much better, with the wonderfully talented Scott Parker the hub of their attacking efforts. Charlton could have scored in the first minute, but Bartlett lobbed the ball over Richard Wright and wide of the target. Wright's recall to the England fold was largely overlooked in the frenzy of headlines which regaled Rooney's elevation, but his performance in front of the watching international coach will have raised his profile significantly. He handled confidently, organised his defenders effectively - and did what his supporters have seen him do all season, used his athleticism and instinct to block a series of goalbound efforts. Dean Kiely, too, was in good form, palming away Pistone's near post header from Gravesen's outswinging seventh minute corner. Gravesen also had an 11th minute penalty appeal turned down before Charlton opened the scoring. Some Sunday morning columnists suggested that David Moyes' withering attack on Jeff Winter's performance was inappropriate on such an entertaining afternoon. Maybe they don't mind a preening, self-important oaf attempting to spoil their afternoon's enjoyment. Winter's decision to rule Kevin Lisbie "not active" when he tossed aside Everton's offside protests and allowed Charlton's opener to stand was bizarre. Lisbie was standing directly alongside Shaun Bartlett, so close that Jensen's pass may even have been intended for him. Bartlett's shot was blocked by Wright's heel and Kishisev drilled in the rebound.
Then there was a valid penalty claim after Gravesen was tripped, plus three deflections obvious from as far away as the Main Stand which should have yielded corners. Mr Winter awarded goal kicks every time. The standard of refereeing in the Premiership has slipped so far that the very annoucement of names like Winter, Elleray, d'Urso and Wolstenholme is enough to initiate groans even before the match has kicked off. The appearance of discreet souls like Wiley and, well, erm Alan Wiley are celebrated, then bemoaned by their rarity. Regardless of the manner in which they scored, there was no doubt Charlton deserved an interval lead. Tomasz Radzinski had his customary one-against-one saved by Kiely's legs, but Wright had to be equally alert to claw away Jensen's curling cross-shot, and a little fortunate to block Parker's close range effort with his legs at the end of a wonderfully incisive home move. On the stroke of half-time further misfortune befell the visitors when Alan Stubbs was stretchered off. Parker's attempt to close the Blues' defender down on the edge of the box was nothing more than commitedly enthusiastic, but his follow through dragged Stubbs' ankle back and resulted in an injury which looked serious. It should be pointed out that Moyes did not suggest Parker should have been sent off for the challenge. "We got very few decisions today," he said. "It wasn't a penalty, and if you think of the tackle, Wayne Rooney was sent off for something similar and we didn't even get a free-kick for it which was incredible." Moyes was, presumably, just as spikey in the dressing room at half time, because after the interval Everton were altogether more coherent. They enjoyed the greater possession, but never produced consistent enough quality into the penalty area. McBride jack-knifed a header goalwards which Kiely covered then, in the 66th minute, scuffed a good opening from Radzinski's touch-back. With the American struggling to hold the ball and the Blues desperate for inspiration, the appearance of either Campbell and Rooney, or both, seemed imminent. Then they struck with a goal of breathtaking simplicity. Pistone raced down the right, his cross was collected by Radzinski, slipped on to Tie, and he shuffled the ball across to McBride, who raked a right-footed shot just inside the post. The substitute boards were hast-ily put away - and Gary Naysmith might have grabbed another but toe-poked over from 18 yards. Wright palmed away Johansson's effort, then Sven-Goran slipped off into the night - a minute before the match was decided. Li Tie had already slipped a neat ball through for one goal, when he repeated the feat - sadly at the other end. His attempted clearance was straight at Johansson, who touched the ball on for Lisbie to race away and clip a shot past Wright. A flurry of substitutes - Sven would have approved - saw Everton finish the match with four strikers, but the closest they came was Rooney's ferocious 20-yarder which dipped over. Mr Eriksson's sum total of watching Rooney in action, therefore, stands at 25 minutes. That will all change on Wednesday night. Let's hope it's half as entertaining.
CHARLTON ATHLETIC (4-4-2): Kiely, Kishishev, Rufus, Fish, Powell, Parker, Euell, Jensen (Konchesky 86), Fortune, Lisbie, Bartlett (Johansson 67). Unused subs: Rachubka, Bart-Williams, El Khalej.
EVERTON: Wright, Pistone, Weir, Stubbs (Yobo 44 mins), Unsworth (Rooney 84), Gravesen, Gemmill (Campbell 88), Tie, Nay-smith, McBride, Radzinski. Unused subs: Gerrard, Carsley.
REFEREE: Jeff Winter.
BOOKING: Tie (8 mins) foul.
GOALS: Kishishev (17 mins) 1-0, McBride (68 mins) 1-1, Lisbie (82 mins) 2-1.
Feb 10 2003 By Tommy Smith, Liverpool Echo
WHO could blame Sven-Goran Eriksson for wanting to have a look at Wayne Rooney at the earliest possible opportunity. Wednesday night's England match against the Australians could not be better. The Everton youngster has emerged as one of the most exciting prospects at international level for some time - and the fact that he is only 17 doesn't matter. The England coach is giving Rooney a chance to savour the atmosphere and the build-up to an England match and, more importantly, will hand him his first cap. Many may consider his call-up rather premature, given the fact that he does not have that many senior games for the Blues under his belt. But with the impact he has made in the Premiership this season you cannot ignore the lad. Eriksson will give him a run out for 45 minutes and the experience he will gain will be immense. Anyway, it's not as if England are blessed with that many quality strikers, so Rooney will get the chance to show what he can do at top level. There's no doubt that his ability and pace can cause problems to defences - Arsenal and Leeds are two who have first hand knowledge of that - and he has shown the maturity to cope with the pressures of Premiership football, and I think he can handle the bigger stage. Everton, and David Moyes in particular, have been at pains to ensure that his development into the Blues team has been gradual, but you cannot ignore talent. It will be a big step in his career, but unless you do it you are never going to learn. Defenders aren't necessarily aware of his little tricks at the moment, his bursts of speed, his close control and shooting ability. But they will. Rooney, I hope, will enjoy his first game in an England shirt. He will continue to be an important part of the Everton revival, but he can also be an important part of the England scene. Good luck to him. He has a great chance of enjoying a long England career.
Feb 10 2003 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
WAYNE ROONEY checked in with the England team for training today - as he prepared to make football history on Wednesday by becoming the youngest England player ever. But as he did so Everton boss David Moyes warned the nation not to expect too much too soon from the 17-year-old sensation. Rooney is expected to play the second half of the friendly match against Australia, aged 17 years 111 days, beating the 124-year-old record of Clapham Rovers' James Prinsep as England's youngest international by 141 days-But Moyes pointed out today that, Saturday's six minute run-out apart, it will be Rooney's first competitive football for a month. "It would be a concern if he was preparing for an Everton game, let alone his first match for his country," admitted Moyes. "He will lack that sharpness that playing games can give you, and it was a big disappointment both for Sven and myself when our reserve match was postponed last week. "But we have trained Wayne really hard while he has been banned and he has worked very, very hard. "But I hope there aren't too many expectations for him. As I said on Saturday night, if the future of the England team rests on the shoulders of a 17-year-old then you do have problems!" England captain David Beckham has been assigned as Rooney's 'minder' to help his settle into his first full international squad, and Moyes is delighted by that decision. "I would be delighted if David Beckham puts his arm around Wayne and looks after him," he said. "I know David from his time at Preston and I spoke to him a couple of times during his rise to stardom. He is another level leaded individual, he looks after himself off the field and he is an ideal role model for someone like Wayne to learn from. "Obviously he will be able to help him with the intense media exposure he will receive this week." Richard Wright is also back in the England squad, giving Everton two players in an English squad for the first time since Francis Jeffers and Michael Ball travelled to Hungary with Kevin Keegan's squad in 1999 as young, non-playing squad members. Wright may have to content himself with a non-playing role on Wednesday, though. The Upton Park venue means West Ham goalkeeper David James will start, and Eriksson - who watched Wright's excellent performance at The Valley on Saturday - is expected to have a first-hand look at Paul Robinson. There was good news regarding Alan Stubbs' ankle injury which saw him stretchered off on Saturday. An X-ray has revealed no break, and the Blues hope that heavy bruising could sub-side in time for Stubbs to be available for their next match against Southampton in a fortnight. Meanwhile, Joe Royle believes Eriksson has called up Rooney because "he wants to put a stamp on him". The former Goodison hero, now manager of Ipswich, said he was a little surprised to hear of Rooney's promotion. Royle claimed: "He is possibly up for grabs for a number of nations. Sven will want to put a stamp on him. "I am sure Sven wants to see him as soon as possible in an international atmosphere. Equally I am sure David Moyes would like it to be at least 12 months down the line. "I know David is protecting him as well as he can at the moment. The kid is just 17 and it is immense for him. "He is having all the growing pains he will get at this age and it will be hard for him. But he is a prodigious talent and the sooner we see him the better I suppose."
Former Liverpool striker John Aldridge admitted he would have tried to draft in Rooney had he been named Republic of Ireland manager. "That would have been one of my first agendas to give him a ring and see how he qualifies," he said. "From an English perspective it is good to get him in the squad straight away. It keeps the wolves from knocking at the door. He is a fantastic young player."
Eriksson: Learn the Owen way
Feb 10 2003 Liverpool Echo
ENGLAND are likely to pair current and former Everton strikers Wayne Rooney and Francis Jeffers on Wednesday. Rooney is set to become the youngest England international in history, although he may not have played had it been a competitive qualifier. Eriksson has pledged to field an experimental under-25 team in the second half to get around the problem of a mid-season friendly most clubs would prefer was not played. "I would like to play a full-strength side for the full 90 minutes but you have to be realistic about these things," he said. "After Wednesday's game some of the players have FA Cup matches, European matches and important games in the Premiership."
Eriksson has only seen 17-year-old Rooney play 25 minutes of competitive football. "I have seen Wayne on television when he has scored and I have talked with his manager and the scouts who have watched him," said Eriksson. "Everybody says the same thing - he is something exciting and has enormous potential - so let's look at him. "As a manager, I have never been afraid of picking young players. "I selected Roberto Baggio at Fiorentina when he was just 17 and also picked Rui Costa and Paulo Sousa at Benfica. "If Everton did not want me to play Wayne I would not have picked him. But his manager thinks he is ready and was happy for me to do so. If you get selected for England at 17 it should give you confidence." On David Moyes' advice, there will be no big media session for Rooney to attend and Eriksson believes the youngster will benefit from his club manager's guiding hand. "The coaches at Everton are very keen to educate Wayne," he said. "When you suddenly become a big hero it is not always easy to handle. In the past we have seen examples of people who have managed it and of people who haven't. "Michael Owen would be a good one to follow but I need to speak with Wayne and say hello to him before I can really start to find out what he is like."
Blues can be TV stars
Feb 10 2003 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
THE AMERICAN star of two World Cups, Brian McBride, is planning a night in front of the TV on Wednesday to watch two Everton team-mates take significant steps onto the English international stage. Wayne Rooney will become the youngest England international in history when he appears against Australia at Upton Park, while goalkeeper Richard Wright will cbrate his own recall to the international stage. McBride, who scored at the 1998 and 2002 World Cup tournaments for the USA, said: "They both deserve their call-ups. "Those two guys have both played extremely well since I've been here. I've seen Wayne more in training than in matches, because of his ban, but in just a few minutes today he showed what he can do. "He creates space for himself, is strong on the ball and I think he has a great future ahead of him. "I don't think I've met anybody as advanced as he is at that age in soccer. It's not just physical. It's more than that. It's not just his body it's the way he thinks. "He doesn't just create space for himself he knows where to put himself for the good of the team. "Wrighty has been really solid all the way through as well and it should be a lot of fun on Wednesday. I hope I get to see both of them play!" McBride celebrated the fourth goal of his loan spell at Everton when he equalised at Charlton on Saturday, but the home side hit back to triumph 2-1. "There were spells in the second half, especially after we had just equalised, when it seemed like the parting of the seas - but we just couldn't get another goal," he added. "There were times when we did well but we know we can do a lot better." And while McBride was satisfied with the quality of his own strike, he feels he also played an unwitting part in Charlton's opening goal of the game.
"If you think about it, for their first goal I should have turned and shot, but I turned, took a stutter-step and tried to toe-poke it through to Radz," he explained. "I didn't get enough on it and they broke away and scored at the other end. "Some people have said it was offside. I think that's been talked about in the locker room, although I haven't seen it yet. "But things happen like that in football sometimes."
Rooney will cope with spotlight - Pembridge
Feb 11 2003 by Paul Walker, Daily Post
WAYNE ROONEY may be about to become England's youngest-ever full international, but handling the spotlight will be a breeze according to Everton team-mate Mark Pembridge. Rooney, just 17, is expected to figure in England's friendly against Australia at West Ham's Upton Park and Pembridge fully backs the decision to call him into the squad. "I've got no fears for him, he's not frightened of anything and he'll cope," said the Wales midfielder, set to win his 46th cap against Bosnia on Wednesday. "I wasn't surprised he was called up by England. If you are good enough you're old enough, why not? "He's been showing over the season that he's obviously good enough, he's playing very well every time he's got into the side," he added. "He surprises the senior lads with some of the things he does on the training ground, they just stop to watch. But he loves training, gets on with his work and joins in all the banter." And yes, the lad who was still at school this time last year and now seems to have David Beckham as his minder gives as good as he gets in the Everton dressing room. Pembridge added: "Now he's just like everyone else. He's got all the banter even at 17, something to do with coming from Liverpool, I suppose. "He's quiet at times, he likes his privacy but in terms of the club and being part of Everton, he just loves it. Being part of the first-team squad is all he's bothered about. "He's had to learn about the spotlight very quickly, but there are people at Everton who can help him - club officials and the senior players." He added: "We all try to look after him. If you speak to him, he listens. So from that aspect he's got a very good chance of really making it. He listens to everyone who tries to help him. He can't get enough advice.
"The rest of us have learned about the spotlight slowly as we've grown up. For Wayne, it's hit him all at once. "But he's taken it all in his stride, and handled it very well. I feel he'll handle joining the England squad just as well as he did when he started with the first-team squad at Everton.
"Everyone wants to play for their country, and he's no different to anyone else, whether he's 17, 19 or 25. "In terms of his football, he never seems to be frightened of anything. He gets on with it, he knows what he wants to do and that's just play football. I've certainly got no fears for him, he'll cope."
Rio : Have no fear
Feb 11 2003 By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
WAYNE ROONEY was last night told to be fearless in the face of his international date with destiny.
The Everton striker trained with his new England colleagues for the first time yesterday ahead of becoming the youngest international in the country's history against Australia. Rio Ferdinand, himself thrust into the international spotlight at an early age, believes Rooney's confidence will soar thanks to Sven-Goran Eriksson's call-up. Ferdinand was also a teenager when he made his England debut against Cameroon in November 1997, although even he was almost two years older than Rooney at 19 years and eight days. And as he advised Rooney to treat the likes of David Beckham and Michael Owen as his equals, Manchester United's £30million defender backed the Blues star to handle the pressures facing him at Upton Park tomorrow night. Ferdinand said: "For players like Wayne Rooney to come in at such a young age with only a little experience is great for English football. "Hopefully he'll go out there and show what he's made of. I don't think you feel pressure at that age, you're more fearless. "You don't think about the consequences or what might happen.
"You just enjoy it. I was chomping at the bit to get in the team and be involved when I was at that age. "He seems to be doing that with his club and he's scored some quality goals and put in some great performances." Ferdinand continued: "All the young lads are here on merit, they're not just here to be starry-eyed. I'm sure when they go out on the training field and on the pitch, they'll think of themselves as equals, not as people looking up to anyone. "Wayne Rooney just seems like a normal lad, he doesn't look flash or that he thinks he's made it. I'm sure his club wouldn't let him get like that." While Blues boss David Moyes has advised caution over Rooney's outstanding talent, Ferdinand believes an early England call-up is right for the teenager. "He's quick, strong and takes up good positions. If he fulfils the potential that he's showing now, he's going to be some player - and some player for England hopefully," added Ferdinand. "Confidence-wise, it does you no end of good to get a call-up at a young age.It gives you self-belief and there's no better feeling than when you see yourself training with players that you've looked up to and seen on television as a kid."
Ferdinand nevertheless advised Rooney that his career will not all be plain sailing as he found out the hard way, in being left out of England's Euro 2000 squad despite having gone to the 1998 World Cup. "It does get frustrating. I'm sure he'll be sitting on the bench thinking that he wants to be playing," he revealed. "What you've got to do is take your chance and then deal with the downsides when they come along. But it seems like he's surrounded by good people." Meanwhile, Blues defender Peter Clarke will be hoping to push his international claims tonight after being called into the England Under-21s squad to take on Italy in Carrara.
Wayne can be great staying a Blue
Feb 11 2003 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
WAYNE ROONEY is at exactly the right club for his talent to flourish - says a young striker who quit Everton to develop his game. Former Goodison star Francis Jeffers is in the England squad for tomorrow night's Upton Park international against Australia, and has no doubt Rooney deserves to be there with him. "Wayne got into the Everton team even younger than me," said Jeffers, "and he has done fantastically well. I know him and he's a great lad, very down to earth. "When I was there he was still at school, but even then the talk of the club was not whether he'd make it, but how early they could put him in. "We come from the same part of Liverpool and our families know each other well. "I would say he's at a fantastic club, definitely the right place to express himself." Like Rooney, Jeffers made his debut for the first team at 16, but after only one full season in the senior side he was allowed to join Arsenal for £10m. "They messed me about and a few things went on I'd rather not talk about," he added, "because Everton is the club I've always loved and always will. I'm still a big Blue. "Everton fans have called me greedy and I can't really have a pop back at them because they were brilliant to me. But I'm not greedy. I came here to further my career, not for the money." Like Rooney, Jeffers could win his first full cap against Australia, and Goodison legend Graeme Sharp believes Rooney was born to play for his country. "I suppose it was only a matter of time, wasn't it?" said Sharp. "Some people are saying that his call-up has come too soon, but I don't agree with them at all. "The people who matter in international football are the people who pick the sides. "Over the years Sven-Goran Eriksson has worked with some fantastic young players, so no-one can tell me that he's not a good judge. In the glimpses he's seen of Wayne, he's obviously been impressed and decided he has the talent to play at a higher level."
Rooney should be fearless - says Rio
Feb 11 2003 By Mark Bradley, Liverpool Echo
RIO FERDINAND advised Wayne Rooney to be "fearless" when he becomes England's youngest ever international against Australia this week. Ferdinand was also a teenager when he made his England debut against Cameroon in November 1997, although even he was almost two years older than Rooney (pictured) at 19 years and eight days. He was similarly thrust straight into the spotlight at a young age, however, and knows all about the pressures that are facing the Everton striker. While Paul Scholes, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole received treatment on injury problems, Rooney trained with the England squad for the first time today. And the hype ahead of his expected substitute's appearance on Wednesday night at Upton Park was already growing. However, Ferdinand advised his young team-mate merely to be himself and treat everyone in the squad, including captain David Beckham and Michael Owen, as his equal. The England defender declared: "For players like Wayne Rooney to come in at such a young age with only a little experience is great for English football.
"Hopefully he'll go out there and show what he's made of. I don't think you feel pressure at that age, you're more fearless. "You don't think about the consequences or what might happen. You just enjoy it. I was chomping at the bit to get in the team and be involved when I was at that age. "He seems to be doing that with his club and he's scored some quality goals and put in some great performances." While Everton boss David Moyes initially advised a cautious attitude towards Rooney's obvious talent, Ferdinand agrees with the teenager's early England call-up in an experimental squad. "He's quick, strong and takes up good positions. If he fulfils the potential that he's showing now, he's going to be some player - and some player for England hopefully," added the Manchester United defender. "Confidence-wise, it does you no end of good to get a call-up at a young age. "It gives you self-belief and there's no better feeling than when you see yourself training with players that you've looked up to and seen on television as a kid." Along with Rooney, eight other uncapped players - 19-year-old Jermaine Jenas, Paul Robinson, Paul Konchesky, Scott Parker, Sean Davis, Matthew Upson, Francis Jeffers and James Beattie - are hoping to win their first caps.
"These players are here on merit, they're not just to be starry-eyed," added Ferdinand. "I'm sure when they go out on the train-ing field and on the pitch, they'll think of themselves as equals, not as people look-ing up to anyone. "Wayne Rooney just seems like a normal lad, he doesn't look flash or that he thinks he's made it. I'm sure his club wouldn't let him get like that." Ferdinand nevertheless advised Rooney that his career will not all be plain-sailing as he found out the hard way, in being left out of England's Euro 2000 squad despite having gone to the 1998 World Cup. "It does get frustrating. I'm sure he'll be sitting on the bench thinking that he wants to be playing," he revealed.
"What you've got to do is take your chance and then deal with the downsides when they come along. But it seems like he's surrounded by good people." Ferdinand insists that for all of the flak surrounding friendlies like this game, it can prove a valuable experience for not only debutants like Rooney but also for established internationals. "The Champions League is different football to the Premier League but internationals are probably more similar, so this could maybe be a blessing in disguise," he said. Hopefully Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger can take heed of such wise words. For Eriksson's desire to keep leading clubs onside and not tire out the players ahead of the resumption of the Champions League was behind his move to field an under-26 second-half side.
Ferdinand nevertheless firmly rejected the idea that England would not be taking this game seriously, even though they are planning to make up to 11 half-time substitutions. "There's not one player in this squad who will go out there not wanting to win," he stressed. "People might say we're going to take it lightly but everyone wants to impress the manager and win. Hopefully the younger players will also grab their chance. "Obviously there are good and bad times for friendlies to happen, but you must be proud to play for your country.
Everton duo in Reserves comeback
Feb 11 2003 Liverpool Echo
TONY HIBBERT and Nick Chadwick make their comebacks for Ever to n Reserves tonight. But Duncan Ferguson is still not quite ready f or a competitive run-out. Hibbert's last appearance was the Anfield derby in December, and came when he was on the brink of earning England Under-21 recognition for the first time. Chadwick has also been out with a hernia problem since December.
Ferguson has been gradually building up his fitness but is still not considered ready for the clash with Birmingham City Reserves at the Autoquest Stadium (7.00pm). Young goalkeeper Iain Turner, who has made a big impression in his short spell at Goodison so far, is also expected to play. Peter Clarke, meanwhile, is in line to win his first England Under-21 cap in Italy tonight. "Everyone at the club is very pleased for Peter and we hope he gets the chance to play," said boss David Moyes.
All-Mersey attack may not function
Feb 11 2003 By Kevin Ratcliffe
MERSEYSIDE football fans have been drooling at the prospect of a Red, White and Blue international strikeforce - Michael Owen from the red corner and Wayne Rooney from the Blue, wearing the white of England. Without getting involved in any Owen v Rooney debate, I have to say I can't see the pair of them functioning effectively together. Wayne is strong enough to hold up the ball and act as a target-man, but set pieces are so important in modern football and Michael and Wayne simply don't have enough height between them. England's desperation for a target man in recent years has seen calls for Alan Shearer to come out of retirement - and even David Moyes has shown his reluctance to play Rooney without a solid physical presence alongside him. There's no doubt in my mind that Wayne Rooney deserves to be included in England's full set-up. When you have that amount of talent, the sooner you get in and start feeling comfortable about the international scene the better. The number of younger players in the squad will also help him. Lads like Scott Parker, Jermaine Jenas, Paul Konchesky and Matthew Upson are sure to be as nervous as Wayne - and I'm sure Franny Jeffers will go out of his way to help Rooney settle in. The only slight down-side is the lack of competitive football Rooney has endured recently as a result of his ban. That apart, both England and Wayne Rooney can only benefit from this week's friendly international.
Wright in contention
THE goalkeeping selection for tomorrow night's friendly has thrown an international gauntlet firmly at Richard Wright's feet. With David Seaman nearing the end of his international career, and David James surely only selected because of tomorrow's venue - that leaves Wright and Paul Robinson to battle it out for the number one jersey. James will almost certainly start tomorrow, but I think he makes too many mistakes to be considered England's first choice number one. Wright is also prone to the occasional lapse, but nowhere near as many as James, while Robinson probably looks the most consistent of the lot. With Chris Kirkland on the injured list, this could be a significant spell in Richard Wright's international ambitions.
Socks for sale Only one previous owner
By Mark Hookham Daily Post Staff
Feb 12 2003
DAVID Moyes has earned the respect of Everton fans for his hard-work ethic and back-breaking efforts on the training field. His blood, sweat and tears approach is so admired that Blues fans are lining up to buy his training shorts, jogging bottoms and even shower towel. David Moyes' former club, Preston North End, is auctioning 20 items of training kit worn by the 39-year-old Scot last season. One anonymous fan spent £100 on two authentic David Moyes training tops, a pair of tracksuit bottoms and a pair of shorts. Supporters can place minimum bids of £1 or buy any item outright for a maximum price of £25 after the kit went on sale last week on the club's website. At the latest bidding last night, a Moyes towel was priced at £15, a polo shirt had reached £13 and a pair of black shorts were priced at £5. Gill Jacklin, a life-long Blues fan, yesterday bought a David Moyes polo shirt for £25 complete with Preston North End crest and yellow DM initials. Gill, 51, from Aigburth, said: "I think he is a great manager and will probably go down in history as another Alex Ferguson. "I talked to him after his first game and he seems such a nice man. We will probably frame the shirt and put it somewhere in the house." But not all fans are keen on snapping up the manager's hand-me-downs. Mark O'Brien, editor of Everton's internet fanzine When Skies are Grey, said: "Moyes is the best thing that has happened to the club in many years but I'm not really interested in buying his sweaty training socks. "I don't think this is something that will catch on. I can't see Manchester United fans queuing up to buy Sir Alex Ferguson's chewing gum. " Bobby Evans, of Blue Watch supporters' club, said: "I think the world of him but I don't think I'll buy something like that. "It will go down well in the supporters club, especially if it is signed, but I don't know if you can really hang it on the wall." Moyes is still in held in high regard by Preston fans for getting them from the bottom of Division Two to the Division One play-offs in only two seasons.
Each piece of the manager's kit is sold with a certificate of authentication including Moyes' signature. spokesman for Preston North End said: "We stumbled upon the items in the kit-room and didn't know what to do with them. We decided to give our fans a chance to get their hands on them. "They could be worth quite a lot of money in a few years, especially if David continues to live up to his growing reputation as one of the best young managers in the Premiership." Karen Wolstenholme, a spokeswoman for Preston North Ends' official supporters' club, said: "I wouldn't be tempted to buy a towel but I am sure somebody will. "They sell off all the old players' kit. David was at Preston the week before last when we were playing Notts Forest, after Everton and us had been knocked out of the cup, so he might have been enquiring about it." ..SUPL:
Wayne's a wonder - Naysmith
Feb 12 2003Daily Post
SCOTLAND midfielder Gary Naysmith has tipped his Everton team-mate Wayne Rooney to make an instant impact on the international scene. Rooney was also qualified to play for Scotland but has long since pledged his future to England, much to the annoyance of Scotland coach Berti Vogts.
Naysmith, who is a certain starter for the Scots in their friendly with the Republic of Ireland tonight, reckoned his young club-mate had the ingredients to go all the way. He said: "The only advice I can give to him is to go out and enjoy it. He's only 17 and there is no pressure on him. "He is an unbelievable talent and I'm sure he won't let anybody down when he gets the chance. "You could say he has has not had any experience to be playing international football but if you are good enough why wait? "He's just a normal 17-year-old. He comes in and looks forward to training. Every time you see him he's got a ball at his feet. "He's the first one out to train and the last one in. He just really loves football and I hope that never changes."
McIlroy: I tried to woo Roo
By Ken Gaunt, Daily Post
Feb 12 2003
SAMMY McILROY revealed yesterday that he made an audacious bid to bring Wayne Rooney into the Northern Ireland set-up. McIlroy went through a third-party close to the 17-year-old Everton striker to see what his thoughts were. The Irish boss was rebuffed and Rooney is now on the brink of winning his first England cap against Australia tonight. McIlroy said: "I checked that one out actually. I won't tell you what I got down the phone. It was spoken in strong Scouse." While Rooney said "no", McIlroy says he will continue to explore every avenue in an effort to strengthen his squad and is looking for strikers above all. The Irish face Sami Hyypia's Finland in a friendly tonight at Windsor Park without a goal in their last five games. McIlroy said: "I am looking and travelling all the time as we do need goals. No disrespect to the other strikers, we are on the lookout for another proven scorer. That would be a great bonus for us. It is well documented we haven't scored a goal in five games and we would take one from anywhere at the moment. "If you look at Wales and their squad, the difference is the cutting edge. They can call on (Ryan) Giggs, (John) Hartson, (Craig) Bellamy, (Simon) Davies and (Iwan) Roberts. If we had two of them I think we would see a right difference in our results." McIlroy will be without four regulars for the match against the Finns with Colin Murdock, Gerry Taggart, Phil Mulryne and Keith Horlock all sidelined. Winger Michael Hughes is also unavailable as he has not played a club game this season after being involved in a bitter contractual dispute involving Wimbledon and Birmingham.
I'll be there for our young lions - Beckham
By John Curtis, Daily Post
Feb 12 2003
DAVID BECKHAM has vowed to act as a father figure to help wonder-kid Wayne Rooney cope with the trappings of fame as he prepares to become England's youngest ever international. No-one knows better than the England skipper about having to deal with being constantly in the spotlight, both as a footballer and with his marriage to pop star Victoria Beckham. Rooney will be just 17 and 111 days when he comes on as a substitute in the second half of tonight's friendly with Australia at Upton Park. Already he has been built up as England's next great hope after his sparkling displays for Everton since a stunning winner against Arsenal catapulted him to instant stardom. Everton manager David Moyes has done everything possible to ensure Rooney is protected from the demands of the media, and is developing the player slowly - he is still to start an away game in the Barclaycard Premiership. Now Beckham is willing to under-take a similar role with Rooney and the other youngsters in Sven-Goran Eriksson's squad, who could be the heroes of the 2006 World Cup or the European Championships two years later. Beckham said: "The whole 'father figure' thing did make me laugh and it feels a bit weird being on the other side of the fence where as a 27-year-old I am one of the oldest people in the squad. "People tell me Wayne was 10 when I made my England debut and that makes me feel old. "But it was the same when I came into the England for the first time and if I had a problem I would go to Alan Shearer and the older players. "I am sure that if Wayne or the other young lads have got something they want to talk about then I'd like to think that they can come to me or the other older lads. "Wayne is a quiet lad whom seems level headed on and off the pitch. In a way he reminds me of Paul Scholes in the way he's a quiet lad who keeps himself to himself. But once he's on the pitch he becomes a different person and has the aggression and edge that all the top players have. "But I am sure if he wants to ask me about dealing with fame and things like that then he will. "I'm sure his club and manager have already done that. There will come a time when he has to do the interviews and he will get more attention through that. "It's just a case of him listening to people and he's just got to enjoy his football and he seems to be doing that." Eriksson has come in for some criticism for selecting a large number of young players en bloc - he will play an under-25 side after the interval tonight - and of devaluing the value of England caps.
But Beckham believes the likes of Rooney, Paul Konchesky, Scott Parker, Sean Davis, Jermaine Jenas, Francis Jeffers, Matthew Upson, Paul Robinson, James Beattie and Ledley King are there on merit.
Beckham said: "People say 'they are too young' - but for me if you're good enough and have proved to people you can do it at Premiership level, then you deserve a chance and every young lad who has come into the squad now has done that." Eriksson made it clear to Rooney and the other young guns that the opportunity will be there to stake a claim for further call-ups if they impress in the second 45 minutes, with a Euro 2004 qualifier doubleheader against Liechtenstein and Turkey next on the horizon in late March. The England manager added: "The second half will be very exciting and I look forward to see who might be ready for the next picking of the squad. But the fact Rooney is 17 is not important in the same way as it is not important if you are a goalkeeper aged 38-39 (David Seaman). "The important thing is: 'is he good enough?'."
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Feb 12 2003
SVEN-GORAN ERIKSSON held a private meeting with Wayne Rooney to warn the Everton hero about the perils and pitfalls of life in the public eye. The England coach, himself no stranger to the downside of fame, has been accused of increasing the pressure on the 17-year-old by elevating him into the senior squad after just six Premiership starts. But as he insisted Rooney can handle all the hysteria against Australia tonight, Eriksson revealed how he took the Croxteth sensation to one side and offered advice about life in the international spotlight. Rooney will become the youngest player in England's history when he starts the second half at Upton Park, beating the record set by Clapham Rovers' James Prinsep 124 years ago. Last night Eriksson said: "I've spoken to Wayne one on one. We talked generally and I don't want to reveal what was said but we chatted about things other than tactics and football. "We talked about life really, and about being young and being famous, which is not always very easy to handle. "But I wanted to take the opportunity to speak to him. If you are 17 and going to be the youngest player ever to play for England then that creates a lot of interest. "You cannot avoid that interest, life is like that, and it was a good time to discuss things with him." The Swede added: "The plans are that he will start the second half. Of course it's a great, great thing for him but I think he deserves it, especially when we decided to play a young team, and it will be very interesting to see. "When you are 17 and playing a senior match for England there is going to be huge interest and also the fact he is going to be youngest ever, but he can handle it. "He seems a bright boy and I can tell you from having seen him in training that he's a big talent, he knows how to play football. "He is 17, but he is not speaking loudly! Perhaps he is a little bit nervous, maybe that's normal." Rooney will only collect an international bonus from Everton when he plays in a full competitive England game. And that may be just six weeks away after Eriksson left the door open for the Goodison idol to retain his place in the crucial European Championship qualifying double-header against Turkey and Liechtenstein. Eriksson said: "It's up to Wayne to show how good he is now and how much he will improve over the next couple of months. "It's impossible to say now about the games against Turkey and Liechtenstein but age is not important to me. The important thing is if you are good enough."
* TONY HIBBERT and Nick Chadwick's hopes of stepping on the comeback trail following their recent hernia operations took a knock last night when Everton's reserve game with Birmingham was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.
U21 boss: I messed up with subs
Feb 12 2003 Liverpool Echo
ENGLAND UNDER-21s coach David Platt is unconcerned by his side's shot-shy failure in their 1-0 defeat to Italy last night. Platt's boys created only one noteworthy opportunity at the Stadio dei Marmi - a Shaun Wright-Phillips close-range drive which went out for a throw-in! Empoli striker Marco Borriello scored the only goal of the game in the 75th minute, burying a precise header beyond debutant Derby goalkeeper Lee Grant. As preparation for the European Championship qualifying ties with Portugal on March 28 and Turkey four days later, the build-up and result were hardly ideal. Platt was without several star names thanks to Sven-Goran Eriksson promoting a number of players into the senior squad for tonight's friendly against Australia. Platt caught Eriksson's substitution bug - and it backfired as a disjointed England suffered in the second period after a comfortable first half. But Platt said: "It would be a concern if this were a qualifying game.
"It's not that we lacked a cutting edge - it's just that we didn't get enough crosses in, although the one thing I will say is that the Italians are the best in the world at stopping crosses. "I think their mothers must play tapes to them in the womb or something!" Instead, Platt admitted he "messed up" in meddling with the team too much. Grant was handed his debut along with Cardinal Heenan youngster James McEveley, Bolton midfielder Kevin Nolan and Ipswich duo Darren Bent and Darren Ambrose - while Joleon Lescott also figured. Platt added: "I came here with the intention of playing everybody, and when they hit their purple patch I was making it worse by making changes. "The first-half performance was very positive, but then they came out of the traps better than us in the second half. "Normally you would make a substitution to ride out the purple patch or you would change something on the pitch, but I messed it up. "But you can't drag people all the way out here and give them five minutes at the end."
National hero won't Wayne
Feb 12 2003 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
EVERTONIANS the length and breadth of the country will be glowing with reflected pride tonight when Wayne Rooney becomes England 's youngest ever senior international. Bellefield was no different this morning, with the Everton coaching staff relishing the prospect of seeing Rooney in action for England against Australia. A car full of staff departed the club's training ground at midday, bound for Upton Park. Assistant manager Alan Irvine led the praise for the 17-year-old. But he is also fully aware of the kind of pressure the young striker is going to have to deal with over the coming years. "Obviously, everyone is absolutely delighted. We expected Wayne to become an England international, but I don't think anyone expected it to happen at this time," admitted Irvine.
"This is the big story of this game. As soon as you turn on the TV, pick up a newspaper or listen to the radio the first words that come out in relation to this game are Wayne Rooney. "This is just an indication of the kind of pressure that is going to be heaped on him because he is about to become the youngest player in England history. "I keep saying to him that all of these records are great and that we are really pleased for him. But for me, I will be happier if Wayne is still breaking records in 10 years time. "We have seen other young lads fall away after bright starts to their careers and not actually realise the full potential that they have got. "There is no doubt Wayne has fantastic potential and he is way ahead of anything anyone could have expected at this time. "But we hope he keeps doing that." In the last six months Rooney has had to handle the pressure of making his Premiership debut, the media attention his first league goal brought and the adverse publicity he received when he became the youngest player in Premiership history to be shown the red card.
Now he can add international football to that list of firsts. Having seen him deal impressively with everything else that has been thrown at him, Irvine is confident the 17-year-old from Croxteth will not be overawed by the prospect of representing his country. He added: "So far he has handled absolutely every-thing, including the setback of being sent-off. "That was one unwanted record but he has learned from that and hopefully he will learn from all of his other experiences. "At this moment in time I can see no reason why he shouldn't continue to set records and have a very, very long career."
Do us proud Wayne
Feb 12 2003 Liverpool Echo
WAYNE ROONEY was set to make soccer history today and become the youngest player to represent England at senior level . And as he prepared to rewrite the record books, Everton assistant manager Alan Irvine declared: "It is fantastic for him and it is fantastic for the club. "It is another record for Wayne and, quite rightly, everybody associated with the club is proud." The 17-year-old from Croxteth will come on as a half-time substitute against Australia at Upton Park and he will be supported from the sidelines by members of the Everton coaching staff who made the long journey south this afternoon to support the youngster and fellow Blue Richard Wright.
Aussie coach tickled by Wayne hype
Feb 12 2003 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
AUSTRALIAN coach Frank Farina hopes Wayne Rooney does not wipe the smile off his face tonight.
The manager of the Roos admits to being amused by the way in which Everton's young striker has been catapulted into the spotlight. The 17-year-old will become England's youngest ever international tonight - and Farina said: "I'm quite amused at the pressure that's being put on young Wayne Rooney from everyone. He's just learning his trade and learning what it is to be a professional player. "He's only 17 and he's being talked about as the future of English football. That's a lot of pressure to be putting on someone of that age. "Maybe that pressure will bring the best out of him, but it's quite surprising that there's so much being put upon him. I think he's a little bit young for all that just yet." England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson has stressed that Rooney can handle the pressure - and has already stated that the youngster will make his full international debut as a half-time substitute at Upton Park. The Aussie coach believes that tactic may also backfire on England. "It's 90 minutes a game, it's a pretty big risk to be talking like that. I was quite surprised that there are 27 players named and there are a lot of young faces there. "It'll be interesting to see if they've got a team sheet big enough to fit all their names on! If it doesn't go their way I'm sure there's going to be hell to pay. "We won't be making whole-sale changes because person-ally I don't believe in that sort of stuff. "It's not often we get to play quality teams such as England, so this is a vital game for us."
Record breaker Rooney revels in Park strife
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Feb 13 2003
TO be honest it all feels a bit ridiculous. Here we are, 34,590 of us, watching the nation's pride and joy struggling for the common touch needed to revive England's European Championship campaign next month. There' s Michael Owen, David Beckham and Rio Ferdinand - a potential transfer industry worth over £100million on their own, all lining up together in a homegrown Premiership dream team. Yet they almost seem a sideshow, we are in effect waiting for them to clear off so we can see a 17-year-old lad, who was still in school this time last year, take his place in history. Even a dreadful first-half display by Sven's strongest XI that gives Australia another sporting success over England pales by comparison, people just want to be able to say "I was there." Wayne Rooney. The Main Event. In these parts of course the Everton phenomenon is no great mystery, even if the teenager himself remains something of one. Most Blues can regale the records Rooney has broken before and after he emerged on the first team scene last August: Liverpool schoolboy scoring records, the youngest goalscorer in Everton's history - ditto the Premiership before James Milner arrived, and the 51-year hoodoo at Elland Road. All were shattered by Rooney's goldenboots, but in the presence of the original Goldenballs and toe it was not Tommy Lawton's Everton honour but James Prinsep's, as the youngest-ever England international, that had drawn a nationwide audience to see it disappear after 124 years and arise at the wonder of Croxteth. The first omen wasn't the best for Rooney's date with destiny. The very minute he appeared from the substitutes' bench for the first time and trotted towards the Bobby Moore Stand to a rapturous reception, Tony Popovic climbed above Gary Neville to head the Aussies ahead. In a way though, the first half transpired to be ideal for the 17-year-old's debut even if his dreams of marking the occasion with a win were put on hold. Any pressure had gone by the time he sprinted on wearing the England number 23, while his place in the squad to face Turkey and Liechtenstein was probably secured before he'd even ventured that far courtesy of the dross that saw England depart to boos against the Roos at half-time. After Harry Kewell doubled the lead from Down Under it was the PA announcer who drew the first mass celebration of the night when, as expected, he confirmed: "Here are the substitutions for the second half - the entire England 11 are changing." Within seconds that mantle had also passed to Rooney as the mere mention of his name gave Upton Park's English contingent their first reason to be cheerful. Strains of "Roooneee, Roooneee" eminated from a crowd other than just Evertonians, comforting in the respect it indicates national support is on his side. He also has a nation's expectations, as well as history, on his shoulders now too at an age when most adolescent males should only have spots. That is why David Moyes has been so keen to shield him from the allencompassing attention that comes with the England baggage. It was obvious every time he received the ball that the crowd expected something to happen, another unnecessary burden he must overcome on the road to development rather than riches. To be fair the Blues star gave them no reason to expect anything else as his first two touches as an England international were superior to anything his more senior colleagues had served up. The first saw him cushion a long ball from Paul Konchesky into the path of Jermaine Jenas off his chest. His next, a measured cross over 30 yards, dropped at the feet of Darius Vassell and the Aston Villa striker tested Mark Schwarzer for the first time at his near post. Two tame shots from distance drew a few equally tame murmurs amongst the Eastenders. But then, in the 69th minute, Rooney found his range again and England renewed hope with a goal started by one Evertonian and finished by another. Rooney, with another use of the chest and volley, spread play out wide to Jenas on the right and Francis Jeffers glanced home his excellent cross with an equally impressive header. No doubt the watching Bill Kenwright thought: "If only." Ironically it was Jeffers' departure to Arsenal that prompted Rooney to script the "Once a Blue, Always a Blue" t-shirt he wore under his shirt during last season's FA Youth Cup Final and, rather than place ideas in his young head, proves that the grass is not always greener than Goodison Park. As for last night there was no reason for Rooney to leave London with the disappointment that was etched on his face after the game. The contest had been billed as one of two halves so in that respect he played a large part in a 1-1 draw. It was the more experienced internationals who let England down. For Sven and England last night represented a major setback. For Rooney it was a major achievement, one he and all his family will reflect on with immense pride.
Wayne senior and mum Jeanette hired a coach to bring family and friends down from Croxteth for the occasion, a reward for the years of dedication and hard work they have all put into Rooney's career. Afterwards they faced a four-hour journey home, which was delayed when the adoring mob prevented their new hero leaving the ground. You can bet the scoreline wasn't mentioned once.
P.S. Australia won 3-1.
England 1, Australia 3
By Mark Bradley, Daily Post
Feb 13 2003
FIRST cricket, then tennis and now, most embarrassingly of all, football as England' s sporting humiliation at the hands of Australia plumbed to new depths at Upton Park. Never mind Sven-Goran Eriksson taking a look into England's future talent. He has more than enough to worry about right now. It was all very well throwing in an experimental under-26 side in the second half, but he has a very real problem on his hands ahead of the looming qualifying games against Liechtenstein and Turkey. Not even the eagerly-anticipated debut of Everton's Wayne Rooney, who became the youngest-ever England international, or a promising cameo role from Jermaine Jenas managed to paper over the wide open cracks. In their first game since stumbling to a 2-2 draw at home to Macedonia, England's first-choice team - the only one that really mattered - conspired to play even worse against Australia. Australia seized the lead early on through Crystal Palace defender Tony Popovic and further punished England's hapless defending with a strike by Harry Kewell just before the break. Francis Jeffers may have pulled a goal back with 20 minutes left, but Brett Emerton's late strike completed a night of dark foreboding for England's Euro 2004 qualiying campaign. On a night when even the streaker only managed a half-monty, both of England's teams were booed off the pitch and the ground was half-empty well before the end. It may have been 119 days since Eriksson's team were last in action, against Macedonia, but this was Australia's first game since their World Cup qualifier against Uruguay in November 2001. Not that it showed. The visitors were immediately in control, playing with a far greater assurance than England's first team. While Sol Campbell's header was blocked early on, Kewell issued the first warning with a long-range effort that David James did well to tip around the post. It was not heeded Just a few minutes later, James was going through a familiar routine at Upton Park - picking the ball out of the net - as he stayed rooted to his line while Popovic beat Gary Neville to head home a corner. England rallied, but only briefly. Paul Scholes had the ball in the net but the flag had already been raised, while Liverpool's Michael Owen robbed Mark Schwarzer but could not net from a tight angle. Back came Australia. James pulled off a superb reaction save from Mark Viduka's looping back-header, while Neville denied Scott Chipperfield at the near post and Kewell planted a header over. England were in a defensive mess, while Kieron Dyer could not come to terms with his left-sided role. Owen's fortunes had not improved either. While James Beattie was starved of service, his strike partner fluffed his only real chance from 12 yards out. The contrast to Kewell was almost painful to watch. A hopeful long ball should have been cut out by Rio Ferdinand but he was muscled off the ball by the impressive Leeds winger, who nonchalantly rounded James before clipping his shot into the empty net. And that, for the first team at least, was that. Club demands had forced Eriksson's hand and rather than sending his side back out for some evidently much-needed match practice, he instead had to substitute them all. The crowd, however, had already seen enough. Having roundly booed off the first-team at half-time, they cheered the arrival of the new side. Eriksson not only changed personnel but also tinkered with tactics, with a 4-3-3 formation in which Rooney was on the right side of a strikeforce also featuring Francis Jeffers and Darius Vassell. The teenager's first touch was as classy as it was instinctive, followed by a deep cross to Vassell, whose shot was deflected just wide. Rooney certainly had all the confidence and exuberance of youth, trying his luck from long-range and, rather hopefully, claiming a penalty. Along with Jenas, he certainly ensured England finally had some urgency about their play but, with Paul Robinson diving full-length to deny Kewell, it was taking time for the newlook team to discover any rhythm. Eventually, they managed to click, with Rooney playing the ball out to Jenas, who attacked the right flank before driving in a low cross which ex-Evertonian Jeffers stooped to flick his header past Schwarzer. Hopes flickered but the crowd were right to be non-plussed. This was another false dawn. Dozens of fans streamed away well before Emerton's late third goal for Australia as they cut through England's second defence just as easily as they had sliced through the first. And so England's first ever defeat by their great sporting rivals at our national sport was completed.
ENGLAND: James (Robinson 45), Neville (Mills 45), Ferdinand (Brown 45), Campbell (King 45), Ashley Cole (Konchesky 45), Beckham (Hargreaves 45), Lampard (Murphy 45), Scholes (Jenas 45), Dyer (Vassell 45), Beattie (Jeffers 45), Owen (Rooney 45). Subs: Wright, Joe Cole, Upson, Parker, Davis.
AUSTRALIA: Schwarzer, Neill, Moore, Popovic (Vidmar 72), Lazaridis, Emerton, Okon (Muscat 87), Skoko (Bresciano 45), Chipperfield (Grella 76), Viduka (Sterjovski 85), Kewell (Aloisi 56). Subs: Kalac, Tiatto.
BOOKING: Australia's Lazaridis.
REF: Manuel Enrique Mejuto Gonzalez (Spain).
Feb 13 2003 By Paddy Sheehan, Liverpool Echo
IT MAY not have been a scoring debut, but it was still a record-breaking one which left his biggest fans bursting with pride. Working class hero Wayne Rooney raised the roof at the Western Approaches pub in Croxteth last night as he represented his country at the age of 17 years and 111 days. The fact that "the other lad from Croxteth" - 22-year-old "veteran" Francis Jeffers - scored England's goal in the 3-1 defeat by Australia was also a cause for some celebration. "I'm made up that Wayne played tonight; he's a cracking footballer and a nice lad, and that comes from a Red!" said pub regular Tommy Ratcliffe, 53. "And he'll get goals in the future." But while the Aussies won the first-half 2-0, the second ended honours even: Croxteth 1 Australia 1. "He may play for Arsenal, but Franny's still one for us!" shouted a local - and he was right. "He still drinks in here occasionally, with his cousin and his mates," confirmed assistant manager Tina Roberts. Both strikers attended Our Lady and St Swithin's primary and De La Salle comprehensive schools in Croxteth - and both made their England debuts at the start of the second-half. It was a busy day at The Western. Eight hours before kick-off the ECHO waved off a coachload of Wayne's family and friends as they headed to Upton Park. The Croxteth contingent was led by Wayne's dad, Wayne senior, mum Jeanette and his brothers Graham, 15, and John, 12. It was a fitting starting point for their great adventure - and the ideal place for those left behind to watch the big match on the big screen. The Western is the Rooney family's local, while Wayne played his first-ever competitive match for the pub's under 12s team - when he was just seven. He came on as sub and scored that day - although, sadly, he couldn't quite repeat that feat last night. "Get Wayne on for God's sake," someone bellowed, as Australia scored after 16 minutes. "Who would you take off?" asked his friend. "I don't know . . . Owen?" Another goal went in before the break, but the night's entertainment only really began in the second period when The Crocky Two made their bows and fans cheered in pubs across Merseyside, not least in The Western. "Come on Wayne lad!" urged the drinkers in the lounge, as the teenager put in a dangerous cross after just 60 seconds - his first shot on target followed five minutes later. "We're so proud of him, because he's a great player and he's from 'round here," said Michelle Walthew, 15. Lloyd Dobson, 15, added: "I've had a kick-around with Wayne and he's a really down-to-earth lad - and a great player. Nobody round here is surprised that he's playing for England." JEFFERS scored after 69 minutes and, with nine minutes left, the pub held its breath as Rooney was almost put in on goal. But it wasn't to be - and Australia scored again. This, though, was just the start - and everyone in the Western knew that. Tina Roberts, whose parents, Tommy and Sheila, run the pub, said: "We've been here for 12 years and we've known about Wayne's ability for a long time. Everyone round here has." And she added: "He comes from a very big, close-knit family which is well-liked and well-respected. This is like a meeting place for them; somewhere they can relax and be themselves. "Also, people are really loyal to them - some regulars even frog-marched a couple of tabloid reporters out of the pub who were looking for bad stories." Outside the pub, meanwhile, there were sporadic chants of "Rooney! Rooney!" while the Rooneys' standing in Croxteth was underlined when three 14-year-olds - David Robinson, Michael Matthews and Craig Vale - ran up to us to sing their praises. "Wayne's brilliant . . . We're at school with his brother, Graham . . . We've been to their house . . . Graham's a great boxer and footballer . . . John's a great footballer, he's at the Everton Academy." And so on and so on and so on - and they didn't even pause for breath. It must be great to be a Rooney.
Wayne thrown in at the deep end
Feb 13 2003 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
IN an ideal world, Wayne Rooney would have arrived at Upton Park last night with an England cap in one hand and water wings in the other. Instead, Everton's boy wonder was thrown into the deep end and ordered to sink or swim against Australia. As with every challenge that has faced him in the last few months, Rooney delivered in spades. He was asked to play in a makeshift side of new boys as Sven-Goran Eriksson sat on the sidelines, assessing their merits. It was like a new, bizarre twist of Pop Idol. You could almost hear Ant & Dec asking 'Which of these seven youngsters will win a place in the REAL England squad'? So it was no surprise when Rooney and Jeffers proved to be football's answer to Will Young and Gareth Gates. Eriksson? Undoubtedly Simon Cowell. The Swede undermined his reputation last night with his unnecessary experiment of playing two separate XIs. It was bound to blow up in his face. But who would have expected the young-sters to overshadow the senior side? Rooney and Co put the old-timers to shame. They played with the passion and spirit which should have been present from the outset. Too many of the senior side seemed to be taking their places for granted. Michael Owen was one of the few play-ers to come out of the first half with any credit. But the biggest loser was Eriksson. His approach was unfair to the fans, the opposition and, more importantly, the young kids facing the most daunting of auditions. Rooney deserved to have the support of England's senior stars alongside him. On Sunday, before the squad convened, the England boss revealed he would hand David Beckham the responsibility of looking after Rooney.
Good move. Sensible. The England skipper knows better than anyone how hard life in the spotlight can be and, during France 1998, he demonstrated what kind of negative impact the exuberance of youth can have on the international stage. But last night, at the point at which Rooney needed Beckham's guidance most, the Manchester United ace was enjoying a bath alongside the rest of England's senior international players. The fact Rooney, Jeffers and Jermaine Jenas proved they have what it takes at this level, was all the more impressive because of the situation Eriksson put them in. They should have been integrated from the start, water wings in hand.
Feb 13 2003 By David Prentice, Everton Correspondent
FRANCIS JEFFERS scored his first goal for England last night - then said strike partner Wayne Rooney's performance meant more to him than the goal. The former Everton forward partnered the current Goodison idol for the second half of last night's friendly international against Australia.
And despite the 3-1 defeat at Upton Park, Jeffers said: "I thought Wayne did fantastic and I was more pleased for him than for me nicking a goal. He's broken the record for the youngest England international and he's a close friend. I'm so pleased for him." Jeffers, still only 22 himself, admitted afterwards he had taken the 17-year-old under his wing during Rooney's introduction to the international scene. "Wayne's a good mate of mine from back in Liverpool, and I think the world of him because of the sort of lad he is," he added. "I know the expectancy levels around him at the moment are huge, but he's a great kid and I love him to bits. "I've done what I can to help him this week, but there's not much you can do really and he's already showed signs of becoming a top, top player." England goalscoring legend Alan Shearer agreed. "He's not even in double figures for league appearances yet, but the expectation levels on him are huge already," he said. "He certainly didn't do himself any harm tonight. We know he's not fazed by anything and he's done well.
"There's an expectation level there in the crowd when he gets the ball, you can hear it and feel it.
"There's an excitement generated and for someone who hasn't really done a lot in the game yet that's a great credit to him." England Under- 21 coach David Platt, who saw Rooney leapfrog his squad entirely and jump from under-19 football to the full squad, added: "Every time he receives the ball he's looking to move into forward positions and he looks like he's going to have an effect on the game every time. "I think he can be pleased with his performance and especially his awareness.
"If there's an expectation level from the crowd every time he gets the ball I think he personally expects to do even better. I don't think that expectation will be a problem to him." Jeffers added: "It was a great opportunity for the young lads and I don't know how it looked from the stands, but we felt that we produced a good second-half performance before we got caught by a breakaway and a sloppy goal. "But for that we might have gone on to pinch a draw. We were under no pressure really with it being 2-0 and we just went out to enjoy it."
Gazza can't help 'genius'
Feb 13 2003 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
ENGLAND legend Paul Gascoigne has already labelled Wayne Rooney "a genius footballer".
While the 17-year-old striker was making his England debut at Upton Park last night, Gazza was touching down in China for the latest stage of his colourful career. But before he jetted off he said: "You can't change a kid like that and you shouldn't want to change him. He is a genius footballer. I can't offer him any advice. "What can you say to a kid who has already achieved what he has? He has been faultless so far, not a bit flash. "All I would say is be careful because there are people out there who will knock you down . . . and maybe I would advise him to lose the stubble! He wants to keep his youth, not look older! "It's a boy's dream to play for his home town club and represent your country, and Wayne has already done that at 17." Gascoigne also believes Rooney will benefit from being groomed at Goodison Park. "David Moyes is a young manager who has done fantastically to bring him on," he added. "He's at the right club for that. There isn't one bigheaded player amongst them. "People like Weir and Stubbs and Unsworth will bring him along nicely and teach him how to conduct himself. It's a great club . . . a family club and that will give him a good grounding." Rooney received a warm reception from the England fans last night, and Gascoigne went on: "I was fortunate playing for Newcastle when I made my England debut. "If you play for Manchester United or Liverpool half of the England fans don't cheer you because you play for their rivals. That never happened with me - and everyone seems to love Wayne Rooney, too. "A lot of that is because he isn't a flash kid. He just wants to play and he has been different class this season.
"Evertonians should be really proud."
Rooney was well handled - Moyes
Feb 14 2003 By Rob Brady Everton Reporter
EVERTON manager David Moyes today said he had no complaints about the way Eng-land debutant Wayne Rooney was looked after by the Football Association. The teenage sensation was carefully shielded from the world's media before and after Wednesday's historic match with Australia when the 17-year-old became the youngest player to be capped by England. Moyes has nurtured Rooney's development in his first explosive season in the miership and Everton were keen for the FA to offer similar protection during his call-up this week. Moyes said: "As far as I'm concerned, there are no complaints." Rooney himself revealed he will not be letting his historic appearance on Wednesday go to his head. The striker played the second-half of the 3-1 defeat against the Socceroos. With the Everton players given time off during a vacant weekend and not having to return to training until Monday, Rooney has had time to reflect on his England debut. Rooney said: "Of course it's a pity we didn't get the result the fans wanted, but I feel there were a lot of positives that came out of the evening. "The most important thing now is for me to concentrate on improving as a player. "I was delighted that so many Everton fans had gone to the game, it gave me a real buzz when the England supporters were chanting my name. "I've really enjoyed this week, the players and the staff made me feel really welcome and obviously, on a personal note, it was fantastic to come on and get my first full cap." England manager Sven Goran Eriksson praised the teenager's maturity and revealed Rooney is in his thoughts for next month's European Championship qualifier with Liechtenstein. He said: "You couldn't see it was his first international game. "Should his age go against him for a qualifying game? If his behaviour is always like this, then no. "Maybe I haven't seen another 17-year-old who is that mature. "I saw Pele at the 1958 World Cup, but I wasn't a coach then. "I had Roberto Baggio at that age and he had a very good first touch as well.
"It's difficult to make a comparison, but Rooney's first touch is top-class." Meanwhile, Alan Stubbs hopes to be fit for Everton's next game against Southampton in eight days time. The defender was carried off at Charlton after a challenge that left Stubbs fear-ing he had broken his leg. It later emerged he had suffered just heavy bruising and had tweaked an ankle ligament. He said: "I've already done a bit of jogging and hopefully I'll be back in training again with the squad on Monday.
At the time I thought I'd broken my leg. I couldn't feel a thing so I thought I'd done something major.
"To get the all-clear after the x-ray was a major relief."
Young Rooney will use the farce
Feb 14 2003 FanScene by MARK O'BRIEN, Daily Post
WAYNE ROONEY can now take his place in the record books alongside the likes of Robert Pershing Wadlow, that gang of domino toppling Tokyo students and the bloke who could run backwards faster than Roy Castle could run forwards. There's a Claus Thomsen joke just trying to get out there.
Future dictionaries will surely have pictures of Frank Lampard and Owen Hargreaves in England shirts under the entry for "ill-judged". The whole exercise was a farce that only succeeded in proving that a number of the nation's first choice players simply aren't good enough for international football while simultaneously sapping morale with a predictably disjointed performance and embarrassing result. The "B team" showed plenty of energy and endeavour in the second half but the coaches could learn far more about them by watching them playing for their clubs than by cobbling together a side and giving them 45 minutes against a resolute and composed Australia. Nonetheless, Rooney, Francis Jeffers and Jermaine Jenas all managed to show flashes of quality and, to quote Eriksson, they didn't look at all out of place. One theory is that the biggest benefit that the young players get isn't so much the game as much as the training with the top stars. In which case perhaps Rooney has gleaned some finishing tips from Michael Owen or the art of defending from Rio Ferdinand, the new Bobby Moore. In all honesty none of the established players covered themselves in glory - about the only thing that the wandering David Beckham got right on the night was his criticism aimed at the clowns who follow England and booed the youngsters off the pitch. It was Rooney's second defeat in the capital in the space of a week after Everton got turned over by form team Charlton. The second-half display was impressive at times but a combination of carelessness and, according to David Moyes, "big-time homer" Jeff Winter conspired to leave us pointless. The Blues' boss will no doubt get a fine following his comments about the authenticity of the official's tan - it's just a good job he didn't mention the fact that his buzz cut and goatee make him look like a Serbian war criminal. Moyes is pretty honest in everything he says and does but he seems to have something of a raw spot when it comes to the standard of refereeing in the Premiership. In the long run though does it really do any good to publicly criticise the refs?
Jeffers: He was destined to reach the top
Feb 14 2003 Report by John Curtis, Daily Post
FRANCIS JEFFERS hailed the England debut of Wayne Rooney as "fantastic" and insisted he always knew the 17-year-old was destined to reach the top. Jeffers, scorer of England's goal in the 3-1 defeat by Australia on his first international appearance, is confident Rooney will cope with the pressure and being in the spotlight. The Arsenal striker also feels Sven-Goran Eriksson was right to give Rooney his chance at such a tender age, becoming England's youngest debutant at 17 years and 111 days. Jeffers, scorer of 12 goals in 12 under-21 appearances for his country, had similar expectancy placed on his shoulders when he moved to Highbury from Goodison although he was three years older than Rooney then. He said: "We never played together at Everton with him being a lot younger than me - but it was a pleasure to finally do that in the second half against Australia because he is such a great player. "I thought he was fantastic and he was never overawed - but that's one thing you can say about him whenever he plays and whatever game he plays in at any level. "Once he goes onto that football pitch all his nerves go out of the window because that is where he belongs. "I know him personally and we are both from the same part of Liverpool but in terms of coming through the ranks at Everton it was never a case of whether he would make it.
"It was always going to be a case of how young was he going to be when he got into the team. I was first aware of him as a 14-year-old and you could see then what he had in terms of ability. Obviously something could happen between then and now but he's had the luck in staying clear of injuries and it was just a matter of time before things started to happen for him." Jeffers added: "People say whether being picked as a 17-year-old will be a burden on his shoulders. But how long do you hold him back for? "When Wayne goes out onto the pitch he tends to forget about the expectancy level and all that kind of thing. "He is a quiet lad off the pitch. He's not said much during this get-together. He's spoken to me but then I'm quite close to him back home but when he's on that field he is not quiet. "He's just getting on with football. He's not reading too much into what the media are saying about him. "Of course, he will be over the moon about being the youngest ever English international but rest assured that he is not the sort of lad to let this go to his head. "He will keep working hard with Everton and I am sure there will be plenty more caps to come to add to that first one against Australia. "There were big expectations placed on me when I went to Arsenal although I was a bit older so it was a bit easier to come to terms with. "Wayne has not talked about it much. He's just happy to be in the squad and to show the nation what he can do. I think he did that on Wednesday. He has done unbelievably well." Jeffers admitted: "From my point of view I had mixed emotions. I was pleased with the goal but more important was the result. "The young lads went on at 2-0 down and just had to put in a good performance. This friendly was worthwhile for the lads who came on and it was a good learning curve for us all.
I feared my season was over - Stubbs
Feb 14 2003 Report by ANDY HUNTER, Daily Post
ALAN STUBBS has told how he feared his season was finished last Saturday after a suspected broken leg left him numb with pain. The Everton defender hopes to be back in full training on Monday just nine days after the collision that saw the 31-year-old stretchered off at Charlton. It is a remarkable recovery by Stubbs as well as a major relief after scans revealed he had suffered severe bruising and possible ankle ligament damage in the tackle David Moyes insisted was similar to the one Wayne Rooney saw red for at Birmingham on Boxing Day. But as he absolved Charlton midfielder Scott Parker of blame, the Blues star believes he was lucky to have avoided serious damage - and losing his place in Moyes' team! "At the time I thought I'd broke my leg," revealed the former Celtic man. "As soon as I went down I couldn't feel a thing so I thought I'd done something major to it. "Even by the time I got back to the dressing room I couldn't feel anything. It was only about half an hour later that I started to feel anything. "So to get the all-clear after the X-ray on Sunday was a major relief.
"In a way I've been lucky. If I'd have caught his studs and not his leg then it would definitely have broken. As it is I've got severe bruising and may have tweaked a ligament but apart from that I'm fine. I've already done a bit of jogging and hopefully I'll be back in training by Monday." Stubbs was carried off in the 44th minute at The Valley after a free-kick went horribly wrong. He recalled: "Thomas (Gravesen) played the ball across to Scot (Gemmill) and as he tried to control it the ball just bobbled up. I was coming forward and so was he so that's why there was such an impact. "He was maybe a little bit late but I don't think there was any malice in it, my momentum just carried me through after striking the ball and that's all I remember. I didn't even know if we'd got a corner or a free-kick, I just thought 'that's it" Stubbs is now targeting an immediate recovery against Southampton next Saturday and admits this blank weekend could prove a blessing in disguise.
He added: "You don't want to be out of this team at any time so I've probably been fortunate to get this knock at the start of a blank fortnight."
Pembridge eyes Euro double
Feb 14 2003 Report by PAUL WALKER, Daily Post
EVERTON'S tough little Welshman Mark Pembridge believes he is heading for a cherished European double for club and country. The Merthyr Tydfil-born midfielder has only tasted European club football fleetingly while at Benfica, and - like generations of Wales stars - he's never reached the finals of a major international competition. But Pembridge believes all that could change pretty soon. Everton, fifth in the Premiership, are heading for European football for the first time in seven years. And Wales, if they can maintain their sparkling form in the Euro' 2004 qualifiers next, could find themselves figuring in the finals in Portugal. Pembridge won his 46th Wales cap in the 2-2 draw against Bosnia on Wednesday in Cardiff, and can now try to help Everton achieve a top-six finish, or even top-four and Champions League football. He said: "Everton haven't had European football for a few years and we are very close to it, there's 12 games to go and we have as much chance as anyone to achieve that. More good results along the way and we will progress. "I've only had a short taste of Champions League when I was at Benfica, but it was a great experience. And I'd love to experience that again with Everton. I loved it then, I want that again. "I've had a good career in the UK but I've never got near to European competition, that's why it's so important now for Everton to get there." It's equally important for Pembridge and Wales to reach their first major finals since 1958. He said: "We just have to keep our heads"
There is more to come
Feb 14 2003 By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
WAYNE ROONEY last night insisted his place in English football history will only spur him on towards even greater heights. As Blues supremo Bill Kenwright proclaimed the 17-year-old a legend for becoming the youngest ever England international, Rooney himself admitted he still has a lot more work to do. An instant impression against Australia forced Sven-Goran Eriksson to concede the Everton star was now in his thoughts for the forthcoming Euro 2004 qualifiers with Turkey and Liechtenstein. But, as he revealed his delight at winning a first full England cap, Rooney insisted his feet will remain firmly on the ground. "I've really enjoyed this week," said Rooney. "The players and the staff made me feel really welcome and it was fantastic to come on and get my first full cap.
"It was just a pity we didn't get the result we all wanted but I think there were a lot of positives to come out of the night. "I was made up so many Everton fans went to the game and it gave me a real buzz when the England fans were chanting my name. "Now the most important thing for me is to concentrate on improving as a player." Deputy chairman Kenwright was in the crowd at Upton Park where Rooney rewrote the history books as a second-half substitute. And he said: "When 'The Kid' lined up for the second half, I was bursting with the pride of a devoted adopted parent. "It was a joy to see a Bluenose in an England shirt, especially a 17-year-old who in six short months has become not only part of a hopefully golden future for his football club, but also for his country.
"The Kid's done well for all of us, and the future can only be a steady progression to real consolidation of the legendary status that he has already achieved after becoming the youngest player ever to pull on the England jersey. "I'm sure that Wayne will be devastated that the result was such a dreadful one for England, but I hope that he will find consolation in the second-half Wayne Rooney performance of himself and several other young internationals." Kenwright also admitted that the striker's immense talent had made David Moyes' mission to protect Rooney from the spotlight impossible. He added: "In spite of the fact that David Moyes and the club have tried to protect Wayne from the media over the past few months, the attention he has been given over the last five days has been extraordinary. "The headlines in every Sunday newspaper, and major reports on every national news bulletin, together with the kind of attention that's almost unheard of for a young footballer, must have played on the boy's mind. "However, as always, he has simply got on with the job, and come through his first England appearance with a glowing commendation from his international coach."
Moyes the man for Scotland
Feb 14 2003 By Rob Brady, Liverpool Echo
GARY NAYSMITH has tipped Blues boss David Moyes to one day become Scotland manager.
The midfielder believes Moyes has all the qualities to lead the national side in the same way he has transformed Everton. Naysmith, who was awarded his tenth Scotland cap against the Republic of Ireland on Wednesday, said: "I think he could do it and I would imagine he would like to do it. He is still in the early stages at Everton and wants to build the club back up to one of the top teams in England again. "But he is very patriotic. He makes that clear in the changing room that he is Scottish through and through. He knows where he wants to go and that's what he aims for. "I think he has it all planned out and nothing will sidetrack him from that. He is organised and thorough in everything he does." Naysmith has played for Scotland under Craig Brown and Berti Vogts. He made his debut against the Republic almost three years ago, but injuries have limited his appearances since then.
The 24-year-old has impressed after being given a continuous run by Moyes on the left side of the Everton midfield since he returned from an ankle injury last November. He added: "On a personal note he speaks to you after every game and tells you what you did wrong, what you did well and that really helps you as a player. "I should have earned more caps. I've been in the squad for almost three years now. In that respect I'm one of the most experienced members, but because of injury I haven't played that many games, so I don't feel I'm established yet." Meanwhile, Everton have stepped up the pursuit of £500,000 owed to them by Italian club Perugia following the transfer of Marco Materazzi. The defender joined the Blues from the Serie A side in the summer of 1998, but failed to settle and returned a year later in a £3m deal containing a clause that Everton would be entitled to £500,000 if the player was sold on by Perugia. Goodison officials have been chasing that payment since Materazzi was sold to Inter Milan for £7m in late 2001. They have now instructed a team of lawyers in Italy to recoup the money from Perugia, who are struggling with debt, after the Italian FA and FIFA failed to resolve the matter. Everton spokesman Ian Ross said: "As a club we have shown patience and understanding, but we now have no alternative but to move this matter into the legal arena."
Feb 14 2003 By Howard Kendall
CONGRATULATIONS to Wayne Rooney for becoming the youngest player to be capped by England. It is an absolutely tremendous achievement and it is fully deserved. Wayne did well in a match that saw a lot of substitutions. He and Francis Jeffers have forced themselves into Eriksson's thinking ahead of the games with Turkey and Liechtenstein in six weeks' time. Between now and then, their objective has to be gaining a regular place in their respective teams. Playing week in, week out, will sharpen them up so they can make the adjustment required at international level. They were two players who can take satisfaction from their performance against Australia. Jeffers showed how lethal he can be. It was a great finish. You should not read too much into Wednesday's result. It was all about learning what the players can do. You never want to lose, but the result was not that important. Scrap caps for sample players IF A manager is experimenting with new names in international friendlies, the players should not be awarded caps. By all means reward those who represent their country in a competitive game because the manager has obviously selected the strongest side possible. These days caps are being given away too easily. Recent England managers have tended to experiment, almost giving caps away in cornflakes packets. In the past, players had to work very hard to earn a cap. I recall that Sir Alf Ramsey was very loyal to his players. He stuck with a small tried and tested group and did not experiment too much. He benefited from having a settled side. When Sven-Goran Eriksson first took over as England manager, he tried as much as possible to find out about the players available to him. That was the right thing to do at the time.
Now he has seen enough of the players to may be not have done what he did against Australia. I suspect he played two different teams in each half to appease the Premiership clubs. That's total nonsense. The England manager should be the one in charge. The young players that Eriksson felt deserved a run out should have been mixed in with the senior players throughout the game. He would have been able to judge their performances better that way, rather than them playing like individuals in an unfamiliar team in the second half. During Ramsey's reign, Colin Bell was in good form in the league with Manchester City. Ramsey introduced him to the England scene and allowed him a run of eight or so games to show what he could do. Ramsey believed in the player and he was proved right. A manager can't be throwing in a player for one game, then trying someone else for the next. His opinion of a player should be formed before the squad is even announced, not during the game itself.
Smith wants new job in the hot-seat
By Jon West, Daily Post
Feb 17 2003
FORMER Rangers and Everton manager Walter Smith has revealed he is ready to go straight back into management. Smith, who guided Rangers to the majority of their nine successive league titles in the late eighties and nineties, has been without a post since leaving Goodison Park last season.
He said: "I never really wanted to leave it but I was forced into a period of inactivity. If something came up that was of interest to me I would be delighted to go back in. "It was a good time to take a break. I had been 24 years in coaching as coach, assistant manager and manager and it was probably the right time. "I have had one or two offers but nothing that I have wanted to take up." Smith was speaking at last night's Rangers Hall of Fame awards ceremony, where he was picking up an award on behalf of Paul Gascoigne. Gascoigne, who is trying to prolong his career with a spell at Chinese club Gansu Tianma, was not present at Glasgow's Hilton Hotel. Smith signed Gascoigne from Lazio in the mid-90s and the mercurial Englishman gave the Ibrox faithful plenty of happy memories before again teaming up with Smith at Everton follow-ing a spell at Middlesbrough.
Smith said: "Paul Gascoigne always brings a great deal of comment from all walks of life but from a Rangers point of view I don't think anybody could deny that his two-anda-half years at the club were exceptional. "I don't think there were question marks in terms of ability and at that stage of his career it was mainly injuries that had blighted him and prevented his career from going in the manner everyone would have wanted. "He stayed injury free but it was a gamble we had to take. It worked out well for us. "There was quite a number of clubs in England that were after him. It wasn't an easy transfer to conclude but we managed to do it. We had to work hard to get him but it was worth it." Smith admitted that he had been as surprised as anyone to hear that Gascoigne had joined an obscure Chinese club. "He didn't come to me for advice about that," added Smith. "He's on his own now and we have to respect that. He seems happy from the television interviews I've seen since he's gone to China." Nine other former Rangers players joined Gascoigne on the Hall of Fame list following a poll of fans, including Blackburn Rovers boss Graeme Souness, who had begun the nine-in-a-row sequence before handing over to his deputy Smith. Ex-England internationals Mark Hateley and Ray Wilkins were selected for the 1980s.
We're the place to be
By Ian Doyle, Daily Post
Feb 17 2003
DAVID UNSWORTH insists Everton is the place to be - as David Moyes declared his team could be doing even better. Unsworth has proven a mainstay of the Blues side which has been transformed from basement strugglers to contenders for a Champions League place following the arrival of Moyes. The Blues currently lie fifth in the Premiership table, three points behind fourth-placed Chelsea and the final Champions League qualification berth. And Unsworth said: "This club has been struggling for too long. We had a couple of great years in the midnineties under Joe Royle, but this current squad is up there, if not better than that. "Everton is the place to be at the moment.
"The success has been based on the same players who have been here for a couple of years. We have some good youngsters coming through and I believe that's the way forward. "I think that's the way a lot of teams are going to have to go in the future." Of Everton's lofty Premiership standing, Unsworth added: "We're there on merit and we've been consistent for two-thirds of the season. We want to be successful on a regular basis, season after season. "Our performances and results this season have been one of the highlights of my career. We've got a terrific home record and we've had some great results away as well. "If we play as well as well as we have done over the course of the season and continue to work hard, we've got a great chance of qualifying for Europe." However, boss Moyes - who has been linked with a summer move for Arsenal youngster Jermaine Pennant - is adamant that his team should be even further up the table. "We should have picked up more points and as a matter of fact I'm actually disappointed we are not further up the table," said the Scotsman. I can't say where I hope to fin-ish, but I do feel we have dropped a few points lately where I feel we should have picked them up, so from that point of view we should be higher up.
"Obviously we have to admit we are delighted with the position we are in. "We're coming to the end of February and we are still in contention to be involved in the European places, which we now have to try and push for if possible." Meanwhile, Blues midfielder Li Tie has admitted he has found life difficult at times during his first season at Goodison. The Chinese international has been one of the major success stories in the Premiership this year, helping guide the Blues into a battle for European qualification. But he revealed: "Competition is everywhere. I met some troubles during the period of Christmas and missed two matches. "Fortunately, I have solved the problems."
Li Tie acknowledged the debt the players owe to boss Moyes. "He is young and full of energy," said Li Tie. "He has helped bring our team success."
Rodrigo makes a promise to fans
Feb 17 2003 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
FORGOTTEN man Rodrigo returns to Everton this week eager to prove he still has a role to play for the Blues. The talented 26-year-old Brazilian has been in South America for the last three months working intensively to recover from the ruptured cruciate knee ligament which has threatened to ruin his dream of a move into English football. Signed by David Moyes from Athletico Mineiro on a season-long loan for £1.5m in August, the wide man was tipped to make a big impact on the Premiership. But just five games into the season, he suffered the in training, forcing him to put his Everton career on hold and raising serious about the prospect of the loan turning into a permanent deal. The initial diagnosis was that he would be out for the entire season. on Friday the fit again Rodrigo will be back in England and ready to stake his claim for a return to the Everton squad.
Speaking from Brazil, he revealed: "The doctors have said that I can start playing again. My muscles are strong and I just need to be back in the team. "I will be there this week I will not disappoint the supporters, the team and the coaches who have always supported me. "The progress that I've made since November has surprised even the doctors. "I will be back playing at Everton sooner than every-one thought at first." It has been a demanding rehabilitation schedule since undergoing an operation to save his career which has led to Rodrigo's early return. He explains: "I've been running, working with weights and swimming. "I have been working with the physiotherapist for over four hours a day. "I even sent a video cassette to David Moyes and the physio to show them what I've been doing in my rehabilitation process. "I'll be back stronger and in good shape and I know that I will be able to help our team maintain our high position in the league." The player's recuperation was helped by, ahem, a little light swimming. "I participated in a swimming competition, crossing one mile in the open ocean. I did really well." he recalls. One mile swims may not normally appear on the fitness programme at Belle-field, but it has clearly worked for Rodrigo.
The surf-loving Brazilian's aquatic exertions convinced Everton he was ready for a return. He adds: "I had a visit from one of the Everton physios Matt Connery and he confirmed that everything went well. I have been working hard to be back at Bellefield as soon as the doctors allow me to do so."
Rodrigo is relishing the prospect of returning to Everton and has been count-ing the days. "I would like to say thank you to all my supporters and everyone that is wishing my prompt recovery," he continued. "Also the support that I received from our manager David Moyes and all the team has given me the strength that I needed to be able to return to Everton as the player I always have been.
"I can assure all Evertonians they will be able to be proud of me as an Everton player." Rodrigo will be at Goodison on Saturday to watch the Blues take on Southampton.
Hibbert out to prove his fitness
Feb 17 2003 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
TONY Hibbert will make a return to competitive action tomorrow night (Tuesday 18 Feb) with Everton reserves. The Blues defender has been sidelined since the December derby clash with Liverpool by a groin injury and the need to undergo a hernia operation. Having returned to full training, manager David Moyes has earmarked the full-back to play at Manchester City reserves tomorrow night. But the manager insists it is too early to talk about a return to the first team.
Moyes today said: "Tony will play in the reserves tomorrow provided the game is not affected by the weather. I want to see him get a reserve game under his belt before I even consider a first team return." Hibbert is unlikely to figure against Southampton at Goodison on Saturday. Meanwhile, Moyes has admitted he has not enjoyed the prolonged break from competitive action. When the Blues take to the field on Saturday it will have been two weeks since their last competitive match.
He added: "I would rather not have had this break because that would have meant we were still in the FA Cup. But we have been able to give some players a break, while others were on international duty all last week. I will tell you after Saturday if the break has done us good." Meanwhile, David Unsworth believes that the club can build on this season's success. He said: "We have some good youngsters coming through and that's the way forward. Our results this season have been the highlights of my career. If we keep going, we can qualify for Europe."
Call-ups pull Blues into club versus country row
Feb 17 2003 By Rob Brady, Liverpool Echo
WHILE Wayne Rooney's historic appearance for England was a source of immense pride for Everton, it also drew the club deeper into a simmering row between the top Premier League clubs and the Football Association. The big guns are unhappy at having to release players for international friendlies at times when they are trying to focus on domestic honours. It is a club versus country argument that has been growing in intensity for some time and came to a head this week when coach Sven Goran Eriksson was forced to give his England stars no more than 45 minutes against Australia. Rooney's debut and keeper Richard Wright's inclusion in the squad means that Everton now have a direct interest in England's fixture list. Like the other clubs, the Blues do not want their players risking injury in meaningless friendlies when they are badly needed at domestic level. Last Wednesday's match at Upton Park was part of FIFA's international match calendar - an official fixture list for which clubs must release players to the relevant national football associations. This also applies to the 48-hour pre parati on period before the match. England's next friendly, against South Africa, is also included within the FIFA calendar, but it is scheduled for a week after the English season ends. But national associations can still stage games outside of this official 'window' and can insist on the release of players, to the growing irritation of clubs. Michael Dunford, chief executive of Everton FC, said: "The feeling that there are too many friendly internationals being played outside that FIFA agree-ment is something Everton support. "There is some resentment from the Premiership clubs towards the number of games being played. We feel that international matches should be played within the designated FIFA windows." There is also the thorny issue of financial compensation for the clubs who provide players for international games. Now the clubs, including Everton, want the FA to make some contribution to the players' wages. Mr Dunford explained: "There is a growing feeling that the clubs should be compensated in some form or another for the period the players are lost to the club. While we all want to see a very successful national team, the clubs have players who are on large salaries. "The FA use these players and make a commercial gain out of them, but it is still the clubs that pay their wages. We pay them for 52 weeks of the year, but inter-national duties can take them away for up to four weeks in total. "In future, the loss of Rooney or Wright could be as significant to Everton as the loss of Michael Owen or Steven Gerrard for Liverpool. Discussions on this issue have been ongoing between the Premiership and the FA for some time."
China in his hands
By Ian Doyle, Daily Post
Feb 18 2003
HERE'S a question for you - who is Everton's most popular player? No it's not Wayne Rooney, the 17-year-old who has taken the Premiership by storm and who, for those who have just arrived back from Mars, last week became England's youngest ever international. And no, even allowing for his injury-blighted season, it isn't the big man himself, Duncan Ferguson. Give yourself a pat on the back then, if you said Li Tie, the Chinese international who has been a revelation in the Blues midfield following his arrival last summer as part of the club's sponsorship deal with Kejian.
The 25-year-old continues to surprise many with his performances and has established himself at the heart of an Everton side which, under the expert tutelage of David Moyes, is pressing for a Champions League place. And, as Everton's international liaison officer Mei Zhang explains, the interest and encouragement from China - population 1.26 billion - far outstrips the recent reaction to Rooney's record-breaking international bow. "Since he has been at Everton, Li Tie has received over a thousand letters, be it by post or by e-mail," she reveals. "He gets sent many e-mails every day. The interest in Li Tie and Everton is enormous back in China. "He has been sent many gifts, and I get sent many letters from people who want me to translate them so he can read them. "Li Tie is the equivalent of David Beckham in China. He was the player of the year in our country for last year, and he is regarded as the biggest and best player in China. Many, many fans like him." Such is the pride within China at the impact of Li Tie - he has started all but three games this season - fans are willing to do anything they can to ensure he succeeds during his stay at Goodison. "He gets sent all sorts," continues Meini-Zhang. "Chinese food, New Year gifts and even study books. He also has sent to him books on how to teach yourself English. "The fans want him to be a success in England so they want his English to improve, and they send these books as well as tapes on how to speak English. "It is quite expensive to send these things from China - maybe £40 - and with most of the fans being students, it's even more expensive for them, but they don't care. They just want Li Tie to make it in England." Li Tie joined Everton on a one-year loan during the summer from Liaoning Bodao. Despite starring for China in the World Cup, little was initially expected from the midfielder, who won his 78th cap for country last week against Brazil. But thanks to the midfielder's continued appearance in the Blues line-up, the Far East interest in Everton has rocketed to match that of traditional fan favourites Liverpool and Manchester United. "In China, the Premiership is the most popular league," says Mei Zhang. Before Li Tie arrived here, Liverpool and Manchester United were the most popular teams because they have been supported for many years. United have players like David Beckham who is famous in China. "But once Li Tie and Li Weifeng came to Everton, the popularity of the club became much bigger, and the more games Li Tie plays for Everton, the more people in China want to read about the club. "It also helps that this has been a special season for Everton, who have surprised everyone by how well they have done. In the Chinese media, every day there is a story about Everton now. "The Chinese version of Everton's website has had more than three million hits since it began." It was to capitalise on this potential popularity - and the inevitable problems in dealing with a massive non-English speaking fanbase - that Everton and sponsors Kejian agreed to draft in Beijing-born Mei Zhang as the club's first international liaison officer. She says: "I started my job at Everton last September. I'm a student at the University of Liverpool where my course is a BA in football industry, so working for Everton is really the best of jobs for me! Before I came here, I was a football journalist working for the Chinese National Federation. "My main job is to be responsible for the Chinese official website of Everton. I write articles for them, and they are passed on to the Chinese national daily and evening newspapers." And it's not just in his homeland that people are lauding his country's most famous footballing export. In England, and Liverpool in particular, the Chinese community have been ecstatic at his progress. Mei Zhang explains: "We did something for Li Tie over the Chinese New Year. The Chinese New Year is quite long and takes 13 days overall. "Obviously, with Everton playing against Leeds on Chinese New Year's Day (February 1), Li Tie could not celebrate straight away. But on the third day, we went with him to Chinatown in Liverpool and took part in the special celebrations. "The Chinese community in the city are so proud of him and he is famous to them." That said, even Li Tie's most staunch supporters did not expect just how well he has done at Everton. The experts are surprised much of a success Li Tie has been," adds Mei Zhang. Before he arrived, the Chinese people worried that he wouldn't play that many games because the level of Chinese football is not great. "But when David Moyes put him in his squad for the first game of the season (against Tottenham) he was selected and became the first Chinese international to play in the Premiership. "The fact he has continued to be selected shows Li Tie has the qualities necessary to succeed." No doubt Moyes and Blues fans everywhere will be hoping the Chinese midfielder continues to do so. Everton, the most popular football club in the world , anyone?
Big freeze hits young Blues' bid to progress
Academy Football By Chris Wright, Daily Post
Feb 18 2003
IT was another frustrating weekend for Everton's Academy sides as both had their FA Premier Academy League fixtures postponed. With the freezing temparatures throughout the north west, Alan Harper's under-17s visit to Blackburn Rovers and Colin Harvey's under-19s home fixture against Derby County at Bellefield were both called off. It has been a disappointing period for the Blues, with neither side being able to build up any sort of momentum because of postponements since Christmas. But Harper's U17s hope to play the match at Blackburn tomorrow afternoon. And they will look to bounce back after successive defeats in recent weeks to unbeaten Academy league leaders Manchester City and Wolverhampton Wanderers. Harper said: "It has been a bit stop-start at the moment. But hopefully the match can be played on Wednesday. "You want to keep playing, having games called off is good for no-one. "And after two defeats you want a game and get it over and done with. You start thinking too much about it when all you want is to get it sorted." And with so few games, the Blues have no new injury worries, but have been training as normal on their astroturf surface at Netherton. Harvey's U19s are next in action this Saturday, weather permitting, at home to Leeds United.
Rodrigo mission to stay a Blue
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Feb 18 2003
BRAZILIAN star Rodrigo returns to Merseyside this week on a three-month mission to salvage his Everton dream. The 26-year-old is due back at Bellefield on Friday after being sent home to Brazil to recover from the serious knee injury that has destroyed his debut season in the Premiership. A confident Rodrigo said: "I'm very well and I will be back at Everton on the 21st. "I'll arrive in Liverpool in the afternoon and I hope to be at the Southampton game at Goodison Park the following day. "The doctors have said that I can start playing again, my muscles are strong again and I just need to be back in the team. "I will be back playing at Everton sooner than everyone thought at first." But despite staging a dramatic recovery after rupturing his cruciate ligament in training last September, Rodrigo now faces a race against time to convince David Moyes of his worth. The Blues manager landed the attacking midfielder on a £1.5million year-long deal last summer with a view to a permanent transfer at the end of this season - just like Joseph Yobo's move from Marseille. Rodrigo made just four substitute appearances before injury struck and will need at least another month's training before he can press for a first-team recall. That leaves little time and few games for the Brazilian to land a permanent Goodison contract. But the Blues could try to extend his loan deal until the 2003/4 season gets underway before they commit themselves, giving Rodrigo a better chance of forcing his way into Moyes' plans. Tony Hibbert, Duncan Ferguson and Nick Chadwick hope to play their way into Moyes' more immediate thoughts tonight when they play for the reserves against Manchester City, weather permitting. The Blues manager said: "Tony and Nick are ready for a game now and hopefully Duncan Ferguson will be as well." Alan Stubbs has given himself a decent chance of facing Southampton this Saturday after returning to full training yesterday as expected. Yesterday's FA Cup sixth round draw, meanwhile, means Everton must secure a top six finish this season to guarantee a place in Europe. An extra UEFA Cup place would have been on offer via the Premiership if both Arsenal and Chelsea had reached the final for a second successive season, but they were drawn against each other in the next round yesterday.
International call not such a burden
Feb 18 2003 By Kevin Ratcliffe, Liverpool Echo
I ALWAYS felt refreshed after an international break. There has been a lot of talk recently about the demands on players of combining a hectic club schedule with the rigours of international football.
I disagree with those bosses who complain internationals take too much out of players. I always relished getting back to Everton after duty with Wales. Sometimes breaking the cycle of playing and training with your club can reinvigorate you. There is a myth in the modern game that players have to play more games than in previous years. But the reality is that squads are so big nowadays that a lot of players in the Premiership are only playing 20 games a season. Fitness levels are so high now that players can easily cope with 40 games or more in a campaign. During our successful trophy-winning seasons under Howard Kendall in the mid-'80s, the side rarely changed from week to week.
We were playing Wednesday and Saturday most weeks. The key was to ensure we recharged our batteries between games. Howard would regularly give us extra days off to maintain our freshness.
If modern managers are not happy with the number of games being played by their star players, they should give them extra time off. After all, their fitness would probably benefit. Wayne's status grows
ROONEY-MANIA reached a new level last week.
The youngster has been dominating headlines on Merseyside all season. But only occasionally have the national press turned their attention on him. But now he is the youngest player in England history he will find the media focus will increase. The last Evertonian to attract such attention was Paul Gascoigne. Players who capture the media and public's imagination to this extent come along very rarely. Now Rooney has joined a small group that includes David Beckham and Michael Owen.
If he can follow their lead he will not be far wrong. Rooney is very young. He may not look like it when he has a football at his feet, but he is still an impressionable 17-year-old fresh out of school.
It is a lot for such a young man to deal with. Thankfully he has good people looking after him. He will need them in the next couple of years.
Blues eye McCann return
Feb 18 2003 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
SUNDERLAND'S Gavin McCann could make a shock return to Everton this summer. The Blues are aware of a clause in their ex-midfielder's contract which would allow them to snap him up for 25 per cent less than any other interested party. The Black Cats are resigned to losing a number of first team players in the summer in order to boost revenue. The 25-year-old is one of the club's most saleable assets. He was signed by Peter Reid from Everton for £500,000 in 1998. The deal included a 25 per cent cut for Everton of any sell-on fee. That would allow Everton boss David Moyes to undercut any other bidder. The Blues boss is eager to bolster his squad with players of proven Premiership quality but will be working to a tight budget. Now his admiration of the tough tackling England international could lead to a summer swoop. Not only does the clause in McCann's contract make him an attractive option, the player is believed to keen on a return to Merseyside.
A deal in the region of £2m for McCann would fit the bill on both counts. Another player still in Everton's sights is former Tranmere midfielder Jason Koumas. He signed for West Bromwich Albion in a £2.5m deal in September and has quickly established himself as the Baggies' key playmaker.
However, the midfielder from Wallasey is believed to have a clause in his contract allowing him to leave the Hawthorns for an undisclosed fee if Gary Megson's side are relegated to the first division.
The Blues offered to take the player on loan last summer for three months with a view to a permanent deal, but Rovers turned down that offer and Everton were reluctant to meet the £2.5m price tag on a player unproven in the top flight. Meanwhile, the return to competitive action of Duncan Ferguson, Tony Hibbert and Nick Chadwick was put on hold today. Hibbert has been missing with a hernia problem since the derby match against Liverpool in December. Ferguson has only made one appearance as a substitute this season and has continued to be dogged by back problems while Chadwick has not figured in the first team all season. The trio were set to play for the reserves tonight against Manchester City at Hyde United but the match was called off this morning because of a frozen pitch.
The Evertonian...OUT NOW
Feb 18 2003
THIS month Blues hot-shot Tomasz Radzinski reveals all - From Poland, Germany, Canada and Belgium to Goodison, the Canadian Striker is talking our language. Meet Everton's Egyptian loan star Ibrahim Said and find out why he hopes he doesn't get too used to hotel food! Everton's unlikley goalscoring hero Steve Watson explains why there's no going back as he starts to think like a forward. And now we've all met Wayne Rooney who's next off the Bellefield production line? Can the next bright young thing Leon Osman be a man for all seasons. David Moyes reflects on his Echo Sports Personality of the Year Award, Andy Hinchcliffe and Earl Barrett return to Goodison and much much more...
Baardsen heads for exit
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Feb 19 2003
DAVID MOYES has decided not to extend Espen Baardsen's Everton stay. The Norwegian international will become a free agent once again on Friday after the goalkeeping crisis that gripped Goodison Park over Christmas eased. Moyes turned to the former Tottenham and Watford stopper after Steve Simonsen broke his toe on a coffee table and Paul Gerrard dislocated his knee while on loan at Ipswich. He was then forced to field Baardsen in the 4-3 defeat at Tottenham on January 11 when first-choice keeper Richard Wright succumbed to a knee injury in the warm-up.
The 26-year-old, who became the fourth keeper used by the Blues this season at White Hart Lane, then secured an extra month's loan with Everton. But with Simonsen and Gerrard fit again, and Wright delaying surgery on his knee problem until the summer, Baardsen's services are no longer needed and he will begin searching for a new club this weekend. Moyes said: "Espen will leave us at the end of the week. We wish him all the best in his future career." Tony Hibbert's hopes of pressing his claims for a recall against Southampton this weekend, meanwhile, have been dashed after last night's reserve game against Manchester City was postponed. The game was the third Everton reserve match in succession to fall foul of the weather and also left Duncan Ferguson and Nick Chadwick's proposed comebacks on hold. Blues boss Moyes has dismissed reports linking him with a possible move for former Everton midfielder Gavin McCann. The England international joined Sunderland in 1998 in a £500,000 deal that gave the Blues 25 per cent of any future sell-on fee.
That also allows Everton to buy the 25-year-old at a reduced price this summer when, if they are relegated, the Black Cats will need to sell. But Moyes said: "The transfer deadline has come and gone and I certainly haven't shown any interest in any player at the present time. It is just a rumour, nothing else."
Rooney running risk of burn-out
Feb 19 2003 By David Prentice, Everton Correspondent
WAYNE ROONEY could be in danger of burn-out, before his young career has barely begun.
The 17-year-old's first season in senior football kicked off on July 15, when he scored against SC Bruck. If his dramatic progress with the England squad continues, he will still be playing 11 months later when Slovakia visit the Riverside Stadium for a European Championship qualifier on June 11.
Blues' boss David Moyes has already taken steps to ensure his squad is not forced to endure unnecessary fixture congestion by refusing to enter the InterToto Cup competition. But Everton's England internationals Richard Wright and Wayne Rooney still face a punishing schedule. The domestic season on May 11, but Blues then have a post- season tour of China organised which includes two matches. Kejian, the club sors, are sure to be excited about the pect of England's est ever international part of the touring party. But even if he is spared that trip, England have a controversial friendly in South Africa scheduled for May 22. Numerous Premiership clubs have already voiced concerns about what is primari ly a moneymaking venture - but Sven Goran Eriksson sees the game as a crucial part of his preparation for the visit of Slovakia. Moyes has repeatedly tried to protect the development of his young striker, but said today: "People are surmising that Wayne will be involved in the England squad for the qualifiers at the end of the season which is a tall order. "He hasn't been playing regularly for Everton's first team yet so it would be wrong to speculate about England in the summer. "If that does happen we will worry about it then."
Liverpool's Michael Owen, who burst onto the international stage as an 18-year-old, has barely enjoyed a break to his routine since. The summer of 1997 was spent at the World Youth Championships in Mayasia. The following year he exploded into the international scene in France, then spent the summer of 1999 repairing a serious hamstring tear. He sp earh ead e d England's Euro 2000 campaign in Holland and Belgium, had the following summer taken up by a World Cup qualifier in Greece and his club's demanding tour of Singa-pore and Thailand, then last summer was back in the Far East for a tour and the World Cup. The Blues, meanwhile, trained at Goodison Park today in a bid to beat the freeze which has gripped the country over the past few days. The training pitches at Bellefield have been frozen,so the Blues have switched to the specially heated surface at Goodison.
McBride: No decision on future yet
Feb 19 2003 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
IT is not just football matches that goals can change. The most valuable commodity in the game can also have a strong influence on a player's career. When Brian McBride signed for Everton on a three-month loan at the start of January it was made clear by both the manager and the player that the American's association with the club would end after the visit to Highbury on March 22. But four goals in five games have turned the stand-in striker into a crowd favourite. The 30- year-old is still expected to jet back to Columbus Crew in time for the start of the American MLS season in April.
But with Duncan Ferguson still waiting for the chance to prove he is finally over the back problem which has dogged his season by playing for the reserves, the supporters may be reluctant to see McBride leave Goodison. The US international is under no illusions about his situation but admits the thought of being asked to stay on permanently would be hugely tempting. So if David Moyes asked, what would he say? "It is a tough question because that is not there in front of me," said McBride. "I just need to concentrate on the three months and be ready to go back to Columbus and help out the Crew. "If something were to come about, then of course I'd have to take a different view of things, but right now I look at it as three months here and after that I will be back in Columbus." Having arrived as cover for both Kevin Campbell and Ferguson, things have gone better than expected for McBride. He became Everton's first debutant goalscorer for five years when he found the target at White Hart Lane last month. He couldn't help the Blues avoid a 4-3 defeat, but followed it up with a brace a week later to earn three points against Sunderland in his first game at Goodison. "When I came over here I didn't want to ruffle any feathers - I just wanted to do anything to help out and that is still the case," added McBride. "It is important that Everton keep doing well, because it would be great to see them in Europe next year. Whatever the coach decides is best for the team is the decision I will take." McBride has quickly formed an understanding with fellow North American Tomasz Radzinski. And the manager's determination to keep faith with players in form means skipper Kevin Campbell is having to bide his time before swapping the bench for the starting line-up. Having played for Moyes before during a spell at Preston, McBride admits the prospect of working for the Scot was the key reason in his decision to agree the loan move to Merseyside. He adds: "He didn't have to persuade me. As soon as I found out about the possibility of a loan, I called the general manager of Columbus Crew and told him I'd be interested. "I just thought it would be a great opportunity for a few months that would benefit the Crew, me and hopefully Everton too." When the player arrived Moyes made it clear his age could be a problem. The manager has a policy of signing young players and that could be the key factor in determining the length of McBride's stay on Merseyside, despite his rich goalscoring form. Moyes has already made the player's situation clear, saying: "At the moment he has signed a contract for three months. I've worked with him before and to be fair to him I am trying to get younger players than him in here. "He is here as cover and he knows that. He's willing to help us in that respect. "He's due to go back on April 1 at the moment when the American season starts." In the meantime, McBride believes he and the Blues are in the kind of form to maintain a push for European qualification.
"Everything I have seen is going really well - the organisation is fully behind the players, and the players are enjoying their time together. "Everyone in the locker room is extremely happy, so hopefully it will keep going until the end of the season."
Chadwick so eager to stake his claim
By Chris Wright, Daily Post
Feb 20 2003
YOUNG striker Nick Chadwick is desperate for a chance to make his mark at Everton. The Blues forward burst on to the first-team scene at the back end of last season, playing in six of the last nine fixtures - and scoring three goals - after David Moyes had taken over from Walter Smith. But this campaign has been a frustrating period due to a series of groin problems, which have had to rectified with surgery at the start of this year. The 20-year-old hasn't figured at all this term and has seen himself pushed down the pecking order with the emergence of teenage prodigy Wayne Rooney and American forward Brian McBride's successful loan spell. But the Stoke-born youngster is now back to full fitness and is keen to pick up where he left off. "Because I haven't played, obviously I'm not in the firstteam plans because I've only just come back from injury," he said. "It's frustrating for me because I had a lot of football last season. "I was involved in nearly every game and I was disappointed if I didn't make the bench. "This season, I just want to be in the 16 or at least be able to be considered would be a big boost - as through my injury I haven't been able to be in the squad.
"When I get the chance in reserve team games, I know that I'm going to have to impress. I'm working hard in training to get my full fitness back - so my future is in my hands. "I spoke to the manager a few months back and he assured me that I was a valued member of the squad." But his comeback plans have been put on hold as the Blues' last three reserve fixtures have all been postponed due to the adverse weather.
Rooney goes back to Ell
Feb 20 2003 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
WAYNE ROONEY will be welcomed back onto a Goodison stage this weekend - by the man who handed him an enforced month-long lay-off. But the 17-year-old should not worry; he is in good company. David Elleray, the referee who controversially red-carded Rooney at Birmingham City on Boxing Day, sent off his first Everton players some seven years earlier. And the double dismissal of Earl Barrett and Barry Horne at St James' Park, Newcastle, sparked as much fury in the Everton manager's office then as did Rooney's at St Andrew's. Since then the Harrow schoolmaster has taken charge of 17 Everton matches. Those occasions have generated 10 red cards (six of them Everton players), 57 yellows and nine penalty kicks. If Sky are chasing guaranteed action and controversy for this weekend's pay-per-view audience they could hardly have done better. David Elleray's cardsper-game ratio of 2.4 this season bears comparison with the most lenient, but it seems that the Blues bring out the worst in him. Saturday's game against Southampton will be the first time he has officiated an Everton match since that hotly-contested decision in December - and only the second time he will have returned to Goodison since an erratic performance against Spurs in August 2001 which is still talked about even now. That evening he reduced Tottenham to nine men, missed a Mauricio Taricco stamp which his manager later admitted should have been punished by a red card, mistakenly disallowed a Niclas Alexandersson goal then awarded Everton a contentious penalty in a match which ended 1-1. Both bosses were baffled by many of the official's decisions that night, while 29, 503 dispirited fans trudged out of Goodison Park perplexed and flattened but as always, Mr Elleray declined to comment afterwards. On Boxing Day David Moyes took a lap- top recording of the incident which saw Rooney receive the first red card of his career into the referee's room immediately after the final whistle. Elleray looked at the replay, but refused to either reconsider or comment on h is decision. The teacher has often been at odds with Everton managers. In 1996 Joe Royle publically branded him "a pterodactyl" after he red-carded Duncan Ferguson for foul and abusive language, and in 1995 after dismissing Horne and debutant Barrett in the same match at Newcastle, Royle rebuked: "In 30 years in football I have never seen a more insensitive display of refereeing." This is Elleray's final season on the Premiership l ist and it has been reported that he is currently in the process of cont ributing to h is autobiography. Maybe the unaccountable official will finally go public then and explain some of the decisions which have baffled fans for years...
David Elleray's Everton hall of shame
February 1, 1995: Newcastle 2, Everton 0. Two reds (Barrett and Horne), 10 yellows. February 3, 1996: Southampton 2, Everton 2. Two yellows. April 16, 1996: Everton 1, Liverpool 1. Two yellows.
September 21, 1996: Blackburn Rovers 1, Everton 1. One red (Ferguson), five yellows. March 7, 1998: Southampton 2, Everton 2. Two reds (Monkou, Bilic), three yellows, two penalties.
February 20, 1999: Leeds 1, Everton 0. Five yellows. April 3, 1999: Liverpool 3, Everton 2. Three yellows, one penalty.
January 8, 2000: Everton 2, Birmingham City 0. One yellow, two penalties.
March 11, 2000: Chelsea 1, Everton 1. Two yellows. October 14, 2000: Everton 1, Southampton 1. Four yellows, one penalty.
March 3, 2001: Everton 1, Newcastle United 1. Three yellows, one penalty.
April 8, 2001: Everton 3, Manchester City 1. Two reds (Pistone and Dickov), four yellows, one penalty.
August 20, 2001: Everton 1, Tottenham 1. Two reds (Doherty and Poyet), six yellows, one penalty. January 12, 2002: Everton 1, Sunderland 0. One yellow.
February 23, 2002: Liverpool 1, Everton 1. Two yellows.
April 6, 2002: Chelsea 3, Everton 0. One yellow.
December 26, 2002: Birmingham City 1, Everton 1. One red (Rooney), three yellows
New arena plan will be revealed soon
Feb 21 2003
PLANS for a new £100m arena complex for Kings Dock are set to be unveiled within weeks, the Daily Post can reveal. The public sector partners who were working alongside secretly employed consultants to start work on new plan when the football club lost its "preferred developer" status at the end of last year. Those plans will be unveiled in mid-March and forwarded with the city's final submission to the Capital of Culture judges at the of that month. The new scheme will be known as the Liverpool Arena Conference Centre. It will be funded entirely the public sector and when it is finished it will be owned by Liverpool City Council, who will take on a commercial partner to run it.
It will feature an arena for between 10 and 20,000 people, and offer a conference centre for 6,000 people. A hotel will form part of the development and it may well house a new theatre for the city. Plans to incorporate a theatre in the nearby Fourth Grace have, the Daily Post understands, now been ruled out on space grounds. A hotel will also form part of the package. One imaginative concept being considered is to have the back of the arena removable, opening on to a wide piazza to provide a venue for much bigger summer concerts. It will provide a serious rival for the MEN arena in Manchester, which currently bills itself as the largest multi-purpose indoor entertainment and sports arena in Europe, with a capacity ranging from 7,000 to 21,000 depending on the event.
A senior source told the Daily Post that the new scheme is expected to sail through the planning stages without being called in for a public inquiry. Most of the opposition to the current project has been because of the football side, its sheer scale and the traffic problems that could have caused.
The arena should be ready to open between 2007 and the Capital of Culture year, 2008. Peter Mearns, marketing director of the Northwest Development Agency, told the Daily Post yesterday: "There are negotiations going on at the moment. "It's very much back to the drawing board, but there is a commitment to get on with it." Mr Mearns confirmed that the latest plan for a smaller arena at the Kings Dock was likely to be fully funded by the public sector. Liverpool City Council leader Mike Storey confirmed that the public sector was looking at an alternative to the Everton scheme. He said: "It was always the case that we would move on from that and that's what we have done."
Club still determined to leave Goodison Park
Feb 21 2003Daily Post
FADING VISION: The Kings Dock project looks doomed
EVERTON will move to a new stadium, despite the impending collapse of the Kings Dock plan.
The Daily Post understands that a firm decision has been taken by the club that staying at ageing Goodison Park is not an option. Club officials were furious last night at public sector claims that Everton had failed in its obligations to the project. A club insider said last night: "If the Kings Waterfront project is abandoned in its current form it will most certainly not be because Everton failed to meet its financial obligations - the money is in place. "The question of rising construction costs was always a major concern for both the public and private sector partners." And in an official club statement, Everton's head of corporate affairs and public relations, Ian Ross, said: "During the course of what has been a protracted and demanding process, Everton FC's commitment to the Kings Waterfront project has never, for one second, wavered. "We have pursued the vision of a new and spectacular stadium with vigour, determination and absolute professionalism. "It is totally untrue to suggest that Everton FC has in any way attempted to modify the arena's original masterplan to reduce the overall construction costs. "We promised our supporters a unique, world-class stadium. It is that or nothing. "Quite simply, there will be no compromise. Everton still remains confident that it will be able to meet in full the obligations which were originally laid down."
It is accepted by the club that Goodison Park can no longer provide the kind of facilities it needs. With Everton's football fortunes blossoming under new manager David Moyes, the team has been playing to packed houses almost all season. But it badly needs to increase in size and greatly extend its corporate entertainment facilities, a key source of revenue for top football clubs. The stadium area is not big enough to allow for an extension. The collapse of the Kings Dock plan will start the guessing game all over again about where a new stadium can be built. It remains to be seen whether relations with Liverpool council will be soured sufficiently for the club to move beyond the city's boundaries. The worry for all Evertonians will be just how the club can hope to raise the cost of a new stadium without public sector support.
Tie him down
icLiverpool and Daily Post
Feb 21 2003
Tie him down
IT WAS great to read about how well Li Tie has settled into life in England. Not only has he come to terms with the physical side of the Premiership, but he seems to have adapted well to our culture which must have been difficult for him. I hope David Moyes fulfils his recent words and signs Li Tie on a permanent basis at the end of the season.
Barry Higgins, Waterloo
James is wrong
DAVID JAMES in goal for England? Please ...who has conceded the most goals in the Premiership?
Richard Wright must be well brassed off. Mind you, the way Gary Neville played against Australia, he might get a game at right-back. What are the odds on Wayne Rooney and Francis Jeffers being paired at Everton? As for Steve McManaman, forget it. Overrated and over there. Let's keep it that way.
Ian Smith, West Derby
DUNCAN FERGUSON must be really frustrated he isn't getting a chance to get fit. Three reserve games on the trot have been cancelled, putting his return to action back by at least a fortnight. Tony Hibbert and Nick Chadwick also suffered midweek. Why not switch such matches where high-profile players are involved to Goodison Park. That way Everton will have their best players at their disposal for as long as possible.
D Barraclough, Liverpool
Well done, Wayne
A BIG congratulations to Wayne Rooney. I wasn't sure if he would be given a chance last week for England, and I also thought he may be asked to play out on the left. But Sven-Goran Eriksson gave him and the rest a fair chance, and I don't think any of the under-25s let us down. I was proud of Rooney, but sorry at what a sad state of affairs the whole game will now be remembered as.
Mark Tilley, Widnes
AN international cap should be the high point of any footballer's career. There have been many great players, like Howard Kendall, who never won an England cap. Now players get caps in meaningless friendlies, and also for only playing in the second half of games, in an England reserve team! Giving players caps in that way only devalues being an international footballer. I'm sure Wayne Rooney will win a lot of caps in the future, but he really should only get them when he is a Premiership regular, and not just because of his potential.
J Walsh, Liverpool
Back to business
I'M glad to get back to the business of Everton and Premiership football tomorrow. While it was nice to see our Wayne Rooney rewriting history for England last week, the game meant nothing and was a waste of time. Hopefully the Blues can pick up again against Southampton and keep up the charge at the top of the table.
Tony Ambrose, Wirral
An early warning on Saints danger
Fanscene With Mark O'Brien, Daily Post
Feb 21 2003
BEING a top five team obviously doesn't come without its drawbacks. As a result of the nation at large longing to witness our push for Europe and the Wayne Rooney Show we end up playing televised games at the crack of dawn. Playing on a Sunday is bad enough, the atmosphere is never quite right, but first thing on a Saturday when there's no Grand National is just plain wrong. At least Walter Smith's not in charge any more though - imagine watching his teams without the benefit of a few hours in the pub first. And spare a thought for the hardy fanzine sellers who have to drag themselves out of bed and brave the elements to bring you your half-time dose of mis-spelt swearing. Tomorrow's opponents, Southampton, are what highly-trained soccer pundits generally refer to as 'no mugs'. Their own strawberry blond Scot has done a similar job to that of David Moyes at Goodison; without spending a great deal of money he's assembled a well-organised team who play attractive football. Players who looked ordinary at best have flourished under Gordon Strachan; James Beattie tends to get all the plaudits but there can't be a more improved player in the Premiership than Chris Marsden. The one-time phoney hard man orchestrates everything for the Saints in midfield, keeping it simple and protecting his back four like a budget Roy Keane. He'd get into our side - a rare compliment and no mistake. After slipping up at Charlton so disappointingly this game is now something of a European place six-pointer. Failure to secure all three points would surely put a huge dent in our UEFA Cup ambitions. On the plus side our run in could be buoyed by the return of a number of players to the squad with Duncan Ferguson ready to play in the reserves whenever a playable pitch can be found and even the mysterious Rodrigo jetting back in from Brazil to resume training with his team-mates. Obviously no-one's holding their breath on either of them. Likewise a healthy pinch of salt is required when reading some newspapers who have had us linked with a whole host of transfer targets in the last week. Darren Bent and Jermaine Pennant are both apparently excellent young players and would be welcome additions to our squad, funds permitting.
The other rumour that survives more stubbornly than Captain Scarlet is the 'Macca's coming home' one - Macca obviously being Real Madrid's floppy-haired wing wizard Steve McManaman. Big Evertonian or not, even if we could afford his astronomical wages surely we moved forward from the era of romantic trophy signings when David Ginola and Paul Gascoigne were shown the door.
Anyway, have you heard the one about Franny Jeffers coming back...?
Blues do not want to kick their heels
Academy Football By Chris Wright, Daily Post
Feb 21 2003
EVERTON'S Academy sides will have just one wish tomorrow - to play football. The rising of temperatures over the country in the last few days will certainly have raised spirits and Colin Harvey's under-19s will hope they can take on Leeds United in FA Premier Academy League Group A fixture tomorrow at Bellefield (kick-off 11am). Meanwhile Alan Harper's under-17s will be just as keen to face Sheffield Wednesday at Netherton (KO 11am). Harvey's team have played just twice since their 5-1 mauling of Stoke City on December 14. One game a week has become one a month with the 1-0 defeat at home to Nottingham Forest in January and their last fixture - a 1-0 against Barnsley two weeks ago - the only competitive action they have tasted. The Blues have seen scheduled matches at Crewe, at Manchester City twice and last Saturday's game at Bellefield with Derby County all called off. And now they are itching to get into action. Coach Harvey has been frustrated at the lack of action and knows his side will be chomping at the bit to get going again.
He said: "Hopefully with the weather lifting the games will be on. It has been frustrating, but they will have plenty of games coming up in the next few weeks. So they will have to get on with it." Craig Garside, Colin Thorbinson, James Potter, Morgan Jones, Jack Flood are all still missing, while Damon Martland is likely to be out for most of the season now after his hernia operation. Harper's U17s have played just one more game than their elder clubmates, and saw their match at Blackburn last Saturday postponed. It was quickly re-arranged for Wednesday afternoon, but again a frozen pitch put paid to it. It is doubly frustrating for Harvey's young Blues as they were desperate to get two back-toback defeats out of their system. And when they welcome Sheffield Wednesday to Netherton, they will look to bounce back after those defeats in recent weeks to unbeaten Academy League leaders Manchester City and Wolverhampton Wanderers. Harper said: "It has been a bit stop-start at the moment. "You want to keep playing, having games called off is good for no-one. And after two defeats you want a game and get it over and done with. You start thinking too much about it when all you want is to get it sorted." And with so few games, the Blues have no new injury worries, but have been training as normal on their astroturf surface at Netherton. Everton U19s match at Crewe Alexandra has been re-arranged for Saturday, March 15, while the U17s visit to take on the Railwaymen will be on Saturday.
Don't pester ref Elleray
Feb 21 2003 By Howard Kendall, Liverpool Echo
THE appointment of David Elleray as referee at Goodison Park tomorrow is already a talking point - before he has even blown a whistle or brandished a card . . . which, trust me, he undoubtedly will.
But I think it can sometimes be counterproductive to complain too long and too hard about certain officials. I am always reminded of the 1984 Milk Cup Finals against Liverpool, when Alan Robinson turned down what most observers believed was a blatant handball by Alan Hansen on the Liverpool goalline. Before the Maine Road replay, the very last thing I said to the players was 'Say nothing to the ref. He'll know he's made a mis-take and he might be more sympathetic towards you.' The lads then walked out into the tunnel and within seconds I could hear John Bailey berating the officials and saying they had better put things right in that game! I don't think current referees are making more mistakes than usual. It's simply that the mistakes they do make are being scrutinised more closely. There were a huge number in the FA Cup last weekend - Crystal Palace's 'goal' which wasn't awarded, the harsh penalty against Sunderland, and the first time this season I've seen a referee insist on a re-take, the offside in the Rochdale-Wolves tie . . . they were all clear errors. In the interests of balance, though, I thought Jeff Winter saved the Manchester United-Arsenal Cup tie from being spoiled by refusing to show red cards when he could quite easily have done so. The only way to eradicate more of those errors is to continue to educate referees - but I am a firm believer that we can use new technology to prevent one injustice being perpetrated continually. Crystal Palace could be in the last eight of the FA Cup if the officials had spotted Andy Johnson's shot quite clearly going over the Leeds goalline before it was hooked away. Opponents suggest it would interrupt the flow of a game, which is nonsense. Such incidents don't crop up that often, and when they do, referring them to a video adjudicator could actually contribute to the atmosphere at a match. Football clubs work so hard all week to try and produce goals, so when they are legitimately scored - and not given - it is an injustice we must do everything to try and overcome.
Beware loan stars
THE future England strike-force could potentially line-up at Goodison Park tomorrow - newly capped James Beattie and Wayne Rooney. My thoughts on Rooney have already been well documented. As for Beattie, he has had an outstanding season, but I would like to see him continue it for a little longer before I see him become a regular in the England set-up. Strikers often blow hot and cold (remember how Michael Ricketts earned an England call-up?). Brian McBride's rich run of form at Everton has started speculation that the Blues should permanently add him to their squad. I am delighted he has done well, but I would urge caution. I remember how well Terry Curran did on-loan at Everton in the 80s, but once the carrot of a long-term contract had been removed - by signing him - he offered nothing like the same impact.
Midfielder Cann be great buy
DAVID MOYES dismissed speculation linking him with Gavin McCann this week as "rumours." All rumours, however, have some substance - and I hope this one has a basis in truth. I recommended Gavin to Peter Reid. I thought he was a tremendous buy for £500,000 and hopefully I have been proved right.
Roar us on to victory - Moyes
Feb 21 2003 Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES has urged Evertonians to issue an early alarm call to his side tomorrow. The Premiership visit of Southampton to Goodison Park kicks off at 12.30pm and the Blues' boss urged: "If we have ever needed the supporters this season it is now. "We need the supporters to generate an atmosphere for us at 12.30. That will be important." Steve Watson's heel injury is still a worry for Moyes, but Alan Stubbs is fit and available.
A finishing touch all Roo needs
Feb 21 2003 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
ENGLAND'S newest striking recruits will line up on opposite sides at Goodison Park tomorrow.
But while Saints' star James Beattie and Everton wonderkid Wayne Rooney could one day form an international alliance, the senior striker will pay scant attention to his young pretender tomorrow.
"I won't be looking to see what Wayne is doing on Saturday," he said "I will be too busy concentrating on my own game." Ironically the two never actually played alongside each other at Upton Park. Beat-tie partnered Michael Owen in the first half against Australia, then Evertonian young guns Wayne Rooney and Francis Jeffers took over after half time. But Beattie saw enough to confirm what the rest of the nation has already been saying this season. "People will inevitably be making comparisons between myself and Wayne Rooney tomorrow," he explained. "We both made our debuts against Australia and I suppose part of the price you pay for being in form is having the spot-light turned firmly on you. "It's not for me to say what Wayne is or isn't going to become - the press will make enough of that. "But he's patently a good player and his talent at such a tender age is undeniable. "The goals he has scored have been pretty spectacular, but I'm sure he would rather be known for being a great goalscorer rather than a scorer of great goals. "As a striker, there's no better feeling than almost busting the net, but look at all the great strikers and they trade mostly in tap-ins. Perhaps Wayne needs to start scoring a few of them." Rooney will have to be patient to chase goals of any description, almost certainly starting tomorrow's match on the bench. Beattie added: "Wayne has shown what he can do in the League. The England training was the first close up look I have had at him and I found him quiet but assured. "Although he was quiet he was also confi-dent, and he is still only 17. "He is quick and strong with a great shot. He has shown that already and he has the mental toughness to handle the step up. "He has exceptional ability for someone of that age and in terms of natural skill he is as good as I have seen." Beattie has attracted plaudits all season, but one member of the Blues' backroom staff has not been surprised by his progress. Assistant manager Alan Irvine was in charge of Blackburn's youth academy when Beattie was learning his trade. In 1995 he actually scored a spectacular volley against Everton at Wembley, when the youth teams from each club staged a Charity Shield curtain-raiser. "I remember that goal," smiled Irvine, "although it didn't stand out that much because James scored fantastic goals like that all the time and always seemed to score against Everton! "He was someone who scored goal of the season contenders but didn't get many tapins. But as he has got older he has become more clinical "He was actually very late coming into football because he was a top-class swim-mer. It was only when he collected a shoulder injury that he came to Blackburn, as opposed to Brett Ormerod who was there from nine years-old. "I was immediately impressed by his physical attributes, and he is also an intelligent lad who was a fast learner. "He seems to have come of age and I was delighted when he got his England cap." Tomorrow both strikers will aim to their England attributes in front of a national TV audience.
* Live on Sky Sports 1, kick off 12.30pm.
'Blues are like Saints'
Feb 21 2003 Liverpool Echo
SOUTHAMPTON manager Gordon Strachan has admitted his side was lucky to beat Everton earlier in the season. The two teams met at the St Mary's in September, when the Saints ran out 1-0 winners, but Strachan said: "We took the three points but it was the luckiest win we've had this season because they were the better team. "David Moyes has done a tremendous job up there and they are a team quite similar to us who are very hard-working. "They have got three good strikers but we're feeling confident and want to try and improve on our recent results in the league." Strachan has been boosted by the return to fitness of Jason Dodd, who tore a calf muscle at the star t of December. But Strachan has warned his captain he faces a wait to regain his place. Midfielder Paul Telfer has been in outstanding form after being pressed into action as an emergency right back.
Dodd is now back in contention after returning to full training three weeks ago but Strachan has told him that he must work hard to return to the Southampton back four. The Saints boss said: "Doddsy is one of the most popular players at the club but the crowd aren't stupid and if they use their own eyes they can see what a good player Paul is. "He has surprised even me with his performances.
"It's the best I've seen him play but he doesn't get the credit he sometimes deserves because he plays to the team plan rather than anything else."
Kenwright's dream in tatters
Feb 21 2003 EXCLUSIVE By Daily Post Staff
EVERTON FC'S Kings Dock dream is almost certainly over, the Daily Post can reveal today. Spiralling costs and the growing unease of the public sector means the plug will be pulled on the ailing £300m project next month. Plans are already well advanced for a new £100m multi-purpose project which will give the city the multi-purpose concert arena and conference venue it craves. It will also maintain the Kings Dock's role as an important plank of Liverpool's bid for the Capital of Culture title.
But Everton Football Club is set to be left out in the cold. Everton lost its status as preferred bidder for the prestige waterfront site at the end of December. But it was hoped that a rescue package brokered by Everton deputy chairman Bill Kenwright could keep the project alive. The Daily Post can reveal that businessman and former Everton director Sir Desmond Pitcher was one of the key figures behind that Royal Bank of Scotland-backed plan. Sir Desmond and top architect Patrick Davies were working through development company Steeltower to produce a new scheme for the site, which would include the residential, commercial and leisure elements. They had been involved with the Northstar Consortium, which put forward one of the rival bids Everton managed to beat off in the original race to secure preferred developer status for Kings Dock. Steeltower planned to take over all the club's existing property assets, including Goodison Park and its Bellefield training ground, in return for bankrolling the project. But according to an informed public sector source, Steeltower's "due diligence" financial investigation of the Everton plan has revealed that building costs for the arena have shot up from £155m to £170m in the past two years. The shortfall cannot be made up, and our source claims the club has been seeking to come up with a cheaper arena design, sacrificing the retractable roof and the sliding pitch which gave the plan its versatility.
The concept was for a 55,000 seat soccer stadium that could be converted into a variety of smaller indoor venues to provide everything from a major concert hall to a sophisticated conference venue.
Last night, the source said: "Their new plan is to take off the sliding roof and, instead of having a pitch that rolls out, have one that is taken out in chunks, like the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.
"That proposal is unacceptable to the public sector. That is not the vision that we bought into.
"They are shaving off the bits that made it attractive to us" The source said the only remaining hope for the project would come if Everton could raise the extra £15m - or agree to surrender its 50pc equity stake in the project and agree to lease the stadium instead. But both prospects appear remote. A clearly shocked Mr Kenwright last night said he was unaware of the problem, and emphatically denied that the club was moving away from its original vision for the arena. He told the Daily Post: "There is no question Everton would ever be interested in anything other than the original concept."
Vale loan move for youngster Clarke
Feb 21 2003 By Ian Doyle, Daily Post
EVERTON youngster Peter Clarke has joined Port Vale on a month's loan - as the Blues' injured stars discovered they face another frustrating wait on the road to recovery. England under-21 international Clarke last night became Vale boss Brian Horton's latest signing by agreeing a short-term switch to the Potteries. It is the second time the 21-year-old has been allowed to leave Goodison on a temporary basis this season. Clarke spent three months at Blackpool last year along with Keith Southern, who eventually joined the Seaside club in a permanent switch. Clarke's last appearance for the Blues came in the 2-1 FA Cup defeat at Shrewsbury Town in January. And he said: "I just want first team football, and the (Port Vale) manager has told me I will get the chance."
Vale boss Horton said: "I am delighted to have got Peter here for the next month. He can be a useful addition to our squad." Meanwhile, Nick Chadwick, Duncan Ferguson and Tony Hibbert have been further frustrated in their attempts of making a comeback from long-term injury. The trio have seen Everton's last three reserve games postponed because of the inclement weather. And now the reserve game with Leeds, scheduled for next Tuesday, has been rearranged to Thursday, May 1 because of the Yorkshiremen's involvement in the FA Cup. Instead, the players will have to wait an extra two days for the trip to Newcastle United - lessening Hibbert's chances of making the squad for the Premiership game at Middlesbrough 48 hours later. The game in the North East had been postponed on two separate occasions due to a waterlogged pitch at the Gateshead International Stadium. However, the game will now be played at Kingston Park, the home of Newcastle Falcons Rugby Union Club, with a 7pm kick-off.
Everton 2, Southampton 1 (D, Post)
Feb 24 2003 By Ian Doyle At Goodison Park, Daily Post
IT may not have the same immediate resonance as Adrian Heath at Oxford, but Tomasz Radzinski's injury-time winner on Saturday could prove to have a similarly defining impact on Everton's future.
For a whole generation of Blues supporters, success such as the period sparked by that famous late goal at the Manor Ground some 20 years ago has seemed a lifetime away, consigned to years-old videos and fast-fading newspaper cuttings. So even the most optimistic could not have forseen Everton's present lofty position. Most would have settled for a season of consolidation and gradual improvement after too many years toying with relegation; Champions League football a mere pipedream. A glance at the Premiership table this morning suggests it is anything but. Only goal difference separates David Moyes' men from that vital final qualifying berth and with it an invitation to join Europe's finest clubs. Consolidation has made way for expectation. And what is more, after Saturday's last-gasp, richly-deserved win over Southampton, both supporters and play-ers are now beginning to genuinely believe that, never mind a UEFA Cup spot, Everton can claim that elusive fourth place. It was such belief that carried the Blues through to a victory that had appeared agonisingly out of reach against a Saints side which rode their luck and, thanks to Antti Niemi, were driven by the best display from a visiting goalkeeper at Goodison for many a year. That three points were ultimately gleaned once more underlined the tremendous will to succeed that Moyes has engendered in his squad. They simply refused to accept defeat and kept battering on the door until the visitors had no option but to yield. This attitude was typified by Radzinski. Both frustrated and frustrating for the majority of the game, the Canadian international refused to be affected by some wayward finishing and downright bad luck and was rewarded with two well-taken and potentially priceless goals. The first, seven minutes from time, owed much to the precocious talent of Wayne Rooney, who was making his Goodison return following his four-match ban. England's youngest-ever international curled a teasing, inswinging cross from the left that was just asking for Radzinski - probably the smallest player on the pitch - to leap unmarked and head into the corner. Radzinski, of course, is the one player most under threat from Rooney's rise to prominence. But as he pointed out after the game, there has been evidence to suggest that the two players can even reside in the same 11. And indeed, rather than be intimidated by his younger rival, Radzinski has responded by producing his best form since arriving from Anderlecht in the summer of 2001. He has also benefited from Moyes policy of keeping faith with in-form players. There are no favourites and this has increased the competition for places among the squad - the strength of the substitutes' bench on Saturday giving an illustration of how this policy is working. Everyone wants to play in a side doing as well as Everton are, but no-one is guaranteed a place. Radzinski's winner was all his own work. With the game in the final of three minutes' stoppage time, Southampton dallied over their attempts to play down the clock deep in Everton's half and gifted possession to Richard Wright. In an instant the goalkeeper belted the ball downfield, and a poor defensive clearance found Thomas Gravesen in the centre circle, who quickly fed Radzinski on the right flank into space. With barely seconds remaining, there was little option but to go it alone. Radzinski had rattled the frame of Niemi's goal earlier after speeding into the area from a similar right-wing position. This time, however, he made no mistake with a blistering effort which flew into the top corner from an angle so difficult it forced most observers to look twice before believing that Radzinski had actually scored.
It was some goal, and one which people are likely to point to if the Blues can qualify for the Champions League. Its immediate impact was to put nine points between themselves and Southampton, another side harbouring realistic hopes of European qualification. While Radzinski was rightly taking the plaudits, credit, too, must go to Moyes. Everton were surprisingly subdued and slow-witted during a first period which saw a scarcely better Southampton move ahead thanks to James Beattie's 33rd-minute lob after Alessandro Pistone had played him onside from Matt Oakley's pass. The Blues boss was compelled to make changes which proved inspirational. It came as no surprise to the club's owner Bill Kenwright. "You just knew that we would come out and play in the second half, because the manager is so good at getting them going," said Kenwright. "He is our most dangerous weapon. "Two weeks ago at Charlton, a fan shouted to me after the game that Rooney had been brought on too late. I told him that Rooney could be up there in the back row of the stand, just so long as we have got David Moyes on the touchline. "Rooney's a genius of course, but so is the manager. The way we won on Saturday was special and Evertonians are just so enthused by the manager." Gravesen entered the fray and added steel to a midfield which - despite Li Tie's early probings - was proving second best, while Rooney caused panic in the Southampton rearguard once he came on to complete a three-pronged attack. But it was the introduction of Kevin Campbell for an out-of-sorts Brian McBride which, as Gordon Strachan conceded afterwards, was the key. Campbell became a focal point for the attack, and managed to hold on to the ball long enough to bring others into play. The visitors could not handle him. Even before the trio's arrival, however, Everton had started to turn the screw. Radzinski had the strongest of several handball penalty claims after the ball had struck Paul Telfer, before the striker shot weakly at Niemi after Michael Svensson's slip had left him with just the goalkeeper to beat. It prefaced a pulsating four-minute spell when either side could have scored. Niemi palmed away Gary Naysmith's 20-yard effort, McBride had a near-post chance deflected wide, and from the corner saw his header tipped over by the Saints keeper. At the other end, Wright had to beat away a Beattie volley and David Weir cleared off the line from the same player after a corner before Radzinski's near-post shot was bundled behind by a combination of Niemi and Oakley. Radzinski then struck the outside of a post when he could have passed inside to the unmarked Rooney, and the youngster brought a fantastic point-blank save from Niemi with a swift turn and volley. But just when it looked as though the visitors had held on for an undeserved win, Radzinski's late double sent the home fans into raptures. With 10 games to go, the finishing line is in sight. And with the Blues having shown little sign of losing any of the momentum built up since Moyes arrived at the club, there seems no reason why their impressive form cannot be carried through until the end of the season. Yes, in Claudio Ranieri's side and champions-elect Arsenal there remain two imposing obstacles on their travels. But with Manchester United, Newcastle United and Liverpool yet to visit Goodison - which becomes more of a fortress with each passing game - Everton's destiny is very much in their own hands.
EVERTON (4-4-2): Wright; Pistone, Stubbs, Weir, Unsworth; Watson, Li Tie (Gravesen 58), Gemmill, Naysmith (Rooney 64); McBride (Campbell 58), Radzinski. Subs: Gerrard, Yobo.
SOUTHAMPTON (4-4-2): Niemi; Telfer, Lunedkvam, M Svensson, Higginbotham; Fernandes (Dodd 64), A Svensson (Davies 87), Oakley, Prutton; Ormerod (Tessem 60), Beattie. Subs: Jones, Williams.
BOOKINGS: Southampton's Prutton.
REFEREE: Mr D Elleray.
Moyes: Win was worth the wait
By Ian Doyle, Daily Post
Feb 24 2003
DAVID MOYES hailed Everton matchwinner Tomasz Radzinski - before admitting he thought the win over Southampton would never arrive. Moyes said of the dramatic 2-1 turn-around: "Some days Tomasz's finishing is two out of 10 and sometimes it's 10 out of 10. "He was a threat all the time. He had a couple of chances which he missed, but he kept going. He scored a great header and the second was a peach of a finish. He deserved it because he worked so hard. "In the first half, Richard Wright had very little to do, but we were slow and weren't quick in the brain and looked like we had had a fortnight's break. I don't think Southampton deserved to be ahead at the break, but the first half performance was not good enough for us. "I thought it was not going to be our day. We tried everything and went with three forwards in the end. Sometimes it works for you and sometimes it doesn't, but today we got the breaks at the right time. It's always been our target to finish first, but I wouldn't be disappointed finishing fourth." Radzinski said: "Since Kevin (Campbell) and Wayne (Rooney) were on the pitch, the pressure kept on building and we created more chances in the last 15 minutes. I looked at the clock and it said 12 minutes to go, and I thought that we would not get anything out of the game. "But it was a great centre from Wayne for my first goal, and after the second the whole stadium exploded"
We are after Europe's greatest
By Ian Doyle, Daily Post
Feb 24 2003
TOMASZ Radzinski last night revealed the self-belief which carried Everton to victory over Southampton on Saturday - and underlined his target of bringing Champions League football to Goodison Park next season. The Blues were heading for a rare home defeat when the Canadian international (right) struck twice in the final seven minutes to seal a priceless Premiership victory.
It further cemented Everton's place in the top six - five points clear of seventh-placed Liverpool - and now only goal difference separates them from fourth-placed Chelsea and the final Champions League qualifying place. James Beattie' s 33rd-minute effort seemed to have consigned the Blues to an undeserved defeat until Radzinski's late double. And for the striker, it was a personal triumph for his own perseverance after he had missed a couple of easier chances earlier in a second half which David Moyes's side had dominated. "If you put every chance you have into the goal, then you would a better player than Ronaldo probably," said Radzinski. "Every single striker misses chances, and the thing you must do is try to stay focused, and if you are not the one scoring the goals then try to be the one providing them. "If you don't have the belief in yourself that you are going to score and you are going to win, then you may as well just stay in the changing room. "I just go out and try to win, and if it doesn't work the first time, then I'll try a second time and so on. "I'm pleased I am still playing and in the team, but I think that if you work hard here, not only scoring the goals but also working for the team, then you deserve your place." Radzinski added: "My target is to help Everton get into Europe and if everything goes well, get into the Champions League." Radzinski continued: "I have played there in the past with Anderlecht, and it is definitely something I would like to repeat again. If it was with Everton it would be three times as fun. "Europe is something we have been chasing all season, and we can now see the dream close to becoming reality. We only have 10 more games to go, and we cannot afford to drop any points. The game here against Southampton is the kind of games that we have to be winning. "In November, everyone was questioning why Everton were so high in the table and whether we could keep it up, but we have shown people we can stay among the top teams. "This is still a big club that hasn't had many major honours in the last seven or eight years, so hopefully we can get there and put a smile on the face of the Evertonians." Radzinski kept his place in the side despite Wayne Rooney being available, although England's newest cap came off the bench to create the Canadian's equalising goal. And the striker said: "I cannot take any credit away from Wayne. He is a brilliant footballer and deserves all the credit he has had, but I am a footballer as well and am trying to stay in the team and do my best.
"Everyone is talking more about Wayne than even David Beckham. It is somewhere in the back of the minds of defenders, and is playing a crucial role." The brace took Radzinski to 11 goals in a season which has seen him show his best form since arriving at Everton from Anerlecht in the summer of 2001. "Everyone is going to focus on me and find out what my strengths are, so I am going to have to work harder to get at the defences," conceded Radzinski. I have had many peaks this season. I have played good at times, and sometimes less good, but my form has never been bad. I think it is because I haven't had any injuries this season. "We had a great preparation going into the season, and we had some more in January, which was great. I am physically fit."
Everton 2, Southampton 1 (Echo)
Feb 24 2003 By Scott Mcleod at Goodison Park
WHEN the question came his way for the fifth time during a spate of post-match interviews, a flicker of irritation finally crept into Tomasz Radzinski's eyes. Typically, the Canadian international was polite enough to provide an answer. "It is the same question coming all the time, but obviously it was nice not to be changed and it was nice that myself, Wayne (Rooney) and Kevin (Campbell) worked so well up front," explained Radzinski, trying to provide a different response to a question he has had to deal with all season. It may have been phrased in 100 different ways, but the issue has always been the same: How do you deal with the pressure of Wayne Rooney waiting in the wings?
Eleven times this season Radzinski has made way for Rooney. Not so on Saturday. Radzinski was not the man to be replaced by Rooney. He stayed on the field and it was he who became the hero.
But not even a double strike in the dying minutes of the game which turned defeat into victory could protect the Canadian striker from the Rooney question. In many ways it is inevitable. The 17-year-old from Croxteth is undoubtedly one of the hottest young properties English football has seen for a number of years. But on Saturday the star of the show was Radzinski and he deserved to hog the limelight. The 29-year-old is the personification of everything that has made this such an outstanding season for Everton. He overcomes any limitations with sheer guts and effort. He plays to his strengths and never knows when to give in. Never was that more evident than Gordon Strachan's men had settled for the point. The game was in the third minute of injury time and there were only 30 seconds remaining when the visitors were awarded a corner. Instead of throwing men into the box in search of a winner, they chose to try and maintain possession, keeping the ball at the corner flag. When the cross eventually came in it was easy pickings for Richard Wright in the face of very little pressure from the Saints. He was fully aware of the impending whistle from the referee and so immediately hoofed a long ball forward to the lone figure of Radzinski, who was outnumbered four to one. The ball rebounded to Thomas Gravesen in the centre-circle. He guided a pass into the path of Radzinski down the inside right channel. With no Everton player in the box, he skipped on to his right foot and, as he entered the Southampton penalty area, unleashed the fiercest of drives which swung away from the despairing dive of Antti Niemi and found the top right hand corner of the net. There were eight seconds of time remaining. It was a dream end to a game which, 10 minutes earlier, had seemed destined to end in a nightmare. But don't dare to think the brace from Radzinski in the final 10 minutes was not deserved. They were the reward for Everton's endeavour. Sheer force of will claimed the points for Everton. And this was no fluke either. Five times the Blues have come from behind to earn a result. That is the sign of a side with great spirit. And Radzinski reflects that spirit. He just doesn't know when to give up. Yes, he has moments of wastefulness, moments when his quick feet lead him into blind alleys. But he responds to each disappointment by bouncing straight back up and trying again. It was the same on Saturday. In the end, the law of averages worked in his favour and he took his tally for the season to 11 from 25 league starts. As the fans began dispersing from the ground they were not talking about Rooney. Nor were they talking about Radzinski's woeful effort early in the second half when through one on one, or his failure to provide a killer ball after continuously tormenting both Southampton full backs with his electric pace and neat footwork. No, they were talking about one of the finest goals Goodison has seen all season. It was definitely Radzinski's best for the Blues. And it won Everton the points because he had headed the crucial equaliser nine minutes earlier. Like Everton, he has improved under David Moyes' management and he has exceeded expectations. He was frustrating and mesmerising in equal measure on Saturday against Southampton. Like the team, he had to overcome a sluggish start before providing a final crescendo which sent Goodison into raptures.
The opening half was poor. Plenty of possession, with Li Tie in particular catching the eye, but no cutting edge. Niemi should have been tested umpteen times before he was finally called into action by Radzinski two minutes before the interval. By that time Southampton were already ahead, courtesy of a fortuitous James Beattie strike in the 33rd minute. Fortuitous because he avoided being flagged offside courtesy of a Alessandro Pistone's poor positioning on the right side of the Everton defence, fully 20 yards away from Beattie. Fortuitous because his lob over Wright was touched by the Everton keeper. His attempted save failed to prevent the ball dropping over the goalline as Pistone sprinted back in a vain attempt to redeem himself. It was Southampton's first shot on target. Bar a fierce Beattie volley from eight yards after the break which Wright did well to parry away, Strachan's men did little to suggest they would add to their lead. By contrast, Moyes wasted no time after the break shuffling his pack in a bid to coax a decent performance out of his side. The unfortunate Tie was sacrificed to accommodate the more potent goal threat of Gravesen and Brian McBride and Gary Naysmith made way for Kevin Campbell and Wayne Rooney. Having singed Niemi's fingers with a left-foot thunderbolt moments earlier, Naysmith was removed from the action in order to switch to a 4-3-3 formation. With the big guns on, the Blues bombarded the Southampton goal. Niemi was inspired, producing one stunning reflex save to deny a close range Rooney volley in a packed area. It seemed it was going to be one of those days. And then Rooney latched on to a probing ball down the left flank from David Unsworth. He checked on to his right foot, evading Paul Telfer before curling an exquisite cross into the six yard box. Unmarked, the diminutive Radzinski rose above everyone to produce a firm header which sent the ball past Niemi and into the far corner. With seven minutes remaining, there was a collective sigh of relief within Goodison. But the Blues weren't done. Everton displayed the hunger for victory which is ever-present in Moyes' eyes. When the victory came it was fully deserved. Southampton could have had few complaints. And now with 10 games remaining people outside Merseyside are finally starting to realise what Evertonians have known for much of this season - Moyes' men are good enough to bring European football back to Goodison Park. Having played in the Champions League, it is apt that the club's most experienced European campaigner became the side's out-and-out top scorer on Saturday with a brace which underlined exactly why Everton deserve to be fifth in the table, breathing down the necks of Chelsea.
EVERTON (4-4-2): Wright; Pistone, Weir, Stubbs, Unsworth; Watson, Li Tie (Gravesen 58), Gemmill, Naysmith (Rooney 64); McBride (Campbell 58), Radzinski. Not used: Yobo, Gerrard.
SOUTHAMPTON (4-4-2): Niemi; Telfer, Lundekvam, M Svensson, Higginbotham; Fernandes (Dodd 70), Oakley, A Svensson (Davies 88), Prutton; Ormerod (Tessem 60), Beattie. Not used: Jones, Williams.
REF: David Elleray
BOOKINGS: Prutton (22 mins, foul)
Moyes is the Blues' magician
Feb 24 2003 By Tommy Smith, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES must be something of a magician. He doesn't pull rabbits out of hats, but appears to wave a magic wand that completely transforms his team. At half-time on Saturday, the Blues were a goal down to Southampton and had failed to create much in the way of chances or excitement.
But they might have had 11 different players in the second half. The turnaround was unbelievable.
Playing with a great spirit and some thrilling football they tore the Saints to shreds in the second half and could have had a bagful. You have to admire the fightback, the football and the result. The players fought for it and earned it. But you have to admire Moyes, too, for the way he has put the Blues back on the map.
Blues set for Paris date with Benfica
Feb 24 2003 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON will face Portuguese giants Benfica in a prestigious friendly in Paris next month.
The game could be a dress-rehearsal for a return to European competition next season if David Moyes' side maintain their high league placing over the final 10 games of the season. The club this morning confirmed the fixture will take place in the 20,000 capacity Stade Charlety on March 10 (8pm French time) and expect to take around 5,000 fans with them to Paris. The game will fill the void created by Everton's elimination from the FA Cup, with the cup quarter-finals having taken place the previous weekend. Benfica stage a high-profile friendly in Paris on an annual basis because of the large community in the French capital. The fact Everton are believed to be lined up as this year's opponents further underlines the club's growing stature in the European game.
Having already had to deal with two blank weekends since third round FA Cup exit a game against the Portuguese giants would surely be well received. Benfica currently lie second in their top division and boast international stars such as tugal's Nuno Gomes, Slovenia's Zlatko Zahovic, former Celtic star Jorge Cadette and Brazilian Geovanni, on loan from Barcelona, in their ranks. The Blues are also planning a four-day training camp in Spain which will precede the fixture in Paris. Saturday's dramatic 2-1 victory over Southampton at Goodison ensured the Blues remain hot on the heels of Chelsea and firmly placed in a UEFA Cup spot. Manager David Moyes admitted today the victory was vitally important to Everton's season. He said: "I always knew Saturday was going to be a really big result because it gave us the chance to open up a sizable gap over Southampton. "More importantly, it kept us in a good position coming up to this crucial part of the season. "There are just 10 games to go and we have to continue picking up points." Meanwhile, Brazilian Rodrigo made a welcome return to the Goodison training ground this morning. The midfielder has spent much of the last three months at home in South America recuperating from a cruciate knee ligament injury sustained during training just three weeks into the season. The Brazilian has yet to play a competitive game for the Blues since signing from Botafogo for £1.5m in a one-year loan deal last summer. Rodrigo is eager to prove his fitness before the end of the season in order to turn the loan into a permanent contract. Moyes has also played down the significance of the arrival next month of Chinese duo Wu Weian and Wu Pingfeng. The Chinese internationals, both 21, have reportedly been targeted by Everton and invited to the club for a two-week trial next month.
Bu t the manager explained: "It is not a trial. They are coming here to train with us for a couple of weeks as part of our connection with Kejian." * See XSport for full match report and pictures of Everton's 2-1 victory over Southampton on Saturday.
'Blues can make it into Europe'
Feb 24 2003 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
TOMASZ RADZINSKI believes Saturday's dramatic 2-1 victory over Southampton proves Everton have what it takes to stay in the European places until the end of the season. The victory over Gordon Strachan's side maintained Everton's pressure on Chelsea, who suffered a 2-1 defeat to Blackburn.
Only goal difference now separates the Blues and Claudio Ranieri's Champions League chasing side. With six-pointers coming up in the remaining months against Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool, Radzinski knows the club's European aspirations are in their own hands. He is convinced a UEFA Cup place is a realistic target. "In November everybody was questioning why Everton were so high in the table," admitted Radzinski. "We have shown we can keep it up and we are still up there with the best of them. "This is something everyone has been chas-ing all season and now the dream is in front of our eyes - there are only 10 more games to go. We just can't drop any points. "Of course going to Middlesbrough next week is going to be hard but if we cannot take points from games like that then we cannot go into Europe. We have to go there, do the job and get points." Radzinski scored twice in the last 10 minutes of Saturday's game to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. In doing so, he not only maintained Everton's challenge in the top six, he also took his personal tally for the season to 11 Premier-ship goals. He is the first Everton striker for some time to reach double figures in the league. He adds: "I am not only delighted for me, I am delighted for the club. On a personal note it is great to get so many goals but it is only because the team is playing so well. "When all the wheels are rolling and the train is in motion we play good football and it is much easier to get the chances and take the goals. "To be able to get into the positions and score the goals is great." His rich goalscoring form has ensured Radzinski has held on to his place in the starting line-up despite the presence in the squad of Wayne Rooney. Rooney may have made his senior England debut a couple of weeks ago but on Saturday he was named amongst the substitutes as Radzinski continued his partner-ship with on-loan Brian McBride. Whenever the Canadian international is interviewed the issue of Rooney is raised. But the striker is quick to play down the issue and insists the media attention being focused on Rooney has not affected the rest of the squad. "The media attention on Wayne doesn't take pressure off anybody," he added. "We have had the pressure all season. Wayne is the main man at Everton at the moment, breaking records all the time, but it puts pressure on me too because he is always there. "Against Southampton we showed we can play together in the same team. When he came on the pitch the pressure on them got even greater and we created even more chances in the last 15 minutes and as a result we got two wonderful goals. "I had a little bit of deja-vu from Charlton a couple of weeks ago when we actually played quite a good game of football but we couldn't get the goals. "When I looked at the clock and there were 12 minutes to go I said to myself 'Oh my god, we are doing our best and nothing is coming out of it'. "But at the end a great centre from Wayne was perfect for me and then came the second one in the last minute and the whole stadium exploded. "I would have to think hard for a better goal in my career than that one. It is certainly the best goal I have scored for Everton. "When I got the ball I knew how late it was because just before Southampton had been trying to hold on to the ball at the corner flag. I was just hoping Richard Wright would get the ball and kick it up to me and that is what he did. "I had no choice but to have a crack at the goal because there was nobody in the penalty area. The outcome was great."
Symes hits treble in five-star showing
Academy Football By Chris Wright, Daily Post
Feb 25 2003
MICHAEL SYMES'S stunning hattrick was the highlight of Everton under-19s' five-star performance against Leeds United at Bellefield in the FA Premier Academy League on Saturday. The 19-year-old striker, who has had a horrendous campaign due to injury was playing only his third match this season, but he was in sparkling goalscoring form as Colin Harvey's side won 5-2. After so many postponements in the last two months due to the weather, the Blues took their furstrations out on the Yorkshire side to claim their third victory from their last four matches. After a goalless first half, Symes's scored the first of his three - and also his first of the season at U19 level, after returning to the side just last month. After going ahead twice and being pegged back it looked as the Blues may be denied victory. But a stunning volley from midfielder Steven Beck - his ninth goal of the season and his sixth in the last five matches - put Harvey's side ahead. Symes completed his hat-trick with a header from Steven Schumacher's cross and Australian midfielder David Carney completed the scoring with his third goal of the campaign. Harvey said: "It was 0-0 at half-time but we really deserved to be in the lead. Then we traded goals - we scored, they scored; we scored, they scored. But we got three late goals and overall we deserved to win. "It was a very hard-working performance and we had quite a few chances - luckily we took them when they came along. "Steven Beck's goal was proba-bly the pick of them, a volley at the back post to make it 3-2 and it more or less broke their back." But it wasn't so good for Everton under-17s, as they slipped to their third successive defeat, 2-1 to Sheffield Wednesday at Netherton on Saturday. The Owls were quicker out of the block and dominated the first half to race into a 2-0 lead at the break. But Alan Harper's side came back strongly and created a host of chances but failed to take most of them. They only had Joey Jones' 78th-minute header from Robert Booth's corner for their efforts. Harper said: "The first-half performance wasn't too good. It was poor and it was the worst we've played this season. "It was a case of ring-rustiness because we haven't had enough games. I think we have only played two games in the last month and a half. But the second half was a lot better, although at 2-0 down we were chasing the game a little bit. But really on the second half we should have won it. "We had a few chances, nearly all the players had a chance - almost the whole team had a shot. We had several good chances, but they did well getting blocks on, a few went over the top, the keeper made some good saves and we had another cleared off the line. "They defended quite well second half."
Fans get the Blues over cancelled tie
By Alan WestonDaily Post Staff
Feb 25 2003
DISAPPOINTED Everton fans were left high and dry last night after the club's proposed friendly with Portuguese giants Benfica was called off. A number of fans - eager to see their players in action against a top European side - had booked flights for the high- profile friendly in Paris, even before the club had officially confirmed it was going ahead. But the club yesterday announced the match was being called off, only hours after confirming it would take place in the 20,000-capacity Stade Charlety on March 10. Around 5,000 fans were expected to attend the match in Paris. Everton's official website said the match had been called off at the request of the Portuguese side. The match agent who set up the game notified Everton chief executive Michael Dunford at lunchtime yesterday that the game would not be taking place because Benfica coach Manuel Jesualdo Ferreira had had "a change of heart." While Mr Dunford made efforts to clarify the matter, the club urged supporters not to make any travel plans. But it was too late for some. Dave Murray, 44, from Childwall, who has been an Everton fan for 35 years, had already spent £170 on a return flight to Paris. "At least eight people I know of will have to cancel the trip, but there will be many more," he said. "I booked the flight because I was fairly confident the match was going to go ahead, although I knew there was going to be a risk. "I'm disappointed but not angry. It's just one of those things. I'm hoping we'll be playing in Europe for real next season." Everton spokesman Ian Ross said: "At 10.30am today we received notification from the match agent who had set up the fixture that everything had been agreed and that both clubs could formally announce the game's timing and location. "At 1.24pm we received a fax from the same agent informing us that the Benfica coach had decided he did not wish the game to go ahead. "We spent the afternoon seeking clarification and, with regret, we must now announce the game is off. "It is very disappointing both for the club and for the supporters." The club acknowledged that yesterday's events would leave "a sour taste" in the mouths of many supporters who had already made plans to travel to the French capital. Mr Ross added: "We deliberately steered clear of confirming this game until we had received concrete assurances.
"We acted in good faith with the very best interests of our fan-base at heart. The game has been cancelled simply because Benfica - for whatever reason - have decided they do not wish to play us in Paris next month." With Everton not having qualified for any of the major European competitions in recent years, friendly matches against European sides have always proved popular with fans. But Everton's current league form has led many fans to hope that the club could be heading for Champions League or at the very least UEFA Cup football next season.
Wayne stays in England's Grip
Feb 25 2003 By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
WAYNE ROONEY'S hopes of retaining his England place increased yesterday when Tord Grip claimed the Everton sensation was ready for an international career. The 17-year-old made football history a fortnight ago when he became the youngest-ever England international in the defeat by Australia at Upton Park. Afterwards Sven-Goran Eriksson admitted both Rooney, Newcastle's Jermaine Jenas and former Evertonian Francis Jeffers had played their way into his plans for the forthcoming Euro 2004 qualifiers against Turkey and Liechtenstein. And yesterday England's assistant manager Grip backed his fellow Swede's assessment that Rooney is ready to make an impact at the highest level.
"It seems to me that he's already ready to play, first of all in the Premier League but also international football too," said Grip. "We played him slightly deeper than Francis Jeffers in the hole behind and he looked very good to me. "I think they're using him in a very sensible way at Everton. They are not forcing him to play every game. They give him a chance to sit on the bench as well as play. They have some more experienced players and have done well in the league as well so they can afford to do that." However, Grip stressed that the teenager was by no means the finished article and had a lot of learning to do despite the phenomenal rise of the Croxteth star this season. "You can always learn things - tactics for example," said Eriksson's right-hand man. "You can't expect him to know everything at this age, there are still things to learn but he will do that both with us and Everton. "I'm looking forward to following him." Eriksson came under fire for bowing to Premiership club's demands by playing an entirely different, younger side in the second half at Upton Park. But Grip believes the exercise in what was only a friendly could launch the international careers of a new generation. He added: "We had more to learn about the younger players and I think we got some very good answers. "We were excited to see how they would do and they did very well. They had something to show and prove and they gave everything. It was a good 45 minutes for them. "For the young players to come in and play in the second half like they did after just one training session together is not easy. "But then again it should not be easy to establish yourself in the national team. You never have time to settle in international football."
England have crucial Euro 2004 qualifiers coming up against Liechtenstein and Turkey at the end of this month and in early April when Rooney is likely to be called up again. And Grip indicated it could give the Blues hero a chance to press his claims for a regular starting role. He said: "I think if they are good enough they can stay in the first team, especially if we want them to play rather than sit on the bench. "As an international coach, what you are really trying to create is something like a squad that you have at club level. "I think we have got rather a good first team, and now we can also see that we have more players coming through too."
Home and Away
IcLiverpool And Daily Post
Feb 25 2003
Switch Dock cash
ANYONE know how to contact Mr Kenwright because all the Everton fans, including me, agree that Kings Dock should be scrapped and instead the money given to Moyes to spend. We're not going to get much money from half the squad players like Alexandersson, Gemmill and Gerrard so we need to spend wisely what we have.
Marc Spencer, Birkenhead
A BRILLIANT second-half display brought nothing more than the Blues deserved. I was disappointed with Brian McBride though. I didn't think he performed well on the day and feel Kevin Campbell should be in there for the next match. Apart from that, it was an accomplished display. Wayne Rooney lifted it again. How long can he be left on the bench? And fair play to Radzinski. Two brilliant goals and he could have had a hat-trick.
Ken Waterford (via e-mail)
RE: Kings Dock. If this stadium project falls through then it's a huge setback, but not the end of the world. I personally believed in it, having seen the effect on FC Basel with Saint Jacob Park. We've no choice but to accept reality. Everton still need a new arena but not at any price. Liverpool also see the necessity for a new one and so should we, even if it means re-building Goodison Park. Thoughts anyone?
John Berne, exiled Blue (via e-mail)
WAYNE Rooney is true blueblood and David Moyes wants to build something good for the future and he will. We deserve to be where we are and are capable of finishing higher. We don't have the money to buy these 'top' players but our youth system is top class. Do you not think it would be better to have developed our own?
Peter Fearon, Liverpool
Sky's the limit
DAVID Moyes is clearly a man with a mission. He has waited for his opportunity to show what he can do in the Premiership and will not now leave Everton until the job is finished. Given his age and the undoubted target that he has set himself of making Everton the most succesful Premier League side - then he's likely to be here for a while. As far as Wayne Rooney is concerned - he's already made his feelings pretty clear. He's a player that any club would 'match' any wage offers made to him. The only reason he would leave his beloved Blues is to play a higher standard of football. By the time his contract comes up for renewal Moyes will have taken the Blues to the pinnacle - there'll be nowhere he needs to go.
Taffy Blue, Camarthen
I CANNOT understand why we on Merseyside insist on shooting ourselves in the foot. We have the opportunity to build a prestigious stadium on the banks of the Mersey which would raise the profile of Merseyside throughout the world, and give us a venue to be proud of. So what do we do? We squabble and throw as many spanners in the works as possible, so that the whole thing becomes a nightmare. But at the same time, against public opinion, we agree to a so-called Fourth Grace that is destined to become a laughing stock throughout the world. As to the cost of the new stadium, remember this: "The quality will remain, after the price is forgotten."
Mike Hughes, Oxton, Wirral
Benfica scared off by Blues
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Feb 25 2003
RUNNING SCARED: David Moyes will be frustrated at Benfica's u-turn
EVERTON'S prestigious friendly with Benfica in Paris has been called off - after the Portuguese coach decided he didn't want to play David Moyes' high-flying side! The Blues planned to raise their European profile next month with a showcase friendly that would give Moyes' men a much-needed run-out ahead of the Premiership run-in. The match, scheduled to played at the 20,000-seater Stade Charlety, was yesterday confirmed for Monday, March 10 - after the third blank weekend this year for the Blues. But just hours after the midday confirmation, Benfica pulled out of the game on the orders of first-team coach Manuel Jesualdo Ferreira. Chief executive Michael Dunford tried to rescue the contest but Ferreira refused, frustrating Moyes' plans and an army of Evertonians who had already made travel arrangements to Paris. Ian Ross, Everton's Head of Corporate Affairs, said: "At 10.30am this morning we received notification from the match agent who had set up the fixture that everything had been agreed and that both clubs could formally announce the game's timing and location. "At 1.24pm we received a fax from the same agent informing us that the Benfica coach had decided he did not wish the game to go ahead. We spent the afternoon seeking clarification and, with regret, we must now announce the game is off. "It is very disappointing both for the club and for the supporters." Everton may now try to find an alternative fixture but that is of no consolation to the fans who had booked their trips, with 5,000 expected to travel for the game.
Ross added: "We deliberately steered clear of confirming this game until we had received concrete assurances. What we did not want was our supporters making travel arrangements without first receiving confirmation that everything was in place. "We acted in good faith with the very best interests of our fan-base at heart. The game has been cancelled simply because Benfica - for whatever reason - have decided they do not wish to play us in Paris next month." Blues boss Moyes had intended to use the game to give the likes of Duncan Ferguson, Tony Hibbert and Nick Chadwick a valuable outing as they recover from injury. The trio were due to play in a behind closed-doors match yesterday but both that and tonight's scheduled reserve game with Leeds have been cancelled. However, Everton have rearranged a reserve game at Newcastle for this Thursday when they can finally press their claims for a first team recall. Deputy chairman Bill Kenwright, meanwhile, has vowed to go back to the fans with alternative stadium proposals if the Kings Dock project falls through as expected. Kenwright insisted he hasn't given up hope of proceeding with the waterfront scheme when the club's due diligence report comes out at the end of March, despite Daily Post revelations that alternative plans have been drawn up for the site without Everton's involvement.
The Blues are still likely to want to move from Goodison Park if the scheme falls through. But any new move, admitted Kenwright, would require fans' support once again. He said: "If that did happen, there's no question that we would go to the fans and say 'What do you think of the next step?' "My confidence was rattled on Friday, but I have had a lot of chats with a lot of people and I'm hopeful everything is still on course."
* FORGOTTEN man Alex Nyarko is threatening to go AWOL again - but this time it could be good news for the Blues. The Ghanaian midfielder, who vowed never to play for Everton again after his infamous run-in with a fan at Highbury in 2001, has said he will repeat the trick at Paris St Germain by the end of this week. Nyarko is angered by PSG's failure to give him any assurances about his long-term future after failing to pay Everton the £3.5million needed to sign him permanently during the transfer window. Now the 29-year-old is trying to force their hand into making a decision about his future with the threat to walk away if the issue is not resolved.
Moyes is backing Houllier
Feb 25 2003 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON boss David Moyes has leapt to the defence of under-fire Gerard Houllier. The Liverpool boss has faced criticism from fans and pundits following a horrendous run of form which has seen the Reds win just two games from 16 in the Premiership. Having topped the table in November, Houllier's side are now in eighth place, five points behind Moyes' revitalised Everton. But despite his success, the Goodison chief is fully aware of how things can change quickly and is full of sympathy for Houllier. "You are always put to the sword," he said. "You only need to look at Gerard Houllier. He has been really successful, won trophies at Liverpool, and yet has to put up with people talking complete nonsense about him. It's ridiculous. "When I came to Everton, if I wasn't successful last year and the early part of this season, then people would have been saying maybe David Moyes is too young and inexperienced for the job."
Rodrigo: I'm raring to go
Feb 25 2003 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
RODRIGO underwent a gruelling training session on his first day back at Bellefield yesterday and then vowed to be back in the frame for a first team appearance within the month. The talented 26-year-old midfielder has spent much of the last five months back home in Brazil, rehabilitating from a cruciate knee ligament injury which threatened to end his Goodison career before it had even begun. Now back to fitness, Rodrigo returned to England last weekend in time to see the Blues overcome Southampton and maintain their impressive form which threatens to take David Moyes' side into European competition next season. The player's determination to play a helping hand in that European chase ensured he was the last man to leave the training ground yesterday. "What I need now is to get back my power and my speed by doing lots of work in training. I want my body to be ready for Premiership football," he told the ECHO. "I am feeling very good because my knee is strong again. I think in three or four weeks I will be very close to playing. "My target is to play a few games for the team before the end of the season and help them finish very high in the table. "It would be great if we could finish in a UEFA Cup place or even the Champions League." The player's enthusiasm and optimism is understandable. He has spent the last five months looking forward to the opportunity of training at Everton again. He still can't believe the hideous timing of the injury, which was sustained in the dying minutes of a training session on the eve of the Blues' home game with Middlesbrough in early September. "When it happened it was the most difficult moment of my career," recalled the Brazilian. "This kind of injury is bad for anyone. But for me particularly it was very bad because of the timing. "I had only just arrived at Everton and my wish was to make an impact and play some good games for the club. "I was doing the best I could when I was here and that was the same for my rehabilitation. It has not taken too long considering how bad the injury was and I think I am very close to being able to play again." During his time away, Rodrigo kept a close eye on the club's progress. He kept in regular contact with staff from the club via e-mail and watched as much Premiership action as he could. "I was very happy to know Everton were having a good season in the Premier League because I knew that when I came back the atmosphere would be very good," he adds. "The guys are doing a great job and it is good to be back with them. The boys were very happy to see me again yesterday and that made me very comfortable." Equally pleased was manager David Moyes. The Everton boss secured Rodrigo's services for a season last summer in a £1.5m loan deal from Brazilian club Botafogo. A similar deal to the one which brought Joseph Yobo to England, Rodrigo was also hoping to turn his move into a permanent contract. For the time being, though, his focus is elsewhere. He added: "I have spoken to the boss and he is happy to see me again and he knows I did everything I could to be back as soon as possible. "He knows I am working hard to try and be a good player again for the team before the end of the season. "But now is not the best moment to be thinking about what could happen at the end of the season. It is the time to be thinking about my rehabilitation. I feel good today and my target is to be available again as soon as possible. "I did a jogging test yesterday and it went well. I feel strong and am looking forward to working hard to get a chance in the side again."
In-form Radz is thriving on competition
Feb 25 2003 By Kevin Ratcliffe
THERE is no question that Tomasz Radzinski is a better player this season. There could be a number of reasons for the Canadian's improved form which has now earned him an impressive record of 11 goals from 25 starts in the Premiership.
* Maybe he has become more accustomed to English football. n Maybe he is getting more chances.
* Maybe he is working harder. Probably it is a combination of all of those factors, but I am sure there is one which has had a bigger bearing than any other - competition. David Moyes has put together a squad where there is serious competition for places in every position. Radzinski, like every member of the squad, knows that if he doesn't perform he will be out of the side. Moyes has already demonstrated that reputations mean nothing to him. The best play-ers stay in the team, the men who are not producing have to take a step back. Radzinski is working much harder than last season. He is constantly aware of the need to maintain the standards he has set himself. Evertonians are now seeing what Radzinski is really capable of. Now he is giving 110 per cent. I don't think he was before.
Blues are up for it
EVERTON are thriving on big games this season. Every time they have been asked a question by one of the top sides in the Premiership they have provided an eloquent response. But while the performances have been of a high standard the results haven't always been what they deserved.
At Newcastle, the Blues should have shared the spoils after battling so impressively with 10 men following Joseph Yobo's early dismissal. And a late goal blitz at Old Trafford gave the scoreline a one-sided dimension Manchester United didn't warrant. But a point at Anfield and an unforgettable home win over Arsenal are results which provide a true reflection of the football the Blues have produced against the top sides. That is why I am not worried about Everton's 10-game run, which appears daunting. I have faith in Moyes' men picking up enough points to make it into Europe. After the season they have had they have earned it.
Hibbo's return on hold
Feb 25 2003 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
TONY HIBBERT'S return from injury has been put on hold because of the recurrence of a hernia problem. The defender, who celebrated his 22nd birthday last week, had been pencilled in for a belated return to action for the reserves at Newcastle on Thursday night. But manager David Moyes revealed today the defender's return has been put on hold because of further problems with a hernia. Hibbert underwent an operation last month to cure the problem and was expected to play his first game for the reserves last week against Manchester City at Hyde United. That match fell foul of the weather and Hibbert could now be missing from the first team for another month.
The player visited a specialist in Manchester yesterday to ascertain the extent of the problem.
Moyes revealed: "Tony will not play on Thursday night. He is having problems with his hernia at the moment and we don't want to give him a game because of that." Two players who will play against the Magpies are Duncan Ferguson and Nick Chadwick. All three players had been expected to play against Benfica in a friendly match in Paris on March 10. Everton announced yesterday that the game would go ahead at the 20,000 seater Stade Charlety but last night the match was cancelled because of contractual problems. Moyes added: "It is a little bit disappointing the game won't go ahead because I wanted to use it to bring a lot of the players around the squad up to speed.
"It would have been an ideal preparation for us going into the last eight or nine league games. Some of the players who haven't played in recent weeks would have been given a good standard of game.
"I think the problem was contractual and these things happen. I understand that and we will just have to get on with it." Meanwhile, England assistant manager Tord Grip has praised Everton for their treatment of 17-year- old star Wayne Rooney. He said: "It seems to me that he's ready to play, first of all in the Premier League but also international football. "I think they are using him in a sensible way at Everton. They are not forcing him to play every game."
* Alex Nyarko could be ready to go AWOL again.
The Ghanaian midfielder, who vowed never to play for Everton again, is ready to do the same at current club Paris Saint Germain. PSG have failed to pay Everton's £3.5m asking price for the midfielder and now the 29-year-old is trying to force their hand by threatening to walk out.
Football star's home makes way for garden
Deborah James, Daily Post
Feb 26 2003
HE HAS gained a reputation down the years for demolishing opposition defences on the football field Now Everton FC striker Duncan Ferguson has turned his attention to his mansion, and is having the luxury home knocked down. Work has started on tearing down the footballer's five bedroom home in an exclusive area of Formby, Merseyside. Ferguson, 32, bought the property two years ago for £2.1m in a deal which included a more modest four bedroom home in the grounds. The former Scotland international has been living with his wife and daughter in the smaller home which was built by the property's last owner. The £35,000-a-week striker now intends to replace the mansion with an extension to his already extensively landscaped garden. Demolition started two weeks ago, and comes just one month after Ferguson caught a burglar attempting to steal champagne and spirits from the former family home, which has lain empty for several months. Drug addict Carl Bishop spent two days in hospital and told Liverpool Crown Court he was assaulted by Ferguson.
But Merseyside Police decided not to press charges against the player after deciding his actions were not unreasonable in the circumstances. Bishop, 37, of Carisbrooke Road, Walton, Liverpool, was jailed for four years earlier this month after admitting the attempted theft. Ferguson had to apply to Sefton Council for permission to demolish the building. In his application, the player said the break-in had been a great "cause for concern." Ferguson told council planners he wants to demolish the property after it "appears to have come to the attention of drug users who have recently been caught breaking into and entering the property." The footballer fought off bids from one of the region's largest house-builders to buy the home which is set in two and a half acres of grounds.
It is understood the company offered £1.8m for the house and also planned to knock down the 80-year-old property and build a number of houses. The land has planning permission for five homes in the leafy area which has emerged as one of the region's most sought-after spots for developers in recent years. A number of properties have been sold for seven figures on Millionaire's Row and have subsequently been levelled to make way for developments boasting several expensive houses.
Before demolition, Ferguson's home boasted two bathrooms, a snooker room, four car garage, gymnasium and open air swimming pool. The existing gardens have their own irrigation system to keep the lawns and flowerbeds watered. A row of birch, pine and poplar trees at the front are protected by a tree preservation order. His neighbours include his brother-in-law, former world snooker champion John Parrott, fellow Everton star Alan Stubbs, and ex-Blues manager Howard Kendall. Ferguson is not the first footballer to buy a luxury home only to have it demolished.
Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher has recently overseen the creation of his own tailor-made £1m dream home in nearby Blundellsands, Merseyside, close to fellow Reds stars Steven Gerrard and Stephane Henchoz. The England international spent £400, 000 on the four bedroom detached home on a five acre site which was knocked down to make way for his mock-Georgian mansion.
BIG GARDENS WORTH FORTUNE
DEMOLISHING a building to utilise space to build more than one property on the land has become popular practice for property developers. In recent years major housebuilders have been targeting homes surrounded by large areas of land in the plushest suburbs of Merseyside. In parts of Wirral, Southport, Crosby and Formby homes in exclusive areas have been bought, often at costs of more than £1m, to be demolished. The cleared land can be used to provide several upmarket executive homes with large gardens or palatial flats. Stephen Belin, from property developers B.E. In the City, said: "There are plenty of places which are worth £500,000 but the land can be worth £2m to £3m.
"An example of this is a house overlooking Calderstones Park worth £500,000 but the land alone could be worth as much as £2m."
Blues offer help to fans
Feb 26 2003
EVERTON are to compensate supporters who have been left out of pocket following the cancellation of next month's friendly match with Benfica. The game, which was due to be played in Paris on March 10, was scrapped just hours after it was officially confirmed on Monday morning after the Portuguese club's coach José António Camacho decided he did not want his side to participate.
Everton announced the fixture at 10.30am on Monday, prompting fans to make travel arrangements which were scuppered once the game was called off at 5pm the same day. Although absolved of any blame for the cancellation, as a goodwill gesture the Blues are offering to pay any refund or cancellation penalties incurred. To qualify for this, supporters must have booked accommodation and air or Eurostar tickets between the hours of 10.30am and 5pm on Monday. Fans need to provide documented evidence that they did make the purchase between those times. Everton's Head of Corporate Affairs and PR, Ian Ross, said: "I must stress again that this fixture was cancelled by Benfica - just a matter of a few hours after everything had been formally agreed and formally confirmed. "We are not the sort of club which will sit back and collectively shrug our shoulders when asked about the question of compensation. "We understand that some of our supporters will have bought travel tickets in good faith after hearing that we had officially confirmed this game was to go ahead in Paris on March 10. "So, anyone who can provide us with the documentary proof that their tickets were bought between the confirmation of the game and its cancellation will be compensated. We have acted as quickly as we can to ensure that our supporters did not lose out.
"It wasn't our fault that this game was cancelled and it certainly wasn't the fault of our supporters." * ANY supporter wishing to make a claim must do so in writing along with the necessary cumention of their purchase to Nicola McMahon, c/o Everton Football Club, Goodison Park, Liverpool, L4 4EL.
Moyes to take time with Rodrigo
By Ian Doyle, Daily Post
Feb 26 2003
DAVID MOYES will resist rushing Rodrigo back into the first team - despite the Brazilian facing a race against time to earn a permanent move to Everton. The forward arrived back at Bellefield on Monday after spending the last five months in his homeland recovering from a cruciate knee ligament injury. Rodrigo was signed from Botafogo for £1.5million on a season-long loan, with the Blues having the option to sign the 26-year-old in a deal similar to the one agreed for Joseph Yobo.
However, after four substitute appearances, the Brazilian has been forced on to the sidelines after suffering the injury during training before the home game with Middlesbrough in September.
Rodrigo is still a month away from even being considered for first-team action as he works his way back to match fitness. But while boss Moyes is prepared to hand the forward an opportunity to prove his worth, he admits Rodrigo must bide his time. "We're delighted to have Rodrigo back and he's done well to come back so early, but it's going to be at least a month before he plays a game," said Moyes. "We don't want to get people too excited about him coming back too soon. He is back running and he's in decent condition - but he's not ready to play yet." Everton could try and extend Rodrigo's loan stay until the start of next season to give the Brazilian more time to force his way into Moyes' long-term plans. But the forward has insisted he is aiming for a opportunity to shine as soon as possible. "I am looking forward to getting a chance in the side again," said Rodrigo. My target is to play a few games before the end of the season and help the side finish high in the table. It would be great if we could finish in a UEFA Cup place or even the Champions League. "My knee is strong again and I think in three or four weeks I will be very close to playing." Tony Hibbert's planned comeback in the reserve game at Newcastle United tomorrow has been scrapped after the defender suffered a recurrence of a hernia problem. The 22-year-old visited a specialist in Manchester yesterday following the setback, which could delay the defender's first-team return for up to a month. Moyes revealed: "Tony will not play on Thursday night. He is having problems with his hernia and we don't want to give him a game because of that." Meanwhile, Dundee United manager Ian McCall has admitted he is keen on signing Kevin McLeod after the Blues youngster impressed during a trial period at Tannadice. The 22-year-old travelled up to Scotland last week and spent a short period with United along with Trinidadian striker Nigel Pierre. New Terrors boss McCall sees McLeod as a main target as he begins to reshape his squad for next season. McCall said: "Nigel Pierre did well in his time as did Kevin McLeod." McLeod - who has played just one minute of first-team football this season as a late substitute in the FA Cup tie at Shrewsbury Town - was a loan target for Rotherham United last month.
Praising the Blues
Feb 26 2003 By Rob Brady, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON fans have praised the club's pledge to compensate supporters left out of pocket by the cancellation of the friendly with Benfica in Paris. The Blues officially confirmed the March 10 fixture on Monday morning and supporters started booking travel arrangements, but the Portuguese pulled out of the game later that day. Everton spokesman Ian Ross said: "We have acted to ensure our supporters did not lose out. "It wasn't our fault this game was cancelled and it certainly wasn't the fault of the supporters'. "Fans must provide documented evidence that they purchased accommodation and air or Eurostar tickets between 10.30am and 5pm on Monday - the match confirmation and cancellation times. Ian McDonald, of the Everton Independent Supporters Group, told ECHO Sport: "The test of the People's Club has been passed with flying colours. "I have never known such a fan-friendly act being given before by our club so promptly and with vigour."
* Supporters should send their claims in writing with the necessary documentation to Nicola McMahon, Everton Football Club, Goodison Park, Liverpool, L4 4EL.
Chadwick has eyes on return
Feb 26 2003 By Rob Brady, Liverpool Echo
FORGOTTEN Everton striker Nick Chadwick is determined to use tomorrow's reserve game to propel himself back into first team contention. The 20-year-old is expected to play at Newcastle after recovering from groin surgery last month. Chadwick said: "Be-cause I haven't played, I'm not in the first team plans. "When I get the chance in the reserves, I know that I'm going to have to impress. I'm working hard in training to get my full fitness back, so my future is in my hands. "I spoke to the manager and he assured me that I was a valued member of squad. But he did tell me that I had to prove my fitness and start playing regular football again. "Footbal l is about highs and lows and how you respond to that. Hopefully I can show over the next few weeks that I have responded well."
Chadwick was a regular under David Moyes after the manager took over last season, but this campaign has been wrecked by injury and he has yet to make an appearance for the Blues.
The emergence this season of Wayne Rooney, plus the arrival of Brian McBride and the rejuvenated form of Tomasz Radzinski and Kevin Campbell have seen Chadwick slip down the pecking order.
He added: "It's frustrating because I had a lot of football last season. This season I just want to be in the 16 or at least being able to be considered would be a big boost. "I began full training three weeks ago and I could have had a few reserve games under my belt in that time, but they were all called off. I have got to prove my fitness and my worth to the team and that's very difficult without games."
Blues' power of recovery
Feb 26 2003 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
RAISE the subject of Everton's amazing ability to turn a game around with David Moyes and the Goodison boss doesn't know whether to glow with pride or bristle with irritation. To most managers a statistic that reveals his side is better than any other at turning defeat into victory would be well received. But to Moyes it is proof of both great team spirit and also a degree of generosity from his team which the perfectionist would like to eradicate. Five times this season Everton have fallen a goal behind at Goodison only to turn the game on its head and win by two goals to one.
Southampton were the latest side to leave Merseyside with nothing after such a bright start, losing out courtesy of a thrilling brace from Tomasz Radzinski in the final 10 minutes of last weekend's Premiership clash. Moyes' men have produced similar turnarounds already this season against Middlesbrough, Arsenal, Blackburn and Sunderland. Fifteen points that could have been lost have instead helped push the Blues to the brink of the top four and a lucrative Champions League place.
But Moyes would be much hap-pier if the prospect of losing was never faced by his in-form side.
"I don't think it is a coincidence that we keep getting these results," said Moyes. "It shows the lads are really commit-ted to trying to win games. But I wish we hadn't been behind in matches in the first place. "What the side have shown, though, is that they never give in and keep going right to the end, as we did on Saturday against Southampton." However, Moyes does admit that the psychological lift provided by dramatic wins like Saturday's could be crucial as the Blues enter the final quarter of the season. "I always knew the Southampton game would be a really big one for us," he added. "To win in the way we did was very pleasing. It helped us build a sizeable gap over Southampton and more importantly kept the pressure on all the teams around us. "I know from my time with Preston how important this stage of the season is. Over the next six weeks or so things are won and lost." Moyes is fully aware of the tough games facing his side at Goodison in the next couple of months. West Ham, Newcastle and Liverpool all visit in that period and, for different reasons, all those clubs will be desperate to hold on to any advantage afforded them. Moyes adds: "If we continue to show the commitment and form which we have shown so far this season, then we will have very little to worry about." The five who have suffered
September 14, 2002
EVERTON 2 (Campbell 32, 77) MIDDLESBRO 1 (Nemeth 11) EVERTON: Gerrard; Hibbert, Weir, Stubbs, Unsworth; Alexandersson (Rooney 46), Tie, Gravesen, Pembridge; Radzinski (Carsley 84), Campbell. Not used: Simonsen, Wei Feng, Linderoth. MIDDLESBROUGH: Schwarzer; Ehiogu, Southgate (Whelan 74), Cooper; Stock-dale, Geremi, Greening, Queudrue; Nemeth, Job (Boksic 80), Maccarone (Marinelli 80). Subs: Wilson, Crossley. BOOKINGS: Stubbs, Rooney; Schwarzer. ATT: 32,440.
October 19, 2002
EVERTON 2 (Radzinski 21, Rooney 90) ARSENAL 1 (Ljungberg 8) EVERTON: Wright, Weir, Unsworth, Radzinski (Rooney 80), Campbell, Pem-bridge, Tie (Linderoth 55), Gravesen, Yobo, Carsley (Stubbs 90), Hibbert. Not used: Alexandersson, Gerrard. ARSENAL: Seaman, Cole, Vieira, Ljungberg (Edu 84), Lauren, Henry, Cygan, Gil-berto, Campbell, Kanu (Jeffers 72), Toure (Wiltord 64). Not used: Luzhny, Shaaban. BOOKINGS: Weir, Pembridge, Linderoth; Edu. ATT: 39,038.
December 14, 2002
EVERTON 2 (Carsley 12, Rooney 25) BLACKBURN 1 (Cole 6) EVERTON: Wright, Stubbs, Unsworth, Campbell, Tie (Weir 64), Naysmith, Gravesen, Rooney (Radzinski 90), Yobo, Carsley, Hibbert (Pistone 90). Not used: Simonsen, Gemmill. BLACKBURN ROVERS: Friedel, Neill, Tugay, Flitcroft (Johansson 76), Cole, Duff, Yorke, Thompson, Taylor, McEveley (Gillespie 45). Not used: Kelly, Ostenstad, Danns. SENT OFF: Neill (two bookable offences). BOOKINGS: Hibbert; Gillespie. ATT: 36,578.
January 18, 2003
EVERTON 2 (McBride 51, 57) SUNDERLAND 1 (Kilbane 34) EVERTON: Wright; Pistone, Weir, Stubbs, Unsworth; Watson, Gemmill, Li Tie (Gravesen 46), Naysmith; Radzinski, McBride (Campbell 74). Not used: Pembridge, Yobo, Gerrard. SUNDERLAND : Sorensen; Williams, Craddock, Babb, McCartney; Thornton, McCann, Thirlwell (Arca 64), Kilbane; Flo (Proctor 72), Phillips. Not used: Gray, Thome, Macho. BOOKINGS: Gemmill, Weir; Craddock, McCann, Babb. ATT: 37,409.
February 22, 2003
EVERTON 2 (Radzinski 83, 90) SOUTHAMPTON 1 (Beattie 33) EVERTON: Wright; Pistone, Stubbs, Weir, Unsworth; Watson, Li Tie (Gravesen 58), Gemmill, Naysmith (Rooney 64); McBride (Campbell 58), Radzinski. Not used: Gerrard, Yobo. SOUTHAMPTON: Niemi; Telfer, Lunedkvam, M Svensson, Higginbotham; Fern-andes (Dodd 64), A Svensson (Davies 87), Oakley, Prutton; Ormerod (Tessem 60), Beattie. Not used: Jones, Williams. BOOKINGS: Prutton. ATT: 36,595.
Ferguson steps up comeback attempt
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Feb 27 2003
DUNCAN FERGUSON should finally make an Everton appearance tonight as Tobias Linderoth joins the Blues striker on the comeback trail. Both the Scot and the Swede are set to end months of injury frustration when they play for the reserves at Newcastle United and step up claims for a place in Everton's Premiership run-in. Ferguson is expected to face his former club in the North East after enduring a miserable season on the sidelines with a back problem. The striker has made only one first team appearance this season, as a late substitute in the Worthington Cup win against Wrexham, with his latest comeback delayed by the cancellation of Everton's last four reserve games. Ferguson could be joined in attack by Nick Chadwick as he looks to resurrect a campaign dogged by hernia problems, providing the young striker recovers from flu in time. But it is the availability of Linderoth that will delight manager David Moyes as he looks for midfield reinforcement ahead of a testing league finale. Linderoth has been out since tearing a hamstring in the Worthington Cup win at Newcastle last November, an injury the Swedish international aggravated at Christmas. Since then he has also been hit by knee problems but will play tonight, alongside compatriot Niclas Alexandersson, Lee Carsley and transfer window loan signing Ibrahim Said. "We're hoping to have Duncan, Nick and Tobias available for the reserves," said Moyes. "Nick is a slight doubt - he's been suffering from a bit of flu over the past few days, so we'll just have to see how he is. "But Duncan has been training well and we're looking forward to having him back." Also in the Everton squad, and in line for his first reserve team game, is under-17s prospect and cousin of Liverpool star Steven, Anthony Gerrard.
Said hoping to be the talk of the town
Feb 27 2003 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
IBRAHIM SAID has recently returned from international duty with Egypt, when more than 100,000 fans screamed "Hima Save Us!" The hardy souls who shivered through Everton Reserves' 2-1 defeat of Bradford City a few weeks earlier might have been more inclined to bellow: "Who the hell are you!" Said is a 24-year-old who enjoys the same kind of hero worship and media profile in Cairo that David Beckham has in England. London boasts an Egyptian population of several hundred thousand. Two of them were in a McDonald's in St Albans while Said was having a brief trial at Watford last season. Before the player had finished his coffee, that number had swollen to 12, all anxious for a glimpse of the player, who had to abandon his trial almost before it had begun following an illness to his mother. "It is a refreshing change being out of the public eye for a while," he said through an interpreter at Bellefield this week. "There is no stress or pressure from the people here. I am very well known in Egypt and people bother me all the time, but here that doesn't happen. "I enjoy being famous in Egypt, but I would like to be famous in England as well. For now, though, it is a nice break!" Said, a turbo-charged right-flank raider equally at home in either full back position or in midfield, impressed during a trial spell last summer. But David Moyes' hopes of adding him to the squad were put on hold by an exhausted transfer pot. Now he is back until the end of the season and anxious to make a similar impact. "Obviously I would like to play as soon as possible," he explained, "but that is not a problem. My dream since I was a kid was to come here and play in this League. "I have confidence in David Moyes and his training and I know I will get my chance eventually. When I do, I intend to prove I am a top-quality player. "In Egypt only two or three clubs have a serious chance of winning the title, but here there is much more competition.
"The game itself is a bit quicker than back in Egypt, but nothing I can't handle." Anyone who has witnessed Said's impressive acceleration would agree. Burning pace is a big part of his game, and he admits there is currently no-one at Bellefield who can catch him in a one-on-one dash. "I suppose the most noticeable part of my game is my pace," he said. "But I also have technique and I can shoot accurately. "It is true that no-one can catch me in a race, but training here I feel that I have become even faster. The weather helps as well. It's so cold you have to keep on the move! "Everyone says the English are a bit cold, but all my teammates were warm and welcomed me. I don't think many other teams would do that." Said already feels part of the furniture at Bellefield - and swiftly took part in the training ground banter, although turning up with newly dyed red hair gave him little choice! "The team I play for in Egypt plays in red," he explained, "but I was quickly told of what it means in this city.I just started wearing a hat for training!" Ibrahim Said has been kept under Everton's hat so far. He hopes it isn't long before the secret is out.
Duncan set for return battle
Feb 27 2003 By Scott Mcleod Everton Reporter
DUNCAN Ferguson will be up against Newcastle new-boy Jonathan Woodgate when he makes his long awaited return to competitive action tonight. The Scottish striker has made just one brief appearance as a substitute all season because of persistent back problems. Tonight he will play his first reserve game since shaking off the injury, having been continually frustrated over the last few weeks because of the cancellation of the Blues' last four reserve outings. Ferguson couldn't have asked for a tougher test upon his with Woodgate eager to stake a claim for a place in Bobby Robson's senior ing XI following his £9m move from Leeds United. Woodgate made his first appearance in a shirt in a specially arranged friendly against Hartlepool last weekend. He played the full 90 minutes and felt no from a some thigh injury which has delayed his senior debut. If he comes through tonight's match he is expected to join the squad for Saturday's Premier-ship encounter against Chelsea. Ferguson, however, faces a longer wait before being given the green light for a first-team return. His last appearance for the Blues came as a late substitute against Wrexham in a Worthington Cup tie last September. Tonight Ferguson will be joined on the comeback trail by Tobias Linderoth and Nick Chadwick. Manager David Moyes said: "When it comes to knowing when a player is ready for the first team again it really does depend on the individual." With just 10 Premier-ship games remaining, Moyes is delighted to have all of his injured players well on the road to recovery. He adds: "We missed players over the Christmas period and that did have an affect on our form," he said. "But since then players have come back to fitness and we have been able to bring in Brian McBride and Ibrahim Said, so we are in a strong position going into the final 10 matches." Also in the Everton squad for tonight's match is Under- 17s prospect Anthony Gerrard. The cousin of Liverpool midfielder Steven Gerrard, he is set for his reserve team debut.
Icliverpool And Daily Post
Feb 28 2003
My Blue heaven
FUNNY to see the Liverpool fans very quiet. It's amazing what five points and two places in the Premiership can do. Liverpool will not finish higher than Everton in the Premiership and have the potential to be a Leeds if they do not get into Europe. The future on Merseyside is looking very Blue at last.
Gary B, Liverpool
Hair's to Moyes
CREDIT where it's due - top marks to Everton in compensating fans who forked out the dosh after Benfica bottled out of the forthcoming friendly in France. Every time I open my eyes in the morning things just seem to be getting bluer! David Moyes has got red hair but I don't care - so have I!
L Bagley, Blundellsands
Eyes wide open
MOYES knew about the lack of funds when he came to the club. Eyes wide open he has set out his stall to develop and/or buy younger talent, which is why McBride won't be at Goodison after March (much as he has done a great job). When you've got a great manager there will always be rumours and a lot of clubs will invent scenarios that suit them. At the game as usual on Saturday, fantastic second half, what an adrenalin rush at the end! I thought Li Tie was great in the first half. Worried about Stubbs and Weir, though, and would hope Yobo comes in next week.
Steve Symes, Bootle
Time to share
WITH the Kings Dock project supposedly dead and buried the Blues have got to look elsewhere, as I believe we need new, up-to-date facilities. Wouldn't an ideal solution be to investigate the possiblity of a super-stadium with Liverpool on Stanley Park? It would put the city well and truly on the map, not just Everton. I believe it's the way to go with football's current financial situation. The opportunities for a stadium of this size are endless, it's worked in Italy, why not here? Liverpool is the only city in the country, if not the footballing world, where such rivalry in teams can be enjoyed while sitting next to a mate or relative who supports the opposition in the same stadium - this couldn't be done in London or Manchester, could it!
Robb J, Hunts Cross
WHEN David Moyes swept into Goodison Park less than 12 months ago he branded us the 'People's Club', a quote that will be associated with us now here on Merseyside, forever. A test of that quote was given by the officials at Goodison when a prestigious friendly against Benfica in Paris was cancelled after being officially announced just hours before. Given Everton's massive passionate and committed away support it was hardly surprising that many fans had made travel arrangements Everton to their credit have decided that these special fans should not be penalised through no fault of their own, or indeed Everton's and a compensation offer has been made to fans having booked travel after the official announcement. Times are definitely changing for the better at Goodison, I have never known such a fan-friendly act given before by our club.
Ian Macdonald, Everton Independent Blues
Newcastle Res 1 Everton Res 0
Feb 28 2003
DUNCAN FERGUSON began his latest quest for full fitness playing the full 90 minutes for Everton Reserves against his former club at Kingston Park. The big Scot made his first appearance since last October and looked lively throughout. The Blues also included Lee Carsley and Niclas Alexandersson but couldn't prevent the home side from taking all three points thanks to a Joe Kendrick goal six minutes after the break. Nick Chadwick's volley which crashed against the post, was Everton's best chance of the game. Also on show for the Blues was Tobias Linderoth, who will also have benefited from the full 90 minutes.
EVERTON: Simonsen, Said, Moogan, Gerrard, O'Hanlon, Carsley, Alexandersson, Linderoth, Chadwick, Ferguson, Osman. Subs: Schumacher, Carney, Cole, Symes, Beck.
Harvey's boys in goal groove
By Chris Wright, Daily Post
Feb 28 2003
EVERTON under-19s will look to build on last week's superb 5-2 victory over Leeds when they travel to face Newcastle United tomorrow (kick-off 11am). Colin Harvey's side have won three of their last four FA Premier Academy League Group A matches, hitting 11 goals in the process. And even though those matches have been spread over almost two months due to recent postponements, they have struck a run of consistency heading to the North East tomorrow. Harvey said: "It was a decent performance last week and we'll just take it as that for the time being. "But we are all happy to just be playing again, because it was only our second game in nine weeks, so all the players need games. "We have got the game at Newcastle but the reserves also play there on Thursday, and some of the lads will be involved in that, so we may have to change things a bit." Last week Harvey was happy to see Symes back in goalscoring form after a difficult period. He said: "They were all goal-scorer's goals, nothing spectacular, but well-taken. He has had a bad time with the injuries - it was only his third game." Craig Garside returned to training on Monday for the first time since before Christmas after his knee injury. Damon Martland is the only major long-term casualty, but Colin Thorbinson, James Potter and Jack Flood are all still likely to miss out again. Harvey added: "The players are gradually coming back, but the ones who have come in have done reasonably well. We will need those players because many of the players will be playing two games every week with us and in the reserves. "But after the last few months we are pleased to actually be playing again."
Alan Harper's U17 side also travel to Newcastle and they will hoping to address a slide that has seen them lose three matches in a row. But since their 2-0 defeat to unbeaten Academy League leaders Manchester City in January the Blues have deserved more. Last week a lack of match practice saw the Blues 2-0 down before they could really get going. But the determination in the second half is what Harper will look to take into tomorrow's match. Harper said: "Hopefully we can build on the second half performance. We should be better this week and hopefully playing week-in week-out will help us."
Blues set to help out Kanu charity
Ross Heppenstall, Daily Post
Feb 28 2003
WAYNE Rooney and a host of Everton players past and present could feature in a star-studded charity match dreamed up by defender Joseph Yobo. The Blues' 17-year-old prodigy could line up alongside teammates Kevin Campbell, Tomasz Radzinski and Li Tie in a World XI versus African Select XI match at Bolton's Reebok Stadium next Tuesday. The game - in which former Liverpool striker Nicolas Anelka and Arsenal front-man Thierry Henry may also figure - has been organised by Yobo in support of the Kanu Heart Foundation, a charity launched by his close friend and compatriot at Arsenal. Yobo is keen to support Kanu, who set up the charity in August 2000 to help youngsters in Africa with heart-related diseases following his own life-threatening heart surgery in 1996. He said: "It is a very important game for me personally, especially being an African myself and a team-mate of Kanu for Nigeria. "However, it is a big game for everybody involved because all the players want to show love and support to Kanu and especially to raise money to help those in need." The game, which could also feature former Blue Daniel Amokachi, has definitely been given the thumbs-up by in-form Radzinski. "I have spoken to Tomasz and he is willing to support Kanu and the Heart Foundation. He cares about the project too and wants to show his support for the cause," said Yobo.
"Kanu and I are very close now because he has been like a big brother to me since I arrived in England and helped me to settle. Now I need to show him love by playing in this game
A tale of two halves sees Blues triumph
Fanscene By Mark O'Brien, Daily Post
Feb 28 2003
IT was the best of times. It was the worst of times.
That's how Charles Dickens might have described a mixed week in the fortunes of Everton FC if he hadn't been more interested in workhouses, ghosts and cheeky cockney urchins. Confusion and uncertainty have gone hand-in-hand with the Kings Dock project since its inception. Despite the protestations of the club it looks like things are finally becoming a bit clearer, but unfortunately what seems apparent is that it just isn't going to happen. If that is the case then surely we need to go back to first principles and ask what it is we actually need from a stadium to serve our needs for the next 100 years. Given the varied experiences of the other clubs who have moved to new grounds in recent times we should then evaluate whether we need to move or whether we can achieve our aims at Goodison. It's also been a disappointing week for those Blues who started making travel plans as soon as they got wind of Everton's proposed friendly with Benfica in Paris. Opinions differ on the actual chain of events which led to the game's cancellation although the club insist they had no part in it and were quick to come forward and offer compensation to those who booked flights and hotels between the confirmation and cancellation of the fixture. Much more pleasing was the result at Goodison last Saturday. To continue a theme, in 93 minutes against Southampton the team themselves managed to show their best and worst sides. They were woeful for much of the first half - there was a gaping hole where the midfield were meant to be and the offside trap that led to James Beattie's goal was the worst at Goodison since Dion Dublin volleyed home for Coventry in 1994. Luckily the second half saw the Blues, and particularly the incredible Tomasz Radzinski, simply overwhelm the visitors. We've certainly played more attractive football this season, but we've seldom shown quite as much effort and determination in the face of a stubborn defence and an agitated home crowd. In terms of our European ambitions that last-gasp rocket from the runaway leader for player of the season could prove absolutely invaluable given that we have a large number of tough games remaining between now and the end of the season; not least Middlesbrough tomorrow. Who knows, if we win there it could be a far, far greater thing we do now...
Rodrigo sounds deal fears
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Feb 28 2003
STRICKEN midfielder Rodrigo has vowed to ignore the pressures of trying to win a permanent contract Everton in order to prove himself in the Premiership. The Brazilian midfielder expects to be back in action in four weeks after his debut season with the Blues was shattered when he ruptured a cruciate knee ligament last September. Rodrigo is currently only at Goodison Park on a 12-month deal with a view to a four-year extension for £3.5million in the summer. But despite having few chances to impress manager David Moyes and earn that contract, the 26-year-old admits his long-term future is not a priority as he looks to help Everton's bid for a European place. Rodrigo, who returned to Bellefield on Monday for the final phase of his rehabilitation, said: "My main target is to get back to fitness and forget about my injury. "I know it's normal for people to think about my deal, particularly as I'm coming back at the very end of the season, but I prefer to wait and see what is going to happen. "It's important that I start playing again first and I'm doing all I can to get fully fit. "I think I'll be ready to play in four weeks, so hopefully I'll have a few chances to impress between now and the end of the season." He added: "I want to say a big 'thank you' to David Moyes and everyone at the football club who helped me because I've had a very hard time over the past six months. I am trying to be ready as quickly as I can so that I can repay their support and help the team." Everton were yesterday linked with a summer swoop for Samp-doria stopper Alessandro Grandoni. But at £5m, he represents an unlikely target for the Blues boss. Meanwhile, both Duncan Ferguson and Nick Chadwick stepped up their comebacks with a 90-minute run-out in the reserves' 1-0 defeat at Newcastle United last night.
All eyes on Ferguson
Feb 28 2003 By Howard Kendall, Liverpool Echo
THERE will be a few anxious faces in the physio's room at Bellefield today. When a player returns to action after a five - month absence, there are always fears of a recurrence. Duncan Ferguson (pictured) came through last night's reserve game at Newcastle unscathed. But the player's reaction to the game is the important thing. How he is today and tomorrow will tell Mick Rathbone, Everton's physio, a lot about how long it will be before Duncan is ready for the first team. There is no doubt this is the most important comeback of Ferguson's career. Last year specialists revealed they had finally diagnosed the problem which had been leading to his persistent problems. With Everton doing so well without him, the player will be fully aware that he now needs to shake off his tag as a bit of a crock and prove he can still do a job for the team. He still needs plenty of games under his belt. And with every reserve team game he gets through, he will increase his chances of not suffering a setback.
THERE has been a lot of talk this week about Roy Keane making such a good job of switching from midfield to centre-back. But it can be a gamble, as I learned during my playing days. When Everton boss Harry Catterick signed Henry Newton in the early '70s, all the talk was of the new boy replacing me in the side. But in his first game at Arsenal the manager decided to put me into the centre of defence, allowing Newton to play in midfield. We suffered a heavy defeat by about three or four goals. That was my only game at centre-back. There have been a few notable occasions when the change has worked so well that it has become permanent. Frank McLintock at Arsenal and Tommy Smith at Liverpool were both successfully converted. But at the very highest level there have not been many. Any readers who can come up with some good examples should write to me at the usual ECHO address.
DAVID Moyes is making the most of yet another enforced break from competitive action by taking h i s squad to Spain for a training camp next week. Too many Premiership managers make excuses about players being tired and needing a break. I am sure the Everton boss would much rather have matches coming thick and fast. But with only the league to concentrate on, his side can benefit from spending time together. There may be fewer chances in the modern age for players to enjoy a bonding session, but building a strong team spirit is just as important as ever.
Moyes using form guide
Feb 28 2003 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES is set to keep faith with the side which started against Southampton last weekend for the trip to Middlesbrough. The Everton boss is spoilt for choice in his team selection, with a virtually fully fit squad at his disposal. At Goodison last weekend impressive second half performances from substitutes Wayne Rooney, Kevin Campbell and Thomas Gravesen helped turn the game on its head, overcoming the 1-0 half-time deficit to win 2-1. But as the Blues travel to the Riverside in search of their fifth win from seven games, Moyes admits he is in no rush to make sweeping changes. "We played well without getting the goals for much of the game last weekend and in the games prior to that the side has been doing very well," Moyes told the ECHO today.
"Brian McBride has scored four goals in six games, which is a phenomenal return in the Premier League and the boys in midfield have been part of a side that has won four games in the last six. If we continue that sort of run between now and the end of the season, I will be very happy." Moyes admits his out-look of sticking with the players that have served him well, regardless of reputation or experience, is one he intends to stick to in the coming weeks. He adds: "It is the correct philosophy for Everton at the moment. I feel that if a player is doing well enough he will play. "Football is very much about opinions and sometimes as a manager you make decisions which aren't what everybody wants but the players all understand that. They accept what I am trying to do as a manager and at present it is working." Brian McBride is set to continue his partnership up front with Tomasz Radzinski, while Li Tie and Scot Gemmill will once again be asked to marshall the midfield. That means the Blues should once again boast a formidable substitutes bench which will include Kevin Campbell, Wayne Rooney, Joseph Yobo and Thomas Gravesen. Meanwhile, the manager was delighted to see Duncan Ferguson, Tobias Linderoth and Nick Chadwick all come through the reserves game at Newcastle unscathed. The trio have all been out injured for much of this season but all played 90 minutes last night. Moyes added: "The lads did well. They were unfortunate not to get a better result but it was good to have them back. "For all of them it was their first game for a while and it will take them all time to regain full match fitness."
Dunc given full run-out as reserves lose
Feb 28 2003 Liverpool Echo
DUNCAN FERGUSONcompleted the full 90 minutes as Everton Reserves went down 1-0 to Newcastle at Kingston Park. The Scottish international was returning to action five months after his last appearance - at Wrexham in October. The Blues striker is in need of match practice but looked lively as he spearheaded the visitors' attack. Everton also included Tobias Linderoth, Lee Carsley and Niclas Alexandersson and had a couple of early chances to take the lead. However, it was the home side, also boasting a number of players with first team experience, who looked more dangerous, but they were denied by a couple of fine stops from Steve Simonsen. Eventually, the home side's dominance paid off and they scored the winner six minutes into the second period when defender Joe Kendrick fired a low drive past the Blues keeper. Andy Holden's side battled well throughout and came close to scoring an equaliser when Nick Chadwick ' s volley crashed against a post. Everton certainly deserved something from the game, but the fitness gained by a number of fringe players will be of greater importance with the end- of-season run-in ahead.
EVERTON: Simonsen, Said, Moogan, Gerrard, O'Hanlon, Carsley, Alexandersson, Linderoth, Chadwick, Ferguson, Osman. Subs not used: Schumacher, Carney, Cole, Symes, Beck.
Blues can spoil party
Feb 28 2003 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
A BOY from Brazil is hoping to give Everton a headache tomorrow as the Blues return to the Riverside for the first time since last season's dramatic FA Cup defeat. Juninho has not played in the Premiership this season because of a cruciate knee ligament injury sustained weeks after he returned to Middlesbrough from Atletico Madrid for a third spell with the club. But he will be involved tomorrow after coming through a reserve match on Tuesday, watched by 20,000 fans.
The Juninho factor is set to add spice to a match which is vitally important for Everton. Not only would victory maintain their pressure on Chelsea, who face a tough trip to Newcastle tomorrow, it would also exorcise the demons of last season's 3-0 FA Cup sixth round defeat which signalled the end of Walter Smith's tenure as manager. Keeping Juninho under wraps would go a long way towards that. The player is relishing the prospect of playing. "I am very excited about being so close to playing in the Premiership again," said Juninho. "It takes a little time to get used to the timing of the game when you have been out so long. "It may take maybe two games to get used to it again."
No doubt his lack of fitness will be cancelled out tomorrow by the adrenaline rush of being back in the side. Tuesday's reserve game provided evidence of the World Cup winner's standing amongst the fans and he is eager to repay them, adding: "I like the fans very much. I think they know how I care for the club. "Always when you are out it is a difficult time. You have to be prepared psychologically and have the support of your family, your club, everybody. I had that and that is why I feel much better than when I had my other serious injury. "Middlesbrough has been part of my life and my ambition is still there to help this club win something, or at least get into Europe." David Moyes is under no illusions as to the threat posed by Steve McClaren's men. Everton have already inflicted a 2-1 defeat on Boro this season, coming back from a goal down to win courtesy of two from Kevin Campbell at Goodison in September. Their home form suggests it will be equally difficult. "They have got a smashing home record," said Moyes. "It is similar to ours and over the last couple of weeks they have looked like they are stringing one or two decent results together.
"Steve McClaren was able to sign some good players before the transfer deadline to strengthen his squad and since then their results have improved." And so while Juninho will be eager to make a positive impression upon his Premiership return, there will be a greater hunger within the Everton camp, not only to maintain their good form but also to put right last season's FA Cup nightmare.
Tomorrow's back four could be the same as that game, with Alessandro Pistone alongside David Weir, Alan Stubbs and David Unsworth. They will be eager to set the record straight and keep Juninho quiet in the process.