Liverpool 0, Everton 0 (D,Post)
Andy Hunter Reports From Anfield, Daily Post
Feb 2 2004
Share FOR the poison, an antidote. Pig's heads had not yet arrived at English football's most intense local derby but the route Merseyside's joust has been heading it was only a matter of time before "Babe" was guillotined and tossed into a corner of Anfield or Goodison. Bile and bitterness have become the order of the day for these fixtures in recent years, with occasional irresponsibility on the pitch doing nothing to discourage the idiots for whom throwing paint at memorial and legends, battering each other in town and then blaming "their lot" is what the Merseyside derby is now all about. Perhaps it was just the result that diluted animosity this weekend, and only a fool would believe it is on the wane, with any anger felt at lost points cushioned by news no Champions League ground had been lost and no relegation threat had crept up. But no, let's take Saturday for what it was, a timely reminder of what there is to celebrate about this fixture delivered by two teams living up to their responsibilities and producing one of the finest goalless draws in memory. There was no betrayal of rivalry, tackles still flew in from all angles, the pace was unrelenting and there were enough contentious issues to keep the pubs lively all night. And amid it all, came an absorbing, open and entertaining football game so packed with quality even Gerard Houllier enjoyed it. As in every drawn derby, supporters' heads were filled with unanswered questions. Why did Nigel Martyn and Jerzy Dudek perform like men possessed? Why didn't we get a penalty when Duncan Ferguson wrestled Sami Hyypia to the floor or when Jamie Carragher handled? Why wasn't Hyypia sent off? How did Stevie, Tommy, Bruno or Wayne miss? More of that later, but on the evidence of the 170th Merseyside showdown the most pertinent question is why these teams haven't come close to producing this form consistently all season. Expectation is a dangerous weapon in the wrong heads, as Houllier and David Moyes will no doubt concur. Yet the standards set and maintained on Saturday, whether in exchanging first-half blows or in Liverpool's endless search for a way past resolute Everton defending throughout the second, showed why they are justifiably higher than the league positions occupied by either of them. This campaign has provided plenty of opportunity for a good moan. However, this was not another. On chances created and their second-half dominance Liverpool had more reason to rue the final result, one that should not detract from an overall performance that bolstered the belief genuine improvement is now underway. With the derby restored to its natural home for once, Saturday at 3pm, its audience was restricted to the privileged thousands inside Anfield (and those with a dodgy European satellite, of course).
We would need a few more pages to run through every pulsating event, so here's just a brief resume of the best goalscoring chances alone:
Liverpool: Seven minutes - A goalbound Dietmar Hamann volley is tipped away by Martyn.
12 - Michael Owen twists inside Alan Stubbs but drags his shot wide of the far post from narrow angle.
23 - Steven Gerrard drills a 20-yarder inches wide from a surging run.
33 - Gerrard is sent clear in the box and tries to burst the net, only for Martyn to instinctively tip over.
37 - Gerrard looks certain to score after a Jamie Carragher cross causes chaos in the Everton box and falls into his path, but Martyn somehow gets down low to turn his shot on to the post.
48 - Gerrard misses by inches again, this time at the Kop end, after a mazy run onto Anthony Le Tallec's piercing pass.
54 - Le Tallec sets up Bruno Cheyrou for a repeat of his Newcastle winner. This time he glances wide of the far post.
66 - Harry Kewell meets Gerrard's powerful free-kick with a near post header and Martyn denies him on the goalline.
68- Le Tallec does beat Martyn, this time with a fine header from a Gerrard corner, but now Tony Hibbert clears off the line.
84 - Carragher sends in a low drive that deflects off Hibbert and seems destined for the bottom corner until Martyn turns it over with an out-stretched leg.
88 - Carragher again, who clearly has himself down for first scorer, cuts inside Steve Watson and has another goalbound shot deflected clear by Hibbert.
And in the blue corner:
Six minutes - Kevin Kilbane plays Duncan Ferguson in behind the Liverpool defence but Jerzy Dudek makes a sliding tackle with the striker slow to react.
18 - Hibbert's hopeful punt becomes a great assist when Stephane Henchoz and Hyypia leave it to Tomasz Radzinski. The striker though, miscontrols and turns an improvised back-heel straight at Dudek.
19 - Thomas Gravesen skips inside Henchoz in box and with only the keeper to beat elects to shoot rather than square the ball to the unmarked Wayne Rooney. Hits it straight at Dudek's legs and lands a rollicking from Rooney.
41 - Rooney sends a delightful cross on to the head of Ferguson who, completely unmarked and only six yards out, flicks it wide.
43 - Stubbs, a split second after lambasting the referee, heads Hibbert's cross towards the top corner only to be denied by the flying Pole. 47- Rooney skips away from three Liverpool challenges and with the defence opened up shoots over from 18 yards.
58 - The Liverpool keeper foils Stubbs again, this time from a blistering 30-yard free-kick.
So 11-7 to the Reds then. Well, not quite.
Those statistics tell only part of a gripping tale, explaining why Martyn was man of the match, how Steven Gerrard was the dynamic behind Liverpool's adventure, how the home side wished more chances fell to Owen but still raised the tempo after the interval and the visiting defence, for whom Hibbert, Stubbs and stand-in centre back Alessandro Pistone were magnificent, responded with everything they had. They do not encapsulate the overall picture which, with sharper refereeing, would have been dramatically different. The Reds started in the form that finished off Newcastle in the FA Cup, sweeping forward with intelligence and Owen's tireless lone striker performance providing a constant problem for the Blues' rearguard. Their efforts were helped by an Everton central midfield for whom "sup-port" and "cover" are alien concepts, leaving Moyes no choice but to reinforce that department twice before the end. Venturing forward themselves, however, the Blues began to trouble a sometimes pedestrian Liverpool defence and by the break the contest had developed into an enthralling end- to- end spectacle. To be fair the flow of the game was encouraged by referee Steve Bennett's intelligent handling, and while fears he would steal the limelight proved wholly inaccurate, he was inevitably thrust into the derby spotlight on several close calls. Radzinski, whose mind seemed elsewhere all game, was given a glorious chance to amend for his first foul-up in front of Dudek's goal when Stubbs' long ball landed behind the stranded Hyypia in the 32nd minute. The Everton striker's first touch knocked it clear of the Finnish international, who then stopped Radzinski going anywhere by clipping his heels. Contact may have been accidental, Radzinski certainly made the most of his tumble, but a goalscoring opportunity was denied by the last man and Hyypia, under the present rules, should have walked. Bennett had a good view of the collision, though not as clear as his assistant who was in line with play, but both waved away a decision that would have changed the course of the game and "numpty" was perhaps the nicest tribute he received from Moyes this weekend. Everton's derby discipline was still in danger of collapsing again when, 60 seconds later, Ferguson dragged Hyypia over as they watched a corner sail over but somehow the official didn't spot that offence either. At least he was even-handed on the penalty shouts, failing to spot a hand-ball from Carragher as he palmed away Gary Naysmith's free-kick just before half-time and also a closer call when a Gerrard corner appeared to strike Lee Carsley's arm late on. It was the first-half controversies, Hyypia especially, that dominated the post-match press conferences and prompted Houllier, in sparkling form otherwise, to accuse British managers of never giving his team the credit they deserve for parochial reasons. That was wrong, there was no disputing the trip, just as Everton could not deny they survived a second-half pummelling from Liverpool. The Reds' movement, passing and control upped a level after the interval and only Everton's defence had any answer. The Blues' midfield and attack gave away what little possession they had too cheaply and Liverpool's now four-pronged attack - Owen, Kewell, Cheyrou and Le Tallec - were encamped in the final third. None of them, however, found a way to beat the sublime Martyn. Regardless, Liverpool, Everton and the derby itself have all been given a platform for recovery if they want it.
LIVERPOOL (4-4-1-1): Dudek; Finnan, Henchoz, Hyypia, Carragher; Le Tallec, Gerrard, Hamann, Kewell; Cheyrou; Owen. Subs: Luzi, Murphy, Riise, Traore, Biscan.
EVERTON (4-4-2): Martyn; Hibbert, Stubbs, Pistone, Naysmith; Rooney (Watson 77), Gravesen, Nyarko (Carsley 57), Kilbane; Ferguson, Radzinski (Jeffers 72). Subs: Simonsen, Clarke.
BOOKING: Everton's Gravesen (foul).
REFEREE: S Bennett.
Moyes, Houllier in derby bust-up
Report By David Prior, Daily Post
Feb 2 2004
GERARD HOULLIER and David Moyes became embroiled in a war of words after Saturday's classic derby had ended in a goalless draw. Everton boss Moyes claimed Sami Hyypia should have been redcarded for a professional foul on Tomasz Radzinski. And the Scot also claimed that his side should have had a penalty when Jamie Carragher looked to have handled. Moyes said: "I do not like seeing players sent off, but certainly Hyypia should have got a red card. Radzinski was through and Hyypia was the last man. "It may have looked accidental to some, but I have seen the replay and Hyypia definitely has a look at our player before it happened. "I have not discussed it with the referee Steve Bennett. Keith Hack-ett, the FA's new boss of the referees, was here and maybe it would be better if he had a word rather than another manager having a go. "As for the penalty, I have seen that too and it looked like hands. If you are going to win at Anfield you have to have the decisions going for you, and they did not with those two incidents." But Houllier hit back, claiming Moyes' attitude was typical of a "British manager". He said: "I do not see either instances the way David did. "Every time we play against a British manager we just can't win. They complain about it all - about the referee, about penalties and other things. It's incredible. "We should have had a penalty ourselves and we had six or seven great chances and three cleared off the line.
"Their keeper Nigel Martyn was the man of the match but now people are telling me that a draw was a fair result - that makes you laugh! "We could have had a couple of penalties too, and do you think Everton deserved to win? "We had the better chances, certainly in the second half, and had a couple kicked off the line." He added: "That was a great game of football and was the best derby in years, certainly the best since I came to Liverpool."
Martyn a marvel
Report By Ian Doyle, Daily Post
Feb 2 2004
EVERTON goalkeeper Nigel Martyn has revealed how his derby heroics earned plaudits from disbelieving Liverpool supporters. The 37-year-old, was the Blues' man of the match after keeping the Reds at bay with a string of superb saves during a thrilling 170th Merseyside derby. With Jerzy Dudek in similarly unbeatable form at the opposite end, the game somehow ended in a goalless draw with both sides also pointing to controversial incidents which could have changed the outcome. But it was Martyn who took the greatest acclaim with a sparkling performance which had even the home fans applauding. And the keeper said: "There was a guy in the Kop behind me and he just said 'well played today, congratulations' and I thanked him. "Jamie Carragher came up and said something along the lines of you lucky so and so. I just said the harder I work the luckier I seem to get. "With the tradition and stuff, Anfield is a great place to come and play, for Everton players it's even more special, especially to keep a clean sheet. "I can remember being told to clap the Kop on my first visit here with Crystal Palace because they always give a good reception to goalkeepers, as they still do today." Martyn's saves were the highlight of a pulsating encounter, with both sides creating a host of chances. Martyn admitted: "The one I turned on to the post in the first half from Gerrard, that was probably the hardest one. "I got more satisfaction from that one than the Jamie Carragher save because you are already committed and you just stick your leg out and I got enough on it and got it over the top. "That said, Chris Woods has worked me very hard on the deflection thing. He does a lot of work on that in training, so he'll be claiming the credit for that one. "He's got these little boards that he's manufactured that deflected the ball in different directions. "At times it makes you look a complete fool but at times you do get to make saves as well."
There was one person on the field who did manage to beat Martyn, however - Everton's mascot, nine-year-old Matthew Langford from Allerton. Said Martyn: "I always try to let the mascot score so they go away with something else to remember the day by. "But he was just a bit too sharp for me really - he was finding the top corner and everything. I'm just glad it was different in the game itself!" Referee Steve Bennett was never far from controversy, choosing to ignore penalty appeals for both sides and waving away claims of a sending-off after Liverpool's Sami Hyypia tangled with Tomasz Radzinski. "The guys came in at half-time and were very disappointed," said Martyn.
"They thought Tomasz had been impeded and that the handball was a penalty. I didn't see either really from my end of the pitch half a mile away. But they were really disappointed. "We had other chances and their keeper made some saves as well. If we could have taken one or two of those chances maybe the second half would have been different." The display continues a string of excellent performances from the goalkeeper, who was signed by David Moyes on transfer deadline day last September as competition to Richard Wright. Wright's subsequent injury problems opened up a first-team opportunity for Martyn which he has grabbed with both hands. "I had offers to go to other clubs, they were clubs with recognised goalkeepers - one was Chelsea - and I think having had a season out and not playing, at my age that was really disappointing," he said. "At 37, you're not going to go on forever and to move your children and your family at that stage of your career is a little bit unfair and I just hoped something else would come along or I'd get a chance in the Leeds team. "It was nice they wanted me but it was just the wrong end of the country. But I am very happy to be at Everton." Martyn has also intimated his continued good form could lead him to consider extending his stay at Goodison once his contract expires next summer. "I've got this season and next on contract here so I'll see how I am in a year," he added. "If I feel as good as I do now, I feel fantastic at the moment, very fit, the training Chris is giving me is very beneficial and I feel fine.
"I had a year not playing so you are down in the dumps really. It's like having a second life. "It's not very often you get a second chance and you've got to take them when and if they do come along.
"I feel fine, I've not got any of the problems you might expect, knees, ankles, hips and arms, everything is all still functioning. "Have I another contract left in me? I've no idea. That's really a decision for Everton to make. "Financially they are in a bit of a quandary at the moment so they will probably wait a year and see how I am doing. "But the way I am feeling at the moment I think I could go on another year."
Fans Forum, By Jim Cleary, Daily Post
Feb 2 2004
ALL credit to an under-strength Everton side for withstanding everything Liverpool could throw at us.
It was nervewracking stuff at times and we owe a great debt to the hands - and legs - of Nigel Martyn for a precious point. Shorn of at least three key regulars, the reshuffled rearguard fought manfully to keep Gerard Houllier's men out. But if we are to get something out of the rest of the season -and the extent of our ambition probably now rests with an extended FA Cup run and pulling clear of relegation so there is no whiteknuckle ride come May - we need to start scoring goals.
Yes, it could have been very different if Sami Hyppia had received his marching orders when Tomasz Radzinski was sent tumbling when through on goal. But we created enough clear cut chances anyway to have made a breakthrough, but were still left wondering where the goals to beat Fulham in this week's cup replay will be coming from. And that's before we turn our attention to the visit of United. I am not sure about Wayne Rooney's exile on the right hand side. In theory it is a bold move allowing Everton to field three 'attackers', but it has yet to pay any kind of dividend. I would pair either Duncan Ferguson or Kevin Campbell with one from the trio of Rooney, Francis Jeffers or Rad, whose performance suggested he had been unsettled by all the transfer talk of the past week after Blackburn made their move. Then I would strengthen the mid-field area and perhaps give Kevin Kilbane more of a licence to roam. He turned in another fine display at Anfield and it is a tough choice at the moment between the midfielder and the keeper as to who is the pick of Moyes' deadline day signings. So a welcome point, but still much to do in the weeks ahead.
Martyn is number one in world - Kenwright
Report By Ian Doyle, Daily Post
Feb 2 2004
BILL KENWRIGHT has hailed derby hero Nigel Martyn as "the best goalkeeper in the world" - but revealed he won't be urging an England recall for the veteran. Martyn was Everton's star performer at Anfield on Saturday during a thrilling goal-less draw against neighbours Liverpool. And while it brought plaudits from Kenwright, the Blues owner is living in fear of history repeating himself should he call for further international honours for the 37-year-old goalkeeper. Kenwright explained: "I'm scared stiff to phone Sven-Goran Eriksson about Martyn because the last time I phoned the England coach about an Everton player we all know what happened. "I phoned about Nick Barmby and told him he should pick him. He got in the team and then he left us. That ruined a very close friendship so I don't know if I dare phone Sven this time." Martyn was Everton's man of the match on Saturday, pulling off a string of fine saves to keep Liverpool at bay and earn the Blues a welcome point on their travels. "I was just standing at the end of the match thinking he's not just the best goalkeeper in England, he's the best goalkeeper in the world at the moment," added Kenwright. "Forget the saves - you speak to the Everton defence and it is the authority he has brought in there. "All through the summer when we were chasing Sean Davis the other name that David Moyes mentioned was Nigel Martyn, Nigel Martyn, Nigel Martyn. "There was no negotiation - he said yes straight away because he was so desperate to play here. That's the measure of the man. "He will be here for another season - at least. We could have had him six or seven years earlier. I am just relieved he's got here at last."
Clean sheet built on rock of ages
Report By David Prior, Daily Post
Feb 2 2004
DAVID MOYES singled out two of his experienced pros for special praise after watching Everton contain Liverpool's tide of attacks - although he thought his side could have nicked a win. Nigel Martyn, turned in his finest performance in a Blue shirt since his deadline day move from Leeds last year and Moyes led renewed calls for the veteran to be given back his England place. The 37-year-old saved brilliantly from Steven Gerrard and Harry Kewell twice each as well as acrobatically palming away a Dietmar Hamann thunderbolt. And his performance, along with that of Blues centre-back Alan Stubbs, had Moyes reaching for the superlatives. He said: "His performance was wonderful, 10 out of 10. He is certainly still good enough to play for England, that is if they want to put him in. But that is not my decision. "He is playing well, like he has done all season and a lot of our results this season have been down to him - not only his saves but his calming influence.
"In any team, be it a club or international side, you need that calming influence. He gives the players that, certainly for us. "And Alan Stubbs was a colossus at the back. When you are involved in games like this, you need people to stand up and be counted, and he certainly did that. "You need your experi-enced players on days like this and Alan, Nigel Martyn and also Duncan Ferguson, who played when he wasn't quite fit, gave us a real backbone." Although on the defensive for large chunks of the game, Everton had a series of good chances themselves. Thomas Gravesen almost put the visitors ahead as early as the 20th minute when he went on a solo run with his eventual shot requiring a sharp save from Jerzy Dudek. Ferguson and Stubbs also went close with head-ers just before half-time before Wayne Rooney ballooned a clear chance over the bar after the break with only the keeper to beat. And Moyes added: "I thought it was a good game and I thought we did well for periods in the first half when we had to defend well. "Both sides will have claims that they could have won it and at the end of it we've got a point. "We did create chances and Liverpool are a good side with good players. They make it difficult for teams to play against them. "We probably made more chances here this season than we did last season and I thought it was a good open game, played in a decent spirit." Meanwhile Blues skipper Alan Stubbs insists he would like to end his career at Goodison Park. The boyhood Blue has 18 months to run on his contract, but he would jump at the chance to sign a long-term extension. Stubbs signed on a free transfer from Scottish giants Celtic in the summer of 2001 and now he has achieved his boyhood dream of playing for Everton he is in no hurry to leave. "I really can't see myself playing anywhere else," said Stubbs. "I have got 18 months to go and I would like to extend that con-tract. "Come the summer, I'm sure we will have talks and see what happens, but it's up to Everton. "I would like to think though, that my performances since I have been here would justify something. "As far as I am concerned, I don't want to play for another club."
Fans Forum, By Si Goodwin, Daily Post
Feb 2 2004
LIVERPOOL fans walk away disappointed after seeing a game the Reds could and should have won.
Although Liverpool continued to show some of the quality they had shown against Newcastle, wastefulness in all areas of the field leaves Anfield again wondering what could have been. The fact that Evertonians left the game celebrating a draw was testament to the Liverpool display but Reds fans can take little consolation from that. Anthony Le Tallec, Harry Kewell and Michael Owen all started off the game in lively fashion and their crisp passing and movement appeared to have Everton on the back foot. As the half progressed though, Liverpool became more and more wasteful in possession. Sami Hyypia lost his concentration on more than one occasion and should have been punished by Everton. The second half showed a far more impressive level of performance, with the Reds dominating possession for long periods. Liverpool didn't use the ball effectively when they had it however, with the majority of play ending in a poor final ball. When a chance was created, they showed a real lack of conviction in front of goal. Bruno Cheyrou could have put Liverpool in front twice, while Le Tallec and Kewell both had chances. Steven Gerrard was immense in midfield and dug deep to drive his side on but still couldn't find a breakthrough. The frustration was clear as the end of the game neared, as even Jamie Carragher attempted to break the deadlock with a rare attempt on goal. Liverpool were rarely troubled in this game, and although Jerzy Dudek did make some impressive saves, Everton's persistence with the long ball rarely paid off. If ever a game summed up a season then this would probably be it. There are only so many chances this team can miss before any hope of qualifying for the Champions League is gone.
Houllier hails returning stars in 'best derby'
Report By David Prior, Daily Post
Feb 2 2004
GERARD HOULLIER hailed Saturday's goalless draw as "the best derby I have been involved with" - and claimed his side's improved football was testament to the importance of his returning stars.
Michael Owen, Steven Gerrard, and Jamie Carragher all had impressive games for the Reds a week after inspiring FA Cup success over Newcastle. Liverpool's declining fortunes this season has in no small part been due to the trio's injury misfortune - a fact Houllier has frequently reiterated.
And he said: "I always knew that once the injured players came back we would make things happen again. I always knew that. "Stevie in particular could have had a hat-trick and was absolutely outstanding out there for us. "We must now keep going. The midfield were outstanding as well as the defence. We made many chances and I was extremely pleased with the interactivity. It was a very open game, certainly not a dull, chance-less draw. "I'm a bit frustrated with the draw because I felt we could have won it, but I'm not disappointed at all with the performance." Houllier had admitted before the match that he did not enjoy derbies, but after Saturday's breathless encounter he conceded: "I hope you enjoyed that because this time I enjoyed it. "It was a great game, the best derby I have seen, certainly. The fact Jamie Carragher almost scored shows we are playing football that is more "total" than people think. "I like the width, movement and the creativity behind Michael. Things are coming right. "I was pleased with the performance. The fluency of our game is coming back, we never lost our shape. There was movement and creativity. "Even our fans were happy d es pite th e result. They knew they had seen us play well." Houllier reserved special praise for the men between the sticks - in particular Blues stopper Nigel Martyn, whose man-of-the-match performance was seemingly not too much of a surprise for Houllier. He added: "The two keepers were absolutely magnificent and Nigel Martyn kept Everton in the game in the second half.
"It is something he always seems to do to us at Anfield. I recall him having a blinder for Leeds when he was with them. "Both teams had good chances to score but I think you have to accept that the two goalkeepers played very well." And the Reds manager reserved some kind words for the opposition too, adding: "They defended well and made the game exciting by continuing to attack us.
"They have a good strike-force and although it is not showing at the moment, they will start scoring.
"Everton are a good side and with players like Rooney, Ferguson and Radzinski they can cause teams problems." But he added pointedly: "If this was a boxing match though, from our second-half display we would have won it on points."
Blues match first derby win in mini revival
Feb 2 2004
PUPILS from schools that border the footballing homes of Liverpool and Everton served up their own mini-derby ahead of Saturday's Premiership showdown. The match was played to celebrate the first ever derby meeting of the two great rivals - which resulted in a 3-0 win for Everton on October 13, 1894. And it was Everton who came on top in the clash of under-11s picked from three neighbouring schools in an occasion that had something the big match lacked - plenty of goals.
Stanley Park, home to Everton during the 19th century, was the venue for the match which formed part of the Blues' celebration of their 125th anniversary. The teams of 2004 were drawn from youngsters at Gwladys Street Primary and Nursery School in Walton Lane, Pinehurst School in Pinehurst Avenue and Hope Valley Junior School in Anfield. Everton finished 4-2 winners to lift the George Mahon Trophy, presented by the Mayor of Liverpool, Coun Ron Gould.
Liverpool 0, Everton 0 (Echo)
By Chris Bascombe, Liverpool Echo
Feb 2 2004
THIS rarity ought to be preserved and secured in Gerard Houllier's safe for future reference.
Not because enjoyable derbies are as likely as Duncan Ferguson interviews. Not even because it's been proven the Merseyside neighbours can meet without one trying to kick seven tons of muck out of the other. From Houllier's point of view, it's a game he can replay to his players to assure them they can produce the brand of football to keep him at Anfield longer than outsiders predict.
The points were shared, but if Liverpool continue to play like this it will be another nine derbies before they lose. Far more important than any local dispute, the fourth place the Reds crave will be secured with a month to spare if this standard is maintained. The anomaly of Liverpool's last two seasons is their most satisfying performances have ended in draws or defeats. The more creative and entertaining the Reds are, the fewer chances they take. This has been one of many infuriating factors which has brought the steady rise until 2002 to a halt. Play like this and the descent will be reversed. Although football is a results business, it doesn't matter what the score is, the players and management can be defended to the hilt when they produce the goods. There was a feeling of optimism on leaving Anfield on Saturday which was a hundred times greater than it's been after many a drab 1-0 win. There is something to believe in. A sense of momentum which makes you look forward to next week's trip to Bolton rather than feeling it's another accident waiting to happen.
Everything was right apart from the final score. Liverpool played in the fashion the Kop demands. And the most intelligent fans in the country were quick to acknowledge it, offering a standing ovation at full- time which masked their undoubted disappointment at not winning the game.
You could list half a dozen other matches like this at Anfield in the past 18 months. The only mistake Liverpool have made in the aftermath of such encounters is to revert back to the tried and trusted formula of 'safety first' because this more fluent approach hasn't yielded its reward. Injury permitting, there can be no going back after this. The work rate, the passing, the movement and, most significant of all, the pace of Liverpool's play was a joy to behold - especially in the second half.
Few clubs could cope against such quality, and the opponents on Saturday only survived because they possessed something they haven't had in their last nine derbies. A good goalkeeper. For the last half hour, Liverpool battered their visitors, who had to resort to kicking the ball away as hard and high from their defence as possible in the final stages. David Moyes' side escaped, but for long periods it looked as though the post-match complaints about refereeing decisions would be longer and more ferocious because they were tinged with the taste of defeat. Liverpool clearly deserved to win on the overall balance of play, although 8-5 would have been a fair reflection. For 60 minutes, it was as open a meeting as there's been between the sides since the infamous 4-4 draw in 1991.
Like then, Liverpool could boast most possession but for every chance they carved out, the Blues retaliated with an even better one. Steven Gerrard could have had a first half hat-trick, but Gravesen, Ferguson and Radzinski squandered easier opportunities. There was 'that' professional foul by Sami Hyypia which ensured the derby tradition of moaning about the referee was maintained. And Jerzy Dudek and Nigel Martyn continued their own private battle for save of the season. However, once Wayne Rooney fired over early in the second half, there looked like being just one winner. Gerrard eclipsed the goalkeepers with his dynamic running from midfield. Anthony Le Tallec shone in his first derby. His intelligent running and clever passing suggesting he's now ready for a prolonged run in the side. Bruno Cheyrou improved as the game went on and could have been a hero again had he not headed wide Le Tallec's cross. And Harry Kewell never hid when it seemed he was destined for a stinker, growing stronger as the clock ticked. Liverpool didn't lack much. Just a matchwinner. Oh yeah. A few refereeing decisions went against them in the second half too - a handball claim and Gravesen's stamp on Le Tallec - but it would be distracting to go on and on about them. The difference between now and a few weeks ago isn't just the return to fitness of key players, wh ich is obvi ou sly essential. With all due respect, the absence of those who've disappointed so much helped too. The likes of Emile Heskey and El-Hadji Diouf wouldn't have been on the same wavelength as their team-mates had they been out there. They certainly aren't capable of receiving and passing the ball as quickly as the midfield on Saturday. From a purely footballing perspective, this was unquestionably an enjoyable derby, although the event itself continues to be an occasion to tolerate, rather than a celebration of local rivalry. There's too much tension, bitterness, falling out and ankle-kicking going on for it be classed a truly fulfilling experience. And that's just in the Press box. There are also certainties following the game. Both sides believe they could have won, both sets of fans will claim the opposing goalkeeper was man-of-the-match, and someone somewhere will be adamant the last 30 years would be different if it wasn't for referees.
At least everyone can agree on one fact. This was a cracking game.
Liverpool 0, Everton 0 (Echo)
Feb 2 2004 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES promised a very different derby - and that is exactly what we got. It was actually a good game! It was open and exciting, with both sides more interested in playing attacking football than getting stuck in to a physical battle. A few years ago and such an approach at Anfield would have been suicidal for the Blues. But things are changing under Moyes. He went there intent on taking the game to Liverpool. It was a brave approach. One borne out of confidence. And it speaks volumes for the work he is doing at Everton. The journey across Stanley Park may be the shortest away trip of the season, but financially the distance is huge. That is a fact that is often overlooked amidst the tribalism of derby week. Everton can only dream of having the kind of spending power available to Gerard Houllier. But the 170th derby showed that the clubs are not as far apart as finances suggest they should be. Every penny Moyes spends has to be invested wisely if he wants to bridge the gap, not only with Liverpool but also the other big spenders of the top flight. And up to now it has been. Each of his signings has played an important role in helping transform the expectations at Goodison. According to Houllier, those heightened expectations have led to unfair pressure and criticism being aimed at the Goodison chief. But wherever that alleged pressure is coming from, it is certainly not from the Everton faithful. They remain appreciative of the job Moyes is doing on a tight budget. That appreciation is justified by performances like Saturday's and outstanding personal displays from players like Nigel Martyn. One hack commented after the match that this was the first 0-0 worthy of being sold on video. Much of that was down to Martyn, or Saint Nigel as the Liverpool boss dubbed him after the game. He cost just £500,000 from Leeds earlier this season and in the space of just a few months at Goodison his career has been rejuvenated. Saturday's outstanding display underlined what regular followers of Everton have known for some time - he should be Sven Goran Eriksson's number one choice for England. Time and again he denied Steven Gerrard, with one save in the opening half worthy of the grand tag 'world class'.
But it was his shot-stopping in the second half, as the the home side took control of the game, which ensured there was some reward to be had for the hard work and misfortune of the opening period.
And that reward was deserved. The Blues did not buckle in the face of a Gerrard-inspired second half onslaught. Nor did they buckle when referee Steve Bennett was giving them good reason to turn their focus away from the football with a couple of woeful first half decisions. The Kent official didn't seem to have a problem pointing to the penalty spot during last season's 1-0 defeat at the St Mary's Stadium. But on Saturday he was far less willing to put the whistle to his lips. It wasn't just Everton who deserved to feel hard done-by. Bennett also missed Duncan Ferguson wrestling Sami Hyypia to the ground in the penalty area. But that incident came at a time when, by rights, Hyypia shouldn't have been on the field. His trip on Radzinski as the Canadian international was bursting through one-on-one with Jerzy Dudek in the 33rd minute should have led to a red card. Bennett gave nothing. He was equally non-committal when Jamie Carragher handled Gary Naysmith's cross into a crowded area. Both decisions were cast-iron. But we shouldn't be focusing on the failings of the match official after such a thrilling game. And to make them the talking point of the afternoon would do a disservice to the football on show. Moyes opted for a bold formation, using Wayne Rooney on the right of midfield and giving him the licence to become a third striker when the Blues were on the offensive. With Thomas Gravesen and Kevin Kilbane equally bold, it was easy to understand why Liverpool looked so nervous every time Everton surged forward during the opening half. That power-play approach should have provided goals for Gravesen, Ferguson and Radzinski but all three were guilty of failing to take the gilt-edged opportunities which came their way. Haven't I written that before over the last three weeks? Yet again, Everton were guilty of wastefulness. But in this match, unlike some of the others in recent weeks, the opposition were creating just as many openings of their own. Gerrard alone could have left Anfield with the match ball. It was thanks to Martyn that he didn't. And when the mighty 37-year-old was finally beaten deep in the second half Tony Hibbert was on the line to head to safety. Not to be outdone, Dudek produced two fine stops in each half - both to deny Alan Stubbs. A powerful header and a fierce 30- yard free- kick were both acrobatically pushed behind for corners. The Pole could do nothing to stop a Rooney drive early in the second period. But his well-hit conclusion to a thrilling run, which saw him burst beyond Hyypia and Stephane Henchoz, sailed agonisingly over the bar. It was moments like that which made it such a frustrating afternoon. But feeling frustrated at having drawn a game which could have been won is not such a bad thing. And if Moyes' astute buys continue to add to Everton's armoury then bridging the gap between the haves and the have- nots will become an increasingly achievable exercise.
Stubbs slams derby referee
Feb 2 2004 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON skipper Alan Stubbs has accused Steve Bennett of fouling up the key decisions in Saturday's derby. Stubbs, described Bennett's performance as 'puzzling' following a series of contentious moments affecting both teams in the entertaining 0-0 draw at Anfield. The Kent official gave nothing when Tomasz Radzinski was tripped by Sami Hyypia as he attempted to burst through in the 33rd minute. And a minute before half-time he didn't spot a handball in the Liverpool area by Jamie Carragher. Liverpool had complaints of their own when Duncan Ferguson manhandled Hyypia in the first half and Thomas Gravesen handled in the box during a frantic climax. From Everton's point of view, Stubbs felt the decisions which went against the Blues were blatant. He said: "The referee needs to look at himself for a couple of decisions that he never gave. He was right on the spot. Meanwhile, the FA have yet to receive an official complaint from Fulham regarding Luis Boa Morte's accusation that he was racially abused by Duncan Ferguson in last week's FA Cup fourth round tie. The Portuguese forward made the allegation in the press on Friday. There is a suggestion that the Loftus Road club will not make a complaint until after Wednesday's replay. Off icials at Soho Square are believed to be unhappy with that tion because the issue has already been made public. Everton and Ferguson will not comment on the matter.
Moyes: Stubbs was a colossus
Feb 2 2004 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
BLUES boss David Moyes saluted his very own Captain Marvel, just minutes after Alan Stubbs had inspired Everton to a clean sheet at Anfield on Saturday. Stubbs, captained Everton to a goalless draw, and helped marshall a makeshift defence which included Alessandro Pistone as emergency centre-half. "Alan Stubbs was a colossus for us today, he really was," declared Moyes "especially in the second half when we needed him. "We needed a couple of them to stand up and I have got to say Alan was terrific today. "He got himself in the right positions as often as he could and defended really well." Like most of the 44,056 Anfield gallery, Moyes was appreciative of the spectacle both sides put on. "I think it was a good derby and we have done well," he said. "Liverpool have got a good team, they are a good football club and we have come here and done what we could and in the end it was a point. "I would have liked three, but it wasn't to be. "I think the draw had a lot to do with wonderful goalkeeping from both sides. I think it was the art of goalkeeping today and it made for a real good game. "Nigel was wonderful. It was a 10 out of 10 performance, no question. So you lot, that's your marks for tomorrow morning! Ten out of ten for Nigel Martyn." Moyes declined to award marks to referee Steve Bennett, but was irritated by a couple of decisions which didn't go Everton's way. Sami Hyypia escaped punishment after bringing down Tomasz Radzinski when the Blues' striker had outpaced the Reds' skipper, then Jamie Carragher escaped a handball in front of the Kop goal. "He (Hyypia) should get sent-off," said Moyes. "I don't want to see players get sent-off, that's the last thing I want to see because it's not my style, but he's through on goal.
"I've had the chance to see it again and while it might be slightly accidental, when you look at it again you'll actually see that Hyypia has a look at him. "So, for us at the moment to come to Anfield you need decisions to go for you and that one didn't at a crucial time of the game. "I've seen the handball and I thought that should have been given as well. "Keith Hackett's here and he's the boss. And I must say the referees have been excellent since the change, so I'm sure Keith will sort it out.
"But there must be plenty to write about today. You don't need me!"
Kop in tribute to ace Martyn
Feb 2 2004 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
NIGEL MARTYN has revealed how his derby heroics earned plaudits from the toughest audience of all for an Everton player - the Kop. The 37-year-old, was the Blues' Man of the Match thanks to a string of eye-catching saves. Steven Gerrard could have had a hat-trick had it not been for Everton's experienced number 25. And the quality of his display maintained his impressive record at Anfield, where he has only been on the losing side four times during his long career. It has led to respect from the Liverpool faithful. Martyn said: "There was a guy in the Kop behind me and he just said 'well played today, congratulations' and I thanked him. "Jamie Carragher came up and said something along the lines of you lucky so and so. I just said the harder I work the luckier I seem to get. "With the tradition and stuff, Anfield is a great place to come and play For Everton players it is even more special, especially to keep a clean sheet. "I can remember being told to clap the Kop on my first visit here with Crystal Palace because they always give a good reception to goalkeepers, as they still do today." Gerrard wasn't the only player frustrated by Martyn. Didi Hamann, Jamie Carragher and Harry Kewell all had decent efforts destined for the back of the net diverted by the Blues' keeper. Picking the best stop of the afternoon is not easy. But Martyn was happiest with a save from Gerrard low to his left in the opening period. He adds: "The one I turned on to the post in the first half from Gerrard, that was probably the hardest one. "I got more satisfaction from that one, although I was pleased with the Carragher save. I was already committed but stuck a leg out and I got enough on it to get it over the top. "That said, Chris Woods has worked me very hard on the deflection thing. He does a lot of work on that in training, so he will be claiming the credit for that one. "He has got these little boards that he has manufactured that deflect the ball in different directions." But it wasn't the perfect afternoon for the keeper because the Blues didn't get all three points. He admits that there were a lot of disappointed players in the dressing room at half-time after seeing two key decisions not going their way. "The guys thought Tomasz had been impeded and that the handball was a penalty," revealed Martyn. "I didn't see either really from my end of the pitch half a mile away. But they were really disappointed. "We had other chances and their keeper made some saves as well. If we could have taken one or two of those chances maybe the second hal f woul d have been different." Martyn has never regretted choosing Everton. He adds: "I had offers to go to other clubs. They were clubs with recognised goalkeepers - one was Chelsea - and I think having had a season out and not playing, at my age that was really disappointing. "At 37, you're not going to go on forever and to move your children and your family at that stage of your career is a little bit unfair and I just hoped something else would come along or I'd get a chance in the Leeds team. "It was nice they wanted me but it was just the wrong end of the country. I am very happy to be at Everton. "I have got this season and next on contract here so I will see how I amin a year.
"Have I another contract left in me? I've no idea. That is really a decision for Everton to make.
"Financially they are in a bit of a quandary at the moment so they will probably wait a year and see how I am doing. But the way I am feeling at the moment I think I could go on another year."
Keepers heroes of derby classic
Feb 2 2004 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
THE sound of two sets of supporters enthusiastically applauding both sides off at the end of a dramatic derby dust-up is, indeed, a rare one. But then this was a rare derby match. Open, incident packed, enterprising. All that was missing was a goal. And the only blame for that should be attached not to wasteful finishing, but to colossal, gargantuan goalkeeping displays. Jerzy Dudek was superb. But even his performance was placed in the shade by Nigel Martyn's magnificent show.
Not since Georgie Wood single-handedly kept Dalglish and co. down to a solitary goal in March 1979 has an Everton goalkeeper influenced proceedings so dramatically in an Anfield derby. That was in an era when Liverpool were the undoubted kings of the top flight, before Everton joined them at the summit a few years later. But while Merseyside may have dominated the domestic scene, their local set-tos were generally brutal, ugly, unenjoyable affairs. Nowadays neither club is where they want to be in the Premiership. But on Saturday it was as if they wanted to make amends for their under-achievement by producing a free-flowing, adventurous, attack-minded afternoon. And boy did they succeed. From the opening minute when Le Tallec's fizzing cross was clutched by Martyn, to the 90th minute when Hibbert headed a fraction over his own crossbar, the game was crammed with near-misses, wonderful chances - and great, great goalkeeping. Only two-men know exactly what went on in the foyer of Park Foods seven years ago - but there is no doubt Everton wasted a wonderful chance to fill the huge void Neville Southall vacated when they allowed Nigel Martyn to head up the M62 and talk to Leeds. Everton missed a big chance. But since he belatedly joined the Blues last summer he has missed nothing. The quality of his shot-stopping was what caught the eye on Saturday. But equally the calm assurance he spread through a makeshift and reorganised Everton rearguard was just as impressive. He was aided and abetted by an inspirational performance from his skipper, Alan Stubbs - matched by the other Scouse skipper who drove Liverpool forward relentlessly during a second half dominated by The Reds. Everton held out, then even the post- match press conference was entertaining. Both bosses seemed thrilled by what they had witnessed. But it was only when a wind-up merchant from the News of the World suggested that David Moyes did not share Gerard Houllier's opinion of the referee that a slightly off-key note was introduced. "Every time we foreigners play a British manager, apart from one or two, they never acknowledge that they lost normally. It is because of the referee, or because of this, because of that," declared Houllier. "So, it was a great game of football and if it had been a boxing game today, we win by points. "Who would disagree with that?" The silence in reply spoke volumes. But what's a derby without a hint of controversy? From my viewpoint, Steve Bennett bottled the decision to red-card Sami Hyypia - while Jamie Carragher's handball happened so quickly that only the Everton players in the immediate vicinity witnessed it. Equally Bennett missed Duncan Ferguson applying an ill- advised half-nelson with triple twists to Hyypia and a possible handball from Gravesen. But generally he officiated in an even-handed and lenient fashion. Only one yellow card was brandished - and for a derby match that shows an incredible amount of tolerance. It was an important afternoon for both clubs - and one both could take encouragement from. Liverpool carried on where they left off against Newcastle, to give hope that fourth place is still an attainable target.
Bruno Cheyrou and Anthony Le Tallec were both influential on an afternoon of intensity neither will have experienced before. But Michael Owen was often unsupported and endured one of his quietest derby days. Everton, on the other hand, needed the confidence boost of a point as badly as Peter Andre craves a come-on from Jordan. They got it - and will aim to carry that on into a very big week in what remains of their season. A derby week which ended with Blues and Reds able to take encouragement is a rare one indeed. Enjoy it . . . until the next time.
Post Soapbox, Icliverpool & Daily Post
Feb 3 2004
IT looks like Liverpool have turned another corner. Fourth place is up for grabs, another jammy Cup draw, injuries clearing up, shareholders quietened and only one banner at the game before the derby. Not so Everton - long injury list, referees going blind when it comes to penalty claims, star man in Tunisia, no luck in front of goal and a run of tough fixtures. By the way as Everton celebrate their 125th anniversary, it is worth noting that 100 years ago this year Liverpool were relegated. No press coverage, however. I think Liverpool's history started in 1960.
Susan Smith, Liverpool 19
Going in circles
SO, Gerard Houllier thinks the Reds should have won on points. This from the guy who kept finding another corner to turn as his team went round and round again in a circle.
Bill Gard (via e-mail)
IT'S all about expectations....the Blues know they can't compete consistently with the big clubs so a top half finish is a good season for us. Meanwhile those across the Park still live the fantasy of being one of the best sides in the country. They start off the season thinking they're going to challenge for the title. By October they are aiming for fourth spot. They need to lower their expectations and accept they cannot compete with the top clubs in this country. The likes of the Toon and Charlton are their main rivals now.
Phil Armand, Wirral
Martyn's the man
ALL that money spent and they couldn't get past our Nigel.
Billy Booth (via e-mail)
NOT the team I'd have picked but I would have taken a point beforehand. Wayne Rooney is wasted on the right, that's Steve Watson's best position. History would say Rooney is better deployed from the bench or just behind front two, maybe in place of Nyarko. Pistone and Stubbs played well, Martyn was magnificent, big Dunc was lucky to get away with the penalty but we could have had one ourselves. Franny can feel a bit aggrieved not starting alongside the big fella. Don't know what match GH was watching.
Ged Smith, Everton
WELL, what a game. It's been said by many now that it was the best 0-0 draw for years. After Liverpool walked away with the match at Goodison this was a massive improvement to restore some pride. On the day, Nigel Martyn may have played out of his skin but there wasn't much else to separate us. If you consider what Houllier has spent they're not that far ahead of us.
Dave Macken, Walton
AS the son of an old Evertonian raised on stories of the exploits of Dixie Dean and Jimmy Dunn, I wish the Toffees all the best. Being a Hibee (Hibs fan), Everton's connections with the Rangers through their previous management team and ex-Ibrox players, was hard to take, So the arrival of Davie Moyes has come as a breath of fresh air. He seems to have the club moving in the right direction.
Pete Clarke (via e-mail)
JUST as the Football Supporters Foundation's 'Time for Fans to have a Say' campaign is launched the Premiership chairmen decide to go for a winter break, apparently without considering supporters' views, and certainly without consulting any fans at national level, or as far as I'm aware at any of the 20 clubs concerned.
Paul Matz (via e-mail)
Mighty Martyn proves worth
By Ronnie Goodlass, Daily Post
Feb 3 2004
SATURDAY'S Anfield show-down may have finished 0-0 but it was one of the most open derby matches I have seen in years. Considering the pressure on both managers going into the game you might have expected a tense, tight affair. But I thought both teams served up some tremendous football - and the atmosphere inside the ground matched the excitement on the pitch with none of the nastiness that seems to have crept in recently. Derby games tend to be played at 100 miles per hour with the ball spending a lot of time in the air, but Saturday's game saw plenty of quality with Jerzy Dudek and Nigel Martyn, (above), keeping everything out. There have been a few question marks over Dudek's form but he showed his worth on Saturday while Martyn is proving one of the buys of the season. At 37 years of age people start questioning whether the legs are going along with the agility, but Martyn showed he is still up to the job by keeping Jamie Carragher's shot out with his leg while going the wrong way and tipping a stinging shot from Steven Gerrard over the bar.
I think Martyn has helped lift the confidence of the Everton back four. He is a better talker than Richard Wright and his confidence and calm approach rubs off on the players in front of him.
I was at Everton when Joe Royle originally tried to sign Martyn as Neville Southall was coming to the end of his illustrious career. You can only wonder what the Blues might have achieved if Martyn had not ended up at Leeds, who might still rue their decision to let him go last summer. I am sure Evertonians would have taken a point before the kick-off, especially with the injury problems in defence. Alessandro Pistone came in to partner Alan Stubbs and it takes time to build up a partnership but I thought they did everything you would ask of a defender in the heat of a derby match - they were brave and were putting their bodies on the line to keep Liverpool at bay. Referee Steve Bennett had an interesting afternoon, but at least kept the yellow cards away. Whether Sami Hyypia should have been sent off when he caught Tomasz Radzinski is debatable, but both sides had good shouts for penalties. Duncan Ferguson challenged more like Mick McManus but got away with it while Jamie Carragher's handball probably followed a bit of a push. Both teams deserve credit and it was a day when the big names stood up to be counted. I was disappointed with Radzinski's display, though. He had a couple of chances when he might've done better and I was looking for him to show a bit more in the second half when Liverpool stepped up the pressure. In those kind of situations you look to your forwards to hold the ball up more and run into the channels to relieve the pressure but Radzinski, who has the ability to worry defences, did not seem as switched on as usual. But Everton will take confidence from the clean sheet and if they can create half the chances they did against Fulham during their last meeting at Loftus Road I am sure they can progress in the FA Cup in tomorrow's replay. In the league a couple of ugly 1-0 wins would do. Defeat against Manchester United at the weekend would leave Everton with away trips at Birmingham and Southampton to follow and the prospect of a tense end to the season.
Davis fits the bill still for the Blues
By Ronnie Goodlass, Daily Post
Feb 3 2004
EVERTON have five strikers that I am sure most clubs in the Premiership would love to have. But the biggest worry for Evertonians continues to be the lack of goals scored. They are certainly creating the chances but their failure to convert them means they are not yet clear of the relegation scrap.
I think David Moyes faces some big decisions in the summer as someone who can score 15-20 goals a season is a real priority. And if that means shipping some of the other players out, then so be it.
So should Everton keep Francis Jeffers? Or cash in on Wayne Rooney? Or move players out to cut the wage bill and give more room for manoeuvre? Knowing how meticulous Moyes is in the things that he does, I am sure he is already drawing up a hit list for the close season - and I wouldn't rule out another move for Sean Davis, at Fulham. Everton need a more creative midfielder and Davis fits the bill. Perhaps they can smuggle Davis or Steed Malbranque out of Loftus Road tomorrow in the kit skip! Davis is the right kind of player at the right age to freshen things up for the Blues. In the meantime it is important Everton improve the delivery to their front men. Duncan Ferguson has his critics but is often left playing with his back to goal. Everton are not getting to the by-line or whipping in early crosses for Ferguson to attack. Kevin Kilbane is probably providing the best quality service at the moment, but if it is not matched elswhere on the pitch it can make it difficult to succeed in the last third of the field.
Boa Morte in dock over racism claim
Feb 3 2004
Report By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
LUIS BOA MORTE is in the dock over his racist abuse claims against Duncan Ferguson after Fulham failed to lodge an official complaint against the Everton striker. The Londoners had until 5pm yesterday to follow up the serious allegations by Boa Morte, with a formal complaint. But with none forthcoming the FA have asked the Fulham striker for an urgent explanation of why accusations and calls for an investigation were made through the national press last week and not themselves.
A spokesman for the FA last night said: "The FA believes these are serious allegations which require urgent clarification. "Additionally, the player needs to explain exactly how such comments appeared in the media before being brought to the FA's attention." The FA have now written to Boa Morte to ask why no complaint has followed his original claims - which came just two days after he was charged with improper conduct against Everton fans following the Premiership game on January 10.
Boa Morte accused Ferguson of making racist comments when the pair clashed during their recent FA Cup fourth round tie at Goodison. Fulham, who say internal investigations are still on-going, may be delaying the complaint until after tomorrow's replay. But until a formal complaint is made it is Boa Morte and the Londoners, not Ferguson or Everton, who must explain their actions to the FA.
David Unsworth, meanwhile, could be fit for tomorrow's fourth round replay after returning to light training yesterday. The Blues defender missed Saturday's Merseyside derby with a back injury but should be fit to face Fulham or Manchester United this weekend. Young midfielder Stephen Schumacher is to spend a brief trial with second division Oldham.
* Tonight's reserve game at home to Bolton, meanwhile, has been postponed. The match will now take place at Haig Avenue on Wednesday, April 14.
Blues book recalls the men who made history
By Ken Rogers
Kevin Ratcliffe holds aloft the FA Cup in 1985
EVERTONIANS will shortly be celebrating the 20th anniversary anniversary of the Blues' famous 1984 FA Cup Final victory over Watford. It was the start of the most successful era in the history of a truly great football institution. The F.A.Cup has always had a real magic for Evertonians, going back into the mists of times when Goodison legends like Alex "Sandy" Young and the legendary Dixie Dean held aloft football's holy grail. This year, above all others, the Cup will have special relevance as fans reflect on that remarkable spell between 1984 and 1987 when the Goodison Park trophy room was packed with silverware. It was May 19th, 1984 when the Blues made Elton cry as Watford were overshadowed at Wembley. This was the golden age of the mid-Eighties, when Graeme Sharp, Andy Gray, Peter Reid, Neville Southall & Co. took English football by storm over four unforgettable seasons. And it is about to be saluted in a new hardback book entitled "Z STARS - the men who made history 1984-1987." Compiled by former Liverpool Echo Sports Editor Ken Rogers, it will feature a string of key match reports bringing the memories of that very special era back to life. Significantly, Howard Kendall - the manager who inspired the capture of two Championships, the FA Cup and the European Cup Winners Cup - makes a major contribution to the book. Howard signs off each match report with a personal "Inside The Dressing Room" analysis that will thrill and surprise many Evertonians. He also discusses all of the leading players who he managed in this spell. Howard's "A-Z Stars" section is particularly intriguing. For instance, few fans will realise that he came close to bringing Bob Latchford back to Goodison Park in November 1983 at a time when he was in the market for a new centre-forward to support Messrs Sharp and Heath. In the "Z Stars" book, Howard reveals: "There was a big risk attached to the signing of Andy Gray. We all knew what a great player he was, but his injury problems were well documented. "I needed someone up there at that time who could lead the attack with power and confidence. What many people don't know is that I had the chance to bring Bob Latchford back to Everton on a free transfer. I respected Bob who was a superb striker. There were other options to Andy. "Ipswich Town's Paul Mariner was available for £600,000. Andy's fee of £280,000 reflected the risk, but in the end I decided to take it because I recognised the quality he could provide, backed up by his presence in the dressing room.
"It turned out to be two years of absolutely magnificent service from the Scottish centre-forward."
Of course, Gray was one of the goal heroes in that 1984 FA Cup Final, along with Graeme Sharp.
Andy's goal has earned some notoriety. Watford goalkeeper Steve Sherwood still claims he was fouled when Andy jumped in for that header. Howard reflects: "I have watched the video many times. It could have gone either way. A modern ref would have disallowed it because they don't like any contact. But when Andy turned away in animated celebration with the ball in the back of the net, there was no way the ref was going to blow for a foul. "I don't think there was deliberate contact or an elbow on Sherwood. Andy just climbed for it in the way centre-forwards do. He was totally committed and maybe Sherwood wasn't" With the Cup won, Everton headed home to a heroes welcome. Howard says: "The reception we got back on Merseyside was something I will never forget. Later, I would take the FA Cup home for some personal photos. Let's put it this way. It was the nicest thing I've ever slept with! Beautiful!" "Z Stars, 1984 -1987" is a book that Evertonians will want to return to over and over. The match reports themselves have been carefully selected to reflect how the tide turned for Kendall and his men and how they firmly set their sights on dominating English football for years to come. The 1983-84 Milk Cup run features at the start with games including the legend of Oxford where Adrian Heath kept the dream alive with an ice dance in the closing moments. The FA Cup games include Stoke City in the third round when Howard opened the dressing room window to let the roars from the Everton hordes do the talking during his team talk. Andy Gray's legendary diving header at Notts County is at the heart of another famous match report from that Cup run and the semi-final at Highbury against Southampton also features prominently in "Z Stars." Howard declares:"For me, winning the semi-final was almost as good as winning the Cup itself. "I will never forget the motorway, packed full of Evertonians who were all waving and chanting as they passed us. They could see all the lads, not like it is now with blacked out windows on the coaches. "We were passing no one because I told the driver to take his foot off the gas and take as long as he liked to get us back. We had a lot of celebrating to do. It was the start of something special. We were back at Wembley for the second time in a matter of months and determined that this time we would end up with a famous trophy in our hands."
This is a book that will stand as the definitive record of the mid-Eighties. Its 288-pages feature 19 carefully selected match reports encapsulating Milk Cup, FA Cup, League and Cup Winners Cup action. Of course, these include Bayern Munich and Rapid Vienna and key Championship winning days against Queens Park Rangers and Norwich, plus memorable wins over Liverpool and Manchester United. Every season is previewed and all the stats and league tables are there for the record. Naturally, the book features some spectacular photographs from the Liverpool Echo archives.
"Z STARS - the men who made history 1984-1987" is NOT available until mid-March, but you can pre-order a copy now and take advantage of a special opportunity.
All you have to do is order an advance copy at £20.25 which includes cover price and postage (UK residents only).
This is how to secure your copy:
* Phone our credit card hotline on 0845-1430001 (8.30am-5pm, Monday to Friday). Our helpful staff will take your order.
* Send a £20.25p cheque made payable to 'Sport Media' to Trinty Mirror Sport Media, PO Box 48, Old Hall Street, Liverpool L69 3EB.
You must include your name, address and daytime telephone number.
Please allow 28 days from the March 15, 2004 publication date for delivery.
One final comment from the great Howard Kendall: "When we won the FA Cup, I stood on the pitch at Wembley and thought to myself 'No one can take this away from me now. My name will be in the record books for winning something as Everton manager.' "That meant a lot to me. But I knew that it had to be the first step towards proving we were the best and to do that we had to win the League. I passed that on to to the players when we gathered at the start of the 1984/85 season.
"I told them that Second Division sides win the FA Cup. That did not prove we were the best. It was not demeaning our fantastic Wembley achievement in any way. It's just that I wanted Everton to be hailed as the TOP team in the country." That dream and that vision would be fulfilled.
Fans on the march for replay showdown
Feb 3 2004 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON will have an army of supporters backing them in tomorrow's FA Cup fourth round replay at Fulham. The offer from deputy chairman Bill Kenwright, to pay for the supporters' coaches to Loftus Road has led to a remarkable response from fans. The club's ticket allocation of 3,000 was sold out last Friday and the club has had a request for more knocked back by the Cottagers. Chief Executive Michael Dunford revealed: "The response has been astonishing - not that anyone at the club was surprised by that. "We took all the tickets we could and they were snapped up before the weekend. We even asked for an additional allocation but because of segregation issues they could only let us have an extra 40 tickets. "It is a shame because we feel we could have sold many, many more.
"This is an extraordinary number of supporters to be taking to London for a midweek fixture. It simply demonstrates the loyalty and total dedication of a support which has few equals in British football. When Bill Kenwright made his offer to pay for coach travel he said he wanted as many fans as possible at Loftus Road to cheer on David Moyes' side. "Bill has got what he asked for and we are delighted." More than half of the fans who have bought tickets plan to travel to London on one of Kenwright's coaches. A fleet of 30 will leave Merseyside tomorrow at a cost of £660 each. That equates to a bill of nearly £20,000 for the Everton owner. Tomorrow's tie has been over-shadowed by claims from Fulham's Luis Boa Morte that he was racially abused by Duncan Ferguson in the 1-1 draw at Goodison last week. But Boa Morte could now be facing a disrepute charge after the FA gave Fulham until 5pm yesterday to make an official complaint. An FA spokesman said: "These are serious allegations which require urgent clarification. The player needs to explain exactly how such comments appeared in the media before being brought to the FA's attention." Meanwhile, Everton goalkeeper Steve Simonsen has been linked with Celtic and Portsmouth. The 24-year-old is out of contract in the summer and is set to leave Goodison.
* Tonight's reserve match against Bolton, which was due to be played at Haig Avenue tonight, has been postponed until Wednesday, April 14.
* Meanwhile, Everton skipper Alan Stubbs has explained why he believes derby referee Steve Bennett made key errors on Saturday. The Kent official gave nothing when Tomasz Radzinski was tripped by Sami Hyypia as the striker tried to burst through in the first half. And a minute before half-time he failed to spot a handball in the Liverpool area by Jamie Carragher. Stubbs said: "The referee needs to look at himself for a couple of decisions that he never gave. He was right on the spot. "It was plain and simple for everybody to see how obvious the decisions were and they would have changed the game. "We should have been going in at half-time ahead with them down to 10 men and you never know what happens then. "We could have done what they do to us and hit them on the break. It was a puzzling display." But while the Everton skipper was angered by Bennett's performance, he admits that the Toffees didn't help themselves either.
He adds: "It had everything but goals. We put a great performance in but we still need to start putting our chances away. We had good chances to score and we can't keep coming away from games saying that. "But it is a good start to a big 10 days for us. We could have started with a win but the draw has set us up nicely for Wednesday now."
Schumacher on trial with Oldham
February 03, 2004
Manchester Evening News
OLDHAM have taken Everton midfielder Steven Schumacher on trial. The 19-year-old is set to play in the reserve team clash with Wigan and, if he impresses, could be offered a permanent deal. Schumacher has yet to make the breakthrough with Everton, but he is a highly-rated youngster who has captained England at under 19 level and can play in the back four as well as anywhere in midfield
U-turn likely on star's flats plan
Feb 4 2004 By Deborah James, Daily Post
COUNCILLORS will tonight be asked to make an embarrassing last-minute "U-turn" on a decision to block Everton striker Duncan Ferguson from building a block of flats in the grounds of his home.
Confidential documents seen by the Daily Post reveal council planning officers believe councillors have no grounds to defend a decision to refuse the Blues star's planning permission. Town hall officials are calling for councillors to back down or face a hefty legal bill of thousands - which would be footed by the taxpayer. Mr Ferguson, 32, wants to build a block of 12 apartments in the grounds of his luxury home on Victoria Road, Formby, known as "Millionaire's Row". But neighbours objected and planning permission was refused by councillors in June last year, despite officials recommending it should be granted. Councillors said the development would be out of keeping with the character of the area. Mr Ferguson later launched an appeal, now due to be heard at a public inquiry before the Independent Planning Inspectorate at Southport Town Hall on March 9. If he fails he could take the case to the High Court. If he wins, the council would have to pay not only its own costs, but also foot Mr Ferguson's legal bill. The total is expected to run into thousands. Documents to be considered at a private session of Sefton's Urgent Referral Committee tonight, recommend councillors should authorise officers to write to the Planning Inspectorate to drop the refusal and grant outline planning permission. The report describes how, having taken advice from a partner at independent consultants Bower Mattin, the council "will be unable to defend the design reason for refusal". Retired businessman Trevor Douce, Mr Ferguson's next-door neighbour, said: "Obviously we would prefer it if Mr Ferguson accepted the council's initial decision. "Houses along our road have a particular character which we want to preserve. "If he gets his way and is allowed to build flats it could be the thin end of the wedge and other people will try to do the same thing." Mr Ferguson has already received planning permission to build a detached house. The former Scottish International bought the property for just over £2m three years ago, demolished the main building and landscaped the area. He lives in another house within the grounds with his wife and daughter but wants to build on the area he landscaped. The apartments would cover 1.25 acres of land and the house would be where the former house stood, on 0.35 acres of land. Each apartment could be expected to sell for around half a million pounds. A spokeswoman for Sefton Council last night said she could not comment on a confidential document. Planning consultants GVA Grimley, who are representing the footballer, have been instructed by their client not to talk to the press.
Mr Ferguson decided to rebuild the house after it was broken into by drug addict Carl Bishop in January last year. In January 2001 his former luxury home, in Rufford, West Lancashire, was also broken into.
Rooney may return to frontline
Report By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Feb 4 2004
THERE IS a major striking issue surrounding Everton that David Moyes is happy to go on record to defend: that of Wayne Rooney's current role in his team. The Blues manager, as you can tell from the back page, steadfastly refuses to discuss Luis Boa Morte's allegations of racist abuse against Duncan Ferguson. Not that it is an issue Moyes takes lightly, but having had no word from either the FA or Fulham over claims that have so far only been made through the national media the Everton manager will not drag his club into the controversy. Boa Morte will undoubtedly be centre of attention for the fans bussed down from Merseyside by Bill Kenwright for tonight's FA Cup replay with Fulham. But the subject of Rooney, and where he should play in the team, will occupy plenty of the journey too. The Goodison sensation has been deployed in an attacking right midfield role in recent weeks as Moyes balances the luxury of so many fit strikers with the absence of any natural contender's for Rooney's new position. It has no doubt helped Everton continue carving out the procession of chances they still refuse to take, although many believe it limits the 18-year-old's goalscoring threat and overall impact. But Moyes insists: "Wayne played very well in the first half at Anfield and it was the same the week before. "Playing him on the right gives us a chance to play another forward-type player who can create, score, see and make a pass. "He gives us something else wherever he plays and we have had to use him there in recent weeks." Steve Watson's return from injury - as well as Duncan Ferguson's late withdrawal - could see Rooney return to his natural home up front at Loftus Road tonight. But should he remain on the right his manager believes the experience will only add to the England inter-national's game. "It is a good part of his development out there," adds Moyes. "He is such a good player he can play in several positions. "When he was younger he played centre-half and midfield as well as in attack. His natural ability means he has no problem playing in several positions if needs be." Kenwright's selfless gesture to fund 30 coaches to Fulham, so ensuring Everton will be roared towards a potential fifth round tie at home to West Ham by a sold-out travelling support, is one appreciated by Moyes. He explained: "Bill has put his hand into his pocket to pay for the travel down for our fans, because he knows how important the Cup now is for this club. He has given the fans every opportunity to be there, and I will make sure the players give the fans something back." And to guarantee the £19,800 bus fare is money well spent by the Blues' deputy chairman Moyes admits Everton must overcome a sizable task against high-flying Fulham. The Blues had the chances to have won at Loftus Road in the Premiership last month and to progress to round five in the FA Cup at Goodison 10 days ago, but took only one in each.
Moyes said: "We need to continue playing the way we have done and put on another good show.
"Fulham are having a good time of it this season and they'll be confident. It will be a very hard game but it is a game we can win. We have to get the result on the night. We had our best chance at home and we were grateful for Franny's last minute goal. "Now we have to do it the hard way and beat them on their own ground. We can do that. "The performances have been good for the last six weeks and I'm pleased with them. If we maintain that level I am sure the results will come."
The Blues manager added: "I suppose we did not really want a replay - but when we scored in injury time in the first match I would certainly have taken it. "We have not had the rewards our football has deserved of late. We are concerned because we have not scored in enough games and we have to start doing that consistently. "We have plenty of strikers; they are getting plenty of opportunities; and I am sure that the goals will come." As well as injury doubts over David Unsworth, Moyes also has fitness concerns around Kevin Campbell (back) and Alex Nyarko (neck).
Duncan out of FA Cup clash
Report By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Feb 4 2004
DUNCAN FERGUSON will miss his grudge match with Luis Boa Morte tonight after being ruled out of the FA Cup clash with Fulham. The Everton striker, was a late withdrawal from David Moyes' travelling squad after succumbing to a series of injury knocks. Ferguson played with foot, neck and groin injuries in Saturday's Merseyside derby at Anfield but the lack of recovery time has caught up with him ahead of the fourth round replay at Loftus Road. With Kevin Campbell a major doubt due to a back strain Ferguson's absence will come as a major blow to Moyes. And it means he will avoid a potentially explosive reunion with Boa Mor te , whose allegations of racist abuse against the Blues striker has cast a giant shadow over the game. Fulham have still not followed up their striker's claims with a formal complaint to the Football Association. But Moyes, speaking before Ferguson's withdrawal, insisted the controversy would not be allowed to affect his preparations. The Blues manager said: "If he's fit I won't have a minute's hesitation over playing Duncan at Fulham. But I don't want to fuel anything else by commenting on it. "It has nothing to do with us. It is one man's claim and we have not been involved in it. We haven't even considered it here." Unless Fulham do lodge a complaint and the FA then ask Everton for their version of events the Blues will continue to stay silent on the issue. "We do not comment on what we see in the media. The FA have not been in contact with us, and that is how it stands," said chief executive Michae l Dunford. Even without Ferguson Loftus Road will be heated tonight after a series of incidents between Everton and Boa Morte. But Moyes insists the Blues cannot afford to let their composure slip under any circumstances. He said: "I don't know of any back-drop to this game. We aren't involved in any. I wasn't here when the first incident took place and Tommy's (Gravesen's) sending off was just one of those things. "There haven't been many problems between the two sets of players as far as I'm aware. But it is important we keep our composure, just as we did in the derby. "There was an intimidating atmosphere at Anfield as we expected and a big decision went against us. For a spell the players were infuriated by that but they regained their composure and played well. "It is important we do the same at Fulham although I have to say I haven't had any problems with the players' composure or discipline before. It is usually very good." He added: "The cigarette lighter was thrown because of Graham Poll's decision not to award a penalty kick. That's what the supporters were disappointed with. "What happened down there had nothing to do with any Everton players, they didn't do anything wrong." David Unsworth is Everton's other major doubt for tonight's game as he recovers from a back injury. Moyes added: "David has hardly been able to walk about since taking that knock, never mind anything else, but he has done some light training now so we'll have a look at him."
Coleman call for calm amid Boa Morte storm
Report By Alistair Grant, Daily Post
Feb 4 2004
CHRIS COLEMAN last night pleaded with his Fulham players not to allow Luis Boa Morte's dispute with Duncan Ferguson to ignite tonight's FA Cup crunch with Everton and spark a mass brawl. Boa Morte has publicly accused Ferguson of racially abusing him during the 1-1 fourth-round draw at Goodison Park. But Fulham are still questioning their players to compile evidence about the incident - and have yet to make a formal complaint despite nine days elapsing since the fixture. That delay prompted the Football Association to write to Boa Morte demanding a "full explanation" of the 26-yearold's claim. Coleman fears a back-lash when the teams square up for the cup replay at Loftus Road, with the winners earning a home fifth-round tie against Division One West Ham. Scottish striker Ferguson is now unavailble for tonight's clash but prior to his withdrawal Coleman, when asked if his winger would be rested, revealed: "No. It is more than likely he will play. "There are a few dodgy tackles in every game but what's to be gained by anything happening in the Everton match? "We don't want to see a 15 or 16-man mass brawl with handbags flying everywhere. It's not what we want and its not what Everton want and I'm sure of that. "I hope it doesn't turn into a mass brawl and I'm sure it won't. I'll make sure my players are professional and will go about their jobs in the correct manner - and I'm sure David Moyes will do the same with his players. "It's a football match and not a fight. "We will be trying to play football as will Everton, and let's hope its played in the correct manner." he Boa Morte-Ferguson situation is the latest incident involving the Portugal international and Everton - a history which Coleman admits has left "bad blood" between the clubs.
Coleman confessed: "It all started off in our first year in the Premiership. There was an incident and there's been a bit of bad blood in every game since." A FA spokesman yesterday confirmed: "We have formally written to Luis Boa Morte requesting a full investigation of these allegations."
Fulham, who feel their player was wrongly advised to go public with his claim, have now gagged the Boa Morte camp from discussing the affair. His agent Amadeu Paixco said: "Fulham have asked us to say nothing about it until after the game tomorrow." Coleman explained: "Luis went public because he's an emotional kind of guy and was so incensed by the incident. "He was badly advised to go public as we wanted to go down the correct channels, as we are now doing. "We've been talking to the FA for a few days and are trying to find out exactly who heard what, when and why. "I'm not going to comment about an Everton player and I can only go on what my own players tell me. We'll take our case to the FA and then they'll deal with it. They're eager to deal with it urgently and so are we. "And until the FA or the club come to a decision, that's all I can say." Lee Clark is out with calf and Achilles injuries while Ian Pearce is cup-tied and new signing Brian McBride and Collins John miss out as they are ineligible.
Save our season
Feb 4 2004 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
DAVID Moyes is determined Everton's search for silverware will not end at Loftus Road. The Blues take on Fulham in an FA Cup fourth round replay knowing that defeat will leave them with nothing left to play for other than pride in the final three months of the season. And so despite tonight's tie being sandwiched between the Anfield derby and a daunting Goodison encounter with Machester United, Moyes, has promised no half measures. "The Cup is very important for us and for our season," he insists. "If I have to gamble on players I will, because the cup is the next game, the most important one and we have made it clear we want to win it. We will put out everything we have got to try and get a result. "This is a busy period but also a difficult period for us. We could have done without this game coming tonight with Manchester United coming up on Saturday, but it is our fault we didn't win the first game." The Blues boss has a number of injury doubts for the tie. D avi d Uns wor th remains a doubt with a back strain, Alex Nyarko picked up a neck injury against Liverpool and Kevin Campbell is also struggling with a back problem. Duncan Ferguson has stayed at home because of a knock picked up in the derby on Saturday. His absence should also help avoid further animosity between the two sides following Luis Boa Morte's accusations of racism aimed at the Blues striker. Those claims have yet to be reported to the FA, who are threatening to hit Boa Morte with a dis-repute charge. Fulham boss Chris Coleman has urged for calm from fans and players alike for tonight's game. He said: "It is more than likely he will play but I will make sure my players are professional and will go about their jobs in the correct manner and I am sure David Moyes will do the same." Moyes, meanwhile, is delighted there will be a large away following backing the Blues.
More than 3,000 fans will be at Loftus Road, many of which will be making their way to London in coaches hired by Deputy Chairman Bill Kenwright. Moyes added: "It is a terrific gesture from Bill. He knows that the supporters getting behind the team will give us a better chance of getting through.
"He deserves a big pat on the back for helping fans get down there." Steve Watson is in line for his first start since coming back from a thigh injury. That could mean Wayne Rooney moving forward to par tner Tomasz Radzinski in attack. Lee Carsley is in line to replace Nyarko. Former Blue Brian McBride will be unavailable for the Cottagers because he was ineligible for the original tie at Goodison. Meanwhile, Everton midfielder Steven Schumacher has been allowed to join Oldham for a week-long trial with the Second Division club.
No more Mr Versatile, insists Italian Pistone
Feb 4 2004 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
ALESSANDRO Pistone travels to Fulham tonight intent on dropping the Mr Versatile tag - even if that means turning back the clock for the second time in a week. The 29-year-old Italian,made his first start as a central defender in more than two-and-a-half years in Saturday's derby at Anfield.
It was a decision forced upon Everton boss David Moyes by Joseph Yobo's absence and injuries to both David Weir and David Unsworth. But despite Unsworth now being in contention for a return to the side for tonight's FA Cup fourth round tie at Fulham, Pistone is hopeful he did enough on Saturday to keep hold of his place in the starting line-up and to finally settle into a regular position.
"In the last three games I have played three different positions," explained Pistone. "I was right-back against Charlton, left-back against Fulham and centre-back on Saturday. I just hope that in the next three games I don't change again. "It is nice to know that the manager has faith in me and is not worried about switching me around, but I would like to play in one position." If that means a regular central defensive berth alongside skipper Alan Stubbs, then Pistone is not worried. "I have played in central defence before when I was at Newcastle and I also did a job there a couple of times when we played three at the back but that was some time ago," he adds. "I hadn't played centre-back for a while so it was a surprise for me as well on Saturday. "But I did enjoy it. We had a good game and that was excellent because it was the derby. "There is always a lot of talk and expectancy in derby week so it was good to be involved on the day." Before Saturday, Pistone's last start as a centre-back came at the beginning of the 2001-2 season as Walter Smith's time at the helm was coming to an end. Smith began the season using a 3-5-2 formation, with Pistone one of the three central defenders. It helped the Blues to an impressive start to the campaign, with two wins and a draw from the opening three games against Charlton, Spurs and Middlesbrough. They climbed to the top of the table by the end of August but were then thumped 4-1 at Old Trafford. Pistone sustained a back injury and when he returned it was in his more familiar role at left-back. But his display alongside Stubbs on Saturday did not betray the fact Pistone's last start in the heart of defence came in 2001. The duo kept Michael Owen quiet and helped the Blues to a richly-deserved point. Tonight's FA Cup replay will be equally difficult. But Pistone is desperate to be involved. Having lost out in the final with Newcastle in 1998 he would love to erase the memory of that disappointment by helping Everton lift the trophy this season. "As a foreign player, people think that we do not under-stand the Cup," he adds. "But that is nonsense. I know how important it is, and the tradition.
"You can feel the atmosphere and the pressure. I have great memories of playing in a Cup final for Newcastle at Wembley. We lost then but I enjoyed every moment. Obviously I'd love to get to the final again and play at Cardiff. It was an unbelievable atmosphere, unreal." Pistone believes the best way of making that dream a reality is by maintaining the formof recent weeks. The results may not have been particularly impressive, but the former Italy Under-21 international suggests it is only a matter of time before the Blues give somebody a thumping. The signs were there at Anfield. He adds: "Normally you don't see sides playing that well in the derby because nobody wants to lose. "But that was not what happened on Saturday. We played in just the same way as we did in our previous games. "We have tried to attack and create chances, which is what we did twice against Fulham and also against Charlton. "Unfortunately we haven't been scoring too much but we know the results will come. They have to come because we are playing so well. "January and February are very tough months because there are so many games, so many important games. "But we will not try to play a different way. We will try and play like we did a week ago. "We want to get through in the FA Cup and we want to do well. To do that we must play attacking football."
Button it, Boa Morte
Feb 4 2004 Liverpool Echo
FULHAM have gagged the Luis Boa Morte camp in a bid to prevent further revelations over the racism row which has transformed tonight's FA Cup showdown into a potential powderkeg encounter. The Portuguese international, accused Duncan Ferguson of racially abusing him during the 1-1 fourth-round draw at Goodison Park. The 26-year-old's agent Amadeu Paixco revealed: "Fulham have asked us to say nothing more about the matter until after the game." Cottagers boss Chris Coleman said: "Luis went public because he's an emotional kind of guy and was so incensed by the incident. "But he was badly advised as we wanted to go down the correct channels, as we are now doing." Fulham have yet to make a formal complaint despite 10 days elapsing since the fixture.
Fulham 2, Everton 1 AET (D,Post)
Feb 5 2004 Andy Hunter Reports From Loftus Road, Daily Post
HAVING paid £19,800 for 30 coachloads of fans to travel to Fulham, Bill Kenwright had more reason than most to dream of an onward journey in the FA Cup. Whether it was the man responsible for the most expensive bus ticket in Goodison history or one of the 1500 who caught a free ride, however, all Evertonians were left devastated at the realisation their season had arrived at another dead end. More wrong turns in front of goal, and a failure to find the right gear when required ensured Everton exited the final chance to line their campaign with glory after an enthralling struggle with Chris Coleman's side. It was another tale of what might have been for David Moyes.
In a re-run of the Goodison tie Francis Jeffers climbed off the bench to level the game with a last-minute equaliser to give the Blues belated hope. But like Wayne Rooney and Tomasz Radzinski before him, the hero also missed gilt-edged chances to have turned the contest on its head and hard luck stories are now beginning to wear thin. Instead it was Steed Malbranque who delivered the cutting edge in extra time to book Fulham a fifth round home date with West Ham and Luis Boa Morte who, even in the absence of the injured Duncan Ferguson, won the grudge match on points by engineering both home goals. Everton's initial problems were further back where the outfield hero of Anfield, Alan Stubbs, was ruled out with a heel injury. Another makeshift Blues' rearguard battled manfully to quell another round of home pressure all night, but with chances going begging at the other end their vulnerability was always on the line. Resolute defending, mixed with a sprinkling of good fortune and Nigel Martyn's continued excellence, kept dominant opposition at bay until the 56th minute when Junichi Inamoto, another to exploit Everton's weak mid-field from a floating role, fired Fulham in front. But even at that stage and after surviving so much pressure Everton should have found themselves two goals in front. Martyn was only seriously troubled by Fulham twice in a first half, through Boa Morte, who skipped in behind Alessandro Pistone in the 24th minute but tumbled over Martyn at a crucial moment and Sean Davis's stoppage time drive that brought another fabulous flying stop. Davis, Boa Morte and Malbranque all went close from distance. When Everton didn't hit the first man with a cross or simply release a pass into no-man's land, however, the visitors succeeded in making a previously solid Fulham defence wobble. And in the final two minutes of the half they carved out two glorious chances to have finally taken the lead.
Tomasz Radzinski was the first to go close after a move created purely by Kevin Kilbane's industry, when he chased a lost cause and knocked Davis out of his stride with a thunderous challenge. Nyarko sent the Canadian sprinting away with an instinctive touch on the loose ball and the striker, having cut in from the left, beat Edwin Van Der Sar with a blistering low drive. Sadly for Everton, it cannoned off the inside of the far post and back into the arms of the relieved Dutchman. But while that was slightly unfortunate, there was little excuse for the next glorious chance that went begging.
Again Radzinski was involved when he was released down the left wing by Kilbane. The striker spotted Wayne Rooney arriving unmarked at the back post and picked him out with an inch-perfect cross, yet with the entire ground holding its breath for the breakthrough the youngster failed to connect cleanly and a poor header was turned off the line by Carlos Bocanegra. The pattern and the end result remained exactly the same at the start of the second period. Now it was Kilbane with the opportunity to switch from provider to finisher when Gravesen's deep cross from the right sailed across the Fulham area and found him unmarked at the back. The midfielder's effort was faultless, and was aiming for the exposed side of Van Der Sar's goal until Morit z Volz stuck out a boot an d diverted it inches wide. Nine minutes later, almost inevitably, Fulham showed the Blues how it should be done. Boa Morte was at the heart of the opener when he won a loose ball 30 yards from the Everton goal and tricked his way inside Hibbert and Carsley. Nyarko was also taken out of the equation when he slipped as he attempted to tackle, and with the Blues defence still deep it fell to Inamoto to take full advantage of the time and space he was afforded to blaze Fulham ahead with a dipping drive from 22 yards out. The introduction of Steve Watson and Francis Jeffers, for the poor Nyarko and Radzinski, brought an immediate improvement, although the home side should have made the game safe when both Barry Hayles and Malbranque put excellent chances wide.
For all their pressing and half chances, for Carsley, Watson and Rooney, the Blues looked destined to finish without reward until Jeffers recreated his last-ditch heroics once more. Facundo Sava's tackle on Rooney appeared the last throw of the dice for the Blues but Hibbert lofted the resulting corner's clearance back into the danger zone. Crucially, Carsley won the second header and Jeffers, the 89th-minute saviour last time out, left it even later but finished even better with a towering, glancing nod beyond the stranded Van Der Sar. The striker blossoms in the FA Cup, although a painful blow to the head as he scored took some of the joy out of his personal celebrations. Perhaps that explains why he wasn't celebrating a remarkable injury-time hat-trick after his next two touches. Rooney, who even the Fulham mascots wanted pictures of before kick off, suddenly switched on the magic, dancing and weaving his way past any challenge that came near him as Everton moved in for the kill.
After one such run he crossed for Kilbane at the far post and when the Irishman nodded the ball down for Jeffers, standing alone a yard out, the turnaround would have been completed but for an incredible miss by the striker. He might have been given offside had it gone in anyway, but seconds later Jeffers almost won it again when Gravesen sent him clear and his half volley drifted just wide from 18 yards. Jeffers should have made sure his efforts were not in vain by giving them the lead four minutes into extra time with the momentum right behind the Blues. Rooney played him clean through in the area with a reverse pass but he opted not to shoot first time, cutting back inside Volz and then clipping over from the six-yard line. The head in hands said it all, and minutes later the sinking feeling deepened as Fulham regained the lead with another strike fashioned by Boa Morte.
Everton's nuisance, who escaped without even a booking for a revenge two-footed lunge on Carsley early on, spun clear of Gary Naysmith after being found by Molz and then laid an intelligent pass square for the in-rushing Malbranque. Martyn got his hand to the Frenchman's low shot but had no chance of preventing the ball rolling agonisingly in off the far post. An enthralling Cup tie could have gone either way but for Everton, after a journey that promised so much, the only way was out.
FULHAM (4-5-1): Van Der Sar; Volz, Knight, Goma, Bocanegra; Malbranque, Davis, Djetou, Inamoto (Petta, 97), Boa Morte; Hayles (Sava, 80). Subs: Crossley, Rehman, Green.
EVERTON (4-4-2): Martyn; Hibbert, Unsworth, Pistone, Naysmith; Carsley, Gravesen, Nyarko (Watson, 62), Kilbane; Rooney, Radzinski (Jeffers, 62). Subs: Simonsen, Linderoth, Clarke.
REFEREE: P Durkin
BOOKING: Everton's Carsley (foul)
Win a copy of new Dixie Dean book
Feb 5 2004
TO COINCIDE with the 75th anniversary of Dixie Dean's unbeaten 60-goal League record, a new edition of Dixie Dean: The Inside Story of a Football Icon has been published. Merseyside journalist and author John Keith has just updated his book about the Blues' legend Dixie Dean. And the Daily Post has teamed up with Robson Books to offer readers the chance to win one of five copies of Keith's book, Dixie Dean: The Inside Story of a Football Icon. Dixie Dean was the original Roy of the Rovers, the archetypal comic-strip hero and an icon beyond the boundaries of sport. His name is synonymous with goalscoring. He amassed 18 goals in 16 England appearances and an astonishing 43 hat-tricks at club and representative level. Yet Dean had to overcome serious injury as a result of a horrific road accident. He defied medical opinion and proceeded to score an astonishing 60 goals in the 1927-28 season. In this fascinating biography, Keith refers to his previously unpublished taped interviews with Dixie Dean and brings Dixie's remarkable story to life. The paperback book published by Robson Books and priced at £7.99 is available at all good bookshops. But if you would like the chance to win one of the five copies on offer, simply answer the following question:
How many hat-tricks did Dixie Dean score at club and representative level?
When Big Dunc floored United
By Phil Redmond, Daily Post
Feb 5 2004
IT'S nearly nine years since Everton beat Manchester United in a league game. It was February 1995 and Joe Royle's Dogs of War were building up the momentum which would not only rescue them from what seemed like certain relegation but also bring an unlikely piece of silverware back to Goodison, in the shape of the FA Cup. Going into the game United were in their customary pole position while the Blues were scrapping for every point at the bottom. However, in the previous weeks, United had started to face a catalogue of problems that would lead to a partial break-up of their all-conquering early/mid 90's side. First of all Eric Cantona had gone mad at Selhurst Park and launched his famous 'Kung Fu' attack on the badly dressed Palace fan Matthew Simmons. As a result he was facing an indefinite playing ban and possibly jail. On top of this it was emerging that two other key players in Paul Ince and Andrei Kanchelskis were unsettled and in dispute with Alex Ferguson. With the Toffees walloping Norwich 5-0 at Goodison in the Cup the previous week hopes of an upset were high. The day dawned cold and bright, the sort of day when the sun sets over the Park End and it looks all smoky on the telly - see the Andy King/Danny Cadamarteri derbies for other examples. The game had caught the imagination of the public to the extent that Goodison's biggest gate for four years turned up and traffic congestion meant the kick off was delayed for half an hour.
At the time the Goodison pitch was a sandy, bumpy mess which suited the, erm, combative approach of the likes of Joe Parkinson and Barry Horne. The Blues operated with a stifling five-man midfield featuring Anders Limpar and Stuart Barlow in the wide positions. The folk hero of the day wore the number nine shirt and led the line on his own. Yes, these were the days of Fergie mania, and while the big man is still popular among the faithful, the adulation back in early '95 was something else. United were quite simply bullied out of it with even renowned fighters like Ince and Roy Keane unable to cope while Ryan Giggs was completely shackled by new signing Earl Barrett.
As a result, chances at both ends were few and far between. The decisive goal came early in the second half with the mighty Dunc towering above the United defence to bury a typically wicked Andy Hinchcliffe corner. From that moment on Goodison was a hysterical, bouncing madhouse as Blues fans acclaimed their new hero. With Joe Royle taking on the messiah role, anything seemed possible in the spring of 1995 and it's a crying shame how things turned out for him and Ferguson.
Joe's well gone while Big Dunc has left and returned, never reaching the heights of 94-95. He's still here though and playing well - wouldn't it be nice if he could roll back the years on Saturday and remind the Mancs of when they were last genuinely scared of an Everton team?
Turner off to Chester
Report By Neil Turner, Daily Post
Feb 5 2004
EVERTON'S young goalkeeper Iain Turner has clinched a one-month loan move to Chester City.
The deal will give the 20-year-old Scot, valuable first-team experience while also helping out the Nationwide Conference high-flyers, who are short of cover. Chester boss Mark Wright said the capture of Turner, who joined Everton from Stirling Albion for a nominal fee last year, was "a major coup". With first choice keeper Wayne Brown ruled out of action for at least a further month through injury, and reserve player Ian McCaldon emigrating to Australia last weekend, City boss Mark Wright has been anxiously searching for a goal-keeper. The deal will also benefit Turner, giving him regular first team action during the pressurised period of a promotion push. Turner, who joined Everton from Stirling Albion for a nominal fee last year, is considered by many observers to be a star in the making, and a future Scottish international. Chester manager Mark Wright said: "This is a major coup for us, Iain comes with glowing recommendations and I know he will be a great plus for us. "I would like to publicly thank David Moyes who has been extremely helpful in this matter.
"David has bent over backwards to help us, and the gesture to assist a local club in this way should not be forgotten." Moyes thinks extremely highly of Turner, and awarded him a two-year extension to his current contract in October. The player made his first team debut for the Blues in a pre-season friendly against the Italian side Bologna in July, and he was also selected as substitute goalkeeper for the Mersey-side derby at Goodison Park last autumn. Turner has played at the Deva Stadium already this season. He turned in an outstanding performance in the Premier Reserve League match against Liverpool reserves last September. He said: "Since I've been down here, my technique has changed a lot for the better, and Chris Woods has been wonderful. I am prepared to wait for my chance at Everton, and I am always looking to work hard and progress."
Everton star on way to victory
Feb 5 2004
SEFTON councillors last night effectively ran up the white flag in their battle to prevent Everton striker Duncan Ferguson from building a block of flats in the grounds of his home. A private session of the Urgent Referral Committee last night decided not to offer any evidence when a public inquiry is held on Mr Ferguson's appeal against the borough's refusal of planning permission. The footballer wants to build a block of 12 apart-ments in the grounds of his luxury home on Victoria Road, Formby, known as "Millionaire's Row." The small group of councillors on the committee chose to abandon any attempt to fight the appeal after documents revealing that planners believed the council had no grounds to defend its original decision were made public. Ward councillor Alf Doran, said: "I'm not going to give up. "We are not objecting to flats per se, just objecting to this individual proposal which is not sympathetic to the surrounding properties." Retired businessman Trevor Douce, Mr Ferguson's next-door neighbour, said residents would still be opposing the appeal by Mr Ferguson at the public inquiry before the Independent Planning Inspectorate, due to be held at Southport Town Hall on March 9. The Urgent Referral Committee was originally due to consider authorising officers to write to the Planning Inspectorate to grant outline planning permission.
Cup of woe
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Feb 5 2004
EVERTON were dealt a double blow by Fulham last night as they were knocked out of the FA Cup and then told an official complaint against Duncan Ferguson is on its way. Manager David Moyes admitted the Blues are facing a serious crisis in front of goal after yet another failure to turn gilt-edged chances into goals. Francis Jeffers looked to have rescued the fourth round tie when he cancelled Junichi Inamoto's opener with another last-minute equaliser against Chris Coleman's team.
But he then compounded Tomasz Radzinski and Wayne Rooney's failure in front of goal by missing three further chances and Fulham midfielder Steed Malbranque pounced to seal a fifth round place for Fulham. "It is the story of the last game, and the game before that and the game before that," said an exasperated Moyes. "We made loads of good chances and didn't take them again. It is a big problem for us now. The defenders are keeping us in games but eventually you need your forwards to get the goals and give you sthing to hang onto. "I can't fault the players' performance but that is not happening at the moment. "I felt we should have won the game in extra time but also in stoppage time too as we had two great chances to win it before the final whistle went. "I thought we were looking the stronger team at that stage but we missed more chances at that stage and we were punished." Luis Boa Morte was involved in yet more controversy against Everton when, after being on the receiving end of a late Lee Carsley foul, he launched a two-footed tackle into the midfielder's head. Referee Paul Durkin didn't book the Fulham forward, but Moyes said: "He definitely caught Lee in the head and I'm sure if it had been the other way around it would have been a different scenario." Everton are almost certainly now, however, about to be questioned by the FA over allegations Ferguson racially abused Boa Morte in the Goodison encounter after Fulham confirmed they are set to lodge an official complaint in the next 24 hours. Manager Coleman said: "We have spoken to the FA now and they want to deal with it quickly. "We had to wait to finish our own investigations and we have spoken to other players who were involved and heard what was said. "We will be making an official complaint. I don't blame the FA for being annoyed with us for not going to them first. I think Luis was badly advised to go to the press first, but we will be contacting the FA formally now." Niclas Alexandersson, meanwhile, has confirmed he will rejoin IFK Gothenburg when his Goodison contract expires at the end of this season. The Swedish international, a £2.5m signing from Sheffield Wednesday in 2000, has been frozen out at Everton under Moyes and has signed a pre-contract agreement with his former club to begin on July 1.
Fulham 2, Everton 1 AET (Echo)
Feb 5 2004 By Scott Mcleod At Loftus Road, Liverpool Echo
THE only race row concerning Evertonians at the end of this game was to do with the speed at which they could get back home. The issue of Luis Boa Morte and his claims of racism were an irrelevance. Steed Malbranque's extra-time strike made sure of that. It ensured those 3,000 fans began the long journey north, many in the fleet of coaches paid for by Bill Kenwright, were more concerned with coming to terms with the fact the 2-1 defeat has consigned Everton to another campaign without silverware. The prospect of trying to avoid being dragged into an end of season relegation dogfight is all the supporters have left to look forward to. That is not how things were meant to pan out.
Francis Jeffers' equaliser at Goodison 11 days ago was meant to provide the opportunity for Everton to re-discover their touch in front of goal in time to blast into the FA Cup fifth round. It was meant to kick-start the season and spur the Blues on to bigger and better things. That didn't happen.
The mystery of why chances are not being converted has to be solved. In the meantime, it cannot be used as cover to hide the failings of a team which should be producing better results. Everton may have created some great chances last night, but Fulham were worthy winners. They produced better football and showed greater composure. They dominated the opening half, with Sean Davis overshadowing the disappointing Alex Nyarko in midfield. And with the quick feet and wizardry of Malbranque adding to the Cottagers' attacking armoury, it seemed inevitable they would find a goal from somewhere in the opening 45 minutes. But they didn't. And by the time they eventually took the lead in the 57th minute, thanks to a fine strike from 25 yards by Junichi Inamoto, Everton should have had three goals of their own. A Tomasz Radzinski effort a minute before the break beat Edwin van der Sar but bounced back off the far post. Moments later Radzinski turned provider, crossing from the left for Wayne Rooney. Unmarked at the back post, he contrived to miscue his header, nodding it into the turf and enabling Carlos Bocanegra to head clear. Then, a minute after the restart, a Kevin Kilbane drive destined for the far corner was deflected into the side-netting by Moritz Volz with the keeper wrong-footed. But those moments apart, the Cottagers were the more enterprising of the two teams. And it was little surprise when, a couple of minutes after going behind, Moyes made changes. Having persevered with the lacklustre Nyarko longer than anyone expected, he brought on Steve Watson in his place with 27 minutes remaining and Jeffers replaced Radzinski. A Radzinski-like burst of pace from Jeffers just three minutes after his arrival saw him lose his marker down the right flank and provide a pinpoint low cross for Lee Carsley but the midfielder's first-time effort was saved well by van der Sar. Shortly before the end a superb sliding tackle from substitute Facundo Sava prevented Rooney latching onto a loose ball in the area and Kilbane had on-a volley deflected wide for a corner. It seemed the Blues were heading out without even finding the back of the net. Then came Jeffers to the rescue again, setting up a thrilling climax to the 90 minutes. Tony Hibbert launched an up-andunder into the crowded area just as the fourth official was holding the board up to indicate four minutes of added time. It was nodded on by Carsley and Jeffers leapt superbly eight yards out to glance a header beyond the keeper. The sight of Volz sliding into the netting behind the ball was manna from heaven for the fans behind the goal. As was the chance a minute later which should have turned the game on its head and negated the need for extra-time. Rooney left Bocanegra and Malbranque for dead with two superb pieces of skill by the corner flag before curling a cracking ball into the box. Kilbane climbed highest at the far post and van der Sar was beaten again. But somehow Jeffers managed to send the ball across the face of goal and wide of the post from just a yard out. It was an astonishing miss. It proved a crucial miss. We should have guessed. The signs had not good before the game. The 30 coaches hired by Kenwright were delayed for 90 minutes at Red-ditch en route to the capital by the Metropolitan Police. And the squad's flight down from Liverpool culminated in a scary landing, the wing of the plane creating sparks as it touched the runway. Similar sparks were created when Rooney and Jeffers joined together up front. They showed signs last night of an understanding which could lead to a successful partnership. The way in which Rooney instinctively produced a pinpoint reverse ball for Jeffers in the opening half of extra-time suggested that. It beat the offside trap and would have led to a goal had Jeffers' chip over the advancing keeper not dropped onto the roof of the net. Unfortunately, Malbranque was more clinical when, in the 103rd minute of the game, he ended a scintillating passing move with an effort from eight yards which Nigel Martyn got a hand to but could not prevent finding the net. There was no coming back from that. A cup exit beckoned. But talk of hard luck stories and 'what ifs' should be avoided. That can ultimately lead to disaster. Last night has already hit the club hard in the pocket. A fifth round tie against West Ham televised live on BBC1 could have generated up to £1m. That kind of money could mean the difference between signing and not signing a Sean Davis this summer.
FULHAM (4-5-1): Van der Sar; Volz, Goma, Knight, Bocanegra; Malbranque, Davis, Djetou, Inamoto (Petta 97), Boa Morte; Hayles (Sava 81). Not used: Crossley, Rehman.
EVERTON (4-4-2): Martyn; Hibbert, Pistone, Unsworth, Naysmith; Carsley, Gravesen, Nyarko (Watson 63), Kil-bane; Rooney, Radzinski (Jeffers 63). Not used: Simonsen, Clarke, Linderoth.
REFEREE: Paul Durkin
Moyes not going to be drawn into race row
Feb 5 2004 By Alistair Grant Echo Reporter
DAVID MOYES refused to be drawn into the Duncan Ferguson race row last night after Fulham boss Chris Coleman insisted he will be lodging an official complaint with the FA. Coleman announced in the press conference after his side's 2-1 extra-time FA Cup victory that the Cottagers were pressing ahead with claims that the Scottish striker had racially abused Luis Boa Morte during the first Cup game between the sides on January 25. But the claim was later denied by a Fulham spokesman, who said the club were still "discussing it internally". Everton boss Moyes vowed to maintain his silence on the controversy until the FA contact him to discuss it. "It's nothing to do with us at the moment as we've heard nothing," he said. "When I see the stuff, then I'll need to look at it. I've got nothing else to say about it." Although he refused to comment on the Boa Morte-Ferguson incident, Moyes was fuming after Boa Morte escaped unpunished for a wild, twofooted lunge on Lee Carsley - and went on to set up both goals in Fulham's after-extra-time success. Carsley had clattered Boa Morte minutes before the home player took his revenge. And asked about the Carsley's challenge, Moyes snapped: "I could ask you about Boa Morte's tackle. "I thought it caught him round the face and I think it would have been a different scenario if one of our players had done it to Boa Morte.
"I'm not complaining because it's not my style - but we didn't get it because the referee didn't see it." Boa Morte was the inspiration behind Fulham's success as he set up Junichi Inamoto's thunderous 56 th -minute opener and Steed Malbran que 's extra-time winner. And Coleman saluted Boa Morte for putting a torrid week behind him to produce a superb performance.
Coleman said: "I'm Luis' biggest fan, but the other side of him is that he gets involved when he shouldn't," said Coleman. "He's an emotional guy and sometimes loses his rag. So he needs to be like he was in the future as well - not just in this game."
It's not over - Unsworth
Feb 5 2004 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
DAVID UNSWORTH has insisted: 'We won't let this be the end of our season.' Everton only have the league to concentrate on following their 2-1 FA Cup fourth round replay defeat to Fulham. But Unsworth, who returned to the team as skipper last night, believes that the prospect of playing Manchester United so soon after the Cup exit could work in Everton's favour. He admitted: "All our heads are down because we are disappointed about going out. It was a big one for us and we really fancied our chances against West Hamin the next round. "That is very frustrating and makes it even more of a disappointment. But we have got to react and bounce back. "It is a very big game on Saturday but we will be ready physically and mentally. You shouldn't need motivating for a game like that." Once again, Everton were left counting the cost of their failure to convert chances, with Steed Malbranque's 103rd minute strike proving d ecisive for the Cottagers. Unsworth added: "I don't think the Evertonians could have asked for any more from a commitment point of view. It is always a major disappointment, especially when you go out in that manner. We did everything we could, we created a load of chances and our effort was unbelievable. "We are very much on a par with them. We did more than match them f or endeavou r and workrate over the three games. And if you look at the clear-cut chances we have had enough to win those games. "There is no apportioning the blame on the strikers because they are getting in there." Unsworth was not happy with the playing surface at Loftus Road though. "We didn't play particularly well in the first 20 minutes in difficult conditions. The pitch was a disgrace." Alan Stubbs is a doubt for Saturday's clash with United. He was not involved last night after picking up a heel injury in training ahead of the match. Meanwhile, Iain Turner has been given the chance to gain valuable first team experience by joining Conference club Chester on a month's loan. Norsqua The 20-year-old goal-keeper is highly thought of at Goodison and signed a two-year extension to his contract in October. He said: "You need that bit of experience, that bit of awareness when you are in the box and that is what I need to achieve." Swedish club IFK Gothenburg have cfirmed they intend to sign Niclas Alexandersson when his Everton contract runs out in July. Everton have told the 32-year-old, who was signed from Sheffield Wednesday for £2.5m in 2000, they will not stand in his way. The player is keen to return to Sweden.
Joseph Yobo's absence from the Goodison squad is set to extend until at least beyond this weekend after Nigeria made it through to the knockout stages of the African Nations Cup with a 2-1 Group D win over Benin last night. They will now face joint- favourites Cameroon in the quarter-finals.
Sort out midfield
Post Soapbox, Icliverpool & Daily Post
Feb 6 2004
Sort out midfield
I CAN'T believe we didn't win against Fulham. If we don't get a decent midfielder who can get up with the play and get us a few goals we will be in serious trouble soon. Apart from Radzinski we are so onepaced all over the pitch it's embarrassing. The defence again was all over the place for both goals. Half-hearted tackles on Boe Morte, then Unsworth decides he's not going to close Inamoto down but steps aside so he can have a clear shot on goal. Then we have five defenders again backing off and letting them walk into our area for a simple goal for Malbranque to score. Every player needs to take a good look at themselves and realise who they are playing for and what they are playing for; this is Everton FC with the greatest supporters in the country.
Peter Booth, Liverpool
GIVE Chadwick a go. I can't believe how the present crop of strikers can get it so wrong when it comes to the final nod. It isn't like we have got 20 points clear to play with. Got to start sinking these chances before we are down to the last day of the season fiasco again.
Bob Butchard (via e-mail)
THIS is getting embarassing. Highlyremunerated professionals unable to score goals, which is what they are paid for. I am sick of this and it is time for a change. The Everton team is full of mediocre players who are unable to live up to expectations. We can't even beat Fulham! The current players are unfit to pull on the mighty blue shirt.
Steve Mathias, Liverpool
BAD luck in the Cup, Blues. No doubting the effort but we just don't have the quality - particularly in midfield.
Brian Jones, Liverpool
No to break
I THINK Houlier has damn cheek earning a living (or not as the case may be) in the UK and then criticising our managers. Even the mid-winter break is against fans' wishes. We've only been playing for over 120 years, so what do we know? Voting with our feet next season after the break may concentrate the chairmen's minds. Anyway we know that teams will go to play a couple of games abroad, so what's the point? Business should always listen to its customers.
John Grimes, Skelmersdale
Martyn did job
THOUGHT we might have to endure some kind of Kopite stupidity in the wake of the derby. Yes they had more chances and yes Martyn played out of his skin but neither side could score and so neither side should have won. How can they moan about us drawing only because of Martyn? He is a goalie, he is supposed to make saves, that's his job. I know it's hard for them to believe, after all they have had a long list of comedy error goalies, Brucie G, James, Westerveld, Dudek. Danny Boyd, Liverpool
Missed chances sum up Blues' season
Fanscene By Mark O'Brien, Daily Post
Feb 6 2004
THIS week has pretty much summed up our season so far. The two games against Liverpool and Fulham were at times exhilarating but more often frustrating; effort went some way towards compensating for a lack of class but even when we forced goalscoring opportunities that our general play didn't really merit we wasted them. After watching Dietmar Hamman and Steven Gerrard dominate the midfield in the derby and then Steed Malbranque do the same at Loftus Road it only reinforced what we've all known for what seems like forever, i.e. that we need to vastly improve the central midfield before we can make any significant progress. Alex Nyarko looks half decent at Goodison, supporting the attack and keeping possession, but when we're under pressure away from home he makes Thomas Gravesen look like Roy Keane, and the Dane was hardly pulling up trees in the midweek. But for Sean Davis' failed medical would things look different now? If the leather lunged Cockney had been in a yellow shirt on Wednesday would Fulham have been able to play head tennis and keep ball in our half? For heaven's sake, even Robbie Savage doesn't seem like such a crazy transfer target when Junichi Inamoto's allowed to strut about like Michel Platini. And yet, despite our lack of cohesion and our inadequate midfield, we still had chances to win both games.
Jerzy Dudek had to make a number of top drawer saves at Anfield although the official line seems to be that Everton were hammered non-stop for 90 minutes by a resurgent Liverpool who now, according to Stephane Henchoz, are better than Manchester United. That phoenix must be sick of rising by now. At Fulham we had actually more of the clear-cut chances but on too many occasions the forwards looked like they lacked the confidence to beat our new bogey man, Edwin van der Sar.
If that continues tomorrow against Manchester United we could be in for yet another long afternoon. Hopefully Duncan Ferguson will be back to face the champions as Wednesday night showed that it's not his presence in the side that stops us from playing decent football - we continued to knock the ball long anyway despite his absence. We're nothing if not inconsistent though, and United, if not quite as bad as a certain ruddy faced Swiss suggests, don't seem to be playing at their fluent best. At the end of the day we all know the situation at the club, we're stuck with the present squad, warts and all, for the time being, so all we can do is get behind them and hope for an improvement, because they can play better than this.
Ferguson meeting over racism claim
Report By David Prior, Daily Post
Feb 6 2004
DUNCAN FERGUSON will meet with Everton officials to discuss the charge of racist abuse that was yesterday formally lodged against him by Fulham's Luis Boa Morte. The Football Association confirmed they had finally received a complaint over the incident, which is alleged to have occurred during the Blues' FA Cup fourthround tie at Goodison 12 days ago. Portuguese striker Boa Morte claims the 32-year-old Scot, racially abused him during the game, which finished in a 1-1 draw with the Cottagers winning the replay 2-1 after extra time on Wednesday night. "We can confirm that we have now received a formal complaint from Fulham Football Club regarding allegations of racist remarks made against Luis Boa Morte during the Everton v Fulham FA Cup fourth round tie on 25 January 2004," said an FA spokesman. The FA had written to Boa Morte earlier in the week to ask why he had gone public with the serious allegations in a national newspaper without going through the formal channels first. Now he has made the complaint, the FA's compliance unit will launch an investigation. Everton have remained tightlipped on the affair so far but now the FA are officially involved the Blues will weigh up the evidence once they have received a copy of the complaint and seek a meeting with Ferguson to ensure they give him a formal opportunity to answer the allegations. "We shall not be making any comment until after we have received a copy of the complaint that has been lodged with the Football Association," a Goodison spokesman said.
Ferguson's legal advisor, Kevin Dooley, again refuted the claims on behalf of Ferguson. "We refute the allegation completely, there's no truth in it," he stressed, Better news for the striker came with news he could return to face Manchester United at Goodison tomorrow. Ferguson missed the defeat at Loftus Road with neck, foot and groin problems but could face old adversaries United after he resumed training yesterday. "Dunc's doing okay," head physio Mick Rathbone said. "He's done some light training today. He's got a chance of being fit for Saturday. But I don't know when to start when describing his injury, as he's got about three different ones! "He's taken a bit of battering over the past few weeks and he did very well to play on Saturday to be fair to him. "He's responding well to treatment and he'd done a bit of training, so fingers crossed, he'll be okay for the weekend."
However skipper Alan Stubbs, who did travel to the capital on Wednesday but was subsequently sidelined after reporting a heel injury, is touch and go to face the champions. Stubbs received treatment at Bellefield yesterday morning, and Rathbone added: "Alan got a knock on his heel on the day before the Fulham game, which was extremely unfortunate. It's just one of those things.
"It was quite uncomfortable and it was uncomfortable yesterday. It's settled down a bit today, so we'll keep monitoring his progress ahead of Saturday's game. It could keep him out of the game, but we'll have to wait and see." Kevin Campbell could return after missing the last two games with a back problem. "Kev hurt his back last week and he's done some light training today," said Rathbone. "He's making good progress and he'll have a reasonable chance for the weekend as well."
* Niclas Alexandersson yesterday explained his decision to quit Goodison and rejoin Swedish giants IFK Gothenburg. The 32-year-old, a £2.5million signing from Sheffield Wednesday four years ago, has signed a pre-contract agreement to take effect from July 1. "Finishing my career in Sweden was always something that was in the back of my mind. Now that I've got the opportunity, I'm very grateful for that," he said. "It's a familiar place for me and my family are looking to settle in the area and build a house where we can raise our children, so it's a natural thing for me. "So, when my contract expires at Everton, I will be moving back there. "I've really enjoyed my time here, but you obviously want to play football and the past year has been hard for me," he admitted. "But overall, I've had a fantastic time. Everyone at the club has been great, especially the supporters."
Blues coping with pressure
Academy Football, With Chris Wright, Daily Post
Feb 6 2004
EVERTON under-17s aim to keep up the pressure on FA Premier Academy League leaders Manchester United when they return to action at Crewe Alexandra tomorrow (kick-off 11am).
Gary Ablett's side moved to within a point of United after a 1-0 win over neighbours City before last weekend's in-service break. And they will be keen to keep up the momentum as they face third-placed Blackburn next week and United at the end of the month. And with another derby match with Liverpool sandwiching those fixtures the Group A title could be won or lost in February.
Ablett said: "It was good to bounce back with a win in the last game. United drew and Blackburn won 4-0 at Liverpool. They are on a roll and are becoming quite a threat. They play United on Saturday and we play them a week on Saturday, so it is getting tight. "I think you will probably find there are two play-off places between the three teams. "But we just have to keep playing as well as we can and hope-fully keep picking up the points." But Crewe are tough opposition. They drew 2-2 with the Blues before Christmas and also shared the points with Manchester United two weeks ago in a goal-less draw. Irish defender Alan Kearney is away on international duty with the Republic of Ireland under-17s. Everton have injury doubts over three players - Stephen Wynne (calf), Lawrence Wilson (calf) and Sean Wright (leg) - but are hope-ful they will all shake them off to play tomorrow.
Neil Dewsnip's side claimed their first win of 2004 in their last game before the in-service break - 2-1 against Stoke City. The Blues will aim to register back-toback victories for the first time since their eight-game unbeaten sequence in October and November when they travel to Wolver-hampton Wanderers (KO 11am). After getting back to winning ways, last Saturday's break came at the wrong time for the Blues. He said: "It was a bit of a shame. We had just started to get back into it and then we had to stop. "We played well against Crewe and should have won, and we did win at Stoke so we didn't need a little hiccup in the middle really. It hasn't helped but it is the same for everyone. But we will be raring to get back and will do our best to come back with a win." The versatile Wales youth international Craig Garside is likely to be out for a week or two after an operation on his toe. Robert Booth may also be missing, although the Blues are hopeful he will recover from an ear infection that has been bothering him this week.
Blues must hit United weak spot
Feb 6 2004 Liverpool Echo
THERE is no better fixture to bounce back from the disappointment of going out of the FA Cup than playing Manchester United at home. Goodison Park will be packed tomorrow and the atmosphere will lift the Everton players. This is the right time to be facing United. They are not the awesome force they once were. Defensively, they are poor and Everton must go into the game believing they can get a result. They have to put Alex Ferguson's side under pressure and not let them dictate the pace of the game. Everton must attack their weak spot, which is the back four. United are leaking goals this season. They haven't got a championship-winning defence and the Blues, with Rooney and Co, have every reason to be positive in the game. Yes, with the likes of van Nistelrooy in their ranks they are still a big threat, and with the signing of Saha, Ferguson has introduced more pace to his attack. But the player that the Blues must stop is Paul Scholes. He has great timing in the penalty area and is a top goal scorer. You know what van Nistelrooy does and where he will be, but you never know when Scholes will be coming at you. However, that should not stop Everton really going for it tomorrow. The right result will mean the FA Cup and Fulham will be quickly forgotten about.
Missed chance WE saw in Everton's first FA Cup game with Fulham at Goodison that the Londoners are an excellent side. They are technically good with pace in several areas. It was very disappointing to see Everton go out of the competition, but if you don't win your home ties in the cup then you will struggle to recover. Manchester City's amazing win at Tottenham was a freak result. Everton had chances in both games against Fulham, but just didn't take them.
Sad exit for Nic
NICLAS ALEXANDERSSON is to quit Goodison and return to Sweden when his contract expires in the summer. He has to be disappointed that he never made his mark at Everton. When he was with Sheffield Wednesday he played in the Premiership and scored goals from a wide position. That is a huge plus for any side to have. Perhaps the move to Everton was too much for him because he has certainly not reproduced the form that made the Blues go out and sign him. Alexandersson is an example of one of the most frustrating aspects of being a manager. You watch a player perform well at another club and you bring them in, but for some unknown reason they just don't deliver elsewhere.
Why Moyes must make some tough decisions
Feb 6 2004 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES faces the toughest test of his Everton career to date. And that test must now include making one, sacrificial decision. In the short-term, Wednesday's FA Cup exit means he must inject urgency and enthusiasm into a season which has only the stale morsel of mid-table mediocrity left to aim at. But he also must have a longer-term aim. Somehow, Moyes must complete the miracle his predecessor once deemed impossible - "I cannae turn s*** into honey" - and rebuild Everton's first-choice XI without any boardroom money. It is pointless harping on about Bill Kenwright's influence.
His astonishing gesture to pay 1,500 fans' bus fare in midweek showed us one thing. If he had any money available he would hand it over to his manager quicker than you could say: "Paul Gregg 's a tightwad." There is no money available now, and there will not be any in the immediate future.
So Moyes must look elsewhere. He must show a thrift and the kind of acumen in the transfer market that would embarrass Harry Redknapp. He must generate funds from within his own squad. And to my mind there is only one sacrifice he can realistically make. Tomasz Radzinski, (pictured above). Losing a player of his output and ability would be hard. But Moyes is not exactly blessed with candidates who would conjure up a couple of million for him to play with . . . and the sale of Wayne Rooney is non-negotiable. Besides, Rooney and Francis Jeffers showed sufficient signs of a developing partnership in midweek to suggest that the Blues should take advantage of Arsenal's historic generosity whenever Everton are concerned and bring Jeffers back permanently this summer. And Duncan Ferguson, Kevin Campbell and Nick Chadwick would provide sufficient backup to see the Blues through until a period when maybe there is something resembling a transfer pot for their bright young boss to spend. I pen these sentiments with a heavy heart. Radzinski was quite correctly Everton's Player of the Season, he has the singlequality that petrifies all defenders - pace - and he has scored crucial goals against some of the most resolute defences in the Premiership.
But balance that up with these other facts. His finishing is patchy at best. He misses at least a dozen games a season through injury . . . and he is 30-years-old. He would be missed, of that there is no doubt. But no more than Everton are missing a leader in the middle of the park who can dictate a game, someone who can put his foot on the ball and create a chance or two. Everton's engine room is crying out for new blood. Kevin Kilbane and Steve Watson form a solid enough alliance on the flanks. Thomas Gravesen is undoubtedly worthy of perseverance, despite the doubters from the stands who howl their dis-pleasure at his every error. But the Blues crave a dominant figure alongside him - a Steven Gerrard, a Roy Keane, a Patrick Vieira - or, in their own price-range, a Sean Davis. If the only way to get such an individual is to sacrifice last season's Player of the Season, it is a high price worth paying.
Dunc back in time to face United
Feb 6 2004 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
DUNCAN FERGUSON will shrug off the prospect of an FA racism investigation by returning to the Everton squad for the visit of Manchester United. The big Scot, has responded well to treatment after missing Wednesday's FA Cup fourth round replay at Fulham with neck, foot and groin problems. Everton head physio Mick Rathbone said: "He's taken a lot of battering over the past few weeks and he did very well to play on Saturday to be fair to him. "He's responded well to treatment and he's done a bit of training, so fingers crossed he will be okay for the weekend." The 32-year-old is also believed to be ready to sue Fulham's Luis Boa Morte over the racism claims which are now being investigated by the FA. Fulham lodged an official complaint at Soho Square yesterday. Everton have yet to receive the details of the charge but Ferguson is ready to meet with club officials to discuss the matter. Everton will not comment on the matter until they have received a copy of the complaint. The Blues return to league action against the champions tomorrow after the disappointment of Wednesday's cup exit. Manager David Moyes insists there is no sense of panic around Goodison over the side's failure to turn good performances into wins. The Blues have yet to win a league game in 2004. Moyes said: "I am not looking at the league table anymore. We just want to win as many games as we possibly can. "We know what we have got to do and we want to have a good end to the season. "We just need to keep doing what we're doing and the results will come. "We are in a difficult period of the season but we knew that and now we need to start picking up points. "We are all very disappointed over what happened the other night but the effort was terrific and I never questioned their attitude or commitment. "We are making good opportunities and creating chances. I am happy with the performance of the players. But we do need to score the goals to prove our play has been good." Although Ferguson is in contention to return tomorrow, Moyes could be poised to partner Wayne Rooney and Francis Jeffers in attack. Kevin Campbell remains a serious doubt with a back injury and Alan Stubbs is struggling with a heel injury.
Preview: Everton v Manchester United
February 06, 2004
Manchester Evening News
RYAN Giggs and Gary Neville are set to return to the Manchester United line-up at Goodison Park tomorrow. The long-serving pair have missed the last three matches with back and thigh problems respectively but have been cleared to face Everton after coming through a week's training with no problems. Brazilian midfielder Kleberson is also in contention for a place in Sir Alex Ferguson's side after a 45 minute outing for the reserve team against Aston Villa last night. However, the game is likely to come too soon for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who also turned out for the Red Devils' second string after four months on the sidelines following knee surgery. Tim Howard is sure to continue in goal, with Neville in at right back meaning John O'Shea will either sit out or replace one of Quinton Fortune or Wes Brown in the back four. Having decided to stay with United for the time being, Nicky Butt will be hoping to get a start in midfield, while Louis Saha will partner Ruud van Nistelrooy in what promises to be an exciting front line. Everton, knocked out of the Cup in midweek, have struggled to get the best from Wayne Rooney this season and manager David Moyes must decide whether to play the England man in attack or use him as a square peg in a round hole out on the right wing. United boast an impressive record against the Toffeemen, recording 15 wins and two draws in 17 encounters since the 1995 FA Cup Final. Provisional squad: Howard, Carroll, G Neville, Silvestre, Brown, O'Shea, Fortune, P Neville, Forlan, Ronaldo, Fletcher, Scholes, Butt, Keane, Kleberson, Giggs, Van Nistelrooy, Saha, Bellion. Key Opponent: Wayne Rooney - the youngster seems to reserve his best performances for the big games.
Last season: Everton 1 Manchester United 2
Prediction: Everton 0 Manchester United 2
Everton investigate abuse claims
February 07, 2004
Manchester Evening News
EVERTON have confirmed they will be investigating claims that Manchester United players verbally abused the home supporters immediately after Ruud van Nistelrooy's last-minute winner at Goodison Park. Van Nistelrooy settled a highly-charged contest that had seen the Toffeemen peg back United's three-goal half-time lead. It is then alleged that Roy Keane, Gary Neville and Cristiano Ronaldo made offensive gestures and swore at sections of the home support as they celebrated the amazing win. Scores of disgusted fans stayed on after the final whistle to file statements to the police and the incident seems certain to attract the attention of the Football Association. "Everton fans have complained to the club about the behaviour of the United players as they celebrated the winner and the police are aware of this," confirmed Everton spokesman Ian Ross. In a separate incident, an Everton supporter attempted to attack Ronaldo after he was brought down close to the far touchline shortly before he set up the visitors winner. Quick-thinking stewards intervened before the fan could get on to the pitch but the incident only added to the frenzy which followed Everton's amazing comeback
Everton 3 Manchester United 4
February 07, 2004
Manchester Evening News
RUUD Van Nistelrooy bravely converted a late winner for United to deny Everton an astonishing comeback in a Goodison thriller. The Merseysider’s were booed off at half time as United easily rattled up a 3-0 interval lead and they could have buried them with at least six. Manchester City’s midweek FA Cup overhauling of Spurs looked a pipe dream against the formidable champions but Everton almost pulled it off as United collapsed. Van Nistelrooy had become the second fastest United striker in Old Trafford history to reach 100 goals with his first half strike sandwiched between two goals for new sidekick Louis Saha. Saha was given a considerable leg up by the Merseysiders as he chased van Nistelrooy’s astonishing achievement of a century in 131 games - second only to Denis Law. Everton’s suicidal tactics of standing off the Reds was beyond comprehension and the rench connection set the Reds on their way when Mikael Silvestre arrowed a long punt toward Saha in the ninth minute. The £12.8m hitman controlled the ball and coolly fired past Nigel Martyn.
Van Nistelrooy rubber-stamped his position in United striker’s Hall of Fame when he tucked a ball under the Everton ‘keeper after 24 minutes from a Saha pass.
Half time changes
Paul Scholes then set up the Frenchman for his third in two games for the Reds in the 29th minute and Saha once again beat Martyn with precision and power. But a triple half time substitution breathed life into Everton and Wayne Rooney exposed United’s fragile defending. Three headers one from David Unsworth, one from Kevin Kilbane and an own goal from John O’Shea showed how uncomfortable United were as they fell apart. But substitute Ronaldo delivered a killer cross in the 89th minute for van Nistelrooy to dive bravely at the far post to save the Reds from embarrassment.
Everton 3, Man United 4 (D,Post)
Feb 9 2004 Andy Hunter Reports From Goodison Park, Daily Post
NO MORE hard luck tales, pleaded David Moyes before kick off. Maybe he should have mentioned horror stories, fairytales and nightmares too. The Everton manager, has no chance of getting his message through to a team intent on writing their own downfalls each week and with a stella audience assembled at Goodison Park on Saturday he should have anticipated the premiere of their most inspired work of the season. Sven-Goran Eriksson and world darts champion Phil 'The Power' Taylor sat among the assembled throng. Far less conspicuous, especially when eating an egg and bacon roll in the press room, was failed Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith. With Manchester United in town the Blues seized their chance to ignore instructions and played to the crowd instead, producing a Premiership version of Titanic, only with the iceberg striking at the start of the adventure, and ending with a script so chilling and bleak it was like watching Bambi's mum dying all over again.
Full marks for inspiration and regular incredulity, but it's high time Everton penned a straightforward plot about a steady climb into the safety of mid-table. As Mrs Bambi discovered, time runs out all too quickly. And Everton, despite a remarkable three-goal recovery and impressive scoreline against the might of United, are treading the all-too familiar boards of a relegation drama once again.
Anyone who has seen the Blues this season knows it shouldn't be this way. Improving last year's unexpected assault on Europe was always a big ask, especially when the club didn't take full advantage of the position of strength it found itself in last summer. But neither was it stretching the imagination to hope for consolidation from this campaign and, regardless of brighter performances in recent months, the bottom line of seven games without a win plus a worrying gap of only five points between Everton and the drop zone says they are failing to deliver. Let's be clear, sounding the alarm bells is not what the Blues need right now and would not accurately reflect the bigger picture. Four of those seven winless matches have come against sides boasting Champions League aspirations, with a hat-trick of contests with flying Fulham completing the sequence. Yet they desperately require a win before worry does take root and with gaps finally appearing in a previously close league table, Birmingham away on Wednesday night is now of vital importance for the rest of this season. Before they even get to St Andrews, however, Moyes must be concerned about which team will show up, the Mr Hyde whose mild-mannered surrender helped the champions to a three-goal first-half lead on Saturday or the Dr Jekyll who demonically went for their jugular thereafter?
Even in the most painful defeat a manager can draw conclusions about his team, but that task was made almost impossible for Moyes this weekend given the extremes of the Everton performance.
In two testing matches against Liverpool and United the Blues have shown that, for all their limitations, if they really want something they can make a good go for it. Wanting it enough, though, is the key. Attitude and effort are two assets of Moyes' teams that have rarely been questioned since he took over almost two years ago but they rightly were after a disgraceful 45-minute opening against Sir Alex Ferguson's side on Saturday. Ferguson was not being kind to Everton when he stated United's start at Goodison was "the best I've seen for years away from home" as their pace, movement and penetration tore their hosts apart and left Moyes' other pre-match instruction - to concentrate at all times - in tatters. But their embarrassing superiority was helped in no small measure by a Blues' team lacking stomach for the fight and content to spend most of the first half standing and watching in admiration at United's utter ruthlessness. With the effects of 120 mid-week minutes at Fulham catching up on Everton they were comprehensibly outplayed inside the opening five minutes and it is no exaggeration to state they should have been seven goals behind by the break. Louis Saha's ninth-minute opener after evading the offside trap and sending a piercing half-volley into Nigel Martyn's bottom corner could easily have been their third. Ruud van Nistelrooy blazed a rebound over in front of goal in the second minute, when Paul Scholes' 18-yard shot cannoned off the post, while the former Fulham striker glanced a free header wide after Alessandro Pistone gave Darren Fletcher the freedom of Goodison to cross. Chances number four and five were converted by the visitors as David Unsworth failed to cut out Saha's layoff inside the area and van Nistelrooy pounced for his 100th United goal and Saha swept home an immaculate chip by Scholes from the angle four minutes later. Saha and van Nistelrooy then wasted further glorious opportunities to punish slack Everton defending by firing either high or wide when sent clean through on Martyn's battered goal. It was so one-sided the interval talk of Everton emulating Manchester City's feat at White Hart Lane and turning a 3-0 deficit into a 4-3 victory was entirely in jest, laughing instead of crying the preferred option. But this was United, not Tottenham, and yet it was a measure of the Blues' character and recovery that they so nearly pulled off the week's Mission: Impossible II. Moyes made a necessary triple substitution at the break, bring Wayne Rooney, Tomasz Radzinski and Gary Naysmith into the fray. No-one could have argued. Even when Unsworth stooped with four minutes gone to head home Naysmith's corner, flicked on by the first signs of Duncan Ferguson's increasing menace, damage limitation was still on Everton minds. Yet as the half wore on and United's chances began to dry up and their defence began to crack, the notion of a full-blown recovery didn't seem quite so ridiculous after all. Rooney tricked his way to the by-line and crossed beautifully for Kilbane, who missed, and then went for glory from a narrow angle and allowed Tim Howard to save at his near post. But after Howard foiled Rooney again with a flying touch to the striker's rising drive Everton succeeded from the set-piece again, this time John O'Shea turning Naysmith's delivery past his own goalkeeper under pressure from Ferguson. Goodison was now rocking, Everton resurgent. Ferguson headed Naysmith's free-kick just over, then flicked Unsworth's long ball into Rooney who was stopped again by Howard. There was nothing pretty about Everton's second-half dominance, except that it was pretty direct when they troubled United most and the anticipated equaliser duly arrived 15 minutes from time when Kilbane steamed in to connect with another Naysmith set-piece and glanced his third header of the season home.
All the Everton goals came from Naysmith dead-ball deliveries, and yet it was Rooney's dazzling display as a deep-lying striker that proved fundamental in turning the tide Goodison's way. United couldn't get near the 18-year-old star, whose control and intelligent distribution kept the visitors on the back foot and thus enabled Ferguson to profit in and around their area. But with the contest levelled it changed again as the Blues, somewhat understandably, looked to have settled for what they had. As van Nistelrooy observed: "They changed their play when it went to 3-3. They stopped playing it long to Ferguson and went for shorter combinations more and that suited us." It certainly suited the Dutchman who, in the final minute of an extraordinary game, left Moyes and Everton, in the manager's own words, "totally destroyed" when he met a fine cross from Cristiano Ronaldo with a towering back-post header to seal an incredible victory. It was typical United, never giving up and snatching it at the death, and typical United in the ungracious, undignified way in which they marked success. Ronaldo instantly ran to one corner of the Gwladys Street with fists clenched, only to sprint away when one fan almost leapt over the advertising hoardings, while van Nistelrooy and Roy Keane darted to the Family Enclosure to make their feelings clear. Those pesky kids, eh? Outside Old Trafford, it is little wonder their remarkable achievements have earned no respect whatsoever. As for Everton, at least they restored some pride with their thrilling comeback and spirit. Points, however, are far more important now.
EVERTON (4-4-2): Martyn; Hibbert, Stubbs, Unsworth, Pistone (Naysmith 46); Watson (Rooney 46), Carsley, Gravesen, Kilbane; Ferguson, Jeffers (Radzinski 46). Subs: Simonsen, Linderoth.
MANCHESTER UNITED (4-4-2): Howard; G Neville, Brown, Silvestre, O'Shea; Fletcher (Ronaldo 79), Scholes, Keane, Giggs; Saha (Fortune 72), van Nistelrooy. Subs: Butt, Carroll, Kleberson.
BOOKINGS: Everton's Gravesen (foul).
REFEREE: Neale Barry.
Wayne's just unstoppable
Report By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Feb 9 2004
RUUD VAN NISTELROOY hailed Wayne Rooney as "unstoppable" after the Everton sensation almost dented Manchester United's title challenge on Saturday. The Dutch striker broke Goodison hearts with the 89th-minute goal that left the Blues' pointless following a thrilling second-half fightback from three goals down. Van Nistelrooy and two-goal Louis Saha had given rampant United a seemingly unassailable lead by the interval. But afterwards he admitted the 18-year-old substitute, introduced in response to a woeful first-half display by the Blues, transformed the game and left the champions terrified. "We just couldn't handle Rooney," revealed van Nistelrooy. "We knew they would come at us in the second half and would get the ball up to Duncan Ferguson as much as they could but it was Rooney who made the difference. "He was getting the ball from everywhere and we just couldn't stop him. It was thanks to him Everton dominated the second half and we didn't expect that. "They turned it around and showed a lot of character to bring it back to 3-3 and it was Rooney who made the difference." Rooney didn't get on the scoresheet as Everton fought back via three set-pieces from Gary Naysmith and levelled the contest in the 75th minute through Kevin Kilbane. And van Nistelrooy admitted: "We didn't handle Rooney and we didn't handle the setpieces too well either. But you couldn't see them getting back into the game at all at half-time as we were so far ahead, so you have to give them credit for never giving up. "I thought they were going to win it when they equalised so it was a big relief to score a fourth right at the end. "It was a great game to watch, it went up and down for 90 minutes. "It was hard. At Spurs last week City had a great come-back. In the game, you see your lead cut from 3-1 to 3-2 and you think: 'Oh God, it's not happening to us!' At 3-3 we couldn't believe it. But to get over that disappointment, bounce back and show character still to win the game says something about us." Kilbane, however, admitted the defeat had devastated the Blues and left them facing another relegation battle after dropping to 15th, just five points clear of the bottom three. The midfielder said: "The lads were shattered and demoralised when we got back into the dressing room. "We got ourselves back into the game when we might have been six or seven down at half-time. "We hadn't done ourselves justice in the first half so to recover so well and end up with nothing is a big disappointment. "I honestly don't know why there was so much of a difference. We made a few changes at half-time but I don't know whether that had anything to do with it. The manager said one or two things, basically go out and play for pride, and that's what we did. "He also said he could have taken all 11 of us off, but could only make three changes." But he warned: "We created a lot of chances and scored three goals. In recent weeks we've created a lot but not tucked them away. That's been our problem this season, not scoring the goals. "But we are getting dragged into a relegation fight now."
Moyes: We salvaged some pride
Report By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Feb 9 2004
DAVID MOYES saluted his Everton players for winning back their pride on Saturday after a first-half horror show that left him lost for words. The Blues produced an inspirational recovery to level a 3-0 interval deficit against champions Man-chester United, only for Ruud van Nistelrooy to punish them at the death with an 89th-minute winner. But despite the intense disappointment Moyes, admitted the fightback had helped salvage reputations after a first half where United could have scored seven.
The Everton boss, who made a triple substitution at the break, revealed: "My message was delivered very calmly at half-time, with very few words. I couldn't muster many words anyway. I was shocked by what had happened in the first half. "The players had to come out and show that they cared. They cared that the club was losing, and they had to go and at least try and win the second half if that was possible because I don't think anyone would have thought it was possible to come back from 3-0 down against Manchester United. "We got a goal early, kept at it, started forcing one or two opportunities and stopped sitting back and admiring Manchester United and thought about Everton and what we had to do. "I thought, when we got to three-each, we had a good chance of at least getting a draw out of the game. But you're always aware of United's capabilities of scoring again with the players they have. Some o f them are exceptional. "When you get at them they still come at you and score goals. Our intention was to get at them from the start, but we were able to go a little bit more gung-ho, with nothing to lose, when we were 3-0 down. "That got us the first goal then, when we got the second we all thought we could score a third. We did do and then we all thought it was great, but we still got no points out of it at the end." Moyes admitted it was desire rather than tactics that explained Everton's second-half revival. He said: "We have played worse than that, at Bolton and Blackburn this season, but United were very good. They did play well in the first half, coupled with us not going about our job in the right manner. That accentuated it. "We didn't have many set-pieces in the first half because we never got up the park far enough. At least in the second half we did that and we used it. "But there was nothing weird or wonderful, just wholehearted attempts to stick heads in there and score. It wasn't anything majestically, it was just the players being brave enough and having enough desire to get the ball over the line." Saturday's defeat leaves the Blues languishing close to the relegation zone but, insists Moyes, with doubts over their attitude erased courtesy of their belated response. He added: "The season's not over. Far from it. There may have been a reaction from the 120 minutes in midweek and it might have taken 45 minutes to get ourselves going again, but I would never make excuses. "Then to come back from 3-0 at half-time shows my players in a good light, as far as I'm concerned. I'm disappointed we didn't get any-thing from the game. "At least you can say you put your work in during the second half. The players have showed that they've got desire and heart. For the majority of my time here they've shown they've got those qualities. I just think that we allowed them to play too much in the first half and we sat back and admired it."
FA may probe United 'abuse'
Report By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Feb 9 2004
THE Football Association are ready to investigate claims Manchester United players verbally abused Everton fans after Ruud van Nistelrooy's last-minute winner at Goodison Park on Saturday. Van Nistelrooy's late header secured a 4-3 win in a highly-charged contest that had seen the Blues peg back United's three-goal half-time lead. It is then alleged Roy Keane, Gary Neville and Cristiano Ronaldo made offensive gestures and swore at different sections of the home sup-port, including the Family Enclosure, as they celebrated the winning goal. Scores of disgusted fans stayed on after the final whistle to file statements to the police. It is believed Everton have received in excess of 40 statements from individual fans. And an FA spokesman said: "Nothing has as yet been brought to our attention although, if it is, then we would of course look into it." Everton's head of communications, Ian Ross, said: "Everton fans have complained to the club about the behaviour of the United players as they celebrated the winner and the police are aware of this. "We are taking to the supporters, police and studying CCTV footage of the alleged incidents." In a separate incident, an Everton supporter attempted to attack Ronaldo after he was brought down by stewards close to the far touchline shortly after he set up the visitors winner and turned to remonstrate with home fans.
Coleman's peace pact
Feb 9 2004
FULHAM manager Chris Coleman admitted yesterday he is trying to broker a meeting between Luis Boa Morte and Duncan Ferguson. Portuguese striker Boa Morte, has accused his Everton counterpart of racially abusing him during an FA Cup match. Although Fulham have lodged an official complaint to the Football Association, Coleman would like to see the matter resolved amicably. "I have talked with David Moyes and I think he's in agreement with me," Coleman said. "We want the two players to meet, shake hands and forget all about it. "I would like to think Luis would be prepared to do that. It would be nice if Duncan Ferguson appeared as well. "That would be the best way and the end of the matter. Whether it will happen or not, I don't know."
Everton 3, Man United 4 (Echo)
Feb 9 2004 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
NO WITTY one-liner or insightful intro can do this game justice. It was the most entertaining, frustrating, passionless and yet passionate display Goodison has witnessed for years. The fans went through the whole gamut of emotions as Everton clawed their way back from 3-0 down to 3-3 only for United to snatch it a minute from the end. After the final whistle, there was huge disappointment that Ruud van Nistelrooy's header had deprived the Blues of a point, but there was also some relief and a sense of pride that David Moyes' men could mount such an impressive second-half fightback after producing such a dire first-half display. But unfortunately, no amount of pride can hide the fact Everton ended the game with nothing. Once the smoke settled there was a realisation that the empty haul has added to the threat of another battle against relegation.
On the face of it, the situation does not look good. Since the start of 2003 Everton have only won three games away from home in all competitions, so the prospect of away trips to Birmingham and Southampton doesn't bode well. But Saturday's remarkable contest could yet prove to be hugely influential over the coming weeks. It was a wake-up call. It was a reminder that a little belief can get you a long way. That can be the only explanation for the contrast between the first 45 minutes and the second. Even those fans who were resigned to suffering another day of disappointment at the hands of United will have been stunned at the way in which the Blues sat back and produced such a passionless performance in the opening 45 minutes. For almost a month the manager, the players and the fans have been reassuring themselves with the belief that the quality of the performances and the number of chances created must inevitably lead to better results. But if you are not winning games then, no matter how well you are playing, the belief will start to drain away. And there was no belief at all in the home side's play during the opening period on Saturday. Within five minutes of the game kicking-off it became apparent that it was not a case of if United would score, more of how many. The Toffees just didn't seem to believe they could actually get a result, preferring to sit back and admire the champions' slick passing. United provided a masterclass in attacking football in the opening 30 minutes, helped in no small part by a woefully ineffective Everton offside trap.
Louis Saha waltzed clear on nine minutes and powered a shot beyond Nigel Martyn as the defence stood motionless waiting for a flag which never came. The backline was equally ineffective when van Nistelrooy barged his way through to get on the end of a Saha pass and poke the ball in at the near post. And when Saha was picked out in acres of space on the left side of the Everton area by Paul Scholes there was no great surprise when he found the back of the net for a third goal. There should have been more. Scholes hit the base of a post inside two minutes and van Nistelrooy put the rebound over the bar. And before the break both he and Saha managed to miss the target after yet again beating the offside trap. But none of the United fans seemed too bothered. They were cruising to victory. Then came the cavalry charge. Moyes did not throw teacups around the dressing room or give any of his players the hairdryer treat-ment at half-time. But whatever he said, it worked. The manager made a hat-trick of substitutions and switched to a 4-3-3 system aimed at getting the most of the aerial dominance of Duncan Ferguson. United struggled to cope. Wayne Rooney and Tomasz Radzinski arrived to feed off big Dunc and they made a difference. But it was Gary Naysmith who deserves the most credit. His corners provided the aerial ammunition which began the fightback. The first came in the 49th minute. He whipped an in-swinger into the near post from the right. Ferguson flicked it on beyond Tim Howard and David Unsworth came diving in at the back post to head home. Could a fightback happen? Nobody really thought so at that stage. But it was still a relief to see the deficit reduced. It wasn't until the second goal in the 66th minute that the atmosphere inside Goodison changed dramatically. Rooney earned the corner, dispossessing Darren Fletcher and holding off two challenges before unleashing a fierce effort which Howard saved acrobatically, getting enough on the ball to send it over the bar. Naysmith stepped up again, produced an equally accurate delivery and this time John O'Shea, under pressure from Ferguson, guided the ball into the corner of his own net off his shoulder. That was when the belief came flooding back - on the terraces as well on the pitch. Not only had the Blues pushed United back during an enthralling 20-minute spell, they had also mustered two goals. They were not the most memorable strikes Goodison has witnessed, but after weeks of frustration in front of goal they were the kind of efforts which were needed to rebuild confidence. Suddenly, the ball was no longer a hot potato. Suddenly, it wasn't just Kevin Kilbane and Thomas Gravesen who weren't scared of getting at their richly assembled opposition. And so, as in the first half, the Park End got a decent view of a shaky defence. Rooney got beyond Wes Brown but his shot from a tight angle was saved by Howard, who had earlier saved an equally audacious effort from the 18-year-old. And then, with 15 minutes left on the clock, the equaliser materialised. Kilbane was felled wide on the left by Fletcher. He got up, dusted himself off and met Gravesen's curling free-kick with a powerful header which flashed beyond Howard and into the corner of the net. What a turnaround. And despite what happened a minute from time, the players now know that if they can give the champions such a remarkable scare, then there is no need to be nervous about the trips to Birminghamand Southampton. The match may have ended in defeat, courtesy of van Nistelrooy's back post header from a Cristiano Ronaldo cross in the 89th minute, but the second half performance provided a timely reminder of what can be achieved with a little belief. The sight of van Nistelrooy and Ronaldo dashing to the touchline to taunt the Everton fans after that final goal of the game was infuriating. But it was also an insight into exactly how worried the visitors had become during that second-half onslaught. If Everton can hold on to that and build on it, then there is reason to be optimistic.
Wayne was too hot to handle
Feb 9 2004 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
RUUD VAN Nistelrooy believes Wayne Rooney was the inspiration behind Everton's fightback on Saturday. The Manchester United striker broke Blue hearts with the 89th minute header which clinched victory and deprived Everton of a point after fighting back from 3-0 down at half-time.
But the Dutch international insists it was the arrival of Rooney at the start of the second half which gave the champions a real fright and which led to the dramatic turnaround. He said: "We just couldn't handle Rooney. "We knew they would come at us in the second half and would get the ball up to Duncan Ferguson as much as they could but it was Rooney who made the difference. "He was getting the ball from everywhere and we just couldn't stop him. It was thanks to him Everton dominated the second half and we didn't expect that. "They turned it around and showed a lot of character to bring it back to 3-3. "I thought they were going to win it when they equalised so it was a big relief to get the winner at the end." All of the Everton goals came from set pieces, with David Unsworth and a John O'Shea own goal coming from Gary Naysmith corners, while Kevin Kilbane headed the equaliser from a Thomas Gravesen free-kick. Van Nistelrooy added: "We didn't handle Rooney and we didn't handle the set-pieces either. "But you couldn't see them getting back into the game at all at half-time as we were so far ahead, so you have to give them credit for never giving up.
"It was a great game to watch. It went up and down for 90 minutes. It was hard. "At Spurs last week City had a great comeback. In the game, you see your lead cut from 3-1 to 3-2 and you think 'Oh God! It is not happening to us'. At 3-3 we couldn't believe it. "But to get over that disappointment, bounce back and show character to win the game says something about us."
No more excuses - Moyes
Feb 9 2004 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON boss David Moyes insists there can be no more hard luck stories if the Blues are to climb up the Premiership table. His side is now just five points above the relegation zone after Saturday's 4-3 defeat to Manchester United at Goodison. The club is still awaiting its first league win of 2004 and have taken just two points from the last 15 available. Moyes concedes that, with 14 matches remaining, it is time for the side to start racking up the points. He said: "We can have no more hard luck stories. "There is no hiding place for anybo dy, me included. We have to be totally focused on winning games. "We have had the toughest run of fixtures in my time at the club over the last month. But now we know that in most of the games coming up we have a real chance of winning. "When you look at the teams we have to play, they are not necessarily better than ourselves.
"In the last month we have played Arsenal at home, we have gone to Anfield and we have entertained Manchester United. We have drawn two and we were just a couple of minutes away from drawing with United. "I said after Christmas that we had to be prepared for a tough run. We knew it was coming up. "But now we are almost through it, with away games at Birmingham and Southampton coming up. "We know that between now and the end of the season we have still got to go to Newcastle and Chelsea but we are through the toughest run of matches." The manager also believes the players can take heart from their second-half fightback against United. A torrid first-half display saw the Blues three goals down before a triple substitution and a second-half onslaught almost snatched a point. Moyes adds: "The players worked extremely hard to get a chance of taking something from the game. That never looked a possibility at half time. "We knew all about United and the way they played was not a surprise. The players knew what they had to do there can be no excuses for that first half. "But they worked hard to get back in the game."
Kilbane fears relegation fight
Feb 9 2004 Liverpool Echo
SATURDAY'S defeat has left Everton facing the prospect of being sucked into a battle against relegation. That is the assessment of Kevin Kilbane, who netted the equaliser against United only for the Blues to be denied a point by a late Ruud van Nistelrooy header. He said: "We created a lot of chances and scored three goals. In recent weeks we've created a lot but not tucked them away.
"That has been our problem this season, not scoring the goals. But we are getting dragged into a relegation fight now." The Everton squad must now shrug off the disappointment of Saturday's result ahead of Wednesday night's trip to Birmingham. Kilbane admits the morale was low in the dressing room after the game. "The lads were shattered and demoralised when we got back into the dressing room," he added. "We got ourselves back into the game when we might have been six or seven down at half-time. "We hadn't done ourselves justice in the first-half so to recover so well and end up with nothing is a big disappointment. "I honestly don't know why there was so much of a difference. We made a few changes at half-time but I don't know whether that had anything to do with it. "The manager said one or two things. Basically, go out and play for pride and that is what we did. He also said he could have taken all 11 of us off, but could only make three changes."
Half a match is not enough
Feb 9 2004 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON did what they do best on Saturday afternoon. Left their supporters fearing the worst, built them up to the point where they believed the impossible was possible - then left them shattered, let down and disconsolate. Which is why the current Everton players still owe their supporters. Big time. Saturday was almost one of the greatest afternoons in the club's recent history. And, according to a still clearly deflated David Moyes, his players did enough during an inspiring and unexpected second half to restore reputations which had lain in dismal tatters just an hour earlier.
"They had to show the fans they actually cared about playing for this football club, that pulling on a Royal Blue jersey meant something to them," explained Moyes, clearly implying that in the first half those principles had not applied. Those players did enough in the second half to deserve the generous applause they were offered, but for me it wasn't enough. For half-a-match Everton played like their season had already ended. A cursory glance at the Premiership table, however, should disabuse them of that notion. Just five points separate Everton from the relegation trapdoor - and any more displays as disinterested as Saturday's first 45 minutes will see that gap lessen in the weeks ahead. There were notable exceptions, of course. Kevin Kilbane has proved an inspired introduction by Moyes - his attitude and application an example to all around him - and Thomas Gravesen showed a freshness and a zeal which could not have been expected from a man who had completed 120 minutes just two-and-a-half days earlier. But, largely, Everton were listless and sloppy. And worryingly Moyes did not believe it was his side's worst half of this season - the horror shows at Blackburn and Bolton were rated more grimly on his disastergraph. It says much for his motivational powers that he elicited a response without resorting to the clatter of crockery or the blast of a verbal hair-dryer. He simply reminded players of their responsibilities - and introduced his full quota of half-time substitutes. All three were influential. Gary Naysmith was excellent - not least in his delivery of dead balls - while in an energetic and influential front-running display Wayne Rooney showed that being deployed as a right-midfielder is a waste of his potential. But the biggest difference was a change of attitude from the players who remained. And that is unacceptable. Fans of clubs in the financial position Everton find themselves in cannot always expect quality. But they should always expect enthusiasm, endeavour and application. Everton are not in the kind of comfort zone which can allow them to coast through half a game, especially against opposition as gifted as Manchester United. They will have an extra 24 hours' rest on Birmingham City by Wednesday night, so cannot hide behind the excuse of fatigue. Everton still have plenty left to play for this season. Pride, dignity, and the guarantee of a 102nd season of top flight football. Saturday's second half display left a warm glow. It's up to those players now to fan it into a flame.
Everton v United: Player ratings
February 09, 2004
Manchester Evening News
HOWARD: A one-man road block against Rooney but like fellow defenders he let Everton dominate in air 6
G NEVILLE: Solid comeback and Reds' best defender when going got tough 6
O'SHEA: When the fightback began the Irishman looked unsteady in the mayhem 5
BROWN: Still finding his feet but Rooney troubled him on ground and Ferguson made it uncomfortable in air 5
SILVESTRE: Has hit a mini uncertain patch and big Fergie is not the player to face in such circumstances 5
FLETCHER: Ran riot in an excellent first half when Pistone granted him freedom of right side. Impact faded 6
KEANE: Easily in command in the first period but was swamped by Everton's revival 5
SCHOLES: United's star man. He was the instigator for brilliant first 45 and was still the best Red when Everton bared their teeth 8
GIGGS: Decent return and got into gear quickly against woeful Merseysiders but couldn't continue it 5
SAHA: Should have registered his first United hat-trick but what a lot United fans have to look forward to. 6
VAN NISTELROOY: Brave winner and alert for his century maker but could have put it all beyond doubt in first half. 6
FORTUNE (Saha 73) - Didn't really steady boat 5
RONALDO (Fletcher 80) - Killer delivery for winner 5
EVERTON: Martyn, Watson (Rooney 45), Pistone (Naysmith 45), Stubbs, Unsworth, Kilbane, Gravesen, Carsley, Hibbert, Jeffers (Radzinski 45), Ferguson
Goals: Everton: Unsworth (49), O'Shea (65 own goal), Kilbane (75)
United: Saha (9, 29), van Nistelrooy (24,89)
Bookings: Everton: Gravesen (90)
Referee: N Barry - Main job was to keep up with the score7
United stars may face police quiz
Report By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Feb 10 2004
MANCHESTER UNITED stars could be quizzed by Merseyside Police over allegations they verbally abused Evertonians on Saturday. Everton received scores of complaints from fans following the celebrations that marked United's late winner at Goodison. Police and club officials yesterday studied footage of the match, and the FA asked for a video of the game and contacted Everton over an alleged bottle-throwing incident involving United's Portuguese youngster Cristiano Ronaldo.
And Ronaldo, Roy Keane and Gary Neville may all face a police investigation if the complaints collected by the Blues merits such action. Inspector Tom King, football liaison officer for Merseyside Police, said: "Clearly a lot of people are upset by the alleged conduct of Manchester United players.
"A number of those have already made themselves known to Everton Football Club, who are corresponding with them and asking for their views. "If, having obtained the complaints from those people, Everton decided it is appropriate to refer the matter to us, then we would take it further, but at the moment there is no police investigation. "However, it might be that it is appropriate for the matter in its entirety to be dealt with by the Football Association, who have more than enough sanctions to deal with incidents of this nature. "Merseyside Police has an excellent working relationship with both Everton and Liverpool Football Clubs." The FA cannot launch its own investigation until the police have decided their course of action. "The FA will await the police decision on whether to initiate an investigation before taking any action of their own," said a spokesman. And Everton have urged any disgruntled fans to lodge their complaints by the weekend.
A club statement added: "Ever-ton have written to those supporters who have already lodged a complaint requesting that, if they so desire, they formally outline their observation within seven days." Ian Ross, Everton's head of corporate affairs, said: "We will collect all the complaints together and in about a week's time, pass them on to the police. "They can then decide to do nothing, pass them on to the FA or ask to talk to the players involved. It will be up to them." He added: "Some fans were refusing to leave the ground until they had spoken to someone from either the club or police. We have had many complaints and they are still flooding in."
Post Soapbox, Icliverpool & Daily Post
Feb 10 2004
AS EVERTONIANS all we ask is that the team shows the pride and passion of Saturday's second-half performance in every game. Not a lot to ask considering the salaries of the modern-day footballer.
Tom Roberts, Liverpool
EVERTON in the first half were worse than the weather: clueless about picking up players, getting goalside, when and when not to tackle. United's new striker was treated as if he had something contagious. He couldn't believe the space he got. The second half showed what a poor side defensively United are. We outplayed them for 44 minutes, then back to the old habits - three defenders and a keeper and not one of them put a hand on the only United player in that half of the field. So disappointing again because of basic schoolboy mistakes.
Bob Butchard (via e-mail)
THE GAME against United was shocking in the first half and a lot better in the second. Wayne Rooney and Gary Naysmith were great when they came on, but need to do it all game. Lee Carsley had a very poor game. Thomas Gravesen and Tobias Linderoth should play in the middle.
Lee Butler, Liverpool
THAT second-half performance deserved a point. Any doubters over the ability of Wayne Rooney need to look at the tape of this game. The boy is world class. His introduction, and the parts played by Radzinski and Naysmith, completely turned this game around. We have got to take a lot of positives from this second-half performance. Let's be honest, we were beaten by probably the second best club side in the world.
Frank Black, Liverpool
Time for new nine
WE SHOULD have sacrificed Rad for £5m to Blackburn and gone for Mark Viduka. He could partner Franny or Wayne in a more potent partnership up front. Big Dunc has been here for the best part of 10 years and Kev Campbell five. It is time we had a higher quality number nine to lead the line.
Colin Corcoran, Liverpool
LOANING out Leon Osman, Nick Chadwick, Iain Turner and Steven Schumacher must be good. A chance for them to gain match experience. Here's hoping our salvation lies in our own home-grown youngsters rather than in big signings, which we simply can't afford. It's therefore got to be a priority for EFC to invest properly in the youth academy - our only real hope.
Trevor Bentley, Waterloo
Positive Moyes faces dilemma
By Ronnie Goodlass, Daily Post
Feb 10 2004
EVERTON gave Manchester United too much respect in the first half on Saturday. They looked tentative and stood off a quality team that you simply cannot afford to give any space to. Sir Alex Ferguson described his side's peformance in racing to a 3-0 lead as one of their best away from home, but by not snapping into the tackles Everton had allowed them to play. Alessandro Pistone looked out of sorts while in Darren Fletcher United have discovered a potential replacement for David Beckham. The return of Ryan Giggs also made an obvious difference to the side. Just like Kevin Keegan at White Hart Lane in midweek, I am sure David Moyes reminded his players at half-time to go out and play for their pride - and how they responded. Supporters must have been fearing a five - or six-goal drubbing at the break. But the second half was a totally different story with Wayne Rooney leading from the front. I have questioned the decision of playing Rooney out on the right over the past few weeks. It is a position I don't think the player is comfortable with himself.
But everyone raised their game after the interval and when David Unsworth scored an early goal you felt Everton were back in it. Everton have showed they can live with the top sides such as Arsenal and Chelsea when they work together as a team - something they failed to do in the first half against United. It was a magnificent effort to get it back to 3-3 only for the heartbreak of that late winner by Ruud van Nistelrooy. I thought Everton's line-up had a far more positive look to it in the second half and I am sure with the benefit of hindsight Moyes may question himself when looking back at the game about whether he got his selection right from the off. Tomasz Radzinski added his pace to attack and with three players like the Canadian, Rooney and Duncan Ferguson Everton have the ability to unsettle any side. United are a quality team, but if they have any weakness it is that the defence can look vulnerable, especially without Rio Ferdinand. Everton created chances, especially in and around the box with Ferguson a real thorn in United's side and they forced the champions onto the back foot. There is no doubt Everton can hurt teams and score goals, though the concern is that they are just as likely to concede goals. That is why it is so important to work together as a solid unit. Nigel Martyn never had a real save to make but still pulled the ball out of the net four times, which shows just how clinical United's finishing was. Louis Saha is a great addition to their squad. He already looked a good player at Fulham, but with the extra quality around him and the prospect of an exciting part-nership with van Nistelrooy he will score plenty of goals for his new team.
Moyes will now have to decide how to take his bold approach forward into the rest of the season.
I think he has shown a more positive steak then Walter Smith. Three up front is unusual in the modern game but shows supporters a real intent to attack the opposition and play to the team's strengths. Does he start more often with Rooney, who made such a difference, and his choice of formation against Birmingham tomorrow will be an interesting one. Everton look better playing the game at a higher tempo and now need to do that against the Birminghams of the division. Birmingham will be hard to break down on their own patch, as will Southampton on Saturday, but Everton have got to take the positives from Saturday's defeat and show they can banish all thoughts of a relegation battle.
* IT WILL be very disappointing if it is proved that Roy Keane aimed a V-sign at the Everton family enclosure. The United skipper is an experienced player who should know better. His side had worked hard for their match-winner and the players should have enjoyed the moment. You do not need to get the crowd involved in celebrating your goal. Everton fans gave United a fantastic ovation when they were presented with the Championship trophy last year, a point acknowledged by Sir Alex Ferguson. Saturday's scenes left a bitter taste.
Lynch to rescue with late strike
Academy Football, With Chris Wright, Daily Post
Feb 10 2004
GAVIN LYNCH'S equaliser 10 minutes from time earned Everton under-19s a point in the FA Premier Academy League on Saturday. Neil Dewsnip's side had to settle for a share of the spoils as they drew 1-1 at Wolverhampton Wanderers. The Blues were buoyed by their first win of 2004 against Stoke last week, but it was Wolves who had more of the play in the opening half. In an evenly-matched contest the windy conditions made things difficult for both sides. But it was Wolves who probably had the better of it throughout and they took the lead from a corner four minutes before the break - one of several dangerous set-pieces the Blues had to defend against. Everton levelled after 80 minutes when Lynch lashed home first time after Scott Brown had put him in for his third goal of the season and second in the last two matches. Dewsnip said: "It was a difficult game. It was very windy. "They were a lot older than we were comparatively. They had nine U19 players and two or three of them have played in the first team. So physically they were a lot bigger and stronger than us. "We conceded off a corner kick just before half-time which was disappointing. "In the second half we rode our luck a little bit - they hit the bar a couple of times. But with 10 minutes to go we scored a fantastic goal. "Scott Brown got the ball wide on the right and went on the run, before playing Gavin Lynch. And he hit it first time into the top corner. A great goal." He added: "It wasn't our best performance of the year, but you have to credit the lads for their attitude and their spirit especially in the second half to get a point out of the game when it didn't look like we would get anything." Meanwhile Gary Ablett's under-17s missed out on the chance to close the gap on Manchester United after their game at Crewe was postponed. Ablett's side went into the match a point behind Group A leaders United. But with the Red Devils drawing 3-3 at third-placed Blackburn, the Blues could have gone ahead of them with a victory. Ablett said: "It is disappointing not to have played because the other result was right for us. "But there is nothing you can do about it."
EVERTON UNDER-19s: Lake; Flood, Gerrard, Potter, Fox; B Moogan; Brown, Barry, Martland; Lynch, Pascucci (Garside 60). Subs: J Jones, Thorbinson, M Jones, Booth.
FA set to probe United reaction
Feb 10 2004 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
THE Football Association are set to be called in to investigate the goal celebrations by Manchester United players at Goodison on Saturday. Everton have now received in excess of 70 written complaints accusing United players of taunting fans with gestures, foul language and spitting following Ruud van Nistelrooy's late winner. Club officials will meet with Merseyside Police in the week commencing February 23 in order to analyse all of the complaints. The ECHO understands that the level of response from suporters will lead to the matter being handed to the FA, although the police could also choose to meet with the United players to discuss the incident. Inspector Tom King, football liaison officer for Merseyside Police, said today: "If, having obtained the complaints from those people, Everton decided it is appropriate to refer the matter to us, then we would take it further, but at the moment there is no police investigation. "However, it might be that it is appropriate for the matter to be dealt with by the FA." The FA cannot launch an investigation based on the complaints of individual fans. A matter must be referred to them by either a club or the police. Everton have urged any fans who wish to complain to send their letters in within the next seven days. Meanwhile, Manchester United defender Gary Neville is unrepentant after his goal celebrations at Goodison. The England defender, along with Roy Keane and Cristiano Ronaldo, have been accused of swearing, gesturing and spitting at the home fans following van Nistelrooy's winner.
Neville said: "It is an over-reaction. We scored a goal in the last minute to win 4-3 so what do they want us to do - just walk back and say 'good goal boys'? "Of course we are going to celebrate, it's as simple as that."
* Sven Goran Eriksson has hinted that Nigel Martyn could be in line for a return to the England squad. The national boss was at Goodison on Saturday to watch Martyn and team-mate Wayne Rooney in action. He will name his squad for next week's friendly with Portugal at the end of the week and there are growing calls for Martyn to be included. Eriksson said of the 37-year-old: "I know Nigel is doing well and I am very happy for him. "He is a very good man, very professional. He got his chance to play for Everton and has taken it. "He is playing very, very well."
Chester swoop for former Everton junior Lane
Feb 10 2004 Liverpool Echo
CHESTER CITY were today expected to bolster their squad today with the capture of former Southport and Morecambe defender Chris Lane. The 24-year-old Liverpudlian, who started his career as a junior with Everton, has been playing in recent weeks for fellow Nationwide Conference side Leigh RMI following his release from Morecambe in December. City boss Mark Wright said: "Chris is an excellent defender, and will provide competition for us on the right side of our defence.
"I know the player's qualities extremely well, I signed him from Hereford United when I was in charge at Southport, and he never let me down. "We need competition for places in certain areas, and I am also on the lookout for another possible addition, if it will improve the squad." City midfield player Steve Brodie is expected to join the Hilton Park club on a three-month loan deal over the next few days, after being called back from a similar loan arrangement with UniBond League outfit Droylsden at the weekend. Chester are without a league game this weekend, but Wright is trying to arrange a friendly match and is also planning to take his first team squad away for a couple of days at the end of the week, where they will train and also play a round or two of golf. He said: "A change of surroundings will do us all good."
Blues set to face Saint Glenn
Feb 10 2004 Liverpool Echo
GLENN HODDLE is poised for a sensational return to football management at Southampton - and his first match could be against Everton a week Saturday. The controversial former England, Chelsea and Swindon coach walked out on the Saints in 2001. But according to reports today, chairman Rupert Lowe is prepared to bury the hatchet and bring Hoddle back to St Mary's. Some Saints fans have refused to forgive Hoddle, who took over at Southampton in January 2000 when the club was 17th and quit when they were 15th. Current boss Gordon Strachan has announced his decision to quit at the end of this season - but that could now be accelerated. Southampton's FA Cup exit means they are without a fixture this weekend. So Hoddle could be in place in time for Everton's trip to the South Coast on February 21. The Saints go to Highbury tonight seeking to become the first team to beat Arsenal in the Premiership this season. Strachan will give late fitness tests to skipper Jason Dodd and striker Kevin Phillips. Dodd took an ankle knock in Saturday's goalless draw at home to Fulham, while Phillips got a stud in a foot, and neither trained yesterday. But both travelled to Highbury optimistic they will be involved. If Phillips fails to recover, topscorer James Beattie is likely to return, and Chris Baird is a possible replacement for Dodd. Definitely out are hamstring victims Claus Lundekvam and Neil McCann. But defender Michael Svensson believes Southampton's narrow defeat at Manchester United two weeks ago can give them the confidence to end Arsenal's record unbeaten start to the season. "Arsenal will be a very difficult side to keep quiet," he admitted.
"They have great quality and have gone 24 games unbeaten. But we played well against Manchester United and will look to give them a really good game." Meanwhile, Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has warned the Saints that Robert Pires is back to his best after his cruciate ligament injury in 2002.
Pires has failed to score in just one of the past six meetings between the two clubs, including last season's FA Cup final, and has notched up seven goals in that time. Wenger insisted that while Sylvain Wiltord, Dennis Bergkamp, Kanu, Fredrik Ljungberg and Jeremie Aliadiere are all ruled out, Southampton should still feel worried. "He's back to his best level now. What is amazing is how long it has taken him to come back," he said. "Robert was always a good player but many people said he wasn't completely back to where he was. Nobody would dispute that he is there now, though.
"Getting things out of his head was the big problem, I think, while a knee injury is the worst as it affects your stability. To find your co-ordination and balance is the big problem. "He was hard working so I didn't worry that he wouldn't come back. I have had this kind of injury and so I knew it takes a long time to feel completely comfortable again. "You need a player from midfield who can score goals. If you are only relying on the two strikers, it doesn't work." Wenger also paid tribute to the impact Gordon Strachan has had at Southampton. "There are not many people who make that decision to give themselves a break when they are fully fit," he said. "But only Gordon Strachan could tell you why he made this decision and you have to respect that."
Amokachi: My friend Duncan is no racist
Feb 10 2004 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
FORMER Everton hero Daniel Amokachi has leapt to the defence of Duncan Ferguson, insisting the striker is no racist. Fulham's Luis Boa Morte accused the Scot of racism during the FA Cup fourth round tie at Goodison last month. That shocks Amokachi, who counts Ferguson as a close friend.
The ex-Nigerian international enjoyed a friendship with Ferguson during their days at Goodison and the 32-year-old was the only player who made it to Tunisia for Amokachi's wedding in 1995.
Amokach i recal ls: "When I was issuing the invitations to the Everton players, Duncan said he would be coming. "But it was a real surprise when he turned up. "I was in Tunisia for a week before the wedding and had not seen him, so did not think he'd be coming. Yet as I was actually walking down the aisle, someone handed me an envelope. "Inside was a note to say Duncan was there. "We ended up having a wonderful few days together. In fact, I left him still in Tunisia!" Ferguson is facing an FA investigation following Boa Morte's claims. The Blues striker vehemently denies the claim and Amokachi admits it has surprised him. He added: "He would be the last person on earth to get involved in anything like this. "Maybe the person concerned has just misheard whatever has been said."
Neville hits back at Everton fans
February 10, 2004
Manchester Evening News
GARY Neville has hit back at allegations that Manchester United players swore and made offensive gestures to Everton supporters at Goodison Park on Saturday. The Football Association are expected to be asked to take action by Everton after scores of fans lodged formal complaints about the behaviour of some senior United stars after Ruud van Nistelrooy's last-minute header that earned his team an amazing 4-3 win. Neville was one of the players accused immediately after the game but the England full-back thinks the Toffeemen fans are out of order. "It's an over-reaction," he told MUTV. "We scored a goal in the last minute to win 4-3 so what do they want us to do - just walk back and say 'good goal boys'. "Of course we are going to celebrate. It's as simple as that."
Merseyside Police have viewed CCTV footage of the incidents and said they are happy for the FA to handle the matter without the need for a full police investigation. Everton have written to all supporters who lodged complaints on Saturday asking for them to 'formally outline their observations' within seven days. "We will collect all the complaints together and in about a week's time, pass them onto the police," said Ian Ross, Everton's head of corporate affairs. "They can then decide to do nothing, pass them onto the FA or ask to talk to the players involved. It will be up to them."
Rangers declare Jeffers interest
Report By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Feb 11 2004
FORMER Everton star Michael Ball has urged Alex McLeish to reunite him with Francis Jeffers at Rangers. McLeish yesterday confirmed the on-loan Blues striker, is one of several forwards he is interested in as he attempts to increase his squad's firepower in the summer. Former Rangers player Jonatan Johansson of Charlton and Chelsea's Mikael Forssell, who are both Finland internationals, have been linked with an end-of-season move to Ibrox. But Ball believes Jeffers, who could be back on the bench for Everton at Birmingham tonight, is best placed to make an impact north of the border. The defender revealed: "I know Franny very well. His a great talent who makes fantastic runs and it would be nice to see him at Rangers. "I think he could do a really good job at Rangers, especially the way we pass the ball about from back to front. "Franny makes great runs and he will make himself a lot of chances at Rangers." McLeish admitted his interest in signing the 23-year-old if Everton fail to turn his 12-month loan from Arsenal into a permanent deal at the end of this season. The Rangers manager, with £3million to spend, said: "We are aware of Franny Jeffers. Every manager the length and breadth of Britain would be as well. "If I am convinced that somebody can come and score 20-odd goals a season only then would we make a move. "Franny Jeffers has a decent record but in the last year or so he has struggled to find his best form so I wouldn't commit myself yet, although we are certainly aware of those players." Jeffers and Ball were both sold by their boyhood club in the summer of 2001 to help alleviate club debts.
And the defender believes his former team-mate's struggle to nail down a regular place at Arsenal and Everton will see him seeking pastures new this summer. He added: "I moved here (Rangers) at the same time he moved to Arsenal and I spoke to him a lot when he was at Arsenal. He enjoyed it there but obviously he wants to be playing 90 minutes of football week in, week out. "I think he would be doing that here. He would be playing every week and he could score a lot of goals."
Gary Naysmith, meanwhile, is expected to return to the Blues starting line-up tonight after impressing as a second half substitute against Manchester United. Kevin Campbell is still recovering from a back injury, Alex Nyarko is out, while David Weir and Richard Wright are still on the long-term injured list. Jamie McFadden is fit after a thigh injury but has had no reserve action to achieve match fitness, while Li Tie has now joined the China World Cup squad. Joseph Yobo is also away on international duty with Nigeria, who face Tunisia in today's African Nations Cup semi-final.
Moyes seeks same again from Wayne
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Feb 11 2004
DAVID MOYES has challenged Wayne Rooney to use the virtuoso display against Manchester United as a platform to revive his and Everton's season. The Blues head for Birmingham tonight precariously sitting just five points off the Premiership relegation zone and without a win in seven matches. Moyes has tried several strike partnerships in a bid to end the wastefulness that has left his team in such trouble and left Rooney - who had figured in the previous 12 games - on the bench against the champions on Saturday. But he came on to produce a stunning second-half display that under-pinned Everton's remarkable though ultimately fruitless fightback against United to leave Moyes demanding more. "Wayne's performances have improved recently but most of those have been as a substitute," said the Blues manager. "Whenever he's come on he's made a big impact. Wayne has looked more vibrant recently. We are still treating him with care because it's so easy to forget he's still only 18, but he has been looking sharper in recent games. "Saturday's was exactly the kind of performance we are hoping for from him. I'd say it was Wayne's best 45 minutes of the season. I certainly can't remember him playing better." Rooney's sparkling display against Sir Alex Ferguson's men only lacked a goal - a consistent factor this season for the 18-year-old. The striker has scored only four Everton goals this term, plus three for England, but Moyes insists it is neither his position in the team or Everton's dependency on him as a creative outlet that is to blame.
He said: "Wayne has only played twice on the right for us, against Manchester United at Old Trafford and against Liverpool at Anfield. "He has played up front in a three on several occasions, either on the right or left of Duncan. "I'm sure he probably is happier in a two but he played in a three on Saturday again and did extremely well. "The strange thing is it seems to be whoever we start with recently, the players who come off the bench do better. "At Fulham in the Cup we started with Tomasz Radzinski and Wayne, but had to bring on Franny Jeffers to change things and get a goal.
"On Saturday it was Wayne who came on and made the best impact. It is a difficult problem we are working at solving. "We could do with them taking responsibility from the first minute though." Moyes added: "I don't think Wayne's goals tally is down to the fact he's also a creative player and is therefore not getting as many chances. "We have created more chances per game in recent weeks than we did throughout last season so it is not down to having a creative role. We are creating loads of chances and not taking them. And that applies to everyone. Maybe we are lacking in confidence in front of goal and will improve once a few more start going in." Saturday was the latest chapter in Everton's tales of hard luck this season but the cause was not missed chances, more an abject first half approach and woeful defending. Not surprisingly, Moyes would prefer to dwell only on what happened after the break. He said: "I just wish we could have played for 90 minutes against Manchester United like we did in that second half. It shows we can do it and we can raise our game.
"When you are three goals down you have nothing to lose and you play with no fear. That's not taking anything away from our players. We had to try and win the second half, even if it was just 1-0. That was the least we could do. "The positives show we can do it, we can raise our game and keep it that way. We are capable of getting results against the so-called better teams. We have played Arsenal at home and got a point and we have done the same at Liverpool. We also should have beate n Charlto n at Goodison and also won both the Cup games with Fulham, but we didn't.
"This has been a hard month against some very good teams and I have felt we have played pretty well. "Maybe we are becoming the nearly men, and that is a tag we need to get rid of. If you look at the performances, it is not a lack of creating opportunities or excitement." Moyes would no doubt exchange excitement for maximum points at St Andrews tonight, a match that has assumed huge significance for the shape of Everton's season. "It's a big game," admits Moyes. "We have to attempt to win as many games as we can between now and the end of the season. "We didn't end up with anything from United and Birmingham will be hard. "They've done well, it is a really intimidating atmosphere at St Andrews and we have to stand up and be counted."
Forssell's deadlier than before
Report By John Curtis, Daily Post
Feb 11 2004
MIKAEL FORSSELL believes he has become a more deadly finisher thanks to his current loan spell with Birmingham because he frequently has to feed off a starvation diet of goalscoring opportunities. The Finland international was used to seeing chances come his way almost at will during his brief bouts of first-team action with Chelsea because of the club's rich vein of creative midfield talent. At Birmingham it is a different scenario with the accent on the work ethic which has yielded its own rewards and seen the club maintain a top-10 placing all season in the Barclaycard Premiership. But only the currently injured David Dunn has the kind of weapons in his armoury to regularly unlock defences and manager Steve Bruce is aware of shortcomings in that department of his side. Forssell knows he can ill afford to squander the few chances that may come his way in every game as shown by the nine goals he has scored since his temporary switch from Stamford Bridge. Now he will be looking to push that tally into double figures when Blues entertain Everton tonight. Forssell said: "People do say that with Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal you do get more chances to score because all the players are attack-minded. "Sometimes in games now at Birmingham you get one or two chances only - and you definitely have to put one of them away. I have definitely developed in that way. "Steve Bruce wants me in the box as a predator. "He wants me to do all my stuff in the box and be there where it matters and put the chances away. "You do develop as a player. I have certainly developed in the four or five years I've been in this country. I think I've learnt to do more right things at the right time." Bruce has no fresh injury problems after his side scrapped their way to a goalless draw at Manchester City on Sunday thanks to the heroics of keeper Maik Taylor.
Ronaldo could have caused riot
Feb 11 2004 Evertonians give their first hand accounts of the controversial events at Goodison Park last Saturday I WAS in my usual seat in the corner of the Gwladys Street near to the incident.
It was a brilliant game but when United scored the winner Ronaldo ran over to the fans with his hand to his mouth, mimicking a duck's beak to suggest they were all big mouths. He was only about four yards away really inciting the Everton supporters. He could easily have caused a riot. I can't really blame the fan for reacting as he did in trying to get onto the pitch. Ronaldo was bang out of order. I've been following the Blues all my life but I've never seen anything like that from a player.
Ronaldo should be charged by the FA.
Stan Joyce, Kirkby.
I AM 60. It is the first time I have complained about anything that has happened in a match.
I was sat in the Upper Bullens. When the goal went in Gary Neville didn't join the rest of the Manchester United players. He ran over to the Lower Bullens, went down on two knees, put up two fingers with both hands and said '**** off you Scouse *****'. There are hundreds of kids in that stand and it shocked and angered me.
Frank O'Brien, Head Scout at Southport FC
CHRISTIANO RONALDO was the main culprit. After providing the cross for the winner he turned to Everton fans and was using a V-sign at supporters. Instead of joining in the celebrations, he continued to argue with supporters and walked in a threatening manner towards three or four, who were being held back by stewards. After the incident, Ronaldo was brought down by Thomas Gravesen and again motioned to the supporters in a threatening manner. Team-mates decided to join in. Roy Keane started gesturing towards supporters and Gary Neville also joined in. Ruud van Nistlerooy tried to diffuse the row and told Ronaldo to walk away. appalled by this incident.
United are very quick to point the finger when things go against them so let's see how tough the FA can get with these players.
PRIOR to the goal, the ball went out for a throw-in near to where I sit and a fan caught the ball.
Ronaldo asked the fan to pass him the ball and the fan refused in order to time-waste. A steward snatched the ball from his grasp. When the goal went in, Ronaldo turned towards the fan, gesticulated and spat towards him.I saw the bottle land on the pitch, having been thrown from the Lower Gwladys Street. I did not see anything involving the other United players.
I COULDN'T believe what happened after the goal. I saw Cristiano Ronaldo go over to the fans as though he was spitting into the crowd. To do that into the Lower Bullens, where there are lots of children, was shocking.
Female fan, Gwladys Street
I WAS sitting in Lower Gwladys Street (Bullens side) and was appalled by Ronaldo's reaction after United scored. He turned to the stands and shouted "f*** off!" to us several times. He also stuck two fingers up at the crowd. This behaviour cannot be tolerated. The FA should do all it can to deter things like this.
Robbie Greenslade, Great Crosby.
I AM a season ticket holder in the Park End Stand (LL93). As soon as the fourth United goal was scored, Gary Neville ran to the home supporters and proceeded to shake both fists towards them.
I was surprised a more major incident did not ensue as he repeated his stupidity several times.
AFTER their fourth goal, Ronaldo gesticulated to the fans in the Paddock and appeared to be goading them. He carried this on after the game restarted and Keane, to his credit, was pulling Ronaldo away from the fans. It is a shame that after a terrific game we find ourselves talking about players' behaviour instead of the match.
I DON'T go to many games, but the hatred and venom from the Evertonians shocked me. When Ronaldo came on all I heard was "break the ******* legs". In this cauldron of hate, I can't blame the United players for responding as they did.
I AM a season ticket holder in the Lower Paddock, Gwladys Street end, and was well placed to see the trouble involving the crowd and Ronaldo. Sadly, the blame almost completely lies with the supporters. They were offensive and abusive to the player (Rooney's age, we should remember) although he did nothing to deserve it. He ran the gauntlet every time he took a corner.
After the goal, Ronaldo illadvisedly headed to the offending corner and was at fault, but the root of the problem was the behaviour of the supporters around me. As well as verbal abuse, coins and other objects were thrown onto the pitch.
Moyes wants super starters - not super subs
Feb 11 2004 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES has called on his strikers to start being super - and not just super subs. The Everton manager has become increasingly frustrated by the failure of his forwards to show their best form when they are named in the starting line-up. He wants that to change, starting from the kick-off with tonight's Premiership clash at Birmingham. "Whoever we pick to start up front, the players who come off the bench seem to do better," admits Moyes. "Francis Jeffers came on and made the difference at Fulham last week but when we gave him a start at the weekend he didn't have the same impact. "Wayne Rooney's performances have been improving recently but the better ones have been as a substitute. "We need the forwards to take responsibility from the very first minute and not just when they come off the bench." "Wayne has made an impact when he has come on but so has Franny. Wayne needs goals to go along with the good performances. "Saturday was exactly the sort of performance we are looking for from him. That was his best 45 minutes of football this season." Both of Jeffers' goals this season have been as a substitute, while Rooney, (pictured above), has netted three of his four as a sub. Likewise, two of Duncan Ferguson's three Premier-ship strikes have come from the bench. Rooney is expected to start tonight at St Andrews - the ground where he saw red last season. Christophe Dugarry is set to return for the hosts after two months out with a iknee injury. The Blues have very few injury worries, with only Richard Wright, David Weir and Alex Nyarko on the sidelines, but Joseph Yobo and Li Tie are on international duty. Meanwhile, Rangers have declared an interest in taking Jeffers to Ibrox in the summer. Gers boss Alex McLeish said: "We are aware of Francis Jeffers, but I won't commit myself yet." Luis Boa Morte, meanwhile, has refused to shake hands with Duncan Ferguson and end their alleged race feud. "Things have to be done properly and I am not going to go further than that," said the Fulham forward. "I feel sad about it because I have never had that happen to me. Things happen in football but noone likes that."
Carsley seeking victory tonic on return home
Feb 11 2004 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON travel to Birmingham tonight intent on proving they are in a false position in the Premiership table. Saturday's dramatic 4-3 defeat to Manchester United means the Blues are still looking for their first league victory of 2004. But Birmingham-born midfielder Lee Carsley, argues that the quality of the opposition the Blues have had to face in the last six weeks helps justify the argument Everton should be higher up the table. "If you look at the league table we have dropped down a bit over the last few weeks," he pointed out. "But when you consider the month we have had and the teams we have played I think we have done well to stick in there. "Now we have got two tough away games, but we have always done well down at Southampton, and Birminghamare beatable as well. "The fixture list doesn't look as intimidating because we have got the so-called top teams out of the way." Creditable draws against Arsenal and Liverpool maintained Everton's run of decent performances throughout January but didn't put enough points on the board to extend the gap between them and the bottom three. And a failure to convert chances meant that solid displays against Fulham and Charlton couldn't prevent David Moyes' men losing. As a result, last Saturday's dramatic encounter with United left the club just five points above the drop zone. But despite the defeat, the never-say-die attitude which inspired a rousing second half fightback from 3-0 down to 3-3 is something Carsley believes can be put to good use at St Andrews. Carsley added: "If we are going to take any positives from the match it will be the way we fought in the second half. We will just have to forget about the first half and focus on the positives. "At half-time the manager told us that we had let ourselves and the fans down. He just asked us to show that we cared. "And we have to keep doing that. "The emotions were up and down throughout the game. When we were booed off at the end of the first half I thought 'Oh my God, what are we going to do in the second half?'
"But we came out for the second half and the fans were going crazy trying to lift us. It was an unbelievable 45 minutes. "Concede three goals against any team and the writing is on the wall, but against United you should be out of it. But the second half was unbelievable." The bombardment of the United defence proved effective, with Wes Brown and Mikael Silvestre wilting in the face of Duncan Ferguson's aerial onslaught. And it is an approach which could prove effective away from Goodison Park, where a little steel is needed after managing to muster just one win on the road all season. But Carsley warns: "Sometimes we can get into this habit where we are knocking it at Duncan, rather than trying to drop it into him. "When the service is right into Duncan, or Kev, they have the ability to hold it up and bring others into play. "I thought Gary Naysmith did really well when he came on against United and his set-pieces caused problems for them in the air. "We were just getting people in the right places. I could sense them panicking. I thought they were in all sorts of trouble. "We didn't give them time on the ball and when we equalised I thought if anyone was going to win the game it was going to be us." That is not how things worked out. But a repeat display at St Andrews and Everton will be a very tough proposition for Steve Bruce's men.
Birmingham 3, Everton 0 (D,Post)
Feb 12 2004 David Prior Reports From St Andrews, Daily Post
IF ONE faint silver lining can emerge from Everton's dismal defeat last night, it is that there remains one clear, unambiguous objective for the remainder of their season. Survival. Forget talk of bettering last season's position; discard all notions of a soon-to-be turned corner; that sooner or later Everton will dish out a hammering and everything will be all right again. On last night's evidence, David Moyes has no reason to think any differently from Eddie Gray, Harry Redknapp, Micky Adams, Kevin Keegan and Dave Jones. Like that quintet, Moyes has 13 games in which to rescue a season that has flittered without warning from the sublime to the atrocious, but was last night finally exposed. This is a side that can go down and had better start realising it. At least Moyes' tone afterwards suggested the manner of the defeat had left him in no doubt as to his side's plight - if a little bewildered as to how to rectify it. "I'm concerned after tonight's performance at the way we played," he said. "The players here are certainly capable of better performances and that's what we need to try and achieve. "We played all the players who finished the game very well on Saturday and we looked to try and do it again, but it didn't happen." Despite dominating for large periods during the opening half, Moyes' men found themselves two down at the interval and then fell further behind early in the second. If Manchester United have established a reputation for last-minute goals, it can be said that Everton have this season earned great renown for atrocious starts.
Time and again this campaign - despite repeated pleas from their manager - Everton have begun at around half the required speed, both mentally and physically. Saturday was the finest example of the genre - only once United had imposed a first-half battering did Everton take the lead out of their boots and actually play the football they are so obviously capable of. But any hopes that titanic seesaw struggle might act as some kind of watershed in their approach to games took just eight minutes to evaporate. The visitors had already looked overly tense and their apprehension no doubt contributed to the complete pig's ear of a goal that saw Birmingham take the lead. Robbie Savage's corner was inadequately cleared by Everton to Damien Johnson, about 20 yards out on the edge of the penalty box and his shot at first appeared unlikely to trouble anyone. Somehow though the ball continued to trickle through the area with Clinton Morrison's fresh-air shot contributing to Everton's confusion. Unbelievably the ball ended up in the far corner, providing midfielder Johnson an unlikely end to his 18-month goal drought and giving Everton yet another mountain to climb. Rooney's furious swing at the ball as he trotted back to the goalline said it all. Cue déjà vu for away fans, as Everton, jolted from their slumber, began to take control and for the next 25 minutes dominated possession. Gary Naysmith, whose inswinging set-pieces had initiated all three of Everton's goals at the weekend, again proved a dangerous supplier from a series of corners and free-kicks. It was an all-too familiar tale of domination without execution - save from Alan Stubbs' way ward header there was hardly a chance to speak of even with so many balls pinging into the hosts' six-yard box.
And it was this sense of wastefulness that intensified the feeling of injustice at Birmingham's second, seven minutes before the break. For what seemed like the first time they had broken into Everton's half since Johnson's goal, Stan Lazaridis picked up Savage's pass and charged forward through the middle from inside his own half, turning outside Tony Hibbert and then launching an admittedly superb shot into Nigel Martyn's far corner. It was extremely hard luck on Everton; but then hard-luck stories have never been too far away from the Blues this term. Moyes again felt significant half-time changes were required, so on came Alessandro Pistone for David Unsworth - the centre-back's 300th league start ending in illness - with Kevin Campbell replacing Duncan Ferguson, who was suffering from double vision after a first-half clash of heads. Visiting fans hoping for clutchable straws over their half-time cup of tea had probably put forward something along the lines of "well at least we're one better than Saturday". Barely had they refilled their seats than Saturday's dire half-time scenario returned. Again it was hesitation at the back that cost Everton, Alan Stubbs' tentative clearance letting in Savage, who fed Mikael Forssell and the on-loan Chelsea striker clinically despatched low and right past Martyn. Whereas Everton at least had the backing of a home crowd on Saturday to spur on their Lazarus-like exploits, St Andrews suddenly offered a very lonely venue for what was turning into a pasting. Kilbane almost offered a glimmer of hope but his header down from Naysmith's cross was comfortably saved by Maik Taylor. But Birmingham, coming into the game on the back of three straight draws and just a single goal to speak of in that period, were increasingly rampant in their play, with Lazaridis a persistent thorn in Everton's side down the left.
Indeed it was the Australian's 59th-minute cross that almost brought Birmingham's fourth, with Bryan Hughes' header ricocheting back off the stanchion. The same player thumped the post with a blistering shot 15 minutes later as Birmingham raced forward with abandon. Everton sprinkled the home side's domination with a couple of their own chances - Campbell fluffing Thomas Gravesen's through ball and James McFadden being denied a genuine penalty shout when hauled down by Hughes. Moyes' wild gesturing on the touch-line was probably in part directed at the referee and linesman, but it was impossible not to think he was using the opportunity to let off some steam at his side's dismal show. Rooney as ever kept plugging away, and six minutes from time saw a low shot crash off Taylor's right-hand post. But for the most part this was a depressing night for Evertonians. For perhaps the first time this season, staying up must surely be the main ambition now.
BIRMINGHAM: Taylor; Tebily, Lazaridis (John 75), Upson, Cunningham; Purse, Johnson, Savage (Dugarry 63), Hughes, Forssell (Taylor 80), Morrison. Subs: Bennett, Kenna.
EVERTON: Martyn; Naysmith, Unsworth (Pistone 45), Stubbs, Hibbert; Kilbane, Carsley, Gravesen; Ferguson (Campbell 45), Radzinski (McFadden 60), Rooney. Subs: Simonsen, Linderoth.
BOOKINGS: Birmingham's Tebily.
REFEREE: Mr M Halsey.
Latchford takes his place with immortals
Post Past, By Phil Redmond, Daily Post
Feb 12 2004
EVERTON made the trip to St Andrews last night, a ground where they seemed to have plenty of joy when I was a youngster. In the 70s there were a number of transfer deals between the two clubs, with the likes of Gary Jones and John Connolly leaving Goodison for the Birmingham Blues.
Probably the most famous deal, though, took place in February 1974 when Howard Kendall, Archie Styles and some money were exchanged for a big bearded striker by the name of Bob Latchford.
Over the next seven years Big Bob became the undisputed hero of virtually every young Blue born between about 1963 and 1969, rattling home more than 100 league goals and many more in the various cups, where the Blues excelled in that era. Birmingham were one of Bob's favourite opponents in those days and he was almost invariably on the mark when he came up against his own club, often slotting past his older brother Dave who was City's custodian during the mid-1970s.
Probably Bob's biggest achievement in a Blue shirt came in 1978 when he scored a then unprecedented 30 league goals in one season and as a result won an award put up by the Daily Express. Latchford, ably assisted by wing ace Dave Thomas, was incredible that season. Of course Latchford, despite his goals, never picked up a winner's medal during his time at Goodison as the team continually missed out in the most heartbreaking of circumstances. In 1977 he was injured for the Clive Thomas FA Cup semi-final against Liverpool while in the three game League Cup final marathon against Aston Villa, the Latch rescued Everton in the first replay at Hillsborough with a last-gasp equaliser. The second replay at Old Trafford brought ultimate heartbreak with Villa coming from behind to pinch it at the death through Brian Little after a defensive debacle involving Lawson and Darracott. This after Bob had slipped the Toffees in front during the first half. Probably the game that summed up Latchford's - and to an even greater extent manager Gordon Lee's - Goodison tenure came in the FA Cup semi-final replay against West Ham at Elland Road in April 1980. With Everton and Liverpool for once avoiding each other in the semi-final draw, a first all-Merseyside final looked likely with the Blues facing then second division Hammers. The first game seemed to be going comfortably to form before hot-headed Everton striker Brian Kidd was controversially sent off. Everton never got going in the replay and in extra time the Hammers' England midfielder Alan Devonshire slipped home a beauty. All looked up when with only a couple of minutes remaining Big Bob powered home a diving header right in front of the massed ranks of Evertonians on Leeds' Gelderd End Kop. "Bobby Latchford walks on water" boomed out into the cool Yorkshire night and you can still hear it on the television film as a couple of minutes later, and right on the whistle, Frank Lampard - the Irons full-back and father of the Chelsea midfielder Frank - headed an unlikely winner and did that horrible celebration around the corner flag. Despite the lack of success and the ultimate disappointment of his Everton career, however, Bob Latchford remains a true Goodison legend.
Defeat leaves Moyes at low
By David Prior, Daily Post
Feb 12 2004
DAVID MOYES admitted his Everton side had been poor after extending their winless Premiership run in 2004 with a 3-0 defeat at Birmingham. Goals from Damien Johnson, Stan Lazaridis and Mikael Forssell gave Steve Bruce's men a comfortable victory at St Andrews and means the Blues are now without a league win since December 28. Moyes's side now hover just four points clear of the drop zone - and just five clear of bottom club Wolves - and the Scot had no excuses for a dismal showing in the Midlands. He said: "I'm really disap-pointed in the performance, and it's not just the players, it's me as well. As a club it's not them, it's we, and we didn't perform well enough tonight. "It was a poor performance, and we can't complain about the outcome. There were too many things wrong but we just couldn't keep them out. "We didn't have an awful lot of things to defend against in as much as I wouldn't say they had loads of opportunities. But every time they went forward they scored and every time we went forward we didn't score." Moyes, excluded Francis Jeffers - linked with a move to Rangers - from the 16-man squad and started with the same line-up that had so nearly pulled off a remarkable second-half comeback against Manchester United on Saturday.
Everton dominated sion in the first half but found themselves two down at half-time after defensive errors had let in Johnson's tame shot and then Lazaridis had scored a magnificent solo second.
But after the break the hosts claimed a third through Forssell's clinical strike and there was no way back for Everton. And Moyes added: "In that period, we were okay, but if you can't score at one end and you concede at the other end you know what's going to happen. "We defended so poorly that we didn't give ourselves a chance. If you actually took the goals out you would probably say that Everton had the more territorial advantage and probably the more crosses. "But Birmingham defended when they had to, we didn't, and when they got half chances they took them, and we didn't take ours." He continued: "At this moment in time I want to win the next game I'm playing. If I win the next game I play then I'll start thinking about further than that, but the next game's the most important one. "We have to do what we can. "I'd like to get a win under my belt quickly so that we can gain some confidence from it. If you play the way we did tonight then we're not going to get that." David Unsworth (illness) and Duncan Ferguson (double vision) are both injury concerns for the Blues after being replaced at half-time.
Birmingham 3, Everton 0 (Echo)
Feb 12 2004 By Scott Mcleod At St Andrews, Liverpool Echo
ON this evidence Everton aren't in a false league position after all. Beaten 3-0 by a side that has only ever scored three goals in a Premiership match once before. And had it not been for the woodwork it could have been more than just the goals netted by Damien Johnson, Stan Lazaridis and Mikael Forssell. Doesn't exactly fill you with confidence, does it? Before Saturday, Evertonians had been consoling themselves with the fact that, while the results had not been coming, the side had been creating a host of chances and had looked solid at the back. But now seven goals have been shipped in two matches and last night Maik Taylor was a spectator for much of the evening - bar a decent effort from Wayne Rooney late on which bounced back off a post. It is too early to start panicking. Everton have been in stickier pickles than this in mid-February. But with the search for the first league victory of 2004 continuing and with just one win away from Goodison all season, there can be little doubt that Everton deserve to be where they are, looking over their shoulders just a couple of places above the relegation zone. They remain too good to go down. But that fact alone will not save them from a relegation dogfight if they cannot produce better than this in the remaining 13 matches. We all know how good the squad is. We all have faith in the ability of the manager.
But, just a week after the Cup exit at Fulham left Evertonians wondering what was left to play for, it is now clear that top flight survival remains far from a foregone conclusion. Three wins on the road since the turn of 2003 suggests the club's final league position will depend largely on the results at Goodison. And there are only six matches at home between now and the end of the season.
Six matches to put right horror nights like last night. Six matches to demonstrate the experienced heads at the back still have the defensive resolve to produce better than this. Every time Birmingham went forward, they looked capable of scoring. They had a handful of decent attacks and were unlucky not to score from each one. But don't let their lack of chances fool you. This was a cruise for Steve Bruce's men, particularly during a second half in which Everton were seemingly going through the motions. But, and forgive me if you have heard this somewhere before, they did enjoy long periods of possession inside the home side's half during the opening 45 minutes yet somehow managed to find themselves two goals down at the break. For all their territorial advantage during that period, it never really looked like, at long last, the goals would begin to flow.
Before last weekend they had mustered just four goals in six games. And while the trio of strikes in the second half against Manchester United provided timely proof that the players do know how to find the back of the net, the fact they were all from set-pieces did nothing to ease the concern over the side's failure to slice through teams in open play. They did their best with a battering ram approach in the early stages but it was Birmingham's subtle lock-picking which provided the greater rewards. The opening goal came after just eight minutes. A Robbie Savage corner from the right was only partially cleared by Rooney as far as Damien Johnson on the edge of the box. His low, unconvincing right-foot drive somehow managed to skip past a host of players, rolling agonisingly beyond the despairing dive of a surprised Nigel Martyn before settling in the corner of the net.
That blew away any hope that Saturday's rousing fightback would provide some positive momentum and bring to an end the dire away form. Yes, the players rallied after that early setback, but there was no cutting edge. Birmingham had prepared for the aerial assault led by Duncan Ferguson - having seen the problems he caused United - and their homework paid off. They defended deep, got plenty of players behind the ball and ensured Ferguson was engulfed. He was withdrawn at half-time because of double vision, probably caused by the buffeting he received. Or maybe it was as a result of the sucker punch which came six minutes before the interval. Stan Laziridis received the ball just inside the Everton half and set off at pace. Moyes' men were stretched, with the three-man midfield fragmented as they attempted to link defence and attack. There was acres of open pitch for the Australian to exploit. Instead of closing him down, the back four retreated. His pace took him beyond Tony Hibbert as he entered the left side of the penalty box and from a tight angle he unleashed a fierce effort which sizzled into the far corner of the net. As with Saturday, Moyes was compelled to make changes at the break. This time David Unsworth and Ferguson were the players to make way because of injury. In their place came Alessandro Pistone and Kevin Campbell. But unlike the weekend, the changes did not coincide with a transformation. Far from it. It was the home side that went from strength to strength in the second period. Yet another poor clearance, this time from Alan Stubbs, was picked up by Robbie Savage on the edge of the box. The Welsh international, who was a thorn in the Blues' side all night, headed the ball into the path of Forssell and he lashed a shot low into the right corner of the net. He was denied a second minutes later by the woodwork, as was Johnson 16 minutes from time. James McFadden made a welcome appearance in the second period and should have earned a penalty when he was felled by Bryan Hughes but there was little else to excite the travelling fans. This really was a dire performance, made worse by slack marking and a soulless second half showing - the antithesis of Saturday's fightback. The travel sickness shows no sign of abating. And a trip to Southampton looms in 10 days.
But it is beyond that, and the remaining six fixtures at Goodison, on which the hopes for the remainder of the season now appear to rest. Everton have to find a goalscoring touch for the matches that remain against Aston Villa, Portsmouth, Middlesbrough, Tottenham Hotspur, Blackburn and Bolton. It is time for the big names to start providing big performances.
Because more displays like this and there is no chance of the side climbing the table. Dropping further down, however, would be a distinct possibility.
BIRMINGHAM (4-4-2): Maik Taylor; Tebily, Cunningham, Purse, Upson; Johnson, Savage (Dugarry 65), Hughes, Lazaridis (John 76); Morrison, Forssell (Martin Taylor 77). Not used: Bennett, Kenna.
EVERTON (4-3-3): Martyn; Hibbert, Unsworth (Pistone 46), Stubbs, Naysmith; Gravesen, Carsley, Kilbane; Rooney, Ferguson (Campbell 46), Radzinski (McFadden 61). Not used: Simonsen, Linderoth.
REFEREE: Mark Halsey (Lancashire)
United saved from truth of camera eye
Feb 12 2004 By John Thompson, Liverpool Echo
OUTRAGEOUS behaviour by Manchester United players or an understandable reaction to a few vitriolic supporters? A storm in a teacup - or a serious incident which needs investigating? Whatever your view, it looks like we'll never get to the bottom of this one. And the reason?
The cameras never captured it. Dozens of Evertonians have contacted the club, the police and the Echo to detail how United players gave them v-signs, made threatening gestures, and screamed foulmouthed obscenities at them. Clearly something a bit out of the ordinary went on last Saturday at Goodison Park during those last-gasp goal celebrations. We can also be pretty sure a number of supporters did wind Cristiano Ronaldo up in the first place with a few offensive phrases of their own.
I have to do an Arsene Wenger on this and declare that, from my spot in the press box, it was impossible to see. But had the cameras, still or moving, caught the whole business this would not now being brushed aside quite so readily by too many people. People like Times journalist Martin Samuel, who this week vilified Merseyside Police for their 'involvement' - suggesting it was a pity they weren't as quick off the mark in spotting cockle pickers crammed into a house in Liverpool.
Well thought out argument, Martin. Tons of genuine respect for the dead there - and of course no hint of the good old Scouserbaiting which some people had such fun with a decade ago. Samuel's dismissal of the incident as sour grapes from fans who gave it out but couldn't take it back misses the point. Things could easily have turned much uglier on Saturday afternoon. This city, its football supporters and their families have been through too much during the last 20 years to drop their guard too readily if there's a chance to learn an important lesson before it's too late.
Football will never be a game for the faint-hearted, the politically correct or the easily shocked.
But if a few supporters overdid it with the ferocity of their language, then res t assured Everton Football Club will no doubt remind the stewards of their duties in soccer's post-millennium era.
However, by far the biggest concern has to be the reaction of Ronaldo and co to whatever they heard. Highly paid footballers simply should not react like it seems they did. That's a whole step further than celebrating and even mischievously rubbing it in a bit. The finger to the mouth, the hand to the ear, players can these days get away with. Two-fingered salutes and sexual gestures are in a different league. Even a young import like Ronaldo should know better. As of course should one or two more of his more experienced team mates. The FA may have bigger fish to fry than to look into this passing rumpus. But in truth they'll happily be let off the hook because we don't have the images to show why so many perfectly decent Evertonians were left upset and outraged - rather than just disappointed at losing a pulsating seven-goal-thriller. Lift the carpet at Soho Square now please - here comes United's sweeper.
McFadden: We had no breaks
Feb 12 2004 By Rob Brady Echo Reporter
JAMES MCFADDEN summed up the disappointment of the Everton players, admitting: We failed to convert possession into goals. By the time the Scot, came off the bench to make his first appearance for a month, the Blues were already 3-0 down. The defeat means Everton are still without a Premiership win in 2004. McFadden said: "It's never nice to lose, but the manner in which we lost was not good for us. It was just one of those games when we did not play too well. It was Birmingham's night, not ours. "It looked as if we could score goals and Gary Naysmith had a few great balls into the box, but we just didn't have any breaks. We were unlucky in some aspects. We did not take our chances. Birmingham took theirs and came away with three points. "We proved last Saturday that we could come back from three goals down, but it's hard to do that twice in a week. We keep losing goals just after half-time and it does us no favours." The only bright spot for McFadden was that he at last got some time on the pitch, replacing Tomasz Radzinski for the final 30 minutes. The midfielder has had to sit patiently on the bench waiting for his opportunity after recovering from a thigh strain. He added: "I have missed four or five games, a couple because of the injury and the rest just trying to get back into the side. I'm back in the first 16 now and hopefully I can stay there."
Jeffers' Blues future in doubt
Feb 12 2004 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
FRANCIS JEFFERS' future at Everton is clouded in doubt - after the on-loan striker was left out of Everton's 16-man squad at Birmingham last night.Jeffers, was hauled off at half-time against Manchester United on Saturday, and failed even to make the substitutes' bench at St Andrew's - despite Blues' boss David Moyes' comments recently that whichever forward was scoring goals would earn a first team place. Jeffers scored in both FA Cup ties against Fulham, but has clearly failed to win over his boss., Glasgow Rangers publically declared their interest earlier this week, but with the transfer window now closed no move can take place until the summer. No-one threatened a goal last night, and Moyes said: "I'm really disappointed in the performance, and it's not just the players, it's me as well. "As a club it's not them, it's we, and we didn't perform well enough tonight.
"It was a poor performance and we can't complain about the outcome. There were too many things wrong but we just couldn't keep them out. We didn't have an awful lot of things to defend against in as much as I wouldn't say they had loads of opportunities. But every time they went forward they scored and every time we went forward we didn't score." Moyes went on: "In that first period we were okay, but if you can't score at one end and you concede at the other you know what's going to happen. "We defended so poorly that we didn't give ourselves a chance. If you actually took the goals out you would probably say that Everton had the more territorial advantage and probably the more crosses. "But Birmingham defended when they had to, we didn't, and when they got half chances they took them and we didn't take ours."
Jeffers' Blues future in doubt
Feb 12 2004 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
FRANCIS JEFFERS' future at Everton is clouded in doubt - after the on-loan striker was left out of Everton's 16-man squad at Birmingham last night. Jeffers, was hauled off at half-time against Manchester United on Saturday, and failed even to make the substitutes' bench at St Andrew's - despite Blues' boss David Moyes' comments recently that whichever forward was scoring goals would earn a first team place. Jeffers scored in both FA Cup ties against Fulham, but has clearly failed to win over his boss. Glasgow Rangers publically declared their interest earlier this week, but with the transfer window now closed no move can take place until the summer. No-one threatened a goal last night, and Moyes said: "I'm really disappointed in the performance, and it's not just the players, it's me as well. "As a club it's not them, it's we, and we didn't perform well enough tonight.
"It was a poor performance and we can't complain about the outcome. There were too many things wrong but we just couldn't keep them out. "We didn't have an awful lot of things to defend against in as much as I wouldn't say they had loads of opportunities. But every time they went forward they scored and every time we went forward we didn't score." Moyes went on: "In that first period we were okay, but if you can't score at one end and you concede at the other you know what's going to happen. "We defended so poorly that we didn't give ourselves a chance. If you actually took the goals out you would probably say that Everton had the more territorial advantage and probably the more crosses. "But Birmingham defended when they had to, we didn't, and when they got half chances they took them and we didn't take ours."
Blues' panto best by a nose
Feb 12 2004 Liverpool Echo
BREAK A LEG?
Time was when you couldn't shout those words within ear-shot of Dave Watson and Brian Labone without a flotilla of forwards fleeing for cover. But next month the legendary Everton defenders will be uttering the traditional theatrical good luck message at the Royal Court Theatre, before being joined on stage by former team-mates like Howard Kendall, John Bailey and Roger Kenyon.
The first Everton Panto is the brainchild of Brian Snagg's Bluenose Promotions. The football-themed family show will be staged from March 30 through to April 3. An amalgam of respected actors like Evertonian Kenneth Cope, seasoned panto veterans like Billy Butler and Mickey Finn (both diehard Blues) and former Goodison players from yesteryear, Snow Blue and the Seven Blue Noses is an hilarious production aimed at a family audience.
Tickets are on sale now from the Royal Court Box Office (£10, £12 and £15).
For further information telephone 07747-011014.
Youngsters keen to secure position
Academy Football, With Chris Wright, Daily Post
Feb 13 2004
EVERTON under-17s aim to snuff out the challenge of Blackburn Rovers tomorrow and close in on leaders Manchester United. Gary Ablett's side are now two points behind Manchester United, after last week's fixture with Crewe was called off. Even so, the Blues have that game in hand but face one of the most improved sides in the division tomorrow in Blackburn Rovers at Netherton (kick-off 11am). And with a Merseyside derby next week and a third, and possibly title-deciding, meeting with United to follow, Ablett knows they need to win. He said: "It is a real biggie. They drew with United and equalised with a penalty, and that suited us. "It is in our own hands and if we continue to pick up our points it should be no problem. But if we don't play as we can we will be in trouble."
Republic of Ireland defender Alan Kearney should return from international duty. Laurence Wilson has now fully recovered from the injury that saw him miss 10 days' training. Everton under-19s will aim to get back to winning ways after last week's draw at Wolverhampton Wanderers. Neil Dewsnip's side are unbeaten in their last three matches but have a tough task when they take on runaway FA Premier Academy League Group A leaders Manchester City at Netherton tomorrow (kick-off 11am). Dewsnip has been pleased with his side's determination to get results even when they are not at their best, as they did in last week's draw with Wolves. He said: "It is a smashing quality to have. It is not a oneoff because they have shown that spirit consistently throughout the season. It says a lot about the players - that they have a passion and a determination not to lose a game. But what we need to do is give a better technical performance against Manchester City."
Robert Booth didn't play last week due to an ear infection, but the Blues are hoping he can recover by tomorrow, while Brian Moogan is a doubt.
We must correct faults - Moyes
Report By David Prior, Daily Post
Feb 13 2004
DAVID MOYES has admitted Everton have "fundamental faults" which need correcting before their 13-game Premiership battle for survival resumes in eight days' time. The Goodison club's season hit a new low on Wednesday when they crashed to a 3-0 defeat at Birmingham to remain winless in the Premiership in 2004. More worryingly for Moyes, the St Andrews setback was a far cry from the encouraging performances against Arsenal, Liverpool and in the second half against Manchester United, and arguably for the first time cast doubt on the theory that Everton are 'too good' to go down. And now Moyes has acknowledged the seriousness of his side's predicament - they are just four points from safety - by promising a wholescale review of the team before their season resumes with a tricky trip to Southampton a week on Saturday. He said: "We'd like to get the next game round but I think we've got a bit of preparation, a bit of work to do before we get there - on our play and the overall shape of the team. "It's a fundamental fault. We're not defending well and we're not scoring the goals when we get those opportunities." Everton again spurned a host of chances in the Midlands, failing to capitalise on a sustained period of domination in between City's first and second goals, and a suckerpunch strike from on-loan Chelsea striker Mikael Forssell just after the break meant there was little chance of another second-half revival. And Moyes admitted the result, which leaves Everton still without maximum points since their 1-0 vic-tory in the home fixture against BIrmingham on December 28, represented a blow but one that had to be forgotten as soon as possible. "It was an important game for us, one that we'd have liked to win but it wasn't to be. We need to put that behind us and get ready for the next one now," he added. "You just put the players out and you hope that they're going to give you the best performance that they can."
Meanwhile winger James McFadden, who came on for Tomasz Radzinski after an hour on Wednesday, admitted the manner of Everton's defeat was a concern. He said: "We proved on Saturday that we can come back from three goals down, but it's hard to do that twice in a week. But we keep losing goals just after half-time and it's not doing us any favours. "It's hard to say what went wrong. Watching a game is entirely different to playing in it. It's easy to point out things from the sidelines, but we can't really say what happened. The difference was that they took their chances and we missed ours. "But we looked as though we could score goals, Gary Naysmith put in a few great balls and there was good delivery going into the box, but we just didn't have any breaks. We were unlucky in certain aspects and they took their chances. "It was a major disappointment. It's never nice to lose, but the manner in which we lost wasn't good at all. I think it was just one of those games. We didn't play too well." He added: "We've got a break now. I don't know if it's a help or a hindrance - only time will tell."
Time to move on
Post Soapbox, Daily Post & Icliverpool
Feb 13 2004
Time to move on
AFTER another defeat at Birmingham, the Blues need to have the biggest end of season clear-out ever. Any player out of contract or prone to long periods of injury should be shown the door.
Show no sentiment towards players also being childhood fans. David Moyes needs to be ruthless with the axe. It's quality we need. After all, how many of the Everton squad would get in to any other Premiership team.
Neil Bull (via e-mail)
IT'S typical that David Moyes thought he could just put the second half team out against Birmingham, lump the ball up to Ferguson or play keepy ball. I'm starting to realise that there's nothing more to Moysey than honesty and hard work Liverpool sprayed the ball around against us and hit us on the break at amazing speed. Man U...well, say no more. My point is, have a look at how Everton attack on the break. It's pathetic! Slow,obvious and schoolboy mentality. We need someone with creativity and brains who will bring in excellent finishers and passers like Henry and Vieira, not more (f)ailing Scotsmen!
Andy Devey, Liverpool
EVERTON fans, I call on you to wear Sven-Goran Eriksson masks for all future matches. It's the only way Rooney will play well for us if he thinks the bald Swede is watching
Ian Shaw, Merseyside
Carsley must go
I HAVE to agree with most Blue supporters - Lee Carsley should not be playing football for Everton. I have watched his last few games and he contributes absolutely nothing to the game. Another few points on the first-half perfomance. In defence, once again we showed how bad we really can be. There was no communication which is the main problem.
Peter Blue, Liverpool
What price loyalty?
I AM a season ticket holder in Lower Gwladys Street and was at the game on Saturday. I would just like to say how disgusted I was with the amount of so-called Evertonians who left at half-time.
It's all good and well when we are winning, but you have to take the good with the bad.
So when we are losing 3-0 to one of the best teams in the world you don't just leave. The true fans stayed and cheered our team back to 3-3. You other lot who left early should take a long hard look at yourselves.
Dave Booth, Liverpool
Race row must be resolved, says peer
Report By David Prior, Daily Post
Feb 13 2004
DUNCAN FERGUSON'S race row with Luis Boa Morte must be resolved soon before it becomes "a festering wound", one of Britain's top black politicians insisted last night. Fulham winger Boa Morte, accused the Everton veteran of racially abusing him during the two sides' 1-1 FA Cup draw at Goodison Park on January 25. Since then the incident has courted much speculation, with Fulham waiting 11 days before filing an official complaint to the Football Association, who have since spent a week investigating the case. And Lord Taylor of Warwick, one of the Conservatives' most senior black politicians, has called for an immediate resolution to the episode. He said: "It's dragged on far too long already and we can't have it dragging on for weeks and weeks because it's like a festering wound. "All sorts of other allegations could then be made. People then start to lose the focus and it grows out of all proportion. "Nobody died and I'm not sure a lot of good can come out of feuds.
"These players will face each other again so are we going to have a running feud every time they play? "The teams will play each other next season and the season after. Do we want a running feud every year because of the incident? No." Lord Taylor, who in 1996 became the youngest and only black peer in the House of Lords, has forged a political career out of tackling race issues. He is part of the All Party Foot-ball Group and yesterday called for greater multi-race inclusion in football and the radical redistribution of wealth across the sport. Fulham boss Chris Coleman has given up his hope that Boa Morte and Ferguson will hold a face-to-face meeting to resolve the situation - Ferguson denies all Boa Morte's allegations - but Lord Taylor called for that to happen. "I accept that, if what was said was said, there would have to be repercussions," he added. "But it's much better that they both shake hands and learn from it. And let's put it this way - both sides need to learn lessons, Boa Morte and others. "So I hope the players can shake hands, meaning there is peace and they can get on with it. I'm sure it can be solved." Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore added his weight to the peer's plea, asking the FA to deal with the bust-up promptly.
Players need to wake up to drop danger
Fanscene, By Mark O'Brien, Daily Post
Feb 13 2004
WHERE do you start after a week like that? With the ultimately doomed comeback against Manchester United, the nonsense at the end of the same match or the heinous display at St Andrews and the very real danger of relegation? The events of the second half of the United game made all the headlines and distracted attention from an opening 45 minutes that was as bad as anything seen at Goodison in living memory. As a result perhaps we shouldn't have been too surprised when the players produced an equally limp performance against Birmingham a few days later. Birmingham didn't have to be any better than competent to turn us over in what must have been their easiest win of the season. The fact that none of our players were booked while we were being torn apart by stars such as Stan Lazaridis and Damien John-son speaks volumes about their attitude. Many of us thought relegation fights were a thing of the past but our record in the league since the turn of the year - no wins whatsoever - means that at the moment we look the side most likely to do the late dash for the bottom three. We have to visit all of the teams in the relegation zone for a start, and with our appalling away record the likes of Leicester and Leeds must be rubbing their hands in anticipation of clambering over us and up to safety. Although we eventually lost, the players did demonstrate for half an hour against the champions that we can still play a bit and cause teams problems when we put our mind to it. There simply has to be more of the kind of spirit if we're to extricate ourselves from this mess that we're in. Perhaps Joseph Yobo's return from the African Nations Cup might make a difference - who knows, it really does feel like straw clutching time at the moment. As for the incidents at the end of the Manchester United match, it really has become a bit played out now, all this reporting players to the police. Most people agree that no one should face six to 10 in the state pen for the use of industrial language, although some of the comments in the national papers saying that United players shouldn't even answer to the FA for their actions seem a bit strange. Would the likes of Oliver Holt be as keen to defend the rights of players to retaliate to provocation from the terraces if it was the likes of Alan Shearer, Robbie Savage or Duncan Ferguson, for instance, doing the gesticulating at Old Trafford? And was he as keen to brand Liverpool supporters 'mean spirited hypocritical fools' when they were wasting police time with their spitting allegations against Wayne Rooney?
Weir missing David more than anyone
Feb 13 2004 By Howard Kendall, Liverpool Echo
THE number of goals Everton have been conceding lately shows just how much they are missing the experience of David Weir in the heart of defence. He has formed a consistent and rock-solid partnership with Alan Stubbs. While David Unsworth has done very well in his absence, it takes time to develop the understanding Weir and Stubbs have between them. Evertonians will be very disappointed with the goals their team has conceded in recent games, but I'm not so sure even the presence of Joseph Yobo would have made a difference. Sometimes when a player is out of the team, as Yobo has been because of international duty, they become a better player in the minds of the fans. But Weir is the player they are missing most. Up front, the situation with Wayne Rooney baffles me. I cannot remember a team in the bottom six keeping an England striker on the bench.
Perhaps Arsenal or Manchester United could nurse a young player along, but the time has come for Rooney to be playing regularly in his preferred position. With the Blues having no game this weekend, the enforced break could be a benefit to them given the run they are in at the moment.
They now have time to take stock and work on a few tactics to improve future results. It will also give the lads a bit of a breather because they are now involved in a dogfight at the bottom of the table. No one needs to be told that from now on every game is vital for Everton. I have a feeling that Leeds will climb out of the drop zone. They still have too many good players and there seems to be good team spirit there. If they are in the right frame of mind, they can escape the drop. I still believe the three sides promoted to the Premiership last season - Wolves, Leicester and Portsmouth - will go back down again. Everton, along with the likes of Manchester City, will do enough to stay up.
Back to basics time
YOU cannot win the title when you are conceding as many goals as Manchester United are. You are in trouble if you have to rely on your forwards - however good they are - to score three or four goals to win each game. Their leaky defence is not just down to Rio Ferdinand's absence, either. He is sorely missed, but United have failed to resolve their problems at the back for some time now. Until they do, the title looks destined for Highbury.
New rule flagging
FIFA'S latest directive on the offside rule is absolute nonsense. In an attempt to clarify when a player is interfering with another, they have made the officials' jobs more difficult. If a player is on the pitch and in an offside position, he is offside. Simple as that. FIFA always feel they have to tinker with the rules, but it is not for the good of the game. It puts too much pressure on the referee and his assistants who already have a difficult job to do.
Mistakes costing us - Moyes
Feb 13 2004 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES has urged a back to basics approach for his Everton side - after admitting fundamental errors have seen his side lose their last three matches. The Blues went down 3-0 at Birmingham on Wednesday, after the heartbreaking 4-3 defeat to Manchester United four days earlier, while a 2-1 extra-time FA Cup exit at Fulham means the Blues do not have a game tomorrow. "We would like to get the next game round, but I think we have got a bit of work to do before we go there. We need to work on our play and the overall shape of the team," said Moyes. After criticism of the forwards for failing to turn chances into goals, Moyes turned his wrath on the Blues' defence in midweek.
"It's a fundamental fault. We are not defending well," he said, "and we are not scoring the goals when we get the opportunities. "It was an important game for us in midweek. We need to put that behind us and get ready for the next one now." One player unlikely to be involved in that next game - at Southampton a week tomorrow - is England Under- 21 defender Peter Clarke. He was in Coventry today talking about a possible month's loan deal with the First Division club. The young defender, who has previously enjoyed loans at Black-pool and Port Vale, has not figured in the first team since the defeat at Blackburn last year. Clarke made his debut for Everton at Highfield Road in January 2001.
Why rights can sometimes be wrong choice for redemption
Report By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Feb 16 2004
NOT ALL share rights issues guarantee salvation for a football club, the Everton shareholders were warned. Celtic's successful 1994 scheme rescued the club from the brink of bankruptcy, laid the foundations for their awesome 60,000-seater stadium and has been held up as the model for any Goodison programme to follow.Former owner Fergus McCann's five-year plan involved modest teamrebuilding but improving the infrastructure of the Glasgow club.He left Celtic Park, (pictured), with his vision complete, and a £30m profit, in 1999.But while McCann's plan helped revitalise the Scottish giants and increase fans' involvement in the running of the club, a third share rights issue has become a source of contention among the wider Celtic fanbase.Guest speaker Sean Hamill, the secretary of the Celtic Trust, which was formed in the wake of McCann's departure, admit-ted share rights issues had helped restrain club's spending by having a fans' representative on the board."Supporters feel they are in charge of the family silver so they are more prudent and anxious to avoid mistakes," he said.And he explained how Celtic have experienced both the positives and negatives of refinancing this way."There are a lot of similarities between Everton now and Celtic in 1994, and in many cases Celtic were worse," said Hamill."Celtic were on the brink of collapse in 1993-94, the stadium was grim, the owners had no vision of where the club was going, and there was talk of building a new fabulous stadium out of the city."Then Fergus McCann bought the club and set out a clear five-year strategy. The 1995 shares rights issue raised £9.4m with 12,000 people buying into the club. Yet even when the share price rose from 55p to £5.51, no-one sold them. Fans aren't in it for a profit."The stadium was rebuilt by 1999 and crowds were up from 20,000 to 60,000. It was a modest, gradual redevelopment of the stadium but it helped raise the value of the club. A virtuous circle."In 1999 there was another shares issue to buy out Fergus, who had always stated he would leave after five years."When he left Fergus stated: 'I believe it is important the ordinary supporters have a say in the running of their club. Celtic cannot end up like Manchester United, who are owned by (majority) institutions. Celtic Football Club is an institution that should not be in the hands of one individual'."The Celtic Supporters Trust was set up in December 1999 as an independent voice for Celtic's now 22,000 independent share-holders, and had a representative on the board of the PLC."As a result our AGMs are real AGMs, we discuss real financial issues and are not fobbed off with talk of who we are going to buy next season."But there was a breakdown in managerial discipline during the time of John Barnes and Kenny Dalglish. Fergus McCann left Celtic virtually debt-free and less than two years later we were £20m in debt."Another share rights issue took place in 2001, but it was only for privileged investors and as a result the 1994 shareholders, who helped save the club, have seen their privileges eroded."It has got to be a fair share rights issue to workproperly. We are now in a situation where we are being told there is no money for transfers this summer, yet £2.5m is committed to paying dividends to those who could afford to buy the privileged shares in 2001."Hamill admitted supporter apathy to a club's financial structure is a major problem when the team is delivering on the pitch."You cannot see the storm clouds when you finish seventh in the league and you have Wayne Rooney," he said."It is the same with us at Celtic now. Martin O'Neill has got Celtic out of jail by managing the money so well but now Henrik Larsson is on the verge of leaving and there is talk of O'Neill leaving too. If that happens, we have problems."
But he sees supporter investment in Everton as a vital step towards halting the Goodison's club continuing decline.Hamill added: "When times are hard or when a major expansion is planned a club needs an organised supporter input. Football clubs are peculiar types of businesses and very few make money. Something has got to change at Everton. The club cannot continue as it is."
United joining Rooney chase
Report By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Feb 16 2004
ShareEVERTON are bracing themselves for a transfer tussle over Wayne Rooney this summer with Manchester United joining Chelsea in the hunt for the Goodison star.Sir Alex Ferguson has been strongly tipped to contest Roman Abramovich's interest in the 18-year-old striker, (right), with a firm bid at the end of this season.But it will require an offer of around £25million before Goodison officials consider sanctioning a sale that would cause uproar among their sup-port.Everton last night insisted they have received no enquiries for the England international, who is yet to recapture the stunning form of his debut Premiership season and has scored only four goals this season.A Goodison spokesman said: "We have not had any contact from any club with regard to Wayne Rooney and nor would we welcome any."But it appears inevitable Everton's resolve to keep their prized asset will be severely tested at the end of this season when Rooney's future comes under fierce scrutiny.Goodison officials are to hold talks with Rooney's representatives, ProActive, this summer over a new long-term contract to tie him to his boy-hood club.Rooney currently earns a basic £13,000 a week but Everton will have to at least double that figure to get an extension signed.Both Bill Kenwright and David Moyes have consistently stated selling the club's one true star is not an option as they seek to rebuild Goodison fortunes.But whether they can resist a £25m offer given the club's parlous financial state is debatable.Ferguson, who saw Rooney inspire Everton's three-goal fight-back against United 10 days ago, is said to have been alerted by Chelsea's interest in the teenager and accepted he must try to lure Britain's brightest young talent to Old Trafford at all costs.
Everton are living beyond their means
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Feb 16 2004
WILL IT be investment from some of the poorest Premiership fans in the country or the disappearing escape route of a shared stadium with Liverpool that saves Everton?Either way, any way, as the Everton Shareholders Association were painfully reminded this week, something must be done.Both the ESA and the current Goodison board have been exploring ways of refinancing a club which, for all the heights of last season, the presence of David Moyes, (pictured), and the emergence of Wayne Rooney, remains in serious difficulty.Recent £30million debts have been securitised with long-term loans but are by no means the end of Everton's troubles or a way to compete with the main Premiership players again.The need for fresh investment has seen the vice-chairman of the ESA, Steve Allinson, call for a share rights issue that could raise £15m to help Moyes' team rebuilding and, in the continued absence of any new stadium proposals, redevelopment at Goodison Park.His proposals were explored at an "Investment in Everton" forum this week, where the benefits of the five-year plan that revived Celtic in the 1990s were discussed, as were the consequences facing the Blues if they continue without one.Reiterating the need for a share rights issue at Goodison, Allinson explained: "Everton is short of investment, yet there are so many things going for the club, not least the 500,000 fanbase in the UK alone which does justify the club's claim to still be among the biggest in the country."There has to be opportunity to bring all of that support together for the benefit of investment in Everton Football Club. "There is also huge interest worldwide in the club, but the club are not utilising that possible investment. It is too easy to push the burden on to those paying at the match each week - there are people out there prepared to invest in the club. "Resourcing any organisation is ultimately the responsibility of the owners. And this is about helping the current board."There are currently 35,000 shares in Everton, of which around 25,000 are owned by True Blue. A move to 50,000 shares could be achieved without compromising their control."This is the first step towards developing greater fan investment in the club. It is an important stepping stone."It is established stepping stones - in the form of better facilities at Goodison Park and a dose of realism in the transfer market - that Everton desperately needs, according management consult-ant Joe Beardwood.Beardwood, of Sheridan Binnie - a consultancy that has worked with a number of professional football and rugby clubs - insisted a new commercial strategy is necessary at Goodison to halt its continuing financial slide.Rather than compare Everton's financial results with its former 'Big Five' colleagues Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool, plus new Premiership elite Chelsea and Newcastle - who are all way out of the Blues' financial reach with turnovers in excess of £100m last year - Beardwood compared the Blues with the Premiership middle-tier.And even against Southampton, Manchester City, Tottenham, Aston Villa and Leeds - all clubs with turnovers of £65m or less - the Blues can be found wanting.Beardwood said: "Everton is under-performing as a business in terms of commercial activity. Of those six clubs, Southampton are now bigger than Everton with a £49m turnover against a £47m turnover based on last season's annual reports."Of those six, Everton are most reliant on TV money, with £25.2m of its turnover from media and merit payments last year. It raised only £7m from commercial activities, compare that with Fulham who, with an average attendance of 16,000, raised £5.5m. City raised £15m from commercial activites, Spurs £16m."Everton's turnover is higher than Aston Villa, but Villa have the strong-est balance sheet by far. They have a decent stadium, good corporate facilities and no long-term debt."Tottenham have £31m worth of assets and Southampton £53m fixed assets. They took on £31m debt to build their new stadium but have £11m net assets after its construction so are in good shape."Everton, by contrast, have negative liabilites of £6m, with only £5m worth of tangible assets from the stadium, corporate facilities and Bellefield. They are £40m in debt with £6m liabilites and £12m losses last year."Manchester City have negative liabilites of £11m even after their new stadium and Leeds £44m."He added: "Clubs are risking their long-term futures with long-term loans, which in some cases are 15 times their earnings."The middle-tier Premiership clubs are spending more than they can earn. The Sky television deal is critical to their survival and is now under threat from the likes of Dermot Desmond at Celtic, who want to break the Premiership cartel so that clubs could negotiate their own deals. That would mean Manchester United could earn £50m from Sky but a club like Everton far less."Sky TV revenues are critical to the health of these six clubs and anything that erodes that will have a huge impact on them."Everton had the second poorest socio-economic profile of fans in a survey conducted last season behind only West Bromwich Albion, who have now been relegated.Yet Liverpool's is far higher and not, according to Beardwood, purely as a result of wider support but the corporate facilities Anfield has to offer and Goodison crucially lacks.There is not a great deal of difference in the amount fans spend at any Premiership ground on a match-day," he said. "But Everton only has 1,300 corporate seats."Liverpool are more than twice the size of Everton now. Everton's turnover of £47m is not enough to compete at the highest level of the Premier League and shareholders need to get behind a strategy to turn it into a £60m business with great customer service and a great product. Most games are sold out, but the off-pitch commercial activities are under-performing. The stadium is holding Everton back in terms of corporate facilities."A fundamental asset for every solid club are good stadium facilites that can generate guaranteed revenue stream week in, week out."Beardwood advocated a shared stadium with Liverpool as the best way out for Everton, and warned it would not be possible for the Blues to consider keeping Rooney, who has been strongly linked to a £20m move to Manchester United.He said: "When Everton played Liverpool in the recent Merseyside derby at Anfield it was, in effect, a club with a £24m wage bill versus a club with a £54m wage bill."A responsible business must resist the temptation to break its salary cap, which means Everton cannot afford to pay for England internationals."If Rooney was to set Euro 2004 alight he could demand the going rate, which would be around £70,000 a week. If Everton paid that they could go bankrupt, and choosing not to sell Rooney would raise corporate governance issues."The club has got to get its annual turnover up to around £60m-£70m a year. One-off lifts are not the answer."The projections for 2004 are worse, there is little chance of finishing seventh again this season so the operating losses could be around £13m."The club will not be able to afford Wayne Rooney in two or three years' time."Beardwood added: "The club is living beyond its means and is under-performing when benchmarked against other similar Premiership clubs."The issue is 'Investing in Everton' and for me the bottom line is if £15m was raised and spent on a new BullensRoad stand with great facilities it will be money well spent. "If £15m was raised just to strengthen the squad it would be a case of more of the same. The club needs to address the fundamental issue which is its lack of a year in, year out revenue stream. Shareholders should be leading the campaign not to spend money and focus on key performance indicators. They need to persuade the fans that Everton have not got the money to spend on the likes of Nicky Butt, who is a £15m acquisition in himself."The need for prudence in the Premiership was outlined by Sir Philip Carter at last year's AGM and only on Friday by chief executive Michael Dunford.Dunford said: "While we are all ambitious, and nobody's more ambitious than Bill Kenwright and the board at Everton, there has to be a degree of prudence. If you spend money you don't have, in most cases it ends in tears."ESA vice-chairman Allinson admit-ted the money from a share rights issue would have to be carefully designated to have the desired impact.He said: "Throwing money at players isn't the answer but we do have to give David Moyes leeway in the transfer market."But there are other opportunities going begging. The Bullens Road Stand, another tier on the Park End Stand which, at £7.5m and containing corporate facilities, could generate £4m-£5m a year."That is an ideal purpose for raising funds in this way. We have a magnificent level of support that is not tapped into. It needs to be harnessed."
Offside is a mystery to Moyes
Feb 16 2004 Liverpool Echo
EVERTON manager David Moyes believes the new interpretation of the offside rule is "rubbish".
FIFA's new directives on the law have caused widespread confusion in the English game since they came into effect earlier this season. Bolton manager Sam Allardyce exploited the rule - which allows a player to be as far as offside as he likes as long as he does not interfere with play - to the full against Leicester when he ordered players to take up positions well beyond the last defender.
But like Allardyce, Moyes, hopes FIFA see sense and scrap the directives and has called on the Professional Footballers Association to act. "I think it's rubbish, I really do. And I think the PFA should stand up and say something," he revealed. "Managers and coaches are distraught by the thought of it and we feel that with all our years in the game, we've developed an understanding of the rules. "But at this moment in time, we're all completely unaware of when a referee will give offside and when he won't." Moyes was faced with the dilemma of whether to exploit the new directive in last Wednesday's Premiership clash with Birmingham. But a quick chat with opposite number Steve Bruce sorted out the problem. He explains: "We've talked about using it to our advantage, but I have got to say that myself and Steve Bruce quickly had a chat and agreed that we would rather play to the rules that we know and that we wouldn't abuse it. "I think we're all disappointed and quite upset that a change has occurred in the middle of a season, causing our referees and their assistants to be ignorant of the rules themselves. It is nonsense. "To be fair, they are in the dark because they've told me. We're all in favour of making football more attractive, but I certainly don't think the Premiership is in need of any more action than what we already get.
"Our country doesn't need football speeded up more than it already is. It's played at a fast pace, with lots of goals and action. "I get the feeling that this rule has been introduced for other countries and not necessarily ours."
Blues await Li Tie news
Feb 16 2004 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON were today seeking confirmation that Li Tie has broken his shin whilst on international duty. The midfielder, was injured over the weekend in a collision with teammate Yang Pu at China's training camp ahead of Wednesday's World Cup qualifier against Kuwait. Initial reports suggested the injury was not serious but Everton have since heard that Li Tie has suffered a suspected fractured shin and that he could be out for the rest of the season. Everton head physio Mick Rathbone said: "I heard on Saturday night that there were some reports coming from the Chinese training camp suggesting Li Tie had sustained a serious injury. "We have not been able to contact the player but his agent flew out there today. "I have spoken to his agent and he didn't think it was too serious but we are awaiting confirmation, which we will not receive until tonight." Meanwhile, defender David Weir is recovering well from the knee ligament injury he sustained for the reserves last month and is set to return to training in two weeks. Richard Wright is already back training with goalkeeping coach Chris Woods and will step up his kicking work in the next couple of weeks now he has recovered from the knee operation he underwent in Colorado before Christmas. Meanwhile, Everton and Manchester United have distanced selves from reports ing the Old Trafford club with a £25m summer swoop for Wayne Rooney. United have refused to comment on the reports, although a number of senior players made a point of telling manager Sir Alex Ferguson how greatly Rooney had impressed them follow-ing their recent 4-3 win at Goodison. An Everton spokesman said: "We have not had any contact from any club with regard to Wayne Rooney and nor would we welcome any." Rooney still has two years remaining on his Goodison contract. The 18-year-old will begin negotiations on a new long-term deal in the summer.
£5m - may be Moyes' lot for transfers
Feb 16 2004 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
THE possibility of Everton being dragged into another end of season battle against relegation will not convince the club's board to loosen it's purse strings. That is the message from chief executive Michael Dunford, who insists the club's prudent approach to finances is the key to avoiding a Leeds-style financial crisis. David Moyes will not be able to dip into the transfer market again until the summer. But when he does, it seems he is unlikely to be given a bigger transfer kitty than the £5m he had at his disposal last summer. "I think our board in recent years may have received some criticism from certain sections for not spending more, but you have to look at the Leeds United situation - do you go for the dream?" explained Dunford. "The dream inevitably costs and who picks up the eventual bill? While we are all ambitious - nobody is more ambitious than Bill Kenwright and the board of Everton - there has to be a degree of prudence. If you spend money you don't have in most cases it ends in tears." Everton have already demonstrated their determination to keep a close eye on finances amidst a changing financial climate. A freeze has been placed on new contract negotiations, with even Wayne Rooney having to wait until the summer before sitting down to discuss terms. David Unsworth has been the only one of a host of senior squad players out of contract in the summer to be offered a new deal. The experienced defender turned down the one-year extension on reduced wages and no new deal will be put on the table until the end of the season. It is a frugal approach which helps explain Dunford's lukewarm response to last week's Independent Football Commission's report into the running of the game. Set up by the government two years ago to scrutinise the effectiveness of football's governing body, the IFC's report called for change in the financial structure of the game because of the growing chasm in English football between the rich and the poor. It's findings led to a proposal from MPs for a rugby-style salary cap, which would initially be introduced in the Nationwide League before being adopted in the Premiership. But Dunford's response is cautious: "Premier League clubs are mindful of that situation and from the summer it looks likely that insolvency brings a nine-point reduction.
"But I think what we're missing here is that a lot of clubs, including Everton, have identified that we couldn't go on as a club spending money that we didn't make. I think the purse strings have tightened now considerably. "There is more prudency in football, there is more good housekeeping and generally good practice at far more football clubs. "I think the IFC have a role to play to work alongside the governing bodies, as a watchdog possibly, but I think self-regulation is the key to this and I think the Premier League in recent years have gone a long way in ensuring that our rule book changes consistently to reflect the present day conditions." It could be argued that the club's reluctance to speculate in order to accumulate in last summer's transfer market has backfired, with Premiership safety now far from assured. Moyes spread his cash as far as possible in order to draft in an ageing former England international goalkeeper, a midfielder fresh from the disappointment of relegation, an England Under-21 international striker who had found first team football hard to come by, and a young Scottish winger with no experience of Premiership football. All four signings have proved their mettle and justified the manager's outlay. But they were all, in their own way, gambles. It underlines exactly how tight finances are at Goodison. But the club's chief executive insists it is the correct approach. "We work to very tight budgets now, as most Premiership clubs do, and I think, particularly in the last two years, there has been more realism in people's view on how they should deal with football finances," he adds. "You have to deal with it from a commonsense point of view. The most important thing at any football club has always got to be what happens on the pitch. Good management is equally important, both on and off the pitch, and I do think now we've learned unfortunate lessons from the likes of Bradford, Leicester and, more recently, Leeds.
"What is the point of Everton over-extending ourselves to that degree? Banks simply won't allow you to do it. "There aren't the lending situations out there now to support that kind of investment, anyway. "Clubs in the future going on to the Stock Market will be very few and far between. I don't think there's an appetite in the City to support football in that way. "There's a great deal more prudence now. A lot of clubs were l earning their lessons in a hard way and you can't endanger the existence of the club by being reckless with finances."
Wright to fight for Goodison gloves
Report By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Feb 17 2004
RICHARD WRIGHT could be given the allclear to challenge Nigel Martyn for the Everton number one spot today. The England international, is expected to return to full training for the first time since undergoing surgery on a persistent knee problem in December. That operation, performed at the Colorado clinic of renowned knee specialist Dr Richard Steadman, was the second Wright has had to endure in a season ruined by injury and in which Martyn has established himself as David Moyes' first choice keeper. But he can begin the formidable challenge of ousting the veteran from the Goodison goal today if he receives positive news on his recovery. Everton physio Mick Rathbone said: "Richard went on a Cybex machine, which measures the strength in his legs last Wednesday, and the results were very pleasing. "He goes back on Tuesday for another evaluation and if that's equally as positive, then effectively, he's got the all clear to do everything as he would normally. He'll be working hard in the next seven days, as well as joining in training with Chris Woods. "Assuming his strength values have improved, which we expect them to, then that's the all-clear as far as we're concerned. However, he still hasn't struck the ball for long distances with his left foot yet."
Everton are still awaiting confirmation of Li Tie's injury after the midfielder was forced out of training ahead of China's World Cup qualifier with Kuwait on Friday. Some reports claimed Li Tie had broken his shin but the problem, still being assessed at a hospital in China, is not thought to be as serious as that.
Time running out for Blues to hold on to Rooney
By Mark Lawrenson, Daily Post
Feb 17 2004
WAYNE ROONEY will not be an Everton player at the start of next season. There, I've said what every Evertonian fears, but if they are honest they will recognise it makes sense to safeguard the future of the club and give David Moyes a fighting chance in the transfer market. The chances of him going are already high, with Manchester United and Chelsea sniffing around, but if he has a good Euro 2004 in the summer it will become inevitable. Put simply, Rooney, is a massive asset for Everton. Yes, that means on the pitch with his play, but also off it. If you can get £25 million for him, then that is 10 times what Everton could expect for the next most valuable player on their books, who is probably Tomasz Radzinski. There is not as much money in football these days as there was five years ago, so for the clubs with large amounts of cash to spare, money talks like never before.
We have already seen it this season with the moves of Louis Saha and Scott Parker, and to an extent Jose Antonio Reyes. I am sure all their former clubs - Fulham, Charlton and Sevilla - said the players were not going anywhere, but once the chequebook comes out it is difficult to resist. Ah yes, Evertonians might say, but those players did not have the same feeling for the club and those clubs do not have the same history and tradition as we do. That is true, but sadly that will count for very little in the final decision. On top of that you have to look at the relative positions of the clubs involved. Charlton and Fulham are both doing well in the league and are in a good financial position, whereas Everton are near to the bottom of the table and struggling to raise real financial muscle. We have already seen in yesterday's Daily Post that the Blues shareholders are worried the club will not be able to afford Wayne Rooney in a few years' time, as well as having understandable concerns about the financial power at Everton's disposal. Selling Rooney offers a quick and easy solution to both those issues in one swoop, so unless a mystery backer comes in with £50million and a lifelong love of Everton, or the mooted shares issue provides the hoped-for financial injection, I am afraid Wayne will be on his way. He will not want to go, and I am sure that every Evertonian will be loath to see him depart, but what is more important to them - watching Wayne Rooney play for Everton and then maybe being in severe financial problems in the future, or using their prize asset to safeguard the club and give it a real push towards financial stability and being able to compete in the transfer market. I am sure this is something Everton will have thought about, and while Bill Kenwright and David Moyes say he will not be sold, there may come a point when it has to happen.
I bet Rooney and his team-mates will have been put through the mill in training this week, and with no game to play, it will have seemed like a real drudge. After the disappointing defeat at Birmingham, Moyes will have spent the next four or five days kicking the players up the backside, and after that he will have worked on everything - defensive organisation, the shape of the team, you name it. What will have made it worse is that there was no game this week, no chance to put things right after the inexcusable performance in the Midlands. Every team has one match like that in a season - look at Liverpool's defeat down at Portsmouth - but Moyes and his staff will be looking to ensure that was Everton's while plotting for a victory at Southampton.
Post Soapbox, Icliverpool & Daily Post
Feb 17 2004
IT'S painful to see Everton in such a sorry state. It's about time the board and whoever backs the Blues got their act together. To see such a great club so financially mismanaged is an insult to the fans who support them.
Paul Ruffell, Widnes
MAYBE it's time for a large and painful dose of realism at Everton. The fact is Rooney plays well for Eng-land and not for Everton because when playing for the latter he is surrounded by mediocrity.
Unless the club are willing or able to invest in new talent then they should be prepared to sell him and use the funds to rebuild the side.
John Dowd, Liverpool
Ticket to ride
DARK days ahead at Everton. Where have I heard those words before? Every season (apart from last) we as Evertonians have the looming spectre of relegation hanging over us as we enter the final few months of the season. However, we as Evertonians accept this, as we buy our season tickets in the thousands, because we are Evertonians. I ask you, what other supporters of a so-called big club would put up with this? The answer, of course, is none. Do your-self and your club a favour by not renewing your season tickets for next season, because while you do the board will be happy maintaining the status quo.
Paul Jackson, Liverpool
Right to complain
I AM sick to death of people saying Everton fans should stop moaning and get behind the team.
Why should we get behind them, because the board certainly don't. Every year it's the same old thing. No money. It's time to buy some new players or we will be in Division One for a long, long time.
Peter Smith, Liverpool
Ablett anger at pair's dismissal
Academy Football, With Chris Wright, Daily Post
Feb 17 2004
GARY ABLETT was unhappy with the officiating as his Everton under-17s side missed the chance to go top of the table on Saturday. The Everton Academy coach saw his team lose 1-0 against Blackburn Rovers at Netherton on Saturday to a Joel Byrom goal just before the break. But it was the referee's handling of the match and his decision to send off captain Mark Hughes and full-back Stephen Wynne late in the match that was of concern to Ablett. The Blues are looking at the video of the match and may appeal against the dismissals. Ablett said: "I thought the referee was really poor from the first to the last. He was very inconsistent. "We are going to look at a video at everything. We are wondering why Mark Hughes was booked in the first instance. And we need to look at Stephen Wynne's for a straight red. "He said he went straight through the middle of the ball and so did most of supporters on the line right near the incident. We will watch the video and take it from there." Everton paid the price for a lacklustre first-half display when Rovers scored the only goal of the match. Ablett, whose side are now two points behind Manchester United and two points ahead of Blackburn, said: "It was possi-bly our biggest game of the season at this stage. !A win would have taken us eight points clear of Blackburn, now there are just two points in it. So it was the biggest game in terms of what was at stake and we didn't rise to the occasion." It was even worse for Neil Dewsnip's under-19s side, who lost 3-0 at runaway leaders Manchester City on Saturday.
Dewsnip said: "We were poor in both penalty areas."
EVERTON UNDER-19s: Lake; Flood, Gerrard (B Moogan 45), Potter, Fox (Molyneux 45); Booth, Gar-side, Barry, Martland; Lynch, Joseph Jones (Thorbinson 70). Subs: M Jones, Pascucci.
EVERTON UNDER-17s: Gallagher; Wynne, Hughes, Kearney, Wilson, Harris (Phelan 80), Seargeant, Boyle; Hopkins, Fowler (Vaughan 60). Subs: Jamie Jones, Johnson, Irving.
Streaky strike a fair reflection on disappointing Everton
Feb 17 2004 Liverpool Echo
A COMICAL goal consigned a strong Everton reserves side ppli-to defeat at Kidderminster's Aggborough ground last night. But despite fielding a team including Scot Gemmill, Steve Watson and Nick Chadwick, the Blues could not complain at the result. On-loan St Etienne striker Alassane N'Dour scored the only goal of the game. The home side had most of the goalscoring opportunities in a disappointing first half. Former Bolton striker Delroy Facey tested Steve Simonsen on more than one occasion, but the Blues keeper was equal each time. Laurence Wilson tried a speculative effort for the Blues, but to no avail. The Baggies were unlucky not to lead at the break, but that changed on 71 minutes when Facey's shot hit the post and N'Dour put in the rebound. The goal was a rather fortuitous effort, coming off N'Dour's shin and past Simonsen, but Albion just about deserved to be in front. The home side continued to trouble the Everton goal, Gilchrist, Berthe and James O'Connor all having chances to double the lead. Everton's only real effort of note came late on when on-loan keeper Kevin Pressman had to act quickly to divert a Patrice Pascucci cross which looked dangerous.
EVERTON: Simonsen, Wynne, Fox, Hughes, Gerrard, Gemmill, Watson, Barry, Chadwick, Symes (Pascucci 65), Wilson. Not used: B Moogan, Lake, Lynch, Potter.
Rooney will not be sold
Feb 17 2004 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES has responded to fresh speculation linking Wayne Rooney with a multi million move out of Goodison by reiterating: "He is not for sale". Manchester United and Chelsea are both reportedly ready to make £25 million bids for the 18-year-old at the end of the season.
Some pundits have speculated that Everton would be unable to resist such significant offers because of their financial situation. However, Moyes has a different view. He said: "Everton don't have to sell people. That has always been my view and that will not alter. "Unless I am told differently by the board of directors there will be no players leaving that I want to keep at the club." Meanwhile, the Blues have received good news concerning Li Tie's injury. The midfielder sustained a shin injury during training with China ahead of tomorrow's World Cup qualifier against Kuwait. Initial reports suggested the 26-year-old had broken his shin and will be missing until the end of the season but scans have revealed no break. Moyes added: "It is good news. He will only be out for three or four weeks." Because of this week's international fixtures, there is only a small group of senior players training at Bellefield but as the manager prepares for Saturday's trip to Southampton, there are only two first team play-ers currently injured. David Weir is maintaining good progress as he recovers from a knee ligament injury and Duncan Ferguson is receiving treatment on a groin strain picked up at Birminghamlast week.
Rooney 'FA Cup' insult
Feb 17 2004 By Matt Slater
EVERTON wonderboy Wayne Rooney's alleged nightclub bust-up came to a head when he was told: "You look like the FA Cup." Nicola Sunenberry, from Skelmersdale, allegedly told the striker he was a dead ringer for the famous trophy after they crossed paths. She then claims Rooney spat in her face and yelled insults, which the soccer star denies. Police have taken a statement from 23-year-old Miss Sunenberry and today confirmed they will also be speaking to Rooney. But it is expected the investigation will last up to a month as statements will have to be taken from other revellers inside Manchester's Ampersand club at the time of the alleged incident. A Greater Manchester Police spokeswoman said: "This investigation will not be concluded in a matter of days. "There are a number of statements still to be taken from people involved in the alleged incident." Rooney, 18, was with a group of team mates in the trendy nightspot when Miss Sunenberry claims they got into a row in the early hours of Sunday, February 8. She has made a complaint of common assault against Rooney but the striker's agent, Paul Stretford, says his client is innocent and is the real victim.
Kilbane: Bring on Brazil!
Feb 17 2004 By Neil Silver Echo Reporter
KEVIN KILBANE believes tomorrow's friendly against Brazil is ideal preparation for the Republic of Ireland as they gear up for their World Cup qualifiers. The Everton midfielder, thinks the glamorous occasion at Lansdowne Road is a perfect way for Brian Kerr's men to test themselves as they prepare for a qualifying campaign which sees the mighty French in their group. "This is a massive game," said Kilbane. "To play against Brazil is a boyhood dream for everybody, so we're all really looking forward to it. "We're expecting a good game and a good atmosphere. They've got tremendously talented players, and I hope it will be a good spectacle. "We've got the big qualifiers coming up at the start of next season - and these sort of games are what you want. You want to test yourself against the best players in the world, because that's what we're going to face against France." Kilbane believes the Republic players cannot afford to sit back and let Brazil play. "We've just got to go out and impose our style of play on them," the winger said. "It's only a friendly, but we're playing the best team in the world and we want a good result. They have very gifted players and we just hope to play our game." The Irish missed out on this summer's European Championship finals in Portugal, so this friendly against the world champions marks the beginning of a new era - with fresh faces hoping to establish themselves in Kerr's plans. "It's disappointing we didn't qualify," added Kilbane. "I think we let ourselves down towards the end, and we need to improve, really. "Brian is looking to bring some fresh faces into the squad - like Andy Reid of Nottingham Forest - and that can only be good for the squad. "Andy looks a tremendous player. "I think we knew that before he was in the squad, but he came in and made his debut against Canada and was outstanding." "It's only a matter of time before he's in the Premiership."
West Brom Res 1, Everton Res 0
Feb 17 2004 Daily Post
EVERTON RESERVES suffered only their fourth away defeat of the season as Alassane N'Dour's 71st-minute strike gave all three points to West Brom. The Blues fielded a fairly strong side with Scot Gemmill, Steve Watson and Nick Chadwick on show at Aggborough, home of Kidderminster.
In a disappointing first half it was the home side who had most of the goal scoring opportunities.
Former Bolton striker Delroy Facey tested Steve Simonsen on more than one occasion but the Blues keeper was equal each time. Laurence Wilson tried a speculative effort for the visitors but to no avail. The Baggies dominated the first half and were unlucky not to lead at the break. However that changed on 71 minutes when Facey's shot hit the post and Alassane N'Dour, on loan from St Etienne, put in the rebound. The goal was a rather fortuitous effort but Albion just about deserved to be in front. The home side continued to trouble Simonsen's goal, Gilchrist, Berthe and James O'Conner all having chances to double the lead. Everton's only real effort of note came late on when on-loan keeper Kevin Pressman had to act quicly to divert a Patrice Pascucci cross which looked dangerous.
In truth Everton never looked like troubling the former Sheffield Wednesday keeper and the result was accurate if not spectacular.
WEST BROM RESERVES: Pressman, J Chambers, Berthe, Volmer, N'Dour, A Chambers, O'Conner, Gilchrist, Dyer(Martin 80), Facey, Skoubo. Subs: Jones, Brown, Mkandawire, Adams.
EVERTON RESERVES: Simonsen; Wynne, Fox, Hughes, Gerrard; Gemmill, Watson, Barry, Wilson; Chadwick, Symes (Pascucci 65). Subs: B Moogan, Lake, Lynch, Potter.
Rooney plays waiting game
February 17, 2004
Manchester Evening News
WAYNE Rooney is set to wait until after Euro 2004 before discussing a new contract with Everton, prompting speculation that he could make a summer switch to Old Trafford. The England striker is easily Everton's prized asset and, despite talk to the contrary, the club's debts mean that they would have to consider accepting any offer over £20 million. Despite having a disappointing domestic season, Rooney's form for England and obvious talent would be enough to line up a string of suitors over the summer with Chelsea and Real Madrid also known admirers. Everton have insisted that they have not had any offers, adding that they would not welcome bids, but having fully expected the 18-year-old to have signed a new deal by now they are thought to be growing increasingly anxious at the prospect he will be prised away. Rooney signed his first professional contract 12 months ago, but although that deal runs until 2006 the club had hoped to tie him to a longer, lucrative new deal. With Sir Alex Ferguson a known admirer of Rooney and keen to rejuvenate his squad, the Everton player would appear to be a perfect signing though the price tag could be prohibitive should the United manager also wish to strengthen other areas over the summer.
Roon can sparkle - Moyes
Feb 18 2004 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES is willing Wayne Rooney to sparkle on the England stage again tonight.
And the Blues' boss admits he would have no fears of his 18-year-old shining at Euro 2004.
Reports suggest that rich predators are readying themselves for a summer bite for the Everton striker. And with talks about a contract improvement not scheduled until after the June championships, Evertonians are bracing themselves for the worst. But Moyes said: "We all want Wayne to do well - tonight and this summer. "I've said all along he's not for sale. That hasn't changed and I don't expect it to." Envious bosses will watch Rooney lead England's line alongside Liverpool's Michael Owen in Portugal tonight. But despite constant speculation to the contrary, only Chelsea and Real Madrid are likely to be able to match any valuation of Rooney - destinations the youngster himself is unlikely to relish at this stage of his career. Manchester United's board has declared an end to massive outlays on individual transfers, after the transfer market collapsed soon after the incredible £29m purchase of Rio Ferdinand. "Wayne has three years left on his contract," added Moyes, "and the talks were always planned to take place after the championships had ended. There's nothing sinister in that."
McFadden hoping to push claims
Feb 18 2004 Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES will be in Cardiff tonight, hoping to see evidence that another of his talented youngsters is ready to bounce back into the Everton first team. James McFadden, made an explosive impact after arriving from Mother-well for £1.25m, but his only start this year came in the FA Cup tie against Norwich six weeks ago. The Scottish star is in the squad to face Wales at the Millennium Stadium, and Moyes said: "James had a big three months when he signed for us. He started for his country, scored the goal which beat Holland and came here and set the place alight in his first two matches with tremendous displays. "We always expected him to have a little dip after that, but he's still done better than I had anticipated. "He's had a slight strain recently, but he's a good player, had a great attitude and we have been very pleased with him. "He has probably suffered because of the form of Kevin Kilbane. We lost Mark Pembridge and Kevin McLeod during the summer and replaced them with two left-sided players. "Kevin's form has been so good since then, that it has probably stopped Faddy getting more games." Moyes added: "We are still unsure of his best position. We have played him on the right as well as the left, and with his ability to go past players and eliminate the opposition he could also play up front. "He is still only 20 years old and to have had the impact he has had is no mean feat. "He has a bright future and that's how we see him. Kevin Kilbane was signed for now, James for the future."
Loan move might be best says Chadwick
Feb 18 2004 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON striker Nick Chadwick believes it may be time to leave Goodison. The 21-year-old, has made just two starts for the Blues this season, in the opening Premiership game at Arsenal and against Stockport in the Carling Cup in September. He is now behind Tomasz Radzinski, Wayne Rooney, Duncan Ferguson, Kevin Campbell and Francis Jeffers in the striking pecking order.
He said: "First team football is most definitely still in my mind. I think it will be the case that I will probably go somewhere else. I've got to look at my career. "I'm 21 now and I haven't played regular first team football since the little run that I got at the end of 2002. "I don't know if my chance here has passed. If I can score goals wherever I go or score goals here playing in whatever side I'm playing in, I'm always hopeful that there will be a way back in for me. "But with the amount of strikers here and the club being continually linked with players I'm not naive enough to think that it's not going to be difficult for me." Chadwick made a vital contribution to Everton's battle for Premiership survival at the end of the 2001/02 season, scoring three times in five matches following David Moyes' appointment as manager in March 2002. But last season, he made only one first team appearance and was loaned out to Derby. He spent another loan spell in the first division earlier this season, scoring twice in six matches at Millwall before returning to Merseyside for a hernia operation, which has kept him out of action for the last six weeks. He returned for Everton's reserves this week, playing in their 1-0 defeat at West Brom. He is now eager to agree another loan move out of Goodison in order to gain further experience. He added: "I've got to always look at the positive side of things and if I go out on loan and do really well I can do a lot of good for myself."
Endearing ex-Blues winger Eglington dies
Feb 18 2004 Liverpool Echo
TOMMY EGLINGTON, one of Everton's best loved players during a career that spanned over 400 appearances in the Forties and Fifties, died in the early hours today. Eglington, who was 82 and had been ill for some time, joined the Goodison club, along with Peter Farrell, from Shamrock Rovers in 1946. The joint fee was £10,000 and was looked upon as one of the most astute pieces of transfer business in Everton's history. Eglington was widely recognised as a great match-winning left winger and repaid the faith of the club's board with some breathtaking performances over 11 years.
He was a firm favourite with the fans and guaranteed himself a place in club folklore when he scored five goals at home in the 7-1 demolition of Doncaster Rovers in 1952. As a winger, he combined terrific speed with intricate close control and stunning shooting power. Eglington appeared alongside Farrell in the historic Goodison game in 1949 when the Republic of Ireland beat England 2-0 to become the first "overseas" nation to win on English soil. Another of his claims to fame was his long-held record that stood for over 50 years of being the last Everton player to score a winning goal in a league game against Leeds at Elland Road. That, however, was eclipsed by Wayne Rooney last season. Eglington's most prolific scoring season came in 1952-53 when he netted 16 times (14 league, two FA Cup), but he also reached double figures in both the 1953-54 and 1955-56 seasons.
He gained his first international recognition the year he joined Everton and went on to win 24 caps for Eire and also six caps for Northern Ireland when that country could select Republic-born players for the Home International championship. He was transferred to Tranmere Rovers in 1957 before returning to his native Dublin to run a butcher's shop. Tommy's funeral will take place on Friday with a service at the Lady of Divine Church in Raheny, Dublin (11.30am).
Tough times lie in wait for fans
Feb 18 2004 By Len Capeling, Daily Post
NOT much comfort to be had for David Moyes in our double-page spread on Everton's failing finances as seen by various salvage experts. It made fascinating reading for those with a passion for bricks and mortar and corporate cosiness, but the flesh and blood of the club was as difficult to spot as an official wallet-opening by Paul Gregg. "Don't waste your money on players. Build a new Bullens Road instead," appeared the general message to weary Blues who have seen Kings Dock disappear into the Mersey and David Moyes scrapping for loose change ever since he arrived at the club. Moyes would have needed a magnifying glass to find anything to do with team-building, although there were a few worrying paragraphs on team destroying, with Wayne Rooney served up as the fatted calf. "Sell him! Get £25million or risk going under." Or so it would seem. Where the eye-popping £25m would go, we don't know. Presumably not all to Moyes, who in any case - given his promises - might already have walked by then. I should point out at this juncture that none of these words came from Bill Kenwright or Everton's missing link, Mr Gregg. But with the directors and their financial advisers presently considering a bailing-out operation for the club, it's a fair bet that every option from share issues to Wayne gains is on the menu. The Everton Shareholders Association received the news from management consultant Joe Beardwood, whose company specialises in tying lifebelts on to sinking soccer clubs. Mr Beardwood had no easeful words for Everton followers - more a further shower of tears. Underperformance on the money side, from what seemed like first to last, and the painful revelation that far from eating with the elite, Everton now fight for the scraps with nonentities with names like Southampton. There was more. Beardwood identified a Goodison debt of £40m when I for one had been under the mistaken impression that the figure was £30m. Does Beardwood see any salvation? Well, yes. But mainly in concrete and glass, with luxury corporate boxes bringing in the dosh to a new stadium, preferably shared with Liverpool. Ouch! But he certainly sees no long-term future in Wayne Rooney at Everton unless revenue drastically improves. Unaffordable in near-future wage terms and priceless only as an asset if £25m-plus can be raised from his sale. Everton fans would have begun weeping at this stage. No Wayne. And probably no Moyes? Was there no Royal Blue lining to this loaded bottom line? Happily, there was. Of sorts. A once-in-a-lifetime chance for Everton fans to fork £15m out via a brand spanking new shares issue. An idea floated by Everton Shareholders Association vice-chairman Steve Allinson, it would allegedly provide money for Moyes and the rebuilding of Goodison Park. Trouble is, no-one knows how the money would be split. The fans might say £12m for players and £3m for breeze-block. But, having coughed up their cash, would they actually have any say in its ultimate destination? Probably not, if the Celtic experience is any guide. The Glasgow club are on their third rights issue and the fatter cats have pushed the scrawny moggies - otherwise the true supporters - on to the running track. Result? The club are still deeply in debt, can't buy the players they want, and are likely to lose kingpins Henrik Larsson and Martin O'Neill at season's end. O'Neill, like Moyes, is deeply frustrated by the financial restraints he's working under, which is why Anfield seems such a tempting prospect when patently it ain't. But forget the building blocks and the steep rise in sales of prawn sandwiches. The crucial question is whether Everton fans would swarm to the Goodison cash-point if the transfer of Wayne Rooney was already a done deal?
I fear not, though I could be wrong.
* THE slice of luck demanded by David Moyes to revive Everton's slippy season may already have arrived. Gordon Strachan's mysterious departure from St Mary's won't have done his players much good, mired as they are in a poor run. So unless Steve Bennett or Jeff Winter turns up to spoil the fun, this could be the gift-wrapped three points Everton so desperately crave.
Rooney is out of United reach?
Feb 18 2004 Report by Andy Hunter, Daily Post
GOODISON officials are confident Wayne Rooney will still be an Everton player next season as David Moyes issued another "hands-off" warning to clubs chasing their prized asset. The 18-year-old's future is under fresh scrutiny after Manchester United were tipped to rival Chelsea in a £25million transfer tussle for the striker this summer. Yesterday it was reported Rooney's advisers will make Everton wait until after Euro 2004 before opening negotiations over a new long-term contract, when his market value may be far higher. But that has been the plan since the teenage star, signed his existing Goodison deal last January and it is understood Everton officials believe they can match his demands and resist any multi-million pound offer at the end of this season. Whether United could meet Everton's valuation of the England striker, set to partner Michael Owen in tonight's friendly with Portugal, is uncertain anyway. It was United's own PLC board that declared an end to huge outlays on individual players when they bought Rio Ferdinand for £29.1m in July 2002 only for the transfer market to collapse months later. This season they have spent over £38m on new players, but only after raising £40m from the sales of David Beckham and Juan Veron. Their biggest purchase since Ferdinand has been January's £12.8m signing of Louis Saha. Sir Alex Ferguson's legal dispute with leading shareholders John Magnier and JP McManus may also prevent United's PLC sanctioning an offer for Rooney as doubts surround the manager's long-term future. That could change if United were subject to a takeover, but at present only Roman Abramovich appears in a position to test Everton's resolve and a move to Chelsea may not appeal to Rooney over his boyhood club.
Moyes, who has stated he would quit Everton if the striker was sold against his wishes, will have more lee-way with his wage bill this summer when ten players reach the end of their contracts.
And yesterday he insisted the club's position on Rooney had not changed. Moyes said: "I have always stated that he is not for sale and unless the board are saying something that I do not know, they are in total agreement with that as well. "Everton do not have to sell people. That has always been my view and that will not alter. "Unless I am told differently by the board of directors there will be no players leaving that I want to keep at the club." Meanwhile, midfielder Li Tie's shin injury is not as bad as first feared. Initial reports suggested the 26-year-old, injured on international duty with China, had broken his shin and would miss the rest of the season but scans have revealed no break. Moyes added: "It is good news. He will only be out for three or four weeks."
Model pro Eglington dies at 82
Post Past, Daily Post
Feb 19 2004
EVERTON ARE mourning the death of one of their greatest servants, Tommy Eglington. The 82-year-old, who made 428 appearances for the Blues during an 11-year career at Goodison Park, died yesterday in his native Dublin. Everton bought the tricky outsideleft in a £10,000 joint deal with Peter Farrell from Shamrock Rovers in 1946 - a deal many ultimately proclaimed as one of the shrewdest in the club's history. Eglington scored 82 goals for Ever-ton, including a five-goal haul in a 7-1 defeat of Doncaster Rovers in September 1952. His total is even more remarkable given he never played as a striker, and he remains one of the club's highest post-war scorers. Renowned for his fearlessness, skill and pace Eglington was a huge favourite with the Goodison crowd who regarded him as the model professional. His presence at Everton, along with Farrell and later full-back Tommy Clinton and goalkeeper Jimmy O'Neill, helped popularise the club in Ireland and led to a huge influx of support at Goodison from across the Irish Sea. "Back in the 50s, Everton was the team in Ireland," he recalled. "We had a number of Irish players then and the boats would be full of fans coming over every Friday night to watch us." But the post-war period was a traumatic time for Everton, culminating in relegation at the end of the 1949/50 season and two subsequent years languishing in the second division. At the third attempt the Blues returned to the top flight, and Eglington - with 14 league goals - was instrumental in the promotion-winning campaign.
Eglington was an almost ever-present throughout his 11 seasons at Goodison and was honoured at international level too, winning 24 caps for the Republic of Ireland and six for Northern Ireland.
Eglington's distinguished Everton career ended in June 1957, but his impact on Merseyside football was far from over. The winger headed for Tranmere Rovers where over the next four seasons he made 172 appearances and scored 36 goals for the Prenton Park club. He returned to Ireland in 1961 and, following a finale with Cork Hibernian, opened up a butcher's business in Dublin. Eglington, however, remained a committed Evertonian (his daughter established the Everton Supporters Club in Mullingar!) and was a regular visitor to Goodison over the next four decades. On one of his last trips to Merseyside, in March 1999, he was inducted into the 'Gwladys Street's Hall of Fame'. Eglington's funeral takes place in Dublin tomorrow with representatives of the club and the Former Players' Foundation in attendance.
Ferguson struggling to regain his fitness
Report By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Feb 19 2004
EVERTON COULD be without Duncan Ferguson at Southampton as the striker struggles to recover from a groin strain.Ferguson, (right), has not trained since the defeat at Birmingham last Wednesday, where double vision forced him out of the game at half-time.But he was carrying a slight groin strain before the visit to St Andrew's and it could force him to miss the trip to the managerless Saints.Manager David Moyes has not ruled out Ferguson for Saturday with the striker responding to treatment this week.He said: "Duncan's had a slight groin strain which has kept him out of training since the Birmingham game, but hopefully he could be back before the end of the week."Nick Chadwick, meanwhile, could find himself joining the expected summer exodus from Goodison Park.Ten players are out of contract this summer and 21-year-old Chadwick admits his future may also lie away from Merseyside.He has twice been out on loan this season and has played only 15 games since September 2001 for Everton, such is the competition for striking positions at the club. Now is admits he would like another move on loan before the end of the season with his first-team options limited at Goodison.Chadwick, who made his come-back from a hernia operation on Monday, said: "First-team football is most definitely still in my mind. I think it will be the case that I will probably go somewhere else. "I have got to look at my career. I am 21 now and I have not played regular first-team football since the little run that I got at the end of 2002."With the amount of strikers here and the club being continually linked with players I'm not naive enough to think that it's not going to be difficult for me."But I have got to always look at the positive side of things and if I go out on loan and do really well I can do a lot of good for myself."Chadwick has scored four goals in 15 appearances for Everton since making his debut in September 2001.In contrast to the four starts he has made at Everton in the past 30 months, Chadwick has made 10 first-team appearances for Derby and Millwall during brief loans.Chadwick spent a month at Pride Park during March last year, while injury curtailed a recent spell at the New Den, where he scored two goals in six games.
Beagrie stuns the Saints in the calm before Wimbledon storm
Post Past, Daily Post
Feb 19 2004
OVER the past 20 years or so the Blues have had some excellent results against Southampton both home and away.One game that sticks in my mind came on the opening day of the 93-94 season, when more than 3,000 travelling Evertonians roared the team to a sparkling away win.Everton went into that almost cataclysmic season as many pundits tip to struggle. The financial problems that haunt the club to this day were starting to become apparent and Howard Kendall had been unable to strengthen a squad that had struggled horribly the previous season.The Saints also had their problems, and if I'm not mistaken this was the era of the deeply unpopular Ian Branfoot.The Dell's capacity of 15,000 meant that they were always going to struggle financially in comparison with the big boys and Southampton, as a result, were bracketed with Everton as likely strugglers. Another sub-plot to this game came with the fanatical away following.Everton had ended the previous season with a resounding 5-2 win at Maine Road which was witnessed by a large Everton following in party mood.It seemed that most of the travelling Blues at the Dell had carried on the party all summer as the pubs around the ground were mobbed out with Evertonians and loads seemed to have travelled ticketless.Luckily the team gave the travelling hordes plenty to cheer about as they comprehensively turned over a poor Southampton side. Peter Beagrie shot Everton ahead early on with what turned out to be the season's opening goal.Wave after wave of attacks followed with Cottee having one chalked off for offside before Ebbrell made it two at the break. The second half was a more leisurely affair with only a Gary Ablett overhead kick against the bar looking likely to add to the scoreline.Things certainly looked bright on that warm summer afternoon and indeed seven days later Everton topped the table after further wins against City and Sheffield United.It's not often the bookmakers are wrong though and so it was that this eventually became the season of the Wimbledon game, one that still makes me shudder. But that's another story.
Portugal 1, England 1
Mark Bradley Reports From The Algarve Stadium, Daily Post
Feb 19 2004
MAYBE FIFA president Sepp Blatter has a point, after all. Sven-Goran Eriksson and Luiz Felipe Scolari battled out an honourable draw in Faro, but the cynics were suggesting that the Portugal coach had just prevailed again - this time on substitutions. In the World Cup quarter-finals, Scolari's Brazil side had proved superior to England, even when reduced to 10 men. This time around, Ledley King capped a fine full debut by claiming the 47th-minute goal which initially looked set to give Eriksson a measure of revenge. However, while there was some debate over whether King got the vital touch ahead of a Portuguese defender, the home side equalised in any case on 70 minutes. Free-kick specialist Luis Figo may have just left the pitch on his 100th international appearance but Pauleta was still able to beat David James with a superb dead-ball effort. And so the two sides could not be separated on goals alone. With no extra-time or penalties, it was left to substitutions. While normally being the Swede's specialised subject in games of this kind, Eriksson settled for a modest nine changes, although he did manage to substitute a substitute as Wayne Bridge came on and then off again. Scolari, however, was not to be out-done and changed each of his outfield players, with only keeper Ricardo remaining from the original line-up. The 19 changes just summed up the largely futile nature of such friendlies, with Blatter's proposal to limit the number of substitutions in friendlies to just five per team due to be debated next week.
Eriksson had at least learned, however, that his makeshift defence could per-form admirably against cultured opponents, with King and Gareth Southgate both deserving to last the entire game. They were only thrust together because of injuries and when Ashley Cole had to withdraw after just 17 minutes, to be replaced by Bridge, there was not one first-choice defender out there. Not that King, who has played in central midfield for Tottenham this season, had much time to settle in as Portugal made all the early running. Before his enforced departure, Cole mishit a clearance to Figo, whose first-time volley was parried by James. Pauleta also broke clear of the offside trap only to find his path to goal blocked, while Rui Costa caused problems with his trickery and Figo flashed a free-kick just inches wide of the far corner. However, as England gradually came into the game, chances became fewer and further between and when Michael Owen's awkward volley flew over the bar on the turn, that was the closest Eriksson's first-choice side came to scoring. Wayne Rooney, who was at least looking for the ball in dangerous areas, hit the side-netting but had already been flagged offside and while the mid-field toiled hard, there were few creative sparks.
With King looking assured at the back, Portugal were nevertheless now being restricted to long-range efforts as Petit and Rui Costa both shot off-target. There was little that Eriksson can have gleaned from that humdrum first-half, but still the substitutions came at the interval, with Kieron Dyer, Joe Cole and Danny Mills all introduced. Beckham was given his favoured central role and immediately responded by delivering the floated free-kick from which the ball was bundled home at the far post to put England ahead. King immediately wheeled away with his arm aloft, although there was some debate as to whether he or defender Miguel had the decisive touch. Either way, it was still enough to bring the game to life and as Portugal hit back, Rooney and Southgate had to clear the ball off the line in quick succession.
Cole and Dyer were now charged with giving England width and while Cole shot over the bar, Bridge also twisted and turned before firing wide. England, however, could not rest on their laurels. Even though Figo was substituted to rapturous applause, Pauleta still had enough class to beat James from 20 yards out with a superb free-kick to level the scoreline.
Beckham failed to match that impact with his own dead-ball effort and Eriksson's response was to bring on Emile Heskey and Alan Smith for Rooney, who had given his all, and Owen, who had little chance to make an impact. While Cole was then denied by Ricardo's legs, the substitutions started to reach farcical levels by the end, with even substitute Bridge being replaced himself. England had emerged with some credit but the substitutions policy of both sides had not. If Blatter wants to carry the vote at next week's meeting, a video of this match may indeed suffice.
PORTUGAL: Ricardo, Paulo Ferreira (Miguel 46), Rui Jorge, Andrade (Ricardo Carvalho 75), Couto (Beto 83), Costinha (Deco 46), Figo (Boa Morte 66), Petit (Viana 83), Pauleta (Hugo Almeida 78), Rui Costa (Tiago 61), Simao (Ronaldo 46), Nuno Valente (Nuno Valente 46). Subs: Quim.
ENGLAND: James, Phil Neville (Mills 46), Ashley Cole (Bridge 17), King, Southgate, Butt (Carragher 86), Beckham (Jenas 86), Lampard (Joe Cole 46), Scholes (Dyer 46), Owen (Heskey 71), Rooney (Smith 71), Bridge (Hargreaves 86). Subs: Robinson, Kirkland.
REFEREE: Viktor Kassai (Hungary).
BOOKINGS: Portugal's Petit.
Blue army to march on Southampton
Feb 19 2004 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON'S bid to steer clear of a relegation battle will be backed by an army of fans at Southampton on Saturday. The club have only won one away match this season, which helps explain the club's position just four points above the relegation zone.
But that poor away form has not diluted the support of the club's fans, with the Blues' ticket allocation of 2,395 for the clash with the Saints selling out on Monday. Everton's only win away from Goodison this season came at Portsmouth in December. Last week's 3-0 reverse at Birmingham has left David Moyes' men still searching for their first league win of 2004. But the manager can boast a virtually fully-fit squad for Saturday's match, with David Weir the only major injury worry. Duncan Ferguson is set to be included in the travelling party despite not training since the defeat at St Andrews last week. The 32-year-old played despite carrying a groin strain into the match. But head physio Mick Rathbone said: "Duncan's had a slight groin strain which has kept him out of training since the Birmingham game, but hopefully he could be back before the end of the week." Thomas Gravesen was the only Everton player to taste victory on the international stage last night. He played for Denmark in their 1-0 victory at Turkey. James McFadden and Gary Naysmith were the biggest losers as Scotland were defeated 4-0 by Wales at the Millennium Stadium.
Naysmith could be attributed with an own-goal after deflecting a Robert Earnshaw effort into his own net, while McFadden came on as a second-half substitute. Lee Carsley and Kevin Kilbane played against Brazil at Lansdowne Road in the Republic of Ireland's creditable goal-less draw. Wayne Rooney produced a decent display in England's 1-1 draw with Portugal.
Tributes to Eggo - a winger of style, speed and grace
Feb 19 2004 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
IN recent years, he was known simply as the man who last scored a winning goal for Everton at Leeds United. But to older Evertonians, Tommy Eglington was a match-winning winger of style, speed and grace who gave 11 years devoted service to the club. Eggo, as his team-mates called him, died in the early hours of yesterday, aged 82. A funeral service takes place tomorrow at Our Lady of Divine Church in Raheny, Dublin (11.30am).
He joined Everton from Shamrock Rovers in 1946 with Peter Farrell - a joint fee of £10,000 representing one of the shrewdest pieces of transfer business the club ever conducted.
Both played for Ireland - at Goodison Park - in the historic 1949 fixture when Ireland became the first 'overseas' team to beat England on home soil. Half-back star Brian Harris paid tribute to his former team-mate, saying: "Eggo was still playing when I got into the first team and he always used to look after me. I was well looked after by Eggo and all these players, and I couldn't be nicer about any of them. "When you are a young player that helps you a hell of a lot because they know how things work because they are used to it all. They passed everything they had learnt on to me." He added: "I can remember the first away trip I ever had. We didn't have coaches in those days so we went on the train and I was sat with Peter Farrell, Tommy Jones, Eggo and all that lot. I never spoke a word all the way to London! I was just in awe. I just sat there and said nothing. "Eggo was a good player, very quick. He was a smashing guy and we had a lot of laughs and he'd always help you if you had any problems. "He will be missed. He was brilliant." Eglington made more than 400 appearances for the Toffees, scoring 82 goals including a five-goal haul against Doncaster Rovers on September 27, 1952. A report the following year summed up the respect in which he was held, describing him as "the greatest matchwinning outside-left in British football at the moment, and on whom the mantle of Billy Liddell has assuredly fallen. "The mention of the name Eglington at once strikes fear into every right-back." Eglington left Everton for Tranmere in 1957, then quit Merseyside in 1961 to run a butcher's shop in his home city of Dublin. But he always maintained his links with Everton. He attended the European Cup Winners' Cup tie against University College Dublin in 1985 - and until Wayne Rooney finally ended Everton's 51-year duck at Elland Road, gave almost annual interviews about the afternoon in 1951 when he scored twice there to earn a 2-1 victory.
Time to ignore talk of Rooney transfer
Fanscene, By Mark O'Brien, Daily Post
Feb 20 2004
AFTER Everton's traditional February break - otherwise known as FA Cup fifth round weekend - we at least don't have to dwell on yet another ropy performance.
However, what's probably been foremost in most Evertonians' minds since the weekend - apart from Kevin Kilbane's Roy Keane impression at Lansdowne Road - is the latest speculation regarding Wayne Rooney's future. Common sense tells us to ignore this sort of stuff but often it's difficult not to let it get under your skin. David Moyes has moved to reassure the supporters that the player is not for sale. Sadly, Alan Curbishley was adamant that Scott Parker wasn't going anywhere; likewise Chris Coleman with Louis Saha, yet both those players were soon transferred. But the biggest factor in those cases, though, was that the players themselves desperately wanted the moves to, as they say nowadays, further their careers. However, the speculation surrounding Rooney - and we must not forget it is only speculation - is that the pressure to move him on to Manchester United or Chelsea could come from the club itself, given that £20million or whatever he's rated at, would go a long way to papering over the cracks left by the mismanagement of the past. And in the short term perhaps belts could be loosened somewhat around Goodison if we did cash in, but what then? Hopefully the powers that be at Everton - and most of them are Evertonians so surely they must - realise what the impact of selling Rooney would be. It wouldn't just be the immediate gap in the side that he would leave, although that shouldn't be underestimated despite his indifferent form of late, but the overriding message it sends to the fans that would be most damaging. We accepted a good while ago that we won't be in the running when the van Nistelrooys and Beckhams of this world are up for sale, but while we remain in the top flight we've always had hope, even in our darkest hours, that we could eventually, somehow, turn our long term fortunes around and see players of that ilk in the royal blue again. So, for a player with the potential to equal or even exceed those illustrious names to drop into our lap, for free, has served to remind us just why it is we kept coming even when all that's on offer is John Spencer and Brett Angell: we come because, like the fans of every club, we live in hope. Sell Rooney now though, when we've only seen glimpses of the player he's to become, and you crush that hope under your boot heel.
So, with that somewhat morose image in mind let's hope it is all just idle paper talk! Failing that, let's hope he at least adds another couple of million on to his price tag with some wonder goals at Southampton tomorrow.
Li Tie's season is over
Report By David Prior, Daily Post
Feb 20 2004
LI TIE'S hopes of playing again this season are over after confirmation finally reached Everton that his leg injury is indeed a fracture. The 26-year-old midfielder, sustained the injury during training with The Chinese international squad a week ago, but language and distance barriers meant confusion surrounded the extent of the problem for several days. There were suggestions last weekend that the injury was not as bad as first feared and that Li Tie would be available again within a matter of weeks. Those reports however now appear to have been unfounded, with scans having uncovered a break in the right leg. Manager David Moyes explained: " Obviously when you're hal fway around the world you never get quite the communication you'd expect but by all accounts Li Tie has broken his leg which rules him out for the rest of the season." The news caps a miserable second season for Li Tie, whose promising debut campaign since arriving at Goodison on loan from Liaoning Bodoa in July 2002 was rewarded with a three-year permanent deal in August. After figuring in more than 30 matches for Moyes' side last season, Li Tie was dismissed on the opening day of the current one - against Arsenal at High-bury - and has started just four Premiership games since. Moyes admitted: "It's been difficult for him in his second season but we could say that about a lot of us in our second season, Li Tie is no different. "He's a tremendous lad, he' s a conscientious worker and he's desperate to do well. He was really pleased with himself that he impressed everyone last year and he'll be disappointed now that he's not able to put in a good end to the season." The player is expected to remain in China for the immediate future to begin his rehabilitation. He will wear a plaster cast but does not require surgery.
* EVERTON Reserves' match against Birmingham Reserves, scheduled for next Tuesday, has been postponed. It will now be played on Tuesday, April
Follow Celtic route
Post Soapbox, Icliverpool & Daily Post
Feb 20 2004
Follow Celtic route
JUST a thought for everyone who wants the sale of Rooney. Take a look at the history of Celtic over the past decade. Now take Henrik Larsson out of the equation and tell me no one man is bigger than the team! The Celtic team was built around him, average individuals supporting one superstar. We should be following the example of Celtic, both on and off the pitch.
John Jackson, iverpool
IF Everton did sell Rooney for £25m, how much of that money would go towards new class players and how much would go towards the debt? How many fans wouldn't renew their season tickets? Selling Rooney this early in his career would be a false economy, but then what's new at Goodison? With the big money gained by finishing higher up the table as opposed to fighting relegation you would think the board would have invested in a decent midfielder during the window, most of the fee could have been offset by a higher league position or even a Uefa place!
Wayne York (via e-mail)
Players are there
WHY are we always complaining about no good players in the team? Look at the team sheet. David Moyes actually has many internationals in his team - even more than Charlton, Birmingham and Full-ham, but they are way above us.
Problem is Everton deploy the players in wrong positions and choose the wrong players to play.
F Hoey, Liverpool
Look to long-term
DO not sell Rooney - there are other ways to build a squad. Slowly and in line with our income and spending forecasts for a start (I know it's not very glamorous).
Also without Rooney how are we going to be able to take advantage of his marketability? After Euro 2004 and the World Cup 2006 he will be worth at least £3m a year alone on merchandising and sponsor-ship deals. Yes, we could get £25m for him now but we'd only waste it on paying older has-beens' wages. I say leave the debt repayment as it is and work on making the most of our products - Football (throw in the kids) and Rooneymania.
I can guarantee you that is what Man U or Chelsea would do - they'd have their money back within three years of buying him, on his name alone. As well as that he is has Blue blood and it would kill the poor lad to leave his friends, family and the City he loves - he's only 18!
Mike Foster (via e-mail)
VERY depressing reading about the state of EFC.Too much is very wrong off the field - let alone on it. Can't now see how we avoid having to sell Wayne. The shareholders need to demand new blood on the Board - ones who can help us put in place a Celtic-type five-year plan and get off-field stuff put right quickly: marketing, commercial development, academy, youth develop-ment and scouting. This must include involving the fans if we are to get through this.
B Evans, Aintree, Liverpool
EVERTON are in the situation they're in because there is only one central midfield player in the club up to Premiership standard, the much maligned Thomas Gravesen.
The defence is often under pressure because the midfield is inneffective and the strikers don't get the service for the same reason.
David Moyes needs to offload Carsley, Linderoth, and Nyarko. It is a pity Li Tie is out because at least he usually manages to keep possession.
Two quality midfielders are needed at the end of the season . . . if we manage to stay up.
Phil Harris, Northwich
Everton say no to Intertoto
Feb 20 2004
EVERTON will not be putting their name forward for next season's Intertoto Cup. All clubs who don't qualify for the UEFA Cup through the conventional route can still get into Europe via their final Premiership placing. But entry in the competition would means that competitive fixtures would begin as early in July and Goodison officials last night confirmed they would not applying for entry.
Several clubs have found their season has suffered because they have started the campaign early and it is thought to be that is the chief reason why David Moyes feels that the timing of the competition is not right for his team's pre-season plans. The Everton manager is not prepared to allow his players to be involved in games so soon after their return from a summer break.
Everton's chief executive Michael Dunford, said: "As in previous seasons we have declined an invitation to seek possible entry into next season's Intertoto Cup competition. "The manager simply feels that the timing and structure of the tournament does not suit his plans for our pre-season preparations. "The opening round of next season's Intertoto Cup is early July - we feel that is too early to be involved in what would be meaningful, senior fixtures."
Ablett has high hopes for derby
Academy Football With Chris Wright, Daily Post
Feb 20 2004
EVERTON look to keep their title hopes alive when they take on Liverpool at Netherton tomorrow.
Last week's 1-0 defeat to Blackburn saw Rovers move to within two points of Gary Ablett's second-placed side in the FA Premier Academy League group A table. But with just five points separating the top three, a win would keep up the pressure on leaders Manchester United. Ablett was unhappy about last week's loss and will be hoping for better from his side in tomorrow's derby. The last time the two sides met last month, Everton ran out 4-1 winners over 10-man Liverpool thanks to four stunning long-range strikes. He said: "It is still in our hands for the rest of the season. But any more performances like last week we will be in trouble. "There are three of us at the top now. We have got two very difficult games coming up and they will shape our season." Ablett has no injury worries for the match and left-sided player Patrick Boyle will continue in the side after returning from a gettogether with the Scotland under-17s squad. Everton under-19s will be looking for improvement in all depart-ments when they also take on Liverpool at the Kirkby Academy. Last week's 3-0 defeat by run-away table-toppers Manchester City was very disappointing for coach Neil Dewsnip.
Dewsnip said: "The results have been patchy. We have slipped up in one or two games that would have helped our cause. "But that it done now and we will concentrate on the next one." But results are not the be-all and end-all. With several players now regulars for Andy Holden's reserve side success is coming in the individual development of players. Dewsnip added: "A lot of the boys are now playing in the reserve team so that has a knock-on effect on the teams we can put out.
"We want players in the reserves and hopefully the first team. The most important part is that individuals progress through the system." And with some players coming to the end of their scholarship, new contracts at the club will be on their mind.Dewsnip said: "I think the older players feel extra pressure because they are getting towards the end of their scholar-ship and they worry whether or not they are going to be retained. So to be fair to the players it is a very difficult time."
Midfielder Scott Brown may return to the side tomorrow after returning from international duty with England.
Yobo back and in the mood to lift Blues
Feb 20 2004 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON'S Super Eagle came back down to earth this week to provide a major boost for David Moyes and his beleaguered defence ahead of tomorrow's trip to Southampton. Joseph Yobo, has been unavailable for the last five weeks because of the African Nations Cup. During his seven game absence the Blues have dropped from 11th in the Premiership to 15th, picking up just one point from 15 available, and have suffered the agony of an FA Cup exit. Having also conceded seven goals in their last two games, the Nigerian defender's return could not have been timed better. The added fillip for Everton is that the 23-year-old believes he has returned in better shape than when he left - a point he is eager to prove on the pitch at St Mary's tomorrow. "Before I left I was injured with a neck problem and the team was doing very well and then when I recovered I had to go on international duty," he explains. "There were a lot of games in a short period of time. We played six matches in two-and-a-half weeks so it was a busy schedule. "Because of that I have got my fitness back - I have just got to get used to the climate again! It is cold after being out in the warm weather for a month." The 23-year-old was as frustrated as his manager at having to miss such a large chunk of the season in order to represent his country. The bronze medal he won after Nigeria defeated Mali in the third-and-fourth place play-off - having been knocked out in the semi-finals by Tunisia on penalties - did provide some consolation. But it is a clash of loyalties he would rather have avoided and hopes is not repeated. He explains: "I would prefer the African Tournament to match with the European leagues because it suits all the African players. "Leaving your club and missing seven games during the season is too much. As a player there is nothing you can do about it.
"I have been out for a few weeks but now I am back and am ready to do my best again.
"It wasn't hard to keep in touch with what was going on at Everton. I was in touch with the manager, Bill Ellaby, the players' liaison officer and I was always on the internet to read the news. "It was frustrating seeing the results because I wasn't here to help the team. "The results have been disappointing. For the team to be 15th at this moment is sad because I know we have got a good team and we are better than where we are." Yobo believes the best way to do that is to dig in and grind out results, even if that means producing football that is not easy on the eye. He adds: "We realise where we are at the moment and if we don't start getting points now we could be struggling, and we don't want that. "It was frustrating hearing that we were playing well and we were not getting the results. Now it is time that everybody realised we have just got to get the points, and it doesn't matter how well we play. "But I know we are going to regain our formand start picking up points." Yobo is brimming with confidence after playing a key role for Nigeria. He started every match, establishing himself as one of the continent's most accomplished defenders. His was a positive story from a tournament that did not go according to plan for Nigeria who, along with Cameroon, were the pre- tournament joint-favourites. "For me, the tournament went okay," adds Yobo. "But it was disappointing we lost in the semi-finals. "We lost our first game in the group and we struggled through the group, finishing second. "We then met Cameroon in the quarter-finals and we said that was like the final before the final. We knew we had to be at our best to win and after beating them we were satisfied. "We then played the hosts. Nobody expected them to reach the semi-finals, but once they got there the whole country was behind them. "We didn't lose the game, but anything can happen in penalties. We just had to accept that and we were happy to win the bronze medal for our country." The tournament finished on a high note for Yobo and he'll be hoping to continue in the same vein at Southampton tomorrow with the team-mates he has been apart from for so long.
We must go back to basics - Moyes
Feb 20 2004 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON will go back to basics at Southampton tomorrow in a bid to improve the club's dire away form. David Moyes' men have won just once away from Goodison Park this season, defeating Portsmouth 2-1 at Fratton Park in December. In the club's last match, at Birmingham 10 days ago, his side produced one of the worst away performances of his reign as they fell to a 3-0 defeat.
With 13 games remaining and the club just four points above the relegation zone, Moyes is in no doubt that the away record has to improve. And he believes the best way of doing that is by tightening up at the back. He said: "We are looking forward to getting underway again after the break because we want to put right what happened at Birmingham. We need to move on.
"We have got to try and be harder to beat and harder to play against away from home. If the players play to the maximum of their abilities then we should have no problems. "We played relatively well prior to the Birmingham game, although the first half against Manchester United was not good. We have to get back to some good form and we have to stop conceding goals and making life hard for ourselves. "We need to make ourselves hard to beat again. "Away from home things have not gone well. But it has not been all bad performances. We should have got something at Fulham and we have gone to Liverpool and earned a draw. "We are out of our tough period of fixtures now and we are now facing games where we have an equal chance of winning." But Moyes is not falling into the trap of believing that the Saints will be in turmoil following Gordon Strachan's resignation as manager last week. He added: "It is a situation people had been aware of for some time. The players knew he would be leaving at some stage and it was something they will have got used to. "I don't think it will make any real difference. It is always tough down at Southampton but it is tough in any game away from home for Everton this season. "We had a great record last year, we played well and won the games. This year we have found it much more difficult. "It is hard to put your finger on the reason why but I don't think it is psychological." The Blues travel to the St Mary's Stadium without Li Tie. Further scans on the Chinese inter-national's injured shin have revealed that he has suffered a fracture. He has now been ruled out of action for the rest of the season. The Blues will have Duncan Ferguson in the travelling party despite the striker struggling with a groin strain, while Thomas Gravesen returned from international duty with Denmark yesterday with a dead leg.
It is not expected to prevent the midfielder playing tomorrow though. Joseph Yobo is available again after returning from African Nations Cup duty with Nigeria. Meanwhile, Everton's reserve match against Birmingham, which was due to be played at Haig Avenue next day, has now been switched to April 20. Chief Executive Michael Dunford has revealed that Everton will not try to gain entry into Europe next season via the Intertoto Cup. Dunford confirmed: "The manager simply feels the timing and structure of the tournament does not suit his plans for our pre-season preparations."
Dodd urges fans to concentrate on team
Feb 20 2004 Liverpool Echo
SOUTHAMPTON captain Jason Dodd has urged fans to forget about their protests over Glenn Hoddle's proposed return and get behind the team as they go in search of their first win in three games. Saints supporters have reacted furiously to the news that Hoddle has been lined up to replace Gordon Strachan almost three years after walking out on the club. Defender Dodd is begging fans to save their protesting for outside the St Mary's Stadium when Saints play their first match under caretaker-boss Steve Wigley against Everton. Dodd, Saints' longest serving player, said: "We want the supporters to carry on getting behind us. "They have been fantastic all season and we need them to carry on doing the same thing against Everton. "There has been a lot of hoo-ha over the last week or so but it is important they forget about that and cheer us on. "From a players' point of view we are just trying to get back to playing football after a couple of weeks' break because of the FA Cup. "Everyone seems to have been talking about the managerial situation but we just want to start playing again." Dodd has also urged his Saints team-mates not to let Everton's lowly league position fool them into taking the challenge of David Moyes' team lightly. Dodd said: "Everton have got some very good players. "In the first half against Manchester United they got blown away but they were terrific in the second period."
Southampton 3, Everton 3 (D,Post)
Feb 23 2004 Andy Hunter Reports From St Mary's, Daily Post
THESE must be deeply disturbing times for David Moyes if Southampton really do benchmark Everton's status as a Premiership club. Twice in the past week they have served to highlight Goodison's present standing, and twice the Saints have exposed Everton's sins. It must have been bad enough for Moyes to dismiss increased speculation surrounding Wayne Rooney's future last week and then read how bad his club are performing as a business, making the prospect of keeping and attracting bright young talent increasingly difficult by the season. It was Southampton who put Everton's off-field problems firmly into perspective with the revelation they now regard themselves bigger than the former 'Big Five' member thanks to last year's £49million turnover against Goodison's £47m. Yes, Southampton. They have a new stadium in St Mary's that may lack character and is too similar to so many other recent developments, but it is theirs; built, secured and increasing their revenue. How this, and the realisation Manchester City and Tottenham also out-strip Everton commercially, sits with a manager of a club with far greater potential but a legacy of selling the finest homegrown talent to stay afloat is unknown. Not comfortably, would be a good bet though. Moyes will not allow such "Get out of jail" cards to be dealt while he remains in charge at Goodison Park and in a perfectly timed response Rooney's latest masterclass, which 31,875 people on the south coast were privileged to see, highlighted why Everton cannot afford to sell him. As did the presence at the game of perpetual motion himself, Alan Ball. And yet at the bottom line of football - the results business, where Moyes and Rooney do influence the balance sheets - Southampton have also exposed why Everton are in trouble and running out of escape routes.
Moyes' men could not have wished for better conditions than those on the south coast on Saturday in which to record their first league win of the year and prevent genuine concern taking root.
For once they were primed to take advantage of another's turmoil. Not even healthy accounts can stop basic football emotion and the hasty departure of Gordon Strachan and possible reincarnation of Glenn Hoddle as Southampton manager filled their club with protests and distractions all afternoon. Everton could not have wished for better circumstances to unfold either, as quite possibly the worst 45-minute display in the Premiership this season by Southampton helped them into a two-goal interval lead. If it had been five, no-one would have complained. When they emerged from the inevitable second-half recovery by the home side and restored a two-goal lead which they held until eight minutes from time, the visitors had every reason to believe the pressure had lifted. So to leave Southampton with only a point after becoming the victim of the latest Premiership fightback and move even closer to the relegation zone in the process, is a real reason to fear for the safety of a demoralised team. This was the first of five matches Everton can justifiably bracket as "winnable". And more performances like the first half at St Mary's will, as Moyes later insisted, bring more wins than losses. But for a team "devastated, devastated" - as a shell-shocked Steve Watson repeated in the tunnel afterwards - to throw away wins like this, and with the clock now ticking for any sustained recovery into mid-table, there is no longer any room for tales of sorrow or wastefulness. Only utter ruthlessness will do for Everton now, both in front of goal and when defending their own, and Saturday proved they still haven't discovered it after endless warnings. Southampton's 90th-minute corner, taken just as the fourth official signalled two minutes of stoppage time, appeared a pivotal moment in Everton's season even as it sailed towards their penalty area. When it was headed clear by Alessandro Pistone the campaign took a considerable up-turn. When it was returned from 25 yards by Fabrice Fernandes and nestled in off the inside of Nigel Martyn's post, the inescapable conclusion was that Everton are stuck in a battle for survival.
Hands on heads, players sinking to their knees in disbelief moments later, Everton's first point in three games arrived with the same despair that greeted their last-gasp defeat by Manchester United a fortnight ago. It was hard to believe these were the same players who had fuelled Rooney's rampant display and established such dominance over Southampton for most of the same afternoon. As bad as the home side were, with managerial upheaval having a clear effect on caretaker Steve Wigley's first game in charge, Everton were accomplished and convincing from the start. The return to 4-4-2 gave them a more balanced look, Joseph Yobo brought much-needed pace to the defence and Thomas Gravesen controlled midfield with initial support from Tobias Linderoth.
Then, of course, there was Rooney. Fresh from international duty in Portugal, the 18-year-old was focused on his task throughout and revelled in the striking role alongside Duncan Ferguson. With his first touch on every pass, whether chest high or at pace, sublimely maintaining the threat on the home goal, Everton enjoyed their best outing in weeks while Southampton struggled to keep even simple possession in play. Just seven minutes had elapsed when David Unsworth intercepted a poor clearance out of defence by Claus Lundekvam and gave Rooney the space to attack a retreating rearguard. The striker had already sent a decent fourth-minute chance wide after a goal-mouth scramble, but he was on target this time and a kind deflection off Michael Svensson turned his 20-yard drive beyond the stranded Antti Niemi. Five minutes later Ferguson tried to find Rooney with a deft header when, unmarked on the six-yard line, he had to turn Watson's cross goalwards. Then Rooney latched on to Pistone's ball down the left and sprinted clear of the straggling Saints defenders only to finish a great run with a poor shot/pass across the goalmouth. Rooney could have had a hat-trick inside 25 minutes but his all-round energy and skill was breathtaking. It was thanks to his defensive work Everton won a corner in the 32nd minute, and the misses were forgotten when Ferguson glanced Gravesen's inviting cross into the unguarded side of Niemi's net. A minute before the break Ferguson should have scored his second and Everton's third after more fearless running from Rooney pulled Southampton's defence apart. But after the youngster rolled an invitation into his path, the veteran skied over with only the keeper to beat. Maybe it was Everton's predicament and wait for a league win this year that ensured the interval was filled with talk of those misses rather than their total dominance and comfortable lead. Wigley brought James Beattie and Fernandes on at the break to inspire a more direct recovery from the home side, and Everton did little to dispel those fears by sitting back in an attempt to soak up the sudden aerial bombardment. With Ferguson spending most of the half as an extra defender Rooney had no support to continue to shine, and when Kevin Phillips turned in a loose ball just before the hour the fightback was on.
It seemed all over 20 minutes later when, with Everton beginning to redis-cover attack as the finest form of defence, Rooney struck again. Picking up a Ferguson flick, he bustled clear of three Southampton challenges before Graeme Le Saux intervened, but only as far as Watson who followed the teenager's instructions to send him clear and saw Rooney find the top corner with a ferocious shot to restore the two-goal cushion. Game over? It should have been. In the 82nd minute Linderoth caught David Prutton as the England under-21 midfielder raced into the area. It was a foul, albeit one just outside the 18-yard line, but referee Phil Dowd had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and Beat-tie sent Martyn the wrong way to give Southampton belated hope. No desperate finale ensued, as Everton continued to break, wasted two good openings and defended reasonably well. Yet they were still caught out by Fernandes's wonderful strike and left wondering where their next win will come from. It has to be Aston Villa at home on Saturday. Pegged back by a borderline penalty and an unstoppable 25-yarder, Moyes could dispute claims his team had thrown this one away. More realistic is the assertion they should have sealed victory by half-time.
Whatever, two valuable points vanished from Everton's grasp and over-coming Southampton is proving difficult in more ways than one.
SOUTHAMPTON (4-4-2): Niemi; Dodd, Lundekvam (Fernandes 46), Svensson, Higginbotham; Telfer (Pahars 88), Prutton, Delap, Le Saux; Ormerod (Beattie 46), Phillips. Subs: Smith, Crainey.
EVERTON (4-4-2): Martyn; Hibbert, Yobo, Unsworth, Pistone; Watson, Gravesen, Linderoth, Kilbane; Ferguson, Rooney. Subs: Simonsen, McFadden, Nay-smith, Radzinski, Campbell.
BOOKINGS: Southampton's Le Saux (foul).
REFEREE: Phil Dowd.
Fans forum Southampton v Everton
By Brian Moran, Daily Post
Feb 23 2004
HANDS up all those Evertonians who still think we should sell Wayne Rooney? Roonaldo is the one bright star in an otherwise dismal skyline.Every team needs a player of such sublime skill that they are capable of lifting the game above the hum-drum and turn lost causes into crucial points. Sure, we could rustle up £25million or so for the teenager but are we all convinced the board would be able to keep the cash away from the debt collectors.In any case, however much of a potential transfer fee trickles into David Moyes' spending budget it won't be enough to have United, Arsenal or Chelsea's potential targets deciding to resist the lure of Champions League football and opt for Everton's annual flirtation with relegation (last season being the exception rather than the rule).
No-one can doubt Rooney's commitment to the Everton cause. Witness his shirt-twirling celebration of the goal he thought had clinched a vital victory before a combination of dopey refereeing and equally dopey defending let Southampton deny us vital breathing space above the bottom three.
The question remains whether Everton can match the size of Rooney's ambition. I don't doubt he will stay with us in the short term, but as Liverpool are finding with Michael Owen it may be tough to convince a player with England dreams that remaining on Merseyside is a passport to international success. Home may be where the heart is, but in the modern game that is no longer enough.For a game that had 0-0 written all over it given both team's prematch records, it was a cracker. But Everton again failed to use the chances they had to bury the opposition.And just as the Blues have started scoring quicker than Peter Andre, we're now leaking them at an alarming rate, too. In-form Villa arrive next week and I'll settle for a sneaky 1-0 win.
Watson: We will build on display
Report By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Feb 23 2004
STEVE WATSON insists Everton must use Saturday's display at Southampton to revitalise their season despite the "devastating" wait for their first league win of 2004.David Moyes' men were 3-1 ahead with just eight minutes remaining at St Mary's Stadium thanks to two goals from the irrepressible Wayne Rooney and a Duncan Ferguson header.But a controversial penalty and a fabulous 90th-minute equaliser from Saints substitute Fabrice Fernandes demoralised Everton and dragged them closer to the relegation zone.Moyes' men are now only three points clear of third-from-bottom Wolves and Watson admits they cannot allow despair to fester on fragile confidence as they look to pull clear of danger."It's very hard to look at the positives after that result, but we have to," said the midfielder. "We were terrible at Birmingham in our last away game and we owed the away fans for that. We played much better this time, we scored three away from home and Wayne was sensational."If they hadn't equalised all the talk would have been about how well Wayne played and I still think it should be. It would be wrong to lose sight of how good his performance was."He scored two good goals but it was his overall performance that was outstanding. I think he enjoys playing off a striker like Duncan best of all and you could tell he was really enjoying himself out there."He terrorised them, especially in the first half, and it was great to see. It is great for Everton to have a player like him and yet despite everything we didn't win and it feels like we've been beaten."Before the game I think we would have taken a 3-3 draw at Southampton but the way the game went we should have taken all three points." Watson added: "But we have a lot of winnable games coming up now and if we continue to play like that the results will come."Yet Watson could not disguise the disappointment at Everton's failure to seal their first league win in seven attempts.He said: "We haven't won for a long, long time and maybe at 3-1 up away from home with a few minutes to go we thought we'd done enough. "But we threw it away and we are devastated. It just shows you how you've got to play for 90 minutes. We should have sealed that result."We looked comfortable in a 4-4-2 and we should have been 3-0 ahead by half-time. We were creating chance after chance and we should have killed them off. But we didn't and we knew they would come at us in the second."Things go against you when you haven't won for a while and that was the case with the penalty which was outside the area."There was a big mark outside the area where Toby slid in."Then they scored with a world class goal in the final minute. You've just got to hold your hands up to a goal like that but it is heartbreaking."The midfielder denied Southampton's second-half recovery was aided by Everton's own display, which should have taken them into an unassailable lead before the break."I don't think it was a case of nerves," he insisted. "At 2-0 up at half-time we expected them to throw everything at us in the second half and that's what they did by bringing on James Beattie."He's good in the air and they bombarded us, yet we defended stoutly for most of the half and still conceded three goals."There could have been a nervousness about us when they got one back but the fact we made it 3-1 shows we had the commitment to attack. To come so close and not win is devastating. It feels like a defeat."
Southampton 3, Everton 3 (Echo)
Feb 23 2004 By Scott McLeod, Liverpool Echo
IF you make your own luck in football, then Everton only have themselves to blame for seeing a 3-1 lead turned into a 3-3 draw in the dying minutes of this game. Yes, the penalty decision eight minutes from time which led to the Saints' second goal and inspired the fightback was highly controversial. Slow motion replays serve to confirm that Tobias Linderoth's trip on David Prutton took place just outside the area. But the sense of injustice is diluted by the fact there have been too many hard luck stories in the last couple of months. And now is not the time to dwell on 'what might have beens'. Do that and there is always the danger of complacency setting in. And with the league position looking increasingly perilous, that is the last thing Everton need. The penalty decision was hugely frustrating. But so was the sight of Fabrice Fernandes being allowed to skip in-field from the right flank as the game entered injury time in order to unleash the left-foot strike which levelled the scores. There was no mad scramble to close him down. And that lapse in concentration proved hugely costly, just as the squandered chances in the opening half prevented the Blues building the unassailable lead they merited. Having led for 83 of the 90 minutes, it was a bitter, bitter blow to come away with just a point. One die-hard Evertonian re-lived the moment Fernandes' strike found the back of the net by revealing: "There were grown men all around me with tears in their eyes." The nature of the late turnaround ensured it was as big a blow as any of the defeats away from home this season. Pessimism seems to have become a pre-requisite for Everton fans over the last decade - a defence mechanism based on having been kicked in the guts too many times to believe there is cause to be positive. It was that outlook which led another Blue to comment in the press room at half-time: "We will pay the price for those missed chances."
The Toffees were 2-0 up at the time and seemingly cruising to victory courtesy of the goals from Wayne Rooney and Duncan Ferguson. And so it didn't seem to matter that the attacking duo had both been guilty of missing chances that would have really put the game beyond Southampton.
For only the second time in nine league games the Blues scored first - and what a huge difference it made to their football. Having sent a warning shot across their bows inside the opening two minutes, Rooney netted five minutes later with an effort from the edge of the box which was deflected beyond Antti Niemi by Michael Svensson. Shortly after, the 18-year-old burst clear down the left but as he charged into the area with only the keeper to beat he produced a weak sidefoot shot which rolled wide of the far post. But that was nothing compared to the opportunity squandered by Ferguson on the stroke of half-time. The Blues were already 2-0 up by that stage, with the 32-year-old having guided a Thomas Gravesen cross into the far corner of the net with a deft header in the 32nd minute. And so another goal seconds before the break would have really killed off the Saints. It seemed a certainty when Rooney played a pin-point pass to his strike partner. But from 12 yards out with only the keeper to beat he sent his shot over the bar. Steve Wigley, who is the caretaker boss at the St Mary's following Gordon Strachan's departure last week, made a double change. Claus Lundekvam, who had been embarrassed on a number of occasions in the opening half by Rooney's skill, didn't reappear for the second half. They are probably still trying to untangle the defender today. The lightweight Brett Ormerod was also withdrawn. And on came the two men who would go on to score the crucial late goals - James Beattie and Fernandes. Beattie wasted no time making his presence felt, producing a couple of crunching tackles in the opening minutes of the half which got the crowd going. And with Fernandes pushing Everton down the right, the game developed a very different complexion. Joseph Yobo was back in the side after his African Nations Cup adventure in place of the injured Alan Stubbs. Alongside David Unsworth he was outstanding in the opening half. But Beattie proved a very different proposition for the defence and suddenly things didn't look as watertight. The back four was in disarray in the 58th minute when Kevin Phillips clawed a goal back. Prutton chipped an early cross to the edge of the box towards the unmarked Rory Delap. His flick on into the six-yard box exposed Everton, with Alessandro Pistone outnumbered. He lost out in an aerial battle with Svensson, whose nod-down was thumped in by Phillips. It was an ugly goal to concede. And it led to Southampton's first period of supremacy in the match. That was when the nerves began to jangle. But out of nothing Rooney produced a moment of brilliance which restored the two-goal cushion and the game seemed to be Everton's. Indeed, it should have been Everton's. With 12 minutes remaining Nigel Martyn hoofed a goal kick into the centre-circle, Ferguson nodded the ball down into the path of the teenager and he was away.
Three defenders bounced off him as he charged towards the area, played a one-two with Steve Watson and then lashed a shot into the top corner of the net. Another cracker for the Rooney archives, the celebrations which followed betrayed a genuine belief amongst the players and coaching staff that the result was assured. But that confidence was eroded three minutes later by the penalty decision and Beattie's emphatic spot-kick. Having failed to win in the league for such a long time, it was inevitable that the nerves would set in. The sight of Ferguson collapsing to his knees with his head in his hands as Fernandes' third found the back of the net on the stroke of full-time underlined just how cruel a blow this result was. However, that response from the 32-year-old also helped provide a reminder of the one crumb of comfort to be taken from this hugely frustrating game. A few months ago Ferguson's Goodison career seemed to be over. Exiled from the training ground following a row with the manager, his future looked bleak. But, to be fair to him, he has responded excellently since then. So much so, he was awarded the captaincy on Saturday ahead of Unsworth. If it was a motivational ploy by the manager to bring the best out of the big Scot, it certainly worked. His combination with Rooney provided the silver lining to the dark cloud of this result. And if the duo can match Saturday's scoring exploits in the weeks to come then Everton will certainly have the edge over the sides around them in the table. Let's focus on that, heh, instead of yet another tale of hard luck.
SOUTHAMPTON (4-4-2): Niemi; Dodd, Lundekvam (Fernandes 46), Svensson, Higginbotham; Telfer (Pahars 88), Prutton, Delap, Le Saux; Ormerod (Beattie 46), Phillips. Subs: Smith, Crainey.
EVERTON (4-4-2): Martyn; Hibbert, Yobo, Unsworth, Pistone; Watson, Gravesen, Linderoth, Kilbane; Ferguson, Rooney. Subs: Simonsen, McFadden, Nay-smith, Radzinski, Campbell.
BOOKINGS: Southampton's Le Saux (foul).
REFEREE: Phil Dowd.
Blue loan star Leon to keep up Ram raids
Feb 23 2004 Liverpool Echo
LEON OSMAN'S loan spell at Derby has been extended after the Everton midfielder scored the winner in the Rams' 2-1 Nationwide Division One victory over Crystal Palace. George Burley's men turned the game in a pulsating second period thanks to Osman. Burley said afterwards: "I've spoken to David Moyes and he's agreed to extend Leon's loan. "He can stay for at least another month."
Fergie back in favour
Feb 23 2004 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES has provided a clear indication that his problems with Duncan Ferguson are now a thing of the past after giving the experienced striker the captain's armband. The 32-year-old Scot, (left), led the side at Southampton on Saturday, replacing the injured Alan Stubbs, and could be set to continue as the club's talisman if Stubbs' groin strain keeps him out this weekend against Aston Villa at Goodison. Saturday was the first time Ferguson has skippered the Blues since the end of the 2001/2 season and he marked the occasion by netting the second of Everton's three goals in what proved to be a hugely frustrating 3-3 draw which leaves Everton perilously near the regation zone.
Ferguson was banished from the training ground for 10 days earlier this season following a row with the manager. Being handed the captaincy reflects the dramatic turnaround in the player's fortunes since then. Moyes said today: "Of the people available he was the most suitable for the role of captain. "He led the team very well on Saturday and showed he really cared about our situation. That was noticeable in his play." Moyes insists his players will not wilt in the face of a worrying run of form which has yet to see them win in the Premiership in 2004. He added: "We are all reacting to the situation because we know we have to get some results. "We feel we shouldn't be in this position but we are not performing as well as we can do. "We know how important it is to start picking up some wins. We have some home games cing up and if we are to stay away from the rgation end of the table we need to win our home games." Ferguson was the only player to report an injury after Saturday's draw but the minor knock to his lower back is not too serious.
'Strong resolve will spur us on'
Feb 23 2004 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
STEVE WATSON believes solidarity will be the key to Everton overcoming the disappointment of Saturday's draw at Southampton. The Blues were denied only their second away win of the season by a late Fabrice Fernandes strike. The failure to pick up the three points which, having twice led by two goals, seemed a foregone conclusion has left the club just three points above the relegation zone. But Watson, who was back in the starting line-up on Saturday as David Moyes reverted back to a 4-4-2 formation, believes the side will use the disappointment to become stronger with just 12 games of the season remaining. He said: "We took a lot of credit last season as a team and so we take the criticism as a team now. But when the pain goes away today and we look at it there are plenty of positives to take from the game and something to build on. "It feels like we have been beaten. Before the game you probably would have thought that 3-3 against Southampton is not that bad a result, but the predicament we are in at the moment means we needed to take three points. We had the chances to do that and we didn't take them. "We are fully aware of our league position and we know results didn't go for us at the weekend. "But there are a lot of games to play and we have got a lot of home games coming up, a lot of winnable games." Watson points to the impressive performance of Wayne Rooney, who netted two of Everton's three goals, as the biggest plus from the game. He adds: "On the positive side, we are creating chance after chance at the moment. Wayne carved them open a number of times and had some great shooting chances. "It is important that Wayne was where he really enjoys being on Saturday. He is a striker and playing off Duncan Ferguson he showed what a handful he can be. He looked like he was enjoying himself, which is a good thing for Wayne. "The game plan was to get a goal ahead and see what we could do from there. We probably should have been three ahead at half-time and it probably would have been a completely different story. "The gaffer played a 4-4-2, which we looked comfortable in. And I think we did exactly what the gaffer wanted us to do. "They scored early in the second half and if the heads were going to drop they would have gone then, but they didn't. We kept defending well and working hard. "We knew they were going to bombard us in the second half but Wayne scored a great goal to go 3-1 up and at the moment you think we have got to hold on. "But it was a world class goal in the final minute and sometimes you have got to hold your hands up. "I think the penalty did affect us a little bit. We were all very close to it and you do get a feeling when you haven't won for a while that things are going against you. "That is something that happened there. Toby was still on the ground after the challenge and there was a big slide mark on the grass about a foot outside the penalty box. "We all thought that was very harsh. And when they equalised it did feel like a defeat."
Manager has plan
Post Soapbox, Icliverpool & Daily Post
Feb 24 2004
Manager has plan
WE know that David Moyes is the man to guide the Blues to the top. Everton have a three to five-year plan to bring us back up to the elite. Of course, this will take a bit of time as the younger players start to come through. I'm sure DM has plans for Osman and Jeffers along with Rooney, Faddy and Hibbert. With two half-decent keepers and Yobo we still need a degree of experience. Watson and Kilbane have the Moyes work ethic so where does that leave us? Hopefully DM will free up some spots in the first team by allowing the likes of Unsworth, Weir and Stubbs to move on and perhaps Campbell will be given a free transfer.
Pat Ince (via e-mail)
Shame on defence
SHAME on Everton's defence that Wayne Rooney's hard work had gone down the drain. Please, pull up your socks or you will end up with Chelsea/Real Madrid sniffing around Goodison Park for Rooney's signature.
J Polo (via e-mail)
IT was never a penalty. At least Rooney showed what he is when he wants to be world class. I hope defending like that is not going prove costly. Rooney must stay.
Colin Moore, verton
Batty the answer
WE need something more in midfield. We missed out on Barry Ferguson and Sean Davis did a U-turn. Why not take a chance and bring in David Batty?
Moyes' hands tied
I FEEL sorry for Moyes; look at what he's got to work with. Everton are going down and the board should know how we feel, starting at the home game against Villa.
Peter Atkinson, Walton
I THINK that Wayne Rooney should NOT be sold. He is a great player and should say with us because he says 'Once a Blue, always a Blue'. If he wanted to go and play for another team surely he would go. Have you got this Ferguson and Man United fans?
Emma Partridge, rewe
Cup means cash
IN a week that sees EFC in a horrible financial state once again, I see we are refusing to go in to or consider the Intertoto Cup competition. Does Moyes have money to burn? I should rather be making a few quid playing to get fit in the build-up to a new season.
George Gibbons, Orrell, Liverpool
Rooney the unstoppable
By Mark Lawrenson, Daily Post
Feb 24 2004
EVERTON had three chances to win the game at Southampton and missed them all.
The quality of the chances they created means they should have been out of sight before falling to two late goals. A draw like that will feel like a defeat, but Everton have to take the positives out of the game if they are to ease their way up the table. And you won't get anything more positive than the display of Wayne Rooney. He remains Everton's salvation - both on and off the field.
I am not saying the Blues must sell, but I do fear that the financial reality of their accounts may mean one day they have no option but to let him go for the long-term security of the club.
However if he continues in the sort of unstoppable form he showed on Saturday, Everton should secure enough points for Premiership safety. He seems to work best alongside Duncan Ferguson. The big Scot tends to occupy two defenders by his sheer size and the nature of his style of play and that leaves spaces for Rooney to exploit. It is not a matter of luck that he tends to be in the right place at the right time. He has a maturity to his game which means he knows how to take up good positions. If he gets the ball 30 or 40 yards from goal and runs at the opposition he can unleash a shot himself or play in others. If Everton can tighten up at the back again and keep Rooney in such good form then they can progress. But they need to pick up that first league win of 2004 quickly - and Villa on Saturday would be the perfect starting place.
Police to question United players
Report By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Feb 24 2004
MERSEYSIDE Police are to question Manchester United players over allegations they verbally abused Everton fans. Gary Neville, Roy Keane, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Cristiano Ronaldo were all accused of inciting opposition supporters after the Dutch striker's last-minute winner at Goodison Park on February 7. Everton received 100 written complaints from incensed supporters after the game, mainly concerning England full-back Neville, while police officers and stewards also made statements to the club. And after a meeting with Goodison officials yesterday Merseyside Police confirmed they are to investigate the claims. A Merseyside Police spokesperson said: "On Monday, 23rd February senior Merseyside Police officers and senior Everton FC officials met to discuss compaints received from supporters following the recent Premiership fixture between Everton and Manchester United at Goodison Park. "Having had the opportunity to study all the available evidence and collate information from supporters, police officers and stewards, Merseyside Police will be seeking to meet directly with the team management at Manchester United Football Club to discuss the conduct of some of their players on the day of the match." No date has yet been set for the meeting. Neville and Ronaldo ran towards home fans in the Bullens Road Stand after United's dramatic winner, while Keane and the goalscorer have been accused of shouting abuse at fans in the Family Enclosure. The police's intervention means the Manchester United players are unlikely to face any action from the FA, who will see this step as sufficient in the circumstances.
Boyle strike claims derby
Academy Football With Chris Wright, Daily Post
Feb 24 2004
PATRICK BOYLE scored to give Everton under-17s a derby victory to send them back to the top of the table. The Scotland youth international struck 20 minutes from time with the only goal of the game against Liverpool at Netherton on Saturday. Gary Ablett's side bounced back from last week's defeat to Blackburn with a victory that, coupled with Manchester United's 3-0 defeat in their own derby at City, sees Everton go top of the FA Premier Academy League Group A table on goal difference. They also have a game in hand. In an even contest Ablett's side became more dominant as the game wore on. And Boyle, from close range, steered home off the post after Paul Hopkins' low angled pass from the edge of the box for the winning strike. Ablett said: "We are pleased overall, but it was a very disappointing first half. It was similar to Blackburn, we were just miles off it. "But once we had a word at half-time, in the second half we really overpowered them, which was pleasing. We limited them to probably only one half-chance for the whole of the second half." Ablett added: "The front players - Hopkins and Fowler - were very quiet in the first half but for 35 minutes in the second half they led the line really well. "Not so much as in chances but they worked their socks off for us."
Everton under-19s drew 2-2 with Liverpool under-19s at the Kirkby Academy on Saturday.
Liverpool took the lead on the half-hour mark, but Patrice Pascucci levelled eight minutes later, nipping in on Gavin Lynch's cross to score. The Italian striker doubled his tally after well-delivered corner from Damon Martland on the hour to put Everton ahead. Brian Moogan hit the underside of the bar, but soon after Liverpool equalised with seven minutes left. Dewsnip said: "I was very disappointing to lose a goal with seven minutes to go. There didn't seem to be a threat. We were well on top. Brian Moogan hit the bar and if that had gone in it would have been game over.
"But I suppose it is credit to Liverpool that they didn't give up. "All the players gave their all, but the two front players worked their socks off and Patrice obviously got us two goals."
EVERTON UNDER-19s: Lake; Flood, Gerrard, Potter, Fox; Booth, B Moogan, Barry, Martland; Lynch (O'Donnell 70), Pascucci (Phelan 70). Subs: Thorbinson, Joseph Jones, Garside.
EVERTON UNDER-17s: Gallagher; Wynne, Hughes, Kearney, Wright; Wilson, Harris, Seargeant, Boyle; Hopkins (Anichebe 79), Fowler (Vaughan 79). Subs: Molynuex, Johnson, Irving.
United to co-operate with the police
February 24, 2004
Manchester Evening News
MANCHESTER United have promised to fully co-operate with Merseyside Police who want to interview their management and players following allegations that Everton fans were verbally abused during the Barclaycard Premiership game at Goodison Park earlier this month.
Everton received more than 100 complaints from fans following United players' celebrations when Ruud van Nistelrooy scored the last-minute clincher in their 4-3 victory. Since then the club and Merseyside Police have taken statements and sifted through video evidence of incidents during the match. Now police have decided they want to talk to Sir Alex Ferguson and several of his players, at a date to be fixed. On arrival in Oporto today for their Champions League clash with Porto, a United spokesman said: "We will co-operate fully with the police enquiry." Complaints were made against the behaviour of Roy Keane, Gary Neville and Cristiano Ronaldo. A police statement said: "Having had the opportunity to study all available evidence and collate information from supporters, police officers and stewards who were on duty, Merseyside Police will be seeking to meet directly with the team management at Manchester United to discuss the conduct of some of their players on the day of the match."
Blues boss relishing battle ahead
Feb 24 2004 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES is relishing the challenge of overcoming the biggest test of his managerial career.
Everton's run of just one win from their last 10 matches has left them out of the FA Cup and three points above the Premier-ship relegation zone. It is an unfamiliar position for the Goodison chief.
He said: "It is something which I am treating as a challenge for me. "As a manager everything is not fine all the time. This is a test that I am going to stand up to. "This is the first time I have been in a position like this other than when I first took over at both Preston and here. "Other than Nigel Martyn and Kevin Kilbane, who have come in and performed really well this season, it is the same group of players who finished seventh last season. We know what we are capable of and we are all in it together. "We will continue to do everything we can to win the next game." Alan Stubbs and Francis Jeffers are both still recovering from groin strains picked up last week but they are the only injury worries other than long-term absentee Li Tie. Both David Weir and Richard Wright are back in training but will not be rushed back into the first team picture. The manager wants them to get a couple of reserve matches under their belts. Tonight's reserve game at Birmingham has been postponed and will now be played in April. Meanwhile, Sir Alex Ferguson is set to be questioned by Merseyside Police over allegations his players verbally abused Everton fans. Everton received 100 written complaints from supporters angered by the goal celebrations of Gary Neville, Cristiano Ronaldo and Roy Keane after Ruud van Nistelrooy's late winner at Goodison earlier this month.
The United players are set to escape FA punishment for their celebrations following the 4-3 win.
But while the matter will not be passed on to the FA, police do want to talk to Ferguson and the rest of the United management over the matter. A Merseyside Police spokesperson explained: "On Monday, February 23 senior Merseyside Police officers and senior Everton FC officials met to discuss complaints received from supporters following the recent Premiership fixture between Everton and Manchester United at Goodison Park. "Having had the opportunity to study all the available evidence and collate information from supporters, police officers and stewards, Merseyside Police will be seeking to meet directly with the team management at Manchester United to discuss the conduct of their players." United are expected to receive a rap on the knuckles for their vociferous celebrations.
Boss made right decision on Dunc
Feb 24 2004 By Andy Gray, Liverpool Echo
TOSSING two points away with almost the last kick of a match, having been 3-1 ahead, was desperately disappointing. But Everton didn't have to look too hard to find positives from the 3-3 draw at Southampton - and one of them was the decision to name Duncan Ferguson as skipper for the day. To me, that decision showed that the public spat between David Moyes and Duncan earlier this season had finally been brushed under the carpet. And it also proved that despite his inexperience, David had worked the situation fairly well. At the time Duncan was unhappy with certain things and thought he could manipulate David, while the boss had to make a stand and show that he couldn't. Throughout it all, though, David made it perfectly clear that he thought Duncan was a very good player. He will have told him: "You are a good player, I know what you can do - and if you are doing it for us there is no problem." By handing Duncan the captain's arm-band he has told him he has been happy with what he has been seeing - and Duncan responded with a goal.
It was very good psychology. If Everton can get another good 18 months out of Big Dunc it will be good for both parties. A couple of years ago, when his injury problems were at their height, I worried that we may never see Duncan Ferguson on a football field again. But I am delighted to see him back and scoring goals again. Whatever mistakes Dunc has made in the past, he is no fool, and he is also a very, very good player. People sometimes lose sight of that fact. At his best he is a massive influence, a real handful and undoubtedly one of the best centre-forwards in the country.
Having him available and in that kind of form clearly took a little of the attention away from Wayne Rooney on Saturday and allowed him to flourish. I've said all along that Wayne will not learn his trade on the substitutes bench. David Moyes clearly knows how best to handle him, but at this stage of his career he needs games - and when he's playing alongside a talent like Duncan it can only help his progress. It was no surprise to me that with that pair in tandem, Everton were dangerous throughout and scored three goals away from home. Together that combination can be one of the best in the Premiership. But unfortunately the Blues didn't keep things tight enough at the back.
Having said that there were certainly positives to be had from the 3-3 draw - and Duncan Ferguson's restoration as Everton skipper was certainly one of them.
Villa will be no easy ride
EVERTON need a victory quickly, but you wouldn't choose Aston Villa as the opposition when you're desperate for a win. They are on as good a run of form as any club in the count r y at present, and they are travelling okay too. If you allow Villa to play, they will hurt you. Darius Vassell and Juan Pablo Angel do not need any second invitation to cause mayhem in vulnerable defences - and Everton's has certainly been vulnerable in recent weeks. But, as Birmingham City showed on Sunday, if you disrupt their flow they will panic. Villa lost a 2-0 lead in the second city's derby match as a result of their own failings as much as any inspired play from Birmingham. With another fortnight's break following the Villa game, Everton do not want to be mulling over the loss of another maximum points haul - with a relegation six- pointer against Portsmouth then next up.
Everton need a win badly. But while the visit of Villa will be tough, if Everton get about them they can secure the result they so desperately need.
Returning Wright faces up to tough task
Report By David Prior, Daily Post
Feb 25 2004
RICHARD WRIGHT has admitted that reclaiming Everton's goalkeeping gloves from Nigel Martyn will be "a very tough task". The England international, has finally emerged from his injury-ravaged season but his hopes of first-team action seem slim with Martyn in the form of his life and firmly established as David Moyes' number one choice. Wright, 26, underwent surgery in America late last year to correct a knee problem that has limited his season to just four appearances, the last of those in September. He is now back in full training and eager to step up the competition on veteran Martyn, who has been a revelation at Goodison since signing from Leeds last autumn.
And Wright confesses: "Nigel's done very well. I give him a bit of stick telling him that he's got to let me back in again because I opened the door for him a bit. "Nigel's been fantastic and I don't think he's let anyone down and if anything he's been one of the best performers this year so I know it's going to be difficult. "But that's what the manager wants, he wants competition for places and I just hope I can give Nigel some competition and take over and get my place back. "Competition can only push you on and make you progress as a player. If you've got someone who's good breathing down your neck or someone who you've got to fight against you've got to push yourself as much as you possibly can. "I think he's been one of the most consistent performers in the Premier League this season so it's going to be a very tough task, but like I said before it's about competition I'm looking forward to the challenge." Wright said he appreciated his comeback trail may involve a lengthy stint for the reserves. He added: "I want to play as many games as I can towards the end of the season. It's unheard of for me not to be able to play games and it's been very difficult not being able to be there. "I'm not the type of person to sit and watch it. My main aim is to make sure I play games and get games under my belt - whether it be reserve games or whatever. "Hopefully that's the case and I can perform well and challenge for a first-team spot again." Meanwhile, Manchester United have promised to fully co-operate with Merseyside Police who want to interview their management and players following allegations that Everton fans were verbally abused during the Premiership game at Goodison Park earlier this month. Everton received more than 100 complaints from fans following United players' celebrations when Ruud van Nistelrooy scored the last-minute clincher in their 4-3 victory. Since then the club and Merseyside Police have taken statements and sifted through video evidence of incidents during the match. Now police have decided they want to talk to Sir Alex Ferguson and several of his players, at a date to be fixed.
On arrival in Portugal yesterday for their Champions League clash with Porto, a United spokesman said: "We will co-operate fully with the police enquiry." Complaints were made against the behaviour of Roy Keane, Gary Neville and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Loan star Osman still holds out hope
Feb 25 2004 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
LEON OSMAN hopes the extension of his successful loan spell at Derby will be a springboard for a move into the Everton first team when he returns to Merseyside. The 22-year-old, has netted two goals in five games since moving to Pride Park last month to aid George Burley's battle against relegation from Division One. His impressive performances for the Rams have led to his loan deal being extended into a second month. Osman put pen to paper on a one year extension to his contract at Goodison earlier this season and is hopeful his stint at Derby will convince David Moyes he is capable of regular first team action with Everton. He said: "I'm staying for an extra month and I'm pleased about that, because to play reserve team football is not what I want to do at this stage of my career. "I want to play first team football and I'm happy to be doing that down here at Derby.
"David Moyes has told me I've got to wait for my chance at Everton but the chances haven't been coming as yet so to be playing first team football is the experience I need. "Playing first team football gives you experience. People look at you differently when you have got that and hopefully you can play at a higher level." But if Derby do try to make his switch to Pride Park permanent the versatile forward admits he does not know what would happen. "Whether Derby will want to keep me beyond the end of the loan or whether Everton would want to let me go is all up in the air at the minute so we'll have to wait and see," added Osman. Moyes' insistence that a clause should be added into Osman's loan deal allowing the Blues to recall him at 24 hours notice suggests the Goodison chief believes the 22-year-old's future is on Merseyside. Meanwhile, Sean O'Hanlon has also had his loan spell at second division Swindon extended.
Irvine: Don't panic
Feb 25 2004 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
ALAN IRVINE is refusing to press the panic button at Everton - despite the Blues staggering to their worst points tally at this stage of the season since the Premiership began. Saturday's draw at Southampton meant that Everton's tally of 26 points from 26 games was two points worse than their previous low at this stage. But the Blues' assistant boss, said today: "I think everyone's looked at our performances and felt that we don't really deserve to be down there. "I've heard many people say that Everton are playing too well to end up in that trouble. But we are down there and it's obviously some-thing that you can't miss. "Everybody looks at league tables. The first thing you do after a game is look at the table. They're on Sky Sports, they're on TV all the time, in newspapers all the time, so it's unavoidable. "But there's no need for us to keep battering ourselves over the head about it. "It's important that we realise the situation that we're in, which I think everyone does, but it's important as well that we don't drag ourselves down by getting too worried about it."
With key matches looming against Aston Villa, Portsmouth and Middlesbrough (all at home) and Leicester, Irvine added: "Two or three wins make a massive difference just as two or three defeats will. "A few weeks ago we weren't that far away from the middle of the table and even the top half." He went on: "We all feel the pressure. We're all desperate to get the results that we need and to be honest that we've felt that we've deserved in a lot of cases since the turn of the year. But the pressure isn't so much on me or any of the other backroom staff. "Obviously David (Moyes) is in the firing line all of the time, the players are out there in the firing line as well. "It's important that we try and give a bit of balance to it so we're not adding to the stresses and strains that are on people but actually trying to pick people up when we see they're a little bit down."
The lost art of defending
Feb 25 2004 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES is doing his best to ensure the art of defending does not become forgotten.
But while the Goodison chief is constantly working hard on the training ground to improve his side's 'goals against' record, he is convinced that throughout football the quality of defending is on the wane. Gone are the days when each top flight club could boast a centre-back in the mould of Dave Watson or Tony Adams. A no-nonsense defender, solid and imposing who always seemed to be in the right place at the right time. Nowadays such players are few and far between. It is a fact which saddens Moyes. "There seem to have been examples of slack defending from every club recently," explained Moyes. "There have been a lot of high scoring games. The art of defending seems to be dying out and it is hard to explain why." Regular rule changes in the game over the last decade have made it harder for defenders to tackle. And the speed and skill of strikers has made life increasingly difficult for the men asked to defend the line. But Moyes still believes the game is lacking the kind of defenders who make it look easy - the centrebacks who share the instincts of the finest strikers.
He added: "The best defenders are the ones who can sense danger and who position themselves correctly. They are the ones who make the least mistakes. "Defenders have to try to make no mistakes. But if you look at some of the goals scored in the league recently there have been a lot of mistakes." The Blues themselves have suffered a series of costly defensive lapses in recent weeks, conceding 10 goals in just three matches. And elsewhere there have been a host of high scoring contests, with Tottenham alone involved in two 4-3s and a 4-4 draw. No team in the Premiership kept a clean sheet last weekend. Moyes is doing his best to buck the trend with hard work on the Bellefield training ground. He adds: "I am sure there is no manager who does more work in training on defending than I do. "I take my time to try and go through things. "It is terrible conceding 10 goals in three games, but what can you do? We just have to keep trying to stop them." Because of that, the manager refused to accept the outcome of Saturday's draw at Southampton, even though one of the Saints' three goals was a penalty and the third an example of an outstanding finish from outside the box. He added: "In a lot of ways you could say it is hard to criticise your defenders, but we've still come away losing three goals and that is not acceptable."
Fans' feelings far more important than results
Stuart Rayner, Liverpool Echo
THE national press have been sharpening their knives. The vultures have been circling Merseyside. They sense blood. Surely, after such a terrible season, a change of manager is imminent.
Out of both domestic cups after months of lacklustre performances, things have just not kicked on since last season. It's a well-worn cliche that in football, "results are all that matter". It's not true. If it was, then David Moyes, with only one win - and that over a Football League side - and three Premiership points in 2004, would be staring down the barrel. But instead, it is Gerard Houllier - with 12 points from seven games this year (one more than Sir Alex Ferguson's Manchester United) - who is the Premiership manager under most pressure. Why? Because it's not results that matter the most - it's having the support of the fans. Everton fans have not been bombarding the ECHO offices with 'Moyes out' emails and letters - even though their team is loitering in 15th, three points above the relegation zone, after finishing seventh last season. The reason is simple: Everton fans have faith in David Moyes. That is not something their friends across the Park can say about the Liverpool manager. If results were all that mattered, Reds fans would have been overjoyed to beat Manchester City two weeks ago and move into the sacred final Champions League spot. Instead, Houllier was booed. Whether the majority of Everton fans are right to support Moyes, or those in the anti-Houllier brigade are simply misguided is another debate. Most footballing folk claim to be thick-skinned (despite most being more touchy than your average schoolchild), but the fact is that negative vibes around a football ground do transmit themselves to the players. Steven Gerrard apart, who seems to be immune to everything but kryptonite right now, the lethargy in the stands at Anfield has been mirrored on the pitch recently. With the exception of Igor Biscan's substitution against Man City, Liverpool's fans have never really voiced their disapproval of Houllier during a game. But you can sense the atmosphere of near-resignation at every game, and anyone who claims it is not having an effect on the players, clearly has not seen a Liverpool home game recently.
Houllier is by no means an isolated case. Under George Graham, Tottenham enjoyed relative success. Certainly their style of football was a million miles away from the high-octane excitement to be found at White Hart Lane right now, but Graham did what no other Spurs manager has done since 1991. He won a trophy. Kenny Dalglish was lampooned at Newcastle United for a style of football which was every bit as entertaining as your average Alan Shearer interview. Yet in his time at St James Park, Dalglish delivered a season of Champions League football - which featured a win over Barcelona - and an FA Cup final appearance. Not bad for a club which has won next to nothing since Sir Bobby Robson was in short trousers. Glenn Hoddle did a good job in his first spell as Southampton manager - no matter how much their fans might like to pretend otherwise.
But if he is stupid enough to take the job back, he will be onto the kind of hiding to nothing Graham was at Spurs. Graham's hate affair with the Spurs public had nothing to do with the fact that his team was as aweinspiring as watching paint dry. It was all because he had managed The Enemy. And with plenty of success. Likewise, the Hoddle revisionists have been hard at work because of the way he used Southampton as a springboard to his dream job - Graham's. For that reason alone, the former England manager wouldn't have a cat in hell's chance of success at St Mary's. And it is why anyone with half a brain would rather be in Moyes' shoes than Houllier's right now. Despite what the league table might say.
Villa meet their match
Post Past, By Phil Redmond
Feb 26 2004
WHEN Aston Villa visited Goodison Park back in August 1982 they came as European champions, a distinction that is almost impossible to conceive these days. Indeed, despite the dominance of British clubs in Europe, Villa's triumph, even then, was pretty unbelievable, particularly seeing as they'd struggled all season in the league. The European Cup, in its straight knockout days, wasn't always won by great teams. Who could forget Steaua Bucharest boring their way through the 1986 final against a poor Barcelona outfit, a feat that was emulated by Red Star Belgrade a few years later.
Average or not though, Villa came to Goodison having achieved the ultimate. Howard Kendall's Everton meanwhile were starting to show signs of the potential that would blossom over the next few years. The previous season had seen a strong finish with Everton just missing out on a UEFA cup spot. The likes of Sharp, Stevens, Ratcliffe and Richardson were breaking through, while after Howard's 'Magnificent Seven' outlay had only unearthed Neville Southall, a record sum had been spent on a young midfielder/striker from Stoke, who looked about 12, called Adrian Heath.
The opening game had seen Everton blown away by Graham Taylor's Wat-ford and as a result it was a subdued gate of only 24,000 who turned up on a warm summer's night for the Villa game.
The faithful were rewarded by a stunning display by the Blues, with Howard's two latest signings featuring prominently. Andy King was his usual lively self on his return to Goodison after unfruitful spells with QPR and West Brom and he celebrated with a stunning finish after being put through by some ex-Liverpool reserve called Sheedy who kept spraying 50-yard passes all over the place.
By this time Villa were already buried after little "Inchy" had notched a brace with a close-range header and a stylish finish at the end of a flowing Everton move. The team left the field at half-time to a standing ovation and there was more of the same after the break. Villa were torn apart and the Blues scored two further goals from Graeme Sharp, one a header, the other a penalty after a foul on Kevin Richardson. 1982-83 proved an inconsistent but often promising season, with another seventh-placed finish and a near invincible home record offset by the Glen Keeley derby and brittle away form. Within two years though the promise of late summer 1982 would be realised fully.
There was, however, plenty of heart-ache before the glory arrived.
Stubbs still an injury doubt
Report By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Feb 26 2004
DAVID MOYES may have to enforce his plan to restore solidity to Everton's defence this weekend without Alan Stubbs. The Everton manager is anxious to repair his fragile backline after conceding 10 goals in the last three Premiership outings. But he could be without Stubbs, for Saturday's crucial home game against Aston Villa with the centre-half struggling to recover from the groin strain that forced him to miss the draw at Southampton. Stubbs and Francis Jeffers, who missed the south coast trip with the same injury, have both resumed light training but the defender is doubtful for the Goodison clash. Head physio Mick Rathbone said: "Alan is doing well after he slipped and fell awkwardly in training about a week ago, but he's making decent progress. "He's been outside doing some jogging so hopefully he'll step it up in the next couple of days. He's in with a shout for the weekend but remains a doubt." Jeffers has a better chance to returning against Villa, although is unlikely to break the encouraging partnership of Duncan Ferguson and Wayne Rooney. Rathbone added: "I think he kicked the ground when he had a shot. It's not a massively serious injury. He's seven days post injury and he's making good progress. "He's a bit further on than Alan and hopefully he'll join in training at the end of the week."
Why Kendall feels for Hou
Feb 26 2004 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
LIVERPOOL boss Gerard Houllier has an unlikely ally as he tries to ride out the most vehement and sustained criticism of his Anfield reign - the most successful manager in Everton Football Club's history! Houllier has endured crowd unrest, protest banners inside the ground, phone-in complaints and angry letters - culminating this week with vile messages daubed on the walls of the club's Melwood training complex. It is a situation Howard Kendall, is totally familiar with. And in the modern era probably only he and Sir Alex Ferguson can claim to have 'lost the fans' - before spectacularly recovering to become idols of their respective clubs. Kendall's winter of discontent came in 1983 and has now passed into Merseyside folklore. Before a Milk Cup tie with Coventry City disgruntled fans circulated leaflets declaring: "Kendall and Carter Out. 30,000 stay away fans can't be wrong. Bring back attractive, winning football to Goodison Park." And the attacks became personal when Kendall had his garage doors at his Formby home daubed with grafitti. More than 20 years on, he is still unsettled by the experience. "It's not nice," he said. "When it starts to get personal, with people painting messages about you, then former players with no managerial experience telling you that you can't do your job, it's difficult. "In a way I had less problem with the leaflets because that was done in a way you respect really, by die-hard Blues who really felt for the club. "It's very difficult. I tried to put a brave face on it and I remember going to the training ground when we'd lost and seeing that Harry Cooke, the Chief Scout, had drawn the curtains and wouldn't open them. I told him 'Get them open Harry. It's the start of another week.'" Kendall admits to having plenty of sympathy for Houllier's position, but says: "There aren't that many similarities between my position and Gerard's - although I did get stick for some of my signings. "What people lost sight of was that Everton were 18th or 19th when I took over - and those players helped take us to eighth at the end of my first season. That was important progress. "The expectancy level wasn't as great for me because I wasn't expected to go out and win a championship, but the pressure was different because in those days Everton managers usually only got three years to either win a Cup or show improvement otherwise they would be on their way. "I always remember when the pressure was really on in the December, saying that if in February we are out of the cups and still in the lower reaches of the table I would have expected to be told to go. "As it was we got to two Cup Finals and recovered our league position. "Liverpool are into February now and still have one Cup to go for, but Gerard does not need the pressure of his board turning round and saying you have to qualify for the Champions League. "That's a hell of a pressure." Kendall and Houllier first met when the Reds boss was a coach back in his native France. "I first met Gerard when he was manager of Paris St Germain and he called into Bellefield to say hello," he explained. "I do understand what he is going through at this present time and it's not nice. Everyone likes praise and everyone wants to be successful. "There's no secret formula and Gerard certainly doesn't need any lessons from me.
"But at Everton back then we believed in what we had. People talked about a couple of results changing my whole time at Everton and the disappointing thing is that if it hadn't worked for me someone else would have come in and reaped the benefits. "It's very important that people within Liverpool Football Club believe that Gerard is taking the club in the right direction."
Share issue hold-up
Feb 26 2004 Liverpool Echo
EVERTON are still investigating the possibility of a rights share issue - but need to find an individual, or group, with the funds to underwrite it. The total sum floated would have to be under-written by somebody who would guarantee to buy the shares which are not taken up. Mr Dunford explained: "At a recent fans' forum, Bill Kenwright was asked if we would consider a rights issue. When he answered positively, he enquired how many fans there under-stood what a rights issue actually meant. "Two put their hands up. "A rights issue is a possibility, but you have to decide whether there is the appetite out there for it. The worst thing you can do is have a share issue which is an absolute flop. That would be a disaster. "We have had two previous rights issues which were underwritten by Peter Johnson. That money was soon spent. "For supporters to support another, we have to gauge whether there is the enthusiasm and the ability to support it. "What has been suggested is a £15m issue. But that has to be for a specific project or purpose. "We are looking into it, but that would take probably nine or 10 months to come to fruition - but we are talking about now. "David wants to plan for the summer, season ticket holders need to see what is happening - and there is a lot of effort going on behind the scenes. "Yes, it is frustrating when you see other clubs with better facilities and increased capacity, but we try to use that as a spur to drive us forward."
Moyes' double boost
Feb 26 2004 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON received a double boost today as Francis Jeffers and Alan Stubbs returned to full training.
The duo have been struggling with minor groin strains but are now in contention for Saturday's home clash with Aston Villa. It means manager David Moyes now has a full compliment of players at his disposal as he aims to ster his team to their first league win of the year. Meanwhile, Everton's ageing Goodison Park home is the biggest obstacle facing the club as they try to compete financially in the Premiership. That is the message from chief-executive Michael Dunford, who reveals in an exclusive ECHO interview today that the Blues are continuing to investigate a number of options which would mean leaving the club's current home. The situation means that there is currently no money in the Goodison coffers for new signings this summer. The board are also considering the prospect of a shares rights issue but the need to find somebody willing to underwrite the £15m scheme remains the biggest stumbling block.
If hope seems lost - take a deep breath
Feb 26 2004 By John Thompson, Liverpool Echo
'IF YOU can keep your head, when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you....'
Rudyard Kipling's famous sign-off line thus proclaims '....you'll be a Man, my son'. But recently some sad wit rewrote it for those tacky mugs and tea towels sold in seaside souvenir shops and concluded instead, '....you probably just don't understand the situation!" We don't know which epitaph will ultimately prove applicable to Gerard Houllier and the board of Liverpool FC. But if the Reds manager and the decreasing number of fans who believe he will even yet succeed are looking for a sign that all is not lost, they may find it at Goodison Park. Howard Kendall today recalls how he and the Blues board faced an even bigger chorus of complaint from the Everton fans in 1983. Complete with vile graffiti of a personal nature. Then followed the most successful era in Everton's proud history. From the depths of that mass despair came fantastic triumphs - league titles, a European trophy and Cup Final glory. Plus a resurgent team packed with fabulous players who are now Everton legends. Today Kendal l is revered as the Blues' greatest manager. And history proves Sir Philip Carter and co were actually right to have kept faith in him, when, as Kipling might say, all around them were losing their heads. Even Alex Ferguson was walking the plank at Old Trafford after failing to deliver in his first five years. To a lot of Liverpool fans right now, such comparisons amount at best to clutching at a very thin straw. At worst they represent blind self-delusion bordering on the perverse. But the same might have been said in 1983 to those few who stuck by Kendall. Or in the early 90s to those backing Ferguson. Wherever this painful saga turns next, it cannot change the fact that right now, in February 2004, most Liverpool supporters, as loyal and patient as they come, are feeling utterly fedup and disillusioned. They don't enjoy being miserable. They don't enjoy being critical. They don't like calling for change. But their patience is being tested to the limits. But those down-hearted Kopites might just want to take a deep breath and pause for thought before they enter Anfield tonight. Too many may be struggling to find any hope in their hearts these days. Too many may be struggling to summon up the strength to shout their support for players who so obviously and desperately need their help. But as they walk through their storm of ill-content, Liverpool supporters can perhaps remind themselves that football miracles, rare as they might be, do sometimes happen. Just ask Howard Kendall.
Dunford warns of price rise
Feb 26 2004 Liverpool Echo
EVERTONIANS must expect to pay more for their football next season. Despite a desperately disappointing season in terms of results, the Blues have enjoyed another outstanding campaign for gates, with another average just short of the 40,000 capacity. But Mr Dunford warned: "Gate revenue has to increase. I believe we have always worked as hard as any other club to keep prices down here. Our average season ticket prices are way down among the lowest in the Premier League.
"We do exceptionally well on season ticket sales. The support we get is quite incredible, but of our 28,000 season ticket holders, 25 per cent are concessionary - either senior citizen or juveniles - while the average season ticket holder at Everton currently enjoys a 24 per cent discount on individual match prices. "Our prices are still relatively low compared to a number of other clubs. That's going to be addressed by the board. There has to be some form of increase both in match prices and season ticket prices." Mr Dunford also staunchly defended his club's commercial performance. "Last year, with a turnover in excess of £3m, we had our best year," he said. "That generates a net profit of about half-a-million pounds, which is good. "At the end of the day, though, what really matters is how much money you get from television and what position you finish in the league. A good cup run also obviously helps. "Remember, each league position wins us in excess of half a million pounds a place and every televised live Sky game brings us in excess of £600,000. "Really they are the foundations on what you build your financial projections on . . . and that is so volatile."
Days of crippling debts are gone
Feb 26 2004 Liverpool Echo
DESPITE reports to the contrary, Everton are not a club in the red. The days when a £30m overdraft hung around the club's neck like a millstone have ended. The securitisation loan taken out three years ago raised £30m which cleared the club's overdraft. "We now effectively have a mortgage over a 25-year term, which costs £2.8m a year in repayments," explained Mr Dunford. "We have a small working capital overdraft with Barclays, which we are managing to live with - but as in all businesses it is tight at times. Having said that, we are coping. "Last year we made a trading profit in excess of £3m, but we spent £8m on players. Most people have a habit of forgetting that Joseph Yobo cost us £3m this year. We only paid a loan fee the previous year. "Then there was Nigel Martyn, Kevin Kilbane, James McFadden and a loan fee for Francis Jeffers. All their wages have to be covered as well, and there has only been Mark Pembridge going out, plus a slight influx of cash from the Gavin McCann transfer from Sunderland to Aston Villa. "All in all there has been a lot of money going out and only a little coming in. "There is no magic wand to wave on this. We have an excellent relationship with Barclays, they are superb, but banks are becoming increasingly concerned about football clubs over-stretching themselves." After years of high-risk financial strategy - with players having to be sold without the manager's knowledge and spending sanctioned on the promise of a sponsorship deal which collapsed at the last minute - the Blues' finances are relatively stable.
"The finances now are under control," said Mr Dunford. "We are not awash with money. We are heavily reliant on what happens on the pitch. "I hear supporters saying that we should invest in the team to generate further income - but I have to say there is no guarantee of success. Does anyone really want us to take our overdraft to huge proportions even if we could? "We did it in the past, we invested heavily without any return. "The reality we are in is that we have to compete with clubs who have a 15 to 20,000 greater capacity than we have and we have to compete with clubs who have probably a couple of thousand extra executive seats. "Our pricing is relatively low. It's quite easy to understand where our problems are. But the board are actively looking at bringing hard capital into the club."
Blues may have to move out to move on
Feb 26 2004 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
A CONSTANT demand from Evertonians over the past decade has been 'Where's the money gone?'
But a concise glance at the club's incomings and outgoings suggests that the books are finely balanced. And the only way to generate further income - apart from sustained success on the football field - is by building a new stadium . . . or constructing a new Goodison Park. "We are constrained by facilities," admitted chief executive Michael Dun-ford. "We have a 40,000 capacity stadium, but we are one of the few grounds in the Premiership which has not had major reconstruction to improve facilities or increase capacity - the Park Stand apart in 1994.
"We have 13 Executive boxes. Aston Villa have 105, Leeds 54, Manchester City 68, Spurs 120, Southampton 47 and they generate sizeable income. "There has got to be new facilities, which is why we concentrated so much of our efforts on the water-front and a lot of effort now is being spent in the discussions about a new stadium. "These discussions include a shared stadium, alternative sites or redevelopment here, which costs money. "But lack of facilities generally is holding us back." Mr Dunford also defended Everton's commercial performance, after recent criticism that Everton's turnover is less than traditionally 'smaller' clubs like Southampton.
"All clubs' auditors analyse income in different categories and consequently it is impossible to compare like for like figures," he explained. "For example some clubs take all executive box income to gate receipts, but a lot increase their commercial revenue by taking all executive box income to commercial income. "So when you look at like for like figures, people suggest our commercial income isn't as high as it can be. "Everyone can improve, but every advertising-board, every box, every corporate seat in this ground is sold - and we have a waiting list." New facilities, either at Goodison or elsewhere, appears to be the only solution. Hence the recent discussions with Liverpool regarding a shared stadium. But that possibility will be resolved, one way or another, by the end of this season with Liverpool hoping to start construction of a new Anfield in May. "Ground-sharing is a possibility, no more than that at the moment," added Dunford. "We have had a round of initial discussions. Commercially it's a no-brainer to me. It makes a lot of sense. "If it didn't make commercial sense we wouldn't even be around the table. Ultimately it still might not come to anything, but we owe it to to our club to at least discuss it. "Liverpool say they want to start building in May, but I have to say I think that looks remote at the moment because there are still planning issues. "We have already looked at potential new sites. The board hasn't been sat on their backsides, twiddling their thumbs. "There are two or three alternative sites, but if you are looking to create something of quality - and we can't afford not to because we have always been at the forefront of stadium design - it would cost around £80m to £90m. "It's difficult to find that kind of money. You could suggest an out of town site supported by retail but planning legislation now is moving retail back into the city centres, and there are planning issues there. "But Goodison Park is tired now. It's still a super place, still one of the true football theatres, but nowadays you look at other clubs who have moved on. "We are looking at other sites, but it may well be that ultimately we still have to consider the redevelopment of Goodison on a phased basis. "Whatever we do will cost, but we know better facilities generate additional cash, increased capacity definitely increases the cash coming in - as does success on the pitch."
Time for pointing fingers is in the summer
Fanscene By Mark O'Brien, Daily Post
Feb 27 2004
WELL, at least we weren't as gutted as Blackburn Rovers' supporters come the close of play last Saturday. We couldn't have been far off though - you know it's bad when watching Liverpool getting knocked out the cup by a Portsmouth team full of unknowns doesn't even lift the gloom. Even though we got a point down at St Mary's the manner in which we threw away an extra two was even more disappointing than the late slip against Manchester United the other week.
But what can you do about it?
There's just no sense in pointing fingers or seeking recriminations at this point, it's time to pull together before a serious situation becomes critical. The time to ask questions is in the summer when perhaps changes can be made - for now, we, like every other team in the division, are stuck with what we've got. Luckily for us, what we've got showed in the first half on the south coast that they still have what it takes to get us out of trouble. For 45 minutes we were reminded of the team that just missed out on Europe last season, with Joseph Yobo unbeatable at the back, Thomas Gravesen untouchable in midfield and Wayne Rooney, well, he was just Wayne Rooney.
The side that David Moyes picked down there will surely now provide the template for the remaining games of the season, bar possibly a couple of changes at the back. It's not inconceivable that Gary Naysmith may return at left-back, allowing Alessandro Pistone to switch to the right, given that Tony Hibbert isn't playing well at all. A drop in form is to be expected - he hasn't had much more first team experience than Rooney after all - so perhaps he could do with taking out of the firing line for a bit. Tobias Linderoth's never going to set the world alight with his dazzling footwork and long range passing but his tenacity - an invaluable quality in our position - puts him ahead of the rest of the admittedly weak competition for that problem central midfield place alongside Gravesen.
With Wolves playing away at Leicester tomorrow - yes, it's that desperate that the fixtures of the bottom three are being consulted - we've got a golden opportunity to pull away from at least one of the clubs in the relegation zone. Beating Aston Villa will be no push over though. Games against the Midlanders are traditionally grim, tight affairs but David O'Leary seems to be building a team that are going places. They've got some exciting young players and a number of talented, seasoned pros, a mix that makes them a test for anyone, as shown in their recent form and a league position just outside the European places. Taking three points therefore won't be easy, but then this is Everton, it never is.
Post Soapbox, Icliverpool & Daily Post
Feb 27 2004
WHY didn't we get Butt last month? To me Moyes is not short of good players - Rooney, Radz, big Dunc, Jeffers, Yobo, McFadden, Kilbane, Martyn, Pistone, Watson etc - but the team selection is a big question mark. If we cannot defend then we have to score more goals than the opponents, this means to play four strikers at any one time! This is so easy to figure out and I just don't understand why Mr Moyes can't see the point.
B West, (via e-mail)
WE WON the Cup in 1984 then again in 1995 so our next Cup win should be in the year 2006.
I think Everton should sell as much as this team as they can at the end of season. Forget the new stadium, use the money to bring in a good midfield then let the kids play with them. By all rights we should do better than okay, which is what we are doing now. New stadium for a first division team? No thanks!
Barry Knowles, Everton
Wait for whistle
ONCE AGAIN Everton have showed they cannot play a full game. The game is 90 minutes, lads, and that means you carry on defending until the ref blows his whistle. The game should have been finished at 2-0 then at 3-1 - when will you learn? Ninety minutes against Villa please, we need three points more than ever. Take a look at the fixtures we have for the next few months - there are no pushovers I can tell you, all teams who want to stay up, or qualify for Europe.
S Bergen, (via e-mail)
I HAVE every confidence that Moyesy will clear out some of the dead wood this summer and start to give the youngsters more of a chance, but he needs the money to buy three players to create the core spine to our team. Firstly, a new central defender to play alongside Yobo. Secondly, a new midfield - why did we let Sean Davis go? And finally, a new forward to play along-side Rooney - will it be Jeffers? Anyway, keep the faith Blues.
Steve Preston, Lancs
IT'S THE same old problem that has faced Everton for years - the defence has always leaked goals.
And to be a good or reasonable team, you build from the back to make sure you can get clean sheets. And find somone who can sneak goals for 1-0 wins at least.
Steve Buckley, Merseyside
WHY IS David Moyes not giving Leon Osman a run in the side? His comments about him being too small are rubbish, I don't see a large man when I look at Wayne Rooney. Now he's not too bad is he?
Andy Shaw, Merseyside
Leaders without defensive duo
Academy Football With Chris Wright, Daily Post
Feb 27 2004
EVERTON under-17s' season will be without two key defenders for their biggest match of the season tomorrow. Gary Ablett's side moved back above Manchester United after last week's derby victory on goal difference. And if they can beat their title rivals today at the Carrington Complex, with a game in hand, would look good to finish top. It will be the third meeting of the sides this season, with one victory each so far. Tomorrow's game could go a long way to deciding the destination of the FA Premier Academy League season. But captain Mark Hughes and right-back Stephen Wynne - two of the most influential performers of the season - are out through suspension after their sending-offs against Blackburn. And coach Ablett said: "We are going to have to make changes. Stephen Wynne and Mark Hughes are out. They have done well for us this season and it is half our defence out, so we will have to look at that and study what will do." Everton have started a little sluggish in their last two matches, but after United's crushing 3-0 derby defeat anything simi-lar may prove costly. Ablett said: "It is getting to the stage of the season now - five games to go - when points are vital. "Nobody wants to make that mistake that costs us, but that is all part of the game. If they make a mistake, they make a mistake. It is all part of the learning curve. We all go through it."
Everton under-19s go to Sheffield Wednesday tomorrow looking for their first win in a month.
Neil Dewsnip's side have not won since beating Stoke at the end of January - their only victory in 2004. He said: "For confidence for the lads a win would be terrific. They have not done a great deal wrong overall, just one or two errors that have cost us. But we just need to win one or two games really. If truth be known the biggest issue has been we haven't scored enough goals."
Ferguson unlikely to face any FA charge
Report By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Feb 27 2004
DUNCAN FERGUSON is unlikely to face an FA charge over allegations he racially abused Luis Boa Morte in last month's Goodison encounter with Fulham. The Everton striker, (left), was interviewed at Bellefield yesterday by FA officials investigating the Portuguese international's accusations.
Boa Morte claimed Ferguson called him a "black ****" during the 1-1 FA Cup draw on January 25.
But despite subsequent insistence other Fulham players heard the abuse there is unlikely to be any action taken against Ferguson due to a lack of evidence. Boa Morte's accusations arrived four days after the cup draw and through a national newspaper rather than in a complaint to the FA. That was lodged by Fulham after the cup replay a week later. In a statement last night the FA confirmed: "Our investigations into these allegations are still ongoing." It is expected Ferguson will be cleared next week. David Moyes, meanwhile, has had an offer for 15-year-old England schoolboy Leigh Mills accepted by Swindon Town. The highly-rated centre-half is due to complete his move to Goodison this weekend, and will arrive as part of a deal that turns Sean O'Hanlon's current loan move to The Robins into a permanent stay. County Ground chief executive Mark Devlin said: "Leigh Mills is a player of tremendous potential and we would not like to stand in his way of joining such a big Premiership side. "We have received a very good offer from Everton, which we have accepted.
"Swindon Town are keen to bring Sean O'Hanlon to the County Ground and it would make sense for the two deals to be tied together, and that is what the two clubs will be working on over the next few days."
Blues miss steadying influences
Feb 27 2004 By Howard Kendall, Liverpool Echo
YOU cannot escape the fact that Everton are leaking goals at the moment. They should never have lost a 3-1 lead at Southampton - although a dubious penalty decision handed the Saints a way back into the game. Joseph Yobo was in the starting line-up at St Mary's after returning from the African Cup of Nations. I doubt David Moyes would have put him straight back in had Alan Stubbs or David Weir been available. Stubbs and Weir have been the Steady Eddies of the team. It is no coincidence the Blues have conceded too many goals without them. Even clubs like Manchester United suffer when their best centre-halves are missing. Yobo is comfortable on the ball, but you still have to ask whether he is a natural defender. He takes chances at the back and will occasionally give a chance to an opponent. If Stubbs had been fit Moyes probably would have left the Nigerian out for a couple of games to readjust. The main threat tomorrow will come from Juan Pablo Angel and Darius Vassell. Angel endured a nightmare time when he first joined the club and was branded a waste of money. People are not saying that now. He is enjoying a new lease of life and is particularly good in the air. Vassell is not a clinical finisher, but has the pace to worry any backline. The Everton defence must keep a close eye on this pair.
Moyes plays strikers right
DESPITE the defensive problems, the Blues had no trouble scoring goals at Southampton.
When your strikers get three goals between them away from home, you have to be happy with that. I cannot see the front pair being changed for tomorrow's game with Villa. Wayne Rooney was playing in his best position - as one of the front two. Paired with Duncan Ferguson, it certainly paid off. It was also a good decision to make Ferguson captain at St Mary's. I handed him the skipper's armband a few years ago and I saw how proud he was to lead the teamout. I know how much the club means to him and you can see in his performances he is really up for it. But like all strikers, he and Rooney need quality service.
Royle regret . . . over untimely departure
Feb 27 2004 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
IT'S an old chestnut, I know, but nothing will ever convince me otherwise that Everton's financial fortunes started their downward spiral the day Joe Royle was allowed to walk out of the Goodison door seven years ago this month.I'm not suggesting he would have led the Blues to a new and glorious era.But if Peter Johnson, (left), had shook hands, made friends and not uttered the words "mutual consent," Everton wouldn't have waited forlornly for Bobby Robson for three months.They wouldn't have gone down on bended knee to the only man willing to take on the task, Howard Kendall, or thrown another £10m of the club's cash at him to spend.They wouldn't have forked out another expensive severance fee just 12 months later, and they wouldn 't have thrown another 20m worth of transfer cash at Walter Smith.A close confidante of the former Blues' chairman told me recently that Johnson and Royle are still pals - and that it just needed someone to grab them by the shoulders and shake a bit of sense into them that decisive March morning.Everton are still paying the price.
Moyes shakes flu bug to lead Blues
Feb 27 2004 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES will drag himself from his sick bed to lead Everton's move away from the Premiership relegation zone.The Goodison chief, (left), has been hit by a bout of flu this week which has kept him away from the Bellefield training ground for a couple of days.But he will be back on the touchline for tomorrow's Premiership clash with Aston Villa at Goodison as the Blues go in search of their first league victory of 2004.Assistant boss Alan Irvine has been taking charge of training in the absence of the manager.Although a victory has been hard to come by in the last two months Irvine believes the side have already turned the corner.The Blues go into tomorrow's game just three points above the relegation zone, having gathered three points from the last 21 available.Irvine says: "Funnily enough I was more concerned in an earlier part of the season when we weren't playing well."I know that if we keep playing as we are now we will be alright."Meanwhile, Duncan Ferguson is unlikely to be charged by the FA over allegations he racially abused Luis Boa Morte in last month's FA Cup fourth round tie at Goodison.FA officials met with the 32-year-old striker at Bellefield yesterday to discuss the allegations but there is not enough evidence to charge him.* Swindon have agreed to allow Everton to bring 15-year-old defender Leigh Mills to Goodison.The club are now preparing to discuss the move with the England schoolboy international's parents. It will coincide with Sean O'Hanlon's loan move to the County Ground being made permanent.* Nick Chadwick has had his hopes of playing for Millwall in the FA Cup quarter-final against Tranmere dashed.A hold up in the striker's one month loan move to the New Den because of a slight shin injury means he is not eligible for the tie.
Irvine knows value of leaders like Fergie
Feb 27 2004 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON assistant boss Alan Irvine believes the club's experienced players are the key to a Premiership revival.The Blues go into tomorrow's home game with Aston Villa searching for their first league win of 2004.But Irvine, (right), believes a victory is well within the Toffees' grasp, with the likes of Duncan Ferguson and David Unsworth leading by example.Irvine said: "It is important that your experienced players help you out right now."I thought the article that Roy Keane did about what the Manchester United players need to be doing was very good."Although it was fairly critical of the young players, I thought it was a good article because there was an experienced player taking the lead and saying 'right, hold on a minute lads."It is not just the manager who needs to say this, but this is what we need to do to make sure we get out of the difficult position we are in'."He made some good points." Everton have not won in the Premiership since the 1-0 victory over Birmingham in December.But despite that seven game run morale remains good in the camp.Irvine adds: "The morale is good because of the performances. Nobody can say we didn't deserve to beat Southampton at the weekend. Even the Southampton staff were saying 'how on earth did we get out of that?'"Unfortunately, that has been said to us quite a lot recently. Fulham said it, Charlton said it and Manchester United realised they were close to losing the game."Because of that, the players haven't got their chins on the floor at the moment."When you look at the spirit, it is fairly common when a team is down near the bottom that the treatment room is full."But we haven't got a full treatment room. In fact, there is virtually a fully-fit squad and I think that is indicative of the mood of the players and the level of confidence and self belief."Franny Jeffers and Alan Stubbs are back in training after recovering from groin strains picked up last week.With David Weir and Richard Wright also on the road to recovery the Everton management team have no shortage of players to choose from tomorrow.Irvine concludes: "We do genuinely feel we deserve an awful lot more points than we have picked up. And from the reaction of the fans I think they feel that as well."
Former Blues star's job at Tesco
Feb 27 2004 Liverpool Echo
FORMER Everton footballer Brett Angell is working night shifts at a supermarket in Southport for £6.30 an hour.The ex-Toffees striker, who cost the Goodison Park Club £500,000, has taken a job at the Tesco extra branch on Town Lane.Brett, 35, once earned an estimated £5,000 a week playing for Everton from 1994 to 1995.The 6ft 4ins Wiltshire-born player lived in Formby during his time on Merseyside and still has a home in the area.He quit professional football in May last year after he was released by second division side Queens Park Rangers.Tesco manager Tony Sinkinson said: "Brett applied for a job here last month. We've since offered him some work and he is doing night shifts."We're aware he was a professional footballer but we haven't got anything else to say. Brett doesn't want any publicity."Before signing for Everton, Brett scored almost a goal every other game for Southend United. After 14 months at Everton he played for Sunderland and Stockport County.He also now works as a consultant with Surrey-based sports management company, Progression.Colleague Andy Sprott said: "Brett helps to introduce players to the company. With a playing career spanning over three decades, he brings a wealth of experience to the players we represent."He also does some part-time coaching with Bolton Wanderers and holds a UEFA coaching qualification."On the Progression Sports Management website, a statement from Brett says: "I've enjoyed a long career and have always made sure that I got the right deal - both for my football and for my financial security."There are a lot of factors to take into account when you're making decisions affecting your career. And with the game the way it is at the moment, it is even more important that players get the right advice."Once the money has been earned, the next thing is to stop it from being wasted by missing out on sound financial advice."It's vital that players are set up financially for the future after their relatively short playing days come to an end."