Everton Independent Research Data


Wigan 1, Everton 1 (D,Post)
Feb 1 2006 By Ian Doyle at The JJB Stadium, Daily Post
HAVING been foiled in his attempts to sign a new striker, the last thing David Moyes needed was the re-appearance of an old failing up front last night. Even under normal circumstances, Duncan Ferguson's stupid sending-off for punching Wigan midfielder Paul Scharner only seven minutes after being introduced from the substitutes' bench would have incurred the wrath of a hugely disappointed Everton manager. But with his already threadbare striking resources stretched by the continued absence of James Beattie with a calf injury, Moyes was understandably despairing that his only other senior striking option will now spend the next three games sat in the stands after his needless indiscretion. It was the eighth red card of Ferguson's Goodison career and his first since being dismissed at Charlton Athletic in December 2004. And it took the shine off a gutsy Everton display that extended their unbeaten run to eight games, their finest sequence of results under Moyes's charge. Despite starting the game without a recognised forward, the visitors dominated the first half and could have added to the lead given to them by David Thompson's ninth-minute own goal. But after Scharner capitalised on a momentary lapse in the Everton defence to draw the home side level on the stroke of half-time, Moyes's side were forced to dig deep to repel a second-half response from a much-improved Wigan. Always niggly, this North West derby finally boiled over in the closing stages as Jason Roberts followed Ferguson down the tunnel on 83 minutes after Wirral referee Mike Dean spotted the Wigan striker's clear elbow to the face of David Weir. The Scottish centre-back had been impressive for an Everton defence in which Alan Stubbs was the game's standout performer, with a characteristically solid dis-play in coping with the imposing presence of Roberts. Elsewhere, James McFadden was a game performer as an emergency attacker while Leon Osman continued his fine form with a resourceful display against his hometown club. Given only three of the 45 Premiership games either Wigan or Everton had featured in have ended in draws, a share of the spoils was perhaps the most unlikely outcome last night. Moyes made three changes from the side that drew with Chelsea at the weekend. A persistent ankle injury to Nigel Martyn gave Richard Wright his fifth start of the season, while Stubbs and Tim Cahill were both eligible to return after missing the 1-1 draw with Jose Mourinho's side. With Beattie still sidelined and Ferguson unable to start a second game in four days, McFadden - having overcome the shin injury sustained on Saturday that required 10 stitches - was supported by Cahill in attack. That absence of a recognised striker made little difference to Everton's early endeavours, though, and they went ahead in the ninth minute following further evidence to suggest fortune is turning in favour of Moyes's men. A long kick down field from Wright was well controlled by McFadden, who flicked the ball over Arjan de Zeeuw's head and found Cahill in a dangerous position. Although the Australian should have passed to the unmarked Osman to his right, he opted to fire in a shot that deflected off Stephane Henchoz and fell into the path of Osman who lunged for possession with Wigan's Thompson and the ball trickled over the line. The fact former Liverpool players inadvertently contributed to the goal will not be lost on Evertonians. Osman - who was born in nearby Billinge - has already tried to claim one contentious goal at Portsmouth earlier in the month, but television replays later confirmed there can be no doubt it was an own goal. It could have been 2-0 five minutes later when a quick free-kick from the alert Mikel Arteta fed Osman in the penalty area, and after his cut back found McFadden, Wigan goalkeeper Mike Pollitt saved well from the Scot at point-blank range. It was an excellent opening from Everton, who made light of their injury problems with an enterprising display of verve and vigour, the lack of an aerial outlet dictating their tactics to look to keep the ball on the ground rather than play long to the forwards. A great run from McFadden then saw him skip beyond two defenders, cut-inside and strike a venomous shot that Pollitt could only parry into the path of the inrushing Cahill, who tapped in. However, the Australian was correctly adjudged to have been in an offside position when McFadden struck the initial effort.
Wigan's Scharner put a header well over the bar on 28 minutes, and it was a measure of Everton's control of proceedings that it was the first realistic threat on Wright's goal. Given this is their first ever season in the top flight and the locals have had little to cheer from their rugby league team having seen them fall behind neighbours St Helens among others, it was surprising the JJB was not full for the visit of major North West opposition. By contrast, Everton were given excellent backing from a huge travelling support. But it was the home fans who were celebrating in the final minute of the first half when Pascal Chimbonda emphatically beat Nuno Valente to Henchoz's long ball and headed across goal for the unmarked Scharner to volley expertly home at the near post. Moyes will have been fuming at his otherwise impressive defence switching off so near the interval, particularly as all of Everton's six previous away wins this season were achieved while keeping a clean sheet.
Undeterred, Everton began the second half brightly and after Arteta solicited a save from Pollitt with an angled drive, the efferves-cent McFadden jinked his way into the area before being hurried into a tame shot that fell harmlessly wide. However Wigan, buoyed by their equaliser, were posing a much greater threat and Everton's attacking presence soon faded. A mad scramble ended with Wright gratefully clutching the ball as Jimmy Bullard provided some comic relief by diving theatrically over the grounded melee of players. Everton were pressed back by a succession of corners and were indebted to some resolute defending as the stadium rang out with increasingly desperate cries for a penalty from the home support. Roberts then had the ball in the net but his effort was disallowed for offside, while in a rare sortie at the other end, Cahill struck a 20-yard shot narrowly wide of Pollitt's right-hand post. By then Ferguson had been introduced, and he made an instant difference as Everton sought to ease the pressure on their backline. It didn't last long, though, as the big Scot was deservedly red-carded after delivering a full-blooded right-arm to Scharner's solar plexus after exchanging pleasant-ries with the Wigan man. The numbers were evened up three minutes later, however, when Roberts was sent off for a clear elbow in the face of Weir. A draw was probably a fair result, given Wigan's energetic response to Everton's first-half dominance. But for Moyes, his best run as Goodison manager will feel a bittersweet achievement this morning.
WIGAN (4-4-2): Pollitt; Chimbonda, de Zeeuw, Henchoz, Baines; Teale, Scharner, Bullard, Thompson (Ziegler 46); Mellor, Roberts. Subs: Filan, Jackson, Johansson, Francis.
BOOKING: Scharner (foul).
SENDING-OFF: Roberts (foul).
EVERTON (4-4-1-1): Wright; Hibbert, Weir, Stubbs, Valente; Osman, Arteta (Ferguson 73), Neville, Kilbane; Cahill; McFadden. Subs: Turner, Naysmith, Davies, Anichebe.
BOOKING: McFadden (dissent).
SENDING-OFF: Ferguson (foul).
REFEREE: Mike Dean (Wirral)
ATT: 21,731
NEXT GAME: Everton v Man City, Premiership, Saturday 3pm

Red-carded Ferguson's let us down, says Moyes
Feb 1 2006 By Ian Doyle, Daily Post
DISAPPOINTED David Moyes last night said Duncan Ferguson had let Everton and his team-mates down after the striker received the eighth red card of his Goodison career during a bad-tempered draw at Wigan Athletic. The 34-year-old was sent off in the 80th minute - just seven minutes after being introduced from the substitutes' bench - after punching Paul Scharner in the stomach. It compounded a day of frustration for Moyes, whose attempts to bolster his striking options before the transfer window closed at midnight ultimately ended in failure after a proposed move for Fatih Tekke of Trabzonspor failed to materialise.
Ferguson, who will now be suspended for the next three games and is facing a club fine, and James Beattie, who was again missing with a calf injury last night, are now the only two senior strikers on Everton's books. And of Ferguson's sending-off, Moyes said: "I can't defend it. He let us all down. He knows that. "I didn't get a clear view of it as everybody was running out of the box at the time, and I thought it must have been a collision but I've had the chance to see it since. "I've spoken to him and told him I can't defend it. He's disappointed with himself. We cannot afford to lose players and that's why he has let us all down. "It has been a frustrating day. We have come close a few times over the last few days to signing a striker but we didn't get what we wanted, it wasn't possible. We'd have liked to have brought someone in." Wigan striker Jason Roberts was also red-carded four minutes later following a clear elbow in the face of David Weir. Everton had taken the lead in the ninth-minute through an own goal by David Thompson, only for Scharner to equalise on the stroke of half-time with a well-taken volley. The draw extended Everton's unbeaten run to eight games, their best sequence of results since Moyes assumed control in March 2002. "I thought in the first half we played well enough at times," said Moyes. "We contained them and never gave the many opportunities and only a couple of stupid free-kicks have led to the goal. They'd just started to get a wee bit of pressure before half-time, and instead of 1-0 we went 1-1. "The way the players are doing just now, they are all doing well for each other and doing extra jobs. "We started with Tim Cahill up front and sometimes a small squad can breed good things. It is strange that our injuries have all come in more or less the same position." Richard Wright was in goal for Everton last night after Nigel Martyn was ruled out through injury. "Nigel Martyn had an ankle problem," added Moyes. "He had an injection today and it takes about 48 hours for that to work, so we will see how he is for Saturday." Wigan manager Paul Jewell said of the two sendings-off: "People get carried away, but in the old days people just made tackles. "It just seemed like handbags. I didn't see the Ferguson incident, but if someone as big and strong as Jason deliberately elbowed you, you wouldn't get up. "I have seen it and his elbow was high, but I think it's more silly than malicious. "He is not a malicious type of player, although he does play with his hands in the air sometimes, but after what had happened at the other end maybe the referee wanted to even things up." Both Ferguson and Roberts will now serve automatice three-match suspensions.

Wigan 1, Everton 1 (Echo)
Feb 1 2006 By Dominic King
HERE'S a thought. How about focusing on all that is currently good with Everton rather than grumbling about the lack of new arrivals during the transfer window? So January has passed and David Moyes has been unable to bring in the striker he so desired. Having searched high and low, the manager must now cut his cloth accordingly for the remainder of the season. Many, judging by the message boards, will worry. Grumpy of Goodison considers it a travesty that Moyes has failed to come up with the goods during the sales, while Frustrated of Fazakerley points his finger at the board for not stumping up cash. Of course, everyone connected with the club wanted Everton's attacking options boosted. Goals - or rather a lack of them - have been a problem all season and there is no question a new arrival would have lifted the atmosphere. Had, say, Andy Johnson arrived from Crystal Palace or Spurs' Robbie Keane been drafted in, all in the garden would have been rosy. A big transfer fee would have been splashed out to satisfy those clam-ouring for that glamour signing. Let's be realistic. They may have been the number one targets of many supporters. But, presumably, they would have been on the wish lists of many other managers and chairman across the land, making them unobtainable. With that out of the way, think of some of the names linked with Everton recently as the search became more frantic and ask yourself this. Would you have really wanted to see them in a sacred Blue shirt simply to boost numbers? Exactly. Now, ignoring the fuss, has it gone unnoticed that in drawing 1-1 with Wigan Athletic last night, Everton stretched their unbeaten run to eight games - the most consistent run of result during Moyes' reign - and continue on an upward curve?
All the moaning and groaning would be understandable if Everton were frantically thrashing around the relegation zone, wondering where the next points and goals would come from. Thing is, that's not the case at all. Moyes may only have limited resources at the minute, especially up front after Duncan Ferguson ridiculously managed to get himself sent off for the eighth time in his career after thumping Paul Scharner. Here Everton are, though, ticking along nicely, picking up points, all the while working tirelessly as they try to repair the damage caused by the awful start to the season. The players deserve credit. Take Kevin Kilbane. Rarely does he grab the headlines but in the past month he has been outstanding. Never one to duck a challenge, always willing to help a teammate, every successful team needs a player in his mould. He, like so many others, had a difficult start, yet in the past few weeks, he has blossomed. Quietly going about business, his contribution to the revival has caught the eye of many shrewd judges. We could go on. Leon Osman, Tony Hibbert, David Weir. Eager to stay out of the limelight, these three are never hap-pier than when they are on the pitch with a ball at their feet. Each man played a role in a gutsy performance at the JJB. Moyes made three changes from the side that had drawn so courageously with Chelsea on Saturday. Ferguson and Simon Davies dropped to the bench for Alan Stubbs and Tim Cahill, while Richard Wright replaced Nigel Martyn in goal. That made little difference, though, as the Blues began with the same verve as they had done in that enthralling FA Cup tie, looking to test Wigan keeper Mike Pollitt whenever the opportunity allowed. It came as no surprise, then, when they took the lead on nine minutes. James McFadden and Cahill caused havoc in the box to carve open an opportunity for Osman via Stephane Henchoz's block. The midfielder would surely have scored his third goal since January 7 from six yards but for boyhood Blue David Thompson sliding in underneath him and putting the ball through his own goal. Osman, though, is sure to try and claim it. McFadden - showing no ill-effects from the broken nose and shin injury that forced him off against Chelsea should have doubled the advantage moments later, only to be denied by a superb Pollitt save. Cahill then had a goal Numbers may be an issue for Moyes at present but he has not been able to find fault in the attitude shown by his small band of merry men. Whatever challenge has been put before them, Everton have never been found wanting. The Blues have, however, had far more about them than just aggression and endeavour. At times last night the football was excellent, possession moving slickly and quickly from back to front. Always prodding, always probing, rarely were they static. So it came as something of a surprise when Wigan levelled things on the stroke of half-time, Henchoz's long punt into the area was headed on by Pascal Chimbonda to Scharner, who drifted in unmarked to volley past Wright. An enthralling second half followed, as both sides looked to secure all three points but Everton's hopes of fashioning a late winner disappeared when Big Dunc became Big Dunce just eight minutes after coming on as a substitute. Having been praised for his display against Chelsea, Ferguson must now accept the criticism that follows this as well as a three match ban. Not only did he let himself down, he let his team-mates, his manager and supporters down too. Thankfully, Everton were not made to pay as shortly after Jason Roberts followed Ferguson down the tunnel for flattening David Weir with an elbow. Onwards and upwards, then. Having passed another tricky test, Everton are sure to come on again in the next few weeks and getting a couple of players back off the treatment table will help no end. For the time being, however, it is futile dwelling on the players who never arrived on Merseyside during the transfer window. Those at the club in the first place are of far more importance.
WIGAN ATHLETIC (4-4-2): Pollitt; Chimbonda, Henchoz, De Zeeuw, Baines; Scharner, Teale, Bullard, Thompson (Zeigler 46); Mellor, Roberts.
EVERTON (4-5-1): Wright; Hibbert, Stubbs, Weir, Valente; Arteta (Ferguson 72), Osman, Neville, Cahill, Kilbane; McFadden.
BOOKINGS: Wigan - Scharner (20, foul) Everton - McFadden (81, foul)
SENT OFF: Wigan - Roberts (82, violent conduct) Everton - Ferguson (80, violent conduct)
REFEREE: Mike Dean (Wirral)

Ferguson equals unwanted red card record
Feb 1 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DUNCAN FERGUSON became the most sent-off player in Premiership history last night - when he equalled Patrick Vieira's unwanted record of eight red cards. But disgusted manager David Moyes will take his time before deciding how to punish the veteran striker for his "indefensible" actions. Ferguson was sent off for the eighth time in his Everton career for throwing a punch at Wigan's Paul Scharner. The reckless act means he will miss three matches - against Manchester City, Chelsea and Blackburn - and that Moyes now faces a chronic forward shortage after failing to sign anyone before the transfer deadline. James Beattie missed the 1-1 draw at the JJB Stadium with a calf strain but could be back for the weekend, while James McFadden is the only other recognised senior forward on the books. Strict disciplinarian Moyes could barely dis-guise his anger with Ferguson as he trudged off the pitch and has vowed to deal with the matter - behind closed doors - as soon as possible. "I've had a chance to see it and it's not defensible," Moyes scowled. "The player knows that and I have told him. He's let us all down but he knows that. He's man enough. "But it's something that we cannot defend. I've not really seen the decision for the other sending off but I have seen a replay of the off-side decision a couple of minutes before the end, which was scandalous when James McFadden was through on goal. "We looked when Duncan came on as if we had turned it around a little bit and had weathered the storm. We knew and hoped that would happen at that period in the game. But we are turning things around and we've taken a good point." Moyes, meanwhile, was pleased that Everton extended their unbeaten run to an eighth game, but admitted there was still plenty of room for improvement. "A draw was probably fair in the end," said Moyes. "It was a tough game. We started well and put them under pressure, then got the goal. But we are disappointed that we conceded just before half-time. "Bits of our play were good but at other times, we should have tried to pass it and get it under control."
Weir homes in on Blues' next target in revival
Feb 1 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID WEIR believes Everton can shrug off the disappointment of letting two points slip against Wigan Athletic by returning to winning ways against Manchester City on Saturday. Though frustrated that the Blues could not maintain their 100 per cent Premiership record in 2006, Weir agreed it was another step in the right direction for Everton, who are now unbeaten in eight games. Next up is a home match with Stuart Pearce's men at the weekend. Victory would be enough to send Everton shooting into the top half of the table, and Weir sees no reason why that can't happen. "It's a difficult place to come and a lot of teams have come unstuck there," the Everton captain said of the Wigan game. "But we have gone there and put on a performance. "Maybe we deserved to go away with a bit more, so we can't be too disappointed. We keep our unbeaten run going and we'll try and keep it going as long as we can." While he ended the game being flattened by Jason Roberts' flailing elbow - which resulted in the Wigan striker being sent off - Weir refused to dwell on the incident, instead concentrating on why his side were pegged back. Having looked comfortable defending the advantage given to them by David Thompson's own goal, Everton were pegged back on the stroke of half-time when Paul Scharner pounced and Weir reckons they have only themselves to blame. "It was disappointing to lose a goal just before half-time," said Weir. "We'd ridden the storm and with a bit of luck we could have consolidated in the second half. "We had a couple of chances to get two in front and we cursed that a little. At one up, they are always in the game and it is always within their grasp. You are only one mis-take or one good bit of play from them being back in the game." The Scotland international was quick to heap praise on the shoulder's of his sidekick Alan Stubbs. "Stubbsy looks as if he has never been away from us. He was outstanding. He was the best player on the pitch, there is no doubt about that. "It's nice to have him back.

Blues' lack of ambition
Feb 1 2006 Echo Letters, icLiverpool & Liverpool Echo
Blues' lack of ambition
AMBITION means lowering the average age of your squad and buying while you are doing well. We are doing neither and that's why I am sick. I've supported Everton since 1950 and cannot believe the total lack of ambition. We are making do and that's no good. Our support demands the best. Moyes said he will not just sign anybody, but he brings Stubbs back. Strange. Trev Lynes, Wrexham
Leaving it too late IT'S acutely embarrassing that us Evertonians were still watching and waiting for a signing on transfer deadline day. Does anybody at Everton actually know what they're doing? There has been a whole month to bring in players, yet we still seem to leave things until the last possible moment - and then we don't manage anything. Surely the club can see the squad we have at the moment is not good enough. Simon Forbes, Chester
Attendance pays price
THE low attendance against Chelsea in the FA Cup was baffling but I guess at around 30-odd pounds per ticket and us only just having played Millwall in the replay maybe this was the reason! What shocked me more was the fact so few Chelsea fans made it to the game. Again, this may be down to the price of tickets. Let's hope we can beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge with a mammoth effort.
If we can get past them, we have a great chance of making the final.
Wes Anderson, Merseyside
Silence the moaners IT'S great that the players are sounding really positive and upbeat about our chances of continuing our great run. It's just a pity the minority of moaning, whinging Evertonians can't share the same optimism and are not content unless they are have ago or sniping at someone.
Still I suppose the more they moan the bigger the incentive is for the boys to go out and prove how much they want to play for the club.
Barry Woolrich, Toxteth
McFadden's ideal role
JAMES McFADDEN'S goal against Chelsea continued his upsurge in form which is proving he has the ability to make it as a Premiership footballer. Not long ago it seemed McFadden was only used in cup games against lower league opposition and from the bench in Premiership matches. Now it seems he has found a niche in the team just behind a main striker and he is really seeing the benefit of the manager showing faith in him. Long may it continue.
George McLaren, Kirkby
It's upbeat for James
I'M really pleased James Beattie is becoming the striker we all hoped he'd be when we signed him for such a big fee. Everyone knows his first six months with the club were hit and miss but he is starting to come good. When he's on form he looks like the complete striker, able to muscle past good defenders, score from long and close range and get goals with his head too. He's the sort of striker every club is looking for.
Lloyd Davies, Wirral

Ferguson set to be hit in the pocket
By Ian Doyle, Daily Post
Feb 2 2006
DUNCAN FERGUSON'S record-equalling red card count has now cost the striker more than £200,000 in fines during his Everton career. The 34-year-old striker is expected to be fined two weeks' wages - thought to be worth around £24,000 - after his sending-off against Wigan Athletic on Tuesday night.
Ferguson had only been on the field seven minutes as a substitute when he was redcarded for punching Paul Scharner in the stomach 10 minutes from the end of the 1-1 draw at the JJB Stadium.
It was an eighth Premiership dismissal for Ferguson, all while an Everton player, equalling the record of former Arsenal midfielder Patrick Vieira. As well as being hit in the pocket, Ferguson will now be suspended for Saturday's home game with Manchester City as well as the FA Cup replay at Chelsea next Wednesday and the Goodison meeting with Blackburn three days later. Manager David Moyes remains hopeful James Beattie will be available for the visit of City, having missed the last two games with a calf injury. If not, Moyes is likely to persist with the emergency strike partnership of James McFadden and Tim Cahill.

Weir refuses to exonerate Roberts on elbow incident
By Ian Parkes Daily Post Correspondent
Feb 2 2006
EVERTON captain David Weir is refusing to exonerate Jason Roberts following the latest elbow incident involving the Wigan striker. Wigan manager Paul Jewell felt Roberts' actions were "silly rather than malicious" but it was a moment that will see the 28-year-old serve a three-match ban. But Roberts will not miss the Carling Cup final with Manchester United on February 26 as a Barclays Premiership game with Spurs has been rearranged for the previous weekend. It means Roberts will complete his suspension against Martin Jol's side, as well as missing games at Bolton this Saturday and at home to Liverpool the following weekend. Weir, when asked whether he felt the incident with Roberts was accidental, replied: "I just got caught on the jaw. That's all I know. I've not seen it on TV so I can't comment whether it was accidental or not. "But it doesn't matter to me whether it was accidental, he has caught me and that's the end of the story as far as I'm concerned." It is the second time in five weeks Roberts has been involved in an elbowing controversy as there was a similar situation during the 2-0 win at West Ham on December 28. Roberts was booked for catching Hammers defender James Collins in the face with his elbow in one incident. Shortly afterwards, Roberts caught Collins' face again with his left elbow, leaving the Wales international with a cut lip, but no action was taken. Referee Steve Bennett confirmed in his match report he saw what happened, which left the Football Association powerless to intervene. Investigations can only be launched on the basis of video evidence if the match officials did not witness the incident at the time. Duncan Ferguson was also sent off at the JJB Stadium, but fortunately for Everton it did not prevent them from extending their unbeaten run to eight games. That is the best Everton have achieved under Moyes, yet Weir feels it should have been a fifth successive win after controlling the first 45 minutes. But after an own goal from Wigan midfielder David Thompson, the Latics replied on the stroke of half-time with a close-range volley from Scharner. "It was disappointing to concede a goal that close to half-time," added Weir. "If we had held the lead at the break then I feel we would have gone on to take all three points. "But Wigan is a difficult place to play. A lot of teams have come unstuck there. "Maybe we deserved to come away with a little bit more, but we can't be too disappointed because we've kept our unbeaten run going, and we will try to keep it going for as long as we can."
Crucially for Everton, at the heart of their resilient second-half performance when they were coming under the cosh as Wigan pushed for a winner, were Weir and Alan Stubbs. The duo were reunited again in the centre of defence following the latter's recent return to Goodison Park, and Weir is delighted. "I've had a few central defensive partners this season," stated Weir. "That's the way it has been, but it was nice to have Stubbsy back. "He looked like he had never been away. He was the best player on the pitch, there was no doubt about that."

Roberts: My red card was naive
Daily Post Feb 2 2006
WIGAN striker Jason Roberts has admitted to being "a little naive" following his red-card misery against Everton. Roberts will serve a three-match suspension after being sent off in last night's 1-1 draw for elbowing Everton skipper David Weir in the face. Fortunately for Roberts, he will not miss the Carling Cup final as the Latics' Premiership clash at Tottenham has been rescheduled for February 18, eight days before the final. And he insisted: "Honestly, I did not try to hurt David Weir - my eyes were on the ball."

Moyes salutes depleted Blues
Feb 2 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES today hailed Everton's team spirit for helping him through the worst injury crisis of his managerial career. A succession of problems for key players in recent weeks has seen Everton's squad whittled down to the bare bones, leaving Moyes juggling his options. However, despite being without 10 members of his squad, Moyes has seen the Blues dig deep to notch up their best run of results during his four years in charge. Unbeaten in eight games, Everton will bid to extend their good run against Manchester City at home on Saturday when James Beattie and Matteo Ferrari are back in contention. But even if he remains low on numbers, Moyes is backing the attitude and endeavour of those who are fit to carry Everton through. "It's been what we've hoped for," said Moyes. "After the Christmas period that we had, we've come through and won a few good games but we want to keep that going now. "We are not wanting to shout from the rooftops about this and that. We just want to keep the meter ticking and picking points whenever we can. "We have had a few injuries but we are no different from any other club. We don't tend to talk too much about the boys who are injured. "That's not because we are not interested in them. We don't want to be seen to be using players' injuries as excuses. Yes, it's been difficult at times but we've always been able to put 11 on the pitch." Ferrari is making good progress from the hamstring injury he picked up against Arsenal. Alan Stubbs' excellent display against Wigan on Tuesday, though, means Ferrari is not guaranteed an immediate return and Moyes is delighted to have that headache. "Stubbsy had a really good game," said the manager. "I'm sure it was a big night for him to come back and start. He was put under pressure in the Arsenal game very quickly and he handled that well. We've got good competition at centre-half and when Joseph returns, we'll look much stronger."

Why Johnson's right hand man is forever Blue
Feb 2 2006 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
A LASTING legacy to the work of Clifford Finch still stands prominently opposite the Dixie Dean statue at Goodison Park. The club's impressive Megastore - Everton's answer to the increasingly commercial demands of top flight football - was Finch's baby. Officially Everton's Commercial Director from 1994 to 1998, Cliff Finch was also Peter Johnson's right-hand man - his loyal confidante, his trusted ally and, occasionally, his bullish trouble-shooter. And as Johnson's regime disintegrated in the turbulent winters of 1997 and 1998, there was plenty of trouble to shoot down. Nowadays Finch is an unpaid consultant trying to save Wrexham from administration, but he remains an ardent Evertonian and despite a recent decison to sell a bulk of the 300/400 shares he owns in the club he intends to remain an active shareholder. "I still go to the matches and I still hurt when they hurt," he explained. "I've just decided to sell my shares. It would be nice to see them spread around a number of shareholders, but that doesn't mean I won't sell them to one individual - and I will still remain a shareholder in the club." Finch was party to many meaningful decisions which shaped the course of Everton's destiny. The most seismic, of course, was the decision which eventually brought Johnson's regime to an end - the decision to sell Duncan Ferguson to Newcastle United for £8m, without first informing manager Walter Smith. That decision is brought into even sharper focus following Ferguson's latest misdemeanour this week. But Finch is typically unabashed - and still staunchly supportive of his friend, the then chairman, Peter Johnson. "Duncan Ferguson was a lovely guy, but it was the deal of the season," says Finch. "Peter Johnson and I were invited to his wedding and were the only people from the club to go. But the pressure was on from the cash side of the business. "Financially we were in a pretty poor way, there was pressure from the bank and it was one of those things which, in Peter's defence, seemed like a good idea at the time. "I just thought it was a great shame that enormous pressure was coming from all angles on Peter, the majority of which was unnecessary. "No-one has put that sort of money into the club since and no-one has been as successful. "If we go back to 1987 the only time Everton have won anything since is during that two year period from 1995 to 1996 when we won the FA Cup, the Charity Shield, the FA Youth Cup and had a sixth place finish in the Premiership. That was still our highest Premiership finish until last season. "We got it right in some areas and got it wrong in others, but we had no control over injuries, especially to key players like Andy Hinchcliffe, Dave Watson and Joe Parkinson who were all injured at the same time just after Christmas in 1996/97." There were also advanced plans for a stadium switch, which Finch believes only the sudden end of Johnson's tenure saw shelved. "Yes, we had plans to move," he added. "A ground poll indicated that 83 per cent of supporters wanted to move, from 39,000 votes cast. "But there were problems from fans who write fanzines. "We were then accused of fiddling the numbers which was a gross thing to say. "As if people who wanted to do the best for the club would go to the lengths of organising a poll just so they could make up figures. It was a ridiculous accusation. "The position was that the plans were for a stadium four miles from Goodison Park and they only needed to be rubberstamped. A considerable amount of money was then spent on a feasibility study into Kings Dock when it was quite clear at the time that it was not feasible. "But then, of course, everything came crashing down. "With the severity of the criticism of Peter Johnson and the threats he was receiving the point came when he said 'I have had enough. I can't take any more of this. I am trying to do the best but it seems that a sizeable number of people, including the media, do not have confidence in me.' And that was it. "He sold the club for virtually the same price that he paid for it, therefore not only not making any profit, but actually coming out with a substantial bottom line loss." Johnson exited Everton just 18 months after the manager he famously "mutually consented" - and it is typical of a club as contrary as the Blues that Johnson and Finch still remain friendly with Royle. Finch has a copy of Royle's recent autobiography in his kitchen, with a heartfelt, signed message of thanks, on the inside cover. Inside Royle confirms the mutual respect: "Cliff was much maligned in some circles because he was perceived as Peter Johnson's troubleshooter, the man who did the dirty work. But I must say he was never anything but supportive to me, while remaining loyal to Peter. "After I had left, Cliff, who was in South Africa at the time, returned from his trip to tell me that the chairman and I needed our heads banging together. Perhaps that is true." If Finch had not been out of the country during that fateful afternoon, the course of Everton's future might have been very different.
We'll never know.
* Enquiries regarding the sale of Cliff Finch's shares should be made to Blankstone Sington (0151-707-1707) quoting ref: BCF/1

Cahill tips Carney for Oz success
Feb 2 2006 Evertonia, Liverpool Echo
TIM CAHILL is backing former Blue David Carney to make the grade with the Australian national team.
Sydney-born Carney played for the Blues alongside Wayne Rooney in the 2002 FA Youth Cup final. He returned to Australia for the introduction of the new Hyundai A-League and helped his hometown club reach the quarter finals of the FIFA Club World Championship in December. The 22-year-old has enhanced his reputation with Sydney FC and is being tipped as an outsider for the Socceroos' World Cup squad. Sydney are third in the A-League with two games remaining and is among the leading lights in the goal-assists standings. And Cahill, who has become a regular in the Australian squad since earning his chance under Frank Farina in 2004, said: "David's a good young lad. It's good for players like that to come over and try and learn their trade because the only thing that's missing from Australia is the coaching and the resources. "England is a long way to come and it's cold but it's well worth it! "I think the lads can prove themselves in the national league and the coach, Guus Hiddink, gets a lot of information from Australian-based staff who watch it. "It's a big step from playing in the national league to the Premiership or even the world stage but Guus will definitely give young players a chance. The door's definitely open."

Join up now to lead Blues out at Anfield
Feb 2 2006 Evertonia, Liverpool Echo
EVERTONIA is the official members club for Evertonians of all ages. Members of the junior section are automatically entered into a draw to be the mascot for all Premiership fixtures - and any under-16 joining before the end of February will be in with a chance of leading the Blues out at Anfield on March 25. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity that's only open to members of Evertonia. Junior membership costs £9.99 and adult membership £19.99. For details, visit www.evertonfc.com or ring 0870 442 1878.

Everton ticket information
Feb 2 2006 Liverpool Echo
BARCLAYS PREMIERSHIP EVERTON v MANCHESTER CITY Saturday, Feb 4, kick-off 3pm GENERAL Sale continues from the Park End Box Office during normal office hours. Supporters should note that a Dial-A-Seat service on 08707 3837866 will also be in operation for this fixture. BARCLAYS PREMIERSHIP EVERTON v BLACKBURN Saturday, Feb 11, kick-off 3pm EVERTONIA members only sales continue from the Park End Box Office during normal office hours. All members will need to produce a valid membership card in order to purchase a ticket within this priority period. Members should note that Evertonia membership entitles the holder to one ticket per membership. General sale will commence Monday, January 30 from the Park End Box Office at 9.30am. Supporters should note that a Dial-A-Seat service on 08707 3837866 will also be in operation for this fixture. FA CUP 4TH RND REPLAY CHELSEA v EVERTON Wednesday, Feb 8, kick-off 7.45pm
STAND tickets £25 Adults; £12 Over 65s/Juniors (under 16 only) will be available to season ticket holders upon production of voucher no 47 together with not less than six away match ticket stubs (different games) from the current season and properly affixed to their official away match saving sheet. Joe Mercer and People's Club should present voucher 47 from their season ticket books, all other Executive members need to present cup priority voucher 16 from their season ticket books. Please note that any concessionary tickets purchased must be under 16 years of age or over 65 years of age, identification will be required upon entry into the stadium
Supporters should note that applications WILL NOT be accepted unless stubs are attached to the official away match saving sheet. BARCLAYS PREMIERSHIP NEWCASTLE UNITED v EVERTON Saturday, Feb 25, kick-off 5.15pm STAND tickets £30; Adults £25; Over 65s and Juniors (under 16 only) £16.00, available to season ticket holders upon production of voucher no 46 together with not less than 10 away match ticket stubs (different games) from the current season and properly affixed to their official away match saving sheet from the Park End Box Office on Monday, January 30 from 9.30am. Joe Mercer and People's Club should present voucher 46 from their season ticket books, all other Executive members need to present cup priority voucher 15 from their season ticket books.

Ex-Blue tait on trial at City
Feb 2 2006 By Neil Turner, Liverpool Echo
FORMER Blue Paul Tait is training with Chester after being released by Rochdale. The 31-year-old has had spells with Wigan, Crewe and Hull after being released by Everton as a youngster, and City boss Keith Curle said: "Paul is a competitive and bustling type of player who has an excellent pedigree so hopefully he will impress." Chester gave run outs to new loan signings Evan Horwood and Chris Robertson in the reserves' 2-0 defeat at Blackpool. Curle added: "They both did well and will be in the squad for the Carlisle game at the weekend, as will Mark Roberts." Michael Branch will also return to the squad this weekend, butDave Artell and Tom Curtis are both suspended.

New charge could ban Ferguson until March 18
Feb 3 2006 By David Prior Daily Post Staff
DUNCAN FERGUSON was last night handed a second violent conduct charge over his dismissal at Wigan - and could now face a ban that keeps him out of the Everton line-up until March 18. The Goodison striker was already facing a three-match ban after being sent off by referee Mike Dean for punching Latics defender Paul Scharner in the stomach during the 1-1 draw. However, it has now transpired that Dean missed Ferguson shoving his hand into the face of Pascal Chimbonda immediately after the Scharner incident. Dean has informed the FA that, had he witnessed the incident, which occurred before he redcarded the striker, it would have warranted a dismissal on its own. The FA have decided to act and have given Ferguson until 6pm today to respond. If the forward contests the charge the case will be heard a week tomorrow. If he is found guilty on this further charge, an additional three-match suspension seems certain which will rule him out of action until either the Premiership encounter with Fulham on March 11 or against Aston Villa seven days later, depending on Everton's FA Cup replay at Chelsea. As it stands, Ferguson already misses the matches against Manchester City, Chelsea and Blackburn Rovers. Everton secretary David Harrison said: "If Duncan is found guilty of this latest charge then his period of suspension has the potential to be increased from three matches to six. We have until 6pm on Friday to decide what course of action to take. "The options open to Duncan are that he can admit the charge or he can deny it. If it is the latter, then the football club can present a case to the Football Association." The news is a further setback to manager David Moyes, who is desperately short of fit strikers as Everton look to continue their recent progress up the Premiership table. James Beattie is still trying to shake off the calf strain that forced him out of both the draws against Chelsea and Wigan, while James Vaughan is still some weeks away from a return from his long-term knee injur

Moyes in pledge to bring in fresh faces
Feb 3 2006 By David Prior Daily Post Staff
DAVID MOYES last night told Evertonians he would be using his transfer kitty "to its full potential" this summer. The Everton manager has spoken out in an attempt to appease fans disgruntled by the lack of activity in the January window. Despite a rash of injuries and a chronic shortage of strikers, only former skipper Alan Stubbs was added to the squad in what was an unexpectedly quiet month for the Goodison club. That was despite the departures of Marcus Bent and Per Kroldrup, the latter having played just two games since his £5million summer arrival from Udinese. But, Moyes insists, the inactivity was not down to a lack of effort on his or the board's part. He said: "Since the January transfer window closed on Tuesday night there have been many questions asked as to why as a club we decided not to act on bringing in any new faces. "These questions from Everton fans are completely under-standable and I felt it was only right for me to explain why we took the decisions we did. As I have always said ever since I arrived here, I will always be upfront with our supporters. "It was due to a variety of circumstances. Even prior to the opening of the window at the turn of the year, myself and the backroom staff had already pinpointed the players we would like to have here. "But as time went on it became clear that some of these players were simply no longer available and the values of those who were had, in some cases, doubled from when we first started looking at the possibility of a transfer. "The failure to bring anybody in was certainly not for the lack of trying nor was it due to a lack of funds, as has been suggested in recent days." Several players, from Preston's David Nugent to Trabzonspor's Fatih Tekke, were linked with a move to Goodison but no deals materialised. Moyes insisted he had been trying right up until Tuesday's midnight deadline, but that he was only interested in players who would be long-term successes for the club. He added: "Bill Kenwright and the Board of Directors at Everton ensured money was available to spend, plus there was the added funds from the sales of Marcus Bent and Per Kroldrup. "So the money was available but the players were not and I can confirm all the players you have been reading about have, in the majority of cases, been contacted through their respective clubs. "There have been many stories that have been false but the players Evertonians would expect us to be targeting have been throughout January and even before then. "Even up until the last minute on Tuesday night we were trying to add to the squad but as I have previously indicated I do not want to bring in anyone that would make our supporters feel good for the short-term and not the long-term. I understand that sometimes decisions of this nature may not be popular. "As the manager of Everton I have a responsibility to the future of this club and I don't want to go down the road of making signings that do not fit in with our future plans. "I also don't want to follow similar transfer policies that have led to Everton being a side that have rarely troubled the top of half of the Premier League. "We want to make progress and I think that has been demonstrated in two out of the last three years." Moyes hoped the small squad would continue their good recent form and once again defy their numbers to post a strong finish to the campaign. "We were not alone in our transfer activity and other clubs in the Premiership have also chosen not to make any transfers during the window and continue to work with what they have for the rest of the season," he added. "That situation has benefited us in the past and last season we worked well with a very small squad. Off it we are already starting work on future transfer targets and as everyone is aware we have to use what money we have at Everton wisely, though rest assured the money available I will be using to its full potential in the coming summer."

Gutsy McFadden
Post Soapbox, icLiverpool & Daily Post
Feb 3 2006
Gutsy McFadden
I THINK some Evertonians, me included, are in danger of overlooking the fact that we are unbeaten this year because we're too busy worrying about the lack of signings. I was so jealous of Newcastle getting the signings they did in the summer and look what happened. The fact is we're not getting in any new faces, so let's get behind the lads who are already here. James McFadden gets a gashed shin and broken nose and he plays in the next game. I think that shows the guts of our play-ers, so let's do all we can to support them.
Sean Thornton (via e-mail)
Top manager
SUPPORTERS now calling for David Moyes's head were conspicuous by their absence when he got the club into the Champions League. We've got one of the best young managers around. Oh, to find a rich Russian on Merseyside to give him the support he needs. Phil Jones, Liverpool
Careful shopper
DO supporters really think that Moyes doesn't know what's needed to improve the squad?
It's obvious to me that the players he would like aren't available for one reason or another.
Either he doesn't have the funds, in which case we ask questions of the board, or those that he wants are not for sale. There's no 'dithering' in it. If the players he wanted were available on either criteria he would have made a bid - simple. What reason would he have not to?
Jeff Johnson (via e-mail)
Off target
SO, the sum of Everton's efforts this January have been a bungling attempt to lure the unpopular Nicolas Anelka to Goodison. I'm speechless!
Simon Smith, Chester
Right moves
HAVE Parker, Emre, Forssell, S Davis, Ashton, Sutton, Viduka or any of the contingent at Pompey actually set the English Premier League on fire this season? Er, no! I know some of Moyes's signings have been questionable, but the truth is watching Everton has been painful for years, not just under Moyes. He may well dither but I suspect he has made more correct decisions than bad. Besides, who would replace him? Brian Dunbar (via e-mail)
Think big
SO David Moyes missed the boat in the transfer market again. When will he learn that if you want big name players at Goodison you have to pay big money.
Louis Freeman (via e-mail)

Striking absence could be keenly felt
Feb 3 2006
By Mark O'Brien Everton supporter, Daily Post
SO, Everton did not manage to sign Fatih Tekke, Francileudo Santos or Frederic Piquionne before the transfer deadline. Nor David Nugent or Lee Trundle, either. David Moyes has made his reasons clear, though, and that's that. We will just have to get by with what we've got until the summer.
On the plus side, the players we have, including the makeshift strikers in the shape of Tim Cahill, Leon Osman and James McFadden, looked more than competent at the JJB. Evertonians, who might have been happy with a draw before kick-off such is the reputation that Wigan have earned themselves this season, were left somewhat disappointed with the solitary point, especially given the football the team played in the first half. Without a targetman as such they were required to play through midfield and produced some delightful stuff against an extremely physical Latics.
When Duncan Ferguson eventually came on to lend some muscle to the attack for the final 20 minutes, the three points seemed there for the taking. That made his subsequent assault on Paul Scharner all the more galling. His treatment of Sol Campbell and John Terry in recent weeks, while welcomed and crucial for Everton, did see him walking a fine line. How he expected to get away with a right-hander to the gut like that, though, is anyone's guess. Luckily Jason Roberts got dismissed straight away and therefore the game didn't swing in Wigan's favour, because disappointment might have turned to downright anger if his madness had cost us all the points. We are now deprived of his services - as a player, not a bouncer - for three games, including next Wednesday's already formidable Cup tie at Stamford Bridge. He really does pick his moments. Hopefully James Beattie will be back sooner rather than later, although mystery seems to surround his latest injury, with the club saying he is on the brink of a return while rumours suggest that he could be out for up to a month.
If that proves to be true then Everton may live to regret their inability to find the right sort of striker in the transfer window. And you can bet your bottom dollar that the howls of derision will become deafening should Giorgios Samaras, Manchester City's newest recruit and a reported Everton target, find the back of the net tomorrow.

Why I didn't splash cash
Feb 3 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES has defended Everton's lack of activity during the January transfer window. Given that Alan Stubbs was the only 'new' face to arrive at Goodison Park while the window was open, Moyes has come in for criticism for failing to sign a striker. The manager had stated at the club's AGM in November that he hoped to sign one - possibly two forwards - at the start of the New Year. But despite identifying a number of targets, which he was still attempting to bring in on the last day of business, no suitable target became available. So rather than blow the budget on a quick fix, Moyes opted to keep his powder dry and - via an open letter to fans today - insists he will be doing everything he can to correct the situation during the summer. "It was due to a variety of circumstances," states the Blues boss. "Even prior to the opening of the window, myself and the backroom staff had already pinpointed the players we would like to have here. "But as time went on it became clear that some of these players were simply no longer available and the values of those who were had, in some cases, doubled from when we first started looking at the possibility of a transfer. "The failure to bring anybody in was certainly not for the lack of trying nor was it due to a lack of funds, as has been suggested in recent days. "Bill Kenwright and the board of directors at Everton ensured money was available to spend plus there was the added funds from the sales of Marcus Bent and Per Kroldrup. "So the money was available but the players were not and I can confirm all the players you have been reading about have, in the majority of cases, been contacted through their respective clubs. "There have been many stories that have been false but the players Evertonians would expect us to be targeting have been throughout January and even before then. "Even up until the last minute on Tuesday night we were trying to add to the squad but as I have previously indicated I do not want to bring in anyone that would make our supporters feel good for the short-term and not the long-term. "I understand that sometimes decisions of this nature may not be popular. "As the manager of Everton I have a responsibility to the future of this club and I don't want to go down the road of making signings that do not fit in with our future plans."
Of more immediate concern is tomorrow's visit of Manchester City and Moyes is keeping his fingers crossed that James Beattie will be fit to return after a two-game absence. Duncan Ferguson starts his three-match ban after getting sent off against Wigan and if Beattie fails to pull through, James McFadden will be the only recognised striker available. Nigel Martyn and Matteo Ferrari are the other main fitness worries but either way, Moyes knows his squad will have it all to do against Stuart Pearce's men. "Manchester City are a decent team," said Moyes. "They have been in the top half all season. "They have had a good season, so we know it is going to be a tough game. But we are playing well just now. The players are beginning to show their true potential, which has been good."

Duncan to fight fresh FA charge
Feb 3 2006 Liverpool Echo
DUNCAN FERGUSON has denied an FA charge of violent conduct and has requested a personal hearing.
The Everton striker begins a three-match ban tomorrow after being sent off by referee Mike Dean for punching Wigan defender Paul Scharner. However, it emerged last night that Dean missed Ferguson shoving his hand into Pascal Chimbonda's face during the ensuing melee and the Wirral official informed Soho Square that had he seen the incident, it would have warranted a dismissal on its own. Ferguson had until 6pm this evening to respond to the second charge - if found guilty he would be suspended for another three games - but informed the club of what action he decided to take. If the veteran striker - who will miss games against Manchester City and Blackburn Rovers in the Premier-ship as well as the FA Cup replay with Chelsea - is found guilty he would be out of action until the middle of next month. Everton secretary David Harrison confirmed: "If Duncan is found guilty of this latest charge then his period of suspension has the potential to be increased from three to six matches."

Onwards and upwards for flying Kilbane
Feb 3 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
PLAUDITS have been arriving as quickly as Everton have gathered points over the past month but still Kevin Kilbane is not happy. During the Blues' unbeaten run through January, Kilbane has been one of the most consistent performers. After a difficult start to the season, slowly but surely the zest has crept back into the Republic of Ireland international's game. At the same time, each significant contribution - be it an important covering tackle or a surging run from midfield - means the number of dissenting voices in the stands have become fewer and fewer. Surely such factors would allow Kilbane to draw a satisfied breath and appreciate he is getting close to hitting the same consistent levels of previous seasons at Goodison Park, that saw him dubbed 'Zinedine' by the Gwladys Street. Not so. Though recognising he has significantly moved away from the inconsistency that blighted his start to the campaign, there is a nagging doubt in the back of Kilbane's mind that he is still not doing enough. As that is the case, do not expect to see the former Sunderland man pause for thought against Manchester City at Goodison Park tomorrow. Anxious to move his play and Everton's Premiership position up another few gears, here is a man on a mission. "It's been all right, I suppose," offers Kilbane, who celebrated his 29th birthday on Wednesday. "It's probably been my most consistent part of the season. "But I'm not that happy yet because I want to maintain what I'm doing. "You have got to be doing it over three or four months not just a couple of weeks. "I was really disappointed when I missed the two defeats against Bolton and Aston Villa at Christmas. I never even got on the park in those games. "The manager didn't put me on and that was it, really. So when something like that happens, it gives you a bit of a kick up the backside. The manager has had words with me a couple of times and told me that I've not been up to scratch.
"I knew that myself. All I'm trying to do is stay in the side for as long as I can and do my best. That's all I can do."
Ask Kilbane to pinpoint where everything turned around, the answer is instantaneous. The Stadium of Light on New Year's Eve. Having won a game they had no right to thanks to Tim Cahill's late, late show, there has been no looking back for David Moyes' men. "Sunderland, without a shadow of a doubt," said Kilbane. "We were terrible on the day. It was probably one of our worst performances of the season but we ended up winning the game. "Since then, we have looked solid, we have looked strong and we have just gained confidence. "I certainly sensed that we'd turned the corner in the dressing room after the game because Sunderland should have beaten us by three or four. "But Tim popped up with a great goal for us and from then on there was no looking back. We went into the Charlton game after that and we were just full of confidence, got three goals and another three points. "We've just looked really good from then. We've got a great team spirit and we showed that last year when we went out and worked for each other. "Hopefully that is going to be the case in these next couple of months. "We may have only made one signing during the transfer window but I personally think Stubbsy will be great for us. For the team, in the dressing room and on the pitch. He gives us so much. You need people like him on your team." Such camaraderie in the dressing room will be vital if Everton are going to maintain their push towards the top half of the table and tomorrow's match offers a significant opportunity to make real progress. City's win over Newcastle in midweek may have taken them four points ahead of Everton in the standings but Kilbane is hopeful that home advantage will count and friend Richard Dunne has a miserable return to Goodison. Kilbane has accrued the majority of his 65 Republic of Ireland caps alongside Dunne and makes no secret of the esteem in which he holds him. The opportunity to take him down a peg or two, however, is too good to miss. "If we had won the game the other night, we know we'd have gone in the top half," he said.
"The results on Wednesday night didn't go for us because City, Blackburn and Fulham. City have gone four points clear of us. "So we are looking to win this weekend to get back alongside them. City are full of confidence and they are scoring goals but we have just got to try and do what we have been doing, especially at home.
"I've not spoken to Dunnie yet but he's been one of City's best players for the last two or three years. "He's a great player and I'm sure he'll be looking forward to coming back here. I'm looking forward to sending him away unhappy! "We've got improve our home record and we've done that in the past couple of weeks. We are looking better and that's pleasing. "They've got good players but hopefully the one night extra we've had off will work in our favour."

Great Scot! Faddy is Everton's true hero
Feb 3 2006 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
DUNCAN FERGUSON clearly thought he was the hardest Scot in Wigan on Tuesday night. He wasn't. Not by a long chalk. Stupidest and most self-centred? Certainly. But toughest? Let's just say I've already devoted more space than the petulant poseur deserves. So let's move quickly on to the real Scottish hard case. James McFadden had eight stitches in an ankle injury on Saturday - but demanded to be let back onto the pitch. Manager David Moyes agreed. Until Carlos Cudicini then decided to add physical insult to very real injury - and broke his nose. Even then McFadden had to be talked out of returning to the fray and led away from the action by physio Mick Rathbone. But three days later the resilient Scot was back in action at Wigan. His attitude alone would have been enough to merit the praise he received from the huge Everton support in Lancashire that night, but his performance was also excellent. And at a time when the thug-gish actions of a team-mate have left Everton shamefully understaffed up front, an inform James McFadden will be desperately needed. In common with around 99 per cent of all Evertonians, I wanted to see David Moyes bring in a striker in the January transfer window. Just one striker, any striker . . . (although I might have drawn the line at Dion Dublin). But the fact that Moyes has decided against adding to his threadbare squad has been seen as managerial negligence in some quarters - and an act of treason by the boardroom. Which begs the question, what exactly floats those fans' boats? Yes, a new striker would have been preferred, especially ahead of the next run of testing fixtures. But does anyone know if Giorgios Samaras or Fatih Tekke are actually any good? And has anybody actually bothered to take a glance at Everton's results in 2006? The Blues are unbeaten this year, have just enjoyed the longest unbeaten run of David Moyes' managerial reign at Everton - a run which has included games against Arsenal and Chelsea - and have done so without Joseph Yobo and James Beattie. David Moyes has actually taken the bold step of explaining his transfer inactivity to the fans. While some accuse him of dithering, and his chairman of having the shortest arms and the deepest pockets in the Premiership, Moyes carefully explained the various circumstances which led to no new faces arriving. Much of the supporters' angst has been created by the existence of the January transfer window. But the decision to bring any new player into a squad is a gamble. Look at Birmingham's experiences this season. Mikael Forrsell, a footballer David Moyes was roundly criticised for turning his back on in the summer, managed to injure himself warming up at Anfield on Wednesday.
His total contribution so far this season for a £3m outlay? A successfully converted penalty kick against Portsmouth in a match Brum were already winning 3-0. There are exceptions, of course.
Chris Sutton has been an excellent addition to Birmingham's striking resources, and on Wednesday showed his versatility by dropping into midfield following the dismissal of Damien Johnson.
But even he came at an estimated £30,000 a week cost. Like last season, Everton will have to rely on team spirit and tenacity. And no-one is showing more of those qualites than James McFadden right now.
Fergie loses blame game
BLACKBURN boss and Everton old-boy Mark Hughes was understandbly miffed when Sir Alex publicly disparaged his team's style of play . . . just minutes after spending a post-match debrief with Sparky, without once mentioning anything more controversial than the Ewood Park wine being corked.
Hughes shouldn't worry. It's an old Fergie tactic designed to deflect media attention away from the fact his side has just been outplayed. Way back when Duncan Ferguson was a footballer, not a pub bouncer, Everton drew 2-2 at Old Trafford and missed two glorious chances in time added on. Alex Ferguson's reaction? To belittle Everton as a new Wimbledon. Fergie's excuses are about as original as his team selections.

Everton are being picked on - Moyes
By David Prior Daily Post Staff
Feb 4 2006
DAVID MOYES has renewed his attack on the Football Association's disciplinary procedures - claiming the second violent conduct charge on Duncan Ferguson is evidence that Everton are being "victimised". The Goodison manager hit out after it was revealed that the fiery striker faces a further three-match ban in addition to the mandatory three-match suspension he was handed for punching Paul Scharner in Tuesday's clash at Wigan. The second charge relates to an alleged push in the face on another Latics player, Pascal Chimbonda, an incident referee Mike Dean missed originally but after reviewing video evidence told the FA that that too would have merited a red card. The FA's Compliance Unit have subsequently charged Ferguson, leaving the Scot open to a doubling of his punishment. Ferguson yesterday appealed against the second charge and has asked for a personal hearing, and Moyes intends to highlight the inconsistencies in the Compliance Unit's treatment of such cases. He said: "I think it's wrong. I've come out and been straight and honest with my comments afterwards and Duncan will get the fine which will be due. I don't know who or what this Compliance Unit are. "Are any of them ex-managers, ex-players or ex-referees who would be good enough to make a decision? "To me it looks as if it's victimisation, as if we're being picked on. And we've said, right from the start, we can't defend Duncan and we've decided to take what punishment we thought necessary and get on with it. "I just hope that the people who are selecting the next England manager have more qualities in their selection process than the people who they've put in their Compliance Unit." It is the second time Moyes has clashed with the FA and their Compliance Unit in two months. In December he criticised the decision to ban midfielder Tim Cahill for three matches over a skirmish involving Celestine Babayaro that was missed at the time by referee Howard Webb. And he added: "If they want to do it they must be fair, and I will take video evidence that they have not done the same in other circumstances. "And I think Everton (are being victimised), rather than Duncan, because as far as I know it's the same people who did the Tim Cahill stuff. "It's a question of consistency. I think we really need to know who are these people who are making the decisions. Are these people the ones who should be doing that?

Striker's antics are well rehearsed
By Conor Francis, Daily Post
Feb 4 2006
IT seems Duncan Ferguson will retire at the end of this season without having learned on of the most important lessons of professional football - don't punch people. His outrageous attack on Wigan's Scharner let his team-mates - and his fans - down. But Duncan is a double-edged sword, and against Chelsea he proved just why Evertonians have for so long lauded him. He led the line superbly against the finest defence in England, if not Europe, and played his part in a stirring cup performance.
But it made his dismissal against Wigan all the more disappointing. Instead of looking forward to a sabre-rattling end to an old warrior's career, his time may well peter out as a bit of a damp squib.

He may well be able to muster one more battling display, alternatively he may have deprived himself of the opportunity to do so. Moyes may well feel enough is enough with Duncan. Ultimately he may have let himself down more than anyone. Thankfully James Beat-tie returns today to face Man City. Let's hope he's back to somewhere near full fitness. The squad is dreadfully small, but it seems there is little Moyes can do. Clearly he can't be expected to buy just for the sake of buying. Down that road lies disaster. Fans will just have to accept that sometimes the players aren't available - especially with Everton's paucity in the cash department. A smaller squad worked for the Blues last season, and we have already seen an upturn in fortunes in the last few weeks, so there is no need to start panicking. The league campaign has been disastrous, when the high hopes of August are taken into consideration. But we can still finish in the top 10, and you never know in the cup. The resilience has returned to Everton, but victories against Man City and Blackburn next week will go along way to settling nerves and being able to concentrate on the future.

Pearce 'can become England manager'
By Paul Walker Daily Post Correspondent
Feb 4 2006
DAVID MOYES claims Stuart Pearce has more than enough experience to be the next England manager. Pearce is still being talked up as a potential successor to SvenGoran Eriksson, even though the man himself has made every effort to silence the speculation. Moyes said: "I look at the inexperience of the managers of Holland (Marco van Basten) and Germany (Jurgen Klinsmann), and you would find in a lot of ways Stuart has more experience than them. "I don't know how much experience you need to manage a team like England with such fantastic players. You need management technique and an understanding of tactical work, but I would think Stuart Pearce would be very close to being equipped with that." If Pearce would rather stick to club management for the time being, however, Moyes can accept that. "I would understand Stuart's feelings if he said he doesn't want it just now," he said. "I understand the belief that England should be looking for someone who has come through their own set-up. "It doesn't mean the person should be English. But many coaches and managers have come through the FA's system - myself included - and you would consider that they would want one of their own. But if you are a country like England with aspirations to be one of the big nations, should they not just pick the best man for the job?"
Moyes, who has frequently been tipped as a future Scotland manager, has observed with interest the suggestions of who should succeed Eriksson. He said: "There is a groundswell for an Englishman to take the job, and I think that is what will happen in the end." Moyes is pretty confident his own name is not in the equation but nonetheless added mischievously: "If it was a Scotsman I would be absolutely delighted! "There is a point to support the English structure and appoint someone who has come through it, which is what the League Managers' Association say. They want British managers to be working."

Hungry duo determined to continue improving form
By David Prior, Daily Post
Feb 4 2006
ALTHOUGH the disapproval has not come near Joey Barton levels, the Goodison terraces have never been overly accepting of their wingers in recent times. After a promising start following his deadline-day switch from Sunderland back in 2003, Kevin Kilbane's effectiveness dwindled and his form at the start of this season seemed inextricably linked with Everton's malaise. 'Zinedine' he was not. James McFadden, meanwhile, struggled to live up to the great expectations since he made his much-hyped move from Mother-well on the same day, with the youngster often labelled as too lightweight and wasteful in possession. For both, however, the curve is moving once again in an upward direction. Kilbane has rediscovered his early effervescence and incisiveness, while McFadden, having finally learned the way to goal, is relishing the increasingly forward-minded responsibilities that have been thrust upon him of late. That 'lightweight' tag now looks redundant too after his gutsy, bloodied display against Chelsea - an episode that old warhorse Terry Butcher, the young Scot's former manager at Fir Park, would have been proud of. Neither player is happy though with the progress he has made. Kilbane, for one, has had an all-too recent taste of rejection to stop him slipping into a comfort zone just yet. The 29-year-old said: "It's probably been my most consistent part of the season. But I'm not that happy yet because I want to maintain what I'm doing.
"You have got to be doing it over three or four months, not just a couple of weeks. I was really disappointed when I missed the two defeats against Bolton and Aston Villa at Christmas. I never even got on the park in those games. "The manager didn't put me on and that was it, really. So when something like that happens, it gives you a bit of a kick up the backside. "The manager has had words with me a couple of times and told me that I've not been up to scratch. I knew that myself. All I'm trying to do is stay in the side for as long as I can and do my best. That's all I can do." Kilbane will come up against friend and Republic of Ireland colleague Richard Dunne when Manchester City visit Goodison today. But despite his respect for defender Dunne, Kilbane is hoping he has a stinker against his former club. "If we had won the game the other night, we know we'd have gone in the top half," Kilbane added. "The results on Wednesday night didn't go for us because City, Blackburn and Fulham won. City have gone four points clear of us. "So we are looking to win this weekend to get back alongside them. City are full of confidence and they are scoring goals but we have just got to try and do what we have been doing, especially at home. "I've not spoken to Dunnie yet but he's been one of City's best players for the last two or three years. "He's a great player and I'm sure he'll be looking forward to coming back here. I'm looking forward to sending him away unhappy!" For McFadden, retaining his place in Everton's starting line-up represents a similar priority. His excellent headed goal in the FA Cup draw against leaders Chelsea last week - before having to retire hurt with a broken nose and a gashed shin - was the 22-year-old's third in 16 starts. After finding the net just once in his first 56 games for the club, that's a definite improvement, but still not enough for the ambitious Scot. He said: "I think I have come in for a bit of stick for not scoring as many goals as maybe I should have done, I think quite rightly so. Hopefully now I can get a few more goals and I can stay in the team. It was frustrating for me (to come off injured against Chelsea) because I don't think I started the game well but I got the goal and I felt I was starting to come into the game. I was enjoying the game and it is not often you get the chance to do that against the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal or Man United. That was the disappointing thing for me. "There is always a danger you are going to get injured on the pitch and it was just unfortunate for me that I got two quite bad injuries in the one game. "That is just the way it goes. You just need to brush yourself down and get on with it." He added: "Even when we were losing games the morale and the spirit has always been there. It is just as high as ever. The Chelsea and Wigan games have taken a lot out of the squad in terms of numbers but the morale is good. "I like to be part of a winning side, as everybody does. In the past maybe I have been unlucky that when I have been playing the results haven't been so good. "But it is nice to come in, help get a couple of results and hopefully the longer we remain unbeaten the longer I can stay in the team." Manager David Moyes would no doubt be delighted to meet both players' hopes should Everton's current revival continue. 2006 has yet to witness an Everton defeat, and victory over Stuart Pearce's side today would help to further drag his side towards an unlikely shot at European competition. He said: "The transfer situation and the month we have just had has somewhat overshadowed what a good time it has been for the club recently. "We have actually done well. We are being told what a good season Manchester City have had - as well as Blackburn, who are doing well. But they are not miles and miles ahead of us. We have recovered from a season that started in the Champions League and didn't go at all well. "It wasn't the new signings who struggled; it was those that had been here a while. So now when you are seeing the likes of Tony Hibbert, Leon Osman, Kevin Kilbane, Tim Cahill, James Beattie in such good form it is worthy of note.
"Character has shone through. There's a great spirit - and that comes from winning and confidence."

Everton 1, Man City 0 (D,Post)
Feb 6 2006 By David Prior at Goodison Park, Daily Post
HAVING grown accustomed to watching their side's form alter drastically with the onset of a new year, Evertonians should really have seen this coming. For the past three seasons the Christmas period has unerringly proved itself a watermark for David Moyes's side, a festive break that for some reason knocked the stuffing out of them and resulted in a feeble limp towards the finishing line. Back in 2003, second-half deterioration cost the Goodison side a European place. A year later, it almost cost them their Premiership status. Last season, only the huge points haul that had preceded Hogmanay prevented Everton from squandering Champions League qualification, despite just seven wins from their final 18 games. Well, the mid-season transformation is back again. But perhaps having realised that to have kept to tradition would have seem them skirting with survival, Everton have broken the mould and are instead mounting a sprint finish; sudden-ly, Europe is within touching distance. The first five weeks of 2006 have now thrown up 13 Premier-ship points, just seven shy of the amount garnered between August and December. The unbeaten run stretches to nine games in all competitions, the longest such sequence of Moyes's tenure, with five wins and a draw from their last six league games. Impressive stuff, particularly at a time when the opponents have generally occupied the higher reaches of the table. Should they extend the run to next month's Merseyside derby - during which time trips to Newcastle and West Ham will have been sandwiched by home games against Blackburn, Fulham and Aston Villa - then Everton could quite feasibly be occupying a European place. Saturday witnessed a warming slice of classic Everton. The early goal, the spirited defence that squeezed the life out of an already apathetic City, and in the end a relatively comfortable three points. And it's not just a fourth 1-0 win in six games that revived memories of the first half of last season. It's also the form of the likes of Leon Osman, Tony Hibbert, David Weir and Alan Stubbs. It's the return of a defence that increasingly looks impregnable, to such an extent that even the sight of Richard Wright in goal no longer sends a shudder of fear down the spine. Indeed there's evidence that the much-maligned goalkeeper is belatedly settling down, and Saturday saw his first clean sheet in a starting role since March 2003. Barely two minutes had elapsed before Osman helped to set the tone with a powerful burst through a still sleeping City. Having slalomed around a statuesque Richard Dunne, the midfielder unleashed a decent strike that skimmed a beaten David James' crossbar. The early flow was all blue, and after eight minutes they were ahead. Although James Beattie had passed a late fitness test on his calf, the team looked worryingly short of likely goalscorers, a situation unnecessarily worsened by the selfishness of Duncan Ferguson. Moyes could do with one of the many more irregular marksman at the club rising to the challenge, but he had probably not envisaged David Weir among them - not that the skipper knew much about his opener. Mikel Arteta's corner was actually met by Tim Cahill's shoulder, with the ball then richoteting off Dunne before bouncing beyond James off Weir's knee. It was perhaps the least attractive goal of the Premiership season so far - one that drew howls of laughter from the home terraces when replayed on the big screen - but the majority of Good-ison didn't care a jot. The goal paved the way for a subdued half as Everton protected their early advantage, albeit in a highly efficient and occasionally skilful fashion. City looked nothing like the confidence-bristling outfit many had expected, with their travelling support suggesting the anger over Joey Barton's transfer request had not, in fact, been dissipated by the midfielder's impressive performance against Newcastle in midweek. Indeed one banner in the away end welcomed the boyhood Evertonian on to the pitch with the unambiguous message 'Greedy Greedy Barton', a bait the tempestuous Barton unwisely responded to by launching his first kick in the banner's direction. It was hardly the most unified message City could have sent out, though, and for most of the first half Stuart Pearce's men were similarly at odds with each other. Indeed, Wright was barely threatened until a minute before the break when Trevor Sinclair - who had earlier supplied a contender for the season's most ludicrous shot - laid off Sun Jihai,, who crossed for Darius Vassell to stretch and head over. City's Georgios Samaras, meanwhile, who Moyes had seriously considered before baulking at the striker's £6million price-tag, was enjoying a vastly unimpressive debut, summed up when he trod on the ball and fell on his backside just before the break. The Greek's sole chance was, in fact, his team's best chance of the afternoon, but having wrestled free of Alan Stubbs' attentions he headed Barton's corner over the bar from point-blank range. He was subbed soon after and, on this evidence, Moyes will be satisfied he made the right decision. In truth, the game developed into a poor spectacle, suffering the kind of fate an early goal often invites. But while it was not a day for the purists, there was no doubting the pure effort Everton put into ensuring their lead was retained. Osman, chasing every cause irrespective of his hopes of winning it, typified the attitude that coursed through the team and by the time he was replaced to a standing ovation with seven minutes remaining, he'd barely an ounce of fight left to give. For a time City managed a more sustained threat, and during one almighty goalmouth scramble in the 76th minute anyone of three could have supplied a scoring touch as the ball pinged endlessly around the six-yard box. Weir and Stubbs presented another formidable barrier, though, while Hibbert and Nuno Valente both enjoyed excellent afternoons on the flanks. If any one area deserves praise for the present run, it's the defence - those four and five--goal leakages earlier in the campaign become evermore inexplicable by the week. City's frustration at the hosts' stranglehold boiled over late on, with Stephen Jordan handed a second yellow card for a reckless, two-footed challenge on Hibbert. Such pointless aggression was a telling tribute to the way Everton had controlled and eventually stifled their opponents. With City among a number of teams stalling in mid-table, Everton now have a chance to ensure this season's New Year transformation forges a path back to Europe. Given the many lows this season had plumbed, that would be nothing short of remarkable.
EVERTON (4-4-1-1): Wright; Hibbert, Stubbs, Weir, Valente; Arteta, Cahill, Neville, Kilbane; Osman (Davies 83); Beattie (McFadden 80). Subs: Naysmith, Turner, Anichebe
MANCHESTER CITY (4-4-2): James; Sun, Dunne, Distin, Jordan; Sinclair, Barton, Musampa, Riera (Cole 59); Samaras (Sibierski 77), Vas-sell (Wright-Phillips 77). Subs: Weaver, Richards.
BOOKINGS: Dunne, Jordan, Barton (fouls).
SENDING OFF: Jordan (two bookable offences)
REFEREE: A Marriner
ATT: 37,827
NEXT GAME: Chelsea v Everton, FA Cup fourth round replay, Wednesday, 8pm

Moyes hails the spirit of recovery
By David Prior Daily Post Staff
Feb 6 2006
DAVID MOYES has paid tribute to the "brilliant spirit" in the Goodison dressing room that has helped transform Everton from relegation battlers to top-six contenders. A first goal of the season from David Weir gave Everton their fifth Premiership win in six games against Manchester City, lifting them to a season-high of 11th and just six points off sixth-placed Wigan. And Moyes, who conceded that disappointment at their early exits from European competition had been largely responsible for Everton's dismal start to the season, believes the improved fortunes reflects a return to form throughout the team. He said: "Maybe without knowing it, the efforts we put into Europe and the disappointment of not getting through affected the players who had been here a long time, not the new players. "It was the players who had been here - the Osmans, the Cahills, the Hibberts, Beattie to a lesser extent, Kilbane - who were affected more because they knew what it had taken to get through. "All those players are now back to form, and that's the thing which has made us do well. I hope that it makes us all stronger because I don't think anyone has enjoyed the period that we've been in. "But we always know that it's still round the corner if we don't keep doing what we're doing." Moyes is keen to play down Everton's chances of securing an instant return to European competition, but he admits that should they maintain their present form then such a goal would become an increasingly tantalising prospect. He added: "I think they always say that there's a team that comes later in the season, whether it be going up or down, and hopefully we're the team that's going to come late and go up. "If we keep our form going we certainly would, there's no doubt about that, but that would be a momentous task, although we shouldn't be afraid to try and do it. "But I don't want to look that far ahead, just keep things low key and really try to keep the boys going. "I've got to say there's a brilliant spirit in the dressing room. There always have been, but obviously coming from winning they feel much better about themselves." Victory on Saturday means City are only a point ahead of the Goodison side, despite Stuart Pearce's side having been widely touted as having a much more impressive season. And Moyes said: "We weren't doing well at the start of the season, Man City have been in the top half throughout the season and we've not been. "I think you can say that a lot of the stuff that was said about Everton at various periods of the season was nonsense, but there's no point in us saying that until we can prove it, and we've still not proved it."
On the game itself, the Scot added: "I said to the players that today was a game that people might have expected Everton to win, and you have to handle that differently to what it has been against Chelsea and Arsenal. "And I thought we did - for the opening 30 minutes, they all were brave, bold, getting the ball and trying to play. "And I thought that opening 20 or 30 minutes was a period when we played some really good football." Several players stood out, with the tireless Leon Osman outstanding just behind James Beattie and Alan Stubbs the pick of an again-impressive defence.
Moyes said: "Leon's work-rate is as high as anybody at the club, if not more so. When you've got those small legs it's not easy to cover the ground! But he's done well for us." On Stubbs, he added: "When I brought him in I said we needed someone who could fit right in quickly, with no real time needed. It might have been a surprise for one or two people, but we didn't want him to go in the first place. "I thought he played really well at Wigan and played really well today. I thought the back four limited them to very few opportunities. It was like we were last year - hard to score past."

Goal hero Weir is silencing whispers
By Paul Walker Daily Post Correspondent
Feb 6 2006
THE transformation of Everton from rock bottom in late October to mid-table safety by February has given veteran captain David Weir a new lease of life. Scottish international Weir has proved he still has much to offer at the age of 34. Outstanding displays against Chelsea and Arsenal in recent weeks and another commanding performance to see off City are proof. Everton have achieved their best unbeaten run - nine --since October 1998. Weir scrambled home his first goal of the season to see off City. Manager David Moyes paid tribute to the way his players - including Weir - had turned things around. "David Weir had a month where it got tough for him," said the manager. "There was criticism. But there have been times when he has carried us this season, particularly at the start.
"Everybody is entitled to a period when you are not playing well, but he has done really well in recent games against Chelsea and Arsenal, and now City." Weir heard the whispers too, but now says: "I'm enjoying my football, I feel good and I am not one for looking at my birth certificate. I just look at how I feel and how I play. "We had a bad start to the season, but we always had confidence in the group that we could do better and time has proved that right. "We aim to keep it going and finish in a higher position, one we believe we are good enough to be in. We are getting that winning mentality, it becomes a habit. Now we are aiming to keep it going and make it 10 unbeaten and that means winning at Chelsea in midweek, and we know how hard that is going to be. They are the best team in the country. It's a tough place at any time because of their quality. "We could have won both our games this season at home against Chelsea. But they showed desire, quality and team spirit. It's a big part of what they are."

Wright delighted with clean sheet after long wait
Daily Post Feb 6 2006
RICHARD Wright put three years of heartache behind him to claim a clean sheet against Manchester City. The former Arsenal keeper, back in the Everton starting line-up due to an injury to Nigel Martyn, made the most of his opportunity at Goodison Park to help the home side pick up another three points to continue their climb away from the lower reaches of the table. Wright last kept a clean sheet in the Premiership in a 0-0 draw with West Ham in March 2003, and this was the first time since he had had gone the full 90 minutes without being beaten in a league game. He was quick to praise both his team-mates and the Everton fans for their support. "It has been a long time coming and you can't believe how delighted I am to have gone out there in front of the Goodison faithful," he said. "The fans have been unbelievable to me, the amount of backing that I have had from people in the streets is fantastic and I was really pleased to get a clean sheet at last. "The defence were fantastic in front of me, but I don't think you can just single out Stubbs and Weir, it was a great team performance. It was more of a dig-in performance than a footballing one and sometimes you need to do that." Wright has deputised for Martyn in the last two games and is determined to make it hard for the former Leeds keeper to win back his place. "I am desperate to play football," said Wright. "Since I have been back in the team I have thoroughly enjoyed it and it is fantastic. I just want to keep out there week in, week out and grow in confidence and keep a place in the team." Wright is now turning his attentions to Wednesday's FA Cup replay with Chelsea. Meanwhile Per Kroldrup says his short spell at Goodison Park was not a success because of the way football is played in the Premiership. The Danish international defender arrived in a £5million deal from Udinese last summer, but found himself heading back to Italy in the transfer window. He is now with Fiorentina and believes his style of game can thrive in Serie A. "I still believe I could have done well in The Premiership but, in Italy, there is more emphasis on technical skills," said Kroldrup.. "I am used to coaches and fans that like to see you play your way out of trouble and pass the ball to a team-mate.

Stubbs is still a winner at the generation game
By Mark O'Brien, Daily Post
Feb 6 2006
AGE AND Guile Beat Youth, Innocence, and a Bad Haircut. Alan Stubbs could have used that as the title to his memoirs if only PJ O'Rourke hadn't beaten him to it. The phrase was never more apt than on Saturday, when the veteran defender put in his third consecutive man-of-the match performance, making the lank-haired Giorgios Samaras' full debut for Manchester City an occasion he would probably like to forget. The Greek was meant to have been a target for David Moyes at one point - along with around 700 other strikers - and in terms of his physique and in little bursts it was possible to see, perhaps, why he commanded the sort of transfer fee that Everton would have found prohibitive. He is quick and strong, with more than a hint of Tottenham's Mido or Juventus' Zlatan Ibrahimovic about him, but at Goodison he simply couldn't shake the attentions of the outstanding Stubbs. Time and again the 34-year-old, ably assisted by David Weir who again looks reborn since the return of his defensive partner, was one step ahead of the opposition, snuffing out attacks and dispossessing Samaras and his team-mates with almost contemptuous ease. And to think, only a few weeks ago the Everton manager's judgement was thought to be about as sound as that of the Danish newspaper editor who said, "Yeah, why not, put a cartoon on the cover", when he brought last season's skipper back from Sunderland. Indeed, Moyes's decision making has been questioned many times this season, to the extent that he took the rather odd step of publishing an open letter to the supporters last week, explaining the lack of movement in the transfer market in January. Is this a positive development? Fans often complain about a lack of communication, and of being kept in the dark about matters at their club, so in that sense perhaps Moyes's move might be viewed as almost progressive.
However, could you imagine Jose Mourinho or Alex Ferguson feeling the need to justify their stance on something like transfer policy? Moyes is the boss, he's employed to make all the big decisions concerning playing matters at the club, and if he decides that there were no players available who fit the bill in terms of ability and value for money then that's it, his decision is final. After all, he will ultimately be judged on the team's performance, and if he thinks they can get to the end of the season with the players they have then we, the fans, need to trust him when he says he feels he can get more for Everton's cash in the summer. Heaven only knows what the contents of the Goodison mailbox must have been like in the past few weeks to provoke the manager into taking such a course of action. Columns such as this one, internet messageboards and radio phone-ins, all serve a purpose, allowing punters to discuss opinions and air their grievances, but the fan has the luxury of never having to put his ideas into practise. The manager on the other hand has to deal with the reality of the situation, balancing budgets, for instance, or appeasing big egos and dealing with agents. Therefore, even if we disagree with Moyes, or whoever the Everton manager happens to be, he is the one who will stand and fall by his decisions and who will lose his job if he gets it all wrong. Therefore he should command a certain level of respect and certainly shouldn't feel the need to almost apologise for not trusting his own instincts. After all, the way his team are playing at present would indicate that he still knows a thing or two about this football management caper. Granted, Saturday's wasn't the most exhilarating performance ever witnessed at Goodison, but Everton certainly deserved their win, if only for the way in which they dominated the opening stages of the match and some of the slick passing football they played in spells. Leon Osman was again at the heart of much of the team's best work going forward; he seems to be revelling in the freedom he's been granted playing just off the main striker. In many ways his recent performances in that role bring to mind those of a certain Thomas Gravesen during the first half of last season. Although Leon is obviously slightly hairier and a lot less animated than the Real Madrid midfielder. And speaking of players who are abroad, a strange rumour concerning Joseph Yobo swept Goodison during the City game. Thankfully it proved completely false - the Nigerian didn't break his leg playing in the African Nations Cup - but when he returns to England, even if he is in one piece, he may still struggle to get back into the Everton line-up if the old men at the back continue to play like they have in the past few weeks.

European twist to early struggle
View from the stands by Bill Richards Everton supporter, Daily Post
Feb 6 2006
A TOTALLY irrational thought is beginning to take a hold on my mind - Everton back in Europe next season! Given the upheavals of the start of this season after our eagerly anticipated Champions League bow - and the subsequent disappointments of Villareal and Dinamo Bucharest - it would be a great twist to the story if David Moyes's charges gamely fought back from the brink of relegation to clinch one of the European spots. True, it requires a transformation in fortunes almost as dramatic as the slump that put Everton into the relegation zone in the first place. But the start to 2006 has been as every bit encouraging as the run of festive games was disheartening. The reality is that Everton have got too much ground to make up to actually nick a place in the UEFA Cup. Never mind. We have a good run of form to enjoy and a team of players battling every inch of the way for the club. If they continue to do that for the rest of the season supporters cannot ask for any more. The reward, while not another foray into Europe, should be a top half of the table finish at least. It was ironic, given the slickness of Everton's early football against Manchester City, that the goal that turned out to be the match-winner was surrounded by such a large wedge of good fortune. But don't knock it. Hands, knees or bumpsy-daisy, a goal is a goal. Leon Osman was again the pick of the bunch, with a fizzing performance, but the reason that the team is doing so well again is that so many of the players are now vying for man of the match nominations because they have all raised the bar. Keep it up!

Everton 1, Man City 0 (Echo)
Feb 6 2006 By Dominic King
RELEGATION candidates one minute, European contenders the next, Everton's fluctuating season has turned full circle. During a run that has seen David Moyes' side pick up 16 points from a possible 18 available, Everton have become the Premiership's form team. Their return to top form could not be better timed. Every season, as Evertonians know from bitter experience, one club always emerges from the pack to throw down a late irresistible challenge for a UEFA Cup place. Think back to how Blackburn Rovers pipped the Blues in 2003. In what was Moyes' first full season in charge at Goodison Park, Everton had stayed up with the pace from the start of the campaign but crucially lost their way at the end. Five wins in their last 14 games allowed Blackburn to profit. Now? There is every possibility that Everton are the team in mid-table who are going to take advantage if the others slip. Why? They are developing the happy habit of winning matches without playing to their best. Saturday's victory over Manchester City was a perfect example. Poking their noses in front early on courtesy of a scruffy David Weir goal, a combination of graft and determination ensured that their lead was never really threatened. What's more, they also possessed that extra smattering of class. In Leon Osman, Everton had the best player on the pitch by some distance, who always looked capable of making something happen. Rejuvenated since scoring at Mill-wall in the FA Cup last month, his return to form has mirrored that of his team. Having looked lightweight at the start of the season, struggling to make an impact, suddenly he is the fulcrum of Everton's attacks. Twisting here, turning there, his quick feet shuttled the ball away from defenders in the blink of an eye. Richard Dunne knew what type of afternoon he would be in for inside 70 seconds when Osman breezed past him and crashed a shot onto the bar. There are some who will still continue to make evident their displeasure that Moyes failed to sign a striker during the transfer window, but if the manager needed proof that he was right to keep his purse strings closed, it came via City's £6m new boy Georgios Samaras. The Greek may have looked the part, his athletic frame towering above Weir and Alan Stubbs, but he found that the sedate pace of Dutch football is a far cry from the rat-a-tat-tat speed of the Premiership. Moyes had considered making a move for him in January but chose to hang fire when he was quoted a price. Herenveen originally wanted £8m for the 20-year-old and for that you would want an immediate return. Samaras may prove himself in time but he looked bewildered by events going on around him. Caught in possession on numerous occasions, he missed a simple header in the second half and it came as no surprise when he was substituted. Given Everton needed a player who would have been able to settle straight away, the manager was wise to shy away from the strikers on offer in Europe. How timely, then, that goals are starting to come from different areas of the team. The Blues have scored 11 times on this nine-match unbeaten run, to which recognised strikers have contributed three. Osman and Tim Cahill have set an example to their colleagues, so if the defenders can pop up with a few it would help tremendously. Quite how much Weir knew about opening his account for the season is open to debate, as Dunne's attempted clearance cannoned into the Everton skipper's leg and bobbled beyond the helpless David James. No matter. They all count. From that point, neither goalkeeper had much to do but that will not have bothered Richard Wright, who regis-tered his first clean sheet in a long time. There is every reason to believe he will continue between the posts against Chelsea on Wednesday. Once an England international, the last couple of seasons have been difficult for Wright and there will have been times when he thought about leaving for pastures new to kick start his career. If, however, he can get a consistent run in the team between now and May, Wright could well prove to Moyes that he is the man to take over from Nigel Martyn in the long term. The few things he had to do against City, he did with confidence. Stubbs, too, continued to belie his years; outstanding at Wigan five days earlier, once again he never put a foot wrong. What he may lack in pace, he more than compensates for in speed of thought and is rarely caught out of position. As he continues in prime form, so do many others. Go through the team that started against City and you will struggle to find anyone operating below their best. Tony Hibbert has been outstanding for the past month, likewise Nuno Valente. Phil Neville has been shunted around a number of different positions but there is no doubt he is at home in the centre of midfield. Cahill never stops running, neither do Kevin Kilbane or James Beattie. Take all this into account and it is little wonder why Everton are being mentioned as UEFA Cup contenders. Of course, you will not hear players or manager make any bold predictions, as things can unravel as quickly as they have been built. There is, nevertheless, a difference to the team which lost one match in seven before that wretched spell at Christmas. Determination and desire have replaced complacency and over-confidence. Things, it would appear, are about to get interesting.

Hibbert is right man for England
Feb 6 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID WEIR today hailed Everton's unsung hero Tony Hibbert and believes he is an England player in the making. During an unbeaten nine-game run that has seen Everton emerge as unlikely challengers for a UEFA Cup place, Hibbert has been one of the most consistent performers.
While the 24-year-old may not have captured many headlines, the job he has done on the right side of defence has certainly caught the eye of his team-mates. Weir has been so impressed with Hibbert's consistency that he finds it hard to name a right-back in better form and thinks Sven-Goran Eriksson would do worse than consider his claims. "Hibbo has been excellent and not just for a couple of weeks," said the Everton captain. "He's been excellent since he came into the team.
"He is one of our unsung heroes and in my eyes he's an England player. He never lets you down, he's strong in the tackle and works non-stop. "He's a great defender and I'm not sure there's too many better than him in his position in the country. He has played a vital role and is doing really well.
"The same applies to Leon Osman. He's come in and turned us around and it's nice to see them both doing well as they're local lads." Talk of Europe amongst supporters has gathered pace following Saturday's 1-0 victory over Manchester City, a result that takes Everton to within six points of sixth-placed Wigan Athletic. Weir was the Blues' unlikely hero, popping up with his first goal of the campaign. "Another 1-0 win is a big result for us and we are really happy," said Weir. "We had a bad start to the season for a number of reasons but we always had confidence that our time would come. "We don't want the run to end. We want it to continue until the end of the season and finish in a position where we feel we deserve to be." As happy as he was to get his name on the scoresheet, though, Weir was more satisfied with the defence keeping another clean sheet. Everton have now conceded only two goals in the last six games and if they can maintain such miserly standards, Weir feels his side will be able to end the season with a flourish. "That takes a bit of doing in this league," Weir offered. "There are top strikers in every team. "Our main job at the back is to stop goals going in, so conceding just two goals in six games is a good shout. "So far things have been good with Alan (Stubbs) and we complement each other but we know there is a lot of competition for places. "Everyone will get their turn and everyone will have a chance to play. When that comes, you have got to make sure you do as well as you can."

Euro hangover finally cured
Feb 6 2006 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES believes his improving Everton team is finally over its European hangover. The Blues' 1-0 win over Manchester City on Saturday extended their unbeaten run to nine matches - their best sequence for seven-and-a-half years. But after receiving widespread criticism earlier in the campaign when Everton struggled at the wrong end of the table, Moyes believes it was the shock of seeing last season's hard work wiped out at the first hurdle by Villarreal in August which sparked the collapse from which they have only just recovered. "I think going out of the Champions League probably had a big effect on us," he explained. "We prepared really hard for the Champions League. We prepared like you wouldn't believe to win that tie. "If you look at Villarreal and the performances they have had, winning a group that Manchester United was in, we came so close to getting through against them. Maybe without knowing it, the efforts we put into it and the disappointment of not getting through has affected us. "Strangely enough, I think it has affected the players who have been here for a long time, not the new play-ers. It was the players who were here last season - the Osmans, the Cahills, the Hibberts, Beattie to a lesser extent and Kilbane. "I think maybe it affected the boys we relied on last season more because they knew what it had taken to get through. "But all those players are all back to form and that's the thing which is making us do well. "I hope the experience makes us stronger because none of us enjoyed the situation we were in. But we always know it could be around the corner again if we don't keep doing what we're doing." Such has been the improvement in Everton's recent form, there are even suggestions they could mimic Blackburn, who came late in 2002-03 to deprive the Blues of a UEFA Cup place. Moyes, however, is trying to keep feet firmly on the floor. "There's always a team which comes late every season, be it upwards or down," admitted Moyes, "and hopefully we're going to be the team which will come late going upwards. "If we can keep our current form going we certainly will, there's no doubt about that. It would be a monumental task to keep that going, but we shouldn't be afraid of trying to do. "I remember two years ago thinking there was no way Blackburn could do what they did, but they pipped us on the last day of the season. But to look that far ahead is not us. I'm just trying to keep things low key and keep the boys going. "There's a brilliant spirit in the dressing room, there always has been. But because we've been winning they feel much happier about themselves."
Moyes is now trying to condition his team to different expectations from earlier in the season.
"I said to the players that this is a game that people may be expecting us to win - and it's a different kind of pressure to handle than, say facing Arsenal or Chelsea," he added. "For the opening 30 minutes we were all really brave and bold, we were trying to get hold of the ball and pass it, making things happen, and I thought that we played some really good football in the opening 30 minutes.
"We weren't doing well at the start of the season, and Manchester City were. But we are now only a point behind them and I think it shows that a lot of the stuff that was said about Everton at other periods of the season was nonsense. "But there's no point in us saying that until we can prove that.
"They are all big games in the Premiership, but I still think we have a balance of home games to come. "If you look at the games we have left between now and the end of the season I think they are all games that you would look at and say we have a chance. "But when you start thinking like that you choke on it, so we're not doing that. We're just trying to win on Wednesday night now."

Richard finally shows the Wright stuff
Feb 6 2006 Analysis by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
STATISTICS are the last refuge of the struggling sports hack - especially following a match as scrappy and as incident free as the one Everton and Manchester City conjured up at Goodison Park. And Saturday threw up a couple of corkers. Everton's 1-0 win extended their unbeaten run to nine games - the best sequence since October 1998. But given the wretched campaign which immediately followed that spell of robust resistance, Everton fans can be forgiven for not coming over all excited and optimistic just yet. Of infinitely more significance was the startling revelation that Richard Wright's clean sheet was his first since March 2003. That's right. Almost three years, several five-goal poundings, a few fours and one humiliating seven-goal capitulation have come between Saturday and the last time Wright kept his goal intact. If ever the goalkeeper could have chosen a time to restate his once-bright credentials, this is it. Everton could soon be facing spinal problems. The magnificent Nigel Martyn turns 40 this year, and is already showing that his body does not shake off strains and pulls as effectively as it once did. Alan Stubbs and David Weir - both outstanding on Saturday - must surely be counting what is left of their careers in months, rather than years. While the end of Duncan Ferguson's Everton association could come even sooner. That is four, hugely influential figures who will all need replacing sooner rather than later. It won't be easy.
Everton's attempts to replace Stubbs this summer proved so hamfisted that they ended up swallowing their pride and asked him to return. It was just as well. His contribution in only three matches has been responsible for the collection of seven priceless points. But goalkeeper is undoubtedly the position which can make the biggest single difference to a team's points tally at the end of the season. It is why the Italians splash out record transfer fees on the position, it is why Ray Clemence and Neville Southall were said to be worth between 10 and 12 points a season to their respective title winning teams - and it is why Wright could save David Moyes a sizeable headache if he can regularly reproduce the kind of form which earned him international recognition early in his career. It is true that he had little to do on Saturday, but that is when goalkeepers are at their most vulnerable. And one Wayne-Sleep-hailing-a-taxi-moment apart, Wright was confident and assured. That assurance, coupled with a bright and inventive first 20 minutes football when Everton passed the ball as well as at any time since at Villa Park last season, was enough to earn Everton a deserved victory. Leon Osman, who inspired that Villa victory, was instrumental again on Saturday, playing just off the ever-willing James Beattie. Moyes, however, still believes wide right is Osman's most effective position. That could save him some transfer cash this summer - cash which will clearly be needed to strengthen the core of his squad. A revitalised Wright could be even more significant . . .

Everton looking at Iversen option
By Ian Doyle, Daily Post
Feb 7 2006
DAVID MOYES is considering bolstering Everton's attacking options by signing former Tottenham Hotspur striker Steffen Iversen. The Norway international is a free agent after concluding a two-year deal at Valerenga in his homeland. Moyes was frustrated in his attempts to sign striking reinforcements during the January transfer window, with a late move for Trabzonspor forward Fatih Tekke failing to materialise. Now the Everton manager is ready to hand a short trial to 29-year-old Iversen, who wants to re-establish a career in the Premiership. The striker, who began his career with Rosenborg, was at White Hart Lane for almost seven years before moving to Wolverhampton Wanderers and then back to Norway. Iversen has won 54 caps for his country and has appeared five times this season as Norway failed to qualify for this summer's World Cup.
* DAVID MOYES confirmed today that former Spurs striker Steffen Iversen had been invited for a brief trial. But the Blues boss added that the prospect of the Norwegian international signing for Everton had not even been discussed yet. "He's here for a couple of days just so we can have a look at him," said Moyes. "We're still uncertain how long Duncan Ferguson may be out for so we may need to think about short-term cover." The 29-year-old has just ended a two-year deal at Valerenga in Norway.

Hibbert deserves chance at Anfield
By Ian Doyle Daily Post Staff
Feb 7 2006
DAVID WEIR yesterday insisted Tony Hibbert's excellent form should earn the Everton defender an appearance at Anfield. Hibbert has been a consistent performer as the Goodison side have constructed their best-ever sequence of results under David Moyes. Saturday's 1-0 win over Manchester City extended their unbeaten run to nine games, with an FA Cup fourth round replay at Chelsea next up tomorrow. And Everton skipper Weir believes Hibbert's impressive displays during that period should earn the right-back a call-up to Sven-Goran Eriksson's England squad, with the national team's next game a friendly against Uruguay at Anfield on March 1. "Hibbo has been excellent, and not just for a couple of weeks," said Weir. "He's been excellent since he came into the team. "He is one of our unsung heroes and in my eyes he's an England player. He never lets you down, he's strong in the tackle and works non-stop. "He's a great defender and I'm not sure there's too many better than him in his position in the country. He has played a vital role and is doing really well. "The same applies to Leon Osman. He's come in and turned us around and it's nice to see them both doing well as they're local lads." Everton's run of five wins in their last six Premiership games has moved them to within six points of sixth-placed Wigan Athletic and a UEFA Cup qualification place. And Weir has urged his teammates to continue their impressive start to 2006. "Another 1-0 win is a big result for us and we are really happy," said Weir. "We had a bad start to the season for a number of reasons but we always had confidence that our time would come. "We don't want the run to end. We want it to continue until the end of the season and finish in a position where we feel we deserve to be." Weir has been part of a defence that has kept four clean sheets in their last six games. And that is an achievement the Scottish centre-back believes has been central to Everton's upturn in fortunes. "That takes a bit of doing in this league," added Weir. "There are top strikers in every team. "Our main job at the back is to stop goals going in, so conceding just two goals in six games is a good shout. "So far things have been good with Alan (Stubbs) and we complement each other but we know there is a lot of competition for places. "Everyone will get their turn and everyone will have a chance to play. When that comes, you have got to make sure you do as well as you can."

New partnership with JJB to swell Goodison coffers
By Ian Doyle, Daily Post
Feb 7 2006
EVERTON yesterday announced a new partnership that will bring an extra £1million per year into the club. The Goodison club have agreed a three-year deal with JJB Sports that will see the North West-based company take over the running of Everton's retail operation. The new agreement is in addition to the club's existing five-year, £10m deal signed in 2004 when JJB became the official retail partner at Everton. Under the terms of the deal, Everton will receive a guaranteed £1m a year for the duration of the partnership, with JJB assuming the day-to-day running of the club's retail operation from June 1. It will also see an increase in Everton's presence in JJB Sports outlets, who are one the largest sports retailers in the country. Goodison officials are understood to have been disappointed with the performance of their retail operation for some time, with the Birkenhead club store having closed last month. Chief executive Keith Wyness said: "Retail is an extremely tough area of our business and by moving off in this particular direction it will benefit both the club and the customer. "JJB believe there is great potential in Everton retail and as part of their ongoing commitment to the club are prepared to invest significant sums of money to run the business." As a consequence of the new agreement, Everton are undertaking an extensive review of their existing operation

Show me you're the Wright choice
By Ian Doyle, Daily Post
Feb 7 2006
DAVID MOYES has challenged Richard Wright to prolong his stay in the Everton first team by following the example of goalkeeping rival Nigel Martyn. Wright kept his first Premiership clean sheet since March 2003 in Saturday's 1-0 win over Manchester City. The 28-year-old was making only his seventh appearance of the season in place of Martyn, who was again ruled out by a niggling ankle complaint. Wright is on standby to deputise once more against Chelsea in Everton's FA Cup fourth round replay at Stamford Bridge tomorrow night. And Moyes has urged the goal-keeper to replicate the consistency of performance shown by Martyn that has left Wright kicking his heels for much of the last three seasons. "The clean sheet will do his confidence good," said the Everton manager. "He has done well and we want him to be consistent and get back to the form we know he is capable of. "The way he will get that back is have one game in which he does well, then another one and that will rebuild his confidence. "You don't just lose your ability. He was England's number two or three not too long ago and he is still a young man. "He knows he has to go into the games and be consistent, not mistakes. In a nutshell, he has to do what Nigel Martyn has done over the last few years." Wright has made just 19 appearances since Martyn's arrival in September 2003, and the £4.5million signing from Arsenal admits he has considered leaving Everton in order to ensure regular first-team football. "There were times when I thought I might have to go to get regular football again," he said. "I spoke to people around me, but my mindset has always been to keep my head down and play for Everton. "The clean sheet against City has been fantastic and the fans here have been great with me. They stop you in the street and say, 'Don't leave. Don't go. Keep plugging away'. I have appreciated that. "Hopefully, I can stay in until the end of the season now. "If I can go out and perform well, then the manager is fair. He has shown that if you do well, you will stay in his line-up. He will stick by you. It is up to me now and, hopefully, I can do that." Martyn has been in largely excellent form since his arrival from Leeds United, with Everton manager Moyes revealing last week the veteran could still be at Goodison beyond his 41st birthday. And Wright concedes to being affected in the past by the pressure to perform on his rare first-team outings. "Nigel's form has been very good and it has been difficult," added Wright. "The mental side has been difficult in the past. You come in for maybe one game and there is pressure in that situation. I have taken a more relaxed approach recently - go out and enjoy my football and make sure I have a smile on my face rather than being uptight and worrying about things. "It wasn't so much this season, but in previous seasons. Having been out for a year, I wanted to impress straight away rather than finding my feet. That is what I am doing now. I might be in for one or two games, but I just have to enjoy them."

Moyes caution
Post Soapbox, icLiverpool & Daily Post
Feb 7 2006
Moyes caution
DAVID Moyes's job is to manage the players he has available. If he believes any one player would do a better job, then it is his job to recruit him. He feels that the players available were not good enough to join Everton. If, and only if, this goes wrong do fans have the right to criticise. Moyes should be looking to cover any eventuality but he felt over-priced wannabes and sub-standard players were not a good move at this time and instead opted to save the money for the summer when the right players will be available. In the meantime we should give him our support.
Eric Browning (via e-mail)
Winding down
IF Duncan Ferguson is wound up as easily as he was at Wigan, then no wonder he's been such a liability. Talk about a talent squandered. Duncan had the potential to be better than Shearer. Moyes is wasting his time arguing unfair treatment of EFC at the hands of the FA compliance unit.
F Fredericks (via e-mail)
Sign of times
THE signings of Cahill, Yobo, Arteta, Neville and Martyn were good ones, but Moyes has made far more mistakes in the transfer market. The fact that Moyes has not signed anybody in the transfer window will come back to haunt us.
Andy Johnson, Walton
Crippling blow
I AM well aware of Everton's good form, but the worrying and disappointing thing is that with our wafer-thin squad, one or two injuries to key positions will now cripple us thanks to Moyes's inactivity in the transfer window.
S Jones, Chester
Gloves off
HOW refreshing it was to see the graciousness with which our neighbours accepted defeat at Chelsea. Re-writing the rules again so that it's okay for the keeper to hit someone.
Don Patterson (via e-mail)
EVERTON'S shortage of fire power means that we cannot kill off the opposition and are always vulnerable to dropping important points.
Brian Nugent (via e-mail)

Time is Wright for Blue Richard
Feb 7 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
RICHARD WRIGHT is ready to prove he can play a part in Everton's long-term future - starting tomorrow against Chelsea. With Nigel Martyn still struggling with an ankle problem that has kept him out of the last two games, Wright should be given the nod to continue between the posts at Stamford Bridge. Having kept a first clean sheet since March 2003 in Saturday's 1-0 win over Manchester City, the 28-year-old is understandably full of confidence and looking forward to the challenge. "I need to play football regularly but Nigel's form has been very good and it's been difficult," said Wright. "But I've always kept my head down and worked as hard as I could. "I've tried to do the best that I could and I felt there were a couple of good performances. Hopefully the chance to stay in for a while might be ideal. "This is a great club and I was absolutely delighted with the clean sheet because it's been a long time coming. The fans here are fantastic. "The amount of people who have pulled me on the street and said 'don't leave' are just what you need. There were times I thought I might have to go somewhere else. "I had to sit down with certain people and discuss the situation but the main thing was to get my head down and play for Everton."
Wright's bright outlook mirrors that of his teammates and while there is a reluctance to name the targets Everton are aiming for, there is a real determination to end the campaign on a high. "Our main aim is to go out and win as many games as we can," he added. "We know it's going to be difficult because there are so many teams battling for certain things. "Anything we get from now on is a bonus. We have got to make sure we keep the performances up, keep the team spirit and then we will be able to climb up that table." * DAVID MOYES confirmed today that former Spurs striker Steffen Iversen had been invited for a brief trial. But the Blues boss added that the prospect of the Norwegian international signing for Everton had not even been discussed yet. "He's here for a couple of days just so we can have a look at him," said Moyes. "We're still uncertain how long Duncan Ferguson may be out for so we may need to think about short-term cover." The 29-year-old has just ended a two-year deal at Valerenga in Norway.

In memory of Shanks and Dixie
Feb 7 2006 Liverpool Echo
IT was a Huyton double act for the prestigious Dixie Dean and Bill Shankly Memorial Awards. The 26th winner of the Dixie Dean Memorial Award was Goodison great Peter Reid, while Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard became the youngest ever recipient of the Bill Shankly Memorial Award - both players who honed their skills on the playing fields of Huyton. Reid, who inspired Everton to the most successful spell in the club's history between 1984 and 1987, received his award from former team-mate and current Sky analyst and Echo columnist Andy Gray. "The name on this trophy - William Ralph Dean - says it all," said Reid."I am very proud to receive this award. Very proud indeed." Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard became the first current player to collect the Bill Shankly award - following retired legends like Ron Yeats, Ian Rush and Roger Hunt - and he immediately dedicated the trophy to his team-mates. The trophy is usually awarded to former heroes. But this year's judging panel felt that Gerrard's inspirational performances have already earned him the title 'Anfield legend.' "I accept this trophy on behalf of the team," said Gerrard, whose efforts were instrumental in the famous European Cup win. "I know Jamie Carragher and myself have been given a lot of credit this year, but all the players have contributed. "Obviously it means a lot to me to pick up an award with Bill Shankly's name on it. He's an Anfield legend and I'm thrilled to be following so many great names from the past. "The highlight of 2005 was winning the European Cup again and that was very much a team effort throughout the competition. "We're very proud to have contributed to the history of the club in the same way as all those great teams of the past. "It has been a fantastic year for us in winning the Champions League, but everyone knows we're hungry for more. We want that to be the start for us and we're still thinking of adding to that this year.
"There is still a lot for us to play for, and even though we had a disappointing weekend, we're confident we can pick ourselves up and do well in the big matches ahead."

Merseyside's super fans enjoy their moment in the spotlight
Feb 7 2006 Liverpool Echo
ROBERT WRIGHT'S luck changed last night when he was crowned Liverpool Fan of the Year. The 47-year-old devoted Kopite from Walton has endured a wretched run of bad fortune while following the Reds. He suffered two heart attacks at Middlesbrough last season and missed the Champions League final after being mugged in Bulgaria. But all that was forgotten at the Crowne Plaza as he received the coveted award from hero Jamie Carragher. "It's a great honour to be recognised by the ECHO in this way and it means so much," he said. "This isn't just for me but for all the lads I go to the matches with. "I've had a run of bad luck but being part of such a great night and rubbing shoulders with the stars certainly makes up for it." Robert was taken ill at The Riverside last season and underwent heart surgery. When he was discharged from hospital the car he was in on the way back to Merseyside was written off after a crash on the M62. Clare Gauller's infectious enthusiasm for the Blues was rewarded with the Everton Fan of the Year award. The delighted 32-year-old from Bromborough received the accolade from legend Graeme Sharp. She said: "I was really surprised to be nominated and to win is just amazing. "I love supporting Everton and it's an honour to pick up this award." Clare's passion for the Toffees has rubbed off on those around her. Husband Steve was not even a football fan when they met a decade ago but he has developed a love for the Blues. When the couple were married on New Year's Eve 2003, they sacrificed a traditional honeymoon in favour of splashing out for VIP treatment at Goodison ahead of the FA Cup clash with Norwich. Her devotion to the Blues also led to her boss rekindling his love affair with the club and buying season tickets for him and his son. Aiden McDonnell was ecstatic after being named as Tranmere Rovers Fan of the Year. The 29-year-old from Oxton has gone to extraordinary lengths to follow his beloved Rovers. Aiden was born with spina bifida but despite being in a wheelchair, he follows the club home and away. He has to rely on public transport and travels by train to away games. "I'm just over the moon," he said, after receiving the award from Jason McAteer. "It makes all those long train journeys worthwhile." The fans awards were sponsored by United Utilities and copresented by managing director Charlie Cornish.

Handley keeps championship hopes alive
Feb 7 2006 By Paul Garrity, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON striker Jody Handley kept her side's title challenge alive by scoring a stoppage time winner in a 2-1 victory at Chelsea. Everton had the better of the chances in the first half with Kelly McDougall and Amy Kane coming close. But just after the half hour Handley opened the scoring, when she raced onto Rachel Unitt's long ball to chip the keeper from the edge of the box. The away side took their foot off the pedal in the second half and were duly punished. A ball lifted over the Toffees' defence allowed striker Ellen White a one-on-one with Rachel Brown. The Blues keeper mistimed her challenge on the edge of the box, which left White the chance to prod the ball into the empty net. The game looked set to end in stalemate until Handley latched onto Amy McCann's through-ball to calmly slot the ball home to claim the win. The victory keeps Everton just three points behind leaders Arsenal. Meanwhile, Liverpool suffered a shock defeat at the hands of Wolves. Keith Cliffe's side had been unbeaten since September and are currently sitting top of the Northern Division. The Reds had their opportunities to take an early advantage with the best attempt coming from forward Jade Thomas, but Beth Bailey's free-kick before half-time gave the visitors the lead which they held on to. Tranmere took a valuable point away from fellow promotion hopefuls Blackburn Rovers. Tranmere had the perfect start as Vicky Abbott continued her impressive scoring run to give them the lead after six minutes. But that goal was pegged back by a Aneisha Bateman strike just after the hour. Liverpool are the only side in action this Sunday as they play their FA Cup quarter-final at Newcastle United.

Believe we can get a result, Moyes tells side
By David Prior Daily Post Staff
Feb 8 2006
DAVID MOYES has called on his players to "give it a go" in tonight's FA Cup replay at Chelsea - although he admits the champions-elect will be more focused on winning the competition than ever.
Everton will be rewarded with a home clash against Colchester United if they can overcome Jose Mourinho's runaway Barclays Premier-ship leaders in their fourth-round replay at Stamford Bridge.
Although the odds are stacked against Moyes's men, they go to west London full of confidence having not lost any of their last nine games - and having given their opponents a major scare in the 1-1 draw at Good-ison 10 days ago. And Moyes said: "We want to go their and show we've got a belief about us just now. We know that we can give it a go. "People have said we've done well getting draws against them but a draw on this occasion won't be enough to take us through.
"We're going there to get through in the tie. We know that's a real big ask but it's one we've got to try and face head on. "We go there with no expectations. But we going to there and see if we can have a game. We won't know 'til afterwards if we can do, but we're going to give it a try."
Chelsea's victory over Liverpool on Sunday has all-but ensured them a second successive Premiership title. And although Mourinho's side struggled to overcome Huddersfield at home in the last round and were knocked out of the Carling Cup after a home defeat to Charlton, Moyes believes they will be intent on staying on course for a prize their manager has yet to win. He said: "I think that Chelsea's aim is to win every competition, and I'm sure the FA Cup will be really high in their agenda. "They'll feel I'm sure that they've done a big part of their job getting away from Goodison and getting us down to Stamford Bridge. "They'll have seen Sunday as a big stride towards a championship win. That's probably given them the leeway now to look at the Champions League games and look at the Cup, and you might find they put out their strongest teams in those competitions and in the league games they might be able to afford to use some of their squad players. "But we're thinking about the Cup and about how we can put Chelsea out of the Cup."
Nigel Martyn is still not fit, meaning Richard Wright will continue in goal, but Moyes is hopeful that Matteo Ferrari will recover in time to fill the vacancy left by the cup-tied Alan Stubbs.
And Moyes is only too aware of the differences between his own thin resources and those of tonight's hosts, who Everton have not beaten in a cup competition for almost half a century.
He added: "They've probably got enough players to be involved in every competition. "We're probably expecting them to turn their team around again and the thing about Chelsea is that you never know what XI they're going to play. That makes it harder for us. You'll get a rough idea what way they line-up, but you're just not sure what team they'll play." He added: "We've had two runs this season. In around November we won four out of five, and in that was the Chelsea draw, and Chelsea are also part of the run we're on just now. "So it would be nice if we could keep it going. But at this present time the toughest task in the Premier League is to go and get a result at the champions." Meanwhile, Moyes is as yet unsure whether striker Steffen Iversen will be retained beyond the two days he has spent training with the club this week. The Norway international, who is a free agent after concluding a two-year deal at Valerenga, trained with Everton on Monday and yesterday.
EVERTON defender Joseph Yobo was part of the Nigeria side who were knocked out the African Nations Cup in yesterday's semi-final in Alexandria. Chelsea forward Didier Drogba fired the Ivory Coast into the final as they overcame Nigeria 1-0. The £24million striker was gifted a simple chance to score in the 47th minute and made no mistake as the Elephants continued to upset the odds by reaching only their second-ever final. But the defeat does not mean Yobo will not be returning to Merseyside just yet as Nigeria will play in the third/fourth place play-off in the Cairo Military Academy Stadium tomorrow against Senegal. Senegal were defeated 2-1 in the other semi-final by the hosts Egypt with Amr Zaki's 80-minute goal sealing the match.

Slow start but Osman at heart of Everton revival
By David Prior, Daily Post
Feb 8 2006
GIVEN that only a matter of weeks ago they were on the receiving end of 4-0 thrashings from Bolton and Aston Villa, Everton's recent revival can seem perplexing, even miraculous. But as David Moyes is regularly eager to point out, there is nothing inexplicable about a run that now amounts to the finest unbeaten sequence under his tenure. It's simply the players. They're defending and attacking better than they were earlier in the season. And crucially, the players to have upped their games by the most obvious percentage since those dark pre-Christmas days are those that form the nucleus that is inextricably linked to this current Goodison line-up's fortunes. The likes of David Weir, Tony Hibbert, Alan Stubbs, Tim Cahill and Kevin Kilbane. Oh, and Leon Osman. For while it may previously have been easy to overlook the diminutive 24-year-old's contributions, he is a player whose influence and visibility seems to increase by the week. After breaking into the side for the final three games of the 2003-04 season, Billinge-born Osman proved a revelation in the ascent to Champions League qualification last term, appearing 29 times in the Premiership and proving a valuable cog in the Goodison wheel. The summer saw him rewarded with a new four-year deal. But then, in company with several of his team-mates, came the bizarre trough of form at the start of this season. Suddenly Osman found himself regularly limited to late appearances as a substitute; from being a first name down on the team-sheet, the midfielder was back on the fringes. Looking back, Osman candidly admits he had only himself to blame. "When I was out of the team I wasn't asking the manager why he wasn't picking me because I knew that I wasn't playing well to begin with," he said..
"I didn't deserve a place in the team at that point. I knew I had to pick my form up and when I did that I would have a leg to stand on. "I always wanted to stay here. Things happened which meant I had to put the contract on the backburner for a bit but I signed a new contract and things are working out again now." He added: "It is not just my performances, the team performances have picked up a lot. I have never thought, 'am I a regular?', but it is nice to be out on the pitch, "It was frustrating until a couple of weeks before Christmas because I wasn't showing the form I know I was capable of. That went for the team as well, I came back in against Blackburn. "I felt good after that and my form has picked up since. You have to realise it is eventually going to come if you are confident, believe in your own ability and keep working hard." he form of Osman has proved no less welcome for the manager. At a time when his resources have been stripped to the bare minimum, David Moyes has been able to play him in several positions - often switching him mid-match - and increasingly found Osman up to the task. He's been playing well," said Moyes. "He's helped us in different situations, and he can play several positions which is good, and he works really hard for the team. So he's a good all-round little player. Last season his form was exceptional, but maybe didn't get out of the blocks as quickly as he would have liked at the start of the season. Now he's starting to find a bit of form and a bit of consistency in his play. Maybe last season he was a player that only a few people knew about, but I think he can play at this level, I don't think he's got a problem with that. "But if you're going to play at Everton then you need to play well. At the moment he is playing well and he is deservedly in the side." onight's FA Cup fourth-round replay at Stamford Bridge will present the toughest examination yet of the revivals of both Everton and Osman. t will also bring the versatile midfielder back into contact with a man whose career presents a kind of blueprint for what he hopes to achieve. Having developed a close friendship as members of the same England Youth set-up, the careers of Osman and Chelsea's Joe Cole have embarked on rapidly differing trajectories since. While Osman's progress through the club's ranks has been measured, even involving as it has two loan spells at Derby and Carlisle, Cole - six months younger - is now fulfilling his huge potential. Increasingly a part of the England set-up, Cole has recovered from a difficult start to life at Stamford Bridge and is fast marrying his prodigious talent to a bit of nous. Osman is not surprised. "He was fantastic back then, he was unbelievable. It was impossible to get the ball off him back then, he'd never give it up. "We'd meet up once a month for two years. We played alongside each other - he was behind the frontman and I was in the centre. Stephen Warnock at Liverpool was in that team as well. It was a great team we had, and we were all close. "Cole broke into the West Ham first team and the sky was the limit for him. I knew it wouldn't be long before he played for England and he has had a big move to Chelsea and that is all working out. It took him a while to establish himself but he deserves it, he is a fantastic player. "Seeing him force his way in there encourages me. It shows it is not all about your ability, it is about your attitude, your determination, You need all of those qualities to be a top player and Joe has them. We speak before and after the game and with a bit of luck I might even get his shirt." With an even bigger slice of luck, Osman could also be commiserating with his former teammate on a narrow defeat come later tonight. A highly unlikely scenario before Christmas, but the confidence and spirit currently coursing through the side leads Osman to think that anything, even victory at Stamford Bridge, is possible. "Confidence is high and we go out believing we cannot be beat," he added. "It has got stronger in recent weeks and that is one of the keys behind the run we are on now. We will still think like that at Stamford Bridge. "No-one expects us to win if we are being honest so we go down there with no pressure on us and full of confidence and on a good unbeaten run.

Terry sets sights on Wembley final
By Adrian Curtis, Daily Post
Feb 8 2006
CAPTAIN John Terry has set his sights on leading Chelsea out for the FA Cup final at the new Wembley.
Chelsea take on Everton in their fourth round replay at Stamford Bridge tonight with victory setting up a relatively easy clash against high-flying League Two side Colchester in the last 16. The Premiership champions last reached the final six years ago when it was the last one to be played under the old Twin Towers. Chelsea beat Aston Villa 1-0 to take the trophy and although Terry was on the bench for the duration of the game he is desperate for the club to be the first to win it at the revamped stadium. Terry was part of the Chelsea side which lost 2-0 to double winners Arsenal two years later but he insists that if Wembley is ready in time to host the showpiece final back at its traditional home, then Jose Mourinho's side must be there. "For the last FA Cup final at Wembley I was on the bench," said Terry. "So was Carlo Cudicini. Gianluca Vialli, the manager, put the kids on so me, Jody Morris and Jon Harley were all substitutes with 'Carlo' and Tore Andre Flo. "It was an amazing occasion for all of us. I think Jody and Tore got brought on in the game but just to be part of the Wembley build-up and then the celebrations at the end was really special at the time. "Since then I've played in an FA Cup final, the one I don't want to talk about, and of course in a Carling Cup final. "But this year is special for the FA Cup. We haven't won it since Wembley 2000 and if it is going to be at Wembley in 2006 then we have to be there." Terry's determination to ensure Chelsea have a crack at a league and cup double is matched by Mourinho, who will almost certainly resist the temptation to make too many changes for the visit of David Moyes' Everton. The teams drew 1-1 at Goodison with Chelsea having to rely on a second half equaliser from Frank Lampard to earn a replay. Mourinho is without the services of winger Damien Duff as the Republic of Ireland winger suffered a recur-rence of a muscle injury just five minutes after coming on against Liverpool on Sunday.

Ferrari back to boost Blues
Feb 8 2006 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON will recall Matteo Ferrari for tonight's clash of the Premiership's form teams - so that Phil Neville can continue to be the Blues' most influential middle man. Neville was outstanding as a stand-in centre-half when Everton held Chelsea in the fourth round FA Cup tie at Goodison 10 days ago. But boss David Moyes believes he is even more important in midfield and said today: "Matteo trained yesterday and he should be okay tonight. "With Alan Stubbs cup-tied, he is important to us, because we would rather use Phil in midfield if we can. "He's done well for us wherever we've asked him to play this season, but midfield is where he can be most effective." Everton go into the fourth round replay as the Premiership's form team, ahead of even Premiership leaders Chelsea, with five wins and a draw from their last six matches. "Say that again," joked Moyes yesterday "it sounds great. "Why have we suddenly turned things around. There's no rhyme or reason to football, but confidence plays a big part. "Half-a-dozen players have clicked back into form at the same time, and luck also plays its part. "I don't think you can point at any one thing, but we got a last minute winner at Sunderland which we didn't really deserve and everything seemed to start from there. "Going to Stamford Bridge with the side Chelsea have, the squad they have and the confidence they have is a big test. "Yes, we have drawn with them twice, but we need to beat them to go through. But I think we can go there and put on a real good show." Moyes has no new injury worries to complicate team selection, with Nigel Martyn not expected to even travel south and Richard Wright continuing in goal. Colchester await the winners in a live televised Sunday afternoon clash.

We're not scared of champions - Kilbane
Feb 8 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
A MEASURE of how far Everton have come since the turn of the year could be gauged by the reaction in the dressing following a pulsating FA Cup tie with Chelsea. Though David Moyes' squad was decimated by injuries and a number of players were forced to occupy different positions, they deserved nothing less than a share of the spoils. Judging by the way the players trudged off, though, when referee Graham Poll brought matters to a halt, it was clear that frustration rather than satisfaction was the main emotion. Many observers had Chelsea down to run out comfortable winners but the opposite was true, as they were hustled out of their normally assured stride. Trailing to a James McFadden header, Jose Mourinho was forced to play six up front during the second half to ensure Chelsea secured a replay via Frank Lampard's late strike. So close but yet so far. From being 17 minutes away from securing a place in the fifth round, Everton will have it all to do at Stamford Bridge when the sides replay this evening. Again, the majority of the country will expect nothing other than a comfortable victory for Mourinho's men. Again, however, Everton can be expected to breathe defiance. If they are to set up a date with plucky Colchester United on Sunday week, David Moyes' side will more than likely have to conjure up their best performance of the season in West London. But as Kevin Kilbane argues, it is certainly not beyond Everton. Confidence riding high on the back of a nine-match unbeaten run, the scent of Cup glory hangs in the air. Chelsea may not have been beaten on their own rutted turf for two years, yet anyone suggesting the result is a foregone conclusion is, according to Kil-bane, well wide of the mark. "The way the first half went, we felt comfortable and really strong but the turn in fortunes probably coincided with James (McFadden) going off," reflected the Republic of Ireland international.
"We were just a bit unsure of what we were doing for five or ten minutes before half-time but then after that Chelsea got on the front foot. "They had a spell for 15 or 20 minutes when we found it really difficult to contain them. During that period they got the goal back and that was it, really.
"Simon Davies was on the right and he was trying to help out covering Arjen Robben. But then they brought on Damien Duff as well and he kept switching left and right. "They were playing with six up front and then had one midfielder just sat back looking to get the ball forward to them at every opportunity. "They brought the big guns on and it proved fruitful for them in the end, didn't it? But we certainly don't think it's over. No chance." One of Everton's star performers in recent weeks, Kilbane has recovered the zest to his game that had been missing at the beginning of the season. As content as he is with the way things are going, the 29-year-old makes it quite clear there is no danger of anyone resting on their laurels against the champions. A lengthy run in the FA Cup would completely banish the memory of being knocked out of Europe so early this season and a trip to Wembley - builders permitting - is something Kilbane fancies. "We feel confident of going down there and putting in a good performance first and foremost," said Kilbane, a midfielder who thrives on hard work. "Then we can see where we go from there. "We don't have to look over our shoulders and worry about goal difference. We'll just give it our best shot. Whether it is 90 minutes, 120 minutes or penalties. "We've just got to try and take heart from the first game. We watched the draw at the training ground and it's certainly an interesting one. "I'm sure that Colchester will be delighted with it, whoever they are playing and I'm sure that everyone thinks Colchester will be playing Chelsea. "But the frame of mind we are in at the moment, we think we can go there and win the game. Every team wants to build on a good run of results and we have done that. "We had a tough game at Millwall, then we beat them up here. We are on a roll and we want to sustain it. We are approaching games full of confidence."

Everton complete new deal with JJB
Feb 8 2006 Liverpool Echo
EVERTON have announced a new partnership with JJB Sports. The agreement, worth an extra £1 million a year to the club, is an extension of the club's original five-year, £10m pound deal signed in 2004. Under the terms of the new three-year partnership, JJB will take over the day-to-day running of Everton's retail operation from June 1, 2006. Chief executive Keith Wyness said: "Retail is an extremely tough area of our business and by moving off in this particular direction it will benefit both the club and the customer. "The competition in the industry is becoming increasingly tough and following our continued dialogue with JJB, as our retail partner, it became clear that their experience in retail meant this was a fantastic opportunity. "JJB believe there is great potential in Everton retail and are prepared to invest significant sums of money to run the business." As a result of this agreement, Everton officials will review the current retail operation looking at how that will complement the future plans of JJB.

Stubbs is back and at his best
Feb 8 2006 Echo Letters, icLiverpool & Liverpool Echo
Stubbs is back and at his best
IT'S great to have Alan Stubbs back in a blue shirt and providing the organisation and leader-ship the Blues needed from the start of the season. While I recognise our recent run of results started before Stubbs was back in the side, it's just very reassuring to see such a steady influence barking orders at the other defenders. As good as David Weir has been for us over the years, he is not a natural leader and I'd give Stubbs the captain's armband for the rest of the season. One thing is for certain; when Joseph Yobo returns from the African Nations Cup, he is going to have a very tough job getting back in the side - just like he did last season when Stubbs was at the club. Bob Chambers, Huyton
Osman is difference for Blues
EVERTON'S New Year revival has coincided with Leon Osman's return to the side. Coincidence? I think not. The young midfielder was a star last season as the Blues climbed back into European top flight football, but he seem-ingly started the season out of favour with David Moyes - and the team paid the price. Osman is quick, a good ball player and knows where the net is and I'm glad that Moyes has got him back in the side in time to, hopefully, rescue a UEFA Cup place. Forget about transfer windows, we have a sqaud at Goodison capable of acheiving success and we as fans now need to get behind the boss and the players. We have nothing to lose and everything to gain in the cup tonight, let's really kick in for the final push by knocking Chelsea out on their home ground.
Junior James, Halewood
Kilbane is flying now
KEVIN KILBANE was bought cheaply and he's been well worth it. He was never a flying winger but you buy what you can with the cash you're given. Deep down everyone knows Kilbane has done more than alright for this club and he has been back to his 'Zinedine Kil-bane' best in recent weeks - let's hope he can keep it up. Craig Wright, Huyton
League form holds the key
IT WOULD be great to beat Chelsea in the FA Cup tonight - and if any team can do it it's us.
But we mustn't lose sight of the fact that nine games unbeaten is a fantastic run and that the Premiership is what really counts. Some fans may be saying that our name is on the cup this year but losing to the champions-elect would not be the end of the world.
Bill Brown, Crosby

Carsley in run-out for reserves
Feb 8 2006 Liverpool Echo
LEE CARSLEY played 45 minutes of Everton Reserves' 1-0 victory over Middlesbrough as he continues his comeback from injury. Andy Holden's side got back to winning ways with their first victory in four games. The early two o'clock start, at the Academy in Netherton, seemed to favour Everton as they began brightest and took the lead after 30 minutes when Christian Seargeant pounced on an error by the Boro keeper. Carsley, Seargeant and Hopkins all had opportunities to double the advantage, while teenager John Paul Kissock missed a chance in the second half as Boro struggled.
EVERTON RES: Ruddy, Wynne, Molyneux, Boyce, S Wright, Carsley (Phelan 46), Seargeant, Harris, Vidarsson, Hopkins, Kissock. Not used: Ingason, Irving, Kearney, Holt.

Everton Res 1, Middlesbrough Res 0
Feb 8 2006 Dialy Post, Daily Post
EVERTON Reserves got back to winning ways with their first victory in four games against Middlesbrough at Netherton Ground. Due to both Premier-ship clubs being involved in FA Cup replays the game was switched from Haig Avenue and given an afternoon kick-off time.
The early start seemed to favour Everton as they started the brightest and indeed took the lead on the half-hour mark when Christian Seargeant pounced on an error by goalkeeper Knight and the youngster kept his head to calmly roll the ball over the line. Lee Carsley was lively for Everton in the first half as he continued his comeback from injury before being replaced at the break. Carsley had two good chances to get on the scoresheet and Seargeant and Hopkins might also have netted but all were denied by Knight. Carsley was replaced by Phelan at half-time and Everton continued to do most of the attacking with Vidarsson and Hopkins going close but the best chance fell to John Paul Kissock but he couldn't finish. The visitors' best response was a late header from substitute Richard Langhorne but it went wide of John Ruddy's post. The Blues held on to take all three points and gain their first victory of 2006.
EVERTON: Ruddy, Wynne, Molyneux, Boyce, S Wright, Carsley (Phelan 46), Seargeant, Harris, Vidarsson, Hopkins, Kissock. Subs: Ingason, Irving, Kearney, Holt.
MIDDLESBROUGH: Knight, McMahon, Grounds, Liddle, Davies (Langthorne 46), Burgess, Franks, Kennedy (Mulligan 46), Christie (Honeyman 67), Craddock, Clough. Subs: Steele, Robson.

Chelsea 4, Everton 1 (D,Post)
Feb 9 2006 By Ian Doyle at Stamford Bridge, Daily Post
DAVID MOYES believes Everton's form this season has been intrinsically linked to their fortunes against Chelsea. He can only hope his team now disprove that particular theory. Dreams of appearing in the first FA Cup final at the new Wembley remain alive for the Goodison outfit this morning, but only because of the stadium constructors' ineptitude rather than any Everton achievements at Stamford Bridge. A nine-match unbeaten run came to a shuddering halt last night with a first defeat of 2006 as Moyes's side were comprehensively outclassed by a Chelsea team who didn't even have to move into third gear. But while no-one at Everton was getting carried away by their fine start to the year, there will similarly be no knee-jerk reaction to a fourth elimination from knockout competition this season. There is no shame in being beaten by the champions-elect. Nevertheless, as Moyes himself admitted afterwards, this was a huge let down given Everton's previous displays against Chelsea this season. Moyes considers the home point with the Londoners in October as a turning point in his team's climb away from the Premiership basement, while the draw that guaranteed last night's replay was seen as further evidence of their marked improvement since the turn of the year. Sadly, there was little sign of the confidence that sequence has engendered during a one-sided first half that ultimately decided this contest and ensured Everton's 11-year wait for victory at Stamford Bridge goes on. Collectively and individually, this was very much an off-night. The defensive solidity that had provided the foundation for Everton's recent success - four clean sheets in six games prior to last night - was non--existent as Arjen Robben, Frank Lampard, Hernan Crespo and John Terry scored goals that rendered Mikel Arteta's second-half penalty mere consolation. And so much for getting into the Chelsea midfield as Moyes had urged and as had proven so effective in the first Cup meeting between the sides 10 days previously. This was as meek an Everton display seen since the capitulation in December's Merseyside derby. Not one player performed anywhere near to their potential. In attack, the folly of rushing James Beattie back from his calf injury was exposed with the striker clearly struggling before his half-time substitution. Moyes, though, could rightly point out that with his other senior forward in self-imposed exile and January recruitment having been virtually impossible, he was left with no other choice.
Pity. With Premiership safety all but assured, the FA Cup had represented an opportunity for Everton to salvage something from a hugely disappointing campaign. Now that has gone, it's imperative they respond instantly to this setback to prevent a possible challenge for European qualification from becoming as damp a squib as this encounter. Indeed, even before kick-off the omens were it was not to be Everton's night. Their hopes of progress received a massive blow after Richard Wright turned an ankle during the warm-up when, in catching a ball beneath the crossbar, he landed on a misplaced placard behind the line ironically bearing the legend "Not In Use - Please Place In Temporary Goalmouth". Not that Wright was laughing at yet another slice of the desperately poor luck that has dogged his Goodison career. It meant Iain Turner, whose only previous first-team football this season came in four games on loan at Wycombe Wanderers, was elevated from the bench to make his Everton debut. Turner, to his credit, appeared unfazed by his unexpected opportunity and, with Nigel Martyn also struggling, did more than enough to justify remaining between the sticks for Saturday's Premiership visit of Blackburn Rovers. The only other genuine encouragement that could be taken from a forgettable evening was the return of Lee Carsley, who made his first appearance of the season with an eight-minute run-out as a second-half substitute, now recovered from the knee injury that has wrecked his campaign. With Alan Stubbs cup-tied, Matteo Ferrari confirmed his return to fitness by partnering David Weir at centre-back having missed the last three games with a hamstring strain. The FA Cup is perhaps the least important of the three trophies in which Chelsea maintain an interest, and, as at Goodison 10 days earlier, manager Jose Mourinho rang the changes with Carlo Cudicini and the lesser-seen Shaun Wright-Phillips the most notable starters, the latter going on to be the game's stand-out performer. The injury to Wright, while undoubtedly disruptive, could not excuse a dismal first-half performance from Everton that helped Chelsea on their way to a fifth round tie with Colchester United. Only some alert defending from Tony Hibbert in the fifth minute ensured the home side did not get off to a flying start, the right-back clearing off the line after Huth had beaten Beattie to Robben's corner and headed powerfully goalward. William Gallas, goalscorer against Liverpool at the weekend, threatened another with a shot that rippled the side-netting before Turner was provided with his first touch as an Everton player with a comfortable save from Lampard's ambitious free-kick. Turner then grabbed the ball at the second attempt after a slaloming run from Wright-Phillips ended with a powerful low shot that bobbled dangerously on the rutted surface, and the keeper saved well from similar Robben and Eidur Gudjohnsen efforts. However, the force had been with Chelsea from the first kick and a well-worked goal saw them deservedly move ahead on 21 minutes. A clipped pass forward by Gudjohnsen was brilliantly controlled by Crespo on the chest and, without the ball touching the floor, the Argentine laid off for Robben to burst into space and hit over the diving Turner. Robben, seemingly intent on making amends for his embarrassing diving antics on Sunday, flashed a shot across the face of goal before another Wright-Phillips run paved the way for Chelsea's second on 36 minutes. Picking up the ball on the right flank, the England winger sped past three Everton defenders until he was unceremoniously dumped to the floor by Nuno Valente - treading a fine line after being booked moments before. Lampard converted from the spot despite Turner diving the right way. And it became even worse for the visitors three minutes later when Crespo was allowed to steal in at the near post unmarked to head home Lampard's inswinging free-kick from the left. Moments before the break, Beattie blazed over from three yards out after Ferrari had headed on an Arteta corner, a miss that effectively summed up Everton's evening. That was to be his last meaningful contribution, and he was replaced by James McFadden as Simon Davies also came on for the hapless Valente in a vain attempt to turn the tide. Turner was soon tested by both Gudjohnsen and Robben before the former almost scored a fourth with a diving header from Glen Johnson's right-wing cross. It was party time for the home supporters, but Everton plugged away and won a penalty 18 minutes from time when Huth committed the cardinal sin of handling inside the box while not being John Terry. Arteta sent Cudicini the wrong way to give the visitors a flicker of hope that was extinguished two minutes later when Terry rattled home a loose ball in the box after Huth's driven free-kick had been blocked.
CHELSEA (4-1-4-1): Cudicini; Johnson, Terry, Huth, Gallas; Essien; Wright-Phillips, Lampard (Geremi 79), Gudjohnsen, Robben (Cole 65); Crespo (Maniche 46). Subs: Cech, del Horno.
BOOKING: Essien (dissent).
EVERTON (4-4-1-1): Turner; Hibbert, Weir, Ferrari, Valente (Davies 46); Arteta, Neville, Cahill, Kilbane; Osman (Carsley 82); Beattie (McFadden 46). Subs: Naysmith, Anichebe.
BOOKINGS: Valente, Cahill (both fouls).
REFEREE: Phil Dowd
ATT: 39,301
NEXT GAME: Everton v Blackburn Rovers, Premiership, Saturday 3pm

Keeper crisis as Everton bow out
Dec 9 2006By Ian Doyle, Daily Post
MOYES was handed a goalkeeping crisis last night as Everton crashed out of the FA Cup. The Goodison outfit were beaten 4-1 at Premiership leaders Chelsea in their fourth round replay at Stamford Bridge. And Everton's woes were increased even before the kick-off when keeper Richard Wright suffered an ankle injury during the warm-up to hand Iain Turner a first appearance for the club since his move from Stirling Albion in the summer of 2003. Wright is now a major doubt for Saturday's home game with Blackburn Rovers. And with Nigel Martyn already sidelined with an ankle injury, Moyes conceded 22-year-old Turner is in line for a Premiership debut this weekend.
"Losing Richard before kick-off was a setback, especially as it was a goalkeeper," said the Everton manager. "I thought that Iain came in and acquitted himself well for someone playing their first game and showed he has a chance for the future. "I wasn't sure what happened with Richard, but someone has told me that television pictures have shown him falling on a board that was supposed to be put in a temporary goal. "We sent him for an X-ray and nothing showed up, but his ankle had really ballooned right after it had first happened. We've got two goalkeepers and I'm always keen to give young players their opportunity. Iain came in tonight and did well, and he'll be in again." James Beattie handed Moyes a further injury concern by being forced off at half-time after aggravating the calf injury that ruled him out for two weeks last month. "James was feeling his calf so we decided to take him off. He has been feeling it for a few weeks now," added Moyes. "We're disappointed we couldn't come here and get a result because I really thought we had a chance of getting through," said Moyes. "In the first half they did to us what we wanted to do to them. They got stuck into us and started strongly. "They put the ball in behind our back-line and turned us around, which on this pitch made it difficult for us. I thought that if anything we overplayed in the first half. "We managed to do a lot better in the second half and we tried to turn it around and did more of the things I wanted us to do, but I thought we made too many wrong choices with our decision-making in the first half." Moyes added: "If you make simple mistakes against a top team like Chelsea then they have the quality to make the most of them." One piece of good news for Moyes was the return of Lee Carsley, who made his first appearance of the season as a late second-half substitute last night.

Chelsea 4, Everton 1 (Echo)
Feb 9 2006 By Dominic King
SOMETIMES in football there are matches when you look back and think that no matter what you did, the end result would have still been the same. How frustrating then that such sentiments did not apply to Everton last night. Slow out of the traps and suffering lapses in concentration that were so out of character, Chelsea needed no second invitation to blow all FA Cup dreams out of the water. Had the Premiership champions fashioned four wonderful goals and cut Everton to pieces with a brand of bewitching, fast flowing football, then fair enough. Thing is, that wasn't the case at all.
While Arjen Robben's opener was one for the scrap book, the efforts from Frank Lampard, Hernan Crespo and John Terry - which brought a nine game unbeaten run to a juddering halt - all could, and probably should, have been avoided. No wonder David Moyes was left tearing his hair out on the sidelines. If making a trip to the King's Road wasn't hard enough - it's two years since Chelsea were beaten at home - it becomes impossible for teams that go bearing gifts. Hopefully, this performance will be nothing other than a one-off. As expected, Moyes made one change to Everton's starting lineup. In came Matteo Ferrari to replace the Cup-tied Alan Stubbs but before a ball had been kicked the manager was dealt a hammer blow when Richard Wright was injured in the warm-up. Going through his paces with coach Chris Woods, he jumped to tip a ball over the bar only to land on a placard that read 'Area not in use -please use temporary goalmouth'. Neither Wright nor Moyes will have seen the funny side. With Wright hobbling off for treatment - he faces two weeks on the sidelines - it meant rookie keeper Iain Turner being handed an unexpected senior debut and given the onerous task of repelling Chelsea's vaunted forward line. Stamford Bridge is a far cry from Wycombe Wanderers' Adams Park home - the 22-year-old had a four-game loan spell there earlier this season - but there were no signs of any nerves early on as he barked orders out at the defence in front of him. Happily, Turner also had a little bit of good fortune on his side in the opening exchanges. When Robert Huth rose to meet Robben's corner, Tony Hibbert was perfectly positioned to head off the line. It would be the start of a difficult night. Sensing Turner might be vulnerable, Chelsea tested him whenever the chance allowed. William Gallas dragged a shot wide from outside the area. The excellent Shaun Wright-Phillips brought a scrambling save out of the young Scot.
It was no surprise then when Robben put the hosts ahead on 21 minutes to cap a move of real quality. Hernan Crespo's magnificent lay-off from Eidur Gudjohnsen's through-ball presented the flying Dutchman with a simple opportunity he did not miss. Given the press Robben has had in the past few days, the sensible option would have been to turn and celebrate with his team-mates. Not so. Having infuriated one half of Merseyside, Robben completed the job by goading Everton's travelling support. While there is no question the Premiership champions have some outstanding talents, they would be relegation candidates if judged on grace and humility. Some of the characters in this part of West London are at best arrogant, at worst offensive. Take Robben. Sources at Stamford Bridge have confided that Mourinho has occasionally been driven to his wit's end. No wonder. Robben could be a superstar if he cut out the tendency to go to ground quicker than a pack of moles in a burrowing contest. The joy of taking them down a few notches would have made wonderful viewing but frustratingly, four madcap minutes before half-time ensured that Everton's interest in the FA Cup ended for another season. Nuno Valente - who did not enjoy one of his finest evenings and was hauled off during the interval - recklessly chopped Wright-Phillips inside the area, giving Lampard the opportunity to double Chelsea's lead from the penalty spot. Blue misery was exacerbated before the players had time to come to their senses. Marking was non-existent as Lampard whipped a free-kick that Crespo glanced beyond the helpless Turner. Game well and truly over. Sadly, there was no sign of a comeback after the break. The endeavour may have been better but all energies were concentrated on repelling waves of Chelsea attacks. Gudjohnsen flashed a header wide. Turner denied Robben. Thoughts of an improbable late rally were raised when Mikel Arteta converted a 72nd minute penalty after James McFadden's shot was handled by Robert Huth. They were dashed, however, almost immediately when John Terry drilled in. If anything positive can be taken from a hugely disappointing night it is that the players kept plugging away. That, as we know from bitter experience, has not always been the case this season. Think Bucharest. Think The Hawthorns. Think Villa Park. Added to that, the sight of Lee Carsley trotting out to play the last 10 minutes following his lengthy injury absence was well received. There is no question his calming influence has been missed on certain occasions. So on to Blackburn. The chance of appearing in the Cup Final may have been dashed but there is still lots to play for in the Premiership. That is as long as the Blues learn from their silly mistakes.
CHELSEA (4-5-1): Cudicini; Johnson, Terry, Huth, Gallas; Wright-Phillips, Lampard (Geremi 79), Essien, Gudjohnsen, Robben (Cole 64); Crespo (Maniche 46).
EVERTON (4-4-1-1): Turner; Hibbert, Weir, Ferrari, Valente (Davies 46); Arteta, Cahill, Neville, Kilbane; Osman (Carsley 82); Beattie (McFadden 46).
GOALS: Chelsea - Robben (21), Lampard (34, pen), Crespo (38), Terry (74); Everton - Arteta (72, pen)
BOOKINGS: Chelsea - Gallas (90, dissent) Everton - Valente (31, foul), Cahill (73, foul)
REFEREE: Phil Dowd

Moyes backing keeper Turner
Feb 9 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES will have no worries handing Iain Turner an extended run in Everton's first team if his worst fears over Richard Wright are confirmed. The Blues boss could barely believe the incident which ruled Wright out of last night's 4-1 FA Cup defeat at Chelsea and handed a first team debut to 22-year-old Turner. right was catching crosses in the goal-mouth before kick-off but after tipping one over the bar, landed on a placard that read 'Area not in use - please use temporary goalmouth' and twisted his ankle. It is understood that Wright's ankle is badly swollen and he faces two weeks on the sidelines, meaning that Turner and 18-year-old John Ruddy are the only fit goalkeepers available for Saturday's home match with Blackburn. "Iain did really well," said Moyes. "As a goalkeeper, you don't want to lose 4-1. But I think the boy will gain a lot of confidence and we've got a lot of faith in him. It's a blow, though. Nigel has had an operation and Richard going over on his ankle has left us a little bit short. But nevertheless, that's what football does and young boys get their opportunities all the time. Hopefully, he will be able to take it." irst choice goalkeeper Nigel Martyn is out for the foreseeable future after he underwent an operation to rectify an ankle problem on Tuesday. oalkeepers are not the only concern for Moyes as he looks for Everton to bounce back from a disappointing result at Stamford Bridge. Leon Osman (groin) and James Beattie (calf) will need treatment to give them a chance of playing at the weekend. In brighter news, Lee Carsley was able to get a 10 minute run-out - his first of the season - but Moyes has warned that the midfielder is still short of peak condition. He added: "Lee played 45 minutes for the reserves on Tuesday and the intention was just to get him back in the fray. I've got to say he's weeks away from being ready, but I was just about to put Gary Naysmith on when Leon felt his groin. "It's great to have him back, and we'll look forward to seeing him match fit."

We contributed to own downfall admits Arteta
Feb 9 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
MIKEL ARTETA feels Everton were their own worst enemies as Chelsea ended the Blues' FA Cup interests for another year. The Spanish midfielder scored Everton's consolation goal from the penalty spot but that was a rare bright moment as a number of defensive lapses allowed Jose Mourinho's men to run out 4-1 winners at Stamford Bridge. Though Arteta says Everton can take heart from the way they battled in the second half and was proud of debutant goalkeeper Iain Turner's performance, he had no arguments with the final scoreline. "It was a difficult game," added Arteta. "They haven't lost here for two years but when you concede a penalty and a free kick like we did, it's even more difficult. We shouldn't have done that. "We can accept it when they make a great play like they did for the first goal, but they scored early and made it hard for us. They controlled the game, made us go forward and when they counterattacked they were really dangerous." Similarly, Everton boss David Moyes pointed to individual errors at crucial times - notably the goals Frank Lampard and Hernan Crespo scored before half-time - giving Chelsea a helping hand they barely needed. However, Moyes was pleased with the way his players rallied after the break and is looking for them to bounce back in the best way possible when they resume Premiership matters against Blackburn Rovers at Goodison Park on Saturday. "When it was 3-0 at half time, I was delighted it didn't get worse," said Moyes. "I thought the players were great in the second half. They got about it and they rallied. They didn't allow themselves to drop off and our fans were terrific. "But I'm as much disappointed by the fourth goal because of the way things led to the free-kick than I am with anything else. Back at 3-1 we were starting to make a mark, but to give them a goal straight after was really poor. "Chelsea were clinical and the first goal was a good goal from their point of view. I'll have a look at it and see what we could have done better. But I'm disappointed with the penalty kick. That was poor. "Losing a goal to a free-kick I thought we had to defend much better than we did do. They are normally very good and know what we have to do.
"The confidence won't go because we knew how hard the game was going to be."

Chance to be derby mascot
Feb 9 2006 Liverpool Echo
EVERTONIA is the official members club for Evertonians of all ages. Members of the junior section are automatically entered into a draw to be the mascot for all Premiership fixtures. And if an under-16 joins Evertonia before the end of February they will stand the chance of being selected by a draw to become the mascot for Everton at Anfield on March 25. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity. But if you are not a member of Evertonia, you will not be in the draw. Junior membership costs £9.99 and adult membership £19.99. For details of how to join, visit www.evertonfc.com or ring 0870 442 1878.

Shining stars on our night to remember
Feb 9 2006 By John Thompson, Echo Sports Editor
IT'S no fun being a football fan.
Well not on a cold February night, when you've travelled more than 200 miles, seen your team well beaten and then had to get all the way home again by train or car, turning in for work today when you'd rather be turning over in your bed and sleeping off the hangover of defeat. For once Everton and Liverpool fans shared the same feelings last night as they departed the capital after the defeats to Chelsea and Charlton. The trouble, effort and expense which supporters go to to get behind their teams is all too often under-played and under-valued. Not by their own clubs, but particularly by the TV schedulers who seem to take the gallery at their chosen games for granted. One particularly cruel example was Liverpool's recent FA Cup tie at Portsmouth - moved to a 6pm kick off on a Sunday night without a care for the travelling fans, a decision roundly and rightly condemned by Anfield Chief Executive Rick Parry. At least the Reds fans had a victory to warm them that night. Not so for them or Evertonians last night. So it was a pleasure on Monday night in Liverpool to be able to highlight and reward some of those supporters who go to astonishing lengths to back their sides, come hell or high water. The Echo's Merseyside Sports Personality of the Year Awards night was littered with star names and famous faces who gave up their time to attend and help present or receive our honours. They made it a truly memorable night and proved that for all the dream salaries, the inflated transfer fees, the fame and the glory, players past and present on Merseyside recognise there is still a rare sense of genuine community about it all. But taking the stage with the likes of Steven Gerrard, Graeme Sharp, Andy Gray, Peter Reid, Jamie Carrager, Brian Barwick and Rafael Benitez were very important people like Clare Gauller, Aiden McDonnell and Robert Wright.
Our Football Fans of the Year award winners were and are a credit to their clubs and to the game. And they're a vital part of the theatre, too. In Clare Gauller, Everton have a one woman recruitment campaign at Goodison. Everyone she can possibly persuade to follow the Blues, she does. In Aiden McDonell, a wheelchair-bound Tranmere supporter, Rovers have a fanatic who travels the length and breadth of the country by train, encountering enormous difficulties to cheer the team on.
And at Liverpool Robert Wright is as regular and committed as they come. He only missed one game last season -the Champions League final. And that was because he was holed up in a Bulgarian Hospital having been mugged and severely stabbed in the leg. For a brief moment, as they each received their own awards alongside the stars from Graeme Sharpe, Jason McAteer and Jamie Carragher, we were able to remind ourselves that sometimes it is the supporters who are stars in their own right, too. And fantastic to see so many more familiar names and faces in the room to acknowledge the fact.

Turner targets clean sheet after shock Cup call
By David Prior, Daily Post
Feb 10 2006
IAIN TURNER has targeted a clean sheet against Blackburn Rovers tomorrow after revealing the story behind his shock FA Cup appearance at Chelsea on Wednesday. The Scotland under-21 youngster, Everton's third choice, was called into action only 25 minutes before the fourth round replay at Stamford Bridge game when Richard Wright suffered his bizarre ankle injury in the warm-up. With Wright likely to be out for a couple of weeks and first-choice Nigel Martyn having undergone minor surgery on his ankle injury, Turner will now make his Barclays Premiership debut tomorrow against Blackburn at Goodison Park. And he said: "I can't wait to get my first clean sheet, that is my target for Saturday - and a win.. "It was an interesting night, it has to be said. We started as normal with Wrighty doing his warm-up, then there was the unfortu-nate accident when he landed. It was unfortunate for Wrighty but that gave me my chance. "That was about 25 minutes before kick-off and I suddenly realised I was playing. I was buzzing, I was made up. "You don't really get nervous because things happen too quickly - and then you are playing, you don't have any time to think what if this or what if that? So in a way it was good. I have been waiting for my chance and hopefully I have done reasonably well." He added: "I got on the bus after the game and switched my phone on and I had a few text messages coming through. I was on the phone to my girlfriend and then my mum and dad rang and my battery died! "I spoke to them later and my dad told me he was at a friend's house and a couple of minutes before kick-off someone phoned him and said I was playing. "He wasn't even going to watch the game until someone told him!" Turner, who has been on loan to Chester and Wycombe, admits his confidence has been boosted by the positive feedback he has had from Wednesday and the experience of playing in such a high-intensity cup tie. He said: "Every time you get hold of the ball when you are playing it boosts your confidence, especially on your debut. I just tried to compose myself and do what was needed of me. "It always helps to have experienced players around you, and they were great with me before and during the game. "Coming into any first team there will be experienced players who know their stuff and they helped me through it brilliantly. "You can train all the time, but match practice is the biggest thing. "If you are playing regularly you can see it, you are sharper, you are quicker, so match practice is a big thing - and going on loan has certainly helped me develop my game. "I have been waiting for this chance, I have been trying as hard as I can and biding my time. So I feel like I am coming on as a keeper." Manager David Moyes hoped Turner would find his confidence was boosted by the experience. "He did really well and we have a lot of faith in him," he said.. "As a goalkeeper you don't want to lose and you don't want to lose 4-1 but I hope the boy will gain a lot of confidence from it. "It has left us a bit short but that's what football does, young boys get their chances so hopefully he will be able to take it."

Carsley still not close to a start
By David Prior, Daily Post
Feb 10 2006
DAVID MOYES has admitted that long-term injury victim Lee Carsley is still some way off a first-team start. The Republic of Ireland international made his competitive comeback in the FA Cup defeat at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday, replacing Leon Osman eight minutes from time. It raised hopes the midfielder would soon be able to challenge for a first-team role, but Moyes said his lengthy absence from the game with a knee ligament injury meant the club would have to be patient. Moyes said: "Lee played 45 minutes on Tuesday lunchtime for the reserves and then went down to London with us." Moyes added: "The intention was really just to get him back in the fray. I have to say he is weeks away from being about it but I was just about to put Gary Naysmith on when Leon Osman complained of having jarred his groin so I had to make a different change. "It is great to have him back and we are looking forward to getting him back match fit but he has been out for the best part of seven or eight months and he has played one reserve game so we can't expect him to be back that quick." James Beattie, who was withdrawn from Wednesday's match at half-time as a precaution after he felt soreness in his calf, will be monitored in the lead-up to tomorrow's Premiership game at home to Blackburn. Leon Osman also took a knock but should be fit. Duncan Ferguson will today learn whether he will be handed an additional ban on top of the three-match suspension he is already serving for punching Wigan's Paul Scharner at the JJB Stadium last week. An FA hearing, relating to a second charge of violent conduct handed to the Scot for allegedly also shoving Pascal Chimbonda in the melee, will be heard in Birmingham at 3pm.

Turner prize
Post Soapbox, icLiverpool & Daily Post
Feb 10 2006
THE one positive from Stamford Bridge was Iain Turner's debut. He did well and looked confident. He couldn't be blamed for the shambles in front of him. This season has been a complete nightmare although unbelievably, we look like we'll probably stay up. I still back the manager, though. Just!
Ian Bennett (via e-mail)
Harsh lesson
CHELSEA exposed all Everton's weaknesses - lack of pace all round but especially in defence, our lack of midfield guile and complete absence of any cutting edge.
Stuart Williams (via e-mail)
Striker fears
NOW we will see how crucial it was for Everton to sign a striker. James Beattie injured, Duncan Ferguson banned and what happens if James McFadden gets sent off or injured?
Spencer Ottaway (via e-mail)
Reality check
EVERTON'S defeat at Chelsea is certainly nothing to be ashamed about. Chelsea are one of the best teams in Europe and on the same night in Spain, Real Madrid and all their galaticos were beaten 6-1 by a team lower than them in the league. What does worry me about Everton is our inability to keep hold of the ball; at times we can't string two passes together and at the highest level that is important. Better ball retention and two quality strikers and the future may be a little brighter!
Simon Marsh, Liverpool
Express vision
EVERTON lack quality in a number of areas. With no disrespect to David Weir, he is too slow for top level football and was shown up on a number of occasions by Chelsea. Kevin Kilbane gives it his all, but lacks vision. I think the more gifted footballers on the team need to express themselves more. Arteta, Valente and Cahill, while undoubtebly good players were outclassed by Chelsea but they are capable of shining against most Premiership teams. Add to that Neville, Ferrari, Beattie (when fit), Andy VDM, Yobo and we have the nucleus of a good team.
Derek Dawes (via e-mail)
Missed chance
I CANNOT believe the negative response to the FA Cup result. Yes, I would have liked to have beaten Chelsea, but realistically we had our chance at Goodison and there is no denying that Chelsea are a far better side. At least we have found a goalkeeper in Iain Turner.
Stu Kirkbride (via e-mail).

Warning signs were plain to see in exit
By Mark O'Brien Everton supporter, Daily Post
Feb 10 2006
FOR Everton to even stand a chance of going through to the last 16 of the FA Cup they needed everything to go right for them at Stamford Bridge. When Richard Wright landed on a warning sign in his own goalmouth during the warm-up then, everyone more or less knew that it wasn't going to be Everton's night. He has no luck the ex-Ipswich keeper - who famously ruled himself out for quite a stretch when he fell out of his parents' loft - after all, what exactly was dangerous about where he was practising other than the actual warning sign itself? It was reminiscent of the old comedy sketch where some hapless individual ends up with the words 'wet paint' imprinted on his back.
In fairness to his replacement though, Iain Turner, he was at fault for none of Chelsea's four goals and made a couple of decent stops to prevent the score-line being even more reflective of the home side's dominance. Without the advantage of a partisan home crowd behind them, and shorn of the unsettling services of Duncan Ferguson, Everton never really looked like causing an upset. They opened brightly enough and did all the same things that had, until Wednesday, seen them unbeaten in nine games, but there was simply a slightly depressing gulf in class between the two. David Moyes gets all he can from his squad, but Jose Mourinho does the same with his too, and man for man his are superior. And so they should be, given the transfer fees and the wages his club are prepared to dole out in search of success. The game was over at half-time and that was reflected in Moyes' substitutions, particularly withdrawing James Beattie to keep him fresh for Saturday's match against Blackburn. That promises to be another tough tie as Mark Hughes' side offer a particular brand of aggression and ability that seems to irk quite a few. One ex-Rover, Lee Carsley, could get the chance to face his old club at some point. His appearance for the last 10 minutes against Chelsea was one of the few pluses. He might struggle to get straight back into the team as Phil Neville has steadily improved in the midfield holding position to make it his own. However, Carsley's ability to do that role, combined with the ex-Manchester United man's versatility, will give the manager even more options.

Moyes wins boss award
Feb 10 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES is celebrating after being named Manager of the Month for January. Starting with a win at Sunderland on New Year's Eve, Moyes led Everton on a nine-game unbeaten start to 2006 with four consecutive Premiership wins hoisting them away from the relegation zone and into mid-table safety. It is the second time Moyes - who won the judges' vote ahead of West Ham United's Alan Pardew - has picked up the monthly gong during his spell in charge at Goodison Park, the last being in November 2002 after four consecutive 1-0 wins. Twice a winner of the LMA's Manager of the Year award, Moyes headed into Bellefield today to crank up preparations for tomorrow's crucial home match against Blackburn Rovers as Everton bid to bounce straight back from their FA Cup defeat at Chelsea. Moyes, however, has a number of fitness concerns notably concerning Leon Osman, who hobbled off in midweek with a jarred groin and is a major doubt, while calf victim James Beattie is another who will be closely monitored. With Nigel Martyn and Richard Wright definitely out, Iain Turner will continue in goal and it could be that Simon Davies will come in for only his second start since December 31 against Mark Hughes' side. "We will see how they are today," said Moyes. "Leon is a doubt and obviously we are with Nigel and Wrighty. "We'll have to see how James is, too, because of his calf problem. We are hoping he pulls through. At the moment, I don't know. It will be a last minute decision. "Simon had been playing well before he went out of the side through injury and while he was out, the team got together and did well. He knows that. "But the periods he has come on in games, he has done well. We are really happy with Simon. He can play wide or in midfield and he is a really good football player." Everton, meanwhile, were due to find out today whether Duncan Ferguson will face another three-match ban after the FA's disciplinary panel met at Soho Square to discuss charges of violent conduct. Ferguson, who was sent off for punching Paul Scharner during the Blues' 1-1 draw at Wigan Athletic, has missed the last two games through suspension but could face another month on the sidelines if he is found guilty of pushing Pascal Chimbonda. One man who should be seen in a Blue shirt again in the near future is Joseph Yobo after his African Cup of Nations campaign ended with him winning a bronze medal, as Nigeria beat Senegal 1-0 in the third-place play-off. Yobo has not played for Everton since the 1-0 win at Portsmouth on January 14 and has been given a week off by Moyes but he should be back in contention for the trip to Newcastle on February 25.

Blues' sights on new dawn
Feb 10 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
SLIGHT blip or slipping back into bad habits?
Sifting through the wreckage of Everton's broken FA Cup dreams, some disgruntled supporters have suggested, rather harshly, that the kind of 4-1 defeat the Blues suffered against Chelsea on Wednesday night had been coming. An injury list that has been growing by the week and no new strikers arriving during the January transfer window meant, according to some sages, the Blues had been walking a tight-rope in the early stages of 2006 and finally fell off at Stamford Bridge.
Arguing the other side of the coin, though, are the optimists, those who believe that a nine-match unbeaten run through January showed Everton are back on track after being betrayed by their wretched early season form. Few sides on the planet can match Chelsea when they show form as irresistible as they did during the fourth round replay in West London and with key personnel missing, it was always going to be a Mission Impossible for David Moyes' men. A more accurate reflection of how far Everton have come since the turn of the year will be gauged against Blackburn Rovers tomorrow when the Blues seek to secure their first league double of the campaign.
Having beaten Blackburn 2-0 in December, a repeat scoreline would send Everton shooting into the top half of the table and set them up nicely in their quest to finish the season with a flourish.
But as Mikel Arteta - scorer of one of the goals at Ewood Park that afternoon - points out, any lapses in concentration like the ones that crept into the game against Chelsea and it might not be long before they have problems again. "That's what happened in the first part of the season in the league but in the second half we changed and were difficult to beat like we have been recently. We tried our best to get the result back," Arteta offered. "We knew it was going to be really difficult but we need to forget about it and move on. We must now look forward to playing against Blackburn because that is the Premiership and we have a lot to play for. "We cannot afford to lose our confidence. We need to make sure we keep going and keep doing what we do best. We want to continue the good run we have been on because we have been really strong at home. "That is going to be something really important until the end of the season. We can accept it when they make a great play like they did for the first goal but they scored early and made it hard for us." With Iain Turner due to continue in goal following injuries to Nigel Martyn and Richard Wright, Blackburn will be looking to exploit a perceived weakness in Everton's rearguard. Arteta, though, feels that would be a wasted venture. Deeply impressed by the way the young Scot has performed on Bellefield's training pitches in recent months, Arteta was not surprised to see Turner come through the test at Chelsea with his reputation intact. "Iain did everything that he had to do and he was not at fault for any of the goals," said Arteta. "We need to say well done to him because it is a really difficult place to come and make your debut. Everything he did, he did with a lot of character." Similar sentiments come from the manager. Turner may be short on experience but his talent more than compensates for a lack of minutes on the pitch. No need, then, for Moyes to go rummaging around for a spare pair of goalkeeper gloves. "Richard's ankle was very badly swollen," said Moyes. "It was like a balloon when he came back to the dressing room, so he's obviously done some damage to it. I'm sure it will be a test for Iain but we do have faith in him. "He has got real potential. He has been out on loan a few times and we'll see how he does. We always like to give young players a chance here but if something happens, maybe I'll be going in goal!" For Moyes - named today as January's Manager of the Month - the one thing he will be looking for against Blackburn is how the players respond to this setback. It may have taken time for the squad to get over some disappointments during the autumn and over Christmas but Moyes senses that the attitude in the ranks is vastly different now. He will be looking for a big response in front of home supporters. "It's gone now," said Moyes. "The run wasn't the important thing to me. It's the way we play that I am most concerned about and we know now that we have got a real tough game coming up against Blackburn, a real good Blackburn side. "We need to try and get ourselves picked up and ready for that one. We need to show the same form that we have been showing for the last month or two and if we do that, then I'll be happy."

Hughes looks to Bellamy
Feb 10 2006 By David Prior, Daily Post
BLACKBURN ROVERS manager Mark Hughes is banking on Craig Bellamy staying free of injury until the end of the season. Bellamy looks set to face Everton at Goodison Park tomorrow after another spell on the sidelines because of a hamstring problem. Hughes believes the Wales striker can play a vital role in the coming months in the club's bid for a European place. "Craig has been hampered by these niggles and maybe come back too early," he said.. "We have gone with a different approach this time and expect him to play in the vast majority of our remaining games. "I could possibly have used him last weekend but I felt he needed a solid week of work with the team. "Hopefully if he comes through it, he will be very much in the shake-up for selection, not only for the weekend but for the rest of the season." Hughes is not reading too much into Everton's defeat by Chelsea in an FA Cup replay at Stamford Bridge. "Chelsea are an exceptional side and sometimes you have to take your medicine, "he added. "I am sure that is how Everton will view it, although it is always disappointing to lose. But they will re-group and it will be a test for us. "Everton are in a great run of form in the league, as we are, and right back on track after a difficult start. "They are a solid side and the first goal could turn out to be important."

Now showing: Some keepers do 'ave 'em
Feb 10 2006 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
ALL Richard Wright needed to complete a calamitous night was to get home in the wee small hours and discover the cat had done a whoopsy in his best beret. Wednesday's Stamford Bridge bungling would have been funny, if it wasn't so damned untimely. Some players are just born unlucky. And Everton's very own Frank Spencer appears to be one of them. Having just about lived down the embarrassment of tumbling out of his loft packing his suitcases away two summers ago, he badly sprained an ankle on Wednesday on a pitchside message board. The message on the board? "Area not in use - please practise in temporary goal-mouth." It wasn't the first instance, either, of Wright suffering pre-match injury. Conventional wisdom tells us the warm-up is designed to avoid injury, but Wright has also managed to rule himself out in a pre-match routine at White Hart Lane, giving Espen Baardsen the chance to prove that his football career really was finished. Iain Turner was the unexpected debutant this time, and he will hope this is just the beginning of a long career. He certainly won't want his career to go the way of the last Scottish goalkeeper to be called up by Everton in unexpected circumstances. Drew Brand was pitched in at mighty Leeds 30 years ago, with both Dai Davies and David Lawson injured. He promptly conceded five in a harrowing debut - and didn't appear again for 18 months. He did manage to keep a clean sheet on his second appearance, the last match of the 76-77 season, but it proved the last act of his Everton career.
Turner, however, did more than enough to suggest he deserves a few more opportunities.
None of the goals Chelsea scored were down to his failings - and he did no worse than Richard Wright could have been expected to have done. He has also shown no signs yet of an accident-prone nature. And for a goalkeeper that can be almost as important as good reflexes. THE FA, it seems, are powerless to punish the cheats in football. If a referee has seen an incident and acted upon it, FIFA will not allow a country's football association to take retrospective action. So Arjen Robben can feign injury and get a player sent off, then pat himself on the back afterwards (not too hard, mind, in case he falls over) on a job well done. Which leaves football fans as the sole arbiter of justice in football. Boo Arjen Robben if you must, but even more effective would be to laugh at him every time he runs out at Anfield or Goodison. Fan power can be a very effective tool. A little, like Robben, in fact.

Scotland to finally honour Imlach
Feb 10 2006 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
FORMER Everton coach Stewart Imlach will finally receive a Scottish international cap - thanks to the bestselling book his son Gary produced last year. My Father and Other Working Class Football Heroes told the story of a son's search for a dad he wished he'd known better. But it also highlighted a little known injustice that Scottish internationals who played before 1975 only received caps if they played against the home nations. Stewart Imlach represented Scotland at the World Cup finals in 1958, but because he didn't face England, Wales or Northern Ireland, he was never capped.
It was a slight he took to his grave. But the SFA has now finally relented - and Imlach's widow Joan will receive the cap her husband craved. "I'm overjoyed," said Gary who battled with the SFA against their intransigence. SFA chief executive David Taylor said: "We will award a commemorative Scotland cap to any pre-1975 internationals who did not receive one under the previous system. "This is an entirely new initiative by the SFA board of directors that will give a tangible souvenir for those who did not appear in the British Championship. "Times have changed, and although the British Championship was once seen as the highlight of the season, playing for Scotland in any match is a great honour. "That is why we have taken this step, and I hope that it will be welcomed by the players and their families." More than 90 players now qualify and Taylor has asked other potential beneficiaries to contact him at Hampden Park.

Blue shirts for a friend
Feb 10 2006 By Luke Traynor, Liverpool Echo
MOURNERS were being asked to wear Everton shirts today at the funeral of a teenager killed during a police chase. Hundreds of well-wishers were expected to say their last goodbyes to 18-year-old Graham Goudie at Allerton cemetery. The Blues fan died when the Vauxhall Meriva in which he was a passenger crashed into a railway bridge. His family from Old Swan want his funeral to be a celebration of his life. As well as Everton shirts football tops, some of his best friends were expected to wear club scarves with their suits in tribute. The Everton Z Cars theme tune was being played during the service, along with November Rain by Guns 'n' Roses,, and Milky Way by OMD. Mr Goudie's sister Paula, 26, said: "The funeral will be a very emotional day as we still can't believe that he's gone. "The house has been turned into a memorial to Graham with hundreds of cards everywhere. We didn't know he had so many friends." The service was to be followed by burial, before friends and family go back to Old Swan for an afternoon of karaoke. The car hit the railway bridge in Mill Lane, Newton-le-Willows, in the early hours of January 28 . Hours before, Mr Goudie had been to a housewarming party at Paula's home in Old Swan. Members of Mr Goudie's family have visited the scene of the accident. The teenager was a former Croxteth comprehensive pupil who wanted to become a plumber. A 17-year-old youth from Old Swan, who has been charged with causing death by dangerous driving and drink driving, was also due to attend the funeral. He was accompanying the family in the funeral cars to the chapel of rest to pay his last respects to Mr Goudie. He will appear at St Helens magistrates court on Thursday.

FA hit Ferguson with seven-game suspension
Feb 11 2006
By David Prior, Daily Post
DUNCAN FERGUSON will be unavailable until the Merseyside derby on March 25 after he was last night suspended for an additional four games by a Football Association disciplinary commission.
The new ban, together with a £5,000 fine plus costs, was handed out at a hearing in Birmingham following an incident involving Wigan's Pascal Chimbonda during Everton's game at the JJB Stadium on January 31. Ferguson is already serving a three-match ban having been shown a straight red card - a record-equalling eighth of his career - for punching Paul Scharner, but referee Mike Dean missed a further strike at Chimbonda in the ensuing melee. That allowed the FA's Compliance Unit to become involved, resulting in another charge of violent conduct - and claims from manager David Moyes that the club were being "victimised". The 34-year-old originally denied the secondary charge and requested a personal hearing, and earlier this week a submission was made on his behalf to challenge the charge on the basis that it was wrongly categorised as out-side the referee's jurisdiction. But this application was rejected by an independent disciplinary commission, and Ferguson subsequently changed his response and admitted the charge. He did not attend yesterday'shearing. The punishment is broken down into three matches for violent conduct, with a further match suspension in line with disciplinary rules which categorise the proven charge as effectively his second sending-off of the season. Having already missed games against Manchester City and Chelsea, the striker will now miss clashes against Newcastle United, West Ham United, Fulham and Aston Villa, as well as Blackburn Rovers.

Unlucky Wright's 'out for six weeks'
By David Prior, Daily Post
Feb 11 2006
0ShareRICHARD WRIGHT'S ankle injury was last night revealed to be worse than first feared - and the Everton goalkeeper could now be out for six weeks. Wright, who sustained the injury in a freak accident during the warm-up to Wednesday night's FA Cup clash at Chelsea, was expected to be sidelined for only a fortnight. But a further scan has uncovered more serious damage than previously realised, and head physio Mick Rathbone admitted: "When I first saw the incident, I didn't realise how bad it was. "Wrighty came over to me and said he had gone over on his ankle and walked off the pitch but you could almost see it visibly swelling up. "We got his boot off and it looked awful. We checked it over quickly and I think it looked worse than it was. "Chelsea were fantastic, they had a consultant, an orthopaedic surgeon and took him straight for an X-ray, as we would have done had it been at Goodison. "The X-ray was negative which was a huge sigh of relief, because with that much swelling you fear the worst. He went for a routine MR scan yesterday and that confirmed what we thought. "We are all agreed that he has a badly strained ankle. I would say four to six weeks for him but it could have been a lot worse."

Everton 1, Blackburn 0 (D,Post)
Feb 13 2006 By Ian Doyle at Goodison Park, Daily Post
EVERTON have jetted off to Miami for a mid-season break to help foster team spirit. Anyone at Goodison on Saturday will wonder just how that can possibly be improved. Should David Moyes's side dis-embark a rollercoaster season clutching another unlikely ticket for Europe, they will look back upon this win as the moment matters took a true upward curve. It wasn't just the three points that led the Everton manager to race from the dug-out at the final whistle to round up his players to salute an ecstatic Goodison ground for their unstinting support. The manner in which this victory was achieved is what could potentially mark it down in the annals of the club's recent history and ensure its place alongside any other triumphs under Moyes's tenure since his arrival almost four years ago. Lesser teams would have folded had they seen their third-choice, Premiership debutant goalkeeper sent off less than 10 minutes into the game to be replaced by an even younger rookie keeper. Not Everton. They did what this Everton team does best; rolled up their sleeves, got stuck in and were deservedly rewarded for their astonishing application, endeavour and togetherness on an afternoon that will live long with those present. "The players showed their hearts are as big as anybody's," said Moyes, his face a study of part delight, part emotional exhaustion. "I felt I had to work as a manager so hard along with the players. I'm a bit shattered myself." Small wonder. A frantic, full-blooded encounter with Blackburn Rovers, the type of which only the Premiership can deliver, ultimately provided compelling evidence that UEFA Cup football is now a very real possibility for Moyes's men. No-one would have dared believe that during those dark Christmas days when defeats to Aston Villa and Liverpool left Everton contemplating a struggle against relegation for the remainder of a hugely disappointing campaign. How things change. From that late Tim Cahill goal at Sunder-land, through the hammering of Charlton Athletic to the clinical dismissals of Portsmouth, Arsenal and Manchester City, confidence has blossomed among a group of players that couldn't buy a victory during the opening months of the season. Now, having extended their unbeaten Premiership run to seven games with a ninth 1-0 league win of the season, the likes of Bolton Wanderers and Wigan Athletic, of whom we're told are both enjoying fantastic seasons, are only three points away. Arsenal? Just five. This was the perfect response to the FA Cup elimination at Chelsea in midweek. And while the strong work ethic that Moyes has imbued into every one of his players has been central to that improvement, it was their sheer collective strength of character that astounded on Saturday. Evertonians of all ages know their team isn't one to do things the easy way. Indeed, it was almost as if the players regarded the task of playing 81 minutes with only 10 men following the sending off of Iain Turner as a call to arms, a seemingly insurmountable challenge that had to be overcome. "If I'd have been offered a goalless draw straight after the sending-off, I'd have taken it," admitted Moyes. "But the one thing in my mind was that we were at home, and if we kept going at it we could get the crowd behind us and maybe get something, and we did." And how. The Goodison support acted as an extra man for the home side with the kind of vociferous, intense backing rarely seen at other Premiership venues. Apt, then, that the match sponsor bore the legend "Extraor-dinary Everton Fans". Heroic is a word bandied around far too freely in football, but would not be misplaced in describing Everton's efforts to repel the Lancastrian tide after James Beattie's 33rd-minute header had given them something to cling on to. Moyes rightly praised fullbacks Tony Hibbert and Nuno Valente, yet it was the recently reunited centre-back partnership of Alan Stubbs and David Weir that was the standout in a defence that negated the threat of Craig Bellamy, David Bentley and on-loan Liverpool striker Florent Sinama-Pongolle to such an extent that stand-in keeper John Ruddy had only one save of note to make. Ahead of them, Mikel Arteta - whose expert dead-ball delivery fashioned Everton's goal - combined guile and grit, but even he was outshone by the matchwinner. Beattie, who admits his effectiveness is reliant on his level of fitness, had clearly shrugged off the niggling calf injury that cut short his appearance at Chelsea in midweek and was a bundle of trouble against his former team. All the more impressive given he'd spent most of the game as a lone striker after James McFadden had been sacrificed following Turner's unfortunate aberration. The young Scot barely had chance to build upon his encour-aging debut at Stamford Bridge when, caught in two minds in attempting to deal with Stubbs's header back, the keeper inexplicably handled while three yards outside his area. It was harsh, but referee Philip Walton was left with no choice but to dismiss the 22-year-old. Turner wasn't even born the day Glenn Keeley wrote himself into Everton infamy by being sent off minutes into his league debut against Liverpool. The defender was never to be seen in Blue again, but such a fate is unlikely to await the unfortunate Turner, who is rated highly by Moyes. So too Ruddy, whose appearance gave Everton the unique distinction of fielding two Premier-ship debutant goalkeepers in the same match. Loan spells at Rush-den and Diamonds, Walsall and Chester City have given the 19-year-old plenty of first-team experience this season, and he did not look out of place between the sticks. With Richard Wright and Nigel Martyn injured and Turner now suspended, Ruddy will almost certainly remain in goal against Newcastle United in a fortnight. Saturday's fun had already started before Turner's unwise intervention. Cahill had a goal disallowed for offside - the first of three Everton strikes chalked off by the officials - before McFadden posted a contender for miss of the season, hitting the crossbar with an open goal gaping after Brad Friedel had dropped the ball at his feet. That was the Scot's last action, and as a depleted Everton found their bearings, Sinama-Pongolle rolled a decent chance wide after meeting Bellamy's low cross at the far post. It was to be Black-burn's best chance. Cahill had another effort ruled out before Beattie headed Everton in front 12 minutes before the break, the striker hoodwinking Lucas Neill to steal in unmarked and powerfully head home Arteta's free-kick from the right after the Spaniard had been fouled Blackburn responded with an ambitious Bentley volley that flew narrowly over, and the half ended with Moyes voicing his dis-pleasure to referee Walton at what he considered some questionable decisions, a viewpoint unlikely to have been altered when Stubbs's header was disallowed for a push on Ryan Nelsen on 58 minutes.
With so many single-goal victories to their name in the past 18 months, Everton are well-versed in defending slender leads and, while admittedly aided by some poor Blackburn attacking play, their numerical disadvantage meant it was backs-to-the-wall effort throughout the second half.
Sergio Peter, Blackburn's young German midfielder, came closest for the visitors with a 20-yard shot that deflected off Cahill and forced Ruddy into a sharp save down low to his right, but otherwise Everton held firm for what, given the circumstances, was a famous win. With no game until their trip to St James Park, Moyes and his players have now left for sunnier climes in Florida. After Saturday's exertions, it's the least they deserve.
EVERTON (4-4-2): Turner; Hibbert, Stubbs, Weir, Valente; Arteta, Cahill, Neville, Osman (Kilbane 60); McFadden (Ruddy 10), Beattie (Carsley 79). Subs: Naysmith, Davies.
BOOKINGS: Neville, Valente (fouls), Kilbane (timewasting).
SENDING-OFF: Turner (deliberate handball).
BLACKBURN ROVERS (4-4-2): Friedel; Neill, Todd, Nelsen, Gray; Bentley (Kuqi 72), Savage (Tugay 58), Reid, Emerton (Peter 58). Subs: Enckelman, Khizanishvili.
BOOKINGS: Nelsen, Todd (fouls).
REFEREE: Philip Walton
ATT: 35,615
NEXT GAME: Newcastle United v Everton, Premiership, Saturday February 25, 5.15pm

Neville salutes 'people power'
By Ian Doyle Daily Post Staff
Feb 13 2006
PHIL NEVILLE saluted the outstanding team spirit that has propelled Everton from relegation candidates to contenders for a second successive European qualification. David Moyes's side bounced back from their FA Cup elimination at Chelsea in midweek to move to within touching distance of a UEFA Cup berth with an excellent 1-0 home win over Blackburn Rovers on Saturday.
A 33rd-minute header from James Beattie extended Everton's unbeaten league run to seven games, despite playing 81 minutes with only 10 men following the sending-off of goalkeeper Iain Turner on his Premiership debut. It was Everton's fourth consecutive league win at Goodison and continued their encouraging start to 2006, having moved to within three points of sixth place. And Neville has praised the togetherness within the squad and the supporters as crucial to their upturn in form.
"The team's work ethic doesn't surprise me as every pulls together, and the fans do as well," he said.
"The work ethic is the most impressive thing here and probably the reason I came to the club.
"They say Everton are the people's club, and it really is. Everyone mucks in together and there is no better atmosphere. "You wouldn't get an atmosphere in any other ground like you had here at Goodison on Saturday. It was really special." Of the game, Neville added: "Somebody said at half-time it was the kind of circumstance made for Everton Football Club. You could see at the end it is probably embroidered in the club's tradition now, and I think the fans would probably prefer to win like that than a four or five-nil stroll. "It's the way this club has been brought up. And I must admit it is a great feeling when you all stick together and win a game like that. "We've got a two-week break now until our next game and I think it was right that we all celebrated out on the pitch."It was as if what happened early on this season made us stronger. The bigger the obstacle, the more the challenge, it brings out the best in Everton. There's always been that never-say-die attitude here." Everton's victory over Blackburn saw them in the top half of the table for the first time this season on Saturday night, although Manchester City's win over Charlton yesterday pushed them back down to 11th. However the Goodison side are now just five points adrift of fifth-placed Arsenal.
"We've been on the brink of the top 10 for some weeks now, but I think we are there on merit because of the run we have put together," said Neville in the aftermath of Everton's latest success.
"This was probably our biggest test, coming on the back of Wednesday night's defeat at Chelsea where we didn't really do ourselves justice. We got back to winning ways against a decent Blackburn side. "While I was at United, we used to joke that with 10 minutes to go and 1-0 up, we'd be looking over at the bench for big Dunc to get stripped and to expect the Alamo. Having come here, that never-say-die attitude is apparent in everyone. "The most impressive thing is that no challenge is too big for these players, in fact they seem to relish it. The bigger the team that comes to Goodison, (the more) it brings out the best in our performance."

Moyes hails his players resilience
By Ian Doyle Daily Post Staff
Feb 13 2006
DAVID MOYES hailed the resilience of his Everton side after they defeated Blackburn Rovers on Saturday. The Goodison outfit played all but the first nine minutes with only 10 men after Iain Turner was sent off, but James Beattie's 33rd-minute goal and an excellent defensive display combined to give Everton victory. And Moyes said: "It was one of the games where it seemed as though everything was going to go against us, but the players pulled everything out to get a result. They have done a remarkable job. We ran the extra legs to cover the difference having lost a player.
"Sometimes, in the face of adversity, it galvanises you, and that is what happened to the players. The longer it went on, the more we began to wonder that we could do it. "The players were galvanised by each other. James Beattie put in a big effort, Tim Cahill and Ossie worked hard, and Mikel took the ball on so many runs to keep the pressure off us and try to create chances. It was a good oldfashioned game from our point of view. "We've lost only one game in 2006 which was at Chelsea. We don't play another game until the end of February, and it would be some run if we could play the first two months of the year with only one defeat." Moyes added: "When we came back into the dressing room and saw the league table, it merited a cheer. We look as if we are getting ourselves away from the relegation zone now, even if we don't have enough strikers or goalkeepers at the moment. We are getting through it as the players are such a good group and give their best every week. "After the Chelsea result I was a little bit worried, because we've had a season where we'd win four and then maybe we'd lose four. It was important we didn't lose two games in a row."
Moyes also praised the performance of his defenders in protecting 18-year-old John Ruddy, who made his Premiership debut after Turner was red-carded.

Beattie so proud of hunger to succeed
By Ian Doyle Daily Post Staff
Feb 13 2006
MATCH-WINNER James Beattie revealed his pride at Everton's win over Blackburn Rovers on Saturday - as he was hailed as the "key" to possible European qualification this season. The Goodison side shrugged off the handicap of playing 81 minutes with only 10 men to record a 1-0 win to move to within five points of fourth-placed Arsenal in the Premiership table. Goalkeeper Iain Turner was sent off for deliberate handball, but Beattie's eighth goal of the season ensured a hard-earned three points for David Moyes's side. And the striker said: "It was a strange day. The decision by the referee to send off Iain was correct in the eye of the law. The referee was saying he was sorry and he didn't want to send him off, but he had to go. We were up against it after 10 minutes. "I had a look around when Iain was being sent off, and a lot of heads could have dropped, but I could see the lads were still well up for it. I could see in their eyes that they were hungry to get a result, and we did it. It's not that I haven't been before, but I am very proud to be an Everton player at the moment."

Beattie netted the winner 12 minutes before half-time with a well-taken header from a Mikel Arteta free-kick. "Mikel is an exceptional footballer and is very clever," added Beattie. "His delivery at times is as good as anybody's in the world. I made eye contact with him for the free-kick, usually it is Tim Cahill that does that but I was pretending to be tired and that threw the centre-half a little bit. It worked, Mikel put it on a plate for me. "The crowd also made a difference. We were playing against the officials, so it was 14-10 in Black-burn's favour, so the crowd made the other four up for us! They were spot on again, and it does definitely help you. They could see we were trying our rocks off, and that's what they expect and that's what they deserve. "Blackburn had a lot of possession and we had to defend pretty deep at times, but everybody put the work in that was needed and we got a fantastic result." Everton are not in action next weekend after being eliminated from the FA Cup, and have headed off for a short break in Miami. "It maybe gives the lads the chance for a bit of a rest and to refuel and be ready for the next game in two weeks," said Beattie.. Team-mate Phil Neville believes the striker will play an integral role in any Everton success in their 12 remaining games this season. "When James Beattie is fit and on form, with the amount of running he does he can carry whole back four on his own," he said. "I feel he is going to be key for us. However, I don't think we're allowed to score more than one goal at Goodison at the moment, I think it's an unwritten rule!" Neville added: "We have got a never-say-die attitude in abundance. But maybe for six months we lost some of that toughness, some of that 'nobody is going to beat us' siege mentality.. But since Christmas we have got it back." Former Everton striker Mark Hughes, now the Blackburn Rovers manager, knew he had been beaten by a crowd as much as a team. The Rovers coach said: "The crowd were excellent for Everton, they were their 11th man and drove them on and Everton deserved it. "We never tested their first keeper, the second keeper or anybody. We didn't test their back four and Everton were very much in a comfortable position. "We never created clear cut chances and that was credit to them. They worked extremely hard and deserved the points." Everton manager Moyes added: "The fans played as big a part as anyone. They were intimidating, they shouted for everything. The players fought for everything and the manager shouted for everything, we all wanted to see it through."

Goodison is so united to upset odds against us
By Mark O'Brien, Daily Post
Feb 13 2006
LAST Wednesday night at Stamford Bridge the gap between Everton and Chelsea couldn't have been more pronounced. The Blues of west London looked unstoppable while those of Merseyside appeared rather toothless. Few could have imagined then that come Saturday Jose Mourinho's men would be getting overturned convincingly at the Riverside while David Moyes's charges would be putting on their performance of the season at Goodison Park. For that is what the 1-0 win over Blackburn Rovers represented. Rovers might not be the most illustrious of opponents - although they are no mugs by any stretch - but the circumstances surrounding the match were such that the Toffees appeared to have the whole world against them. Not only was there the news that Duncan Ferguson had received a further four-match ban following the incident at Wigan, but suddenly we found ourselves with hardly any goalkeepers to call upon, never mind strikers. Iain Turner must have been gutted to see his big chance, his full home debut, over almost before it had even begun, and the pundits' belief that he was hard done to and that his handling outside the area didn't deny anyone a clear goalscoring opportunity probably came as little consolation to him. And it was interesting to note that Everton's most famous new fan, Florent Sinama-Pongolle, was eager for the young keeper to be dismissed. The on-loan Liverpool striker was over in a flash to put pressure on Peter Walton, who in fairness didn't need much persuading. The referee didn't seem to take kindly to the vociferous Goodison crowd and seemed determined to go out of his way to show that he was, indeed, the man in charge. We've seen it a few times down the years - the more the crowd appeal the more the man in the middle takes a perverse pleasure in being contrary and giving every borderline decision the other way. And boy did the crowd appeal. The sense of injustice in the face of Walton's refereeing and the bad luck we're suffering at the moment, allied with the determination shown by the players on the pitch, saw the team and the supporters pull together in a way that only happens every now and again. Happy punters in the pubs around Goodison afterwards looked almost exhausted with the effort of urging the team on against the odds. And the reaction of, say, Phil Neville, who leapt up and punched the air at the final whistle, showed how much it meant to the players, too. They were all magnificent, and an indication of just how well they played, against a Rovers side containing plenty of pace and power, was that John Ruddy, the 19-years-old keeper who replaced Turner, only had one real save to make. It was a good stop too, but he still received a tongue-lashing from Tony Hibbert - or the 'only one Tony Hibbert' as the song went on Saturday - when he failed to come and gather a ball in the dying moments. Those split-second moments of indecision can prove fatal at the top level, as Turner found out to his cost, so it is no surprise that Moyes hopes to get special dispensation from the FA to bring a new, more experienced keeper in on loan. He needs to be careful, though that his baiting of the FA doesn't have a similar effect as the Goodison crowd's protestations have on some referees. Criticising the men at Soho Square, as he did in his post-match comments, is far more likely to earn you a fine than their co-operation. Even if they get no joy and have to persevere with Ruddy on his own you get the feeling at the moment that this squad would cope, as they seem able to handle just about anything thrown at them since the turn of the year. That they now find themselves a mere five points off fifth place despite their horrific start to the season is testament to that. Qualifying for Europe is still a lot to ask though, especially as the sides vying for that UEFA Cup place, such as Bolton and Arsenal, have games in hand on Everton. However, with a lot of the early season traumas seemingly well behind us, and everyone now pulling in the same direction, there's no reason why they can't give it their best shot.

Victory typified the club's desire
View from the stands by John Nelson Everton supporter, Daily Post
Feb 13 2006
IT'S a long, long time that I came away from Goodison feeling like I did after Saturday's incredible display. As David Moyes said in his post-match comments this was a team performance which typified everything about Everton Football Club. Each and every player gave immeasurable volumes of effort, exhibiting such a desire to succeed that Blackburn were for the most part completely over-whelmed. Victory, however, was far from convincing, but as Mark Hughes quite rightly stated, such was Everton's strength of character, there was only ever going to be one winner. Of course it didn't appear that way after the quite remarkable opening which saw us have a Tim Cahill strike ruled out, an open goal missed by James McFadden and our young goalkeeper Iain Turner inexplicably sent off on his home debut. You couldn't help but fear the worst. But this is Everton. Anything can happen. And on Saturday it did as we were treated to one of the most exciting, visceral and heart-stopping matches in recent years. Referee Mr Walton played no small part in keeping the game on a knife-edge. What with the over-zealous dismissal of Turner, brandishing yellow cards at will and ruling out a further two Everton strikes - of which one, Alan Stubbs' towering far post header - surely should have stood. As it was, none of this mattered as the outstanding Tony Hibbert led a rampant Everton to a formidable victory. It's after games like this you just wonder what if we hadn't had such a poor start? But if we can reproduce that display each week we'll have had a season to remember.

Victory typified the club's desire
View from the stands by John Nelson Everton supporter, Daily Post
Feb 13 2006
IT'S a long, long time that I came away from Goodison feeling like I did after Saturday's incredible display. As David Moyes said in his post-match comments this was a team performance which typified everything about Everton Football Club. Each and every player gave immeasurable volumes of effort, exhibiting such a desire to succeed that Blackburn were for the most part completely over-whelmed. Victory, however, was far from convincing, but as Mark Hughes quite rightly stated, such was Everton's strength of character, there was only ever going to be one winner. Of course it didn't appear that way after the quite remarkable opening which saw us have a Tim Cahill strike ruled out, an open goal missed by James McFadden and our young goalkeeper Iain Turner inexplicably sent off on his home debut. You couldn't help but fear the worst. But this is Everton. Anything can happen. And on Saturday it did as we were treated to one of the most exciting, visceral and heart-stopping matches in recent years. Referee Mr Walton played no small part in keeping the game on a knife-edge. What with the over-zealous dismissal of Turner, brandishing yellow cards at will and ruling out a further two Everton strikes - of which one, Alan Stubbs' towering far post header - surely should have stood. As it was, none of this mattered as the outstanding Tony Hibbert led a rampant Everton to a formidable victory. It's after games like this you just wonder what if we hadn't had such a poor start? But if we can reproduce that display each week we'll have had a season to remember.

Beattie's our key to Europe
Feb 13 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
PHIL NEVILLE believes Everton will stamp themselves as serious contenders for a European spot if they maintain their impeccable home form - and matchwinner James Beattie stays injury-free Everton are the Premiership's form team, having transformed the shape of their season with six wins and a draw in the last seven league matches, the latest being Saturday's breathless 1-0 victory over Blackburn Rovers. It is a run that has taken the Blues to within five points of Arsenal and fuelled expectancy among supporters. There is no question that Everton are moving in the right direction and with Beattie leading the line with purpose, Neville senses the momentum is with David Moyes' men. "After the start we had, we are not going to make any bold predictions," Neville said. "If we are going to make any predictions, you can probably say we are out of relegation trouble. "We are playing the kind of football that doesn't deserve to go down and the run we are on is not relegation form. "The boss said the other day that there is always one team that comes up late and makes a dash for the European places. If that's Everton this year, that would be brilliant. "After the disappointing start to the season we had, it would be great to give the fans something to cheer about but we have still got some tough games to come. "The positives are that we have got a lot of home games and if we carry on the kind of form we have done, then I think we'll qualify for Europe. "It's going to take an unbelievable effort and we've still got a small squad. We need to keep everyone fit, particularly James Beattie because he will be a key player for us." Everton have a long break before their next Premiership match at Newcastle and this week will be spent recharging the batteries - much needed following their weekend exertions. Making light of three disallowed goals and Iain Turner's early sending off, Neville reckons the bigger the challenge Everton face, the better they like it. "Someone said at half-time that they were the kind of circumstances that were made for Everton Football Club and it's embroidered in the club's tradition," said Neville. "The fans would probably prefer to win like that than a four or five-nil stroll. That's the way the fans were brought up and I must admit it's a great feeling when you win like that and you all dig in." Meanwhile, Everton will contact the Premier League today to see if they can bring in a goalkeeper on loan to solve their crisis. Nigel Martyn and Richard Wright are both injured, while Turner will be banned for the trip to St James' Park. Arsenal's third choice Mart Poom is one name being discussed.

My Blues gave me their all - Moyes
Feb 13 2006 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES was still consumed by a sense of injustice as he reflected on Saturday's remarkable victory over Blackburn.The Blues' boss criticised the FA's decision to increase Duncan Ferguson's three-match ban to seven games, gave his opinions on referee Philip Walton's performance - and doubted whether he would be given special dispensation to bring in a new goalkeeper on-loan. But he also saluted a magnificent performance by the 10-men who overcame prohibitive odds to triumph 1-0. John Ruddy became the Blues' fourth goalkeeper of the season, when he replaced the red-carded Iain Turner after just eight minutes. Moyes explained: "What did I say to John Ruddy before he went on? I just asked him 'Have you got any gloves?' "John was brought from Cambridge to be here three or four years down the line. He certainly has the physical attributes, as you can see, but we have to develop him as a goalkeeper over the coming years. "He was probably delighted just to be on the bench in a first team fixture, let alone playing 82 minutes.Referring to the goalkeeping situation in general, Moyes added: "The hardest thing for a young goalkeeper is decision making. They can be great on crosses and making saves, but they have to decide when to come out and when to stay back and that only comes with games. "I would like to try and get a goal-keeper in on-loan, but the way the FA treat us I don't think we'll be given dispensation."As for increasing Duncan's ban, it's disappointing but the incident certainly merited an extra punishment."But to increase the ban to more than the original punishment. . . for a push? I can pick out four or five other pushes like that which haven't been punished this season - one just across the way. "But the people working for the compliance office don't seem to know the difference between football decisions. "But today we were excellent. We did everything that was asked of us. It's no more than I would expect from them really, but they excelled in their workrate and effort. Every one of them. "We created one or two half-chances and tried to play at the right times, but Blackburn are a good side. "People talk about them being a kicking team, but they pass the ball well, and once we got the ball and took the game to them we looked dangerous." Moyes explained his half-time behaviour when he advanced towards referee Walton and his officials, cupping his ears and pointing at the booing crowd. "I thought the ref did everything very honestly today, and I can't say that about when we had Newcastle here recently. But when I went out at half-time I just said 40,000 people here aren't getting everything wrong you know! "I turned around to Alan Irvine when Faddy put his shot against the crossbar and said 'it's not going to be one of those sort of days is it?' Then 30 seconds later we had the goalkeeper sent-off. "It was one of those games where everything looked to be against us but the players pulled everything out and got a result. They did a remarkable job. "I've not really had a chance to sit back and watch it because I felt I had to work so hard today to get a result, to try and keep the players doing certain things. "But we came in and saw the league table and that merited a cheer. We have been trying to get into the top half for so long, and while we may be back down below halfway after Sunday's games, it was still good to see. "After the Chelsea result I was a little bit worried because we have had the kind of season where we have won four, then gone and lost four and it was important to bounce back."

Airport firm bids to build new Goodison
Feb 13 2006 EXCLUSIVE by Neil Hodgson, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON is in talks with £2bn property giant Peel Holdings to build a new stadium at Switch Island. The company, one of the biggest developers in the UK, is offering the land it owns at Netherton. Peel, led by multi-millioniare recluse John Whittaker, will provide a feasibility study into building the ground. The news is a massive step for the club. Peel Holdings has a record of pulling off major developments around the country. It owns Liverpool John Lennon airport, Mersey Docks and Harbour Company, the Manchester Ship Canal and the Trafford Centre. A senior Everton source said the study is entirely at Peel's expense and would not cost the club a penny. A City source close to the talks told the ECHO today: "The plan is for Peel to build a new stadium for Everton to gradually acquire it on a lease scheme. "Over the medium term the plan would be a win-win for both parties." Everton director Paul Gregg confirmed that talks with Peel have taken place and fully supports the proposals. "Any opportunity that Everton has for new means to provide a new stadium would be fantastic." He welcomed Peel's interest: "It is quite obvious the present board does not have the financial resources to support the club's ambitions and maybe they should be looking at new opportunities and new investors."Everton secretary Keith Wyness revealed two months ago that the club was in talks over a new stadium and that one option was to build it within a three-mile radius of the club's current Goodison Park home. That would include Switch Island, near Maghull. Peel issued a statement to the ECHO today, saying: "Following the acquisition of Mersey Docks and Harbour Company, Peel now own a number of sites that have the potential for development in Liverpool and we are exploring future uses of this land with a number of different organisations." An Everton spokesman added: "We have a number of options still open to us. Since the demise of Kings Dock we have continued to look at a range of options and that will continue."
Long search for home victory
EVERTON'S search for a new ground began in 1997 when then chairman Peter Johnson polled supporters on a proposed move.Land at Gillmoss, Kirkby and even Cronton was considered, but the move never transpired. New chairman Bill Kenwright and shareholder Paul Gregg then proposed a futuristic waterside stadium and conference facility on Kings Dock in a deal with North West Development Agency and construction giant Bovis Lend Lease. But Everton's inability to raise £30m towards the development meant the dream died in 2003. A proposal to build a ground on Central Dock was mooted later that year by urban regeneration expert David Taylor, but again it never materialised. However, Peel's track record in property development represents the club's best opportunity so far.

Everton 1, Blackburn 0 (Echo)
Feb 13 2006 By Dmonic King
ONE of these days it is going to happen - somebody will win a holiday at half-time. Numerous people have tried and failed this season to hit the crossbar twice during the interval for an all expenses paid trip away but nobody has come closer than the gentleman on Saturday. Striking the woodwork with his first effort before just missing with two subsequent attempts, this plucky supporter left the field to rapturous applause. He would not be the only one to receive such lusty, widespread acclaim. It was the kind of absurd afternoon when logic was flung out of the window, making for a game where anything that happen could happen did except one small thing. Everton failed to grab the second goal their breathless performance so richly deserved. Just as it is only a matter of time before one Evertonian strikes it lucky and makes off with the wonderful prize on offer, surely it can't be long before David Moyes' men win by more than the narrowest of margins. Can it? Mind you, there will be few complaints if the Blues keep playing as they did against Blackburn Rovers between now and the end of a campaign that is taking more twists and turns than an Alfred Hitchcock thriller. Scan the dictionary looking for ways to describe Everton's latest 1-0 win - the ninth of the year - and only one word can do justice to a performance that simply beggared belief. Heroic. Making a mockery of the fact they were numerically disadvantaged for the majority of a pulsating game, Everton refused to allow all their recent good work to unravel when goalkeeper Iain Turner was sent-off just nine minutes into his Premiership debut. Strictly adhering to the letter of the law, referee Peter Walton had no choice other than to brandish a red card to the young Scot after he handled outside the area. But did Turner prevent the visitors a clear goalscoring opportunity? Hardly. While many expressed fears that the writing was on the wall for Everton from then on, the opposite was true. Brave, bold and bellowed on by a belligerent crowd, Blackburn were left bewildered as the Blues set about them. When Goodison Park bounces as it did at the weekend, there are few more intimidating arenas in the country. The noise levels appeared to frighten the life out of Mark Hughes' men and meant their attacking threat was negligible. John Ruddy, the 19-year-old keeper who came on to take over from Turner between the posts, could not have asked for a better game in which to make his debut. Thanks to the efforts of the men in front of him, he only had one save to make. During this superb run of six wins and one draw from the last seven Premier-ship matches, it is no surprise that Everton's climb up the table has coincided with the return to form of the defence. In particular, the full-backs have been magnificent. Tony Hibbert - is there a better English right back in the country at present - and Nuno Valente will simply not allow anyone past them. Valente may have had a torrid introduction to the Premiership and he was given a chasing by Shaun Wright-Phillips at Stamford Bridge last Wednesday but he didn't put a foot wrong against Blackburn. Nor did Hibbert. Mind you, he hasn't for an age. Shy and unassuming off the pitch, once he crosses the white line, few can match his commitment. How fitting that the Gwaldys Street sang his name after one thunderous challenge late in the game. As for the central pairing, David Weir and Alan Stubbs are keeping Father Time at bay in the same way they have done centre-forwards in recent weeks. Craig Bellamy became the latest frustrated attacker to leave Goodison Park. Bar a couple of raids down the flanks, the most this obnoxious creature contributed was stoking the fire in Tim Cahill following one heated confrontation in the first half. If any player could start an argument in an empty house, it is Bellamy. This display, however, was more than just about the men at the back. Prozone stats will show that Cahill, Phil Neville, Mikel Arteta and Leon Osman covered every blade of grass to throw in tackles and support counter-attacks. Kevin Kilbane - harshly dropped to make way for James McFadden - did likewise when he replaced the injured Osman in the second half, as did Lee Carsley, who came on when James Beattie had nothing left to give.
There may be some forwards who despair when they are given the task of being the lone frontrunner. Not Beattie. Rather than sulk after McFadden had been sacrificed for Ruddy, the one time England man tormented Andy Todd and Ryan Nelson. Crucially, he also popped up with deciding goal. Ignoring Weir's instructions to take his time with a free-kick, Arteta curled a wonderful ball onto Beat-tie's head, which he bulleted past Brad Friedel. Some will think Everton should have been at least three goals to the good before Beattie came up trumps. One would be more accurate, as there could be no complaints about the efforts Cahill had ruled out for offside. McFadden, though, will still be cursing his miss after getting the better of Friedel and Todd. Had he be playing for a holiday, his effort that smacked the bar would have been cheered like goal. Unfortunately, howls of despair were the only accompaniment. No matter. Not even another disallowed goal after the break from Alan Stubbs - again correctly ruled out for off-side - could break Everton's spirit in their pursuit of a massively important victory. Afterwards, an ashen-faced Moyes looked shattered as he discussed the ramifications of the win. No wonder. So animated was he on the touch-line, there must have been occasions when Valente thought his manager was setting off an over-lapping run. Sensibly, he played down the predictable talk of European push. Everton's fortunes have fluctuated so much this year that with 12 games to go, anything can and probably will happen. But when you consider that Everton have taken 19 points from the last 21 available - they only took 17 from the first 19 games - it is no surprise that other people are doing the talking for him. Having hauled themselves to within five points of Arsenal, the Blues now have a short break to recharge the batteries before resuming hostilities with a difficult trip to Newcastle United later this month. Keep the sequence going at St James' Park and it won't only be supporters at half-time playing for trips to foreign destinations.
EVERTON (4-4-2): Turner; Hibbert, Stubbs, Weir, Valente; Arteta, Cahill, Neville, Osman (Kilbane 60); McFadden (Ruddy 10), Beattie (Carsley 79). Subs: Naysmith, Davies.
BOOKINGS: Neville, Valente (fouls), Kilbane (timewasting).
SENDING-OFF: Turner (deliberate handball).
BLACKBURN ROVERS (4-4-2): Friedel; Neill, Todd, Nelsen, Gray; Bentley (Kuqi 72), Savage (Tugay 58), Reid, Emerton (Peter 58). Subs: Enckelman, Khizanishvili.
BOOKINGS: Nelsen, Todd (fouls).
REFEREE: Philip Walton
ATT: 35,615

Whistling up drama sparked by injustice
Feb 13 2006 Analysis by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
THE name Mr Philip Walton will resonate around Goodison Park for years. Saturday's referee left the pitch with a reputation somewhere between Ann Diamond and Vlad the Impaler's. But, in truth, he should be saluted. Yes, really. Because the eccentric performance of Mr Walton and his two out-of-shape assistants was responsible for one of the more memorable matches of recent years. The record books will carry the bare statistic: Everton 1, Blackburn 0. But the real story is so much more colourful, so unpredictable, so wildly improbable. And it was fired by a sense of injustice which came from the officials. Two disallowed goals, one inexplicably; a contender for miss of the season; a red card for a home debutant goal-keeper; two yellow cards in front of a disbelieving crowd. What an opening 16 minutes! An incendiary atmosphere never wavered for a minute after that as home fans reacted with incredulity to what they were witnessing. Perhaps Mark Hughes had had a word with his new loan signing from Liverpool and suggested one or two ways of quietening the Goodison crowd. That could be the only explanation for Florent Sinama Pongolle's curious pre-match interview. "Everywhere I go in Liverpool, the football fans I meet are all Everton fans," he declared, with all the authority of a man who has "been in this country for three years." He added: "The bigger part of people in Liverpool all support Everton. Liverpool have fans in Europe and everywhere else. That's why Anfield is so full. But when you go to Goodison, it is just full of Liverpool people. It is all Scousers." It's an old chestnut - and patently untrue - but any goodwill it might have engendered in the Goodison stands evaporated the second Walton blew his whistle. The first disallowed goal was hardly his fault. The portly official on the Goodison Road touchline waved offside for that decision, although the flag curiously went up after Tim Cahill had scored. The murmur from that moment had barely died down when James McFadden produced an uncannily accurate Ronny Rosenthal impersonation which might have been the reason why 90 seconds later it was his number held aloft when Iain Turner was red carded. The young home debutant clearly - if instinctively - handled Alan Stubbs' header outside his box. But the rules state a goalscoring opportunity has to be denied - and it was unclear which Blackburn player was actually in any position to profit. Those decisions, however, further fuelled by another disallowed goal for Cahill, created a burning sense of injustice which blew Blackburn away. Earlier in the season Everton might have bemoaned their bad fortune and sunk dispiritedly to defeat.Not now. The Blues breathed fire and an unquenchable never-say-die spirit and there were exceptional performances everywhere on the pitch. Both full-backs, Tony Hibbert and Nuno Valente, were outstanding. James Beattie's selfless and solitary front-running display was the stuff of which crowd heroes are made, while fourth choice goalkeeper John Ruddy might have looked like long term Southall understudy Jason Kearton, but he proved infinitely more reliable. Everton even had another 'goal' controversially ruled out. "Four-nil to the Everton," roared the Gwladys Street, while the redoubtable barriers of Stubbs, Weir and Neville refused to give up the one which had actually counted. Everywhere you looked there were compelling cameos. David Weir pointing earnestly into Mikel Arteta's face and offering instruction before the 32nd minute free-kick. No-one knows what he said, but Arteta clipped in a classic and Beattie buried a wonderful header; David Moyes marching brazenly onto the pitch at half-time, cupping his ears and pointing at the officials - not once, but three times (I was just telling them that 40,000 people aren't getting everything wrong here, was his post-match explanation); Alan Stubbs celebrating wildly, if just a little sarcastically, when the Bullens Road assistant actually gave an offside decision in favour of Everton; then Tim Cahill's 92nd minute shot at an unguarded Gwladys Street goal - with Brad Friedel stood in the Park End penalty area. If that had gone in, we really would have needed to go for a long lie down. The Goodison legends who regularly populate the stadium's press box - stars like Ratcliffe, Sharp, Mountfield and Horne, men who really do know about drama and occasion - were shaking their heads in disbelief at half time. By full time one or two needed a nerve-steadying Chang. The players who had produced that reaction deserved something stronger . . . and plenty of it. So, well done, Philip Walton. Your performance may have been eccentric, but it helped produce a match which will live long in the memory.

Everton allowed room for Poom
By Ian Doyle, Daily Post
Feb 14 2006
EVERTON will target Arsenal's Mart Poom after they were yesterday given permission by the Premier League to sign a goalkeeper on an emergency loan. The Goodison outfit were forced to make the request after Iain Turner was sent off nine minutes into his Premiership debut against Blackburn Rovers on Saturday. Turner must now serve a one-match suspension, ruling him out of Everton's next game at Newcastle United on February 25. With Nigel Martyn recovering from an ankle operation and Richard Wright sidelined for up to six weeks by ligament damage, it means 19-year-old John Ruddy - who also made his Premiership debut at the weekend as Turner's replacement - is the only available keeper on the club's books. Everton manager David Moyes doubted the Premier League would give their permission for a loan signing outside the transfer window and was even contemplating asking 46-year-old goalkeeping coach Chris Woods to re-register as a player. But Everton have now been given the green light to press ahead in their attempts to find an experienced goalkeeper on a short-term deal, with Arsenal's third-choice keeper Poom at the top of the wanted list. Ian Ross, Everton's head of communications, said: "The Premier League has considered our request and has now given us permission to sign on loan a goalkeeper. "This will be subject to us submitting medical reports in relation to the current condition of both Nigel Martyn and Richard Wright." Turner is not the only Everton player to miss the trip to St James' Park on Saturday week through suspension. Tony Hibbert and Phil Neville will both miss the game after their fifth bookings of the season at the weekend triggered an automatic one-match ban, while Duncan Ferguson will serve the fourth of his seven-game suspension. Nevertheless, Neville believes securing European football is possible after a seven-match unbeaten league run banished memories of when Everton were bottom of the table in October. "After the start we had we are not going to make any bold predictions," he said. "But you can say we are probably out of the relegation fight and are playing the sort of football that doesn't deserve to get relegated. "Our run is not relegation form and the boss has said there is always a club that comes up late to make a challenge for Europe. After the start we had it would be great to give our fans something to cheer about now. "The positives are that we have a lot of home games left and if we can maintain this form then I think we can qualify for Europe."

Proud to be Blue
Post Soapbox, icLiverpool & Daily Post
Feb 14 2006
Proud to be Blue
I WAS really proud to support Everton FC on Saturday. There are times when we fans lose our rag and get so fed up with things, but days like Saturday make it all worthwhile. We didn't just beat Blackburn. We beat the referee and the linesmen.
Jim Hunter, Liverpool
Crazy gang
WHAT a result at Goodison on Saturday and what a crazy game of football. We now have to look at pushing for that UEFA Cup slot. Every single player played wonderful. Nuno Valente and Tony Hibbert have come on tremendously since Christmas, the entire midfield were great and James Beattie capped off a courageous display with a classic header that Big Dunc would have been proud of.
Harry Smithers (via e-mail)
Go for Yakubu
DAVID Moyes is putting all the right bricks into place for the future and things are taking shape. If we carry on at this rate, a statue of him will be built next to Dixie! I would like to see a substantial bid to sign Yakubu in the summer; he would fit into our team ethic well.
Terry Welsh, Liverpool
High spirits
I MUST say that I was disappointed when we resigned Alan Stubbs in January. Maybe that's why David Moyes picks the team and not me! Hopefully we can go to Newcastle in two weeks' time and keep this run going. Superb display against Blackburn. The lads gave everything and a bit more after that. There is no substitute for team spirit and this Everton team has it in abundance.
Stephen Dean (via e-mail)
ARE THE people who run the FA determined to make Everton scapegoats for all their crazy rules that are ruining the game. To class a simple handball in the same category as a spit in the face, a two-footed legbreaker or an elbow in the throat is lunacy. Everton must now hold the record for the most disallowed 'good' goals in a game, Peter Blewitt (via e-mail)
Stuck in mud
I HOPE Liverpool City Council leader Warren Bradley and other advocates of ground-sharing noted the condition of Chelsea's pitch and others recently. And also realised that it is as a result of only one team playing their matches there and we are only two thirds into the season.
Jack Moss, Garston, Liverpool

Liverpool is the home of Everton - not Knowsley
By Andy Kelly, Daily Post
council last night pledged to do all it can to keep Everton Football Club within the city boundaries following reports of a proposed move to Sefton. It was suggested yesterday the Goodison club were interested in a site near to Switch Island currently owned by Peel Holdings, owner of Liverpool John Lennon Airport and the Trafford Centre. While the club itself privately distanced itself from any such move, former council leader Mike Storey last night said Liverpool council was keen to make sure the city would not lose the Everton name to its near neighbour. There is still enormous regret about Liverpool FC building its academy in Knowsley, tempted away by the borough's then chief executive, David Henshaw. Cllr Storey, who now has responsibility for cultural and other special initiatives in Liverpool, said: "I'm quite sure the city council will do all it can to make sure both Liverpool and Everton stay within the city limits with any new stadiums. "I had heard that Peel's land at Central Docks was a possibility for Everton and I believe that is a far more likely stadium site than Switch Island." Everton have been approached by Peel Holdings about the Switch Island site and Peel are paying for a feasibility study to ascertain its suitability for a football ground, but events are not thought to have progressed any further than And the Daily Post understands Everton are cool on the idea for two reasons. Firstly, the Switch Island site is green belt (formerly used for farming) and as such would be subject to a highly rigorous planning process and a lengthy public inquiry. Those objections have been defeated by other developments though and it is the second reason, the club's reluctance to abandon its 125-year roots within the city boundaries of Liverpool, which is probably more key. Everton fans have learned to treat all stadium possibilities with some scepticism. And it is understood the Peel approach is one of just dozens from various developers with land to sell on Merseyside, in the knowledge that Everton have a publicly-stated desire to find a new stadium.
Given the well-documented lack of funds at Goodison, any stadium deal would almost certainly have to be preceded by new investment in Everton, even if the stadium was to be paid off through some sort of lease deal. Last night both parties were remaining tight-lipped about any possible developments. A statement from Peel said: "Following the acquisition of Mersey Docks and Harbour Company. Peel now own a number of sites that have potential for development in Liverpool and we are exploring future uses of this land with a number of organisations." Everton spokesman Ian Ross said: "Since the demise of Kings Dock we have continued to look at a range of options and that will continue

Beattie urging caution
Feb 14 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
JAMES BEATTIE is refusing to fan the flames of expectation by making any bold predictions of what Everton might achieve before the end of the season. Having rattled off six wins and a draw since the turn of the year, David Moyes' men are now within touching distance of the top six after turning a season that was drifting nowhere on its head. Beattie's goals have been crucial to Everton's rise up the table - his winner against Blackburn Rovers taking his tally to eight - and he is at last showing the form that persuaded Moyes to pay a club record £6m when signing him 13 months ago. Given that Everton are the Premiership's form team, there have been suggestions that the momentum gathered in recent weeks will carry them into a UEFA Cup spot when the campaign reaches its climax. However, Beattie is refusing to tempt fate, instead erring on the side of caution.
As encouraging as this run of form has been, the 27-year-old knows only too well that fortunes can change in the blink of an eye. "I said a couple of weeks ago that we were on a good run and that nobody would get carried away, talking about Europe," Beattie stressed. "We just like to get on with our job, nice and quietly, and take each game as it comes. "It's a cliché but that's what you have got to do. You can't harp on about what you could do. If it happens, that's when you can say 'that's what we have worked hard all week for'. We are going out to play football, and getting results at the minute. "We would like to continue playing and it is unfortunate that we are off. We are out of the FA Cup but maybe it gives some of the lads a chance to refuel, get their energy up and come back and play in two weeks." While the chance to recharge the batteries is welcome, Beattie makes it quite clear that nobody in the squad will be switching off. A look around the dressing room immediately after Saturday's game confirmed the desire in the ranks. "I could just see in the lads' eyes that they were so hungry to get the result," Beattie added. "That's what happened. It's not that I haven't been before but I am very proud to be an Everton player. I've got nothing but praise for everybody. "There are a lot of workers in our team, then you have got the special footballers, the ones who can really play a bit. It's a great mix and we really put a shift in against Blackburn. We deserved to be winners. "The situation that arose through Iain being sent-off was one where we could have either let our heads drop or got stuck in and put the work in. We really tried. "Sometimes when that happens, it brings an extra little bit out in you."

Arteta: Blues need to shrug off one-goal wonder tag
Feb 14 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON may be riding on the crest of a wave at present but Mikel Arteta is still not satisfied.
Through grit and endeavour, six wins and a draw in the last seven Premiership matches have hoisted the Blues into the reckoning for a place in Europe. But if they are going to stamp themselves as genuine challengers for a UEFA Cup spot during the final 12 matches of the campaign, one area of play needs vast improvement. As Arteta points out, Everton have made winning 1-0 an art form - nine of the 11 league victories have been by that score - but now the time has come for the squad to refine their shooting boots. Encouraging as the recent run has been, the impact on the goal difference column has not been nearly enough. Frustratingly, the Blues tally stands at minus 13 and Arteta would love to see nothing more than Everton develop a ruthless streak. "We've had a very good run," said Arteta. "The best for a long time. And it is good because we have been playing against the top teams. "We should score more than we are doing because one-nil is sometimes not enough. When it is one-nil, the other team can still make chances to score. "It is something that we need to improve. Even last year, we were not scoring many. "Defensively we have been very good in the last few weeks and now we need to score more. We do pass the ball and link together when we play at a high tempo." The need for more goals, however, is not something that is just required from the strikers. Arteta is well aware he and the rest of the midfield could do with increasing their contribution. Though he has goals in the Champions League and FA Cup to his credit this year, his sole Premiership strike -admittedly a screamer - came at Blackburn in December. "We were in a bad period [when we went to Ewood Park] and we needed some wins," said Arteta. "That goal helped the team to victory, so that was an important one "It is nice when it is a good goal as well and I would like to score more goals this year. I have been unlucky sometimes and have been playing quite a lot in front of the defence. "So I don't have so many chances to go forward but the goals will come. I am more of a creator. It is good to give a goal for my mates. I like that. "Obviously it is nice to score yourself sometimes. I don't score many goals but the ones I do get are quite nice."

Battle to keep club in city
Feb 14 2006 Liverpool Echo
LIVERPOOL politicians are likely to go to extra time to try to keep Everton football club inside Liverpool's boundaries. Many small businesses, such as shops, takeaways and pubs, depend on a fortnightly cash bonanza from home games at Anfield or Goodison. If that was taken away, they would struggle to survive and the area could even struggle to attract as much regeneration cash.
Liverpool council leader Warren Bradley is seeking "urgent talks" with Everton to find out the club's plans. He said: "The areas around Goodison and Anfield have kept their traditional district centres with pubs and shops because of the clubs' presence. "I will be fighting to keep Everton within the city boundaries. It is crucial at least one club stays in this area." Walton MP Peter Kilfoyle said: "As long as one club stays and redevelops alongside its current home, it would be a massive boost and bring in further investment. "I think economic forces will determine where the clubs look." Peel Holdings and Everton remain tight-lipped about the exact location at Switch Island under discussion.
The ECHO understands Peel holds an option on farmland next to Switch Island and there appear to be two possibilities:
* Land south of the M57 between Asda and Aintree Hall Farm
* Land north of the Northern Perimeter Road, around Brook House Farm.
But it is clear the proposal will not have a smooth ride. Both sites are green belt land, so deputy prime minister John Prescott would have to give his approval. He recently rejected an Ikea store off Dunningsbridge Road because it would create too much traffic. A football stadium would generate far more traffic than a furniture store. An added complication for the Brook House Farm site is that Sefton council still has it earmarked for a bypass to draw traffic away from Thornton.
What Blues fans think
Steve Foulkes, 47, a councillor from Wirral, said: "Being a season ticket holder for 25 years I would be a sad to see Everton move from Goodison but it would be difficult to expand there and currently the facilities for fans are not the best. It would make my journey to the match far more difficult."
Robert "Tate'" Taylor, 65, from Toxteth, said: "The facilities at Goodison are a bit of a joke and it would be great for the club to have a new ground but I don't want them to have to move to Switch Island. Everton were the first club in Liverpool, why should we have to move out?"
Amanda Dutton, 44, from Wallasey said: "The fans won't be happy having further to travel. Businesses in the city centre and in the Everton area are likely to suffer. Relocating outside of the City of Liverpool is definitely an issue -Everton was the first club in the city and they should remain there."
Phil Eaton, 48, from Halewood said: "Everton have to move with the times and modernise. I think it's all about the money. I'd rather Everton stayed at Goodison and knocked down some houses so they could expand. I strongly disagree with them moving out to Netherton."
Robert Roscoe, 22, from Aintree said: "I'd be disappointed if Everton chose to leave Goodison and I would hope that the club would let the fans have their say. I'd prefer the club to develop a new ground at Goodison. The new site would increase the journey for most fans and be more inconvenient."

Blues ticket details
Feb 14 2006 Liverpool Echo
EVERTON v FULHAM to be played on Saturday, March 11 (Kick-off 3pm) TICKETS are on sale to Evertonia members only and are available from the Park End Box Office from 9.30am-4.30pm Monday to Friday and 9.30am-12.30 on Saturdays. For a junior discount, present your £5 discount voucher with your membership card to claim your discount. Evertonia membership entitles the holder to one ticket per membership. General sale commences on February 27.

Turner absolves referee of blame
By Ian Doyle, Daily Post
Feb 15 2006
IAIN TURNER has refused to criticise referee Philip Walton for ruining his Premiership debut on Saturday. The 22-year-old goalkeeper was sent off only nine minutes into his first league appearance for Everton after handling outside his area against Blackburn Rovers at Goodison. Walton's decision to dismiss Turner angered his team-mates and the home supporters, with many pundits also sympathetic to the goal-keeper's plight. But the former Stirling Albion shotstopper believes the referee had no option but to show the red card given the current interpretation of the laws of the game. "That is the rule, you handle outside the box, you are going to get a straight red," said Turner, who is now suspended from the trip to Newcastle United on Saturday week. "I just realised I was out of the box and I couldn't pull my hand away quick enough. It was some debut anyway!" Turner had mistakenly handled while attempting to deal with a header from Alan Stubbs, who had not played in the goalkeeper's debut for Everton at Chelsea in the FA Cup four days previously. "There was a bit of a lack of communication on both parts," he said. "It is one of those things. Probably with more games there'll be more understanding, so in a couple of games time that probably wouldn't happen, so you just learn from these things. You learn from your mistakes and hopefully don't make them again." Of his ban, he added: "It is only a one-game suspension, but it is still too long for me. The boys have been supportive, as they always are, but it is not what you want on your debut, 10 minutes in." His suspension and the injuries to Richard Wright and Nigel Martyn mean 19-year-old John Ruddy is the only available keeper on Everton's books. David Moyes has been given special dispensation by the Premier League to bring in akeeper on a short-term deal, with Mart Poom of Arsenal top of his wanted list. Meanwhile, reserve team captain Mark Hughes has joined Stockport County on a month's loan.

Win training session with the Blues
Feb 15 2006 Liverpool Echo
TO get your Sunday League team at the peak of match fitness, Wash & Go has teamed up with the Liverpool ECHO to give you the opportunity to train and look like the professionals. One lucky Merseyside team will get to hone their skills during a training session with the Everton Football in the Community team, followed by an exclusive 'behind the scenes' tour of Goodison Park on Sunday, February 26. The winning team will look stylish on the pitch with a new set of Wash & Go training bibs, as well as the chance to pick up some tips from their Blues heroes with tickets for their next home game against Fulham on Saturday, March 11. The Wash & Go range includes universal and anti-dandruff variants, as well intensive conditioner Rich @.
For your chance to win the super prize, simply identify the Everton player pictured.
Is it a) Mikel Arteta, b) Phil Neville, c) James McFadden?
To enter: Call 0901 560 9656, leaving your answer, name, address and day time phone number. Alternatively, you can text your answer. Key in LECOMP50, followed by a space and then your answer, name and post code, sending your text to 84080. Calls will cost 60p, although calls from mobile phones may vary. Text messages are charged at 50p, plus standard text rate. Usual competition rules apply. Lines will be open from today (noon) until next Monday (noon). A winner will be selected at random. * The training session is for adult teams only (16 years and above).

Yobo and Stubbs is the ticket
Feb 15 2006 Echo Letters, icLiverpool & Liverpool Echo
WITH the imminent return of Joseph Yobo, the debate seems to be should Alan Stubbs keep his place in the side. Why isn't anyone asking whether David Weir should keep his place in the side? A combination of Yobo's pace and Stubbs' tough tackling is what's required, and Weir has played a lot of games and could do with re-charging his batteries.
Dawne Cooper, Wirral
SURELY if, as widely talked about, the referee misinterpreted the rules about only sending the keeper off for handball outside the area if he is denying a clear goal-scoring opportunity, then the club should appeal Turner's dismissal. If it were successful, David Moyes would not need to recruit a stand-in keeper.
Dave Roberts, West Kirby
I DON'T know about anyone else, but that match on Saturday gave me so much satisfaction. Ten men for 81 minutes, and we came through with flying colours because we didn't just defend deep we took the game to Blackburn for a large portion of time. What a pity we didn't win two or three games that way at the start of the season.
Bill Stansfield, Conwy
JAMES BEATTIE is getting himself a step closer to a seat on the plane to Germany with every winner he scores for Everton. If England need a target man to mix things up, surely Beattie is a better option than Peter Crouch, who looks about as dangerous as a kitten with a duster.
Ben Marsh, Crosby

Blues Miami bonding trip
Feb 15 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
THE majority of Everton's first team squad are still in Miami on a bonding trip, looking to recharge their batteries ahead of the final push. Notable exceptions to have stayed on Merseyside include Lee Carsley and John Ruddy. Both men are expected to play in tomorrow night's reserve clash against Liverpool at Haig Avenue. Carsley in particular will be keen to improve his match fitness following a lengthy lay-off. With Phil Neville suspended for the match at Newcastle at the end of the month, it would appear the perfect opening to give Carsley his first start of the season in a game that will be crucial to Everton's ambitions. David Moyes, however, is keen to play down all talk of Europe and will be just happy to see the Blues progress in the right direction. "We look as if we are getting away from the wrong end of the table," he said. "Even with not having enough centre-forwards or having enough goalkeepers, we are managing to get ourselves through because they are a really good group of players."

Everton eye back door into Europe
Feb 15 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON could have an alternative route into Europe after applying for a place in next season's Intertoto Cup. After winning six of their last seven matches, the Blues have closed to within just five points of fifth-placed Arsenal, raising hopes that they could snatch a UEFA Cup spot via their final Premiership position. However, Everton have made sure that all bases have been covered after meeting UEFA's February 14 deadline set for all clubs who want to lodge applications to participate in the competition. The top five places in the table all provide European qualification, though that figure could increase depending on which teams win the FA Cup and Carling Cup. The next highest ranked club would then enter the Intertoto. While the competition has been derided in some quarters down the years, a change in the format has now made it more appealing to clubs as three qualifying rounds are played now, rather than five. If Everton's bid was successful, they would enter in the third round and it would mean their season beginning on Saturday, July 15 with the return leg taking place seven days later. The 11 victorious sides would then go through to the second qualifying round of the UEFA Cup, which replaces the old system where the winners of three finals would progress to the UEFA Cup's first round proper.

Blues fan hounded beyond the grave
Feb 15 2006 By Luke Traynor, Liverpool Echo
BAILIFFS are hounding the family of a car crash victim - saying his death certificate is not proof he was killed. Everton fanatic Michael Blake died 10 months ago in a road accident, but debt collectors demanding cash are still threatening to take HIM to court. Leeds-based Lowell Group is pursuing him beyond the grave for a £114 Sky TV subscription. The 28-year-old's family, from Kirkby, has sent his death certificate to the firm on three occasions - to no avail. Today, after the ECHO contacted Leeds-based Lowell Group, it apologised to his devastated family for the upset caused. But Michael's father, Michael snr, said: "It's not enough. They have made our life a living hell over the last year. "How many time do I have to tell them that he is dead?" Since May, the company has: * Sent handwritten letters to Michael's 87-year-old grandmother, stating bailiffs were due to come round on Saturday night to take her possessions. * Sent up to 25 letters to Michael's father and aunt threatening the dead man with immediate court action. * Ignored countless phone calls made by the family asking why they were still being harassed. The family even sent details of Michael's funeral director to the Lowell Group so bailiffs could check that he really was dead. His father said: "You couldn't make this up. I've rung them until I'm blue in the face and I can't take it anymore." Telecommunications manager Michael was killed last May as he drove to Newcastle after celebrating Everton's clinching of a Champions League spot. He spent the evening celebrating at the team's after-match party, but got a lift with a friend in the early hours of the morning. He suffered fatal injuries when their car plouged into the back of a lorry. The name written on the death certificate was Michael Godfrey, his mother's name, but the family explained the difference to Lowell Group soon after his death. Christine Rowe, Michael's aunt, said: "I'm disgusted with the way the family and Michael's memory has been treated." A spokesman for the Lowell Group said: "The name stated on the death certificate was a Michael Peter Mark Godfrey and a request was made for a call to Mrs Rowe to clarify the reason for the different name so we could close the account. "Regretfully, due to an administrative error, the account was passed down the incorrect flow path and the Mr Blake received three further letters. "We regret and apologise that Mr Blake received the further letters."

Goodison makes top 20 of rich list
By Ian Doyle, Daily Post
Feb 16 2006
EVERTON have been rewarded for success on and off the field by breaking into the top 20 of football's 'rich list' for the first time. Their fourth-placed finish last season helped the Goodison outfit register the finest financial results in their 127-year history that has seen them move into 18th place in the Deloitte football money league published today. The findings are testament to the turnaround in Everton's financial fortunes that has been instigated by chief executive Keith Wyness, who has sought to streamline the business and improve revenue streams. November's annual report revealed the club's turnover had increased by 34% to a record £60million. Of breaking into the top 20, Wyness said: "This is something we have been actively working towards and is self-evidently tremendous news. Over the past 12 months or so, we have been working diligently on improving and increasing revenue streams. "Although we are delighted with the news, the key thing now is to consolidate as we attempt to ensure the name of Everton Football Club becomes a regular feature in such listings." Merseyside neighbours Liverpool have moved up two places to eighth following their Champions League-winning campaign with a turnover of £122.4m.
Manchester United have been usurped from top position for the first time in eight years, with Real Madrid now officially the wealthiest club in the world. Real have soared into the lead earning £186.2m - £20m more than United - in 2004-05. By comparison United saw their earnings drop from £171.5m to £166.4m. United are followed by AC Milan and Juventus in the list, both clubs having benefited by huge recent broadcasting deals, while Chelsea have slipped a place to fifth. Arsenal have dropped from sixth to 10th place after failing to match their unbeaten season of 2003-04.

The list is entirely made up of European clubs, with English clubs occupying eight of the positions, Italian clubs five, three clubs from Spain, two from Germany, Celtic from Scotland in 16th place and Lyon from France in 15th. Newcastle are 12th in the list, Tottenham 13th, Manchester City in 17th and Everton 18th.
Deloitte Football Money League revenue in millions of pounds, 2004/05 season (2003/04 season in brackets): 1 (2) Real Madrid 186.2, 2 (1) Manchester United 166.4, 3 (3) AC Milan 158.0, 4 (5) Juventus 154.9, 5 (4) Chelsea 149.1, 6 (7) Barcelona 140.4, 7 (9) Bayern Munich 128.0, 8 (10) Liverpool 122.4, 9 (8) Inter Milan 119.7, 10 (6) Arsenal 115.7, 11 (12) Roma 89.0, 12 (11) Newcastle 87.1, 13 (14) Tottenham 70.6, 14 (17) Schalke 04 65.8, 15 (-) Lyon 62.7, 16 (13) Celtic 62.6, 17 (16) Manchester City 60.9, 18 (-) Everton 60.0, 19 (-) Valencia 57.2, 20 (15) Lazio 56.1.

Everton apply for new-look Intertoto
By Ian Doyle, Daily Post
Feb 16 2006
EVERTON yesterday explained a change in the format of the Inter-toto Cup encouraged them to put their name forward for next season's competition. The Goodison outfit have lodged an application to compete in the much-derided summer tournament, which offers a gateway to European competition. The move represents a change in stance for Everton, who had previously insisted entering the competition could hamper pre-season preparations. However, the fact English clubs now only have to play one twolegged tie on July 15 and 22 before winning through to the UEFA Cup second qualifying round has made tournament a much more attractive proposition. Middlesbrough, Newcastle United and Blackburn Rovers have also confirmed their interest and it is believed a number of other Premiership clubs including Wigan Athletic, Bolton Wanderers and Manchester City have registered to take part. Only the highest-placed team in the Premiership that has applied for the Intertoto and has not qualified for Europe through another route will be eligible to qualify. "The new format means that we would have home and away matches in July and then if we got through that we go straight into the second round of qualifying for the UEFA Cup, so therefore you are straight into a major competition and we thought it was well worth doing," said chief executive Keith Wyness. "I would think eighth would be where we would have to finish, eighth last year was 52 points so we will have to see where we end up this year. Europe gave us all a flavour last year and we are all still licking our wounds after the way it turned out, but it does make us think that we want to be there on a consistent basis and I think that this is just one part of the way to do it Having won six of their last seven league games, Everton have moved to within five points of fifth-placed Arsenal and harbour genuine hopes of earning UEFA Cup qualifi-cation through their league position. With four players suspended for the trip to Newcastle United on Saturday week, Everton manager David Moyes is hopeful Lee Carsley can challenge for a first senior start of the season. The midfielder made substitute appearances against Chelsea and Blackburn last week and is expected to line up for the reserves in the mini-derby against Liverpool at Haig Avenue this evening. And Moyes, who is currently away with the majority of the senior squad in Miami, said: "Lee really has had no football when you think of the time players take over pre-season and the games they need, but we are a little bit short and we need Lee to add to the squad." Andy van der Meyde, who has been sidelined for more than two month with a thigh injury, is also closing on a first-team return. "Andy is getting better and hopefully he is not too far away," said Moyes. "He is looking much more likely to come back shortly now."

Foundation in helping hand for hero Harris
Daily Post Feb 16 2006
THIS year sees Everton celebrate two FA Cup milestones. It is now 100 years since the Goodison club first won the competition thanks to Sandy Young's solitary strike against Newcastle United at Crystal Palace. Forty years ago, Harry Catterick's side participated in arguably the most dramatic FA Cup final that Wembley has ever witnessed when, with just 33 minutes remaining and two goals down, Everton stormed to victory thanks to a brace from Mike Trebilcock and a Derek Temple drive. Nowadays, most of the Class of '66 are in their mid-60s and some have experienced troubled times. One of these players is Brian Harris, a utility star who made over 350 appearances in 12 seasons at Everton. Considered to be the joker of the pack for his quick wit and ability to play a practical joke, his life was made increasingly difficult by a throbbing pain in his knee. "Even though I live in Newport, I still enjoy coming up to watch Everton," he said.. "But a couple of years ago, I couldn't face the journey on some days because of the pain in my knee. "I was really struggling to get by until I approached the Everton Former Players' Foundation who paid to have it replaced last summer.
"Now I'm able to come up for the games - and, who knows, I may even bring my boots on a Saturday! "I couldn't have afforded to pay for the operation myself and I know that although the Foundation arranged to have it done, it was really the fans who paid for it by supporting the events that it organises, such as the testimonials and reunions at the Holiday Inn. "Those nights are great, but I have to confess that I don't remember too much about them the next morning. "It's always the same when the lads get together. I'm sure most of the people who go there have the same feeling though!" His operation cost the club's Former Players Foundation a substantial amount of money for a charity that relies solely on the generosity of the fans. However, this particular Everton star fully appreciates the gesture. "I know a lot of my former team-mates who have been helped by the Foundation don't really like to come forward," said Brian.. "They are proud men and they don't want to speak about the fact that they've been helped, but I am happy to do it. Everton Football Club means the world to me. "I love coming to Goodison and seeing my old mates again and I will be forever grateful to the fans and the Foundation for helping me do this." Brian's finest moment for Everton came in the 1966 FA Cup final, which many consider to be his best game for the club. He proudly displays his medal wherever he goes and is at his happiest when recalling one of the most famous days in the club's history. * THE Everton Former Players' Foundation will be holding its annual dinner on Friday, March 17, at the Holiday Inn, Liverpool city centre. Ian Snodin will be the guest speaker. Tickets, priced £40, are available by calling 0151 520 2362.

Faddy nets 3-year deal
Feb 16 2006 EXCLUSIVE by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON striker James McFadden is to close to signing a new, improved contract.
Signed from Motherwell in September 2003 for £1.25m, the Scotland international - capped 23 times by his country - has 18 months left on his current deal, but Everton are eager to extend his stay on Merseyside. Though talks are currently ongoing, and there are still a few details left to iron out, it is understood that McFadden has been offered a new three-and-a-half year deal which will keep him at the club until June 2009 and is ready to put pen-to-paper. After an up-and-down start to his Everton career, McFadden - who has scored six goals in 83 appearances for the Blues - has been a much more consistent performer and forged a promising partnership alongside James Beattie. Of the eight matches they have started together, Everton have won four, draw one and lost three but there have been genuine signs that there is something to work on in the future. Blues' boss David Moyes said at the club's AGM last November that he wanted to lower the average age of Everton's squad by getting younger players on long-term deals and the offer to McFadden is further evidence of his work. Having secured the services of Tim Cahill, 27, Tony Hibbert, 24, and Mikel Arteta, 23, for the foreseeable future at the beginning of the season, agreeing terms with 22-year-old McFadden is another step in the right direction. With the majority of Everton's first team squad still away on a training camp in Miami, the emphasis will be on youth tonight as the reserves take on Liverpool in the mini-derby at Haig Avenue (7pm). Lee Carsley, looking to take another step closer to full fitness after a lengthy spell on the sidelines with knee ligament damage, and John Ruddy will be the only players in Neil Dewsnip's side boasting top flight experience. It will be a crucial runout for Carsley, who has made substitute appearances in the last two games against Chelsea and Blackburn Rovers, especially as Phil Neville is suspended for the trip to Newcastle on Saturday week.
Meanwhile, chief executive Keith Wyness has expanded on the reason behind Everton's application to be entered into next season's Intertoto Cup and rubbished suggestions they are financially motivated. The fact that the English representative in this year's competition will only have to play in one qualifying round - over two-legs July 15 and 22 - means that there is little disruption to pre-season training. "We talked extensively with the chairman and the manager and with the new format of the Intertoto Cup, we decided it was worth trying to see if we could make progress in Europe," said Wyness. "It doesn't have a monetary impact. It's not really a financial decision, it's a football decision that we have talked about in terms of getting more European experience."

Blues' team getting it right
Feb 16 2006 Sports View with Echo Sports Editor John Thompson
IT ISN'T a league table which many fans take much notice of or which offers the winners a trophy to parade around. Nor is it necessarily a measure of a club's true wealth or financial health.
But there is real cause for celebration today in seeing Everton Football Club break into the Top 20 of football's rich list. Because it is a significant achievement and one which ultimately connects to the success or otherwise of the team. Credit must go not just to manager David Moyes but also to the club's hierarchy and the new back of the shop regime which has now put the Blues back on the financial map of Europe. There is no doubt that two years ago Everton were in serious danger of being left behind in terms of the club's commercial operations, its marketing activity and its money generating methods. Put brutally, England's fourth most successful football club was looking old fashioned and stale in the way it was going about its business. As an organisation alone, it was badly under-performing. When new chief executive Keith Wyness was brought in by Bill Kenwright and gave his first presentation to shareholders about the state of the Goodison nation, he laid out some very unpalatable truths to a hushed audience. The Blues were not operating in the modern age, nor generating the money needed to keep them competing at the top level. Yet, as well as delivering the home truths which didn't sit easily, Wyness also offered clear solutions. Yes, some have been unpopular - raising ticket prices and the hiking-up cost of revamped corporate facilities has been painful and controversial. But the fans have taken the increases on the chin and continue to turn up in numbers which most professional clubs can only dream about. New club shops have been opened in the city centre and in Wirral and Chester, with fans targeted in new high street areas. And the recent deal to hand over the shirt sales and the entire retailing operation means Everton maybe sacrificing some income to their partners JJB. But in return they are getting a stable revenue stream from the deal and letting those with the real expertise in this area employ it for them. So, when Everton appear with the big boys in today's table, it is not just a reflection of Moyes' success in taking the team to fourth place in the Premier-ship last year. It is also a sure sign that the club is starting to get things right behind the scenes and beginning to generate the cash which must ultimately be used to develop the team with sureness and confidence over the longer term. Massive issues remain, including where the Blues might fund and build a new stadium. But today we are seeing the green shoots of recovery in Everton's financial fortunes. Heaven help us when supporters get pleasure from leagues like these or are expected to applaud the men in suits. But a satisfactory nod of approval from Evertonians towards those administrators at Good-ison is worth thinking about.

Osman confident of St James' Park return
By David Prior, Daily Post
Feb 17 2006
LEON OSMAN is confident his recurring injury problems will not keep him out of Everton's Premiership trip to Newcastle next week. The Goodison midfielder has been forced to hobble out of his side's last two matches - against Chelsea and Blackburn - with groin and back injuries respectively. But with Everton currently enjoying a mid-season break in Miami, Osman is hopeful he will have time recover his fitness for the game at St James' Park on February 25. He said: "I hope I will be okay next week. I will see how it settles down but I am very optimistic. "I thought I was getting on the end of Mikel Arteta's cross when I landed badly in the six-yard box. I got inside the man and stretched and just got my trailing leg caught in the ground and jarred my back. Afterwards I was getting shooting pains down my legs so I couldn't continue. "It has been a good run that we have been on but it has been a tough one. A few of the lads have taken knocks along the way and this two-week break will benefit us I feel." Osman, who has been a key figure in the club's revival over the second half of the campaign, believes it is important that Everton retain the spirit that saw them to their extraordinary, 10-men win over Blackburn last week. He added: "It was a complete team effort (against Blackburn). Young Iain Turner was unlucky to get sent off like he did. But we all had to pull together and try and get a result. We did that and that is the type of the thing we have been doing lately and let's hope we can continue to do it. It is a great spirit that we have at the moment and it is a great squad of players. Whenever you miss out everyone is disappointed and you just have to play your best so hopefully it isn't you. "I think what we faced with going down to 10 men against a good passing side like Blackburn - they pass the ball around all over the place - we knew we were going to have to get in amongst them and stop them doing that any way. But to have done it with 10 men and get the result we did was a fantastic result." Meanwhile, James McFadden's belated emergence this season is set to be rewarded by a new Goodison contract. McFadden, who joined in a £1.25million move from Motherwell in September 2003 has 18 months left on his current deal but the club are keen to tie him to a longer stay on Merseyside.
The winger is thought to be close to signing a new three-and-a-half year deal that will keep him at the club until June 2009, and is recognition of a much more consistent season for the Scot.

Wright move
Post Soapbox, icLiverpool & Daily Post
Feb 17 2006
Wright move
TURNER and Ruddy show a great deal of promise but an experienced goalkeeper is needed now with tough fixtures coming soon. I think most Evertonians realise that Wright is just not good enough as a Premier goalkeeper and with his off-field injuries - twice injured in warm-ups and the infamous suitcase incident - I think it's time that David Moyes told him to pack them.
Gerry Maguire (via e-mail)
Top 20 hit
UNFORTUNATELY, being in the top 20 of the richest clubs does not mean Everton have much cash available, so it seems. If they have the cash then it should have been used wisely to strengthen the squad and provide a special striker and perhaps added spice in midfield. The squad is not far off from being a good one.
Colin Gee, Merseyside
Great Scot?
McFADDEN nets a goal and a performance a year and gets given an improved three-year deal.
You must be joking! It's as big a waste of money as keeping Naysmith or re-signing Pistone.
Mark Ashcroft, Leigh
NIEMI could have been signed for £1m, as could Ashton two years ago. Moyes is so shortsighted it's untrue, highlighted by the re-signing of Pistone.
Steve Phelan, Skelmersdale
Memories of '66
IT'S hard to believe that 40 years ago I was lucky enough to be at Wembley for the most memorable final ever. My 10-bob ticket cost me eight quid from a tout, but what a bargain especially as we found ourselves among the Sheffield Wednesday supporters who were naturally made up at half-time after going two up. Cue little Mike Trebbo with two great strikes, then 'our Derek' with a goal that dreams are made of. I know the 'Matthews Final' is rated the greatest but try telling us who were there in '66.
CP Partridge, Wirral

A game to make you pity non-followers
By Mark O'Brien Everton supporter, Daily Post
A week it's been for Everton - an incredibly dramatic home win, talk of both a new stadium and a new goalkeeper, and even the chance of European football next season, albeit in the guise of the Intertoto Cup. It's a good job we've got a week off to allow us to recover from all the excitement.
Phil Neville wasn't entirely correct when he said that Evertonians enjoyed nerve-shredding backs-to-the-wall performances more than five goal strolls, after all, when was the last time we had one of those to compare? However, there was no denying that those inside Goodison last Saturday certainly felt like they got their money's worth. Every last player was phenomenal and the atmosphere was comparable to that when Manchester United visited Goodison last season.
There has been a lot of dissent and division among the supporters during this campaign, as there always is when things are going awry, so to see everyone - the team, the management, the supporters and even the ballboys who walked painfully slowly to retrieve balls for the opposition - pulling in the same direction, was refreshing. It was the sort of occasion that reminded you why you bother with such an expensive, often frustrating pastime, and made you almost pity those who don't follow football and therefore have probably never experienced that sort of raw emotion. Luckily some of the players managed to keep cooler heads than the supporters - particularly John Ruddy who was probably just delighted to be on the bench at the start of the game. After a pretty assured display, helped immeasurably by the fact that the defence and the midfield protected him magnificently, he must secretly be hoping to keep his place for the trip to Newcastle next week.
As well as a stiff test for a depleted Everton side, the trip to St James' Park will be the chance to take in one of best grounds in the country. Despite its size it still has character and generates a great atmosphere, something entirely new developments often fail to do. With that in mind, it is interesting to hear renewed talk about the feasibility of a new home for Everton, and all the advantages that could bring, but for those who cherish the sort of unique atmosphere generated at Goodison, such as the one at the Blackburn game, it is difficult to get that excited at the prospect.

Everton Res 0, Liverpool Res 1
Feb 17 2006 Daily Post
RAMON CALLISTE hit the only goal of fiercely-contsted Mini Derby at Haig Avenue to give Liverpool Reserves victory over their Everton counterparts in the FA Premier Reserve League Northern Section last night. Liverpool, though, saw new signing Daniel Agger forced off at the break due to an injury. On the postive side for Everton, Lee Carsley braved the wind and rain on a blustery night at Haig Avenue while his first-team counterparts bathed in the sunshine of Miami, as the midfielder continued his comeback from injury. The game wasn't for the faint-hearted with one red and numerous yellow cards were shown in a fiery affair. James Harris's tackle on Agger was the sign of what was to come. Chances were plenty in the first half as Liverpool opened the strongest with Danny Guthrie causing Everton problems throughout the half. First his shot was charged down by Patrick Boyle and then he saw a long-range effort go just wide of Thordur Ingason's post. Victor Anichebe and Paul Hopkins combined for Everton's best chance of the first half but the latter shot wide. Liverpool ended the half the strongest and nearly went ahead thanks to a back header from Everton's Boyle which nearly flew into his own net but instead it went just wide. Daniel O'Donnell then replaced the injured Agger for the second half and was mysteriously booked for what could only have been some sort of dissent. Meanwhile Sean Wright and Adam Hammill squared up to each other as the game threatened to get out of control. John-Paul Kissock went close for Everton but after Carsley was replaced by Scott Phelan on 64 minutes things went wrong for Everton.
First James Harris was shown a straight red card for a poor challenge on Hammill and minutes later Liverpool took the lead. Goalkeeper David Martin cleared a kick down field and substitute Calliste finished superbly past debutant goalkeeper Thordur Ingason. It looked like another derby draw was on the cards when Stephen Wynne hit a shot goalwards only for James Smith to clear off the line.
EVERTON RESERVES: Ingason, Wynne, S Wright, Kearney, Boyle, Carsley (Phelan 64), Seargeant (Irving 90), Harris, Anichebe, Hopkins, Kissock(Vidarsson 76) Subs: O'Brien, Holt.
LIVERPOOL RESERVES: Martin, Barragan, Smith, Roque (Antwi 88), Agger (O'Donnell 46), Hobbs, Anderson, Peltier, Idrizaj (Calliste 10), Guthrie, Hammill. Subs: Wilis, Foy.

Carsley primed for Blues return
Feb 17 2006 EXCLUSIVE by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
LEE CARSLEY has put himself in line for a first start of the season against Newcastle United next week after taking another significant step towards full fitness. Having been sidelined with a knee ligament problem for most of the campaign, Carsley looked sharp when playing 64 minutes for Everton reserves in last night's mini derby at Haig Avenue. Though the Blues were beaten 1-0 by Liverpool, Carsley came through unscathed and his return could not be better timed with Phil Neville set to serve a one-match ban at St James' Park. The Republic of Ireland international is still some way short of peak condition but he now hopes a week of intensive training will give manager David Moyes something to think about. "It's all down to the gaffer now," said Carsley, who has made brief substitute appearances in Everton's last two games against Chelsea and Blackburn Rovers. "He knows how fit I am and he'll decide what's best. It would be crazy to say that I'm ready to play a full 90 minutes but I don't think I'm too far off. I'm feeling all right at the minute. "What I really need now is more training with the lads. I love playing with the reserves but you can tend to switch off sometimes and training offers that something different. "The lads are really sharp and the sessions are always intense. That is what I need now more than games. "I've had a couple of run-outs as a substitute and played 45 minutes for the reserves last week, then 60 minutes last night. There is a bit to work on, but nothing drastic." Carsley was one of Everton's most influential figures during last season's push for Champions League qualification, but has assumed the role of frustrated spectator this time around. His biggest frustration was missing the European games at the start of the campaign. But there is every chance he could fulfil that ambition next season. After winning six of their last seven Premiership matches, Everton have put themselves in the hunt for UEFA Cup qualification and Carsley sees no reason why the Blues can't achieve that goal. "It's been a nightmare but I've been back around the squad for a couple of months, so things are getting better," said Carsley. "To play as many games as I did last year and then miss out on the Champions League was really difficult, but the lads have done brilliantly recently. "Europe is a possibility and we are definitely good enough."

Beattie may face FA charge
Feb 17 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
JAMES BEATTIE could face an FA rap over comments made after last week's win over Blackburn.
Officials at Soho Square want the Everton striker to explain what he meant when saying: "We were playing against the officials, so it was 14-10 in Blackburn's favour." Beattie has until the middle of next week to respond

'Seventies were not as dark as people say' - Latchford
Feb 17 2006 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
NEVER meet your heroes. It's an old saying, one which implies that the object of your affections will somehow never live up to the pedestal you have placed them on. But it's wrong. Bob Latchford was my hero. And he completely and utterly ridicules the notion. Now 55-years-old, he could comfortably pass for a man 10 years younger. He is charming, self-effacing and humorous. He carries less body weight than he did in his footballing prime. And he even lets slip that he became a father again . . . just two years ago. "Still can't stop scoring, eh Bob?" I joke, weakly. He smiles politely and patiently explains how he lost his wife to cancer, met an Austrian girl several years later, fell in love and unexpectedly, but happily, became a dad once again. The now forty and fifty-something Blues who worshipped the ground he walked on between 1974 and 1981, would surely approve. For those too young to remember Latchford in his pomp, he was a goalscoring machine, a centre-forward hewn from the same stone as Dixie Dean and Tommy Lawton. Never one to expend energy unnecessarily outside the penalty area; inside it he sparkled. He netted 135 goals for Everton after Billy Bingham had smashed the British transfer record to bring him to Goodison in 1974 - and in 1978 he became the first footballer for six years to score 30 league goals in a single season. During an era when Liverpool were the dominant force at home and abroad, Latchford's exploits gave Evertonians some pride back. That goal-strewn campaign is still talked about today - and it is the reason Latchford was back on Merseyside recently.
The Everton Former Players' Foundation, a registered charity which looks after the club's less fortunate old boys, has commissioned a book to celebrate the achievement. On sale in April, entitled simply "30", it is a fund-raiser for the Foundation, one which Latchford is only too happy to endorse.
"It's a snapshot of the history of Everton," said Latchford. "It's not just about me, but a wide range of other players and people, all those who contributed to me scoring the 30 goals. "Whenever I come back here (he now lives in Nuremburg, Germany) Evertonians still want to talk about that season.
"They want to talk about any ex-Everton player, mind. Anybody who's ever kicked a ball for the club, but if you've ever had a special connection with them it goes even deeper. The enthusiasm which they have for all ex-players always surprises me when I come back." That enthusiasm reached its peak in the mid-1970s, when the Gwladys Street's battle anthem was "Bobby Latchford walks on water." As his 30-goal season gathered pace - and Lena Martell topped the pop charts with "One Day At A Time" - a short-lived replacement was aired. "One goal at a time Bob Latchford, that's all we're asking of you," it went. "When you hit the bar, we all say aah. One goal at a time." "I don't remember that one," admits Latchford. "Although there are some goals from that season I haven't got a clue about, either. Newcastle away I can't remember anything." He does remember, however, a permanent souvenir a former Newcastle striker gave him. Rolling up his trouser leg to reveal an ugly 10 inch scar, he ventures: "Go on, guess who did that." All the usual suspects are exhausted - Tommy Smith, Norman Hunter, Ron Harris, until he reveals: "No, Malcolm MacDonald. It was a terrible tackle. And he wasn't booked. "But the game was so much more physical then. And harder. I honestly think it was harder to score then. "You would think goals were easier to come by in the past, but you don't know for sure. It's all judgemental. "It would be interesting to know the stats of the different eras, on goals scored per game, whether the Seventies was a particularly difficult time to score. "Nowadays, I don't think defenders are working hard enough to close down, block and stop crosses. "I think it's maybe easier to score now than it was when I was playing, which is why I'm interested in those stats. "You can't touch players now. It was certainly more physical in the Seventies. "When I was coaching at Birmingham a few years ago we used to coach the young strikers in the Academy to stay on their feet, because defenders can't tackle you without giving away a foul. "Nobody knows how to tackle now and because the game is so much faster, challenges often look worse than they are. "There is no doubt the average Premiership player today is more athletic, bigger and has benefited from modern physiological, dietary, medical, remedial and scientific advancements. That might give them the edge because we didn't have that." An edge, Latchford believes, was all Everton FC needed during his spell at the club. He bristles at the suggestion that the Seventies were a dark period in the club's history - and points out that a fourth-place finish in 1975, a third and a fourth in '78 and '79, plus near misses in the cups deserve greater recognition.
"That whole period of the Seventies has been coloured by what happened before and what happened immediately afterwards," he explains. "If you isolate that period and take Liverpool out of the equation, it's not as dark an era as a lot of people think it was. "Whenever I speak to other players they always say we never had a world class goal-keeper. We had international goalkeepers in Georgie Wood and Dai Davies, but they weren't world class. "Billy Bingham said to me when I signed, we'll be signing Peter Shilton. I thought 'great' but it never happened. And I believe he would have won us the league in 1974-75. "We lost to Carlisle home and away that season, who were relegated. Those points would have won us the league. Derby sneaked it and that could have been the start of something great. "But for one or two incidents, a couple of players doing things they never ever did in their life before or since, and a referee who did things because he wanted to get noticed, we'd have been successful. "Then there was the semi-final against Liverpool. Enough said."
Even now, 29 years on, Latchford can't bring himself to say any more about the Clive Thomas travesty. He continued: "Then the League Cup final, where Chris Nicholl scored a 30-yard screamer. Where did he get that from? The 1980 semi-final at Leeds, where Frank Lamp-ard scored about the only diving header of his career. "Those individual incidents were the turning points of an era. If those had gone for us it could have been a very successful time. But it was still a better era than most people give it credit for. "I think it's time to revisit history and say the Seventies were not as dark as people say. Trouble is, it's judged by what they were doing across the road." Latchford left the Blues in 1981 to join newly promoted Swansea. "After the '78 season, things were going wrong off the pitch and my confidence suffered," he explained. "By '81 I thought 'That's it. I've done as much as I can.' "Howard (Kendall) took over and tried to persuade me to stay, but when I make up my mind I never go back on it, for better or worse. "Maybe I could have been a part of what happened a few years later, but Howard only offered me a one-year contract and I could have still missed out. "But my soul is with Everton. I might have started at Birmingham, but my soul is at Goodison."

We'll decide on stadium this year
Feb 17 2006 By Neil Hodgson, Liverpool Echo
THE FUTURE for Everton's stadium will be known by the end of this year. That was the pledge from club chief executive Keith Wyness last night. In an audience-style forum with members of private sector lobby group Downtown Liverpool in Business at Goodison Park, he outlined the three options open to the club in its bid to develop a state-of-the-art ground. And he vowed: "By the end of this year we will have a big move forward on something." Answering questions from the audience, he virtually ruled out a shared ground with rivals Liverpool or redeveloping their current Goodison home. That leaves building their own ground the most likely outcome. He said Liverpool bosses David Moores and Rick Parry are not keen on sharing grounds, commenting: "Over their dead bodies, I think they said." He added: "Redeveloping Goodison will be difficult financially, not being able to generate naming rights." Of the three options facing the club, he admitted: "Our own stadium is probably the furthest advanced." The ECHO revealed on Monday that property giant Peel Holdings had approached Everton with an offer to build them a ground at Switch Island. Mr Wyness confirmed: "Switch Island is one of these options, but developers come to us all the time. "I am listening to everyone, but the key thing is realistic delivery. If you make the decision, you are stuck with it for 50 or 60 years." And he hinted the club may prefer not to own a new ground: "Leaseback is one possible formula. Another is forming a stadium company to build it and we pay a management fee and would never own it, just lease it." He also indicated finance might not be as much a hurdle now. Yesterday Everton was named for the first time in the top 20 world clubs in turnover and he said: "We are a different club compared with a year or so ago. We think the bank would probably lend money to us rather than the team across the park."

Blues' Miami trip raises a few questions
Feb 17 2006 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
ON Wednesday, February 8, Everton, not unexpectedly, slipped out of the FA Cup.
On Sunday, February 12, more than 30 players, coaches, officials - plus their assorted skips and baggage - made the not inconsiderable trip to Miami for a week-long training camp - taking advantage of the then free weekend. Which just got me to thinking . . . when was it booked?
Were Everton just being super efficient, like the Germans, booking up the best hotel for the World Cup final before they've even kicked a ball in the group stages? Or were they being just a little bit defeatist and not a hundred per cent confident of success at Stamford Bridge? Cup trial is worthwhile LAST summer Everton played Motherwell on July 16 and Manchester City on July 23.
One involved a 400-mile round trip, the other around 16,000 miles. If all goes according to plan, this summer they will be facing home and away legs in the cup competition that doesn't have a cup . . . the Intertoto. Even if the experiment hands them a trip to one of Europe's furthest flung destinations, it sounds like a good swop to me.
QUESTION of the week.
Big Ron Atkinson cheated death last week when his wife ordered him into hospital. She was concerned, apparently, when his leg turned a bright shade of red and a tropical infection was diagnosed. It simply begs the question, how could she tell?

Men's health awareness event held at Goodison
Feb 17 2006 Liverpool Echo
MEN are being encouraged to take part in a health awareness day at Everton FC next week.
The event, organised by the Anfield Breckfield New Beginnings partnership, is aimed at the over 50s.
Expert advice and information will be available at Goodison on Wednesday from 10am to 4pm, with guests including Diabetes Support, Fag Ends smoking cessation team, Merseyside Energy Efficiency, 5-a-day team, food co-ops and allotments advice, health promotions and even DIY advice.
There will also be the chance for a free haircut, lunch and a chance to win a tour of Everton.
A second event will take place on Tuesday, March 21 at Liverpool FC. More information on 0151-261 0301.

Tough time for strikers
Feb 17 2006 Liverpool Echo
BOB LATCHFORD'S assertion that the Seventies might have been the hardest decade in which to score goals is borne out by stats. Only twice during that decade was the 30 league goal mark reached. Francis Lee needed 13 penalties in his 33 goal haul in 1972, while Latchford converted twice from the spot when he repeated the achievement six years later. The mark was regularly reached in the Fifties and Sixties, while in the 1980s three different goalscorers topped the 30 total, including Ian Rush and Gary Lineker. Alan Shearer became the first post-war striker to do it in three successive seasons in the Nineties.
Post-War 30 league-goal marksmen (top flight): Thierry Henry (30) 2004; Kevin Phillips (30) 2000; Alan Shearer (31) 1996, (34) 1995, (31) 1994; Andy Cole (31) 1994; Lee Chapman (31) 1991; Clive Allen (33) 1987; Gary Lineker (30) 1986; Ian Rush (32) 1984, (30) 1987; Bob Latchford (30) 1978; Francis Lee (33) 1972; Ron Davies (37) 1967; Roger Hunt (30) 1966, (34) 1964; Jimmy Greaves (35) 1964, (37) 1963, (41) 1961, (33) 1959; Ray Crawford (33) 1962; Derek Kevan (33) 1962; Dennis Viollet (32) 1960; Bobby Smith (36) 1958; John Charles (38) 1957; Nat Lofthouse (33) 1956; George Robledo (33) 1952; Stan Mortensen (30) 1951; R Rooke (33) 1948; Dennis Westcott (37) 1947.
* ALL proceeds from "30" will be go towards the Everton Former Players' Foundation. Anyone who orders before March 1 will be entered into a draw to have lunch with 'The Latch'.

Martyn ready for fight with Wright
By Ian Doyle, Daily Post
Feb 18 2006
NIGEL MARTYN is ready to battle Richard Wright for Everton's goalkeeping jersey in time for next month's Merseyside derby. The 39-year-old has not played for the first team since the FA Cup fourth round tie at home to Chelsea in late January, having been sidelined with a niggling ankle injury that ultimately required surgery. In his absence, Everton manager David Moyes has been forced to cope with a goal-keeping crisis as Wright suffered a badly sprained ankle in the replay at Stamford Bridge and replacement Iain Turner was sent off in the following game against Blackburn Rovers last Saturday. However, Martyn has yesterday revealed he should be fit for the visit to Liverpool on March 25 - the same timescale set for Wright's return. "I had the operation a week ago so I am maybe four or five weeks away from coming back," said the goalkeeper. "I've got to make sure I do the rehab correctly and then get myself fit, hopefully for the end of the season run-in. "It's known as 'footballer's ankle', which is general wear and tear after years of running around, diving and kicking a ball, so the joint has been cleaned out." Martyn had barely undergone his operation when he was made aware of Wright's unfortunate injury at Stamford Bridge. "I got a phonecall when I was just coming round from my anaesthetic!" said Martyn. "I put the television straight on and I couldn't believe it, he was so unlucky. "But Iain did very well. He had a couple of difficult things to deal with early on and he coped really well with them." Fourth-choice goal-keeper John Ruddy was handed an unexpected opportunity following Turner's dismissal at Goodison last weekend, and Martyn added: "I was watching the Sky Sports News programme on Saturday afternoon and when they said that Iain had been sent off, I thought 'oh no!' but John came in and did very well." Turner is now suspended for next Saturday's trip to Newcastle United, with Moyes expected to move for an experienced goalkeeper on loan when the Everton squad return from their mid-season break in Miami over the weekend. Lee Carsley believes he has put himself in line for a starting role for the game at St James' Park, after staying behind to work on his fitness. The midfielder played 64 minutes for the reserves in the mini-derby defeat to Liverpool on Thursday, following cameo appearances as a late substitute for the first team against both Chelsea and Blackburn. And Carsley said: "It's all down to the gaffer now. He knows how fit I am and he'll decide what's best. "It would be crazy to say that I'm ready to play a full 90 minutes but I don't think I'm that far off. I'm feeling all right at the minute." Meanwhile, James Beattie has until Wednesday to respond to the FA over comments made following the win over Blackburn. The striker could face an FA charge after Soho Square officials asked him to explain what he meant when saying: "We were playing against the officials, so it was 14-10 in Blackburn's favour." However, the comments are believed to have been taken out of context from a radio interview in which he was praising Everton supporters.

Rest will only help us, insists Spaniard
By Ian Doyle, Daily Post
Feb 20 2006
MIKEL ARTETA has dismissed fears that Everton's enforced mid-season break could derail their outstanding start to the year. The Goodison outfit have won six of their last seven Premiership games but were without a game at the weekend following their elimination from the FA Cup.
With their next fixture not until the trip to Newcastle United on Saturday, Everton manager David Moyes opted to take the team away on a break to Miami. The squad arrived back over the weekend and Arteta believes the rest period can only benefit Everton as they prepare themselves for their final 12 league games of the season. "We have been playing so many games and people are getting a bit tired so it will be a good rest for every-body," said Arteta.. "We have a couple of injuries as well so now we can get everybody fit again because now we are doing so well and everybody is happy.
"We will have had two weeks without playing so we can get everybody fit again and keep going because now we are doing much better." Meanwhile, Nuno Valente will walk a disciplinary tightrope should he be selected for Saturday's trip to St James' Park after picking up his fourth caution of the season during the victory over Blackburn Rovers earlier this month. However, the Premier League card amnesty comes into force at the end of February, meaning if the 31-year-old avoids a yellow card on Saturday a booking in any subsequent match would not lead to a suspension.

Hibbert backs Blues squad
Feb 20 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
TONY HIBBERT is backing Everton's squad to make light of injuries and suspensions to key players when they resume Premiership business at Newcastle United next weekend. The Blues' in-form right-back will be forced to watch from the sidelines at St James' Park after picking up a fifth booking of the season in the last game against Blackburn Rovers. Aside from Hibbert, Phil Neville, Duncan Ferguson and Iain Turner will also be banned, while Richard Wright and Nigel Martyn are both injured. But with Joseph Yobo set to return to the squad after being away at the African Cup of Nations and Lee Carsley edging closer to fitness, the situation is not too bleak for David Moyes. "Things have been going really well in the last few weeks and it has been great being involved in the games that we have played," said Hibbert. "It's always an honour to play for the club and I will be gutted when the lads run out against Newcastle and I'm not involved. The spirit in the squad has been fantastic and in the last few weeks that has really come through. "The whole team is playing well and I'm confident the lads will continue that, regardless of who is unavailable at Newcastle.
"We are a very strong group and, in the last month, we have had to deal with a lot of injuries and suspensions but we have just stuck together and given our all. "I know every player who pulls on the shirt gives 110 per cent and I know whoever plays in my place at Newcastle will do that."
Everton's squad arrived back home at the weekend following their sunshine trip to Miami and Hibbert says the chance to rest aching limbs was gratefully received. "It has been a tough schedule over the last couple of months but we have shown that we can cope with the demands," he added.
"Last week gave us the chance to recharge the batteries. I'm sure it will stand us in good stead. The frustration for me is that I will have to wait another week before I get the chance to play again."
Skipper David Weir, meanwhile, does not believe that having an enforced break will compromise Everton's chances of stretching their run to a seventh win in eight matches. "We had a bad start to the season but we always had confidence within the group that we had results in us," said Weir.
"Time has shown that. But we don't want the run to end. We want to finish the season in a position where we feel we deserve to be. We have given ourselves a chance of doing that now."

Fans web link could help catch killer
Feb 20 2006 By James Glover, Liverpool Echo
THE parents of teenager Andrew Jones, killed in the city centre, have football fans to help catch their son's attackers. Trainee forklift truck driver Andrew, from Walton, was attacked and killed on a night out with friends almost three years ago. No one has ever been convicted of his death.
Now his parents have put links to their son's website on the fan forums for Liverpool, Everton and Tranmere Rovers in the hope one of the fans could identify the killers. Everton FC are also calling for any of their fans who know anything about the attack to contact police. Everton season-ticket holder Andrew was walking along Hanover Street in the early hours of March 9, 2003 when he was confronted by a gang of five men. He was punched in the face, knocking him to the floor and fracturing his skull. He died in hospital the next day. A 20-year-old man was arrested and charged with the murder but part-way through his trial the judge ordered the jury to find him not guilty through lack of evidence. No other prosecutions have been brought. His family set up a website last year appealing for information about the attack and has now connected it to the fan sites from Merseyside's three professional clubs. Andrew's father Andy told the ECHO: "Someone suggested I put a link on the Everton websites because Andrew was a Blues fan for all his short life. "A Liverpool fan picked up on it and put a link on a couple of their websites. "A lot of young lads go on these sites and this might just get more witnesses to come forward or even get to one of those responsible."

Poom set for loan move to Goodison
By David Prior, Daily Post
Feb 21 2006
MART POOM will join Everton on a loan deal later this week - so long as neither of Arsenal's other goalkeepers are injured in their Champions League clash at Real Madrid tonight. The Highbury club have agreed to loan the Estonian international to Everton on a month-by-month basis following the granting of special permission by the Premier League in the light of David Moyes's goalkeeping crisis.
With both Nigel Martyn and Richard Wright injured and Iain Turner suspended following his dismissal against Blackburn, Moyes was left with only fourth-choice John Ruddy. Poom, 34, will join Everton assuming neither Jens Lehmann nor Manuel Almunia - the Gunners' first and second-choice stoppers - are injured at the Bernabeu tonight. In any case, Poom's short-term contract will include a recall clause should Arsenal require his services during his time on Merseyside. Meanwhile, Alan Stubbs has paid tribute to the Everton crowd for the reception he has received since his return to the club. Stubbs has been in excellent form since returning to Goodison after a short spell at Sunderland. And he said: "The fans have been different class since I came back. "The lads have been saying before that if the fans see you giving all that you can, then they will get right behind you and support you until the end." The veteran defender believes the supporters inspired 10-men Everton to their stunning win over Blackburn 10 days ago. "I think the appreciation of the fans was shown by the reception we got," Stubbs said. "It just typifies the bunch of lads that we have got here."

Blues yet to complete Poom deal
Feb 21 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
MART POOM remains the man most likely to solve Everton's goalkeeper crisis - but suggestions that a deal has been done are wide of the mark. Reports today claimed that the Estonia international would move to Goodison Park tomorrow provided that neither Jens Lehmann or Manuel Almunia are injured during Arsenal's Champions League clash with Real Madrid tonight. There are still a number of contractual issues needed to be settled. But once they have been ironed out, Poom, 34, should arrive on Merseyside in time for Saturday's trip to Newcastle United. It is understood that the deal will be a one-month loan, with Arsenal having the option of an immediate recall should anything happen to Lehmann or Almunia during that period. Everton were granted special permission by the Premier League to bring in a goalkeeper on loan outside the transfer window following injuries to Nigel Martyn and Richard Wright, added to Iain Turner's suspension. Martyn is on crutches following ankle surgery, while Wright is nursing damaged ankle ligaments. Turner is only banned for one game but that would still leave John Ruddy as Everton's only available keeper this weekend.

Blues return to Bellefield
Feb 21 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON returned to Bellefield today for the first time since their week-long trip to Miami and manager David Moyes is itching to see his side back in action after their enforced break. Having had the chance to recharge their batteries, Moyes hopes Everton can get back into the groove straight away at St James' Park and further enhance their European claims. "Obviously with being out of the FA Cup, we had no game so we took the chance to take the players away for a week and hopefully a change of scenery will have helped," said Moyes, whose side have won six of their last seven Premiership matches. "We trained every day but we gave the players some free time as well. We know that we are into the final third of the season and we want to try and keep up the form we have shown in the last eight or nine games. "Now it's a case of getting back to work. Two weeks is a long time not to have a game so we felt it was best to have a breather. But we are just desperate to continue in the form we have been," he added.

Naysmith back in Scotland squad
Feb 21 2006 By David Prior, Daily Post
SCOTLAND manager Walter Smith, has welcomed Everton defender Gary Naysmith back into his squad for the first time in a year for the friendly against the Swiss on March 1. The 27-year-old, who has won 28 caps, has not featured for his country since Smith's first game in charge against Italy in March last year. Naysmith has been hampered by injury since the 2-0 defeat in the San Siro and has played just once Everton this season Smith said: "It's nice to see him back. He's been back for a few weeks now although he's not been featuring in the starting XI for Everton. "He has come on as a substitute a few times so obviously he'll be a bit short of match fitness. But it's a position in which we are not that well endowed with players so it will give him an opportunity to come back and get involved in the squad." David Weir and James McFadden are also named in the 25-man party for the Hampden Park game on March 1, while recent debutant goal-keeper Iain Turner is named in the under-21 party who play Iceland on February 28.

Football fans deny brawling
Feb 21 2006 By Sarah Chapman, Liverpool Echo
A GROUP of men have denied brawling in the street after an Everton FA Cup match. It is alleged at Liverpool crown court that six men were involved in a clash with Manchester United fans after last season's 5th round game at Goodison Park. Mark Leary, 45, of Lister Road, Kensington; Colin Stewart, 37, of Store Street, Kirkdale; Terence Sweeney, 40, of Cockington Close, Northwich; Steven Wetherall, 35, of Hawthorne Avenue, Halewood; Mark Feeney, 30, of Leyfield Road, West Derby, and Joseph Delap, 25, of Stanstead Avenue, Warrington, have all pleaded not guilty to violent dis-order on February 19. The court heard that police were escorting United fans away from the ground towards the city centre through Everton Valley at about 8pm. Stuart Driver, prosecuting, told the court about 50 away fans became separated from them and police set up a makeshift convoy to take them away from Goodison Park. He said that smaller group was faced with a group of Everton fans and a fight broke out. The court heard a police officer who specialises in preventing football violence spotted the men brawling. Mr Driver said: "We submit that when he says he saw each of these six men fighting in the melee on that night he is a reliable witness. "The officer knew these men before that night, he knew their faces and that means recognising them." The court heard that when the six defendants were arrested, all of them denied being involved in any violence.

McCann double the spark as Blues reach final
Feb 21 2006 Women's Football by Paul Garrity, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON LADIES have reached the final of the Liverpool County Cup with a 4-1 victory over Liverpool Feds. The Blues opened the scoring as early as the fifth minutes as striker Amy McCann lobbed keeper Tracy O'Hara from the edge of the box. Full-back Becky Easton then came close with a powerful right foot drive, which was parried behind for a corner. From the corner England international Fara Williams doubled the Toffees' lead, when she poked the loose ball home at the far post. Just 10 minutes later the Feds got a goal back, as Lorene Sweeney capitalised on a mistake by Everton keeper Danielle Hill and tapped the ball into the empty net. The second half started with a bang, as Michelle Evans extended the Blues' lead. Her powerful run down the left allowed her the chance to finish at the near post. Four minutes later it was 4-1 with McCann claiming her second of the game. Feds keeper O'Hara failed to deal with Jody Handley's near post corner and the ball rebounded off the back of McCann's leg and into the net. Everton had their chances to move further in front but efforts from Williams and substitute Holly Newman failed to hit the target. The Blues will meet Liverpool in the final later in the season, as a Liverpool XI beat Brazil Girls 2-0 in the other semi-final, thanks to goals from Kali Whitbread and Lucy Osborne. Meanwhile, Liverpool's first team were knocked off top spot in the Northern Division as they drew 1-1 with Curzon Ashton. Jade Thomas opened the scoring for Liverpool with a wonderful solo effort, beating two players before finishing into the top right hand corner of the net. The joy was shortlived though, as Curzon's Kelly Dean scored the equaliser. Tranmere were also in action, this time in the Cheshire Cup second round, as they beat Stockport 3-1. Lindsey Smith, Kelly Jones and Sue Kenwright grabbed the goals for Rovers. This weekend Everton host Birmingham City at Marine FC, Crosby, kick-off 1.30pm.
Liverpool and Tranmere both travel however. The Reds head to Nottingham Forest while Rovers go to Stockport County.

Moyes: Now let's cement top-10 place
By David Prior, Daily Post
Feb 22 2006
DAVID MOYES has set his side the target of establishing a place in the Premiership's top half. Everton moved into 10th position after their memorable 1-0 victory over Blackburn 10 days ago, but with other results have since slipped back to 11th. Manager Moyes's resurgent side face Newcastle at St James' Park on Saturday as they look to maintain what has been an unbeaten league start to 2006. It is also, the Scot believes, an excellent chance to launch what he hopes will be a lengthier stay among the top 10. He said: "We felt great when we saw ourselves going into the top half of the table. "Obviously results since then mean we have dropped down a little again but now we need to try and make that happen again and stay there." The Goodison club returned to Bellefied yesterday for the first time since their mid-season sojourn to Miami. With their batteries recharged, Moyes hopes his side can further enhance their European hopes. "Obviously with being out of the FA Cup, we had no game so we took the chance to take the players away for a week and hopefully a change of scenery will have helped," Moyes added. "We trained every day but we gave the players some free time as well. "Now it's a case of getting back to work. Two weeks is a long time not to have a game so we felt it was best to have a breather. But we are just desperate to continue in the form we have been."

Carsley closes in on Blues return
Feb 22 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES could well hand Lee Carsley his first start of the season at Newcastle on Saturday.
With Phil Neville set to serve a one-match ban, Moyes needs a midfield anchorman at St James' Park. And Carsley continued his return from a serious knee injury by making his fifth appearances in a fortnight, playing 61 minutes for the reserves last night. Moyes, though, is erring on the side of caution and will not commit to giving the Republic of Ireland international a first Premiership start since last May until he is convinced Carsley is ready. "Lee is getting closer and he played in the reserves last night but he's not quite at where we want him yet," said Moyes, who also saw Gary Naysmith and John Ruddy in action at Haig Avenue. "But it's great to have him back around the squad. We need to have as many back in the squad as we can and we will need all the players in the final 12 games. "We are now looking to build on that fantastic, morale boosting win over Blackburn. It's fantastic to be aiming for the top half of the table after the start we had. "They are a real good group of play-ers. They give their best every week and as a manager, that's all you can ask."
As Carsley is anxious to get back into the groove, so too is James McFadden, who was the man to make way for goalkeeper John Ruddy when Iain Turner was sent off against Blackburn. The Scotland international is close to agreeing a new three-and-a-half year deal and Moyes has been pleased with McFadden's progress in the last few months. "Faddy has been doing much better and we are pleased with him," said the manager. "He's been a bit unlucky not to have played even more often. He's desperate to get a run in the team. "He played well at Wigan but he was unfortunate to be sacrificed against Blackburn because he had started quite well. But when you lose a goalkeeper, you have to take somebody off." Arsenal keeper Mart Poom, meanwhile, should arrive on Merseyside in the next 48 hours to tie up a loan deal with Everton now the Gunners have returned from their Champions League tie with Real Madrid. A provisional agreement between the clubs was set up on Monday night allowing the Estonia international to move from Highbury to Goodison Park so long as neither Jens Lehmann or Manual Almunia were injured in the Bernabeu. As that was the case, Poom is likely to get the green light to join Everton in time for the trip to Newcastle.

Everton Reserves 1, Man United Reserves 4
Feb 22 2006 Daily Post
EVERTON Reserves suffered their second FA Premier Rerserve League Northern Section defeat in a week as Manchester United steamrollered their way past them on a wet Southport night.
Gary Naysmith, Lee Carsley and John Ruddy all started for Everton, who were looking to bounce back from last week's derby defeat. United had the returning John O'Shea and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on show as they arrived at Haig Avenue four points clear at the top of the table. Andy Holden's side certainly started well with Carsley's free-kick going just wide of Luke Steele's left hand upright.
John-Paul Kissock was next to test the United goal but as did the previous chance, his shot went wide. Everton's failure to turn pressure into goals cost them on 20 minutes when young sensation Guiseppe Rossi fed Solskjaer and the experienced forward slid the ball back to the Italian to finish past Ruddy and put the visitors ahead. Solskjaer was again in the action on 36 minutes when he put a shot just over the bar and Rossi also brought a save out of Ruddy. Everton very rarely troubled the United goal in the remainder of the half and that trend was continue early in the second period with United taking full control of the game. In the 49th minute Everton had hardly settled when mark Howard made it 2-0 from close range after Moran's cross. Moran himself then went close as United really started to put the Blues under pressure. Solskjaer and Rossi both brought good saves from Ruddy, making his first appearance since his dramatic Premiership bow but the young Everton keeper was helpless to prevent United scoring a third. Rossi again was the goalscorer with Michael Barnes the provider, Ruddy had no chance with Rossi's effort from inside the six-yard box.
Bjarni Vidarsson tested Steele as Everton tried to get some hold on the game and their endeavours paid off on 75 minutes when Paul Hopkins pulled a goal back with a cracking effort. Substitute Chris Fagan restored United's three-goal advantage with a late goal but in fairness the visitors had wrapped the points up much earlier in the evening.
EVERTON RESERVES: Ruddy, Wynne, Naysmith, S Wright, Kearney (Molyneux 72), Vidarsson, Carsley (Phelan 61), Seargeant, Harris, Hopkins, Kissock. Subs: Ingason, Irving, Morrison. MANCHESTER UNITED RESERVES: Steele, Marsh, Bardsley, Howard, O'Shea (Fagan 60), Neumayr, Barnes, Jones, Rossi, Solskjaer, Moran. Subs: Zeiler, Chester, Burns, Cleverley.

Westerveld ready to solve keeper crisis
Feb 23 2006 By Ian Doyle, Daily Post
EVERTON have agreed to sign former Liverpool player Sander Westerveld in a bid to end their goal-keeping crisis. David Moyes should finalise the capture of the 31-year-old Portsmouth keeper on a temporary basis today after Arsenal last night pulled the plug on Mart Poom's projected loan move.
The Dutch international is expected to complete the 28-day loan deal in time to go straight into the Everton side for Saturday's Premiership game at Newcastle United. Estonia international Poom had been expected to arrive at Goodison after a provisional agreement was set up between the clubs earlier this week, but Arsene Wenger has decided against allowing Poom to depart following Arsenal's Champions League win over Real Madrid in the Bernabeu on Tuesday. With the Londoners favourites to progress to the quarter-finals, Wenger has said Poom must stay as cover for Jens Lehmann and Manuel Almunia. So Moyes turned his attentions to Westerveld - who has fallen out of favour at Fratton Park since the return of Harry Redknapp as manager - in his bid to bring in experienced goalkeeping cover. Nigel Martyn and Richard Wright are both injured and Iain Turner is suspended, leaving 19-year-old John Ruddy as the only available keeper on Everton's books.
If Moyes's efforts to sign Westerveld falter, he may then be forced to ask 46-year-old goal-keeping coach Chris Woods to re-register as a player to sit on the substitutes' bench at St James' Park.
Despite his goalkeeping concerns, Moyes believes Everton's recent mid-season sojourn can help spur them towards a European place. The majority of the Goodison squad decamped to Florida for a week-long training camp in Miami as Moyes sought to take advantage of the gap in fixtures last weekend created by Everton's FA Cup elimination. It evoked memories of the trip to Houston in the summer of 2004, which helped forge the team spirit that proved the foundation for the following season in which Everton finished fourth in the Premiership. And Everton manager Moyes hopes their latest visit to America could have a similarly positive effect on his team, who are currently just five points behind fifth-placed Arsenal. "I think it was a beneficial trip for us," said Moyes. "The players were deserving of a period where they could get a bit of a rest. "Obviously we would have preferred to be involved in the FA Cup but we weren't so we took the opportunity to take them away. "We trained everyday and had some terrific facilities out there. "When you are training, it is much better to train in the sunshine. The players worked quite hard, we didn't just go there and do nothing. "The boys have got a great spirit here - they showed that in the last game - the idea now is to keep that going until the end of the season. "I just hope now that the rest will do them good.
"The final third of the season is all important now for us to kick on." One of a handful of first-team squad members who didn't make the trip was Lee Carsley, who instead stayed behind to continue improving his fitness after recovering from the knee injury that has ruined his campaign. Carsley came through 61 minutes of Tuesday night's reserve defeat against Manchester United, his fifth appearance in a fortnight. With midfield anchor Phil Neville one of four Everton play-ers suspended on Saturday, Carsley could be in line for a first start of the season at St James' Park.. But Moyes insists he will resist throwing the Irishman back into the fray until he is convinced of his full fitness.
"Lee is getting closer but he's not quite at where we want him yet," said the Everton manager, who is hoping influential midfielder Andy van der Meyde will be fit enough for selection this weekend.
"But it's great to have him back around the squad. "We need to have as many in the squad as we can and we will need all the players in the final 12 games."

Ex-Red is thrown in at Blues' deep end
Feb 23 2006 EXCLUSIVE by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
SANDER WESTERVELD will be handed an immediate debut on Saturday at St James' Park after completing his loan move from Portsmouth and solving Everton's goalkeeper crisis. Blues boss David Moyes swooped to bring the former Liverpool keeper to Goodison Park last night after projected deal for Arsenal's Mart Poom met with complications. Had Poom left Highbury, it would have meant him coming off Arsenal's Champions League squad list, and once that happens a player is not allowed to be re-registered. Once Arsene Wenger made it clear that he was not prepared to let Poom leave, Moyes made a number of phone calls and was given a helping hand by Portsmouth's Harry Redknapp. With Westerveld behind Jamie Ash-down and Dean Kiely in the pecking order at Fratton Park, Redknapp agreed to his immediate release and the 31-year-old arrived on Merseyside today. Moyes can now breathe a sigh of relief. With Nigel Martyn and Richard Wright injured and Iain Turner suspended, the manager at one point only had 19-year-old John Ruddy available for the trip to St James' Park. "We had no option once Arsenal decided that they were not going to let Poom go," Moyes said. "That was late yesterday afternoon, so I had to ring three or four managers. "We need a keeper with experience, no matter what, because we could not have gone to Newcastle with only John Ruddy, so I had to get someone and Sander fitted the bill. "He has played in the Premiership before, so knows what it is all about, but he won't have any time to settle because he will make his debut against Newcastle. It is no reflection on John that I have brought Sander in. John has great potential and did very well when he made his debut. He has got all the attributes to be a top keeper. "But we just needed someone with that bit of experience to come here and Sander has been a Dutch international. "We just thought it would be good for John to watch from the bench."
Westerveld made 103 appearances for Liverpool between 1999 and 2001 and has played for Real Sociedad and Real Mallorca as well as Portsmouth since leaving Anfield. He moved to Fratton Park at the beginning of the campaign on a free transfer but has found opportunities limited since Redknapp took over. His last games was on January 7. Wright and Martyn, meanwhile, continue to make progress from their respective ankle injuries. Martyn is still a month away from playing again but the news is brighter for Wright. Moyes said: "Nigel is wearing a pot around his ankle and is on crutches, but Richard is doing well. We thought he might have had a chance for Newcastle but it just came too quickly for him."

Anichebe hopes to represent Nigeria
Feb 23 2006 Evertonia, Liverpool Echo
TEENAGE striker Victor Anichebe has spoken of his desire to play for the country of his birth in the future. The 17-year-old hit man is a product of the club's youth system. A reserve regular, he made his senior debut as a late substitute in the FA Cup fourth round clash with Chelsea at Good-ison.
The young striker was born in Lagos, Nigeria, and admits that if he ever receives international recognition he would want it to be for the African nation. He said: "I would want to represent Nigeria because that is where I'm from. I go back every year for Christmas and have a lot of family there. We moved to England when I was just one year old, but I still feel Nigerian." The striker is the latest forward to make a first team bow following on from James Vaughan's emergence last season.
Anichebe points out that he has forged a good understanding with Vaughan during their time together at Academy and reserve level. He added: "Vaughan is out injured at the moment but we have played a lot together and I think we work well as a partnership. "He's quick and sharp, while I'm a powerful striker who holds up the ball." * IF YOU would like to win one of 10 1995 Cup final DVDs simply answer the following question: Who scored the winning goal against Blackburn on Saturday, February 11? Send your answer with your Evertonia membership number to Sarah McMahon, Evertonia, Goodison Park, Goodison Road, Liverpool, L4 4EL. Closing date is Thursday, March 2.

Keeper keen to win over support
By Ian Doyle, Daily Post
Feb 24 2006
SANDER WESTERVELD admits it will be "strange" for supporters to see him lining up for Everton - but is determined to win them over during his surprise short-term move to Goodison. The former Liverpool goalkeeper will go straight into the starting line-up for tomorrow's visit to Newcastle United after agreeing a 28-day loan deal from Portsmouth. Everton were given special dispensation from the Premier League to bring in a goalkeeper on a temporary basis with Nigel Martyn and Richard Wright injured and Iain Turner suspended, leaving 19-year-old John Ruddy as the only available keeper on the club's books. David Moyes moved swiftly for Westerveld on Wednesday afternoon after Arsenal vetoed Mart Poom's proposed loan deal. And the Holland international, who was sent off against Everton in a Merseyside derby in 1999, believes good performances are the best way to convince the doubters among the home faithful. I don't think the fans ever forget but if you play well then they make your time easier, that is what I will try to do," said the 31-year-old. "I know how passionate the fans are in this city. I always said that I liked the derbies the most, the fans are unbelievable in those games. I like to play at Goodison as well. "I don't know if this move is going to be a strange one for the fans but I didn't hesitate for one minute when the manager phoned me. "It is football and you have to think about yourself sometimes, and not think about emotions or difficult situations. I have been a red and now I'm a blue, all I can do is do my best. Hopefully the fans will back me up." Westerveld has fallen out of favour at Portsmouth since the return of Harry Redknapp as manager, and has not played since the FA Cup win at Ipswich on January 7. He added: "I am really excited." Of his move for Westerveld, Moyes explained: "We need a keeper with experience no matter what because we could not have gone to Newcastle with only John Ruddy, so I had to get someone and Sander fitted the bill."

Emre stays confident ahead of Everton visit
Feb 24 2006 By Damian Spellman, Daily Post
NEWCASTLE midfielder Emre is confident the feelgood factor has returned to St James' Park despite the limbo into which the club has been plunged. Wednesday night's 0-0 draw with Charlton at St James' Park extended caretaker manager Glenn Roeder's run to four games without defeat, but ended his record of successive wins. Just how long Roeder is to stay in charge remains unclear - publicly, there was no comment yesterday on reports Martin O'Neill has verbally agreed to take the job in the summer, although in private, the claims were met with surprise, while Mark Hughes odds' were slashed dramatically - but the Turkish international is confident the belief has returned to the squad. That will be tested to the full by an ongoing injury crisis which, it emerged after the game, has claimed Kieron Dyer and Titus Bramble with hamstring strains for three weeks apiece, with Everton due on Tyneside tomorrow evening. "The main aim for us before the game was to get three points," said Emre. "That didn't happen, so we take a point. It is important that we did not lose, and it keeps the run going. "I think the luck has changed. I have noticed a more positive attitude around the dressing room when we have not been losing games, and that was still there after Charlton.
"It was a frustrating night for us. We did not create a lot of chances and they were a hard side to break down. "We are disappointed not to win, of course, but as I say, we did not lose the match and we can now look forward to Everton. "Maybe a few weeks ago when things were not going so well for us, we would have lost the game after a performance like that. We must take the positives."
Bramble's absence will cause Roeder a major headache. However, he saw in the performance of the much-maligned £8million Frenchman Jean-Alain Boumsong following Bramble's 55th-minute departure signs the penny has dropped. "When Titus went off, Jean-Alain seemed to take on all the responsibility, and it was almost if he said to himself, 'I am the man now'," he said.
"He started winning all the headers and challenges and he did a lot better, and what we need from him is a massive performance against Everton on Saturday night."

Wise cup move
Post Soapbox, icLiverpool & Daily Post
Feb 24 2006
Wise cup move
ANYONE who followed our pre-season this year should be delighted with Everton's Intertoto entry as we can certainly push for a UEFA Cup place via the back door of this competition.
I'm not convinced there is much difference with how we are playing now and how we started the season, other than rub of the green. Sander Westerveld, meanwhile, may work out as a short-term solution. He has something to prove and wants first-team football. I thought the way he was treated after Liverpool's UEFA Cup win was shocking - they have no respect for their heroes anyway, just look at Jerzy Dudek. Saying that, we are just as bad having too much respect for 'old-boys'. Is there any room in football for sentimentality these days? Naturally, that's a rhetorical question. Omar Bixler, (via email)
Once a Blue?
AFTER reading Rooney's recent comments it seems obvious that he had no intention of staying at Goodison, whatever Everton had offered. The club allegedly offered £50k a week but he wanted the world. While I can't blame him for his ambition, his comments about loving Manchester United, their fans and the added insult of, 'I would have made the same decision 10 times over' are sickening and unnecessary.
While his ability can't be denied, his morals are out of the garbage dump, similar to those of his advisers. I wonder if the Rooneys still go to Goodison?
Dave Marr, Sefton
Safe hands
I'M pleased we signed up Westerveld. He is far better than Wright - although that isn't difficult. He can propably read signs better anyway!
Steve Mason, Liverpool
Back to business
I HOPE we can maintain the kind of form we have shown in the last month or so when we travel to St James' Park on Saturday. We have shown a level of consistency recently which proves we are heading in the right direction. Despite the massive disappointment of our early season form, I believe over the next couple of years we will see gradual improvement under David Moyes as we re-establish ourselves as one of the leading five teams in the country. That improvement will be based on good foundations with three stages of development. At the moment we are establishing ourselves as a team that is hard to beat. Stage 2 will be able to add a little flair and the final stage will see us start to win things regularly. In the meantime - keep the faith..
Tony Jones, Merseyside
Stop moaning
WHY are people moaning about signing Westerveld - he's only on loan, and is third choice. It is a temporary measure and whichever keeper we signed would be only be a third-choice keeper.
On another point, the good name of the city of Liverpool has been dragged into the dirt once again by the actions of the thugs pelting the ambulance carrying Alan Smith. Those low lives are disgusting.
Bert Gilbert, (via email)

Miami trip can be catalyst for success
Feb 24 2006
By Mark O'Brien Everton supporter, Daily Post
YOU never know what a trip abroad will do for Everton. They came back from the Far East this summer looking thoroughly dispirited and embarked on a disastrous run that they've only really rectified since Christmas. However, their last trip to the States, when they had that now famous karaoke bonding session, was seen by some as the catalyst for their best league finish in years. Hopefully, this recent jaunt to Miami will have a similar effect and they will come back ready to carry on where they left off in the Premiership. They are certainly capable of continuing their league form at St James' Park if they approach the game with the same attitude that earned them all three points against Blackburn. The Geordies have stabilised since the departure of Graeme Souness, and under the studious-looking Glenn Roeder have picked up some decent results. But, anyone watching their FA Cup tie against a seriously depleted Southampton couldn't have failed to notice the way the Championship outfit carved them open at the back. Indeed, if Kenwyne Jones had shown a mite more composure then perhaps there would already be an end to this notion that the whole country is willing the Magpies on in the hope that Alan Shearer can lift the FA Cup for the 'Geordie Nation'. The BBC in particular don't seem to realise that an awful lot of football fans see Shearer as a snide head-stamper as opposed to some sort of national hero. Unfortunately for Everton, as well as missing three goalkeepers, they will also be without two of their best outfield players of late. Both Phil Neville and Tony Hibbert struggled as badly as any of their teammates in the early part of the season, but have shown great doggedness in turning their own seasons around. Hibbert has been a revelation. His distribution is never going to be his strong point, but his tackling and downright refusal to let opponents and his critics get the better of him have been an example to everyone. He'll certainly be missed, although David Moyes is lucky to have Joseph Yobo returning and the option to start Lee Carsley in midfield, which his hour in the reserves on Tuesday must suggest is a possibility. If a good result is gained, the players better get used to plenty more transatlantic trips in the near future.

I'll win faith of Everton sceptics
Feb 24 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
SANDER WESTERVELD is looking forward to making his Everton debut and admitted he never had a moment's hesitation about moving to Goodison Park. Having spent two years playing for Liverpool, notching up 103 appearances, and being sent off in an Anfield derby, Westerveld knows that some Everton fans will harbour doubts about him but that never put him off moving back to Merseyside.
The only way to win over the sceptics, however, is to produce top class performances on the pitch and the former Holland international is ready to rise to the challenge, starting against Newcastle United tomorrow night. Westerveld, who joined the Blues on a month's loan on Wednesday night to provide emergency cover, made the last of his seven games for Portsmouth this year on January 7 but feels fit and ready for action. Now he hopes to provide Everton's late push for a European place with a helping hand as a 'thank you' to manager David Moyes for giving him an opportunity to play football again, as Richard Wright and Nigel Martyn continue their rehabilitation from injury. "It has been a frustrating time and difficult for me but when you get a chance like this, you don't think about anything, you just want to get going," said Westerveld, who will become the fifth keeper to play for Everton in as many weeks. "I want to say 'thank you' to the gaffer as it shows that he has faith in me. I'm really looking forward to this and want to play a part in getting some good results.
"I would like to play as much football as I possibly can but I understand that if Richard is fit again, he will come back in because he is Everton's number one. I'll just take each game as it comes.
"It may even be possible that I don't even play at Goodison Park. We have got two away games coming up and Richard might be fit in a couple of weeks. "I would like to play at Goodison again though. When I was with Liverpool, derby matches were the ones I enjoyed the most because of the atmosphere so much. Merseyside fans are so fanatical. "I know everyone will remember the incident at Anfield but I still say neither me nor Francis Jeffers should have been sent off. We only pushed each other a couple of times, but there you go." After leaving a club struggling at the wrong end of the table, Westerveld is thrilled at having the chance to play for a club heading in the right direction, and is confident that Everton can continue their good run of form at St James' Park. "It is going to be a really hard game as the problem is we have a lot of injuries and suspensions, but I hope we can get a good result," said Westerveld. "The team has confidence and has been playing well. It's been a bit like last season, winning games 1-0, being really difficult to beat and hopefully it can continue as long as possible."

There's no team we fear raps Beattie
Feb 24 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
HAVING clicked into top gear at just the right time of year, it would be completely understandable if James Beattie spent the next few days pacing up and down his living room, all the while firing anxious glances at his telephone. Leaving an injury-interrupted start to the season behind in taking style, Beattie at present is one of the Premiership's in-form forwards. Goalscorer, nuisance to defenders, team player, his role in the renaissance of Everton has been crucial. But has he done enough to convince creature of habit Sven Goran Eriksson to take a gamble when naming England's squad for next week's friendly with Uruguay at Anfield? We will not discover the answer until Sunday evening. The coy smile, however, which flickers across Beattie's face when the subject of England is raised suggests he does not anticipate receiving the call. That is not to say, though, he has given up hope of going to Germany completely. "The priority for me is to play well for Everton," said Beattie. "I'm doing a little bit better now. I'm really enjoying my football and I have never given up the dream of playing for England again. But that's a decision that is out of my hands. "I will just keep playing football with a smile on my face. It either happens or it doesn't. People will see me as an old fashioned centre forward, running the channels, and there isn't too many of us about. "That's the style of play that I have got and you play to your strengths. The delivery of the balls that have been put in for me recently have been very good. You can't complain. I just want to stay fit and enjoy my football." That he is certainly doing. Reflect on the way he has carried the fight to teams such as Arsenal and Blackburn Rovers in the past month, scoring priceless goals in both matches, then consider the view his team-mates have of Everton's number eight. "When James is fit and he's on fire, with the amount of running that he does, he can carry a whole back four on his own," suggests Phil Neville, no stranger to hard work himself. "He takes a lot of the pressure off the likes of Arteta, Osman and Cahill. He allows them to get into spaces. "If we keep him fit, he is going to be a real key player for us between now and the end of the season." His energy levels back to normal after a two-week break, some of which was spent in Miami, Beattie cannot wait to get back to business tomorrow when Everton travel to Newcastle aiming to extend their fine run of form. Signing off with a Herculean performance against Blackburn allowed the squad to enjoy the Florida sunshine but only after a while. Such was the euphoria of that win, some players would have preferred another game instead of the beach. "I think the break has done us good," Beattie said. "The lads were buzzing before the break and most of them said that they didn't want it, they wanted to get back into another game on the following Wednesday or Saturday. "But we've done really well. We've been away, had chance to recharge the batteries a little bit and you can see from looking around the training ground that the lads have come back flying. "Hopefully we can carry on where we left off. "The gaffer said that the trip to Miami was a reward for the lads. We got away, got a few days of sun. "We trained every day, which was nice and we had a bit of fun with some five-a-sides and some hard running sessions. "In the afternoon, we were free to go shopping or do whatever but I think the lads will feel the benefit of the trip. As a team bonding session, it was quality. Really good.
"They're a great set of lads and it's easy to get on with them. I'd consider everyone of them a friend of mine and it counts for a lot when you are out on the pitch. "We've got a really good record over the last couple of months and it's all credit to them." With Miami now in the past and England for another time, Beattie's immediate priority is helping Everton keep the momentum behind a run of form which has sent them hurtling up the table at a rapid rate of knots. Newcastle, unbeaten since Glenn Roeder took over from Graeme Souness, will provide stern opposition and St James'Park has never been one of Everton's happiest hunting grounds. But, as Beattie argues, there is no time like the present to change all that. "We can't fear going anywhere at the moment," said the Blues' leading scorer. "We are very confident. "If that's a good thing or a bad thing, it remains to be seen but we are confident going into the game and it's a great place to go and play football. "You like to go and play well at any away stadium. Newcastle have got a tradition similar to Everton's for centre forwards. But it would be a nice place to go and get three points and I don't really care who scores the goals. "We've won a few games 1-0 this year, so if we could start to get a couple more then it would be great."

Sander swoop is a wise move
Feb 24 2006 By Howard Kendall, Liverpool Echo
FIRST impressions are always important when new players make their debuts and a lot will be expected of Sander Westerveld at St James' Park tomorrow. As a former Liverpool player, his every move will be scrutinised by Evertonians and there will be some who, understandably, take time to warm to him after his spell on the other side of the park. But with Nigel Martyn and Richard Wright nursing injuries and Iain Turner suspended for the Newcastle game, David Moyes desperately needed to bring in an experienced goalkeeper and that is exactly what he has got with West-erveld.
Personally, I think it's an excellent short-term move because he has got a lot of quality. He's played for Holland, done well for a couple of clubs in Spain during his career and I was surprised that he was bombed out of Liverpool as quickly as he was. He played a key role for them during his two seasons there and while people will remember the incident with Francis Jeffers in a derby at Anfield in 1999, a lot of water has passed under the bridge since then and it's not as if he's moving from Liverpool to Everton. Though his spell at Goodison Park is only likely to be a short one, he can have an influence.
He knows what the demands of the Premier-ship are, he won't be fazed by making his debut at St James' Park. If Westerveld can play a part in Everton's resurgence, then so much the better.
Martyn and Wright are not likely to be fit for another few weeks at least and it would have been tough on two young keepers like Turner and John Ruddy to be given such responsibility when they are so inexperienced.
Toon short on goals
NEWCASTLE have come back to form in recent weeks and are unbeaten in five games but that does not mean Everton should make the trip north fearing the worst. While results have picked up under Glenn Roeder, they have not been scoring a lot of goals and without Michael Owen and Alan Shearer, they are a far from formidable outfit. At present, they have so many injury problems and you can see how heavily they have relied on the goals of Owen. Everton may not have been scoring a lot themselves, but they don't concede many either. St James' Park is a fantastic place to play football and the atmosphere is usually first class but if Everton can get on top early on, then who knows what is possible? Confidence in the camp will be high after that fantastic win against Blackburn Rovers, they've had a good break to recharge the batteries and Everton will be desperate to finish the season in the best form they possibly can. Terry reminds me of Watson in his prime
IT'S hard to have any sympathy with Jose Mourinho following Chelsea's defeat to Barcelona in the Champions League, especially when he pointed the finger at Lionel Messi for diving. How, one wonders, is that possible when Arjen Robben did something similar not so long ago? In any case, did Asier del Horno not take a huge gamble jumping in like that in front of the linesman? You couldn't say for certain that Chelsea are out now because they have some fantastic players but Barcelona were very impressive and will be favourites to progress. But watching Chelsea, I thought John Terry was magnificent. He reminds me of Dave Watson in that he wants to tackle, head and win everything. He's so determined and professional. Strong in the tackle and good in the air, Terry is the best defender in the country by some distance.

Beattie must aim for a place at World Cup
Feb 25 2006 By David Prior, Daily Post
DAVID MOYES has challenged James Beattie to force SvenGoran Eriksson's hand by continuing his excellent form for Everton. Beattie has an outside chance of being included tonight when coach Eriksson names his latest England squad for Wednesday's World Cup warm-up against Uruguay at Anfield. The striker has already voiced his ambition to make the final squad that goes to Germany in June, and the form he has showed so far in 2006 has strengthened his case. And manager Moyes believes there is no reason why Beattie should not fulfil his dream - so long as he keeps scoring goals for the Goodison club. He said: "He should have England ambitions. That's what you want your players to have - you want them to be ambitious. "I want him to be scoring 20 goals for Everton, and then I'll be saying 'get him in the England team'. "His form between now and then will dictate whether he goes to the World Cup. "I'm guessing that Sven probably has his squad in his mind, but there might be the odd place up for grabs. "That's why he'll need to continue with really good form and regular goalscoring to catch peoples' eye, and hopefully Sven will pay him a visit before the end of the season." Having struggled early on after his £6million move from Southampton in January 2005, Beattie has shown a vast improvement since reclaiming his full match fitness. This season he has scored eight goals, with his best performance in an Everton shirt arguably coming in his last outing against Blackburn, when he led the line singlehandedly and claimed the winner against the numerically superior Rovers. And Moyes added: "You're now seeing the James Beattie that everybody knew was out there. We kept saying that if we could get him up to a real level of fitness then you'll have a player on your hands, and I think he's beginning to show that." With Michael Owen injured, Eriksson will have a decision to make over a fourth striker for the squad he announces later on today. Charlton's Darren Bent, Crystal Palace's Andy Johnson, Birmingham's Emile Heskey and West Ham's Dean Ashton are likely to be the main rivals to Beattie for the last striker's slot. But even if Beattie does not get the nod this time, Moyes has urged him to keep plugging away. "What will get him in is if he is regularly scoring goals," added the Scot. "At the end of the day if you're going to be a regular centre forward you'll probably be judged by your goals as much as anything. "I think the way Beatts is playing just now, he's showing signs that if you want him to play certain way, then you've got someone who's fit and athletic. "It looks as if he's got a glint in his eye as if to say 'I'm here and I'm going to show you what I'm all about'. I think all managers want that from players." Beattie still harbours a hope of adding to his four international caps in time for this summer's tournament, but added: "As I have always said, the priority for me is to play well for Everton Football Club and hopefully I am doing a bit of that now. "I am really enjoying my football at the minute and I have never given up the dream of playing for England again. But that is a decision that is out of my hands. "I will just keep playing football with a smile on my face whether it happens or it doesn't."

Soccerbus on target to break its own record
Feb 25 2006 By Andy Kelly, Liverpool Echo
A KEY weapon in the battle against congestion on the way to matches at Anfield and Goodison Park looks like reaching record figures this year. The Soccerbus service, which carries fans from Sandhills station to both grounds, has now carried 30,000 fans to matches this season, rapidly approaching last year's total of more than 44,000. The service will also pick up even more passengers with a special service for the forthcoming England friendly international with Uruguay, at Anfield on March 1. Cllr Jack Spriggs, vice-chair of Merseytravel and a lifelong Liverpool fan, said: "It's terrific that the service is getting this level of support." He added: "Soccerbus is a case of everyone playing on the same side and helping ease congestion round the grounds on match days. "Last year alone, the service for Everton and Liverpool matches helped remove more than 9,000 cars from the road." Neil Scales, chief executive and director general of Merseytravel, is well aware of the value of the service. "Soccerbus is helping cut congestion in and around the grounds, making life easier for residents living nearby and for fans going to the games," he said. The service runs for two hours before each Liverpool and Everton match, up to 15 minutes before kick-off and for 50 minutes after the final whistle. There is also a Soccerbus shuttle service, linking Birkenhead Central and Hamilton Square stations to Prenton Park, for Tranmere's home league and cup matches. It runs for one and a half hours before each match, up to 20 minutes before kick-off and for 20 minutes after the final whistle. The Liverpool against West Bromwich Albion game on December 31 broke all previous records, with the highest number of supporters to ever use the service. The total of 1,416 was more than 3% of the match attendance. Other sports-themed Merseytravel services include the Saints Bus service, which links Lea Green and St Helens Bus Station with St Helens Rugby League Club, and the weekend-only Haydock Express service, which links Haydock Racecourse with St Helens Central and Newton-le-Willows stations. A Soccerbus ticket costs £1 return when booked with a train ticket or £1 one way on the bus. Holders of Merseytravel trio, solo and saveaway tickets or concessionary travel passes go free.

Newcastle 2, Everton 0 (D,Post)
Feb 27 2006 Bty Christopher Beesley at St James' Park, Daily Post
IT is said that what goes around comes around and that all good things should come to an end.
Everton's seven-match unbeaten run in the Premiership began and finished in the North East and the luck that helped inspire the late victory at Sunderland on New Year's Eve was missing at St James' Park on Saturday as the tables were turned. At the Stadium of Light, David Moyes' side weathered the storm of numerous goal-scoring opportunities from the hosts before sneaking a fortuitous win which set them off on a rapid rise up the table - briefly securing a top-half berth.
At St James' Park, it was the Blues who for long periods looked like the only likely scorers but who were ultimately left to rue several missed chances - the best two of which were cleared off the line by Emre - Newcastle's talented playmaker who Moyes had tried to bring to Goodison Park last summer to add some Turkish delight to Everton's midfield. But while the Premiership copybook has been blemished for the first time since the 3-1 derby defeat, much has changed at Everton over the past two months to suggest that the Blues can look forward to the spring sunshine with optimism after those dark December days. Whichever of the five goalkeepers Moyes has now been forced to call upon is selected, Everton's defence looks far more solid than they did in the season of goodwill when both Bolton and Aston Villa were given four presents apiece. It is no coincidence that this new-found solidity has come with the return of prodigal son Alan Stubbs - a man who I was informed was 'finished' by a Sunderland supporter at the Stadium of Light on December 31 when he was warming the bench for the top-flight's worst side. Goals may still be painfully lacking but with much more confidence and coherence now running through the side - one may often be enough between now and the rest of the season in several more straightforward assignments than Newcastle away. At St James Park' the prospect of springtime on the horizon couldn't have seemed more further away though as bone-chilling winds swirled into the stadium. Rain somehow lashed down onto the stands despite what must be one of the largest roofs in world football and the dreary conditions must have contrasted sharply to the sunshine of Miami beach where Everton had trained less than a week before. While Newcastle had played out a goalless stalemate with Charlton at home just three days earlier, Everton, playing their first game in a fortnight made four changes from the side that overcame Blackburn with 10 men for 81 minutes on February 11. Teenage goalkeeper John Ruddy remained on the bench where Icelandic youngster Bjarni Vidarsson appeared for the first time as ex-Liverpool stopper Sander Westerveld made his Blues debut on-loan from Portsmouth.
Joseph Yobo, returning from African Nations Cup duty with Nigeria, slotted in at right-back to replace the suspended Tony Hibbert while in midfield, Simon Davies came in for Phil Neville, who was also suspended. The final change came with Kevin Kilbane being preferred to James McFadden as Moyes started with a 4-4-1-1 formation with Leon Osman playing behind lone striker James Beattie. Newcastle carved out the first chance of the game for Lee Bowyer but his low shot trickled wide of Westerveld's left-hand post as the Dutchman looked on with a more relaxed look than many of the travelling Evertonians tucked away in the gods. After their early scare - or not as the case may be - Everton started to boss proceedings, causing the home defence several problems with crosses.
Beattie delivery from the right wing was hacked away from the goal-line by Peter Ramage as Kilbane waited to pounce at the back post while Robbie Elliott hooked clear a Nuno Valente cross from the left with Kilbane again lurking. David Weir was then denied for the first time by Emre as his header from a Mikel Arteta corner kick from the right was cleared off the line by the Turk. At the other end, Bowyer had a shot deflected over the bar while Emre had two bites of the cherry after he saw his 20-yard free kick from a central position blocked before his second effort sailed over. Arteta came painfully close to breaking the deadlock with a 25-yard free kick which looked to be dipping just under Given's crossbar before the Irish international made a superb fingertip save to deflect his effort over. Weir was again denied by Emre as a second goalbound header was cleared off the line while in the dying seconds of the first half, Nolberto Solano brought a good save out of West-erveld on the break in what was a preview of things to come after the interval. Everton started the second half in positive fashion as Arteta picked out Osman with a perfectly-measured pass and the diminutive midfielder defied a mismatch in stature to shrug off French defender Jean-Alain Boumsong but his first-time effort was drilled wide of Given's left-hand post. But from then on, the Newcastle keeper didn't have a further save to make and once the hosts had forced themselves ahead on 64 minutes - there seemed little doubt of the outcome. The move started with Emre catching Yobo out of position at right-back and the Turk found Charles N'Zogbia on the left wing, who left Weir in his wake before squaring the ball to the onrushing Solano to bundle home. From that moment on, Newcastle's tails were up and with the home crowd arisen from their slumber, they pressed on to victory. The win obviously provided stand-in Newcastle skipper Scott Parker with some small gratification after he turned down a crack at Champions League football with the Blues last season to join a club without a domestic honour in half a century and like Parker struck a sweet half-volley wide of Westerveld's right-hand post after Everton failed to clear a corner kick but the killer blow came 14 minutes from the end with a piece of Solano genius. Newcastle opened Everton up with a slick quick-fire passing move that ended with Solano receiving possession on the right flank. The Peruvian midfielder took the ball past Valente before picking his spot in majestic fashion with a right-foot outside of the boot effort which gave West-erveld no chance. Everton might have grabbed a consolation in stoppage time when Osman squared to Beattie but the striker - who has still yet to score for them away from Goodison or his old home St Mary's - blazed wide after beating Ramage. NEWCASTLE: Given, Ramage, Babayaro, Boumsong, Elliott, Solano, Emre (Clark 79), Parker, Bowyer, N'Zogbia (Pattison 90), Ameobi. Subs: Harper, Faye, Chopra.
BOOKINGS: Parker. EVERTON: Westerveld, Yobo, Valente, Weir, Stubbs, Arteta, Davies, Cahill (Carsley 74), Kilbane (McFadden 68), Osman, Beattie. Subs: Naysmith, Ruddy, Vidarsson.
REFEREE: Graham Poll
ATT: 51,916
NEXT GAME: West Ham United v Everton, Premiership, Saturday, 3p.m

Moyes takes a positive outlook
Feb 27 2006
By Christopher Beesley Daily Post Staff
EVERTON manager David Moyes believes that defeat at Newcastle, which ended his side's two-month unbeaten run in the Premiership, should not disguise the fact that his players are now showing a renewed confidence that was lacking from their play earlier in the season. At the start of December, an upsurge in form had seen the Goodison outfit eyeing a top-half spot but four successive defeats again left them hovering worryingly close to the relegation zone. But such is their improvement since their last-gasp win at Sunderland on New Year's Eve, Moyes is confident that his team are now showing the kind of positive attitude that can help them push on for a possible top-10 finish. Following Saturday's 2-0 defeat at Newcastle United, where Everton squandered several first-half opportunities before succumbing to two Nolberto Solano goals after the interval, Moyes said: "When I spoke to the players afterwards you could see how disappointed they were. "During the game you could see the confidence through them and we thought that we could take something from this game. "But if you'd have given me just one defeat from this run nine games ago, I'd have taken it." Without his first three goalkeepers - Nigel Martyn and Richard Wright through injury and Iain Turner through suspension - Moyes handed on-loan Sander Westerveld his Everton debut while Joseph Yobo returned to the side at right-back following his African Nations Cup duty with Nigeria to replace the suspended Tony Hibbert. Moyes said: "We had about 10 players out, through our own fault, so I had to make changes. "The goalkeeper only had one save to make. He did well but didn't really have a great deal to do. "Joseph was playing at right-back and that's not his position."
Newcastle caretaker manager Glenn Roeder claimed that he was not surprised by Solano's wonder strike for the second goal. He said: "He actually scored an even better one in training. I work with him everyday and that wasn't a fluke. He knew exactly what he was doing. At 1-0, I never had any doubt whatsoever that we'd lose the game."

The best team lost says Weir
Feb 27 2006
By Christopher Beesley, Daily Post
EVERTON captain David Weir insists the best team lost at St James' Park. The visitors suffered their first Premiership defeat since December 28, but central defender Weir felt that is own team looked the stronger in the 2-0 defeat at Newcastle. The Scottish international twice came close to putting the visitors ahead with headers which were cleared off the line by Newcastle's Turkish midfielder Emre before the Magpies struck through a Nolberto Solano brace in the second half. Weir said: "We played well and I thought we were the better team. "We should have come away with something but there is a fine line in this league and when you go behind you leave yourself a mountain to climb.
"The team that scored first was always going to be the winners and unfortunately I had a couple cleared off the line and we had a couple of other chances that went quite close, but we couldn't quite do it. "We can't be happy with any defeat. There are things we have to improve on without a doubt, but that is what we are all about. We are trying to get better. "We have been on a good run but that has ended now, so we have to try and get on another one."

Fine display, but Moyes rues missed chances
Feb 27 2006 By Chris Beesley Daily Post Staff
MANAGER David Moyes was pleased with Everton's performance but not the result as his side's seven-match unbeaten run in the Premiership came to an end. Everton bossed the fist half but were unable to take their chances and were left to rue their missed opportunities after the break as Newcastle stepped up a gear. Moyes said: "I thought that we deserved to be in front at half-time.
"When their first goal did come, I wouldn't say that it was against the run of play but we didn't seem to be under too much pressure. But as we've seen many times in the Premier-ship - the first goal is so vital. "If we'd not had those efforts cleared off the line then things might have been different."
He added: "I was not disappointed in the way that we played but I was disappointed we didn't take our chances. "Their first goal came from what was probably a poor decision on the edge of their box while for the second, the left-back (Nuno Valente) could maybe have been a bit tighter but Solano found just enough space to finish with the outside of his right boot. "We'd looked relatively comfortable but Nobby is a good goalscorer and is difficult with the positions he gets into." Meanwhile caretaker manager Glenn Roeder also praised midfielders Emre and Scott Parker - who both chose moves to Newcastle ahead of Everton last summer. The former West Ham manager revealed that Turkish international Emre - who cleared two goal-bound efforts off the line - had come to him before the came complaining of feeling unwell but went on to last almost 80 minutes.
He said: "Emre said to us that he just needed a run of games to show what he can do. "He came in today unwell. He'd been sick overnight and was feeling drained We discussed whether he'd play, start on the bench or not be involved at all. "But if he'd started as a substitute then everyone would be asking 'Why is Emre on the bench?' so we told him to go out there and give it his best shot. He is a great technical player and is very gifted." Parker was over-looked by Sven-Goran Eriksson in his latest squad but Roeder believes his stand-in skipper would not look out of place for England.
He said: "I'm surprised and disappointed by the decision but it would be wrong of me to choose someone else's team. Parker would not look out of place alongside the likes of Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard. "He's a real player and there are 51,000 supporters here who think he's wonderful.
"Like Alan Shearer, he's the kind of person who would sulk if he lost at Tiddlywinks and to be a winner, you've got to be a desperate loser. "Because it didn't happen for him at Chelsea where they have top internationals in every department and are doubled-up in every position, Newcastle were the lucky ones to take him."

Blatant push
Feb 27 2006
Post Soapbox, icLiverpool & Daily Post
Blatant push
DID no-one else spot the clear push by Nolberto Solano on Nuno Valente for Newcastle's first goal?
No complaints over the validity of the second strike but I trust the FA will be punishing Celestine Babayaro for his 'strike' (ie blatant elbow) in the same way that they punished Duncan Ferguson.
I doubt it though, as his team-mate, Shearer, has been getting away with it for years.
Juan Kermode (via e-mail)
Blind spot
THE referees this season seem to have a blind spot when it comes to Newcastle elbows connecting with Everton throats!
A Douglas (via e-mail)
Flair lacking
WHEN did we last come back after going behind to get any more than a draw? Everton's goals are either scrambled or set-pieces. We make virtually no chances from open play. Mikel Arteta is the only player with real class in midfield. We are rapidly becoming a team that noone wants to watch, our outfield play is very negative. Am I the only supporter who yearns for a bit of genuine flair in the side?
Trev Lynes (via e-mail)
Chances missed
A VERY, very poor showing. Sander Westerveld did well considering and the chances we had in the first half should have been turned into goals. Lee Carsley needs more games in the reserves. Tim Cahill looked good but I would put Arteta in the centre with him. Roll on the next match.
John Johnson (via e-mail)
Wake-up call
ALL good things must come to an end. Considering our missed opportunities, the lacklustre display at St James' and the frustration of one striker upfront that didn't do us any favours, the defeat must be seen as a wake-up call. Sure, we have injuries, players suspended. But, at the end of the day, we did not deserve the win, despite one or two moments of the Magpies clearing on the line. We lacked flair, quality and very often fell apart. What a pity...... now to focus on the next game.
A Alan (via e-mail)

On wrong end of familiar scoreline
View from the stands by Mark Mckenna Everton supporter, Daily Post
Feb 27 2006
IF you live life on the edge, then it's inevitable that one day you are going to fall off and land on your backside . and that's what happened with '1-0 Everton' at Newcastle. The first hour had the familiar 1-0 win to Everton written all over it, with the visitors frustrating their opponents and looking like it was only a matter of time before they snatched the all-important goal. The Geordie fans were getting on the backs of their own team and all was looking good. But then the Barcodes went and scored against the run of play and left Everton's players and manager looking blankly at each other over what Plan B actually was. From the minute Solano scored his first, the game was effectively over as Newcastle's previously nervous players became more confident, while Everton's previously confident players became nervous. In truth, there is only so long you can carry on winning 1-0, and this scenario was always going to happen at some point. Had any of Everton's clear-cut chances been converted, then Newcastle would have crumbled. As it stood, this just proved a game too far for us.
Whether this is just a blip or a stagnation for the remainder of the season depends on our reaction.
The unbeaten run is at an end, but there's still plenty of opportunity for us to salvage some pride from this season. Although he will probably be out of the team by the next Goodison game, credit where credit's due - Sander Westerveld had a decent game and couldn't be blamed for either goal. He's just here to help us out, so fair play to him and let's hope he carries this attitude into the West Ham match.

Newcastle 2, Everton 0 (Echo)
Feb 27 2006 By Dominic King
IF ever we were looking to cast Premiership clubs for circus acts, Everton would be the over-whelming favourites to fill the role of trapeze artists. While you would find plenty of candidates for clowns at Stamford Bridge, Highbury would be home to entertainers and the JJB Stadium would provide the lion tamers, but nobody could match the ability of those at Goodison Park to walk a tightrope. When Everton are on form, the players working hard and chances are clinically taken in front of goal, they make a mockery of any shortcomings. And since the turn of the year they have taken strides forward as if they have been on stilts. Charlton Athletic aside, a 3-1 victory achieved with swagger and style, Everton have climbed the Premiership table thanks to industry and endeavour. Keeping it tight at the back, they have pounced irresistibly when getting clear sight of goal. Sunderland, Portsmouth, Arsenal, Manchester City and Blackburn Rovers. All beaten by a single goal and all found it impossible to break down Everton after having the space in which they wanted to play asphyxiated. As they rarely appear to be a side that will win by an avalanche of goals, it has been a tremendous balancing act on behalf of David Moyes and his squad to banish the spectre of a relegation fight to teeter within range of the European scrap. Occasionally, though, Everton can wobble and fall off their perch. Invariably this season, that has happened when they have slipped a goal behind. Sadly, maddeningly, they have had no answer how to fight back.
Saturday's defeat at the hands of an ordinary Newcastle United side was Everton's 13th in the Premier-ship so far. In all bar the home fixture with West Ham when the Blues led, once their defence has been breached, games have been as good as over. Some will argue the manager's failure to sign a striker before the start of the season and during the recent transfer window is the main reason Everton have not been troubling the scorers on regular basis. Not entirely true.
Of course, a forward with jetheeled pace to complement the power and aggression of James Beattie would be welcomed with open arms and Moyes will obviously be working now towards rectifying the matter in the summer. But the suspicion remains that the real key signing would be a midfield maverick - a man who can pick the locks of opposing defences and turn the tide back in Everton's favour when things aren't going their way. Guess whose name is about to be mentioned? Thomas Gravesen. This is not a campaign to bring the Denmark international back to Merseyside - there is little chance of that happening - nor is it a criticism of Moyes' decision to sell him to Real Madrid last January. A player of his ilk, however, would provide the craft and guile needed to help this team step up another couple of notches. There will be those who point to Mikel Arteta, arguably Everton's Player of the Year,and suggest he is that man. That could quite possibly be the case. But ask yourself this: Would Gravesen have spent much of this season playing on the right wing? Exactly. It is wrong to say Arteta was brought to fill Gravesen's boots as they are completely different players.
Given that injuries and suspensions meant Moyes was forced to juggle his squad again at St James' Park, there was nothing wrong with the way Everton went about their business for the first 45 minutes. Neat and tidy, organised and efficient, if any team looked like scoring it was Everton. Twice captain David Weir went close with headers from Arteta corners. Twice Emre - courted last summer by Moyes - kicked off the line. Arteta also went close from another set play, a dipping free-kick was superbly turned over the bar by the excellent Shay Given. Kevin Kil-bane and James Beattie also threatened, denied only by last gasp tackles from Craig Rammage and Robbie Elliott. With the home crowd, the self-proclaimed best supporters in the world, sitting in silence, it seemed the stage was set for Everton to do what they do best in the second half - pinch a goal and sit on the lead. All the more puzzling, then, that Everton did not make Given work for his fee again in the second half until injury time, when Beattie curled a well struck effort just wide of the target. By that point, it was too late as Newcastle, thanks to Nolberto Solano, had struck twice without ever really putting debutant keeper Sander Westerveld under pressure. While Solano's second was magical, he shouldn't have been allowed to score his first. Why? Everton were fashioning a promising move on the edge of Newcastle's box when the ball dropped at the feet of Tim Cahill. The Australian had two options. One was to shoot, the other was to go wide, where Arteta and Beattie were in space. He shot, but his effort was blocked and all of a sudden, Newcastle were able to break at pace through Charles N'Zogbia and Shola Ameobi. With the Blues stretched to breaking point, Solano arrived late to administer the killer touch. It shouldn't have been game, set and match, but it was. Missing someone in the centre to grab proceedings by the scruff of the neck, Moyes and thousands perched high in the away section watched in frustration as the fightback petered out. Frustration, perhaps, is the best word to sum things up. They may have been short of their best but there was not a great deal wrong with Everton's play, except in the final third, where they missed a little zip. Having performed so admirably in recent months, criticism of this performance should be kept to a minimum, especially so as Moyes was without 10 experienced first team professional in the north east. But, nevertheless, it was a sobering experience and proof that Moyes' team is still a work in progress. Until they find the extra dimension that is needed, Everton will continue to tread a fine line.
NEWCASTLE: Given, Ramage, Babayaro, Boumsong, Elliott, Solano, Emre (Clark 79), Parker, Bowyer, N'Zogbia (Pattison 90), Ameobi. Subs: Harper, Faye, Chopra.
EVERTON: Westerveld, Yobo, Valente, Weir, Stubbs, Arteta, Davies, Cahill (Carsley 74), Kilbane (McFadden 68), Osman, Beattie. Subs: Naysmith, Ruddy, Vidarsson.
REFEREE: Graham Poll
ATT: 51,916

Yobo is sure of reaction
Feb 27 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
JOSEPH YOBO is confident Everton's squad is strong enough to bounce back from their first Premiership defeat of 2006. Having been away on international duty at the African Nations, Yobo returned to Everton's starting line-up against Newcastle on Saturday in place of the suspended Tony Hibbert at right-back. The Nigerian international, however, left St James' Park bitterly frustrated as despite dominating large amounts of possession, two Nolberto Solano goals brought the Blues' seven-match unbeaten league run crashing to a halt. "I played out of position but I thought we had a chance of getting something and a point would have been good for us," said Yobo. "I'm so sad that we lost but that is football and we have got to raise our heads. "We kept going when Newcastle scored the first goal and we kept believing in ourselves. We felt there was something there for us.
"Even when they got the second goal, we didn't lose our heads. "They took their chances. That was the difference. When you are on a good run, you know you just can't keep carrying on like that and there will be times when you get a setback. The most important thing is to bounce back." Yobo knows that few people will give them a chance of turning things around when they travel to face West Ham next Saturday. But Yobo believes there is a collective desire in the ranks to prove that the result at St James' Park was a one-off and they can get back to winning ways at the first attempt. "The next game is very important for us," Yobo adds. "It is going to be very tough. But we have the belief in our squad that we can get back on track. "We are disappointed, gutted, very sad but we know we have the players to bounce back strongly." Captain David Weir - who saw two headers cleared off the line when the scores were level - was keen to echo those sentiments but at the same time, acknowledged that there was still plenty for the squad to work on at Bellefield this week.
"It won't be a blow to confidence but we have got to take on board what's happened," said Weir.
"We were beaten and we have got to address that. We've got to improve. "We can't just sweep it under the carpet and pretend that it never happened. "We'll pick out the things that we weren't happy with, address them and move on to the West Ham game. "We won't set ourselves certain targets or take our eye off the ball. "We must not forget that the most important thing now is the West Ham game. "We'll take on board what we did wrong in this game and the hopefully put that right in the next one."

Blues paid the price for missed chances - Moyes
Feb 27 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES today challenged his Everton squad to bounce back from a disappointing result against Newcastle United in the best way possible by conjuring up another lengthy unbeaten run.
The Blues enjoyed plenty of possession and had a couple of excellent opportunities in the first half, but two goals from Nolberto Solano were enough to condemn Everton to a first Premiership defeat since December 28. Heartened, however, by the way his side passed the ball and the attitude they displayed, Moyes sees no reason why this setback should burst the bubble of optimism that had formed in their previous seven games. Still within touching distance of the top eight, Everton have plenty to play for in the final 11 games and they begin the run for home with a tricky test at West Ham next Saturday. But Moyes has warned his players that if they show signs of the profligacy that compromised their efforts at St James' Park, they risk seeing all their good work unravel in front of them. "I didn't think we were under a great deal of pressure," he said. "I thought we were relatively comfortable. I have said to the players they have played well but we have not come away with any points. We are just disappointed that we couldn't take something from it. "The run we have been on has been great and if you had said to me nine games ago we would have only had one defeat, we would have taken it. "Until the goal we were comfortable. I didn't think we were ever really in danger and still felt we offered the biggest threat of scoring. But we didn't get the goals we maybe should have. "I just felt the first goal we conceded was a poor one. We had a chance to play ourselves in at the edge of the box but we chose not to and from that it resulted in them breaking up the park and scoring. That was the biggest disappointment. "The first goal in so many games - and maybe even more so with Everton - is vital. But I did feel that we could quite easily get back in the game. "I felt our play was good enough. I thought the confidence was there and the self-belief too. But we just couldn't finish off the opportunities we had. We had a couple headed off the line in the first half, which on another day if you get them changes the whole complexion of the game."

Solid start for Sander
Feb 27 2006 Liverpool Echo
SANDER WESTERVELD was beaten twice on his Everton debut but he impressed behind a defence that included Joseph Yobo for the first time since January 14. The on-loan leeper made an excellent reflex stop from Nolberto Solano just before the interval, but whether Westerveld keeps his place at Upton Park depends on the progress of Richard Wright, who is still nursing damaged ankle ligaments. David Moyes will at least have Phil Neville and Tony Hibbert back from suspension.
"Apart from one save in the first half, Sander didn't have an awful lot to do," said Moyes.
"Joseph came back in but right-back isn't really his position. We had 10 players out through different things. Our fault, not anybody else's."

Everton denied Rooney cash fillip
By Ian Doyle, Daily Post
Feb 28 2006
0ShareEVERTON have missed out on a cash windfall - despite Wayne Rooney winning his first trophy as a Manchester United player. The deal that took the striker from Goodison to Old Trafford in August 2004 contained a number of clauses that could lift the final value of the transfer to £27million. Everton will receive additional payments for a variety of circumstances, such as Rooney playing 20 competitive England games while at United or signing a contract extension. However, although the Goodison outfit will also be handed extra bonuses should Rooney win the FA Cup, the Premiership or the European Cup during his Old Trafford stay, they did not negotiate a payment in the event of United winning the League Cup. As a consequence, Everton will receive no extra income after Rooney scored twice in Sunday's 4-0 final win over Wigan Athletic in Cardiff.

Naysmith eyes more major tournaments
By Ian Doyle, Daily Post
Feb 28 2006
GARY NAYSMITH is eager to silence the dressing-room jokers by helping Scotland to qualification in the next European Championships. Defender Naysmith is desperate to play in the finals of a major tournament before he retires. The Scots' last successful qualification campaign came almost 10 years ago - for the 1998 World Cup. But hopes of making the European Championships in 2008 were dealt a huge blow when they were drawn alongside France, Italy, Ukraine, Lithuania, Georgia and the Faroe Islands in Group B. And the 27-year-old has admitted proving his Everton team-mates wrong is an extra incentive. "I wouldn't say it was the last throw of the dice for me," said Naysmith,, who is still searching for full match fitness after his season was decimated by injury. "I'm only 27, so, hope-fully, there are a few tournaments left. But time is running out. "This will be my fifth qualifying campaign either for the World Cup or the European Championships and we haven't qualified for one yet, so I'm eager to get to a major finals with Scotland. "I don't know what the feeling is among the fans about the Euro 2008 draw, but, if you go into the Everton changing room, they will tell you we have no chance. "I have been taking a bit of stick there, with some players saying it is over before it has started. "But, since I have been involved with the national team, we have achieved better results against the bigger teams, so, hopefully, that will continue." Walter Smith's men take on Switzerland at Hampden Park tomorrow looking for their first friendly win at the national stadium in almost 10 years. But the former Hearts player is aware victory will not come easy against a country who qualified for the World Cup in Germany with a surprise play-off win over Turkey. Naysmith said: "I knew we had some poor results under Berti Vogts, but I didn't know it was that long since we had won a friendly at home. "We want to put that right and build on what we achieved at the end of the last qualifying campaign. "I spoke to Kevin Kilbane about them and he said they are a really good team and we know it's going to be a difficult game."

Strange choice
Post Soapbox, icLiverpool & Daily Post
Feb 28 2006
WHY on earth was James McFadden not in the starting line-up on Saturday? Up until the unfortunate early substitution against Blackburn, he had been forming a very nice little partnership with Beattie up front. However, that was soon curtailed on Saturday. Why not stick to a formula that's working? Instead Moyes chose to play Davies - who let's face it has been poor since his arrival - with Osman playing off Beattie. I have no problem with Osman, as he has been outstaning recently, but McFadden should have been given a starting role. Harry Holmes, Formby
Unlucky Blues
WE should have won at Newcastle, but unfortunately things didn't go our way. If we had taken our chances and scored the opening goal I don't think Newcastle would have taken anything. However, you must question why Beattie started on his own again up front. We play better as a 4-4-2.
Dave Whatts, Wirral
Untimely trip
SO MUCH for the break in Miami. I think it didn't do us any good at all. We were on a nice little run and I feel the trip to the States merely acted as an unsettling influence and upset our momentum. Roll on West Ham. Wendy Hargreaves (via e-mail)
Lost points
ANOTHER three points lost that shouldn't have been. This has been happening for the last year. Whenever we concede first we lose because we have no attacking options. Moyes seems oblivious to our deperate need for more striking options.
Larry Oakes, Skem

Kicked in the nuts!
Feb 28 2006 EXCLUSIVE by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES has been shocked by Phil Neville's omission from the England squad for tomorrow night's Anfield friendly with Uruguay. And he admitted that the 52 timescapped midfielder "has had quite a severe kick in the nuts." Neville has not started an England international since last summer's victory over Colombia in the USA, but he has been a regular in Sven Goran Eriksson's squads and has won 22 caps since the Swede took over in 2001. But after cruelly missing out on the World Cup finals in France in 1998 and Japan four years later, he is now in danger of missing out on Germany this summer. "Phil has had quite a severe kick in the nuts," said Blues' boss David Moyes. "I was surprised not to see him in the squad. The England manager shows a lot of loyalty to his players and I expected to see him there. "The best way for Phil to answer it is for the England manager to come along and watch him in his next three games. "People who know Phil and people who have worked with him at Manchester United know he is the ultimate professional. "He only ever speaks well of the England set-up and the things that are going on there. "He is a keen trainer and he is very patriotic about his country. All he can do is keep working hard and hope that Mr Eriksson comes to watch a few Everton matches soon." The Blues, meanwhile, have been boosted by the news that Andy van ver Meyde and James Vaughan both returned to light training yesterday after lengthy injury lay-offs. "They both joined in and, hopefully, could be ready for a game in a couple of weeks," said boss David Moyes.

Blue van man eyeing return
Feb 28 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
ANDY VAN DER MEYDE is ready to take a significant step down the road to full fitness when he resumes full training with Everton's first team squad later this week. Though the Holland international made a bright start to his career on Merseyside - Everton won four of the five games he started last autumn - he has not played since December 3 because of a ruptured thigh muscle.
Returning to peak condition has taken longer than expected but after completing a rehabilitation programme with physio Mick Rath-bone, van der Meyde will be given the green light to rejoin his teammates at Bellefield. When that happens, it will bring an end to a miserable spell for the former Ajax winger, who arrived at Goodison Park in a £1.8m deal with a tall reputation and quickly endeared himself to Blues' supporters. A groin problem meant the 26-year-old had to wait two months before making his debut in the Carling Cup against Middlesbrough and just when it appeared he was getting to grips with the demands of the Premiership, he was back to square one after rupturing his thigh in training. But should he make the progress that the club's medical staff and manager David Moyes anticipate, he could be in line to make his comeback appearance against Aston Villa or Liverpool later next month. While player, manager and supporters have been frustrated that van der Meyde has been limited to so few appearances, his compatriot Sander Westerveld believes the wait will be worthwhile when he does pull a Blue shirt on again.
Having been in numerous Holland squads with van der Meyde, Everton's on-loan goalkeeper knows all about his quality and has backed him to make another significant impact before the end of the season. "Andy did well for Everton in his first few games but supporters haven't seen anything like what he can do yet," said Westerveld, likely to retain his place against West Ham on Saturday.
"He started his career at my old club Vitesse Arnhem then had a good spell with Ajax and deserved his move to Inter. "Politics is a big thing in Italian football and he might not have got the chances he deserved but the guys I speak to in Italy rate him highly and he will prove to be a great signing for Everton. "I know he is almost fit and he is itching to get going. Once he is fit, he will show what he is really capable of. He is definitely the kind of player you want on your team, rather than against you.
"The fact he was signed by Ajax speaks volumes. They look for play-ers who are technically way ahead of the rest. He has pace and it doesn't really matter if he is playing on the left or right.
"He can cut in and when he was playing for Holland with me, there used to be him on one flank and Marc Overmars on the other. They would keep changing and causing lots of problems. "Andy is definitely a player whose style will suit the English game. He is exciting and dangerous and it will be great for Everton once he is fully fit again Having been in numerous Holland squads with van der Meyde, Everton's on-loan goalkeeper knows all about his quality and has backed him to make another significant impact before the end of the season. "Andy did well for Everton in his first few games but supporters haven't seen anything like what he can do yet," said Westerveld, likely to retain his place against West Ham on Saturday. "He started his career at my old club Vitesse Arnhem then had a good spell with Ajax and deserved his move to Inter. "Politics is a big thing in Italian football and he might not have got the chances he deserved but the guys I speak to in Italy rate him highly and he will prove to be a great signing for Everton. "I know he is almost fit and he is itching to get going. Once he is fit, he will show what he is really capable of. He is definitely the kind of player you want on your team, rather than against you. "The fact he was signed by Ajax speaks volumes. They look for play-ers who are technically way ahead of the rest. He has pace and it doesn't really matter if he is playing on the left or right. "He can cut in and when he was playing for Holland with me, there used to be him on one flank and Marc Overmars on the other. They would keep changing and causing lots of problems. "Andy is definitely a player whose style will suit the English game. He is exciting and dangerous and it will be great for Everton once he is fully fit again."

Blues keep up pressure on leaders
Feb 28 2006 Women's Football by Paul Garrity, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON LADIES moved into second place in the FA Women's Premier League with a 3-1 win over Birmingham City at Rossett Park. The Blues made a bright start and opened the scoring in the fifth minute through England forward Jody Handley. Her delicate chip from the edge of the box was enough to beat goalkeeper Sue Wood. Birmingham soon hit back through Maz Ballard, as she beat the Everton offside trap, rounded a challenge from Lindsay Johnson and shot past Rachel Brown.
After half-time Everton got back into their stride, and shortly after Michelle Evans' thunderbolt hit the crossbar, the Blues took the lead for the second time. Good hold-up play by Handley down the right allowed Becky Easton to cross the ball for Rachel Unitt to head past Wood in the City goal.
Full-back Easton then scored her second goal of the season after her perfectly timed diving header hit the net. The victory leaves Mo Marley's side just three points behind league leaders Arsenal.
Tranmere kept up their unbeaten league run with a 2-1 win against Stockport County.
Shirley Waring's side haven't lost a game since September but County opened the scoring through Charlotte Higginson's strike. Tranmere's teenage striker Vicky Abbott levelled the scores after the hour before Sue Kenwright made the points safe 10 minutes later. Tranmere maintain their grip on third place and are just one point behind Liverpool, although the Reds have a game in hand after their game with Nottingham Forest was postponed. Everton will try and put the pressure on Arsenal at the top of the National Division when they host Leeds on Sunday. In the Northern Division, Liverpool are at home to top of the table Blackburn Rovers (Heswall FC, 2pm).

Everton Res 0, Birmingham Res 0
Feb 28 2006 Daily Post
EVERTON'S young reserve side were kept busy last during an entertaining 0-0 draw in the FA Premier Reserve League North against an experienced Birmingham City team containing six first-teamers.
Everton's first scare came after just three minutes when a right-wing cross was fumbled by John Ruddy and the ball was eventually cleared. Everton had strong claims for a penalty in the eighth minute when Victor Anichebe was felled, but referee Smedley turned away Everton's claims.
Birmingham's extensive experience in the midfield area came to the fore as the half progressed, and they enjoyed possession in front of the Everton backline, without really extending Ruddy.
David Dunn had his first attempt at goal on 20 minutes, but his shot flew wide after a neat one-two.
Another slick interchange involving Stephen Clemence led to the next chance, but the former Spurs man could only shoot over the bar as Everton struggled for a foothold in the game. It required some superb harrying from Anichebe to secure some respite as he dispossessed Olivier Tebily only for the attack to break down moments later. The pressure then returned at the other end, and Dunn's strike following a corner was cleared off the line by Stephen Wynne. Dunn was in the action again just before the half hour when he fed Njazi Kuqi, who shot wastefully over. Shots from Nick Wright and Jamie Clapham also went close as Birmingham looked to make their superior possession tell before half-time. Ruddy then went down to save excellently from Wright who had powered down the Birmingham right. The second half began with more of the same from the home side, and Ruddy again denied Dunn who had shimmied in the box to create space for a shot. Five minutes after the restart saw Everton's first real chance, as Paul Hopkins' header was saved.. There was a blow for the visitors just before the hour mark when Anichebe was forced off with an apparent eye injury. Minutes later a penetrative dart from Christian Seargeant led to a shot by JP Kissock, but his weak effort was saved by the home keeper. As the second half progressed, Everton attacked down the right-hand side and forced several corners, without really managing an effort on goal of note.
With seven minutes remaining a Kilkenny drive was deflected wide, and the same player volleyed over from the resultant corner. Substitute Elder could have won it late on, but his shot trickled just wide. EVERTON: Ruddy, Wynne, Molyneux, Boyle, S.Wright, Harris, Seargeant, Phelan, Anichebe (Elder 56), Hopkins, Kissock Subs: Irving, Ingason, Dennehy, Morrison.

February 2006