Everton Independent Research Data


Everton FC stadium opponents vow to stand against “unhelpful” Kirkby councillors
Feb 1 2008
By Richard Down, Liverpool Daily Post
OPPONENTS of Everton’s plans to relocate to Kirkby are planning to oust “unsupportive” councillors at this May’s elections.Kirkby Residents Action Group (Krag) will ask residents attending tonight’s meeting at the Catholic Holy Angels Church to stand as independent candidates in Knowsley’s local elections. Krag is strongly opposed to a proposal for a 50,000-seater replacement for Goodison Park in Kirkby, a 24-hour Tesco Extra store and 50 high-street shops south of Cherryfield Drive. Labour members in five Knowsley wards – Cherryfield, Kirkby, Central, Northwood and Shevington – could be at risk. Ian Williams, group spokesman, said: “What’s been coming back from public meetings, and when we’ve been door-to-door, is people would like to see some opposition in the elections with residents standing in opposition to Everton Football stadium moving to Kirkby. “As we are an action group not a political party we are going to facilitate the process but we won’t be choosing the candidates. “There’s going to be a ballot of everyone who attends. Then it’s up to individuals. The action group as an entity won’t be involved, but individual members can do whatever they wish.” The meeting will be chaired by Anglican vicar of St Chad’s Tim Stafford, who has been outspoken in his opposition to the plans. Mr Williams expects many at the meeting will criticise the council’s consultation strategy. He said: “One of the criticisms is that we were never invited to anything. “So we’ve sent out personal invitations to 66 councillors to hear the views of Kirkby residents and hear the opposition and comment on it because all the way through the process they haven’t asked anyone and have refused to answer questions about the exclusive deal with Tesco or planning detail. “Councillors should have been able to assist residents to understand what’s going on.” The group have also re-drafted a formal letter of objection to the planning application. This time, camp- aigners believe they have stuck only to relevant planning objec- tions. In a letter which people attending tonight’s meeting will be encouraged to read and sign the group have objected to what they claim is a departure from Knowsley’s Unitary Development Plan. They argue the greater part of the site south of Cherry Field Drive has been zoned as urban green space in the plan. Krag is also determined to force a public inquiry and their letters will be sent to Hazel Blears, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, urging her to call the decision in.

Alan Stubbs departs Everton for Derby County
Feb 1 2008
By Ian Doyle, Liverpool Daily Post
ALAN STUBBS yesterday ended his Goodison career for a second time when he joined Derby County on a free transfer. The 36-year-old has signed an 18-month contract for Paul Jewell’s side, who are marooned at the bottom of the Premier League and destined for relegation after one season in the top flight. Stubbs’s current contract at Goodison was due to expire in the summer and, as is club policy for players over the age of 30, talks of a new deal were not scheduled to take place until after the last match of the season. Hampered by injury and his first-choice opportunities limited by the fine form of Joleon Lescott and Phil Jagielka, Stubbs made just one appearance for Everton since November 3. Derby manager Paul Jewell believes Stubbs’ experience will be invaluable as the Rams aim to bridge a 12-point gap to safety. “It’s a terrific capture for us,” said Jewell. “Stubbsy is a first-class pro, someone who has been there, seen it and done it. “I’m delighted to have him on board and he will add experience and steel to the backline. “He will train with us on Friday and is very much in contention for a place in the team on Saturday.”

Everton make deadline swoop for Anthony Gardner
Feb 1 2008
By Ian Doyle, Liverpool Daily Post
EVERTON last night swooped to sign Tottenham Hotspur defender Anthony Gardner on loan until the end of the season. David Moyes made the move hours before the transfer window closed after allowing Alan Stubbs to join Derby County on a free transfer earlier in the day. Anderson de Silva also departed Goodison, joining Championship club Barnsley in a permanent deal after a couple of loan spells at Oakwell. Gardner will provide extra competition to Joleon Lescott, Phil Jagielka and Joseph Yobo at centre-back. The 26-year-old has fallen out of favour at White Hart Lane under new manager Juande Ramos, and has not made added to his six appearances this season since the Spaniard took over from Martin Jol at the end of October. Gardner has played 143 times for Tottenham since arriving for £1m from Port Vale in January 2000 and has scored three goals, the last of which came against Everton in their 3-1 win in the capital back in August. Gardner will no doubt relish the chance to kickstart his career after failing to build on the promise of his earlier years that led to an England cap in the friendly in Sweden in March 2004. Meanwhile, Mikel Arteta believes the lack of pressure to finish fourth can be Everton’s key weapon in the race for Champions League qualification. The Goodison outfit maintained their grip on fourth place despite behind held to a home goalless draw by Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday night. While Liverpool continue to slump down the table under the weight of expectation and off-field uncertainty, Everton have prospered with a run of just two defeats in their last 14 top-flight games. And talismanic schemer Arteta reckons David Moyes’s side are making the most of their surprise element with just Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea above them in the table. “I don’t think the players feel under any pressure to finish fourth,” said the Spaniard. “At the start of the season, there weren’t a lot of people saying our aim this season would be to finish in the top four. “But we’re in that position now, and we want to hold on to that if we can. We know it is going to be difficult. “You always keep asking yourself the question ‘can we finish in fourth now?’. We want to keep asking that question until the end of the season. “We’ve asked ourselves that question three years ago, and we managed to do it then. So why not now?” Arteta was part of the squad that beat Liverpool to fourth place in 2005 to earn a crack at Champions League qualification. Everton have to play all of their main rivals between now and the end of the season. They entertain both Portsmouth and Aston Villa and must travel to Anfield and Manchester City . They also visit Blackburn Rovers tomorrow and Arteta said: “We know that anything can happen in football. But it all depends on us and what we do. “It’s going to be really difficult and tight because there are so many teams involved in that fight for fourth. “But I think we have the quality in our squad. It’s in our own hands, and we know that if we keep playing the way we are doing and getting the results, we’ll put the other teams under pressure. “There’s still a long way to go, but we know we have put ourselves in a really good position now.”Everton missed the chance to open up a four-point gap on their rivals when they were unable to pick a way through Tottenham’s defence. But despite frustration on the evening, Arteta said: “We knew how difficult it was going to be. Tottenham are a very good team and well organised, and we needed a little something to change the game. “We had a few chances but couldn’t take them. It’s a shame, but we have a point and, looking at the other results, we’re still in fourth place so everything is still positive for us.” Moyes’s squad will be boosted for the visit of Reading a week tomorrow by the return of Steven Pienaar after South Africa were eliminated from the Africa Cup of Nations yesterday.

Phil Jagielka just keeps getting better - David Moyes
Feb 1 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES today tipped the rapidly-improving Phil Jagielka to take his performances up another level - as he prepared to welcome Anthony Gardner to Goodison Park. With veteran defender Alan Stubbs making a shock move to Derby County, Moyes made an immediate late swoop for Tottenham defender Gardner.
He has signed on loan until the end of the season and goes straight into the squad for tomorrow’s trip to Blackburn. But like Stubbs, Gardner is sure to find starting chances hard to come by for the time being as Jagielka and Joleon Lescott have been in such outstanding form, with the former sparkling against Tottenham on Wednesday night.
That was the former Sheffield United man’s 13th consecutive appearance, so it is no surprise he is starting to show the kind of quality that saw him win a call-up to the England B squad last May, and Moyes is tipping him to get better again.
“We have always thought that either centre-back or right-back would be Jags’ best position and that’s exactly what we have found out,” said Moyes. “When he came in, he realised that there was good competition here. “But he has been a really important player for us and done really well. He has picked up a lot in the last couple of months. His training has got better and I have seen the boy grow in confidence as well.
“Because of that, it is making the standard of his performances that much better and he believes now that he is an Everton player and is very much part of the squad. He would admit that when he first came, he was taken aback by the difference in quality.
“But that happens with lots of players. Not everyone can come in and settle straight away. He has been involved throughout, either playing or being on the bench. We knew when we got him that he was someone who could do two or three jobs.”
Though the Blues were short on numbers in midweek, Moyes could have his squad boosted by three at Ewood Park as Tony Hibbert and Tim Cahill are both back from suspension, while Leon Osman is making good progress after sitting out the 0-0 draw with a calf problem. He was due to have a fitness test at Finch Farm today, as was Cahill, who would not have been able to play against Tottenham even if he had not been banned as he was suffering with a hamstring injury. Moyes, however, will not take any risks with his fitness. Lescott, meanwhile, wants to celebrate his call-up to Fabio Capello’s first England squad by collecting three points against Blackburn to keep Everton’s push for the Champions League on course. “We’ve got Blackburn now who are pushing for Europe, so it’s going to be a big game for us,” said Lescott. “They’ve been on a good run, picking up some vital results, so we know it’s going to be another tough game going up there.”

Leighton Baines eyeing up celebrations for awayday fans
Feb 1 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
A TRIP to Ewood Park is usually a high point in the season for Evertonians and Leighton Baines is hoping they have more awayday joy this weekend.
Given Blackburn Rovers hand over the entire Darwen End to clubs who are traditionally backed by a large travelling contingent, the noise they generate in their designated section invariably make tussles at that compact little ground feel like a home game. Even when things were not so rosy, Everton were guaranteed to sell out their allocation at Ewood Park and now that they are in hot pursuit of a Champions League place again, tickets for this latest encounter have long since gone.
It should not, though, come as a surprise. Few teams have travelled better than the Blues this season and they are chasing a third consecutive away win in the Premier League tomorrow, which would bring their total for the campaign to a hugely impressive 13. With form at Goodison Park equally solid, it has enabled Everton to take the initiative in the race for fourth spot and Baines sees no reason why he and his team-mates can’t take maximum points off Mark Hughes’ redoubtable side.
True, Moyes may be short of numbers at present – a situation which meant Baines was forced to play in an unfamiliar left wing role in the 0-0 draw with Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday – but they are not lacking in belief. And as they have proved to be such tough nuts to crack – Everton’s domestic clean sheet tally now stands at nine – Baines, who made his debut for the Blues in a 1-1 draw with Blackburn last August, is adamant they can make the short trip in confidence. “We have got such strong characters,” he pointed out. “The lads at the back have been magnificent. Joleon and Jags were outstanding against Tottenham, particularly late on when there were a few tired legs out there. “But that type of quality really comes to the fore in away games and that’s where we have built from. We take confidence into every game now and when we look at what we have done at other grounds, we’ll go to Blackburn with belief. “We are capable of winning there if we play to our potential. Blackburn are a good side and have some great individual players but so do we. Mark Hughes is a great manager but he’ll know what we are about. We’ve got people who can unlock the door in tight games. “When they came here earlier in the season, we probably both cancelled each other out. But we go there with confidence and take heart that people are chasing us. Rather than looking over our shoulders, we’ve got to concentrate on putting daylight between us.” Given the current lack of bodies, Baines is likely to continue in a more attacking role and he was pleased to be able to report that after an injury-ravaged winter, an operation to remedy his troublesome ankle is likely to be postponed. “Surgery is an option, but there has been some improvement recently,” said Baines. “We are doing everything we can to manage it and the worst case scenario will be having it done at the end of the season. “I don’t want to even think about that at the minute, though. I’m just trying to be positive and hopefully it is a good sign that things have started to improve as maybe that will mean I don’t have to have an operation after all.” Wednesday night was only the second time since October 28 that Baines had actually completed 90 minutes, but he showed enough to suggest that he will have a role to fulfil as the campaign reaches its conclusion. He was of the opinion that a point against an in-form Tottenham did Everton’s chances of breaking into the top four no harm at all, so once the cavalry return from Africa and the treatment room clears, it will be all systems go for the main objective.
“We have been going strongly all season, really, and we are only going to get stronger once we get the lads back who are away in Africa and those who are injured,” said Baines, who at £6m is the most expensive defender in Everton’s history.
“I can definitely see us pushing on from now. At the minute, everyone is just trying to do a job for the team, to the best of their ability. I played left midfield against Spurs and, to be honest, I’d never filled that role until I got here. “It’s totally different from what I am used to. It’s non-stop and more running about than you’d ever imagine as a defender. I tired a bit towards the end but that was to be expected as I’d only played 90 minutes once since the end of October. “It’s been a while. You do all you can to get yourself in shape. You stay behind after training, you work with the fitness coaches but nothing can prepare you for the intensity of a game. No amount of running will ever help. “When I knew I was going to play left midfield, I just wanted to do a job for the team. If I was useless but had to run about, I was prepared to do that. In the end, it was a good effort and the point we got will come in really handy at the end of the season.”

Howard Kendall: Draw could be a big turning point
Feb 1 2008 by Howard Kendall, Liverpool Echo
A POINT gained or two squandered? It is easy to understand why some people will still be kicking themselves today, but there was nothing lost in drawing with Tottenham. While there may have been initial disappointment at the final whistle, it should have quickly subsided as, all of a sudden, a little gap is starting to appear between Everton and the chasing pack in the battle for fourth place.
Maybe we should have taken one of the chances that came our way, notably when Andrew Johnson burst clear in the second half, but Tottenham came to Goodison Park as one of the Premier League’s in-form teams. That helps put things into perspective.
It was a game, though, where defences dominated and while Jonathan Woodgate oozed class for the visitors - it’s easy to see why so many clubs wanted to sign him during the transfer window - the same could be said of Joleon Lescott and Phil Jagielka. The latter, in particular, has blossomed in the last few weeks and has really benefited from having an extended run in one position - it’s no coincidence that his best performances come on the back of him being settled. Few would argue that he looked lost at times as a central midfielder earlier in the campaign and I don’t think you would class him as a natural right-back either, as both Phil Neville and Tony Hibbert are more suited to the role. But things come naturally to him in the middle and that’s the area of the field where he looks most comfortable. You only had to see his tackles to stop the enigmatic Dimitar Berbatov in his tracks late in the game to realise that. Not so long ago, Everton would have lost such a game as Wednesday’s, so it can only be seen as encouraging that they have edged further ahead in the race for the Champions League without playing to their optimum. That point could yet be significant.
Bentley is the driving force with Blackburn
IT’S not often Arsene Wenger makes a mistake in the transfer market, but his decision to let David Bentley move to Blackburn Rovers was a rare error on his behalf.
Bentley, without question, will be the man who provides the main threat to Everton tomorrow at Ewood Park, but, for all his talent, I’m still confident that we can get something positive out of the game. Blackburn are a good side and Mark Hughes has done a magnificent job, but you can see Everton’s players believe they are capable of winning anywhere at the minute and, all being well, we’ll be another step closer to securing fourth spot at the close of play.
Late substitutions are so meaningless
I’VE watched a lot of the African Cup of Nations recently but have been left puzzled by the amount of seemingly pointless substitutions. In the dying minutes of matches, you often see a flurry of activity on benches and a stream of players coming on who have absolutely no chance of making an impression on the game as it is just too late.
The days of making substitutions to run the clock down have long since gone, so there is no advantage to be gained from that and it is not like I experienced in Spain where you needed to make three changes to ensure the players got a maximum win bonus.
All I can think of as a possible explanation is that countries are giving caps to players who may be moving to Europe in the future, so potential work permit applications pass through more smoothly. Whether you play for one minute or 90, a cap is still a cap.

Prudence is the key as Moyes looks to the future
Feb 2 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
WHILE many of their rivals have spent money as if it was going out of fashion in recent weeks, Everton’s prudent approach has been a bone of contention with some supporters. Having allowed key figures like Alan Stubbs and James McFadden to leave and only made loan acquisitions in the shape of Manuel Fernandes and Anthony Gardner to go alongside their £2m purchase of Dan Gosling, who is one for the future, concerns are understandable. But splashing the cash has never been the answer to solving problems and David Moyes is confident that Everton’s decision to sit tight during January will pay dividends in the future. He is aware, however, that the next three months are absolutely crucial. A place in the Champions League is up for grabs and Moyes’ grand vision for Everton is to have them as regulars in Europe’s stellar competition by 2012, so he knows the importance of building on recent progress this summer. Significantly, he believes they will. “I think we are in a really strong position,” said Moyes. “Everything I do is to try and keep moving the side on. That’s my job. Hopefully we will look to do that again in the summer. “Our purchase of Yakubu in the summer probably spent up our money for this part of the season. But I can understand the thinking. It’s the right thinking. If we want to challenge, we have to do it and we have to be there. “I don’t feel as if I am going to give up. I am going to keep pushing so that we can challenge the clubs around us and above us. If you do buy quality in, the better players tend to cost you more money and that will always be the case. “Not all of them work. But I will keep advising the club in what I think is the right way to go. When I came, I had a plan for us to become better. I have now got a plan for the next five years that will hopefully see us become a Champions League club. “Whether it be a redeveloped Goodison or a new stadium, by the time that comes around the one thing Everton need to fill it is a team and hopefully a team in the Champions League. All those clubs around us will catch up if we don’t stay ahead of the game. “The stability here has given us a good foundation to build. The next stage is to continue raising the standard of the players. But I’m confident that Bill has his heart in the right place and will do the right things. You would have to compliment him. “I’m fortunate that I get a lot of compliments when the team is doing well but you would have to compliment Bill Kenwright also. He has helped build the club and deserves credit for that. But now we need to decide whether we are going to try and challenge if we can.” The next step on that challenge comes this afternoon at Ewood Park and Moyes is under no illusions that even though his side have only tasted defeat twice in their last 14 Premier League fixtures, they will be given a searching examination here. Mark Hughes’ side are more than capable of beating the best when the mood takes them and Moyes, for one, will not be underestimating the opposition by any stretch of the imagination, as he sees them as contenders for a UEFA Cup spot.
“Blackburn have been a European side for the last couple of years and would certainly see themselves as being in and around the challengers again,” he said. “I certainly see them that way. They are a good side who know when to mix it when the time is right.”
With Tony Hibbert back from suspension and Leon Osman confident of being fit, Everton’s squad looks in better shape than it was for Wednesday night’s 0-0 draw with Tottenham, But new signing Anthony Gardner will not be available owing to a slight ankle injury. He might have been a last-gasp signing, but Moyes has no doubt that Gardner will be able to do a job in the short-term but, that said, was still disappointed to see Stubbs depart for Derby County. “I didn’t want Stubbsy to go because I knew it was going to leave me short of cover,” said Moyes. “Was I surprised? A little bit. But we had a long conversation after the game on Wednesday night and I understand that they have given him an extra year’s contract.
“The opportunity to play was a big pull. Because of his age and the way he has been such a great servant, I didn’t want to stand in his way and I wouldn’t do that either.
“I want to be fair to Stubbsy. But it left us short at the last minute on Thursday afternoon. “It was very late to look anywhere and I hadn’t been in need of centre-half cover. “ But I thought of Anthony quickly and knew he could help me out if required to do so. “But overall I feel we have got the squad to cope, whether it is a push for fourth place or something else. “We have got a good squad of players and hopefully they will all stay fit to help us through to the end of the season.”

Stubbs future can still have Goodison role
Feb 2 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
THE curtain came down on Alan Stubbs’ Everton career this week, but would you bet against there being a third instalment some time in the future? In pursuit of regular first team football, the veteran defender opted to take up a surprise offer from Derby County and help them in their unlikely battle against relegation rather than stay and play a bit part in Everton’s push for the Champions League. It will have taken many by surprise but Stubbs is a proud man and though he is in the twilight of his career, every time he failed to claim a place in David Moyes’ starting XI when fit for duty would have almost been like a personal affront. Lesser souls would have happily sat back and taken the money rather than over-exert themselves, but Stubbs is not of that stock, still believing that he has another 18 months at the very least in his legs.
A conversation with him in Salt Lake City springs to mind. Sat in a hotel foyer, this teak tough son of Kirkby was assessing Everton’s prospects for the new campaign when the subject turned to how he saw his future shaping up. His thoughts could not have been more candid. “As long as I am enjoying it, I will always want to play,” he said. “Once you give up, you are a long time finished. If I was playing every game and struggling to get over them, maybe things would be different. But I want to be playing and want to keep winning. “I’ve started taking my coaching badges but if this season was to go as well as last year, then I’d want to keep playing. I’ve looked at things but really it is only going to be a question that I will be able to answer next May.”
Clearly he still feels in fine shape and will no doubt look to the example of his friend and former team-mate Davie Weir, who, despite leaving the Blues at this stage of affairs last season, has been going strong for Glasgow Rangers, helping take the initiative in the race for the SPL title. Battling to get out of the Championship, of course, is going to be a different story, but Stubbs is a model professional and will give himself every chance of playing in as many games as he possibly can. He may turn 37 next birthday but the hunger is still there. Only time will tell whether the move turns out to be a success – there will be those who remember a spell at Sunderland two years ago that can only be described as disastrous – but Moyes has said that he “admires” Stubbs for taking the challenge. After all, Moyes had said that there would more than likely have been a new deal for him at the end of the season to stay at Goodison Park, where he could have combined playing the odd game here and there and helping Andy Holden with the reserve team. Given that he took charge of Everton’s second string for a couple of games after Alan Irvine left for Preston, the natural progression for Stubbs – who studied for his UEFA ‘B’ licence last June – to make would be on to his beloved club’s coaching staff. So having made 193 appearances during two stints with the Blues, scoring seven goals, surely there will be a point in the future when Stubbs returns ‘home’ and takes his place in the dugout to bark out orders. Again, thoughts go back to Utah. “I don’t want to just finish and have to concentrate on my coaching badges,” said Stubbs that afternoon. “I don’t really want to be a coach, I want to be a manager. But that is for the future. I’m finding things interesting at the minute and only time will tell what happens.” He has already fulfilled one dream by graduating from the Gwladys Street to proudly wear the Royal Blue shirt in top-flight combat and who knows? Maybe there is another fantasy to be played out many years from now

Ronny plans fund-raiser
Feb 2 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
RONNY GOODLASS may spend most of his time travelling the country as Radio Merseyside’s expert analyst for Everton but he has more strings to his bow than just covering the Blues. His children’s charity, Health Through Sport, continues to go from strength to strength and he has planned another fund-raising dinner for later this year. Scheduled for Friday, May 9, at the Devonshire House Hotel, Alan Ball’s son Jimmy will be guest speaker, while comedy will be provided by the madcap Irishman Mike Cash. A Q and A with Jimmy will also be on the agenda, with Willie Miller the evening’s MC. Cost for a table of 12 is £420 and anyone wishing to make enquiries should call 0151 264 6600.

Blues legend who played his part in cup replay classic
Feb 2 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
WALLY FIELDING was laid to rest this week, following a funeral service at St Olaf’s Church. Everton’s immensely popular inside forward of the 1940s and 50s was 88-years-old. It is hoped to stage a Wally Fielding Memorial Service at St Luke’s Church, adjacent to Goodison Park, some time later this month, to give supporters an opportunity to pay their respects. The occasion is sure to be well attended, with ‘Nobby’, as he was affectionately known, one of the most popular players of hisgeneration. He featured in the Everton matchday programme for the FA Cup fifth round second replay with Liverpool in 1991. Reflecting on the remarkable 4-4 draw which had set up the tie, the programme editors decided to ask Wally about another memorable cup tie staged at Goodison Park. It was January 1948, against the mighty Wolves team of Billy Wright, Jimmy Mullen and Johnny Hancocks. This was the post-War boom years for football crowds, and after Everton had held Wolves to a 1-1 draw at Molineux, 72,569 fans crammed into Goodison for the replay.
“I can remember the days when the players had a shilling sweep on the attendance, and if anybody predicted less than 60,000 we thought he was off his trolley,” said Fielding. The fans that day got value for money, with Wolves leading 2-1 until a minute from time. Then Fielding took a corner from which Jackie Grant volleyed the equaliser. Thousands who had been drifting out of the ground swarmed back in and stayed to see Wally hit the winner at the Gwladys Street End – his second goal of the game. After Everton held Fulham to a 1-1 draw in London in the next round, 71,587 turned up for the replay, but this time the Londoners won 1-0. Fielding never got to Wembley. “Liverpool robbed me of a chance to play at Wembley when they beat us in the 1950 semi-final,” he explained. “The rivalry was just as keen in those days, although we got on very well with the Liverpool players. Billy Liddell was a good friend and I used to play golf with Bob Paisley, although we only had six clubs between us. “In fact, Bob offered me a coaching job at Anfield but Everton persuaded me to turn it down and it went to Joe Fagan.” Fielding was also disappointed in his international aspirations. He played for England against Scotland at Maine Road in an unofficial international for the Bolton disaster fund. “I really enjoyed that. But not long afterwards I was sent off at Goodison Park playing against Preston and our manager Cliff Britton, told me that I might never get picked for England again,” he added. “He was right and it was a major disappointment. I always felt that no matter how well I played I would not even be considered.” But Fielding’s 410 game Everton career – which went on until almost his 40th birthday – was hardly a disappointment.
“I still regard the greatest moment of my career as the day I signed for Everton,” he said in 1991. “When I walked into Goodison Park, I felt 20 feet tall. I had achieved my ambition of becoming a professional footballer.” Many thanks to former Daily Mirror journalist Dave Horridge for background material.

Round could be man to fill Irvine’s boots
Feb 2 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
NICE to see pantomime season continue in Newcastle this week with the appointment of Dennis Wise to the ambiguous role of “executive director” but there could be a knock-on effect for Everton in the summer. With a radical overhaul of the backroom staff expected to take place, it is likely to mean Steve Round – the former England coach – will be looking for pastures new, as he is only on a temporary contract at St James’ Park. Blues boss David Moyes has refrained from replacing Alan Irvine so far and has shown great faith in the skills of Andy Holden, Chris Woods and Jimmy Lumsden since his trusted lieutenant moved to Preston as manager last November.
He will address the situation in the summer and Round – an innovative thinker who moved into coaching when his playing career was cut short as a 23-year-old – is certain to be in Moyes’ thoughts when the time comes to make an appointment.

FA forced to drop Moyes charge
Feb 2 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
THE FA have been forced to drop a charge of improper conduct against David Moyes – thanks to evidence supplied by the Liverpool ECHO. Moyes was charged with two breaches of FA rule E3 following comments he made about Mark Clattenburg's performance in the Goodison derby in October. But after the intervention of the Echo, the FA has dropped the first charge. Graham Bean, of Football Factors who represented Moyes said: "Thanks to the evidence supplied by the Liverpool Echo we could prove that David had not made the comments which were alleged of him.
"Without it then there was a possibility that the charge would have been found proven and it cannot be right that the FA are reliant upon inaccurate evidence. It would have beeen the equivalant of a miscarriage of justice! "The FA now need to review their whole policy on charging people in the game where they rely on the content of a newspaper article as this episode has proved highly embarrassing for them. They have withdrawn a charge because they have failed to ensure that the evidence they relied upon is correct." The Echo supplied a recording of David Moyes' post-match press conference following the October derby match, which proved he did not actually make comments which were reported elsewhere. Moyes does, however, still face another charge of improper conduct following comments he is alleged to have made about Clattenburg the following week at a separate press conference. It is highly unusual for the FA to drop an improper conduct charge, and Moyes is now prepared to contest the second charge. He has requested a personal hearing, but no date has yet been set

A share of the spoils was fair
Feb 2 2008 by Barry Horne, Liverpool Echo
AS the season enters its final third, Everton find themselves in a wonderful league position and still with European aspirations in the UEFA Cup. That’s why I wondered after the goalless draw with Spurs whether the glass was half full or half empty. The half empty thinkers will wonder whether we missed an opportunity to put real distance between ourselves and the other Champions League chasers, while the half full brigade will be thankful that results elsewhere meant that no one made ground on us.
Wednesday’s game was very tight – as is often the case when you’re anticipating a thrilling, open game between two evenly matched sides. Chances were few and far between, and while the best chance was saved by Radek Cerny from Andrew Johnson, Spurs had just as many opportunities to create chances themselves but were let down by uncharacteristically poor final balls from Dimitar Berbatov and Aaron Lennon.
In the circumstances it was a decent point. Spurs had a makeshift back four consisting of a want-away full-back, a teenage debutant, a midfielder – and another debutant, Jonathan Woodgate, who marshalled his defence magnificently. To counter that, Everton were without six regular first team players in Hibbert, Cahill, Osman, Pienaar, Yobo and Osman. But while we took the match to Spurs for all bar the final 10 minutes, not many would have said a draw was an unjust result.
Blues can benefit from Ramos plans
JUANDE RAMOS' determination to rebuild Spurs from the back has been quite evident with his signings of Gunter, Woodgate, Hutton and Rocha, plus his apparent willingness to let Pascal Chimbonda leave. The surprise benefit for Everton is that David Moyes has been able to replace the departed Alan Stubbs with Anthony Gardner. Gardner's inability to feature in a Spurs defence which has struggled this season might suggest he will struggle to get into the Everton starting line-up.
But I remember Gardner enjoying an outstanding spell for Spurs which culminated in a full England cap a few years ago. His signing has also brought the average age of the squad down again, and he has only arrived on-loan. If he doesn't look like rediscovering the form he showed previously, then there's no added burden on the club's finances, but if he does impress then he would be able to join other clubs - and looking at the current league table where else would he go which is better than Everton. * WAS it a Liverpool fan who took the decision to close the Mersey tunnel at precisely 10 o'clock on each of the last two Wednesday nights - the exact time that Everton's matches against Chelsea and Tottenham were finishing?
Is that extra hour really so crucial - and does it merit the chaos which is created in town for supporters trying to make their way back to the Wirral and North Wales?

Blackburn 0, Everton 0 (Echo)
Feb 4 2008
By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
IF further proof was needed why referees are currently more derided than traffic wardens, tax inspectors and politicians, read on for some quite miserable and damning evidence. As he scurried out of Ewood Park on Saturday evening, Alan Wiley was politely asked if he would care to offer an official explanation why what appeared to be a perfectly good Andrew Johnson goal had been ruled out. Predictably, the response was a brusque “no comment” but the inquisitor was not to be deterred and simply wondered if he could just brush up on the ambiguous areas of ‘phase one’ and ‘phase two’ for the Evertonians, who were feeling cheated and bewildered. With that, Wiley’s driver bundled him and his assistants into a vehicle but not before the match official had the chance to put forward this pearl of wisdom. For those of you who are still simmering with rage, it’s probably best you put down any breakables in your vicinity. “Were you at the game?” he barked, making it clear he did not wish to be bothered. “Yes,” came the reply. “Do you understand the offside rule?” said Wiley, getting more and more agitated and unable to comprehend why his authority was being questioned. “Yes, I think so but…” “Well there’s your answer.” Where exactly? What harm would it have done to take a minute to simply explain something without be confrontational or staggeringly rude? Instead, here we are again today still no nearer to enlightenment on a subject that continues to perplex and puzzle. Given what happened at Goodison Park on October 20 and this latest appalling error that cost them certain victory against Blackburn Rovers, is it any wonder that Evertonians are starting to feel they are victims of a great conspiracy? But, much to the travelling contingent’s exasperation, the ruled out goal was not Wiley’s only blunder. How about the penalty he failed to award to Johnson after the striker had been chopped in two by Zurab Khizanishvili? Utterly, utterly ridiculous. How can a multi-billion pound business be governed on the field by so many individuals who are incapable of making the right decisions at the right time? If it happened in any other industry, those culpable for mistakes would be jettisoned in the blink of an eye. Yet Ewood Park was not the only ground over the weekend where offside decisions looked as if they had been made by Mr Magoo. Fratton Park and the City of Manchester Stadium saw games changed due to hasty flag waving or, more accurately, a lack of it. Just not good enough. No matter how many times you look at the Johnson goal that never was, the more impossible it is to see why Wiley – who could have sent Mikel Arteta off after a last minute flashpoint with Pedersen – came to such a decision. Was it for him being in an offside position when the move was initially started? At what point did he become active again? Did they feel he was in an illegal area when he got beyond Brad Friedel to pick up a pass from James Vaughan? So many questions. The most annoying aspect of it all, however, is that this enthralling contest should have been out of Blackburn’s reach long before Johnson thought he had become the hero of the hour, as Everton dominated from first whistle to last. Tentative with some of their efforts before the break, the second half saw Everton pass the ball with swagger and purpose, continually putting their hosts on the back foot but, much to everyone’s irritation, they could not find a way through. It all started from the moment Mikel Arteta glided past two challenges to crash a left-footed drive towards goal which Friedel pawed away and Leon Osman cracked a drive wide of the upright from the resultant corner. Phil Jagielka had a header hacked off the line. Tim Cahill failed to connect with an acrobatic volley. Manuel Fernandes fluffed his lines when set free by Arteta then struck a post with a 30-yard free kick. Osman then got his bearings wrong in the penalty area. Make no mistake, Everton did enough to win two games and there was plenty to like about the manner in which they retained possession and kept moving the ball around on a pitch that had long since seen better days. Chances came and chances went but the one man for whom they wanted an opportunity to fall was left foraging for scraps and never presented with the clear sight of goal he desired. Once again, Johnson ran himself into the ground and every time he turned to start motoring, Khizanishvili and Andre Ooijer – defenders who are not exactly blessed with pace – visibly panicked. He should have been given more long balls to chase. Maybe if Vaughan had been brought off the bench a little earlier, the game would have been stretched sooner but that is a moot point as the way things had been panning out, Moyes had reason the deadlock would be broken. Perhaps the imminent return of Steven Pienaar and Ayegbeni Yakubu will help sharpen Everton’s attacking edge but, if they do not play next weekend against Reading, someone else needs to take responsibility. Looking at the faces of Everton’s players as they trudged out of Ewood Park to board the team bus, there was no disguising the fact that each and every one knew they had squandered two precious points. Had it not been for Wiley and his bumbling cohorts, the picture would have been completely different but a myopic man in the middle can only be blamed for so much; profligacy was just as much a factor here.

Blackburn 0, Everton 0 (D,Post)
Feb 4 2008
By Christopher Beesley, at Ewood Park
WELL none of us know the rule anymore.” That was the frank and honest assessment of former Everton manager Joe Royle as he discussed the ins and outs of Andrew Johnson’s disallowed ‘winner’ at Ewood Park on Saturday with some old friends he’d spotted in the lobby on his way out of the ground. And he was right. There was a time in the not-too-distant past when everyone with half a brain who understood football understood the offside law. It may have become increasingly difficult using real time judgement to tell if a player is offside or not when the ball is played because of the increasing speed of the game but when it came to actually understanding what constituted offside and what was onside, we all knew. Nothing much had changed in that department since the roaring twenties when the rule was relaxed from three opponents to just two between the forward and the goal and Everton’s very own Dixie Dean ran riot in the ensuing transitional period, bagging himself an all-time record 60 goals in 1927-28. Then those meddlers at FIFA, men like Sepp Blatter, a man of whom it was once said has 50 ideas on how to improve football each day of which 51 are bad, started tinkering with the laws of the game to such an extent that none of us now fully understand one of the most crucial elements of the sport that dominates our lives. First being level with the defender was offside then onside, then there had to be ‘daylight’ and there’s also the issue of the attacker being ‘involved’ with play to contend with. And to think, the game’s governing body have termed their latest tinkering a ‘clarification’ of the law. Well, there didn’t seem to be much clarity at Ewood Park on Saturday. When Everton’s attack first started, Johnson looked to be offside but he was running back and could supposedly be deemed to be that dreaded phrase ‘not interfering.’ He did not become involved directly in play for several seconds as the game continued with Everton substitute James Vaughan charging down a loose ball with an onrushing Rovers keeper Brad Friedel. The teenager ended up on the deck with the veteran American but managed to hook the ball across for Johnson – now seemingly in an onside position – from a prostrate position but it was only then that the linesman raised his flag. Royle, a man who has been involved in professional football all his life and who remains Everton’s last trophy-winning manager was bemused as to whether the decision was right or wrong and as to just when the offside offence supposedly occurred. So was Barry Horne, a Liverpool University graduate and former PFA chairman, known to be one of the most astute minds in the game. We all were – and the fact that that is now the case cannot be good for either Everton in particular or the game in general. Thank goodness the Premier League has got such competent, errorless officials who can guide us through these tricky moments. Everton manager David Moyes made two changes to the side that started Wednesday’s goalless draw against Tottenham at Goodison Park as Tim Cahill and Leon Osman stepped in for Nuno Valente and Victor Anichebe. The switch saw Leighton Baines revert from left-wing to left-back and Everton employ a 4-5-1 formation instead of 4-4-2. Rovers had not played for a week since their 1-1 draw at Aston Villa but Mark Hughes made just a single alteration with Zurab Khizanishvili coming in for Christopher Samba in central defence. Everton had the better of possession and territory in a tight opening on a pitch cleared of the snow which had fallen on the surrounding Lancashire countryside but the game did not warm up until half an hour in when Mikel Arteta let fly with a left-footed effort following a Cahill lay-off but Friedel saved and Blackburn scrambled the ball away for a corner-kick. Soon after, David Dunn, who had been booked earlier for a nasty lunge on Arteta, seemed to produce a blatant handball right under the nose of the referee but Alan Wiley let him off and the midfielder went on to play a crucial part in denying Everton a goal. Just before the interval, a right-wing corner-kick from Arteta found Phil Jagielka who was able to get direction if not power to a header that was creeping just inside Friedel’s near post. The fortunate Dunn however was on hand to clear the effort off the goal-line. A dull first half must have urged Messrs Hughes and Moyes into life with their respective team talks during the break as both sides created better chances than they fashioned in the entire opening 45 minutes within barely 60 seconds of the restart. England international David Bentley, who had been virtually anonymous up to that point, found space down the right to escape and whip in a low shot that Tim Howards has to turn away for a corner-kick. At the other end, Everton countered from the resultant set-piece and Arteta played a low ball across the area to an unmarked Manuel Fernandes at the back post but with the goal gaping and time on his hands to compose himself, the on-loan Valencia man spurned a golden opportunity by firing the ball straight at Friedel’s feet. The Portuguese midfielder almost reprieved himself with a well-struck free-kick but Fernandes’s curled 25-yard effort around the Rovers wall struck Friedel’s left-hand post with the former Liverpool man rooted to the spot. Hughes introduced Benni McCarthy and Tugay into the contest and the two experienced continental campaigners started to cause Everton a few more headaches. The 37-year-old Turk’s legs might have ‘gone’ but he can still pick out a crossfield pass with his eyes shut and he found the South African with a typically well-struck ball. McCarthy played a neat one-two with Roque Santa Cruz but with Howard in front of him and the goal gaping, he was bundled off the ball by Phil Jagielka. Howard then had to claw away a Bentley free-kick that was curling in wickedly for a corner and the disallowed goal by Johnson – who had also been denied a seemingly strong penalty claim following a kick by Khizanishvili – followed. With both sides rightly or wrongly frustrated by a series of decisions by the match officials, an unsavoury melee broke out late on by the touchline which saw both Arteta and Morten Gamst Pedersden booked while in stoppage time Santa Cruz almost snatched what would have been an undeserved winner for the hosts when he curled a lazy swipe at the ball over the bar after Bentley had countered with pace. While far from being a bad result, Everton will count this as two points dropped in the short-term but long-term it remains to be seen whether it hampers their European hopes or whether any of us will truly understand the offside law ever again. BLACKBURN: Friedel, Emerton, Ooijer, Khizanishvili, Warnock, Reid, Derbyshire (Kerimoglu 73), Bentley, Dunn (McCarthy 56), Pedersen, Santa Cruz. Subs: Brown, Berner, Roberts. BOOKINGS: Dunn, Khizanishvili, Emerton, Pedersen. EVERTON: Howard, Neville, Jagielka, Lescott, Baines, Arteta, Carsley, Fernandes, Osman (Vaughan 75), Cahill, Johnson. Subs: Wessels, Hibbert, Nuno Valente, Anichebe. BOOKINGS: Howard, Arteta. ATT: 27,946 REFEREE: Alan Wiley (Staffordshire). NEXT MATCH: Everton v Reading, Barclays Premier League, Saturday February 9, 3pm.

David Moyes: Time to sort the offside confusion
Feb 4 12008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES has called on football's leading authorities to take quick and decisive action with clarification of the offside rule. The Blues boss was left fuming at Ewood Park on Saturday as referee Alan Wiley ruled out a goal from Andrew Johnson that should have given Everton a vital three points in their quest to secure Champions League football. Johnson had at least three Blackburn players in front of him when he took possession of a pass from substitute James Vaughan but, for reasons unbeknown to Moyes and his players, the goal was chalked off. Moyes had discussions with representatives from the Referee’s Association earlier this season to try and comprehend why some decisions are made, but is still no nearer to enlightenment and thinks enough is enough. “I’m not one for technology. I’m happy with referees and linesmen,” said Moyes. “Obviously they will make mistakes. I just hope they’re not all in Everton games. “Is the new offside rule unworkable? Not just because of this but the general offside law has got to be changed. When I don’t know the rules and the players and journalists don’t know the rules, what will and what won’t be given, then we’re really unsure. “The governing body should do something to make it more clear. There’s too many areas where goals might be given or might not be given, and because of that it makes it very difficult. I’ve spoken to the LMA and had them in looking at tapes I’ve made. “But let’s not get that mixed up with the goal, as that wasn’t one of the issues which is involved. There have to be two players behind the ball and the linesman has thought there hasn’t been. That shouldn’t have been confusing, that was just the wrong decision. “The players generally don’t know (the rule). We had the assistants and referees in and all our players in (a meeting arranged by Everton), and there was nearly a riot because we couldn't believe what we were hearing and seeing. That was four or five months ago.” Though Moyes was left frustrated that two points were squandered in the 0-0 draw, he took plenty of positives from the game, not least Tim Howard’s tenth clean sheet of the campaign,
“I think the boys at the back have been immense but we needed that goal to get us through and get us all three points,” said Moyes. “We are delighted with the clean sheet and there is still Joseph Yobo to come back.”

Penalty! No way, it's just a case of gravity
Feb 4 2008 David Prentice Liverpool Echo
BBC’S excellent Horizon programme tried manfully to explain the flaws in Isaac Newton’s laws of gravity last week. (It’s all to do with curved space time, you see).
It was like watching an episode of The Tweenies compared to grappling with the active and inactive application of the offside law. So we won’t even try to debate whether Andrew Johnson was offside or not at Ewood Park on Saturday.
But by comparison the penalty-kick law is easy. You deliberately kick someone – it’s a penalty. So just what does the Everton striker have to do to be awarded one this season? Andre Ooijer confidently volleyed Johnson over inside his own penalty box, safe in the knowledge a penalty was as likely as a Mark Hughes smile.
That non-decision came three days after Tom Huddlestone clipped Johnson’s heels, albeit accidentally, again in the penalty box. No penalty. Referees’ chief Keith Hackett conceded Johnson should have been granted EIGHT penalties last season when a frustrated David Moyes forwarded a video for his inspection. I can sense another video nasty winging its way any time soon.

Mikel Arteta should have gone, raps Morten Gamst Pedersen
Feb 4 2008 Liverpool Echo
MORTEN Gamst Pedersen believes Wiley made another blunder when he failed to send Mikel Arteta off in the dying minutes after the Spaniard lashed out at the Blackburn midfielder following a collision on the touchline. "It’s the first time I've been booked for being grabbed by the throat, that’s for sure," said Pedersen. "Someone suggested I should ring the Guinness Book of Records and maybe I will because it can't have happened before. "I just went in and kicked the ball out, then walked away. Arteta grabbed me round the throat. I knew I was on four yellows so I just tried to walk away but the referee booked me. I was amazed. "Now I miss the next match so it’s disappointing because I didn't deserve to be booked.
"There’s no way it should have been a yellow. I don't know what I did. I asked the referee but he didn't say anything. "I don’t want to see players get sent off, but if I get a yellow card then surely Arteta should get a red. Why couldn’t the referee just have said ‘Ok guys, calm down it’s the end of the game’? It’s disappointing."

Johnson: We feel robbed
Feb 4 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
ANDREW JOHNSON today bemoaned the catalogue of refereeing blunders that deprived Everton of the chance to strengthen their grip on fourth place.
The Blues striker thought he had scored the winning goal in Saturday’s game against Blackburn but saw it mysteriously ruled out for offside by match official Alan Wiley and his assistant, even though television replays confirmed the initial opinion that it was legitimate. Aside from that, Wiley also refused to award Johnson a penalty after he was chopped down by Zurab Khizanishvili and failed to show Blackburn’s David Dunn a second yellow card for deliberate handball after he had earlier been cautioned for a foul on Mikel Arteta. That error was exacerbated when Dunn cleared a Phil Jagielka header off the line and though Johnson was trying to put a brave face on things, he was still scratching his head in bewilderment this morning as he tried to fathom the explanation Wiley had given him. “He said if the goalkeeper is our side of me, then there needs to be two defenders keeping me onside but there was the goalkeeper and three defenders keeping me onside,” said Johnson. “It’s so disappointing as we should have all three points. “It was a perfectly good goal. It’s not as if it was a tight decision. I was onside by three or four yards and it is just a bad mistake from the referee. But it happens in football. It happened last year in a game away at Newcastle. “We are disappointed because we had a couple of good chances to win it. We dominated the game. We wanted to open a gap between us and the teams below us. We just need to make sure that we look forward now and get three points against Reading.” Everton remain in fourth place following their second consecutive 0-0 draw but it could and should have been so much better as Johnson had no idea why Wiley failed to point to the spot after Khizanishvili’s thigh high challenge.
“We have had a look at it a few times since and it was a penalty,” said Johnson. “You only have to see that he has kicked out at my knees and he’s brought me down. If it happens anywhere else on the pitch, it’s a free-kick, so why isn’t it a penalty?
“A couple of bad decisions have cost us but there you go. What can you do? That’s football. The boys are all disappointed because we feel that we should have had three points. We have just got to put this disappointment behind us and move on.
“There is still a lot of work to be done. We have done well to get into fourth place but we won’t be sitting around looking at what we’ve achieved so far. We want to get into the Champions League and are determined to finish the job off.” Meanwhile, Everton will assess Steven Pienaar’s fitness when he arrives back at Finch Farm later this week after reports from Ghana suggested the South African international is carrying a serious ankle problem. He will return to Merseyside with Ayegbeni Yakubu and Joseph Yobo, who saw their dreams of winning the African Cup of Nations shattered last night when Nigeria were beaten 2-1 by Ghana.

Steven Pienaar faces three weeks out with ankle injury
Feb 8 2008 Liverpool Echo
STEVEN PIENAAR is bracing himself for bad news after returning home from the African Cup of Nations with ankle injury. He is due to undergo a scan that will confirm he must spend between two and three weeks on the sidelines. The South African international, whose influence on Everton’s play had been growing before he was forced to leave for Ghana last month, missed his side’s 1-1 draw with Senegal last Thursday through the knock. Pienaar was enraged by claims that he feigned the injury following South Africa’s disappointing showing at the tournament and told reporters in Kumasi: “This is just nonsense. I am injured and will be out for three weeks. “I am not that stupid and I don’t care what anybody says. I was having a good tournament and would have loved to play.” Everton boss David Moyes will be keeping a close eye on the players who are currently away with their countries this evening ahead of Saturday’s crucial fixture at Goodison Park against Reading
Cahill on the mark as Australia kick off their World Cup campaign with easy win
Three first-half goals enabled Australia to begin their first World Cup qualifying campaign through Asia with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Qatar Josh Kennedy, Tim Cahill and Mark Bresciano all scored within the first 33 minutes to give the Socceroos the best possible start to their 2010 qualifying campaign. Australia, who advanced to the 2006 World Cup finals in Germany through Oceania, are in Group One with Asian champions Iraq and China. Their next match is against China in Kunming on March 26, while Qatar meet Iraq in Doha on the same day.

The Jury: Do referees have it in for Everton - or are officials generally of a poor standard?
Feb 7 2008 Liverpool Echo
Mike Williamson,Chester ALL football fans can be a bit paranoid at times about decisions that never seem to go for them – but after watching the appalling display by Mike Riley on Saturday, and other referees earlier in the season, Everton fans have more reason than most to feel aggrieved at the standard of some Premiership referees. What does AJ have to do to get a penalty? He was kicked around Ewood Park on Saturday and, to his credit, just shrugged his shoulders and got on with it. If Ronaldo or Adebayor got that kind of treatment, their respective managers would be crying to the FA for months. However, Moyes did very well to stay calm in the Press later. As for AJ’s perfectly good “goal,” let’s just hope those lost two points don’t prove costly at the end of the season. We must not dwell on last week, as we now have a great opportunity against Reading to possibly put some distance between us and the small club below us! Cole Fraser,Litherland ONCE again we have been denied by some terrible decision making. Saturday’s match turned into a circus, thanks to the officials. I am at a loss to explain how the goal was disallowed, which is why I think that the officials should be made to explain their decisions. It seems as though referees are giving us a pretty hard time, but we are just having to grit our teeth and get on with it. Hopefully, these kind of decisions will not cost us, come the end of the season. We have to try and forget about these decisions and look ahead to the next game. I see Saturday’s game as a chance to bag a lot of goals and boost our goal difference. The result on Saturday will depend a lot on the strike force. I would like to see Moyesy play two up front, bringing Vaughan in for Fernandes, who has been giving possession away far too easily since he come into the team. I would expect to see him take a seat on the bench when Pienaar and Yakubu return. Michael Drummond,Speke THE Blackburn game was probably one of the most frustrating games I have ever watched. I just don't understand how a team can dominate so much and only come away with a point. You really had to question who was playing at home? However, the big discussion centred around the referee’s decision on 'that goal'. At the end of the day it was a goal and not even our rivals could disagree. All I worry about is that, come the end of the season, those two points dropped don't cost us. Is it only Everton that referees decide to be bad against? Well, no Evertonian will forget a certain Mr. Clattenberg in the near future, or when Tottenham “scored” against Manchester United two seasons ago. So we can't say it’s just us, but the occurrence is becoming too regular! You can talk about video replays, but it could have been a disallowed Blackburn goal and we'd have been happy. However, if it had have been, then knowing our luck the goal would have probably stood! Debbie Smaje,Upholland WHILE it’s easy to blame bias for decisions like Johnson’s disallowed goal on Saturday, more often than not it is simply the fact that the current group of officials we have are just awful. Giving decisions based on reputation (such as the inability of any ref to award a penalty for a foul on Johnson, or Mikel’s red card against us at Chelsea, when there were far worse tackles in that game alone); giving out bookings simply based on the reaction of the player on the end of the tackle rolling around like he’s been shot; and, as shown by several games over the weekend, and not just ours, complete confusion over the offside rule. The biggest problem seems to be a lack of punishment for many of their mistakes, and the FA’s refusal to prove any official wrong by overturning any red card, no matter how questionable they are. I’m not entirely sure what the solution is, but the entire refereeing system in this country needs a big overhaul.

by Matthew Gamble   Thursday, 7 February 2008,
Everton have been knocked out of the Liverpool Senior Cup. The Blues won the competition last season but bowed out at the quarter final stage to rivals Liverpool with a 1-0 quarter final defeat at Finch Farm. In what was effectively a reserve team fixture, Dan Gosling made his first appearance in the Blue of Everton. In the first minute Steven Morrison fired wide but the Reds soon began to find joy with their passing game. John Ruddy had to save twice fron Ray Putterill then Danny Pachecho shot wide early on. Stephen Connor had a shot cleared off the line but Liverpool took the lead in the 40th minute. Gerard Bruna produced a crisp left-footed effort from the edge of the box after a centre wasn't adequately cleared. Aidan Downes tried to reply straight away but his strike was wide of the goal. Everton attempted to impose themselves in the second period but found clear-cut opportunities hard to come by. Jose Baxter provided a late spark after coming on as a substitute but his enterprising play couldn't find a way to keep Everton in the competition.

Probe into Everton stadium effect on Knowsley
Feb 8 2008
By Nick Coligan, Liverpool Echo
THE possible effect of Everton’s new stadium on the whole of Knowsley is being investigated. Council planners had hoped to finish a vision for just Kirkby including the stadium, Tesco superstore and other shops, early this year. It was said that without it councillors would find it difficult to approve Everton and Tesco’s £400m proposal because of its huge impact on Kirkby. But after asking thousands of residents for their views, the council decided work was needed on the whole of Knowsley. The ECHO understands the move will not affect how quickly the scheme is brought forward to the council’s planning committee. Everton hope to know by May whether it can leave Goodison Park for Kirkby. But it is still unclear how the absence of the vision will affect the councillors’ decision on an issue which has sparked opposition from many townspeople. Kirkby residents’ action group (Krag) gathered more than 1,400 objections. A council spokesman said: “We are currently assessing the comments we received on the draft vision following the consultation process. “These will be considered prior to compiling a report for our cabinet in the near future.” Meanwhile, Blues chief executive Keith Wyness has emailed Knowsley-based Evertonians to ask for their support for the plans. He said: “I am aware that many people believe that this is a done deal, and that the council’s approval is now a foregone conclusion – it is not. “Although we recently won a mandate from our supporters to continue negotiations about the possibility of relocation, we still need the help and support of those who back the club’s board of directors. “If you support the new stadium, please consider writing to Knowsley council to express that support – become an ambassador for Everton.” Krag spokesman Ian Morris said: “There are also Everton supporters who do not support the move to Kirkby and they have a view as well. We would ask them to write to the council and object.” Colin Fitzpatrick, secretary of campaign group Keep Everton In Our City, added: “While we all agree Kirkby thoroughly deserves its regeneration, Evertonians deserve a world-class stadium, not a mid-range compromise.” Chamber is backing move KNOWSLEY business leaders have thrown their weight behind Everton and Tesco’s plans. The local chamber of industry and commerce has formally agreed that the £400m stadium and shopping district proposal would improve Kirkby’s economic prospects. It is now putting together a scheme to try to make sure local construction firms are first in line to benefit. Officials have also promised to give advice to existing businesses which might be adversely affected if Tesco and other high-street shops are built south of Cherryfield Drive. Chamber chairman Martin Walsh said: “We view this as an opportunity for Knowsley and Kirkby town centre in particular.”

Yakubu’s Everton future in doubt as striker goes AWOL
Feb 8 2008
By Ian Doyle, Liverpool Daily Post
YAKUBU’S future at Everton is in doubt after the striker failed to turn up for training on schedule after Africa Cup of Nations duty. David Moyes is understood to be seething at the Nigerian, who was due to rejoin his club team-mates at Finch Farm on Wednesday. Even if the absent 24-year-old reports back for training today it is unlikely he will be considered for selection for tomorrow’s Premier League clash at home to Reading. Moyes is trying to be fair with his squad and his hardline stance must call into question Yakubu’s role at Everton, despite the striker having netted 12 goals since his club record £11.25million arrival from Middlesbrough in August. Nigeria team-mate Joseph Yobo reported back from training as expected on Wednesday but Goodison Park officials have not heard anything from Yakubu since Nigeria were eliminated from the competition on Sunday. Yakubu, who will now be fined, was actually on target from the penalty spot in the 2-1 quarter-final defeat to hosts Ghana. Meanwhile, Tim Cahill believes he can keep both Everton and Australia happy – despite the midfielder heading for yet another club versus country wrangle next month. Cahill made the arduous trip to Melbourne and back this week to appear for the Socceroos in their World Cup qualifier against Qatar. The 28-year-old netted the second goal of a comfortable 3-0 win and then committed himself to the remainder of his country’s qualifying campaign. Australia’s next match is in China on Wednesday, March 26 – just four days before Everton visit Liverpool for a pivotal Merseyside derby in the race for fourth place and the final Champions League qualification spot. Everton manager Moyes has already met with newly-appointed Australia coach Pim Verbeek to express concerns over Cahill’s international exertions. But Cahill is optimistic he can continue meeting the demands of both parties. “Pim came to Everton and met the manager (late last year). It wasn’t the best meeting in the world,” said the midfielder. “But I’ve got to keep them both happy. Can I do that? Of course I can. “I have to play well for Everton and I have to play well for Australia. There were 50,000 people here to see us and they deserve that result. “Before I got here I was reading things that I was injured, that I wasn’t coming. “Even if I was injured, I was coming on that aeroplane, just to be part of that squad, to show my commitment.” In Spain, Valencia have opened disciplinary charges against Manuel Fernandes. The charges relate to the player’s reported involvement – along with Valencia’s Miguel, who has also been charged – in a nightclub incident in which two police officers were allegedly attacked. Fernandes, who joined Everton on loan last month, is also awaiting trial to answer a charge of “resisting authority” during the incident on January 4. The players’ punishments are set to be announced on February 12.

Everton fuming with late Yakubu
Feb 9 2008
Ian Doyle, Liverpool Daily Post
ANGRY David Moyes has laid down the law to Yakubu and dropped the striker from today’s game against Reading. The Everton manager was fuming at the forward’s failure to report back to Finch Farm on schedule after Nigeria’s exit from the Africa Cup of Nations. Yakubu finally turned up for training yesterday and was immediately hauled into Moyes’s office for a dressing down and told he wouldn’t be considered for selection for the Premier League clash with Reading this afternoon. Moyes expressed his disappointment at the striker’s behaviour and reminded the player of his responsibility to the club, with Yakubu also expected to be hit with a club record fine of around £80,000 – equivalent to two weeks’ wages. The forward, along with team-mate Joseph Yobo, was supposed to fly back to England immediately after Nigeria’s 2-1 quarter-final defeat against hosts Ghana on Sunday night. Neither made the initial flight, although Yobo did report back in time to resume training on Wednesday. However, although Everton booked Yakubu on a further two flights, the striker failed to make either and could not be contacted until his belated appearance at Finch Farm yesterday morning. And Moyes said: “I have spoken to Yakubu and he won’t be involved in the squad. It is an internal matter. “Joseph Yobo came back on Wednesday and we expected Yak to be the same. “I think that the players are extremely keen on getting Yakubu back, but they know discipline has to be put in place. “I trust and believe in the players I have got here. It is the correct decision in my opinion. “I think it is a matter of showing respect to the players (who have been here). This is a big football club and that is the way it is going to be.” An unhappy Moyes has yet to decide whether Yakubu will be in the party that travels to Norway on Tuesday for the UEFA Cup game against SK Brann the following day. Yakubu’s late return has handed the Goodison manager a further unwanted headache as he prepares his team for today’s match, particularly up front where the knee injury Victor Anichebe suffered in training this week leaves only Andrew Johnson and James Vaughan as the available senior strikers. Steven Pienaar (ankle) and Thomas Gravesen (knee) are definitely out while Leighton Baines is rated at “50-50” by Moyes after suffering a kick to the calf against Blackburn Rovers last week. The Goodison Park manager must also make a decision on the match fitness of Tim Cahill and Tim Howard, who only returned to Merseyside yesterday from international duty in Melbourne and Houston respectively. “We hoped to have a full contingent of players back from the African Nations, but obviously for different reasons we don’t have that,” said Moyes. “We’ve picked up one or two other injuries but that’s to be expected. Everybody gets injuries.” Despite failing to win in their last two league games, Everton remain a point ahead of neighbours Liverpool in fourth place. The Merseyside derby at Anfield on March 30 is the only one of Everton’s next nine games against a top-six team but Moyes is taking his team’s Champions League challenge one step at a time. “All I’m trying to do is make sure that we keep getting points in the league,” he said. “I think we played well against Tottenham and Blackburn, without taking maximum points, so we need to now put that right against Reading. “I haven’t looked at our fixtures yet but maybe in another three or four games’ time I’ll start having a look to see how it all pans out. “At the moment there’s just too many points to play for.”

David Moyes drops Yakubu from Reading teamsheet
Feb 9 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES has read Ayegbeni Yakubu the riot act and refused to consider him for today’s clash with Reading out of respect to the rest of his squad.
The Everton manager hauled his club record signing in to his office at Finch Farm yesterday morning when he finally returned to Merseyside five days later than he had been originally expected. Though the 25-year-old expressed his deep remorse and apologised for what he had done, it was not enough to soften Moyes’ mood and the former Middlesbrough and Portsmouth forward has been reprimanded accordingly.
Yakubu has been fined and will play no part in the Reading game and all Moyes would say on the matter is that “it has been dealt with internally” but, clearly, he is still seething about his striker‘s decision to go AWOL. Given that Everton have struggled for goals in the last couple of games, Moyes could easily have turned to Yakubu - especially as Victor Anichebe is carrying an injury - to end this mini ‘drought’ but that never even crossed the strict-disciplinarian’s mind.
That means Andrew Johnson will again lead the line with James Vaughan waiting to come off the bench and Moyes has not even decided whether Yakubu will be involved in next Wednesday’s UEFA Cup clash against Brann Bergen. “This is a big football club here and that’s the way it is going to be,” said Moyes. “I think the players are extremely keen on getting Yak back but they know that discipline has to be put in place. “I trust and believe in the players who I have got here and it (excluding him from the squad) is the correct thing to do.” Yakubu’s compatriot Joseph Yobo, however, is in line to return and he could be drafted straight in as Leighton Baines is struggling with a calf injury picked up in last week’s 0-0 draw at Blackburn Rovers.
But Moyes will not be making any decisions on the identity of his starting line-up until the last minute as he is waiting to check on the condition of the two Tims - Howard and Cahill - who only arrived back yesterday from midweek trips to America and Australia. “All the games are must win but this will be difficult,” said Moyes, whose side could open up a gap in fourth place by beating Reading. “Steve Coppell has done a great job there and Reading beat us early in the season so we know how tough it will be.”

Everton 1, Reading 0 (Echo)
Feb 11 2008
By Dominic King, at Goodison Park
IT is the bane of every golf club professional’s life. Each weekend, a member will enter their shop after a round and start grumbling about how they hacked their way around for 18 holes without ever playing a shot to please the eye. They will then produce a scorecard that is dotted with pars, birdies and the odd bogey that is not only good enough to lower their handicap but has also enabled them to run away with the competition in which they have just played. Each weekend, the professional finds himself relaying the same piece of advice: Don’t worry about the way you got from A to B because scorecards do not have pictures. Who cares if you win ugly? No matter what the sport, every competitor wants to triumph with style and élan yet, more often than not, the scruffiest victories tend to be the most significant. When the pressure is mounting and there’s a prize within sight, getting the job done is all that matters. So once this enthralling campaign ends, and the time arrives for those who produce Everton’s annual DVD to sift through countless hours of footage, the home fixture with Reading will, in all likelihood, be whittled down to less than a minute. A wretched first half was followed by a muddled second period, where chances were few and far between and slick, quick, incisive passing moves were conspicuous by their absence. But who is complaining? The only thing that mattered about this contest was getting three points and opening up a small buffer on the teams who are chasing Everton hard for a Champions League place. In that respect, the mission was well and truly accomplished. “If you had asked us beforehand whether we’d want to play well and lose or play average and win, you know what the answer would have been,” explained matchwinner Phil Jagielka. “Three points are so important at the minute. To win ugly is a fantastic skill to have.” He’s not wrong. Everton do not need to prove to a wider audience that they can pass the ball around in attractive triangles, and only the blinkered would have the temerity to suggest their attacking is one-dimensional: i.e. knocking it long. No. As the intensity in games get ratcheted up between now and May 11, Everton need to prove to sceptics they have the ability to relentlessly grind out the results that eventually see off all comers. It is a pre-requisite for sides with designs on being successful. We may keep saying things like this but, not so long ago, the Toffees would have slipped up in this kind of encounter by either failing to breakdown obdurate opponents or by conceding a late goal. Or - even worse – both scenarios would have come true. This current crop, however, are becoming more and more efficient at winning the games they are now expected to. There is no getting away from the fact it was hard work but, much to the relief of the vast majority inside Goodison, they got there in the end. That they were able to was thanks to the efforts of characters like Jagielka, an unlikely man to score the game’s only goal, but fully deserving of his moment in the spotlight, not just for the header that sunk the Royals but a marvellous display at the back. Things may have been difficult when he initially swopped Bramall Lane for Goodison last July, finding himself in and out of the side or being cast as the square peg to fill a round hole. There is also reason to believe he was slightly overawed. How things have changed. A blip against Arsenal aside, the affable Jagielka has blossomed after making 15 consecutive appearances in his favoured role of central defence to become one of the first names on the teamsheet. The looping header he put beyond Marcus Hahnemann from Leon Osman’s cross – his first Premier League goal for the Blues – will have done wonders for his confidence, as will the late tackle that thwarted substitute Jimmy Kebe when he raced through. Such an intervention helped Everton record a ninth clean sheet in their last 12 Premier League outings. Then there was James Vaughan, whose youthful brio and zest was the catalyst to rouse Everton out of their first half slumber and whose pace and power was needed to help chisel a way through Reading’s well-organised, hulking defence. His first real contribution, a teasing cross from the left flank, almost created a goal for Tim Cahill but it was the moment he clattered into Hahnemann without flinching that really made everyone sit up and take notice. “Vaughany gave us a lift and we needed it,” noted his satisfied manager “We were flat, we just didn’t get going. Our passing was very poor, partly due to a very poor pitch, but we had to try and get forward a bit better and a bit earlier. “In the end we got there. Vaughany’s attitude is terrific. You can’t take that away from the boy. He’s got an abundance of enthusiasm. He’s growing, he’s getting stronger and he’s getting quicker. Technically, he’s improving, too.” Ironic, then, that had Ayegbeni Yakubu not gone AWOL for a couple of days, Vaughan, who almost scored with an acrobatic overhead kick, would have struggled to get on the bench. He won’t now. In this kind of form, his presence in the squad is a must. Only Moyes will know if Vaughan has done enough to secure a starting place for Wednesday night’s UEFA Cup clash with Brann Bergen but, either way, the 19-year-old proved he is ready, willing and able for duty, if and when required. It’s all very well playing with flair but if you don’t have the heart to dig in and fight when things aren’t going to plan, flair is pointless. Just ask those sportsmen who couldn’t keep their nerve at the crucial juncture. Winning ugly or losing gracefully?Success is all that matters.

Everton 1, Reading 0 (D,Post)
Feb 11 2008
By Christopher Beesley, at Goodison Park
ALL the pre-match talk ahead of Reading’s visit on Saturday was about Ayegbeni Yakubu’s absence due to his late return from the Africa Cup of Nations but while the Nigerian stayed at home to contemplate the repercussions of his selfish act this week it was left to David Moyes’s ultimate team player to secure victory. Like many utility men over the years, including former Goodison Park favourite Alan Harper, Phil Jagielka has often been a victim of his own versatility. Shunted around from central midfield to right-back during the early months of the season, the former Blade struggled to hold down a regular spot in Moyes’s starting line-up. However, after finding a place at the heart of Everton’s defence, the 25-year-old has been a revelation in recent weeks and he marked his 15th straight start with both a match-winning goal and goal-saving challenge. Despite being shown the door at Goodison Park as a youngster, Jagielka couldn’t wait to get a second chance in the royal blue jersey last summer once Sheffield United’s relegation from the Premier League had been confirmed and you get the impression that he’d have made the journey across the Pennines back to Merseyside on foot if required. Yakubu, whose wallet is now an estimated £80,000 lighter following his leisurely return from Ghana which has threatened to cast a seriously dark cloud of his promising career at the club, could certainly take a lesson in humility from his team-mate. While appearing to possess a pleasant character and being seemingly willing to embrace the work ethic desired by Moyes for Everton players, the former Middlesbrough striker now faces an uphill struggle to win back the trust of his manager, fellow squad members and supporters. Moyes admitted after this game that he remains unsure as to whether Yakubu will feature in Wednesday night’s UEFA Cup tie in Bergen against SK Brann but given that Everton had failed to score in their previous three matches before Saturday and Steve Coppell’s battlers were proving a tough nut to crack, the Nigerian would have been a welcome addition on this occasion which makes his late return even more galling. Having become Everton’s first eight-figure purchase less than six months ago and remaining the team’s most potent goal threat, it seems highly unlikely that Yakubu’s days at Goodison will be numbered already but his actions over the past seven days show that it’s clear that he still has a long way to go to truly understanding what is fully expected of an Everton player. To a certain extent, the same could be said of on-loan Valencia midfielder Manuel Fernandes, who was hauled off during the interval by Moyes following an ineffectual display in Everton’s flat first half performance. We’re led to believe that Everton were willing to shell out a hefty £12million on Fernandes back in August – a fee that would have broken the club transfer record eclipsing the £11.25million spent on Yakubu – but for all his obvious talent the former Benfica man is still not the finished article. Moyes alluded to as much last season during Fernandes’s first loan spell at the club when flashes of brilliance, including a wonder strike against Manchester United, failed to mask some unnecessarily over-elaborate play which affected the rhythm of the team. Sporting dazzlingly orange boots, Fernandes always seemed to be looking to do something spectacular in the opening 45 minutes against Reading but in doing so often remained a peripheral figure on the pitch. Moyes made just one change to the side that drew 0-0 at Blackburn Rovers a week earlier as Leighton Baines’s continuing ankle problem resurfaced enabling Joseph Yobo to make an instant return from Africa Cup of Nations duty in the heart of the defence with Joleon Lescott switching to left-back. Having lost their previous six Premier League matches stretching back to their 6-4 defeat at White Hart Lane against Tottenham on December 29, Reading made two alterations to their starting line up with Steve Coppell bringing in Ibrahima Sonko and former Everton midfielder John Oster for Ivar Ingimarsson and Leroy Lita. Stephen Hunt, who became public enemy number one with the home fans for his prickly attitude after Lee Carsley had tackled him with studs showing, almost fired the Royals into a shock first-minute lead with a 25-yard free-kick which possessed both accuracy and power, but Tim Howard did well to hold on to the ball on his goal-line with a diving save to his left. With an early spring in the air at an unusually balmy February afternoon at Goodison Park, Tim Cahill could blame the sun being in his eyes for wasting Everton’s best two opportunities of the first half as he volleyed wide from a Leon Osman pass after his midfield partner had cleverly made his way around James Harper. Then, just before the break, the Australian headed on to the roof of the Reading net from Mikel Arteta’s left-wing corner-kick. After a flat fist 45 minutes, Moyes introduced young striker James Vaughan for Fernandes at the start of the second half as he switched to a 4-4-2 formation. The change seemed to galvanise the hosts and the 19-year-old almost fashioned an opener when he chased a long ball from Lescott down the left flank, got past Sonko and delivered a low ball across the box, but the stretching Cahill and lurking Andrew Johnson were both unable to make contact. Everton’s breakthrough – their first goal in 380 minutes (over six hours) of football since Lescott hit their second in the 2-1 victory against Wigan at the JJB Stadium on January 20 – came just after the hour mark. Dave Kitson was unable to get suitable distance on his headed clearance from a left-wing corner-kick by Arteta and Osman lofted the ball back into the area for Jagielka to nod across goal beyond Marcus Hahnemann’s reach for his first Premier League goal for Everton – and in front of the Gwladys Street too. With Reading facing up to a seventh consecutive league defeat that would equal a club record set in their relegation season of a decade ago, Coppell’s side were made to try and force the issue in trying to get back into the game and play opened up in the final 30 minutes. Osman hit the crossbar with a speculative effort from the left-wing while Vaughan tested Hahnemann when he was forced to shoot with a spectacular overhead kick with his back to goal following a misplaced pass by captain Phil Neville. Jagielka was also the hero at the other end as he made a crucial block to deny Reading substitute Jimmy Kebe an equaliser while Kevin Harper rattled Howard’s right-hand post. Andrew Johnson, whose luck has been out since he benefited from a sloppy Titus Bramble backpass to score at Wigan last month, will have been disappointed not to score when he shot into the side netting after rounding Hahnemann when chasing down a Vaughan flick-on. The corresponding fixture between these two sides last year featured a special guest appearance from Hollywood movie star Sylvester Stallone but while the film of this game would go ‘straight to TV’ rather than being a Blockbuster success, its importance to securing Everton’s place among European football’s A-listers next season could prove crucial. EVERTON: Howard, Neville, Yobo, Jagielka, Lescott, Arteta, Carsley, Fernandes (Vaughan 46), Osman, Cahill, Johnson. Subs: Wessels, Hibbert, Van der Meyde, Nuno Valente. READING: Hahnemann, Murty, Sonko, Cisse, Shorey, Oster (Kebe 81), Harper, Matejovsky, Hunt, Doyle, Kitson (Long 75). Subs: Federici, Rosenior, De la Cruz. REFEREE: Mark Halsey (Lancashire). ATT: 36,582 NEXT MATCH: SK Brann v Everton, UEFA Cup Round of 32 first leg, Wednesday, February 13, 7pm.

Tim Howard salutes Phil Jagielka's growing influence
Feb 11 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
TIM HOWARD hailed the growing influence of matchwinner Phil Jagielka and says his recent performances embody the spirit running through Everton's team.
The Blues’ central defender scored his first Premier League goal in Saturday’s 1-0 win over Reading but made just as big a contribution at the other end with two last-ditch tackles to preserve his side’s lead. After a difficult start to life on Merseyside, Jagielka has blossomed in the last few months and goalkeeper Howard has been hugely impressed by the way the 25-year-old has made it impossible for manager David Moyes to leave him out. “Jags has grown in stature,” said Howard. “He is a no-nonsense defender, he can sense danger and is playing very well - he has stamped his presence on the team. “He knows what he does and he does it well. When you have Jags back there, you know exactly what you are going to get from him, game in and game out. He just plays well all the time and he’s been a big positive for us.
“We are delighted for him. He’s a great guy, he works hard all the time and gets along with the boys. He never has a bad word to say, he never takes a day off and he is the type of guy who epitomises what an Everton player should be about. He’s been fantastic.” Results over the weekend mean the Blues now have a three point buffer between themselves and fifth-placed Liverpool and though they might not have hit the heights against Reading, the final score was the only thing that mattered to Howard.
“It was a huge three points for us and we are really excited about it,” said Howard. “We knew that all the teams around us had tough games but this was a tough game for us as well. Reading are a physical team and they grind things out. “But we got the result which was the most important thing. I don’t think we played well but that goes without saying. Still, we kept a clean sheet, Jags got the goal at the perfect time and at this stage of the season, results are the only thing that matter.” Everton now head into their UEFA Cup double header with SK Brann Bergen in high spirits and record signing Ayegbeni Yakubu is likely to be involved against the Norwegians after his well documented misdemeanour last week. “We love The Yak,” said Howard. “He’s been a hugely positive influence on us, not just with the amount of goals he has scored for the team but in the dressing room as well. “Yes, these things happen but it has been dealt with and the manager has taken care of that. Now we all get on with it. Yak has spoken to us and the sooner we get past it, the better. Beating Reading was a great way to get past it.”

Hall of fame hails Alan Ball
Feb 11 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
BARELY 12 months ago, Alan Ball stood at the Adelphi Hotel and delivered a stirring tribute to his friend and skipper, Brian Labone, at the ninth Gwladys Street Hall of Fame dinner. Just five weeks later Ball had joined his old team-mate in the sadly growing gallery of Everton greats looking down from above. This year’s Hall of Fame gathering on March 20 has been handed over to the memory of the Goodison great and christened the Alan Ball Awards Night. Evertonians young and old will pay their respects to the Everton and England legend almost a year on from his shock passing. Many of Bally’s old Everton team-mates, together with some of his World Cup winning colleagues, will be present at the Adelphi to pay tribute. But while the evening is sure to be emotional, it would only echo last year’s event when Ball paid tribute both to Labone and his own enduring love affair with Everton Football Club.
Bally told his audience – which, as usual, hung on his every word: “Every time I come back to Merseyside I have wonderful feelings and I can see it’s the same for every player here tonight.” Alan continued: “Driving up here, I thought ‘It’s 35 years since I left in 1972; I’m amazed I’m not forgotten.’ This is the club you made!
“In 1966 I was just 21 when we won the World Cup, I was part of a wonderful game. I remember thinking ‘Can it ever get better than this?’ When I got back to Blackpool I was given three days off before pre-season began. “Lesley (Alan’s late wife) and I went to the Lake District, but after a day and a half I wanted to get back to the football. I knocked on the manager’s door and he said ‘Where have you been? We’ve been trying to get in touch with you.’ We’ve sold you for a record transfer fee (£110,000) – two clubs have agreed the fee.’ I said ‘I’ll ask me Dad first for advice’.”
Alan told his dad – Alan Ball Snr – who replied “Who are the two teams?” His son told him they were Everton and Leeds United. “Well, we’ll talk about it later – oh and Alan, you’re staying in Lancashire by the way.” Later, the son asked the father how he could win the Evertonians over. He told him: “Give them 110% every time you put the shirt on and the fans will love you.” Alan added: “He was spot on. There is so much pride when you put that Blue shirt on, fantastic.” The Hall of Fame dinners are always sold out, but a handful of tickets still remain for next month’s event on Thursday, March 20. Tickets are available on 07747 011014 or 07747 011013.

Phil Jagielka heads in right direction to make impact
Feb 11 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
THE path to redemption for Everton centre halves can be a troubled road.
There are two models. There’s the Carl Tiler route – arrive from an honest but unheralded Yorkshire club with expectations lower than Yakubu’s current job prospects, then turn out to be really rather good. Or there’s the Kroldrup/Bilic path – signed for a big transfer fee with glowing international reputations, before turning out to be actually quite rubbish. After initially struggling with the demands of a club like Everton, Phil Jagielka is following the path of his Sheffield United predecessor.
Forget the precisely headed match winner, Jagielka’s most crucial interventions at Goodison on Saturday came six minutes after that moment and six minutes from the end. His superb sliding interception cleaned up a moment’s hesitation from partner Joseph Yobo and prevented Kevin Doyle from clattering in an equaliser.
But the sliding block from Jimmy Kebe as Everton tried to see out a nervy last few minutes was monumental and allowed Joleon Lescott a huge sigh of relief following a rare mistake. They were match-winning moments, and possibly season-turning interventions. The 1-0 win was as scrappy and as slender as it looks. But as the season sprints towards the business end of things results are infinitely more important than performances. Don’t forget, the Blues played Blackburn off the park last weekend and drew. So the three points added to their total on Saturday were rapturously received.
Reading had warned before the match they were not playing aggressively enough away from home, so they pressed and tackled and charged and committed, and Everton simply couldn’t settle. It’s a template which will become increasingly familiar to Everton as matches against similarly relegation threatened Sunderland, Fulham, Derby and Birmingham loom on the horizon, too. At least Everton coped on Saturday.
A word here, too, for the referee, who so often shows his below par colleagues the way forward. Mark Halsey ended the match without showing a single card (although Lee Carsley could consider himself fortunate) and it wasn’t his fault that the match proved such a wretched spectacle. David Moyes blamed the pitch afterwards: “It’s very poor. It must be one of the most lively in the League.” But the lack of a striking partner for Andy Johnson in the first half was also significant. For a man occasionally accused of lacking boldness with his switches, Moyes made a decisive change at half-time. Manuel Fernandes hadn’t done a great deal wrong, but he was hauled off and James Vaughan introduced. Everton instantly looked a more threatening, more potent outfit, better equipped to trouble the giant-like presence of Sonko and Cisse at the heart of the Reading rearguard. They began to carve out chances, and only Johnson will know how he guided an 85th minute gift into the side netting. But happily, Jagielka had already showed his forwards the way with a looping header that nestled just inside the post of the Gwladys Street goal. Saturday’s match programme, underlining that irony was alive and well among Everton fans way back in 1984, highlighted a theme which had developed among supporters throughout that halcyon campaign. A letter advertising an Appreciation Society for the perennially under-valued Jim Pearson was printed, swiftly followed by one for David Johnson – five goals in 45 appearances during his second spell at the club. “Would you please stop publishing letters which advertise fan clubs for ex-Evertonians such as David Johnson and Jim Pearson,” moaned Barry Spencer, of Welling. “They were not the most popular players at Goodison and therefore the letters would seem to be a form of mickey-taking.” The outraged founder of the Jim Pearson Appreciation Society wrote back “seething.” The big Jim Pearson Society, it seems, had been sincere. More performances like Saturday’s and the Phil Jagielka Appreciation Society may soon follow. And there wouldn’t be any hint of mickey-taking.

We have to keep on fighting - David Moyes
Feb 11 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES would love to win a piece of silverware for Everton but ask him to choose between a Champions League place or UEFA Cup glory and he cannot answer. The Blues return to European combat on Wednesday night in Norway knowing that the UEFA Cup is their last chance to secure something tangible for their efforts this season and Moyes and his squad will be going all out to achieve that.
Saturday’s 1-0 win against Reading, though, boosted Everton’s chances of finishing in the top four come May, which would give Moyes the opportunity to have another crack at Europe’s premier competition that he so craves. In an ideal world, both scenarios will come true, but if it is a case of either or, Moyes finds it impossible to choose and, for the time being, he just wants Everton to maintain the consistency that has carried them into this position. “I don’t know what to say,” said Moyes, when given his Hobson’s Choice. “We just have to hang in there. Within the squad there is a determination to do it. I would love to win the UEFA Cup but the financial package is much greater to finish fourth.” Is it beyond the realms of possibility that Everton could even finish third? “That’s a new one!” Moyes replied. “We played Chelsea a couple of weeks ago and we know what they have done. We have a bit to go before we get there but the aim in the job for me is to make that happen when I can and I want to find a way of doing that.” While there were plenty of positives to take from this latest showing, particularly the contributions of Phil Jagielka and James Vaughan, Moyes made it quite clear that he wants to see an immediate improvement in terms of quality. Few would dispute that this contest with Reading was one of the scruffiest seen at Goodison Park all year and Moyes let his players know in the dressing room afterwards that he expects to see much more from them. “The performance is important because we have raised the level,” said Moyes. “The supporters thought the points were important but we didn’t play as well as we know we can. I would have liked it to be better. “I am expecting the players to play well and take the ball and when they do that, we play very well. In this game it was down to a number of reasons such as the pitch, which wasn’t in the best of condition. But credit to Reading, as they made it tough.” Jagielka was the man who broke the deadlock with a looping header and that put the gloss on an outstanding individual display, which was epitomised in the dying moments when he launched into a last-gasp tackle to thwart substitute Jimmy Kebe. Having initially struggled for consistency following his £4m move from Sheffield United, he is looking the part now and even though Joseph Yobo returned to the side after international duty, Jagielka’s place was never under threat.
“I had to say things to him,” Moyes revealed. “It is not always easy to join a club and our club is, with respect, a step up for him. He probably had doubts early on but he has come through some difficult times and should now be rightly applauded.
“We brought him here as a player who could do two or three different roles. Early on in the season he did a job in midfield; he has played at right back a few times but we always felt centre half would be his best position “He was outstanding in this game – not only his goal but his saving tackle. We never considered leaving him out because his form has been so good. I don’t think his spirits were getting low. I think he might have just thought to himself ‘is this a step too far?’ “What he needed was time to get himself bedded in and understand how things go. Now he has done it and he has improved. His training has improved, too, because I thought it was below the level we needed. He has taken a lot on board and grown in confidence.”

Phil Jagielka goal is to help Everton to success in Europe
Feb 11 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
PHIL JAGIELKA might have headed for home on Saturday festooned with bottles of Man-of-the-Match champagne. But his thoughts were already focused on the next challenge. Few would have begrudged Everton’s central defender a moment to dwell on his crucial input into the 1-0 victory over Reading, but he was more concerned about looking ahead to the UEFA Cup tie on Wednesday night against Brann Bergen.
Having enjoyed a lengthy run in the Carling Cup, Jagielka and the rest of his team-mates are dreaming about going all the way in Europe. Yet he knows Everton will need to be at their best to go through this double header with the Norwegians.
“It feels as if it was ages ago since we had a game in Europe and now I think the boys and the fans are ready for it again,” he said. “The draw has been quite kind but we need to go over there and make sure we put the performance in. “We had a good run in the Carling Cup and some teams don’t take that seriously. We did and I’m sure the fans enjoyed their trips away from home. We want to go and win something. To do it in Europe would be a fantastic feat. “If we can go as far in that as possible, the boys would be buzzing and hopefully that will keep us going in the league, too. Some people might think Europe gets in the way but it is important for us. Hopefully, we’ll put in a couple of good performances.” Jagielka, of course, scored the only goal of the game against Reading with a controlled header, but he is not expecting it to win any awards at the end of the year. “To be honest, I didn’t know a lot about where I was!” said Jagielka. “It was just a case of helping it back across goal in to the right area.
“ Thankfully, that area was the corner of the net, but I’m sure if I’d headed it over the bar words would have been said!”

Everton under-18s fail to find target against Wolves
Feb 12 2008
Academy Football
By Chris Wright, Liverpool Daily post
EVERTON under-18s continued their frustrating run of draws as they played out a goalless Premier Academy League clash with Wolverhampton Wanderers at Finch Farm on Saturday. Since they returned from the Christmas break Neil Dewsnip’s side have been forced to settle for a point in their four matches. And on Saturday, despite dominating for much of the second half and having a number of chances they couldn’t grab their first win of 2008. Apart from one chance when Michael McEntagart misjudged a cross and the Wolves forward headed wide, the visitors were on the back foot. Lewis Codling was denied by a superb save from the Wolves keeper while Lee McArdle eaded just over following a corner. In the last 10 minutes substitute Kieran Agard twice went through on goal only to fire wide as Everton continued to press. Dewsnip said: “The first half wasn’t great and both teams underperformed. In the second half, apart from one chance, we dominated and it was like the Alamo at times. It was disappointing not to have won the game. “Probably for the first time this year I am saying we need to do better in front of goal. We have been very bountiful in terms of scoring this season, but Saturday were weren’t.” He added: “On the positive side we kept a clean sheet and we haven’t lost too many all season.” Second-placed Everton travel to Academy League north west section leaders Manchester City for a top-of-the-table clash this Saturday (kick-off 11am). Jack Rodwell helped England under-17s win the Algarve Tournament last week. The Everton centre-back played 40 minutes of goalless draw with hosts Portugal last Tuesday. Following two wins against Denmark and France earlier in the tournament, John Peacock’s side secured the trophy with the draw. EVERTON UNDER-18s: McEntagart; McArdle, Akpan, Barnett, Sinnott; McCready, O’Kane, Redmond (Agard 75), Krenn (Powell 45); Codling, Baxter. Subs: Sheppard.

Everton Res 0, Middlesbrough Res 0
Feb 12 2008
Liverpool Daily Post
NEW signing Dan Gosling almost toasted his Everton debut with a wonder strike last night – just 60 seconds into the Reserves’ league match against Middlesbrough. However, it turned out to be a game of few chances at the renamed Stobart Stadium Halton. Andy Holden’s young side deserve credit for a solid display against a much more experienced outfit. The game began in lively fashion and the Blues had the first opportunity through Gosling, who was deployed in a midfield position, practically straight from the kick-off. The new recruit from Plymouth Argyle displayed delightful control to strike a superb volley from the edge of the area, but his effort flew inches over the bar. Middlesbrough went close through Tom Craddock five minutes later. From Adam Johnson’s teasing low centre, the Boro striker just failed to connect from six yards out. On the half hour mark England under-17 captain Jack Rodwell flashed a header just wide from Steven Morrison’s corner. It was end to end action as John Johnson then headed a chance over, following a sweeping counter-attack from the Teessiders. Just before half-time, John Johnson again came the closest to breaking the deadlock, the left back powering into the penalty area and striking the post with a fierce drive. Everton looked the brighter of the two sides early in the second half and a slick passing move involving Rodwell and Connor set up Aidan Downes, whose shot was off target. Downes, the Republic of Ireland under-21 international, was at the heart of all the Blues’ good work and went close with two efforts which failed to test Brad Jones. Holden gave debuts to Academy duo Jose Baxter and Lewis Codling late on. EVERTON RES: Ruddy, Densmore, Barnett, Sinnott, Dennehy, Morrison, Gosling, Rodwell, Agard (Codling 84), Downes (Baxter 84), Connor. Not used: Harpur, Jones, McCarten.

Phil Neville aims for UEFA Cup glory
Feb 12 2008 EXCLUSIVE by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
PHIL NEVILLE set his sights on UEFA Cup glory as he spoke of the determination in Everton's squad to take their "unbelievable" European journey all the way to the final.
The Blues flew out to Norway this morning for the first leg of their last 32 clash with SK Brann Bergen looking to register a sixth consecutive win in the competition and set up a date next month with either Rosenborg or Fiorentina in the last 16.
Neville recalls the night in Nuremberg when thousands of Evertonians sang for two hours outside the team hotel and he is daring to dream about the backing they would receive if they manage to reach the City of Manchester Stadium on May 14.
“I think it has been an unbelievable journey so far and we do not want it to end,” said the skipper. “Our supporters have been absolutely magnificent and they have added to the excitement. “Some people might try and make the UEFA Cup out to be a drab and dreary competition but that’s nonsense if you look at the backing we have had.
“We’ve sold out every game at home and had tremendous backing away.
“These are the journeys that you want to be involved in as a footballer and all the lads feel the same. We all think back to what happened outside our hotel in Nuremberg and it was just incredible. “I have never experienced anything like that before in my career. It was so inspiring and a night that hammered home we were playing for one of the top clubs in the business. “Imagine if we got to the final? So let’s just go for it.”
The Norwegian league does not start again until late next month but Neville is not taking progress for granted and knows that Brann will present Everton – who have a number of fitness concerns to key players, including Mikel Arteta – with a difficult test. “When we were playing in Europe before Christmas, it coincided with our best run of form and brought us great confidence so hopefully the same will happen again,” he said. “There is pressure on us but it is the kind of pressure that everyone has been striving for since I first came to the club and we are all determined to enjoy it. “But we know that we have got to keep our focus. “They are going to be fit, organised and difficult to break down and you only have to look how well Rosenborg played against Chelsea earlier this season to see that Norwegian football is of good quality. “What we need to do is keep our concentration, keep it tight and make sure that we are still in the game when we get back to Goodison. “We also have got to score a goal, as 0-0 is the worst you can get playing away in Europe.”

James Vaughan needs to bide his time - David Moyes
Feb 12 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
THERE was a time in the not too distant past when a teenager brimming with potential would have been asked to carry Everton hopes and dreams because there were no alternatives. Before they had time to mature physically or mentally, the likes of Danny Cadamarteri, Francis Jeffers, Richard Dunne and Michael Ball became fixtures in a struggling team almost as soon as they had stepped out of the youth ranks to start training with the seniors. Many hoped that quartet would blossom into Everton greats, with Jeffers and Cadamarteri running riot up front, Dunne commanding the defence and Ball exuding menace, darting up and down the left flank. Sadly, they never fulfilled that initial promise in Royal Blue, though Dunne and Ball are currently prospering with Manchester City. At Goodison Park, though, was it a case of too much too young? Perhaps. But there can be little disputing that being asked to learn their trade in the midst of relegation battles was as far removed from ideal as could be, with enormous demands and expectations weighing heavily on their inexperienced shoulders. Fast forward to the present day, however, and the situation is completely different. Again Everton have a handful of young stars for whom high hopes are held but there is no urgent need to launch them into the action. Had James Vaughan been on the scene 10 years ago, you can rest assured that this 19-year-old would have made infinitely more than eight starts for Everton and Victor Anichebe’s tally of 17, in all likelihood, would have been trebled. A vastly improved squad, of course, means David Moyes is able to pick and choose the moments he unleashes Vaughan and Anichebe and that tactic was seen to great effect on Saturday when the former starred against Reading. His contagious enthusiasm roused both the Goodison crowd and his team-mates from their first half slumber and it was no surprise that Vaughan – the youngest goalscorer in Everton’s history – was singled out for praise after the 1-0 win.
Yet it is still quite clear that this diamond has plenty of rough edges that need smoothing before he can becomes a regular starter and Moyes is quite happy to continue giving Vaughan – and Anichebe – a proper education. “All we’re doing is continuing to work with James Vaughan,” said Moyes. “He’s missed that much football. Even this season he didn’t play for three months because he had a shoulder injury. “He needs to be a little bit patient but, to be fair to him, he’s been involved or on the bench. For a boy of 19 it’s not bad. Centre-forward is probably the hardest position to play on the pitch and to be around the team regularly at 19 he should be pleased with that.” As pleased as he is with their development, however, Moyes is also quick to offer a word of warning to Vaughan and Anichebe. They may be young and gifted but they will also have to show a willingness to learn and improve as the manager continues to raise the bar. “We’ve said to James and Victor Anichebe that the standard is stepping up (at Everton), you have to step up with it – both of them have to do that,” said Moyes. “What Vaughany has got is that infectious attitude, enthusiasm, aggression and from that point of view what we have to do is to help to teach him about the game and if he does that he has a great future. “Hopefully the boys will understand that we’re keen on developing them and bringing them through. They’ve started quite a few games. “James started against Oldham and it didn’t go so well so they’ve got to learn that all the games are important and those boys have got to find that level and develop.”

Nigel Martyn: Defence gives Blues perfect foundation
Feb 12 2008 by Nigel Martyn, Liverpool Echo
TRIPS to Scandinavia are always fraught with difficulty, but I expect Everton to pass their latest European test before progressing on to bigger and better things.
SK Brann may be in the middle of their close season but they will be fit and fired up for this challenge. There is no chance the Blues will have things all their own way but it would be a surprise if class does not shine through. Given the run of form Everton have been on, you would be quietly confident about going over to Norway and getting the result that will make the return at Goodison on Thursday week close to a formality. With each game Everton have played in Europe this season, confidence has grown and the understanding of what is required during different stages has improved, such as knowing when to attack or take a conservative approach. It worked a treat in Nuremburg and Alkmaar before Christmas and, as long as we don’t do anything silly, there is every reason to believe we can secure a fourth win on our continental travels this season in Brann tomorrow night. Confidence stems from the fact that, at present, Everton are so difficult to break down. A record of nine clean sheets in 12 Premier League games is outstanding and it’s no surprise that the defenders and goalkeeper are getting high praise. But keeping clean sheets is not just down to the men at the back. Lee Carsley, for example, works tirelessly to protect the defence, while Andrew Johnson can set the tone up front with his relentless running and harrying. Quite simply, it’s a team effort. We will, of course, need to be on guard as Brann have some good players, not least an old friend of mine – Eirik Bakke – who is quite similar to Tim Cahill in that he can arrive almost unnoticed from midfield and nick a goal with his ability in the air. Yet I believe we should get through comfortably to a meeting with either Rosenborg or Fiorentina, neither of whom you would describe as formidable opponents. They may have exotic names, but they are not the powers they once were. When you have a strong defence, your chances of making progress in any competition are immediately enhanced – just look at our neighbours – and we have an opportunity to achieve something in the UEFA Cup. Everton should get through to the last eight without too much trouble.
Goals will be perfect payback for Yak
ALL eyes will be on David Moyes’ team selection in Norway tomorrow or, more accurately, whether he brings Ayegbeni Yakubu in from the cold. What he did was unacceptable last week and while you could understand that he was close to his family in Nigeria and wanted to see them after the African Cup of Nations, Yakubu simply let his team-mates, his manager and supporters down. Just say the game with Reading had finished 0-0 and he could have been the man to make a difference but, due to a lack of discipline, could not figure owing to a needless ban? It was a stupid stunt and one from which he needs to learn. Hopefully, he will have made his peace with everyone now and shown suitable remorse. But if Yakubu wants to really say sorry there is only one way to do it – by banging in a sackful of goals to secure fourth place.
Versatile Jag proving top performer
THE weekend win over Reading will never feature in a compilation of Goodison classics but it was a significant afternoon for Phil Jagielka. Just like Joleon Lescott and Tim Cahill, Jagielka has had to prove himself when making the step up in moving to Everton and, slowly but surely, he is looking a much more accomplished performer now after a difficult start. It was not all roses for him at the beginning, but he is worth his weight in gold to David Moyes in that he can be asked to play in a variety of positions yet he will fill them with aplomb. Central defence, though, is the place he really excels. He has a fantastic attitude in that he just wants to get on with things and he is obviously his own man – there is no point trying to make comparisons with him being either a young Alan Stubbs or Davie Weir. Jagielka has his own qualities and should be admired for cementing his place.

Tim Howard: We’re sticking to our guns against Brann
Feb 13 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
ANOTHER week, another airport. While a debate rages about the Premier League possibly being played in different parts of the planet, it is significant to hear the views of one well-travelled footballer. In the past 10 days, Tim Howard has flown to Houston and back to represent the United States in a friendly against Mexico, fought off jet lag to play a key role in Everton’s 1-0 win over Reading and today finds himself in Bergen preparing for another crucial game. Having covered the best part of 12,000 miles in that period, it is little wonder Everton’s ultra-reliable goalkeeper is physically in a spin. Imagine if he then had to prepare for a date in, say, Dubai or Sydney on returning from Norway? Crazy. “I felt terrible. I was sick, tired but that’s what international football does to you,” said Howard, reflecting on his transatlantic trip. “But I’m not complaining. Timmy Cahill had the same thing. It’s hard but you get on with it.” It may have been a punishing schedule but the effects of fatigue are certainly made bearable by the fact Everton’s campaign continues to gather pace and Howard is relishing the challenges that await between now and May. Next on the agenda is the first leg of the Blues’ round of 32 clash with Norwegian champions SK Brann, a contest David Moyes’ side are expected to win comfortably to set up a date with either Rosenborg or Fiorentina. Having beaten Reading to strengthen their grip on fourth place, Everton will step out in the Brann Stadion full of confidence as they look to maintain a winning sequence in Europe that started in Kharkiv last October and has spanned a further four matches. If that record is to be maintained, though, the onus will be on Everton’s defence to maintain their current form – Saturday’s clean sheet was Howard’s 13th of the campaign – and then hope the strikers can pilfer that crucial away goal. Provided all goes to plan, it would mean many more air miles being amassed but that is exactly what Howard and the rest of his team-mates want and there is a real determination to ensure Norway is not their final foreign trip of season 2007/08. “Games like the one against Reading are the hardest to get through but we did that and got the result,” said Howard, who makes his 70th appearance for the Blues tonight. “I’ve rested up, got my energy back, now I’m good to go again. We’re all really excited. “We will switch ourselves back on. We have been going well in the league, nicking goals and playing well defensively, and that is what we are going to have to do again here. We are going have to be on our game. “We had a 100 per cent record in the group stages, so we are obviously doing something right but we have got to get back on the page now. “This will be a bit different from the games we have been playing because it is a two-legged tie. But we will just keep our focus and we need to be on our game to take advantage of any situation we get. “We won’t be taking Brann lightly. Just because they have been out of season does not mean it is going to be easy. They will be fit and ready for us. “It will be a tough game. We are not playing any slouches and we know what we will be up against. Playing away in Europe is never easy. It doesn’t matter what the situation is, we just have to make sure that we are ready. We have great belief in the system we play. “We work hard for one another and if you look around the team, you will see that we have got a great blend of experienced players and young kids. We know how to win games from all kind of situations and we are ready to do the business.” Such belief stems from Everton getting through a difficult spell relatively unscathed and after two goalless draws against Tottenham Hotspur and Blackburn Rovers, Saturday’s scruffy victory provided a welcome injection of confidence. “The fact that we got the win was so important,” he said. “If we had come in and the game had finished 1-1, we would have been devastated but really we are in great shape. “We are happy that the defence are playing so well. A goalkeeper has to do his part but it’s about everyone, not just me. You just look at Jags, he got a goal against Reading but it he was the same against Spurs, when he lunged in on Berbatov. “He was the same against Blackburn when he lunged in on (Benni) McCarthy. They are the type of things that win you games. But it’s not just Jags, either. “It’s Joleon, Joseph, the full-backs, the midfielders and the guys up top. Everyone is playing their part.”
BRANN (4-4-2): Oppal; Dahl, Bjarnsson, Sigurdsson, Hansvelt; Solli, El Farriri, Bakke, Vaagan Moen; Helstad, Karadas.
EVERTON (4-5-1): Howard; Hibbert, Yobo, Jagielka, Lescott; Osman, Neville, Carsley, Cahill, Baines; Yakubu.

Brann: We can spring a surprise on Blues
Feb 13 2008 Liverpool Echo
BRANN BERGEN are confident of springing a UEFA Cup surprise tonight and putting Everton on the brink of elimination. The Norwegian champions take on David Moyes’ men in the first leg of the last 32 and director of sports Roald Bruun-Hanssen believes his side have nothing to fear. “Everton are not the strongest opposition we could have got,” he said. “Our chance to advance is a good performance at home.
“If we can come away with a win from the first leg, we can go to Goodison Park and have confidence we could defend our lead.” Bruun-Hanssen’s confidence is not without foundation, with November seeing Brann crowned Norwegian champions for the first time in 44 years. It remains to be seen whether their relative inactivity over the past couple of months works for or against them. A month of sunshine training in La Manga and a couple of warm-up friendlies has been the sum total of their preparations. Brann’s key midfielder is former Leeds United man Eirik Bakke, 30.
Their last significant European adventure took them to the Cup Winners’ Cup quarter-finals and a tie with Liverpool. A Robbie Fowler goal gave Liverpool a 1-1 draw in Bergen back in 1996-97, and he grabbed two more in a comfortable second-leg win at Anfield, Stan Collymore adding the third.

We’re on Norway to victory, say happy Everton fans
Feb 13 2008 by Nick Coligan, Liverpool Echo
HUNDREDS of Everton fans were arriving in Norway today for the latest episode of their European adventure. The Blues play SK Brann after reaching the last 32 of the Uefa Cup. All 850 tickets available for Everton supporters in the 17,000-capacity Brann Stadion have been sold. The last two away trips for matches against FC Nurnberg, in Germany, and AZ Alkmaar, in Holland, sparked a mass exodus from Merseyside with thousands of fans requesting tickets. Fewer Blues’ supporters were expected to make the relatively short journey to Bergen, a city on the west coast of Norway. But Blues’ fans were making their presence felt in Bryggen, the “old town” part of Bergen. The televised match, which kicks off at 7pm UK time, will be Everton’s seventh in Europe this season. Temperatures in Bergen are expected to plunge as low as -3 degrees tonight.

David Moyes: Injuries won't stop us
Feb 13 2008
By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES today challenged his patched-up side to keep the momentum behind their season and grind out another European victory. Everton face SK Brann in Bergen this evening without either Mikel Arteta, who has returned to Spain for treatment on a troublesome groin problem, and Steven Pienaar, who is still not fit after damaging his ankle at the African Cup of Nations. To add to the manager’s woes, Manuel Fernandes is also carrying a groin injury that is likely to mean he starts from the bench and Leighton Baines will be asked to fill in as a makeshift left midfielder. Despite so many fitness issues, however, Moyes believes his squad are ready for their challenge. “We have had a good season in the Premier League,” said Moyes. “We also did well in the qualifying stages of the UEFA Cup but we are getting to the period of the season now when we are going to have to start winning these important games. “This is a really big game for us. This is a chance for us to stay in a big competition and keep an interest in things but it will not be easy. I’m expecting Brann to give us two really tough games.” Top scorer Ayegbeni Yakubu will start for the first time after going AWOL and Moyes feels the Nigerian international is ready to make up for his well publicised misdemeanour. “Yak’s back in and it’s done with now, that episode has ended,” Moyes confirmed. “Let’s just hope he feels he has a point to prove because he let us down by not coming back on time from the African Cup of Nations. “We’ve moved on and he’s been training with us for the last few days. We’re now getting down to the nitty gritty and we would hope that the boys who have been through it all before in Europe are a real help to us. “We certainly hope Yak comes back and gets a goal for us because it’s going to be difficult. It was tricky enough beforehand but we’ve also got injuries and it’s a bit of a struggle getting a team out.”

SK Brann 0, Everton 2
Feb 14 2008
By Dominic King in Bergen, Liverpool Echo
SO much for lowering the carbon footprint. While environmentalists continue to implore that we refrain from air travel, the current mood at Goodison Park means such pleas are proving futile. After another giddy evening in Europe – this time in the picturesque outpost of Bergen – Everton are all but guaranteed to be travelling again next month, with their destination poised to be either Tuscany or the edge of the Arctic Circle. Yet, if fortune continues to favour the brave, the adventure that has already taken them from Kharkiv to Alkmaar, via a stop in Nuremberg, will not be ending in Florence or Trondheim, as Everton’s love affair with the UEFA Cup continues to blossom. Though they relied more on perspiration than inspiration last night to repel SK Brann, when it mattered most David Moyes’ side showed once more they have the happy knack of being able to grind out stellar results away from home. Brann, admittedly, will never be considered one of Europe’s footballing superpowers and their preparations for this round of 32 contest consisted of a training camp, plus a couple of friendly fixtures in the Spanish golfing resort of La Manga. Being champions of Norway, however, demanded that they be taken seriously and Everton gave them every respect – too much, possibly, as the visitors struggled to find rhythm on a cabbage patch during the opening exchanges. But once they set about their business, there only ever looked like being one outcome and thanks to Leon Osman and Victor Anichebe, the return leg at Goodison a week today should now pass without too much incident. It now means supporters are daring to dream that the biggest adventure of all will come at the City of Manchester Stadium, and why not? The longer Everton stay in this competition, the better they are looking and dreams, after all, never hurt anyone. Cynics will say that Everton have not tackled anyone of note so far and circumstances have favoured them heavily in every game. But you still have to beat what is put in front of you and nobody could credibly say the Blues are the beneficiaries of coincidence. Well organised and difficult to break down? Yes. Ambitious and hungry for success? Definitely. When the time arrives for them to play, say, Bayern Munich or Atletico Madrid, the rarefied atmosphere of big game will suit Moyes and his players. And maybe that time is fast approaching. Assume that everything goes as it should in the return – no reason to doubt it won’t – would you really lose sleep over a date with Fiorentina or Rosenborg? Exactly. The last eight should be Everton’s minimum aim. From then on, anything can happen but, slowly but surely, the idea continues to grow that maybe this group of players are going to achieve something significant and put a silver lining on a season of undoubted progress. You may have struggled to come to such a conclusion during a tepid first 45 minutes when passes went askew, shots on target were in short supply and there was no real urgency about them. Contrast that, then, with the performance after the break which had the hallmarks of a perfectly executed ‘job’, the win being secured once Everton’s better players upped the ante and made themselves impossible to contain. After a short period of being off colour, Tim Cahill looked much more like his old self here, passing wisely, tackling with all his might and trying to ghost into the areas where he wreaks such havoc. The Australian livewire, like so many of his team-mates, found things tough before the interval but afterwards the cracking left-footed drive which thudded against a post served notice of Everton’s intentions. So it should not have come as a shock when Cahill launched himself into the challenge that started the move from which Osman eventually finished with a withering swing of his right boot. That goal – Osman’s sixth of the campaign – provided the injection of confidence Everton required to press on and also demoralised Brann, who never really threatened to put Tim Howard under any sustained pressure. Then again, with Phil Jagielka maintaining his recent flawless standards, Brann’s front pairing of Thorstein Helstad and Azar Karadas were invariably hammering against a brick wall, as the former Sheffield United defender would not be budged. Time after time, Helstad or Karadas would be asked to charge into Everton’s area, only to be stopped in their tracks by Jagielka sticking out a leg or using his hulking frame to unsettle them. He was outstanding once again and is getting better and better. They are sentiments which are just as appropriate to the Toffees’ lucky mascot in Europe – for the fourth time this campaign, Anichebe leapt off the bench to pilfer the goal that sealed the win and, in all likelihood, secured a spot in the final 16. Anichebe – and James Vaughan, for that matter – might be frustrated that regular starts are not forthcoming at present. But time is on his side and he only needs to take a look at the man who wears number 22 to see how much he still needs to improve. Following his well publicised decision to go AWOL, Ayegbeni Yakubu returned to the starting line-up alongside Andrew Johnson and played as if he had some serious making up to do. Thankfully, he was excellent and being back in the team merely emphasised how muchYakubu’s strength and hold up play was missed during his sojourn in Ghana. His repentance will be completed with a goal. Only time will tell if his next one for Everton is of major importance, but there is no doubt Yakubu will significantly contribute between now and May 11 – and if he strikes it really lucky, the closing of this season might not happen until May 14 after all. BRANN (4-4-2): Oppal; Dahl, Bjarnsson, Sigurdsson, Hansvelt; Solli, El Fakiri (Huseklepp 75), Bakke, Vaagan Moen; Helstad, Karadas (Demba-Nyren 68). EVERTON (4-4-2): Howard; Neville, Yobo, Jagielka, Lescott; Osman, Cahill, Carsley, Fernandes (Hibbert 90); Johnson (Anichebe 76), Yakubu (Baines 90). GOALS: Osman (59), Anichebe (88) BOOKINGS: Fernandes (68 foul) ATTENDANCE: 17,400 REFEREE: Anton Genov (Bulgaria)

SK Brann, Everton 2 (D,Post)
Feb 14 2008
By Ian Doyle, in Bergen, Liverpool Daily Post
LEON OSMAN is threatening to turn Everton’s goal of the season award into his own personal competition. The diminutive midfielder has acquired a welcome habit of contributing magnificent goals at important times for David Moyes’s side this campaign. Having already notched a brilliant UEFA Cup strike against Larissa, Osman added another magnificent effort to his portfolio as the Goodison Park outfit emerged triumphant from their first-ever competitive visit to Norway. Osman’s venomous 59th-minute volley – his sixth goal of the season – helped Everton see off the threat of SK Brann and place one foot firmly towards a tie in the last 16 against either Rosenborg or Fiorentina. Moyes’s other lucky European charm, Victor Anichebe, continued his love affair with the UEFA Cup by scoring his customary goal after emerging from the bench to seal the triumph with two minutes remaining. That’s four in this competition for the teenager – all as substitute – and was an indication of the strength in depth that allowed Everton to make light of their debilitating injury concerns last night. The final scoreline may have slightly flattered the visitors – particularly given their curiously laboured first-half showing – but the result underlined their growing maturity in Europe. Since the nervous 1-1 draw at home to Metalist Kharkiv back in September, Moyes’s side have rattled off six successive UEFA Cup victories and have won all four away games in the competition. Brann were spirited but limited opposition and, barring a bout of chronic complacency, will surely be despatched when the teams meet for the return match at Goodison Park next Thursday. The Norwegian champions had their moments but, with Phil Jagielka again excellent at the back, a resolute Everton registered a fourth successive clean sheet; Tim Howard has now not been beaten in six hours 20 minutes of action. Small wonder the 900 Evertonians who were officially inside the intimate Brann Stadion, not to mention the further hundreds that had also made the journey and managed to snaffle a ticket, pierced the Bergen night sky with cheers on the final whistle. Such a chilly night in Norway must have felt a world away from the baking heat of Ghana, but it represented a first step for Yakubu to make amends for going AWOL after the Africa Cup of Nations last week. Fined and dropped from squad that faced Reading on Saturday, the Nigerian was recalled to the starting line-up and produced a quietly effective performance alongside Andrew Johnson in attack. Recent history favoured Everton last night. Norwegian teams had won only one of their previous 14 European fixtures in the month of February, their efforts undermined by the fact their domestic season closes down between November and March. Brann’s last competitive fixture was back on December 5, a 1-0 UEFA Cup defeat in Basel that meant they scraped through in third place from Group D. Everton, one of just two teams to win all four games in the group stage, had played 16 games since then. And that intense schedule had contributed to a growing injury list for Moyes which was eased slightly when Manuel Fernandes was passed fit after concerns over a groin problem. By contrast, Brann had prepared for the game with a two-week training camp in sunny La Manga. Brann coach Mons Ivar Mjelde had been a player when the Norwegians were beaten 4-1 on aggregate against Liverpool in the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1997, and can expect to fare little better when he returns to Merseyside next week. The return of a contrite Yakubu in place of the injured Mikel Arteta was the only change from the team that started the 1-0 defeat of Reading as Everton lined up in an adventurous-looking 4-4-2 formation, keen to maintain their record of having scored in every European game this season. And Yakubu had an immediate chance to ingratiate himself with the Everton support after 33 seconds, but shot weakly at Brann goalkeeper Hakon Opdal from Phil Neville’s throughball. The visitors dominated the early possession. However, after former Portsmouth forward Azar Karadas nodded over a Jan Gunnar Solli free-kick via a touch off Joseph Yobo’s head in the ninth minute, the Norwegians grew in confidence and capitalised on a lack of balance in the Everton midfield. Jagielka was alert to nick the ball off the toes of Thorstein Helstad inside the area following Petter Vaagan Moen’s probing pass, and did well shortly afterwards to challenge the Brann striker as he hared down on goal. Helstad, the Norwegian league’s leading goalscorer last season with 22 goals in 26 games, was the focal point of the Brann attack and would have caused greater danger but for some poor control. Admittedly, like the rest of the players, Helstad wasn’t helped by a patchy surface that cut up as the game progressed. Everton’s response was led by Osman, who struck an ambitious shot at Opdal before soliciting a fine parry from the goalkeeper with a curling effort. For all Brann’s pressure, Howard didn’t have a save of note to make, although the goalkeeper was grateful for a strong defensive block after his punch to clear Moen’s right-wing corner fell at the feet of Kristjan Sigurdsson. And Howard was beaten on the stroke of half-time but referee Anton Genov correctly adjudged Eirik Bakke to have impeded the goalkeeper as he attempted to force home Solli’s corner at the near post. Everton increased their intensity after the interval – they had to – and were close to being rewarded for a brighter period when Tim Cahill’s left-foot shot from 22 yards was finger-tipped on to the inside of the post by a sprawling Opdal. But Moyes’s men were ahead on 59 minutes. With Brann unhappy with a challenge by Cahill, play continued and Johnson played in a cross that was only cleared to the right-hand edge of the penalty area into the path of Osman, who thrashed a first-time shot into the far corner beyond Opdal. Brann, with left winger Moen the most lively, continued to plug away but Opdal almost gifted Everton a second when he fumbled a hopeful Fernandes pot-shot narrowly wide. Home substitute Njogu Demba-Nyren forced Howard into his first real save on 82 minutes and, from the resultant Moen corner, the Everton goalkeeper then clutched a Helstad header at the far post. But the win for Moyes’s side was secured with two minutes remaining when Joleon Lescott delivered a perfect low cross from the left and substitute Anichebe tapped in beyond Opdal. Everton’s European adventure goes on. SK BRANN (4-4-2): Opdal; Dahl (Thwaite 89), Bjarnason, Sigurdsson, Hanstveit; Solli, Bakke, El Fakiri (Huseklepp 75), Moen; Helstad, Karadas (Demba-Nyren 69). Subs: Udjus, Guntveit, Misje, Winters. EVERTON (4-4-2): Howard; Neville, Jagielka, Yobo, Lescott; Fernandes (Hibbert 89), Cahill, Carsley, Osman; Yakubu (Baines 90), Johnson (Anichebe 76). Subs: Wessels, Rodwell, van der Meyde, Vaughan. BOOKING: Fernandes (foul). REFEREE: Anton Genov (Bulgaria) ATT: 16,207. NEXT GAME: Everton v SK Brann, UEFA Cup round of 32 second leg, next Thursday 8pm.

The Jury: What's your verdict on the win against SK Brann?
Feb 14 2008
Liverpool Echo
David Wallbank, Huyton EVERTON now have one foot inside the draw for the last 16 of the UEFA Cup, the dream for silverware is defiantly still alive and kicking. I was so pleased with how well the boys performed last night. It seems to be a regular ‘shout out’ to Jagielka each week, but again he put in a immense performance. To think I almost discarded Phil a few months ago into the realms of a Mike Milligan and Brett Angell, to name just a few failed stars to grace Goodison. The return to fitness of Leon Osman has also been a great boost, as he proved with a tremendous 20-yard finish last night. You can list how well everybody played, but it’s only fair to mention the hard work of Yakubu. He still owes us a few goals, but with displays like last night I’m sure we’ll all forget he went AWOL. A massive effort is needed to secure a famous season in the Blues’ illustrious history – fourth spot would be great, the UEFA Cup would be the icing on the cake! Mike Williamson, Chester YET another great result in Europe and the Blues Bandwagon just keeps rolling on. How often have we been able to say that over the years? Admittedly, Brann were no great shakes in truth, but it was obvious from the start that Everton didn’t have to get past third gear to take the game comfortably – and that’s how it turned out in the end, bar a few set pieces and goalmouth skirmishes. Yakubu showed us again what a good footballer he is; Lescott had his usual excellent game and Jagielka just gets better and better. hHe is really looking like another tremendous acquisition by Moyes. However, Fernandes continues to be a real disappointment – all style, but little substance. We need him to take centre stage when Arteta is out but his contribution is negligible at the best of times. However, nothing should take away the fact this was still a game that had to be won. We did it efficiently and comfortably and we are definitely growing up in Europe. Richard Knights, West Derby NORWAY is one of those countries no-one knows much about – there’s fish, fjords, nul points, the artist who painted depressing pictures and the guy who wrote depressing plays. Brann were a bit of an unknown quantity, not helped by their league finishing in November, and on a freezing night in Bergen, once they had got warmed up, Everton produced a solid second half performance. A few players have hit a dip in form, but that was compensated for by awesome defending from Jagielka, a wonder strike by Osman and Anichebe’s customary European goal. Note to Fernandes - stop giving the ball away. The UEFA Cup is a bit of a long and winding road. Get past Brann and we aren’t even in the quarter finals. The question now is do we chase UEFA Cup glory or the potential cash bonanza from the Champions League? These and other similar moral dilemmas have exercised the minds of artists and writers for centuries. Tony Scott, Walton IN this season’s UEFA cup we have probably played some of our better football. But last night wasn't about performances, it was about a good result – and we got one. Three players stood out and the rest just about did enough against a unfit, poor Norwegian side. Jagielka was immense again and Yakubu’s all round game was excellent, too. Leon Osman, who I'm not a particular fan of, played really well last night and covered every blade of grass. One slight negative has to be Manuel Fernandes. He is definitely not the same player who played for us last season and match fitness can’t be an excuse anymore. On the subject of dodgy performances, the cameraman in last night’s game must have had too much Norwegian lager to drink as lots of Evertonians back home spent most of the game guessing if Osman’s goal actually went in or had gone wide. Nice to see Victor on the scoresheet again.

Yakubu: Victor Anichebe is heading for the top
Feb 14 2008 EXCLUSIVE by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
AYEGBENI YAKUBU hailed the progress of Everton's European super sub Victor Anichebe - as he made a public apology for last week's unexplained 'no show'.
Though starts are hard to come by for the 19-year-old at present, he has played a key role in the Blues’ UEFA Cup campaign and last night scored for the fourth time after coming off the bench late in the game. The Nigerian grabbed the second goal in Everton’s 2-0 win over SK Brann, to go alongside efforts against Metalist Kharkiv, Larissa and Nuremberg, and Yakubu is adamant that Anichebe has the ability to make it to the top. He has been offering Anichebe pointers on the training pitch and while he was delighted to see that work pay off, Yakubu was equally thrilled to pull a Blue shirt on once again after a testing week. “It was hard but it’s a good feeling,” said Yakubu. “It’s not easy to come to a place like this and win and they made it very difficult for us. At the end I was so pleased because we deserved it. I’m just glad to be back playing again. “Victor is doing great. You can see in training that he is getting better. He can become the top scorer in the Premier League one day. The young players are doing so well and they are fighting for a place in the team. “I give him advice if I can. We strikers stick together. I tell him things that he should be doing. It is good to have a player like that on the pitch you must encourage.” Yakubu was axed from Everton’s squad for the Premier League game against Reading after returning from Ghana five days late, fined two weeks’ wages and received a severe dressing down from Moyes. But after clear-the-air talks, Yakubu has expressed his deep regret for the incident and revealed that he apologised to all of his team-mates for letting them, Moyes and Everton’s supporters down. “The gaffer was very angry,” he said. “I have to thank the players because they were behind me. They gave me support. I apologised to them all and I’m so pleased it is all over. It was just personal reasons why I never turned up, that’s all. “I have spoken to the manager and now it is over. I think the players were glad to see me back. It is good to be in a team where you know the players want you and they make you feel important. I have to thank them for being behind me.”

David Moyes will be taking nothing for granted
Feb 14 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES was beaming from ear to ear as he headed out of the Brann Stadion last night but today he is urging his squad to forget their latest European heroics.
Having beaten SK Brann 2-0 in Bergen, the Blues are almost certain to face Rosenborg or Fiorentina in the UEFA Cup’s last 16 and many will expect Everton to breeze through the return leg a week today. Moyes, though, has no intentions of looking so far ahead nor would he show any disrespect to Brann’s players and officials. That is why he has promised to play a full strength team at Goodison Park even if the hard work seems to be done “I’ll not talk about progressing,” Moyes said. “Given our record in the cup competitions, I wouldn’t do that. There’s no chance of us resting anyone for the second leg. We’ll play anyone that’s available and nobody will be getting rested. “But I’m really pleased with how we are playing. We have momentum. We won this without Steven Pienaar, Mikel Arteta and Thomas Gravesen, players who are suited to European nights and I’m looking forward to having them back, maybe for the second leg.” Second half goals from Leon Osman and Victor Anichebe secured a club record sixth consecutive win in Europe - beating the run of the fabled 1985 squad - and Moyes was thrilled with the way Everton battled to get the right result. “We couldn’t have asked for a better night,” said Moyes. “If you’d said before the game that we’d win 2-0 I’d have been more than happy to take it. “We didn’t well in the first half. I thought we were happy to keep the ball and go nowhere. I had to say to them at half-time that there is a set of goals at the far end where you are supposed to score. We had a bit of devilment in the second half.”
Once the penny dropped, the Blues always looked in control and the tone was set for them by Tim Cahill, who struck the woodwork from 25 yards, while the promptings of Osman and the physical presence of Anichebe eventually proved decisive.
“Leon’s was a great strike given the way it dropped,” said Moyes. “The pitch was difficult and it was hard to kick the ball along the surface, so it sat up for Leon and allowed him to volley it and generate more power in it. “We didn’t play quick enough throughout the game, but it got quicker in the second half than it had in the first.
“I thought we kept Brann at bay most of the night, but we will give them a lot of respect in the second leg. Brann were very strong. The crowd made it a big night and a big atmosphere for their team but I thought we defended well.”

Dave Hickson's joy at Goodison return
Feb 14 2008 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
Everton legend Dave Hickson tells Greg O’Keeffe how he was glad to be back greeting supporters at Goodison Park on Saturday, two months after he collapsed at the ground with a heart attack
HE IS as much an intrinsic part of Goodison Park as the goalposts and Toffee girls.
To younger fans he is the smiling gent with the distinguished silver quiff, who dads talk about with reverence as he strides onto the pitch at half-time. But to vintage blues Dave Hickson, the Cannonball Kid, is the swashbuckling centre forward whose goals fired the Blues back into the top-flight of English football during a brief absence in the Fifties. He is the fearless competitor who bled for the Royal Blue jersey and once famously said he was willing to die for it. The affection which the 78-year-old commands from thousands of Merseyside football fans is undisputed. So when Dave collapsed at Goodison in November, the concern was widespread and frantic.
Blue hearts were almost breaking at the news that Dave had fallen seriously ill, in the same year that they had lost folk-hero Alan Ball. Hickson, who is a Goodison tour guide and matchday host in the executive lounges, was greeting guests as usual before Everton’s 7-1 thrashing of Sunderland when he fell ill. Today, speaking from his Wirral home, the grandfather-of-three is relaxing after lunch with wife Pat. He says: “The heart attack was strange because I felt no pain at all. I just felt my legs go rubbery and then I collapsed in the foyer. I’d been halfway through the PR and even had something to eat. “It was like I could still see everything that was going on when they were helping me and calling an ambulance. It sounds strange but the attack probably saved me because they realised when I had the operation that I had blocked arteries which were causing problems.” Dave was initially taken to the Royal Liverpool hospital before being moved to Broadgreen Cardiothoracic hospital.
He underwent two operations and has been back regularly since, but last week received the all-clear from the specialists. His refusal to be beaten by illness should come as no surprise. Dave Hickson never let much stand in his way. During one game for Everton, Hickson typically threw his head in among flying boots and emerged with a wicked gash over his eyebrow. He left the pitch to have the injury stitched – and 50,000 supporters gloomily accepted that Everton would be a man down for the remainder of the match as substitutes were not an option. They reckoned without Hickson's unfailing courage. An ear-splitting roar greeted his return to the pitch – with five stitches hastily inserted in the wound – and minutes later he scored the match-winner. Moments later he re-opened the wound in a heading duel, resisted pleas by team-mates and referee to leave the field again, and eventually retired after 90 minutes unbowed to an unforgettable ovation. Dave played for Tranmere Rovers and even signed for Liverpool after two successful spells at Goodison, cementing his place in regional folklore. He even managed Ellesmere Port! But despite his appeal to fans of all three Merseyside teams he has never hidden where his loyalties lie.
Last Monday Dave received the Liverpool ECHO Special Award at the ECHO’s Sports Personality event, only the fourth person to be given the honour in 36 years.
“I’m already back doing the PR and taking the man of the match into the boxes after the game,” he says. “It’s something I never imagined packing in. “I haven’t seen the team play as well as this for a long, long time. They are in a great position and I think they should be further clear than they are now. “We’ve had some terrible refereeing decisions this season which have cost us a lot of points.” For someone used to adulation, Dave is charmingly pretension-free. During our chat he bats aside compliments and insists numerous times that he wants to thank those who supported him during his spell in hospital. “The support was fantastic, like the staff in both hospitals. I still haven’t finished opening all the cards and letters. “It was very emotional when I went back to Goodison after the attack. It was Boxing Day and as I said then on the pitch, I’ll never be able to thank everyone enough.” Now he feels fully fit and the Corinthian, who even played in a match last year, is not going to let the trauma of his illness get him down. “ I trust the doctors and I’m more interested in watching the Blues push on.”

We won't switch off - Leon Osman
Feb 15 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
LEON OSMAN has promised there will be no switching off as Everton aim to secure a place in the UEFA Cup's last 16 in style. The Blues midfielder set his side on their way to a 2-0 first leg victory over SK Brann in Bergen on Wednesday evening with a spectacular strike and many now see the return at Goodison Park next Thursday as a formality. Manager David Moyes, though, has warned he will not tolerate any complacency in the build up to that game and Osman also prefers to err on the side of caution as he feels Brann will strip fitter after playing competitively for the first time since December. However, Osman - whose next start will be his 150th for Everton - knows he and his team-mates have given themselves a golden opportunity to progress and hopes they make home advantage tell. “It’s the old cliché that winning breeds confidence but it is so true,” said Osman. “With every win you get, the more confident you get. 2-0 away from home in Europe is a fantastic result. The clean sheet was excellent and two goals made things perfect. “But the tie is only half done. The players and the staff can’t afford to look that far ahead. Maybe the fans can but we have got to concentrate on next week’s game and I’m sure they will try and make it even more difficult than they did on Wednesday. “We will have to meet the challenge head on and hopefully we will remain patient. That was the key. We were patient in possession and found our openings. It’s always difficult going away in Europe, so to come away with a win is even better. “They were a tough team. They were all six foot plus and they played two tight banks of four. They did their job really well but we are learning as we go along. We were a lot more patient than we have been and that paid off.” Osman, meanwhile, has paid tribute to the progress of fellow Academy graduate Victor Anichebe and hopes he can continue to be one of Everton’s main men the further they go in the competition. Nobody, though, is thinking in terms of the final - yet. “Victor is learning all the time,” said Osman. “He seems to be very difficult to mark or pick up in European football. “It is very different from the hustle and bustle of the Premier League and maybe foreign defenders are not used to coming up against his type of player. “Of course it would be wonderful to get to the final but we can’t think ahead of ourselves. The second leg of this tie is the most important game for us now and we have got all week to work on it. We’ll be putting everything into it.
“If we get through that, then we can start to think about other things but we are not getting carried away.”

Teenage ace Victor Anichebe thrilled by Euro adventure
Feb 15 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
IF THERE is an innocence to the way Victor Anichebe analyses his impact on Everton's European adventure, ruthless is the only way to describe what he does on the pitch. Not for the first time this season, the young Nigerian striker walked out of the away dressing room, smiling broadly and scratching his head in a state of bewilderment minutes after scoring a goal to secure another UEFA Cup victory.
First it was Kharkiv, then it was Nuremberg, now Anichebe can add Bergen to the list of far-flung locations that will forever hold fond memories. So it is hardly a surprise the 19-year-old struggles to put into words the emotions he is juggling at present.
“I’m playing in Europe at a young age, it is amazing and I am enjoying every second of what is happening to me and the team,” said Anichebe. “I’m scoring for Everton in Europe. How good is that? I just want it to keep going like this.” He’s not the only one. Wednesday evening’s 2-0 victory over SK Brann has all but put Everton into the UEFA Cup’s last 16, where either Rosenborg or Fiorentina lie in wait, and on current form, the journey is unlikely to stop there. But while it is a terrific experience for Anichebe just to be involved regularly in the travelling party, the cameo appearances manager David Moyes is giving him towards the end of games are proving hugely beneficial. Of course, he would prefer to be starting these matches but with four goals to his credit – the other came in the 3-1 win over Larissa last October at Goodison Park – Anichebe’s role of impact substitute means he is Everton’s leading scorer for the year in Europe. With that tactic having proved to be successful so far, Moyes is unlikely to deviate from it too much in the future and that will mean Anichebe gets plenty more opportunities to trample over wilting defenders on foreign soil.
“I am just enjoying the moment,” he said. “It is great to see the team winning in Europe and me being able to help and play a part. “I understand what the manager is doing and how he is using me in games. “I have power and strength and I get on when opponents are tired. We capitalise on tired defenders, and I hope we can continue to do that. “But I am pleased to be able to contribute the way that I am. I am just pleased to be playing a part. “I am not really happy to be sitting on the bench, I want to be playing. But I understand the situation, Everyone is doing well and the team is benefiting “I am just glad to be contributing, and personally improving with every game so that when the time comes for me to start matches I will be ready.”
A clear sign he still has rough edges to be polished is that from a total of 56 appearances for the Blues, only 17 have been from the first whistle.
“But, for the moment, being a supersub will do just fine, particularly if he continues to prove a lucky charm. “Maybe the fans now expect me to score when I come on, I just hope I can continue like this right the way through to the final,” said Anichebe.
“The most important thing is that the team is winning and I just want us to get as far as we can.”

Phil Jagielka at the top of his game
Feb 15 2008 by Howard Kendall, Liverpool Echo
WHEN a team's strikers are struggling for goals, it is vital for other members to take responsibility and David Moyes will be pleased to see that is the case. True, Victor Anichebe scored the second goal against SK Brann on Wednesday evening, but Leon Osman had initially set the ball rolling with a terrific strike and recently we have seen Joleon Lescott do the same. Last Saturday, however, it was Phil Jagielka’s turn for a slice of the limelight with a crucial header against Reading that enabled Everton to strengthen their grip on fourth place – and that goal also put the gloss on an outstanding personal performance. The manager has been singing Jagielka’s praises in the past month – and rightly so. He was terrific in Norway once again and, looking at the way he plays, it’s obvious that he does not let his concentration levels drop for one second. There were a couple of instances against Brann when he was left one-against-one but, such is his confidence, you never expected him to come a cropper even though he is not blessed with great pace. Joseph Yobo can afford to leave a couple of yards behind him and then engage overdrive if an attacker slips past him, but while Jagielka drops that bit deeper he is outstanding at sniffing out danger. That quality was highlighted when Thorstein Helstad tried to twist him one way, then another, during the first half. But Jagielka stuck to his guns and ushered him out for a corner that came to nothing. It was outstanding play. Maybe his improvement made the manager’s decision to let Alan Stubbs leave that bit easier. Stubbsy got a great deal at Derby and will relish playing every week and there is no room for sentiment in football. If David felt that he still needed Alan around, he simply would not have let him go. But he clearly has enough options at the back and when you have players showing the form that Jagielka is in, things become easier.
Blues in the mood for bigger challenge
HAVING had the chance to weigh up SK Brann this week, I don’t envisage there will be any hiccups in the return leg at Goodison Park. It wasn’t the greatest of games in Norway and little happened during the first 45 minutes. But Everton did the job many anticipated they would efficiently and their place in the last 16 is practically guaranteed. That, though, is when the UEFA Cup will start for real as I think the standards of quality are about to be significantly raised – Rosenborg or Fiorentina will be a completely different proposition to anything the Blues have faced so far.
But just because they have not faced any of Europe’s leading lights so far does not mean that Everton’s achievements in winning six consecutive games should be belittled. Far from it. The confidence and experience will be invaluable. In many ways, it has been the ideal preparation for the big tests that lie ahead. The players are used to the different kinds of demands placed on them and they won’t fear anyone. Why should they? With key players to come back from injury, Everton will get stronger so there is every reason to hold on to the dream that they can make the final.
Villain of piece!
FOOTBALL pundits know everything, don’t they? Last week, I wrote on these pages that Everton and Liverpool would stretch away from the chasing pack because of the quality of their strikers and that Aston Villa’s John Carew looked like a Sunday League player. What happens? The only goal our local sides could muster was a header from central defender Phil Jagielka, while Carew scored a second half hat-trick for Villa against Newcastle. Told you we are worth listening to!

Blues’ shadow that extends across park
Feb 15 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
THE cardie he was wearing might have been an insipid beige, but the comments were red hot. “We have proved we are the best team in this city,” declared David Moyes, after Everton had edged neighbours Liverpool out of an automatic Champions League place in 2005. Best team on Merseyside? Briefly. Just 17 days later Liverpool were crowned the best team in Europe. But Everton wouldn’t go away. After a roller-coaster 2005/06 season, they came again. And now they are perfectly placed to effect a truly seismic power shift on Merseyside. The chase for fourth place has rarely been so significant. The recent Anfield refinancing has seen the Reds committed to finding £30m every season to pay bills on their borrowing. A DIC takeover might change that. But until that possibility becomes a fact, Liverpool don’t just crave a Champions League berth – they need it. I first voiced these fears last September, and was accused by some Reds fans of trying to rock a title-bound ship. Senior Anfield officials, however, agreed. Failure to reach the annual Champions League cash share-out would be a severe blow to Liverpool’s future ambitions. Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher and Fernando Torres may be chasing the glory that comes with FA Cup triumphs and European Cup ecstasy, but the men who hold the purse strings need the money which comes with those successes. Those funds are the lifeblood which will keep Liverpool functioning until the 70,000 seater Anfield is built – and generating the kind of revenue streams which have just seen Arsenal leap from ninth to fifth in the Deloitte rich-list of European clubs. Everton don’t figure in the top 20 of that list, but a place at the Champions League table for the first time might change that. The Blues will never have a better opportunity to strike. The FA Cup exit to Oldham might have been embarrassing at the time, but it has handed Everton a fixture friendly run-in to the season. The UEFA Cup ties with Brann are eight days apart, with no distractions in between, while the potentially pivotal trip to Manchester City has been put back to a Monday night, giving Everton a four day build-up to the match. Football’s current high finance means that the stakes have rarely been higher for European qualification.
This season they will be higher than ever – especially here on Merseyside.

Everton’s strength cuts the odds
Feb 15 2008 by Adam Oldfield, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON have been clipped to 9/1 joint third favourites for the UEFA Cup following their impressive result in Bergen on Wednesday night. The Blues head to Goodison with a two-goal advantage and the indications are that David Moyes’ men have finally hit upon the formula for an extended European run. With Rosenborg or Fiorentina the opposition in the last 16, the Blues can expect a much tougher task, but the strength and spirit within the squad suggests they will figure in the latter stages of the competition. Bayern Munich currently head the market as clear 3/1 favourites (totesport), followed by Tottenham (8/1) and Atletico Madrid (9/1). Liverpool’s European aspirations, meanwhile, face the ultimate test next week as they welcome Inter Milan to Anfield in the first leg of their last 16 Champions League showdown.
The reigning Italian champions are unbeaten in Serie A this season and are understandably 4/6 favourites (extrabet) to progress at Liverpool’s expense.
But with the timely return of Fernando Torres, not to mention their certain affinity with the most prestigious club competition in world football, the Reds are equipped to pull off a surprise result at 11/10. They are currently rated the least likely of the four English clubs to progress, but you couldn’t rule out another cup final appearance, especially at 13/2 (partybets). Their outright credentials are currently a best-priced 16-1 (sportingodds), but expect those odds to plummet once the fear factor of a first leg victory (7-5 sportingodds) spreads. Champions League latest (Boylesports): 4/1 Barca; 11/2 Man Utd; 7/1 Chelsea; 8/1 Inter; 9/1 Real Madrid; 10/1 Arsenal; 12/1 AC Milan; 14/1 Liverpool, Sevilla; 25/1 bar.

Moyes - We can lift UEFA Cup
Feb 16 2008 Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES insists he has the squad to win the UEFA Cup AND qualify for the Champions League – even though that would mean a further 20 gruelling matches for his players this season. Moyes flew back from Oslo yesterday, after staying on in Norway after Everton’s 2-0 win over Bergen on Wednesday to watch possible last 16 rivals Fiorentina win in Rosenborg. And he said: “We have the squad to win the UEFA Cup and qualify for the Champions League. I do not see it as a choice, nobody can pick the one they want. “But our squad is good enough. We have coped recently with a lot of players missing and we are still in fourth spot in the league.”
If Moyes is to fulfil his dreams, he knows that Everton will have to play 20 more games this season, including eight if they want to lift the UEFA Cup at Manchester City’s Eastlands stadium in the final on May 14. Those 20 games will be played in 84 energy-sapping days, and five in one crippling 16-day spell. From April 19 to May 4, the Blues could face Chelsea, Aston Villa and Arsenal in the Premier League, plus both legs of a European semi-final. Moyes said: “Our squad is good enough. I’m told that six wins on the trot is a record in Europe for an Everton manager, and that makes me proud. “But it is the next six games that are the most important, but even that will not be enough to get to the final of this competition, it goes on and on. “There is still a lot of work to be done but we are getting near the juicy part of the tournament, even if the UEFA Cup seems to go on forever.” To win the UEFA Cup, Everton would have successfully negotiated 15 European matches, a mammoth task. And they dare not ease up in their final 12 Premier League games or fourth spot will be lost.
It is the most testing time of Moyes’ near six years as manager at Goodison, but he added of their European run: “We are growing into this tournament. We did not hurt Bergen enough early on, and there is always an element of fear over two-legged ties.
“You don’t want to take risks. But we are maturing as a team now, and we are showing that maturity and that we understand how you have to play at this level.
“We have a lot of belief now that we can win away games in Europe, and it is not going to get any easier. But the more games we have had this season the better we have played.”

How Claus twice lost out on Mersey links
Feb 16 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
CLAUS EFTEVAAG failed to grace the first teams of either Everton or Liverpool.
Yet the former Brann Bergen captain’s name was often found in conjunction with the Mersey giants. As an 18-year-old, he missed out on the opportunity of a career at Anfield because of a freak injury. After joining Brann from IK Start in the summer of 1988, he was due for a trial with the Reds, who were touring Norway at the time.
But during a training run on the beach in preparation he slipped, injured his back and was laid up in hospital on the day of the trial match. He never heard from Kenny Dalglish again. But his and Liverpool’s path did cross again, nine years later when Brann Bergen and Liverpool clashed in the European Cup Winners’ Cup quarter-final.
He made an impression – on and off the pitch. After Neil Ruddock had been given the run-around by Tore Andre Flo in a first leg which ended 1-1, Bergen skipper Eftevaag snapped: “It’s scandalous that Ruddock plays for an English Premier League side. He is not even good enough to play for a Norwegian first division team.” Predictably Ruddock was not slow in hitting back. “I’ve made quite a good living out of football – and what is he? A part-timer,” he quipped. “Well he can come round to my house if he has a couple of days off and clean the windows, do the gardening or wash one of my three cars. I need a YTS lad. “I understand he came for a trial with Liverpool. Well he wasn’t good enough so they spent £2.5m on me.” Clearly impressed by Eftevaag’s ability to wind up Liverpudlians, Everton boss Joe Royle tried to sign the Norwegian international. Once again a bad back got in the way, but this time there were more far-reaching repercussions. Royle had tried to engineer a deal for Flo and Eftevaag, worth £3m. Given that Flo later joined Glasgow Rangers for £12m it would have represented good business, but Blues chairman Peter Johnson was unconvinced.
Flo, in Saudi Arabia with the national side, refused to be rushed into a deal before the transfer deadline and that side of the proposed transfer collapsed, while Eftevaag flew to Merseyside for talks and a medical (which he is rumoured to have failed).
Johnson was deeply unhappy at the bid to sign a player he believed had merely been a makeweight in a move to sign an accomplished international striker, and at his next meeting with Royle the pair fell out. “Desmond Pitcher tells me you’ve come here to resign,” said Johnson. A baffled and bemused Royle retorted: “You don’t want that, do you?” Barely an hour later Joe Royle’s reign as Everton manager had ended “by mutual consent.” Eftevaag’s name was never linked with Everton or Liverpool again.
Long since retired, he now specialises in selling holiday homes with Norwegian company ABCenter. A recent advert claimed: “At Lauvas, north of Bergen on an inlet of Fensfjord, Eftevaag is selling a hut that is exactly what you imagine a hut in the mountains to be – wooden shiplap with pine logs holding it up and a veranda at the front. “Inside, the plain pine boards are decorated with animal skins. The price is about £450,000.” That’s almost exactly the fee Joe Royle were prepared to pay Brann Bergen in a deal which might have altered the future of Everton Football Club.

Pienaar must not be allowed through the net
Feb 16 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
WHILE there is no better way to make a statement of ambition than spending millions of pounds on a star name, never underestimate the worth of a loan deal.
Splashing the cash inevitably gets supporters talking and creates a buzz around the training ground, but bargains which can be picked up on the quiet can have just as much as impact. Just think of the way David Moyes has been able to exploit them.
Joseph Yobo was a youngster brimming with potential back in the summer of 2002 yet while Moyes had no doubts about his talent, there were concerns whether he would be able to handle the demands of the Premier League. A loan from Marseille, therefore, made a huge deal of sense and once Yobo showed that the transition from Le Championnat to England’s top flight was relatively trouble free, a permanent deal was struck. More recently, Tim Howard found himself in a similar position when he arrived from Manchester United on a temporary basis, yet Everton’s board moved quickly to secure his services long-term when the American proved his game was in tip-top condition. Now, then, the time has come to do the same with Steven Pienaar.
The capricious nature of football means that managers do not tend to mention their injured players much but Moyes twice this week spoke of the South Africa in glowing terms. And it’s no wonder. Ayegbeni Yakubu might have been the big, expensive name that Moyes promised to deliver last summer, while Leighton Baines and Phil Jagielka have both excelled after their respective moves – but have they made a bigger impact than Pienaar? He may have been one of the least heralded of Moyes’ acquisitions, hardly surprising given the torrid time he endured with Borussia Dortmund in Die Bundesliga but Pienaar has not looked back since being let off the leash. It took time for him to find his feet initially, the hustle and bustle of the Premier League an alien environment to what he had been used to, but this resilient character knuckled down to quickly make his mark. Pienaar made 18 consecutive starts after the Blues lost 2-1 in the Merseyside derby last October and in that time, was only on the losing side twice. The more he saw of the ball in those games, the better Pienaar and Everton became. So when the poorly timed African Cup of Nations came around, it was no surprise to hear Moyes lament Pienaar’s loss slightly more than those of Yakubu and Yobo, both of whom were involved with Nigeria in Ghana.
All being well, he will return to the starting line-up this Thursday evening, for the second leg of the UEFA Cup clash against SK Brann, and hopefully the 25-year-old will have an impact similar to the one he made before Christmas. Should he sparkle, however, it may create a little headache for the Blues as it would only be natural that he would draw covetous glances from clubs in England and abroad, who are on the lookout for a influential schemer. Ronald Koeman, for example, knows Pienaar well from the time the pair spent together in Holland at Ajax and would take him to Valencia in the blink of an eye. Working in Everton’s favour, though, is the fact Pienaar is settled on Merseyside and loves life at Goodison Park – there would be no need for him to read the small print if a deal were put in front of him to sign now.
It’s clear to see he is desperate to stay. What’s more, they also have an agreement with Dortmund that gives them first refusal this summer and a deal is in place for a fee in the region of £2.5m; at that price, surely they will not let him slip the net. After all, such bargains do not come along very often.

Gardner raring to go in bid to put injury hell behind him
Feb 16 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
A CHANGE, they say, is as good as a rest, so if that old adage rings true, Anthony Gardner is set for a long overdue change in fortune. Having slipped into Goodison Park almost unnoticed a couple of hours before the transfer window shut last month, Gardner has so far been left frustrated in his attempts to impress his new employers as he battles to overcome a long-standing ankle problem. Though he was brought in on loan from Tottenham Hotspur to provide Everton with defensive cover following Alan Stubbs’ move to Derby, Gardner has not even trained with his new team-mates yet.
Happily, however, there is a light at the end of this particular tunnel and if all goes to plan, the 27-year-old will be given the green light to start challenging Phil Jagielka, Joseph Yobo and Joleon Lescott in 10 days’ time. But given he has been blighted by so many fitness issues over the last few seasons – this latest one was a broken ankle sustained in a UEFA Cup group game against Getafe – just being back out in the open will provide a lift. No wonder he wants to get going. “I have suffered from injuries,” said Gardner, who stands an imposing 6ft 5ins in his socks. “I would like to stand here and say it is different but it is what it is. Your football career is about getting a little bit of luck here and there and a break at the right time. “So I’m just hoping that this change of scenery and being around a big club will help. Let me get back out on to the football pitch and show what a good player I can be. “I want to show everyone that the injury problems I’ve had are behind me. “If I never thought that, I wouldn’t be playing football now. “In this profession, injuries are part and parcel of the game but you do everything you can to avoid them. “Sometimes, though, things happen that are beyond your control. “I’m doing everything that I can to keep myself fit and strong.
“All I need now is a little bit of luck and maybe this change of club and change of scenery will be just what I need to kick on again, play a lot of games and not have a sniff of an injury.” Once talked of a possible England regular – he won his one and only cap when replacing John Terry during a 1-0 defeat against Sweden in March 2004 – Gardner has the ability to cut it at the highest level. Signed by Tottenham after impressing as a teenager with Port Vale, he made 141 appearances at White Hart Lane but it could be that he will be seeking pastures new this summer, particularly with Juande Ramos having signed Jonathan Woodgate from Middlesbrough in January.
Only time will tell if Everton offer him a permanent base but that won’t even begin to be discussed until Gardner has shown he is fit and ready to do himself justice once again yet it is a challenge he is excited by. He was in the crowd last Saturday when Jagielka scored the goal that beat Reading, and Wednesday night’s UEFA Cup battle against SK Brann reinforced his initial opinion that he has joined a top club.
“In football you never know what can happen,” said Gardner. “When I was at Port Vale, I never imagined that I would end up going down south so quickly but I did and now I’m here. “I’m just looking forward to things. “When I was growing up, Everton were a team winning league championships and other big trophies.
“I always thought they were a very big club that played good football with a lot of players who were very well known. “This is a club with a very rich history, so it’s nice to be here now, in and around the players and experiencing what a big club it really is.” Strong, quick and a good reader of the game – his boyhood idol was Marcel Desailly – Gardner hopes he gets the chance to show Evertonians what he can do but, most importantly, he has a determination to help David Moyes and his squad achieve something significant. “I used to watch Italian football a lot when I was younger and he was probably the player that I related to the most,” said Gardner. “He played at the back, he played in midfield and he had strong attributes. “He was good on the ball, a leader and someone you could look up to. He won the European Championships and World Cup with France, then he came over to England and was outstanding here.
“I was lucky enough to play against him once and he was all I expected him to be.
“I would have to say he was my hero. He was someone to look up to, definitely.
“It’s good for the club to have so much strength in depth. I’m hoping that I can add to that. “This is a big club, looking to push for honours again and if you want to do that, you need strength in depth. “All the big clubs have it and Everton is a big club.”

Tykes boss to use Moyes for Cup inspiration
Feb 16 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
THE man labelled the ‘new David Moyes’ will try to engineer an FA Cup upset at Anfield today . . . with a little bit of help from his mentor. Barnsley boss Simon Davey, 37, was saved from the soccer scrapheap by the Everton manager 10 years ago, and he has turned to his saviour in the build up to today’s fifth round tie.
“David’s kindly letting us prepare at Everton’s training ground so we might get a few tips,” joked Davey, who was team-mates at Preston with Moyes. A freak pre-season accident with a medicine ball ended Davey’s playing career 10 years ago – “I prolapsed a disc in my back and that was that” – but Everton's current manager was then in charge at Deepdale and proved responsible for throwing the crocked midfielder a lifeline. “I was 27, I had three very young children, all under four, a mortgage to pay, no coaching qualifications and, after spending my career in the lower divisions – at Swansea, Carlisle and Preston – very little money in the bank,” Davey said. “It was a very difficult time but David Moyes pulled me aside one day and said: ‘There's a youth coaching role for you here.’ He then set me on the road to getting my coaching badges and, although it took me eight years, I’ve got the lot now.
“When I finished playing I was wondering where the next pay cheque was coming from but David gave me that next cheque and I thank him very much for that; he’s always been there for me. “He gave me an opportunity and I learnt a lot from him. I try to take a lot of David’s standards, his intensity and his hard work into my coaching here. I try to emulate him. It’s no surprise he’s doing so well at Everton, he was always going to the top.” Ironically Davey, who persuaded Moyes to transfer Brazilian Anderson da Silva from Everton to Oakwell, has always been an ardent Liverpool supporter. He said: “When I was a lad I was a big Liverpool fan. They were my team and it would have been a dream come true to play for them. “To be a part of Liverpool was beyond anything I could imagine, so to walk out of the tunnel with my team against them in the FA Cup is going to be pretty special.”

Patience is a key virtue for Vaughan and Victor
Feb 16 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
STORIES emanating from south Wales this week suggested Cardiff City are ready to make an approach to take Victor Anichebe on loan for the rest of the season – no prizes for guessing what the response will be if they carry it through.
Though Anichebe and his best pal James Vaughan are straining for the chance to have a regular run of starts, patience is the quality they will need to exercise most for the next few months. Events in the past few days have shown that both young men will be part of Everton’s future for a long time to come and there is no reason why they cannot make a significant impact on the remainder of this campaign, either.
Anichebe once again showed his liking for European competition on Wednesday evening with the decisive goal in Everton’s 2-0 win over SK Brann, and in the return leg there is a chance he could equal a record set by Andy Gray 23 years ago.
Gray scored five times during the march to European Cup Winners’ Cup glory in 1985 and already Anichebe’s tally stands at four with probably three more games at the very least in the UEFA Cup to come. There is no way he will be allowed to move to Ninian Park. David Moyes, meanwhile, was similarly forthright in his views last month when asked if he would consider giving Vaughan a chance to get some games under his belt with a temporary move from Goodison. Again, anyone calling will be wasting their time. Were they at most other clubs it is likely Vaughan and Anichebe would be regular starters, but for the moment at Everton they are going to have to bide their time and, in a way, the softly-softly approach Moyes favours is clearly reaping benefits.

Blatter abusing his position, so no change there
Feb 16 2008 by Barry Horne, Liverpool Echo
SEPP BLATTER has entered the 39-game debate with typically Machiavellian motives. He has threatened to wreck England’s hopes of hosting the 2018 World Cup if the Premier League’s global games plan is continued – which is typical Blatter, misusing his authority. The two issues are completely unrelated. It is the English FA which applies to host a World Cup, but the Premier League which is planning the new worldwide football. I’m sure it was no coincidence that the day before Blatter’s outburst, his sidekick Jack Warner made a statement claiming England would be looked upon very favourably for 2018 – this from the same man who had also once suggested that the world hated England and they would never get another World Cup!
On this 39th match issue, Blatter looks like winning easily. Some clubs don’t want it, other countries don’t want it, FIFA don’t want it and even the guy who first came up with the idea is now saying that, on reflection, it wasn’t such a bright idea after all.
Richard Scudamore has been pilloried, and while the idea is a non-runner, I have some sympathy for him. I’ve had many dealings with him in my role as PFA chairman and he is a good man who has done a good job in his tenure at the Premier League.
What people need to understand is that the Premier League is not like the FA. It doesn’t have a body or a physical presence, it is basically whichever clubs are in the Premier League in any one given season. Scudamore is basically the administrator of that group of clubs and has a very, very difficult balancing act to perform.
He is at the beck and call of his paymasters who are constantly pushing him to find alternative ways of generating revenue. This 39th game plan would have clearly achieved those aims, but at the risk of ruining the competitive element of the league.
I’m totally against the idea of taking our clubs around the world, but I still have sympathy for the man shot down in flames for suggesting it.
Blues happy in comfort zone
A THOROUGHLY professional performance in Norway has once again given Everton the luxury of a stress-free week. In the same way that David Moyes’ team clinched qualification from the group stages ahead of schedule, granting them the reward of a pressure-free final match in Holland, so Wednesday’s win has allowed the Blues boss a period of reflection and relative calm before next Thursday’s second leg.
The two-goal buffer should allow him the luxury of not having to risk any players carrying knocks, and give players who have been chasing all over the globe recently like Tim Cahill, Yakubu and Joseph Yobo, a well earned break. After the second leg, when you hope Everton will confirm their place in the last 16 of the UEFA Cup, they will embark upon the final third of the season. Wednesday’s result was built on the back of terrific performances from Leon Osman and Phil Jagielka, and that in itself was a positive. After so long when Joleon Lescott and Mikel Arteta were Everton’s regular inspiration, the Blues are now no longer reliant on a core of two or three players. Yakubu came back in and was excellent, Victor Anichebe gave his usual supersub’s cameo and Jagielka was a constant barrier.
The fans, too, must be applauded for their tremendous support in Norway.

Death of Everton stalwart Brian Harris
Feb 18 2008
By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON stalwart Brian Harris passed away peacefully yesterday at his home in Chepstow, aged 72. Harris made 358 appearances for the Blues, the only player to successfully span the Cliff Britton and Harry Catterick eras at Goodison Park. In fact Harris played under four Goodison managers, signed by Britton from Port Sunlight for a fee of £10 in January 1954 and featuring under Ian Buchan, Johnny Carey and finally Catterick. It was under Catterick’s guidance that he enjoyed his most successful spell, winning a League Championship medal in 1963 and being a part of the team which famously retrieved a two-goal deficit at Wembley in 1966 to win the FA Cup. A notorious practical joker, it was at Wembley that Harris donned a policeman’s helmet – much to the delight of the watching Evertonians – after Eddie Cavanagh’s dash across the turf had seen a trailing bobby lose his headwear. Harris played in Everton’s first ever European clash in Dunfermline back in October 1962. Signed as a right-winger, he also played in every outfield position for the club and was a loyal servant. He lost his place to Tony Kay midway through the title-winning season of 1962, but refused to storm out with a display of petulant anger and when Kay’s career ended in bizarre circumstances 18 months later regained his first team place. After his Goodison career ended following that Cup Final triumph, he moved on to Cardiff and then Newport, making a further 250 appearances and continuing his playing career until the age of 39. He flirted briefly with management, but remained a committed Blue and could often be found at Goodison Park on matchdays. In 2003 he produced his autobiography with friend Chris Westcott. At the specific request of his family, Brian’s funeral service will take place at St Luke’s Church adjacent to Goodison Park on a date yet to be decided.

Leon Osman still wary of Brann threat
Feb 18 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
BRANN BERGEN haven't given up hope of springing a UEFA Cup upset at Goodison Park on Thursday - with reports of 1,500 fans travelling from Norway for the second leg of the round of 32 knockout stage. Everton triumphed 2-0 in Bergen last week, but the Brann fans still believe their side can pull off a shock.
Leon Osman, who opened the scoring in Norway, echoed those sentiments.
“It’s far from over and they will give it all they have got in the second leg,” he said.
The Blues are hoping for another healthy gate on Thursday, after averaging 36,000 for their three home UEFA Cup ties so far. Everton hope to clinch a place in the last 16 of the tournament, just four days before they go to Manchester City for a potentially decisive clash in the race for fourth place in the Premier League. Former Blues defender Richard Dunne has turned up the heat on his former club by telling them: “We want that fourth spot!” City could draw level on points with Everton by winning at the City of Manchester Stadium. And with matches against struggling Wigan and Reading to come after that, Dunne is confident. He said: “We go now into the game against Everton just three points behind them, knowing quite well that we can beat them. “If we do that, we’re right back in with a chance of a Champions League spot.”
After winning at Old Trafford in their last outing, Dunne went on: “We were all patting each other on the back after the derby win and saying ‘Well done.’ But the manager’s words to us afterwards were: ‘That’s what you can do. That's the benchmark.’ Now we have to make sure we carry this on for the next 12 games.
“We hope this win will give us the boost we needed. I think over the last month or so, we dipped in our performances and our results. “We’d just gone flat a little bit. That one result, and even just the signing of Benjani, gave us the boost that everyone needed.”

David Moyes - Man of the People
Feb 18 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
NOT everyone on Merseyside agreed with David Moyes’ description of Everton as ‘The People’s Club’ of Merseyside. But six years on, the Blues boss still only has one regret about the oft-repeated catchphrase. “My one regret is that I didn’t patent it first!” he laughed. Moyes has explained the origins of the statement in an impressive new TrinityMirror publication, The People’s Club. The Blues boss penned the foreword to the 223-page volume, and wrote: “I must hear that phrase 20 times every day, and it still rings true now as much as it did when I first uttered it in March 2002.
“But I honestly had no idea quite how much people would relate to it.
“It has been suggested to me since that I was put up to using the words ‘People’s Club’ at my introductory press conference – that some kind of Everton spin doctor suggested it might be a good idea to get the fans onside right from the off.
“Nothing could be further from the truth. I never had a conversation with anybody beforehand. “What prompted it were my experiences after I knew I had got the job and was preparing to travel to Goodison Park for the press conference.
“While I was leaving Preston I kept bumping into people who told me they were Evertonians and wishing me good luck. “Everybody I spoke to seemed to be a Blue – and this was in Preston! “Then when I drove into Merseyside everywhere I looked people seemed to be wearing Everton shirts. “It just seemed a natural thing to say... that Everton seemed to be the People’s Club of Merseyside. “It wasn’t a rehearsed comment. It was just something which came to mind at the time and I didn’t attach any significance to it even after I’d said it. “It was only the next day when I saw all the newspaper headlines that I realised it had struck a chord. “I only wish now that I had patented the phrase before I used it – because it has certainly stuck.”
Moyes is aware of the impact of the comment across the park, because his postbag immediately began to bulge. “It struck a chord with Evertonians, and I have to say it caused a bit of a stir across the park too,” he added. “I’d only been in the Everton job four weeks when a Liverpool fan sent me a photograph which I found really funny.
“A message came with it saying: ‘Call yourselves the People’s Club? You’re just the Village People’s Club!’ and there was a picture of the pop group with the faces of me, Duncan Ferguson, David Unsworth and Kevin Campbell all superimposed over the band. “I thought it was really funny, but it didn’t change my mind. . . that Everton is the People’s Club of Merseyside.” Everton chairman Bill Kenwright, never short of a colourful catchphrase or two himself, was instantly aware of the impact Moyes’ words would have. “I’d always thought that Thursday, March 14, 2002, might be an important day in Everton’s history,” he explained. “I’d been talking to a nearby club for 24 hours about the acquisition of their manager. “I felt he had the qualities to take Everton back to where we belonged. “It was around 6.30pm on that evening that I rang David from a hotel room in Haydock and said: ‘The good news is that you are the new manager of Everton. The bad news is that you’ve got a press reception in an hour’s time at Goodison Park!’ “David jumped in his car and he and I had time only to give each other a resolute handshake before he walked into a large room, sat down at a long table, and met the nation’s press! “It was within minutes of that entrance that I can remember thinking to myself: ‘This man is good… he knows exactly how to conduct himself and handle the media.’ “And seconds later I realised how good he was! He came out with five words that were destined to go into the folklore of our beloved football club. ‘Everton are the People’s Club.’ “It was brilliant. A resonant, colourful and enduring catchphrase. And one that every Evertonian could relate to! “I’ve always referred to Everton as one big, extended family – my family. And the words ‘The People’s Club’ seems to embrace that whole idea. “Every Evertonian will understand me when I say, you very seldom meet an Everton fan, you meet an Everton fanatic. We love our club with a passion that endures all the trials and tribulations that football, and indeed life, throws at us. “For that passion I have such a lot of people to be thankful to – from my all time idol, Dave Hickson, through Roy Vernon, Bobby Collins, Alex Young, Bally, Howard, Colin, Joe, Sharpy. The list could, and would, go on and on. “And of course I now add to that list David Moyes.”
Moyes’ story is just one of the tales contained in this impressive and colourful new volume. The Goodison Giants, the match reports, the songs, the captains, the cult heroes and the managers are all contained in a football annual-sized new publication which retails at just £20. And, of course, there’s David Moyes’ own description of the origin of The People’s Club catchphrase. . .

David Moyes earns Barnsley tribute
Feb 18 2008
BARNSLEY boss Simon Davey rubbed salt in Liverpool's FA Cup wounds by hailing David Moyes' part in their downfall and his path to football management.
Welshman Davey, 37, achieved "the best moment of my career" by masterminding Barnsley’s epic fifth round triumph at Anfield, a 2-1 win that puts the Tykes into the quarter-finals thanks to an injury-time winner from skipper Brian Howard.
But it was the manager of Liverpool’s cross-city rivals Everton who won instant praise from Davey as Barnsley’s achievements stunned Rafa Benitez’s shell- shocked men. Moyes is believed to have given Davey help with his preparation for the trip to Anfield and Swansea-born Davey said: "I owe David Moyes a lot. "When I joined Preston from Carlisle, David was still a player. But he became assistant manager and then the boss. "My career was ended when I was 27 after a back injury. David gave me the job running the youth team, and I will always be grateful. "When your career ends like that you worry about where the next pay cheque is coming from, and I will always be thankful for what David Moyes did for me. "I went on to take my coaching badges and now here I am with a side one step away from the FA Cup semi-finals, which will be played at Wembley this season."

Football memories are made of this
Feb 18 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
YES, the Big Match always did favour London clubs, and commentator Brian Moore really did say: “Don’t worry, we will be showing that very special match between Manchester United and West Bromwich Albion (a classic 5-3 win for Albion).
But first, Arsenal v Birmingham City (a mediocre 1-0 Gunners win).”
But despite that, it was great. And it’s back on ITV4. This coming Thursday ‘The Big Match Revisited’ features Everton’s FA Cup fifth round win over Spurs in 1983, while the following week (February 28) sees a 1-1 draw for Liverpool at Old Trafford.
Sit back and enjoy.
Where’s the punishment?
KEITH HACKETT is clearly a dangerous man to get on the wrong side of.
Alan Wiley’s "punishment" for his substandard performance in the Blackburn v Everton match two weeks ago was to be "demoted" to fourth official duty at Stanford Bridge last Sunday. This weekend he was back in the middle at Manchester United v Arsenal. A short sharp shock? Very short, but the only shock was experienced at Goodison Park.

Bill Kenwright in transfer vow of 'millions'
Feb 18 2008
By Ian Doyle, Liverpool Daily Post
BILL KENWRIGHT has promised David Moyes further “millions” to spend should Everton qualify for next season’s Champions League. The Goodison outfit lead the race to finish in fourth place and earn a crack at securing a berth among Europe’s elite clubs, standing three points ahead of neighbours Liverpool, Aston Villa and Manchester City. Kenwright and the Everton board has offered Moyes significant financial backing in recent seasons, with the £11.25m arrival of Yakubu in August the third time the club transfer record has been broken in as many years. Moyes has already suggested the only way Everton can consistently compete at the top level is by spending big money. And Everton chairman Kenwright has revealed the manager will be given the means to continue building his squad this summer. “Of course, that is where we all want to be, playing the big clubs,” said Kenwright of the Champions League. “If David gets us into the Champions League I will be crying tears of joy . . . “And at the back of my head I’ll be thinking money, money – millions. Why? To give it to David to spend. “We haven’t got the same resources. Spurs spent £16m in just one day last month. “What we’ve always done, and David would be the first to say this, is try to give him what he wants each close season – by pulling at least one rabbit out of the hat.” Meanwhile, one of Everton’s 1966 FA Cup-winning heroes, Brian Harris, has passed away aged 72. Harris, who made 358 appearances for Everton and scored 29 goals, died peacefully in Chepstow yesterday after a short illness. Bebington-born Harris was a winger when he joined Everton from Port Sunlight in January 1954 for a £10 signing-on fee, but such was his skill and versatility that he would go on to play in every position except goalkeeper for the Everton first team. Perhaps best remembered as a defensive wing-half, he played 24 times in the 1962-63 championship-winning team and was a member of the team that beat Sheffield Wednesday at Wembley three years later. Five years afterwards, Brian left Goodison to join Cardiff City and went on to play for, and then manage, Newport County. In total he made 544 league appearances during his career. At the specific request of his family, Brian’s funeral service will take place at the St Luke’s church adjacent to Goodison Park on a date yet to be decided.

Legendary chants which made Blues the People’s Club
Feb 19 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
“TELL me Ma, me Ma, to put the champagne on ice. We’re going to City twice! Tell me Ma, me Ma!” It’s a variation on a 20-year-old Everton chant – and it’s still going strong today. And it features in Trinity Mirror’s sparkling new publication, The People’s Club. Football songs are an enduring part of football folklore – and ‘The People’s Club’ pays proper homage to the chants which have driven Everton on since the days when footballers wore walrus moustaches – and Queen Victoria sat on the throne. The earliest reference ever found to any song sung by an Everton crowd came at the 1893 FA Cup Final against Wolves, and while the song may not have become a classic, it may even point towards the origins of mass singing at matches.
“As I walk along the Bois Bulong, with an independent air,” Evertonians inside Fallowfield, Manchester bellowed, “You can hear the girls declare, he must be a millionaire. You can hear them sigh and wish to die, you can see them wink the other eye, at the man who broke the bank at Monte Carlo.” Not exactly snappy, but certainly more conventional than the ditty which would usually precede a mass surge of supporters down the Gwladys Street End in the mid 1970s. “I’m a bow legged chicken and knock kneed hen, I haven’t had a fight since I don’t know when, I walk with a wiggle and a waddle and a squawk, doing the Everton boot walk.” The 25-page chapter on songs and terrace chants forms just part of the colourful and impressive new volume which explores every facet of the self-styled people’s club.
There are sections on the club’s Millenium Giants, managers, captains, great games throughout the club’s history – and a chapter devoted to the cult heroes of the People’s Club. Many of those idols, of course, were centre-forwards. “There’s a line in the science fiction film Blade Runner which sums up Andy Gray’s Everton career perfectly,” writes The People’s Club. “Speaking to the renegade replicant Roy, engineering genius Tyrrel declares: ‘The light that burns twice as bright burns half as long. And you have burned so very, very brightly.’ “Andy Gray breezed into Goodison in November 1983. Barely 19 months later his Everton career was over. “But Gray crammed more into that season and a half than many players manage in an entire career – and as a result he was adored by Evertonians. “His performances were inspirational. “Flying headers against Sunderland defied belief, a hat-trick in a European Cup Winner’s Cup quarter-final against Fortuna Sittard was classical – right foot, brave header, left foot volley; a sizzling volley at White Hart Lane gave Everton a vital edge in the title race, then at Leicester he buried a close range header and was so desperate to race away and celebrate with his team-mates he ran straight into a goalpost! Undaunted he bounced straight back up and his face beaming with joy became an iconic image for Match of the Day. “That was just the start . . .”
Duncan McKenzie was another cult hero who “flitted across the Goodison firmament fleetingly. But Evertonians all agreed that for the 61 games and 21 months he spent at Goodison ‘Duncan McKenzie was Magic!’ (another memorable chant!)
“A born entertainer with a Pandora’s Box of tricks, feints and dummies at his disposal, someone mentioned to McKenzie before his home debut against Birmingham City in December 1976: ‘Do a few tricks and the fans will love you.’
“He did – and they did. “The fact that he scored twice, too, also helped. But the McKenzie legend was firmly entrenched in Evertonian affections in an FA Cup tie against Stoke City three weeks later. “Supermac, scored in a 2-0 win – but it was a dribble from the corner of the Goodison Road side of the pitch, decorated with at least three dummied backheels, which the Stoke markers fell for every time, which had the crowd in appreciative uproar. “The long, sinuous and mazy dribble was finally curtailed when he was fouled – on the Bullens Road side of the ground.”
* Evertonians will adore The People’s Club, which retails at £20.

Everton youngster John Paul Kissock making big impression with Gretna
Feb 19, 2008
By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON youngster John Paul Kissock is earning rave reviews north of the border on loan at Scottish Premier League side Gretna. The 19-year-old midfielder moved to the Scottish strugglers in January and has faced Hearts, Hibernian and Motherwell since then. Gretna lost all three, but boss David Irons believes Kissock can play a key role in his side’s battle to avoid relegation. “I am really excited about Kissock and I feel he could be the player who sparks us,” he declared. “I phoned David Moyes, whom I played with at Dunfermline Athletic, to ask if he could loan me any players, and he suggested John Paul. “Initially, the boy had cold feet. I really had to work hard to convince him. He has been at Everton since he was 10 and is a real Scouser. “He did not even know where Gretna is. I have had to take him under my wing a bit and make sure he is well looked after off the pitch because he is so young.” He added: “We have made him a star in our set up, and he’s loving the attention, not to mention the crowds that were at Tynecastle and Easter Road. “It’s a lot compared to the 100 or so that watched Everton’s youth team. I don’t know if he is physically up to playing in the Premier League, but he can discover himself here and learn a lot.” Kissock was called up to Everton’s first team squad for the UEFA Cup trip to Alkmaar in December but didn’t make the final call for the substitutes’ bench. David Moyes may include a couple of youngsters on the bench for Thursday’s visit of SK Brann to Goodison, but will not be rotating his starting line-up despite Brann boss Mons Ivar Mjelde’s assertion his side need “a miracle” to progress. “We need a miracle of a lifetime,” he said. “To believe in qualifying is pointless. “We’ll start at 0-0 and try to get the best possible result. “If we start with the hope that we can make it, it might end very badly. “You don't learn a lot by losing 5-0 at Goodison Park. The goal is to play well there.” Despite losing the first leg 2-0, Mjelde does not believe his troops were overrun by Moyes’ triumphant side. “We were not outplayed at all. During some periods, we put them under pressure at times and the goals come after marginal events,” he continued. “Against Hamburg (lost 1-0), we were outplayed at times and felt that we were chanceless. “Against Everton we coped until a little while into the second half. Result-wise we deserved better.”

Hollywood calls for story of a Blues legend
Feb 19 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
DIXIE DEAN boasted dashing film star looks and was a silver screen idol of his day, courtesy of Pathe news reel clips. So it’s only fitting that Hollywood should try to showcase arguably the greatest English goalscorer of all-time. A Hollywood producer is keen to bring Dean’s life story to the big screen and has been working closely with the family of the Goodison great in a bid to make the plan a reality. Sara Jandrain, producer of a number of successful TV series in the USA, is the driving force behind the project and has already spoken to Oscar-winning Chariots Of Fire director Colin Welland about directing the movie. “Sara is really enthusiastic about the project and has been in regular contact with Dixie’s daughter Barbara and grand-daughter Melanie,” said the ECHO’s chief sports writer David Prentice, who is married to Melanie. “She has some great ideas and has been working hard to try and secure funding for the venture. “It would be incredibly fitting if, in the Capital of Culture year which is also the 80th anniversary of Dean’s remarkable 60-goal season, a company or a wealthy Evertonian could get behind the project. “After all, Sylvester Stallone is a True Blue now, isn’t he, so who knows?”

Nigel Martyn: Why Tim Howard must play against Brann
Feb 19 2008 by Nigel Martyn, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES stressed after last week’s win in Bergen that the job was only half done. So I would fully expect to see the Norwegians not handed any kind of lift on Thursday by a below strength team-sheet being handed in to the referee.
Everton can’t afford to take any chances, so that would mean, of course, Tim Howard standing between the posts at kick-off time. The team across the park discovered the perils of fielding an under-strength team against a side which might cause you problems, while we also suffered in the FA Cup against Oldham in an earlier round.
You just wondered after that Oldham match whether Tim Howard would have let that goal in, and chances are he wouldn’t have. I think the manager will probably speak to Tim, and if he says he wants to play he should do. I know I was always desperate to play every single week, even when I was 39 and in my final season. I remember we were drawn away at Plymouth in the FA Cup a few years ago and I was delighted. I’m a Cornish lad, I used to support Plymouth and I’d never played at Home Park, so when the gaffer immediately told me “Wrighty will be playing in that match!” I was devastated. In the end I pulled a calf muscle at Charlton and couldn’t have played anyway, but I was still upset at being denied the chance to play there. I was fortunate enough never to be in the kind of situation where I came in cold as a second choice keeper. It was only with England that I found myself not first choice, and when I came in for the Greece game where David Beckham scored his famous free-kick I thought I played well. I can understand managers wanting to give keepers a breather.
There’s always the fear that a goalkeeper may pick up an injury in a match; but he could just as easily take part in a more vigorous training session than usual because he’s not involved and break a finger! Some clubs can get away with using two goalkeepers; Arsenal for example, have two good class keepers in Jens Lehmann and Manuel Almunia to choose from. But not many are in that position. From what I have seen, Liverpool can’t afford to do that. It’s very difficult for any club to find a reliable number two who is happy to sit on the bench week in week out without being called upon. And it’s a difficult balancing act to decide when is the best moment to give young keepers some first team experience. Choose the wrong moment and a youngster’s confidence could be irreparably shattered. It’s a difficult decision, but underlines my original argument – that the first choice goalkeeper should be selected whenever possible. And that means Thursday night against Brann Bergen.
The Norwegians will be that much sharper for having played the first leg and Everton can’t afford to take any chances.
Chance to strike a blow in race for fourth
EVERTON’S next Premier League challenge is a massive match.
The Blues go to Eastlands to face Champions League rivals Manchester City next Monday, with the knowledge that a win there would effectively bury City’s fourth place ambitions. That has to be Everton’s aim. Not losing, of course, will be the priority, but if Everton can go there and win, without being too gung-ho, it could be a decisive result in the race for fourth. City remind me very much of how Everton were three seasons ago – I just hope they don’t go on to achieve what we did by finishing fourth! Like City, we were defensively solid, but weren’t especially brilliant going forward. But we kept on nicking matches 1-0 and that carried us through to a fourth place finish. We are a different proposition entirely now. Happily we are still as solid and as resilient defensively, but we now carry much more of a varied attacking threat and aren’t as reliant on one or two individuals for our goals. Hopefully that will be a quality which can carry us through to a place in the Champions League next season.

Dixie Dean set for yet another hat-trick
Feb 19 2008 Paddy Shennan Liverpool Echo
Chief feature writer Paddy Shennan reports on plans to celebrate the life of your greatest ever Merseysider, Dixie Dean – three times over!
HE is the greatest goalscorer in British football history, the greatest Everton player of all-time – and ECHO readers recently voted him their greatest ever Merseysider.
And yet the incredible and inspiring story of William Ralph “Dixie” Dean has been too long a stranger to stage and screen. But as we approach the 80th anniversary, on May 5, of his never-to-be-beaten 60 league goals in one season feat, all that looks about to change. A triple whammy of a feast – made up of a play, a drama-documentary, and a film – is hopefully set to replace the famine. That’s what you call a hat-trick! The ECHO has already reported on The Dixie Dean Story, directed by Gillian Beattie of the Aintree-based Arts2u theatre company and written by author, broadcaster and Dixie Dean biographer John Keith, which will have an initial three-show run in the city in early May (more details from www.dixiedean.org.uk).
Also, as ECHO chief sports writer David Prentice reports elsewhere on this page, members of the great man’s family – to which he belongs – have their own plans to honour his memory. And today, Toxteth-based production company Tabacula officially unveil details of their planned 90 minute drama-documentary, Dixie Dean: The People’s Legend. It will combine interviews with dramatic reconstructions of key moments in the life of the footballing icon, and be narrated by Liverpool-born Harry Potter actor and Everton fan Ian Hart. Director Ian Lysaght says: “We can’t believe this hasn’t been done yet – if Dixie had been a Manchester United player this would probably be the ninth film about him. It’s the untold story of a sporting icon – Great Britain’s answer to ‘Babe’ Ruth, the greatest baseball player in American history.”
He adds: “We’re about to start pre-production, including the shooting of a five-minute trailer, and hope to start filming in earnest in the summer. It will be an 18-month turnaround, although a lottery win would speed things up!” Tabacula is offering private investors, including rank and file Everton fans, the chance to have a minimum £500 stake in the £200,000 project, and producer Jah Jussa stresses: “The film will definitely happen – there has already been a lot of interest, and not just from Evertonians. “If we don’t achieve the full budget, we just won’t be able to do the dramatic reconstructions or have a cinema release – and we’ll have to interview Alan Hansen rather than Pele!” Ian adds: “Anyone who puts in over £10,000 will be named as an ‘executive producer’ and be able to gain an experience of film-making.”
The drama-documentary, which will use archive footage, classic photographs and taped interviews with Dixie himself, will also explore the social aspects of football in between-wars Britain when players were paid £8 a week. Ian says: “Dixie was very much a man of his community. He was just as revered as any star of today, but didn’t have the Porsches, the security entourage or any of the other modern-day trappings.”
As well as potential investors, Ian and Jah are looking forward to hearing from anyone who had the pleasure of seeing William Ralph Dean play: “They will be in their 80s or 90s now and it would be great to be able to include their memories,” says Ian.
For more information, contact Tabacula on 0151-709 8521, email mail@tabacula.com or go to www.dixiepeopleslegend.com. William Ralph Dean was born in Birkenhead on January 22, 1907 and played for Tranmere Rovers, before moving to Everton for a fee of £3,000 in 1925. He scored 32 goals in his first full season and went on to score 383 times for Everton in 433 appearances – never being booked or sent off.
Dixie died from heart failure on March 1, 1980 at his beloved Goodison Park while watching a derby. Bill Shankly said he “belongs in the company of the supremely great ... like Beethoven, Shakespeare, and Rembrandt”.
Dixie facts
William Ralph Dean was born in Birkenhead on January 22, 1907 and played for Tranmere Rovers, before moving to Everton for a fee of £3,000 in 1925.
He scored 32 goals in his first full season and went on to score 383 times for Everton in 433 appearances – never being booked or sent off. Dixie died from heart failure on March 1, 1980 at his beloved Goodison Park while watching a derby. Bill Shankly said he “belongs in the company of the supremely great ... like Beethoven, Shakespeare, and Rembrandt”.

Everton under-18s eager for Bolton clash
Feb 19 2008
Academy Football
By Chris Wright, Liverpool Daily Post
EVERTON under-18s were left with no fixture on Saturday as their FA Premier Academy League clash with North West section leaders Manchester City was called off. The match at Hyde United’s Ewen Fields ground was called off on Saturday due to a frozen pitch. Everton travelled to Manchester, but although 80% of the pitch was playable, the referee deemed part of it to be too dangerous. Both sides then went to City’s training ground at Platt Lane in an attempt to play, but the pitch there was in similar condition. Everton remain second in the North West section table eight points behind City. Neil Dewsnip’s side were due to be inactive again this Saturday, but they have re-arranged their Academy League fixture at Bolton Wanderers (kick-off 11am), which had been called off on January 19. Striker Jose Baxter and goalkeeper Adam Davies are both in Kenny Swain’s England U16s squad for tomorrow night’s international friendly against Holland in the VV Quick Boys Stadium (kick-off 7.30pm).

Phil Neville, Blues' unsung hero
Feb 20 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON'S 7-1 slaughter of Sunderland has been the high spot of their season so far. But who was the architect of that stunning success? Two-goal Yakubu? Midfield creator Mikel Arteta? Maybe the artistry of Leon Osman? Not according to the statisticians who monitor these things. The men in the anoraks who count passes, tackles and key contributions highlighted a very unsung hero of that eventful afternoon, and it was far from an isolated incident. Phil Neville completed 25 accurate passes against Sunderland, more than any other man in blue. And it wasn’t just a good day for the Blues’ captain. It was the same at Middlesbrough on New Year’s Day, as it was at Ewood Park a month later and as it has been in almost every Everton match this season. So while Neville was variously described as being “incapable of passing water” in Bergen last Wednesday, manager David Moyes has described his skipper as an unsung architect of Everton’s successful season so far. “Yes, Phil took a little bit of stick for his distribution in Norway,” said Moyes, “but while I don’t want to make excuses, if you could have seen what the pitch was like out there that might help explain things. “What I would say is that Phil has been terrific ever since he has been here. He gives us an added dimension at full-back because he is willing to get forward and join in. He is always available. He never hides and if you look at the goals that have been scored from his area of the pitch, it’s probably higher than any other player at the club. “But more than that he is great around the club. He is a leader and a great organiser. He does a lot of little things that people probably don’t notice. People look at players like Mikel Arteta, but Phil is just as influential in his own way.”
As well as his surprisingly successful pass ratio, Neville has also proved more consistent in other areas of the field. The only Premier League match he has missed was the win at Derby, through suspension, while the decision to rest him for the FA Cup third round tie against Oldham may go some way to explaining the League One side’s shock 1-0 win. Moyes hasn’t decided on his starting line-up to face SK Brann tomorrow, but he insists that rotation will not be in his thoughts. “I will not be looking to rotate,” he said. “I’ve seen the quotes from the Brann manager writing off his chances, and I’m not buying that for a minute. “I may need to make one or two changes just to keep some players sharp, but I certainly don’t intend to rest anybody.”
Moyes may have almost a clean bill of health to choose from as he seeks to defend and perhaps build on the 2-0 lead from the first leg in Norway. Arteta was due to start training yesterday after missing the first leg with a groin strain, while on-loan Anthony Gardner is the only other injury worry ahead of the UEFA Cup tie.
“It’s good to have so many players available,” added Moyes, “but that makes it harder to try and keep everyone happy. “It’s a problem we’re pleased to have though.”
Just like Phil Neville . . .

David Moyes delighted with Andrew Johnson's work rate
Feb 20 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES insists he is delighted by Andrew Johnson's output this season, despite the Blues striker struggling to make the kind of impact he enjoyed in his debut season at Goodison. Injuries, a slow start to the season and a baffling offside interpretation mean that Johnson scored only his sixth goal of the campaign at Wigan last month – the same number he had scored by the end of September last season.
But the Blues boss has no worries about Johnson being overshadowed by record signing Yakubu or young guns James Vaughan and Victor Anichebe. “Andrew has been playing well recently, all he has been missing is to get his goals ticking over again, but that will come no doubt,” said Moyes. “He is working really hard for the team, working the opposition hard, and I have been fairly pleased with Andy Johnson’s form. “He will be keen to get himself a couple of goals and when he does that will help him. But he made the first goal in Norway with his cross and that is part of his job. That’s a big part of the reason we bought him.” Moyes was also delighted with the way Tim Cahill came to terms with his role as a more conventional midfielder in a 4-4-2 set-up. “I thought in the first half he was a little cautious, but a big part of his game is his aggressiveness and drive,” added Moyes. “He didn’t do that enough in the first half but in the second period he certainly did. “He was more aggressive in his all-round play, as he showed with the challenge which led to the first goal and the effort which hit the post.”

Blues give out Uefa tickets
Feb 20 2008 by Tina Miles, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON Football Club has given 100 match tickets to players from Kirkby Youth and Junior Football League. The tickets, for tomorrow’s Uefa Cup game against Norwegian side SK Brann, were handed to members recognised in the Character Matters programme. The league’s referee liaison officer, Ian Dibbert, said: “The programme recognises aspects of behaviour that are usually ignored in competitive sport. “Of course we want players to enjoy the thrill of scoring and competing but of equal importance are sportsmanship and honesty.” Everton’s head of public relations and external affairs Ian Ross said: “As a club we are really excited about committing ourselves to Kirkby – not only to making it our home, but also to playing a big, positive part in the community.” Kirkby Youth and Junior Football League operates six leagues.

Everton told to put Bellefield money towards new stadium
Feb 20 2008
By Nick Ciligan, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON FC were today told they must put the proceeds of the sale of their old training ground towards a new stadium. The Blues and developer David Wilson Homes put together plans for 74 luxury homes on their former Bellefield base in West Derby. Last year, the club moved to its new training ground at Finch Farm in Halewood, freeing up the 8.9-acre Bellefield site for housing. Liverpool council planners today recommended it for approval, with councillors having the final say at a meeting next Tuesday. But the recommendation for approval was given with a stipulation that the proceeds be put towards a new stadium, possibly in Kirkby. A council report says: “The assistant executive director accepts the sale of the Bellefield site is essential in providing capital for the club to provide a new or improved stadium. “He also accepts that an improved stadium or new stadium, either at Knowsley or any other location in the region, is capable of providing significant regeneration benefits. “However, in order to ensure such funds are only used in connection with a new stadium, he considers any permission should be subject to a legal agreement, such that the capital receipt from the sale of the site is only used for such purposes. “The applicants have confirmed this would be acceptable.” About 220 residents have objected to the plans, in which Bellefield’s buildings would be demolished. They are mainly concerned about increased traffic, extra pressure on local schools, doctors and dentists, and loss of open space. But council planners said the Bellefield development, off Sandforth Road, should be approved. They said it would consist of four to six-bedroom executive homes and would not interfere with housing regeneration plans in deprived parts of the city. Sport England has not objected to the training ground’s loss as it encourages the creation of modern academies like Finch Farm. The council report says: “The development would not have any significant impact on traffic or highway safety, would be of a satisfactory design and layout, and would not impact significantly on the amenity of surrounding residents.”

Lee Carsley set to be handed new contract
Feb 20 2008
BY Ian Doyle, Liverpool Echo
LEE CARSLEY is poised to be rewarded for another impressive season at Everton with the offer of a new contract. The midfielder, who is 34 next week, has remained an influential presence in David Moyes’s side as they chase UEFA Cup glory and qualification to the Champions League. And now the Goodison manager is prepared to break with club policy to tempt Carsley into extending his six-year association with the club. Under Moyes, Everton only begin discussions with out-of-contract players over the age of 30 until after the final game of the season. But negotiations will begin soon with Carsley, whose present deal expires in the summer. Only Joleon Lescott has appeared more times this campaign than Carsley who, along with Tony Hibbert, is the only player still at the club from when Moyes arrived in March 2002. Carsley came close to joining Wigan Athletic last summer before agreeing a new one-year contract. Meanwhile, the funeral of Brian Harris will take place next Wednesday. St Luke’s Church, adjacent to Goodison Park, will host the service, which will commence at 2.15pm, with many of his former colleagues from the Everton teams of the 1960s expected to be in attendance. A private cremation, for family members only, will take place after the funeral. · A FROZEN pitch at the Stobart Stadium in Widnes led to Everton’s reserve game against Bolton Wanderers being postponed.

Everton adventure is having special effect on Tim Cahill
Feb 21 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
THE team that set pulses racing across Europe in the late 1980s and beyond had an equally profound effect on a young boy growing up in Australia at that time, too.
When AC Milan were collecting European Cups and Italian Leagues with breathtaking ease thanks to the exploits of Ruud Gullit, Marco van Basten and Frank Rikjaard, Tim Cahill would invariably find himself glued to a television set in the middle of the night. Marvelling at the way those legends made the beautiful game look so easy, Cahill dared to dream that one day he would be able to play in the kind of high profile games which were commonplace for the Rossoneri. Thanks to his persistence and hard work that is now the case. “My favourite team when I was growing up was AC Milan,” said Cahill. “They still are. Back then, they had Gullit, van Basten, Rijkaard, Savicevic, loads of goalscorers. “The Italian league then was just as big as the Premier League. We had the German league, too, the Dutch league, we had everything on this sports channel back home. “Every game, the UEFA Cup, the FA Cup, the League Cup, something was always televised in the early hours of the morning, and my old man would always get me up to watch it. The teams weren’t as big in the UEFA Cup as the Champions League, but we’d watch it. “We’d watch a second division game. If there was a game on the Sunday, my dad would take me to watch it. It helped that my dad was English. He was brought up in Dagenham and was a really big football fan, so it was really driven into me. “At such a young age, I had a dream of playing in England, but I never thought it would happen because it’s not realistic as a young Australian getting started. It’s expensive getting scouted, getting the flights over and trying to pursue it. It was difficult but I’m so glad that I have done it.” If all goes to plan between now and the end of the current campaign, maybe Cahill will get the chance to tackle Milan next year with Everton in the Champions League but, for the time being, the UEFA Cup will do nicely. He, like the rest of his team-mates, has relished every minute of the Blues’ adventure in Europe so far and it is likely to continue beyond tonight’s round of 32 second leg clash with SK Brann, thanks to the two-goal buffer Everton secured in Norway last Wednesday.
Provided they hang on to that advantage tonight, a last 16 tie against either Fiorentina or Rosenborg awaits Everton. That will mean more air miles for the well-travelled Cahill, who is eager to make up for lost time after 12 months wrecked by fitness problems “I appreciate being in Europe more because of the injuries,” said a man who averages a goal every three-and-a-half games bombing forward from midfield.
“The first game I came back in after the injury was against Larissa and I scored in that game. “I have always said how special it is for Everton as a club to play in Europe and how important it is for me as a player to play at the next level to make myself better and learn different styles of football. “Travelling to Nurnberg, Holland and Norway, it’s fun. Travelling all the way back to Australia is fun and part of my learning curve as a footballer. Players enjoy playing in different stadiums in front of different crowds. It’s difficult, but it is exciting, too.” Having hit a flat spot just after Christmas, Cahill showed in the first meeting with Brann that he is starting to flicker back into life and he has now set his sights on playing as many games as possible between now and May as Everton chase success on two fronts. “There has been a lot of football and I have scored goals, been involved in every game and if I am not scoring then I am there or thereabouts,” Cahill said. “It is all about consistency and trying to keep yourself at the highest possible level regardless of whether you travel halfway around the world or not. You want to play in every game because I love playing football.”

The jury: David Moyes says Everton can win this season's UEFA Cup. Do you agree?
Feb 21 2008
Liverpool Echo
DEBBIE SMAJE, Upholland WITH a comfortable lead and two away goals, I’m hoping we should be in line for a safe passage past Brann into the next round of the UEFA Cup. Pienaar could be fit and hopefully he will play as we’ve really missed him. It will do him good to get a game before the vital match at Man City on Monday. Brann really only threatened from set-pieces in the first leg, so as long as we defend those properly and don’t concede early I can’t see us slipping up. As for winning the cup, I’m not that sure. If we do get past Brann we already have a tough next round ahead, whether we face Rosenborg or, more likely, Fiorentina. We’ve had a great run in Europe so far, but I think the experience of a few other teams could be too much for us. Villareal, Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid and Panathinaikos are all very good experienced European teams, who ultimately look stronger and more likely to win the cup than we do.
COLE FRASER, Litherland THE manager thinks we have what it takes to win the UEFA Cup . . . and I agree. Our performances in the competition so far have made us a force to be reckoned with in these latter stages. The only top class team still in contention for the trophy is Bayern Munich, but they haven’t lived up to their usual high standards in Europe this season. Our newly found solidness and consistency could be the key to our first piece of silverware since ‘95. Tonight should be pretty straightforward, whether we look to score goals or defend the lead. During the first half last week we looked wary of something Brann didn’t actually possess. Tonight Brann will be wary of us. With competition for places between the strikers hotting up, I suspect Moyes might decide to shuffle his pack around, with one eye on Monday’s trip to Manchester City. After I wrongly predicted a hatful of goals against Reading, tonight I predict a sackful!
MICHAEL DRUMMOND,Speke DAVID MOYES, along with many other Evertonians, have the belief that we cannot only finish fourth but also lift the UEFA Cup this season. However, like last time we finished fourth, we need things to go our way, such as staying injury free and scraping wins out of likely draws. There's a lot of truth in managers saying it's about getting the results as opposed to how we play come the end of the season – and we are no exception! Regarding Europe, there is no doubt in my mind that we play differently than in the league. We seem to have a more confident look and we capitalise on mistakes made by the opposition. But, most of all, we take control of games and the SK Brann game proved this. At the moment, I can see us winning the UEFA Cup over fourth spot, largely because our play is different. It is common in most teams – you only need to ask our neighbours! But if we grind out results in the league no matter how, then who knows?
LEE MOLTON, St Helens THE European adventure is still in full swing with another great away win for the Blues in Norway last week, making it six in a row and a new club record for the Blues! With the squabbles continuing from our neighbours across the park, it just goes to show that money doesn’t make you happy! The first leg saw a very professional performance from the Blues with another clean sheet setting up a comfortable second leg. We passed the ball well in the second half, scoring a fine goal from Osman and one from our very own super sub, Anichebe. The second leg tonight should be a formality with fans all set for a last 16 trip to either Norway or the lovely city of Florence. Blues supporters won’t mind where we go as our adventures take us to more countries than Michael Palin! Our European tour is in full swing now and we can certainly go on to win the UEFA Cup this season. Very few teams will fancy playing the Blues and with Arteta and Pienaar to return, the prospects are looking great.

David Moyes: I’m not taking SK Brann lightly
Feb 21 2008
By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES is ready to unleash his big guns on SK Brann this evening to ensure Everton book their place in the UEFA Cup’s last 16 in style. For the first time all season, the Blues boss has a fully-fit squad from which to choose and even though his side hold a 2-0 lead from the first leg, Moyes is not going to take any chances against the Norwegian champions. And that is likely to mean recalls for influential midfielders Mikel Arteta and Steven Pienaar, both of whom missed last Wednesday’s game in Bergen with injury but have trained for the last two days without problem. “If you look at the squad we have, they are all first team players,” he said. “We’ll wait and see what we do. “But whichever team I pick, I don’t think we would be under strength in any way. “I am going to pick a team to beat Brann. I’m not really considering any other game at this time. “We found out against Oldham to our cost that you have to be at your full to win the game. “We have to be fully focused on every game we play, whether we are 2-0 up or 2-0 down.” Having had a weekend off to recharge, Everton’s schedule promises to be packed again for the next six weeks but Moyes believes his players are thriving on an increased workload and hopes it stays that way until the end of May. “It will be tough to go for both, the UEFA Cup and Champions League qualification,” said Moyes, whose side are chasing a seventh consecutive win in Europe. “I know it’s a tough schedule with so many games. It’s hard for an English club to win the UEFA Cup under the current framework. “And I know the programme we have got ahead of us but I really hope that we end up playing nearly 60 games this season, and then 60 next season, because that means we will have been successful. “But the top managers speak highly of Europe and getting squads right, and that is what we want. We are enjoying the competition. “It is 15 games to win this tournament, we realise. But if that is what it takes, so be it. And I hope it is the same next season. “That will tell us we are going in the right direction. We are aware it will be a long haul, we have played seven games in Europe already and in most competitions that would near enough put you in the final. “There is a long way to go but I want to keep having these conversations about full programmes. That is what we want. “I know what it is going to take, but we will be going for it. We want to move this club forward.”

Everton 6, SK Brann 1 (Echo)
Feb 22 2008
By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
NOW it’s time for the hard work to begin. Having breezed through their opening tests with an increasingly confident swagger, David Moyes and his squad will today be aware they have reached the stage of the UEFA Cup where the intensity of games and quality of opponents dramatically increases. While there has been plenty to admire about the way Everton have gone about their business in the competition so far, dismantling inferior foes with ease, you only need to look at some of the teams remaining in the last 16 to see the stakes have been raised. Some of the grandest names in Europe – among them Bayern Munich, Marseille, Sporting Lisbon and PSV Eindhoven – have their eyes on the magnificent trophy which will be presented to the eventual winners at the City of Manchester Stadium on May 14. So, too, will Everton’s opponents in the next round. Fiorentina may have laboured past Rosenborg in Florence last night but with an attack comprising of Adrian Mutu and Christian Vieri, they will fancy their chances. All very well and good, but they will underestimate Everton at their peril. Anyone who believes the Toffees are only in the UEFA Cup for experience would be advised to dramatically alter their opinions after another memorable evening on Merseyside. If they were nervous and unsure the night Metalist Kharkiv arrived at Goodison Park last September, the opposite is true now. These players are relishing the demands which a European campaign places on them and are improving all the time. Of course, cynics will quibble that they have not beaten a team of substance so far and point to Nurnberg - fighting for their lives in Die Bundesliga and AZ Alkmaar, who continue to shuffle about in the Eredivise’s No Man’s Land. SK Brann are not what you would call giants of the game either, but that is missing the point – without really getting in top gear, Everton scored six times and could quite conceivably have administered the kind of thrashing which ran into double figures. Quite simply, it was not about what Everton beat but the manner in which they did it and there is no doubt those teams remaining in contention will have seen the scoreline from Goodison Park and, in all likelihood, sat up to take notice. Their reputation, you see, is blossoming and just look at the evidence they are providing. Currently on a club record run of seven consecutive European wins, Everton’s Premier League position at present, coupled with the style they are playing, demands respect. But before we start to get carried away and think it is a formality that Moyes and his band of merry men will be visiting City twice, it is worth remembering Everton are going to have to raise the bar further still if this campaign is to have a glorious conclusion. Scoring six against the Norwegian champions did not flatter, yet there were times in the first 30 minutes of the return leg that Everton were off the pace and had an eye on other imminent engagements. Sluggish and sloppy early on, Tim Howard was needed to repel two brisk Brann attacks, but once Ayegbeni Yakubu put the gloss on a glorious move that started with the American and involved Steven Pienaar and Tim Cahill, the contest was over. That, of course, was the Nigerian’s first goal since he went AWOL after the African Cup of Nations, and it is safe to say that his efforts in two games against Brann could not have done any more to show his remorse. As was the case before he left for that wretchedly-timed tournament in Ghana, Yakubu never looked like he was going to miss when he got into scoring positions here and duly rattled up a second hat-trick for the Blues. The first goal may have been the most spectacular – a crashing drive that left the hapless Hakon Opdal flailing – but his second was wonderfully taken thanks to a dummy which took two defenders out, while a simple tap-in completed the treble. That was the first time since Andy Gray terrorised Fortuna Sittard’s defence in March 1985 that an Everton player has scored a hat-trick in Europe and took his tally to 15 in 26 games. Not bad considering he feels he is still settling in. But most encouraging of all was the way he and Andrew Johnson linked on only their eighth start together since Yakubu succeeded the latter as Everton’s record signing last August. On this showing, there is definitely much more to come from them. Johnson, in particular, will be feeling miles better after helping himself to a double - both fizzing, right foot drives from outside the box – and getting a tangible reward for the relentless running he does whenever selected. Moyes will now face a tricky decision about what to do when Everton return to domestic duty next Monday at Manchester City and not just with his strikers - Steven Pienaar’s superb comeback has seen to that. On a night when the only blemish was Tim Howard conceding for the first time in 442 minutes via Petter Vaagan Moen’s free-kick, Pienaar was Everton’s outstanding performer and has made it almost impossible for him not to be involved against City. Equally Mikel Arteta looked much brighter than in recent weeks and his first goal since November 8 - albeit thanks to a large deflection - might just be the catalyst for him to produce the kind of sumptuous play which his adoring public knows he is capable of. And if he does that, there is no doubt Everton’s play will lift up another notch. Wouldn’t it be nice, then, if he timed it to coincide with that crucial first meeting against Fiorentina? Win in Tuscany and everyone really will be talking about Everton. EVERTON (4-4-2): Howard; Neville, Jagielka, Lescott, Valente; Arteta, Carsley (Hibbert 46), Cahill (Fernandes 46), Pienaar; Johnson, Yakubu (Anichebe 73). Goals - Yakubu (36, 54, 72), Johnson (41, 90), Arteta (70). Bookings - Fernandes (66) SK BRANN (4-4-2): Opdal; Dahl, Bjarnsson (Karadas 65), Sigurdsson, Hansvelt; Solli, El Fakiri (Husklepp 60), Bakke, Vaagan Moen; Helstad, Demba-Nyren. Goals - Vaagan Moen (60) Bookings - Bakke (33) Attendance - 32,834 Referee - Nikolay Ivanov (Russia)

Everton 6, SK Brann 1 (D,Post)
Feb 22 2008
By Ian Doyle
AND to think there are those who believe Yakubu’s timing is lousy. On his first appearance at Goodison since going AWOL after the Africa Cup of Nations, the Everton striker chose the perfect opportunity to demonstrate his contribution to the team and win himself back into the good books of his manager. A brilliantly-executed hat-trick, the second of Yakubu’s Everton career, was the highlight as David Moyes’s side thrashed Norwegian champions SK Brann to romp into the last 16 of the UEFA Cup. It was evening when Yakubu discovered all is forgiven among the Everton support following his disappearing act earlier in the month. The Nigerian’s debut goal in Europe for the club in the 36th minute was followed by two more after the interval to take his tally to 15 for the season. Clearly, if Yakubu is good at going missing, he’s even better at scoring. His treble helped Everton underline the gulf in class between themselves and Brann that had been exposed in Norway eight days earlier to register their biggest-ever win in European competition. Now, however, is where the hard work begins. Next opponents Fiorentina – with Everton travelling to Italy for the first leg on March 6 – are currently fourth in Serie A and a significant level above anything Moyes and his players have so far encountered in Europe. The list of who else has won through to the last 16 – which includes the likes of Bayern Munich, Bayer Leverkusen, Werder Bremen, Benfica, Sporting Lisbon, Hamburg, PSV Eindhoven, Marseille and, er, Bolton Wanderers – is both testament to Everton’s achievement and a warning of future danger. However, none of those will want to meet Moyes’s side if they can maintain this kind of devastating form. Last night wasn’t just all about Yakubu. Andrew Johnson has plugged away for little return in recent weeks, but was rewarded handsomely for his efforts with two blistering strikes. That’s eight for the season now and both player and manager will hope it can provide a much-needed injection of confidence to the striker’s game. Notably, this was the first time both he and Yakubu had scored while on the pitch at the same time, a sign the pair are at last beginning to mesh as a strike partnership. Mikel Arteta also found the target with his third of the campaign, with the only blemish the avoidable goal Tim Howard conceded that at least gave the boisterous travelling Brann army something to cheer. Moyes had declared Everton’s fortunes over the next three months would determine whether they are the ‘real deal’ or mere overachievers. Complacency had contributed to the surprise FA Cup exit at home to Oldham Athletic last month and, despite the healthy advantage from the first leg, the Goodison Park manager left nothing to chance last night. Joseph Yobo – ruled out through illness – and Leon Osman may make strong claims to the contrary, but the team that started the game was perhaps the strongest available to Moyes, with Arteta returning from injury and Steven Pienaar making his first appearance in almost six weeks. Pienaar has been a big miss, the on-loan Manuel Fernandes filling the breach manfully but unable to match a work-rate and creativity that gave the South African three assists last night. Brann coach Mons Ivar Mjelde had prophetically declared it “pointless” for the visitors to believe they had a chance of progress, but that didn’t stop 1,500 vociferous fans making the trip from Norway. With banners describing Everton as “Just a small club from Kirkby”, there were perhaps one or two with an extra incentive to see Brann succeed. Njogu Demba-Nyren had caused Everton problems when emerging from the bench last week and was rewarded with a place in Brann’s starting line-up. And the striker was involved in a controversial moment in the seventh minute when, while chasing on to a long punt forward that caught the home defence dozing, he collided with the retreating Lee Carsley. Goodison Park held its breath, but referee Nikolay Ivanov waved play on. Had Carsley been penalised, the midfielder would almost certainly have been dismissed. Brann were lively in the opening half-hour, Thorstein Helstad drawing a decent save from Tim Howard at his near post while Joleon Lescott survived mild appeals for a penalty when the ball struck his arm. But within seconds of Howard again denying Helstad in the 35th minute after the Brann striker had peeled off at the far post to meet a deep free-kick, Everton went ahead and the tie was effectively over. It was a good goal, too, Pienaar feeding Tim Cahill inside the area and the Australian flicking possession into the path of Yakubu, who swept the ball home first time into the top corner with his right foot. Five minutes later came Everton’s second, Johnson striking a rasping low angled drive that was too hot for Brann goalkeeper Hakon Opdal. The striker then hit the post shortly after the interval before Yakubu scored his second on 54 minutes, leaving two defenders on his backside with a clever turn before slotting home after being found by Pienaar. Petter Vaagan Moen, who had troubled Howard in the first half with an ambitious free-kick, embarrassed the goalkeeper on the hour with a low set-piece that bobbled underneath Carsley in the Everton wall and past the unsighted American. But it was only a temporary reprieve as Arteta restored Everton’s three-goal advantage on 70 minutes with the help of a wicked deflection off the unfortunate Azar Karadas. And the Brann substitute contrib-uted another unwitting assist two minutes later, with both he and then Erlend Hasntveit diverting Pienaar’s low cross from the left into the path of Yakubu for an easy tap-in. Pienaar and Moen both hit the post in the closing moments, and the rout was completed in injury time when Johnson unleashed a magnificent swerving shot from 20 yards that flew past a demoralised Opdal. Certainly, Everton’s European adventure is one that cannot be missed. EVERTON (4-4-2): Howard; Neville, Lescott, Jagielka, Valente; Arteta, Carsley (Hibbert 46), Cahill (Fernandes 46), Pienaar; Yakubu (Anichebe 73), Johnson. Subs: Wessels, Baines, Osman, Vaughan. SK BRANN (4-4-2): Opdal; Dahl, Bjarnason (Karadas 65), Sigurdsson, Hanstveit; Solli, Bakke, El Fakiri (Huseklepp 60), Moen; Helstad, Demba-Nyren (Winters 71). Subs: Udjus, Guntveit, Einarsson, Thwaite. BOOKING: Bakke (foul). REFEREE: Nikolay Ivanov (Russia). ATT: 32,834. NEXT GAME: Manchester City v Everton, Barclays Premier League, Monday 8pm.

Italian job will be our toughest test yet - David Moyes
Feb 22 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES is urging Everton to maintain a ruthless streak in Europe after seeing his side's super six show ease them into the last 16 of the UEFA Cup last night.
The Blues notched their seventh consecutive win in this season’s competition with a club record 6-1 drubbing of SK Brann to set up a mouth-watering date with Italian glamour side Fiorentina early next month. But as pleased as the manager was with the way his team played, he feels Everton will need to show a similar level of ruthlessness against Fiorentina – who are fourth in Serie A – to book a place in the quarter-finals.
Moyes stayed behind in Norway after the first leg with Brann to watch Fiorentina play Rosenborg last Thursday and believes they will pose a bigger threat to Everton’s ambitions than anyone they have faced so far. “It’ll be a real good game,” said Moyes, smiling broadly. “I saw Fiorentina play last week. It’s a game we should all look forward to, but it will be tough as they are doing well in the Italian league right now.
“You only have to see how Inter and Milan have played over here to know that Italian teams are hard to break down. They also have one or two players who can hurt you, and (Adrian) Mutu is scoring goals at the moment.” With Ayegbeni Yakubu in such sparkling form, however, Everton have a player who can be just as lethal as the Romanian and his sparkling hat-trick has prompted Moyes to draw a line under his AWOL incident. “He’s back in the good books,” said Moyes. “We know that’s what he can do. The way he sent the two of them for the pie and the Bovril for the second goal was terrific. “I knew he had a good record in the Premier League and I thought that if he could come here and add that to us, he would improve us. He is 24, albeit a Nigerian 24, so if that is right he has got a good few years ahead of him.” Andrew Johnson also helped himself to a double as Everton never took their foot off the pedal and Moyes was thrilled to see the way he and Yakubu linked, while the return to action of Steven Pienaar was another huge plus. “I’m really pleased with goals we scored,” said Moyes, who rested Joseph Yobo as he was suffering with a head cold. “We created a few other chances as well, and hit the post twice, and to score six goals in European competition is terrific. “The first goal was crucial. They put us under pressure for the first half hour, which should be expected because they were 2-0 down from the first leg. It was pleasing for Andy Johnson to get his goals. “He took his first shot well and struck a pearler. It was good for our two strikers to score five goals between them. Steven Pienaar was quiet in the first half and I said to him at half-time that maybe he just needed the game. “But then we started to see glimpses of what he can do during the second half. We didn’t take any chances with the team– we’ve been knocked out of too many cup competitions in the past to do that.”

We'll fire Everton to Euro glory - Andy Johnson
Feb 22 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
ANDREW JOHNSON hailed Ayegbeni Yakubu's master class of finishing - then warned Everton's future opponents their partnership is getting better. The pair have only started eight games together since Yakubu’s £11.25m arrival last August but they showed clear signs in last night’s 6-1 drubbing of SK Brann that they are starting to gel. Yakubu became the first Everton player since Graeme Sharp 20 years ago to score two hat-tricks in one season, while Johnson’s double salvo provided the England international with a huge confidence boost. But with James Vaughan and Victor Anichebe waiting in the wings, Johnson knows he and Yakubu will have to maintain such levels of form if they want to stay in the starting line-up. He is, however, looking forward to their next outing. “Yak is a fantastic player and we have missed him so much,” said Johnson. “We struggled to score while he was away. He’s not just a fantastic goalscorer, he’s a top all-round player too. “Every time he turns, he is looking to play you in. He can hold the ball up and play some great passes. I always try to make a run because I know that he’ll find me. He is just a joy to play with.
“The signs between us were good but don’t forget we have got four top class strikers here. It’s not just about me and Yak. Victor and Vaughany will both have a role to play and that’s why we have got such a fantastic squad. It’s looking good.
“The main thing is the team won and we are through to the next round. The boys have been working hard and it’s a while since we scored a few goals like that at home.”
Everton’s reward for disposing of Brann 8-1 on aggregate is a clash in the last 16 with Fiorentina but Johnson says that date will go on the backburner as the side prepare for Monday night’s crucial battle with Man City. “Fiorentina are a big team and will be one of the favourites to win the competition but we are in good form and fancy our chances against anyone at the moment,” said Johnson. “But the main thing now is to get our heads down and concentrate on Monday. “Our away form has been good but Man City are a top team. It’s going to be a tough task and this is probably our biggest game of the season so far. We want to finish in fourth and this is a massive game but we have got to go there with confidence.” Yakubu said of last night’s Blues romp: “If we keep fighting like that I think we can go through to the final. “It’s a great feeling.
“AJ did a lot of running for me and I’d like to thank him and my team-mates. We have got a great spirit and we don’t have any more injuries and all the players are back now. If we keep working like this we can go through.”

Fiorentina v Everton ticket details
Feb 22 2008 Liverpool Echo
EVERTON officials expect to receive in excess of 2,000 match tickets for the fixture with Fiorentina. Applications are invited from season ticket holders who have attended two or more of the previous away UEFA Cup matches this season.
Supporters wishing to travel should apply ONLY in writing via post, fax or at www.evertonfc.com to the Box Office by 5pm on Tuesday, February 26.
Applications are invited from executive members who have attended 2 or more of the previous away UEFA Cup matches this season. Members wishing to travel should apply ONLY in writing via post or fax to the corporate sales department or by emailing corporatesales@evertonfc.com by 5pm on Tuesday, February 26.
Successful applicants will be notified by Thursday, February 28. In the event that further tickets remain, season ticket holders or executive members who have attended 1 of the previous away UEFA Cup matches may apply through the same channels as indicated above. Applicants with 1 previous away game are also invited to apply from Friday, February 22. The deadline for these applications is Thursday, February 28 and successful applicants will be notified by Monday, March 3. All applications must be accompanied by a customer number, name, address, date of birth, daytime telephone number and if possible an email address. Please note there is NO requirement for supporters to produce travel documentation. Supporters’ clubs will also receive an allocation. Supporters’ club secretaries/ treasurers should apply for an allocation of tickets on behalf of their members (under the exact same criteria as above), through the usual channels. No applications will be accepted by Everton from individual supporters’ club members, and it is the secretaries/ treasurers responsibility to ensure all members are aware of this. It is important to note that any supporter wishing to travel with the official travel club, Thomas Cook, must apply directly to Thomas Cook by calling 0870 752 0924 or via www.evertonfc.com/thomascook
All supporters are advised that if they do not meet the ticket eligibility criteria then they should not make an application.

FA Cup winner Brian Harris and tale of two medals!
Feb 22 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
BRIAN HARRIS proudly wore his FA Cup winner’s medal on a chain around his neck. But even if he goes to his grave next Thursday with his most cherished prize still nestling on his chest, he will still leave one behind for posterity. Confused?
The tale of Brian’s two medals only came to light last week with news of his sad passing. Renowned Everton expert Dr David France told me of the day he visited Brian with a view to buying his cup winner’s medal. “As soon as he pulled his medal out from his shirt, on a chain, I knew I couldn’t buy it regardless of the cost,” explained Dr France. “It was clearly so precious to him. “But he then said ‘Don’t worry. I’ve got another one!’ “Apparently, Brian had been burgled and his medal stolen. He appealed to the FA after the theft and they arranged for a replacement medal to be struck. “In the meantime, an appeal had been placed in the paper for the safe return of Brian’s stolen medal and somebody anonymously posted it back through his letter box!” David decided he couldn’t possibly buy either, but that was Brian Harris to a tee. Always larger than life, always one for a laugh and a joke – and a winner of TWO FA Cup winner’s medals!

Midfield key to victory at Manchester City
Feb 22 2008 by Howard Kendall, Liverpool Echo
AFTER a brief European interlude, Everton return to Premier League action on Monday evening in a game that could have a huge impact on their season.
Statistics say that Manchester City is one of the most difficult away matches that a side can face – only Arsenal have won there this year – and after a brief dip in fortunes, they are coming back strongly. Apart from the three teams at the top of the table, every club is going to have to go through a lull somewhere along the line and City were experiencing one when they arrived at Goodison Park last month. Everton, thankfully, were able to take full advantage. It is going to be completely different at Eastlands, however, and that’s down to City securing a fabulous win against Manchester United in their most recent fixture. They will be buoyant by the time it comes to kick-off. The success City have enjoyed under Sven Goran Eriksson has been down to their strength at the back – Micah Richards and Richard Dunne have been particularly outstanding – while, in Joe Hart, they also have the most promising goalkeeper in the country. Benjani and Darius Vassell, meanwhile, will be looking to cause our defenders trouble at every opportunity and Martin Petrov has the ability to run riot down the flanks if the opportunity presents itself. Yet there is no reason why we should travel in fear and I would think packing the midfield would be the way to go with Phil Neville and Lee Carsley in the centre and that would allow Tony Hibbert an opportunity at right-back. He was superb in the first meeting between the sides and never gave Petrov a look in. Some people criticise Tony for his distribution but I don’t think there was any cause for complaint in that department back then either.
Tough though it may be, I still think we can get a result to open up a bit of a buffer between ourselves and the chasing pack. Yes, there is going to be a slip some time between now and the end of the season but winning on Monday would give us some breathing space.
Consistent Carsley deserves new deal
DAVID MOYES appears as if he is going to breakaway from his usual routine by handing Lee Carsley a new contract before the end of the season and that makes sense.
He might not be blessed with great pace but one thing Carsley guarantees you is outstanding consistency and, since he returned from injury, his performances have remained at a consistently high level for the past two seasons. Carsley turns 34 next week but having someone of his experience in the dressing room is invaluable and if he stays fit and can make a contribution, why not give him a contract now to save all the fussing in the summer? He is one of the unsung heroes and it would be silly to lose him for the sake of waiting a few months. If he is happy and if the manager is going to need him for 2008/09, get the deal done quickly.

Stars rally to sad Gazza as former Blue is sectioned
Feb 22 2008 by Nick Coligan, Liverpool Echo
FORMER players rallied around Paul Gascoigne after the former Everton player was detained under the Mental Health Act. Gascoigne, who played at Goodison Park between 2000 and 2002, was sectioned after he was said to be acting as a “potential menace” at Gateshead’s Hilton hotel on Wednesday night. It followed an incident at the Malmaison hotel in Newcastle hours earlier, where the ex-England star was said to have made other guests and staff feel “threatened”. The 40-year-old has been treated numerous times for drink and mental health problems. Former Manchester United defender Steve Bruce, 47, said: “I know Paul quite well. I have had many a night out with him. I am obviously saddened and shocked. “We all hope where he is now, he is in the best hands and we hope he can come through.” Gareth Southgate, a former England team-mate of Gascoigne’s, said: “I am sure he will come through it.”
A Malmaison spokesman said Gascoigne had been staying at the hotel for two weeks when the incident happened. She said: “He was a potential menace to other guests who felt threatened by his behaviour.”

Quota system a restriction of free movement
Feb 23 2008 by Barry Horne, Liverpool Echo
WHILE the dead duck of the 39th game continues to take up far too much media time and space, a more interesting issue has been consigned to the inside pages.
The quota system of foreign players in the Premier League deserves serious debate, but Sepp Blatter seems to think he can just introduce it with impunity. The problem is obvious. In these days of free movement of labour, a quota system will be viewed by the EU as a restraint of trade. No matter how much Blatter claims it is not a restriction of foreign players, an insistence on a minimum number of home grown players undeniably is a restriction. If Blatter insists that six of 11 players must be home grown, that limits the number of foreign players to five – which is a restriction.
I was chairman of the PFA between 1995-2000, which was fairly soon after the Bosman ruling and when European labour laws were still in a state of development.
We protested long and hard about potential dangers of the number of foreigners being allowed into our football, but since then Europe has opened up to even more countries and it has become even easier for South Americans or Australians to get European passports, while work permit regulations have been eased or even removed.
We argued that football should be a special case, because while the European parliaments are full of legal do-gooders who want to protect and enhance the right of impoverished workers, football hardly comes into that category. One size should not fit all. In the mid 90s, when Europe was a much smaller place, we still had a chance of establishing football’s special status. Now, however, any such moves are sadly a case of shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted.
Quality play was so heartening
EVERTON were as low as four to one ON to win Thursday night’s UEFA Cup second leg against Brann, so heaven knows how short the odds were for the Blues to win the overall tie. But fans still turned out in their thousands for what was effectively a dead rubber. Over the last couple of months Everton’s football hasn’t hit the heights of earlier in the season, even if the results have still been good, so it was heartening to see the quality of football produced on Thursday. Steven Pienaar’s return was instrumental in that, Mikel Arteta also showed glimpses of his old self, while Phil Jagielka continued his confident run at the heart of defence. But most significantly the two strikers shared five good goals between them – and good goals they were, too.
It was almost the perfect night – no cautions, no injuries, a hatful of goals and some flowing football. The only blip was the goal conceded by Tim Howard, which TV replays showed took an awful skip off the turf. Another positive is that David Moyes had four days to prepare for the next challenge, the huge test at Eastlands.
I said in this column a few weeks ago that I believed Manchester City would tail off after their defeat at Goodison, but while their form did dip slightly, their record at the City of Manchester stadium is still impressive – and they now have the distinction of a double over their city rivals. Clearly City are no mugs, but I am certain our defence can combat their less than ferocious firepower, and the midfield is a strength of David Moyes’ side, which means Monday night is a question of whether we can get behind the twin towers of Richard Dunne and Micah Richards. With Pienaar and Cahill resurgent, and Yakubu and Andy Johnson on fire, there’s no reason why we can’t secure an outstanding result to set us up for the next really exciting block of fixture

The day Wednesday endured a Sharp pain
Feb 23 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
IT’S 20-years since an Everton striker previously celebrated two hat-tricks in the same season. Graeme Sharp was at Goodison on Thursday to watch Yakubu rattle his second treble of the campaign. Sharp was the last man to celebrate that feat – and did so in unexpected fashion. Earlier in the season he had scored all four goals at The Dell as Everton trounced Southampton 4-0, but a fifth clash with Howard Wilkinson’s robust and physical Sheffield Wednesday side in the space of 27 days was expected to be much tighter. After losing a 1988 New Year’s Day league match 1-0 at Hillsborough, Everton were handed a Hillsborough return in the FA Cup just eight days later. They drew 1-1, drew a Goodison replay 1-1, won the toss for choice of venue for a second replay and drew that 1-1 as well. Trooping back to Hillsborough for the third time in a month another tight test was anticipated – but instead Everton were 5-0 up at half-time and Sharp had fired three! The centre-forward opened the scoring after five minutes, Adrian Heath made it 2-0 then six minutes before the interval Sharp clipped the ball over tMartin Hodge. Steven’s cross gave Sharp the opportunity to head his hat-trick goal after 43 minutes, which still left time for Ian Snodin to race clear and score a rare goal of his own. The game finished 5-0.
The last hat-trick of hat-tricks in a season came from Gary Lineker in 1985/86 . . . over to you, Yak!

Pienaar deal on the cards
Feb 23 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES is ready to offer Steven Pienaar a permanent deal at Everton.
The South African midfield star has enjoyed a highly successful loan spell at Goodison, and sparkled in Thursday’s 6-1 UEFA Cup win over SK Brann.
Now the Blues boss wants to make the move permanent. “Obviously, we would like to keep Steven,” said Moyes. “We have got a deal with Borussia Dortmund until the end of the season, so there is not an absolute desperation to do that. “I think he is enjoying himself here and he feels wanted. “ I think he is comfortable in the surroundings and I also think it helps that there are other African players here, too. He would tell you that he’s really enjoying his spell here.” Pienaar has been one of Everton’s main success stories this season and has made 28 appearances, scoring twice. An undisclosed fee has been agreed with Dortmund and Moyes does not envisage any problems when both parties meet to talk terms, as Pienaar has let it be known that he is settled in the Premier League. But before the former Ajax midfielder puts pen to paper, Moyes wants to see him maintain his consistency and play a significant role as Everton bid for UEFA Cup glory and a place in next season’s Champions League. “Does it surprise me how good he has been?” added Moyes. “Well, we knew he was very good with Ajax and what worried me a little was that he went to Borussia Dortmund and it never quite happened for him. “His stature can sometimes give you the impression there is no strength there, but we have brought him on-loan and really it was a no gamble situation for us. It took him a month or so to get up to speed, but he did it. “What I don’t want is for him to take too long settling down after the African Cup of Nations and I thought for 45 minutes against Brann that was the case. But he was good in the second half and got back to the form he showed before he went.” Before Pienaar moved to Dortmund on a Bosman from Amsterdam, he had been linked with a number of Premier League clubs, but Moyes – whose side face Manchester City on Monday night – believes he has come to England at the right time. “We knew of him when he was at Ajax but maybe back then he didn’t think Everton was an attractive proposition as some of the other clubs he could have gone to,” said Moyes. “He has a great footballing ability – that has never been in question. What was an issue is whether he could handle the physical side.“

It’s lift-off for Arteta after fitness gloom Brann-ished!
Feb 23 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
IF Thursday night’s spree against SK Brann was just what Everton’s forwards needed, the scruffiest effort of those super six could turn out to be the most significant.
After sharing five goals it was inevitable that talk afterwards focused on Ayegbeni Yakubu and Andrew Johnson, but it would be foolish to overlook the impact of the man who scored the fourth. Mikel Arteta does not tend to find the net in fortuitous circumstances, but even he would agree that Lady Luck was smiling on him when his right-footed drive deflected off Azar Karadas to leave Brann’s keeper Hakon Opdal completely wrong footed. As he wheeled away to celebrate, the smile which illuminated Arteta’s face and a jubilant punch in the air suggested a weight had been lifted from his shoulders and maybe now he will be able to play with the kind of verve and pizzazz many have come to expect. Harsh it may seem to say but Arteta has failed to dazzle so far and his season has been interrupted by a succession of niggling fitness problems, not to mention a harsh three-match suspension at Christmas. Significantly, though, Arteta knows that himself and while some individuals would make excuses, the little Spaniard has no intentions of doing likewise. Instead, he nods when it is put to him that his displays have room for improvement. But, just as important, Arteta believes he has got to the root of the problem – he has been troubled with a groin injury for three months – and now that he is fully fit he is ready to lead Everton’s charge for the UEFA Cup and a top four finish. “I feel much better,” said Arteta, whose goal against Brann was his first since November 8. “I’ve had a groin injury for a long time and have been struggling to get back. I have not been training, just playing games. It has been difficult but I need to get going again. “I’ve been getting treatment, trying to train and not being able play in some games. When you can train properly every day, you feel sharper, better about yourself and confident. I just wanted to keep on playing. “The other solution was to miss seven or eight games and I didn’t want to do that. I know I have been below a level but I had to make a decision to play. I’m not going to stand here and make excuses. That’s just the way it is. Hopefully, I will feel better now.” Excited by the prospect of tackling Fiorentina next month, Arteta knows this has the makings of a momentous campaign for the Blues but he is equally aware the biggest challenges now await them. Next up is a trip to Manchester City on Monday evening and they will be an infinitely more difficult proposition than Brann. Yet, looking back to the clash between the two sides at Goodison Park on January 12, Arteta says Everton travel with maximum belief. “This is going to be a completely different game,” he said. “It is a six point game. If we win, we will make the gap between us and City big and that’s exactly what we want to do. It is going to be complicated down there as they are playing very well. “But we are confident. We have got a lot of respect for City but we know we can go there and beat them. We showed we can beat them when they came here six weeks ago and we have got to believe we can do it again.” With Yakubu and Johnson looking so good, it is little wonder Arteta can’t wait to head down the M62. The former has rattled in 15 goals in 26 appearances since arriving on Merseyside and the assurance he shows in the danger zone is spreading through the team. “Those games are so important for strikers to get their touch, get some confidence and score a few goals,” Arteta pointed out. “They will obviously be feeling very good now. Yak just looks like he can pass it into the net. He did things brilliantly.” If he can stay in such form, the momentum behind Everton’s push for success will gather pace and Yakubu will certainly be needed if Fiorentina are to be toppled in the last 16. Arteta, however, thinks that is possible, especially after Thursday‘s performance. “We needed to win like that against Brann,” said Arteta. “We didn’t want to get into the game and start off sloppy. That was the risk, but even though we were a bit slow to begin with we got better and better. We passed it well and got the right result. “We want to get respect because we have got some big games coming up in the Premier League and Europe as well. Fiorentina is going to be a massive game, so the least we could do is get some respect. “It’s not going to be easy against them. They have got a lot of experience but it is very nice to play at Goodison in games like that. Now the hard work starts. Games are going to be tight and more complicated but we need to be ready.”

Gazza's fall from grace is a football tragedy
Feb 23 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
THERE comes a time when something that seemed amusing for so long makes the most macabre viewing. While we may have chuckled along at some of Paul Gascoigne’s escapades during his chaotic career, the laughter stopped once and for all on Thursday afternoon and the only emotions we can feel now are extreme pity, sympathy and worry. Tragedy is a word that is criminally overused in the hyped up world of modern sport but there really is no other way to describe the fall from grace of the most gifted English footballer of the past 30 years. How has the man whose tears in the semi-final of the 1990 World Cup endeared him to a nation, whose divine skill on a football pitch inspired a generation, come to live in a Gateshead hotel and be sectioned under the Mental Health Act? No matter what your football persuasion, Gascoigne’s current plight cannot do anything other than tug at the heart strings and we can only hope that his incarceration is the shock treatment that will help this troubled soul back onto the road to redemption. Of course, there will be some who have recoiled in horror at certain stunts, such as belching into a microphone when asked for an interview by a Norwegian television crew during his time with Lazio, or the time he drunkenly fell out of an aeroplane luggage rack. Compassion was also thin on the ground when claims of domestic abuse emerged from his turbulent two-year marriage to wife Sheryl, which ended in divorce, while his problems with medication and the bottle have been well documented. But beneath that troubled shell is a heart of gold and all those who dealt with Gazza during the two years he spent at Goodison Park recall a warm, generous man who just wanted to make people laugh and be loved. Stories of his escapades on Merseyside are plentiful but two stick out, namely the afternoon he cleared a restaurant in Childwall, packed with Sunday diners, by letting a hyperactive parrot out of its cage to fly around, squawk and cause havoc.
Another episode saw Gazza steal the whistle from an old kettle at Bellefield and jam it in the exhaust of an unsuspecting kit man’s car; when said individual fired up his engine, the screams it generated were unbearable but the comedy value was priceless.
There was more to him, though, than just pranks. Another member of Everton’s backroom staff mentioned at lunch one afternoon how he was thinking of buying his children a television for their bedroom as a birthday present. When Gascoigne got wind of this, he sloped off quietly and got the best possible model available: he never wanted or expected anything in return, other than the children to have a birthday to remember. Others recall the incident when a young supporter had waited all morning outside Bellefield to get Gascoigne’s autograph but when he showed up the pen he gave to sign his piece of paper stopped working. No matter. Gazza simply jumped out of his car and gave the disbelieving child a pair of his boots. True, Gascoigne was a shadow of his former self when he arrived at Goodison on a free transfer from Middlesbrough in 2000 but there were sporadic flashes of that earlier brilliance that had taken him from Newcastle to London, Rome and Glasgow. Leyton Orient in the FA Cup stands out as the highlight yet too often he was betrayed by physical problems; his fitness or, more accurately, a lack of it, limited him to just 38 appearances in a Royal Blue jersey. Now, sadly, mental demons torment him.
Fingers are crossed, then, that he can get things together again and Everton chairman Bill Kenwright is adamant that Gascoigne can do just that. It will, though, be a journey fraught with difficulty. “He can definitely get his life back together,” said Kenwright. “He has tried many times, been in and out of clinics. His is a big big problem, but he is on the mend, and I am sure he is going to be okay. “He is bi-polar, which is a new expression these days – you have the highest of the highs and the lowest of the lows. When you are low you don’t want to get up in the morning and pull the sheets over your head and want to stay there. “When you are high you can beat the world. And probably when Gazza is high he loses whatever he has got. He is just loved. “I have been to places with him when has been a good boy and seen the love affair he has got with the British public. You can’t earn that.” So a nation braces itself. Fingers are crossed that Gascoigne’s desperate cry for help is answered – quickly.
Memories of Bellefield will remain with us all
EVERTON have been firmly ensconced in their new Finch Farm training facility for the past five months but thoughts turned to Bellefield earlier this week. For the final time, those famous green gates to the complex in West Derby that had been headquarters to the Blues since 1946 were shut and development will begin on a housing complex in the future. Graeme Sharpe had one look around the eerily deserted place that used to be called home and these pictures show how much has changed since the removal vans rolled up Sandforth Road last October.
Tune in for some classic triumphs
THERE are numerous channels on satellite television that you will never tune in to but ESPN Classics should make decent viewing in the next few weeks.
That station specialises in broadcasting great matches from yesteryear, but their forthcoming schedule has a more modern feel to it and there are a number of games Evertonians will want to watch. The 3-0 demolition of Liverpool in September 2006, victories over Norwich (3-2) and Bolton (3-2) during the push for the Champions League in 2005 and last season’s 4-1 dismissal of Fulham are all set to be shown shortly. Don’t forget to set your reminder

Steven Pienaar: Victory at Manchester City can give us a big boost
Feb 25 2008
By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
STEVEN PIENAAR believes victory over Manchester City tonight will transform Everton as they begin the biggest week of their season. The Blues’ credentials will be given a stern test in the next seven days as apart from heading down the M62 to face City, they also welcome a resurgent Portsmouth to Goodison Park next Sunday. They then face the first leg of their last 16 UEFA Cup clash with Fiorentina in Italy - but Pienaar says that fixture is the last thing on anyone’s mind and everything is geared up to winning at Eastlands to improve the mood of an already buoyant squad. “We have got to take things step by step and not take our eye off the ball,” said Pienaar. “City becomes the most important game of the season now and we have to remember that Fiorentina is still so far away. “It is very important for us now to keep our position in the league and get a few more good results. “Getting a win away at City would be a big boost for us and if we do that, we’ll be a different team going into the Portsmouth game next Sunday.” The South African international made a successful return to action in last Thursday’s 6-1 thrashing of SK Brann but he feels he still has more to offer, as do the rest of his team-mates who were a little off the pace during that first 45 minutes. “It was nice to be back and get a game straight away,” he said. “I need to get some time on the ball again. You could see in the first half against Brann that the ball was bouncing everywhere off me but that’s normal when you come back from injury. “The gaffer told me not to worry at half-time and said that I’d get better as the game moved on. “Thankfully that was the case. We’ve been winning a lot of games and that has been good for confidence. “Now we must focus on Manchester City and if we can get a win, it will get them off our back. It’s going to be a do or die game for us but hopefully we will be able to get the result that will keep us in fourth place. “We’ll give it our best shot but we need to keep improving. Yes, in the second half we scored a lot of goals against Brann but the first half was not so good. We got out of that and played much better and we will take that into the City game.” Meanwhile, manager David Moyes has hit back at accusations from the Nigerian FA that he had “insulted their nation” after making a quip about Ayegbeni Yakubu after the game against Brann. Moyes said Yakubu was “only 25, albeit a Nigerian 25, so if that’s his age he’s still got years ahead of him”. That prompted Nigerian FA spokesman Ademola Olajire to say: “His statement is insulting. We don’t take kindly to snide remarks about our players.” Former Nigeria international Ahmed Abdulrahma insisted it was “racist” but Moyes said: “Never have I been accused of being racist. “The suggestion is abhorrent. What I said was a quip and did not offend the player.”

No time for tantrums as Everton turn up heat
Feb 25 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES may be the man who can help turn Evertonian dreams into reality, but he is going to have to be a heartbreaker too. As the Blues gear up for another game of enormous importance, Moyes has the rare luxury of having a near full-strength squad available for tonight’s tussle with Manchester City – but that also brings a new set of headaches. With so much at stake between now and May, each member of Everton’s playing staff will want to spend as much time on the pitch as they can yet that, inevitably, is not going to be possible. It will, of course, mean long faces being pulled but as Everton chase UEFA Cup glory and try to snatch a Champions League qualifying place, Moyes has warned those who have helped get the club into a strong position that tantrums will not be tolerated. On the plus side, though, the manager can take heart from the fact that Everton’s dressing room is not crowed with the big egos and politics that other teams have to put up with, and hopes that unity will be a secret weapon on the run in. So as he tries to find a formula that will give City as many problems as possible, Moyes is prepared to make the tough decisions that will boost Everton’s ambitions – and has urged those who will suffer disappointment to be ready when he calls upon them again. “It’s all part and parcel of having a stronger squad,” said Moyes. “But with seven games coming up in March, it will be a big test for us and everyone will have a serious level of importance in that period. “I will have no time for sulkers, as they will all get their game in the coming weeks. But we have got a really good squad and there is a great spirit amongst the group. This was the situation that we wanted to be in. “To be fair, we have had to call on near enough all our players at different times, partly because of the African Nations, partly because of injuries and suspensions. Everyone has played their part and they will continue to play their part as well. “Maybe you have to say the reason Everton are doing so well is because the times when we have had injuries and suspensions, we have had good players to come in to the team and helped get results. Maybe in the past we wouldn’t have been able to do that.” Victory at Eastlands this evening would lift the Toffees back into the top four and complete a quick-fire double over City, who were dispatched at Goodison Park last month thanks to a goal from Joleon Lescott.
The biggest dilemma Moyes faces is whether to stick with the starting line-up that thrashed SK Brann 6-1 last Thursday - i.e. play Ayegbeni Yakubu up front with Andrew Johnson - or return to his favoured 4-5-1 formation. Either way, Moyes believes he has sufficient talent available to make the short trip down the M62 a successful one, and has seen signs in the last couple of games that some key figures are starting to sparkle again. “Of course everyone wants to play and, at times, you need to give the players on the fringes a game here and there,” Moyes continued. “We are aware of that and we have tried in the main to keep everyone involved as much as we can. “We have got lots of options in how we play at the moment. That for me is the big thing. I’m going to need the players to play in different ways and I am going to need the players to be confident whichever way we line up. It’s good. “People are starting to come back into form and there is still a long way to go. There is still a quarter of the season left, remember. We are not at the finishing line yet but we have got to get ourselves close to it.” To cross the line that Moyes talks about in front of their rivals, however, Everton are going to have to raise their performance levels once again, and he wants to see a swagger and belief about their play whenever possible.
“You always have to look to up your game,” said Moyes. “Now we are looking for the big players to stand up and be counted in the big games. With respect, it might be easy to get on the ball and play when you are three or four goals up against Brann.
“But now we want them to get on the ball and play when it is nil-nil in tight games and the pressure is on. If you want to be in this position and you want to be able to challenge, we need the top players at their peak.” Those are sentiments echoed by Phil Neville and if Everton are going to upset the odds by repelling the challenges of Liverpool, City and Aston Villa, the skipper feels the winning streak they have enjoyed recently will need to continue. “If we have any aspirations to finish fourth then draws aren’t good enough,” said Neville. “Defeats certainly aren’t good enough, we need to win games and we need to show the consistency that we have been showing. “Over the first three quarters of the season we’ve been fantastic. Now we’re at the business end of the season, this is where you sort the men out from the boys and we need to put in another massive performance.”

Michael Ball warns of derby buzz factor
Feb 25 2008
MICHAEL BALL hopes Manchester City can feed on the derby feelgood factor to secure a place in European competition. City are still on a high after their stunning victory over rivals Manchester United a fortnight ago, their first win at Old Trafford since 1974. "The place has been buzzing, the city has been buzzing," said former Blues star Ball. "The amount of times people have been coming up to congratulate you for the result is great. "It is always great to go to places like Old Trafford and put a performance in like we did and come away with three points, but being local rivals it’s even better – but we have got to carry on and get a result against Everton.
"We have not played our best but the performance against Manchester United showed we can do it. "We have just got to show it a lot more and hopefully we can until the end of the season. "If we concentrate on playing 100% and playing to our abilities we will get the three points in a good run of games. "As you get close to the end of the season you can have a look at targets but obviously we want that European place."
Ball, 28, won an England cap under Sven Goran Eriksson - his current manager at City - while still at Goodison, before moving on to Rangers in 2001 and then PSV Eindhoven. He returned to England with City when Stuart Pearce signed him a year ago but then found himself out of the side after Eriksson’s arrival. He responded well to win back a regular place and has impressed at left-back this season, with Eriksson claiming he is now a better player than when he picked him for England.
Ball said: "At Everton it was a different style of football from what I am used to now.
"When I went to Glasgow we played a Dutch style of football with Dick Advocaat and it was the same kind of standard at PSV. "When Sven walked through this door we wanted to keep the ball and play football. "Sven hadn’t seen that part of my game, so when I showed what I can do he was obviously more than pleased." New signings, particularly that of Javier Garrido, threatened Ball’s chances but the player says he was always determined to fight his way back in. He added: "Before the season I knew it was going to be a battle for places all around. "Personally for me it was disappointing not being in there but there was not much I could do.
"All I could do was keep myself match fit and as sharp as possible and wait for a chance. "When I got that chance I grabbed it with two hands and now it’s up to me to keep hold of that shirt." The only recent blemish on Ball’s season came when he was unsighted by two balloons and disastrously misjudged a cross in City’s FA Cup fourth round defeat at Sheffield United last month. He said: "It was a nightmare! It’s going to make a few Christmas DVDs isn’t it? "At the time I didn’t know what was happening. I thought I had the ball and then suddenly it’s changed direction and I was already in mid-air. "I thought about it a lot afterwards and for a few days I got a bit of stick for it but there is nothing much I could do. "That was just one part of a bad performance on the day. The coach asked for boost from there to kickstart our season and the lads have gone out and proved it." City are close to full strength for the visit of Everton and are determined to avenge their 1-0 defeat at Goodison Park last month.
Joleon Lescott grabbed the only goal of a game Ball believes City were good enough to have won. Ball added: "We thought we could come away with the three points but we have got a chance to take them to our place. "The pitch is a bit bigger and we can play them the way we want to play them and hopefully come away with the points."

Manchester City 0, Everton 2 (D,Post)
Feb 26 2008
By Ian Doyle
SO sick must Manchester City be of the sight of Everton, the last thing they want to hear is that the Goodison Park outfit could be back before the end of the season. As the venue of this season’s UEFA Cup final, the Eastlands venue has assumed iconic status for supporters entranced by a campaign of such encouragement for David Moyes’s side. But their team’s performance at City last night demonstrated why Everton harbour hopes of making an impact on an even greater European stage. Emphatic victory against Sven-Goran Eriksson’s side didn’t just move the visitors back above Liverpool into fourth place and a Champions League qualification berth. It sent a clear message out to their neighbours, along with fellow top-four challengers City, Aston Villa and Portsmouth, that Everton refuse to give up their hard-earned position without an almighty fight. Yet it was the superior class and poise of Moyes’s side that underlined the gulf between the two sides last night. And with a clinical marksman such as Yakubu among their number, Everton possess the ingredient that may well make the difference in that scrap for the Champions League. The Nigerian carried on where he left off with his hat-trick against SK Brann last Thursday by side-footing the visitors into a 30th-minute lead that, given their outstand-ing defensive form since the turn of the year, they never looked like surrendering. His 16th goal of the season, Yakubu showed that, while returning from international tournaments has proven troublesome, the penalty area is one place where he doesn’t go missing. This wasn’t an easy victory by any means. Everton’s performance just made it look that way. For the second time in six weeks, Moyes’s men exposed City’s Champions League aspirations to be as convincing as Stephen Ireland’s hair. That January meeting between the teams at Goodison Park was a tight encounter settled by a solitary Joleon Lescott strike. And the centre-back was again on target last night, taking his tally to eight for the season with a trademark header. Watching England head coach Fabio Capello was surely impressed. Everton could even afford to dismiss as an inconvenience the frankly bewildering failure of referee Rob Styles or his assistants to spot two clear handballs by Micah Richards inside the area. The landmarks keep coming for Moyes’s side. This is the first time in 22 years that Everton have remained unbeat-en in the league during the first two months of the calendar year, with no opposing player having beaten Tim Howard in top-flight combat in 2008. Indeed, the Goodison outfit have now kept 10 clean sheets in their last 13 Premier League games and last night was the first time since November 2002 that Everton have gone five successive league games without conceding. “It was a massive result if you look how tight the table is,” said the again outstanding Phil Jagielka afterwards. “City put the pressure on in the second half but we had some decent defenders out there. We are going to have six-pointers every week now when you look at how many teams can finish in fourth place.” How true. Games between the fellow Champions League aspirants will ultimately decide who grabs that fourth place, and this display has set the standard for Everton. Victory was all the more commendable given it was achieved without the talismanic presence of Mikel Arteta, who again succumbed to the groin problem that has niggled away in recent months. Leon Osman was recalled to the right of Everton’s midfield and Joseph Yobo and Tony Hibbert also returned with both Nuno Valente and Andrew Johnson stepping down to the bench as Moyes made three alterations from the team that thrashed Brann 6-1. Unsurprisingly, City were unchanged from their last outing a fortnight ago, the historic victory at Old Trafford against neighbours Manchester United. But despite having not enjoyed a similar period of rest, Everton were by far the more buoyant in the first half and overwhelmed City with one of their finest 45 minutes of the season. Moyes’s men almost went ahead in the sixth minute when Yakubu beat City goalkeeper Tim Hart to Steven Pienaar’s low cross but his shot was ushered wide by Richard Dunne at the near post. Curiously, neither side had been awarded a penalty in the Premier League this season before last night, although quite how Everton weren’t given a spot-kick in the seventh minute following a fine save from the right arm of a falling Richards to thwart Tim Cahill’s goalbound effort only referee Styles and his assistants know. The lively Pienaar saw a 20-yard curling shot deflect off Nedum Onuoha on to a flailing Hart’s right-hand post, but it was only delaying the inevitable which arrived on the half-hour. It was a well-worked strike, Yakubu holding up play on the edge of the City area and playing in Cahill before sprinting into the box and applying the finishing touch to the Australian’s low cross with Dunne appealing for a non-existent offside. Eight minutes later the advantage was doubled. City didn’t properly clear an Everton corner and, from Lee Carsley’s deep cross from the right, Dunne again claimed an offside that wasn’t there and allowed Lescott to head across Hart into the far corner. Phil Neville went in search of a third shortly after the interval but fizzed his 25-yard shot narrowly over, while Yakubu’s brute force sent him through and Cahill was denied by Michael Ball when attempting to convert the Nigerian’s low cross before Dunne completed the clearance. City, with Elano on from the bench, at least made more of a game of it in the second half and Jagielka was required to hack away after Howard misjudged his punch under pressure from Darius Vassell. Dunne headed over from Elano’s set-piece delivery, but Everton were denied another penalty on 76 minutes when Richards again inexplicably reached up to handle Lescott’s long throw. The officials said the incident was outside the area; television replays suggested otherwise. Carsley’s quickly-taken free-kick solicited a fine save from Hart and the City goalkeeper then did well to deny Osman and Johnson, but Everton’s resolve was such that Howard’s 85th-minute parry to repel a drive from City substitute Nery Castillo was his first save of the entire match. City’s frustration boiled over in injury time when Martin Petrov, having escaped censure for one petulant kick at Yakubu, was dismissed after a second swipe at Osman was spotted by Styles. If Everton can keep up this kind of form, it won’t only be a return to Eastlands in May that they may well be celebrating. MANCHESTER CITY (4-4-2): Hart; Onuoha, Richards, Dunne, Ball; Ireland (Caicedo 68), Hamann (Elano 46), G Fernandes, Petrov; Vassell (Castillo 75), Benjani. Subs: Isaksson, Corluka.
SENT -OFF: Petrov (violent conduct). EVERTON (4-4-1-1): Howard; Hibbert, Yobo, Jagielka, Lescott; Osman, Neville, Carsley, Pienaar (M Fernandes 56 (Johnson 67)); Cahill; Yakubu. Subs: Wessels, Valente, Anichebe. BOOKING: Carsley (foul). REFEREE: Rob Styles. ATT: 41,728. NEXT GAME: Everton v Portsmouth, Premier League, Sunday 4pm.

Everton under-18s pay the penalty for miss
Feb 26 2008
Academy Football
By Chris Wright, Liverpool Daily Post
JOSE BAXTER’S late penalty miss proved costly as Everton under-18s continue to search for their first win of 2008. Neil Dewsnip’s side went down to a disappointing 2-1 defeat at Bolton Wanderers on Saturday. Everton had not been getting the reward for some decent performances since returning after Christmas. They had drawn all their five matches up to Saturday, but against Bolton they never really hit top form in the windy conditions. Despite having the wind with them in the first half, they couldn’t take the few chances that came their way. Kieran Agard and Lewis Codling, twice, both missed opportunities to open the scoring early on, but couldn’t take them. Everton were made to regret that when Agard got in a mix-up with Australian keeper Michael McEntagart and Bolton took the lead following a corner. Bolton doubled their advantage from another set-piece early in the second half and Everton were up against it. The visitors did rally, though, when defender James McCarten reduced the arrears when pouncing after the home keeper fumbled a cross. And when substitute Luke Powell was brought down, Everton were handed the chance to grab a point, but England youth international striker Baxter missed from the spot. Dewsnip said: “We were quite poor for the first hour of the game really and Bolton did better than us. “We made three substitutions halfway through the second half and went 4-3-3 to match their system and we did a lot better. “We could have got something from the match and it was disappointing not to get a draw, especially when Jose Baxter missed the penalty. But really over the game Bolton were worthy winners.” Everton will aim to get back to finally grab a first win of the year when they welcome Crewe Alexandra at Finch Farm this Saturday (kick-off 11am). Dewsnip has a full squad to select from this week. EVERTON UNDER-18s: McEntagart; McArdle, Barnett, Sinnott, McCarten; Akpan, O’Kane, Redmond, McCready (Baxter 55); Agard (Sheppard 60) Codling (Powell 60). Subs: Stubhaug, Krenn.

Manchester City 0 Everton 2
Feb 26 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
OCCASIONALLY during the course of a season, a match presents itself where a team is so utterly dominant that one word is sufficient to describe their efforts.
Happily for everyone of a Royal Blue persuasion in this hotbed of football, we were treated to it last night as Everton emphatically proved their Champions League credentials. Quite simply, they were magnificent. Not many sides have been to the City of Manchester Stadium during this campaign and run Sven Goran Eriksson’s eclectic ensemble ragged but that is exactly what Everton did. There could have been no complaints had they scored five or six. Ultimately, all they had to show for their dominance were first half goals from Ayegbeni Yakubu and Joleon Lescott but if the Blues keep playing like this, someone, somewhere will be given a hiding just like the one Sunderland suffered in November. What’s more, if Everton do continue in a similar vein until May 11 – and there is absolutely no reason why they can’t – the final ticket that secures entry to European football’s promised land will be heading to Goodison Park. Many on the outside, of course, will be expecting Everton’s challenge to fold shortly but they are the judges who, with breathtaking arrogance, believe the top four is out of bounds to anyone other than Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool. Well they would be advised to reassess their opinions swiftly, as Everton are playing with a confidence and swagger, each member of their side is fighting tooth and nail for one another, and there is a real hunger not to let this opportunity slip away. True, there is still plenty of hard work to be done and each weekend the pressure and the stakes will be ratcheted up, nerves will fray and this compelling tale is sure to have umpteen more twists and turns. There is no reason, however, for Everton to have doubts about the position in which they currently find themselves. They are in the top four because they deserve to be and that claim is backed up in black and white – the league table, remember, does not lie.
Since that contentious defeat against Liverpool on October 20, David Moyes has seen his side win 11 times and draw four of 17 Premier League encounters, with the only defeats coming against Manchester United and Arsenal. It has been a fabulous run of form and one that, slowly but surely, is alerting a wider audience to the fact that Moyes has assembled a squad which is packed with quality and – all being well – is destined for bigger and better things. And the reason for thinking that way is not just down to what Everton’s players did on the pitch in this corner of Manchester.
There was no wild celebrating afterwards as they headed for the team coach, just a contentment as they prepare for the next test. Portsmouth, who have European ambitions of their own, will provide that at Goodison on Sunday. But Everton head into it brimming with confidence and rightly believing they can get another positive result. No wonder when there are so many players in such outstanding form.
Run your eye over the 11 men who started against City and try to single out just one for special praise. It’s an impossible task. Yakubu has claims after his best performance in a Blue shirt, his goal taking his tally up to 16 and ensuring he needs only one more to become Everton’s most prolific marksman in a season since Peter Beardsley (20) in 1992. The way he is going at present, he could surpass Beardsley’s tally before the clocks go forward again but the aspect of his play which most impressed here was his close control, his passing and the way he terrorised Richard Dunne and Micah Richards. He has given Everton’s attack a dimension that has been lacking for so long and there is no question that they look an infinitely more potent bunch when he is the spearhead. And to think some wanted to dismiss him as a waste of money. To concentrate solely on Yakubu, though, would be grossly unfair to the midfielders who worked relentlessly in behind, Lee Carsley and Phil Neville tackled as if their lives depended on it, while Steven Pienaar and Leon Osman added class.
Then there was the blur of perpetual motion also known as Tim Cahill, who teed up Yakubu’s opener with a fine cross, played three different positions despite suffering from a virus and ran himself to a standstill. Those men ensured Mikel Arteta’s injury-enforced absence was nothing other than a footnote. But what about the defence, which stood firm under late pressure to give Tim Howard a fourth consecutive Premier League clean sheet. Phil Jagielka and Joseph Yobo were colossal, Tony Hibbert an unsung hero on the right, while Lescott nodded in a perfect Carsley cross on 38 minutes to put the gloss on an outstanding performance, both individually and collectively. Only referee Rob Styles’ pathetic failure to point to the spot twice when Richards handled either side of half-time prevented the margin of victory being even greater, but it seems churlish to grumble. After all, this was a night when those in the packed travelling enclosure sang themselves hoarse, marvelled at their heroes playing football as it should be and headed for home dreaming that they will be back at this magnificent venue in May. An appearance in the UEFA Cup final could yet be on the agenda but, for the moment, all thoughts are geared to ensuring that come next season, Everton will be involved in Europe’s premier competition. Had you made such a statement back in August, there is every chance you would have been laughed out of town. Not now – don’t bet against them going all the way.
MAN CITY (4-4-2): Hart; Onuoha, Dunne, Richards, Ball; Gelson, Hamann (Elano 46), Ireland (Caicedo 68), Petrov; Benjani, Vassell (Castillo 75).
Sent Off - Petrov (90)
EVERTON (4-5-1): Howard; Hibbert, Yobo, Jagielka, Lescott; Neville, Carsley, Osman, Pienaar (Fernandes 56, Johnson 67), Cahill; Yakubu.
Goals - Yakubu 30, Lescott 38.
Booked - Carsley (54)
REFEREE: Rob Styles (Hampshire).

David Moyes salutes stars for excellent show
Feb 26 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES admitted that he is being driven on by Everton's last title-winning squad. The Blues moved back to fourth last night with a comprehensive 2-0 win at Manchester City, and their manager admitted he is motivated by a desire to try and emulate the class of ’85 and ’87. “I’m trying to develop a football club which many people thought was, I wouldn’t say dead, but maybe difficult to get back to the stage it was at many years ago. “I hope I can do that. People thought it couldn’t be done, and I’m not saying it is going to be done yet, but that’s my motivation.
A sixth clean sheet in eight Premier League matches, together with goals from Yakubu and Joleon Lescott, gave Everton the platform to move above neighbours Liverpool, and Moyes added: “I think that was close to being as good as we’ve had away from home this season. “I thought we limited them to few opportunities and if it wasn’t for their goalkeeper we would probably have scored another couple. He made some great saves. “I think there’s a belief we can get results and I believe we have a good team. The players are getting better and European football is definitely helping them. “We changed the team tonight and moved one or two players around to keep the squad all involved. “Can we keep our heads? If there had been any time when nerves might have shown it would have been tonight, because this was also Manchester City’s opportunity to get in there. “They had a fantastic performance and result against Manchester United, we had a game in midweek against Brann, but it was a great result to come here and win because City are a good, improving side and will certainly be competing against us for a European slot. “It was an excellent victory for us. I thought we played well, defended well and at times when they had the ball we kept our discipline and made it hard for them to break us down. “It was a very good team performance throughout.” Steven Pienaar and Manuel Fernandes were both forced out of the action early, while Mikel Arteta was not considered fit enough to start.
Moyes explained: “Steven Pienaar has had a bit of a problem with his stomach, while Manu Fernandes I don’t know about yet. “But Arteta has a pubis (groin) problem. I don’t think it’s that serious, but he’s been going to Spain to see someone and get treatment on it, but it might need a little more time. “I’m hoping he’s going to be back and available for Sunday. If not, then certainly Thursday.” City boss Sven Goran Eriksson conceded that the fight for fourth was now between the two Mersey powers.
“I think it’s business between the two Liverpool clubs now,” he said, “although we will not hang our boots up.”

David Prentice: How David Moyes has turned it all around
Feb 26 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
MANCHESTER CITY’S spectacular stadium provided the backdrop for the lowest point of David Moyes’ time as Everton manager. It’s now the scene of the high spot, too. It was May 15, 2004 when Everton crashed 5-1 to a slack City side, limped to their lowest points tally for 116 years, scored their most meagre goals total of all-time and fielded a couple of players who had clearly decided to put on their summer flip flops early. Fast forward four years and the difference is stark. Sven Goran Eriksson’s City are a good team. But they were comprehensively dismantled by an efficient, energetic and effervescent Everton last night. The biggest travesty of the night – on an evening when the typically wretched Rob Styles perpetrated more than a few – was the scoreline. This was as comfortable a 2-0 win as you could imagine.
Yakubu and Joleon Lescott scored the goals which were the least Everton’s dominance deserved. Steven Pienaar hit the bar, yet another stonewall penalty was denied, Joe Hart saved from Johnson, Carsley and Osman, Richard Dunne hacked off the line – twice; it was that dominant. And it was against a resurgent City who had just won at Old Trafford – a City side which has lost only once all season at home, to Arsenal. Eriksson was presumably using the kind of brazen front he usually reserves for the ladies when he walked into the Eastlands press lounge and claimed: “We were the better team for 31 minutes, but they defended very well.” Everton were the better team for the entire 94 minutes, and no Scandinavian sauce could hide that fact.
Moyes looked like a man who might need an operation to remove the smile from his face. But was this really his high point as Everton boss? He has certainly enjoyed some scintillating and significant moments – a first win at Leeds for 51 years, a penalty shoot-out success, a fourth placed finish, a 3-0 derby win, a thrilling rampage through Europe – but they were fleeting memories. There is the suggestion of something enduring, something permanent, something progressive about this Everton squad he has created. They may fall short in the race for fourth. They may not even finish the season as their fans demand, by playing at City twice. But if those two unwanted moments take place, unlikely given their current form, this squad has the look of a side that will be back. Four players were present at the City of Manchester stadium four years ago for that Moyes nadir – Tony Hibbert, Leon Osman, Joseph Yobo and Lee Carsley. All have been instrumental in the revival – Carsley was outstanding last night – and he wasn’t alone. Phil Jagielka picked up the TV bubbly, and you couldn’t have argued. But Tim Cahill’s influence was arguably the most decisive. Cahill and Eastlands have also had a chequered history. The little Australian headed the first of his 36 Everton goals there in the autumn of 2004. It was also his first Premier League strike, but was swiftly followed by a red card. Last night, he did the dirty jobs which mattered in midfield, but also provided the creative spark which provided the breakthrough. He linked sweetly with Yakubu, waited patiently for the striker to manoeuvre into position, then delivered a perfectly weighted pass for Everton’s top scorer to finish. The result was never in doubt from that moment.
One half of Everton’s make or break week has already been negotiated with a significant result. A follow-up win over Portsmouth on Sunday would really send out a forceful signal to the rest of the Champions League chasing clubs. Moyes may try and play it down, but his players are making a mockery of his self-deprecating philosophy. This Everton team is good enough to finish in a top four place this season – and they look like they’re in for the long haul.

Nigel Martyn: Triumph is proof of Euro quality
Feb 26 2008 by Nigel Martyn, Liverpool Echo
IF anyone seriously doubted Everton's Champions League credentials, they could not have wished for a more emphatic endorsement last night. Manchester City have got one of the best home records in the Premier League and they showed what a good side they are at Old Trafford, but we made them look ordinary. The passing was outstanding, the defence were again impossible to break down and in Ayegbeni Yakubu, we have a player who spreads panic through the opposition ranks every time he gets near goal. And once again, Everton showed that 4-5-1 is the formation that suits right down to the ground. It may be maligned in some quarters as being too negative but just look at the personnel who are asked to make it work. Can you see any negativity? Lee Carsley and Phil Neville do the dirty work so well but then you have players like Steven Pienaar and Leon Osman who are always on the look out to create something and Tim Cahill is always capable of scoring a goal.
He was outstanding against City and linked superbly with Yakubu; this was more like what we know he can do and, all being well, Timmy can maintain that kind of form all the way to the end of the season. It’s so fulfilling when you come off the pitch after such a result – at times it looked lik e men against boys – but the main thing now is to forget about what has gone on and get focused on the next test as this is going to be another huge weekend. There are so many important games and if we could get a result against Portsmouth, that would really help because I have a feeling that we are going to need a significant points tally in order to secure fourth place. When we achieved it three years ago, we did so with 61 points but now I think somewhere in the region of 67 to 72 points will be needed – that shows you how much standards have been raised throughout the league. Beating City so comprehensively, however, will have been a major kick in the teeth for our rivals and now we have just got to finish the job, even if Liverpool are still favourites. I wouldn’t discount Aston Villa either because – as unlike ourselves and our neighbours – they do not have the distraction of playing in Europe, and we used that to our advantage three years ago. Hopefully, the UEFA Cup will not get in the way of our aims but we have got an outstanding chance of getting into fourth spot – fingers crossed for more of the same when Portsmouth arrive on Sunday.
Pienaar vital to the cause
STEVEN PIENAAR showed once again last night how important he is to Everton’s team and I would expect to see a deal done to make his signing permanent soon.
David Moyes has been very canny in using the loan market to his advantage down the years and he has unearthed another gem to follow on from Joseph Yobo and Mikel Arteta. But he won’t rest easy until Pienaar has signed. No matter how well loan players are doing, there is always that fear someone else could come in a pilfer them from under your nose. But I would be amazed if the manager or the board allowed that to happen. Pienaar has been one of the successes of the season and can continue to play an influential role, not just up until the end of May but – hopefully – for many years to come.
No reason for us to feat Fiorentina
ASIDE from events in the Premier League, things are ticking along nicely in Europe but there’s no doubt we face our biggest test in Italy next week. Fiorentina are a very good side and are having a good season but the same can also be said about Everton and we certainly should not be worrying ourselves unduly before that trip to Florence.
Games with Italian sides are always tight, so there will be an even greater need to make set pieces count or take the chances that come along but we are certainly capable of coming away with an advantage. The games against SK Brann showed that the boys are learning all the time and it was particularly encouraging to see them put the Norwegians to the sword, even when the tie had long since been wrapped up.
Obviously Fiorentina will pose a far greater threat but things are going well at present and one thing you know for sure is that David Moyes will have everyone fully prepared for the tests which lie ahead.

I was at rock bottom until my former team mates turned my life around ...
Feb 26 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo ...
As Paul Gascoigne is sectioned under the Mental Health Act, ECHO chief sports writer David Prentice talks to one former player who has turned his life around after alcohol cost him his job, home and marriage
NOTE to Paul Gascoigne: Not every footballing alcoholic story has an unhappy ending. Mick Buckley was a celebrated Everton footballer who represented his country at youth level and once scored a winning goal against West Germany in the final of the ‘Little World Cup’. That was in May 1972. Fast forward 35 years and the glory had gone. Mick was a self-confessed alcoholic who had lost his job, his home and his marriage, who had spent time in the psychiatric unit of a hospital and has to walk around even now with a tag around his ankle to observe a police curfew.
But this is an inspiring story. Because Mick Buckley is now six months into his recovery programme and wants to tell the world that there is life after alcohol.
The Everton Former Players Foundation, a registered charity set up to help much loved Goodison stars of yesteryear, found out about Mick’s plight. Trustee, Rev Harry Ross, asked a couple of Mick’s old team-mates to track him down – and within days Buckley was in the Sporting Chance clinic down south receiving treatment for his problem. He hasn’t looked back. “That day turned my life round,” he explains.
“I was sitting in a pub in Manchester on my own – when you’re an alcoholic you don’t want any company – and my old team-mates Gary Jones and Terry Darracott walked in. “I wondered what the hell they were doing in this pub, but didn’t want to see them so I ducked down out of the way. “But they walked round and round like they were looking for someone and finally spotted me. “They sat down, so I said: ‘Hi, lads. Want a drink?’ “But they said: ‘No. We want a chat with you.’ “They sat down and they said: ‘We know all about you Mike. We’ve come to help you.’ “My first reaction was: ‘What do you mean? I’m fine. I’m great. No problems at all. Just having a drink.’ “But they persisted. ‘Mike. You’re not fooling us. We know you’re drinking and you’ve left home. We’ve been to the bed and breakfast and they’ve told us where to find you. Everyone knows, Mike. We’ve come to help you.’ “Then I broke down. You get very emotional when you’re in that kind of condition, not for yourself but because of all the people you’ve let down. “They asked me if I knew Harry Ross and would I meet him. “I said, of course I would, and they told me he wanted me to meet Peter Kay who was going to put me in the Sporting Chance clinic. “I thought it was a joke, but I agreed to it.” Mick’s need for support was acute. “I don’t know why I started drinking,” he said. “I used to enjoy a pint, like most people, but my son ended up on drugs when he was just 18. And when you finish playing football, it’s a big step. There’s a big hole in your life to be filled. “I got into my mid-40s and had a bit of a mid-life crisis, started doing stupid things. And for some reason I still can’t understand I started drinking ... and I was driving for a living. “I was getting out of bed in the morning and I didn’t want to face the day. “So what I would do is drink, to take my mind off everything. “I stopped looking in the mirror because I hated what I was seeing. “I left my wife and moved in with my partner now, Elizabeth. My son fell out with me because I’d left his mother. “So I started drinking more. I’d often meet Elizabeth in the pub at tea-time after work just to unwind, but more and more often she’d be meeting me and I’d already be half-p****d. “It got to the stage where I had to leave. I wasn’t good company. I wasn’t violent, but I was scaring her children. I was a different person. I was found twice by police in my car, asleep. I got sacked from my job because I smashed the van up. “But you get to s stage where you say: ‘So f***ing what?’ All you’re worried about is getting another drink. “The final straw was when I was in one of my locals, where I always liked to stand on my own, and I walked outside and sat on a bench. “One of the guys came out and said: ‘Are you alright Mike?’ “I said: ‘Yes, I’m fine.’ But then I just broke down. I was emotionally wrecked. I’d lost my wife, my two kids who I love dearly, I’d lost my job and I was losing Elizabeth. “I had nowhere to live and I was going to lose my car because of two police charges. I was rock bottom. The next thing was a park bench. “He phoned an ambulance and said: ‘Mike, you need help.’ “I ended up in a psychiatric ward in Bury. That was my first step towards getting help. “But I was in the wrong place. I was in ward with people with mental problems and psychological problems. I was the only one there with a drink problem. “I was in a room with three or four people and they would wake up in the middle of the night screaming and shouting and it was driving me mad. “I lasted a fortnight and I had to sign myself out. The first thing I did when I signed myself out was to go and buy a bottle of vodka. “The police locked me up one night and when I came out they said: ‘Okay, you can go.’ But I had nowhere to go.”
Mick ended up in a bed and breakfast, where his life consisted of a trip to the off-licence – then a tour of local pubs. That was until the Everton Former Players Foundation heard of his plight. “I can’t thank Harry and Laurence Lee (chairman of the foundation) enough,” adds Mick. “They got me into the Sporting Chance clinic, they paid all my court fines, they’ve been great – and anything I can do to help them in return I’ll do.” At the moment Mick Buckley is helping himself. “The clinic was fantastic. it gave me a platform to start getting back on my feet again,” he explains.
“The thing about being an alcoholic is not so much wanting a drink, you need a drink. It’s not like ‘oh I fancy a pint’ you need it. “And when you don’t need it and you get that out of your mind, you’re okay. And that’s what the Sporting Chance clinic did.
“I left there in September and I’ve been fine since.” It’s a story which offers hope for a squad of former footballers who have filled the void with alcohol.
And perhaps a tale which can inspire men like Paul Gascoigne.

Tim Cahill: That's Everton's best yet
Feb 26 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
TIM CAHILL today hailed Everton's best performance of the season and believes it can provide the impetus to win the race for fourth place. The Blues reclaimed the final Champions League spot last night after goals from Yakubu and Joleon Lescott were enough to beat Manchester City. And with better fortune, Everton could have doubled the winning margin and Cahill – who shrugged off a bout of sickness to take his place in the starting line-up – feels the display will have made their rivals sit up and take notice. He sees parallels with three years ago when a win at the City of Manchester Stadium pushed Everton into the top four, a place they never relinquished. Now Cahill hopes history repeats itself. The Aussie midfielder said: “The similarities between now and then are that we have a team full of players who want to play for this football club and who will do everything they can to get into the team. “Personally, I think this performance was up there with the very best we’ve had this season. “We were under a lot of pressure beforehand, and a couple of the lads were ill. But we got on with it and played. The back four were absolutely tremendous. “We were under the cosh for the first 15 minutes but we had done our homework and we knew how to exploit them.
“We aren’t thinking about what anyone else is doing. Liverpool had a great result, Aston Villa had a great result but we have had one ourselves now and we are absolutely desperate to get that fourth place.” Everton made light of a late injury to Mikel Arteta that precluded him from the starting line-up to play some outstanding football but they also dug deep when required and Cahill knows they have set a benchmark for the rest of the campaign. “It’s always a hard place to come and we were under a lot of pressure to win the game,” said Cahill. “But the biggest thing that has been at this football club since I have been here is that the gaffer can rely on every single player. “As a team, this is what we are all about and we have got to keep it this way. We had Mikel out, who is a massive player, but we just seemed to shine through in every department. We ran until we were dead. “We play for each other and that is always the case when we put that Blue shirt on. We’ll play anywhere and do anything for this club. We had a few boys doing different jobs at different times but we got on with it. Everyone is fighting for the cause.”

Manchester City Res 4, Everton Res 2
Feb 27 2008, Liverpool Daily Post
EVERTON Reserves were brought down to earth with a thumping FA Premier Reserve League North defeat against Manchester City with the home side racing 3-0 ahead inside 20 minutes. Felipe Caicedo met Emile Mpenza’s pass and the striker fired past Stefan Wessels to open the scoring. Victor Anichebe, partnering James Vaughan in attack, went close soon after but it was City who doubled their lead. Caicedo turned provider for Nery Castillo, who fired home a shot from the edge of the area. A minute later Everton were 3-0 down. A mix up between John Irving and Wessels let in Mpenza who rolled the ball home. City grabbed a fourth through Mpenza after pass from Garrido. Everton rallied in the second half and Vaughan pulled a goal back on 68 minutes and Steven Morrison scored a penalty in the last minute. EVERTON RESERVES: Wessels, Densmore, Baines (Harpur 75), Irving, Dennehy, Gosling, Rodwell, Morrison, Downes, Vaughan (Agard 75), Anichebe (Sinnott 76). Subs: Jones, O'Kane.

Everton apply for Intertoto Cup place
Feb 27 2008
BY Ian Doyle, Liverpool Daily Post
EVERTON have applied for next season’s Intertoto Cup as the possible routes into Europe decreased over the weekend. But Liverpool have not followed their Mersey rivals despite the growing likelihood that only the Premier League’s top five will be guaranteed a European place next season. Tottenham Hotspur’s victory over Chelsea in the Carling Cup final at the weekend has taken one of the three UEFA Cup places available to English clubs. And another berth could go to an FA Cup finalist unless Chelsea and Manchester United contest a second successive Wembley final in May. Although the FA Cup has been won by a ‘big four’ team for the last 12 years, competition rules dictate that if the winners have already qualified for Europe by another route, the UEFA Cup place goes to the runners-up. And with Portsmouth the only quarter-finalists to harbour even an outside chance of qualifying for Europe via league placing, it would almost certainly require another Chelsea-United final to give the team that finishes sixth in the Premier League a UEFA Cup berth. Aston Villa, Manchester City and Blackburn Rovers have already announced their application for the Intertoto Cup, although Portsmouth have decided against entering. The top four clubs in the Premier League qualify for the Champions League, the top two going straight through to the group stage while the other two enter at the final qualifying round. The only scenario in which this doesn’t apply is if a team that finishes outside the top four wins the European Cup and takes the fourth and final berth. UEFA clarified the ruling after being forced to allow both Everton and Liverpool to enter the competition in 2005-06 after Everton finished fourth ahead of their neighbours, only for Rafael Benitez’s side to lift the European Cup in Istanbul. The rules now state no country can have more than four teams in the Champions League.

David Moyes: Leighton Baines has a very bright future at Everton
Feb 27 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES lifted Leighton Baines' spirits by claiming he will be Everton's left-back for many years to come. Baines became the most expensive defender in Everton's history when he moved to Goodison Park from Wigan last August in a £6m deal, but a succession of injuries have limited his chances to impress.
Having missed just a handful of games in his last two years at the JJB Stadium, Baines has only made six appearances since the 3-0 defeat of Fulham at Goodison on December 8 due to a combination of hamstring and ankle trouble.
Moyes knows it has been a difficult time for the 23-year-old, who currently finds himself out of the side due to Joleon Lescott's outstanding form, but he has reassured Baines that once he is up and running again an important role awaits.
“There are people who we are desperately trying to get games into,” said Moyes. “Just look at Leighton. “We think the world of him and he is going to be our left-back for a long time to come. “But, just at the present time, for different reasons he is finding it hard to get in. He's picked up one or two niggling injuries and that's cost him.
“But I can see him being Everton's left-back for many years. “I've spoken to Leighton. I've reassured him. But he has got nothing to worry about because he is got a big future as a left-back here.” Yet Baines is not the only member of Everton's squad who is itching for action. Andrew Johnson was relegated to the bench for Monday night's 2-0 win against Manchester City after scoring twice in the 6-1 drubbing of SK Brann last Thursday. “There are a few who, for different circumstances, have been a little bit unlucky,” Moyes continued. “Tony Hibbert played very well in a few games last month and came back in on Monday but Phil Neville's form has been good and as has that of the team. “If we are going to challenge for trophies in the future, I honestly don't think there can be a guaranteed place for anyone. We have got competition everywhere. The three central defenders have been absolutely top draw.” Lescott grabbed his eighth goal of the season against City, while Joseph Yobo never put a foot wrong either but Phil Jagielka was once again outstanding and Moyes has been thrilled with the way the former Sheffield United man has developed. “Jags has come on a ton,” said Moyes. “He has stepped up to the mark, just like Tim Cahill did, from Championship football. “He had played most of his career in the lower leagues but he is getting better and you find that central defenders improve with age.”

Tommy Smith: Everton making real fight for fourth
Feb 27 2008 by Tommy Smith, Liverpool Echo
RAFA BENITEZ emphasised at the weekend the need for Liverpool to step up their challenge for fourth place. Of course, he was right, and Liverpool duly obliged – if only for 48 hours. However, the result from the City of Manchester stadium on Monday night underlined the fact that the Reds face a major challenge for that fourth spot, not least from their neighbours, Everton. It was an excellent win by the Blues and one which threw down the gauntlet to their Mersey rivals as they go head to head for that vital Champions League spot. With a three points difference again it underlines why a win at Bolton on Sunday is essential for Benitez’s team.
Bolton are struggling for survival in the Premier League, yet they have never made it easy for the Reds, particularly when led by Sam Allardyce. He was very much an “in your face” manager who produced a side that always made life difficult.
They need points as desperately as the Reds, but Gary Megson won’t be too adventurous, despite being the home side. That’s why a strong Benitez side must go and take the game to Bolton and return with three points. We’re getting to the business end of the season now, so there’s no room for caution. The Reds need wins – a draw might normally have been acceptable, but not any more given how tight the table is. It’s a case of who dares wins now. The Reds must try to capitalise on the home games remaining, especially with matches against West Ham, Newcastle and Reading next. And I don’t have to emphasise why a win in the Anfield derby is essential. Two of the Reds’ away games are at Arsenal and United, where points are hard to find, so the Reds have to keep on winning.
No malice from Taylor
I FELT sorry for both Eduardo and Martin Taylor after the gut-wrenching tackle at the weekend. It was an ill-judged, mistimed tackle by Taylor, who deserved his red card, but it wasn’t a deliberate attempt to damage the player. Eduardo was just unlucky where Taylor caught him and we wish the Arsenal player a speedy recovery.
Despite the reputation I had, I was only involved in one “broken leg” incident, and that came in a tackle I made when I was 15!

Delay hits plans for homes at Bellefield
Feb 27 2008 by Nick Coligan, Liverpool Echo
PLANS to build luxury homes on Everton FC’s old training ground are on hold.
Councillors want to visit Bellefield, in West Derby, before deciding whether to approve the multi-million pound scheme. The Blues and developer David Wilson Homes have applied to build 74 four to six-bedroom houses on the 8.9-acre site.
Their proposal is recommended for approval by town hall planners, but councillors will have the final say. Everton left Bellefield for their new training ground at Finch Farm, in Halewood, last year. Liverpool council’s planning committee will visit the site on March 11 before making a decision.

Man City Res 4 Everton Res 2
Feb 27 2008 Liverpool Echo
EVERTON Reserves suffered a heavy defeat against Manchester City - despite having James Vaughan, Victor Anichebe and Leighton Baines on show. City also had a number of familiar names in their line up and raced into a 3-0 lead inside 20 minutes.
Felipe Caicedo latched on to Emile Mpenza’s pass and fired past Stefan Wessels to open the scoring. Anichebe, partnering Vaughan in attack, went close soon after but City doubled their lead. Caicedo turned provider for Nery Castillo, who hammered home a shot from the edge of the area. A minute later it was 3-0 as a mix-up between John Irving and Wessels let in Mpenza, who rolled the ball home into the empty net.
Aidan Downes hit the woodwork just after the restart but City grabbed a fourth through Mpenza after a pass from Garrido. Everton rallied and Vaughan pulled a goal back on 68 minutes with a good strike. Andy Holden changed things around with 15 minutes to go as Baines, Anichebe and Vaughan were replaced with Sunday's game against Portsmouth in mind. Steven Morrison’s penalty in the last minute gave the scoreline a more respectable look but it was a night to forget for Everton's youngsters.
MAN CITY: Isaksson, Sun, Garrido, Breen, McDonald, Johnson, Moore, Geovanni, Mpenza, Caicedo, Castillo. Subs unused: Grimes, Martin, Marshall, Williamson, Daly
EVERTON: Wessels, Densmore, Baines (Harpur 75), Irving, Dennehy, Gosling, Rodwell, Morrison, Downes, Vaughan (Agard 75), Anichebe (Sinnott 76) Subs unused: Jones, O'Kane

Farewell to Everton great Brian Harris
Feb 28 2008 Liverpool Echo
EVERTON greats gathered at Goodison Park to pay their last respects to Brian Harris yesterday. Stars of Blues teams across the generations carried the coffin of Brian, a member of the team that beat Sheffield Wednesday in the 1966 FA Cup Final, past the stadium. John Keith, the football writer, and Derek Temple, a team-mate who scored the winner on that famous afternoon, addressed the large congregation at St Luke’s church, next to Goodison. Among the many retired players were Dave Hickson, Johnny King, Graeme Sharp, Jimmy Harris, Alex Young, Roy Parnell and Joe Royle. Duncan McKenzie and Derek Mountfield were pall-bearers.
Brian Harris, 72, played 360 times for Everton between 1954 and 1961.

Arteta told: You don’t need an op
Feb 28 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES today allayed fears Mikel Arteta needs surgery to cure his troublesome groin injury - and also predicted Everton’s best form is yet to come.
The Blues stretched their current unbeaten run in the Premier League to a seventh game on Monday evening with a 2-0 win against Manchester City but they achieved that without the influential Arteta. He has returned to Spain again - just as he did two weeks ago when Everton played SK Brann in Bergen - to undergo extensive treatment on an ailment that Arteta says has been bothering him for the last three months.
But Moyes expects Arteta to be available for Sunday’s crunch clash with Portsmouth at Goodison Park and hopes a combination of rest and recuperation in between games will see the 25-year-old play his part in the push for the Champions League.
“Mikel has been worried about this for a few months and so have we,” said Moyes, who is unsure whether Manuel Fernandes, who limped off in the win at City, will be ready for the weekend. “It’s something we hope will be cured by rest and it’s not a problem that will need surgery. “He will keep getting treatment and have some injections to get him through it. We will just have to see how he is.”
If Arteta fails to pass the doctors this weekend, though, Moyes has every faith that the team that started at Eastlands will be good enough to extend Everton’s hot streak and keep them in the top four. That performance made a wider audience sit up and take notice of the kind of football Everton can play but the manager has a feeling that the improvement his players have shown this winter has not come to an end.
“We are really pleased with how things are going,” said Moyes. “I think we have come back into form and our confidence is growing again. “I saw bits of it in the away game against Brann when we passed the ball well. “Maybe we didn’t do as well at home – albeit we scored six goals – but against City everything came together.
“But I’m hopeful that our best performances are still to arrive. “We certainly need that to be the case.” Meanwhile, the Blues, who have confirmed they have submitted an application for the Intertoto Cup, will be without Lee Carsley for the trip to Sunderland on Sunday, March 9, after he was booked for the fifth time this season against City. Phil Neville and Steven Pienaar, however, do not have to walk a disciplinary tightrope any longer. The pair were on four bookings but a yellow card amnesty means they are now able to continue without worry of a ban.

ECHO plays fair in Everton stadium debate
Feb 28 2008 Liverpool Echo
NOTHING divides opinion on Merseyside more than the subject of football.
And the controversial proposal to move Everton FC to Kirkby has attracted its fair share of the headlines in the past year. Catherine Johansen, who describes herself as an Upper Bullens season ticket holder, lifelong Evertonian and No To Kirkby voter, writes in regard to our coverage of the issue. She says: “I wish to voice my opposition to the Liverpool ECHO's stance on Everton Football Club moving to Kirkby. I doubt that you will print my concerns but here goes: “1. Are any of the staff aware of any YES voters? I haven't met any and do not know anyone who has. Has the ECHO received any letters of support for the move? “2. Why do you give little or no time to the people who are against the move? Why did Robert Earl (pictured) get a two page spread on why we have to move when there was no attempt to redress the balance with an article on why and how Everton can stay in Liverpool? Because they can. I refer to the HOK report which states the Loop is capable of holding a 55,000 seater stadium and Trevor Skempton's report which states that Goodison can be redeveloped into a world class stadium for less than the cost of Kirkby. “3. How can you, in the year of the Capital of Culture, go on about tradition and heritage when you are not even prepared to stop 130 years of heritage and tradition from leaving the city. “
Firstly, the ECHO has no “stance” on the possibility of Everton moving to Kirkby. Our job is to report both sides of the argument fairly – which we believe we have done and will continue to do so. Our approach is certainly not one- sided. We have given Everton FC and Tesco opportunity to outline their plans for Kirkby but we have also given space to KEIOC (Keep Everton in Our City campaign) and Kirkby Residents’ Action Group. Some of the ECHO’s own columnists Paddy Shennan and Tony Barrett have written comment pieces in favour of Everton staying in Liverpool. Our daily letters page regularly carries correspondence from readers both for and against the move. And, yes, staff are aware of yes voters just as they are aware of no voters. In August last year we reported how 59% of fans voted in favour of the move to Kirkby in a ballot. Tesco and Everton FC’s joint planning application is now with Knowsley council and, rest assured, the topic is still very much alive and we will continue to cover its progress in a fair and balanced manner. K. Walton is a regular reader of our business pages and writes in to ask why Vodafone’s daily share price is not included in our Share Watch. They say: “Vodafone’s shares are held by thousands of investors across Merseyside and the company is the biggest telecoms firm in the world.
“You need to have the Vodafone daily price introduced as soon as possible. This, I know, would be welcomed by many of your readers.” We do carry the share price of local firms such as Cains and Park Group as well as national companies. Since Vodafone is not a local company we would not automatically carry it in our share index. If any other readers would like Vodafone included, please write to It’s Your ECHO, Old Hall Street, Liverpool L69 3EB.

Mikel Arteta told: You don't need an op
Feb 28 2008 EXCLUSIVE by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES today allayed fears Mikel Arteta needs surgery to cure his troublesome groin injury - and also predicted Everton's best form is yet to come.
The Blues stretched their current unbeaten run in the Premier League to a seventh game on Monday evening with a 2-0 win against Manchester City but they achieved that without the influential Arteta. He has returned to Spain again - just as he did two weeks ago when Everton played SK Brann in Bergen - to undergo extensive treatment on an ailment that Arteta says has been bothering him for the last three months.
But Moyes expects Arteta to be available for Sunday’s crunch clash with Portsmouth at Goodison Park and hopes a combination of rest and recuperation in between games will see the 25-year-old play his part in the push for the Champions League.
“Mikel has been worried about this for a few months and so have we,” said Moyes, who is unsure whether Manuel Fernandes, who limped off in the win at City, will be ready for the weekend. “It’s something we hope will be cured by rest and it’s not a problem that will need surgery. “He will keep getting treatment and have some injections to get him through it. We will just have to see how he is.”
If Arteta fails to pass the doctors this weekend, though, Moyes has every faith that the team that started at Eastlands will be good enough to extend Everton’s hot streak and keep them in the top four. That performance made a wider audience sit up and take notice of the kind of football Everton can play but the manager has a feeling that the improvement his players have shown this winter has not come to an end.
“We are really pleased with how things are going,” said Moyes. “I think we have come back into form and our confidence is growing again. “I saw bits of it in the away game against Brann when we passed the ball well. “Maybe we didn’t do as well at home – albeit we scored six goals – but against City everything came together.
“But I’m hopeful that our best performances are still to arrive. “We certainly need that to be the case.” Meanwhile, the Blues, who have confirmed they have submitted an application for the Intertoto Cup, will be without Lee Carsley for the trip to Sunderland on Sunday, March 9, after he was booked for the fifth time this season against City. Phil Neville and Steven Pienaar, however, do not have to walk a disciplinary tightrope any longer. The pair were on four bookings but a yellow card amnesty means they are now able to continue without worry of a ban.

The Jury: Should David Moyes sign Steven Pienaar, Manuel Fernandes, or both?
Feb 28 2008 Liverpool Echo
David Wallbank, Huyton
THE disappointment of losing Manuel Fernandes at the start of the season was a blow for Everton. But every cloud has a silver lining. Steven Pienaar has been absolutely fantastic since his arrival on loan at Everton. I am sure that everybody connected with Everton believes that Pienaar should be signed permanently straight away!
He is a little box of tricks and has a new generation Everton mentality, chasing down lost causes. Fernandes, meanwhile, has strangely adopted a ‘lose the ball as quickly as possible’ approach to his game, and not surprisingly this hasn’t gone down too well on match days! But you don’t become a bad player overnight, and Manny is still an under-21 international. I don’t think it’s a question of one or the other. I wouldn’t loose much sleep if Manny decided to go elsewhere, but if Pienaar signed for another club I think I would be just as heartbroken as when Wayne Rooney left.
Tony Scott, Walton
WHO is currently Everton's most creative midfielder? It’s Steven Pienaar.
The lad oozes class and he is an absolute steal for the money we’ll pay for him.
David Moyes certainly knows a bargain when he sees one – as in Tim Cahill (£2.1m), Mikel Arteta (£2m), Phil Jagielka (£4m), Joleon Lescott (£5m) and Joseph Yobo (£4m). But Pienaar should be definitely on that list for a measly £2m. One player who won’t be joining Everton is Manuel Fernandes. I didn't want him here in the first place and if he wanted to play for us that much he wouldn't have left for Valencia.
He has been trying silly passes in dangerous areas and we've been so lucky we haven't been punished for them by now. His attitude is all wrong the way he strolls through games. Fernandes may have played his last game for Everton, but Pienaar will play many more – and he could be the secret weapon to guide us to Champions League football.
Mike Williamson, Chester
MONDAY night’s result – and performance – was simply magnificent, as the season just gets better and better for the Blues. As usual, the national press focused on how poor City were, but then we can’t expect anything else, can we? There were terrific performances all over the pitch – Jagielka, in particular, is proving to be another terrific buy by David Moyes and Carsley is simply having his best season in a Blue shirt. He played like a man possessed against City. Pienaar has proved many people wrong. Considered too lightweight and ineffective at first, he is now providing balance and quality that Everton cannot afford to now be without. There can be no doubt that he has to be brought on board permanently. However, the same cannot be said of Fernandes. He flatters to deceive and is a risk to the team, giving the ball away in crucial areas and making no impact. Moyes must look elsewhere for a quality companion for Arteta. The board must give him the money.
Richard Knights, West Derby
IT will all come down to money in the end. Over the last four and a half years Abramovich has lavished £570m on Chelsea. Bill Kenwright would need a monster run with ‘Blood Brothers’ in every theatre in the land to compete with that. Moyes has done it on a tight budget. The deal with Steven Pienaar looks easy. The fans love him, he wants to stay and Borussia Dortmund want to do business. Manuel Fernandes? It’s about as straight as a corkscrew. Benfica loaned him to Portsmouth, where it was revealed that if he made three consecutive appearances Pompey would have to sign him for £12m. He joined Everton on loan in January 2007, but returned to Benfica for the pre-season. In August he was poised to sign for Everton, only for Global Sports Investment to declare a 50% interest in transfer rights. The next day he signed for Valencia for £17m. Pienaar? Yes. Fernandes has to prove himself. And £17m? No.

Everton star Becky Easton bids to break duck in League Cup Final
Feb 28 2008 by Paul Garrity, Liverpool Echo
BECKY EASTON goes gunning for glory tonight – and at the same time bids to lose her tag as the unluckiest player in ladies football. The Everton Ladies right-back, who lines up against Arsenal in the League Cup Final at Leyton Orient, says: “I think I must have been in eight or nine finals and won none of them. “It would be so nice to get a medal. It’s about time. It would be lovely.” All-conquering Arsenal are firm favourites, but the Blues do have a cup pedigree against the Gunners, beating them in the semi finals of the FA Cup in 2005. “I think we need the same kind of performance we had that day,” added Easton. “We go at them that day, beat them 3-0 and it was a great performance. “It was probably one of the most enjoyable games I’ve ever played in. That would be lovely to repeat that game.” In contrast to Easton, midfielder Jill Scott will make her first appearance in a cup final in only her second season at the club. “We all know how good Arsenal are,” Scott said. “They won the quadruple last season and it’s not luck that gets you to win that. But we’re all really positive and we feel that now is the right time to go out there and beat them.” Blues boss Mo Marley is also confident her side can cause an upset. “We’ve probably got one of the best defences in the country, probably one of the best back fives,” she said. “When they beat us 2-0 earlier this season they scored from two set-plays. “I think we’ve got to be a little bit braver from set-plays if we’re to win the game.” The Blues boss is also pleased to see the strides her side is taking. Everton are only second to the Gunners when it comes to players that represent England, and she says that’s credit to the set-up at the Blues. “It get better and better every single year, no question about it,” continued Marley. “I believe with the graft and endeavour, and if we keep going the way we’re going in the next few years, we will surpass everybody. I do believe that.
“It’s taken us 20 years to get to where we are now. At the moment we are second best to Arsenal, because we’ve come runners up in the last couple of years.
“But that has come with few resources and on hard work and graft. I do believe if we keep doing it and keep going in the right direction, the best players will come and play for us and I think we’ll turn it round. “It’s a patient waiting game and I believe it will start on Thursday.”

David Moyes tells Yakubu: Get me 20 goals
Feb 29 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES has challenged Ayegbeni Yakubu to become the first Everton striker since Gary Lineker in 1986 to score 20 league goals in a season. The Blues’ record signing took his tally for the campaign up to 16 with the opener in Monday night’s 2-0 win at Manchester City, but only 10 of those have come in the Premier League.
Statistics show that Yakubu’s form tends to tail off at this stage of affairs as during two years with Middlesbrough he never scored between the last week in February and the final match of the season – barren runs of 12 and 16 games respectively.
Moyes, however, is confident that the Nigerian international is ready to buck that trend and can think of no better place for Yakubu to start than in the televised clash against his former club Portsmouth on Sunday. “If he could get 20 league goals for us, that would be absolutely tremendous,” said Moyes, who will check on the fitness of Mikel Arteta, Steven Pienaar and Manuel Fernandes. “Yak has played a big part for us and I think we all realise now that he is not just a goalscorer but he is a very good footballer, with great intelligence and seems to be improving week by week.
“His all-round play is of a high standard and he is an important member of the squad. Remember that he had been away for a month before he came back into the starting line-up and we hope the good form he has been showing continues. “He is always looking to improve his tally, which every good forward should do, and hopefully he will get a few more for us. We were really pleased with him against Man City and we want him to continue like that.” Yakubu may have enraged Moyes earlier this month when he went AWOL following Nigeria’s exit from the African Cup of Nations but there is reason to believe that unseemly episode can be turned into a positive.
Since returning to Finch Farm, Moyes has noticed an improvement in the 25-year-old’s training and believes his form in front of goal will ultimately decided where Everton finish the campaign. “We have missed someone down the years who has been an out and out goalscorer,” the manager continued. “Andrew Johnson is different in that while he scored goals, he does an awful lot of work for the team as well.
“But Yak gives us that ruthless streak and it is a testament to how good he is that when he gets into positions, we are expecting him to finish them. He is a well liked member of the squad and very important one.”

Joleon Lescott: Team spirit can win us the battle for fourth
Feb 29 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
IF you wanted a measure of how confident Everton's squad are at present, there could be no better illustration that a conversation that took place on Monday night.
As the players were putting the finishing touches to their preparations ahead of the Manchester City game, one unnamed individual turned to Joleon Lescott and ebulliently declared: “We’ll win this evening, no problem.” While he found his team-mate’s attitude admirable, Lescott – understandably – was nowhere near as bullish, even though he had no doubts about Everton’s form; City, after all, have one of the best home records in the Premier League. But, 90 minutes later, that bold prediction had come true as Everton sent out a message to the rivals in the race for the Champions League that they intend to stick around for the duration. Not surprisingly, the swagger and style with which they recorded that 2-0 win at Eastlands has done wonders for the players’ self-belief but, at the same time, Lescott is quick to point out that nobody is getting ideas beyond their station. They may be the form team in the race for fourth place but, with 11 games still to play and 33 points up for grabs, anything can happen and it is going to need an enormous effort to win this particular race. So many clubs still believe they can break into the elite, among them Portsmouth, who visit Goodison Park this weekend and the England international feels a display even better than the one against City maybe needed to secure another priceless win. “Monday was massive night for us but we have got an equally important game coming up against Portsmouth,” said Lescott, who is poised to make his 84 consecutive appearance for the Blues on Sunday. “We will need to be right on the mark again. But Monday was a big gauge for how far we have come this season. To go to Manchester City and get a result, and do it in the style we did, proved that we are not overachieving at the minute. “We have been consistent through the season and we are doing well. We don’t feel we are doing anything that we are not capable of. Someone said to me before the game that we’d win two or three nil but I wasn’t thinking that way. “I said it would be a tough game but, thankfully, everything went to plan. But if you look around the team, everyone is playing so well. When the ball goes up front, it sticks with the lads up there. “We are passing the ball well through midfield and keeping clean sheets at the back. Tim Howard is pulling off great saves when we need him and there is also strength in depth. “AJ had to start on the bench on Monday but when he comes on, we know he is going to change the game and give us another dimension. It’s going to be a squad effort from now and everyone is going to have a part to play.” Not to mention having different roles to fill. The outstanding form of Joseph Yobo and Phil Jagielka mean that Lescott is having to play as a left-back at present but it is hardly compromising his input. Having taken his goals tally up to eight with the header that sealed the win at City, Lescott’s development has been one of the enduring themes of this campaign, yet he knows there can be no slacking.
“It’s not ideal to play two positions but that’s exactly what we need at the minute,” said Lescott. “Jags and Joe are playing so well in the middle, so I know it’s up to me to do elsewhere and hopefully I am doing that. “We have still got Leighton and Nuno who can play as left-backs, too, and they have played in that position all throughout their careers. They are putting pressure on and that’s why the manager has a tough decision to make before every game. “When I got promoted with Wolves, I played in a good team and we were consistent. But I spoke to AJ about his time at Palace not so long ago and we both agreed that it was about good teams, not squads.
“That’s not the case here. I’ve never been at a club where we can change different players in different positions and not alter the quality of the starting line-up. It’s good to be able to do that.” If the competition manager David Moyes has generated does help Everton lift one of those golden tickets, the chance to pit his wits against Europe’s finest players would be a dream come true for Lescott. The taste he has had so far in the UEFA Cup has whetted his appetite yet he had an inkling from the moment that he moved from Wolves in June 2006 that the Toffees had a bright future. Now the push starts to turn fantasy into reality. “Getting into Europe in my first season was unreal,” Lescott reflected. “But to have a chance of getting into the Champions League? “I always felt it was achievable but I never thought it would come this early. It’s unreal but there is still such a long way to go. We know what it is going to take to get there and we are all pushing in the right direction.”

Everton's penalty persecution
Feb 29 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON have scored 47 goals in domestic competition this season.
Not one has come from the penalty spot. That’s a remarkable enough statistic in itself, but compare it to Everton’s European record and it becomes downright bizarre.
Everton have played eight UEFA Cup matches and seen continental referees point to the spot four times. So do domestic referees have it in for Everton? Any Evertonian who has witnessed Andrew Johnson being booted across Ewood Park, Joleon Lescott wrestled to the Goodison turf and Micah Richards showing off his considerable basketball skills in Premier League matches, would have an instant answer for you.
Boss David Moyes certainly thinks so. “We’ve given up on getting penalties,” he shrugged, on Monday night when another stonewall call went begging.
But further fuel to Evertonian angst came from an unlikely source this month.
Graham Poll used his national newspaper column to declare: “Wayne Rooney swears, Andrew Johnson goes to ground too easily and Kevin Davies backs into defenders all the time. “A referee must not allow these beliefs to be in his mind when officiating the individuals concerned.” Easy when you say it quickly, but are referees successful in not allowing preconceptions cloud their judgement? Not according to Poll.
“To the neutral it is hard to believe that AJ has not become a victim of his own reputation,” he added. “Whichever your viewpoint it is hard to believe that Johnson’s reputation is not now counting against him.” Poll’s comments may be engagingly honest, but they are also disappointing, highlighting as they do the human frailties we all expect referees not to fall victim to. Whatever fans on the terraces may think, referees are only human – even Rob Styles – and subject to human psychology. That means they are influenced by reputation. There is clear historical evidence of that happening to Everton. Soon after Moyes arrived at Goodison he launched an official complaint against Alan Wiley, who had allegedly told a fourth official to “keep an eye” on Duncan Ferguson as he prepared to come on as a substitute at Arsenal.
“I find that an incredible thing to say. It’s completely wrong,” said Moyes, at the time. “I asked whether they did that with all the other centre forwards who challenge consistently, or was Duncan Ferguson just being picked on? I’m disappointed in Alan Wiley.” No action was taken. But Moyes has since had further cause to be disappointed in Mr Wiley. Just three weeks ago he was the referee who ignored Andre Ooijer’s blatant foul on Johnson at Blackburn, then used a bizarre interpretation of the offside law to deny the same player a match winner. Does Wiley still remember Everton’s official complaint? It’s almost 10 months since a British referee awarded a penalty to Everton. Coincidentally, Portsmouth were in opposition at the time. Will the man in charge break the trend on Sunday? Don’t hold your breath!
Chap a chump
FURTHER evidence that the ‘thick professional footballer’ is not just a lazy stereotype. A Q&A in this week’s Preston v Stoke programme asked matchwinner Richard Chaplow who he would be supporting in Euro 2008. His reply? England.
When it was politely pointed out that England hadn't qualified, Chaplow was pressed for an alternative. Argentina, was his reply. M’lud, I rest my case.

Toffee ladies make Everton history
Feb 29 2008 by Paul Garrity, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON Ladies made history last night. The Blues lifted the FA Premier League Cup for the first time with a 1-0 win over all-conquering Arsenal - and Amy Kane was the goalscoring heroine. The Blues were massive underdogs going into the final at Leyton Orient’s Matchroom Stadium. Arsenal had won every domestic match this season, had been unbeaten for more than two years – and last season won the quadruple. But they shocked the ladies football world with a remarkable win.
There had been an air of confidence about Mo Marley’s side even before kick-off, the manager claiming her team were onto something special. And the Blues proved her right when they started with a bang, opening the scoring in the eighth minute.
Natasha Dowie played a neat through ball to Jill Scott who cleverly pulled the ball back for Amy Kane to slot home from 15 yards. That was just the start of the drama, as the Blues seemed to have woken the beast and Arsenal began to pressure the Toffees backline. Arsenal captain Faye White missed a golden opportunity at the far post and Kelly Smith began to fire at will. First Blues keeper Danielle Hill tipped a smith shot over the bar, and then defender Emily Westwood cleared another effort onto her own bar, as the pressure was unrelenting. Smith then fired over from a tight angle before Everton forward Natasha Dowie headed over from a Fara Williams free kick. Even though the Blues were under the cosh in the first half, they came out for the second with renewed vigour and seemed to get more control of the ball.
Lianne Sanderson had an effort saved by Hill, then Natasha Dowie got clean through and should have doubled the advantage, but shot straight at keeper Emma Byrne.
Arsenal started to get frustrated and many of their stars began to falter, which proved that Blues boss Marley had her tactics spot on. Young substitute Toni Duggan saw her header at the near post deflect wide for a corner with 12 minutes on the clock, in a period where Everton were hardly threatened at the back. Hill made another comfortable save from Jayne Ludlow and Anita Asante blazed over the bar in stoppage time, and that was all the Londoners could muster. The final whistle came in the third minute of stoppage time, to joyous scenes from those in Blue.
It’s the first trophy Everton have won since their Premier League success ten years ago. It was a big shock in women’s football – now the tide is turning in the favour of the Blues, just as the manager had predicted before this encounter.
Everton: Hill, Easton (Hinnigan 88’), Unitt, Williams, Westwood, Johnson, Handley, Scott, Dowie (Duggan 77’), Kane, Evans. Unused Subs: Duffy, McDougall, Boyle.Attendance: 5,008

Howard Kendall: Everton becoming a team of all stars
Feb 29 2008 by Howard Kendall, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON produced a polished, professional and highly accomplished performance to overwhelm Manchester City on Monday night. Phil Jagielka picked up the TV bubbly. But I think the biggest compliment I could pay the team is that the supporters are spoiled for choice for individual favourites. Not so long ago Mikel Arteta was the obvious choice, because he seemed to embody the Evertonian craving for skilful football. But now there are so many players performing at the peak of their powers that there are likely lads everywhere. Phil Jagielka, Tim Cahill, Lee Carsley, Joleon Lescott, Yakubu, Andy Johnson, Tim Howard . . . the list goes on.
It's not just all about Arteta any more. He wasn't even available at Eastlands and still Everton looked comfortable. To secure a result like that over a team which is supposed to be one of your closest rivals was enormously impressive.
Sven Goran Eriksson has constructed a City squad which has been successful so far this season, by investing in a large number of foreign players. But, for me, the players who are still his most influential figures are the players he has inherited.
Joe Hart, Micah Richards and Richard Dunne have all been excellent, while Michael Ball has settled down nicely as well, which is good to see. Perhaps Sven will need to rethink his approach this summer, but David Moyes seems to be doing everything right. I suspected he would use Tony Hibbert again to curb the Martin Petrov menace, which he did so effectively that the winger became frustrated and got himself sent off, while up front Cahill was always the favourite to link up with Yakubu.
It will probably be different again on Sunday against Portsmouth but, whatever side the Blues send out, there will be a number of challengers again for the Man of the Match award.
Spot of controversy
IT'S astonishing Everton haven't been awarded a penalty kick in this season's Premier League. As a manager you are always looking at your strikers to boost their goals total with penalties. But Yakubu, Andy Johnson and co. simply haven't had that opportunity. Equally, when you see a centre-back with a goals return like Joleon Lescott's, you assume that he is a penalty taker. We don't know if that's the case with Lescott, because Everton haven't been awarded any he might take!
David Moyes has set a target of double figures for the defender. It would be nice if he could get to that mark. with a spot-kick, provided fourth place isn't hanging on the outcome of it!
Mickey put in his place
THE recent press coverage of unrest at Chelsea reminds me of the time I signed Mickey Thomas for Everton. Michael Ballack, Ashley Cole and co. were reportedly unhappy at being left out of the Carling Cup Final side last weekend.
So, too, was Mickey when I asked him to play for the reserves shortly after he signed, to sharpen up after injury. He told me: "I signed for Everton to play for the first team. That means the first XI." I told him he had been signed to play for whatever team I wanted him for. He left the club soon after. Ballack and Cole have no divine right to a starting place. There is intense competition for places at Chelsea and they must accept that. David Moyes made a great statement recently when he said that there were no sulkers at Everton. It looks as though there are one or two, however, at Chelsea.
It's virtually impossible to keep a squad of players happy if they're not all playing regularly, but you have to make them understand it's a team effort. David Moyes seems to have done that. Chelsea, however, have problems – and problems like that can quickly spread.

Everton deserve greater credit
Feb 29 2008 YouBet by Adam Oldfield, Liverpool Echo
THERE’S a fierce confrontation taking place on Merseyside, only this time there’s no tall, thirsty Texan in sight. Instead, the only out of place figure concerns Everton and their odds on winning the race for Champions League qualification. After outplaying Man- chester City on Monday night, the bookmakers greeted the Blues’ recapture of fourth spot with a mooted fanfare and slightly dismissive odds of 11/4 (bet365) they're still there at the end. Although they only head Liverpool by three points – having played a game more – the Blues go into Sunday’s Goodison showdown with Portsmouth unbeaten in seven league games, during which they have conceded only once. Liverpool’s stuttering domestic form, however, merits them the favoured 8/13 billing for fourth, despite having still to travel to United and Arsenal.
Although by no means certainties for the cherished position, David Moyes’ men warrant more credit from the industry analysts. Such disbelief, however, means now is the time to back the Blues before others wise up to the fact that they are genuine contenders. They can certainly keep the momentum going against rival challengers Portsmouth, who head to Merseyside on the back of wins over Bolton and Sunderland. The Blues are an altogether different proposition. Available at 10/11 (totesport), they can ensure their local ascendency with another three points. Free-scoring Yakubu is 6/1 first goalscorer (Hills). Liverpool, meanwhile, should keep the pressure on at Bolton. Again favourably priced at 5/6 (Skybet), the Reds are unlikely to bow to a side they beat 4-0 in the reverse fixture in December. Backing the Reds and Blues should make for a welcome Sunday wager, with Skybet going 5/2 on a Mersey double.

February 2008