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Darron Gibson set to remain at Everton for rest of season after loan U-turn
1 Feb 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Everton and Ireland midfielder Gibson now very unlikely to be leaving on deadline day
Darron Gibson applauds the away fans at the end of the FA Cup win over Carlisle United
Darron Gibson could be set to stay with Everton for the rest of the season - despite the Blues looking to get him out on loan. The Republic of Ireland midfielder was being lined up for a short spell away from Goodison to help boost his chances of being selected for his country's Euro 2016 squad.
But despite interest from a number of clubs in both the Premier League and Championship, it now appears unlikely that Gibson will remain at Goodison. The former Manchester United man was used as a late substitute in yesterday's FA Cup tie with Carlisle and injury to Mo Besic may have influenced the decision for him to remain with the Blues. Gibson's Everton and international team-mate Aiden McGeady looks set to complete a loan switch to Championship outfit Sheffield Wednesday today.

Confirmed: Oumar Niasse at Finch Farm for medical as £13.5m Everton deal moves closer
1 Feb 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Senegal striker Niasse close to becoming Everton's third most expensive signing
Oumar Niasse is due to undergo a medical with Everton this morning.
The Blues have a £13.5m bid offer accepted for the Lokomotiv Moscow striker and are hopeful of progressing the deal. Niasse is at Finch Farm to discuss personal terms and have a medical as Everton move in on the highly-rated Senegal forward. The 25-year-old would become the club's third most expensive signing should the move go through with the Blues reinvesting the £8.5m they received from the sale of Steven Naismith to Norwich City. Niasse has bagged 12 goals in 21 Russian Premier League games so far this season and has been keen to move to England for some time.
Chelsea were said to have been monitoring the Lokomotiv man but Everton have made their move and are edging closer to securing his services.

Confirmed: Oumar Niasse completes £13.5m Everton transfer
1 Feb 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Everton have completed the £13.5m signing of Lokomotiv Moscow striker Oumar Niasse.
The 25-year-old has put pen to paper on a four-and-a-half-year deal after finalising personal terms today. Niasse underwent a medical at Everton's Finch Farm training ground this morning and becomes the third most expensive signing in the club's history after Marouane Fellaini and Romelu Lukaku. Oumar Niasse has become an Everton player Speaking shortly after completing the deal he said: “It’s a great day for me, a big dream to play in the Premier League and a big dream to play for Everton. “Everton is one of the best teams in the Premier League and the Premier League is one of the best leagues in the world. “I know Everton is one of the big clubs here in England with history, the fans and the great players, so I’m very excited and happy to be here. “I started to watch Everton more since the beginning of October because I had heard about their interest. “I was interested to see how they play and how they have good young players. If you see players who are aged 20
or 21 and see them perform like that, you know you have a good coach.
“The manager has said exactly what he wants. He believes I can be a player who can add something to the team. It was not difficult to talk and understand one another. You can see also that he is a good person and I am really looking forward to playing for my new team.”
Roberto Martinez was also pleased to complete the deadline day deal for a man he is confident will fit straight in on Merseyside. Martinez said: “We’re delighted because Oumar is a player we have been following for a long time. “He is the right personality and someone who is in a very good moment of his career. He has had a lot of success in Russia and he brings a different quality to what we already have in our squad. “I’m really pleased to be able to bring in Oumar in this window and we know he’s going to have a massive impact going forward. “He brings a real hunger and desire to be successful into what is already a strong squad.” The right-footed forward has not played a competitive fixture since December 10 due to Russia’s international break, but Martinez believes it will not be long until Evertonians see the latest recruit making an impact. He added: “He’ll need a little bit of time to understand the Premier League, with the tempo and all the new aspects
of the league. “But I wouldn’t expect too long because he is the type of player who can have an impact in any game. “He is a strong, powerful striker who can play in different positions. He is going to be a terrific, fresh addition to a squad that will welcome his ability. “I’m really pleased to be able to bring in Oumar in this window. We moved a couple of players on and the freshness he brings is going to be very positive going forward.” Martinez had said replacing Steven Naismith, who left for Norwich in an £8.5m deal, was not a priority but he has swooped for the Senegal international who has scored 12 times in 21 Russian Premier League games this season.
READ: What Russian football expert John Bradley thinks of Everton's new boy
Niasse, who can also play out wide, was a target for several leading European clubs but he has opted to join the Toffees and is expected to have visa clearance and be eligible for this weekend’s Premier League game at Stoke City.

Oumar Niasse will "freshen up" Everton's attack says Roberto Martinez
1 Feb 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Roberto Martinez says Oumar Niasse will help ‘freshen up’ Everton’s attack after sealing a £13.5m deal. And the Blues boss does not expect it will take the 25-year-old striker long to get up to speed with the rigours of the Premier League. Niasse put pen to paper on a four-and-a-half year deal this evening after agreeing personal terms and passing a medical. The Senegal international still requires a visa before he can play so will miss Wednesday night’s game at home to Newcastle United.
But Niasse is to be paraded in front of the supporters at Goodison and Martinez believes he will soon be a fan favourite. Everton unveil new signing Oumar Niasse at Finch Farm on February 1, 2016
“He’ll need a little bit of time to understand the Premier League, with the tempo and all the new aspects of the league,” Martinez said. “But I wouldn’t expect too long because he is the type of player who can have an impact in any game.” He added: “He is a strong, powerful striker who can play in different positions. He is going to be a terrific, fresh addition to a squad that will welcome his ability. “I’m really pleased to be able to bring in Oumar in this window. We moved a couple of players on and the freshness Oumar Niasse brings is going to be very positive going forward.”

Everton transfers: Conor McAleny seals Wigan Athletic loan
1 Feb 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Blues attacker joins League One side for the remainder of the season
Conor McAleny has sealed a loan move to Wigan Athletic.
The 23-year-old will spend the rest of the season with the League One promotion chasers.
McAleny has been unable to force his way into Roberto Martinez’s plans despite signing a new three-year deal in the summer of 2014. The Whiston-born forward has spent most of the season with the Blues’ under-21s but did have a nine game spell with Charlton Athletic.
Thanks for the messages people. Made up to of signed for @LaticsOfficial until the end of the season! Can't wait to get started!
— Conor McAleny (@CMcAleny) February 1, 2016
McAleny’s loan to Wigan will be the fifth of his Everton career after spells with Scunthorpe, Brentford and Cardiff as well as Charlton. The Academy product joins Aiden McGeady in leaving Goodison on loan today. McGeady sealed a move to Championship outfit Sheffield Wednesday but a proposed loan for Darron Gibson did not materialise.

Where will Everton new boy Oumar Niasse fit in?
2 Feb 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Phil Kirkbride analyses how £13.5m signing Niasse will feature at Everton
As Everton's third most expensive ever signing Oumar Niasse will not be expected to play second fiddle. Romelu Lukaku is the Blues' undisputed leading man but it appears the £13.5m deadline day signing has been brought in to play a supporting role. Arouna Kone's form and run in the team saw him trigger a one year contract extension at Goodison earlier this season, keeping him at the club until the end of the 2017 campaign, and his seven goals have all contributed to wins or draws.
But the Ivory Coast striker's form has been erratic of late and he has lost his place in the starting line-up for Premier League games. The first goal against Carlisle United in Sunday's FA Cup game was a timely reminder to his manager but the truth is that he could - and should - have had more.
Lukaku as a lone frontman, and without the help of a forward to help shoulder the burden has not been as effective, and Kone has been credited with helping him hit the heights this season.
He memorably once said it was "like heaven" playing alongside the Ivorian.
Romelu Lukaku celebrates his goal with Arouna Kone after making it 4-0 for Everton against Aston Villa Everton's formation has often morphed from Roberto Martinez's preferred 4-2-3-1 into either a 4-3-3 line-up or, at times, a traditional 4-4-2 when Lukaku and Kone play together. Kone's power and presence alongside Lukaku have proven a handful for opposition defences this season but, unfortunately, he struggles for consistency. This could be where Roberto Martinez sees Niasse fitting in. Lukaku has bagged 19 goals in 29 appearances this term and Niasse, believed to have an insatiable work-rate but also a serious goal-threat, will be expected to get his share as well.
Everton unveil new signing Oumar Niasse with manager Roberto Martinez at Finch Farm on February 1, 2016 Though right-footed, Niasse is able to play anywhere across the forward line and could offer the injection of energy and drive into the attack to help bring out the best in the £28m once again, after not scoring in his last four games. Martinez had insisted that replacing Steven Naismith, who was sold to Norwich City in an £8.5m deal earlier in the window, was not a priority but the Blues boss knew he could not leave his squad with only two senior strikers. At the end of his first season in charge at Everton, the Catalan revealed that he wanted to start the new campaign with four forwards and began with Lukaku, Naismith, Samuel Eto'o and Kone, slowly coming back from a career-threatening injury. Niasse's arrival leaves Everton with three senior strikers, following the transfer of Naismith, while Martinez also added Uruguayan poacher Leandro Rodriguez to the squad last summer
, though he is not expected to be around the first-team until next season.
Lukaku remains the first name on the team-sheet but Niasse's seems sure to be alongside it.

Everton kit partner Kitbag sold in £11.55m deal to US group Fanatics Inc
2 Feb 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Neil Hodgson
Sale will bring exciting new opportunities for sportswear retailer, says former owner Findel
Everton FC’s kit retail partner, Kitbag, has been sold to American sports merchandise specialist Fanatics for around £11.55m. Kitbag was previously owned by Manchester-based Findel, which will use the cash to pay down debt and strengthen its core businesses, Express Gifts and Findel Education. Findel announced last September that it had received an approach for the acquisition of its sports subsidiary. Kitbag is the retailer for a number of top flight football clubs, including Everton.
It has exclusive rights to operate the official online stores for Manchester United, Chelsea, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Celtic, Sunderland, Manchester City and Borussia Dortmund. Andy Anson, Kitbag chief executive, said the sale is the best option for the business, which has been on the market for several months. “The process of identifying the best strategic option for Kitbag has been comprehensive, but it is clear that Fanatics represents the best home for this business.
“Kitbag and Fanatics are complementary propositions. “Fanatics’ focus has been to grow and develop business in the US, while the majority of Kitbag’s presence is in Europe and the rest of the world. “As a consequence, the globalisation of all the majour sports we serve together creates fantastic opportunities for future growth and expansion. “Kitbag will, in effect, be operating as the international arm of Fanatics and we will undoubtedly be a much stronger business under Fantatics’ ownership.” Kitbag’s 500 staff at its Manchester headquarters are being told: “It’s business as usual, but with lots of exciting new opportunities ahead.” The firm was sold to Fanatics UK Holdings, a newly-formed subsidiary of Fanatics Inc. The gross consideration payable at completion is £11.55m in cash subject to an adjustment based upon the working capital position of Kitbag at completion.
The Findel board said it believes the sale of Kitbag to Fanatics to be in the best interests of its shareholders, Kitbag’s employees and Kitbag’s business partners. “The excellent strategic fit between Fanatics and Kitbag, together with Fanatic’s willingness to invest in the business, will provide opportunities to Kitbag that were not available under Findel’s ownership.” Findel also said the sale is being made at a favourable time in Kitbag’s annual working capital cycle. In addition to the £11.55m purchase consideration, the need for Findel to fund both a peak working capital requirement of around £8m and its ongoing losses has been removed. David Sugden, Findel executive chairman, said: “We believe that this transaction represents a good outcome for all concerned. As Kitbag builds upon its strengthened position, it will benefit from the expertise and international presence in this marketplace that Fanatics offers. “As for Findel, this deal will strengthen o
ur balance sheet and significantly reduce our average working capital requirement, which is consistent with our ambition to focus our resources more fully on driving growth within our core home shopping and education businesses.” Doug Mack, chief executive of Fanatics, said: “We could not be more excited to work with the Kitbag team to build upon their multi-channel capabilities, expertise in soccer and strong portfolio of partners to accelerate both our US and international growth. “Fanatics and Kitbag are a nearly perfect complement, creating a complete platform for sports fans, leagues, teams and manufacturers globally, which will grow the licensed sports industry.” For the year ended March 27, 2015, Kitbag reported a loss before tax and exceptional items of £1.2m (2014: loss of £4.1m). The loss before tax was £2.2m (2014: loss of £14.9m). This substantial reduction in losses was driven by a combination of top-line growth of 11.7% and the renegotiation of unprofi
table contracts. The gross assets of Kitbag as at March 27, 2015 were £33.7m. The sale is expected to produce a marginal loss upon disposal for Findel.

Everton Ladies offer free entry for FA Cup clash
2 Feb 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Paul Philbin
Free entry for fans who register for tickets online for Sunday's clash with Stoke
Everton Ladies are offering free entry to all fans who register for tickets online ahead of Sunday's FA Cup clash with Stoke City Ladies. Andy Spence's side begin their journey in the FA Women's Cup this weekend at Select Security Stadium in Widnes and the club are allowing free entry as a reward to fans for last season's loyal support. It is a competition that the Blues enjoy after they reached the final of the competition two years ago and the semi-final at Goodison Park last season.
The match will take place on Sunday 7th February at 2pm.
Supporters will be given the opportunity to meet the players after the game to get autographs and photos, and a lucky few will also be selected to take part in our half-time cross bar challenge.
Those who choose to pay on the gate will be charged £6 entry (adults) or £3 for concessions, so make sure you don't miss out on this great online offer. Seating is not allocated, so just bring a printed version of your eTicket to the stadium and you will gain access to the stadium.
For more information and to register for your free ticket visit

Oumar Niasse not signed to be Romelu Lukaku’s back-up, says Martínez
• Everton manager insists new signing is ‘not anyone’s back-up’
• Martínez: he can play on his own, with someone else and out wide
By Andy Hunter
Tuesday 2 February 2016 Guardian
Roberto Martínez has insisted Oumar Niasse is not a back-up option for Romelu Lukaku following Everton’s late move for the Senegal international striker.
Everton made the second most expensive signing on deadline day, the third in their history, when paying £13.5m for the 25-year-old who has scored 13 goals in 23 games for Lokomotiv Moscow this season. Martínez admits Everton had to move fast for Niasse, who had attracted interest from Chelsea, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur and several Premier League sides, and also release two first-team players – Steven Naismith and Aiden McGeady – to accommodate the new signing.
But the Everton manager denied Niasse has been brought to Goodison Park as cover for Lukaku, who has scored 19 goals in all competitions this season and been linked with a summer move to a Champions League club. “We’re very pleased because he’s someone we have been tracking for a while,” Martínez explained. “The first time we saw Oumar was in the first week of September. Since then we have been trying to find out about his character. He has a specific family situation as his wife is from England, from the north-west, and he’s been following our team and how we play and had a real conscious desire to join us. “When we saw he was available we moved very quickly, we moved two from the squad and brought someone at 25 who’s been successful in two European leagues [Turkey and Russia] with a real hunger who will fit in well into the dressing room. “He’s not back-up for anyone. He has his own ability, his own conditions and he is someone who can stretch defenders. He
can cope with the physical nature of the Premier League but his last game in the Russian league was 10 December and he’s been on a mid-season break so we need to get him back to fitness as fast as we can. “He can open space and has a real intelligent way of combining for others. He can fit in different formations – on his own, with another, out wide. He’s flexible and at 25 it’s the perfect moment for coming to the Premier League.” Niasse will be presented to the crowd when Everton host Newcastle United at Goodison on Wednesday but will not feature in the game. The first-choice goalkeeper Tim Howard is a doubt for Newcastle’s visit following an injury sustained in training on Monday.

Everton's Tim Howard a doubt for Newcastle United game
2 Feb 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Greg O’Keeffe
USA goalkeeper Howard injured and midfielder Muhamed Besic facing two weeks out
Tim Howard argues with referee Anthony Taylor after conceding a penalty against Swansea City at Goodison Park
Tim Howard is an injury doubt for Everton's game against Newcastle United after picking up a knock in training. The USA international, whose poor form has been a major talking point this term, will have to be assessed before tomorrow's clash with the Magpies at Goodison Park. And speaking to the media this lunchtime, Roberto Martinez added that midfielder Muhamed Besic is also likely to be sidelined for "a couple of weeks" after injuring his hamstring against Swansea City.
Martinez, who hopes to have Kevin Mirallas back in contention for the weekend as the Belgium steps up his recovery, said: "We're going to assess him. "He had a little bit of a knock in training yesterday. We had a scan and it didn't look too bad but we'll see what the situation is with Tim Howard tomorrow."

Martinez: John Stones is "strong enough" to deal with strain of criticism
2 Feb 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Greg O’Keeffe
Everton manager confident Stones can recapture best form after difficult period
John Stones is strong enough to deal with the added scrutiny and pressure he has come under at Everton this season, insists Roberto Martinez. The England defender has suffered a slump in form over recent weeks, and has been criticised by pundits and some supporters. He was substituted during the second half of the Capital One Cup semi-final exit to Manchester City after he was unable to stop Sergio Aguero scoring what turned out to be the winner. And his slack pass contributed to Swansea’s opener the Sunday before when Tim Howard compounded the pass by conceding a penalty. However Stones, who was rested for the FA Cup fourth round win at Carlisle, is expected to be back in the squad for the visit of Newcastle United tomorrow. John Stones and Swansea City's Gylfi Sigurdsson in action during the Barclays Premier League match at the Goodison Park And Martinez has no doubts about recalling the 21-year-old, with Seamus Coleman now fit enough to start at right-back again. “You are talking about a player of 21 who has played over 92 percent of the minutes in the league, which is a phenomenal return.” he said. Stones has played 1,890 minutes of a possible 2,070 in the Premier League this campaign. “When you reach the level of John Stones you are going to get that scrutiny and John is strong enough mentally to understand that is going to be his role in professional football and representing England for the next 15-20 years. “John is such a strong-minded boy and has been through a lot over the last eight months but has done it professionally. In those moments you need to know who you can trust and you need fair criticism and fair evaluation of your performances.

Everton donate Cup kit to boost Carlisle fund raising
2 Feb 2016 Liverpool Echo
By David Prentice
Carlisle Supporters' spokseman salutes "fantastic gesture"
EVERTON have handed over their matchworn FA Cup fourth round kit to Carlisle United as the Blues continue to boost the Cumbrians’ fund-raising efforts.
The Toffees beat the flood-hit League Two side 3-0 in Saturday’s fourth round. But rather than swapping shirts, as is often the tradition following Cup ties, the Blues have handed over their entire strip – shirts, shorts and socks - for Carlisle to auction and boost their appeal fund. Carlisle have been handed an estimated £3million cost of repairing Brunton Park after damage wreaked by Storm Desmond.
Everton had already added £5,000 to a charity fundraising campaign set up by their fans to help the flood-hit football club. Now Everton have handed over the strip they wore in Sunday’s cup tie.
“This is another fantastic gesture from Everton,” said Simon Clarkson of the Carlisle United Supporters Club. “Although the result did not go our way everyone at Carlisle is humbled by the altruism shown by Everton Football Club. From the Everton Fans’ Forum who have raised over £9,000 for the Carlisle Community Sports Trust to the club donating kit to raise fund for the flood relief campaign, Everton have shown why they are known as The People’s Club.”

Everton new boy Oumar Niasse will have to learn on the job
2 Feb 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Roberto Martinez reveals how he plans to introduce Oumar Niasse to the Premier League
Oumar Niasse will have to learn on the job as he gets up to speed with the rigours of the Premier League. Everton’s £13.5m deadline day signing from Lokomotiv Moscow has not played since December 10, when he scored in a Europa League tie. Blues manager Roberto Martinez has set out a 60-session fitness plan to get Niasse back to peak condition but says playing in games with Stoke City, West Brom and Bournemouth are part of his planned schedule. The Blues are waiting for the 25-year-old to get a visa but he will be paraded in front of the Goodison fans tonight when Everton take on Newcastle United. “He is a very fit boy, the physicality he has will allow him to have an impact in any game,” Martinez said. “But you always work around a 45-60 session programme in order to peak. We could do that in three weeks but I want the games to be part of that preparation.
“I don’t want him to be away from the group or away from competitive games.
“We will have to be patient but after three weeks we will see someone who is at a good level and him being as strong as he can be for the Premier League.” Asked if he was confident Niasse would feature in the matchday squad on Saturday against Stoke, Martinez added: “It’s hard to tell but, first, we would like to give him a typical Goodison welcome and get him to see and feel the crowd and have that chemistry.
Niasse is hungry for success
“He is hungry for success, hungry to work hard for the team and he is already thinking about how he can help the players around him, which is a very impressive approach. “But we are going to give him as much time as he needs in order to be fully fit because he hasn’t done much work since December 11, which is a long period.” Everton’s chief scout Kevin Reeves alerted Martinez to Niasse’s talent after watching Moscow’s Europa League tie at Sporting Lisbon in September. He has been following Everton for a while" - Martinez on Niasse The Blues boss continued to track the Senegal international and made his move over the weekend. “We have been following him since September and there were a lot of reports,” Martinez said. “We have been finding out a lot about the human being behind the footballer.
Oumar Niasse celebrates a goal for Lokomotiv Moscow “Oumar can play out wide or as a second striker, he is really hard working, he penetrates, he has the physicality to open spaces for others, he has got a very good goal return. “At 25, married to an English girl, his background is good and Oumar has been following us at Everton for a while. “He came to watch our game at the Etihad and slowly he has been really, really attracted to Everton.
"He came to watch us at the Etihad" - Martinez
“He knows everything about the football club and this is a really good fit.
“He is a player we didn’t expect to be available in this window but it is a good sign of how we manage our football club because we managed the finances really well and we brought the player in.”
Gerard Deulofeu in action against Manchester City during the second-leg of the Football League Cup Semi-final at the Etihad Stadium. Niasse’s arrival has put Romelu Lukaku’s long-term Everton future in doubt but Martinez insists he brought the Moscow man in to boost their forward line – and not with a view to replacing their top scorer. “First and foremost, we allowed Naismith to go for £8.5m and McGeady to go and play football,” he said. “So we reduced the squad by one and he can fill both roles.
“We now have Arouna Kone, Romelu Lukaku and Niasse but he can play in a wide role as well.”

Everton Shareholders' Association appeal to Bill Kenwright as tension mounts over unanswered questions
2 Feb 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Association say Everton refusing to "meet or engage" with them on unanswered General Meeting questions
Shareholders arrive at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall for Everton's general meeting in November
Everton’s Shareholders Association have made a direct plea to chairman Bill Kenwright amid fears of a communication breakdown with the club. EFCSA issued a statement in which they say the Blues have refused to “meet or engage” with them over unanswered questions from November’s General Meeting .
The Association released a list of 41 questions they hoped would be answered before or during the General Meeting. Everton would not answer a number of questions of the list, with chief executive Robert Elstone, on the night, describing them as “disappointing”. Robert Elstone speaking at the General meeting at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall on November 23 The Blues declined to comment on the issue but the ECHO understands the club’s position is that they informed EFCSA, prior to the General Meeting, certain questions would not be answered. Everton, it is believed, also feel that the number of shareholders who submitted questions was unrepresentative of the shareholding. And they feel the presentation on the night was thorough and open. But in a bid to keep the lines of communication open, EFCSA have gone to the Everton chairman in the hope of finding a resolution. A general view before the Everton general meeting at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall on November 23, 2015
EFCSA chairman John Blain said: “The Club, through the chief executive, have basically said to us that they are not going to answer any more questions from the AGM and are not going to have any meeting with us. "It is why we have escalated to the board and it is not a good state of affairs when they refuse to talk to the shareholders.” He added: “Bill is the most approachable guy you can think of and we would’ve gone to him a lot sooner but, as we understand it, he has not been in the best of health.
Everton's chairman has been suffering with health problems “We have not been able to speak to Bill because he was not in his office but his PA is aware we want to meet with him. “We have also written to Bill. We are doing what we can.” An excerpt from EFCSA’s statement read: “Since the latest Annual General Meeting the Association has initiated dialogue with the Club on numerous occasions via letter, email and telephone. "We have attempted to find common ground with an underlying objective of getting answers to the questions that were asked in good faith by Shareholders. The Club has refused to meet or engage with the Association.”

Everton to be without Mo Besic until end of February after hamstring injury
2 Feb 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Everton boss Roberto Martinez insists he will not rush midfielder back
Muhamed Besic is set to be sidelined until the end of the month.
The Everton midfielder has suffered a fresh hamstring injury and manager Roberto Martinez is not expecting to have him available until after the FA Cup fifth round tie with Bournemouth.
Besic pulled up during last month’s home game with Swansea City after sustaining a grade one tear and has missed the Capital One Cup semi-final second leg with Man City and the FA Cup tie against Carlisle.
Martinez is planning to be without Besic for at least the next four matches and insists that after the midfielder suffered hamstring problems earlier in the campaign, it is important not to rush him back.
“Mo has suffered a grade one hamstring problem and the opposite to the one he damaged against Chelsea , so we’re looking at the end of February,” Martinez said. “The only thing with Mo was that he was good when he was playing recently and when you are out you are frustrated. “But he can be very, very proud of his performances and the way he helped the team. “He needs to get through this period, it is not as bad as the first one but we are going to make sure he is strong and fit to finish the season.
“This is not as much of a psychological blow as the first injury.”

Tom Cleverley tells Everton: improve results to conquer the fear factor
• Roberto Martínez’s side have collected only 13 points at home this season
• Cleverley: ‘How do you get through it? You start winning football matches’
Everton's Tom Cleverley
Everton’s Tom Cleverley says it is the team’s responsibility to transform the atmosphere at Goodison by winning matches. Photograph: Mercury Press/Rex/Shutterstock
By Andy Hunter
Tuesday 2 February 2016 Guardian
Tom Cleverley has told Everton the only way to alleviate anxiety inside Goodison Park and criticism of the club’s young talent is by improving results.
Roberto Martínez’s team host Newcastle United having failed to win their last five Premier League matches at Goodison since a 4-0 defeat of Aston Villa on 21 November. Frustration has inevitably grown during that barren spell and Martínez conceded after the 2-1 defeat by Swansea City that: “We are not enjoying playing at home.” His team have collected 13 points at Goodison this season, 16 away, and no Premier League team have conceded more on home soil than Everton’s 22.
The Everton manager claimed a fear factor contributed to the Swansea display, with John Stones among those criticised for their performances. Cleverley, however, no stranger to disapproval during his time at Manchester United, admits it is the team’s responsibility to repair the atmosphere at Goodison by winning matches. “I definitely know what it’s like,” said the England international. “Now I feel like I am one of the older players and I am trying to pass advice on to the younger ones who are experiencing a bit of stick for the first time. “I feel like I can help. How do you get through it? You start winning football matches. That is the only thing that can change it. We aren’t the only set of players taking some stick. I’m sure two wins next week can sort that out. “It’s a give-and-take relationship with the team and the supporters. We have got to put performances in and hopefully they will be with us all the way. That is the only thing that football clubs can do. It is not my place to start giving advice to the fans but we have got to stick together. You do feel it [the atmosphere] but it is something that footballers have got to deal with. I have experienced it at both ends of the spectrum. I have had the pressure of title races and the pressure of relegation battles. One thing we are is entertaining. If we can turn the entertainment into results, I’m sure everyone will enjoy the rest of the season.” Cleverley has made an encouraging start to his Everton career, albeit with injury disrupting the first half of the campaign, and it was his stoppage-time header at Newcastle on Boxing Day that gave Martínez’s side their last Premier League win. The midfielder concedes: “I thought our luck was changing on Boxing Day but it hasn’t been the case. It has been frustrating and last Wednesday [at Manchester City in the Capital One Cup semi-final)] was a really frustrating night. Everyone realises there have been five or six games that we have not seen out. We have been a tad unlucky but everyone at the club feels we should be higher than where we are. But we are not feeling sorry for ourselves. We set a marker down; Carlisle United [beaten 3-0 in the FA Cup on Sunday)] was the beginning of the second half of the season and we want to make it a successful one.”
Martínez has praised the League Two club, and their supporters, for the reaction to alleged racist abuse suffered by Arouna Koné and Steven Pienaar after Everton opened the scoring at Brunton Park. Cumbria police are investigating a reported incident and the Everton manager believes Carlisle deserve credit for their swift response. He said: “It shocked everyone but I think the way it was dealt with was perfect, from the referee [Lee Mason] to the way that Carlisle United made clear it wasn’t acceptable [through an immediate announcement on the PA system]. The worry was that the game was going to become 90 minutes of abuse but it was dealt with in the right manner and even the fans in that area stopped it from happening. Arouna and Steven were quite happy at the end of the game with how it was handled.”

Tom Cleverley says he will help team-mates targeted by frustrated Everton supporters
Cleverley went through a similarly difficult period at Manchester United where he became a whipping boy prior to his departure
By Chris Bascombe
02 Feb 2016 Telegraph
Tom Cleverley, the Everton midfielder, says he will use his experience when targeted by Manchester United’s boo boys to guide his young team-mates through their home discomfort.
Fixtures at Goodison Park have become a test of endurance for many of the Everton players, the poor form resulting in increased frustration in the stands. Cleverley had to go through a similarly difficult period at Old Trafford where he became a whipping boy prior to his departure. “Now I feel like I am one of the older ones and I am trying to pass my advice on to the younger players who are experiencing a bit of stick for the first time,” said Cleverley ahead of Wednesday’s visit of Newcastle.
Cleverley went through a difficult period at Old Trafford
“I feel like I can help. How do you get through it? You start winning football matches. That is the only thing that can change it. We aren’t the only set of players taking some stick. I’m sure two wins can sort that out. “It’s a give and take relationship with the team and the supporters. We have got to put performances in and hopefully they will be with us all the way. That is the only thing that football clubs can do. “It is not my place to start giving advice to the fans. But we have got to stick together. You do feel it (the tension) but it is something that footballers have got to deal with. “I have experienced it at both ends of the spectrum. I have had the pressure of title races and the pressure of relegation battles. One thing we are is entertaining. If we can turn the entertainment into results, I’m sure everyone will enjoy the rest of the season.” Everton’s new arrival Oumar Niasse will not be eligible to make his debut until he receives his visa. Manager Roberto Martinez has dismissed suggestions the £13.5 million striker is the long-term replacement for Romelu Lukaku. Roberto Martinez says Everton have the best young players in Europe “That would be very cynical,” said Martinez. “We have got probably the best young players in European football with Lukaku, John Stones, Gerard Deulofeu and Ross Barkley. I don’t think you would try to replace any of those. “If you lose one of those players I don’t think you are going to be short in cash to try and replace players. “It’s not that at all. We have replaced Steven Naismith and Aiden McGeady with one player, a player who is at the age we need and a player who brings something a bit different.
“The psychological hunger he is bringing to the squad is a real plus for us.”
Although Niasse will be introduced to the Goodison crowd on Wednesday, Martinez hopes he will be involved at Stoke this weekend. “We are doing the paperwork now. I want him to be involved with the team as quick as we can even though he will need a bit of period before he gets back to match fitness because his last game was on the 10th of December,” said Martinez. “It is not too early for him to be involved at Stoke. He wont be able to play 90 minutes but what we need to do is draw up an individual programme which will be two or three sessions a day in order to get his fitness levels up to the level needed to play in the Premier League.”

Liverpool FC fans give derby seats to Reds fan who pledged his tickets to disabled Everton youngster
3 Feb 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Cristina Criddle
"We feel like part of a big family and that's why we want to give away the tickets"
A Norwegian couple, Geir 52, and Line, 47, Kristoffersen have offered their tickets to the man who gave away his tickets to an 8-year-old Everton fan abused at a football match
Two Norwegian Liverpool FC fans have offered their derby seats to a man who pledged his own tickets to a disabled Everton fan abused at Man City. Reds season ticket holder Robbie Owen had offered his tickets to February’s Merseyside derby to James ‘JJ’ Ireland, eight, and his dad, after they were left traumatised by events at the Etihad last week. JJ, from Garston, who has cerebral palsy, was told by Man City fans that he “should have been drowned at birth”. Mr Owen, from Huyton, stepped forward yesterday to say that he wanted JJ and his dad, James, to “see what an away game should be like”.

He said: “Me and my son will watch the match in the pub, no problem. We look after one another in this city.” Now, a Norwegian couple, Geir and Line Kristoffersen, want to give Mr Owen their seats.
The Kristoffersens travel to Liverpool regularly for matches but can no longer attend.
Speaking to the ECHO, Geir, 52, a construction worker, expressed his horror at JJ’s ordeal.
He said: “That was horrible, it should never be like that, and then I saw what this guy has done.
“I want to do it because he was nice with the other fan and I know how hard it will be to watch in a pub.
“I’ve been a Liverpool supporter since I knew what football was. “We love your city and the people of Liverpool, we always feel welcome and have got friends for life. “We feel like part of a big family and thats why we want to give away the tickets for the derby.” Mr Owen said he was grateful to the Kristoffersens that he will be able to attend the match with his son Cailen, six. He told the ECHO: “It is just about everyone pulling together, we don’t want anyone to lose out. “The generosity of Liverpool and Everton fans shows there’s some good people out there. “My little fella will be made up now he can go, although he said he didn’t mind missing the football for JJ.”

Michael Ball: Game management was drummed into me at 22!
3 Feb 2016 Liverpool Echo
By David Prentice
Former Blues ace learned an invaluable lesson at a young age
I was a still impressionable 22-year-old when I learned an invaluable football lesson which stayed with me throughout my career. I was playing for Glasgow Rangers against Moscow Dynamo, I’d scored from a free-kick in a comfortable 3-1 first leg win - and I walked back into the Ibrox dressing room feeling really good about myself.
That mood quickly vanished as Dick Advocaat tore into us.
We’d played well, had been leading 3-0, but had conceded a last minute goal to the Russians.
And Dick was furious. He absolutely lambasted us. We all wondered what was the matter with him.
He told us about how conditions could be bad in Moscow, how that late goal had given Dynamo a lifeline and hope – and how we’d been sloppy to let them back into it. Ultimately it made no difference to the outcome of the tie. We went through comfortably. But I never forgot that lesson about managing ties, about being ruthless and about not taking uncessary risks. That story ran through my head again when Ross Barkley gave us a 3-1 lead on aggregate at Manchester City last week. Yes, we were ultimately beaten by the best team in the league - a team we have won once, drawn once and now lost once against, and a side which can call on a £50m substitute. There is no doubt that City’s crucial second goal on the night shouldn’t have been allowed either.
But I couldn’t help thinking that we needed to manage the tie better.
When Raheem Sterling crossed there were still six Everton defenders in the box - but we weren’t nasty enough, we weren’t ruthless enough and we didn’t show a good enough reaction when City made it 2-1 on the night. With 21 minutes remaining of a 180 minute tie we were going to Wembley. seven minutes later we were out. We needed to manage the tie better than we did. JOHN Stones is currently a victim of his own quality – and I feel a bit sorry for him if the truth be told. He is so good, and has produced performances of such a high standard, that every error he is making at the moment is being highlighted.
A couple of games on the sidelines may actually help him at the moment. He will have time for a little self analysis and rediscover the hunger to get things right. About 98 per cent of the work John has been producing has been good – but because people expect so much from him that two per cent is being spotlighted. A short break may help right now. Oumar Niasse can make an impact at Everton tomorrow – even though he won’t kick a ball! The match against Newcastle is a big one – and we desperately need the crowd to be supportive and show no anxiety. Niasse will, no doubt, be introduced to the crowd before kick-off and hopefully that will generate a positive atmosphere we can take into the match.

We don’t want the new boy sitting in the stands, listening to moans and groans and thinking: “What on earth have I come to here?”
Welcome to another blue on deadline day!
Congratulations to mum Suzanne and 6lb 3oz Alfie Harrison, who are both doing well.
I’m sure we’ll see him at Goodison soon – then hopefully running out for the Blues in about the year 2033! Now let’s celebrate with an Everton victory over Newcastle!
Winter blast!
I MUCH preferred referees like Jeff Winter who you could talk to during matches.
Martin Atkinson clearly is not in the same mould. But even Jeff had his moments. I remember before one game, Don Hutchison telling Jeff in the tunnel that we had a quick free-kick routine we had been working on. Jeff nodded, listened to what Don had to say, then the first time he tried it after kick-off he demanded that the kick be retaken and booked Hutch! You can never win with referees.

Everton 3-0 Newcastle: Blues sweat on Lukaku for Stoke but Stones set to miss out
Feb 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Kristian Walsh
Double injury concern for Roberto Martinez
Gavin Trafford
Everton FC v Newcastle United Premier League match at Goodison Park Liverpool. Romelu Lukaku free kick goes close
Romelu Lukaku is an injury doubt for Saturday's trip to Stoke after being withdrawn at half time in Everton's 3-0 win over Newcastle. The Belgian suffered a knock to his back during the first half at Goodison Park and, despite trying to continue, was substituted at the break for Arouna Kone.
The 22-year-old, who has not scored a league goal since the end of December, picked up an ankle injury in the semi-final win over Manchester City last month. He was given a rest against Carlisle in the FA Cup on Sunday - but after his latest knock, Martinez is unsure whether he will be fit in time for the trip to the Britannia Stadium at the weekend. "He couldn't really walk at the moment," said Martinez. "He had a knee in his back and he tried to run it off for the last spell in the first half and he couldn't. "It will be difficult to see if he can make it on Saturday, but it's not a major problem apart from the impact and the reaction down into his legs." The Blues could also be set to be without John Stones for a week after the centre back missed the convincing win over the Magpies. Martinez says Stones is out of the trip to Stoke, but the overall prognosis looks good. "John had a niggle in his hamstring, he had a scan yesterday and it was all clear," explained Martinez. "It
was more of a fatigue reaction in his hamstring. you have to remember John is 21 and has played more games this season than any other in his career. "We have to give him a period to regenerate but I expect him to be back in the next week or 10 days."

No complaints from McClaren following Lascelles red card at Everton
Ross Barkley dinks home his penalty for 3-0 after the dismissal of Jamaal Lascelles in conceding the spot-kick
Ross Barkley dinks home his penalty for 3-0 after the dismissal of Jamaal Lascelles in conceding the spot-kick
Miles Starforth
Thursday 04 February 2016 Sunderland Echo
Steve McClaren had no complaints with the red card shown to Newcastle United defender Jamaal Lascelles in last night’s 3-0 defeat at Everton. Lascelles will miss Saturday’s home game against West Bromwich Albion after being dismissed at Goodison Park. The defender brought down Ross Barkley to concede a penalty in injury time. And Barkley – who had converted a spot-kick after a foul by makeshift left-back Rolando Aarons six minutes earlier – delicately lifted the ball past Rob Elliot for Everton’s third goal. Aaron Lennon had given Everton a first-half lead, and goalkeeper Elliot kept Newcastle in the game until the 88th minute with a series of saves. “He put himself in that situation, and you’re always liable to give away a penalty and a red card, which, unfortunately, Jamaal did,” said head coach McClaren. Lascelles had come off the bench to replace the injured Chancel Mbemba in the first half. McClaren added: “It’s a blow for us because we’ve lost him a
nd Chancel now, although we hope Chancel will be better (for Saturday).” McClaren hopes to have midfielder Jack Colback available for the West Brom game. Colback – who missed the Everton game with a hamstring problem – would be able to deputise for injured pair Paul Dummett and Massadio Haidara at left-back.

Everton donate FA Cup strips to United
4 February 2016 Carlise News & Star
Everton have handed their matchworn strips from last Sunday's FA Cup tie over to Carlisle United in a gesture of goodwill to further aid their fundraising efforts. The club had earlier contributed a total of £5,000 to a charity fund which had been set up by a group of Toffees supporters with the aim of helping the appeal following Storm Desmond and the subsequent flooding that ravaged Brunton Park. And now the Premier League club have donated the shirts, shorts and socks worn by their players in front of the sell-out 17,000 crowd at the weekend, with the intention of allowing Carlisle to auction them off to further swell the fund. As of yesterday, the JustGiving page set up by the Everton Fans' Forum had reached a total of £9,197, far surpassing the original target of £7,500.
Simon Clarkson, of Carlisle United Official Supporters' Club, praised the Merseyside club for their efforts to help the community and the club they dumped out of the FA Cup at the weekend.
“This is another fantastic gesture from Everton,” “Although the result did not go our way everyone at Carlisle is humbled by the altruism shown by Everton Football Club. From the Everton Fans’ Forum who have raised over £9,000 for the Carlisle Community Sports Trust to the club donating kit to raise fund for the flood relief campaign, Everton have shown why they are known as The People’s Club.”
Meanwhile, a 15-year-old from Carlisle has been arrested in connection with claims of racist behaviour during the Everton tie.

Everton 3-0 Newcastle analysis: Concern for Lukaku while the pressure is on Howard
3 Feb 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Kristian Walsh
Five things we learned as Blues cruised to win over Magpies
It was a dry January for Romelu Lukaku. After a stunning 2015, he scored just one goal after the new year - and none in the league. His last goal in the league came in the 4-3 defeat to Stoke on December 28. The Belgian is not one to make excuses, but it would be fair to say the ankle injury sustained against Manchester City in the first leg of the League Cup semi-final has inhibited him. He had lost his sharpness and his menace. That was back at Goodison - for all of half an hour. He was strong, direct and causing a panicked New Then, an injury. Its seriousness is not yet known but after being grounded on the turf, holding his back, Lukaku struggled to maintain that level of performance. No surprise he went off at half time for Arouna Kone. The hope is it is not serious. The hope, even if it is not, is that injury does not knock him throughout February in the same way it did in January. Goodison seems a happier places with Robles in goal Tim Howard never fails to make the headl
ines. His inclusion in the Everton team has been a constant source of criticism for Roberto Martinez. The complaints are well-known - and Goodison makes it clear to the manager every week what they are. No Howard against Newcastle through injury, but still discussions around the American. Goodison cheered his replacement, Joel Robles, when his name was read out. It was a happier place and the defence seemed a happier unit. A big night for Joel, then. The young Spaniard passed it with flying colours, once more. A clean sheet was deserved given his commanding performance. It was confidence personified. What now, then, for Howard? A return to the line-up when fit again is almost certain. It will do nothing but raise the rancour towards Howard once more. The pressure is on yet again.
Martinez's waiting game saves Geri's legs for Stoke
Roberto Martinez stood on the touchline and waited. There was a big game to come against Stoke at the Britannia, and he had to juggle his options. As time ticked towards the end, he waited for Gerard Deulofeu. A risky strategy, even against an attack as blunt as Newcastle's. No matter the opponent, the game is always alive at 1-0. Goodison knew this and became agitated. Soon, the bench stopped becoming a blessing and was soon seen as a burden. Perhaps Martinez had too many options at his disposal to call upon. Osman and Pienaar would offer something different, a bit of experience perhaps. Deulofeu, however, could help kill the game. Still he waited. The Gwladys Street sang for the no.19 but the worries over game management grew. Even a side as downbeat as Newcastle could profit from such ponderous behaviour. But Martinez did not blink. With four minutes remaining, he was rewarded. The Blues won a penalty - their first of the season - and Barkley converted. Then, the London buses:
a second penalty in stoppage time. Three goals, three points. Deulofeu's legs are saved for Stoke, and the Catalan's waiting game on the sidelines, justified. Wide boys hand Niasse a warning Few people would have known Oumar Niasse before this week. In fact, he would have been largely unknown this time last year as an industrious, unremarkable Lokomotiv Moscow forward. One year, countless goals and £13.5m later, Goodison was introduced to him. Roberto Martinez said he would not simply be coming to Merseyside as back-up for Lukaku. The Belgian's injury might dictate otherwise, of course, and his ability to play alongside a partner in a two or out wide is part of the reason he cost so much from the Russian side.
But he should not be expected to walk straight into the team. Not on this evidence.
Perhaps it was the increased competition that saw Everton's two wide men combine for the opening goal. Tom Cleverley, stationed on the left, set up the right-sided Aaron Lennon for a nice finish. Lennon was superb throughout, Cleverley industrious as ever. A good balance and a foundation to win the game. Neither Cleverley or Lennon are the sort of player Niasse is. Niasse will bring power, strength, and goals. Something different, no doubt. He will be another bow to the Blues' attacking line, but the wide men were on-song here.
Blues midfield trio controlled the game
For all the swazz Newcastle's midfield potentially possessed, nothing beat the sagacity of the Blues' midfield. Giorginio Wijnaldum could have been in the royal blue if summer events transpired differently. Given some of his performances this season, there is a bit of resentment around that. Not tonight, though. He and Shelvey - no stranger to life on Merseyside - were outthought by their 'safer' counterparts. With Barry and McCarthy a well-established axis, and Cleverley dropping from the left to support them, they controlled the game. The Toon twosome are both attacking minded and marched forward at any opportunity, leaving Henri Saivet behind them isolated. The Toffees' trio, meanwhile, held their positions. They nullified the threat and exploited the gaps they left behind them. The first goal showed how it could be done. Sometimes, the Everton midfield is not considered sexy enough. Not enough drive or penetration. They showed Goodison why that is not necessarily a bad thing o
n a night like this.

Everton pioneer mental health awareness against Newcastle
3 Feb 2016 Liverpool Echo
By David Prentice
EVERTON will become the first Premier League team to dedicate a themed matchday to mental health issues. Time to Talk Day, highlighting awareness of the stigma around mental health, is on Thursday, February 4 - and the Blues have dedicated their match against Newcastle the previous day to promoting the cause. Everton’s players will be wearing specially designed Time to Talk T-shirts during their warm up, which will be picked up by over 100 broadcasters who will be beaming the game around the world. The club’s big screens will highlight the work carried out by Everton in the Community in the area of mental health wellbeing prior to kick-off and during half-time.
And before kick-off the club’s designated Time to Change Employee Champions, Andrew Critchley and Dave Curtis, will be interviewed on the Fan Zone and in the Matchday Hub at Goodison Park.
Twelve volunteers from Time to Change will also be available around the ground to engage with any fans wishing to talk or learn more about mental health wellbeing, Time to Talk day and Everton in the Community. Everton’s work in the field of mental health has also been endorsed by Luciana Berger, Shadow Minister for Mental Health, who said: “I am delighted that Everton is the first football club to use a Premier League game to raise awareness of mental health.
“Mental health has come out of the shadows in recent years but too many people with mental health problems still face stigma, prejudice and discrimination. With suicide the biggest killer of men under 45, there is a lot more work to do to encourage people to talk about their mental health.
“This initiative from Everton, involving all their players, helps to tackle the taboo and sends a strong message that mental health is not something to be ashamed about. I wish it every success.”
Sue Baker, Director of Time to Change, added “So many lives have been blighted by the stigma that surrounds mental health, and lives have been lost because people don’t feel they can talk about their mental health problems and are afraid of getting help. “We know that talking openly about mental health can make a real difference so we are asking people to do just that and get talking on February 4. This will be our third Time to Talk Day, and this year we are asking the whole nation to join the conversation. Mental health is relevant to every family, workplace, school, sports group, place of worship, social club or community group, so let’s get talking.” In August 2015, Everton Football Club became one of 60 nationwide organisations to sign the Time to Change pledge. As a result the club nominated two Time to Change employee champions who work to challenge mental health discrimination across the club. The pair regularly host a number of activities, events and initiatives
for club colleagues.
Time To Talk Day
One in four of us will experience a mental health problem in any given year but many of us are too afraid to talk about it. Time to Talk Day aims to break the silence and end mental health discrimination and it is expected that thousands of individuals and organisations will come together to show that talking about this once-taboo issue does not need to be difficult or scary. Funded by the Department of Health, Comic Relief and the Big Lottery Fund and organised by Time to Change - the mental health anti-stigma programme run by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness - the annual day of action seeks to get as many people as possible across England talking about mental health.
The club’s official charity, Everton in the Community, has been working with Mersey Care NHS Trust since 2007 to pioneer a series of programmes to specifically tackle mental health issues among different groups within the local community. Everton in the Community’s pioneering work around mental health has led to the charity being invited to London amongst a selected group of guests for the Government’s flagship speech about mental health delivered by former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg as well as invitations down to Whitehall to meet with former Minister for Care and Support Norman Lamb to advise him on the impact of our work around mental health.

Conor McAleny has long term future at Everton says Roberto Martinez
Feb 3 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
CONOR MCALENY has been told that he still has a long-term future at Everton.
The 23-year-old has joined League One side Wigan Athletic for the rest of the season, the fifth loan spell of his Blues career. Whiston-born McAleny, who has made three appearances for Everton’s first-team, has previously spent time at Scunthorpe, Brentford, Cardiff and Charlton. McAleny signed a new three-year deal in the summer of 2014 which keeps him at the club until the end of next season. And Roberto Martinez insists that the Academy product can still fulfil his dream of being a regular for Everton’s senior team. “Of course, he has,” declared Martinez, when asked if McAleny still had a future at Everton. “Conor, like any other youngster, needs to go out on loan and experience different dressing rooms, different ways of being managed and different ways of playing and Conor had a really difficult experience at Charlton with three different managers so, now, we are looking for some stability going to Wigan. “They are looking to achieve promotion, something he ha
s not experienced yet, and Conor - after the work he’s done in the last two months - has earned the opportunity to go on another loan and finish the season really, really strongly. “I’ve got real satisfaction at the way he’s reacted to the situation at Charlton and we’re looking forward to seeing how he does at Wigan, in order to see what is the next step for him in pre-season.”
McAleny says Martinez sold the Wigan move to him. “Roberto said good things about Wigan,” he added. “He praised the club’s fans and staff and said he thinks I will do well here. “The gaffer here has been positive too; he is getting the lads playing and I am buzzing with that because that is my game.” McAleny went onto say: “The short term aim is to do my best for Wigan and help the club win promotion. The team is doing really well so it up to me now to push my way in and then stay in.”

EFC v NUFC stats & figures: Blues and Toon are perfectly matched, but don't expect a penalty!
3 Feb 2016 Liverpool Echo
By David Prentice
Gavin Buckland's stats and figures ahead around Everton v Newcastle
In all Premier League games the teams are exactly balanced – both having won 17 games apiece, with nine draws. Both teams have scored 60 goals apiece. In all league games, the teams are equally as balanced: Everton lead 64-63 on wins with Everton scoring 241 goals and conceding 239.
Everton have won six of the last eight meetings between the teams (W6 D1 L1)
At Goodison Everton have lost just one of the last 12, in September 2010 (W8 D3 L1)
The Toffees are after their first league double of the campaign, after our 1-0 win at St James’ Park on Boxing Day – our only PL victory in 10 games.
Therefore, if Everton win on Wednesday we would have recorded successive league wins, both against the same team. This last happened against Aston Villa in 1982.
Wednesday will be Roberto Martinez’s 100th Premier League game in charge of Everton, the Spaniard has won 39 games and lost 29 thus far. If the Toffees win against Newcastle then he will be the fifth Everton boss to reach 40 wins in his first 100 league games.
Everton are one loss away from 1,500 in their top-flight history
They have conceded 499 Premier League goals at Goodison.
Ross Barkley requires one more appearance to reach 100 for Everton in the PL. At the age of 22 years and two months he will be the second youngest Everton player to reach the milestone, after Michael Ball, who was 21 years two months in 2000.
Barkley has scored three goals in five appearances against Newcastle.
Romelu Lukaku has scored five goals and assisted four more in seven Premier League appearances against the Magpies.
The Toffees have not won any of their last five PL home games, a failure to win on Wednesday will mean six at home without a victory for the first time since December 2009.
Everton are the only team who have not been awarded a penalty in the Premier League this season

Everton v Newcastle team Selector: Four Echo writers pick their teams, now pick yours
3 Feb 2016 Liverpool Echo
By David Prentice
Put yourself in Roberto Martinez's brown brogues for the Newcastle match
Dave Prentice picks his EFC 11 for tonight's match
Roberto Martinez has decisions to make tonight.
Does he recall Tim Howard or stick with Joel Robles?
Does he bring back Seamus Coleman at right-back rather than John Stones? And does that then mean that Ramiro Funes Mori or Stones plays centre-back?
And does he play Deulofeu or Lennon down the right - or play them both?
We asked our four Echo writers for their views and this is what they told us.
Dave Prentice
Sounding like a broken record, but Joel Robles has earned an extended run in the team - and I think leaving out John Stones would be more damaging than beneficial. Besides, in the first and last few minutes at Carlisle Ramiro Funes Mori looked like he would benefit from a break.
Gerard Deulofeu makes things happen. I want him in on the right - at least until he tires and Everton have hopefully established a lead even they can't lose. Tom Cleverley adds defensive balance on the left - and can take a decent corner - while Barkley and Lukaku are the now established split front two.
Team: ?
Ian Doyle
Everton and Goodison hasn't been a particularly great mix in recent weeks. And neither has Tim Howard and the Blues supporters. Joel Robles has started the last two games and has done little to suggest he shouldn't retain his place, so he's in.
The same, though, couldn't said of John Stones. And if I was Roberto Martinez, I'd be administering some tough love and dropping the England man to the bench. Elsewhere, Tom Cleverley deserves to stay in - James McCarthy hasn't done enough since his return to fitness - and so too does Aaron Lennon, bearing in mind that Newcastle's defence is, well, rubbish.
My team (4-2-3-1): Robles; Coleman, Jagielka, Funes Mori, Baines; Barry, Cleverley; Deulofeu, Barkley, Lennon; Lukaku.
Neil Jones
Right, to Stones or not to Stones?
Is that honestly an issue? Are we really suggesting Everton drop their best player because of one or two errors? Well I'm not having that, sorry. He plays, alongside Phil Jagielka. Seamus Coleman right back, Leighton Baines left back. Joel Robles in goal. Let's see if they can get back to something like a cohesive defensive unit. In midfield, Gareth Barry and James McCarthy should be reunited, and I'm keeping Aaron Lennon on the right after his showing against Carlisle. Tom Cleverley can work from the left, with Ross Barkley supporting Romelu Lukaku. Gerard Deulofeu can make do with a place as the impact substitute.
My team (4-2-3-1): Robles, Coleman, Stones, Jagielka, Baines, Barry, McCarthy, Lennon, Barkley, Cleverley, Lukaku.
Ian Croll
For me, as far as team selectors go, this one should be pretty straightforward.
Whether Howard is injured or not, Robles should be in. He's shown he is more than capable when given the chance. The full backs pick themselves. Baines on the left and Coleman on the right.
Club captain Phil Jagielka joins the back line proving for me, he is still our best defender.
Next one is possible slightly tougher. Mori hasn't put a foot wrong, while Stones on the other hand hasn't had a great couple of weeks. John deserves a chances to put things right, however, and I'm confident he will. Jags and Stones both in at the back. As for midfield, Barry keeps his place as he continues to go from strength to strength. Next one for me is a toss-up. McCarthy is the obvious choice, but with Darron Gibson staying at the club after a potential loan move away, I would like to see him given a chance. I'm hoping by the later stages of the game we will have a decent lead and McCarthy can come on for Gibson to sure things up. Having been rested at the weekend Deulofeu should be ready. He is my choice at right-wing. I will throw a spanner in the works for my next choice. Lennon, predominantly a right sided player would be my pick for the left. I believe with speed on both flanks, Newcastle wouldn't be able to cope.
My final two picks will be no surprise. Barkley and Lukaku up top.
My team: Robles, Baines, Stones, Jagielka, Coleman, Barry, Gibson, Barkley, Lennon, Deulofeu, Lukaku.

Teenager arrested in Carlisle-Everton Cup tie racism investigation
• Arouna Koné and Steven Pienaar targeted after Everton goal at Brunton Park
• Cumbria police confirm arrest of 15-year-old boy
Wednesday 3 February 2016 Guardian
Police have arrested a 15-year-old boy following an investigation into allegations of racist abuse of players in Everton’s 3-0 FA Cup fourth-round victory against Carlisle United at Brunton Park on Sunday. Soon after Arouna Koné’s second-minute opening goal for the visitors, the referee, Lee Mason, was seen consulting with the managers Roberto Martínez and Keith Curle, before a message was broadcast over the public address system announcing that any racist abuse would not be tolerated. Martínez, the Everton manager, later said it was his understanding some “racial remarks” had allegedly come from the Warwick Road End stand as Koné and Steven Pienaar celebrated the goal. Both clubs were contacted by the Football Association as part of the governing body’s inquiries, while Cumbria police also issued an appeal for information. On Wednesday, it was confirmed one arrest had now been made, with the teenager released on bail, as ongoing investigations continue. A statemen
t from Cumbria police read: “Police have arrested a male as part of an investigation regarding allegations of racist behaviour directed towards football players in Carlisle United’s FA Cup fourth round tie with Everton. “A 15-year-old male, from Carlisle, has been arrested on suspicion of racially/religiously aggravated intentional harassment/alarm/distress by words contrary to Section 4a of the Public Order Act. He has been bailed until 9 March 2016.
“Police are working closely with Carlisle United as part of inquiries to identify any other suspects.”
After the cup tie, Martínez had praised Mason for his handling of the matter, and added: “There is no room for that sort of behaviour, but I must stress it was a very small minority and I want to believe that it was just an emotional reaction to the disappointment of conceding a goal.”
A bumper crowd of 17,101 had turned out for what was only Carlisle’s second game back at their own stadium since it was caught up in floods.

Everton 3 Newcastle United 0: Embarrassing defeat heaps pressure on McClaren
By Miles Starforth
Wednesday 03 February 2016 Shield Gazzett
Newcastle United's woeful campaign took another turn for the worse at Goodison Park tonight.
Steve McClaren's relegation-threatened side were beaten 3-0 by Everton on a night when nothing went right for the visitors. The game, which came days after the club's completed its £28.5million January spend, was decided by a first-half goal from Aaron Lennon and two late penalties, both converted by Ross Barkley. And had it not been for Rob Elliot, Newcastle, who lost defender Chancel Mbemba to a foot injury, would have been on the end of a much heavier defeat on Merseyside. With United trailing by Lennon's 23rd-minute opener, the goalkeeper made a series of saves to keep his team in the game, Substitute Aleksandar Mitrovic somehow missed an opportunity to level from six yards. But Everton's pressure at the other end of the pitch finally told two minutes from time. Rolando Aarons brought down Lennon in the box with a careless challenge and Barkley rolled the resulting penalty past Elliot. Barkley converted a second penalty after Jamaal Lascelles brought him down in the box
. Lascelles will now miss the club's next game through suspension. Andros Townsend made his full United debut, but the winger, lacking match fitness, wasn't able to get at the home defence on his first Premier League appearance since October.
Striker Seydou Doumbia, signed on loan from AS Roma on transfer deadline day, was an unused substitute. Newcastle remain 18th in the Premier League and two points adrift of safety ahead of Saturday's home game against West Bromwich Albion. And head coach McClaren is yet to convince many fans that he can get the most out of a team which has had almost £80million spent on it since the end of last season.
EVERTON: Joel, Oviedo, Funes Mori, Jagielka, Coleman, McCarthy, Barry, Cleverley, Lennon, Barkley, Lukaku (Kone, 46). Subs not used: Stanek, Baines, Gibson, Deulofeu, Osman, Pienaar.
NEWCASTLE UNITED: Elliot; Janmaat, Coloccini, Mbemba (Lascelles, 44), Dummett (Aarons, 46); Sissoko, Saivet (Mitrovic, 55), Shelvey, Townsend; Wijnaldum, Perez. Subs not used: Darlow, Gouffran, Taylor, Doumbia.
Goals: Lennon 23, Barkley 88 (pen), 90 (pen)
Bookings: Shelvey 61, Coleman 74, Lascelles 88
Sent off: Lascelles 90
Referee: Craig Pawson (South Yorkshire)

Everton 3-0 Newcastle Final Whistle Report: Blues cruise to first home win since November
3 Feb 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Magpies beaten again by Martinez's men
Everton defeated Newcastle United 3-0 at Goodison tonight to record a first home win in the Premier League since November. Aaron Lennon's second goal in as many games gave Roberto Martinez's side the lead at half-time before Ross Barkley converted two late penalties to bolster their advantage. The goals gave the Blues a well deserved victory and a first in the league here since they thumped Aston Villa 4-0 on November 21. Lennon collected Tom Cleverley's pass, turned on the spot and wrong footed Rob Elliot with his low strike after 23 minutes to make it 1-0. Romelu Lukaku, who had treatment on a back injury, has seen a free-kick go inches wide, Ross Barkley missed the chance to make it 2-0 when his lob went over the bar, with Elliot stranded outside the area before Lennon saw his goa-lbound effort was excellently blocked by Chancel Mbemba.
Everton lost Lukaku at half-time to a back injury but they still created a flurry of chances after the break. However, they found Elliot in inspired form. The Newcastle keeper denied Lennon with his legs and watched with relief as Arouna Kone blasted the rebound wide, he tipped Barkley's drive onto the bar and did the same to Cleverley's deflected free-kick. The Everton midfielder had another go and saw his effort pushed onto the post by Elliot. It gave Newcastle encouragement and after Aleksandar Mitrovic wasted a great chance, after ghosting in between Ramiro Funes Mori and Bryan Oviedo, Ayoze Perez forced a save out of Joel Robles. But Everton held firm and with two minutes left Lennon won a penalty which Barkley dispatched. And the 22-year-old repeated the trick in time added on, stroking in a Paneka spot-kick, after being fouled by Jamaal Lascelles, who was sent off.

Everton vs Newcastle United match report: Ross Barkley turns on the style as Toffees get back to winning ways
Everton 3 Newcastle 0
By Simon Hughes Goodison Park
February 3 2015 Independent
Newcastle’s January spending proved utterly in vain as Steve McClaren’s side surrendered 3-0 last night to an Everton side who did not need their own key January signing. Oumar Niasse, Everton’s new £13m striker, was unveiled before a huddle that had gathered to greet him in the fans’ zone before the match. The Senegalese’s registration had not been ratified by the Premier League and in normal circumstances Everton could have done with him being available, especially when you consider Romelu Lukaku’s back injury, which forced him off at half-time. In the directors’ box, John Stones sat with his hands shoved into his pockets, his chin burrowed into the breast of his winter coat; contemplating perhaps, why Everton looked better without him. The reason lay in front of him: Newcastle United. Everton’s cause was helped by opponents as bad as this. The visitors offered a debut to Andros Townsend, fielded two other new signings and named one on the bench. The good times
will soon roll, came the resounding message from their manager, McClaren, who spent more money than any other Premier League club in the winter transfer window in an attempt to address a run of one win in eight league matches.
Not on this evidence: not when they barely threatened to break into an amble against an Everton team in even worse form, having taken only nine points from their previous 10 games; a team, indeed, whose manager openly admits have struggled to deal with the prospect of playing in front of a frustrated home crowd. Sympathisers – and there aren’t many – reason that Roberto Martinez has suffered for raising expectations in his first season when he transformed the style of play while simultaneously producing some outstanding results. Critics counter-claim that Martíinez cannot complain about unreasonable expectations when he continuously uses the same superlatives to describe the performances of his players regardless of whether they win or lose.
Tim Howard’s presence has irked the most fervent supporters and Martinez has been stubborn in his continued selection of the American. A thigh injury suffered in training at Finch Farm on Monday afternoon took the decision away from him here and Joel Robles was chosen in a league game for the first time in 12 months. As the first half progressed, it became obvious that Martinez could have called upon Neville Southall at the grand old age of 57 and it would not have mattered, such was Everton’s dominance and Newcastle’s submission. Everton’s lead should have been three or four rather than one at the break. Tom Cleverley may have scored, Lukaku and Ross Barkley too. Instead, the margin of the lead was slender and delivered largely because Georginio Wijnaldum, the Newcastle midfielder, did not spot the danger when the ball ran loose to Aaron Lennon unmarked on the edge of the box. That McClaren had used all of his substitutes by the 55th minute was telling. Arouna Koné, on i
n place of Lukaku, missed an opportunity to make Everton’s night comfortable before a Barkley rocket was tipped on to the crossbar by Rob Elliot.
For Newcastle, the new signings did not make a spot of difference. Jonjo Shelvey plodded about as if the game had inconvenienced an evening stroll; Townsend ran up and down the wing trying to keep warm and Henri Saivet was one of the players removed early by McClaren, possibly for failing to keep pace with Barkley, who was Everton’s most dangerous player. When Paul Dummett did not reappear for the second half, McClaren elected to replace him with Rolando Aarons, a winger rather than a left-back. It showed, as Lennon raced past and the 20-year-old, unsure what to do, dumped him on the floor. It was left to Barkley to seal Everton’s victory from the penalty spot. He then made it 3-0 with another spot-kick after his run was terminated by Jamaal Lascelles, who was sent off for the infringement as last man.

Everton 3 Newcastle 0, match report: Aaron Lennon and Ross Barkley end wait for league win at Goodison Park
Everton vs Newcastle, Premier League - Roberto Martinez's side claim first home league win since November thanks to Aaron Lennon and Ross Barkley goals
Everton3 - 0Newcastle
By Chris Bascombe, Goodison Park
03 Feb 2016 Telegraph
The first impression of Newcastle’s survival package is that they have gone shopping for luxury gadgets when it is an industrial strength vacuum cleaner they really need. Andros Townsend and Jonjo Shelvey might consider themselves artists who will add finery to Steve McClaren’s side, but the limpness of their performance at Everton ­demonstrated why such qualities are not always suited to escaping the debris of a relegation fight. The duo – part of an £80 million investment in this side since ­McClaren’s appointment – spent the evening on the periphery at Goodison Park, Shelvey displaying common traits of waiting until the ball is at his feet before he moves up a gear. At his worst he resembles a poor man’s Yaya Touré. At his best he also resembles a poor man’s Yaya Touré. His capacity to collect ­yellow cards for crude challenges is not too helpful, either. Tom Cleverley (left) celebrates with Aaron Lennon after they linked up for the opener Townsend was sh
ort of sharpness, understandably after so long without a game, but given ­Newcastle’s plight they are in no position to wait. If Newcastle expect to employ heavyweight attacking to compensate for lightweight defending, ­McClaren had cause for concern by the lifelessness of his side at both ends of the pitch. The two penalties they conceded in the closing stages, the latter resulting in a red card for Jamaal Lascelles, made a mockery of the phrase “professional foul”. You will struggle to find a more ­amateurish piece of defending. Andros Townsend's debut for Newcastle United ended in defeat at Goodison Park “That wasn’t the level of performance we should be producing,” said McClaren. “We didn’t really start until the second half. We felt we could come and get a result here, but we had to perform at our level, and there were a lot of players below that level. They have fallen short absolutely. They know that, and we have told them that. They can’t afford to d
o that with the games whittling away. We need a reaction. We have 14 games left and we can’t waste a game now – but that’s what we’ve done tonight. “The new signings, Shelvey has bedded in, you can see Andros will bed in as well and give us that ­natural width. But we just weren’t at the level in terms of what we needed to do. We have to dust ­ourselves down. We have 52,000 people who will turn up at the weekend and demand that, and we have to give them something. We had a couple games against Palace and Leicester a few months ago where the attitude was questioned, since then it’s been ­excellent. ­Tonight we have ­returned to that level and that is unacceptable.”
McClaren’s longer term hope is that a midfielder and winger once among England’s great hopes will preserve their ­Premier League status, but he will need to see more spirit and intelligence before any quality starts to shine. Here there was nothing to cling to. Instead, it was an ­England ­midfielder and winger discarded during the Roy Hodgson era who kept them in the bottom three, the ­margin of their defeat kept to three because of a goalkeeper and the woodwork.
Tom Cleverley’s supply to Aaron Lennon gave Everton a first half ­advantage they never looked like surrendering. One of the country’s ­current golden boys – Ross Barkley – added two more with late penalties he was gifted, first by Rolando Aarons’ trip on Lennon and then Lascelles’ idiocy.
Barkley’s second spot kick was an exquisite chip after goalkeeper Rob Elliot guessed wrong again. There was a gulf in class, only the home side’s anxiety having enjoyed so few league victories in their own stadium threatening to get the better of them. This was Barkley’s 100th appearance for Everton. He has scored in three consecutive games and there are few more exciting sights than him picking up possession in the centre circle and making retreating defenders quiver.
He eases to the edge of the ­opponent’s box with such grace it is now taken for granted, and too ­often there are groans if the penetrating pass or shot does not follow, yet his end product is becoming more ­frequent. Roberto Martinez can be accused of over-hyping players, but not Barkley.
Everton were discomforted only by their inability to stretch their advantage sooner. They led on 23 minutes when Cleverley was found in space by Bryan Oviedo and had time to pick out Lennon. The winger’s instant turn and shot wrong-footed Elliot and Newcastle were grimly holding on from therein. Three times in six minutes the woodwork kept Newcastle hoping, Barkley hitting the bar and Cleverley the post. Not even the loss of Romelu Lukaku with a back problem stopped Everton’s forward momentum. Everton offered a glimpse as to why it is baffling they languish in mid-table. Newcastle, who many believe will ease their way out of the bottom three, provided an untimely reminder they currently sit exactly where they deserve to be.

Aaron Lennon and Ross Barkley strike for Everton to beat Newcastle
Everton 3 - 0 Newcastle
Roberto Martínez praises his “outstanding” Everton after their 3-0 win over Newcastle.
Andy Hunter at Goodison Park
Wednesday 3 February 2016 Guardian
The questions about investment at Newcastle United can be legitimately asked by their owner, Mike Ashley, not of him. St James’ Park has received almost £80m worth of new players since last summer and Steve McClaren has nothing but a relegation fight to show for it. A porous defence and meek attack were the gifts Everton craved to record their first home league win since November.
Driven throughout by Ross Barkley, Roberto Martínez’s side were comfortable victors even though the scoreline that reflected their superiority arrived via two late penalties from the best player on the pitch. Barkley completed his 100th league appearance for his boyhood club with a Panenka penalty, chipped down the middle of Rob Elliot’s goal in stoppage time. The midfielder’s second, Everton’s third, encapsulated the performance of both teams. Whereas the 22-year-old exuded confidence, the Newcastle substitute Jamaal Lascelles lost possession to Barkley before bundling him over inside the area to concede the spot-kick and collect a red card. It was control versus carelessness throughout Martínez’s 100th league game as Everton manager. Lascelles will be suspended for West Bromwich Albion’s visit to St James’ on Saturday and McClaren lost two other defenders here, Chancel Mbemba and Paul Dummett, to injury. Of the £80m outlay only £8.4m was spent on reinforcing a wo
eful back line. The flaws in that strategy were exposed at Goodison and present a serious threat to Newcastle’s survival prospects. But, like many managers in a fix, McClaren’s problems are not confined to one department. The visitors posed minimal threat to an Everton defence without the injured John Stones and Tim Howard. Trailing to Aaron Lennon’s first-half finish, Newcastle had one chance to punish Everton’s failure to make the contest safe before the hour mark – as they should have done – when unmarked substitute Aleksandar Mitrovic volleyed Moussa Sissoko’s cross wide from eight yards out. The mass of Newcastle heads in hands told of an opportunity lost, and more mistakes at the back proved them right. Everton were the more assured, committed side from the start with Tom Cleverley forcing a good early save from Elliot. Romelu Lukaku’s movement was restricted from the moment he took a kick in the lower back from Mbemba, and was replaced at the interval, while
Barkley often dropped deep to instigate play as the home side initially struggled to pick a hole in the visiting rearguard. But that was the extent of Everton’s problems. Newcastle’s threat was non-existent with the exception of Mitrovic’s miss in the 66th minute. Bryan Oviedo, deputising for Leighton Baines at left-back, was allowed far too much time and space to release Cleverley between Daryl Janmaat and Mbemba. Cleverley, who delivered Everton’s last league win with a stoppage-time header at St James’ Park on Boxing Day, squared for Lennon and his shot on the turn rolled through Georginio Wijnaldum’s legs to leave Elliot rooted to the spot. Lennon almost scored his third goal in two games from a similar spot but his goalbound effort from Seamus Coleman’s cut-back was blocked by Mbemba, who exited moments later with an ankle problem. Robles was forced into his first save in the 50th minute when Jonjo Shelvey sent a tame effort into his arms. Everton, by contrast,
could have been out of sight by the hour. Lennon and Arouna Koné, Lukaku’s replacement, both squandered clear openings after Barkley sent the winger clear through the centre of the visiting defence. Lennon shot straight at Elliot before Koné dawdled over the rebound before slicing wide. The home side then struck the woodwork three times in six minutes. Barkley’s attempt to find the top corner was tipped superbly on to the bar by the Newcastle goalkeeper, who found the same spot when Shelvey almost headed Cleverley’s free-kick into his own net. The third came from another Cleverley free-kick that struck Elliot’s near post.
The longer Everton went without making the game safe the more apprehensive Goodison became. For a short while at least. Newcastle’s support – who have witnessed the fewest goals by a team away from home this season – implored their players to “attack, attack, attack” but the message went unheeded. Any hope of a recovery disappeared in the closing stages when Lennon won a decisive penalty in this fixture for the second season in succession, breaking clear of substitute Rolando Aarons inside the area who reacted with a needless foul. Barkley sent Elliot the wrong way from the spot, Everton could at last breathe easily on home soil, and the Panenka finale capped the midfielder’s – and Martínez’s – century in style.

Great Sport Relief Bake Off: Mary Berry reveals she supports which Merseyside football team?
3 Feb 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Laura Tacey
The 80-year-old chef made the revelation while tucking into a pie
Great Sport Relief Bake Off judge Mary Berry revealed she is an Everton fan in tonight’s episode - while tucking into a pie. The acclaimed chef told of her Toffees love in a conversation with fellow judge Paul Hollywood, a Liverpool fan. When the pair were tasting a pie, Hollywood said it reminded him of going to Anfield . He said: “It reminds me of going to Anfield and having a good pie. I know you support Everton, Mary but...” Mary cut in: “I’m quite sure there are pies at Everton too. I haven’t been to Goodison Park but I’m sure they have.” The 80-year-old affiliation to Everton went down well on Twitter.
@YoungLee1 tweeted: “Not only does she make a good corned beef hash but Mary Berry is an Everton fan by all accounts.”
@bernieo63 @dixiessixty @Everton
— Victoria Newman (@VEBotts) February 3, 2016
@VEBotts said: “Mary Berry is an Everton fan! I love her even more!”
@average_gm tweeted: “Mary Berry is an Everton fan. The absolute scouser.”
@Dkearns1968 posted: “Mary Berry an Everton fan??? Wow!! Get her down to Goodison.”
@jenrussell86 said: “Just when I thought I couldn’t love her anymore Mary Berry says she supports Everton?! Brilliant!”

Shambolic and embarrassing, Newcastle stuffed at Everton
The Northern Echo:
By Scott Wilson Wednesday 3 February 2016
SO what does £80m buy you then? On this evidence, it doesn’t guarantee a striker capable of scoring or a defence with the ability to keep the ball out. A night that was supposed to be the start of a great new era for Newcastle United turned out to be more of the same. Actually, that’s not quite correct. It was even more shambolic than usual. Newcastle’s night was summed up in stoppage time as Jamaal Lascelles was shown a straight red card for bundling over Ross Barkley in the penalty area. Lascelles trotted off the field, Barkley converted his second spot-kick in the space of four minutes with an impudent chip down the middle of the goal and referee Craig Pawson blew his whistle to leave the Magpies stranded two points from safety. Embarrassing doesn’t even come close to describing what was going on. Newcastle were ramshackle in each and every area of the field, save the goalkeeping position, where Rob Elliot performed a series of second-half heroics to turn three separat
e efforts against the woodwork and prevent a miserable evening from becoming an even greater disaster. The folly of spending a fortune on midfielders but completely ignoring the need for a new left-back was exposed by the sight of Rolando Aarons, more usually a winger, replacing Paul Dummett for the second half and clumsily conceding the first of Everton’s two penalties.
The need to reinforce the heart of the back four, so apparent to anyone who has watched Newcastle on a regular basis this season, but seemingly impossible to discern for the club’s much-vaunted ‘recruitment team’, was apparent from the moment Chancel Mbemba hobbled off to be replaced by Lascelles, a player who still does not appear to be of Premier League standard more than 18 months after he was signed. And the lack of a proven goalscorer, albeit with the caveat that deadline-day signing Seydou Doumbia was an unused substitute, was glaringly apparent once again as Aleksandar Mitrovic spurned the one gilt-edged chance to come Newcastle’s way when a modicum of composure on the edge of the six-yard box might have brought the scores level. On this evidence, and admittedly it would be unfair to draw too many firm conclusions from just one game, the Magpies’ spending spree has not solved any of the problems that have left the club floundering in the relegation zone. It is only
to be hoped that with time and training comes a greater degree of understanding and organisation. Neither was in evidence last night, with Newcastle starting poorly, dropping off slightly in the middle period of the game, and then finishing in a state of complete disarray. They would have been behind as early as the fifth minute had Elliot not saved from Cleverley – the goalkeeper’s brilliance would be the one and only high point for the rest of the night – but there was to be no escape when Newcastle’s defence was prised apart with alarming ease midway through the first half. Cleverley was involved again, playing the ball infield to Aaron Lennon, and the winger was able to allow the ball to run across his body before drilling home a low finish from the edge of the penalty area. Georginio Wijnaldum was stood within a couple of yards of Lennon throughout the move, but never once did the Dutchman even consider making a tackle.
Things might have got worse for Newcastle before the interval, but Barkley wasted a glorious opportunity, lofting over an open goal after Elliot’s headed clearance from a routine long ball fell invitingly into his path. With Mbemba also blocking a goalbound effort from Lennon – the centre-half departed after injuring his ankle shortly after – it was something of a surprise that the visitors only conceded one goal before the break. Their failure to trouble Joel Robles, however, was grimly predictable. For all the much-trumpeted attacking arrivals, Newcastle continue to look like a toothless proposition. Ayoze Perez was initially preferred to Mitrovic in the lone-striker role, but while the Spaniard boasts more mobility than the player he replaced, his lack of physical strength meant he was all too easily out-muscled. Wijnaldum could not get involved in an attacking capacity, while it was hard to discern whether Moussa Sissoko even wanted to find himself in the final third. O
f all the under-performing players in the Newcastle line-up, the difference between what Sissoko promises and actually delivers is the starkest. With Andros Townsend marking his debut by charging headlong down a series of blind alleys, the Magpies’ attacking was a ragged mess. Their defending was even worse. Arouna Kone, who replaced the injured Romelu Lukaku at the interval, should have scored within six minutes of his introduction, but scuffed a shot wide after Elliot clawed Lennon’s low effort into his path. Not for the first time this season, Elliot was Newcastle’s best player by a distance, and the pick of his contributions came shortly before the hour mark as he tipped Barkley’s excellent 25-yard effort onto the crossbar. With the ball arcing towards the top corner, it was quite a save. It also marked the start of a remarkable six-minute spell that saw Elliot produce three separate saves that involved the woodwork. Three minutes later, and he clawed the ball again
st the bar after Jonjo Shelvey glanced a free-kick towards his own goal, and another three minutes after that, he palmed Cleverley’s whipped free-kick against the base of the upright. Goodness knows where Newcastle would be had the Irishman not stepped up so impressively in the absence of Tim Krul.
The Magpies had introduced Mitrovic by that stage, and while it would be stretching it to suggest the Serbian transformed his side’s attacking fortunes, he at least provided a focal point to the visitors’ attack. His lack of composure has been apparent all season though, and it proved Newcastle’s undoing when they carved out their best chance of the game midway through the second half. Mitrovic’s movement enabled him to beat the offside trap as he met Sissoko’s cross, but he stabbed the ball wide from eight yards out. Newcastle’s one and only chance had gone, and the game ended in chaotic fashion as Newcastle conceded two penalties in the final three minutes.
Aarons conceded the first, clattering into Lennon to enable Barkley to convert, and Lascelles was dismissed when he gave away the second, bundling over Barkley to enable the England international to complete Everton’s win.

Everton 3-0 Newcastle player ratings: They're no Holy Trinity but Barkley, Lennon and Cleverley shine
3 Feb 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Kristian Walsh
Blues midfield trio take control against Magpies
Joel Robles 7
Goodison Park was a happier place with the Spaniard in goal. Dealt with some difficult balls well as Newcastle began to pressurise.
Seamus Coleman 6
Not his usual self on the front foot and his deliveries from out wide lacked. Did more than enough against a blunt Newcastle attack.
Ramiro Funes Mori 6
A few moments to make the Gwladys Street wince and had the tendency to get his clearances wrong. Still, a clean sheet.
Phil Jagielka 7
Hardly put a foot wrong although he will face far bigger tests than this. Missing his long-term partner Stones but would not have known.
Bryan Oviedo 7
A really good game from the Costa Rican, who deputised for Baines admirably. Some cracking deliveries and kept Sissoko quiet, forcing McClaren to shuffle the pack early in the second half.
Gareth Barry 7
The usual performance from the midfielder, who did not allow the Newcastle attacking midfield duo of Shelvey and Wijnaldum any joy.
James McCarthy 7
Solid and dependable, and looked to set the tempo at every possible opportunity. Newcastle's midfield hardly had a look-in.
Tom Cleverley 8
Another impressive performance from the left-hand side. Set up Lennon's goal and helped out defensively when required, too.
Ross Barkley 8
Two penalties converted but that only tells part of the story. Terrified Newcastle when running at them, although perhaps a little wasteful with the final ball. Could have had a hat trick.
Aaron Lennon 8
He is really settling into life at Goodison Park now. A constant threat down the right-hand side and took his goal very well.
Romelu Lukaku 6
Would have been higher, undoubtedly, if he had not suffered injury midway through the first half. Battled against it bravely but rightly taken off at half time.
Arouna Kone 6
Lukaku's replacement wasted a few good chances but did as much as he could to stretch the play when leading the line.

Everton 3-0 Newcastle analysis: Concern for Lukaku while the pressure is on Howard
3 Feb 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Kristian Walsh
Five things we learned as Blues cruised to win over Magpies
It was a dry January for Romelu Lukaku. After a stunning 2015, he scored just one goal after the new year - and none in the league. His last goal in the league came in the 4-3 defeat to Stoke on December 28. The Belgian is not one to make excuses, but it would be fair to say the ankle injury sustained against Manchester City in the first leg of the League Cup semi-final has inhibited him. He had lost his sharpness and his menace. That was back at Goodison - for all of half an hour. He was strong, direct and causing a panicked Newcastle back four plenty of problems. The rest against Carlisle seemed to have refreshed him. Then, an injury. Its seriousness is not yet known but after being grounded on the turf, holding his back, Lukaku struggled to maintain that level of performance. No surprise he went off at half time for Arouna Kone. The hope is it is not serious. The hope, even if it is not, is that injury does not knock him throughout February in the same way it did in January.
Goodison seems a happier places with Robles in goal
Tim Howard never fails to make the headlines. His inclusion in the Everton team has been a constant source of criticism for Roberto Martinez. The complaints are well-known - and Goodison makes it clear to the manager every week what they are. No Howard against Newcastle through injury, but still discussions around the American. Goodison cheered his replacement, Joel Robles, when his name was read out. It was a happier place and the defence seemed a happier unit. A big night for Joel, then. The young Spaniard passed it with flying colours, once more. A clean sheet was deserved given his commanding performance. It was confidence personified. What now, then, for Howard? A return to the line-up when fit again is almost certain. It will do nothing but raise the rancour towards Howard once more. The pressure is on yet again.
Martinez's waiting game saves Geri's legs for Stoke
Roberto Martinez stood on the touchline and waited. There was a big game to come against Stoke at the Britannia, and he had to juggle his options. As time ticked towards the end, he waited for Gerard Deulofeu. A risky strategy, even against an attack as blunt as Newcastle's. No matter the opponent, the game is always alive at 1-0. Goodison knew this and became agitated. Soon, the bench stopped becoming a blessing and was soon seen as a burden. Perhaps Martinez had too many options at his disposal to call upon. Osman and Pienaar would offer something different, a bit of experience perhaps. Deulofeu, however, could help kill the game. Still he waited. The Gwladys Street sang for the no.19 but the worries over game management grew. Even a side as downbeat as Newcastle could profit from such ponderous behaviour. But Martinez did not blink. With four minutes remaining, he was rewarded. The Blues won a penalty - their first of the season - and Barkley converted. Then, the London buses:
a second penalty in stoppage time. Three goals, three points.
Deulofeu's legs are saved for Stoke, and the Catalan's waiting game on the sidelines, justified.
Wide boys hand Niasse a warning Few people would have known Oumar Niasse before this week. In fact, he would have been largely unknown this time last year as an industrious, unremarkable Lokomotiv Moscow forward. One year, countless goals and £13.5m later, Goodison was introduced to him. Roberto Martinez said he would not simply be coming to Merseyside as back-up for Lukaku. The Belgian's injury might dictate otherwise, of course, and his ability to play alongside a partner in a two or out wide is part of the reason he cost so much from the Russian side.
But he should not be expected to walk straight into the team. Not on this evidence.
Perhaps it was the increased competition that saw Everton's two wide men combine for the opening goal. Tom Cleverley, stationed on the left, set up the right-sided Aaron Lennon for a nice finish. Lennon was superb throughout, Cleverley industrious as ever. A good balance and a foundation to win the game. Neither Cleverley or Lennon are the sort of player Niasse is. Niasse will bring power, strength, and goals. Something different, no doubt. He will be another bow to the Blues' attacking line, but the wide men were on-song here.
Blues midfield trio controlled the game
For all the swazz Newcastle's midfield potentially possessed, nothing beat the sagacity of the Blues' midfield. Giorginio Wijnaldum could have been in the royal blue if summer events transpired differently. Given some of his performances this season, there is a bit of resentment around that. Not tonight, though. He and Shelvey - no stranger to life on Merseyside - were outthought by their 'safer' counterparts. With Barry and McCarthy a well-established axis, and Cleverley dropping from the left to support them, they controlled the game. The Toon twosome are both attacking minded and marched forward at any opportunity, leaving Henri Saivet behind them isolated. The Toffees' trio, meanwhile, held their positions. They nullified the threat and exploited the gaps they left behind them. The first goal showed how it could be done. Sometimes, the Everton midfield is not considered sexy enough. Not enough drive or penetration. They showed Goodison why that is not necessarily a bad thing on a night like this.

Everton FC: Goodison seems a happier place with Robles in goal while Lukaku dry spell is concern
4 Feb 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Kristian Walsh
Kristian Walsh on the big talking points from the Blues' 3-0 win over Newcastle
Goodison seems a happier place with Robles in goal
Tim Howard never fails to make the headlines. His inclusion in the Everton team has been a constant source of criticism for Roberto Martinez. The complaints are well-known - and Goodison makes it clear to the manager every week what they are. No Howard against Newcastle through injury, but still discussions around the American. Goodison cheered his replacement, Joel Robles, when his name was read out. It was a happier place and the defence seemed a happier unit. A big night for Joel, then. The young Spaniard passed it with flying colours, once more. A clean sheet was deserved given his commanding performance. It was confidence personified. What now, then, for Howard? A return to the line-up when fit again is almost certain. It will do nothing but raise the rancour towards Howard once more. The pressure is on yet again.
More struggles for Rom after dry January
It was a dry January for Romelu Lukaku. After a stunning 2015, he scored just one goal after the new year - and none in the league. His last goal in the league came in the 4-3 defeat to Stoke on December 28. The Belgian is not one to make excuses, but it would be fair to say the ankle injury sustained against Manchester City in the first leg of the League Cup semi-final has inhibited him. He had lost his sharpness and his menace. That was back at Goodison - for all of half an hour. He was strong, direct and causing a panicked Newcastle back four plenty of problems. The rest against Carlisle seemed to have refreshed him. Then, an injury. Its seriousness is not yet known but after being grounded on the turf, holding his back, Lukaku struggled to maintain that level of performance. No surprise he went off at half time for Arouna Kone. The hope is it is not serious. The hope, even if it is not, is that injury does not knock him throughout February in the same way it did in January.
Martinez's waiting game saves Geri's legs for Stoke
Roberto Martinez stood on the touchline and waited. There was a big game to come against Stoke at the Britannia, and he had to juggle his options. As time ticked towards the end, he waited for Gerard Deulofeu. A risky strategy, even against an attack as blunt as Newcastle's. No matter the opponent, the game is always alive at 1-0. Goodison knew this and became agitated. Soon, the bench stopped becoming a blessing and was soon seen as a burden. Perhaps Martinez had too many options at his disposal to call upon. Osman and Pienaar would offer something different, a bit of experience perhaps. Deulofeu, however, could help kill the game. Still he waited. The Gwladys Street sang for the no.19 but the worries over game management grew. Even a side as downbeat as Newcastle could profit from such ponderous behaviour. But Martinez did not blink. With four minutes remaining, he was rewarded. The Blues won a penalty - their first of the season - and Barkley converted. Then, the London buses:
a second penalty in stoppage time. Three goals, three points.
Deulofeu's legs are saved for Stoke, and the Catalan's waiting game on the sidelines, justified.
Wide boys hand Niasse a warning Few people would have known Oumar Niasse before this week. In fact, he would have been largely unknown this time last year as an industrious, unremarkable Lokomotiv Moscow forward. One year, countless goals and £13.5m later, Goodison was introduced to him. Roberto Martinez said he would not simply be coming to Merseyside as back-up for Lukaku. The Belgian's injury might dictate otherwise, of course, and his ability to play alongside a partner in a two or out wide is part of the reason he cost so much from the Russian side.
But he should not be expected to walk straight into the team. Not on this evidence.
Perhaps it was the increased competition that saw Everton's two wide men combine for the opening goal. Tom Cleverley, stationed on the left, set up the right-sided Aaron Lennon for a nice finish. Lennon was superb throughout, Cleverley industrious as ever. A good balance and a foundation to win the game. Neither Cleverley or Lennon are the sort of player Niasse is. Niasse will bring power, strength, and goals. Something different, no doubt. He will be another bow to the Blues' attacking line, but the wide men were on-song here.
Blues midfield trio controlled the game
For all the swazz Newcastle's midfield potentially possessed, nothing beat the sagacity of the Blues' midfield. Giorginio Wijnaldum could have been in the royal blue if summer events transpired differently. Given some of his performances this season, there is a bit of resentment around that. Not tonight, though. He and Shelvey - no stranger to life on Merseyside - were outthought by their 'safer' counterparts. With Barry and McCarthy a well-established axis, and Cleverley dropping from the left to support them, they controlled the game. The Toon twosome are both attacking minded and marched forward at any opportunity, leaving Henri Saivet behind them isolated. The Toffees' trio, meanwhile, held their positions. They nullified the threat and exploited the gaps they left behind them. The first goal showed how it could be done. Sometimes, the Everton midfield is not considered sexy enough. Not enough drive or penetration. They showed Goodison why that is not necessarily a bad thing o
n a night like this.

Everton Talking Point: Aaron Lennon has got us all starting to smile again
4 Feb 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Greg O’Keeffe
Greg O'Keeffe on why happy Lennon's enduring work-rate is signalling light at the end of the tunnel
Aaron Lennon smiles after scoring the opener for Everton against Newcastle
It's the one thing that should be a given for any professional footballer. But so infuriatingly often that's not the case. A player might be blessed with all the ability in the world, but when the heat is on and his lungs are burning, the reluctance to run those extra hard yards can wilt. That's why Aaron Lennon not only justified his place in Everton's starting line-up last night. Whatever Gerard Deulofeu's army of admirers understandably may say to the contrary, it's why he deserves to keep it too. It was a year ago that Lennon had to go on record to insist he was happy to be at Goodison on loan, despite his glum visage in the club's official pictures of his signing.
Fast forward seven months and the little winger was positively beaming after putting pen to paper on a permenant deal.
And it wasn't just to appease the snappers either.
Lennon had inspired the Blues dressing room , and found himself a popular figure among Everton supporters. And even though he hasn't had things go all his own way since, he hasn't stopped grafting. An assist and a goal against Carlisle , then the same again as Newcastle were dealt with.
Lennon celebrates scoring his side's second goal of the game during the FA Cup, fourth round match at Brunton Park There hasn't been much to smile about for Everton fans lately.

Everton prospect Shani Tarashaj named Swiss young player of the year
4 Feb 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Greg O’Keeffe
Everton's January signing Tarashaj gets top award for Grasshopper Club Zurich displays
Greg O'Keeffe on Shani Tarashaj
Shani Tarashaj has built on his growing reputation by being named the Swiss top flight's young player of 2015. The £3m Everton January signing, who was loaned back to Grasshopper Club Zurich until the summer, was give the award earlier this week. Shani Tarashaj receives his award for the Swiss Super League's Young Player of the Year His current club manager Pierluigi Tami was named coach of the year, while Breel Umbolo of FC Basel was named best overall player. The forward has been capped at under-21 level by Switzerland and netted in their 3-1 defeat to England in a European Championship qualifier in November. Roberto Martinez believes that Tarashaj, a talented playmaker who operates between the lines in the final third of the pitch, will whet fans’ appetites.
After completing the deal to sign him he said: “I would encourage our fans to look forward to a special talent and follow him a little bit from a distance at Grasshoppers while he is playing there, because I feel he is going to bring something very, very special to us. “He is probably the best young talent in Swiss football. “There are a couple of young players with a good reputation but I think he could have really good future.” Martinez added: “He is a very exciting talent. He is going to be 21 next month. We’ve seen him play and we feel he has the talent our fans will enjoy. I’ve seen him playing at Grasshoppers and I can imagine him playing in a similar role at Goodison.
“I feel that he’s going to get fans off their feet. He’s that type of young talent that we like to attract to Goodison. He’s doing military service at the moment which means we can’t have him straight away but I think it works well because he hasn’t played too many games so far."

Everton FC kit retailer pledges to address fans' concerns
4 Feb 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Neil Hodgson
Everton’s kit retail partner says it aims to improve its offering to Blues fans after being bought by US sports merchandise specialist Fanatics. The £11.55m deal will see Kitbag operating as the international arm of Fanatics, which runs NFL and NBA stores, said Kitbag chief executive Andy Anson when the deal was announced earlier this week. He said the company will be a much stronger business under Fantatics’ ownership. And he told the ECHO that this could help Kitbag address long-standing concerns among Everton fans about the availability and ease of purchase of Everton sportswear. Kitbag has exclusive rights to operate the official online stores for football clubs like Manchester United, Chelsea, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Celtic, Sunderland, Manchester City and Borussia Dortmund. But while these sides’ kits are also available in many stores throughout the UK and Europe, Everton’s has previously only been on show in the club’s two stores next to its Goodison Park groun
d and in the Liverpool One shopping centre. Last year a deal was struck allowing supporters to order strips and pick them up from one of 5,000 Hermes click and collect sites around the country. And while some mainstream sportswear retailers like Sports Direct do not stock the Toffees’ kits, in October a deal was struck with JD Sports to make them available in selected stores across the country. That ensured fans can buy an Everton shirt in Liverpool Airport, Manchester Airport, Gatwick Airport and in stores from Aintree to Oxford Street in London. Everton signed a 10-year deal with Kitbag in May, 2009, so it has three more seasons to run, after the current campaign.
And Mr Anson says he believes a new-look Kitbag’s proposition for an extension to their contract will be hard to resist now it has the backing of a $1bn turnover parent company. He told the ECHO: “Everton fans are very demanding of us as the club’s partner, and rightly so. “We do hear everything they say and don’t hide away from it. “Everton fans are among the most passionate fans in football and we understand that. “Now, we have the backing of a much stronger organisation who can invest in the business and we can become better and improve. We want to make it as good as possible for fans.” He said he understand fans’ concerns about kit availability: “We heard about the distribution of the Everton kit and we will listen and try to improve things and meet the needs of the fans.” And he suggested that Fanatics’ takeover of Kitbag could, at least, benefit one section of Blues’ fans: “Everton have a lot of fans in the USA so it means there is a greater op
portunity to serve Everton fans there and maximise business which will feed back into the club.” He added: There are three-and-a-half years left on the deal. “We have a very good relationship with the team at Everton, chief executive Robert Elstone and his team, so we have to do such a good job that when the deal comes up for renewal they will want to renew with us and the fans want to renew with us. “Fanatics are willing to invest for the long term and in product development and that is one area, from an Everton perspective, we need to do more, so hopefully it (the deal renewal) is a no-brainer.”

Everton target Andriy Yarmolenko: 'I'd rather join Everton than Barcelona' - reports
4 Feb 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Joe Rimmer
Yarmolenko would prefer to play football twice a week at Everton rather than sit on the bench at the Camp Nou
Andriy Yarmolenko has reportedly told a Ukrainian news outlet that he'd rather transfer to Everton than Barcelona. The playmaker, who was a summer target for the Toffees, made the incredible claim during an interview with Ukrainian news outlet Futbol, saying he would prefer to place twice a week at Goodison Park than sit on the bench at the Camp Nou. Asked whether it was better to have a guaranteed place at Everton or be a substitute at Barcelona, he reportedly said: "It is better to play at Everton. "Of course you can go to Barcelona, make a cool selfie with (Lionel) Messi, put the images on Instagram and get a million likes and be pleased with yourself. But I'm not one of those.
"For me it is important to play matches. If I do not play twice a week, I have nowhere to throw out the emotions and energy. My family will go mad. If I play, the next day I am all calm and smile. If I missed the game and lay in the house, I immediately run into a quarrel." In a wide ranging interview, Yarmolenko also spoke about Euro 2016 and Dynamo Kiev's chances against Manchester City in the Champions League. The 26-year-old also admitted he's been learning English - until the recent birth of his second child. He said: "Until recently, I studied English. But in September, my second son was born and I lost time. But (I plan to) return to the course. "I am learning a language for themselves, rather than as a preparation for the championship of England. I often go abroad and I want to speak normally." Everton tried to sign Yarmolenko last summer , but found negotiations with Dynamo Kiev difficult and failed in their pursuit, despite being willing to meet the player’s £14.5m
buy-out clause.. However the club have continued to follow the player's progress and held talks with the player's agent back in December .

What became of former Everton wonderkid Matt McKay after Toffees dream turned sour?
4 Feb 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Liverpool Echo
Dave Powell speaks to ex midfielder about his shock 1998 Everton move having to retire from the game at just 21 "All right Matt, how's things?" boomed Duncan Ferguson across the canteen of Everton's Bellefield training ground. "I'm good thanks, want to buy a Land Rover?" replies the plucky salesman. "Sure, I'll have one in black. Actually, I'll have another one in silver too," replies the Scotsman. It's not the kind of conversation that Matt McKay had envisaged having with the Everton legend when he first stepped through the doors of the Toffees' former training base as a 17-year-old in March 1998. Back then, the fresh-faced McKay had the world at his feet having been signed by the late, great Howard Kendall on transfer deadline day from Chester City. He had played just five times for Chester under Kevin Ratcliffe but, with the club facing a perilous financial situation, the Blues swooped to land the talented Warrington teen for £250,000. But football can be a cruel and unforg
iving game, both on and off the pitch. And injury problems meant McKay went from being ahead of Leon Osman in the pecking order and battling for a place with the first team at Goodison Park to rolling beer kegs and working as a Land Rover salesman (hence his return to Bellefield), all in the space of just four years. It's 18 years since Ratcliffe whistled over McKay, now 35, to give him some unexpected news, but it remains a moment that is as vivid as the day it happened for the former Blue. "We were just training on the Deva Stadium pitch and getting ready for a weekend game when Kevin Ratcliffe and Gary Shelton (former Chester assistant manager) called me over," said McKay. "It was transfer deadline day and I don't know whether some of the lads already knew what the manager was going to say to me. 'Are you a blue or a red?', Ratcliffe asked me.
"'Well, I'm a blue, I suppose', I said. "'Good, he said, because we're selling you to Everton. Go and get a shower and Dave Fogg (former Chester coach) will take you to Bellefield. You're going to be an Everton player'. Duncan Ferguson was a friendly face "I didn't know what to say. I was loving my time at Chester as I'd started to get in the side and was playing the best football of my life. I was just enjoying doing well for the club. I knew that some people had been interested as I went up to Sunderland for a trial and spent a bit of time with Peter Reid and the coaching staff there but I got a little bit homesick and just wanted to be back playing for Chester, really. "When I was coming off the pitch after being told, Benno (ex-Chester striker Gary Bennett) came up to me and pleaded with me to accept the deal because of the financial situation at Chester at the time. 'We just want to get paid,' he said. "Before I knew it Dave Fogg was driving me through the gates at Bellefiel
d and I saw Michael Branch. I couldn't believe it, I was in awe of these players on the telly and now I was going to be their team-mate. It was unreal. "I met with Howard Kendall and we had a chat about what the future had in store for me. He wanted me to play in the reserves and then challenge for a first-team place. He had seen me in a trial match and been impressed. "Before I knew it I had signed a five-year deal and was an Everton player. It was all so surreal. I just got home and sat down and tried to take it all in with me and my family. Dave Watson picked me up to take me to training the next day.
"I was sad to be leaving Chester, though. We had a great team there with the likes of Spencer Whelan, Stuart Rimmer and Julian Alsford. They were guys that I looked up to and wanted to be like. But before I knew it I was training with the likes of Duncan Ferguson and people like that.
"Chester was great for me. We were playing teams like Notts County, who had Sam Allardyce as manager at the time, and I was just loving it. My affection for Chester has remained throughout the years." And so McKay's Everton journey began. He was handed a first-team squad number and played in the reserves for the remainder of the 1997-98 season, with Kendall hoping that the midfielder would push on to challenge for the first team. Walter Smith seemed less inclined to blood youngsters But McKay's hopes of rising to that challenge were dealt a blow following the departure of Kendall in 1998, with his replacement Walter Smith less inclined to blood youngsters, preferring to bring in more experienced heads to turn the Toffees around. McKay, battling with a host of other talented individuals such as Leon Osman, Danny Cadamarteri and Keith Southern for recognition, was left out in the cold and, with his reserve appearances drying up, forced to play much of his football with the under-19s
. "When Howard Kendall left and Walter Smith came in it was a tough time for me as he didn't really want to play the younger players," said McKay. "He brought in more experienced players like Don Hutchison, and when he signed John Collins and Olivier Dacourt I knew that the chance of me getting a shot at first-team football under him was slim to none. "I asked him time and time again to let me go out on loan but he told me to sit tight and wait for my chance and keep playing my football. Loans weren't as big as they are today but I kept on asking as I just wanted to play football." McKay heeded Smith's advice and stayed to fight for his Everton future and began to establish himself in the Everton reserve side, putting in a string of impressive displays in the centre of midfield. The tide seemed to be turning back in his favour at last. "I knew something was wrong as soon as I went over on it, it just wasn't right," recalled McKay on picking up the injury in a reserve game at Middlesbrough that would, eventually, bring about the end of his career at the age of 21. "I came in to training the following day and just wasn't right. The pain was unbearable and I just couldn't do anything on it. I knew something was seriously wrong." But McKay didn't ever imagine just how serious his injury would prove to be.
McKay suffered the similarly severe injury which took such a heavy toll on former West Ham striker Dean Ashton "I went to see the same doctor that treated Roy Keane after his Alf-Inge Haaland injury and he told me that in 40-45 years he had never seen a case like mine. It didn't look bad but the bones in my foot and tibia were knocking together, cutting through my cartlidge and causing cists. It was the same type of injury that Dean Ashton had. He carried on playing but had to have his ankle fused eventually. "David Moyes was manager at the time and I was told that there was nothing that could be done and that I wouldn't be able to play football again. I was absolutely crushed. I had a home, a child and a girlfriend to support. In a matter of weeks I had gone from thinking I was getting somewhere at Everton to being told I had to retire. "My joints were hypermobile so it was something that was always likely to happen, but the injury against Middlesbrough made the whole thing happen years before it probably would have done. "I decided there was no point in me hanging around for the remainder of the season and decided to leave. The players had a whip round for me when I did leave. It wasn't like it was £20 or £30 quid, it was a fair bit. Mark Pembridge did a nice speech in front of the lads saying how sorry he was to see this happen to me. I had a chat with some of the lads, had a game of pool and then left. That was it, that was the end of my dream. "I had some lovely messages of support from Chester fans, though. They still looked out for me and they have held a special place in my heart ever since. It did help me. Everton players take part in the last day of training in Bellefield's sports hall
Everton players train in Bellefield's sports hall "I had a holiday and some time with the family straightaway after I left. Luckily Everton had an insurance policy out on me and I had the benefit of four years of good pay, so I was OK for a bit. The club were great to me but I still needed to find a job."
Having to rebuild his life from scratch at the age of 21, McKay stepped through the door his local job centre in search of gainful employment. Not too proud to start from the very bottom, he took a job rolling beer kegs for Carlsberg Tetley, initially on an unpaid trial basis, admitting that his change of circumstance took its toll on him. "I'd gone from being an Everton player and living the dream to rolling beer kegs in a few weeks," he said. "I suffered from depression for a few months and was cursing my luck, but I had my family help me through it all. "I just wanted a job, any job. I had to think about the future and what I was going to do. All I had ever known was football but I had to support my family." Having knuckled down and earned himself a job rolling kegs, McKay spotted an opportunity to move himself on to better things when he spotted a job opening selling Land Rovers.
"I told them my back story and said I could sell 10 Land Rovers tomorrow, no problem," said McKay.
Tony Hibbert, Matt McKay, Leon Osman, Keith Southern and Nick Chadwick at a players reunion
"The boss took me up on that offer and I took him to Bellefield. All the players were happy to see me and I ended up selling about 10 or 15 Range Rovers that day. I got the job. "It ended up not being the job for me and I moved on to Royal Mail before a friend gave me a job with his gas company, where I am today." You could forgive him for being bitter about the nature of his exit from the game and having his chance to carve out a career in professional football denied. However, that couldn't be further from the truth for McKay, who looks back on his time in the game with great fondness.
"I've got a great life and have three great kids," said McKay, whose 11-year-old daughter plays football for West Lancashire girls. "I got a taste of what it would have been like and that's more than most people will ever get. I have to be thankful for that. There is no point me looking back on it as some awful experience and thinking about hard done to I was. I was fortunate to have had a taste of it and met some amazing people. "Leon Osman and I are best mates and I still keep in touch with the likes of Keith Southern and Tony Hibbert. It was an amazing time for me and nobody can ever take it away from me. But you always have to stay positive and look to the future, and my future is a bright one."

Everton FC were distracted by Wembley admits Oviedo
4 Feb 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Carl Markham
'We need to focus on the most important thing which is the next few games'
Defender Bryan Oviedo admits the distraction of a potential Wembley final in the Capital One Cup may have impacted on Everton's league form. After booking their place in the two-legged semi-final against Manchester City in early December the Toffees managed just one league win - coincidentally against Newcastle - before Wednesday's 3-0 victory over the Magpies. They exited the cup competition last week after defeat in the second leg at the Etihad Stadium but bounced back with a 3-0 win at League Two Carlisle in the FA Cup and then repeated the feat against the Magpies in the Premier League. "The Capital One Cup maybe was a little distraction from the Premier League for us," said Oviedo. "With this team that doesn't need to happen but sometimes it does.
"Sometimes it is difficult. We were very sad to lose at Man City but right now it is different.
"We need to focus on the most important thing which is the next few games. If we win the next few games we are nearer the top again. "At the moment we are focusing on the most important thing which is the Premier League right now and the FA Cup." While victory only moved Everton up one place to 11th in the table it at least put a healthy 11 points between themselves and their opponents, who occupy the last relegation place. It was their first at home in the league since November and only their second clean sheet at Goodison Park all season. Equally as importantly, unlike on other occasions recently, they did not squander their early advantage given to them by Aaron Lennon and closed out the game with two late Ross Barkley penalties. "It was a very good game for us and to get three points was very important because the last few games we maybe lost some important points," added Oviedo. "We were talking about being strong in the last few minutes because in recent games we have con
ceded late goals. "We spoke about being motivated in the last 10 minutes and it was different as we were very strong and we scored goals." Goodison Park has not been a happy home for them with fans quick to transfer their anxiety and anger onto the players on the pitch. That is something the squad has had to learn to handle and Oviedo believes they are getting better at it. "We have spoken about that," he added. "We need to focus on ourselves and be clearer. Sometimes the fans want [us] to score goals but that is normal.
"At the moment we are just focusing on winning games and being nearer the top of the league as quickly as possible. "We need to make a winning team. I think the team looked strong (against Newcastle) and we need to continue like that because the next games are very important for us."

Everton star Ross Barkley: "I feel like I can score every time I'm on the pitch"
4 Feb 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
EXCLUSIVE Everton midfielder tells Phil Kirkbride about confidence, defensive work and that penalty
Barkley punches the air with delight after taking his tally for the season to double figures
Ross Barkley says he feels confident of scoring in every game after moving into double figures for Everton this season – and is bitterly disappointed when he doesn't find the back of the net.
The 22-year-old converted two late penalties against Newcastle United on Wednesday night to take his club tally to 11 goals in all competitions this season. Barkley also has eight assists and is enjoying his most prolific season for the Blues, but revealed that he has also been spending time working on the defensive side of his game. The Academy product's long-term aim is to develop into a box-to-box midfielder but Barkley knows he must be able to defend, as well as attack, if he is to become a leading No8. Barkley celebrates his goal with Aaron Lennon during The Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round match between Carlisle United v Everton at Brunton Park But for the time being, Barkley is more than happy to play in a more advanced role where he keeps getting the chances to score.
"As you get older, you realise more about which positions to be on the pitch and not to come too deep, trying to to get the ball,” Barkley told the ECHO. "You can get a lot of the ball doing that but for the type of player I am and for me to show what I can do, I need to be higher up the pitch and I have been working on that in training. "I worked hard on it last season, but it didn't pay off, but it is paying off this season. There were times it didn't go according to plan for Barkley last term
"I'm feeling I can score in every game I play in, I believe that any game I go into I'm going to get chances to score and the games where I don't score, I'm really disappointed. "I feel more mature on the pitch and I'm being a bit more vocal on the pitch as well, asking for the ball more.
"That's showing now and I know that if I effect the game I can boost the team, and that is what I think about when I'm on the pitch.” But Barkley now realises that there has to be more to his game than just goals and assists. "I have been working on that,” he added.
Barkleyis working more and more on the defensive side of his game
"I've been getting a lot of help from the manager on that, thinking about that side of the game.
"When he first came to the club, my thoughts were just about getting forward but now I've got more responsibility on the pitch and I've got to sense danger, as well as going forward. "I've got to help defensively." But Evertonians left Goodison on Wednesday buzzing about Barkley's attacking skills after he capped off a fine display with two penalties in the final few minutes – the second of which was cheekily chipped over Newcastle keeper Rob Elliot. "I've practised that a few times in training so I thought last night was the right time to do it because we'd won the game, we were 2-0 up and it was the last few minutes,” Barkley said of his Panenka spot-kick.
Ross Barkley scores his second penalty against Newcastle
"So I thought: 'Why not?'. "Rom is normally the penalty taker, but he was off the pitch, and Kev likes a pen as well but he wasn't playing, so I had to be the man to step up and take them and thankfully they came off. "The lads were asking me what was going through my mind at the time but the main thing was to get the three points and the pens were a bonus for me. "The home form hasn't been great, we know that ourselves. "We've been working on our defence, and it has paid off with a clean sheet which will be a confidence boost for the whole squad going into the run of games we have.
"Last night's result can be a platform for us to build on and we're confident the result can take us on to better things."

Kevin Ratcliffe: Everton have a goalkeeping dilemma now Joel Robles has taken his chance
4 Feb 2016 Liverpool Echo
by KevinRatcliffe
Spaniard has improved over the past year
Everton goalkeepers Tim Howard and Joel Robles
How refreshing to be reflecting on a couple of comfortable victories this week and the importance of back-to-back clean sheets can’t be downplayed no matter who the opposition is. It’s interesting to see they’ve been picked up without John Stones and Tim Howard. and you’ve got to say that Joel Robles has taken his chance. It’s a big ask for a player to come in and show those levels of concentration having not been playing in a good standard of football but Joel looks better now than he has done in the past when picked by Everton. If you’d have asked me about him a year ago then I wouldn’t have been overly confident but he has improved. You judge a goalkeeper on his next game after he’s made a mistake but it’s now become a big call for Martinez when Howard is fit. Newcastle are a poor side who look like they’ve had the heart ripped out of them - is someone like Andros Townsend going to get them our of the mire? - he seemed to stop chasing back half way through.
However, I felt there was more impetus from Everton on Wednesday night and they played a few more direct balls and weren’t just knocking it sideways all the time for the sake of it and the crowd responded. James McCarthy was an absolute workhorse in closing people down and forcing mistakes while Tom Cleverley and Aaron Lennon also impressed in midfield with the latter our best player in my book with his movement and awareness. Ross Barkley’s penalty was the kind of thing you can do in the last minute when you’re already 2-0 up and the feel-good factor was complete with Oumar Niasse’s arrival. He seems a pleasant lad and was very polite when meeting the fans at Goodison, taking his hat off as he said hello.
Lack of homegrown heroes forces Stoke to keep on spending
I was impressed with Stoke City when they won 4-3 at Goodison Park in December and this Saturday’s trip to the Britannia Stadium will be another tough game as they have a lot of quality in their squad now. Mark Hughes has taken them on another step from the work that Tony Pulis did but what many people don’t realise was that under their previous manager, Stoke were one of the top flight’s highest spenders outside the Champions League regulars. They actually conducted the biggest deal of transfer deadline day, paying £18million for Giannelli Imbula but a problem that they’ve had for a long time is that nobody has come through their Academy since Kris Commons and Karl Henry over a decade ago.
Manchester City’s sorry time management issue
It's a sorry state of affairs when we hear about a manager coming in to take somebody else’s job when there’s still four months left of the season. Manuel Pellegrini could struggle to keep discipline within the Manchester City dressing room during the run-in now that all the players know that he’s going. Pep Guardiola had already announced that he was leaving Bayern Munich this summer but I wonder why City felt the need to make this announcement now? Perhaps they feared it would get leaked or either Chelsea or even Manchester United might get Guardiola instead. At least David Moyes kept his dignity in the final year of his contract before leaving Everton.

David Prentice: Be patient and Everton diamond Ross Barkley will shine even brighter
5 Feb 2016 Liverpool Echo
By David Prentice
Why Everton fans should continue to stick with Barkley and the rewards will be spectacular
Barkley celebrates scoring
Everton fans' record for relishing, promoting and nurturing their midfield prodigies is not good.
John Ebbrell gave 265 matches worth of sterling service to Everton Football Club. But he always struggled to live up to the tag of being one of the first graduates of the FA's much vaunted School of Excellence at Lilleshall. Tony Grant's 79 Everton appearances, were usually gilded by a sumptuous elegance, but you always got the impression that Andrei Kanchelskis appreciated his ability to deliver a telling through ball more than the fans. While Jack Rodwell made 109 appearances in Royal Blue, but I'm not sure he ever even had a song sung in his name. Potential was always the issue – that and the common thread that all three were local. And we're always harder on our own than on outsiders.
Jack Rodwell didn't always get an easy ride
Fans were so desperate for all three to succeed that they demanded enduring excellence, when sometimes all they received was steady consistency. It's the same with Ross Barkley. Some supporters spend more than 10-minutes signing on a Gwladys Street concourse about his bejeweled status. But others mutter and groan when he goes through a 20-minute spell where he chews on the ball a little too long, like on Wednesday night. Some Goodison fans are quick to lose patience with Ross Barkley. Only this time last year Roberto Martinez felt compelled to say: “At home, in front of our own fans, he probably needs to relax a bit more, play his normal game and don't worry about anything. Then his ability will come through.” Barkley is fortunate than in Martinez he has a manager who will indulge young talent. David Moyes gave the young Barkley his full league debut five years ago. But after every error he was promptly pulled out. Martinez has persisted, and he is being rewarded with a v
ery special talent. Just have a run through a YouTube collection of his goals.
Every one is a classic, and every one is different. Barkleycelebrates scoring his side's first goal during the Capital One Cup third round match between Reading and Everton There's that run from his own half at Newcastle, the free-kick at Swansea, the Manchester City howitzer or the driven daisycutter (take your pick), even the Carrow Road cracker.
And that's just the goals.
No English midfielder has assisted more times this season – and that includes current media darling Dele Alli. He should have had one more on Wednesday. In the first half Barkley produced a penalty box trick so sublime even his team-mates didn't see it coming. It allowed him to fizz a dangerous cross across the six yard box, with his team-mates standing back and admiring the skill which had created the space. He really is a Diamond – occasionally flawed, sometimes rough, but a diamond nonetheless. Polish him. Enjoy him. Celebrate him. But most of all give him space to breathe.
It will be worth it.

Stoke City: Club legend Denis Smith has mixed feelings over Romelu Lukaku
By Martin_Spinks February 05, 2016 Stoke Sentinel
DENIS Smith has mixed feelings about Romelu Lukaku lining up against his beloved Stoke City tomorrow afternoon. Being an old centre half he'd love to see a ding-dong battle between Lukaku and Stoke skipper Ryan Shawcross. But being a Stoke fan, and well aware that Shawcross could still be absent, he's also concerned about the damage Lukaku can cause to the heart of City's injury-hit defence. Lukaku isn't guaranteed to play himself after retiring at half-time with a back injury during Everton's 3-0 win over Newcastle on Wednesday. But Smith, who saw the game for himself at Goodison Park, believes Lukaku should be ok after taking a knee in the back. "They played a lot off Lukaku the other night," said Smith, "and he led the line very well. "He held the ball up well, brought others into the game and he's obviously a big physical threat. "If Ryan isn't fit and Philipp Wollscheid is also missing, then Lukaku will obviously be a problem for us." Shawcross is close to returning afte
r a back injury a fortnight ago and may be risked if Wollscheid is absent with the tight calf he suffered during Tuesday's defeat at Manchester United. "Ryan is his own man and he will know himself whether he's ready or not," says Smith. "He's also got a very good medical team behind him. It's not like our day when they just gave you a jab and told you to get on with it. Players are very valuable commodities nowadays." Stoke are sweating over the fitness of both Shawcross and Wollscheid because their absence, together with injuries for Geoff Cameron and Marc Wilson, would leave Marc Muniesa as the only fit, recognised and remotely experienced centre half on the books. "I know people have said Stoke have left themselves short," Smith continued, "but to have four centre halves injured at the same time just isn't normal. And you can't have six top-quality centre halves on the books because most of them would just be sitting around most of the time. "If Ryan and Wollscheid are out
against Everton, then I guess Mark Hughes will have to do what he did at Old Trafford and play Glen Johnson there alongside Muniesa. "I personally wouldn't have thought he would consider moving Erik Pieters inside because both him and Muniesa are left-sided." He thinks there will be changes elsewhere to fresh things up after Old Trafford, not least a return for Xherdan Shaqiri, while £18.3m newcomer Gianelli Imbula is an option for his debut. "I thought Mark played the right team at Old Trafford because it was the same team which had done so well at Liverpool a week earlier, but obviously it didn't work out on the night. "I thought our approach play first half was actually all right, but we conceded a poor first goal and then lost Wollscheid. "It will be interesting to see if Mark does play the new signing against Everton. He will have had a couple of days to look at him in training and get a feel of whether it's the right move. "I understand he doesn't speak a word of English
and obviously that can be a problem. "You certainly need good communication from the centre halves behind you if he's playing midfield and it has to be verbal because he'll have his back to them. "Hopefully, Muniesa speaks a bit of French, it would certainly help. You can go through a few things in training and make sure he understands basics like `right, left' and 'closer,'" Smith believes Everton's victory will put a spring in their step after a moderate trot of results had left them in a league position unbefitting the talent at their disposal. "They deservedly won the game, but at 1-0 you could feel the crowd on tenterhooks because they should have had the game sewn up.
"But they got a couple of late penalties to complete a deserved win which sets them up nicely for Stoke. "They played with Gareth Barry and James McArthur doing the dirty work in midfield, which left Ross Barkley free to feed off Lukaku. "Barkley was getting into good positions and I feel his decision-making has got better. The easy passes are getting there as easy passes. "He can also pick out longer passes as well and seems to be constantly on the ball. He was basically free to go where he wants and looked good. "It's now a difficult game for Stoke this weekend. Everton's win over Newcastle will obviously boost them and Stoke's defeat to United obviously won't do them any good. "If we play well and they play well, you're going to have a cracking game of football.
"But it might also come down to who handles their injuries the better." * SHAY Given leant his support this week to a Premier League initiative to encourage schoolchildren to come up with ideas on how to get fans into grounds for longer on a matchday.
And he suggested we might be able to learn something from football fans in Iran, of all places.
"It's a good idea to try and get fans in early so they can make it intimidating for opposition teams in the warm up as well," said Given. "The more young fans we can get in and get the buzz of supporting Stoke the better. "I remember playing in Iran once when there were 100,000 people in the stadium, men only because women weren't allowed, and for five hours before kick off!"

Stoke City v Everton: Tim Howard and John Stones out – but Romelu Lukaku ready to play through pain
By PeteSmith February 05, 2016 Stoke Sentinel
ROBERTO Martinez has confirmed that key Everton men Tim Howard and John Stones will probably miss the weekend trip to Stoke City. Kevin Mirallas will return to the squad, however, and Romelu Lukaku is back in training today after a suffering a back injury in mid-week. It means Joel Robles will continue in goal at the Britannia Stadium, with Martinez expected to name the same team that beat Newcastle 3-0 on Wednesday. He said: "The positive news is that Kevin Mirallas will be available. We've got Tim Howard and probably Mo Besic and John Stones … it will probably be too early for them to be involved. "Apart from Kevin Mirallas, I expect the same squad as we had against Newcastle. "We are waiting to get the paperwork done. This morning it was important in terms of the final step of that paperwork. We are hopeful that he will be available. If he's not, it will be next weekend against West Brom. "We are probably 24 hours away from completing everything."
Lukaku was withdrawn at half-time against Newcastle but has been receiving treatment and is in contention to start against a Stoke team which has just one fit recognised senior centre-back.
Martinez said: "He looked a lot freer yesterday. I thought he looked back to himself. After the game he was finding it difficult to walk without pain. "It was a difficult injury because all of a sudden you cannot feel the back of your legs and we were a little bit worried but there is no further damage. It was about getting the feeling back and joining in training today. We will make an assessment but he is back in training. "Rom never wants to miss games. Even after he took the knock against Newcastle he stayed on the pitch probably 12 or 13 minutes hoping to run it off. He couldn't really move around but he's reliable and that's why I feel positive towards him being available. He knows how to make himself available."

Stoke City v Everton: Roberto Martinez – This is best Stoke team for a long, long, long time
By PeteSmith February 05, 2016 Stoke Sentinel
ROBERTO Martinez says he does not expect "the most talented Stoke side in a long, long, long time" to suffer any Manchester United or cup hangover. The Potters head into tomorrow's home match with Everton on the back of four ultimately unsuccessful away games, including exits from both cups and 3-0 league defeats to Leicester City and, on Tuesday, Man Utd. But Martinez does not think he will encounter a side which is busy licking its wounds. He said: "I don't think it works like that. Stoke are a very experienced side and I don't think they are going to take a hangover from any previous results. "You see in a football club that they are growing, developing. They got into the semi-finals of the League Cup with the right path, in the right way. "They've got some outstanding individuals with incredible individual quality and that's the way the Premier League is turning into. Clubs can make investments and bring in bodies and becomes harder and harder for anyone to win a football gam
e. "We are looking forward to going to the Britannia, seeing how we can settle in and competing against probably one of the most talented Stoke sides we've seen for a long, long, long time." Everton head to the Britannia Stadium on the back of two straight wins, including a 3-0 thrashing of Newcastle United on Wednesday. Romelu Lukaku is expected to be available despite ending that game at half-time with a back problem. Kevin Mirallas also comes back into contention while Tim Howard and John Stones miss out through injury. "First and foremost were facing a really tough team," said Martinez. "I think Stoke have been in a very similar period of games to ourselves. They have been in the semi-finals of the Capital One Cup and the extra games that brings.
"They've got a phenomenal home record. They've played four consecutive away games ... and we know that we are facing at team that is full of flair, that has great quality. In the same way, they are a very competitive side. "But we are looking to build on the win over Newcastle and we see this as a really important game in our season. You are looking at the small margins in the positions in the table and every point will be significant. When you play against teams that are around you in the table that brings importance. "We know what we are going to face. We know how difficult it is at the Britannia Stadium but mentally we are in a good moment and we are very confident, looking forward to the fixture."

Everton buck trend of mega-rich Premier League clubs by standing up for away fan ticket initiative
5 Feb 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Greg O’Keeffe
Everton only club to speak up in favour of price cap on tickets for away supporters
Everton fans on the road
Everton were the solitary Premier League club to argue for a cap on ticket prices for away fans at a meeting of top flight clubs. The Blues bucked the trend of the division's 19 other sides, who ignored the pleas of supporter groups to get behind plans aimed at making attending games more affordable. Despite only recently having their £8billion-plus forthcoming TV deal confirmed, the meeting of Premier League chief executives voted down a motion to cap away tickets at £30.
@Everton taking the lead.Premier League big boys vote down proposal to cap away tickets at 30 via @MailSport #EFC
— The Blue Union (@TheBlueUnion) February 5, 2016
According to a report by the Daily Mail's Charlie Sale, the clubs spent more time debating the issue of helping travelling supporters than any other item on the agenda during a five-and-a-half-hour meeting in London. But it was only Everton who spoke "loudly" in favour of fans. It is understood that in a ballot, seven or eight clubs are understood to have opposed the capping, meaning the Premier League was without the 14-club majority needed to make such changes. The proposal will be back on the table at the March meeting after clubs voted heavily against the compromise of a funding arrangement where clubs would get money to help travelling supporters which they could use in varied ways.

Andriy Yarmolenko's comments "pleasing" for Everton says Roberto Martinez
5 Feb 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Greg O’Keeffe
Roberto Martinez has described Andriy Yarmolenko's admission that he would rather join Everton than Barcelona as "pleasing" for the Blues. The ECHO revealed yesterday that long-term Everton target Yarmoleno had told media in his native Ukraine that he would prefer to play twice a week at Goodison than be a squad player at Camp Nou and "take selfies with Messi". Everton tried to sign the 26-year-old last summer and again in January, and questioned about the forward's words at his Friday press conference Martinez said: I wouldn't comment about a player who is not registered with us. "But we all know Andriy Yarmolenko is one of the bets footballers of his generation in his country. He's a captain and a leader and someone who has his own targets and ambitions. "To get that sort of comment from him is very pleasing for everyone at Everton but we are very respectful not to comment on a player who is not at our football club." Twitter reacts to Yarmolenko preferring Everton over Barcelo
na Everton's pursuit of Yarmolenko is already becoming a drawn-out saga. His chances of joining last month were scuppered when Dynamo Kiev decided they wanted to keep him for their Champions League campaign. But asked whether it was better to have a guaranteed place at the Toffees or be a substitute at Barcelona, he reportedly said: "It is better to play at Everton. "Of course you can go to Barcelona, make a cool selfie with (Lionel) Messi, put the images on Instagram and get a million likes and be pleased with yourself. But I'm not one of those.
"For me it is important to play matches. If I do not play twice a week, I have nowhere to throw out the emotions and energy. My family will go mad. If I play, the next day I am all calm and smile. If I missed the game and lay in the house, I immediately run into a quarrel."

Why Everton diamond Ross Barkley does things no ordinary No10 would ever dream of
5 Feb 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Roberto Martinez on how Blues star is already showing signs of a top box-to-box midfielder - even though he plays more advanced
Ross Barkley celebrates another goal
Ross Barkley does things no normal No10 would ever dream of says Roberto Martinez - and his performance against Newcastle United showed why. The 22-year-old scored twice and produced a man-of-the-match performance on Wednesday night as the Blues defeated Newcastle 3-0.
But Barkley also impressed with his work-rate and Martinez says the moment he tracked back 70 yards to dispossess Andros Townsend proved he has more to his game than attacking. Martinez sees Barkley’s long-term future as a box-to-box midfielder but says even in a more advanced position, the Academy product is already displaying the qualities of a No8. “He had moments of a No8 on Wednesday,” Martinez said. “The modern game is developing into 10 players and the keeper defending without the ball and 10 players and the keeper attacking, on the ball. “You need to have a structure and a clear way of playing but Ross is developing into a player who can sense danger and see how he can help the team. Barkley can see clearly how to play “There was an action where he tracked Andros Townsend all the way, a No10 wouldn’t do that normally. “It shows you he has taken a lot of responsibility and wants to learn the game quickly and he is taking advantage of the great amount of
football he has played at a young age. “He is not a young player anymore, he is a very special footballer with a young age.” Martinez believes the influence of Gareth Barry has been vital in Barkley’s development. “It is more his understanding of the game,” the Blues boss added. “You need to understand what the game needs and what the team needs from yourself and that is decision making. “I know decision making is a broad concept and decision making on the ball is very different to decision making off the ball. Gareth Barry remains the ultimate example when it comes to decision-making according to Martinez “Players, like Gareth Barry, develop decision making - where he anticipates things before they happen - and that is after nearly 600 games in the Premier League, and that is the influence Ross needs. “He needs someone like Gareth who is constantly giving him an indication of what to expect and allow him to be free and enjoy his football.
“First and foremost, we want Ross to express himself and that is how he has become an important part of this team. “From that point on, you want to be perfect with your responsibilities and being a team player.”

Oumar Niasse Everton debut may have to wait as Blues face Visa dash
5 Feb 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Greg O’Keeffe
Everton new-boy Niasse hasn't got his paperwork yet and could miss out on Stoke City clash
Everton's new signing Oumar Niasse is introduced to the fans before the Newcastle game
Everton's new £13.5m new striker Oumar Niasse could miss out on making his debut against Stoke City as the Blues scramble to get his Visa paperwork approved in time. The Senegal striker signed on deadline day after the Blues struck a deal with Lokomotiv Moscow, but have so far been frustrated in their attempts to get his Visa finalised. Roberto Martinez said the next 24 hours will be crucial in determining whether the 25-year-old will get the go ahead to make the squad for the trip to the Britannia stadium. He said: "We're waiting just to get the paperwork done. I think this morning was important in terms of getting the final step of that paperwork and we're hopeful that he will be able to be available. "If he's not this weekend then clearly it [his debut] will be next week against West Brom."
Niasse signs autographs during the Newcastle clash Martinez added that the striker is not yet fully match fit but won't take long to be ready. "It is clear Oumar isn’t ready to play 90 minutes, but he trained yesterday and he was very good," he said. "I think he is going to adapt to the physicality of the Premier League very quickly."

Everton striker Romelu Lukaku determined to be fit for Stoke City clash after back injury
5 Feb 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Everton forward lasted just 45 minutes against Newcastle United on Wednesday night
Romelu Lukaku will push through the pain barrier in a bid to declare himself fit for Everton’s game with Stoke City. The Blues top scorer had to go off at half-time of Wednesday night’s game with Newcastle United at Goodison. Lukaku hurt his back after a late challenge from Fabricio Collocini, that went unpunished, and briefly lost feeling in his legs. The towering Belgian was due to resume training at Finch Farm today and Blues boss Roberto Martinez says he expects to have Lukaku in the squad for tomorrow’s trip to the Britannia Stadium. “The action, the incident, is a simple, very strong contact in the lower part of his back,” Martinez said. “That has an effect neurologically, it effected him in the back of his two legs and he didn’t walk freely and that takes a bit of time. “But the way Rom is, he is a big, powerful boy and I would be surprised if he doesn’t push himself. “It is just making sure we don’t allow him to put himself in a position where he cannot enjoy his football. “He was walking much more freely yesterday and we will assess him today.” Arouna Kone replaced the £28m striker in midweek and the Blues are still waiting on a visa for new signing Oumar Niasse so Martinez is counting on Lukaku’s powers of recovery. But the Everton boss is confident the Belgian, who picked up an ankle injury last month, will be passed fit, saying: “Rom will always put himself forward to help the team and that is an attribute he should never lose. “Rom is the type of player to kick on and get stronger as the season goes on and use that incredible strength he has to go from periods of difficulty into being the main performer. “I have no worries physically and no worries with Rom not being 100% and we know he will find a way to get back to his best level very soon.”

Roberto Martinez dance moves: Bookies offer odds on Everton boss goal celebration
5 Feb 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Greg O’Keeffe
Will Everton boss' smooth moves get a repeat at the Britannia Stadium?
Bookies are offering odds that Roberto Martinez will repeat his Jason Derulo dance moves if Everton score tomorrow. Skybet have offered one inquisitive punter 16/1 for the Blues boss to replicate his sharp moves at any point during the Premier League game against Stoke City tomorrow.
The odds are in....
And they feel it's just about more likely than not that any Everton player will celebrate a goal by aping their smooth-moving manager. A video of Martinez dancing enthusiastically at a Jason Derulo concert at the Manchester Arena on Thursday, February 4 has gone viral. The 10 second clip, taken by Twitter user LFC Kop View, shows Martínez standing up by his seat waving his arms in a circular motion next to a male friend with similarly unusual moves. The ECHO understands Derulo was encouraging the audience to copy that specific dance. The candid video led to much debate on social media over whether it was Martínez or just a good lookalike - particularly because the man caught on camera was wearing his watch on a different hand to the one the Premier League boss usually does. However at a press conference held on Friday, ahead of Saturday’s match against Stoke, the man himself confirmed that it was indeed him throwing the moves. He told the amused journalists present: “It’s always good to get some inspiration from creative people”, adding: “I’ve got better moves, believe me!”
The Spaniard then went on to discuss more serious news from Goodison Park .

Everton Behind Enemy Lines: 'Toffees have been entertaining - for all the wrong reasons'
5 Feb 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Greg O’Keeffe
Everton's form and the situation at Stoke assessed by The Sentinel's man Martin Spinks
Marko Arnautovic of Stoke City is fouled by John Stones
What have you made of Everton this season?
They’ve been entertaining, but for all the wrong reasons for the faithful because of all those goals they’ve conceded, often late on. Will always be grateful for the part they played in that 4-3 cracker with Stoke at Goodison. Were you surprised by how they threw the points away against Stoke at Goodison?
Yes, because at 3-2 they were looking the better team and we’d have snapped your hand off for a draw. I heard the crowd were anxious at 1-0 late on against Newcastle the other night, so it’s obviously a bit of a weakness that the opposition can play on. Everton were interested in Xherdan Shaqiri - have they missed out on a cracker? To be honest, his performance at Goodison was comfortably one of his best and most effective in a Stoke shirt. He’s been a slow burner and we’re hoping he really takes off next season, but there have been glimpses of his very best against the likes of City and United along the way.
Who has stood out for the Potters this term? Jack Butland was easily their best player for the first couple of months and hasn’t done anything wrong since. Ryan Shawcross returned from injury impressively before his latest lay off, Glenn Whelan has by and large been a leading light in midfield. Erik Pieters at left back has been as consistent as any outfield player and we are obviously hoping Giannelli Imbula hits the ground running, hopefully this weekend. Both teams spent big on deadline day - is Imbula likely to play and can he hurt the Toffees? He’ll be on the bench at least. Obviously he’s an unknown quantity, including fitness wise, and we wait to see exactly what his main strengths are because we’re told he has a bit of everything in midfield. Giannelli Imbula made a big money switch to Stoke on deadline day
What's your prediction for the game?
Stoke sorely need a result after a terrible January. Don’t see many goals so will be optimistic and go for a 1-0 home win.

Everton transfers: Aiden McGeady can save Blues career with Sheffield Wednesday loan
5 Feb 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Everton winger to spend rest of season in Championship before returning in summer
Aiden McGeady during a training session for the Republic of Ireland
Aiden McGeady has reached an “important” moment in his career - and must prove he has an Everton future. The 29-year-old winger has been sent to Sheffield Wednesday on loan for the rest of the season.
McGeady has made just one appearance for Everton this season but still hopes to be picked for the Republic of Ireland’s Euro 2016 squad. And so Everton agreed to send the former Celtic wide-man to Championship side Wednesday until May. McGeady gave an interview this week in which he said he “had to get out” of Goodison and “I forgot what it was like to be a footballer.” And he knows his spell on loan is more than just about getting in the squad for the Euros - but also about trying to salvage his Blues career.
Martinez was keen to get McGeady out on loan
“My conversations with Aiden have always been very clear and very open,” Roberto Martinez said.
“At the moment we are in an important moment of his season and in his career. “We were quite happy to help Aiden and it is fair to say he needs to play football. “He has the Euros at the end of the season and it is a real fresh start for everyone in pre-season. “I never follow what the interpretation of a conversation is, in the papers, I always take the experiences I have had with Aiden, the conversations we have had and working with him on a daily basis. McGeady's Everton spell has struggled to really take off
“We all wish him the very best of luck and hope he can help Sheffield Wednesday achieve their aims.”
Asked if the challenge was for McGeady to use his loan spell and the Euros to prove he can still play a part at Everton, Martinez said: “That’s the plan. “The plan is him to use all his energy and freshness in a really important period in the campaign and help Sheffield Wednesday. “From there, from an individual point of view, it is about going to the Euros and having a really good tournament. “It is a special opportunity for him and the Republic of Ireland. Aiden McGeady goes close for Everton
But Martinez still senses he has potential to turn things aroud “From then, in the summer, it is a completely different start and different season and different moment in his career as well.
“Of course, we would like to see Aiden at his very, very best and being important at Everton.”
McGeady is contracted to Everton until the summer of 2018.

Stoke City v Everton: Toffees reporter going for narrow away win
By The Sentinel February 05, 2016
1 How important was that 3-0 win over Newcastle on Wednesday?
Greg: Massively. Everton simply had to quell the toxic atmosphere at Goodison Park which is a mix of anxiety, unrest and frustration that such a strong squad is underperforming. Stoke fans may have noticed it when they beat us 4-3 there.
2 If he's out, how big a miss will Romelu Lukaku be and who do you see replacing him?
Find out how No7’s Protect & Perfect serum provides anti-ageing results
Greg: It depends whether new signing Oumar Niasse gets a visa in time to feature. But if neither play and Arouna Kone is asked to lead the line alone then Everton could struggle.
3 Looks like John Stones will be out through injury as well, but how much has recent criticism affected him, do you think? Greg: The stark fact is that on form he wouldn't necessarily get into starting line-up right now anyway, despite how extraordinarily good he is. I do think the recent criticism has had an effect on him, and being played out of position at the Etihad in the League Cup semi final probably didn't help.
4 Has Everton's Achilles heel this season been the conceding of all those late goals, and often from winning positions? Greg: Yes, well Stoke fans know all about that don't they? It's been a badly damaging habit.
5 Who has impressed you most among the current squad so far this season?
Greg: Muhamed Besic has been tremendous. A real revelation. His absence is still hampering the Toffees.
6 Presumably that 4-3 defeat to Stoke barely a month ago still hurts and will be a motivation for the Everton lads this weekend?
Greg: Oh yes. It was another example of Everton's poor game management and soft underbelly. Now Phil Jagielka is back his experience will hopefully continue to help them curb that trend. Everton have had some painful moments against the Potters over recent seasons. A win there would have a bit of extra satisfaction.
7 Let's have your prediction for the big game then, Greg.
Greg: Everton haven't been great at the Brit over the years but it's got to change eventually. The Toffees are decent on the road - I fancy them 2-1.
8 And finally, where do you see Everton and Stoke finishing (position wise) and who's your tip for the title?
Greg: Stoke are very strong this season, although they let us down against Liverpool in the League Cup. I can see the two clubs finishing in 8th and 9th. I'll let you know which way around after Saturday.

Stoke City v Everton: Giannelli Imbula marks debut in style
By Martin_Spinks February 05, 2016 Stoke Sentinel
December 28, 2015 (Premier League): Everton 3 (Lukaku 22,64, Deulofeu71), Stoke City 4 (Shaqiri 16,45, Joselu 80, Arnautovic pen 91)
Wow! What a finish to 2015 as Stoke pulled off their most spectacular Premier League result on the road. Xherdan Shaqiri's `was-it or wasn't-it' meant goal got the ball rolling before Stoke came from 3-2 down courtesy of Joselu's smart finish and Marko Arnautovic winning and depositing a stoppage-time penalty. Everton: Howard, Coleman, Galloway, Stones, Funes Mori, Barry, McArthur (Cleverley,26), Barkley, Deulofeu, Kone, Lukaku.
Stoke: Butland, Johnson, Pieters, Shawcross, Wollscheid, Whelan, Cameron (Walters,79), Shaqiri (van Ginkel,86), Afellay, Arnautovic, Bojan (Joselu,63).
Att: 39,394
Stoke: DLWLL
Everton: DLLWW
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Romelu Lukaku. He's just what Stoke's attack needs right now, a player who ruffles feathers, has plenty of energy and scores all kinds of goals.
Gerard Deulofeu. Looks a little on the cocky side and struts a bit too much for comfort.
Andre Marriner (W Mids). Returns to the Britannia for the first time since the 2-2 draw with Leicester in September and his last Everton assignment was a 6-2 home win over Sunderland.
Stoke: Butland, Bardsley, Pieters, Johnson, Muniesa, Whelan, Imbula, Shaqiri, Afellay, Arnautovic, Joselu.
Everton: Robles, Coleman, Oviedo, Funes Mori, Jagielka, Barry, McCarthy, Lennon, Barkley, Deulofeu, Lukaku.
It's tight and tense and both goalkeepers make important saves before Gianelli Imbula's speculative shot falls for Joselu to guide home on the hour.

Stoke City v Everton: Meet the Toffees who could come to a sticky end
By Martin_Spinks February 05, 2016 Stoke Sentinel
The 25 year-old Spaniard has played the last three games following fitness concerns for Tim Howard.
Was a £2m signing from Rayo Vallecano in the summer of 2013 after catching the eye of Roberto Martinez during a loan spell with him at Wigan.
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One of the best attacking full backs around these days, the 27 year-old from Donegal recently reached 150 Premier League starts for the Toffees.
Not bad going for a player who only cost an initial £60,000 from Sligo Rovers seven years ago.
Surprisingly ousted Leighton Baines on Wednesday night and didn't do much to lose his place for this weekend's game. The 25 year-old Costa Rican is now into his fifth campaign on Merseyside after moving from FC Copenhagen.

Now 33 and with his England days behind him, you suspect, but remains a reliable mainstay at the heart of Everton's defence.
Passed 300 first-team appearances earlier this season, his ninth since joining from Sheffield United.
A £9.5m signing from River Plate last summer, the 24 year-old Argentinian bagged the late third in a recent 3-3 thriller at Chelsea. One of the reasons John Stones was recently shifted to right back after slotting in so capably and consistently in recent times.
Still going at nearly 35 (it's his birthday on the 23rd if you want to send anything) and still adding to his 100 plus Premier League bookings. Just the four yellows and one red this term, he must be mellowing in his old age, or he just can't catch them anymore.
Followed Martinez from Wigan for a cool £13m two-and-a-half years ago and is now just three short of a century of first-team appearances. Had previously spent four years at Wigan after moving there for about £1m from Hamilton.
A Stoke target on a couple of occasions in recent years, he finally departed Tottenham and joined Everton five months ago for £4m after a loan spell at Goodison last season. Has since started just half-a-dozen league games, but scored three in his last five league and cup appearances.
The future for England and at 22 is moving towards the very best football of his highly-promising career.
Getting forward more and more these days, scoring 13 goals for club and country so far this term.
Could come back into the starting 11 after being rested to the bench against Newcastle this week.
The 21 year-old Spaniard, christened thus because his family were secret Liverpool fans, scored only his second league goal of the season in December's 4-3 defeat to Stoke.
Could be touch and go whether he plays after suffering a back injury in the week.
The big Belgian international has 19 goals this season and a total of 57 in 136 Premier League appearances for Everton, Chelsea and West Brom.

Roberto Martínez confident Ross Barkley will sign new Everton contract
• Everton will offer England midfielder new contract this summer
• Manager Martínez says Barkley wants to stay at club
Ross Barkley applauds the crowd
Ross Barkley has been in excellent form for Everton this season. Photograph: BPI/Rex/Shutterstock
By Andy Hunter
Friday 5 February 2016 Guardian
Everton will look to secure Ross Barkley on a new long-term contract this summer, with Roberto Martínez admitting he wants to build his team around the gifted midfielder. Barkley will have two years remaining on his current £60,000-a-week deal at the end of the season and, as with the four-year contract he signed in 2014, Everton hope to reward the 22-year-old’s progress with improved terms.

Manchester City are one of several Premier League clubs to have shown interest in the England international in the past but Martínez insists Barkley is central to his plans for the club, and that the boyhood Evertonian wants that role at Goodison Park.
The Everton manager said: “We will probably look at it in the summer. As I’ve said before, Ross is not a young man any more. He’s a player you can build a project on. When you want to build a project it is about a player who wants to play for Everton and wants to take that role. It is one thing as a manager wanting to do something, if the player doesn’t feel the same way then you cannot do it.
“But at the moment we have to concentrate on what we can achieve from now until the end of the season. What you are going to do in the final 12 games of the season will allow you to have a real strong ending, and that’s where the focus is. The FA Cup is another real strong focus for us, and the role of Ross Barkley will be vital to what we can achieve.” Martínez revealed Barkley is not the only player lined up for a new contract at Everton, with the club having an option to extend Bryan Oviedo’s deal and Muhamed Besic due a pay rise after making over 25 Premier League appearances. “We look at every player’s situation,” he explained.
“We’ve got Bryan Oviedo who is out of contract in the summer but we have an option and we would like to do something before then. Mo Besic has triggered a clause which means we need to look into his contract. Those are the ones that are most imminent and everyone else we will look into in the summer.” Barkley has made significant strides operating in the No10 role at Everton this season, with his two penalties against Newcastle United on Wednesday taking the midfielder to 11 goals in 31 games. His manager believes improved confidence, decision-making and increased responsibility have contributed to the 22-year-old’s improvement. Martínez added: “I’ve just seen a big difference this season in Ross. Before it was all about trying to give him information and make him a type of a player. This season has been very different because he’s the one who wants clarifications and is asking for the information he needs. It shows he has the confidence he needs. “There was an action against Newcastle when he tracked Andros Townsend back all the way, and won the ball back. That wasn’t his role. But in the same way that’s the decision making we are working on. He sensed danger and reacted, and it means he has developed from a young lad who only does what you tell him into someone who knows what he has to do, and wants help in knowing what is expected in those situations. That’s a big difference. When you do that it is because you are an experienced player who says ’I know what I am and how important I am for the team’. “He has 11 goals but also creates a lot of chances for others, sometimes by not even touching the ball. He creates chances because teams are using one and two players constantly to try to stop him. His influence is huge and he’s going to have a different test week by week. Sometimes man marking, sometimes two players to stop him and that’s the test he will have until the end of the season.”

Royal Blue: It's time for Everton's incessant misery in the Potteries to end
6 Feb 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Phil Kirkbride says it's high time Everton came away from Stoke smiling, Niasse's enthusiastic welcome and the enduring love affair with Yarmolenko
Romelu Lukaku dejected after making a mistake which contributed towards Stoke City's second goal at the Britannia Stadium, Stoke. They say there are two certainties in life: death and taxes. But for Evertonians there is a third: a miserable trip to Stoke City. And so it is with understandable trepidation that Blues fans head for the Britannia Stadium today. In the Premier League era, Everton have won just one of seven games at Stoke and after their season reached rock bottom there in March, it is hardly an away day to relish. Throw December’s capitulation at Goodison Park against the Potters into the mix and you’ve got a recepie for another uncomfortable day down there. But that, in its miserable nutshell, should provide the inspiration for Everton’s players this afternoon. Not only are Roberto Martinez’s side looking to secure back-to-back league wins for the first time this season and trying to avenge’s December’s defeat but they’re are also draw a line in the sand. Everton went to Stoke last year desperately needing a win - they’d only had two since the middle of December - and were slowly being sucked into the mess at the bottom of the table. Three points would have helped alleviate the pressure on Martinez and his players and given Everton some much needed breathing space. They lost. It was a sorry, sorry night and the manager was forced into a walk of shame, heading down the touchline, towards the tunnel in front of irate Evertonians. The Blues would soon move away from the threat of danger and finish the season well clear of the bottom three but it represented a new low in their season, and record at the Britannia. And it why a victory this afternoon can represent so much more than any usual win. Like Martinez felt Wednesday night’s defeat of Newcastle United was “an extra significant three points” so too can a win over Stoke on their home patch. Psychologically, it is a barrier for this group of players to overcome. Martinez knows the importance of stopping the Britannia woes
Martinez, publicily at least, wasn’t placing too much pressure on his squad, saying: “It’s different players, different circumstances and they’ve got different players. “The game is completely, completely different.” Let’s hope it is. Everton, winning at home in the league for only the fourth time this season in midweek, have been better on the road but you’re always guaranteed a tough afternoon in the Potteries. Oh, there’s actually another certainty in life: it’ll be windy in Stoke. But this time, Everton stay on course for a third win in a week.
Niasse makes his mark - without even kicking a ball
In the long history of new signings being paraded in front of fans, Oumar Niasse’s has to be one of the most energetic. The 25-year-old was presented to the Goodison faithful on Wednesday night before kick-off against Newcastle United and he was sure to make an impression.
The usual routine sees the player walk to the centre circle, applaud all four sides of the ground, chuck in the odd wave and walk off. But not Niasse. Everton’s new £13.5m striker decided to run round the centre circle, at a decent pace as well, waving and smiling as he went before signing an autograph and heading down the tunnel. Well, we were told one of the Senegal international’s biggest qualities was his work-rate. Niasse hasn’t kicked a ball in anger, yet he’s already made an impression.
There's many twists yet in the Yarmolenko affair If Andriy Yarmolenko was trying to launch a charm offensive with Everton fans then he could not have done any better. When asked if he would rather sign for Barcelona or Everton, the Blues target said: “It is better to play at Everton.” Evertonians will have been forgiven for spitting out their afternoon cup of tea when they read that but Yarmolenko’s reasons made sense. As good as he is, the 26-year-old admits he’d struggle to get a look-in at the Nou Camp with Messi, Neymar and Suarez running amok in Spain and beyond. At Goodison, he would be in the team every week.
Dynamo Kiev's Andriy Yarmolenko
So what are the chances of that happening?
Yarmolenko’s words have only served to excite and encourage hopeful Evertonians but the situation does not appear to have changed much. He wants to move to the Premier League, which we knew.
Everton are interested, which we also knew. But Dynamo Kiev are some of Europe’s toughest negotiators. That we knew as well. Maybe the summer can shine some light on the Blues’ pursuit but the fans’ love affair has already started.

Barry Horne: Great to see Everton taking control
6 Feb 2016 Liverpool Echo
by BarryHorne
It was time the Blues got a grip of some games from start to finish
It's fair to say that one of Everton’s biggest problems this season has been an inability to take control of games for the full 90 minutes so it was a big improvement to see a couple of comfortable victories this week. In many matches they have either failed to take their opportunities while playing well or having to fight back from a slow start. Against both Carlisle and Newcastle though they never let go on their grip of the game. Regardless of the opposition, back-to-back clean sheets have been a rarity for Everton this season but it’s too easy to point the finger at both Tim Howard and John Stones being missing for both games. Time will tell whether their respective absences will be significant. Joel Robles has come in and been pretty sound but I’ve been saying for a while that Howard should have brought someone in to provide Howard with real intense competition as he needs to be challenged. One player who did well in both of the games was Aaron Lennon who has taken his chance brilliantly which is the sign of a good pro. Gerard Deulofeu was the player who missed out because of Lennon and like many top wingers he’s a fantastic talent but not always the most consistent of performers. When I played for Everton we had Andrei Kanchelskis and Anders Limpar who were in a similar mould and you just had to accept that it doesn’t always happen for those type of players. The reason they’d excite is because they could do things you couldn’t but in return I’d do stuff they couldn’t or wouldn’t do and that’s the beauty of a team game.
Battle of the big spenders at Stoke
Who'd have thought that Stoke City and Everton would have been the Premier League’s biggest spenders on transfer deadline day? In recent years the two clubs have adopted a similar transfer policy of gradual squad building without taking great financial risks but it just goes to show the kind of money there now is in the Premier League that Stoke could spend £18million on Giannelli Imbula and Everton paid £13.5m on Oumar Niasse, a player many of us knew little about a week ago. The Niasse deal came out of the Blue and his background doesn’t appear to be one steeped in Europe’s biggest clubs.
Oumar Niasse and Giannelli Imbula
He appears to be a relatively late bloomer but players can develop in their mid 20s like Jonathan Walters and Jamie Vardy. In my eyes it seems a lot of money and something of a risk but it’s certainly a statement of intent. Mark Hughes has been very astute in the transfer market with Stoke and as well as bringing in the ‘Steady Eddies’ like Erik Pieters and Philipp Wollscheid, he’s added flair players such as Bojan, Xherdan Shaqiri and Marko Arnautovic.

Everton transfer rumours: Barkley to be offered new deal to warn off Manchester United, other new contracts in pipeline, Lennon wanted by Dubai
6 Feb 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Kristian Walsh
The latest Everton FC transfer gossip from around the web
Everton FC v Newcastle United Premier League match at Goodison Park Liverpool. Ross Barkley scores his second penalty
Everton are preparing to offer three of their stars new contracts, according to reports - including Ross Barkley. The Daily Mail suggest the midfielder is to open talks with the Blues over an improved deal to warn off interest from Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea. The midfielder has two-and-a-half years to go on the £65,000-a-week contract he signed in July 2014, and Roberto Martinez has stated repeatedly that he has no intention of selling him. Martinez has indicated that there will be no talks with Barkley before the end of the season.
Barry Horne: Great to see Everton taking control
Royal Blue: It's time for Everton's incessant misery in the Potteries to end
The same story suggests Bryan Oviedo and Mumahed Besic will also be offered new deals.
Aaron Lennon, meanwhile, was wanted by clubs in Dubai - so says TV pundit Jermaine Jenas.
The former Spurs and Newcastle midfielder, who now appears on BBC and BT as an analyst, claims the Blues winger was a target for clubs in the Middle East. He told Yahoo Sport: “A good friend of mine Aaron Lennon, for example, had an offer to earn big money in Dubai but he loves the Premier League and that's where he sees his career. Personally, I think that's the way it should be.”

Stoke v Everton team news: Lukaku fit to start but no Niasse in Blues squad
6 Feb 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Kristian Walsh
Roberto Martinez keeps faith with the side that beat Newcastle 3-0
Romelu Lukaku has won his fitness battle and starts for Everton, with Roberto Martinez naming an unchanged line-up from the win over Newcastle. Lukaku was forced off at half time on Wednesday after hurting his back and was considered a doubt for today's trip to Stoke, but has been included in the starting 11. Martinez keeps faith with the same team that won 3-0 against the Magpies, with Tim Howard and John Stones remaining absent through injury. There is no chance of a debut for new signing Oumar Niasse, however, with the £13.5m man not obtaining his visa to play in time. Kevin Mirallas does return with a place on the bench after the Belgian has been missing since picking up an injury in the home defeat to Swansea last month. Everton team: Robles, Coleman, Mori, Jagielka, Oviedo, McCarthy, Barry, Lennon, Barkley, Cleverley, Lukaku

Stoke vs Everton match report: Toffees impress with Romelu Lukaku, Seamus Coleman and Aaron Lennon on target
Stoke City 0 Everton 3
Phil Medlicott Britannia Stadium
February 6 2016 Independent
Everton registered back-to-back Barclays Premier League wins for the first time this season as a first-half blitz steered them to a 3-0 triumph over Stoke at a rain-lashed Britannia Stadium.
The Toffees grabbed the lead in the 11th minute as Romelu Lukaku's penalty took him to 20 goals for the campaign. A Seamus Coleman header then extended the advantage in the 28th minute, and with Aaron Lennon punishing a Philipp Wollscheid error to add a third for the visitors in the 42nd, Roberto Martinez's men looked to have wrapped things up before the interval. Things could have been even worse after the break for a lacklustre Stoke side, with the efforts of their goalkeeper Jack Butland - including tipping a Lukaku header onto the bar - key in ensuring they sustained no further damage.
Everton have been accused of underachieving this term, but this was impressive stuff from the Merseyside outfit, who, having built upon their 3-0 win over Newcastle on Wednesday, are up to seventh in the table. Stoke, in contrast, were abject. They were looking for home comfort here, returning to playing at their own ground following a run of four straight matches on the road that had seen them beaten at Leicester and Manchester United in the league and exit two cups. But with them slipping to what was their third straight 3-0 league loss and down to 11th in the table, their fans will be concerned about their campaign, so impressive for so long, now fizzling out. Everton were positive from the off and were awarded the early spot-kick when Tom Cleverley latched on to Bryan Oviedo's through-ball and went down in the box as Butland made contact while coming out to meet the former Manchester United midfielder. Lukaku stepped up and calmly sent the penalty down the middle to put his team in front. Stoke struggled to respond and it came as little surprise when Coleman made it 2-0, showing great desire to beat his marker Erik Pieters and connect with Cleverley's corner to nod past Butland. At the other end, Mame Diouf glanced a header wide and Stoke's new record signing Giannelli Imbula fired into the stand. But the hosts then shot themselves in the foot as Lennon collected a misplaced ball from Wollscheid and burst through before producing a slotted finish. Everton almost scored again just before the hour mark, with Butland pulling off a great save to divert Lukaku's header against the woodwork. Lukaku was subsequently denied twice in quick succession by a Marc Muniesa block and another fine Butland save. And after James McCarthy cracked a shot just wide of his goal, Butland - watched from the stands by his England boss Roy Hodgson - then did well once again to keep out an effort from substitute Arouna Kone. Those heroics will have been of little comfort to Stoke manager Mark Hughes, whose side continued to offer little in attack and were booed by some of the home fans at the final whistle.

Ross Barkley the inspiration in easy win for Everton at Stoke City
Stoke 0 - 3 Everton
Jacob Steinberg at Britannia Stadium
Saturday 6 February 2016 Guardian
On the previous occasion when Everton scored three goals against Stoke City, they contrived to turn a 3-2 lead into a 4-3 defeat in the dying minutes and that setback back in December was seen as further evidence that Roberto Martínez’s side are unable to take one step forward without subsequently shooting themselves in the foot. Inspired by the magnificent Ross Barkley, however, there was no late capitulation from Everton this time and they took Stoke’s place in the top half of the table after winning consecutive league games for the first time this season. Yet that statistic alone sums up why Everton have been struggling rather than challenging for Champions League qualification and this comprehensive victory over Stoke, who have badly lost their way since the turn of the year, must be the moment when they finally rid themselves of their debilitating inconsistency. When Everton are this convincing, it emphasises why it will be an awful shame if they fall short of their potential. “The School of Science, it’s on the way back” was the constant soundtrack from the away end at the Britannia Stadium and after 3-0 wins over Carlisle United in the FA Cup last Sunday and Newcastle United in the league on Wednesday, breaching the Stoke defence three times inside the opening 42 minutes means that only Leicester City and Manchester City have bettered Everton’s total of 46 goals in 25 league matches. Another clean sheet was equally satisfactory, although it must be pointed out that Stoke have scored one goal in their past six matches in all competitions. They have run into a brick wall after an intense run of fixtures, exiting both cups in the past month and failing to win in the league since 13 January. “Disappointing result, disappointing performance,” Mark Hughes said. Everton have turned losing leads into an art form under Martínez and their ability to defend an advantage was under the spotlight after Romelu Lukaku sent Jack Butland the wrong way from the spot in the 11th minute. The move that led to the penalty was Everton at their most incisive and, watching from the stands, Roy Hodgson must have purred at the sight of Barkley, seemingly pinned to the touchline, instigating the attack with the brilliantly instinctive backheel that sliced Stoke open on the left. It was a glittering reminder of Barkley’s potential, the 22-year-old England midfielder creating danger out of nothing with an instant flick into space, and Bryan Oviedo cantered forward before releasing the impressive Tom Cleverley, who invited contact from Butland. Playing through the pain barrier after taking a blow to the knee against Newcastle, Lukaku coolly matched his tally of 20 goals last season. Stoke fell to pieces after Lukaku’s goal. They were 3-0 down by the time they tested Joel Robles for the first time and while there was an appreciative roar when Giannelli Imbula snapped into a robust early challenge a minute into his debut, Stoke’s record signing could later be seen shivering in the wet and the wind. It was a rough introduction to the Premier League for the French midfielder after his £18.5m move from Porto on deadline day, while Stoke badly missed Ryan Shawcross in central defence. Séamus Coleman was unmarked when he glanced Cleverley’s corner past Butland in the 28th minute and worse was to come.
Stoke were regarded as one of the most exciting sides in the league when they were inspired by Marko Arnautovic and Xherdan Shaqiri in that wild win at Goodison on 28 December. Yet Arnautovic was shackled by Coleman, Shaqiri’s end product was minimal and Bojan Krkic stayed on the bench for the entire 90 minutes. Mame Biram Diouf was peripheral in Krkic’s place and Stoke’s lack of focus was encapsulated by Philipp Wollscheid’s dreadful pass inside to Aaron Lennon, whose finish was clinical.

Martínez praised his side’s maturity. “Early on in the season we showed that we can score goals against anyone and then we’ve been throwing leads away too cheaply,” he said. Stoke’s performance was littered with countless errors and Everton wasted chances to inflict further humiliation on them in the second half, but this was an afternoon when they had no need for the cushion of a fourth goal.

Stoke 0-3 Everton Full Time Report: Whirlwind opening for Blues
6 Feb 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Back-to-back Premier League victories
Three goals in a sensational first-half performance secured Everton victory at Stoke City today.
Romelu Lukaku, Seamus Coleman and Aaron Lennon all struck in a whirlwind opening 45 minutes at the Britannia Stadium as the Blues secured a first Premier League win here since 2008. Everton deserved to add to the scoreline after the break but they found Stoke goalkeeper Jack Butland in inspired form, saving from Lukaku and substitute Arouna Kone. But Butland's heroics were in vain as the damage had already been done after a barnstorming first-half from the Blues. The first from Lukaku, a sixth minute penalty, was won by the perseverance of Tom Cleverley who was fouled by Butland, before Coleman headed home Cleverley's corner on 28. And the Blues first-half to remember was capped when Lennon spotted a loose pass coming from Philipp Wollschied, intercepted it and raced clear before passing the ball past Butland. Stoke have dominated possession but a well organised Blues have limited them to very few chances and been clinical at the other end. The strong winds were in Everton's face for the second-half but they maintained their level of performance and could've ended up winning this game by a more handsome margin. Lukaku saw his header tipped onto the bar by Butland before he denied the Belgian again after sensational wing play from Lennon. James McCarthy fired a shot just inches wide, Kone went clean through but his shot was blocked by the Stoke keeper before Ramiro Funes Mori sent a header wide when unmarked at the back post. Victory sends Everton up to seventh in the standings.

Stoke City 0 Everton 3: Romelu Lukaku hits the spot as Roberto Martinez’s side's winning run continues
Stoke City vs Everton, Premier League - Belgian striker matches goalscoring exploits of club legend as Roberto Martinez’s side win again
Romelu Lukaku reels away in celebration after scoring from the penalty spot in Everton's win Photo:
By Peter Lansley, Britannia Stadium
06 Feb 2016 Telegraph
Romelu Lukaku’s insistence on playing through pain was rewarded as he became the first Everton player to reach 20 goals in successive seasons in three decades as Roberto Martinez’s side won 3-0 for the third time in a week.
The Belgium striker resumed penalty duties from Ross Barkley, who scored twice from the spot in Wednesday’s 3-0 win over Newcastle United after Lukaku had been substituted with a back injury, to score after Tom Cleverley had gone down under Jack Butland’s challenge early in the game.
Britannia Stadium possession
Graeme Sharp topped 20 goals in both seasons between 1984 and 1986 and now Lukaku is proving just as prolific. Lukaku also equalled Everton’s best tally of 16 Premier League goals in a season, last achieved by Andrei Kanchelsis in 1995-96, and has 13 games remaining to claim that record.
Seamus Coleman heads the second goal for Everton
Stoke’s wretched run continued as Seamus Coleman, heading in Cleverley’s corner, and Aaron Lennon, running clear after intercepting Philipp Wollscheid’s poor cross-field pass, made it 3-0 by half-time.
Everton's attacking statistics
Martinez, who was pictured on social media practising his dance moves, eschewed the invitation from the Everton fans to indulge in any touchline jiving. “I thought about it,” he said. “But today it was difficult to beat our moves on the pitch – Cleverley, Barkley, Lennon and Lukaku created the best moves. I’ll keep my moves for another day. “You very quickly run out of compliments to praise Rom. He’s an old fashioned footballer, who wants to work on his game. He’s a goalscorer, obsessed with his finishing, and he fits in with the young team we have. He did [play through pain], and he’s been playing with an [injured] ankle. He doesn’t want to miss games. He only trained a bit [on Friday] but as soon as he showed he could move without restriction, he wanted to play. It shows the incredibly strong personality he has.” Since winning 4-3 at Goodison Park after Christmas, Stoke have won just one of their six Premier League goals and been knocked out of both domestic cup competitions. It is a good job they amassed so many points in a superb first half of season. They have failed to score in four successive top-flight games for the first time since March 1985 and, with Ryan Shawcross, Jeff Cameron, Marc Wilson and Jonathain Walters missing injured or ill, and others playing patched up, have now lost their last three league games by this scoreline. Everton by contrast are finding their stride, especially away from Goodison as they are unbeaten on their league travels since October, and have moved back up to seventh in the table.
Stoke City's attacking statistics
In front of the watching England manager, Roy Hodgson, Barkley gave another high-quality contribution, crossing superbly for Lukaku to head goalward in the 58th minute only for Butland to tip the ball onto the crossbar as Everton threatened more goals. Giannelli Imbula, Stoke’s new record £18.3million signing, made a creditable Premier League debut but there were too many holes and tired performances around him to judge properly. “He always wanted to get on the ball and I don’t think he misplaced a pass in 90 minutes,” Mark Hughes, the Stoke manager, said.

Stoke City 0, Everton 3: It would have been more but for Jack Butland - Martinez
By Martin_Spinks February 06, 2016 Stoke Sentinel
EVERTON boss Roberto Martinez was delighted with his players after completing a hat-trick of 3-0 wins in a week. "It was the manner we got the 3-0 wins," stated after today's success at the Britannia.
"We have been throwing leads away too cheaply and what pleases me as a manager is the players want to take responsibility and in the last three games we showed a mature side to our game.
"Even in the second half we created four clear-cut chances which, if you want to be critical, we should have taken them, but you have to highlight the performance of goalkeeper Jack Butland.
"To come to the Britannia Stadium and get that scoreline, and the controlling performance we had, is really pleasing." Romelu Lukaku netted his 20th goal of the season with today's first from the penalty spot to become the first Everton player for 30 years to hit 20 in successive seasons. "You very quickly run out of adjectives or compliments you can pay to Rom," Martinez added. "He's an old fashioned footballer at 22. He wants to work at his game constantly and he's a goalscorer obsessed with his finishing quality."

Stoke 0-3 Everton player ratings: Lung-buster Lennon shines in excellent team performance
6 Feb 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Greg O’Keeffe
Greg O'Keeffe hands out plenty of 8s as the Blues enjoy dominant win at the Britannia
Joel Robles 8
Talk about putting yourself in the frame for the regular number one spot. Three clean sheets and another strong, decisive and reassuring performance which emboldened the defenders in front of him and the away end too.
Bryan Oviedo 8
Stoke thought he'd be the weak-link here today. No chance. Oviedo didn't put a foot wrong all afternoon and showed he can defend when the heat is on as well as overlap and do the pretty things.
Ramiro Funes Mori 8
Always a threat from set-pieces he was impeccable when tested by Mame Diouf and only grows in stature with each outing.
Phil Jagielka 8
A true captain's performance. As the going got tough in the howling wind and driving rain, Jags got going. He was as determined as anyone to halt Everton's painful record here and deserves a big share of the credit.
Seamus Coleman 8
Fresh from becoming a dad for the first time, Seamus showed no sign of bleary eyes or errant focus. His headed goal was supremely taken and defensively he was part of an unbroken and defiant back four.
James McCarthy 8
Soldiered on after a painful knock in the first half to provide a platform upon which a huge and significant victory was won. Back to his old self.
Gareth Barry 7
You barely noticed him but his admiring team-mates certainly did. A classic Barry display. Did the dirty work to keep Everton ticking over and thwart danger when the hosts threatened.
Aaron Lennon 9
Wow. Took his goal wonderfully but it was the unflinching, lung-busting work-rate - combined with plenty of pace and trickery - that made him the stand-out performer.
Ross Barkley 8
Ask Giannelli Imbula who bossed the midfield battle. It was supposed to be Stoke's £18m powerhouse who brought the muscle here, but Ross repeatedly showed him how it's done; shrugging him off to take the fight to Stoke and provide another shining box-to-box display.
Tom Cleverley 8
Simply doesn't stop. A model of endeavour and efficiency who helped weather the storm in the first half when Stoke tried their luck down the left and was always willing to join the attack too. To think he was a free signing!
Romelu Lukaku 8
Displayed his exemplary team-first attitude by playing despite not being fully fit and led the line with aplomb. Another goal and only denied a brace by a stunning save from Jack Butland.
Arouna Kone (Lukaku, 76) 7
Helped Everton to hold the ball up and see the game out but should have done better after his pace and decent touch saw him go one on one with Butland as a fourth goal beckoned.
Kevin Mirallas (Barkley, 87) 6
Direct and quick he kept Stoke on the back foot but was guilty of a glaring miss from two yards after good work from Kone.

Stoke City 0, Everton 3: Mark Hughes acknowledges defensive errors
By Martin_Spinks February 06, 2016 Stoke Sentinel
STOKE boss Mark Hughes summed up today's emphatic defeat by admitting: "Disappointing result, disappointing performance." Stoke were a beaten side before half-time after conceding to a Romelu Lukaku penalty and further efforts, following poor defending, from Seamus Coleman and Aaron Lennon.
Hughes continued: "I thought we started really brightly and our general play was ok. "Then, unfortunately, their first real attack and they win a penalty and we are 1-0 down. "I still thought we were the more dominant team and lo and behold made a mistake at a set play and the second shortest player (Seamus Coleman) hits the ball in the net from eight yards out. "We are scratching our head wondering how the hell has that happened. "Then we made a fundamental error, a square pass from Philipp Wollscheid and Aaron Lennon is on the front foot with the wind at his back and finished well.
"At 3-0 down at half-time it's always going to be difficult. "Second half looked fragmented and we over committed on occasions. "At times it was a bit of a struggle for us defensively, but on a positive, and there weren't too many today, there was Gianelli Imbula." The £18.3m newcomer impressed – certainly as much as any of his team-mates – and did well to last the full 90 minutes after arriving from Porto on Monday. He deservedly picked up the sponsors' man-of-the-match award and left Hughes observing: "I thought he came on in his first game and throughout the game he wanted to get on the ball and I don't think he misplaced a pass in the whole 90 minutes. "And he was able to finish the game which will push him on." Hughes admitted Wollscheid was struggling after passing a fitness test on his injured calf.
"We just had to get out the players who were out there," Hughes continued. "Glenn Johnson has been struggling for some time as well and Erik Pieters had a gash on his shin from Tuesday. "But they are not excuses. That's just the reality of where we find ourselves. "We have got the opportunity of a free week leading into the Bournemouth game where we can get on the training pitch and do some specific work.
"We will have to get down to the fundamentals and basics, all the clichés." He added that Jon Walters missed out today because of illness. "He was ill after the game Tuesday. He trained Friday, but rang in today."

Stoke City 0-3 Everton the verdict: Roberto Martinez gives fans what they really wanted
6 Feb 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Blues fans asked for a dance from their manager but he delivered them something more special
Aaron Lennon celebrates scoring Everton's third goal
They asked, they asked and they asked but Roberto Martinez wouldn't give the Everton fans what they wanted. The Blues boss was only willing to acknowledge their request with a wave and then applaud the supporters as he headed down the tunnel at the end of the game. But, as the Evertonians had hoped, Martinez would have been forgiven if he had broken out into a dance at full-time.
“Bobby, Bobby gives us a dance” they sang. “He'll dance when he wants, Roberto Martinez, he'll dance when he wants” they roared after images emerged this week of the Everton boss pulling some shapes at a Jason Derulo concert. But the Catalan remained unmoved, stayed as his was, arms folded and mind focused on the game – although inside he will have felt like performing a merry jig all the way home.
His Everton side had produced a wonderful performance to win a first Premier League game at the Britannia Stadium since 2008 and, in the process, move up to seventh in the standings.
Martinez had looked to downplay the prospect of winning here but tonight, sat at the front of the team bus headed back to Merseyside, he will reflect with satisfaction at just how important this 3-0 victory was. Not only did the Blues secure back-to-back league wins for the first time since April, and win here for the first time in over seven years, but this comprehensive, complete and compelling victory has helped exorcise those lingering demons from last season. The picture at the end of this game, to one in March, could not have been more different. That night, after a sorry looking Everton lost 2-0 and officially found themselves in a relegation fight, Martinez performed a walk of shame, his head bowed with disappointment as he faced a backlash from angry fans. This afternoon though, it was a walk of acclaim as Evertonians revelled in an away display that ranks as one of the very best in the Catalan's tenure and propels them back in touch with the European pace-setters.
Seriously impressive
Everton were seriously, seriously impressive. Not just in an electric first-half performance where they scored three times but also after the break where, on another day and against a less inspired goalkeeper, they would have added to their advantage. Put it this way, they would not have been flattered if this had ended up a rout. To play as well as they did in one half is an achievement but for Everton to maintain those standards in the other is highly impressive and gives more weight to the hope that they have learnt from some painful lessons. And to do so in such foul conditions as well, horrible even by Stoke standards and the kind that some teams wouldn't fancy playing in, said much for the stomach of this team. We have accused them (often with good reason) of being too nice, having a soft centre and crumbling under pressure when their leads are threatened but there was none of that today.
In driving rain and swirling winds, Everton relished the dirty work, excelled in winning tackles and headers and saw the conditions as just another challenge they were going to overcome.
And in the opening 45 minutes, you can also add 'clinical' to their report card.
Nevermind Carlsberg, if Chang did the perfect first-halves then this was it. Stoke had most of the ball but they could do little with it and though sloppy in possession, they found Everton in determined and organised mood. So many players typified that stance, from Phil Jagielka at the back to Tom Cleverley in midfield and Romelu Lukaku upfront, who ploughed a lone and selfless furrow, however frustrating it was for him at times. But his sixth minute penalty, won by the perseverance of Cleverley who was fouled by Jack Butland as he raced onto Bryan Oviedo's through-ball, kick-started a sensational first-half for the Blues. After Ross Barkley had brilliantly put Everton in behind Stoke's midfield with a back-heel, Oviedo appeared to have overcooked the pass but Cleverley refused to give up the chase and nicked the ball past Butland who hauled him down. Lukaku made no mistake and just before the half-hour mark, Everton doubled their lead – and gave scorer Seamus Coleman double reason to celebrate.
Daddy Cool The right-back met Cleverley's corner with a brave diving header and wheeled away in delight at not only his first goal of the season but also being able to dedicate it to his daughter, Lilly, who was born on Friday. Two-nil up at the Britannia inside half an hour had Evertonians feeling all sorts; elated, disbelieving and, giving their habit for chucking leads away, still on edge.
But the third settled those nerves.
Aaron Lennon has come alive in recent weeks, his runs are now super-charged, his energy everlasting and his impact on the team telling. The winger sensed a loose backpass from Philipp Wollschied was coming, so darted to intercept the ball and raced clear before passing it past Jack Butland.
Three-nil ahead, three minutes before the break....astonishing stuff.
Everton could have ended up winning this game by a cricket score but Butland produced some fine saves to deny Lukaku twice, Barkley hit the side-netting, James McCarthy fizzed a shot inches past the woodwork before Ramiro Funes Mori sent a free header wide at the back post. Stoke only fleetingly threatened Joel Robles' goal but rarely was he put in any danger as Everton, for the second time in a few games, managed the game well. Their goal tally of 46 is only bettered by Leicester and Man City but Everton's defensive solidity in the last two matches, which has yielded two clean sheets, has helped improved their goal difference to +12 – only the top four have better. After a troubling run of games, where the players and manager faced serious questioning, their reaction has been encouraging to say the least. And even if Martinez wouldn't perform the dance all the fans asked for, he still gave them what they truly wanted: a win at Stoke.

Stoke 0-3 Everton: Roberto Martinez happy to let his players provide the smooth moves
6 Feb 2016 Liverpoool Echo
By Greg O’Keeffe
Blues boss resists a touchline boogie
Roberto Martinez said he was happy to let his resurgent Everton players provide the smooth moves as they made it three consecutive wins with a 3-0 triumph at Stoke. The Blues boss saluted "a good week" after seeing his side move up to seventh in the Premier League table thanks to their first victory at the Britannia stadium since 2008. His side had all but sealed the points before half-time thanks to Romelu Lukaku’s penalty, Seamus Coleman's header and a strike from Aaron Lennon. And Martinez, who was pictured dancing at a concert by R&B star Jason Derulo last week, was able to smile when he explained why he declined the pleas of the travelling Blues to repeat his routine. He said: “I thought about it to be honest, but it would have been difficult to beat the moves we had on the pitch today. "I thought Cleverley, Barkley and Lukaku had the best moves of the game and I’m going to keep my big moves for a better occasion. “It’s been a good week and I’m pleased with the manner in which we got the three 3-0 wins." The Toffees managed to keep a clean sheet again and prevent Stoke getting back into the game in the second half. And the Catalan explained why that have him extra satisfaction.
"Early on in the season we showed we can score goals against anyone and create really good starts and solid performances at the end of games, but we sometimes threw away leads too cheaply," he said.
“What pleases me as a manager is the players always look to take responsibility and learn. We showed a different, mature side of our play in the last three matches – we were able to manage the games, defend well when we had to and in the second half today we had four clear-cut opportunities that, if you want to be critical, we should have taken. “You have to highlight the performance of Stoke’s goalkeeper [Jack Butland]. He controlled three or four big moments but, overall, to keep a clean sheet at the Britannia with that scoreline and with the performance we had shows you how far we have come this season and how hungry the group is to finish it really strongly.”

Stoke City 0-3 Everton analysis: Blues soft underbelly is hardening, the right's all right and other things learned
6 Feb 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Greg O’Keeffe
Loyalty to the team demands Robles stays in, Oviedo has heart and other things we learned
Bryan Oviedo wasn't intimidated by Stoke's tactics
It's all right on the right
Seamus Coleman was Everton's right back today. He was great too.
But the thing was, the Blues essentially had two right backs, a right winger and an all-round talisman in one; the hard-running, fleet-footed turbo-charged Aaron Lennon. Roberto Martinez has described Lennon's work-rate as contagious. Well it had the Stoke defence feeling sick and his team-mates feeling inspired. Slaloming past Stoke defenders one moment, he was back in his own area making crucial last-minute blocks the next. Three goals in three games for the first time in his career, and Lennon's summer signing looks less like the last-minute compromise buy it seemed when Everton missed out on chief target Andriy Yarmolenko, and more like a lovely bit of business. It's his attitude which is among the biggest positives. He went from revelation last term to being back on the fringes this time around, but did he moan? Did he give up and sense another spell of inertia like he'd suffered at Tottenham? No chance. He fought his way back into the team, lifting everyone around him in the process, and on form like this he won't be going back to the bench any time soon.
Oviedo shows plenty of heart
Stoke looked at Bryan Oviedo and smelled blood. He doesn't cut an imposing figure like his opposite number Erik Pieters, and he hasn't got England caps coming out of his ears like erstwhile first-choice Leighton Baines.
The hosts clearly believed the inoffensive looking Costa Rican had weak-link written all over him. Duly Xherdan Shaqiri and Co over-loaded it down Stoke's right in a concerted effort to isolate him and puncture Everton's defence like they have done so frequently in recent seasons.
But Oviedo has heart. He's got bottle and he's got more defensive nous than people think. The 25-year-old sometimes seems fragile, such is his horrible luck with injuries and slight frame. But he was unbreakable at the Brit. He has a rapport with Evertonians too. Frequently geeing them up at home and away, but not in a patronising manner. He wears his heart on his sleeve and the supporters know it.

Make no mistake, Baines, for so long the first name on Everton's team-sheet, has a fight on his hands to get back into the side.
Soft underbelly is hardening
What a difference a win in the Potteries makes. It was wet, it was wild, and there were more slides than at a water park on the greasy Britannia stadium surface as the tackles went flying in.
But Everton laid down a psychological marker in this infuriating campaign by winning in this corner of the Midlands. And they also went some way to suggest their costly soft underbelly is hardening.
Romelu Lukaku put his body on the line for the Blues
They outplayed a lacklustre home side no problem. But they also stood up to Stoke in the physical sense. Witness Romelu Lukaku playing through the pain barrier to lead the line. Ross Barkley barging the strapping Gianelli Imbula out of his path like he was a school-boy. Or Phil Jagielka sticking his head in where it hurt. Everton's attacking prowess is no secret. It's in the battling stakes where they've seemed deficient this season. A soft touch.
Not at the Britannia.
If they can retain this steely edge and maintain the silky football around it, then there may yet be something more to play for than mid-table.
Loyalty to the team demands that Robles stays in
One of Roberto Martinez's familiar stock phrases is that he will "let football be the judge" when it comes to selection. In other words it's form and nothing else; not status, experience or price-tag that colours his selection policy. That's fair enough. So when Tim Howard recovers from the knock which has mean he missed the last two league games, he can expect to warm the bench. Can't he? Joel Robles acknowledges the away support after a third successive clean sheet Martinez must know that his loyalty to the American cannot be questioned. He has stood by him through thick, thin and thinner this season.
But his loyalty to this team demands that Robles, three clean sheets on the run, keeps his place despite lacking the experience of the USA international. Continuity has served the Blues well lately, it's why Oviedo has kept his place ahead of Baines too.
It's the only decision which makes sense.
Possession isn't everything
Everton had 34% possession today.
Anyone au-fait with the Blues since Martinez took over will raise their eye brows at that statistic.
But not for the first time, they produced one of their best performances as a result of playing incisive, fully-focused counter attacking football. Cast your mind back to Southampton in the first half of this season when it briefly felt like anything was possible. Think back to Wolfsburg twice last term. Or go back even further to home wins over Arsenal and Manchester United in 2013/14. Everton are at their best when they switch-hit. When they show a tactical pragmatism which doesn't mean abandoning their identity or philosophy to suit the opposition, but being flexible and canny when it counts. Once again it's paid dividends. The away fans heading back to Merseyside will hope this finally becomes a blueprint for the future.

Stoke City 0, Everton 3 – talking points: Season stumbles to a crossroads for barren Potters
By PeteSmith February 07, 2016 Stoke Sentinel
NEVER mind talking points, some supporters are demanding an inquest. Peter Smith picks the bones out of Stoke City's convincing loss to Everton.
Mark Hughes's biggest challenge
THAT'S three 3-0 defeats on the spin in the league and out of both cups. A fortnight that promised so much has delivered diddly-squat. Even a long-awaited first win at Anfield was tainted by a heartbreaking penalty shoot-out. Everyone had asked the team to leave nothing in the tank at Liverpool and Crystal Palace and the two subsequent outings suggest they didn't. The performances against Manchester United and Everton have been pale shadows of the Mark Hughes Stoke team we have come to expect.
The season has stumbled to a crossroads. Hughes needs to find a way to scrape his players' chins off the floor before the top seven disappear over the horizon.
Life without Ryan Shawcross
THERE is no doubt that Stoke have been missing their captain, conceding nine goals in the league in the 240 minutes since he hobbled off at Leicester. It is not a new feeling. The Potters have won six and drawn three of the 11 games when he has completed 90 minutes … and lost eight of the 14 when he hasn't. They have only conceded a goal every 133 minutes when he has been on the pitch – and a goal every 51 minutes when he's been off. Stoke are lucky enough to have one of the best centre-backs in the Premier League so perhaps it is inevitable that his absence will be felt more sharply than any other player. It doesn't help that Philipp Wollscheid, Glen Johnson and Erik Pieters were all carrying injuries too against Everton but the three goals conceded were just so lousy. A penalty conceded when Tom Cleverley was running away from danger, a free header from a corner and a hospital pass intercepted by Aaron Lennon. When the best player is missing, everyone else needs to take more responsibility to cut out the individual errors.
Not the records Stoke want
THIS was the first time ever that Stoke have lost 3-0 three times on the bounce in the league.
It is the first time in almost exactly 10 years that they have gone four league games on the spin without scoring, since Johan Boskamp's team derailed and didn't find the net between January 2 and February 25 2006 as Sambegou Bangoura went AWOL. Statistics obviously highlight the difference between Stoke's form with and without Shawcross – and another first teamer. The side have not won any of the seven league games that Bojan hasn't started, averaging 1.7 goals a game when he's playing and just 0.4 when he's not. On the flip side, Stoke are still to win a game that luckless Marc Muniesa – who needed treatment for a big cut below his eye – has started this term while they have only averaged 0.5 goals a game when Mame Diouf's been in the starting line-up.
How Stoke could do with a Lukaku…
EVERTON did not have to be at their best to win three points but Romelu Lukaku gave another demonstration of what kind of centre-forward £28m can buy you. The 22-year-old was at his fast and powerful best when Stoke won 4-3 at Goodison Park and he was too hot to handle again this time around. His side have scored three or more in 10 of their 25 league games this season while Stoke have managed to do that twice ... and fired 11 blanks. He has not been helped by a porous defence at the other end – and Stoke were probably unlucky that skittish double act Tim Howard and John Stones were missing. But losing a cup semi-final can be a huge emotional knock and having a proper prolific goalscoring hero doesn't half help pull you out of the doldrums. The Everton team bus left the Britannia Stadium without him. Unfortunately, amid cries of 'Please leave him here,' they remembered in time.
THE £18.3m new boy won't forget his first appearance at the Brit in a hurry. It was a particularly brutal day both in terms of result and weather, with rain sweeping through the open corners and pulverising anyone in its path. Imbula wore a woolly hat, big gloves and tracksuit bottoms in the warm-up but five minutes into the actual game he was standing with a bare torso on the touchline, having ripped off his vest and chucked it into the dug-out. He had already given a glimpse of his quality by taking the ball around Gareth Barry, not the daintiest of opponents, in the centre-circle, twice, in the opening minutes. He went on to have a 95 per cent pass completion rate from 99 passes and kept his composure when things were not going well around him. It was not a dream introduction and his teammates have to show him what they are really about as quickly as possible.

Ian Doyle: Why injury has come at a good time for John Stones and Everton
7 Feb 2016 Liverpool Echo
Sports writer Ian Doyle
Young defender will benefit from being taken out of the firing line
Everton defender John Stones has had a testing time in the last few weeks There's never a good time to be injured. But some times are better than others. Such is the case for John Stones, who is currently nursing a hamstring problem. It spared Roberto Martinez a difficult decision, given the ongoing debate over the young defender's form. Stones has found himself under the spotlight ever since Chelsea's unsuccessful attempt to lure him away from Goodison last summer. And of late there have been concerns over the consistency of his performances, not least when being shifted to right-back due to Everton's recent injury problems. Had Stones been in top form in his preferred position, there's no way Martinez would have even considered making such a switch. But if there's position in which lessons need to be learned, it's centre-back. You can only get that from ironing out weaknesses on the field, making mistakes while growing up in public.
Ramiro Funes Mori has done well for Everton this season
It's why top central defenders are so cherished and so expensive – spending that much money, clubs expect centre-backs to have their errors elsewhere. Everton's problem is it's with them that Stones is going to make those mistakes and discover the hard way that there's a time to play the ball out of the back and a time to put your foot through it. And with the Blues still involved in the FA Cup and harbouring hopes of a late charge up the Premier League table, there is little margin for error now.
Indeed, it won't have gone unnoticed that, without Stones, the Blues have kept successive clean sheets with Phil Jagielka and Ramiro Funes Mori at the heart of defence. The likes of Rio Ferdinand have spoken about Stones learning his trade at present will prove of long-term benefit for England and the player's career in general. That, though, may not necessarily be at Goodison. A spell on the sidelines, then, could work in favour of both Stones and Everton. After all, a rest is as good as a change.
Just saying, like.
Martinez Derulos the dancefloor
‘Man spotted dancing at concert’ shouldn’t really be that much of a tale.
But when Roberto Martinez is the one busting some moves, it’s a whole different story.
This will never not be funny
You’ll have all seen the Everton boss gyrating to Jason Derulo on Thursday night (this column has watched it at least a million times already).
Let’s face it, it’s brilliant. But let’s hope other Premier League managers don’t draw inspiration.
Nobody, and we mean nobody, wants to see Sam Allardyce throwing shapes at a One Direction gig.

Ian Snodin: Everton boss Roberto Martinez will be dancing now
7 Feb 2016 Liverpool Echo
by IanSnodin
Blues show they've got the right moves
HE was keeping his cool on the touchline as the jubilant travelling Evertonians sang to him but I wonder if Roberto Martinez enjoyed a little dance with his players in the dressing room after Everton’s 3-0 victory at the Britannia Stadium? It was fun to see Roberto strutting his stuff on that internet clip and to be fair he’s a good mover - and certainly better than me! It was another fantastic performance from the lads and they were great on the counter attack, thoroughly deserving another great result.
We all know that Stoke are a hard-working team but we went down there and took our chances.
It’s been a crazy Premier League this year with Leicester extending their lead at the top and Tottenham second and it just goes to show what you can do if you put a run together. Suddenly after our first back-to-back Premier League wins of the season we’ve moved up a few places. Hopefully we’ll be able to play with some confidence again and we’ve got to keep the run going. The penalty situation is strange having not been awarded any all season and then getting three in less than 20 minutes of play.
I was made up for Romelu Lukaku to reach the 20-goal barrier when we’re only just into February. He’s the first Everton striker to do so in consecutive seasons since Graeme Sharp in 1986. He’s still only a young boy and there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be aiming to get 30. What a lovely moment for Seamus Coleman too. Having a child is the best feeling in the world but scoring a goal is the second best so it’s a double celebration for him. Aaron Lennon has had to be patient to take his chance lately but with three goals in three games he looks like he’s thoroughly enjoying himself..
Revenge mission to Bournemouth
Trying to win the FA Cup is now the big prize for Everton this season.
No disrespect to Carlisle but I thought we strolled through the game at Brunton Park.
They gave their all and tried their damned hardest and it was a credit to them as a club that they got the tie on there with a great crowd. We went about it in the right way and within the first 15 minutes the game was over with a real professional performance. There are still some big teams left in the cup so we could have got a more difficult tie but a trip to Bournemouth will be tricky of course.
We’re still up against another Premier League side who were drew against only a couple of months ago despite leading going into the last few seconds of the game. They’ve done really well since then and it’s to the credit of Eddie Howe and his players. They’ll be no pushovers and it’s a long trip down there for the fans but if we win the tie it will obviously be a journey of enjoyment on the way back. Our lads were excellent for the first 45 minutes the last time we were down there and were looking comfortable.
It just shows that you’ve got to keep your concentration and even when Ross Barkley scored and made it 3-2 and everyone, including myself, thought we’d won the game – they came back again.
I’m sure that match will be on everyone’s minds but hopefully we can put it right.
If it means taking them back to Goodison then so be it but you like to get it over and done with.
They did make quite a few changes for their fourth round game at Portsmouth – whether or not they’ll do the same against Everton I’m not sure – but with so much money involved Premier League survival is their priority this season.
Getting home comforts back was vital for Blues season
It was crucial for Everton to get their home fans back onside on Wednesday.
Going to the home game against Newcastle a lot of people were talking about the fact we’d not won at Goodison in the Premier League for over two months and they were apprehensive. Newcastle had spent big money in January bringing in Andros Townsend and Jonjo Shelvey to try and provide the little spark that they needed. Beforehand everyone felt we’d been in for a difficult night but we just needed the three points with just three home wins before that so far this season.
I thought the tempo was a little bit quicker from the start and there were several good performances.
If it hadn’t been for their goakeeper’s heroics I think it could have been five or six nil.
It was a good performance, one that we needed and one from which the fans went home happy.
They got behind the team, applauded the lads off and it was just what the doctor ordered.
It has been difficult at home this season which is hard to take because you do like to have your own ground as a fortress and want teams to worry coming there.
Niasse looks the part
Like everyone else I didn’t really know that much about Oumar Niasse. He looks the part though and seems confident in his ability. It was important to bring someone in, the fans were wanting a fresh face.
I know some people kept going on about Andriy Yarmolenko but I didn’t really see that happening at all.
I’m sure our coaching and scouting staff have done a thorough job in watching Niasse for several months. It’s the kind of signing that will hopefully benefit the team and the lad wants to be here.
I was happy with his welcome on Wednesday night – he had a big smile on his face – and hopefully he can endear himself to the Goodison faithful.

Everton: Oumar Niasse joins mixed bag of African footballers to play for Blues
7 Feb 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Chris Beesley
From Amokachi to Eto'o and getting shirty with Nyarko
Oumar Niasse was all smiles this week when introduced to the Everton crowd and Blues fans will be expecting big things from the Senegalese international who becomes the latest African footballer to follow a rich thread who have graced Goodison Park. The 25 year-old declared: “It’s a dream for me to play in the Premier League and to play for Everton, I’m so happy to be here and excited to start.
“Goodison Park sounds good and I think I’m going to like it.” The first African player to wow the Grand Old Lady was arguably the first football superstar from his continent to make a major impact on a global stage almost half a century ago. Back at the 1966 World Cup finals, Portugal's Mozambique-born goal ace Eusebio produced his most memorable moments at Everton's home. Having opened his account for the tournament in his second game at Old Trafford, a 3-0 stroll against Bulgaria, Eusebio took his game up a few notches on Merseyside. The mighty Brazil, winners of the previous two World Cups, were unceremoniously dumped out of the competition with a 3-1 defeat at Goodison courtesy of a Eusebio brace – whose who were present or have seen the footage of his second goal will never forget the 'thunderclap' that sounded with his powerful half volley. There was more to come though and in Portugal's quarter-final at the Blues ground, Eusebio plundered a further four goals as his side came from 3-0 down to fight back and defeat North Korea 5-3.
First decade
The best substitution Joe Royle never made
Unlike the Portuguese or indeed the French or Belgians, English football was initially slow to harvest the football talent from its former African colonies and it wasn't until the advent of the Premier League that our domestic game started to adopt a more cosmopolitan flavour. Memorably, Everton's first African player of their own was Daniel Amokachi, snapped up by Mike Walker for a then-club record £3million on the back of his exploits for Nigeria at the 1994 World Cup finals. Daniel Amokachi with Mike Walker after signing for Everton in August 1994. Picture: Albert Cooper 'Amo' as he affectionately became known to the Gwladys Street – who regularly performed a bowing homage to him – was a hugely popular figure during his time at the Blues but unfortunately his level of performances didn't always match his hefty price tag. Undoubtedly his personal highlight from his two-year spell on these shores was his two-goal blast against Totteham Hotspur at White Hart Lane in the 1995 FA Cup semi-final after sneaking on to the pitch as Paul Rideout received treatment on the touchline. Goal hero Daniel Amokachi, Everton is mobbed by fans against Tottenham Hotspur
Manager Joe Royle later quipped it was “the best substitution I never made”.
Nevertheless, Amokachi still managed to pocket an FA Cup winners' medal, having come off the bench against at Wembley as well as an Olympic gold medal with his country at the 1996 Games in Atlanta before departing for Turkish club Besiktas.
He was boss on Championship Manager
Next up for the Blues was another expensive striker who underwhelmed.
Ivory Coast international Ibrahima Bakayoko, whose monikers included 'Back of the Echo', cost £4.5million from Montpellier in 1998 with manager Walter Smith having received glowing reports on him from his former French League opponents John Collins of Monaco and Strasbourg's Olivier Dacourt who had both recently joined Everton. Despite being a world-beater in the football computer game Championship Manager, the real life Bakayoko struggled with the rigours of the English game and having completed just one season at Everton, in which he netted just four goals in the Premier League, he was shipped off to Marseille in the summer of 1999. On returning to Goodison in October 2007 for a UEFA Cup group game with Greek club Larissa Bakayoko was handed a warm reception but the nadir of his time with the Blues was a League Cup penalty shoot-out defeat at home to Sunderland when he attempted to take his spot-kick while wearing a tracksuit top only to be sent back to the centre circle by the referee and unsurprisingly seeing his shot saved.
The Peroxide turncoat
With his bleached-blond hair and beard, Abel Xavier was one of the most instantly-recognisable players ever to don the royal blue jersey.
Like Eusebio, the versatile defender/midfielder was a Portuguese international who had been born in Mozambique.
Abel Xavier, Everton
Having joined neighbours Liverpool for £800,000 in 2002 – and subsequently scoring on his Reds debut having failed to find the net in 49 outings for the Blues – he remains the last player to date to directly cross Stanley Park. You're not fit to wear the shirt? Adapting to the cut and thrust environment of the Premier League has proven quite a culture shock for some African players and none more so than Alex Nyarko. Signed from Lens for £4.5million in 2000 as part of a new-look midfield that included Thomas Gravesen, Niclas Alexandersson and Paul Gascoigne after Nick Barmby, Don Hutchison and Collins had all departed in quick succession, the Ghanaian suffered a chastening experience at Highbury.
Alex Nyarko is confronted by a fan
With Everton on their way to a 4-1 defeat to Arsenal, an angry Evertonian took to the field and tugged at Nyarko's shirt, in a gesture which suggested he wasn't fit to wear the royal blue jersey.
The distraught player subsequently demanded to be substituted anyway on the back of the incident and never played for Smith again although after a couple of loan spells with Monaco and Paris St Germain, he did return a couple of years later to play a further 14 games under new boss David Moyes.
Moyes boys
No Ordinary Joe
Indeed, the Scot's first signing after being appointed was an African player in the shape of Nigerian defender Joseph Yobo who arrived from Marseille, initially on a season-long loan before completing a permanent move the following summer. With 259 games for Everton, including several as captain, Yobo holds the club's appearance record for an African player.
Ferrari sent back to the showroom
Searching for defensive cover in 2005/06, Moyes turned to Roma's Italian international centre-back Matteo Ferrari.
Everton's Matteo Ferrari
Ferrari, who made 13 appearances for Everton, was born Aflou, Algeria, the son of an Italian petroleum engineer and a mother from Guinea.
Big Vic
Having moved from the Nigerian capital of Lagos to Merseyside when he was just one year old, Victor Anichebe became Everton's first homegrown African player having graduated through the Blues Academy and making his first team debut as a late substitute at Chelsea in February 2006.
13 April: Victor Anichebe celebrates his 25th, and final, goal for Everton in a comfortable Goodison win over QPR A bustling centre-forward, who could also operate down the right flank, Anichebe proved a useful option for Moyes but was sold to West Bromwich Albion by new boss Roberto Martinez for £6million in 2013.
Stevie P
Possibly the silkiest African footballer to grace Goodison on a regular basis has been Steven Pienaar who has actually signed for Everton on four separate occasions. The South African midfielder first joined on loan from Borussia Dortmund in the summer of 2007 before joining permanently the following year.
Leighton Baines and Steven Pienaar

After an ill-fated and probably ill-advised 12 months at Tottenham between 2011-12, Pienaar returned to the Blues on loan in January 2012 before re-signing for £4.5million in July. Forming a almost telepathic combination with Leighton Baines dubbed 'Bainaar' down the left flank in his pomp, the last couple of years have been hampered by a series of injuries and Pienaar, who turns 34 next month, appears likely to depart Goodison at the end of the current campaign when his contract expires.
Feed the Yak and he will score Everton had been crying out for a top class finisher for most of the Premier League era before the then club record £11.25million purchase of Aiyegbeni Yakubu in 2007.
Having already proven himself in English football and Portsmouth and Middlesbrough, the Nigerian international repaid the Blues faith in his first season by becoming their first player to break the 20-goal barrier since Peter Beardsley in 1991/92. Early in his second season, he suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon which kept him out for almost a year and although he went on to recover and is still playing now, he never looked quite the same player as before his injury.
Give me Hope
Hope Akpan from Childwall made a solitary nine-minute cameo appearance for Everton in the Europa League dead rubber with BATE Borisov in December 2009 but played for Nigeria through his parents.
Capped four times by the Super Eagles, he's now back in the North West with Blackburn Rovers after spells with Crawley Town and Reading.
Tipping the scales
Signed by Moyes on the recommendation of former Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier in 2010, French left winger Magaye Gueye went on to turn out for his parents' country Senegal at the 2012 Olympic Games. Having had his Blues contract paid up early by mutual consent in 2014, he was subsequently dropped by Ian Holloway at Millwall for supposedly being overweight.
Martinez's men
The late bloomer
Having played for Martinez at Wigan Athletic, Ivory Coast striker Arouna Kone became the Catalan's first signing as Everton boss in July 2013 for an undisclosed fee believed to be around £5million.
After a tough first couple of seasons at the Blues, hampered by a knee cartilage injury, Kone has enjoyed a much-improved time during the current campaign and has netted seven times – including a hat-trick against Sunderland.
The Big Man
With Kone injured in the second half of 2013/14, his compatriot Lacina Traore arrived on loan from Monaco. At a towering 6ft 8in, the striker became the tallest player in Everton history but despite netting just four minutes into his debut in a 3-1 win over Swansea City in an FA Cup fifth round tie, he totalled just 62 minutes of action for the club in two appearances.
Boys to Bren
Snapped up as a centre-back from MK Dons in 2014, athletic Brendan Galloway was one of the revelations of the first half of this season for Everton while deputising at left-back for the injured Leighton Baines.
Still a teenager until next month, the England Under-19 international was born in Zimbabwe and moved to the UK when he was six years old.
Christian Aid
After the disappointments suffered by Nyarko, it seemed a safe bet that fellow Ghanaian Christian Atsu was going to have more of an impact at Goodison than his compatriot when arriving on loan from Chelsea in 2014. The winger just couldn't get going with the Blues though despite coming back from his mid-season heroics at the African Cup of Nations where he was named Player of the Tournament and scored the Goal of the Tournament.
Atsu was last seen in an Everton shirt in the 5-2 Europa League exit at Dynamo Kiev where he had been handed a surprise start by Martinez. He was loaned out again to Bournemouth at the start of the current campaign but after a similarly anonymous stint with the Cherries, he has now been farmed out by his parent club in London to Malaga. Last glories With four African Player of the Year awards, three Champions League winners' medals, an Olympic gold medal, three La Liga titles and a Scudetto amassed in a bulging trophy cabinet, Samuel Eto'o is truly one of football's all-time greats. At 33 by the time he came to Goodison he was undoubtedly past his peak but Martinez felt he still had something to offer, declaring him as being “A gift from the footballing gods.” The Cameroonian rolled back the years with a sparkling two-goal display in a 3-1 win at Burnley but seemingly frustrated by a lack of game time – despite making 20 appearances in half a season – he departed for Italian club Sampdoria in January 2015 and has since moved on again to Antalyaspor in Turkey.

Have Everton turned the corner with set piece woes?
7 Feb 2016 Liverpool Echo
By Chris Beesley
Blues have now bagged four goals from flag kicks
Have Everton finally turned a corner when it comes to their set piece woes?
Roberto Martinez’s men had to wait over seven months to score from a corner kick between April and November last year but have now netted four times from them since. Until Ramiro Funes Mori nodded in his first goal in English football from a Ross Barkley corner kick against Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium on November 28, the Blues were the only Premier League outfit not to have scored this season from any kind of set piece. Indeed, the drought had stretched back to April 26 when John Stones had broken his scoring duck with a header from a Leighton Baines corner in the 3-0 win over Manchester United. During the dry spell there were even questions being asked as to whether Everton even practised set pieces. Their manager had openly admitted he didn’t prioritise them having told the ECHO back in 2014: “Dead-ball situations are a big part of the game, don’t get me wrong. But you are a winning team when you don’t rely on set-pieces and I do prefer open play goals – I’m not going to hide it.” However, the recent upturn in goals from corner-kicks suggests that the Catalan may have adapted his philosophy somewhat. Tom Cleverley nodded in a last-gasp winner against Newcastle United at St James’ Park on Boxing Day after Rob Elliot could only punch out Gerard Deulofeu’s corner-kick while the young Spanish winger also provided the corner that met Gareth Barry for his goal at home to Swansea City on January 24
When lauding the goalscoring threat of Argentinian defender Ramiro Funes Mori, who has now netted three times for the Blue this season, Martinez said on January 19: “You want that goal-scoring threat from all over the park and our full-backs are always capable of scoring from open play and we now have centre-halves who have a real presence in the box and dead-ball situation are important.” One of those full-backs, Seamus Coleman has now shown that he too is a threat from dead ball situations by heading in from Cleverley’s corner kick in the 3-0 romp at Stoke City for his first goal of the season having netted impressive totals of five and seven over the previous two campaigns. It’s not like Everton have returned to the early days of Joe Royle’s tenure when an Andy Hinchcliffe flag kick was greeted with a confident sense of expectation but an ability to increase your variety of goal-scoring situations can only be a plus point. On average it’s estimated that one goal is scored from approximately 36-46 corners depending on the league while teams can expect to register once every 10 games from them. Given that the Blues had not been awarded a penalty in the Premier League all season but have subsequently now had three in less than 15 minutes of play against Newcastle and Stoke, all they’re waiting on now is a direct free-kick to complete their set piece complement with Deulofeu’s Capital One Cup effort at Reading their only such goal to date this term.

Stoke City 0, Everton 3 Match Comment: Nasty questions need to be answered
By Martin_ February 07, 2016 Stoke Sentinel
Stoke City 0, Everton 3
OPINION might be sharply divided as to why, but surely we are all agreed that Stoke's entire season is now in danger of completely imploding. Some of us will keep the faith and believe that events will take a turn for the better sooner rather than later - the management and the players have surely earned such belief – but that's now a hat-trick of 3-0 defeats in the league for a team not even looking competitive. All of which leaves us entitled to ask: Whether too many players are physically and emotionally shot after losing THAT semi-final so agonisingly at Anfield? Have their injury problems, most evidently at centre half and most evidently Ryan Shawcross, robbed them off too much leadership and direction just lately? Did too many players fall into that old trap of believing all the hype when they could do nothing wrong in and around the festive season? Have they lost the hunger they showed in the two previous seasons for finishing higher than the preceding campaign?

Are they far too intricate and playing it far too safe when they approach the penalty area, instead of simply getting ball into the mix quicker and more often? Having 69% possession is no consolation after such a heavy beating. That last one was painfully evident against Everton and, when you add it to the defensive errors littering their game on Saturday, it made for a truly awful cocktail and could have made for a far worse scoreline. Their wingers have lost the confidence or the inclination to stretch teams on the outside and to whip balls into the box. The point was illustrated starkly just before half-time when Xherdan Shaqiri actually had time to float one into a crowded area, but chose instead to pull it back to an invisible man on the edge of the area and the chance was gone.
It was left to Erik Pieters, for all his defensive faults on Saturday, to emerge as Stoke's best and most dangerous crosser of a ball. Mark Hughes has many options to change things in the final third, so many in fact that he introduced two players from the bench (Stephen Ireland and Peter Odemwingie) seemingly destined for the exit this summer. Hitting on the right combinations in attack is suddenly proving tough for a manager being given very little encouragement by those he is selecting. All three Everton goals must have had supporters burying their head in anguish, embarrassment on one occasion, while the second half seemed certain to lumber us with a far more humiliating scoreline. Jack Butland was guilty of a distinctly rare lapse of judgement for their first after tearing out to meet Tom Cleverley and failing to slow his momentum in time to avoid the contact that inevitably sent the Everton midfielder happily seeking a mouthful of grass.
Romelu Lukaku, whose physical presence was a constant source of concern to Stoke's depleted defence, rolled the penalty down the middle as Butland dived to his right. Everton's lead was doubled when a left-winger corner eluded everyone but the diminutive Seamus Coleman for a glancing header between Butland's outstretched hand and his unguarded far post. And their third was the worst of the lot as Philipp Wollscheid, a leading light of late, wafted a lazy crossfield ball for Aaron Lennon to intercept just inside the Stoke half before scurrying goalwards and leaving Butland helpless. There were positives to be had – just the two of them mind – in the performances of Butland and newcomer Giannelli Imbula. The only unanswered question for Butland this season was whether he had the mental strength to brush off any blunder. Ok, he'll make far bigger blunders than the foul on Cleverley, but it was a test nevertheless and one he duly passed with flying colours in a second half that saw Everton squander four or five chances to double their 3-0 lead. Butland's best intervention was a stunning, instinctive fingertip save on to his bar to prevent Lukaku burying a close-range header early in the second period. There later followed a block as Lukaku twice took aim in one incident, while sub Aroune Kone seemed certain to score after breaking clear, but his shot was diverted over by Butland's well spread frame. As for Imbula, you had to feel sorry for the £18.3m newcomer. He was caught in a storm from the Gods as the rain lashed in at a near horizontal angle at times – and caught in a storm on the pitch as events quickly careered out of Stoke's control. But he remained a composed presence on the ball, picking out accurate passes to feet over short and long distances with his left foot, while one lengthy chip just beyond a team-mate would have held up on a drier pitch and was evidence of his vision and ambition. His strength seemed to hold up in the tackle, while his endurance did likewise for the full 90-odd minutes.
And there might even have been a debut goal in the 71st minute when he controlled Ireland's little lay off before seeing a potentially goalbound shot blocked by a sliding challenge. A goal then wouldn't have altered the final outcome, but it wouldn't half have tinkered with the whole complexion of a thoroughly miserable afternoon. He must be wondering what kind of team he has joined – and that's one the rest of us can't quite answer at the moment.

Everton’s Roberto Martínez praises influence of Lennon and Cleverley
Everton manager also highlighted partnership of James McCarthy and Gareth Barry in straightforward victory over Stoke City
By Jacob Steinberg
Sunday 7 February 2016 Guardian
In this wildly unpredictable season, one of the few constants has been Everton’s maddening inconsistency. They have undermined sharp bursts of inspiration in attack by fading late in games on too many occasions and chucking points away because of defensive frailties and mistakes that provide ammunition to the critics of Roberto Martínez who believe that his teams do not know how to play for 90 minutes. Martínez’s argument that his young players are maturing is a valid one, yet it is still a source of considerable frustration for Everton’s supporters to see their team repeatedly squander winning positions because of their lack of nous when they are put under pressure. At Bournemouth in November and Chelsea last month, they led 2-0 in the second half of both matches and ended up drawing 3-3 after conceding equalisers deep into stoppage time. Floating around mid-table is not good enough for a squad with this much talent and, for all their potential, Everton will reflect on a wasted opportunity if they do not challenge for a place in the top six.
Their thumping victory over Stoke City, however, was an encouraging step in the right direction. Everton found a better balance at the Britannia Stadium. They conceded possession, used their pace on the break to devastating effect and were 3-0 ahead thanks to a penalty from Romelu Lukaku, Seamus Coleman’s header and Aaron Lennon’s ruthless finish after a dreadful error by Philipp Wollscheid. In driving rain, Everton soaked up the pressure, kept their cool when Stoke came out all guns blazing at the start, fought for the right to play and then trusted in their ability. Ross Barkley was outstanding and Lukaku scored his 20th goal of the season, but the experience of Phil Jagielka, Gareth Barry and Tom Cleverley was also crucial. Ramiro Funes Mori was excellent in central defence. Coleman marked Marko Arnautovic out of the game. Bryan Oviedo got to grips with Xherdan Shaqiri after a shaky start. After Wednesday’s 3-0 victory over Newcastle United, Everton moved from 11th to eighth by winning consecutive league games for the first time this season. That staggering statistic sheds some light on why they are so far off the top four. “School of science, it’s on the way back,” was the chant from the away end on Saturday, but a sizeable majority of Everton fans have grown frustrated with Martínez. “We wanted to manage leads a little bit better,” Martínez said. “We did that pretty well against Newcastle, we got a three-goal lead but really, really late. Today was different, it was really early. We managed the game in a manner that we had to defend, because Stoke were going to put us under pressure. But we defended really well.
“You need to very quickly switch from when you are in possession and when you are out of possession. Sometimes we can be a little loose and leave ourselves exposed too quickly. The philosophy will never change, we need to get even better, but you look at players with a little more experience. “The introduction of Aaron Lennon and Tom Cleverley in this period of the season has been very influential. Having a player like James McCarthy coming back, he has a unique relationship with Gareth Barry; Phil Jagielka having a little bit of time and coming back and stating his leadership on the pitch.” While Martínez spoke about philosophy, Mark Hughes was simply philosophical after watching Stoke’s winless and goalless run in the league stretch to four matches. “It is what it is,” Stoke’s manager said. They are in a rut at the moment. Their performance was a far cry from the one in their final match of 2015, the 4-3 win at Everton that brought them such acclaim. Everton were in trouble then, but these two sides are heading in different directions now.
Man of the match Ross Barkley (Everton)

Bring on sleepless nights says Everton goal hero Seamus Coleman
7 Feb 2016 Liverpool Echo
By David Prentice
Everton hero relieved to open his account for this season
Seamus Coleman says it was a huge relief to finally score his first goal of the season – but he knows the sleepless nights are far from over. The Everton full-back opened his account for the campaign with a diving header against Stoke City and then dedicated the strike to his daughter Lilly, who was born 24 hours earlier. Coleman, who has become a father for the first time, bagged five goals last season and seven in Roberto Martinez's first term in charge of the Blues but had failed to get off the mark heading into Saturday's game at the Britannia Stadium. The Republic of Ireland international admits his miss against Swansea City last month, when he blazed over the bar with the last kick of the game, had been weighing on his mind but he met Tom Cleverley's corner on Saturday to make it 2-0 to the Blues and spark a double celebration. "It was Thursday night-Friday morning when Rachel started, but it was Friday afternoon when the baby came,” Coleman explained.
"There were a couple of sleepless nights. “My celebration was all about Lilly and I was also delighted because it was my first goal of the season. I'm glad to get off the mark to be honest. I've been a goalscoring full-back and I've had a few chances - the Swansea miss was a bit of a freak thing.
Seamus Coleman celebrates his goal, and the birth of his daughter Lilly “It's probably not the goal we would expect me to score, getting up for a corner, but I'm just glad to get off the mark and
hopefully that can kick things off. I don't mind more sleepless nights. I had to leave early to get here and I'm looking forward to getting back to spend some time with them.
"We won't be having separate rooms. No chance! All in!" Aaron Lennon added a third Everton goal just before half-time but Coleman says he was most pleased with the clean sheet they kept in the 3-0 win. I think it's very pleasing to score three goals but to come to Stoke and keep a clean sheet is what I'm most impressed with because any half chance they get, the crowd can get behind them,” he added. “But we kept our cool. Jags was immense at the back, clearing crosses, defending crosses, and when you see people like Aaron Lennon working like that, it's unbelievable. Coleman flies through the air to head in Everton's second goal “You feel everyone has to do the same.
"It's starting to click a little bit because we are very disappointed about how the season has been, but two clean sheets back to back is very important. We showed great determination at the back, great steel, and keeping a clean sheet is very important. “Teams come here and struggle, but we were very comfortable first half and probably could have won by more." As the game entered the final few minutes, Everton fans asked for Roberto Martinez to repeat the dance moves he was filmed doing at a Jason Derulo concert earlier in the week. The Catalan respectfully declined the invitation but Coleman says he has been impressed with the manager's moves."I've seen it, but I wasn't in training on Friday because I was in the hospital,” he said. “I don't know if he got some stick, but I was impressed by his dancing."




























February 2016 - Week 1 (1st - 7th)

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