Everton Independent Research Data


Yakubu is set Middlesbrough challenge
Jan 1 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES has challenged Ayegbeni Yakubu to get Everton’s new year off to the best possible start by haunting Middlesbrough on his return to Teesside.
The Nigerian international scored 35 goals in 103 appearances during his two-year stay at the Riverside Stadium before he moved to Goodison Park last August in an £11.25m deal. He is likely to receive a hot reception from the locals, though, as Middlesbrough chairman Steve Gibson was critical of Yakubu when he left and accused him of “switching off” during the second half of last season.
Moyes, though, hopes Yakubu will relish the chance to doing his talking on the pitch and would love to see the striker end his three-match ’drought’ by firing the goals that will allow Everton to bounce back from Saturday’s 4-1 defeat against Arsenal.
“Yak will look forward to going back up there,” said Moyes. “He did really well for Middlesbrough and scored a lot of goals for them. “I always enjoyed going back to face my old clubs, and I think a lot of players feel the same. “I don't know what reception he will get, but I do know he scored a lot of goals for them.
“Whoever scored the goal against Arsenal, whether it was Tim or Yak, they have had a great return of goals in recent weeks. “They are both big goalscorers for us and we hope that will continue.” With Mikel Arteta suspended and Thomas Gravesen and Leon Osman both injured, the creative mantle will fall on Steven Pienaar’s shoulders but - like Yakubu - he will only be part of Everton’s squad for the next 10 days at the most. He is due to head to Ghana as part of South Africa’s squad for the African Cup of Nations but, rather than complain about his lot, Moyes wants to see those who have been on the periphery of the action take their chance when it comes along.
“Steven was very good on Saturday,” Moyes said. “He has done really well for us.
“He has done a lot of really good things with the ball, and we will miss him when he goes to Africa. “The African Cup of Nations means it will be a difficult period for a lot of teams but when you sign players from Africa you are aware of it.
“It would be nice for the tournament to be moved, but it isn't and you have to get on with it. “There’s a chance for everybody. I don’t want to name any individuals, but there is a chance for a few people. But that's what happens at this time of year.
“If you look at a lot of teams, there have been a few changes that you wouldn’t normally expect.”

Phil Neville calls for response from Everton
Jan 1 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
WHILE many will have awoken today feeling decidedly worse for wear, a hangover is something Everton can ill afford to have at the Riverside Stadium. Having collapsed like an over-exuberant New Year’s Eve reveller on Saturday evening against Arsenal, the Blues need to bounce back at the first attempt if their designs about challenging for a Champions League place in 2008 are serious. Though their football was intoxicating at times, serious lapses in concentration allowed Arsene Wenger’s side to pinch a victory which was distorted by the final 4-1 scoreline and leave Everton’s players kicking themselves about a glorious opportunity missed. The beauty of the hectic Christmas period, however, is that chances to atone come around quickly and David Moyes is sure to have his squad revved up for their encounter with slowly improving Middlesbrough. If they win on Teesside this afternoon, Everton will close the gap on Manchester City and Liverpool, and they proved against Bolton on Boxing Day that they have the mettle to bounce back from heartbreaking defeats.
That quality is something skipper Phil Neville believes will stand them in good stead for the business end of the campaign and rather than mope about 45 calamitous minutes at the weekend, he preferred to take the positives from the Arsenal encounter.
Injuries to Leon Osman and Thomas Gravesen, coupled with Mikel Arteta’s suspension, mean that Moyes will shuffle his pack today and Neville feels the regulars will be able to feed off the energy from whichever able deputy is asked to fill the void.
But, at the same time, he knows concentration levels must be kept high at all times. Everton paid the most severe of penalties for switching off at the weekend and any repeats in the future will seriously jeopardise their hopes of repeating the efforts of 2005. “There can’t be a hangover,” said Neville. “If we want to be pushing Liverpool for that fourth place, we have got to bounce back like we did against Bolton. There is so much confidence in the squad and there is still freshness. “It’s not as if we haven’t got players who can’t come in and replace people to give us a bit of impetus. All we have got to do is take our football from the Arsenal game and just learn from the experience. When you play in big games, concentration wins you the points.
“We are playing some fantastic football at the minute and the confidence around the club is there for all to see. “We are one of the in-form teams in the Premier League. But once a season you have got to win one of those big games and we slipped up against Arsenal. First half we played really well, we attacked them and stopped them playing. Mistakes cost us.” Events at the City of Manchester Stadium on Sunday have given Everton another bite of the cherry and Neville certainly feels that breaking up the established order is well within this squad’s capabilities. “Liverpool and Manchester City drawing was the perfect result for us,” he continued. “If we want to get into fourth place, we want to keep as close to Liverpool as we possibly can. Manchester City will be thinking the same way as we are. “We are aiming for a Champions League place but we need to keep winning and we also need the teams around us to beat the teams at the top. We have to believe that we can finish in fourth place. “We had a 13-game unbeaten run and only top teams do that. Why not aim for fourth place? We are improving as a club, the quality of football we are playing is getting better and we have got great confidence.” Qualifying for Europe’s premier competition would be a huge achievement but there is also a burning desire within the dressing room to go all the way in one of the cup competitions and Neville is as hungry as anyone. He may have arrived at Goodison Park festooned with medals from his time with Manchester United but Neville is desperate to end the Toffees’ 13-year trophy drought. “To win a trophy would be fantastic,” said Neville. “They say your next trophy is always the best and we haven’t had a lot of success here in recent years. We want to put that right. If we won a trophy the club would move forward again.”
Moyes is slightly more guarded in his comments about what the new year may bring but he appreciates that Everton have a big opportunity and could not think of a better way to start things off than with three points in the North East. “Everton is a great club to be around, and at this time there are a lot of good things going on,” he said. “We have had a lot of good things happen this year so hopefully we will take it into the new year. “We have an abundance of character and lots of courage. We have been on a great run. The players know what they have to do, to just keep on going as they have been and just play as well as they did against Arsenal and cut out the mistakes.”

It’s now win at all costs
Jan 1 2008 by Nigel Martyn, Liverpool Echo
ISN’T Christmas supposed to be the time when there is goodwill to all men?
Though it is only two years since I hung up my boots, sometimes when I look at football now it feels as if I played in a completely different era and that opinion was hammered home again on Saturday evening. Losing to Arsenal was bitterly disappointing but nothing was as bad as the incident which led to Mikel Arteta being sent off and receiving a three-match ban. Doesn’t Cesc Fabregas know that he and Mikel are part of the same union? When I first started playing, there was an unwritten rule about what happened if you got an injury. It was quite simple – you didn’t show your opponent you were hurt and you just got on with things. How times have changed. Fabregas went down as if Ricky Hatton had connected with a crunching left hook. He chose to writhe around in agony and it didn’t make the slightest bit of difference that his friend would get into hot water. Of course you want to win but there are ways of gaining victories that are within the law. Unfortunately more and more players are choosing underhand methods to gain advantages and I think that is very sad. A few years ago when I was with Leeds, a player who is now making a living not a million miles from here ‘won’ a penalty in the last minute of a match against Derby, which Ian Harte converted to give us the victory. Afterwards, though, I just felt hollow because after I had seen a replay, I could not have been more embarrassed. It was an awful dive and Derby were rightly furious. The worst feeling you can have in life is if someone has cheated you and when you see things get heated on a pitch, it will stem from the fact that one individual feels another has diddled them. I was brought up to think that contests should be played in a sporting manner and played fairly and squarely. The incident between Fabregas and Arteta was just another example of how football now seems to be as much about cunning as it is about skill. If I could have one wish for the new year, it would be to see old values restored to the sport we all love.

Ground moves, Euro nights and a day out at Wembley! The year in review, part two
Jan 1 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
Part two of our review of the Merseyside sporting year of 2007 includes plenty of new ground revelations for both Liverpool and Everton, Tranmere scrapping to stay in the play-off places, another piece of silverware for Saints and a young boxing star living up to his full potential . . .
EVERTON announce plans for their ground move ballot, with chief executive Keith Wyness declaring the move to Kirkby is “the deal of the century”.
Some fans remain vehemently opposed to the switch. There is significantly less opposition across the park when Liverpool reveal the first images of a dynamic new 76,000 seater Anfield – a futuristic space age design scheduled to cost £300m. Both of those figures would soon change. Liverpool appoint a new commercial director, lifelong Reds fans Ian Ayre, while Everton are poised to bring in Swiss midfielder Johann Vogel and South African star Steven Pienaar. Only one deal comes off, and even that is on loan, while the Reds also encounter transfer difficulties as they try to make Gabriel Heinze the first man to move between Manchester United and Liverpool for 40 years. United block the switch, as the Argentinian even threatens to go to court.
While Heinze is desperate to move to Merseyside, James Beattie is desperate to stay there. During the Blues’ pre-season tour of the USA he says: “I’ve got to believe I have a great chance to go onwards and upwards and hopefully that will be the case.”
Sadly for Beattie he was soon moving on and up, up the road to Sheffield United. Phil Jagielka moves the opposite way. The transfer market hots up as Craig Bellamy and Djibril Cisse exit Anfield, and Rafa Benitez immediately spends the money on promising Dutch youngster Ryan Babel. Echo readers vote Everton legend Dixie Dean as the Greatest Merseysider of all time, while in the boxing ring exciting amateur star Tony Bellew hands in his vest and turns pro. Footballer Jamie Carragher also displays the noble art of self defence when a radio presenter accuses him of “bottling out” of international duty. Carragher instantly rang the show to confront Adrian Durham.
EVERTON’S pre-season preparations are rocked when Tim Cahill suffers a repeat of an old metatarsal injury in a pre-season friendly against Werder Bremen.
The significance of the loss only truly comes to light when the little Aussie returns three months later. He joins James Vaughan on the treatment table, after the youngster dislocates his shoulder in a freak accident at Preston. The Blues add one new name to their squad, though, Wigan’s Leighton Baines, and don’t stop there.
A club record bid is made for Yakubu, after Manu Fernandes turns his back on the Blues and a move for Porto’s Argentinian midfielder Lucho Gonzalez hits a dead end, and the Middlesbrough striker eventually arrives in an £11m move. Both clubs make flying starts, Everton overcoming Wigan on the opening day of the new season thanks to Victor Anichebe’s late strike and Steven Gerrard rescuing Liverpool with an even later goal at Villa Park. Boxing brothers Richie and Nigel Wenton, meanwhile, lead the tributes to father Terry, who passed away after a long illness. Liverpool drop their only points of the first four games in a home draw with Chelsea, but a new star is born with Fernando Torres opening his account in stunning fashion. Everton draw 1-1 at home to Blackburn, but goalscorer James McFadden immediately dedicates his goal to the parents of tragically killed Evertonian, Rhys Jones. In a wonderful show of Merseyside unity, Liverpool allow the Z-Cars theme to be played before their match with Toulouse as a tribute to the youngster, gunned down while returning home from football. At Wembley Stadium, St Helens demonstrate their insatiable appetite for the big occasion when they defeat Catalans Dragons 30-8 to win rugby league’s Challenge Cup. The long awaited ground move vote at Everton, meanwhile, results in a 59 per cent vote in favour of moving to Kirkby.
RAFA BENITEZ is shocked when long-term assistant Pako Ayesteran quits Liverpool, but says he doesn’t intend to replace the departing fitness coach.
Joleon Lescott scores a last minute winner for Everton at Bolton – and celebrates with a call up to the full England squad for the first time for an international double header against Israel and Russia. Tranmere, meanwhile, climb to the top of the formative League One table with a dramatic come from behind win over Luton at Prenton Park.
Sam Allardyce starts to toss stones from a very large glass house, claiming: “Rafa Benitez would be very lucky to be in a job if he hadn’t got to two Champions League finals.” Reds fans are outraged, but when Benitez leaves Fernando Torres kicking his heels during a dour goalless draw with Birmingham more than a few eyebrows are raised. Even more bizarrely, Benitez then uses Torres in a Carling Cup tie at Reading. Torres rifles a hat-trick! Liverpool’s bid for a third Champions League final in four seasons starts shakily with a fortunate draw at Porto and only 10 men on the field following Jermaine Pennant’s red card. Everton take their own tentative first steps back into Europe, and it’s an occasion Andy Johnson won’t forget in a hurry.
He misses two penalties as the talented Ukrainians of Metalist Kharkiv leave Goodison unbeaten and with an away goal under their belts. St Julie’s pupil Katarina Thompson smashes the English Schools junior girls pentathlon record, a mark that had stood for 19 years – five years before she was born, while Liverpool’s WBU featherweight champion, Derry Mathews, is named Britain’s Young Boxer of the Year.
LIVERPOOL’S Champions League campaign lurches from shaky to shocking when Marseille take advantage of a much changed Liverpool line-up to win 1-0 at Anfield.
Jamie Carragher, as ever, takes it on the chin and says: “Don’t blame the boss, we’ve always rotated.” Everton’s European experience is completely different.
The Blues go to Kharkiv and win a thrilling second leg 3-2 to reach the group stages of the UEFA Cup. Liverpool follow up their Marseille disappointment with a last minute equaliser at home to Spurs, but skipper Steven Gerrard declares: “I’m asking the fans to trust me when I say there’s no crisis here. We have fantastic players and a world class manager.” Gerrard might not have thought so a couple of weeks later – following a typically dramatic Goodison derby. Liverpool win 2-1, referee Mark Clattenburg is savaged for his performance and skipper Gerrard is substituted just minutes after winning the Reds’ equalising penalty kick for “playing with too much passion”. The Reds can’t build on the win, though, as their Champions League journey looks to have come to an early end with a 2-1 defeat in Turkey by Besiktas.
Everton welcome back Tim Cahill in their first match post-derby, against Larissa. Little do Evertonians know just how significant his return will be. Rovers go top of League One once again, this time after 13 matches, with a 3-0 defeat of Huddersfield.
In the boxing ring Derry Mathews retains his WBU belt with a wonderful 11th round stoppage of Matthew Marsh in the York Hall, Bethnal Green. Tony Bellew’s professional boxing debut lasts just five minutes, as ‘The Bomber’ explodes into Jaime Ambler’s face and chalks up his first paid success in Nottingham.
In Rugby League’s Grand Final St Helens are surprisingly demolished by Leeds Rhinos as their bid for a second successive treble falls one match short.
Widnes Vikings’ Super League dream also came crashing down when they lose 42-10 in the League One Grand Final to Castleford. Merseyside sports fans say farewell to Echo institution Harold Wolfe, the man behind the long running It’s A Fact column, who passes away aged 91.
SPECULATION surrounding Andrew Johnson’s future is ended when the Blues striker commits to a five-year deal at Everton, but it’s the strikers at Anfield who really grab the headlines. Liverpool need to beat Besiktas to keep their stumbling Champions League campaign alive. They break a competition record by crashing EIGHT into the Turks’ net. There’s also joy for the Blues as they add to their opening UEFA Cup win over Larissa with an away win in Nuremburg – Victor Anichebe adding to his growing super-sub reputation. Fernando Torres’ reputation doesn’t need adding to, but he does anyway with another stunning strike against Fulham – with goalkeeper Pepe Reina claiming an assist! Everton show that their improvement is not just a flash in the pan with a deserved draw at Chelsea, offering confidence ahead of the Carling Cup semi-finals. Steve McClaren’s wretched reign as England boss, meanwhile, receives an unexpected boost when Israel defeat Russia, meaning England need ‘only’ a draw at home to Croatia to reach the finals of Euro 2008.
Former Everton defender and now Croatia boss Slaven Bilic adds ominously: “We won’t be playing for a draw.” Croatia win 3-2 at Wembley and McClaren, who spent the match sheltering under an umbrella, is predictably sacked. Everton, meanwhile, are forced to search for a new assistant manager after Alan Irvine decides to take up an invitation to manage Preston. With matters at Anfield improving on the pitch, however, things explode off it as Rafa Benitez marches into a Melwood press conference and repeats the same sentence over and over again: “As always I am focused on training and coaching my team.” Tom Hicks raps back: “Quit talking about new players and coach the players we have.” Reds fans leave the club’s owners in no doubt where their sympathies lie, with an astonishing display of support before and during a pivotal 4-1 defeat of Porto. Across the park Everton smash seven past hapless Sunderland, but all thoughts are with Blues legend Dave Hickson who suffers a heart attack before the game.
EVERTON’S European stature continues to grow as the Blues defeat Russian champions Zenit St Petersburg to guarantee a place in the knockout stages of the UEFA Cup, then become the first foreign side to win in Alkmaar in 32 attempts – despite resting several senior players. It’s a similar story across the park. Liverpool need to win in Marseille to confirm their own place in the Champions League knockout stages – and have the match won by the 47th minute. They eventually seal a 4-0 romp to earn a last 16 humdinger with Inter Milan. Everton’s reward is a clash with Norwegian champions Brann Bergen – with the possibility of Fiorentina awaiting after that. In the Carling Cup, Liverpool’s interest ends at Stamford Bridge but that’s exactly where Everton are heading in the semi-finals after Yakubu snatches a last minute winner at West Ham. In the final football action of the year, Everton fall victim of their own errors to surrender three points to high-flying Arsenal, Liverpool slip to 10 points off the top with a disappointing point at Manchester City while Calvin Zola scores the vital goal as Tranmere grind out a much-needed 1-0 home win over Cheltenham to stay in the League One play-offs race.

Steven Pienaar’s chance to shine
Jan 1 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
WITH injuries and suspensions robbing David Moyes of three creative talents this afternoon, Steven Pienaar will have another chance to shine. I’ve been really impressed with him during his time at the club and he will be missed when the African Cup of Nations starts, so fingers crossed he can put in a couple of star performances before he leaves. He was excellent against Arsenal and also played well in the 2-0 victory over Bolton to show he suffered no ill-effects from conceding a silly penalty in the defeat against Manchester United. For that, the manager should receive a lot of credit. It would have been easy to give Pienaar ‘the big stick’ shortly after the game, particularly when emotions were running high, but instead David chose to go the other way and focused on the positives. Had he criticised him, it’s quite possible that he would have had a de-motivated player on his hands but instead the opposite is true and Pienaar has repaid him. Fingers crossed he can keep repeating the trick.

Cups of opportunity
Jan 1 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
THE Carling Cup semi-final will shortly be upon us but there could be no better way to go into that game against Chelsea than with a place in the FA Cup fourth round secured. You could not ask for anything more than a home game against Oldham and although nothing can be taken for granted, it would be very disappointing if Everton did not enjoy a comfortable passage through. The manager will obviously change things around and there is every chances James McFadden will be given a chance to shine alongside either James Vaughan or Victor Anichebe. He will be desperate to stake his claim again. Momentum might have been checked slightly by the defeats to Arsenal and Manchester United but there is enough talent in the squad to get things going again. With a bit of luck, we’ll head to Stamford Bridge on the back of two wins.

1st January 2008
Daily Star
Two fine goals from Andrew Johnson and James McFadden proved the difference in Everton's 2-0 victory over Middlesbrough at the Riverside which kept the Toffees' European ambitions on track. Boro had the best of the play for much of the match but were too often let down by a lack of composure in the final third with England winger Stewart Downing particularly culpable. Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard's inspiring stop from Gary O'Neil set the tone for the visitors' victory, with Johnson and McFadden each taking full advantage to record their fifth goals of the season.
The opening stages were scrappy with the driving rain helping neither side find a foothold. Johnson was booked after just three minutes for an indiscreet challenge but Ayegbeni Yakubu - roundly booed with every touch on his first return to the ground since leaving to join David Moyes' side - escaped the same fate despite a reckless lunge at Luke Young. The hosts had a fine chance after eight minutes with Dong Gook Lee breaking into the Everton box but Howard's sliding stop saw the ball drop to Downing 20 yards out but with the goalkeeper out of position he failed to get away a shot away in time and his eventual attempt was tame. Howard produced a piece of goalkeeping after the break that was memorable for all the right reasons. After good vision from Arca, the American charged to the near post but was beaten by the advancing Tuncay. His shot was headed clear by Joleon Lescott but when O'Neil lined up the rebound from eight yards the goalkeeper was still some distance away and it took a brilliant, instinctive save to keep the ball out. Johnson took full advantage after 66 minutes. Pienaar did well to bring down a curling pass into the box and release the England striker to his right. Johnson peeled away from Robert Huth and dragged a powerful shot low across Mark Schwarzer and into the bottom-left corner.
And, sure enough, it was 2-0 soon afterwards. With 18 minutes left McFadden and the revitalised Johnson broke at pace, sharing a measured one-two in the penalty box to free the Scotland international who stroked home with his left foot, keeping his side well on course for the UEFA Cup in the process.

Middlesbrough 0, Everton 2
Jan 2 2008
By Ian Doyle, Liverpool Daily Post
IF any Evertonian needed a cure for a New Year hangover, it arrived at the Riverside yesterday. David Moyes’s side began 2008 in the manner in which they had grown accustomed towards the end of the previous 12 months with an accomplished victory against Middlesbrough. Any fears the demoralising second-half collapse against Arsenal on Saturday would check the momentum gathered in recent months were banished with a 13th win in their last 17 games. That it was achieved without a clutch of regulars from that run of form made the result, which lifts Everton into fifth place and within a point of neighbours Liverpool, all the more impressive. With the suspended Mikel Arteta and injured duo Tim Cahill and Joseph Yobo joining Thomas Gravesen and Leon Osman on the sidelines, the trip north east would prove a genuine test of the strength in depth Everton’s squad has acquired this season. It passed with flying colours. And for Andrew Johnson and James McFadden, it was an opportunity they did not spurn McFadden’s Goodison career has been the subject of much conjecture in recent weeks, with Celtic undeterred by Everton’s flat refusal to allow the forward to leave on loan for the remainder of the season. Such talk has gained momentum with the Scotland international on the fringes at Goodison since opening the campaign in impressive fashion for both club and country. But on his first Premier League start since October 7, McFadden capped a stellar performance by deservedly netted his first league goal in more than four months on 72 minutes. McFadden acknowledged the strike by pointing to the black armband worn by both teams as a mark of respect for the tragic passing of Phil O’Donnell, the former Motherwell captain with whom the Everton man had played alongside at Fir Park. Johnson, meanwhile, began only his second league game since returning from injury in November, and rewarded Moyes with a well-taken opener five minutes earlier that set Everton on their way to deserved victory in a largely dour encounter. Boro manager Gareth Southgate bemoaned the fact that Everton scored from their only two genuine shots on target. But while the home team had their chances, they found Tim Howard resolute and Phil Jagielka determined to make amends for his second-half horror show against Arsenal. The latter cleared off the line in the first half, while Howard made a fine save after the break with the scoreline blank, a moment Moyes rightly surmised as the game’s turning point. As against Bolton Wanderers on Boxing Day, Everton responded to defeat to a top-four team with an ultimately comfortable victory against one of the Premier League’s lesser lights. And it was a happy return to the Riverside for Yakubu. Upset at the manner of his £11.25million transfer to Everton in August, the home crowd jeered the striker’s name before kick-off and every touch during the game. Yakubu, though, had the last laugh, leading the line well and playing an integral role in Johnson’s opener. With Arteta suspended and Gravesen and Osman injured, Everton’s midfield options were further limited by the absence of Cahill with a knee problem, underlining why Moyes is keen to reinforce in that area during this month’s transfer window. McFadden and Johnson returned to the starting line-up and, with Joseph Yobo also missing out through injury, Joleon Lescott moved across to centre-back to accommodate Nuno Valente at left-back. Lee Carsley marked his 150th Premier League appearance for Everton by picking up his first booking of the season in the fourth minute. And that represented a moment of rare excitement during a first half which, in terms of goalmouth action, was as dismal as the weather that characterised this grim area of the country. Admittedly, Everton were indebted to the positioning of Jagielka on the half-hour, the centre-back in the right place at the right time to block Stewart Downing’s goalbound shot on the line after some clever Middlesbrough interplay gave Luke Young the space to cross dangerously to the far post. With the home defence well marshalled by Jonathan Woodgate, Everton – minus the drive of Cahill and promptings of Arteta and struggling to discover the right balance early on – failed to force a genuine save from Mark Schwarzer. Tim Howard was similarly unemployed, and neither side could claim to have shaded an instantly forgettable 45 minutes. Mercifully, the entertainment level increased significantly after the break. After Tuncay had failed to control Emanuel Pogatetz’s driven low cross from the left, Yakubu shot wildly over following a good combination between McFadden and Steven Pienaar. Everton, though, came close to falling behind in the 57th minute. Tuncay, racing on to a ball over the top, was caught by a challenge from behind by Jagielka that could easily have been given as a penalty. However, referee Mike Riley allowed play to continue, and after Lescott had headed clear Tuncay’s cross-cum-shot, Howard produced an excellent stop to deny Gary O’Neil. Moyes’s side made the most of their escape by settling the issue with two goals in five minutes. The first, on 67 minutes, came from a pass in by Yakubu to Pienaar on the edge of the penalty area. As the South African assessed his options, Johnson swept the ball off his team-mate’s toes, held off the challenge of Robert Huth and angled a shot across Schwarzer into the bottom corner. nThen, after Lee Carsley had curled an effort narrowly wide, Johnson turned provider for Everton’s second. nCapitalising on a laughable mix-up between Fabio Rochemback and Downing, McFadden hared down on Schwarzer’s goal, exchanged passes with Johnson, and slotted home.nWith Middlesbrough a beaten team, Moyes’s side easily saw out the remainder of the game to extend the travelling support’s New Year celebrations.

Middlesbrough 0, Everton 2
Jan 2 2008, Liverpool Echo
TWO fine goals from Andrew Johnson and James McFadden proved the difference in Everton’s 2-0 victory over Middlesbrough at the Riverside which kept the Toffees’ European ambitions on track. Boro had the best of the play for much of the match but were too often let down by a lack of composure in the final third with England winger Stewart Downing particularly culpable. Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard’s inspiring stop from Gary O’Neil set the tone for the visitors’ victory, with Johnson and McFadden each taking full advantage to record their fifth goals of the season. The opening stages were scrappy with the driving rain helping neither side find a foothold. Johnson was booked after just three minutes for an indiscreet challenge but Ayegbeni Yakubu - roundly booed with every touch on his first return to the ground since leaving to join David Moyes’ side - escaped the same fate despite a reckless lunge at Luke Young. The hosts had a fine chance after eight minutes with Dong Gook Lee breaking into the Everton box but Howard’s sliding stop saw the ball drop to Downing 20 yards out but with the goalkeeper out of position he failed to get away a shot away in time and his eventual attempt was tame. There were niggling fouls at both ends of the pitch as each side scrambled to assert themselves but there was precious little quality. For Everton’s part, the absence of the cultured Tim Cahill and Mikel Arteta in midfield. Downing showed signs of life down the left for Boro but his final ball was consistently poor. McFadden, meanwhile, attempted another of his now-trademark long-range efforts but had to settle for a corner as his scuffed drive took a deflection and trickled past the post. Arca, named Boro captain in place of regular skipper George Boateng, then gave the ball away with the sloppiest of passes only to be bailed out by Fabio Rochemback and Tuncay Sanli. After 29 minutes a flash of inspiration from Rochemback nearly broke the stalemate. He feigned to cross from the right but instead lifted the ball delicately into the path of the overlapping Young. The full-back’s flighted centre found Downing at the far post and his side-footed volley looked to be going in before what seemed to be the slightest touch from Phil Jagielka on the line. Tuncay, largely quiet despite going into the match with four goals in his last six games, then produced his own party-trick, sending the defence the wrong way with an impudent back-heel. Again Downing was on the end but his cross was dealt with easily. The second half was less than a minute old when Tuncay was presented with the best chance yet. O’Neil bullied his way into the penalty area, holding off two challenges before playing the ball hard into the six-yard box. The Turkey striker was in the right place but could not react quickly enough and the ball merely cannoned off his leg leaving Howard with a simple save. There were warnings too from Everton. First a neat back-heel from Steven Pienaar presented Yakubu with his first shooting chance - one that he spurned with a wild shot over the crossbar - and then a flighted free-kick from deep was punched clumsily by Mark Schwarzer to concede a corner. It was left to Howard to produce a piece of goalkeeping that was memorable for all the right reasons. After good vision from Arca, the American charged to the near post but was beaten by the advancing Tuncay. His shot was headed clear by Joleon Lescott but when O’Neil lined up the rebound from eight yards the goalkeeper was still some distance away and it took a brilliant, instinctive save to keep the ball out. Johnson took full advantage after 66 minutes. Pienaar did well to bring down a curling pass into the box and release the England striker to his right. Johnson peeled away from Robert Huth and dragged a powerful shot low across Schwarzer and into the bottom-left corner. Boro were nearly caught by a sucker-punch four minutes later, Lee Carsley curling his shot narrowly wide as they committed too many men to attack. And, sure enough, it was 2-0 soon afterwards. With 18 minutes left McFadden and the revitalised Johnson broke at pace, sharing a measured one-two in the penalty box to free the Scotland international. He showed some silky close control as he ghosted into the danger area and stroked home with his left foot, keeping his side well on course for the UEFA Cup in the process

Steven Pienaar waits for cup nod
Jan 2 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
STEVEN PIENAAR is hoping to receive a phone call in the next 24 hours that will give him the green light to figure in Everton’s biggest game of the season.
As things stand, Pienaar will have to leave Goodison Park after Saturday’s FA Cup tie with Oldham to join up with South Africa’s squad for a training camp ahead of the African Cup of Nations in Ghana. That tournament, however, does not begin until January 20 and Pienaar has pleaded with South Africa’s FA to delay his call-up so he can be involved in the Carling Cup semi-final at Chelsea. Nigerians Joseph Yobo and Ayegbeni Yakubu are in a similar situation and Pienaar is keeping his fingers crossed that talks will reach a positive conclusion so he can play his part in Everton’s push for Wembley. “I’m supposed to be going on January 5 but we are trying our best so that I can stay for a bit longer,” said Pienaar. “I hope we can agree on it because I am in between at the minute and there is nothing I can do. “Maybe I will find out today or tomorrow. I am like any other player and I want to be involved in the big games.
“The semi-final with Chelsea is so important and I want to be a part of the team that goes to Stamford Bridge. You always want to play for your country but you also always want to play for your club. “I’m stuck in the middle but I hope the association gives me a day free because they know how important this game is for me.
“It will be sad going away for so long especially when the team is doing so well. The spirit here is tremendous.” Pienaar excelled for Everton yesterday as they ended a run of five games in 12 days with a 2-0 win over Middlesbrough to show that their collapse against Arsenal was a one-off. It was a win secured by perspiration as much as inspiration and Pienaar was quick to acknowledge the role goalkeeper Tim Howard played. “After Saturday’s defeat, we just needed to keep going and keep our heads together and now we can say that we have started the year with a good victory,” he said. “As long as we don’t concede goals, we know we are always in games and that we can score at any point. It was a difficult game and the conditions were tough but we deserved it in the end. The confidence is there. “We start from the back and when Tim is keeping his goal clean, it’s up to us to score. Tim has been terrific and made a really important save for us.”

David Moyes in tribute to stars
Jan 2 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES hailed his threadbare squad for digging deep to ensure Everton’s festive campaign finished on a high. The Blues boss was forced to make a number of changes at Middlesbrough yesterday as Joseph Yobo and Tim Cahill joined Leon Osman, Mikel Arteta and Thomas Gravesen on the sidelines. But, despite the disruption, Everton showed admirable battling qualities to secure a deserved 2-0 win which helped banish the memory of Saturday’s capitulation against Arsenal and hoisted them into fifth place for 24 hours at least. “The players have done well over Christmas, so it was an important three points for us,” said Moyes. “Coming up here without so many players and winning shows we haven’t been too affected by the last game. “Cahill, Osman, Arteta and Gravesen weren’t available, so we only had Lee Carsley and Steven Pienaar as recognised midfielders. “It was a professional job. We scored a couple of half-decent goals in the end so I was pleased with the win.
“It was a big thing that we had a few out injured, and the result shows the depth of the squad and what we have available to us. The players who came in did really well in difficult conditions.” Things might have turned out differently had Middlesbrough made their one attack of note pay but Moyes felt Tim Howard’s terrific save from Gary O’Neill gave his side an extra impetus. “The turning point of the game was probably the clearance off the line by Joleon and the save by Tim Howard,” said Moyes.

James McFadden dedicates goal to tragic Phil O'Donnell
Jan 2 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
JAMES McFADDEN paid an emotional tribute to Phil O’Donnell and dedicated his goal to the memory of the Motherwell captain. The Scotland striker - Everton’s star man in their 2-0 win over Middlesbrough - began his career at Fir Park and was close to O’Donnell, who died suddenly on Saturday. After McFadden scored the Blues’ second at the Riverside Stadium, he wheeled away and continually smacked the armband every player wore as a mark of respect. It was a harrowing afternoon for McFadden but he was determined to pay his own tribute to a man he held in such high esteem. “I had a feeling I was going to get a goal and that if I did I was going to dedicate it to him,” said McFadden, who left Motherwell for Goodison in August 2003. “In the end it was the right thing to do. I have passed on my regards to his family but I felt that this was the way I wanted to pay my respects to him.
“I will see them all as soon as possible. My wife is friendly with his niece and me with his nephews. “I shed a tear when I came off. It was such an emotional occasion with a silence that turned into an applause before the game. “It has been so shocking. It is difficult to get your head around and you can’t imagine what his family are going through. “He was a great player and one of the nice guys of football. It is a tragedy. He had lots of energy and regularly scored goals from midfield. “

It’s kick-off day for Everton's £400m stadium
Jan 2 2008 by Nick Coligan, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON FC today presented their plans for a Kirkby stadium to Knowsley council.
The club and supermarket giant Tesco formally submitted their £400m proposal to build a new home for the Blues and a shopping district south of the existing town centre. Town hall planners will now start scrutinising the Destination Kirkby scheme before councillors decide whether to approve it – possibly as soon as the spring.
Tesco, which would bring in developer Barr to build the stadium and shops, would then want to start work later this year. The proposal focuses on a 50,000-seater replacement for Goodison Park, a 24-hour Tesco Extra store and about 50 high street shops south of Cherryfield Drive. It also includes “development opportunities” for the existing town centre, including an unnamed leisure scheme and a six-figure investment in Kirkby market. Significantly, the scheme features about £10m of road improvements and work designed to reduce the impact of the huge development on surrounding areas. The possible negative effect of Everton moving to Kirkby on traffic and anti-social behaviour have been the main point raised by residents and Knowsley North Labour MP George Howarth so far. The club and Tesco will hope the details contained in the planning application will ease their concerns.
Otherwise, the prospect of the government “calling in” the scheme for closer scrutiny could raise its head, delaying work by months. Everton chief executive Keith Wyness said: “This represents the next key stage in what has been a complex and demanding process. “We continue to work closely with our partners, Tesco and Knowsley council, and we remain very optimistic about what is a hugely ambitious and significant project.” The application says exact designs for Tesco’s proposed revamp of Kirkby market would be agreed before a more detailed plan is submitted to the council. Although a majority of Everton season-ticket and shareholders voted in favour of the move outside the city boundaries last summer, some fans and Kirkby residents oppose the idea.
Campaign group will battle on
THE campaign group against the Kirkby move today welcomed the news.
Dave Kelly from Keep Everton In Our City (Keioc) said: “What has been apparent from day one is the lack of detail produced by Everton, Tesco and Knowsley council.
“Now the planning application has gone in, the severity of this scheme and its impact will finally come home to people. “In the past it has been very difficult for people to object just to a proposal; they feel they can only object once it is a firm plan.
“I know other councils will be equally pleased the planning application has gone in, and they will want to look at it in very close detail. “They are concerned about the impact of this development and we think there is a chance they will try to have it called in by the secretary of state.” Shirley Stankowski, from Kirkby residents action group (Krag) which is also campaigning against the stadium, said: “We were expecting this because letters went out before Christmas saying the application was imminent. “It will now be interesting to see it. We welcome regeneration of our town centre. But not at any cost and certainly not a football stadium and everything it would bring. “There are alternatives without a stadium which could be done.”

Moyes in tributeto stars
Jan 2 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES hailed his threadbare squad for digging deep to ensure Everton’s festive campaign finished on a high. The Blues boss was forced to make a number of changes at Middlesbrough yesterday as Joseph Yobo and Tim Cahill joined Leon Osman, Mikel Arteta and Thomas Gravesen on the sidelines. But, despite the disruption, Everton showed admirable battling qualities to secure a deserved 2-0 win which helped banish the memory of Saturday’s capitulation against Arsenal and hoisted them into fifth place for 24 hours at least. “The players have done well over Christmas, so it was an important three points for us,” said Moyes. “Coming up here without so many players and winning shows we haven’t been too affected by the last game. “Cahill, Osman, Arteta and Gravesen weren’t available, so we only had Lee Carsley and Steven Pienaar as recognised midfielders. “It was a professional job. We scored a couple of half-decent goals in the end so I was pleased with the win. “It was a big thing that we had a few out injured, and the result shows the depth of the squad and what we have available to us. The players who came in did really well in difficult conditions.” Things might have turned out differently had Middlesbrough made their one attack of note pay but Moyes felt Tim Howard’s terrific save from Gary O’Neill gave his side an extra impetus. “The turning point of the game was probably the clearance off the line by Joleon and the save by Tim Howard,” said Moyes.

Everton in swoop for teen star Dan Gosling
Jan 3 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
PLYMOUTH youngster Dan Gosling is set to become David Moyes’ first capture of the January transfer window. The Blues have agreed a transfer fee of an initial £1 million that could rise to £2m after a significant number of appearances.
But the 17-year-old will not be considered for first team action this season, despite making his Plymouth debut at the age of 16 and since scoring two goals in 24 appearances. "He’s one for the future," said Moyes today, who also dismissed speculation linking him with Arsenal midfielder Lassana Diarra and Bayern Munich defender Daniel van Buyten. Van Buyten’s agent, Christophe Henrotay, tried to tempt Moyes into a loan move for his 29-year-old client to help fill the void left by Joseph Yobo's participation in the African Cup of Nations with Nigeria. "I know David Moyes very well, he's a friend of mine and I know he's looking for a centre back," said Henrotay. "Daniel is corresponding to the sort of player he's looking for – an experienced, quality player to cover Joseph Yobo when he goes to the African Cup of Nations. "Daniel has not played so much at the beginning of the season. David knows Daniel and feels if he could have him for a while on loan it could be great but I haven't talked with Daniel about it. "It's a great idea but there would be a long way to go yet."
Moyes indicated just how far when he said today: "Van Buyten? Phil Jagielka’s doing a great job at centre-back at present and we also have Alan Stubbs ready to come back in." The Blues boss is still resigned to losing Joseph Yobo, Yakubu and Steven Pienaar after Saturday’s FA Cup tie against Oldham. The two Nigerian internationals and South Africa’s Pienaar were hoping for special dispensation from their FAs to delay their departure to Ghana until after next Tuesday’s Carling Cup semi-final first leg. But Moyes admitted today that the three were still waiting for a reply.
Yobo is receiving treatment for a foot injury, while Tim Cahill is also struggling with a knee injury. But Thomas Gravesen could return against Oldham after shaking off a knee problem.

The Jury: What's your verdict on Everton's festive period?
Jan 3, 2008, Liverpool Echo
David Wallbank, Huyton
EVERTON should come away from the festive period with their heads held high, only suffering defeats to the Premier League’s elite. Unfortunately, those defeats prove that the Blues still have some way to go if they are to trouble the top four sides and bridge the gap every pundit seems to be talking about. December delivered back to back wins against West Ham, along with predictable wins against Fulham and Bolton, solidifying the Blues’ position as the leaders of the second tier of clubs. Everton had key players missing at the Riverside on Tuesday but confirmed they have strength in depth with a fine victory. With the Blues only suffering two defeats in 17 games you can take this as a clear indication that silverware is just around the corner. Finally, I must apologise for comments I made about Phil Jagielka a few weeks ago. Since then Phil has put in some excellent performances. . . sorry Jags. Lee Molton, St Helens WHAT a Christmas for the Blues! Last gasp goals, sendings offs and a good away win. The two games against Manchester United and Arsenal have proved that the Blues are getting closer to the top four teams and but for a penalty and poor defending, we could have taken a few points off both teams. In the games against Bolton and Middlesbrough, the Blues showed both how they can play and also how to grind out a win. The Boro game wasn’t a classic, but it is a sign of a good team when you can win without being at your best. We can now look forward to two Cup ties against OIdham and Chelsea. There is always a magic about the FA Cup but the semi-final is one of the most eagerly awaited games for Evertonians and we will go to Stamford Bridge with confidence. If we can manage to pick up a score draw there, there is no reason why we cannot beat Chelsea at Goodison and then Wembley awaits! Mike Williamson, Chester COMING away from the Arsenal game, most of us were bemused at how we could end up losing a game so heavily after playing so well for most of it. However, going to Middlesbrough and grinding out such a good result shows the difference between this team and the Everton of old, who would probably have gone on a downward spiral of defeats. Lots of fans, including myself, seriously wondered only a season or so back if David Moyes really was the right man to take the club to where we all want it to be. But he has shown that he knows what he is doing and we now have the stability that we desperately lacked in the 1990s (I still have nightmares about Walter Smith!). But we’re not the finished product yet. The priority in the summer must be a top class right back and another creative midfielder as well as a winger. Nevertheless, 2007 was a great year for Everton and hopefully there are more good times to come. Richard Knights, West Derby THE unbeaten run has come to a juddering halt with defeats against Manchester United and Arsenal. Welcome to the reality check. What was so disappointing about the Arsenal game is that although we played the better football we were undone by two long punts up the pitch. How to avoid defeat? Avoid silly mistakes. After being awesome against Bolton the jury is still out on Jagielka. You know that it’s the pantomime season because we had the annual ‘Arsene Whinger Show’. Then there was Cesc Fabregas overacting, collapsing and writhing around on the ground reacting to the proverbial ‘sniper attack’. Wenger suddenly acquires 20/20 vision over 100 yards but then didn’t see the ‘tackle’ by Bendtner and the handball by Eduardo. A worrying statistic is that in nine games against teams from the top half of the table we’ve only won once. Let’s hope the win against Middlesbrough will get us back on track.

Now public can have their say on Everton’s stadium
Jan 3 2008 by Luke Traynor, Liverpool Echo
THE people of Kirkby were today urged to have their say about plans for Everton FC’s new stadium. A long period of consultation now begins after the Blues and Tesco yesterday formally submitted proposals for a new £400m home.
The blueprints can be publicly viewed at one-stop shops in Kirkby and Huyton and will be shown at future community meetings. Pleas of support and opposition will be put before Knowsley council’s planning committee in late spring. If significant issues are raised within the next three months the plans will be amended and more consultations will take place before a decision is made. The proposal focuses on a 50,000-seater replacement for Goodison Park, a 24-hour Tesco Extra store and 50 high-street shops south of Cherryfield Drive. The development includes a hotel, offices, commercial and community outlets, a petrol filling station, a 3,500 car park and a bus and coach car park. It also includes “development opportunities” for the existing town centre, including an unnamed leisure scheme and a six-figure investment in Kirkby market. Knowsley council has called the scheme “a significant milestone in developing the future of Kirkby”.

Help us crown Merseyside's super fans
Jan 3 2008 by James Pearce, Liverpool Echo
THERE is still time to send your nominations to help the ECHO crown the most dedicated football fans on Merseyside. We want to honour the die-hard Kopites, Evertonians and Tranmere Rovers supporters whose loyalty knows no limit.
It could be a fan who hasn't missed a game in years or someone who goes to incredible lengths to follow their team. Over the next week we will be collecting your nominations before our panel of judges select a winner for each of Merseyside’s big three clubs. The winners and their guest will get to rub shoulders with stars past and present at the ECHO's 36th Merseyside Sports Personality of the Year Awards dinner at the city’s new 10,000 seater ECHO Arena at the Kings Dock on Monday, February 4. Last year’s winners all enjoyed a night to remember as they met some of the biggest names in sport. Liverpool fan of the year Stephen Gill received his award from Reds legend Ian Rush. Originally from Kirkby, Stephen started watching the club in the 1960s. In 1979 he moved to Kent in search of work but over the next 25 years refused to allow distance to get in the way of his first love. He set up a Liverpool supporters club in Folkestone and travelled hundreds of thousands of miles around the country and across Europe to follow the Reds. Four years ago he moved to Newcastle but still commuted to matches. Everton fan of the year Frank Daley was rewarded for his staggering 80 years as a Goodison Park regular. The 85-year-old from Woolton, who was presented with the trophy by Blues great Dave Hickson, first attended a game in 1927 and was there to see legend Dixie Dean score his record-breaking 60th goal of the season against Arsenal. He had been a season ticket holder for over 40 years and despite suffering with a hip problem refused to let anything get in the way of following the Blues. Daley fell and broke his collarbone in Liverpool city centre but still insisted on getting to Goodison later that day to see the match against Bolton.
Tranmere winner Dave Poole impressed the judges with his determination to ensure the next generation of his family shared his passion for Rovers. The 40-year-old from Irby travelled home and away, and even broke off his honeymoon in 2005 to fly home and watch Rovers in action. Poole had a new companion at matches last season – his baby daughter Olivia. She was pictured in a Rovers shirt just six hours after being born and made her first trip to Prenton Park three days later. If you know someone who goes that extra mile to support their club we want to hear from you. Tell us why they deserve to win one of the awards sponsored by MBNA. Email the name and daytime contact details of your nomination, plus your own contact details, to sport@liverpoolecho.co.uk. Put ‘Fan of the Year’ in the subject line.
Alternatively, you can send nominations by post to Sports Personality Fan of the Year, Sports Desk, Liverpool ECHO, PO Box 48, Old Hall Street, Liverpool, L69 3EB.
Don't forget to tell us why your nomination deserves to be crowned Fan of the Year 2007. The closing date for entries is Thursday, January 10. l Tickets for the Merseyside Sports Personality of theYear Awards night are priced at £95.00 plus VAT. A table of 10 is priced at £950 plus VAT. For any further information please call the Liverpool Echo Events department during business hours on 0151 472 2805.

Teen defender Dan Gosling is first new face of the new year at Everton
Jan 3 2008
By Ian Doyle, Liverpool Daily Post
DAN GOSLING will this week become Everton’s first signing of the January transfer window. The highly-rated 17-year-old is poised to complete a move from Coca-Cola Championship outfit Plymouth Argyle. Everton have agreed a transfer fee of an initial £1million that could eventually rise to £3m. The deal represents a coup for David Moyes, with Gosling having attracted the attention of a number of leading clubs and trained with Chelsea last March. Although employed on the right flank by Plymouth this season, Gosling prefers to play at right-back and Moyes believes that is the youngster’s best position. The teenager has scored two goals in 24 appearances for the Pilgrims since making his debut in December 2006 as a 16-year-old. Everton are expected to make at least one more addition to the squad this month, with another midfielder the priority. Moyes’s selection options will be compromised after the weekend FA Cup game at home to Oldham Athletic by the loss of Joseph Yobo, Yakubu and Steven Pienaar to African Cup of Nations. But Pienaar is hopeful South Africa will allow him to remain with Everton for the Carling Cup semi-final first leg at Chelsea on Tuesday. “I’m supposed to be going on January 5 but we are trying our best so that I can stay for a bit longer,” said Pienaar. “I hope we can agree on it because I am in between at the minute and there is nothing I can do. “I am like any other player and I want to be involved in the big games. “The semi-final with Chelsea is so important and I want to be a part of the team that goes to Stamford Bridge. You always want to play for your country but you also always want to play for your club. “I’m stuck in the middle but I hope the association gives me a day free because they know how important this game is for me. “It will be sad going away for so long especially when the team is doing so well. The spirit here is tremendous.” Everton bounced back from Saturday’s 4-1 defeat to Arsenal by securing their 13th win in their last 17 games with a 2-0 win at Middlesbrough on New Year’s Day. And goalkeeper Tim Howard believes the victory, which moved Moyes’s side temporarily into fifth place, will have the teams above them looking over their shoulders. “We showed some resilience,” said the goalkeeper to evertonTV. “We had two difficult losses for us against top teams were difficult to take, especially the pasting we took against Arsenal. “So we had a bit of pride at stake and we did well to come back. We had a couple of key injuries and Mikel’s red card. “We came to Middlesbrough , which isn’t always a nice place to play with the weather and atmosphere, and we ground out a result and that says a lot about our squad and the passion we have to play for this club. “We took a difficult defeat, licked our wounds and bounced right back, and that’s the sign of a good team. “If we keep getting three points, then the other teams will start looking over their shoulder.” Meanwhile, tickets are still available for the FA Cup third round clash with Oldham Athletic on Saturday at Goodison Park. Tickets are priced at £20/£10 and can be purchased by calling 0870 442 1878, visiting the Park End Box Office or online at the club website www.evertonfc.com

3rd January 2008
Daily Star
Everton have confirmed that they have agreed a deal, believed to be for £1.5million, to sign Plymouth's teenage defender Dan Gosling. The 17-year-old is a local Plymouth product and has made 24 first team appearances for the Devon club after making his debut at 16. Everton expect to complete the deal later this week, but the youngster will not be considered for first-team action this season, with boss David Moyes saying: "He is one for the future". It is the second deal involving the two sides in the last few days after striker Lukas Jutkiewicz went on loan to the Championship side on Monday.

Tim Howard backs Everton's strength in depth
Jan 4 2008 Liverpool Echo
TIM HOWARD believes Everton have the squad depth to continue to fight on four fronts – the Premier League, FA Cup, Carling Cup and UEFA Cup.
The Blues face Chelsea in the Carling Cup semi-final first leg on Tuesday after tomorrow’s FA Cup clash with Oldham, and Howard said: “It is a task in terms of trying to refocus and resetting your priorities. “We are looking forward to a good weekend and we are up for it. The boss wants success on all fronts and everybody else wants it too. He is pushing us day in day out.” With the likes of Tim Cahill, Joseph Yobo and Mikel Arteta missing from the win at The Riverside, Howard hailed the strength in depth of the Everton squad. He said: “We have taken a couple of key injuries and the red card with Mikel Arteta. But we got a good result at Middlesbrough, and that says a lot about our squad and the passion we have to play for this club. “The manager and the players wanted a big squad to challenge and push each other for these type of reasons. You get injuries and you need other people to perform, and they do it. “We have shown some resilience. That is the sign of a good team and I think we are getting there.“

Howard Kendall: Focus must be on Latics clash
Jan 4 2008 by Howard Kendall, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON have two significant cup ties looming in the next four days – but there’s no doubt in my mind which is the most important . . . the first one. Tuesday’s trip to Stamford Bridge could put Everton on the brink of a first Wembley appearance for 13 years, but you can’t afford to think ahead. The next match is always the most important and Everton can’t allow the semi-final with Chelsea to divert their attention from the visit of Oldham in the FA Cup. David Moyes may mix his side up a little, but he can’t afford to take too many liberties against a League One side which has won its last seven away from home, including a very impressive victory at Leeds this week. I’ve got happy memories of the last time I watched Oldham visit Everton. I was in a hospitality box and Everton had just been awarded a free-kick outside the penalty area. One of my old players Preki, a lad I brought to the club, stepped up to take it and I instantly declared: “He’s going to bend this around the wall and into the top right hand corner!” A chap in front of me said: “If he can score from there, I’m buying champagne all night!” Cue pandemonium as Preki obliged with a perfectly placed dead ball. Everton won 2-1 and would settle for a similar result tomorrow I’m sure.
Stubbs' key role
WITH Joseph Yobo poised to disappear from Everton for the next month, the return of Alan Stubbs couldn’t have come at a better time. Stubbsy offers experience and solidity, and despite the impressive performance for long periods of the Arsenal game, I thought we looked decidedly dodgy down the middle. He can help solve that. He is a leader and a very good organiser. Yobo’s departure, along with Yakubu and Steven Pienaar, will be a blow – but the Blues have the squad to cover their absence.
The Blues certainly can’t moan about the African Nations Cup, not that anybody has done. When you buy African players you know you’re going to lose them every other season for a significant chunk. But I’d like to see more leeway given by the African nations in terms of the preparation time they need their players for before the tournament.
New test for Blues
THE two legged Carling Cup semi-final offers Everton’s players a different type of challenge. Even in Europe, David Moyes’ men haven’t been used to two legged clashes, but that’s what they will have to come to terms with next week.
The approach rarely differs, however, in whatever competition you play two legs in. You try and keep things tight away from home – and hope that the atmosphere that generates for the second leg can carry you through. That’s what happened in the most famous two legged tie I was ever involved in. We went to Munich in 1985 and held Bayern to a goalless draw. Kevin Richardson and Alan Harper played in the wide midfield positions and were instrumental in helping us get that result. But I have to hold my hand up and say it wasn’t any great tactical masterplan. Kevin Sheedy and Andy Gray were injured so I had to go into the match with that line-up.
The atmosphere for the second leg has gone down in Goodison folklore – and I know it will be electric at Goodison on January 23, especially if we can keep the first leg tight. A win in London would be unbelievable, a draw would be fantastic, but even a narrow defeat would set things up nicely.

Everton receive all clear on Yakubu and Joseph Yobo
Jan 4 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON received a huge cup boost today when Nigeria agreed to delay the departure of Yakubu and Joseph Yobo until after next week's Carling Cup semi-final first leg. The Blues are still waiting on a decision from South Africa on Steven Pienaar, but their two Nigerians will be able to play at Chelsea on Tuesday.
Chelsea have also been given permission for John Obi Mikel to postpone reporting for African Nations Cup duty. But the Ivory Coast have insisted that Salomon Kalou and Didier Drogba report after tomorrow's FA Cup tie against QPR, even though Drogba is still injured. The Nigeria squad is due to meet for a training camp in Malaga on Sunday, but Yakubu and Yobo can fly out on Wednesday. Yobo is currently receiving treatment for a foot injury, but Moyes may well use Yakubu on Tuesday and in tomorrow's FA Cup tie against Oldham at Goodison Park. The Blues boss said today he will use the memory of his most crushing disappointment in football to avoid any over-confidence against the League One side. The Blues face Oldham just three days before the first leg of the Carling Cup semi-final and there have been suggestions that key players may be rested. But Moyes admitted he was still driven by the memory of his shock FA Cup exit to Kevin Ratcliffe's Shrewsbury in 2003. "We don't really have the size of squad to be doing that and we want to get through," he said.
"We took our medicine against Shrewsbury a few years ago and we don't want to take it again. "It will be a tough game. They are improving and their results away from home have been excellent. So we can't afford to be looking ahead too far."
It looks like injury will keep Tim Cahill and Yobo out anyway, while Mikel Arteta is serving the second match of his three-match ban. But Thomas Gravesen is fit to return to the squad. Tomorrow's third round tie will have special significance for Blues coach Andy Holden, who spent nine years as a player at Boundary Park during the club's halcyon period under Joe Royle. "It will not be an easy game," he said. "Their manager has got them playing some nice football. They are a passionate club and they will not lie down. "I have still got a lot of good friends there and it is a smashing club. It is nice to get them in the draw." Oldham boss John Sheridan has selection problems ahead of tomorrow's tie, with over half of the side that won 3-1 at Leeds United on New Year’s Day possibly missing. Neal Trotman is suspended while there are serious injury doubts over goalkeeper Mark Crossley (ankle), Chris Taylor (hamstring) and striker Lee Hughes (groin). The Latics believe there is little likelihood of reviving a deal for left-back Ryan Bertrand, who has returned to Chelsea. It looks likely the 18-year-old could be loaned out again, but to a club in the Championship with Hull City and Leicester City potential suitors.

Everton v Oldham FA Cup clash revives bad memories for Blues hero Graeme Sharp
Jan 4 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON entertain Oldham in the FA Cup tomorrow. But if Goodison fans experience a shiver of apprehension when they see the name Uriah Rennie in charge of the fixture, Blues legend Graeme Sharp has a message for them: “If you think referees are bad today, they were just as bad when I was playing!” Now the Everton fans’ liaison officer, Blues legend Sharp was the spearhead of the last Everton team to face Oldham in the FA Cup, when the clubs collided in a pulsating 1990 tie.
And the identity of the man in charge of the first two games of a titanic trilogy is etched into his memory. Even now Sharp doesn’t just blame the errant official for an FA Cup upset, he believes he played a significant part in Colin Harvey’s managerial tenure coming to a premature end. “Tony Ward,” he declared, with a knowing sigh. “I ended up on a disrepute charge because of his performance. “I remember it clearly. We were winning 2-0 and cruising on the plastic, then he gave a ridiculous penalty decision against us. “Roger Palmer was the striker involved, and when I went to Oldham a few years later he was still laughing about it with me. “We were never in any danger, but that gave them a toehold back into the game. They came back to draw 2-2 and I was fuming afterwards. “I had a few choice words with the referee and that got me into trouble, but the decisions were significant. “Colin Harvey was our manager and he was coming under increasing pressure at that time. Who knows what difference an FA Cup run might have made?” In the event it was Oldham who marched on to the semi-finals that season, after eventually triumphing in a fifth round second replay against the Blues – and yet more controversy. The FA, in their infinite wisdom, used to allow the same referees to take charge of replays even if the original cup tie had proved controversial. It was a decision which backfired in 1990.
Just four days after their 2-2 draw at Boundary Park, Tony Ward took charge of the replay at Goodison Park, and the night proved even more eventful than the first clash.
Everton’s Norman Whiteside was sent off for the first time in his career, six players were booked and Everton had to rely on a Kevin Sheedy penalty three minutes from the end of extra-time to salvage a second replay. Sharp’s comments at the time were pointed. “Thirty-six thousand people can’t be wrong,” he said. “They saw his performance tonight and it was poor, very poor for a game of this stature.
“He had to get control of it and if he lets it slip it is his fault.” Eighteen years on and Sharp remembers other events surrounding that night. “Some of the local press lads rang me the next day and when you’re involved in a match as heated as that you maybe don’t appreciate some of the things that are going on around you.
“But one of the press men told me he had been watching games at Goodison Park for more than 30 years and had never seen an Everton team play as badly as that. He said it was disgraceful. “That surprised me, but it probably helped accelerate Colin’s sacking.” Everton lost the toss for choice of venue and were forced to return to Oldham’s dreaded plastic pitch, but at least the FA appointed the highly regarded Roger Milford as referee on this occasion. It didn’t help the Blues, who took the lead through Tony Cottee, but then gave up a dreadful equaliser through a sloppy Neil McDonald back pass and then went out to yet another penalty kick, this time however it was uncontested. The modern Oldham are currently on an incredible run of success away from home – seven successive victories culminating in last weekend’s win at Leeds when they became the first visiting team to win at Elland Road this season.
But Sharp doesn’t see the class of ’08 suffering the same kind of problems his team experienced 18 years ago. “That Oldham team which Joe Royle managed was a very good side and actually came up into the top flight soon after. “They also played on the plastic pitch which everyone hated. “But the gap between the Premier League and League One today is massive and Everton must fancy their chances of getting the job done at the first time of asking. “What they don’t want to do is have a replay up at Boundary Park in January! “I played there after I left Everton and managed there, so I know just how bleak it can be. “Everton don’t want to be going up there if they can help it.” Tickets are still available for tomorrow’s third round FA Cup tie, priced at just £20 for adults and £10 for concessions. Visit the Park End box office or ring 0870 442 1878 for further selling details.

Fire delays Toffees kick-off
Jan 5 2008 By Ben Rossington
A FIRE at a chip shop delayed Everton’s FA Cup game by half-an-hour today.
Kick-off was set for 3pm in the home game against League One north west neighbours Oldham but the small blaze at the chippy on Goodison Road put it back to 3.30pm. Thousands of fans were milling around outside the ground as firefighters tackled the flames shooting from the fryers in the shop. Crowds had to be moved out of the way to allow the two fire engines to get to the chippy just before 2pm.

David Moyes‘ young gun James Vaughan staying put
Jan 5, 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES has warned potential suitors to forget any cheeky loan bids for James Vaughan during the transfer window as he feels 2008 will be the young striker’s year. The youngest goalscorer in both Everton’s and Premier League history may have been dogged by injury during the past couple of seasons, but that has not changed the fact he is held in the highest regard at Goodison Park. A dislocated shoulder during a friendly against Preston North End last July robbed Vaughan of the chance to start the campaign as Andrew Johnson’s striker partner but he has now worked his way back to full fitness. And with Ayegbeni Yakubu soon to be leaving to represent Nigeria in the African Cup of Nations, opportunity could be about to knock for Vaughan, whose five appearances as a substitute so far have yielded goals against Birmingham and AZ Alkmaar. That is why Moyes has let it be known that any approaches to take Vaughan on loan will be given short shrift as the signs in training at Finch Farm suggest the 19-year-old has the bit firmly between his teeth.
“Vaughany had a really good finish to last season and we have got big hopes for him,” said Moyes, whose side begin their FA Cup campaign against Oldham today.
“He is coming back in and he is looking much sharper. He looks ready.
“He has probably had to stand back a bit and he will have seen what Yak and AJ are doing and realise the consistency that is required and the goalscoring that is required too. “Hopefully he will be learning from them. But there is not a chance of him leaving on loan. We rate him so highly.” Moyes, however, has warned Vaughan that he will have to work for a starting place as Victor Anichebe and James McFadden, not to mention Yakubu and Johnson, have found the net regularly. “He has got competition,” the manager added. “Victor has done really well, Faddy has got important goals for us but Vaughany will get more of a chance now.
“I can see him playing a big part for us at the end of this season.” The Blues, meanwhile, are keeping an eye on Manuel Fernandes’ situation with Valencia.
The Portugal international has found chances to shine at The Mestalla limited and is likely to be allowed to leave during the transfer window. Fernandes - whose departure is likely to be accelerated after he was involved in a nightclub brawl on Thursday - could have joined Everton at the start of the season but had a last minute change of heart yet it is possible he could return to Goodison on loan.

David Moyes‘ young gun James Vaughan staying put
Jan 5 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES has warned potential suitors to forget any cheeky loan bids for James Vaughan during the transfer window as he feels 2008 will be the young striker’s year. The youngest goalscorer in both Everton’s and Premier League history may have been dogged by injury during the past couple of seasons, but that has not changed the fact he is held in the highest regard at Goodison Park. A dislocated shoulder during a friendly against Preston North End last July robbed Vaughan of the chance to start the campaign as Andrew Johnson’s striker partner but he has now worked his way back to full fitness. And with Ayegbeni Yakubu soon to be leaving to represent Nigeria in the African Cup of Nations, opportunity could be about to knock for Vaughan, whose five appearances as a substitute so far have yielded goals against Birmingham and AZ Alkmaar. That is why Moyes has let it be known that any approaches to take Vaughan on loan will be given short shrift as the signs in training at Finch Farm suggest the 19-year-old has the bit firmly between his teeth.
“Vaughany had a really good finish to last season and we have got big hopes for him,” said Moyes, whose side begin their FA Cup campaign against Oldham today.
“He is coming back in and he is looking much sharper. He looks ready.
“He has probably had to stand back a bit and he will have seen what Yak and AJ are doing and realise the consistency that is required and the goalscoring that is required too. “Hopefully he will be learning from them. But there is not a chance of him leaving on loan. We rate him so highly.” Moyes, however, has warned Vaughan that he will have to work for a starting place as Victor Anichebe and James McFadden, not to mention Yakubu and Johnson, have found the net regularly. “He has got competition,” the manager added. “Victor has done really well, Faddy has got important goals for us but Vaughany will get more of a chance now. “I can see him playing a big part for us at the end of this season.” The Blues, meanwhile, are keeping an eye on Manuel Fernandes’ situation with Valencia. The Portugal international has found chances to shine at The Mestalla limited and is likely to be allowed to leave during the transfer window. Fernandes - whose departure is likely to be accelerated after he was involved in a nightclub brawl on Thursday - could have joined Everton at the start of the season but had a last minute change of heart yet it is possible he could return to Goodison on loan.

David Moyes: I won’t risk Everton falling victim to a giant-killing
Jan 5 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
IF it’s the first weekend in January, it must be the FA Cup third round and across the country romantics will be looking for one fairytale scoreline. But while the general public takes great delight when David topples Goliath, it is likely that every Premier League manager will be shuffling uncomfortably until their side’s place in round four is secured. For that reason, David Moyes will not be taking any unnecessary risks this afternoon when Oldham Athletic come to visit. After all he knows the sinking feeling associated with a giant-killing. Five years have passed since Moyes took his embryonic Everton side to Gay Meadow for a clash with Shrewsbury Town and his starting XI that day included Lee Carsley, Alan Stubbs, Thomas Gravesen and Wayne Rooney. Few need reminding, though, that two goals from Nigel Jemson sent the Blues spiralling out of the competition and, not surprisingly, Moyes describes that 2-1 defeat as one of the worst he has suffered in his career. Times, however, have changed at Goodison Park and while there is a respect for the job John Sheridan has done for Oldham – they are a particularly useful side on their travels and won at Leeds on New Year’s Day – it would be a huge surprise if the Blues went out here. But that has not stopped Moyes from meticulously planning for the tie and while Joseph Yobo and Tim Cahill are likely to miss out, the manager will name a strong starting line-up to keep the momentum behind Everton’s campaign. “Tuesday is in my mind and it may influence some decisions. I have got one or two knocks and bruises and I will wait to see how they are,” said Moyes, who has the first leg of the Carling Cup semi-final with Chelsea to look forward to in 72 hours. “I wouldn’t risk anyone who I thought was a doubt. But in the same breath, I have got to make sure that we have got enough. Tuesday is important but Oldham, for now is the one. Your next game is always the most important and this is one that we want to win. “I need to make sure that we do a professional job and we get through into the next round. Shrewsbury was one of the lowest times I have had.You don’t want to be put in that situation again.
“You can’t pick and choose what competition you want to play in. You want to try and win them all if you can. We won’t be trying to be clever. We are going out there to do a job and give Oldham credit, they have done well away from home.
“We are going to have to guard against that. There will be some shocks in the FA Cup and we do not want to be one of them. “That’s why we will be emphasising to the players about the importance of keeping up the good form and if we do that, hopefully, we won’t be one of those shocks. “The players are getting better with the amount of games they have played and are getting confidence.” Both Gravesen and Stubbs may figure, while Leighton Baines is also in contention to start after he made his return to action as a late substitute in the New Year’s Day win at Middlesbrough.
Moyes was shorn of five first team regulars at the Riverside Stadium but that did not stop Everton bouncing back from last Saturday’s 4-1 defeat against Arsenal at the first attempt and the 2-0 scoreline filled him with confidence. He had slight reservations whether the efforts over the last two months would take their toll on Teesside but, if anything, that performance has increased the belief Moyes has in his squad to deliver big results. “I was worried that that could be one game too many,” said Moyes. “With the injuries we had picked up, I felt that if it was going to take a toll anywhere, it would be at the back end of Christmas, especially after we had played Manchester United and Arsenal. “I have got to give the players a lot of credit for digging out a really important win at Middlesbrough. But I don’t want to change the rhythm or the mood too much. “I don’t want to disrupt an awful lot but I need to make sure that I am keeping things fresh for everybody. We have got to make sure that people are ready to come in, if and when they are needed. “The first half wasn’t a very good game at Middlesbrough but we ground out a result. You look at Manchester United grInding out a win at home to Birmingham and Chelsea doing the same against Fulham to see what is required. “You have to grind out results at different times of the year and we did that, which was important. Maybe we weren’t at our best at Middlesbrough but we managed to get ourselves a really vital result.”

Barry Horne: Managers who moan should find answers!
Jan 5 2008 by Barry Horne, Liverpool Echo
THERE has been a renewed spate of managers complaining about teams turning up and employing negative tactics. It started about 18 months ago when Jose Mourinho moaned about Spurs parking the team bus in front of goal. Recently Arsene Wenger criticised Portsmouth’s approach and Rafael Benitez has complained about Manchester City. Post-match interviewers often pander to managers, almost inviting that kind of criticism. They usually simper: “Such and such a team certainly came not to lose the game today Rafa/Arsene/Avram (delete where applicable). Well hello! Isn’t that what every team tries to do, unless you are blessed with the attacking options that Manchester United and Arsenal possess? All teams set out not to be beaten. How you go about that depends on who you are playing, where you are playing and the players you have to select from. If you are Steve Bruce or Paul Jewell, you will have to set out your team differently to Wenger or Ferguson. I remember a time when managers of top teams simply accepted that tactic and dealt with it. Manchester United certainly have done over the years. And I remember my first visit to Anfield as a playerwith Portsmouth and Alan Ball sent us out with a plan to follow.
I was asked to play right-back and mark John Barnes, Billy Gilbert was detailed to look after Ian Rush and Kenny Swain was assigned to man-mark Peter Beardsley. The plan worked a treat. John Barnes was substituted after an hour and I earned a man of the match award, while Rushy and Peter Beardsley didn’t get a kick. However Ray Houghton scored, Steve Nicol got two and one of their centre-backs chipped in with a fourth. That’s what good teams do – find solutions to problems.

Progress despite our recent defeats
Jan 5 2008 by Barry Horne, Liverpool Echo
WHEN Everton drew at Arsenal last season they employed the suffocating tactics that Arsene Wenger finds so distasteful. Last week Everton took on the Gunners at their own game and left the visitors totally bothered, bewildered and seemingly beaten.
They didn’t win, though, because they made mistakes. But the fact that Everton took the game to Arsenal shows the confidence and the progress made in the last 12 months. At Manchester United it was a different story. United were relentless in pursuit of victory to the point where they left Everton with so many tired legs and minds that one player made a vital mistake. But Everton were very, very close.
We are within shouting distance of the top and our ability to cope with the African Nations Cup will dictate whether we can continue that progress .

Advice for away-day Everton fans
Jan 5 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
A HUGE number of Evertonians will make the trip down to London on Tuesday for the first leg of the Carling Cup but there is important travel news for those supporters making their way to the capital by car or coach. The Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham has limited parking facilities for travelling supporters and large areas around Stamford Bridge are resident parking controlled. If you park illegally, you run the risk of a big fine or your vehicle being towed away. In relation to coach travel, the Imperial Road coach park can only accommodate approximately 40 - 50 vehicles, dependent on size. This coach park is provided through a local authority and once full any other coaches will be turned away. All travelling supporters need also to note that the Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham is legislated as a controlled drinking zone and no alcohol is allowed in the street or open air public places. This is rigorously enforced on match-days near to the ground.

Brann Bergen boss upbeat over UEFA Cup clash
Jan 5 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
WITH a Carling Cup semi-final looming large, thoughts of the UEFA Cup clash with Brann Bergen next month have been put on the back burner for the moment.
However, it would appear the Norwegians - currently in between seasons - fancy their chances of causing an ‘upset’ when the Blues make the relatively short-hop across the North Sea for the first leg of their UEFA Cup last 32 tie. Brann’s Director of Football, Ronald Bruun-Hanssen was thrilled that his side were paired with Everton and despite the Blues boasting a 100 per cent record in qualifying - Brann scraped through with four points from four games - he thinks they can be toppled. "Everton was an okay draw for us," he said. "I think several of the other teams we could have drawn are better than Everton. We know English football very well. We will not be surprised by Everton and we know what their strengths and weaknesses are. "What’s negative for us is that Everton are in the middle of a season. They are playing matches that matter all the time. That is an advantage for Everton. A German team would have been in the middle of a winter break and perhaps would have been better. "Then we would have been in an equal position. We just have to prepare for tough and physical football. This will be a perfect match for Erik Bakke (formerly of Leeds). We have a fair chance against Everton. It’s definitely not impossible for us to defeat them."

Chelsea clash may be made for James McFadden
Jan 5 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
HE left the field to a standing ovation from the visiting section his head bowed, a tear in his eye and thoughts a million miles from the Riverside Stadium. Coming so soon after the tragic death of his friend, the Motherwell captain Phil O’Donnell, New Year’s Day had been a particularly difficult time for James McFadden but he weathered that storm to emerge with his dignity enhanced. In an age when it is all too easy to generalise Premier League footballers as clothes horses, more interested in money, cars and other such luxuries, McFadden continually shatters that stereotype.
A thoughtful, engaging individual, McFadden would no sooner pose for a celebrity magazine than he would pull on a football jersey with England’s Three Lions on its chest; all he wants to do is play football and spend time with his nearest and dearest.
It was clear to see from an early stage at Middlesbrough earlier this week that McFadden had the bit between his teeth and – in treacherous conditions – he was determined to give a display in honour of O’Donnell’s memory. Bouncing up from late tackles, always looking to play a killer pass and making a nuisance of himself to Middlesbrough defenders, McFadden was terrific and thoroughly deserved his goal, which was tucked away with aplomb. How often, though, will the Scotland international repeat the feat in Everton’s colours? Speculation north of the Border persists that Celtic are ready to test David Moyes’ resolve with a permanent bid for his services. Given that he grew up supporting The Bhoys, the lure of playing for Celtic – who have already had a loan bid rebuffed by Everton – might just prove impossible to resist, particularly if the financial package they offer turns heads at Goodison Park.
Like every other member of his profession, the one thing McFadden craves more than anything else is a regular starting place yet during four years on Merseyside that has not been forthcoming, with his critics pointing to a lack of consistency.
Of the 136 appearances he has made since his £1.25m arrival from Motherwell, only 76 have been from the start; those tallies can be whittled down further and his Premier League involvement – 52 starts, 56 as a substitute – confirm he has been on the periphery. But just consider this irony: at a moment when Celtic want to entice him away, opportunity could be about to knock just as things are starting to hot up for Everton, who are fighting hard to end their 13-year trophy drought.
The departure of Ayegbeni Yakubu and Steven Pienaar to the African Cup of Nations will rob the Blues of some flair, while injuries to Tim Cahill and Leon Osman, coupled with Mikel Arteta’s suspension means Moyes needs all hands to the pump.
Moyes has been insistent all along that McFadden remains in his plans and a new contract is sitting on the table for him to spend the best years of his career at Goodison. Until the dust settles, however, don’t rule out the prospect of McFadden becoming Everton’s unlikely hero; blessed with the skill and temperament to light up the biggest of games, the Carling Cup semi-final could be right up his street.

Soccerbase was way off the pace
Jan 5 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
SOCCERBASE is usually one of more reliable websites on the internet but a rare faux pas on their behalf left some Evertonians scratching their heads on New Year’s Eve.
For those of you who don’t know, Soccerbase is a site that contains every detail of a professional footballer’s career, as well as accurate information on every club in Britain. Last Monday, though, they mysteriously added a new name to Everton’s squad list to set the alarm bells ringing: had you taken their word for it. Gary Speed - once of this parish until an acrimonious departure - had rejoined the Blues.
Given that David Moyes is still looking to bolster his coaching staff, the notion of Speed moving to Goodison was not as far-fetched as some would perceive but, on this occasion, it was nothing more than a misplaced cursor.

Great Merseyside tradition of semi final drama
Jan 5 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
THE League Cup has come in many different guises. It’s been called the Milk Cup, the Littlewoods Cup, the Worthington Cup, the Coca-Cola Cup – and the one everyone forgets, the Rumbelows Cup. It’s currently called the Carling Cup, while it’s even been called the Mickey Mouse Cup – but only by fans of whichever Merseyside team hasn’t reached the final! But whatever it’s guise, the semi-finals of the competition have always thrown up rich drama, for all four of our local clubs. Here’s our personal top 10 . . 1 VILLA THRILLER It’s the most exciting League Cup semi-final saga Merseyside has ever staged – and it featured neither Everton nor Liverpool.
Tranmere stunned Aston Villa to win a pulsating 1994 first leg 3-1. The second leg also finished 3-1, this time to Villa, but only after Mark Bosnich had hauled down John Aldridge for a 29th minute penalty, but remarkably stayed on the pitch. That allowed him to save penalties from Ged Brannan, Liam O’Brien and Ian Nolan in a shoot-out which finished 5-4 to Villa. “In all my life I have never been involved in a cup tie as dramatic as that one,” said Ron Atkinson. 2 TERRY’S ALL GOLD Liverpool made it to Wembley for the League Cup final in 1978 but they were almost beaten to it by another local side. Chester City were a Fourth Division outfit back in 1975, but inspired by Michael Owen’s dad they drew 2-2 in a Sealand Road first leg.
“The hero was Terry Owen,” reported the Daily Post, about the man who scored Chester’s first equaliser. The second leg report started: “Chester finally ran out of miracles at Villa Park last night, but only just, for this was almost the greatest miracle of them all.” Trailing 2-0, they hit back again to level at 2-2 and silence the 47,632 crowd, before Brian Little broke their hearts ten minutes from time. 3 WALL GAME Graeme Souness was hailed a hero during Liverpool’s 1984 semi-final second leg against Walsall – but nothing to do with his performance.
A wall collapsed at Fellows Park, 17 Liverpool fans needed hospital treatment and one 59-year-old suffered a heart attack – but skipper Souness immediately moved in to lift an injured youngster from the debris. He said: “It was worrying because the people at the back couldn’t see the extent of the problem and were still pushing forward. They couldn’t have realised that the wall was down. I was concerned because the kids are usually at the front.” Liverpool won 2-0 after a shock 2-2 Anfield draw.
4 A HANDY LAD TO HAVE AROUND Kevin Richardson played three quarters of the 1984 semi-final first leg with a wrist which was fractured as well as dislocated.
“The lad’s courage was almost beyond belief,” said Howard Kendall. Richardson scored Everton’s crucial second goal – and instantly ushered his thrilled team-mates away from his injured arm – then handled a goalbound Gary Shaw shot off the line with his good hand. Paul Rideout scored the only goal of the second leg, for Aston Villa, but Everton triumphed 2-1 on aggregate. 5 SAM SUNK John Aldridge was a striker who fired Tranmere just one step short of the 1994 League Cup final.
In 2000, as manager, he steered them all the way. Clint Hill’s strike secured a shock 1-0 win at Bolton, then in the second leg Tranmere demolished Sam Allardyce’s side with a breathtaking display. Nick Henry and Alan Mahon scored early on and David Kelly made it 3-0 in the second half. 6 SPARKS FLY Everton took the unusual step of sacking boss Billy Bingham a week before their 1977 semi-final first leg.
The managerless Blues drew 1-1 at Goodison with Bolton scoring a late equaliser. Gordon Lee was in charge for the Burnden Park second leg and saw Bob Latchford score a towering winner, Duncan McKenzie miss a penalty - and the floodlight pylon fuse at the Everton end of the ground showering drenched supporters in sparks!
7 STING RAYS Ray Kennedy was a former Highbury hero, until he scored a match winning goal against his old club nine minutes from the end of the 1978 semi-final first leg. That gave Liverpool a 2-1 advantage to take to North London, and they defended that lead superbly. “We keep Ray Clemence for these special occasions,” said Bob Paisley, and in a clear dig at Brian Clough and Peter Shilton, added: “When other people are shouting that they’ve got the best goalkeeper, we trot him out.”
8 BOBBY DAZZLED After a 2-0 win at Ipswich in the first leg of the 1982 semi-final, Town boss Bobby Robson said: “Liverpool are a superb side. I think I shall have to buy a ticket if I want to see the final!” Maybe it was kidology. After Liverpool romped to a 2-0 lead in the second leg, Eric Gates and Alan Brazil levelled the scores on the night, but the Reds never looked like conceding two more and reached their 12th Wembley appearance in 11 years. 9 WAR BABY Neil Warnock started to get excited when his Blades won 2-1 at Bramall Lane in the 2003 semi-final first leg.
In the event Neil Mellor’s strike proved crucial. El Hadji Diouf equalised the scores on aggregate, and Michael Owen scored the winner. 10 PALACE STORMED Liverpool lost 2-1 at Palace in January 2001, leaving the Daily Post to reflect: “Liverpool will have to put in some target practice in the next fortnight if Gerard Houllier is to lift his first trophy.” They clearly did. Vladimir Smicer, Danny Murphy and Igor Biscan overturned the deficit. Danny Murphy and Robbie Fowler added further goals.

5th January 2008
Daily Star
Oldham produced a stunning giant-killing act to down Premier League side Everton 1-0 at Goodison and achieve arguably their finest result since they were in the top flight 14 years ago. Oldham, who beat Everton in a remarkable three-game tie back in 1990 when only Manchester United stopped them getting to Wembley in the semi-finals, have been in the doldrums since those great days under Joe Royle.
Now in League One, they stunned Everton, with Scottish midfielder Gary McDonald cracking an impressive 20-yard winner in the first half. From then on John Sheridan's side battled for every inch of Goodison Park and fully deserved this victory.
A chip-shop fire opposite the main stand delayed the start for 30 minutes, but once the game got going, Everton made the livelier start. They should have been ahead inside a minute when James Vaughan was clear in the box, only for veteran goalkeeper Mark Crossley to save at his feet. Alan Stubbs nodded an inviting ball across the six-yard box soon after, with Andrew Johnson not quick enough to take advantage of the glorious chance. Then Vaughan's control created the space for James McFadden to drive just wide from 10 yards out. But Oldham survived that early burst and started to get forward themselves, with Hughes and Craig Davies prominent.
When Everton did start putting their game together, it took a goal-line clearance from Kelvin Lomax to keep out a James McFadden drive on 41 minutes. But in first-half injury time McDonald struck an excellent goal to give Oldham the lead, sending their 6,000 travelling support wild. In the early stages of the second period Oldham continued to hold Everton at bay, a long-range free-kick from Lee Carsley that flashed over was all the hosts could muster. In the end Moyes had to throw on the heavy mob, Yakubu and Victor Anichebe replacing Vaughan and Thomas Gravesen on 64 minutes to beef up Everton's front line. Oldham had defended manfully to this point, but they knew that it was going to be a barrage from here on as Everton fought to get back into the tie. However, battling displays from Reuben Hazell, Stefan Stam and Jean Paul Kalala kept Oldham ahead - although Yakubu hit the post in injury time.

6th January 2008
Sunday Star
Oldham boss John Sheridan hailed his FA Cup heroes as Everton chief David Moyes defended his team selection after the Toffees were dumped out of the third round.
Gary McDonald's first-half strike gave League One side Oldham a famous giant killing, but Moyes had rested several big hitters ahead of Tuesday's Carling Cup semi-final first leg at Chelsea. Moyes said: "We have a very good squad, we picked a side who have all played at the top level, they have all played in Europe this season, it was very much the midfield that played and won away to Alkmaar in the UEFA Cup."
He added: "It wasn't a vastly weakened team at all, in fact I felt it was a strong team. I would have expected that the team I put out would have been good enough to win.
"They are all disappointed, we all are. These things happen, unfortunately it has happened to us a few times. Sheridan admitted this was "the best result I have had as a manager" and added: "To come to a Premier League ground against a team who are really flying at the moment was a great performance. "I told the players to really enjoy the occasion, because things like this might not happen to them again. I was so pleased and proud of them. "I believed we could get something from the game, we have won seven on the trot away now, so we are doing something right.
"I can't praise them enough. The togetherness was outstanding, kids and experienced players." Sheridan did not believe Everton put out a weakened side, adding: "I have watched Europe a few times, I have seen them in Europe, and I knew it was going to be a massive test for us whoever they put out."

Everton 0, Oldham Athletic 1
Jan 7 2008
By Dominic King at Goodison Parl, Liverpool Echo
TYPICAL. On the day when one of the best chip shops in Liverpool 4 goes up in smoke, how infuriating that Everton’s FA Cup dreams should follow suit. When it comes to third round weekend, you can guarantee that one club, somewhere, will find their kick-off delayed or postponed by fog, flu, floodlight failures or frozen pitches. To that list of idiosyncrasies, now add a combustible chip pan. Fortunately, the blaze which set alarm bells ringing across the road from Goodison Park was nothing too serious and only resulted in the start of Everton’s tussle with Oldham Athletic being put back 30 minutes. What followed in the subsequent hour-and-a-half, though, was no laughing matter. Some giant-killings can be explained by rank bad luck, a referee’s mistake or minnows playing above themselves but, on this occasion, the Blues were victims of their own ineptitude. Goodison and Boundary Park may be little more than 40 miles apart but these two clubs operate in different orbits. Using horse racing parlance, Everton should have moved through to the next phase “on the bridle”. For all their youthful enthusiasm and energy, Oldham – who currently occupy 13th position in League One – do not have a player who could perform at the highest level of English football. But had you walked into Goodison ‘cold’ on Saturday, unaware of the respective sides’ backgrounds and resources, you would have been forgiven for thinking that many of those wearing blue would struggle to nail down a place in the team in orange. Having shuffled his pack considerably, David Moyes bore the brunt of enraged fans’ frustration on the post match ‘moan-ins’ but to blame the manager for this debacle is to miss the point entirely. The 11 men he chose to start this contest had more than enough talent to negotiate a safe passage to the fourth round draw yet, for some exasperating reason, they miserably failed to show their true form and repay the faith Moyes had bestowed in them. All very puzzling, as the mantra from those who have been on the periphery during a run of form which has accelerated Everton’s progress at home and abroad has been that they would be ready to deliver when the chance to shine arose. If this, then, was them impressing Moyes, one shudders to think how they would have performed if, for some reason, they wanted to irk him. “There were a few changes and the lads who came in want to be playing regularly,” noted skipper for the day Alan Stubbs. “You come in to do the job the manager expects and if you don’t, there can’t be any complaints if you are dropped.” Quite right. With places in the side for tomorrow night’s Carling Cup semi-final up for grabs, you would have expected those on duty to be running through brick walls to prove they warrant a place at Stamford Bridge. No wonder Moyes was so flabbergasted. “It was not what we expected,” he glowered. “I was disappointed because I did not think we played well. I will give Oldham a lot of credit for the way they defended but they did not cause us any problems at the other end of the field.” That is true to some extent; while Stubbs and Phil Jagielka were made to work by Lee Hughes and Craig Davies, they never appeared stretched to the point of breaking but the feeling gnawed away from early on that Oldham would get a chance. Perhaps the anxiety was exacerbated by an erratic performance from Stefan Wessels. He flapped at one cross early on, put Tony Hibbert under unnecessary pressure with a hurried clearance not long after and generally looked ill at ease. So it came as no surprise when, in first half added time, he was caught out by a sweet strike from Gary McDonald, the midfielder’s dipping effort punishing the keeper’s poor positioning. Still, it was not as if that blow was administered so late that Everton did not have enough time to stage a comeback. On the contrary, they had the entire second half but, for all their possession, never threatened to do so. Thomas Gravesen failed to create a single chance – the quickest he moved all afternoon was when he was substituted – while Andrew Johnson, James Vaughan and the Dane’s replacement, Victor Anichebe, could have played until today without scoring. Of the forward players, only James McFadden emerged with any credit. He saw a goal-bound effort scrambled off the line just before McDonald’s howitzer and kept chivvying away to create something but it was to no avail. Maybe if Vaughan had not wasted a fine chance in the first 45 seconds, things would have been different but – even still – it is hardly a ringing endorsement that Everton’s only other chance came when substitute Ayegbeni Yakubu struck a post in the 95th minute. “That was important – it was a big moment,” Moyes agreed. “You have to be clinical. We had centre forwards who got chances and they missed. In recent weeks we have had centre forwards who have had chances and scored. We lacked craft and quality.” When you take into account Everton’s recent displays, and consider the praise which has been lavished upon them, some of the criticism levelled above may seem over the top but, if you are of that opinion, allow your eyes to wander back to the scoreline. Falling again at the first hurdle in the world’s most famous knockout competition is bad enough but to be toppled at home by opponents ranked 51 places below is a bigger ignominy than defeat at Shrewsbury was in 2003. Perhaps the gravity of Saturday’s humiliation will only sink in when there is no fixture to be played in the final weekend of this month yet consider this thought. Everton’s campaign is very much alive and tomorrow they have a chance to take a giant step towards a first Wembley appearance in 13 years. If that happens, the anger and hurt supporters feel will be extinguished as quickly as that chip shop blaze.

Everton 0, Oldham Athletic 1
Jan 7, 2008
By Nick Smith at Goodison Park, Liverpool Daily Post
IT’S all about how you deal with these days like these” was Bill Kenwright’s glum assessment of Everton’s first cup exit of the campaign. And he should know. After all, shocks are nothing new at Goodison in recent years and in terms of getting over them, the chairman is in danger of seeing that activity overtake theatre as his main area of expertise. But as Oldham Athletic joined Port Vale, Bradford, Oxford, Tranmere and Shrewsbury in the hall of shaming with their 1-0 victory on Saturday it soon became clear that this one might be easier to deal with than the others. Because at least this time there is no sign of the ‘season over in January’ syndrome. Instead there is something to make the pain and embarrassment disappear quickly and that particular medicine comes in the form of tomorrow’s League Cup semi-final first leg at Stamford Bridge. And it’s now all about how Everton respond to the adversity, as they have done so well following the two defeats they suffered in the 17 games prior to Saturday’s tie. Cast your mind back to a year ago and the most recent cup humiliation of them all, Blackburn’s 4-1 third round victory at Goodison. All Everton had to look forward to then in the ensuing week was a brief, flag-waving visit from Sylvester Stallone. This time the only box office attraction anyone is interested is the Wembley one and, no offence to Sly, it’s clear which one Evertonians would choose to help them get over an FA Cup debacle. So the concerns of Saturday’s defeat can quickly be erased – but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t a few for David Moyes to ponder. The Everton manager was already thinking about Tuesday before this game and will be ultra-focused on Chelsea now. But he still wanted a professional job and would have liked to have seen a ruthless dispatching of a club in the bottom half of Coca-Cola League One. And in his mind he picked a team that reflected the quality and depth of his squad – they should have had enough to win and the only reason Moyes was harshly taken to task on his selection was because they didn’t. The manager altered less than half his outfield line-up from the New Year’s Day victory over Middlesbrough and the likes of Alan Stubbs, Leighton Baines, Thomas Gravesen, James McFadden and James Vaughan are hardly novices ripe for a cup shock. Which is why Moyes won’t be too impressed at some of the performances he saw as his side struggled badly to level Gary McDonald’s superb chip at the end of first-half injury time. Vaughan was clean though in the first minute but denied by Mark Crossley, still playing with the enthusiasm and energy of the 21-year-old who saved Gary Lineker’s penalty in the 1991 final. But it took another 93 minutes for Everton go as close again. Vaughan seemed to lose his confidence and composure after that miss and it was his second-half replace-ment Yakubu who came within a post’s width of sealing a replay. In between, Everton forced the issue but not clear-cut chances apart from James McFadden’s dribble and shot that ended with Kelvin Lomax scrambling the ball away on the line. Balls fizzed across and bobbled around the penalty area but Oldham, led by the excellent former Tranmere player Reuben Hazell, defended heroically. Such an abject failure to break through reflects badly on all the home side’s players but Gravesen might feel it more than most. His second spell on Merseyside just hasn’t got going and, given a rare start, this was the ideal chance for the Dane to take a game by the scruff of the neck and convince that his loan form Celtic should be made permanent. But he failed to do it, looking worryingly off the pace and unable to dictate possession, he made way with Vaughan in the 63rd minute as Moyes ditched his initial tactics to go for broke with Victor Anichebe and Yakubu charging into the forward line. Stefan Wessels hardly pressed his claims either with a strangely shaky performance. Out of position for the goal, hesitant on crosses and indecisive in some of his kicking, the German looked far more relaxed on his Premier League debut at home to Manchester United. Fine facing Ronaldo and Tevez, but Mark Allott and Dean Smalley? Reduced to a nervous wreck. As a result, Tim Howard will have had far fewer uncomfortable moments in his seat than anyone else in the Goodison stands after witnessing that. But aside from individual failures, Everton just had trouble lifting themselves in general. And that would be one way of explaining why, amidst all the Carling Cup exploits and the ease with which they have taken to the UEFA Cup, it’s League One opposition that has provided the biggest barrier this season. Apart form the first leg against Metalist Kharkiv, Moyes’s men had won every cup game they had played this season inside 90 minutes, except the League Cup fourth round game at Luton, which they needed extra time to progress from. Difficult to explain on paper, but events on the pitch suggest otherwise. Simply, this was Oldham’s biggest game of this campaign and they played like it – for Everton it’s not even close. How else does the FA Cup throw up inexplicable events like Saturday’s? John Sheridan had almost half a team missing from the one that took Leeds apart at Elland Road on New Year’s Day and they had to endure pre-match nerves for an extra half-hour as a chip shop fire on Goodison Road delayed kick-off. But they were up for it, battling for every scrap as if their lives – not just a £75 win bonus – depended on it. All of which was reflected in the performance of the forwards. Lee Hughes worked like a man grateful to get a second chance in life after a stint in prison, while his partner Craig Davies was the game’s outstanding performer, refusing to give Stubbs and Phil Jagielka a pause for breath. They played some decent football too, with McDonald’s speculative strike rounding off a neat pattern of passing very much in the mould of their manager in his Sheffield Wednesday heyday. But although they had won their previous six away games, they nor their brilliant 7,000 travelling fans could have imagined that they would do what their Premier League predecessors of the early 1990s failed to and leave Goodison Park as victors. Everton probably couldn’t have either but at least Moyes will now ensure that being taken unawares is not even a remote possibility tomorrow night. After all, Chelsea will be very different. But Everton simply have to be and, in the context of this season, you would be surprised if they were anything but. EVERTON: Wessels; Hibbert, Jagielka, Stubbs, Baines (Lescott 74); McFadden, Carsley, Gravesen (Anichebe 63), Pienaar; Johnson, Vaughan (Yakubu 63). Subs: Ruddy, De Silva. OLDHAM: Crossley; Lomax (Thompson 85), Stam, Hazell, Eardley; Smalley, Kalala, McDonald, Allott; Hughes, Davies. Subs: Pogliacomi, Wolfenden, Alessandra, Black. REFEREE: Uriah Rennie (South Yorkshire). ATT: 33,086. NEXT GAME: Chelsea v Everton, Carling Cup semi- final first leg, tomorrow 7.45pm.

Stephen Hunt linked with move to Everton
Jan 7, 2008, Liverpool Daily Post
STEPHEN Hunt has left the door open for a move from Reading by insisting his future at the Madejski Stadium is in the hands of the club. The 26 years-old Republic of Ireland winger, linked with Everton, admits there is uncertainty whether he will be a Royals player at the end of the January transfer window.

We’ll make up for FA Cup calamity, vows Alan Stubbs
Jan 7, 2008
By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
ALAN STUBBS came out fighting today and vowed Everton’s players will do everything they can to atone for their FA Cup embarrassment when they face Chelsea tomorrow. Having recovered from a calf problem, the veteran defender made his first start since November 3 on Saturday but was left shell-shocked as League One minnows Oldham sprang the surprise of the third round at Goodison Park with a 1-0 win. It is not the first time Everton have been the victims of a giant-killing during David Moyes’ reign and Stubbs was in the starting line-up when the Blues were toppled 2-1 by Shrewsbury Town five years ago. But he considers this latest result to be the lowest moment he has experienced during his time at Goodison Park and was left questioning whether some of his colleagues had started to get carried away with their own publicity. Stubbs knows any repeats at Stamford Bridge will effectively end Everton’s Carling Cup dreams but he believes the hurt the squad are feeling can be turned in their favour. “Any defeat in the FA Cup is a big disappointment but for this to happen at home, in front of our fans, makes it worse (than Shrewsbury) for me,” said Stubbs. “I’m hoping that if we can take anything out of this game, it will give us all a kick up the backside. Maybe it’s what a few (of the squad) needed to bring them down to earth again. “We have been on such a great high recently that, up until this game, no matter what we did, things went right for us. I’m hoping this is a kick up the backside to get us going again. There can’t be a hangover. “This is the biggest couple of weeks this club has faced for a long time. I could easily say the Oldham game has gone and everything will be fine. But it is up to us to make sure that happens. “We have got a massive game on Tuesday which is a great pick-me-up for this result. I’m sure there will be changes and I don’t think there can be any complaints.” Other than a shot from James Vaughan and another from Ayegbeni Yakubu which hit a post, Everton failed to put Oldham under any sustained pressure and Stubbs had no complaints about the final scoreline. “The goal that we let in was really poor and it was a bad time to concede,” he said. “I didn’t ever feel that they would break us down, the only way I thought they would score was if they got us panicking. That’s what happened. There are no excuses “We let them drag us into a cup tie. We didn’t put our foot on the ball and we didn’t show the class we should have done. When you don’t do that and you let teams hurry you into making bad passes and poor decisions, then you are going to have problems. “But I’m not going to say we are out because of what we never did. They forced us into making those decisions and all credit to them. We have got to get our act together for Chelsea now.”

Everton set to lose Steven Pienaar battle
Jan 7 2008 Martyn Ziegler
EVERTON will almost certainly be forced to release Steven Pienaar for African Nations Cup duty after trying to retain the South African for tomorrow night’s Carling Cup semi-final clash with Chelsea. The Toffees had hoped that FIFA’s 14-day ruling would allow them to play Pienaar, with South Africa’s first game not being played until January 23, but a spokesman for the sport’s world governing body insists the rule relates to the start date of the tournament, which is January 20. It was expected Pienaar would join up with South Africa’s squad after Saturday’s FA Cup home defeat by Oldham. But today, despite claims earlier to the contrary, Pienaar was still at Everton’s Finch Farm training ground and boss David Moyes intended to play him in tomorrow’s Carling Cup semi-final first leg at Chelsea. Manager David Moyes said: "We have looked carefully at the rule and it is not clear whether the 14 days applies to the first match for South Africa or the opening date of the competition.
"We believe that 14 days should apply to South Africa’s first match. I have spoken to the South Africa manager Carlos Alberto Parreira and they are clearly not pleased.
"But we have invoked the 14-day rule and intend to use Pienaar against Chelsea. That to my mind means that he can then join up with South Africa within the 14 days."
Everton’s stance is likely to cause major conflict with South Africa, but Moyes added: "We pay the players’ wages and believe we are within our rights to keep him here to play against Chelsea in the first leg." Responding to Everton’s actions, a FIFA spokesman said: "It is very clear that the regulations refer to the opening match of the tournament. "Clubs must release players 14 days before the opening of the competition, not the first match of the team concerned." Everton have already been given permission by Nigeria to keep Ayegbeni Yakubu and Joseph Yobo in England to play against Chelsea, but initially South Africa refused that request, hence the club’s tough stance today.

Trip to Wembley would wipe this from memory
Jan 7 2008by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON stepped out against Oldham on Saturday with yet another plaudit ringing in their ears. “This is the first Everton team in history to start a new year still in three cup competitions,” shrieked a local radio station. They left the pitch with boos echoing in their ear drums, as arguably the most prestigious of those trophies bit the dust. This current Everton squad is comfortably the best Blues fans have enjoyed for more than a decade – but they’re not yet as good as they think they are. And the reality check came crashing down in the shape of a heroic League One Oldham side.
Everyone knows where it all went wrong. Squad rotation is the bane of the modern football fan. Only a handful of managers possess the resources to chop and change their starting line-ups efficiently, but that doesn’t stop others from trying it.
David Moyes had a go on Saturday with tomorrow night’s Carling Cup semi-final looming on the horizon. He got it wrong. The Blues boss was absolutely right when he pointed out that almost the same team went to Alkmaar recently and became the first in Europe to win there in 32 attempts. But there were crucial differences.
That was a dead rubber with no pressure attached – and, most pointedly, Everton went ahead after 90 seconds. They had an opportunity to turn this into a completely different cup tie, too, in half that time. But James Vaughan couldn’t convert Steven Pienaar’s defence wrecking pass from just eight yards and Oldham’s confidence received an early fillip. A lack of quality was the crucial difference from then on. There was no Arteta to chisel out an opening from nothing, no Tim Cahill to arrive late and unexpected in the penalty box, no Yakubu until the final half-hour – and crucially no Tim Howard to make difficult saves look easy. Stefan Wessels could and should have done much better with Gary McDonald’s dipping 45th minute matchwinner. Echoing Chris Waddle’s long range lob when Joe Royle’s FA Cup holders were turfed out by Bradford, it was a shot straight at a goalkeeper who couldn’t seem to get his feet high enough up off the floor. And it was symptomatic of his strangely shaky performance all afternoon. That wasn’t the only area where Everton suffered. Thomas Gravesen was a passenger until he was put out of his misery after 63 minutes. The absurdly affectionate rapport the Danish midfielder still enjoys with the Goodison crowd is surely based on memories rather than anything he is producing now. Gravesen’s legs simply won’t carry him around the pitch any more and Everton were effectively a man down in midfield against a game, relentlessly hard-working League One outfit. They also lacked the wit to ferry the ball into the more dangerous wide areas where Oldham were weak until the closing 20 minutes.
Then a succession of crosses threatened to snatch a draw Everton didn’t really deserve. The closest they came was substitute Yakubu’s close range shot which beat the underworked Mark Crossley but bounced off the base of the post.
So Oldham joined the long and lachrymose list of Port Vale, York, Bradford, Bristol Rovers, Oxford and Shrewsbury. David Moyes was only around for the last of that list – and he knows he has the welcome opportunity to brush it quickly into the background when the Blues travel to London on Tuesday. When fans talk fondly of the halcyon 1984/85 season, no-one mentions Grimsby Town. They were the side from two divisions down who scored a shock 1-0 win at Goodison Park in the League Cup. When it’s talked about now, it’s with a shrug and wistful smile. A third round FA Cup exit is never treated with quite as much levity, but Everton can still salve the wound quickly. The Blues’ season is fast approaching a pivotal, finely balanced period. A Wembley appearance and progress in Europe would mean Oldham Athletic is not the reason 2008 is remembered by Blues fans. Failure on both counts, however, would see Saturday’s sloppy exit take on bigger significance.

David Moyes: We paid price for lack of quality
Jan 7 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES’ fringe players may have to wait for their next first-team opportunity, after several failed to impress in Saturday’s shock FA Cup defeat by Oldham. The Blues boss pointed out that he sent out almost the same side which won in Alkmaar recently, but “a few didn’t come up to the mark”. Phil Neville and Tim Howard were rested, Yakubu and Joleon Lescott left on the substitutes’ bench, while Tim Cahill, Joseph Yobo, Leon Osman and Mikel Arteta were all either injured or suspended. But the Blues boss said: “We’ve got a big squad, haven’t we? They’ve all played in the UEFA Cup games and near the same sort of midfield played in Alkmaar.
“James Vaughan came in instead of Victor Anichebe so I don’t think it was a vastly different team at all. In fact I think it was a strong team. “But a few didn’t come up to the mark. It’s always difficult. You don’t expect to win cup ties easily. But you always expect to come through in the end and get a result. “You have to be clinical. We had centre-forwards today who got chances and they missed. In recent weeks we have had centre forwards who have had chances and scored. “I think we lacked craft and quality today. We played a game which might have suited Oldham – too many flick-ons and run-ons. “You couldn’t really say that Oldham had the kind of play which worried us in any way at all. They had one speculative shot from 25 yards which should have been saved and we’re then chasing the game. “I don’t think the performance was good enough, but we still could have scored four or five goals. “But when your centre-forwards get the chance they have to score no matter who you’re playing.”
Moyes admitted that his players must quickly bounce back with tomorrow night’s Carling Cup semi-final first leg looming at Chelsea. “When you’ve got a semi-final on the Tuesday there’s always the possibility some players might have had half an eye on that but we can’t use that as any form of excuse.”

7th January 2008
Daily Star
Everton have lost their battle to be allowed to play Steven Pienaar in Tuesday's Carling Cup semi-final first leg at Chelsea. Earlier on Monday Toffees boss David Moyes had invoked the 14 day rule and insisted the South African international would not have to travel to join up with his country's African Cup of Nations squad until Wednesday. An Everton spokesman said: "Steven will be going to London (on Monday), but not to Stamford Bridge. He will be flying out from Heathrow. We have been contacted by FIFA and told he has to be released by us ahead of the Chelsea match." Moyes' view was that FIFA regulations did not make it clear whether players should be released 14 days ahead of the start of the competition, or 14 days ahead of a specific country's first match. The tournament starts in Ghana on January 20, but South Africa's first match is not until January 23 against Angola. Pienaar was expected to fly to Pretoria on Sunday, but trained with Everton at their Finch Farm complex on Monday. But by mid-afternoon, South Africa had formally asked FIFA to intervene, and Everton were contacted by the world's governing body and told their interpretation of the rule was wrong and that Pienaar should be released immediately.
Earlier in the day, Everton chief executive Keith Wyness released a statement which read: "The basis of club and country co-operation is crucial for all parties and that does involve give and take. "Everyone here at Everton is looking forward to a proactive relationship with the South African FA grounded on a mutual respect for each other's aims and objectives. "One of those aims for Everton is fielding the strongest possible team in a domestic cup semi-final and that includes having Steven available for selection under what we feel are the rules, as stipulated by FIFA.

"I would like to take this opportunity to wish Steven and the rest of the South African team all the very best for the tournament."

7th January 2008
Daily Star
Everton will almost certainly be forced to release Steven Pienaar for African Nations Cup duty after trying to retain the South African for Tuesday night's Carling Cup semi-final clash with Chelsea. The Toffees had hoped that FIFA's 14-day ruling would allow them to play Pienaar, with South Africa's first game not being played until January 23, but a spokesman for the sport's world governing body insists the rule relates to the start date of the tournament, which is January 20. Responding to Everton's actions, a FIFA spokesman said: "It is very clear that the regulations refer to the opening match of the tournament. Clubs must release players 14 days before the opening of the competition, not the first match of the team concerned." It was expected Pienaar would join up with South Africa's squad after Saturday's FA Cup home defeat by Oldham, but on Monday, despite claims earlier to the contrary, Pienaar was still at Everton's Finch Farm training ground and boss David Moyes intended to play him in Tuesday's Carling Cup semi-final first leg at Chelsea.
Manager David Moyes had said: "We have looked carefully at the rule and it is not clear whether the 14 days applies to the first match for South Africa or the opening date of the competition. "We believe that 14 days should apply to South Africa's first match. I have spoken to the South Africa manager [Carlos Alberto Parreira] and they are clearly not pleased. "But we have invoked the 14-day rule and intend to use Pienaar against Chelsea. That to my mind means that he can then join up with South Africa within the 14 days." Everton's stance is likely to cause major conflict with South Africa, but Moyes added: "We pay the players' wages and believe we are within our rights to keep him here to play against Chelsea in the first leg." Everton have already been given permission by Nigeria to keep Ayegbeni Yakubu and Joseph Yobo in England to play against Chelsea, but initially South Africa refused that request, hence the club's tough stance.

Calamity robs Everton under-18s of victory
Jan 8, 2008
Academy Football
By Chris Wright, Liverpool Daily Post
AN UNFORTUNATE own goal from Moses Barnett cost Everton under-18s the chance to start 2008 with a win as they drew 1-1 at West Bromwich Albion on Saturday. On their return to Premier Academy League action following the Christmas break, Neil Dewsnip’s side went ahead through Kieran Agard, but midway through the second period Barnett put the ball into his own net. Everton led after 15 minutes when Agard collected Jose Baxter’s lay-off just inside the box and fired in a low drive. Everton thought they had doubled their advantage but Lewis Codling’s effort was ruled out for offside. Everton were left to rue their missed chances when Barnett’s backpass when straight past Everton keeper Lars Stubhaug for an unlikely equaliser on 65 minutes. Everton had an Agard effort cleared off the line and sub Luke Powell fired wide when clean through. Coach Dewsnip said: “It was the first game and we were probably not up to the match tempo. We need to regain that rhythm we had before Christmas. “It looked like it would be one of those games were we don’t play well, but are glad to come out with a 1-0 win. But unbelievably under no pressure , Moses Barnett poked it into his own goal. It was unecessary and it was a shame.” Everton are expected to play their first Academy League match at their new Finch Farm training base on Friday with a Merseyside derby against Liverpool (kick-off 3pm). Dewsnip said: “It would be terrific to win to get us going again.” James McCarten took a knock on his ankle on Saturday and is a doubt for Friday’s match. Any supporters who want to go to Friday’s match should check evertonfc.com for details. EVERTON UNDER-18s: Stubhaug; Stewart, Sinnott, McCarten (McCardle 85), Barnett; McCready, Redmond, Baxter (Akpan 70), O’Kane; Agard (Powell 70), Codling. Subs: McEntagart.

South Africa force Steven Pienaar to miss Carling Cup tie
Jan 8, 2008
By Ian Doyle, Liverpool Daily post
EVERTON will be without Steven Pienaar for tonight’s Carling Cup semi-final after FIFA forced the release of the midfielder for African Cup of Nations duty. Pienaar had been expected to join up with South Africa’s squad after Saturday’s FA Cup home defeat by Oldham Athletic. Instead, the on-loan 25-year-old yesterday travelled to London with David Moyes intent on selecting the player for Everton’s first leg tie at Chelsea this evening. But while the team travel to Stamford Bridge tonight, Pienaar will instead head for Heathrow and a flight bound for South Africa to join up with his national team’s training camp in Pretoria. An Everton spokesman said: “Steven will be going to London today, but not to Stamford Bridge. He will be flying out from Heathrow. “We have been contacted by FIFA and told he has to be released by us ahead of the Chelsea match.” Earlier in the day, Moyes believed he was invoking FIFA’s 14-day ruling for the release of players for international duty. The tournament begins on January 20 but as South Africa do not play their first game against Angola until January 23, the Goodison outfit believed they were entitled to extra time with the player. However, FIFA yesterday insisted the regulations state clubs are compelled to release players 14 days before the start of the tournament. A spokesperson for FIFA said yesterday: “It is very clear that the regulations refer to the opening match of the tournament. “Clubs must release players 14 days before the opening of the competition, not the first match of the team concerned.” Morio Sanyane, director of communications for the South African Football Association, said: “It’s unfortunate that this situation has happened. In the end it is the player who is caught up in the middle. “I’m sure Steven Pienaar would like to play in an important game against Chelsea, but South Africa have a very important tournament to prepare for. “It’s a very frustrating period for our coach Carlos Alberto Parreira. Steven is the only player who has not arrived yet. “It was a difficult decision to make, but at the end of the day, your country must come first.” Moyes had said: “I’ve known about it for a week or two and it was always my plan to invoke 14-day rule if I wasn’t going to get co-operation. “We believe that 14 days should apply to South Africa’s first match. I have spoken to the South Africa manager Carlos Alberto Parreira and they are clearly not pleased. “We pay the players’ wages and believe we are within our rights to keep him here to play against Chelsea in the first leg.” Moyes conceded his demands could cause friction with South Africa, and added: “They would have been starting training today probably – two sessions – but for me Steven Pienaar is important and I need to fight for Everton and I’m going to do everything I can to have my best players available. “It’s not Steven Pienaar’s decision, it’s David Moyes’ decision – just in case anything goes towards him, it’s not him.” Everton secretary David Harrison said: “We are extremely disappointed that a common sense attitude has not been shown, as has been the case with a number of other federations. “Despite FIFA’s attempts to clarify the regulation, we do feel – as do a number of other European clubs – that there is a distinct grey area on this ruling and we are extremely disappointed that this has only been made clear at this late stage.” Everton have already received special dispensation from Nigeria for Joseph Yobo and Yakubu to appear this evening before jetting off for their country’s pre-tournament training camp in La Manga. Yobo is hopeful of shrugging off the knee problem that has kept him out of the last two games, while Tim Howard and Tim Cahill are also expected to return from injury. However, Mikel Arteta serves the final game of his suspension this evening while Leon Osman (toe), Andy van der Meyde (shin) and Iain Turner (hip) are all out.

David Moyes: Nation wants us to beat Chelsea
Jan 8, 2008
By Ian Doyle, Liverpool Daily post
DAVID MOYES believes the majority of the country will be behind Everton this evening as they aim to take a significant step towards a first final in 13 years. The Goodison Park outfit are at Stamford Bridge for the first leg of their Carling Cup semi-final against holders Chelsea. It’s the first time Everton have reached this stage of the tournament in 20 years, with their last-four appearance in any knockout competition coming during their glorious FA Cup campaign in 1995. Middlesbrough’s League Cup victory over Bolton Wanderers in 2004 is the only time one of the so-called big four has failed to lift a major domestic honour in the last six years. And Moyes reckons most neutrals want to see that stranglehold loosened this season. “I think so, I hope so,” said the Goodison manager. “I think a lot of people like to see other sides break into it and Tottenham have a chance against Arsenal as well. “I think it’s been a while since Bolton and Middlesbrough got there and for a lot of people it would be good to see it altered. “But it’s very hard to break in as the top sides need to look to win a trophy this season. “The draw is as tough as we could have got. Chelsea are always well focused on getting through and entering to win this competition.” Everton go into the game having suffered their first cup defeat of the season on Saturday, when Coca-Cola League One team Oldham Athletic secured a shock 1-0 win at Goodison in their FA Cup third round tie. Moyes is confident his players can bounce back from that surprise exit, while admitting the time has come for his team to begin turning progress into silverware. “I’ve always valued the league, it’s really important, but we are looking to compete a bit more in the cup competitions,” he said. “That sounds a bit silly after Saturday but it’s a fact. I think the supporters would really enjoy a trophy but I can’t have that loose a tongue and speak like winning a cup final. I can’t do that at the moment, not with the level of competition which is ahead of us. “But we need to now be challenging for trophies. This is a major test for us and we’ll have to see where we are. “We’ve been on top of it because we’ve played well for most of the season. We had a day on Saturday where it just wasn’t our day. We have to move on and put it aside as we’ve got other things to concentrate on.” Everton have won 11 games away from home this season, and also grabbed a fine 1-1 Premier League draw at Stamford Bridge in November thanks to Tim Cahill’s acrobatic last-minute overhead kick. And Moyes said: “We’ve done well away from home in cup competitions this season so this will be the biggest test of that. “We hope we can upset them. When we played at Stamford Bridge a few weeks ago they got too much, we got a good result from it but I would hope we can do better than we did in that game.” Meanwhile, young Everton striker Scott Spencer has joined Coca-Cola League One side Yeovil Town on loan until February 4. Everton have confirmed the dates for their UEFA Cup tie against Brann Bergen of Norway. The first leg will take place on Wednesday, February 13 at the Brann Stadion (kick-off 7pm UK time) while the return match at Goodison is on Thursday, February 21.

David Moyes: ‘Let's seize the moment’
Jan 8 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES today urged his squad to seize the moment and obtain the result that will put them within touching distance of Wembley. Though Everton were humbled in the FA Cup by League One side Oldham last weekend, Moyes has been in a bullish mood ahead of this evening’s Carling Cup semi-final first leg with Chelsea.
While he will be without Steven Pienaar at Stamford Bridge, after losing his battle with FIFA to delay the South African’s departure to the African Cup of Nations, the manager believes his starting line-up has the ability to cause Chelsea problems.
Tim Cahill, Phil Neville and Tim Howard are all expected to return, as is Joseph Yobo, and Moyes hopes their presence will provide a lift as Everton seek to crown the progress they have made this season with a first major final appearance in 13 years.
“We have played really well recently and, bar Saturday, we’ve been on a great run,” said Moyes. “There is a lot of excitement around the club and we want to try and achieve something if we can. Maybe we need to win as much as Chelsea do.”
For all the faith he has in his squad, Moyes knows a huge task awaits Everton in West London but wants his players to take confidence from the 1-1 draw they secured courtesy of a spectacular Cahill volley last November. “It’s as tough as we could have got,” said Moyes. “Chelsea are always well focused on getting through and enter to win. I’ve always valued the league – really important – but we are looking to compete a bit more in the cup competitions. “That sounds a bit silly after Saturday but it’s a fact. “I think the supporters would really enjoy a trophy but I can’t have that loose a tongue and speak like winning a cup final. “I can’t do that at the moment, not with the level of competition which is ahead of us. “We hope we can upset them. The first game we played against them a few weeks ago, we got a good result from it but I would hope we can do better than we did in that game.” More than 6,000 Evertonians are expected to make the trip down to London, but Moyes feels that many neutrals will also be cheering his side on too as it has been four years since one of the ‘Big Four’ were not involved in a domestic final. “I hope that’s the case,” said Moyes. “I think a lot of people like to see other sides break into it and Tottenham have a chance against Arsenal as well. “It’s been a while since Bolton and Middlesbrough were in a final together and, for a lot of people, it would be good to see it altered. “But it’s very hard to break in as the top sides all need to look to win a trophy this season.”

Phil Neville - It’s time for us to deliver
Jan 8 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
CAST a glance at the pages of football’s ‘who’s who’ and you will see one common denominator which links the great and the good. When the stakes have been at their highest, and the pressure to succeed at its utmost, invariably the household names – be they players or teams – produced a performance to secure their place in folklore.
It is something with which Phil Neville is acutely aware. He need only think back to Manchester United’s treble winning season of 1999 to see how modern giants Roy Keane and Ryan Giggs stamped their authority on semi-finals just when they were needed. But being able to sprinkle stardust on a marquee encounter is something that will never change and while Neville has accrued some rich memories during his career, he hopes there are still plenty of good times ahead, starting tonight at Stamford Bridge. Neville will lead the Blues out against Chelsea for the first leg of their Carling Cup semi-final knowing that a place at Wembley is tantalisingly within his side’s grasp yet at, the same time, still so far away. Time, then, for Everton’s players to deliver. “I remember before the West Ham game the manager was saying it is nights like that when, as individuals you, have to produce,” he said. “If you want to be a great player and play at the top end of English and European football, you have got to produce. “You have got to do it on nights at Stamford Bridge, in a pressure cooker atmosphere, when 6,000 Evertonians are backing you up. If you don’t produce then there will always be question marks against you. “But Tim Cahill has played in a major final for Millwall, Mikel Arteta played in a lot of big European nights when he was with Rangers. There is an lot of experience in the group with myself, Tim Howard and Alan Stubbs. “Joseph Yobo has played at the World Cup, Yak has been in a UEFA Cup final. Nuno has played in World Cup semi-finals, Champions League finals. There is experience of players who have done it on the big occasion. Nerves won’t be an issue for us.” Nor should they be. As Neville points out, Everton might not have been regulars in the latter stages of a knockout competition for some time yet it is not as if they are a bunch of novices, either. The Blues have proven over the last couple of years that, in big games, they are capable of punching their weight and the progress that has been made is there for all to see. Now, however, the challenge is to move up another level again. “Getting this far shows we are improving,” said Neville. “As long as we keep improving everyone will be happy. When you get to a semi-final, nobody wants to lose. But we won’t be resting on our laurels. “To take this club to Wembley would be sensational. The fans are dying for success and silverware. They couldn’t have a better manager leading the club, he has built up a squad of players that can handle injuries if and when they come along. “I think we can handle big games like Tuesday. You have got a lot of players in that age group where they have to produce. We are getting a lot of plaudits as a team but individuals are getting plaudits too. That’s a good sign.” The fans, though, are not the only ones dying for success. Ask any member of Moyes’ squad to reveal their dreams for this campaign and each one will tell you they want a tangible reward for their efforts. Significantly, they feel that can be achieved. Not so long ago, a trip to Stamford Bridge would have been greeted with a weary acceptance that defeat was almost inevitable but Neville now says the atmosphere heading to away games is of stark contrast. “The mood has changed outside the club towards Everton,” he noted. “When I joined the club, the glass was nearly always half empty. Because of the lack of success over the previous 10 years, there was a lot of negativity in certain sections of the club. “I think we have moved that forward as well in that we are now looking forward to these games. In my first season, we went down to Tottenham, where we hadn’t won for 26 years, and you could just sense there was no way we were going to win. “It was the same when we played Chelsea in the FA Cup. We had done really well at Goodison Park but there was a feeling after we came in with only a draw that we had missed our chance. That mentality has gone now. “You don’t win things with that kind of mentality. I’m still desperate for more medals. Every time I see a major final or a trophy being lifted, I get jealous. I know what it feels like to be out there and there is no better feeling. I would love to do it with Everton.” His appetite for success, clearly, has not been sated. Neville might have won a fistful of medals in his previous life at Old Trafford, the zenith being a Champions League triumph in 1999, yet he wants more.
To lead a victorious Everton team up the steps at Wembley to complete the domestic set of honours would mean the world to Neville and he hopes the class of 2008 can be remembered like some of the greats from days gone by. “This year my aim at the start of the season was to win some silverware,” said Neville. “The manager wants to win silverware. There is a big difference between going out and winning a trophy or finishing fourth. “We finished fourth three years ago but within three months we were out of the competition and everyone had forgotten about it. People here still talk about Howard Kendall’s days and his players from then are still legends. “That’s what happens. If we won a trophy, it would be remembered forever. That’s the difference between finishing fourth and winning something. You actually have a medal. Nobody can take it away from you.”

Everton can spring own cup upset
Jan 8 2008 by Nigel Martyn, Liverpool Echo
CUP upsets have been all the rage in the past couple of days so maybe the time has come for Everton to cause one of their own. Though Chelsea will start favourites for this evening’s Carling Cup semi-final, I’m quietly confident that the Blues will come away with something significant to show for their efforts at Stamford Bridge.
Considering what happened on Saturday – more on that wretched result against Oldham later – you might think that is the prediction of a man wearing Royal Blue glasses but I don’t think Chelsea are the side many would have them cracked up to be.
For starters, they have had the spine of their team ripped out – losing Petr Cech, John Terry, Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba would decimate any team – and they are not playing sparkling football. The big thing, though, is the fear teams had going to Stamford Bridge, particularly under Jose Mourinho, seems to be evaporating.
When Mourinho had them at their pomp and winning titles, they had players who could terrorise defenders down the flanks, such as Arjen Robben and Damien Duff, and the more they played, the more their aura of invincibility grew. Recently, however, results have started to turn a little bit and it seems only a matter of time before a visiting team wins there – why should that not happen tonight?
Everton, after all, have plenty of things in their favour. There is no disguising the fact that losing to Oldham at home was horrible and David Moyes will have left his players well aware of his feelings. But it could be that one eye was focused on this evening. Who knows? In the end, that defeat may turn out to be a blessing in disguise as there is no way whatsoever we could have competed on four fronts and hoped to be successful. Manchester United and Arsenal won’t even do that. More immediately, I’ve no doubts that players will be determined to atone for that as quickly as possible and the fact that a piece of silverware is so close means the manager is not going to have to give a team talk before tonight’s tie. Yes, Chelsea have got some great players and they will pose a threat every time there is a set piece. The Brazilian Alex will try to unsettle our defence, while Michael Ballack will be the main man in Lampard’s absence. He is starting to show the kind of form that made him one of the best in the world while he was at Bayern Munich but, rest assured, he won’t have things his own way here – Lee Carsley will see to that. As long as we keep things tight, we will be well in the game for the return at Goodison Park in a fortnight, while a goal deficit would not be the worst result in the world. Fantasy land, though, would be a lead – and who is to say that won’t happen?

Enigmatic Eriksson has made Manchester City a tricky prospect
Jan 8 2008 by Nigel Martyn, Liverpool Echo
A FACE familiar to millions will be in the opposition dugout at Goodison Park on Saturday and it will be interesting to see the ‘welcome’ Sven Goran Eriksson receives.
What makes him tick? It’s hard to tell. After being part of his squad for the World Cup in 2002, I’d like to be able to say I had some idea but the last thing he ever said to me was “goodbye” in the arrivals hall at Heathrow. In the month before, he hadn’t said a peep! He may have had his critics during his time as England manager but, on what he has done for Manchester City this season, you have to hold your hands up and admit that he is a good manager. For all his foibles, he is a knowledgeable man and knows exactly what he wants in terms of the players he signs and the formation he plays. One thing he always asks for is his players to keep cool heads and that is helping City achieve great results. In many ways, they play a bit like we did a few years ago in that we were organised, hard to beat and adept at holding on to one-goal leads. For that reason, I’d imagine this meeting will be like a game of poker but hopefully David Moyes will hold the aces.

8th January 2008
Daily Star
The undeniable fighting spirit that has galvanised Chelsea's season was prevalent again as Avram Grant's side earned a slender 2-1 first-leg advantage in their Carling Cup semi-final against Everton. Shaun Wright-Phillips was key to the win, scoring the first and putting Joleon Lescott under pressure to force the decisive own goal in added time. It was a win the Blues had carved out of adversity after Mikel John Obi had been controversially sent off in the 55th minute. Ayegbeni Yakubu grabbed a 64th-minute equaliser but there was late drama to come as Wright-Phillips outjumped Lescott, who inadvertently nodded in Michael Ballack's cross. Mikel was instantly given his marching orders for a one-footed lunge at Everton captain Phil Neville.
Ironically, like Everton goalscorer Yakubu and defender Joseph Yobo, Mikel had been allowed to play in the game by the Nigerian federation before leaving for the African Nations Cup. Mikel's dismissal left Chelsea to face the last 35 minutes of a pulsating cup-tie that sprang into life after his departure. The last four minutes of added time brought with it a sense of anticipation and yet the Chelsea faithful were rewarded with a goal out of nothing. There appeared to be little danger when Ballack's hopeful overhead kick pitted the diminutive Wright-Phillips against England defender Lescott. But the Chelsea winger outjumped Lescott, and the defender was pressured into heading the ball beyond Howard to secure Chelsea's well-earned victory.

8th January 2008
Daily Star
The South African Football Association have called on FIFA to punish Everton after winning the tug of war over Steven Pienaar. World football's governing body forced the Barclays Premier League club to release the midfielder for the African Nations Cup on Monday, after the Toffees had tried to delay his departure. "For the South African Football Association, our intention is not to punish the player, because the player is not to be blamed in this particular instance," a spokesman for the South African FA said. "We've played the game by the rules, so FIFA will have to sanction the team." Manager David Moyes was desperate to keep hold of the player for Tuesday's Carling Cup semi-final first leg at Chelsea after disputing the thrust of FIFA's 14-day rule. Moyes' view was that the regulations did not make it clear whether players should be released 14 days ahead of the start of the competition, or 14 days ahead of a specific country's first match. The tournament starts in Ghana on January 20, but South Africa's first match is not until January 23 against Angola.
Pienaar was expected to fly to Pretoria on Sunday, but trained with Everton at their Finch Farm complex on Monday. But by mid-afternoon, South Africa had formally asked FIFA to intervene, and the Toffees were contacted by the world's governing body and told their interpretation of the rule was wrong and that Pienaar should be released immediately. Moyes said: "The rules, in my view, do not stipulate exactly whether it is 14 days before the tournament or 14 days before South Africa's first game. We have taken the latter view. "We pay his wages, we pay him well and he is an employee of Everton and 14 days is more than enough time to prepare for the African Cup of Nations - which comes in the middle of our season. From my point of view as Everton manager, I fought tooth and nail for him. I was not going to let it go without a fight."

Chelsea 2, Everton 1 (Echo)
Jan 9, 2008, By Dominic King, at Stamford Bridge
Liverpool Echo
FOR those of you who are feeling miserable today, with a sense of frustration gnawing away inside, here’s an anecdote to get the fires burning again. On their arrival at Stamford Bridge last night, a delegation of Everton officials were met by a representative from Chelsea’s PR department, yet the welcome they received was anything but friendly. “Look who it is,” sneered this classless individual, who doubles up as Chelsea’s awful pitch side announcer. “It’s our friends from Merseyside. Welcome to a semi-final. That, if you didn’t know, means there are four teams left in the competition.” Welcome to a semi-final? Had he bothered for a moment to compare the respective honours lists of each club, it may have come to his attention that the ‘all-conquering’ club he works for has won precisely a third of Everton’s league titles and less FA Cups. Has that worked? You will not be surprised to learn that he was later seen heading for home sporting a huge, smug grin, convinced that Chelsea had booked their place in next month’s Carling Cup final at Wembley. True, an injury time aberration may now mean that Everton are outsiders to lift the first domestic trophy of the season, but to suggest they are out of this tie is absurd. Ignore the boasts coming out of West London. The Blues are still alive and kicking. Now is not the time to be moping around and wondering what might have been. The chance to write another chapter in this proud club’s history is there for this group and that notion needs hanging on to. Opportunity is knocking on Everton’s door. Of course, the situation could and should have been so much better. Another fatal lapse in focus – this time from the normally ultra-reliable Tim Howard and Joleon Lescott – allowed Chelsea to poke their noses in front at the halfway stage. A 2-1 deficit, however, is not insurmountable. Far from it. David Moyes and his squad have not worked so hard for so long to allow all hopes of getting their hands on silverware go with a whimper. If anything, they will be even more determined now. While there is no disputing that Chelsea are an excellent team, the suspicion that they are vulnerable was again hammered home here and, back on home turf, Everton have players who will be able to take advantage. Never mind that Chelsea may have Frank Lampard and Petr Cech back, never mind that Everton’s leading goalscorer Ayegbeni Yakubu and defensive rock Joseph Yobo will be away on international duty for the return. Experiences on the other side of Stanley Park show Chelsea have a habit of melting in pressure cooker atmospheres on Merseyside; there is every reason to believe history will repeat itself, this time in front of a baying Gwladys Street. It will, nevertheless, take much more than just a raucous atmosphere and lots of huff and puff to blow Chelsea’s house down when the sides next meet. Craft and cunning will be prerequisites, as will composure and concentration. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Yet if the Blues were looking for inspiration for that challenge, it should come from the way they applied themselves at the Bridge. Not so long ago, going a goal behind early on would have signalled the start of an avalanche. Harsh critics will say that Shaun Wright-Phillips should never have been given the chance to arc a curling drive beyond Howard on 26 minutes and they were fortunate when a Michael Ballack free-kick moments later whistled past an upright. But, determined and organised, they got a foothold back in the contest, stemmed Chelsea’s flow and grew in belief after the break, as several individuals clad in white upped the ante. Despite playing in an unfamiliar role on the right side of midfield, captain Phil Neville never put a foot wrong, barking out orders, snapping into tackles and using possession sensibly. Alongside him, Lee Carsley was his usual indefatigable self. Joseph Yobo and Phil Jagielka, meanwhile, threw their heads and feet in front of the countless balls tossed forward into Everton’s penalty area, with Lescott and Tony Hibbert diligent sentries on the flanks, relishing an evening that was not for the faint hearted. Given the stakes, it was not surprising that some tackles left many wincing, not least the one from Jon Mikel Obi which nearly chopped Neville in half. The Nigerian was rightly expelled and, perhaps, Steve Sidwell should have followed for his ‘assault’ on Carsley. No matter. As Carsley hobbled back onto the pitch, the Toffees restored parity when Yakubu – who ran the gamut from sublime to ridiculous – crashed a magnificent drive past Hilario. It could yet turn out to be the priceless away goal. With a numerical advantage and Chelsea at sixes and sevens, Everton pressed on and James McFadden came agonisingly close after Yakubu had set him free, his angled drive scraping the post. At that point, there only looked like there was going to be one winner, which made it all the more surprising – and sickening – that Wright-Phillips forced Lescott and Howard to err so badly in injury time to give Avram Grant’s side the initiative. Such a shame. Having run themselves to a standstill, Everton – who were backed non-stop by 6,000 Blues in The ‘Shed’ End – deserved better, but, yet again, it was a self-inflicted wound. Sooner rather than later, the penny has to drop. Now, though, is not the time for recriminations. To realise that dream of walking down Wembley Way again, everyone connected with Everton has to believe that Moyes has enough talent in the squad to overcome the odds at Goodison. Sceptics may say the chance has gone, that Chelsea will have too much class and tears will be the only souvenirs from what has hitherto been an exciting campaign, but there is no place for negativity in the next few weeks. So with the right backing from the stands and a positive approach from the players, Chelsea can be beaten. After all, impossible – we have been told by a certain sports manufacturer – is nothing. Game on. CHELSEA (4-3-3): Hilario; Belletti, Alex, Carvalho, Bridge; Mikel, Ballack, Malouda; Wright-Phillips, Pizarro (Ferreira 83), J Cole (Sidwell 61). Goals - Wright-Phillips (24), Lescott (o.g 90) Bookings - Cole (52), Belletti (77) Sent-off - Mikel (55) EVERTON (4-3-1-2): Howard; Hibbert, Yobo, Jagielka, Lescott; Neville, Carsley, Cahill; McFadden; Johnson, Yakubu (Anichebe 89). Goals - Yakubu (64) Bookings - Carsley (8), Hibbert (30), Neville (49), Johnson (66) Referee - Phillip Walton Attendance - 41,178

Chelsea 2, Everton 1 (D,Post)
Jan 9, 2008
By Ian Doyle, Liverpool Daily Post
AS Evertonians this morning struggle to digest this heartbreaking defeat, they could do worse than look across the other side of Stanley Park to find reasons for encouragement. After all, recent history suggests that Chelsea have a propensity for blowing first-leg cup advantages on Merseyside. David Moyes’s side will be forgiven for scratching their heads and wondering how on earth they left Stamford Bridge in arrears after a barnstorming Carling Cup semi-final encounter. A last-minute own goal from the unfortunate Joleon Lescott means a win is required in the second leg at Goodison Park in a fortnight to ensure a first major final appearance in 13 years. And while Chelsea represent a formidable obstacle to that Wembley date in late February, Everton have to believe there was enough evidence last night to suggest it can be overcome. The away goal magnificently dispatched by Yakubu in the 64th minute that equalised a 26th-minute opener from Shaun Wright-Phillips was just reward for the manner in which Everton withstood a Chelsea barrage and then fought their way back into the game. Yakubu’s parting gift before leaving for the African Cup of Nations came just nine minutes after Chelsea midfielder Jon Obi Mikel was dismissed by referee Peter Walton for a poor challenge on Phil Neville, a decision which tantalisingly gave Everton a glimpse of victory during the final quarter. How cruel that it should be Lescott, one of the game’s stellar performers, who erred as Moyes’s side once again let a result slip in the final moments against a top-four team. After equalising in the last minute of the league clash at Stamford Bridge in November, the tables were turned. Wright-Phillips, the smallest man on the field, challenged Lescott, one of the tallest, to a ball at the far post and pressurised the centre-back into inadvertently knocking into his own net. Moyes claimed Lescott had been fouled, but that was his disappointment speaking more than anything else. Now the Scot must rouse his troops for Goodison Park’s biggest game in almost a decade. With Joseph Yobo joining Yakubu and the already departed Steven Pienaar in missing the return due to international duty, Moyes’s rebuilt squad will be put to the test, although the trio’s absence will be offset by the return of Mikel Arteta from suspension and possibly Leon Osman from injury. But whoever turns out, Moyes’s side will be desperate to prove wrong the nagging suspicion that last night may have represented their best opportunity to progress. This was cup football at its very best, the tackles flying in, tensions heightened and action end to end. Referee Walton just about kept a grip on proceedings, although Steve Sidwell was fortunate not to follow Mikel down the tunnel after a late stamp on Lee Carsley moments after coming on as substitute. Despite being cautioned in the eighth minute, Carsley remained a terrier-like presence throughout in a midfield in which skipper Phil Neville excelled. However, both were outshone by Phil Jagielka, whose stubborn defensive display encapsulated Everton’s resolve during the spells of play when Chelsea showed their class. Talk around Goodison Park in the build-up to the game pointed to the fact Everton must start gleaning tangible reward from their progress during the past 18 months, a belief brought into sharp focus by the shock FA Cup exit at home to Oldham Athletic at the weekend. The statistics underlined the size of the task facing Moyes’s side last night. Chelsea were aiming for a 55th consecutive unbeaten game at Stamford Bridge, while Everton had won only two of the previous 29 games between the clubs. Indeed, Everton have been eliminated by Chelsea on all three previous meetings in the League Cup and had reached this stage of the competition for the first time in 20 years. Moyes made six changes from Saturday, with injury, suspension and international commitments preventing him from employing the 4-5-1 formation ideally suited to this occasion. Chelsea, hit by injury problems of their own, were below full strength but could still field a line-up containing 10 full internationals, goalkeeper Henrique Hilario the odd man out. A survey highlighted in the matchday programme claimed Stamford Bridge was one of the loudest grounds in the country. However, the atmosphere among the home support before the game was, as ever, less than electric, with the only noise coming from the perennially pitiful pitch-side stadium announcer. The 6,000 Evertonians that took over the Shed End were far more vocal in their backing, and they had plenty to cheer during a first quarter in which the visitors, snappy in the tackle and breaking with purpose, harassed Chelsea out of their stride. It was infuriating, then, that they fell behind following a total lapse in concentration on 26 minutes. Non-existent marking allowed Florent Malouda to exchange passes from a Wayne Bridge throw, progress forward and feed Wright-Phillips inside the area. With Everton’s defence still standing off, the England international curled a fine right-foot finish that went in off Howard’s left-hand post. Everton then had to ride out a Chelsea storm. After a lightning home break ended with Joe Cole impeded by Jagielka right on the edge of the area, Michael Ballack thumped a free-kick inches wide. Carsley blocked a Wright-Phillips shot moments later, but there were signs before the interval that Moyes’s side had regained their composure, and Andrew Johnson should have done better with a free header from McFadden’s corner. Wright-Phillips shot at Howard moments after half-time, before the game changed with Mikel’s red card on 55 minutes, the Nigerian dismissed after catching Neville with a lunge that, although one-footed, was made with studs dangerously showing. To their credit, Chelsea continued to attack and Howard did well to deny Claudio Pizarro after the lively Wright-Phillips had played the striker in. But Everton equalised in the 64th minute. Johnson was fouled and, from McFadden’s left-wing delivery, Hilario flapped, Yobo hooked the ball back into the danger zone and Yakubu swivelled to volley brilliantly into the top corner from 12 yards. The visitors were within inches of going ahead five minutes later when a sublime back-heel from Yakubu eliminated two Chelsea players and sent McFadden down the left, the Scotland international then cutting inside and skipping over Ricardo Carvalho’s sliding challenge before firing an angled shot that clipped the far post. Both teams pressed forward during a frenetic finish, and Chelsea’s 10 men struck in the 90th minute when Wright-Phillips challenged Lescott to Michael Ballack’s looping ball in the box and pressured the Everton man into nodding into his own net. There was still enough time for Lescott to almost make amends deep in injury time when put clear by McFadden but Hilario atoned for his earlier blunder with a fine smothering save. Heartbreakingly, Everton had lost. But this tie is far from over. CHELSEA (4-4-1-1): Hilario; Belletti, Carvalho, Alex, Bridge; Wright-Phillips, Mikel, Ballack, Malouda (Ben  Haim 90); Cole (Sidwell 61); Pizarro (Ferreira 83). Subs: Cudicini, Sahar. BOOKINGS: Cole (foul) and Belletti (unsporting behaviour). SENDING-OFF: Mikel  (serious foul play). EVERTON (4-4-2): Howard; Hibbert, Yobo, Jagielka,  Lescott; Neville, Cahill, Carsley, McFadden; Johnson,  Yakubu (Anichebe 90). Subs: Wessels, Valente, Gravesen, Vaughan. BOOKINGS: Carsley (dissent) and Hibbert, Neville and Johnson (all fouls). REFEREE: Peter Walton. ATT: 41,178. NEXT GAME: Everton v Manchester City, Barclays Premier League, Saturday 3pm.

Developer urges inquiry into Everton stadium
Jan 9, 2008 Liverpool Daily Post
A DEVELOPER has threatened to push for a public inquiry into plans to build a new stadium for Everton FC and a Tesco supermarket in Kirkby. Tesco and Everton submitted plans for a joint £400m scheme. Development Securities wants to enhance the existing town centre and says the Tesco plans would prejudice that.

Yakubu: Book me in at Wembley
Jan 9, 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
AYEGBENI YAKUBU backed his Everton team-mates to deliver the one thing he craves on his return from the African Cup of Nations - a trip to Wembley.
The Blues’ record signing was in high spirits as he flew out with Joseph Yobo to join up with Nigeria’s squad for the tournament in Ghana, even though the first leg of the Carling Cup semi-final ended in a frustrating 2-1 defeat against Chelsea.
But while Chelsea will be hot favourites to meet either Arsenal or Tottenham in the final on February 24, Yakubu has other ideas and he is confident Everton – who are stepping up their efforts to sign Manuel Fernandes on loan – can overturn the deficit.
His parting gift was the goal that gives David Moyes’ side a huge chance of reaching Wembley and Yakubu believes the crowd at Goodison Park will help make all the difference when Chelsea arrive on Merseyside in a fortnight. “I hope we can make it as it would be so nice for everyone,” said the £11.25m hitman. “I’d love to be involved but we have lots of players who can step in and play well “With the fans behind us, I think we will get the result that we need. Everyone is looking forward to the occasion. “It’s disappointing that me and Joseph have to go away but that is the way it is. We have to play for our country. “I would love to play in the semi-final but that is the way it is. I’ll be watching on television and praying for them to do well.
“At the moment, the team is playing so well and we are fighting for each other.
“I could be away for five or six weeks but it could be shorter if we get knocked out in Ghana. “Of course I want to stay there as long as I can but I’ll be thinking about Everton all the time and I think we will be at Wembley when I get back.”
Though the manner of the goal they conceded injury time left boss Moyes tearing his hair out, Yakubu was quick to point out that within minutes of returning to the dressing room, the only thing on the players’ minds was atoning in the second leg.
“We are all disappointed but we have something to take from the game,” said Yakubu. “We conceded a silly goal in the last minute but it is just one of those things.
“We have the second leg to play and I’m sure we can make it up them. Everton, meanwhile, have rejected a £2.5m bid from Birmingham for James McFadden but that is unlikely to deter Alex McLeish, who is expected to contact the Blues with an improved bid today.

David Moyes: Late goal was hard to take
Jan 9, 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES started to crank up the Carling Cup atmosphere within seconds of last night's first leg finishing at Stamford Bridge. The Blues boss saw his side devastated by a 92nd minute heart-breaker, but then defiantly rapped: “I’ve been waiting for games like this at Goodison Park ever since I arrived. “A Cup semi-final second leg? I’d rather be drawing and I’d rather be winning, but we’re not out of it yet.” But the Blues boss admitted he faced a major task to lift his players after a crushing last gasp defeat. “It’s hard to take because we worked very hard to get back into the tie,” he said, “and the players deserve an awful lot of credit because Chelsea are a very good side. “Chelsea caused us problems, but I’m pleased with the way we played. We’ve been gradually getting better this season and tonight when it was one each I thought we looked as if we could get on top. “But Chelsea just keep going. They are relentless and we just sat back a little in the last five minutes or so and brought them on to us. “But we created opportunities. When James McFadden hit the post I thought he had just weighted it well enough for Tim Cahill, and then Joleon Lescott in the last minute, so the tie is still alive.” Despite the high card count – six yellows and one red – Moyes said he had no complaints about referee Peter Walton.
“Semi-finals are tough. There is so much at stake. I have genuinely not seen the sending off again so I don’t know if it’s right or wrong, but I thought he did okay.
“Was there a bit of needle out there? I hope so. It was a cup semi-final.”
The Blues boss added: “We’re disappointed because we think we’ve missed an opportunity tonight to come away with a win. “We thought there might have been a case for Shaun Wright Phillips holding Joleon Lescott down for the winning goal. His arm was definitely on his shoulder. But we maybe switched off just a little bit then.”

David Prentice: Big hearts vital to keep dream alive
Jan 9 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
HOWARD KENDALL knew how to win Cup semi-finals – five of them to be precise. And last week he offered ECHO readers an insight into what might keep Everton’s latest excursion into last four territory alive. “A win would be unbelievable,” he declared, “a draw fantastic, but a single goal defeat would be acceptable.” Everton had to accept the latter – but it could and should have been so much better. The Blues’ Wembley hopes are still undeniably alive, but the life support machine started to bleep in the 92nd minute at Stamford Bridge. And it will require big hearts, courage, character – and a flawless performance in a fortnight's time to keep it from flatlining completely. The Blues could have been leaping, bouncing and cartwheeling into Goodison Park for the second leg, but the kind of mistake which has characterised their performances against the big four this season left them reeling.
Errors have cost Everton dearly against Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool, but the most crushing of them all came in West London last night. Joleon Lescott had enjoyed another monumental evening. But with Everton ushering what would have been an outstanding 1-1 draw into time added on, he anticipated his goalkeeper coming to punch a Michael Ballack cross. Howard stayed on his line, and that half-a-footstep's hesitation was enough to allow Shaun Wright-Phillips to hustle Lescott into a cruel own goal. It's how Everton deal with that disappointment which will decide if they can reach their first cup final for 13 years. Chelsea were outstanding for long periods last night. But Everton stayed with them, and for a 20 minute spell in the second half looked like snatching the match. In the end it was snatched away from them, but there was so much to admire in a thrilling, old fashioned cup tie.
In many respects Everton were up against it from the start. Their best hope of keeping the game tight had been to utilise the tried and trusted 4-5-1 system, with Tim Cahill given the licence to roam free and arrive late in the penalty box. An injury, a suspension and an international call-up meant that such an approach was impossible.
Cahill was forced to play a more disciplined midfield role, restricting his effectiveness, while the 4-4-2 formation made for a more open match than David Moyes might have wanted. As a result Everton struggled to stem a relentless blue tide towards their goal in a one-sided first 45 minutes. The second half was different, and thanks for that should maybe go out to the Nigerian FA. Their decision to allow Yakubu and John Obi Mikel to play in this semi-final first leg gave the match its pivotal moments . . . at least until Lescott and Howard decided to play Mexican stand-offs. Yakubu endured a first half only usually found on Christmas blooper videos, but then produced two moments of quality after the interval. One did make a difference, one almost did. His 93 mph finish from Yobo's hook back into the box was clinical, his back-heel into James McFadden's path five minutes later sublime.
But all too often in his Goodison career the exasperating Scot has been accused of taking wrong decisions, and he did so again last night. With Tim Cahill waiting at the far post for a tap in, McFadden went for goal from a tight angle and saw the ball strike the base of a goalpost. Those moments came at the height of an Everton revival inspired by John Obi Mikel's 54th minute red card. If the Nigerian was harshly treated by referee Peter Walton, perhaps it was balanced by the lucky escapes Ballack and Steve Sidwell enjoyed for more reckless challenges. But then all too often Chelsea are arrogant examples of everything that is wrong with modern football. Take the balding buffoon who tries to generate something passing for atmosphere inside Stamford Bridge in the moments before kick-off. He approached an Everton press officer at half-time and declared: “Oh hello there. You wouldn't know it, but this is a semi-final. It's the round where the last four teams are left in a competition.” The Everton official remained splendidly dignified. But he might have retorted: “Yes, it's a two-legged semi-final. The last time you defended a single goal lead in a couple of them back on Merseyside you bottled it.” Everton are still in with a shot of reaching next month's Carling Cup final. A long shot maybe, but this tie isn't dead yet. Just ask Howard Kendall.

I swear this foul language is ruining the beautiful game
Jan 9 2008 by Paddy Shennan, Liverpool Echo
THERE is obviously a great big ******* problem in the relationship between footballers and fans. Swearing in general by fans and players – at the ******* referee, at rival ******* supporters and so on – is also a major issue. All this has bubbled beneath the surface for decades – and occasionally bubbled over with calamitous consequences. We’ve seen the occasional deranged-looking fan escaping a steward or seven to get on a pitch and berate a referee/opposition player/one of his own players.
We’ve seen former Manchester United player Eric Cantona launch a Kung Fu-style attack on a foul-mouthed Crystal Palace fan. The fiery Frenchman was sentenced to two weeks in prison, later reduced to 120 hours community service, for the attack, which took place in 1995. We’ve seen Liverpool’s Jamie Carragher (pictured) demonstrate in the most practical terms possible that northerners don’t need handouts from their apparently better-off southern counterparts – when an Arsenal fan threw a pound coin at him in 2002 he threw it straight back (the player received a formal police warning). We’ve now seen reports about Carragher climbing a fence at Luton Town’s Kenilworth Road ground to confront fans who taunted him and sprayed him with drink after Sunday’s FA Cup game. And we’ve recently read Everton captain Phil Neville saying: “The level of abuse players are receiving these days is bordering on frightening. It’s only a matter of time before a really serious incident takes place.”
Neville also pointed out that some footballers do not help themselves, because of the vitriol that they are seen handing out to referees. The biggest joke in football at the moment – apart from “referee” Mark Clattenburg – is the line in Law 12 of Fifa’s Laws of The Game which states that a player will be sent off if he “uses offensive or insulting or abusive language and/or gestures.” Ha ******* ha.
As any damn fool knows, if this law was applied in the Premiership most games would be abandoned after only a few minutes due to a lack of players – and certain players would soon have to consider alternative careers. I wonder what Wayne Rooney’s ******* take on this might be. Perhaps the clubs, the FA and the police ought to get together and grasp the nettle of abusive players and abusive fans once and for all ... by attaching individual microphones to everyone inside our football stadia.
A major logistical exercise, I agree – actually, it’s a ******* impossible one – but it would no doubt produce some interesting results. I can hear it all now ...
Premiership player to ref, after a throw-in is awarded to the opposition: “**** off! That’s a ******* joke! Are you ******* blind?” The referee smiles, and says to himself: “I can’t believe it! A big star is talking to ME! Perhaps he’ll be my friend one day.” Fan, to player: “You’re a ******* ****** – and your mother is a ****!”
Player scowls at fan. Fan, to steward: “Get that man arrested, he’s disrespecting me!”
But if we can’t bring out the microphones, or the lip-readers – I’m sure Jamie said “flip” at one point on Sunday – can we at least all put a ******* sock in it, on and off the pitch?

9th January 2008
Daily Star
Valencia have confirmed they have reached an agreement for midfielder Manuel Fernandes to re-join Everton on loan. The Portugal international will return to Goodison Park until the end of the season with an option to buy for the Premier League club, Valencia confirmed on their official website. The 21-year-old spent the second half of last season on loan at Everton and had looked set to join the Merseyside club in the summer. However, after passing a medical and training with Everton in August, the following week he joined Valencia from Benfica, penning a six-year contract with the Spanish club in a deal worth a reported 18 million euros.
Fernandes has started just five Primera Liga matches for troubled Valencia this season, and hit the headlines last week following in an incident in a nightclub which saw him questioned by police.

9th January 2008
Daily Star
Chelsea 2 Everton 1
SHAUN Wright-Phillips struck first for Chelsea last night – and then forced a dramatic injury-time winner. The England midfielder scored with a brilliant curling shot in the first half, but the night was marred by the stupid sending-off of John Obi Mikel, who was given his second red card of the campaign. It appeared as though the hosts had paid the price for Mikel’s fourth red card of his Chelsea career when Yakubu scored Everton’s equaliser in the 64th minute. However, with the Blues holding on in added time, Wright-Phillips’ leap at the back post following Michael Ballack’s hooked cross saw Joleon Lescott net a late own-goal as Chelsea secured a first-leg advantage. Earlier in the season, Stamford Bridge boss Avram Grant insisted he was interested more in style than substance, while silverware was not essential in his first season in charge. Try telling that, though, to his depleted team that he fielded last night. They took the game to Everton as best they could and it paid off.
In the 28th minute, Wayne Bridge and Florent Malouda played a one-two from a throw-in. The French midfielder, making his first start in two months after recovering from a knee injury, then slid the ball to Wright-Phillips in the penalty area.
The diminutive winger, playing in a more central role last night, was given acres of space and criminally allowed to pick his spot. However, as Joseph Yobo desperately tried to close him down, Wright-Phillips hit a right-foot curler which went in off the post, giving Tim Howard absolutely no chance. It was a perfect effort from Wright-Phillips, especially with new England boss Fabio Capello at the game as he continued his busy start to his tenure. This was the first pivotal game of the season, given it was the semi-final for a domestic trophy, but the two clubs have completely contrasting records in the Carling Cup. Chelsea have won the competition twice in the last two years, while it was the first silverware Jose Mourinho landed at the club.
By comparison, this was Everton’s first League Cup semi-final for 20 years. Both teams were last night affected by the African Cup of Nations. Avram Grant’s team was missing Ivory Coast stars Didier Drogba and Salomon Kalou as well as Ghana midfielder Michael Essien. Everton had had a battle royale with South Africa over Steven Pienaar, who was forced to miss out and join up with his country under the 14-day rule. This was in stark contrast to Nigeria’s attitude, who allowed Everton stars Yakubu and Yobo to play last night, while Mikel started in the Chelsea midfield.
However, in all honesty, players missing was far more of a problem for Chelsea. On the injured list they still have John Terry, Frank Lampard, Petr Cech and Andriy Shevchenko. It meant Claudio Pizarro, who started in Drogba’s lone role, was the only recognised senior striker available to Grant last night. Grant, though, was boosted by Malouda, who had a hand in the opening goal, while Ricardo Carvalho was available again after completing a three-match ban for a two-footed challenge on Aston Villa’s Gabi Agbonlahor on Boxing Day. Everton boss Moyes was also glad to have free-scoring midfielder Tim Cahill back in his starting line-up, but he was still missing his suspended Spanish playmaker Mikael Arteta. Wright-Phillips’ goal was the first effort worth talking about in a tight tussle, but immediately afterwards Joe Cole had a great chance to double Chelsea’s advantage as he combined with Wright-Phillips in a swift counter-attack. It ended with Howard making a great save with his legs, but, after no advantage was gained, referee Peter Walton brought the game back to a free-kick on the edge of the area after a foul by Phil Jagielka on Cole. Captain-for-the-night Ballack stepped up and his free-kick was just inches away from adding a second on the night. It took 37 minutes for Everton to get their first effort on target – and was a shame that their football did not match the level of support they received from visiting fans. Lescott worked his way through the Chelsea defence, only to see his shot well saved by Hilario. Chelsea poured forward at the start of the second half, but it was the sending-off which grabbed the attention. Referees have started to go into overdrive with their red cards on studs up challenges. They are now giving players their marching orders for sticking out one leg with their studs raised, which is just ridiculous. That is what happened last night as Mikel slid in on Phil Neville. No damage was done and a booking would have been enough, but Peter Walton obviously panicked and showed a crazy red which was completely unwarranted.
Mikel is off to the African Nations Cup anyway, so his suspension will not matter, but it left Chelsea defending a lead with 10 men and wrecked the tie. Substitute Steve Sidwell’s challenge on Lee Carsley minutes later was much worse as he stamped on his leg, but he was just given a talking to. Chelsea paid the ultimate price for going down to 10 men as Everton equalised. In truth, it was an horrendous mistake by Hilario, who missed a James McFadden free-kick. Yobo was at the back post to turn the ball back to Yakubu and he hooked the ball expertly through a group of players and into an unguarded net. Moments later, Scotland striker McFadden struck the far post, but the real drama arrived in stoppage time as Lescott netted under pressure from Wright-Phillips.

9th January 2008
Daily Star
Manuel Fernandes will undergo a medical with Everton on Thursday with a view to re-joining the club on loan. The 21-year-old, now with Valencia, spent the second half of last season on loan to the Toffees from Benfica and could now return to Merseyside for the remainder of the season. Fernandes, whose first-team opportunities have been limited at Valencia, made 11 appearances for David Moyes' side last season, scoring twice, and he also spent time at Portsmouth.

Goodison return on cards for Manuel Fernandes
Jan 10 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON are hoping to thrash out a deal to make Manuel Fernandes their second signing of the transfer window. Having already brought Plymouth Argyle youngster Dan Gosling - who has been described as “one for the future” - Blues boss David Moyes now wants to look after the present by landing Portugal international Fernandes. A £500,000 deal has been agreed with Valencia to bring Fernandes to Goodison until the end of the season – and all that stands in his way of becoming an Everton player again is personal terms and a medical. Provided all goes according to plan, Fernandes, who played 11 games and scored two goals after joining on loan from Benfica at a similar stage last season, came close to joining the Blues permanently last summer but had a last minute change of heart and headed to The Mestalla, but things have not worked out for him and he has been frozen out by coach Ronald Koeman. Under the terms of the new agreement, Everton would have the option to sign the 21-year-old, who also spent a spell on loan at Portsmouth last season, for £12m at the end of the campaign but they should be able to negotiate a lower price. For now, though, Everton officials are just hoping Fernandes can agree terms and come through his medical without problem so he can boost their midfield options. Leon Osman is still sidelined with a broken toe, while Steven Pienaar is away for at least the rest of the month at the African Cup of Nations with South Africa, leaving Moyes short of attacking options. He will at least be able to recall Mikel Arteta after a three-match suspension against Manches-ter City this weekend.Meanwhile, skipper Phil Neville has refused to criticise Chelsea midfielder Jon Obi Mikel for the challenge which resulted in the Nigerian being sent off – but accused foreign players of bringing a dangerous brand of tackling to the Premier League.“I think he went for the ball,” said Neville. “It was probably with his studs showing but foreigners tend to tackle like that. I don’t think it was malicious but you cannot do that. It’s the type of tackle we want out the game.”ter City this weekend.
Meanwhile, skipper Phil Neville has refused to criticise Chelsea midfielder Jon Obi Mikel for the challenge which resulted in the Nigerian being sent off – but accused foreign players of bringing a dangerous brand of tackling to the Premier League.
“I think he went for the ball,” said Neville. “It was probably with his studs showing but foreigners tend to tackle like that. I don’t think it was malicious but you cannot do that. It’s the type of tackle we want out the game.”

Tim Howard: We can forget our Carling Cup pain
Jan 10, 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
FEW people left Stamford Bridge more frustrated than Tim Howard on Tuesday night, but Everton's keeper is confident he has a remedy to ease the pain of self-inflicted wounds. Though another big game ended with the Blues shooting themselves in the foot, there is no time for anyone in David Moyes’ squad to be wallowing in self pity. The challenges, after all, are coming thick and fast. Losing 2-1 in the first leg of the Carling Cup semi-final might have been difficult to take, particularly as Chelsea’s decisive goal arrived in stoppage time, but what could be better for lifting spirits around Goodison Park than beating Manchester City on Saturday? If results go their way, Everton could find themselves back in the top four by the close of play this weekend and provide a timely reminder that this campaign could still turn out to be a memorable one. Four defeats in six games might have checked momentum slightly, but Howard believes that beating Sven Goran Eriksson’s much-improved side would provide an injection of confidence that could yet carry them all the way to Wembley.
“That is the hard thing about the games at the top level,” said Howard. “We can’t afford to be down on ourselves for the next couple of days. “We have got to come back strong and prepare for Manchester City. “That is going to be an incredible game at our place and that is the good side of the situation. “We have got a great chance to put the Chelsea result in the past and move on. “If we could win and get into the top four, it could only boost our confidence. “We have worked so hard and got a lot of good results. To boost ourselves into the top four would be great for morale.
“Hopefully we can put that right when we get going again. There is a lot to look forward to.” That said, he – like every one of his team-mates – knows the situation should be much better than it is going into the return leg on January 23.
Having done the hard part, seeing Shaun Wright-Phillips outjump Joleon Lescott in injury time beggared belief. Given that Chelsea were forced to play 36 minutes a man down exacerbated the feelings of what might have been, but Howard is at pains to explain that all is not lost. Anything could happen in the ensuing 90 minutes when the teams lock horns again. “Initially it was a punch in the guts but, once we had got showered up, you realised that it’s only 2-1 at half-time,” he said. “It was horrible but that is the way football goes. There is still another half to play. “The manner in which we lost was disappointing. Also, when you go 11 men against 10, the onus is on us to score. “If you had offered us 1-1 at Stamford Bridge before the game, we’d have accepted it, but when their man went off, the pressure was on us to push the tempo and it probably wasn’t the kind of game where we wanted to do that.
“At Goodison, sure, we’ll push the tempo but it is difficult to do that at Stamford Bridge.” It is also worth remembering that the situation is not a great deal different than how it would have been if the tie had finished 1-1 – Everton are still going to have to score and Ayegbeni Yakubu’s away goal may eventually prove to be decisive.
He, though, will be sorely missed in the return, as will Joseph Yobo and Steven Pienaar but Howard is confident that Everton have enough quality in the ranks to compensate for the absence of the club’s African contingent. Wembley is still very much on Howard’s agenda and if the atmosphere at Goodison is anything like people expect it to be – the ‘house full’ signs are expected to be up within the next few days – there is every reason to believe Everton can upset the odds. “It’s one of those games that will always be changing,” Howard pointed out. “A normal league game, you would just play straight up. “This time it will be if we score a goal, our demeanour will change and if they score the same will happen. “It’s weird. The game could be taking a different shape every five or 10 minutes. But we know that the ground will be jumping. “We are all excited about possibly reaching a cup final. “We didn’t give a lot away on Tuesday night. We are still in the tie and we are hoping that the atmosphere will carry us over the line. “The boys are excited about getting them at Goodison. They are going to be missing people for the second leg and so are we. But we can do it.”

The Jury: What are Everton's chances of landing silverware after their setback against Chelsea?
Jan 10, 2008, Liverpool Echo
Mont Scott, Walton
Everton juniors have their say on the club’s cup hopes this season
SO IT’S half time in this semi-final and goodness only knows what will happen in two weeks at Goodison Park. The Everton players battled and ran themselves into the ground and were very unfortunate to come away with a 2-1 defeat. Joleon Lescott was my man of the match and he must have been heartbroken to concede that own goal - especially with Fabio Capello watching. I would place the blame for the winner at Tim Howard’s door - he should have been coming out for crosses like that in the six-yard box. I also think James McFadden will be heading for the exit door as his workrate off the ball is undoubtedly poor. Every Evertonian who goes through the turnstile for the return leg has a major role to play, and Goodison has to be rocking on that Wednesday night. Hopefully, the introduction of Manuel Fernandes and the return of Mikel Arteta will win us the second leg.
Debbie Smaje, Upholland ONCE again, we come away from a game against one of the big four feeling completely and utterly let down by a ref late on. It never seems to fail - a patched up team has yet again matched a side supposedly better than us, only for the man in the middle to completely miss a player who was climbing all over our defender. At the moment, the defeat is crushing, but it remains to be seen how costly that moment could be. The away goal certainly inspires hope. Even without Yakubu at Goodison, we have shown enough all season to suggest we can score the goals we need. Mikel Arteta’s return will be huge, and hopefully we should be able to count on the return of Leon Osman as well. Chelsea will have a couple back themselves, but I feel if we have some of our midfield regulars back for the second leg we have a great chance of turning the tie around.
Michael Drummond, Speke I AM bitterly disappointed that we conceded what could prove to be a vital goal in the last minute, but cannot fault the overall performance. At times, we were in control and if only James McFadden's chance had gone in, it could have been a different outcome. What's annoying is that we seem to play better and more confidently when the ball is passed around and along the floor, but we never seem to stay in that mindset and start hoofing the ball up looking for someone to get on the end of it, when we were better off beforehand! Since Jose Mourinho's departure, Chelsea have lost the special presence that has made them a side to be feared in the last four years. I see no reason why the atmosphere that will be created by the Goodison crowd can't motivate the team even more than the travelling fans did on Tuesday and see us into a final for the first time in 13 years.
Cole Fraser, Litherland DESPITE the events which unfolded on Tuesday, I would have settled for a narrow defeat before the game, so I can’t say that I’m too disappointed with the result. The last minute goal was a heart-breaker, but we must now look forward and believe that we can win the return leg. I would now like to see the manager dip into the transfer market to provide some able back-up for the midfield before the second tie, as Saturday proved that the squad is not as equipped as we first thought. A big boost, though, for the game at Goodison is the availability of Mikel Arteta. We haven’t seen the best of him this season, but he is still an invaluable team member. Our chances of picking up silverware this season were obviously dented by Saturday’s defeat, but I still believe that we can grind out a result against Chelsea and get to Wembley. With regards to the UEFA Cup, there is still a long way to go in the competition and I don’t think we should get too ahead of ourselves.

Everton Res 2, Man United Res 2
Jan 10, 2008, Liverpool Daily Post
TEN-MAN Everton held on for a point against Man United despite taking a two-goal lead in a game played in atrocious conditions at the Halton Stadium in Widnes. The Blues were ahead after just 12 minutes when Victor Anichebe hit a shot from just outside the box which deflected and looped over Zieler in the United goal. Everton were giving United the run around at this point and went into a two-goal lead five minutes later when John Paul Kissock, who also set up the first goal played in James Vaughan and he shot into Zieler’s right hand corner of the goal. The visitors had Gary Neville in their side and it was the veteran defender who equalised for United on 21 minutes, cutting in from the right and hitting a speculative shot which deflected past John Ruddy for 2-1. It all went wrong for Everton just before the break when John Irving conceded a penalty and was sent off for fouling Brandy in the box. The dismissal was harsh but some justice was done when United missed the spot-kick. The visitors were level midway through the second half when a good ball from Hewson put in Sean Evans and he dummied a defender before firing right-footed past Ruddy. United had a couple of chances to snatch it but Everton's 10 men held on. EVERTON RES: Ruddy, Densmore, Baines, Irving, Dennehey, Rodwell, Morrison, Vidarsson, Vaughan, Anichebe, Kissock Subs: Harpur, Stubhaag, Downes, Agard, O’Kane. MAN UTD: Zieler, Neville, Simpson, Ekersley, Chester, Hewson, Gray, R Jones, Brandy, Dong, Evans Subs: Cathcart, Heaton, Lea, Cleverley, Fagan.

Everton return on cards for Manuel Fernandes
Jan 10, 2008
By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON were today hoping to thrash out a deal to make Manuel Fernandes their second signing of the transfer window. Having already brought Plymouth Argyle youngster Dan Gosling - who has been described as “one for the future” - Blues boss David Moyes now wants to look after the present by landing Portugal international Fernandes. A £500,000 deal has been agreed with Valencia to bring Fernandes to Goodison until the end of the season – and all that stands in his way of becoming an Everton player again is personal terms and a medical. Provided all goes according to plan, Fernandes, who played 11 games and scored two goals after joining on loan from Benfica at a similar stage last season, came close to joining the Blues permanently last summer but had a last minute change of heart and headed to The Mestalla, but things have not worked out for him and he has been frozen out by coach Ronald Koeman. Under the terms of the new agreement, Everton would have the option to sign the 21-year-old, who also spent a spell on loan at Portsmouth last season, for £12m at the end of the campaign but they should be able to negotiate a lower price. For now, though, Everton officials are just hoping Fernandes can agree terms and come through his medical without problem so he can boost their midfield options. Leon Osman is still sidelined with a broken toe, while Steven Pienaar is away for at least the rest of the month at the African Cup of Nations with South Africa, leaving Moyes short of attacking options. He will at least be able to recall Mikel Arteta after a three-match suspension against Manches-ter City this weekend.Meanwhile, skipper Phil Neville has refused to criticise Chelsea midfielder Jon Obi Mikel for the challenge which resulted in the Nigerian being sent off – but accused foreign players of bringing a dangerous brand of tackling to the Premier League. “I think he went for the ball,” said Neville. “It was probably with his studs showing but foreigners tend to tackle like that. I don’t think it was malicious but you cannot do that. It’s the type of tackle we want out the game.”ter City this weekend. Meanwhile, skipper Phil Neville has refused to criticise Chelsea midfielder Jon Obi Mikel for the challenge which resulted in the Nigerian being sent off – but accused foreign players of bringing a dangerous brand of tackling to the Premier League. “I think he went for the ball,” said Neville. “It was probably with his studs showing but foreigners tend to tackle like that. I don’t think it was malicious but you cannot do that. It’s the type of tackle we want out the game.”
Steven Pienaar was involved for South Africa earlier today as they beat Mozambique 2-0 in a pointless African Cup of Nations warm-up match.
Bafana Bafana missed a host of good chances early in the match and the sides went in level at half-time.
Pienaar really should have found the back of the net on 34 minutes but he somehow managed to miss when it would have been easier to score. Maybe, just maybe, he wants to be somewhere else?
Sibusiso Zuma and Lerato Chabangu secured the win for South Africa in the second half. South Africa will face Botswana on Wednesday in their second warm-up match.

Everton boss urges Mikel Arteta to go fourth!
Jan 11 2008 by Doninic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES challenged Mikel Arteta to become the catalyst behind Everton's push for the top four - as Manuel Fernandes wrapped up his loan move back to Goodison. Provided there are no last minute hitches, Fernandes will join the Blues on loan for the rest of the season with a view to a permanent deal and he could go straight into the squad for tomorrow’s tussle with Manchester City. If they take three points from that game, the Blues could move into the Champions League places and Moyes is ready unleash Arteta again after the influential Spanish midfielder completed his three-match suspension. Arteta was harshly sent-off in the 4-1 defeat against Arsenal at the end of last month, but he has been giving Moyes signs in training that he is ready to sparkle again. The manager has urged the 25-year-old to start making up for lost time. He said: “Mikel is going to be so important. We hope that he can get into top form and we need to get him back into the side again now. “We have played a lot of games recently when we haven’t been able to call upon him. “Before he got suspended, he’d missed the Manchester United game with an illness. Now we need him to become a catalyst for us again to get things going and help us get some good results. “He has got great ability and we hope that he can produce it. Arteta’s form has fluctuated throughout the campaign but, as he is so short of midfield personnel, Moyes wants to see his star man raise his game and is delighted to have him available again. “Mikel is the kind of player we will need during the second half of the season,” added Moyes. “We have been short of midfielders, because of injuries and now the African Cup of Nations, so it is a boost to have him back again. “You saw how short we were at Chelsea on Tuesday night. James McFadden is a centre-forward but he had to play wide left and then we needed to use Phil Neville on the right. We have desperately needed bodies in midfield.” Moyes, meanwhile, has no doubts that his squad can bounce back tomorrow, but knows City will provide a stern test.
“It was a tough, physical game at Chelsea and we have certainly got a few bruises and a bit more beside,” he added. “But it is going to be a tough game as Manchester City are a really good side.”

Return home is a whole new Ball game for Michael
Jan 11 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
THE day Michael Ball thought would never come finally dawns tomorrow.
A boyhood Blue, he ran out more times than he can remember at Goodison Park. But it was always in Royal Blue – and never against Everton. And it’s a scenario he actively tried to avoid for many years. Now, at the age of 28, with a couple of big moves behind him and the experience of playing in Scotland and Holland, he finally feels ready to undergo an experience he admits will be “weird.” Established in the Manchester City left-back slot, he said: “I don’t know how I’m going to feel running out against Everton. It will be strange. “I have been back loads of times to watch games with my dad and my brother, but only ever as a fan. I’ve never played there since I left and I’m not sure how it’s going to feel. “One of the reasons I moved to Glasgow Rangers was so I wouldn’t have to play against Everton. “I could have gone to another English club, but I was a young lad then and I didn’t think I would be able to handle playing against Everton. “I didn’t think I would be able to get up for it.
“You have a boyhood dream, playing for the club you support and I achieved that.
“But I’m looking forward to going back there now. I just hope I don’t walk into the home dressing room by mistake!” As befits a footballer with his surname, you cut Michael Ball and he’d bleed blue. As an eight-year-old training at Liverpool FC’s youth academy he insisted on wearing an Everton shirt underneath his Liverpool training bib. He soon switched to Everton. “Graeme Souness was the Liverpool manager,”' said Ball, “and he was good about it. He said I should follow my heart.” Ball grinned. “So I did.” Ten years later, when he made the switch from promising youth to first team regular, he used one of his first pay packets to have a giant club crest made which adorned the side of his Formby home. He made almost 150 appearances for the Blues, then the dream turned sour when he was unceremoniously forced out by manager Walter Smith. He has no harsh feelings. “I don’t regret the move,” he said. “It’s common knowledge that I didn’t want to leave. But I feel like I’m coming back as a better player. “I won the league in Holland and did the same in Scotland, and Manchester City are going really well this season.” Ball is now working under the manager who handed him his England cap at Villa Park in February 2001, and it has proved a happy liaison so far. “Sven’s top drawer and a really nice fella,” he said. “I wasn’t in the side at first, but we were flying at the top of the table so I couldn’t really go in and complain, could I? “But I managed to force my way in last month and I’ve kept my place since then. I’m really enjoying it. “The foreign players are a good bunch of lads and my old mate Dunney is here. “The last two or three games he has been immense and I know he’s looking forward to going back to Goodison as well.” It won’t just be the surroundings which are familiar.
Ball could be facing a player he knows all about. “Mikel Arteta is a great footballer,” he added. “I know him from my Rangers days and I was surprised when he left.
“He was a young lad then, but always had an old head on his shoulders. I used to play against him every day in training so I know how good he can be. “It will be good playing against him, although I won’t be disappointed if he decides to spend more time on the other wing!” Evertonians will be pleased to hear that the injury problems which blighted Ball’s career after he left Goodison are now a fading memory.
“I'd had trouble with the patella tendon at Everton for about 18 months, on and off,” he explained. “But I wasn't the type to make a big thing about injuries and the physio just told me to do stretches. “When I went to Rangers they gave me a medical which I think lasted 10 days. But I did everything they asked of me and passed it.
“But then I’d only played a couple of matches when the knee blew up again.
“They sent me to Richard Steadman in Colorado and when he opened me up they found there was only one ligament still attached and if that had gone I’d never have played again. “My rehab was supposed to last five to 12 months, but I got back in four, but there were problems with the patella tendon then and I had to have the same kind of op that Alan Shearer had. “That took another lengthy spell of rehab and I was out for 18 months in total. “It was hell, especially as Rangers completed a double, then won a treble. “But Alex McLeish then came in and I started playing. We won the league, on top of the League Cup, and I felt there were rewards for all the hard work and frustration. “But that’s a long time ago now. I’m just focusing on trying to keep my place in the City side at the moment and looking forward to Saturday.”
And the club crest? “That went a few years ago,” he laughed. “Everton contacted me and asked if they could auction it for charity. I think it went at half-time in a derby match. “I couldn’t have another one done now I’m playing somebody else, could I?”
But while you can take the boy out of Everton, you’ll never take Everton out of Michael Ball. And, no doubt, he will be warmly received back at Goodison Park tomorrow.

Wembley still a realistic target for Everton
Jan 11 2008 David Prentice Liverpool Echo
THE reactions of David Moyes and Avram Grant could not have been more different at the final whistle on Tuesday evening, but I expect a role reversal in a fortnight.
It was a huge blow to concede such a soft goal in the final minute of the first leg, but there is still everything to play for at Goodison Park when Everton and Chelsea meet again for a place in the Carling Cup final. With the atmosphere guaranteed to be electric – every Evertonian has been waiting for an occasion such as this for a long time – I’ve no doubt whatsoever that we can overhaul the deficit. Sure, it would have been magnificent to return from Stamford Bridge with a 1-1 draw but 2-1 is not insurmountable and even without the services of Yakubu, I believe Everton have goals in them. We should have Mikel Arteta and Leon Osman back – and that will allow Tim Cahill to become the key man, running from deep to cause havoc. He had to play a restrained role the other night, but the manager is sure to let him off the leash in the next meeting, while Andrew Johnson could yet have a big say in things to. Don’t for one minute think our chance has gone. Cup football has been so important this season and it has helped keep the momentum going. The fact there was such a big game to play in midweek enabled everyone to put the disappointment of the Oldham game behind them quickly. Had Everton already seen their Carling Cup and UEFA Cup dreams ended, defeat against Oldham would have caused mayhem yet the case could not be more different. Wembley remains in everyone’s sights and I’m confident we will be going there next month.
Fernandes can realise full potential
PROVIDED there are no hitches, Manuel Fernandes will become an Everton player again in the imminent future and hopefully he will realise his full potential.
The Portugal midfielder may have left a sour taste when he chose to join Valencia last summer, but David Moyes clearly does not bear a grudge and there is an advantage in signing a player he knows all about. There were flashes of brilliance from him last season but there were also times when he went missing. Yet David knows what he is getting and if he feels Fernandes will be an asset, you don’t need any other explanation.
City's top-class duo
IT’S back to league action tomorrow, and there is no doubt Sven-Goran Eriksson’s Manchester City will give Everton a real test. Most of Sven’s signings have turned out okay and they find themselves in a healthy position now because of a superb start to the season. But for all the foreigners Sven has bought, I will be most interested to see Richard Dunne and Michael Ball again. Richard has matured into the player many believed he could be when he was a youngster. Unfortunately things never worked out in the early stages of his time at Everton but now he is proving to be a top-class defender. The same applies to Michael. He went abroad, had a couple of injuries but has come back and proved himself. It will be a huge test but if Everton are in the top four by the end of play this weekend, nobody can argue. The Blues have made significant progress and it would lift everyone if we could climb into a Champions League spot.

You're pulling our leg, Giles - the second one!
Jan 11 2008 David Prentice Liverpool Echo
WANT to know why Chelsea are so widely disliked?
And it has nothing to do with buying success, enthusiastically embracing the prawn sandwich culture or Tim Lovejoy. It even has nothing to do with employing players who dive and simulate at every opportunity, or a former manager with less humility than Alex Ferguson. It’s their fans. An article appeared on Chelsea’s official website this week which effortlessly encapsulated the arrogant, smug nature of supporters who follow a football club which, even with Roman Abramovich’s billions, can still only boast three league titles and three FA Cups. Ever. Empty your mouth of any food or drink, then read on. Without any hint of apparent irony, Chelseafc.com columnist Giles Smith suggests Everton don’t need to turn up at Goodison Park for the second leg of the Carling Cup semi-final. Yes, really. You see, he thinks that second legs of cup ties are “irksome” (they certainly were in 2005 and 2007 Giles) and that it would be useful if “a team trailing after the first leg were given the choice whether to proceed with the second leg or whether to call it a day instead and bow out after 90 minutes, leaving the other side to go through.” “Bingo,” Giles concludes, “no more tiresome second leg formalities.” Surely he’s tossing a hook? Surely it’s satire? He’s having a laugh . . . isn’t he? Read on. But only if you haven’t had a stomach op recently with stitches which may burst easily. “It's a scenario that, one feels, could really have favoured Everton last night,” adds Giles. “As the whistle blew on the gutsiest and most enthralling Chelsea performance of the season so far, Everton’s officials would have had the statutory two-minute grace period in which to discuss whether to exercise their option on a second leg or not. “And almost certainly, they would have emerged from their meeting and said, 'You know, we were played off the park for the best part of an hour tonight – made to look utterly League One by a side supposedly well below full strength. “ ‘And then, of course, fate played into our hands when the referee sent off one of your players for committing a one-footed sliding tackle which made no contact with our player at all. “ ‘But even then we didn't have the wherewithal to capitalise, and the sight of our players pressed back into their own half for the last quarter of an hour by a team reduced to 10 men, has left us, inevitably, thoroughly demoralised and uncertain about ourselves. So, all things considered, we'll leave it there, I think.' “And then they could have climbed on their bus and gone away for ever. Especially Phil Neville.” No please. Stay with it. Dry your eyes and try and get through to the end. “As it is, the tiresome, hidebound regulations dictate that we'll have to do it all again at Goodison in a fortnight – a prospect which Everton, in their fresh and stinging humiliation, will greet about as enthusiastically as an outbreak of corns. “ 'If we couldn't beat Chelsea then,' they'll be thinking, 'when fortune smiled on us so favourably, when will we ever beat them?' ” Stop. Stop. Please. Any more and I really will wet myself. There’s more, much more, But you’ll have got the gist by now.
And this is an official website remember, not an independent fans’ forum – which is why I’ve deliberately left out the section questioning Neville’s integrity. Don’t bother with a second leg? In truth, Giles, your perceptive observations don’t really have a leg to stand on. You see, it’s Chelsea who didn’t bother turning up on Merseyside the last couple of times they faced second leg cup ties up here. Chelsea are an undeniably fine football team, but they’ll know they’ve been in a match in a fortnight’s time.
Just turn up at Goodison and see, Giles.
Mikel gets away with it as rules are flawed
THE red card shown to John Obi Mikel in midweek carries a three-match ban as punishment. It will be served while the Nigerian is representing his country at the African Nations Cup. It’s yet another disciplinary anomaly, coming hot on the heels of the controversy which saw Nicklas Bendtner serve a one-match ban for a challenge for which might have caused serious injury, while Mikel Arteta sat out three for handing off Cesc Fabregas. The FA will, no doubt, do what they always do best. Nothing.

Manuel Fernandes can fulfill his place as a cult hero
Jan 12 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
THERE is no rhyme nor reason as to why certain footballers enjoy cult status before they have achieved anything significant - it’s just one of those unfathomable things.
The great Joe Royle, of course, memorably said that Duncan Ferguson “became a legend before he became a footballer” in the fledgling stages of his career at Goodison Park, while it is hard to argue that there is more style than substance to Thomas Gravesen. Yet for all their foibles, both Ferguson and Gravesen are held in the highest esteem by the Gwladys Street and that will be the case forever more as both men showed an enormous passion for wearing a Royal Blue shirt - which brings us to Manuel Fernandes. Excitement has been building on the Blue half of Merseyside since it emerged David Moyes was considering bringing the Portugal international back to Goodison and it reached fever pitch when the deal was close to being completed.
That anticipation, however, is not confined just to supporters; several members of Moyes’ first team squad have spoken enthusiastically about linking up with the 21-year-old again. There is, it seems, no doubting his ability. So when you look at the simple economics of the terms which will keep Fernandes at Goodison until the end of the season it is a ‘win-win’ situation for Everton. For just £500,000 they are getting a wonderful talent who knows the club already. Considering it would have taken a record fee to sign him four months ago, it is hard to quibble with the price they are now paying. And, if the Blues want to make the deal permanent this summer, Fernandes will cost a lot less than £12m. Three appearances in the Champions League for Valencia will preclude Fernandes from playing in the UEFA Cup, but he could be just the type of person who will sprinkle some stardust on the Carling Cup semi-final second leg against Chelsea. What needs to be seen this time around, though, is more of an appetite for the less glamorous side of the game.Tracking back, tackling, working unselfishly for others off the ball - if Fernandes wants any pointers, he should look to Mikel Arteta. As Moyes put it, he has successfully managed to marry “Spanish technique with a British mentality” which has enabled him to become the undisputed darling of Blues everywhere. Even when things do not go to plan his commitment never wanes. Time, then, for Fernandes to follow suit. The way he chose to move to the Mestalla in August after giving his word to Bill Kenwright he was ready to sign in at Goodison left a bitter taste and some will remain suspicious. But the early indications suggest he wants to atone and it is likely the environment to which Fernandes is returning will suit him much better than the goldfish bowl existence that players endure on the west coast of Spain. “He phoned David last weekend and said he can’t wait to get back,” revealed Blues chairman Kenwright. “We are very pleased to get him back as he is very much a part of the Everton family. It’s a good loan signing.” Fernandes made 11 appearances for the Blues during his first stint on Merseyside, scoring two goals, and there were times in that period when the football he played with Arteta, Leon Osman and Tim Cahill was a joy to behold.
The memory of him tormenting John O’Shea and Wes Brown when Manchester United visited last April, rolling the ball under his feet before setting up an attack, is still crystal clear and there will be no complaints if moments like that follow.
Already, in some eyes, he can do no wrong, but if Fernandes is going to become the great player many believe he can be it’s time to knuckle down – and if he does that then he can really achieve something significant.

Chelsea earned cup advantage
Jan 12 2008 by Barry Horne, Liverpool Echo
IN four days Everton have endured two cup disappointments. But each was very different in its circumstances. Against Chelsea the disappointment came very much in the timing and the nature of the winning goal. If Everton had trailed 2-0 and pulled a late goal back, their fans would have been satisfied that the tie was still alive.
But to get within two minutes of a 1-1 draw, on a night when Chelsea played absolutely magnificently, was the most crushing blow. Avram Grant has a Dutchman as his number two, and that was evident in their football, with the two full-backs playing almost as wingers and only John Obi Mikel guarding Carvalho and Alex.
They were outstanding, but Mikel was key to the whole system and when he was sent off Everton enjoyed a productive spell. But it's credit to Chelsea that once they had readjusted to their loss, they pressed Everton back again and only fans wearing the darkest blue spectacles would deny they ultimately deserved to win. The disappointment against Oldham was of a different kind. I have questioned other managers in the past for squad rotation, so it would be inconsistent if I didn't do likewise with Everton's selection. I think David Moyes should have picked his strongest team and gone out there trying his utmost to win the FA Cup.
I felt particularly sorry for Phil Neville. He is far too professional and far too composed to say anything, but he must have been devastated sat in the stands watching that. He has been instrumental in Everton's recent improvement over the past few seasons, and knows that his opportunities to win trophies are limited.
And losing to Oldham took away one excellent opportunity. Forget the fact that the side should have been good enough to beat Oldham. We didn't, and as a result we are out of the FA Cup. And I, and many other fans of my acquaintance, were gutted.

Richard Dunne key to Manchester City’s success
Jan 12 2008 by Barry Horne, Liverpool Echo
MANCHESTER CITY have managed to remain in the top four all season, but I'm wondering just how. They to have too many inconsistent performers, too many nearly men to sustain their promise. Elano and young Michael Johnson have had brief spells in the limelight, but the real key to their success is down to Michah Richards and Richard Dunne. Dunney has won four player of the year awards in succession at City which says it all. He’s had some tough times, especially in his early years at Everton, but he’s a consummate pro now. Both he and Michael Ball will receive warm welcomes today I am sure, but hopefully City's season will finally start to unravel this afternoon.

Goodison great so often overlooked
Jan 12 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON and Manchester City have swopped more players and managers than almost any other clubs in the past 20 years. Richard Dunne and Michael Ball retread old ground this afternoon, while Andy Hinchcliffe, Paul Power, Neil Pointon, Peter Reid, Alan Harper, Adrian Heath, Terry Phelan, Mark Ward, Peter Beagrie, Kevin Langley and Bobby Mimms, amongst others, all switched between the north-west clubs. Then there was Howard Kendall, who famously divorced City in favour of Everton in 1990. But one of the finest players to grace both clubs is often overlooked.
Asa Hartford was a high-class midfield creator cherished in South Manchester.
He made just short of a century of appearances at Goodison, never less than excellent in almost every one. But Everton was the right club at the wrong time for the Scottish international, despite a series of inspirational performances which saw him claim the Echo’s Man of the Match award seemingly week after week. When Gordon Lee committed a club record £500,000 transfer fee in the summer of 1979, the stage looked set for Hartford to step on to a new level of achievement. Lauded at West Bromwich Albion and Manchester City, a high profile move to then title-chasing Leeds in 1971 fell through because of a heart condition. It didn’t hold Hartford back, and Everton stepped in when the combative Scot realised he was the latest footballer to discover he could not work with Brian Clough. Nottingham Forest were European champions in 1979 and Clough saw Hartford as the man to replace Archie Gemmill and help his side retain their trophy for a third successive year. Hartford played just three games – before Everton benefited from a dodgy exhaust pipe! Clough had tried to use his sergeant major tactics on an experienced, international footballer.
It didn’t work. Joe Royle later revealed: “My mate Asa was travelling to Nottingham when the exhaust fell off his car. He phoned and Clough said, 'No problem, that'll be a £50 fine'. 'But boss ...' '£100 fine'. Asa said, 'I got out at £150'." He got out of Forest soon after, and Everton welcomed a classy, industrious central midfielder with an impeccable touch and wonderful vision. It looked like a marriage made in heaven, but after third and fourth placed finishes under Gordon Lee the previous two seasons, Everton were now in decline. Hartford might have been a midfield talent capable of winning 50 caps for his country, but the men alongside him were not of the same vintage. Trevor Ross and Garry Stanley were his midfield partners, later followed by Gary Megson, but none were in the same class. The only quality missing from Hartford’s game was a regular goals supply, but he did score in a Goodison derby match in 1980 when Everton ecstatically found themselves leading 2-0, only to be pegged back to a draw. Hartford also scored against Spurs, Middlesbrough (twice) and Sunderland in his most productive Everton season, but a promising FA Cup campaign ended in heartbreak in a quarter-final replay at Hartford’s old club, Manchester City.
Hartford actually started the first seven matches of the Howard Kendall era in 1981, but at 31 Kendall wanted a younger midfield leader and he allowed Hartford to rejoin his old club for £350,000. He played for another decade, making a further 75 appearances for City, before spells in the USA, at Norwich, Bolton, Stockport, Oldham and Shrewsbury. In a different era, Hartford might have been recognised as an Everton great. But he is considered a great footballer at what was a gloomy time for the club’s fortunes.

Blarney from Sepp Blatter
Jan 12 2008 by Barry Horne, Liverpool Echo
ONE of my favourite topics in this column is Sepp Blatter – and this week he found yet another way to make himself less than plausible. He felt compelled to pronounce that national team coaches should be the same nationality as the players they are coaching. Blatter has consistently relaxed the rules of qualifying for national citizenship to the point where we now have Manuel Almunia qualifying for England and the majority of the Republic of Ireland squad not having been born there.
Players can now play for other countries even if they have played for England in a full international, provided it wasn't a World Cup or European Championship match.
Did Guus Hiddink not take South Korea to the latter stages of the World Cup, do the same with Australia and then take Russia to Euro 2008? I don't know what nationality Blatter thinks Hiddink is, but he can't be all three.

Great Scot! What a boob
Jan 12 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
NOTHING quite beats paying attention to detail. When you sell something in print, it’s a prerequisite that you check things to make sure nothing comes back to haunt you. Which brings us back to Chelsea. Their section dedicated to Everton’s pen pictures in the cup match programme, contained name, age, nationality and a small profile. Where, then, did they have Ayegbeni Yakubu hailing from? Scotland – a shoddy mistake befitting a classless, unctuous club. Victor Anichebe was called Victor Akinbiyi when his name was read out by the pitch side announcer, while the diatribe towards Everton which appeared on their website beggared belief.
All being well, they will receive their comeuppance on Wednesday week. Many southern-based pundits are pining for a Chelsea-Arsenal collision at Wembley on February 24, but Everton have a habit of upsetting the odds. Remember 1995? As Joe Royle told assembled journalists after Tottenham’s hopes of facing Manchester United in the FA Cup Final had been jettisoned: “Sorry about your dream final, lads, but bollocks to it. And that’s with a double ’l’!”

The day I bowled over startled keeper Carlo
Jan 12 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
THOSE who tuned into Radio City’s pre-match build-up to the Carling Cup semi-final could have been forgiven if they were left bemused by a report regarding yours truly and Carlo Cudicini. Allow me to explain. The Press area at Stamford Bridge doubles up as the main thoroughfare for home players to access the changing rooms and invariably before games you will see the likes of Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard and John Terry pass by. Jose Mourinho also made an appearance before one game last season, taking a local reporter by surprise when he sat down and had his breakfast next to him while watching television. On this occasion, though, Cudicini might have wished he had taken a different route when he was nearly laid out by my stray rucksack and an unfortunate elbow – a referee couldn’t have taken any action, however, as there was no intent on Royal Blue’s behalf. All credit, though, must go to Cudicini. Unlike some of his team-mates, he refused to make a meal of the incident and bounced back up smiling. Had it been Ashley Cole or Florent Malouda, however, we might have been ruled out of the second leg!

David Moyes: ‘My hopes for future with Everton’
Jan 12 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES has vowed to see the job he has started at Everton through to the finish as he rubbished speculation linking him to the vacant Newcastle post.
Though Newcastle owner Mike Ashley had told Bill Kenwright that he would not be making an approach for Moyes’ services, the Everton boss believes there are still plenty of fresh challenges ahead. Moyes celebrates six years at the helm this March and there is still a chance he could mark that anniversary with a piece of silverware in the Carling Cup, so – with that in mind – he has spoken of aims for the future.
Nothing would give Moyes more satisfaction than to build an Everton squad capable of regularly rubbing shoulders with the top four and he is adamant that he is well on the road to seeing that ambition come true. “The speculation does not make any difference,” said Moyes. “I get on well with the chairman but that does not mean a thing. Supporters are the judges, they are the ones you have to win over. “We have been lucky enough to win a few football matches over the years. But I have built a team here and it is my intention to take the team further forward in the next few years in Europe and try to win a cup. The players we have here are good players, and I hope to see in a few more years that Everton can progress further.” The Blues have made dramatic progress in recent seasons and radically altered the way they are perceived by the general public, something Moyes believes has been able to occur because of the patient approach adopted by Kenwright and his fellow directors. “Nearly all the players that have come through have done so through me – there is only Alan Stubbs and Lee Carsley who were here before I arrived,” he said. “We gave Tony Hibbert and Leon Osman their debuts but I remember saying even then that managers were not getting an awful lot of time. You have got to win games to give yourself a chance.
“Now I am pleased with the style of football we are playing and we are a stable football club. I have been lucky in that I had a great chairman at Preston North End and I’ve got a great chairman and board here too.” Moyes wrapped up his second signing of the transfer window last night when Manuel Fernandes’ loan move from Valencia was rubber-stamped but it is “unlikely” that there will be any more additions before the end of the month.

James Vaughan has his sights on a selection headache
Jan 12 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON’S number one assassin may be on temporary leave of absence, but James Vaughan is hoping to prove he can be just as lethal a sharpshooter in the coming weeks. With Ayegbeni Yakubu - who has 12 goals to his credit thus far - away on international duty at the African Cup of Nations, Blues boss David Moyes has challenged his remaining forwards to take over the goalscoring mantle.
Andrew Johnson, inevitably, will come into the equation, as will Victor Anichebe, who offers a similar muscular threat to his Nigerian compatriot Yakubu, while James McFadden also has claims. But now that he is fully fit, Vaughan is keeping his fingers crossed that opportunity will knock shortly and could think of no better place to start than in this afternoon’s crunch clash with Manchester City. Vaughan, though, is aware that the strength in depth of Everton’s squad inevitably means he will have to be patient, but a spiky performance for the reserves in a 2-2 draw with Manchester United in midweek could not have been better timed. He scored in that game - as did Anichebe - and the 19-year-old is ready to give Moyes a selection headache ahead of a game against City that, if they win and other results go accordingly, could see Everton back in the top four. “Yak has gone away, but there are still a lot of other people to step in,” he said. “There is a lot of competition for places so everybody is going to be working hard to get a place in the team. “Every week we are having quality players being left out of the squad. There is the likes of Bainesy, who is one of the best left-backs in the country, and he didn’t make the bench against Chelsea. “Everybody wants to play well and get into the team, so you have just got to try hard in training and see how it goes. We just need to keep doing what we have been doing all season and the result will take care of itself, but it is a massive game. “I think we have been really unlucky against the teams in the top three. In every one of the games we have given them a really tough game – we just need to cut out mistakes and we will be all right.” International commitments have also robbed Moyes of Joseph Yobo and Steven Pienaar, but the manager has at least been able to draft in a reinforcement in the shape of Manuel Fernandes, whose loan from Valencia was completed last night.
A place on the bench is the best the Portugal international will be able to hope for, but Moyes believes the 21-year-old can add provide an injection of quality and link up as effectively as he did with Mikel Arteta last season. “I think Mikel will help Manny settle a little bit with him being able to speak Portuguese, as will Nuno (Valente),” said Moyes. “But Manny has been here before and he won’t really need any special help settling down. “He will give us another body in midfield, which we have been short of, and he is someone who we think will be able to take the ball and play. We have got him on loan, which means we haven’t had to spend much cash really.
“It was only a couple of days ago that we thought this deal could be a goer. Potentially he has got an awful lot of ability. Maybe he just needs to be loved a little bit and for someone to give him an opportunity. “But he will find that Everton have moved on since he was last here. He will need to play well to get into our team. He settled in quickly last year and has got on with the players. They are happy to have him and hopefully he can come in and add to what we have got.” This afternoon gives Moyes - who first became a manager at Preston North End 10 years ago today - the opportunity to lock horns with Sven-Goran Eriksson and he is looking forward to the challenge.
Likewise, City’s boss is relishing the chance to bring his much improved team to Merseyside and is very complimentary about the job Moyes has done during his time here. He does not envisage Everton suffering a Carling Cup hangover either.
“He has done a great job there,” said Eriksson. “The level at which Everton are playing now is consistently high. They have finished in the top four recently and are playing in Europe again this season, so David has done a fantastic job.
“These games against sides like Everton, Portsmouth, Aston Villa are extremely important because they all have aspirations to finish in a European qualification place. They all have objectives and targets that we have. “Everton want what we want and, like us, have a small chance of reaching the top four at the end of this season. They were a little unlucky after what happened to them in the Carling Cup semi-final, as they played well. “But we know that they are a good team. They are a fighting team, a strong team and they will try to make things difficult for us.”

13th January 2008
By Drew Mackenzie
Sunday Star
IF this was boxing they would have simply ignored the top-four contenders, started a new organisation and billed this as THE world title fight. But in the real world of Premier League football, only the wildest of optimists in royal or sky blue could imagine this as anything more than a showdown for fifth place at best. Step forward then 40,000 Everton fans who now truly believe their side can boot local rivals Liverpool out of the top four cartel to secure Champions League qualification.
And the man who kept this belief alive was Joleon Lescott, the defender who was villain of the peace in the Carling Cup semi-final first leg at Chelsea with his injury-time own goal. This time he found the net at the right end for his sixth goal this season. Everton ended a run of three defeats in four despite missing Yakubu, Joseph Yobo and Stephen Pienaar, who had all departed for the African Cup of Nations, and injured striker Andy Johnson. They never looked totally fluent but were well organised enough to end a five-match undefeated run for City, who have never won at Goodison in the Premier League. But, in a game of few efforts on goal, nobody was as accurate as the Everton fan who won the star prize at half-time for hitting the crossbar with two shots from outside the penalty area. Neither keeper had a serious shot to save until City’s Joe Hart pulled off a diving stop to block Tim Cahill’s 25th-minute effort. Micah Richards booted clear but only back to the Australian who volleyed over with Hart struggling to get back on his line. Everton were not denied for long, though. City looked to have cleared a corner from Mikel Arteta but the ball was fed back to the little Spaniard on the right wing. He hammered in a low cross which Lescott turned in at the near post. Elano saw his 25-yard curling free kick deflected onto the roof of the Everton net and Martin Petrov dallied when he had a clear sight of goal as Sven Goran Eriksson’s men searched for a quick reply.
But it needed a decent save by Hart from Phil Neville’s left-foot cracker from 25 yards to stop Everton doubling their lead. City perked up after half-time but the best they had to show for a good 10 minutes camped in the Everton half was a crazily sliced shot from Petrov that went out for a throw-in. Hart produced a sprawling save from sub James Vaughan’s header as City pressed forward leaving gaps at the back.But there was desperation at the other end too as Tim Howard pulled off the save of the day to keep out Petrov’s angled drive in injury-time. Eriksson said: “It took us too long to get going – about 40 minutes. “In the second half we were OK but we are not good at chasing long balls. “If we want to play that way I’d have to sell half my team.” Everton manager David Moyes said: “That’s a big win for us. City are a good side and with the players we had missing it was a hard task.
“It was good for Lescott to score. He was sore about what happened at Chelsea but he was very good today. “That was his sixth goal of the season and there’s no reason why he can’t go on and get double figures.”
EVERTON: Howard 7; Hibbert 7, Jagielka 7, Lescott 8, Valente 7; Carsley 7; Arteta 7, Neville 7, McFadden 6 (Vaughan (60th) 7); Cahill 6; Anichebe 6 (Baines 90th).
MAN CITY: Hart 7; Onuoha 7, Richards 7, Dunne 7, Ball 6; Elano 6, Hamann 7 (Gelsen (58th) 6), Corluka 7, Petrov 6; Vassell 5 (Ireland (69th) 6), Castillo 5 (Bianchi (58th) 5)
STAR MAN: Joleon Lescott
Ref: M Halsey

Everton 1, Manchester City 0
Jan 14, 2008
By Dominic King at Goodison, Liverpool Echo
ANOTHER win, another step nearer to the promised land – the time has arrived for Everton to explode the biggest cliché in modern day football. While the days when clubs like Southampton, Derby County and Nottingham Forest challenged for the title will never return, there has been a worrying acceptance recently that the Premier League’s top four places have been a closed shop. Helped by the hyperbole of Sky television, at the start of every campaign it is effectively taken as read that Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool will fill the Champions League spots, with the other 16 clubs fighting for the remaining scraps. As a result, the romance one used to associate with the national sport has slowly ebbed away. But there is a definite chance that this campaign will see the pecking order broken up and there is no reason why Everton can’t be the team to do it. Following the latest round of results, it is looking likely that the race for fourth place is going to be between four teams, namely the Blues, their neighbours, Aston Villa and, Saturday’s visitors to Goodison Park, Manchester City. Why, then, should David Moyes’ squad win the race, when the world and his wife will be expecting Liverpool – who have a game in hand – to come up trumps, just as much as they are waiting for Aston Villa and City to run out of stamina? Here’s some evidence. Since the Merseyside derby on October 20, each team has played 12 Premier League games and from the 36 points available, Everton (eight wins) have taken 26, Villa (seven) 23, Liverpool (five) 20 with City (four) accruing just 17. Outside the title chasers, few have been able to match the Toffees’ consistency but the biggest thing they have going for them at present is the fact they are playing as a team; everyone, clearly, is pulling in the same direction. Can the same be said of their rivals? Take this latest victory over City. It is hard to argue against it being more about perspiration than inspiration but there are occasions when the best victories are not aesthetically impressive. Sunderland, of course, were flattened by an exhibition of football in November but Moyes and his players will have taken just as much satisfaction from this latest three points as they will have done from that magnificent seven. In the end, the only thing they had to show for their efforts was a finish from Joleon Lescott of which a striker would be proud, but few would dispute that Everton were full value for a hugely important win. With Ayegbeni Yakubu, Steven Pienaar and Joseph Yobo away at the African Cup of Nations and Andrew Johnson sidelined after he picked up a knock in training, this was a day when unsung heroes came to the fore, in particular Tony Hibbert and Nuno Valente. Those two men will never enjoy the kind of popularity on the terraces that is reserved for Mikel Arteta, Tim Cahill and Yakubu but the contribution each man made to lowering City’s colours was immense. Take Hibbert. He has endured what can only be described as a wretched 18 months, with a tropical illness, serious injuries and a couple of red cards restricting his chance to shine. But how he relished this battle. Martin Petrov has been one of Sven Goran Eriksson’s better signings, a left sided flyer who relishes the opportunity to torment full-backs, yet Hibbert comprehensively won their battle. How pleasing to report that he was in terrific form. Similar sentiments apply to Valente. Questions have been asked why Leighton Baines is struggling to get into the side now he is fully fit but the Portugal international more than repaid the faith Moyes bestowed in him. In the middle, meanwhile, Lescott and Phil Jagielka formed an impregnable barrier in front of Tim Howard’s goal, each man’s tackling and heading making it clear they would have taken a City goal as a personal affront. Yet it would be remiss just to single out the defence. Phil Neville, for one, maintained his excellent form and thoroughly enjoyed beating the old enemy – was it a coincidence he was next to the visiting section at the final whistle? – and Lee Carsley excelled. Then, of course, there was Arteta, whose impressive return to action after a three-match ban was crowned by a quite magnificent first half cross to Lescott’s foot which ultimately proved decisive. “Manchester City was the first test. We now have a lot more to come,” Moyes pointed out. “Maybe we will start to get one or two back from injury soon, like Leon Osman and AJ, but we were short which is why it was such an important win for me.” Very true. Yakubu, Yobo and Pienaar will be missed in the next few weeks but Everton are not in a position where they are going to be unable to cope. The squad Moyes has assembled is certainly good enough to cope. Having tied all his key players down on lengthy contracts, it is there for all to see that the manager is building for Everton’s future and, with the right investment in the near future, there is every reason to believe they will become a potent force. Enormous amounts of hard work have been put in during the past few seasons to get the Blues into this position. The squad has been overhauled and the feeling persists that they are on the cusp of achieving something significant. True, it will be no easy task to nose ahead in the race with Liverpool, while Aston Villa will not yield without a fight, but wasn’t the same thing said three years ago? Repeat the efforts of that memorable campaign and nobody would be able to say it was a fluke. Inevitably, there are going to be plenty more twists and turns before the 2007/2008 season ends on May 11 and it is likely that Everton will have to replicate their winter efforts in the spring to pinch that final Champions League spot. Don’t, however, let anyone say that it is impossible. The more you see the evidence, the more it becomes clear that Everton are a top class side; so if the players and management genuinely believe they can do it, nothing should stop them.

Everton 1, Manchester City 0
Jan 14, 2008
By Ian Doyle, at Goodison Park, Liverpool Daily Post
IT wasn’t the best of omens. An administrative oversight had seen Joleon Lescott omitted from the initial teamsheet that was passed around the Press box at Goodison on Saturday. Come full-time, however, few were left in any doubt the centre-back had played his part in a rousing Everton victory that gave further encouragement another top-four place is not beyond them. What a turnaround for Lescott. Four days earlier, he was holding his head in his hands following a calamitous last-minute own goal that gifted Chelsea a first-leg Carling Cup semi-final advantage. But against fellow Champions League qualification hopefuls Manchester City at the weekend, Lescott was instead raising his hands in celebration after netting the winner and then manning a stout rearguard action to provide the perfect fillip after that Stamford Bridge sickener. This was an important victory for Everton. Not only was it the first time they had beaten a team above them in the table this season, it was also their first win against any opposition currently residing in the top nine. After some gentle persuasion, Moyes – who has been at pains this season to keep a lid on the bubbling pot of expectation at Goodison – admitted afterwards that fourth place is now an attainable target. Lescott cautiously agrees. “We need to believe that it is possible we can break in,” he says. “At the start of the season, we thought it might be a bit hard but now that we are in there, in contention after Christmas, you have got to believe you can push for fourth place. “But we can’t look too far ahead and get carried away. “We know that we need to win next week and then move on to the Chelsea game, which is going to be massive for us. “If we could overtake Liverpool, it would be a major achievement for us but we are just focused on the next game and if we get the right result, who knows? “Last season we got some great results and frustrated teams. This season we are getting results and playing some nice football at the same time.” In truth, there wasn’t much ‘nice football’ on display on Saturday as Moyes’s side emerged triumphant from a war of attrition in which goalmouth action was at a premium. Missing the African Cup of Nations trio of Steven Pienaar, Yakubu and Joseph Yobo and further depleted by the loss of Andrew Johnson and continued absence of Leon Osman, Everton were forced to fall back on the fighting qualities that epitomised last season’s efforts. Given this evidence, perhaps Moyes is right to not to get carried away by talk of challenging the top four. Indeed, results against Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea have demonstrated more is required to realistically break into that elite group. Matchwinner Lescott is an example of Everton’s ingenuity in the transfer market, an inspired buy from the lower leagues whose £5million price tag looks cheaper each passing week. Yet, as Moyes hinted at the club’s AGM last month, such bargains are becoming rare and Everton’s improvement means they must look in a different talent pool for reinforcements. The arrival of Manuel Fernandes will help. But with no extra funds seemingly forthcoming in the January transfer window, fifth place may ultimately be the limit of Everton’s Premier League ambitions this season. Certainly, Moyes’s side deserve their current standing as best of the rest and, with close rivals Portsmouth and Aston Villa still to visit Goodison Park, are well placed to improve on last year’s sixth-placed finish. And Lescott admits Everton should ensure they keep such opponents behind them before starting to gaze expectantly upwards. “We played Manchester United and Arsenal and though we didn’t win, we took a lot of credit from those games,” he says. “It was the same on Tuesday against Chelsea. We should have got something from that game as well. “It was just a last-minute lapse. “If you get points off the top three or four teams, they are bonuses. It’s the teams around us we need to beat.” City are one of those teams, and actually began the weekend in fourth place. “But with an appalling away record that has now seen them win just two of 11, their claims for a Champions League berth are as convincing as Stephen Ireland’s hair. A goalscoring striker will surely be at the top of Sven-Goran Eriksson’s shopping list the next time Thaksin Shinawatra dips into his deep pockets. Had City had even an ounce more threat in attack, they could have easily left Goodison with a point after dominating the second half both in terms of possession and territorial advantage. Everton struggled to get out of their own half. But a combination of solid home defence and stale away attack meant the only genuine save Tim Howard had to make was when clutching an angled Martin Petrov in injury time. A remarkable feature of Everton’s season has been the lack of drawn games. Only three of their 22 Premier League games hasn’t had a winner – the lowest total in the top flight – which explains why they are this morning on the same points as Liverpool despite having lost five more games than their neighbours. And a trademark touch of vision on 31 minutes from Mikel Arteta, chomping at the bit after his three-match suspension, ensured Moyes’s men gleaned full reward from a tight encounter. After his initial corner from the right was cleared, the ball was fed back to the Spaniard by Phil Neville. Arteta then whipped a low cross into the danger zone where Lescott, played onside and left unattended, swept the ball past City goalkeeper Joe Hart. Moyes’s side should have been ahead seven minutes earlier when good hold-up play Victor Anichebe allowed Tim Cahill to crack a shot that was well saved by Hart before the Australian screwed the loose ball horribly over an open net from five yards. Anichebe had been handed a first league start in almost three months and the youngster didn’t waste his opportunity, gamely foraging as a lone striker and emerging with credit from his tussle with City centre-backs Micah Richards and Richard Dunne. Everton had two fortunate escapes before the break. Nuno Valente could easily have conceded a penalty after blocking a Darius Vassell pass with his upper arm while, given the current climate surrounding dangerous tackles, Cahill could consider himself grateful to receive only a booking after catching Dietmar Hamann with his studs. However, the home side thoroughly merited their first-half advantage against a City team clearly intent on a goalless draw. Their initial gameplan in tatters, the visitors were a different proposition after the interval, but some sound Everton defensive performances – full-backs Tony Hibbert and Valente particularly impressive – helped end a run of successive home defeats. The portents are looking good at Goodison Park once again. EVERTON (4-4-1-1): Howard; Hibbert, Lescott, Jagielka, Valente; Arteta, Carsley, Neville, McFadden (Vaughan 60); Cahill; Anichebe (Baines 90). Subs: Ruddy, Stubbs, Gravesen. BOOKINGS: Cahill and Carsley (both fouls). MANCHESTER CITY (4-4-2): Hart; Onuoha, Richards, Dunne, Ball; Elano, Corluka, Hamann (Fernandes 57), Petrov; Castillo (Bianchi 57), Vassell (Ireland 69). Subs: Isaksson, Garrido. BOOKING: Hamann (foul). REFEREE: Mark Halsey (Lancashire). ATT: 38,474. NEXT GAME: Wigan Athletic v Everton, Barclays Premier League, Sunday 1.30pm

Alex McLeish ready to renew James McFadden chase
Jan 14, 2008
BY Jim Van Wijk, Liverpool Daily Post Correspondent
BIRMINGHAM manager Alex McLeish insists he is still optimistic about bringing Everton striker James McFadden to St Andrews. Everton have already turned down a £2.5million offer for the former Motherwell man who played under McLeish in the recent European Championship qualifying campaign with Scotland. However, McLeish, who also has Manchester City forward Georgios Samaras and Hibernian left-back David Murphy on his wish list, wants to come back in with an improved offer for the 24-year-old. He said: “I think James is a proven Premiership player and he is the type of character I look for in a player. “He also has great technical ability and I just hope we can do a deal. “I am optimistic, but nothing has happened over the weekend. “We will see what happens in the coming days.” Meanwhile, Birmingham skipper Damien Johnson maintains he is not “some sort of hero” – and insists with a collective battling spirit the club can fight their way to Premier League survival. The Northern Ireland international returned to action at Arsenal on Saturday wearing a protective mask just a fortnight after suffering a minor fracture of his skull, and helped his side secure a 1-1 draw as the Gunners slipped off the top of the table. Johnson said: “People are making me out as some sort of hero, but it is not about that. “Once the bone was reset, the consultant was happy enough for me to play.”

Manuel Fernandes sets sights on staying at Everton
Jan 14, 2008
By Ian Doyle, Liverpool Daily Post
MANUEL FERNANDES has already set his sights on securing a permanent move to Everton in the summer. The Portugal international completed the formalities on a six-month loan deal from Valencia over the weekend. It his second spell at Goodison having spent the second half of last season at the club on loan from Benfica. Fernandes came close to agreeing a transfer to Everton in the summer, only to change his mind at the last minute and move to the Mestalla instead. But with a deal in place for the Goodison outfit to sign the 21-year-old in the close season, Fernandes is intent on persuading David Moyes to make permanent his stay. “I am really happy,” said the midfielder. “I was sad when I left in the summer, I wanted to stay here. “But the most important thing is I am here and can help Everton out. “The fact I know the people and the club helped my decision to come here. I believe this is the best decision for me. It’s going to be really easy to fit in. “I knew what the team could do and this season they have brought in more quality players, they are a very strong squad. “The fans I have seen so far have been good to me, and it’s always nice to be appreciated. “When you are at a place and things don’t go well you start thinking if you have made the right choice. This is a good move, if it’s permanent better, but if it’s six months then I will enjoy it. “If I hadn’t have wanted to come here in the first place, I wouldn’t have. But the other group that owns me meant it was difficult for me to come here, but hopefully it can happen this summer.” Fernandes was ineligible for Saturday’s 1-0 win over Manchester City but is confident international clearance will arrive this week in time for him to be available for Sunday’s trip to Wigan Athletic. “The spirit here is fantastic and something I haven’t seen at every club, but it is a strength here,” he said to evertonTV. “I wouldn’t say I am in top form as I haven’t played as many games as I would have wanted. I just have to train hard, and try and get in the team against Wigan. I hope that the international clearance can come through. “I hope we can get fourth place. Third place will be difficult as we are some points behind Chelsea.” Fernandes’s signing will boost Everton for the Carling Cup semi-final second leg against Chelsea as he is eligible to play in that competition. But he can’t feature in the UEFA Cup as he has already played in the Champions League for Valencia this season.

We can land fourth spot - Joleon Lescott
Jan 14, 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
MATCHWINNER Joleon Lescott believes Everton are well equipped to win the four way battle for the final Champions League place. Lescott scored the goal against Manchester City which gave the Blues their eighth win in 12 Premier League matches and lifted them level on points with Liverpool as the season enters its crucial phase.
Though the defender is quick to point out that nobody inside Goodison Park will be making rash declarations about what the club will achieve, he feels the unity in the squad will stand them in good stead for the challenges they face in the coming weeks.
But pleased as he was to have notched his sixth goal of the campaign, Lescott has put it to the back of his mind and is now focusing on Everton’s next ‘must win’ fixture against Wigan Athletic next Sunday. “Fourth place is definitely achievable but I don’t think we are letting ourselves get too carried away,” Lescott said today. “We are not thinking about finishing in one particular place, we are just thinking about winning the next game and doing the right things at the right times. “We did that against Manchester City and we hope that can continue throughout the remainder of the season. We need to keep ticking along. Next week is going to be just as big a task going to Wigan. They are fighting against relegation. “We knew Saturday was going to be a massive game. Manchester City have been playing well all season and rightly deserved to be in fourth place. It was a tough task for us but we held our own and got the three points. “We need to believe that it is possible we can break in. At the start of the season, we thought it might be a bit hard but now that we are in contention after Christmas, you have got to believe you can push for fourth place “The big plus point of our squad is that we have tremendous character and leadership. We needed to bounce back after what happened at Chelsea and the Gaffer said to us before it that it might not be a pretty game. The main thing was that we ground out the win.”
Having scored an own goal in last Tuesday’s Carling Cup semi-final defeat against Chelsea, Lescott took great satisfaction from popping up at the right end on this occasion as he profited from a magnificent Mikel Arteta cross. “Nobody likes to score own goals,” he said. “I was a bit disappointed after the game but all the staff and all the players made it clear that I could not let it affect me and I was just grateful that I could repay a bit of that faith with a goal against City.” “Mikel is obviously a special player for us. It’s great to have him in the team and he is capable of putting those special balls in the box. We were grateful to have him back.”

How ‘Mad Dog’ Dave KO’d ‘Sweet Scientist’
Jan 14, 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
IF football is religion here on Merseyside, the fight game is an influential cult with a devoted following. And Saturday’s football showdown might have been billed as an eliminator for the heavyweight championship of the Premier League. In the blue corner, we had David ‘Mad Dog’ Moyes, the Scottish slugger who can combine aggression with an unstinting workrate and artistry. He was trading punches with the Sky Blue camp’s saviour, Sven ‘The Sweet Scientist’ Eriksson, a technician with greater experience and ringcraft, but a man who patently lacks a KO blow.
Moyes ultimately won on points. And while the hard earned victory hasn’t eliminated City from the heavyweight rankings, it has moved Everton into contention.
This was one of those contests that only the purists really enjoy. Low on concussive blows, high on patient probing for defensive chinks, it was intriguing rather than entertaining. By the time the final bell rang, the result proved infinitely more important than the performance. Everton v City was a little like watching an accomplished light-heavy share the ring with a heavyweight – Michael Spinks v Mike Tyson, Bob Foster versus Ali. City can probe, can move and can defend with a champion’s skill, but they lack the knockout punch to seriously trouble high ranking opposition. So while the home fans grew increasingly anxious at the amount of possession City enjoyed in the second period (Thomas Gravesen even jogged along the touchline attempting a spot of impromptu cheerleading when the angst-ridden howls had reached a crescendo), it wasn’t until the 92nd minute that Tim Howard was finally called upon to make a save. It hadn’t escaped most fans’ memories that it was exactly the same moment that Everton tossed away a 1-0 win in last season’s corresponding fixture. But this time Howard saved confidently and earned Everton a win they deserved by virtue of their greater chances. Tim Cahill missed a sitter which sat up on his left-foot, but chances were few and far between against a City side set up to try and claim a point in much the same way as they frustrated Liverpool recently.
At the heart of the defensive operation was the hugely impressive former Everton youngster. Whenever Richard Dunne returns to Goodison, older fans express wistful sighs of what might have been. Now slimmed down, matured and supremely consistent, he is a centre-half who would hold his place in most defences.
But perhaps Evertonians should be counting their blessings. Dunne’s departure came in the pre-Moyes era, but a centre-back who has arrived since is even better.
Joleon Lescott, apparently “sore” at the way his imperious performance ended last Tuesday, scored at the right end of the pitch – again. That’s his sixth goal of the season, drawing slightly premature comparisons with Derek Mountfield and his remarkable 14 goal haul in 1984-85. And he took his 31st minute matchwinner with all the aplomb of an international striker, aided by a classy cross into the box by Mikel Arteta. With City’s defence anticipating another cross clipped head high, the returning Spaniard drilled a low ball onto the edge of the six-yard box and Lescott pounced.
That was always likely to be enough against shot-shy City. Part of the reason for that was the performances of Everton’s full-backs, who both enjoyed outstanding afternoons. Tony Hibbert curtailed the brooding menace of Martin Petrov almost totally, while if some supporters were bemused by the absence of Leighton Baines from the starting line-up, Nuno Valente’s excellent display articulately explained why.
The coming month will provide an acid test of Everton’s ambitions.
Yakubu, Yobo and Pienaar are big misses, during a month which sees some big matches. But if Everton can stay in touch with a Champions League chasing pack which now has four teams locked together on 39 points, they could surpass all expectations. Moyes refused to take the boxer’s road of hollering from the rooftops afterwards. “It will be tough to simply stay in the top half this season, let alone finish in the European places,” he said. But the fact remains Everton have entered the new year with a Champions League place squarely in their sights. Saturday’s victory might not have eliminated City from the heavyweight rankings, but it’s caused one or two pundits to take Everton a little more seriously.

David Moyes: 'Young guns have part to play'
Jan 14 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES has urged his young guns to fire themselves into first team contention during a big month for the Blues. With Yakubu away on African Nations Cup duty for a month, and Andrew Johnson sidelined with a knock on his knee picked up in training on Friday, Victor Anichebe led the forward line powerfully during Saturday’s vital win over Manchester City. He was joined after 59 minutes by James Vaughan, and manager Moyes said afterwards: “It will be a difficult month for us with the lads away, but maybe they will see this is a big opportunity for them.
“They’ve both got really good attributes. “There’s a lot more development to come from the two boys, but both of them are having a good go at it. “I thought young Victor did okay. And Vaughany did okay when he came on as well. “Playing up front for Everton is a big thing to do, but they’re having a real go.” Everton’s matchwinner was scored by a man who only has Yakubu and Tim Cahill ahead of him in the Goodison goalscoring charts, and Moyes added that Joleon Lescott should have double figures as his target now. “Joleon’s got six goals now. I think I was the last centre-half to score 10!” he said “But I can remember centre-halves like Tony Adams and Derek Mountfield regularly reaching double figures and let’s hope Joleon can reach 10 by the end of the season. “This was a big win for us. “Yes, we’re in Champions League contention now. “But I’m not going to set myself up by saying we are definitely going to do that. But we’ve done it before. “You look at the way the results are going and we’re really going to have to hang in there. The group below the top group are really going well and it’s going to be tough to finish in the top half of the league, never mind the top four or five. “We didn’t play as well today as we have done in the past couple of months. “I thought we passed the ball well for the first 10 minutes, but when you’ve got players like Pienaar, Osman and Yak missing you lose a little flair. “So it was important to get Mikel Arteta on the ball and when we did he usually made things happen. “It was a big win. I think Manchester City are a good side. They play good football and today, with the players we had missing, it was always going to be a tough ask. So I have to give all the players credit for the way they performed.” Moyes had particular words of praise for his two full-backs. “Tony Hibbert did a really good job on Martin Petrov, who has been terrorising many a full-back,” he added. “And Nuno did really well, too. Bainesy has been bought for the future. He was a bit unlucky not to get in the side, but that’s because Nuno has been doing well.”

Everton in Alder Hey keep-fit classes
Jan 14 2008 Liverpool Echo
EVERTON FC and Alder Hey Children’s hospital have joined forces to launch a new initiative. Under the stewardship of Everton In The Community (EITC) Disability Officer Steve Johnson, EITC coaches will deliver multi-skills sports activities for Alder Hey patients every fortnight. Everton are the first Premier League club to carry out the initiative. It is part of the club’s wider disability programme.
Everton Ladies and England goalkeeper Rachel Brown attended a launch session in the hospital’s neuromedical play room and a multi-skills workshop demonstration.
Chris Clarke, EITC disability officer, said: “Specialist disability coaches will provide regular multi-skills coaching sessions at the hospital.” Angela Jones, chairwoman of the Royal Liverpool Children’s Trust, said: “This is an excellent example of two very different organisations working in partnership towards a common goal, the health of young people.”

14th January 2008
Daily Star
Birmingham have had a second bid of around £3million rejected for Everton striker James McFadden. Blues boss Alex McLeish will have to splash out around £5million to secure McFadden's services, but City striker Garry O'Connor believes he would be worth the outlay. O'Connor knows all about McFadden's abilities from their time together in the Scotland squad, and said: "James McFadden is an unbelievable talent. If we could manage to lure him to Birmingham then he would be a fantastic signing. He has worked for the gaffer before and to get him here would be great because he's top class." He added: "If he came here he would score goals, as he has already done in the Premier League, and at national level, and he would be a great success and help the team. "I think it might appeal to him. There's a lot of people after his signature but I think if we stump £5million up we would get him. That would be the price. Whether the funds are there I don't know, but hopefully the chairman and the board can give the gaffer some money. "Hopefully the gaffer will make a few more signings. If we bring players in and keep playing like we did at Arsenal, then I think we will be fine."
O'Connor is delighted to be part of McLeish's starting line-up after having little chance to impress following his £2.65million summer move from Lokomotiv Moscow. He said: "It was really frustrating earlier in the season and I think I was a little bit hard done by. But I did well when I came on as a substitute and stayed positive. "It's great to be playing now and I always felt I could cope with the Premier League and score goals if I was given the chance and got Premier League standard of fitness from having a run in the side."

Derby frustration for Neil Dewsnip
Jan 15, 2008
Academy Foootball
By Chris Wright, Liverpool Daily Post
THE first Premier Academy League match at Everton’s Finch Farm will certainly be remembered on the day the city celebrated being the European Capital of Culture. But Everton under-18s are rueing missing the chance of putting one over neighbours Liverpool. After being reduced to 10 men following James McCarten’s sending-off they had to settle for a point in a 3-3 draw, despite leading 3-1 with less than half an hour remaining. Coach Dewsnip said: “We started well and ironically Liverpool scored. They did better in the first half and we were probably better in the second half when we took a 3-1 lead. “We were in a good position and doing nicely and after Liverpool had kind of gifted us two goals we did the same. It is frustrating in that when you get in such a good position in a derby game you would like to see that through and we didn’t.” Dewsnip added: “It a lack of maturity that we couldn’t see the game out and also on the part of Jay McCarten, but he knows that. But we are dealing with 16 and 17-year-olds. And I’m sure Hughie (McAuley) would say the same about some of the things his players did. "They are very young and in a high pressure game for all concerned. Some handle it better than others, but through their experiences they will kick on with that and learn from it. Hopefully one day they don’t make the same mistakes at a higher standard.” Everton will be looking to record their first win of 2008 after two frustrating draws when they face Bolton Wanderers at home (kick-off 11am). Dewsnip said: “We need to get winning again. We have played two and drawn two, but we were in front in both games. Before Christmas we would have got over the line as winners in both games, so we need to find that winning formula again.” Everton will be without McCarten, who is suspended following his sending-off. EVERTON U18s: Stubhaug; Stewart, Sinnott, McCarten, Barnett; Redmond, Rodwell, O’Kane, Baxter; Codling, Agard. Subs: McCardle, McEntagart.

Goodison Park now scarier than Anfield - Arsene Wenger
Jan 15 2008
By Bill Pierce, Liverpool Daily Post
ARSENAL manager Arsene Wenger has delivered another blow to beleaguered Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez by admitting that playing at Merseyside rivals Everton is now a more intimidating prospect than running out at Anfield. And Wenger also revealed he considered re-signing Nicolas Anelka, the former Arsenal and Liverpool striker who moved from Bolton to Chelsea last week in a £15million deal. Both subjects were raised at the official launch of Setanta Sports-backed “Arsenal TV,” a new television channel which will show six hours of Arsenal-related programmes every night of the week including all first-team matches, and was kicked off by “Arsenal Question Time” hosted by Des Lynam. Wenger was asked what ground he most likes or hates visiting for a match and admitted that the atmosphere at Goodison Park is now more intense than at Anfield. He said: “Liverpool is the same kind of support but Everton is a bit more aggressive because Everton is up at the moment. “Over the last one or two years, especially, it has been one of the noisiest grounds and has a great atmosphere. “Liverpool is the same but now a little bit more genteel,” he added. Ironically, Arsenal won 4-1 at Everton just before Christmas having drawn 1-1 at Liverpool earlier in the season, but the Frenchman’s remarks will possibly hit home at Anfield where Benitez has been at odds with the club’s American owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks. Wenger, criticised in some quarters for fielding too many foreign players, also revealed that “80%” of the club’s youth team players at Under-14 and Under-16 level are British, but that he would continue signing top players “without worrying what country they come from.” And he admitted that Anelka, who left Arsenal for Real Madrid in a bitter, £23.5million transfer just two years after being signed as a £500,000-teenager from Paris St Germain, almost came back in the summer. Wenger added: “It might have happened. I think he felt he wanted to put something right, but it didn’t work out. “I don’t know if I would have wanted to sign him again. “ You always get the feeling you should let somebody go who has left but there was some consideration, yes.”

Everton slap £5m price tag on James McFadden
Jan 15 2008, By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
BIRMINGHAM CITY must meet Everton’s £5m valuation of James McFadden if they want to lure him away from Goodison Park. Though the Blues are in no hurry to sell the Scotland international, it is looking increasingly likely that his career on Merseyside will end during the current transfer window and there is even a chance McFadden could be gone before the end of this week Having had their opening bid of £2m dismissed out of hand, Birmingham raised their offer to £4m at the weekend only to see that rebuffed as well and Everton are now waiting to hear back from officials at St Andrews. McFadden is well known to Birmingham boss Alex McLeish from his time as Scotland manager and he has made no secret that he wants to add the 24-year-old to his squad but Everton have made it clear they will stand firm. Glasgow giants Celtic - who failed in an attempt to sign McFadden on loan with a view to a permanent transfer at Christmas - and Rangers are known to monitoring the situation, while Middlesbrough have also been tentatively linked with him. Former Everton boss Walter Smith said yesterday that McFadden is a “player who we would be interested in” but, as yet, Rangers have not made an official contact with Goodison’s top brass, while Celtic have stayed tight-lipped since their opening gambit was rejected. Meanwhile Everton, who received a boost last night when learning that loan signing Manuel Fernandes is eligible to play in the UEFA Cup after all, completed the formalities on the deal that sees teenager defender Dan Gosling arrive on Merseyside. An initial payment of £1m has been made to Plymouth Argyle, but that fee could eventually rise to £3m if Gosling makes the anticipated progress. The 17-year-old right back, allotted squad number 32, can’t wait to start his new adventure. “It’s brilliant at Everton; everything about it is so much different from Plymouth. No disrespect to that club, but it's all new here – it is just fantastic,” said Gosling, who had made 10 appearances for the Pilgrims this season. “I think I’ve changed from how I used to be. I used to be an attacking midfielder, getting into the box. I played defensive midfield for England and I’ve also started playing right back more recently – just bombing on round the winger and getting crosses in the box really.”

Vital we get decent price for James McFadden
Jan 16 2008 Liverpool Echo Letters
I THINK most Evertonians would not be too disappointed to see James McFadden leave and we will wish him well if he does go. But the money being offered seems a bit silly to me and we need to bear in mind that, whether you rate McFadden nor not, we would need to replace him. Looking at it from that point of view demanding £5m - as reported in yesterday’s Echo - seems reasonable. Birmingham may have offered £2.5m but who would we be able to sign for that these days? Whoever Moyes may bring in, he would need to be a potential starter sometimes as well as having some impact as a sub. So who would we replace him with?
Kevin Dorit, Liverpool
I LIKE James McFadden.
If Birmingham were to up their offer to £4m then I’d bite their hands off. But we might be better off holding on to him until the summer and giving him a run.
I know there’s a risk of injury if we do that, but with a good run in the starting XI we might find he’s worth keeping after all - or, alternatively, we may find Birmingham and other clubs might be willing to pay more for him. Colin Larkin, Allerton
JAMES McFADDEN has got to be worth £5m to us.
Unfortunately, he's one in a long line of 'luxury' players that I can remember, going back as far as the original Dunc (McKenzie), Nevin, Preki, Beagrie, Limpars, Kanchelskis (probably in a different class to the rest) and Ginola. I'm sure I've left several out - all match winners on their day, and great to watch, but what if their day only comes around once in a blue moon? For his sake, I think he needs to move because I can only ever really see him as sub under Moyes and, quite rightly at the moment, because of how we play and the system that works.
Frank Smith, Huyton
GREAT result against City.
I thought Tony Hibbert played his socks off, Lescott was his usual mix of class and craft, and young Victor made sure their defence had their hands full keeping him quiet. As ever, Howard was superb (and is on course to being one of Moyesy’s success stories), and even when we were under the cosh the whole team pulled together. I don’t know if it was the royal blue tinted glasses, but I never felt they would score. Martin Naylon, Tuebrook
I’M over the moon that Fernandes is back.
I’m not bothered about what happened in the summer - let’s not forget that we took about six weeks trying to sign him and Valencia did it in about six hours.
He is back and should be cheered on as much as anyone because this fella is real quality. His performances against Arsenal and United were right out of the top drawer.
Paul Conway, Widnes
WHAT happened in the summer with Fernandes is irrelevant and every Blue should be overjoyed he is back. You should never turn down the chance to sign a top quality player and that is what Fernandes is. If he can reproduce some of the performances from the end of last season between now and May, then there should be no arguments about letting bygones be bygones and bringing him back permanently - especially if we have qualified for the Champions League! Doug Scott, Aigburth

Nigel Martyn: David Moyes would have been crazy to join Toon
Jan 15 2008 by Nigel Martyn, Liverpool Echo
HARRY REDKNAPP has said no, Mark Hughes is undecided while Kevin Keegan is refusing to rule himself ‘in or out’ – who on earth will Newcastle turn to be their next manager? It was reassuring to hear Bill Kenwright come out within hours of Sam Allardyce’s sacking last week and issue a ‘hands off’ warning over David Moyes but that has not stopped bookmakers leaving Everton’s manager in their lists of runners and riders to take over at St James’ Park. The problem is, though, that some clubs simply do not take no for an answer when they want something and it’s only natural that they would be drawn to David, as he has impeccable credentials for the position.
But Evertonians should breath easy. I genuinely believe that he has unfinished business at Goodison Park and I honestly don’t think Newcastle would be able to offer him anything better than he has at Goodison Park. He has been given time to build a side here and it’s there for all to see that his work is beginning to bear fruit; he is desperate to win things for Everton and not just one trophy; he wants to take the Blues into the top four and beyond. Newcastle is obviously a club with potential and they have some great players on their books, plus the fact that they regularly get crowds in excess of 50,000. Can they match Everton’s history? Not a chance. Aside from that, Everton have just started in the last couple of years to show the consistency that David has strived for from the first day he walked into the job; we are playing great football now and scoring a lot of goals. Slowly but surely, we are bridging the gap between ourselves and the ‘Big Four’ and last Saturday’s victory over Manchester City was hugely important, and showed that the Blues should be regarded as genuine challengers for the top four this season. Ordinarily you would say Liverpool would be certainties for that spot – after all, you have to acknowledge they have some wonderful footballers – but their apparent self-inflicted meltdown has opened the door for someone to try and push through. It’s certainly not beyond the realms of possibility that Everton could replicate the achievement of the side in which I played three years ago and what an achievement that would be but, whatever happens, we are clearly going in the right direction. And that is down to a certain Mr Moyes.
Arteta can be difference between fourth and fifth
MIKEL ARTETA returned to action with a spring in his step against Manchester City and it was no surprise to see him produce the one moment of outstanding skill.
The suspension he incurred was hugely unjust but, taking a positive out of a negative, he will have had a chance to recharge his batteries and there is no doubting that he will take a significant hand in the push for fourth place. You can say he is vital for the delivery he puts in from set pieces and the way he can cross a ball, but he is just an all-round very good footballer. He has outstanding talent and is someone Everton are blessed to have. Keeping him may prove to be the hard part as if he keeps playing to such a high level. It is going to register with the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona or maybe even Manchester United, but if Everton continue to make progress, he will remain happy. Getting him to sign an extended contract was smart business on the Blues’ behalf last summer as anyone wanting to spirit Mikel away would have to pay top whack, though that scenario is unlikely in the foreseeable future. Mikel is happy on Merseyside, he relishes the role he has in our team and hopefully we will be able to enjoy his special talent for many years. If he gets the bit between his teeth between now and the end of the season, he could be the difference in us finishing fourth or fifth.

Goodison daunting - Wenger
Jan 15 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
ARSENE WENGER has described a trip to Anfield nowadays as being “genteel” – and suggested the atmosphere at Goodison Park is currently more daunting.
The Arsenal boss brought his side to Everton after Christmas and won 4-1, two months after being held to a 1-1 draw at Anfield, but he admitted the atmospheres at the respective grounds were different. “Liverpool is the same kind of support, but Everton is a bit more aggressive because Everton is up at the moment,” said Wenger.
“Over the last one or two years, especially, it has been one of the noisiest grounds and has a great atmosphere. “Liverpool is the same but now a little bit more genteel.”
Wenger also admitted that new Chelsea signing Nicolas Anelka, who left Arsenal for Real Madrid in a bitter, £23.5million transfer, almost came back in the summer.
Wenger added: “I think he felt he wanted to put something right, but it didn’t work out. “I don’t know if I would have wanted to sign him again.”

Everton v SK Brann ticket information
Jan 15 2008 Liverpool Echo
UEFA Cup Last 32, 1st leg
To be played at Brann Stadion, Bergen on Wednesday, February 13
EVERTON have announced the ticket eligibility criteria for next month’s UEFA Cup fixture away at SK Brann. The date of the game has been confirmed as February 13 and following a trip out to the Brann Stadion in Bergen, Blues’ officials were informed an allocation of 850 tickets would be available – equating to 5% of the 17,000 Brann Stadion capacity in keeping with UEFA regulations. As with December’s game at AZ Alkmaar, the club requested additional tickets and received 100 on top of the original allocation taking the number of tickets to 950.
Chief executive Keith Wyness said: “We have worked hard in an attempt to secure more tickets for the match. “The size of the stadium means, however, that once again we will have to impose strict eligibility conditions and hopefully all Evertonians will see that this is being done in the fairest way possible.” Due to the scarcity of tickets the club will initiate a ballot process for any supporters wishing to buy a ticket based on the following eligibility criteria: Season Ticket Holders who have purchased tickets from Everton or our Official Travel Partner for ALL of Everton’s previous UEFA Cup away ties at Metalist, Nurnberg and Alkmaar are invited to apply ONLY in writing via post, fax or web to the Fan Centre by 5pm on Monday, January 21. Tickets are priced £20. Any applications received after this time will be null and void and excluded from the ballot. Supporters successful in the ballot will be notified by Wednesday, January 23. Executive Members who satisfy the same criteria who wish to travel independently should also apply in writing, via post, fax or web, to the Corporate Sales Department, within the same timetable, with Executive tickets available at £120 including a meal inside the stadium prior to the match and a small number of standard match tickets available at £20. Please state which form of ticket you are applying for.
All applications must be accompanied by a customer number, name, address, date of birth, daytime telephone number and if possible an email address. Please note there is NO requirement for supporters to produce travel documentation.

Steve Sidwell to consider interest from Everton
Jan 16, 2008. By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
STEVE SIDWELL is expected to snub a loan move to Sunderland today – because Everton and Portsmouth are reportedly interested in his signature. Roy Keane thought he had reached agreement for the Chelsea midfielder to join the Black Cats on loan until the end of the season. But a report today claimed that the former Reading star would reject the chance of a move to the north-east. David Moyes has expressed interest in Sidwell in the past, and despite the arrival of Manuel Fernandes on loan is keen to add to his short term options with Steven Pienaar, Joseph Yobo and Yakubu all away on African Nations Cup duty until January 31 at the earliest. Chelsea will not let the midfielder leave until the end of January, with Michael Essien and John Obi Mikel on African Nations Cup duty. But Everton could lose two more bodies by then, with Birmingham expected to improve their offer for James McFadden to £5m plus – a fee which will finally convince David Moyes to part with the Scottish international, and Thomas Gravesen’s handlers trying to engineer a permanent move for their client. The Blues will not stand in Gravesen’s way if Celtic try to permanently offload the Danish midfielder during the January transfer window. Gravesen is on loan from Celtic until the end of the season, but after making just three starts since returning to Goodison his management company are trying to kick-start his career with a move elsewhere. Celtic are keen to offload a player who is on £40,000 a week and still has 18 months remaining of a three-year contract. Turkish club Galatasaray have expressed an interest in Gravesen as a replacement for the injured Tobias Linderoth, but they are also keen on former Blues target Johann Vogel. Nigeria’s African Nations Cup campaign, meanwhile, kicks off next Monday with a daunting clash against Ivory Coast, while South Africa start on Wednesday against 2006 World Cup finalists Angola.

Dan Gosling tipped for a great future at Everton
Jan 16, 2008, By Ian Doyle, Liverpool Daily Post
EVERTON new boy Dan Gosling has been backed to flourish at Goodison by former manager Paul Sturrock. The highly-rated 17-year-old this week completed a move from Coca-Cola Championship outfit Plymouth Argyle. Pilgrims manager Sturrock has had several dealings with David Moyes during the past year, including selling Swindon Town youngster Lukas Jutkiewicz to Everton and then taking the striker on loan earlier this month. And Sturrock is confident his fellow Scot has a future star on his hands in right-back Gosling. “Dan is going to one of the country’s top clubs, whose manager is placing a lot of faith in young British talent,” he said. “If Dan works hard, listens to what he is taught, and is prepared to make sacrifices, everything is lying in front of him. “Opportunities like this do not come around often and no-one ought to blame Dan for grabbing it with both hands. “Our supporters should be appreciative that Dan is going to Goodison with our blessing, and I hope they will join me in wishing him well.” Meanwhile, Victor Anichebe is hopeful of playing a major role in Everton’s fortunes over the coming weeks. The 19-year-old impressed on his first league start in almost three months after the injured Andrew Johnson joined Yakubu in being unavailable. While Yakubu expected on African Cup of Nations duty until mid-February, Johnson should have recovered from his knee injury in time for Sunday’s trip to Wigan Athletic. But Anichebe said: “It’s good to get a start I’ve been waiting for ages to get this chance. Hopefully I can build on from here and keep doing well.” Everton have now moved level on points with fourth-placed Liverpool, and Anichebe told evertonTV: “The result was massive and puts us up among the top teams. “Hopefully now we can just keep pushing on,” he added. “Man City are a great team and good on the ball and we had to stick together to get the win and grind out a result. Those kind of games will come during the season.” Meanwhile, Galatasaray are tracking Thomas Gravesen. The Denmark international is on loan at Everton from Celtic for the season, but has struggled to make an impact. Now Galatasaray are considering approaching the Scottish Premier League with an offer to sign Gravesen on a permanent transfer.
Steven Pienaar created a goal as South Africa beat Botswana 2-1 at the Chatsworth Stadium earlier today.
Bryce Moon opened the scoring after latching onto Pienaar's 41st minute cross field ball. Moathlaping equalised for Botswana not long after the break with a header.
Sibusiso Zuma bagged the winner for the home side with just nine minutes left - heading home a Lerato Chabangu cross. South Africa face Angola in their first match of the African Cup of Nations tournament next Wednesday.
Joseph Yobo limped out of training with Nigeria on Tuesday morning with an ankle injury, Complete Sports are reporting.
The Blues' center half was, however, able to play a part in the evening session, under the watchful eye of the Super Eagles' physio. Speaking to Complete Sports, Yobo stressed that the injury was nothing serious: “I shall be fit for our first game at the Nations Cup against Cote d’Ivoire. My ankle injury is not something to panic about. Infact, I’ve been playing with the injury for about eight weeks for Everton, so I see no reason why I cannot go on. The physio have helped me greatly. “I had even contemplated resting adequately ahead of the game on Monday. Really there is no cause for alarm."

16th January 2008
Daily Star
Birmingham are closing in on signing Everton striker James McFadden.
Birmingham have had bids of £2.5million and £3million rejected for the Scotland international but it is understood further negotiations have brought the two clubs close to reaching an agreement. A source close to Birmingham said: "The two clubs have moved closer to reaching an agreement and something could be done by the weekend. You wouldn't be far wrong in saying that." Everton value McFadden, who has struggled to hold down a regular place this season, at around £5million.
If he moves to St Andrews it will mean him being reunited with former Scotland manager and current Blues boss Alex McLeish who had made the player one of his main targets during the January transfer window. McFadden will also link up again with Scotland striker Garry O'Connor who moved to Blues from Lokomotiv Moscow in a £2.65 million deal last summer. O'Connor said: "James McFadden is an unbelievable talent. If we could manage to lure him to Birmingham then he would be a fantastic signing. He has worked for the gaffer before and to get him here would be great because he's top class. "If he came here he would score goals, as he has already done in the Premier League, and at national level, and he would be a great success and help the team. I think the move might appeal to him. There are a lot of people after his signature but I think if we stump up £5million we would get him. "That would be the price. Whether the funds are there I don't know, but hopefully the chairman and the board can give the gaffer some money." McLeish has confirmed his interest in McFadden, who shot to prominence after scoring the goal which earned Scotland a shock win over France in Paris in a Euro 2008 qualifier.

Birmingham to net £5.5m James McFadden
Jan 17, 2008, By Ian Doyle, Liverpool Daily Post
BIRMINGHAM CITY are close to completing the £5.5million capture of Everton striker James McFadden. The Midlanders have been intent on signing the 24-year-old during this month's transfer window, having already had bids rejected of £2.5m and then £4m. And now the St Andrews outfit have come back with a final offer that meets Everton's valuation of the player. Celtic and Rangers have also expressed an interest in McFadden, but Birmingham's determination to sign the forward has moved them ahead of the Scottish suitors. Birmingham manager Alex McLeish is keen to link up with McFadden once again after being impressed with the Everton man while coach of the Scotland national team. And McLeish said yesterday: “McFadden is one of these – it’s a Glasgow word we use – ‘gallas’, a person who is unfazed by challenges put in front of him, who fancies his chances, has the bottle and mentality. “And the thing about James McFadden is that he definitely has the technique as well. “But I’m talking about a player I don’t even have here and I hope we can really pull out the stops to get him." The player is expected at St Andrews today to meet with McLeish and discuss personal terms. While McFadden seems destined for a Goodison exit, reports yesterday suggested Chelsea’s Steve Sidwell is stalling on a loan move to Sunderland because of interest from Everton and Portsmouth. David Moyes is a known admirer of the former Reading midfielder, and is on the look-out for further midfield reinforcement after already bringing in Manuel Fernandes on loan from Valencia. Such movements will not extend to the Everton backroom staff, with Moyes admitting it is “highly unlikely” he will appoint an assistant before the end of the season. The role has been vacant since Alan Irvine left Goodison to become manager of Coca-Cola Championship outfit Preston North End in November. Now the Goodison manager says the need to maintain a stable backroom staff between now and the end of the season means he will wait until the summer before assessing a possible new assistant. “It’s highly unlikely that I will be making an appointment before the end of the season,” said Moyes. “I have been really pleased with work done by Jimmy Lumsden, Andy Holden and Chris Woods since Alan left and at this present time I am keen to maintain the consistency at the club. “I don’t want to make a change at this stage of the season and anyway our own schedule has been too busy for me to make any enquiries regarding the post.” Meanwhile, Leon Osman is facing a race against time to be fit for Everton’s Carling Cup showdown with Chelsea next Wednesday. The midfielder has been sidelined since the December 15 Premier League victory at West Ham United after suffering a broken toe. Moyes has been hopeful the 26-year-old will be available for the semi-final second leg of the competition against Chelsea at Goodison next week, when Everton hope to overturn a 2-1 deficit from the first game. But Osman has yet to resume full training and is almost certainly out of the trip to Wigan Athletic on Sunday as he attempts to build up his fitness. And the player admits the nature of the injury means his recovery cannot be rushed. “I’m trying to push as hard as I can every day without re-injuring myself,” said Osman to evertonTV. “But certain days I have pushed a little bit too hard and I’ll be in pain so the physio’s have to pull the reins in and slow me down. “I’ll be back as quick as my body will heal, though. “We were on a great run while I was in the side and I was really upset to get injured. But the team have been doing well without me and I’m sure they’ll put 100% into the rest of the games I’m out. “We will get more better results than we will get bad results.”

Russian link as James McFadden nears exit
Jan 17, 2008, By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
JAMES McFADDEN today moved a step closer towards the Goodison Park exit door as Everton weighed up a move for the exciting Russian attacker Andrei Arshavin. The Blues and Birmingham City have struck a £5.75m deal that would see the Scotland international move to St Andrews. But it is still some way from completion as McFadden has yet to agree personal terms. They could yet prove to be a stumbling block, but Alex McLeish has mounted a relentless pursuit of McFadden during the transfer window and the Birmingham boss hopes that “all the stops can be pulled out” to land the 24-year-old. Everton have stressed all along that they do not need to sell McFadden. Yet a parting of the ways now seems inevitable and that could open the door to a possible bid for Arshavin, the Zenit St Petersburg forward. Arshavin, so impressive at Goodison Park when the Blues faced Zenit in the UEFA Cup group stages last month, has made no secret of the fact that he would welcome a move to the Premier League and a number of clubs have expressed an interest in him. “We have three offers, all from big European teams,” Arshavin’s agent, Pavel Andreev, said. “Now we’re considering the pros and cons.” Meanwhile, Tim Cahill could be on course for a club versus country row after he made himself available for Australia’s World Cup qualifier against Qatar in Melbourne on February 6. Should new Socceroos coach Pim Verbeek pick Cahill, he may end up missing important Premier League games against Blackburn Rovers and Reading, but the midfielder is quick to point out that nothing has been set in stone. “I’m available for Australia any time,” Cahill said. “I fought so hard in court cases to play for Australia that I’m not all of a sudden going to turn around and say I don't want to play for Australia. “I’ve had a meeting with Pim and David Moyes and I think it just comes down to commonsense. “But he (Verbeek) knows he’s got my 100 per cent backing and that’s the main thing.”

Everton sign £8m shirt deal with Chang
Jan 17, 2008
Exclusive by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON were celebrating today after agreeing the most lucrative sponsorship deal in the club’s history. Chief executive Keith Wyness and chief operating officer Robert Elstone were in Thailand to sign a three-year deal with Asian drinks giant Chang that is worth £8m to the Blues, with the contract running until the end of the 2010/2011 season. Chang’s name has appeared on the front of Everton’s shirts since 2004, when they took over from Chinese telecommunications firm Kejian, and this is the second time they have chosen to extend their commitment to the club. After David Moyes’ side finished in fourth place in 2005, a £2m-a-year performance-related deal was agreed but the terms of the new arrangement will see Everton receive the bulk of the £8m up front and Wyness is thrilled with the terms that have been struck. “This is a significant day for Everton,” said Wyness. “David is the third longest-serving manager in the Premier League and this is one of the longest sponsorship deals. I think it reflects the stability of the club. “It takes time to build trust and relationships but this is the third time Chang have chosen to renew their links with us and we are all very happy with the terms. It is a significant day for us as we believe we are a sought-after commodity.” Although there was interest from airlines and electronics companies, Wyness said Chang was always the preferred option and hopes the relationship between the two parties will yield further success in years to come. “We are absolutely delighted to be able to capitalise and build upon our existing relationship with Chang,” he added. “The scale of this new deal reflects Everton’s success on and off the field in recent years and also represents Chang’s faith in the Everton name. “The strength and quality of our partnership, as shown by a nomination in the prestigious Hollis Sponsorship Awards in 2006, is of great value to us as a club. “We will continue to work together to ensure we remain one of the Premier League’s finest partnerships.” The Blues also announced a new “Chang-Everton Football Academy”, which will be located at the ThaiBev Football Centre in Bangkok. Wyness and Elstone will visit the site before returning home.

The Jury: What are the Blues’ chances of finishing in the top four of the Premier League?
Jan 17, 2008, Liverpool Echo
WHISPER it softly. The Everton way is to do it quietly, we aren’t going to shout it from the rooftops, we don’t do showbiz or celebrity and wags are comedians. With Liverpool threatening to implode, we’ve a great chance of breaking into the top four. Our success has been down to team performances not just a few star players. My own favourite is Mr Consistency – Lee Carsley. I lost count of the Man City attacks he broke up with interceptions or tackles. Sometimes you have to grind out 1-0 wins to claw your way up the table. A top four monopoly isn’t good for football. It all went downhill the moment Roman Abramovich parked his helicopter in the centre circle at Stamford Bridge. In the real world what football club can afford debts of £250 million? Stability has been another keyword; we don’t change our manager every few weeks. David Moyes has patiently and methodically built a powerful squad. Now’s the time to move up to the next level. DAVID WALLBANK, Huyton AT the beginning of the season many Evertonians would have gladly settled for a Carling Cup semi-final place, a spot in the last 32 of the UEFA Cup and fifth place in the Premier League by mid-January. The question now facing Blues fans is come May, what would they settle for? A top five finish accompanied by at least one piece of silverware represents a successful season for Everton. Anything less wouldn’t be real progression. For this to happen, Everton must win at least eight out of the remaining 16 Premier League games, with either wins in the Carling Cup ties or, failing that, nine wins in the UEFA Cup. Is all this too much to ask? Everybody connected with Everton yearns for silverware and cup finals. Maybe David Moyes and his men are on the verge of changing that, at least current league form suggests so. Finally, it’s great to welcome back Manny to Goodison. He is a quality player and is just the tonic we need to freshen things up! MIKE WILLIAMSON, Chester SATURDAY’S game with City won’t stay in the memory long. But it was more evidence that the side has the kind of qualities that will be needed if is to push forward in seasons ahead and challenge for major honours. Do they have what it takes to finish in the top four this season? The answer is ‘Yes’, unquestionably. The quality is there, the great team spirit is obvious and there is a steeliness about the Blues that has been missing previously. The next month is crucial if we are to get that Champions League place and with the Yak and Yobo away, the onus will now be on to those who come in to maintain the standards that have been set so far. The signing of Fernandes may prove to be vital, with Gravesen showing no sign of the form he had just before he left. AJ will also need to start scoring on a regular basis if we are not to rely too much on Cahill. If we can make that fourth spot it will surely confirm that we can be serious title challengers in the not too distant future. LEE MOOLTON, St Helens THE top four is now within our reach after a hard fought win against high-flying Manchester City. We were depleted but it was good to welcome back the magician, Mikel Arteta. He set up the winning goal for our modern day Derek Mountfield. The boys bounced back after their cup setbacks and we’re now level on points with Liverpool – not bad for a small club! We now have a run of games which we can pick up points from in Wigan, Tottenham, Blackburn and Reading to push us into fourth spot. Then we will have our players back from African Nations duty to push us on in the final few months of the season. Good luck to our African players, all Evertonians will be watching with interest. Only a week to go until our huge game against Chelsea and with the sold out signs going up, it promises to be an electrifying atmosphere to cheer the boys all the way to Wembley. Good luck boys, let’s make it as difficult as possible for Chelsea.

17th January 2008
Daily Star
Birmingham manager Alex McLeish would relish the prospect of working again with Everton striker James McFadden. Birmingham have had bids of £2.5million and £3million rejected but it is believed further negotiations have brought the two clubs closer to reaching an agreement for the Scotland international. Former Scotland boss McLeish said: "I am hoping we can pull out all the stops to get James McFadden, who is one of those players who is unfazed by the challenges put in front of him."
He added: "He is someone who fancies his chances and has the bottle and the right mentality - and he definitely has the right sort of technique as well." If McFadden moves to St Andrews he will also link up again with Scotland striker Garry O'Connor.
A source close to Birmingham said: "The two clubs have moved closer to reaching an agreement and something could be done by the weekend." O'Connor said: "James McFadden is an unbelievable talent. If we could manage to lure him to Birmingham then he would be a fantastic signing. "He has worked for the gaffer before and to get him here would be great because he's top class. If he came here he would score goals, as he has already done in the Premier League, and at national level. "He would be a great success and help the team."

17th January 2008
Daily Star
Birmingham have moved closer to signing Everton striker James McFadden after agreeing a fee - believed to be around £5 million - for the player. Blues had two previous bids of £2.5million and £3million rejected for the Scotland international but the deal now looks set to go through subject to the player agreeing personal terms with the club and passing a medical. "I don't like talking about deals before they have been completed and we are still awaiting the player to discuss personal terms and also to pass a medical," said Birmingham manager Alex McLeish. The arrival of McFadden will be the second addition to the squad in the January transfer window after McLeish also completed a £1.5million deal for Hibernian full-back David Murphy. McLeish has also been given permission by Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill to hold discussions with central defender Gary Cahill. Cahill, who has just returned from a loan spell with Sheffield United, has slipped down the Villa pecking order behind Martin Laursen, Curtis Davies and Zat Knight. McLeish is desperate to strengthen the heart of his defence and Cahill could be reunited with former Villa player, Liam Ridgewell, who moved across the city in a £2million move last summer.
McLeish also confirmed his interest in taking Argentinian striker Mauro Zarate on loan from Qatar side Al Sadd.

James McFadden completes Birmingham switch
Jan 18 2BIRMINGHAM have completed the signing of Everton striker James McFadden in a deal thought to be worth £5.75million. The Scotland international is reunited with Blues boss Alex McLeish after agreeing personal terms and passing a medical. The Goodison Park club announced the completion of the deal on their website this morning. The deal has gone through in time for McFadden to be available for tomorrow's visit of Chelsea.

Everton are willing to win ugly - Phil Neville
Jan 18 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
PHIL NEVILLE urged Everton's supporters to understand why the Blues are ready to sacrifice style in their pursuit of Champions League football. Having won the eight of their last 12 Premier League fixtures, David Moyes’ side head to Wigan on Sunday knowing that another victory will thrust them back into the Premier League’s top four.
It is a position Neville feels they are more than capable of holding onto between now and the end of the season but experience tells him that the final 16 matches of the campaign are likely to turn into a war of attrition. But if Everton show the same mentality that helped them see off Manchester City last weekend – a result described by the skipper as the best they have achieved so far – Neville is confident they have sufficient talent in the ranks to win the race for fourth place. “The first half of the season is all about getting confidence and playing good football but the second half is purely about results,” said Neville. “It really doesn’t matter how you play.
“After Christmas, the weather is poor, the pitches are heavy and they aren’t conducive to producing good football. That’s how it will be at Wigan on Sunday. Every game at the minute is like a cup final and it is a fantastic period to be a part of.
“The teams around us are putting pressure on us so we know that we have got to keep winning and we have got to believe that we are good enough to be where we are. There was a bit of anxiety in the crowd at times last weekend but that wasn’t a game to play free flowing football. “We had to dig in and you could see at the end how much the win meant to us. For me, beating Manchester City was the best result we have had so far this season, .more pleasing than the wins against Sunderland and West Ham. Now we have to make sure we continue that way.” Wigan have clambered out of the drop zone since Neville’s former Manchester United team-mate Steve Bruce took charge at the JJB Stadium but the only thing he wants is three points to send Everton into the Carling Cup semi-final with Chelsea on a high. “Brucie has come in and totally lifted things but Sunday has to be all about us,” said Neville. “We are passing the ball well, everyone is full of confidence and we believe we can go into these games and get a result. “It would be fantastic to get a win to send us into Wednesday night but we won’t be thinking about that until Wigan is out of the way. The JJB is tough place to go but we have done well away from home.”
Andrew Johnson is pushing for a starting place after recovering from the ankle knock which saw him miss the City game, while Manuel Fernandes is in line to replace James McFadden – who is the verge of completing his move to Birmingham – in midfield.

Depleted Blues turn up the heat in Premier push
Jan 18 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
NUMBERS might be thin on the ground but a lack of bodies is not going to scupper Everton's ambitions as the season takes on a new intensity. Having spent the run up to Christmas jostling for position with their rivals, David Moyes’ squad find themselves in striking distance of the top four, and could even leapfrog Liverpool this weekend depending on the result against Wigan Athletic. Eight wins, two draws and two defeats from their last 12 Premier League fixtures confirm in black and white the impression that Everton are one of the form teams in the country, and such an impressive run of results has only helped build confidence. Now, though, is not the time for standing back and admiring the recent handiwork. If anything, things are going to become even harder for the Blues as week in, week out for the next two months they will be pitted against teams who are battling to achieve something tangible. Wigan are fighting for survival, Tottenham Hotspur and Blackburn Rovers will feel they can qualify for Europe, ditto Aston Villa, Manchester City and Portsmouth. Quite simply, the pressure will be unrelenting as Everton seek a spot in the promised land known as the Champions League. The first task, of course, comes on Sunday at the JJB Stadium, an arena where the Blues have never been beaten. Admittedly, they have only visited twice but it was at this time 12 months ago that victory over Wigan gave Everton the impetus to push on for Europe.
Two second half goals from Mikel Arteta started a run that saw them lose just one of their next 12 matches and should there be a repeat this time, the Toffees will certainly be vying for a top four place when, to borrow a phrase from racing parlance, the field swing for home. Things, of course, are not going to be easy. Losing Joseph Yobo, Steven Pienaar and Ayegbeni Yakubu – all of whom are on international duty at the African Cup of Nations – has been a bitter pill to swallow, James McFadden is on the verge of leaving and Leon Osman is short of fitness. But strength comes in adversity and Everton’s squad will not be hiding behind excuses such as fatigue if things don’t happen to go their way, yet such is the confidence in the camp at present, there is no reason to believe that results are suddenly going to go awry. Manuel Fernandes, signed on loan until the end of the season, will give options in midfield, Osman should soon be given the green light to add verve in attack, while there are three strikers more than capable of making up for Yakubu’s absence. Victor Anichebe and James Vaughan did nothing to harm their chances of filling Yakubu’s boots during last Saturday’s 1-0 win over Manchester City but Sunday may see Andrew Johnson given his chance to impress. Johnson left the JJB Stadium in the back of an ambulance 12 months ago and has endured a catalogue of fitness problems since, namely two ankle operations plus a series of little niggles that have checked his progress. However, the England international is in high spirits as Everton gear up for their next round of challenges and points to the spirit around Finch Farm as being key to helping the players achieve their goals in the coming weeks and months.
“There is a tremendous atmosphere around the squad and Everton Football Club is a great place to be at the moment,” said Johnson. “The club is on the up, the team has put together some good runs and it’s a great place to come and train. “Everyone is on a high and I’m just pleased to be a part of that. The team is in great form at the moment and I’m looking forward to hopefully getting some minutes on the pitch. Although there is strong competition for places among the forwards, we all want each other to do well. “We are all pleased for each other when that happens, as we all want to get to the same place. We want to win the same kind of trophies. That’s the beauty of it. We all stick together and I think everyone can see we are going in the right direction.” Wigan may be scrapping away at the wrong end of the table yet there have been signs in recent weeks that Steve Bruce is turning things around. That said, Everton’s away form has been outstanding this season and they make the short trip down the M58 expecting another win. “I don’t think the team is afraid of anyone at the moment,” Johnson added. “We’re playing well, we’re passing the ball well, creating chances and keeping a lot of clean sheets. The boys are in great form and confidence is high. “Can we break into the top four? It’s a challenge but the boys are ready for that challenge. I feel as though we are having a fantastic season at the moment and I don’t see why we can’t do it, but there are still a lot of big tests remaining.”

Howard Kendall: Special bond just too hard to resist
Jan 18 2008 by Howard Kendall, Liverpool Echo
KEVIN KEEGAN’S return to Newcastle United has captured the public’s imagination but one question continues to lurk in the background: will it work? In many ways, I can see parallels to my situation with Everton in the early 1990s. They say you should never go back but, when you have such a special affinity with one club, the pull is impossible to resist. Unfortunately, we were never able to replicate the success we had in the 1980s and things never worked out how I envisaged they would, but I don’t for one minute regret becoming Everton manager for a second and third time. That’s how it is when you love a club. Kevin might have been out of football for a while and will have thought his chance of working with Newcastle would have gone for good but when his phone rang, all his affections and memories will have come flooding back.
The fans up there idolise him and remember the attractive football that the side he built 11 years ago played – if he can come close to replicating that in the course of the next three seasons, he will be loved forever more. He will find – like I did – that a successful playing and managerial career at St James’ Park will mean supporters are that bit more tolerant when things are not going according to plan and it is inevitable that things will get worse before they can get better. There won’t be any pressure on him for the remainder of this campaign and it will be intriguing to see how he gets on. Getting into the top four might prove beyond him but, one thing is for certain, it will be exciting and entertaining to watch.
Move good for Faddy
IT seems certain now that James McFadden will become a Birmingham City player before the transfer window closes and a move is probably what he needs.
That Everton have struck a deal worth nearly £6m should cushion the blow of losing him slightly as he has never been a regular, despite the fact he has popped up with important goals both this season and last. Alex McLeish is ready to offer James regular football and, at this stage of his career, he will jump at that opportunity. It will be interesting to see, then, how his career goes from here.
Hibbert continues to show big improvement
FOURTH place should definitely be in Everton’s sights after last week’s terrific win against Manchester City and there us every reason to believe that target can be achieved. But while David Moyes’ forward players have been getting plenty of plaudits this year, it would be wrong to overlook the contribution of those at the back and Tony Hibbert deserved special praise for his efforts last weekend.
He has had a difficult time over the past 18 months but looked back on song against City, shackling the dangerous Martin Petrov and adding quality to Everton’s attacks when the chance presented itself. Tony is rarely found wanting when he is asked to shackle a tricky winger, as he showed against Petrov, but people have often criticised him for his distribution. It is not the strongest part of his game by any means.
Yet he looked to have made considerable improvement in the win over City and, all being well, that will continue for the remainder of the season – if we are going to finish fourth, every member of the squad is going to have a role to play.
Wigan is the next test on Sunday and while they have clearly turned the corner under Steve Bruce, I’d expect Everton to have too many guns for them. All being well, we’ll head into the return leg against Chelsea on the back of another great win.

David Prentice: Maverick and magic - with a question mark
Jan 18 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
JAMES McFADDEN’S Everton career was encapsulated in one tantalising, but ultimately frustrating flashpoint, at Stamford Bridge last week. With the match evenly poised at 1-1, McFadden left a defender of the calibre of Ricardo Carvalho flat on his backside as he skilfully side-stepped his way into the Chelsea penalty box.
Then, with Tim Cahill waiting for a tap-in, he decided to shoot – and struck the post.
Decision-making has always prevented McFadden turning rich and extravagant potential into enduring achievement at Goodison Park. It’s a problem he unwittingly pointed to in a recent interview. “I’m not a textbook player,” he said. “Sometimes situations happen on the pitch and you try something different. You see something someone else doesn’t, but I think if you just go and be a textbook player then it’s boring.” McFadden is far from boring. But Everton have now reached the stage in their development where they can’t afford magical mavericks. David Moyes’ Everton are maturing, and unfortunately that process can’t accommodate ‘could be’ greats.
It’s happened many times before. Evertonians thought Duncan McKenzie was “magic,” but Gordon Lee moved him on quicker than he could jump over a Mini.
Terry Curran was similarly adored during a livewire loan spell in 1983, but after the move became permanent Howard Kendall quickly moved in the transfer market for the more conventional skills of Trevor Steven. Imre Varadi and Gary Jones were fleeting flavours of the month, but while Jones had more ability than any Everton player of their title-chasing 1974/75 squad, he was moved on the next season.
McFadden is built on very similar lines. For every outstanding strike, like the one which overcame Charlton, there is a misplaced pass like the one which cost a goal against West Ham. Everton are now in a position where they can’t afford mavericks, which is why McFadden looks likely to move on to pastures new.
If he joins Birmingham, he’ll be following the same path trodden by Jones all those years ago. But while Jones disappeared without trace, McFadden has the ability to occasionally light up St Andrews. He’ll always be warmly welcomed back at Goodison Park, but the Blues seem to have outgrown him.
Cup fever is what it’s all about
IT’S the most romantic FA Cup story since Matthew Hanlan volleyed into the roof of the Coventry net – and it will be staged here on Merseyside. For the first time since 1981 a non-league team will visit Anfield in the FA Cup – and to say cup fever has gripped the towns of Havant and Waterlooville is an understatement.
The opening lines of the Blue Square South club’s official website yesterday read: The tremendous interest in the club at the moment is causing parts of the website to break periodically. It’s up and running again now, just as Brett Poate, Rocky Baptiste, Jay Smith and his pals will be next weekend. There’s something about the names of non-league footballers. They stick with you long after achievements have faded.
Who can forget RonnIe Radford and Ricky George, Tim Buzaglo, Chris Kelly, the Leatherhead Lip, or Dickie Guy, the heroic Wimbledon keeper who defied Don Revie’s Leeds? Reds fans will be hoping Baptise doesn’t become just as remembered.
The visit of Havant and Waterlooville to Anfield will be a wonderful occasion – and another sign that the country’s favourite competition is starting to recapture some of its lost lustre once again.
Rovers set good example
KEVIN BLACKWELL delivered a withering assessment of the way Luton Town has been run on Tuesday night. “To go into administration three times in eight years is nothing short of a disgrace,” he fumed. No-one disagreed. But it pointed to the outstanding way their League One rivals Tranmere Rovers have been run in recent years. Rovers missed a marvellous money-spinner on Wednesday night when Simon Johnson decided to become a latter day Ronnie Radford, but there’s still little chance of the club calling in the administrators. Other clubs could learn plenty from the Prenton Park boardroom.
Squirrels go nuts for Danielle
I GO back a long way with Formby FC. To the days when Tommy Cheetham apparently walked on water, when pigeon-toed goalkeeper Dave Elder flung himself around a Brows Lane goalmouth – and then table-topping Third Division Oldham (that’s League One to all you callow youths) came to the town in the first round proper of the FA Cup. So it’s heartening to see The Squirrels receive some proper publicity this week – even if it does come straight out of left-field. Liverpool model Danielle Lloyd, you see, has agreed to sponsor the team’s tracksuits this season and will be at The Hawthorns in Essex tomorrow to watch Formby’s last 32 FA Carlsberg Vase clash at Stanway Rovers. Not since Carl Lam and Tony McDonald have Formby boasted such an impressive pair up front. Good luck Squirrels!

David Moyes: we can take fourth
Jan 19 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES has raised the stakes in the race for fourth place by claiming the momentum is firmly behind Everton. The Blues could leapfrog Liverpool – who face fellow European challengers Aston Villa on Monday night – temporarily tomorrow if they beat Wigan Athletic and Moyes is confident his squad has the ability to stay there for the duration. Statistics back up his claim. Since the Merseyside derby at Goodison Park last October, both teams have played 12 games but Everton accrued more points (26/20), winning eight matches to their neighbours’ tally of five. Having led his side into the top four once before, Moyes believes that feat can be repeated but as pleased as he is with the way things have been going in recent months, the manager is well aware the next couple of months are going to prove crucial. “We are in a strong position and we want to try and capitalise on that if we can but there is a long way to go,” said Moyes. “We have got a lot of confidence because we have been playing well. We have got a big week coming up and we are looking forward to showing what we can do. “Sometimes we have had to put people in and maybe not in their favoured positions. But we are just beginning to look as if we have got our squad back together. Manny Fernandes is going to add a little bit more quality to us. “There is no doubt that Aston Villa, Manchester City, Portsmouth and Blackburn will be thinking they can get into the top four but it is exciting to be going head-to-head with Liverpool. But we are all aware that it is going to take some achievement to do it. “You only have to look at the quality of players Liverpool, Chelsea and the others have. It will take a monumental effort to break in. Would it be better than last time? I think it would be. Another three years down the line, Liverpool have spent heavily to get where they are.
“We are doing ok to keep hold of their shirt tails just now. But we feel as if we have got momentum. You would have to say we have a big chance of that (finishing fourth). We are the form team at the minute. It has not just been for four or five weeks. “ It’s been two or three months.” Manuel Fernandes should make his first start since returning to Goodison on loan after Everton received his international clearance from Spain, while Andrew Johnson is contention to lead the line, but there is another doubt over Leighton Baines. The left-back is struggling with an ankle problem – sustained in the win over Derby County on October 28 – and is likely to need an injection just to figure in the squad against his former club. In the long run, Moyes says it is a “possibility” that surgery maybe required to correct the problem.

18th January 2008
Daily Star
Birmingham have completed the signing of Everton striker James McFadden in a deal thought to be worth £5.75million. The Goodison Park club announced the completion of the deal on their website on Friday morning after the Scotland international agreed personal terms and passed a medical. The deal has gone through in time for McFadden to be available for Saturday's visit of Chelsea. Birmingham manager Alex McLeish said: "I am delighted to have signed James. He is not just a guy who can score great goals. He can also create things and he has got a big heart. He is the type of player you know you are going to get everything from for the entire 90 minutes of a game. "He has matured. He has had his initiation at Everton in the Premier League and for me he is a definite Premier League player. He has shown that in a very good Everton side this season. When he has come into the side, I am not so sure anyone has looked as good as him." Birmingham are understood to have agreed to make a down-payment of £4.75million, with another £1million based on add-ons.
Blues striker Garry O'Connor is relishing the chance of reigniting his partnership with McFadden in the Scotland side at club level, saying: "This is a great positive for Birmingham. I've worked with James in the past and he is a fantastic player. It is a great addition to the squad. "He plays in any position - midfield or striker - so he is great to have in the team. We played a couple of times together for Scotland and James never loses the ball. He has got that passion and commitment towards the game. "He fights for every ball. He has got that attitude that if he loses the ball, he gets so frustrated and has to run back and chase people. "He has got that little bit of quality which you have seen at international level and now probably in the Premier League. He can score fantastic goals from anywhere on the pitch."

We’ve proved we can hold our nerve in race for line
Jan 19 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
TONY HIBBERT may be happier tackling wingers than he is dealing with questions from the media but when he does speak, his views are always worth hearing.
Though he is a month short of his 27th birthday and still regarded as one of the younger members of David Moyes’ squad, since making his debut at West Ham in March 2001, Hibbert – almost unnoticed – has notched up 184 appearances for Everton. Plenty of changes have taken place during his time at Goodison Park but perhaps the biggest is the way the Blues are now perceived outside the club, thanks to the progress that has been made since they clinched a place in the Champions League qualifiers three years ago. That achievement of finishing fourth may have initially been regarded in some quarters as a fluke but there is a growing feeling, particularly in the dressing room at Finch Farm, that the class of 2005’s achievements can be replicated. Everton, of course, are the only side in the past four years to have broken up the stranglehold that Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool have on the top four, defying the odds when many expected them to fall flat on their faces in the run to the line. Fast forward to the present day and again the general consensus is that the status quo will remain at the top of the table yet form figures currently point to Everton mounting a compelling challenge to edge out their great rivals. The fact that Everton have been through a similar battle not so long ago and emerged victorious gives Hibbert plenty of cause for confidence, not to mention the belief that the teams whose necks the Toffees’ are breathing down will not underestimate their credentials.
“I think it will help us that we have been in this position before and come through,” said Hibbert, who played a starring role in last Saturday’s win over Manchester City. “That will help our confidence because it was neck and neck in 2005, but we held our nerve and we finished in fourth place. “Other teams will know that as well and so they won’t just dismiss us. I think we are probably a stronger team now than when you look at last time and we are all pulling together. We are a team and that will stand us in good stead. “The way we are playing and the run we have been on means that we are confident going into every game. Beating Manchester City was important because that lifted us up the table and we just want to work hard now and see where it takes us. “It’s a big week for the club and we will go into it with a lot of confidence. There are a lot of good teams in the fight for fourth place and it means every game is important, but we certainly don’t have anything to fear. It is the chance to do something that everyone wants.” Hibbert, in particular, is eager to make up for lost time. One of the most consistent performers at Goodison during the 2005-06 campaign – some even tentatively mentioned his name with an England call-up – things have not exactly gone according to plan over the past 18 months.
A tropical illness picked up on holiday in the Maldives in the summer of 2006 forced him to miss the whole of the ensuing pre-season and when he did return, he was sent off in a 1-1 draw against Newcastle then ruptured his groin at Middlesbrough.
He then picked up a knee problem which ruled him out of another large chunk, meaning he only played 13 times as Everton secured a UEFA Cup place.
But, happily, this season has seen him in a different light – take his performance last Saturday. City’s flying winger Martin Petrov has caused havoc for plenty of right-sided defenders but he never got a look in against Hibbert and former Everton favourite Kevin Kilbane will not be relishing locking horns with his old pal at the JJB Stadium tomorrow. Surely he is happy with his form? “I did okay,” was his self-effacing assessment. “You know Petrov is someone who is always dangerous so you have to concentrate and we watched the videos of City in the build-up. Everyone helps here though. The spirit is really good.” No wonder, then, that Hibbert was so keen to put pen to paper on a new long-term deal before Christmas as he feels that Everton are on the cusp of achieving something significant under Moyes. Along with Leon Osman, he intends to spend the best years of his career at Goodison and it was only after seeing a member of the 1998 FA Youth Cup winning side seven days ago that he appreciated his good fortune. “Seeing Michael Ball and Richard Dunne come back makes me appreciate that I’m still here,” he added. “I’d hate to have to leave. I was in the youth team with them and they were good days. “The lads in that team were as close as the first team is now. I just have to keep working as hard as I can and not take anything for granted.”

Everton hero Wally Fielding, 88, is dead
Jan 19 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
WALLY FIELDING, Everton's oldest surviving footballer, died peacefully yesterday at his home in Cornwall, aged 88. Affectionately known as Nobby, Fielding made more than 400 appearances for the club, scoring 54 goals. A Londoner by birth, he joined Everton in 1945 after leaving the army and was hugely popular with the Goodison fans. Many youngsters in the 1950s mimicked his trademark style of holding onto his rolled down sleeves as he ran with the ball. A regular visitor to the Hall of Fame gatherings, he was usually introduced as "Everton's favourite cockney." Known for his passing precision, his reading of the game and his ability to beat defenders, his trademark was a perfectly weighted ball inside the full back to his flying winger Tommy Eglington. He spent 14 years at Goodison, finally quitting the club at the age of 39 to join Southport. He made 20 appearances for the Sandgrounders, scoring one goal, before moving back down to his native south.
In recent years he made his home in Cornwall, but was always happy to chat with holidaymakers from Merseyside. Funeral arrangements will be made public next week.

Vital win over City puts us in rightful place
Jan 19 2008 by Barry Horne, Liverpool Echo
WHAT appeared to be a routine victory over Manchester City last weekend was anything but. For a start, it was only our second success of the season against a club in the top half of the Premier League (West Ham being the other), but more importantly it was a win against one of our nearest challengers. Come the end of the season this could prove to be a turning point – and not just for Everton. Manchester City came to Goodison with very little ambition. Sven Goran Eriksson sent out a team with one lone striker – and that hardly a player who has set the Premier League alight.
We have been chasing City all season. On Saturday we caught them, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the defeat at Goodison started a slow slide into mediocrity.
All season they have relied on one or two individuals to provide a creative spark. Petrov looked absolutely petrified of Tony Hibbert all afternoon, Elano is increasingly looking like the second rate Brazilian I always thought he was, and Michael Johnson has been injured recently. Their success is built on the consistent excellence of an ex-Evertonian and the next big star of English football. Richard Dunne and Micah Richards have been outstanding all season, but if either should lose form, get injured or suspended I think we will see a different City. Beating Liverpool into fourth place will be a tall order given the strength of their squad, but the Christmas period has gone, we are where we deserve to be in the table and, if we’re being honest, where we probably dreamed of being. Hopefully Victor Anichebe will learn from his experience last weekend, and James Vaughan’s confidence will get a boost from the difference he made when he came on. For a spell, City took the game to Everton, but Vaughan’s aggression, clever running and pace forced City onto the back foot once again – and ensured Everton deservedly collected an invaluable three points.

David Moyes a clever seller
Jan 19 2008 by Barry Horne, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES has been relatively quiet in the transfer market so far – but once again has proved very astute with a departure from the club. He has judged quite accurately just how badly Alex McLeish wanted James McFadden and held out for a sizeable transfer fee, more than twice what Birmingham originally offered.
Add that to the fees collected for Gary Naysmith, James Beattie, Simon Davies, Marcus Bent and Kevin Kilbane in recent years, and it shows the Blues are canny negotiators in the transfer market. I wish McFadden well, except when he faces the Blues. He is certainly worth another shot at a Premier League club.

Everton capable of a Carling Cup shock
Jan 19 2008 by Barry Horne, Liverpool Echo
NEXT Wednesday’s Carling Cup semi-final second leg is a mouth- watering occasion. The atmosphere inside Goodison will be phenomenal – and while the tie is finely balanced, we shouldn’t under-estimate the task facing the Blues.
If we are to progress we have to beat Chelsea, a feat not many teams achieve.
Obviously a 1-0 win would be the best way of doing that, but that means stopping Chelsea from scoring for more than two hours, and I’m not sure how often that has been done in the past three or four years. Otherwise we will have to score at least twice against them, and again I’m not sure how often that has been achieved.
But while reaching the Carling Cup final will be a tall order, it’s not beyond Everton.
The atmosphere inside the stadium will count for a lot, and I believe the Blues can take that significant step into their first final for 13 years.

Stephen Pienaar may reconsider status as an international
Jan 19 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
THE African Cup of Nations gets underway in Ghana tomorrow and Everton will be one of a clutch of Premier League sides keeping a close eye on things.
Joseph Yobo and Ayegbeni Yakubu, of course, begin their campaign with Nigeria against the Ivory Coast on Monday, while Steven Pienaar’s first game for South Africa is against Angola on Wednesday – no prizes for guessing where he should have been instead. It is a farcical situation that clubs must do without key players at such an important time of the season but, with FIFA showing no signs of making a change to its position in the football calendar, it looks like it is hear to stay. Quite how Pienaar will feel about representing his country in the future, though, is open to debate. He was put in an invidious position by South Africa before the first leg of the Carling Cup semi-final and was involved in a heated exchange with journalists when he joined up with his country. Had the World Cup finals not been so close, there is every chance Pienaar would be considering his international future now because they have been so inflexible and shown such a lack of understanding over his commitment to Everton.
Pienaar, who has been one of the Blues’ top performers this year, was desperate to play in the first leg at Stamford Bridge but was left dismayed by the stubbornness of the South African Football Association. That may come back to haunt them.
Several top South African players, such as Benni McCarthy, have quit international football owing to SAFA’s tough approach and with Pienaar desperate to secure a permanent move to Goodison Park, there is an outside chance he will follow suit.

New deals no replacement for old values
Jan 19 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
BILL KENWRIGHT held a secret meeting with Slaven Bilic to line him up as the next manager of Everton Football Club. Everton’s chairman insisted the talks would not have resulted in the immediate dismissal of David Moyes and that Bilic, Croatia’s outstanding young coach and former Blues defender, was only an “insurance policy” in case “communication problems” spiralled out of control. Before you collapse in a state of shock, we must stress that the preceding two paragraphs are a work of fiction. Could you imagine how you would have felt had the above actually been true? What would it have said about the underhand way in which the club was being run?
With so many clubs being the subject of takeovers these days, it is only natural that supporters want their clubs to be next in line when the latest sugar daddy becomes intoxicated by the razzmatazz of the Premier League and decides he wants a slice.
A word, though, of warning: be careful for what you wish. This week’s extraordinary shenanigans across Stanley Park was the latest reaffirmation that foreign buyers spell trouble. Think for a minute of all those clubs who have had some sort of major investment and you will see storm clouds everywhere you look. Let’s start with Chelsea. Yes, Roman Abramovich and the power of the Russian rouble has helped them to two Premier League titles, but a clash of personalities between him and his manager led to Jose Mourinho being jettisoned last September. That was the bitter climax of an eight-month feud that started when Abramovich would not let Mourinho buy a defender during last January’s transfer window, the owner poking his nose in first team affairs. Yes, there is no disputing Mourinho got too big for his boots.
But a popular decision? No chance. Sit inside Stamford Bridge when things do not go to plan during a game and you will hear Mourinho’s name being sung incessantly. No matter what Avram Grant achieves, Chelsea’s fans will always yearn for their Portuguese man of war. What about Arsenal? David Dein was the driving force behind appointing Arsene Wenger and helped the Gunners become one of Europe’s footballing powerhouses, but he was forced to quit after he pressed for the club to accept Stanley Kroenke’s takeover bid last April. Meanwhile, we have also seen Carson Yeung’s laughable attempts to become Birmingham City’s owner and Thaksin Shinawatra – a man in whom Amnesty International have grave misgivings – proclaim his ‘love’ for Manchester City after failing in bids for two other clubs.
West Ham have become one of the least popular clubs around thanks to their reckless approach to transfers under Eggert Magnusson, Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble are clearly doing a stellar job at Anfield while what more can be said about the circus that is Newcastle? How things change. Cast your mind back a decade at Everton to the days of Peter Johnson’s reign, which included a tense battle against relegation and the chairman selling the club’s star asset behind the manager’s back. That incident with Duncan Ferguson was indicative of the way things were going at Goodison Park then, a sorry chapter that left the Blues open to ridicule as they washed their dirty linen in public. It is not a period that is revisited with any fondness. Fast forward to the present day and you could not wish to see a more contrasting picture. Now chairman and manager are working together for the common good, they trust each other implicitly and, as a result, Everton are flourishing. “I have been lucky in that I had a great chairman at Preston and I’ve got a great chairman and board here too,” Moyes said recently. “I have built a team here and it is my intention to take the team further forward in the next few years. We are a stable club.” Inevitably, there will be certain supporters who crave a benefactor from across The Pond or wherever to come and pump a fistful of dollars into the Blues to help accelerate the push for a place in the top four. But as exciting as that may seem, why risk upsetting the status quo by inviting in someone with no knowledge or feel for the club when things are ticking along smoothly? As we have seen this week, events elsewhere have shown that the grass is not necessarily greener. Takeovers might be what you want, yet if you end up losing what you had is it really worth it? True, football is no longer the game we grew up with but, for the time being, it’s clear to see Everton are a club where traditional values remain. Money can get you most things but it can’t buy class.

James McFadden’s final farewell to Blues
Jan 19 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
JAMES McFADDEN has paid Everton a fond farewell as he gets ready to start a new chapter in his career with Birmingham City. The Scotland international moved to St Andrews yesterday in a deal which could eventually net the Blues £6m and is excited by the chance to play regular football, insisting that he has no regrets about swopping Merseyside for the Midlands. He was, however, quick to stress that he would not have missed the four-and-a-half years he spent at Goodison Park, where he made 139 appearances and scored 17 – mostly spectacular – goals following his £1.25m move from Motherwell. “I had a terrific time with Everton but this was a good opportunity to play regular football and obviously the decision was made easier with me knowing big Alex so well,” said McFadden. “But I won’t forget my time at Goodison Park. The fans were always great with me, I was involved in some terrific games and was fortunate enough to score a few important goals. “I made some great friends but the time has come to move on. I wish everyone all the best for the rest of the year.
“I’ll be watching on Wednesday night and really hope that the lads can get to Wembley. The fans deserve a day there too. I might have swopped a Champions League fight for a relegation scrap but the time has come to play regular football.”
Blues boss David Moyes may reinvest some of the cash he has received for McFadden in his squad but understands the reasons why the 24-year-old has moved on and gave him a ringing endorsement. “James just wanted to play football and I admire him for that,” said Moyes. “He has played quite regularly for us and we were not mad keen to let him go. There has been a contract sitting there for him a while but he did not take that option up. “So when we got the right offer, we let him go. I wish him all the best. We really enjoyed having him here. I expect him to do well with Birmingham as he is a really talented boy and we had a lot of good times with him here. He was great to have around the place “Faddy wanted to see what opportunities he was going to get around the team and he has probably felt that in order to get regular first team football, he needed to move away. “We are always looking to strengthen but I am not sure how much of the cash I will get at the minute. I’m quite comfortable with the squad that we have got at the moment but you always want to improve if you can.”

Special trip for Brann clash
Jan 19 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
TICKETS for the away leg of Everton’s UEFA Cup clash with Brann Bergen may be scarce but anyone lucky enough to qualify for one of the 950 tickets should be aware of a special trip. Priced at £239, a flight leaving JLA on the morning of the game and taking supporters back straight after the final whistle is available on a first come, first served basis. All transfers in Norway are included. For further details, call 01926 456260.

It’s a case of what might have been for McBride
Jan 19 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
HE’S the Everton midfielder who made his debut in the cauldron of a big European night – but this time it’s not Colin Harvey. Joe McBride was nurtured through the Blues youth ranks by Harvey, and like his mentor he made his debut in a high profile European tie. Feyenoord were the visitors to Goodison Park on October 3, 1980, holding a 1-0 advantage from the first leg – and a young Scottish winger was blooded.
“It’s going to be very hard for Joe because he will be man-marked in a way he has never known before,” said Harvey on the eve of the tie. “But he’s got skill, he’s a good user of the ball and I think he will come through all right.” McBride didn’t look out of his depth, even though the Dutch side snatched another 1-0 win and he was replaced by another debutant, Imre Varadi. McBride made his league debut at Bolton on Boxing Day – and scored. Goals seemed to come easily for the winger and when Everton entertained Wigan in an FA Cup tie at Goodison Park a month later, in front of a heaving 51,853 crowd, he scored again. But despite a run of 21 appearances in 1979-80, it was the following season when he made his claim for stardom.
Two goals in a 5-0 win at Coventry, followed by another couple in a 2-1 home defeat of Southampton then one more at Brighton helped earn the youngster the country’s Young Player of the Month award for October. On the judging panel were respected figures like Bill Shankly and Ron Greenwood – and McBride finished ahead of Liverpool’s Sammy Lee, Craig Johnston of Middlesbrough, West Brom’s Remi Moses and Leeds’ John Lukic. McBride scored another goal in a 2-2 Goodison derby draw, but despite drifting out of the team towards the end of the season, the Football Echo of October 1981 underlined his crowd-pleasing potential. “One member of the present Everton squad more likely to excite the paying public than any other is their lively little winger Joe McBride,” reported Ian Hargraves. Sadly McBride made only eight appearances under Howard Kendall and was snapped up by Emlyn Hughes’ Rotherham in 1982. His story was very much one of what might have been.

19th January 2008
Dail Star
TONY HIBBERT says Everton are on the brink of a top-four breakthrough – and insists they CAN still be there at the end of the season. A draw at Wigan tomorrow will be enough to take Hibbert (right) and his team-mates above great Mersey rivals Liverpool in the battle for fourth spot with Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea almost out of sight. Victory at the JJB Stadium would make sure they stay there at least until Monday night, when Liverpool meet Aston Villa at Anfield. Manchester City, who play against West Ham a couple of hours later on Sunday, have a worse goal difference. Hibbert is banking on Everton’s experience in a similar situation three years ago to have a positive effect. Then they were the surprise package, finishing ahead of Liverpool, who later won the Champions League. Hibbert said: “I think it will help us that we have been in this position before and come through. “That will help our confidence as it was neck and neck in 2005, but we held our nerve and we finished fourth. “Other teams will know that as well and so they won’t just dismiss us. “I think we are probably a stronger team now when you look at last time and we are all pulling together. “We are a team and that will stand us in good stead. It’s a big week for the club and we will go into it with a lot of confidence.
“There are a lot of good teams in the fight for fourth place but we don’t have anything to fear. It is the chance to do something that everyone wants.” Local boy Hibbert is confident Everton are back on track after having the wobbles following an impressive13-match unbeaten run. They lost four out of six, including a shock FA Cup knockout by Oldham at Goodison Park and then a 2-1 defeat in the first leg of the Carling Cup semi-final at Chelsea. But last weekend’s home win over Manchester City showed that Everton’s confidence had not been permanently damaged and there is still a strong belief that they can go on to clinch that fourth spot.

20th January 2008
Sunday Star
Two goals in three minutes late in the first half gave Everton a 2-1 victory they scarcely deserved to lift them into the top four of the Barclays Premier League.
Andy Johnson's sixth goal of the season was swiftly followed by a seventh this campaign from Joleon Lescott that again proved to be the winner after his decisive strike against Manchester City last week. Wigan managed to pull one back early in the second half courtesy of an own goal from Phil Jagielka, only to fall short in their bid to salvage a point that would have been merited. The result lifts David Moyes' side above their Merseyside rivals Liverpool - who face Aston Villa at Anfield on Monday - into a Champions League place. Wigan, who could have clambered to 13th with a win, remain a place above the bottom three, a fact that will serve as incredulous to boss Steve Bruce. Before the 39th minute, Bruce was arguably preparing himself to head into the break wondering how his side had not found the net, but at least firmly in the game at 0-0. But come the half-time whistle, it would have been a totally perplexed Bruce trudging into the dressing room on the wrong end of a 2-0 scoreline.
Johnson got the first in the 39th minute. Winning the ball off Palacios inside the Everton half, Mikel Arteta sprayed a pass down the right wing for the striker to chase. Although Titus Bramble managed to get their first, he horrendously sliced his attempted back pass, allowing Johnson to run on and nutmeg the advancing Chris Kirkland. Then three minutes later Everton doubled their lead as Wigan failed to clear their lines from a corner, culminating in Lescott tapping home a Jagielka pass at the far post. After the break, substitute Jason Koumas made an instant impact for Wigan, and with his first touch of the ball the midfielder delivered a piercing free-kick into the heart of the Everton area. The ball skimmed off the head of Bramble who had beaten Tim Howard to the punch, dropping onto Jagielka and ricocheting off the centre-back and over the line, so halving the deficit.

Wigan Athletic 1, Everton 2
Jan 21 2008, Liverpool Echo
By Dominic King
SOME things in life will never happen, such as winning the Lottery and Euro Millions in the same week or Britney Spears being named mother of the year. So no matter how hard every Evertonian will be wishing for it to come true today, add this to that list: Chelsea are not going to rush through a deal to sign Titus Bramble to play him in Wednesday evening’s Carling Cup semi-final at Goodison Park. But while football’s answer to Basil Fawlty made a significant contribution to the Blues’ ninth win in 13 Premier League matches, adding another horrific error to his catalogue of woe, it would be wrong to say Everton are going to rely on mistakes to get to Wembley. Quite the opposite. Though David Moyes’ side have played better football this season, the determination to win matches has never been higher and that augurs well as Goodison Park gears up for a potentially epic collision with Chelsea. What’s more, it could yet turn out to be an epic year. Having claimed that the momentum was with them in the race for the final Champions League place, Moyes was vindicated yesterday as goals from Andrew Johnson and Joleon Lescott kept the Blues ticking over. Monsoon conditions in the days preceding this trip to Wigan Athletic meant it was played out on a cabbage patch pitch not conducive to free flowing football - paddy fields have looked slicker than the surface at the JJB - but that did not bog Everton down. As much as both sides tried to keep the ball on the surface, it was evident that the eventual victors would need to win a war of attrition on an afternoon that was not for the faint-hearted. Happily for Moyes and his supporters, it was a war his players won. Wigan might be fighting to keep their heads above water, a wretched start to the campaign means survival is their only target, but since Steve Bruce took charge of first team affairs, there has been a dramatic improvement. A big, tough side, they have players who are capable of exploiting any weaknesses in the visiting ranks and they tried to turn the screw midway through the first half, with former Evertonian Marcus Bent leading the charge. With Wilson Palacios and Antonio Valencia attempting to cause havoc down the flanks, the Blues had to endure a number of uncomfortable moments, notably when Tim Howard tipped a powerful header from Bent onto the crossbar. Had they been offered half-time parity at that stage, few members of the travelling party would have argued but, when Bramble is around, there is always the possibility that of a spectacular blunder. He did not disappoint. One wag suggested that Bramble was only involved yesterday because racing had been abandoned at Haydock Park 24 hours earlier and there are occasions when he goes about his business with all the style and grace of a three-mile steeplechaser. No surprise, then, that Bramble once again became a thorn in the side for his team-mates when he made a complete hash of a backpass to Kirkland, Johnson exacerbating his woe with an assured finish. Such mistakes will ensure he is forever known as Titus Shambles. While there was no escaping that Bramble was culpable, it should not detract from Johnson’s efforts. That goal was the least his play deserved and if anyone was worried about Ayegbeni Yakubu’s absence, those fears should be allayed. Constantly stretching Wigan’s back four with his pace and voracious appetite for hard work, Johnson was terrific, doing everything that was asked of him and more besides. More of the same will be required on Wednesday. If that was hard enough for Bruce to stomach, things got worse moments later when Everton took full advantage of more defensive disarray, an unmarked Lescott hammering in his seventh goal of the campaign after a corner had not been cleared. The margin by which they led at the interval might have been flattering but, as skipper Phil Neville suggested last week, the second half of the season is all about chiselling out results and applying pressure on the chasing pack. Winning becomes a habit and it is one which Everton have at present. Not so long ago, they would have ended squandering leads in games such as the one against Manchester City or here. Now they are doughty and devilishly hard to beat. Admittedly, the goal which gave Wigan a glimmer of hope that they would claw back the deficit was one that left Moyes and his coaching staff looking to the heavens in disbelief, Phil Jagielka putting through his own net following a deep free-kick from Jason Koumas. But while their effort was admirable, not once was Howard called into meaningful action and that was down to the determination of the men protecting him to preserve the lead. If anything, Everton looked most likely to sThough international clearance had arrived in time for Manuel Fernandes to be considered for his second debut, Moyes showed just how much trust he has in Leon Osman by immediately restoring him to the starting line-up. That decision was almost handsomely rewarded when the midfielder - who has fully recovered from the broken toe that kept him sidelined for five weeks -crashed a volley inches past the post following a swift counter attack. No matter. Bruce may have argued that Wigan were unlucky not to get something from the game but Everton - as they have done so often these past few months - ruthlessly exploited any signs of vulnerability. Once ahead, they were never in danger. How long they remain in fourth place, only time will tell, but there is no way Everton will be giving it up without a fight. And who knows? On current form, they might not give it up at all.

Wigan Athletic 1, Everton 2 (D,Post)
Jan 21 2008
By Ian Doyle, at the JJB Stadium
DAVID MOYES went into the weekend believing Everton have the advantage in the race for fourth place. This morning, the league table says they do. A huge week for the Goodison Park outfit began by leapfrogging neighbours Liverpool to move into the Champions League qualification places after hard-earned victory at Wigan Athletic. With Liverpool entertaining Aston Villa this evening, the rise may only be temporary. But that does not make it any less significant. A ninth win in their last 13 Premier League matches landed a huge psychological blow in the race for fourth place; Liverpool have the games in hand but points in the bag are what count. And how Everton are racking them up. Even when some way short of their best, their unshakeable self-belief – engendered by the 13-game unbeaten run compiled at the tail end of last year – ensured a 12th away win in all competitions yesterday and that a plucky display from Steve Bruce’s Latics went unrewarded. Moyes has always contended that January and early February would be pivotal to Everton’s top-flight challenge, given the absence of Yakubu, Steven Pienaar and Joseph Yobo to the African Cup of Nations. So far, so good. Last week’s victory against near rivals Manchester City relied much on grit and determination than any eye-catching football, and the same applied at the JJB Stadium. Handed a fortuitous two-goal half-time advantage after a characteristic mistake by Titus Bramble gifted Andrew Johnson an opener that was added to by Joleon Lescott, the visitors dug deep to hold on after Phil Jagielka’s own goal gave Wigan encouragement shortly after the break. The hapless Bramble had fallen victim to the quagmire of a playing surface that, sodden by the rainfall over the region in the past week, added to the entertainment value of an absorbing spectacle. His error proved the turning point. Until then, a strangely subdued Everton had struggled to threaten against a spirited Wigan side that belied their lowly league position. Certainly, this was by no means a memorable performance from Moyes’s side. But, as Phil Neville contended before the game, winning ugly between now and the end of the season will be crucial if their top-four place is to be retained. Moyes admitted afterwards that the Carling Cup semi-final second leg with Chelsea was, perhaps understandably, playing on Everton minds, and the extent of their exertions will only be realised on Wednesday night. In terms of confidence, however, Moyes’s side cannot be in greater shape. Everton’s lengthy absentee list meant the return of Leon Osman yesterday was greatly received. The midfielder had been missing since December 15 after suffering a broken toe, but lasted the full 90 minutes of his 150th career league appearance. While Johnson’s opener came gift-wrapped, it was deserved after a sterling shift as a lone striker. The England international, who missed last week’s win over City with a knee injury, stretched the Wigan back-line with his pace and his constant harrying meant he was in the right place to capitalise on Bramble’s blunder. Lescott’s seventh goal of a productive campaign ultimately proved decisive, but the centre-back was more active in his own box. This was an afternoon in which hard graft was required, and none applied themselves better than Lee Carsley, whose mopping up in midfield eased the pressure on Everton’s back four. The eccentricities of referee Lee Probert also contributed to a surprisingly feisty encounter, the official setting the tone early on when bizarrely booking Mikel Arteta for the heinous crime of taking a free-kick too quickly. Only goal difference is keeping Wigan ahead of Sunderland and out of the drop zone. But the Latics have become a far tougher proposition under the stewardship of Bruce – as shown by their fighting draw at Anfield earlier this month – and this could prove a notable triumph for Everton in the final analysis. With debutant Wilson Palacios and Antonio Valencia mining the flanks to keep full-backs Tony Hibbert and Nuno Valente occupied, Everton were pressed back for long periods of the first half. However, there’s always a chance with Bramble in opposition. And so it proved. The Wigan centre-back scored a spectacular equaliser against Liverpool, but yesterday he was back to doing what he does best – producing howlers for all but his own team to enjoy. His moment came in the 39th minute. A strong challenge by Arteta on Palacios sent Everton on a break down the right, but the intended pass to Johnson was over-hit to Bramble. There seemed little danger until, 40 yards out, the Wigan man inexplicably slipped while attempting a back-pass to Chris Kirkland and Johnson was free to hare down on goal and slide the ball home between the goalkeeper’s legs. With the home team reeling, Everton doubled their advantage three minutes later thanks to further poor defending. A right-wing corner from Arteta wasn’t cleared and, after Phil Jagielka had slashed the ball across the face of goal, the unattended Lescott gleefully rattled in at the far post. For all Wigan’s possession, Everton’s solid defence meant the only save of note from Tim Howard before the interval was when parrying a powerful header from former Everton striker Marcus Bent on to the underside of the crossbar. Indeed, Kirkland made a more impressive stop to deny Arteta after Mario Melchiot’s mistake had allowed Johnson to race into the box and cut the ball back to the Spaniard. To their credit, Wigan refused to feel sorry for themselves, and they reduced the arrears eight minutes after the break. From a deep free-kick by Jason Koumas, his first touch after coming on as substitute, Howard failed to collect under pressure from Bramble and the ball bounced in off the unfortunate Jagielka. Bruce’s side then set about their task. Koumas was off target with a 25-yard effort, Hibbert was alert to thwart a break from the same player and Kevin Kilbane, another former Goodison Park man, clipped a shot wide. But their impetus faded during the final quarter as Everton held firm, and the visitors were closest to scoring again when Osman hooked a volley narrowly wide. Advantage Everton in the race for fourth. The challenge now is to stay there. WIGAN ATHLETIC (4-4-2): Kirkland; Melchiot, Bramble, Scharner, Kilbane; Valencia, Brown (Aghahowa 82), Landzaat (Koumas 52), Palacios; Bent, Heskey (Sibierski 52). Subs: Pollitt, Boyce. BOOKING: Palacios (foul). EVERTON (4-4-1-1): Howard; Hibbert, Jagielka, Lescott, Valente; Arteta, Neville (Vaughan 75), Carsley, Osman; Cahill; Johnson. Subs: Wessels, Stubbs, Fernandes, Anichebe. BOOKINGS: Arteta (unsporting behavious) and Hibbert (foul). REFEREE: Lee Probert. ATT: 18,820. NEXT GAME: Everton v Chelsea, Carling Cup semi-final second leg, Wednesday 8pm.

Andrew Johnson can fire Wembley bid
Jan 21 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
LEON OSMAN backed a rejuvenated Andrew Johnson to spearhead Everton's bid to reach Wembley after he shot the Blues into the top four. The England international returned from injury yesterday to crown a superb display of front running with the first goal in his side’s 2-1 victory over Wigan to get a hugely important week off to a flying start. With leading scorer Ayegbeni Yakubu away at the African Cup of Nations, the onus will be Johnson to lead the way in the Carling Cup semi-final against Chelsea and it is a task Osman believes he is more than capable of fulfilling.
“Little things have cost us in big games this season and if we cut out the mistakes, I don’t see any reason why we can’t go through,” he said. “We will go into the game giving everything that we have got to take this club to a cup final.” Everton may have to reverse a 2-1 first leg deficit but having climbed into a Champions League spot, Osman is confident that David Moyes’ side can upset the odds – particularly if Johnson repeats his efforts from the JJB Stadium. He continued: “AJ was terrific yesterday and he is a fantastic asset to have. He’s got such great pace, awareness and his team play is second to none. “When you are under pressure or defending, you know he will always give you an outlet. He got a goal out of nothing at Wigan and it was down to great forward play. “He is doing really well at the minute. We know what a quality player he is. He’s had a bit of bad luck with injuries this season but he has never let it affect him. “He is proving all the time what a good finisher he is and he will be so important against Chelsea. “It’s going to be a massive night for the club. Hopefully we can make it a fantastic evening.” Having been sidelined for five weeks with a broken toe, Osman made a pleasing return to action against Wigan and he believes Everton could be difficult to dislodge from fourth spot if they continue to remain so tough to beat. “Conditions weren’t great and the pitch wasn’t the kind we like to play on,” said Osman. “It suited them much more. “But the character of the team shone through once again and we ground out a very important result. “Everyone wants to play silky football and win playing nice but that isn’t always going to happen. “Wigan are fighting tooth and nail against relegation and they made it difficult for us but we got the result we wanted and are delighted to be in the top four. “It was frustrating being out injured over the Christmas period and it was awful watching from the sidelines but I’ve worked hard to get myself fit and I’m raring to go.”

Comment: Titus Bramble’s presence comes gift wrapped
Jan 21 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
FORMER Everton coach Archie Knox coach had a way with words.
Economic is perhaps the best description, but his manner of describing a below par performance by a player was also memorable. “Jakki Brambles,” he would growl, before striding off purposefully in search of his baseball bat. The comment sprung instantly to mind when watching Everton climb confidently into fourth place yesterday. It’s not that Archie had anything against Radio One presenters. He just enjoyed the kind of rhyming slang which saw Davey Weir given the nickname “Peas.”* Brambles, of course, rhymes with shambles. Which brings us to Titus.
Wigan have had enough experience of getting shafted this season, without employing a defender who spends much of his time with his legs open, letting opponents do what they like to him. But Chris Hutchings took a chance on Titus Bramble. And Steve Bruce is having to pick up the pieces. Everton's favourite defender (a red card at Newcastle last season, not to mention an equalising goal at Anfield this one) was at it again yesterday. There's a YouTube compilation of Bramble’s buffoonery, which runs to an uncomfortable two minutes and 23 seconds. It doesn't even include the gaffe which gifted Geovanni a goal after 31 seconds of Steve Bruce’s first match as Wigan manager. That was 10 whole games ago, meaning Bramble was due a bloomer.
And boy did he deliver. Wigan often look a better side than their league position suggests. And for half-an-hour they asked searching, if not unanswerable, questions of the Blues. Then Bramble chased down a speculative pass from Mikel Arteta.
It wasn’t the identity of the covering defender which sent Andrew Johnson racing in hopeful pursuit, he does that anyway. But Bramble obliged with an attempted backpass which made you want to look away in embarrassment. Chris Kirkland, perhaps already anticipating a blunder, narrowed the angles superbly – but Johnson finished confidently under him. More defensive slackness from Bramble’s defensive partners three minutes later gave freescoring defender Joleon Lescott more space than you could find in the home section of the JJB stand – which was considerable – and the match was as good as over. The biggest question remaining was exactly how much Everton will have left in their legs for Wednesday's semi-final after playing on the equivalent of grassy porridge for 90 minutes. The rugby league season hasn't even kicked off yet, but the playing surface the footballing Latics share with the egg-chasing Warriors is already in a state of considerable disrepair. Everton, on the other hand, have confidently patched up their African Nations Cup absentees and are moving onwards and upwards. The absence of Yakubu has forced David Moyes to abandon any 4-4-2 thoughts and use Andy Johnson and Tim Cahill in the areas which suit them best. Perhaps it’s time to start calling Johnson Billy No Mates, because even his manager admitted he seems to operate better on his own. “I do think in a lot of ways it suits Andy playing on his own up front because he has bigger areas to run into,” explained Moyes. “Sometimes playing against two defenders rather than one might suit him better because it makes him a bit more elusive and harder to be picked up.” Ironically Cahill’s most effective work yesterday came not in the deep lying striking role he reprises better than anybody in the Premier League, but as a more conventional midfielder. A sliding block in front of his own goalkeeper was almost as influential as Bramble’s backpass, although for once he missed a header when a free-kick bounced off the unfortunate Jagielka to hand Wigan a toehold back in the match.
They never looked like getting any greater purchase than that. This is an Everton team with the bit between their teeth – and the awful exit to Oldham in the FA Cup may yet have a happy outcome. After the no doubt monumental effort the Blues will put in on Wednesday comes a free weekend to prepare for the visit of Spurs to Goodison, who will arrive three days after trying to halt a red tide at Old Trafford. If Everton can stay in and around fourth – without their African Nations Cup combatants – who knows where their season could eventually go when they return? Archie had another catchphrase. “I like your Sandy Lyle”. And Everton are showing plenty of it right now – the kind of style which can see them surpass all expectations. * (Peas and gravy, Davey. Obvious really).

David Moyes: confidence key to our Euro bid
Jan 21 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES has paid a glowing tribute to the attitude and belief of the players who have thrust Everton firmly into the race for a Champions League place.
Though the Blues experienced their lowest point of the campaign a fortnight ago when Oldham Athletic knocked them out of the FA Cup, Moyes has been thrilled with the way his squad have responded to that setback. Yesterday’s 2-1 victory over Wigan Athletic, courtesy of first half goals from Andrew Johnson and Joleon Lescott, was Everton’s third Premier League win in a row and their ninth in the last 13 fixtures.
Not surprisingly, confidence in the dressing room is mushrooming and the players firmly believe they can go on to finish in the top four, as does Moyes – particularly if they remain so tough to beat between now and May 11. “I think at this time of the season this is where we are right in the middle of it. January can be difficult, especially as we went out of the FA Cup, but we bounced back brilliantly,” said Moyes. “Our league form has been outstanding and the big thing is that the players expected to win before the game. That is coming through, the players have a great deal of faith and belief. You can see that. “We aren’t quite hitting the heights that we have done, but we got a result. We didn’t play well in the first half and were fortunate to go in two up.” Johnson may have been the beneficiary of a howler from Titus Bramble to shoot Everton into the lead but there was much to like about the way they battled through in the second half, even when their advantage was trimmed by Phil Jagielka’s own goal. “I think the conditions played a massive part,” said Moyes. “Wigan are more suited for the conditions than we are. We knew before we came that the pitch would be poor. “I hoped we’d play better but we had some really good defending when we needed it and clinical finishing when we had the opportunities. I’ve seen quite a lot of teams at the top who have found it hard to get all three points in some games lately.” The manager may have been thrilled with the efforts of his rearguard but he was also quick to praise Johnson, who was Everton’s star man and capped an impressive return from injury with his sixth goal of the campaign.
He will be asked to lead the line again when Chelsea visit on Wednesday in the Carling Cup semi-final second leg and Moyes hopes more relentless front running can put Avram Grant’s men on the back foot. “Andy worried them and I thought the mistake was because he worried them,” Moyes added. “He was always on the edge of getting at them. “In a lot of ways it suits him as a lone striker. He has bigger areas to run into. He’s sometimes playing between two defenders rather than up against one, and that makes him harder to pick up.”

Everton sign up for reality TV
Jan 21 2008 by Ben Turner, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON football club are helping Chinese youngsters pursue their dream of becoming Premiership stars. Today the club was also saluted for building bridges between the UK and China and helping Far East pupils brush up on their English skills. The blue half of Merseyside is one of three British teams to have signed up to hit Chinese reality TV show Soccer Prince. The British-created show has an audience of 60 million viewers and gives young Chinese footballers the chance to compete for a place in a football club, including Everton, and study English for a year.
Boys aged between 14 and 19 show off their skills with the three eventual winners earning a year’s apprenticeship at Everton, Nottingham Forest and Bolton.
Today Everton’s Chinese links won the praise of Gordon Brown and trade and investment minister Lord Digby Jones, both on official visits in China.
Lord Jones said: “I’m grateful to Everton for providing an opportunity to these youngsters to develop as footballers and also learn the English language. “I believe it is the responsibility for all of us, whether it is government, business, trade body or football club to play whatever part we can in spreading ‘Brand Britain’ around the world.” Delighted at the endorsement, Everton Academy manager Ray Hall said China offered huge potential footballing development. “Here at Everton we are home to a very successful youth academy and are making revolutionary steps to develop the game worldwide.” On Sunday, the prime minister attended the Shanghai Disabled Persons Federation to witness Everton’s grassroots disabled football programme in the city. The three-year programme will focus on cerebral palsy, deaf and blind teams and help develop teachers and coaches into qualified staff.

21st January 2008
Daily Star
Everton have moved to reward two of their homegrown stars by signing Tony Hibbert and Leon Osman on new long-term contracts. The two 26-year-olds have signed new deals that will keep them at Goodison Park until 2012. Liverpool-born Hibbert is delighted with the new contract, saying: "I am made up that I am here for another five years and I am very happy to be here and carry on playing my football here."
He added: "It is good to sign at the same time as Leon. We have grown up together and been playing for Everton for many years. It is good to see that we are still wanted at the club." Both players have spent their entire careers at Goodison, with Hibbert and Osman coming through the club's Academy as part of the same youth side.
Both have played key roles in Everton's impressive form this season and, between them, have made 329 first team appearances for the Blues. Hibbert will figure in Wednesday's Carling Cup semi-final second leg at home to Chelsea, while Osman is close to a return after recovering from a broken foot. The pair were also members of the FA Youth Cup winning side of 1998 and are the two longest serving players in manager David Moyes' senior squad. Negotiations with the duo have been ongoing since November but Osman insisted there was never any doubt the new deals would be agreed. The Wigan-born midfielder said: "We started talking a couple of months back, but I do not think there was ever any doubt that I was going to commit my long-term future to the club. I have been here since I left school, and that is a long time but it is where I want to play my football."

21st January 2008
By Graham Chase
Daily Star
Wigan.........1 Everton......2
Titus Bramble’s blunder set Everton on their way to a third Premier League win on the bounce – and into the top four ahead of rivals Liverpool. However, they had to withstand a fierce fightback from Wigan to take themselves another step closer to their Champions League dreamland. The Latics were in control when Bramble tried to pass back to keeper Chris Kirkland but barely made contact with the ball, allowing Andy Johnson to race clear to put Everton ahead in the 39th minute. Boss David Moyes set Joleon Lescott a target of 10 goals for the season after he scored the only goal against Manchester City last week. And the England defender is now three away from that feat after stabbing in Everton’s second three minutes after Johnson had struck. There was plenty of spirit from the Latics and substitute Jason Koumas’ first touch was a free-kick that deflected off Phil Jagielka and into his own net at the start of the second half. But Steve Bruce’s battlers tasted defeat for the first time in 2008 – despite dominating until Bramble’s howler. It’s a long way from Honduras to the JJB, but Wilson Palacios showed from the off that he is more than up for Wigan’s battle against the drop. The winger snapped into a tackle with Phil Neville and also pulled off a cheeky drag-back to fool Mikel Arteta before bending a shot just wide with just a minute gone. However, Arteta was soon in on the act at the other end, lobbing over Paul Scharner but being run too wide by keeper Kirkland. Bramble had a lucky escape in the sixth minute when Johnson was played through by Tim Cahill.
Ex-Everton man Kevin Kilbane was quickly across, only to blast the ball straight into Bramble’s face, with the deflection skidding straight to Kirkland. Emile Heskey then nodded just wide from close range after Palacios beat Tony Hibbert down Wigan’s left side. After Arteta had been booked for taking a free-kick too quickly, the Spaniard sent over another set-piece that ricocheted around the Wigan box before Lee Carsley volleyed a rising ball just high and wide. Then Johnson was played into space by Neville’s clever pass and crossed for Arteta, who forced a fine stop from Kirkland, with Cahill unable to get a shot away despite being first to the rebound. Midway through the opening period, Everton keeper Tim Howard touched Marcus Bent’s header on to the bar from Antonio Valencia’s deep corner and it was smashed away from danger. A couple of minutes later, Bent’s cross from the left was missed by everyone and fell perfectly for Valencia, but Cahill slid in to block the winger’s fizzing drive. Just before the half-hour, Hibbert’s long clearance was collected by Johnson and his 20-yard strike was deflected wide by ex-Newcastle centre-back Bramble. However, six minutes before the break, Bramble’s shocker handed the visitors the lead. Arteta robbed Palacios and clipped down the line, but Bramble’s back-pass was under-hit, allowing Johnson to romp clear and slide the ball through Kirkland’s legs. And three minutes later, Lescott came up with his seventh of the campaign to double Everton’s lead. Arteta’s corner sparked panic in the Wigan area and Jagielka’s mis-hit shot fell perfectly for Lescott to stab in for his second goal in two matches. Bruce chucked on Koumas and Antoine Sibierski six minutes after the restart and immediately pulled one back. Koumas bent a whipped free-kick from the right to the far post and after Bramble challenged Howard, the ball bounced off Jagielka and crossed the line before Lescott could hook clear. As Wigan piled forward, the dangerous Valencia broke down the right and his fierce drive flew just past American shot-stopper Howard’s post. Making his first start since breaking a toe five weeks ago, Leon Osman could have restored Everton’s two-goal lead midway through the second half. Hibbert’s deep cross from the right was headed away by Mario Melchiot and Osman took the ball on his chest but his prod at goal flew just past the post. With 13 minutes left, Bent’s pass was controlled by Valencia, who squared for Koumas to fire narrowly high and wide from nearly 25 yards.
Koumas was still a major threat and his driven free-kick flew wide off Kilbane with eight minutes remaining. A minute into added time, Valencia crossed for Bent, only for the former Everton striker to sky his effort well over to end Wigan’s hopes of a point.

Tony Hibbert and Leon Osman sign new deals at Everton
Jan 22 2008
By Ian Doyle, Liverpool Daily Post
DAVID MOYES’S plans for Everton’s future took another step forward yesterday when Tony Hibbert and Leon Osman signed long-term contracts. The duo, who progressed through the club’s Academy and were part of the FA Youth Cup winning side of 1998, have committed themselves to Goodison until 2012. Negotiations began in November to reward the pair for the performances that have seen them become integral cogs in Moyes’s trophy-chasing squad. Hibbert is one of only two players to have remained at Goodison throughout Moyes’s near six-year tenure while fellow 26-year-old Osman was handed his first-team chance by the Scot in 2004. Moyes has been keen to strengthen the nucleus of his squad during the past 12 months. Mikel Arteta, Tim Cahill, James Vaughan and Victor Anichebe have already penned similarly lengthy deals while new signings Tim Howard, Leighton Baines and Yakubu have also committed themselves to a long-term stay at the club. “I’m made up that I’m here for another five years and I’m very happy to be here and carry on playing my football here,” said Hibbert. “It’s good to sign at the same time as Leon. We’ve grown up together and been playing for Everton for many years. “It’s good to see that we’re still wanted at the club and it’s a good thing that it’s for five years.” Osman said: “We started talking a couple of months back, but I don’t think there was ever any doubt that I was going to commit my long-term future to the club. “I’ve been here since I left school, and that’s a long time but it’s where I want to play my football.” Last night’s reserve game against Blackburn Rovers at Morecambe’s Christie Park was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch. Meanwhile, 20-year-old full-back Paddy Boyle has joined Coca-Cola League One side Crewe Alexandra on a month’s loan.

Everton left sweating on Leighton Baines ankle scan
Jan 22 2008
Exclusive by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
LEIGHTON BAINES was today visiting a specialist to discover the extent of an ankle problem he has suffered since October. The Blues, however, are bracing themselves for bad news and it is looking increasingly likely that surgery will be the only option to cure the injury, meaning Baines could be out for anything up to between six and eight weeks. If the worst comes to the worst, it would be a huge blow for the 23-year-old, who became the most expensive defender in Everton’s history when he moved from Wigan Athletic last summer in a £5m deal, as he could potentially miss the Carling Cup final. A groin problem forced him to miss the start of the season, while he had another three-week spell on the sidelines in the run-up to Christmas after tearing his hamstring in the 3-0 win over Fulham on December 8. Sandwiched in between that, though, was the blow to the ankle he took in a challenge with Derby County’s journeyman defender Darren Moore on October 28 which has caused so many headaches for Baines. He has been restricted to just 12 starts for Everton and that has left him bitterly frustrated as, during his time at the JJB Stadium, he had an exemplary fitness record and only missed three of Wigan’s 40 games last season. “I have never really had an injury like that,” he said recently. “I’ve only ever really missed the odd game over the last two years, so it was frustrating to pick it up when I did. “We had just started winning games and getting into form. Meanwhile, Tony Hibbert and Leon Osman have finally put pen-to-paper on deals that will keep them at Goodison Park until the end of the 2011/2012 campaign, following the lead set by Mikel Arteta, Tim Cahill, James Vaughan and Victor Anichebe. As first reported in the ECHO on November 22 last year, the Blues were keen to reward two players who graduated from the club’s Academy to become important members of Moyes’ squad. “We started talking a couple of months ago but there was never any doubt I was going to commit my long-term future to the club. It’s where I want to play my football,” said Osman, who returned from a five-week injury lay-off in Sunday’s 2-1 win over Wigan. Hibbert was equally pleased to agree terms and his form has shown a dramatic improvement in recent weeks, much to the delight of his manager, who said today: “Hibbo has done well for us. “He has played well recently. We are quite well blessed with full-backs and there will be some games that suit Phil Neville more in that position than Hibb “But he is going to continue be an important member of the squad.”

Everton Art master Mikel on final mission
Jan 22 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
IF dreams of reaching Wembley are to be turned into reality tomorrow evening, Everton's Spanish magician will need to dig deep in his box of tricks.
Overhauling Chelsea’s 2-1 lead from the first leg of their Carling Cup semi-final is going to be anything but easy and the men from Stamford Bridge are masters at shutting up shop, yet it is the type of challenge that excites Mikel Arteta.
Having been forced to assume the role of frustrated spectator when the sides first locked horns two weeks ago, it should not surprise that Everton’s creator-in-chief is desperate to make up for lost time and produce a command performance.
He may have been consumed by a sense of injustice following his harsh sending-off against Arsenal but talk to Arteta now and the only thing that shines through is a determination to give his adoring public the one thing they covet more than anything else. It is, after all, 13 long years since the Blues have been to a major final but if Arteta and company have their way, that will soon change; the chance to win a trophy is not something they are going to give up without a fight. Arteta may have enjoyed his fair share of personal glory during his time at Goodison Park but he has not savoured the emotions of a team triumph since Glasgow Rangers completed a clean sweep of domestic honours in 2003. So while many judges will think Shaun Wright-Phillips’ late header has enabled Chelsea to put one foot in the final, Arteta is of a different mindset and believes this hugely promising campaign can be given a silver lining. “To get to a final with Everton would be so special,” said Arteta. “It has been too long since this club was at a major final and we want to put that right. It would be massive for everyone if we could do that. “Getting to a final is really important for a club’s development. Winning also guarantees you a place in Europe as well. It is just a question of small details. The big teams are used to it and they know how to get the results they need to get to finals. “We have to believe that we can do the same. Hopefully we can deal with the pressure. I’ve won a couple of things before and the feeling is amazing. If you win, all the effort you have put in to get there comes through your body. You feel unbelievable and we all want to experience that here.”
Yet for all the confidence he has in himself and his team-mates, Arteta is quick to point out the respect he has for Chelsea. They may be shorn of stellar talents such as Didier Drogba, John Terry, Frank Lampard and Andriy Shevchenko but that has not overtly affected their quality. After all, they have just spent £15m to sign Nicolas Anelka – a striker with whom Arteta played when they were together at Paris St Germain – to lead their line and they will be just as hungry to secure their place in the final against Arsenal or Tottenham Hotspur. “We know how big it is going to be,” said Arteta. “It is going be absolutely massive, one of the biggest I have ever played for this club. We will be doing everything that we can to make sure we go through. It was so disappointing to miss the first leg. “It was a really difficult game to watch. We had some players missing but now we have nearly everyone fit and though we lost the first leg, we still have a really big chance to go through. So let’s just go and do it.
“We will give Chelsea a lot of respect. They deserve it as they are a great team with great players. They have players who can win a game for them, even when they are not playing well. We will have to be careful. But we are very enthusiastic and we want to do it.” Certainly Everton could not be going into their date with destiny in any better form; Sunday’s 2-1 victory at Wigan Athletic has thrust them firmly into the race for the Champions League and showed they know how to grind results. Clearly, it has done wonders for confidence. “It was a massive win,” said Arteta. “We knew how hard it was going to be and that conditions made things even more difficult for us.
“But we competed well. It wasn’t a nice game to play in and it wasn’t nice to watch either but we had the three points and that’s all we care about. “It was so important that we won. Those are the type of games that you always see the big teams winning, even when they are not playing well. Manchester United did that against Reading. But we did it well and we just hope our good form can continue.”

Nigel Martyn: Final ambition will drive the Blues on
Jan 22 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
CERTAIN games really make you yearn for a return to your playing days and that will be the case tomorrow evening. When Goodison Park is packed to the rafters and the supporters are in full cry, there are few better arenas to stage a football match – so no prizes for guessing that I am filled with envy towards the lads who will be battling for a place in the Carling Cup final. Chelsea will start hot favourites to finish the job they started at Stamford Bridge. But the feeling continues to grow that Everton will overcome the odds. We have done it before and there is no reason why we can’t do it again. I was lucky enough to play in one game for the Blues that went down in recent folklore, namely the 1-0 win over Manchester United in 2005. My wife, Amanda, told me afterwards that she could not watch the closing stages as she was so terrified United would score. But we loved it. That was the type of game I used to thrive in because when you step over the white line, you are in control of your destiny. Fans get so nervous as they are powerless to prevent things happening. Have faith that David Moyes’ squad can deliver. It’s not as if these players are unaccustomed to being involved in matches where the stakes are high. If anything, the opposite is true. Just think about the players who are going to start against Chelsea and you will see they boast a wealth of experience. As that is the case, the chances of them starting with a gung-ho attitude is remote. We might need to score the first goal but that doesn’t need to arrive until a minute before the end, provided things are kept tight at the back.
Chelsea are a terrific side and their threat is there for all to see. But we have got to believe from the start that they are beatable – even if our worst possible scenario comes true about them scoring first. It should not kill the atmosphere.You never know when the next opportunity to play for a place in a major final will arrive so everyone who pulls on a Blue shirt will be desperate to seize the moment and a trip to Wembley is the least everyone at the club deserves. There are four teams in the Premier who, realistically, should win everything but few would begrudge Everton their place in the spotlight if Chelsea can be toppled. It has all the ingredients for one of those special Goodison nights. Fingers crossed it turns out that way.
Lescott should be England certainty
THERE has been plenty of debate about who will make Fabio Capello’s first England squad – but one man from Goodison Park looks an absolute certainty. Joleon Lescott helped himself to another vital goal in Sunday’s 2-1 win over Wigan Athletic. But it is his performances at the back which have been so impressive, compared to his ability to pop up in the right place at the right time. Whenever I have seen Joleon play this season, his performances have been of a consistently high standard and, encouragingly, he is getting better. Joleon is someone who can become an England international for many years. If some people had doubts about him when he first arrived at the club, they will have been long since banished. As a goalkeeper, you would know that life would be that bit easier having a player of his calibre in front of you. At the other end of the pitch, Andrew Johnson also showed at the JJB Stadium that he is bang in form – a smart finish through Chris Kirkland’s legs putting the gloss on a fine individual performance. He might have benefited from a gift, but he never looked like missing. That helped to settle everyone’s nerves after a shaky start and provided the springboard to get another great result. Andy will want to stake his claim while Ayegbeni Yakubu is away. He would do his chances no harm at all if he replicates his efforts against Chelsea.

22nd January 2008
Daily Star
Avram Grant has been dealt a major blow ahead of Chelsea's Carling Cup semi-final against Everton on Wednesday after England midfielder Frank Lampard suffered a setback to his thigh problem in training. Lampard was hopeful of returning for the second leg at Goodison Park but the Chelsea coach confirmed the midfielder had aggravated his thigh muscle again and could face a further two weeks on the sidelines.
Grant said: "All I can say about his injury is that he is not available for the moment but we hope he will be as soon as possible. It is a little bit more complicated than we thought." He added: "But I think he will be back soon. He has torn his thigh muscle for a second time and I think it could be between a few days or two weeks from now."
However, winger Shaun Wright-Phillips, who was expected to miss out because of an ankle injury sustained against Birmingham at the weekend, could be in the squad.
Wright-Phillips was in light training on Tuesday and although Grant would not speculate on whether the England winger was fit enough to play any part in Wednesday's clash on Merseyside, he appeared to be quietly confident. Grant added: "The good thing with these players is they like to play and even when they are not fit and 100%, they are doing everything to play. "Not all the players have been 100% fit for the last few games but the squad is very short. Everybody, including Shaun, is doing everything they can to play, but it is good news he is out there." Chelsea take a one-goal advantage to Everton from the opening leg at Stamford Bridge, where they won 2-1, but Grant dismissed any suggestions he will order his side to sit back and defend their lead. He said: "I don't believe in that. If you go to only defend then you can make a mistake and lose the game because of it. It is not our style of game over the last three months. I don't think you can play totally different for just one game. It is not the nature of the team."

David Moyes: We must take our golden opportunity
Jan 23 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES today urged his fired up players to make the most of a golden opportunity as they bid for a place in the Carling Cup Final. The Blues must overcome a 2-1 first leg deficit against Chelsea tonight in order to secure a Wembley date against Tottenham next month and Moyes is growing in confidence they will deliver.
With Andrew Johnson expected to shrug off a knee injury to lead the line, the manager should be able to name his strongest available starting line-up and knows they will not be found wanting for effort or application. So having beaten Sheffield Wednesday, Luton Town and West Ham United to get to this stage, Moyes is now challenging his squad to produce their best performance of the season to secure a first trip to Wembley for 13 years. “We want to make sure we give ourselves every chance,” said Moyes, who is looking to bury a hoodoo of never having won a game against Chelsea as Everton manager. “We had to work really hard at West Ham to go through, we had to work really hard at Stamford Bridge and we’ve earned the opportunity back at Goodison and we have to capitalise on that. “We need to use Goodison, our performances this season, our consistency. We’ve come really close against all the top teams this year and maybe it’s our time. The players are ready to give a big performance. “There is nothing surer than they will do everything they can to get through. It will be a really hard game and one that we will have to play exceptionally well in to get through. There have been many great nights before but maybe this can be the first of a new era.” Though Moyes feels Everton let Chelsea off the hook in the first leg, particularly when they had got the score back to 1-1 and had a numerical advantage after Jon Obi Mikel’s red card, he is not worried that Shaun Wright-Phillips’ last gasp goal will prove decisive. Since that game, Everton have won both their Premier League fixtures to move into fourth place but Moyes is hoping that come the end of the campaign, they will have something tangible for their efforts.
“The mood is good, we know we have been playing very well, although we’ve picked up a couple of results lately where we’ve had to scrap and squeeze it out,” said Moyes, whose other fitness concerns are over Leon Osman (groin) and Tony Hibbert (knee).
“But we have been aware of that and we’ve talked to the players about it. Against Chelsea, we’ll need to have as good a performance as we have had against any other team this season. It’s that level that will probably be required to get us through.
“The group of players I have now, I want them to taste success and feel as though they are at a club that are driving towards winning things.” EVERTON are urging supporters to allow themselves extra time to get into Goodison tonight. Club officials are advising supporters to leave home earlier than normal to make sure they arrive at Goodison, with a sell-out crowd expected for the 8pm kick-off.

Tim Cahill's the man for the big time
Jan 23 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
STAGE fright can cripple the most experienced performer, but, happily for David Moyes and his Wembley-chasing side, Everton's lethal weapon is blessed with nerves of steel. While it is not unusual for players who can be relied upon week in, week out to suddenly freeze when the stakes are at their highest, Tim Cahill is quite the opposite - in his eyes, the bigger occasions, the better he enjoys. If a goal is ever required in a ‘must win’ game, this teak-tough Australian invariably pops up in the right place at the right time to deliver, and few would bet against him repeating the trick in the Carling Cup semi-final second leg against Chelsea this evening.
He does, after all, have form for it. Four years ago when he was plying his trade with Millwall, Cahill was the man who pounced to help the Lions realise what had looked an improbable dream, namely an FA Cup Final date with Manchester United.
That semi-final goal at Old Trafford, as much as any other that season, helped secure him a £1.7m move to Goodison Park, where he has since blossomed into one of the top attacking midfielders in the country. Not surprisingly, memories of that clash against Sunderland will come flooding back before kick-off tonight and though Everton will start as the underdogs, nothing would give Cahill greater satisfaction than upsetting the odds once again. “Dennis Wise and Ray Wilkins sat us down before the Sunderland game and told us that we had to realise where we were,” Cahill recalled. “They said we didn’t think we realised what we could actually achieve.
“When you actually sat back and thought about it, it was a bit scary. But because we played for Millwall, there was that fight and desire to make sure we achieved something. We really wanted to make our mark on the biggest stage. “There was no fear. You could see that in the way that we played. There was no respect between either side and it was a very fiery game but it was something we knew we were going to do. Afterwards it was so special because that was our final. “Some people might see tonight as our final but we want to make sure twe get to Wembley. We have come this far and some people will say that we are behind the eight ball. But we are at home and we can take advantage of that. “This game could go for 90 minutes plus another 30 but we are fit and ready for it. We know what we are up against. Have we practiced penalties? Not really. Hopefully we will just do the business in the allotted time and we won’t need them.” They certainly won’t if the willpower of 38,000 Evertonians who will be crammed inside Goodison have anything to do with it - with a first Wembley trip in 13 years beckoning, the noise should reach ear-piercing levels long before the first whistle sounds. So given the popularity he enjoys on the terraces, it is no surprise that Cahill is desperate to give Everton’s fans the success they crave and hopes he and his team-mates can be carried across the line on a wave of emotion.
“Playing at home, the fans are definitely behind us,” said Cahill. “I feel like they are going to play a massive part. It’s going to be like a normal game but at the same time, there is so much meaning attached to it. “Wigan was probably the most important game of the season because it helped us get into fourth place. But this is the biggest game of the season now and every game is just going to get bigger. “The noise is ridiculous and they are exceptionally loud. It’s the same when they are away. It’s a pleasure to play here, and for us to try and bring some success is special.”
That said, it will take more than just screaming, shouting and singing to blow Chelsea’s house down - for all their injury problems, Avram Grant is still able to call upon some outstanding talent. Yet while Cahill respects the men from Stamford Bridge, he is adamant that overhauling a 2-1 first leg deficit is well within Everton’s capabilities. Destiny is calling for this group of players and the 28-year-old, for one, intends to seize the moment. “I don’t know what they are thinking and what type of team they are going to put out,” he said. “But we have just got to worry about ourselves. People may think that the Man Citys and Evertons of this world are going to fall by the wayside. “But teams are built nowadays with a good defensive structure and the big teams go into games knowing they are going to have to do something different to break them down. It was a bit of brilliance for their first one and a mistake for the second. “At home, we really need to take advantage of having the fans behind us. I suppose we are very confident and that is the way we have to be. We respect every player and that is the way it has to be. They’re a world class team. “But defensively we’ve been really strong and we have scored goals too. Chelsea will be very confident and think they can come to Goodison and walk all over us, but I know they will be in for a game.”

Joe Parkinson's Dogs of War can inspire Blues to Wembley
Jan 23 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
THINK of all the great games you have attended down the years and one incident will stick in the mind longer than any other. A certain generation of Evertonians will remember Andy Gray waging war against Klaus Augenthaler when Bayern Munich were battered into submission in 1985. Others will recall Barry Horne’s unguided missile in the do-or-die tussle with Wimbledon in 1994. More recently, Duncan Ferguson rolling back the years to torment Rio Ferdinand in the 1-0 win against Manchester United three seasons ago will go down in folklore, but then there is the 1995 FA Cup semi-final with Tottenham Hotspur. While Daniel Amokachi’s late double will be remembered with huge fondness, as will the noise generated by those who turned Elland Road into Goodison Park, what about when Joe Parkinson hoodwinked Nick Barmby with the most sublime dragback? One of the fabled ‘Dogs of War’, Parkinson had been pigeonholed by those outside the club as nothing more than a destroyer, a man who would willingly tackle a tank and chase lost causes but had little creativity. It was, of course, nonsense. But that heady April afternoon, Parkinson showed his repertoire of talents to the full, driving Joe Royle’s side to Wembley with arguably his finest performance in a Blue shirt. Unfortunately, a serious knee injury prevented Parkinson realising his full potential, but his place in the affections of Evertonians is forever assured, and his great wish now is for a member of this generation to get fans talking the way the class of ’95 did back then.
“Everyone wanted the Tottenham-Manchester United final but we had beaten United six weeks earlier and we knew if we got to Wembley, we’d beat them,” recalled the 36-year-old, who made 107 appearances following his £250,000 move from Bournemouth in March 1994. “All I remember when we got to Elland Road was seeing Blue everywhere. There wasn’t a spec of white. Maybe Tottenham thought all they had to do was turn up to win, but Joe got us pumped up and it ended up being such a fantastic occasion. “The best thing about it was that we played such good football. In the league, we were focused on beating relegation but we relaxed in the cup and everything clicked against Spurs. “We had such a fantastic team spirit. If anyone was a little bit on edge beforehand, everyone would rally around and it was a great time to be associated with the club. It was just a shame that we never kicked on like we thought we could. “We made a lot of big signings after that but I’ve said it before that some big names went missing when Joe needed them, and we were glad to see the back of them. The team that won the Cup, though, just would not be beaten.
“So many great things happened during that run. How we beat Bristol City, I’ll never know but we just kept getting results and the closer we got to the final, the more we started to believe we were going to do it. “Nothing came close to the feeling of winning the final and the semi-final. Tottenham was probably the better game but they are experiences that will stay with me for the rest of my life. “My only regret is that my son was too small to see me play.” If Parkinson was central to Everton’s last semi-final, tonight his role is reversed – as a Park End season ticket holder, he and son Ryan, who is now 15, will take their usual seats behind the goal and brace themselves to ride a rollercoaster of emotions. Yet, as was the case 13 years ago, he feels momentum is firmly behind the Blues and he is looking forward to experiencing the other side of the coin – few will be shouting louder if David Moyes’ side are hanging on to an advantage in the dying moments. “It was a shame the way the first leg finished as we deserved something from the game,” said Parkinson, referring to that 2-1 defeat at Stamford Bridge. “But hopefully with the crowd behind us, it will become a memorable night, maybe a bit like Bayern Munich was. “I’m confident we can do it. Chelsea may be able to grind out results but you can bet they will be dreading coming here. My only fear is that we freeze on the night. There is a danger things can get built up too much and if they score early, things might go flat. “But hopefully that won’t be the case and I’m confident we can do it. There is a real consistency about this team. We went to Wigan on Sunday expecting to win and they didn’t let us down. Everyone has such confidence and I really feel we can do it.” Provided Moyes’ men show the same kind of hunger and desire that Parkinson and Co did during their giddy run to the twin towers, they will not go far wrong. As he points out, it’s time for Everton to reacquaint themselves with the most famous stadium in the world. “All being well, we’ll get the right result,” he said. “Everyone is desperate for success and it’s been too long, really, since we played in a major final. We should be looking forward to these games more often.” They are sentiments with which few would disagree. Time, then, for one of the current crop to carve a niche for themselves in history.

Everton's Kirkby plans prompt trade and parking concerns
Jan 23 2008 by Neil Hodgson, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON’S proposed move to Kirkby could face official opposition from Sefton council amid fears for the borough’s town centres. Councillors have called for a study on the economic impact of the planned massive Tesco on Aintree racecourse trading estate and Bootle New Strand. They are also concerned that traffic could swamp streets of nearby Lydiate, Maghull, Bootle and Melling. Sefton’s leader, Lib Dem councillor Tony Robertson, said the council could object if the study showed parts of the borough might suffer. He said: “We want to get to the bottom of two issues: the economic impact and traffic and parking. “We need to understand what the impact of the retail development will be in terms of whether it has a negative impact on retail centres elsewhere in the geographic area or on present retail outlets such as Aintree and Bootle “What I don’t want to do is achieve significant regeneration in one part of Merseyside, but inadvertently create a negative impact elsewhere.” Cllr Robertson said Melling residents close to the proposed development off Valley Road and Cherryfield Drive were worried about increased traffic heading for Tesco, but also possible parking problems on match days. He said: “Melling is cheek by jowl with Kirkby and I know it’s of great concern to residents. “Sefton will be a formal consultee on the planning issues, so we can make it clear we are very unhappy, but I hope we don’t get to that stage.” But Cllr Robertson said he was very keen to work with Knowsley over the Kirkby plan. He said: “The councils will work together, rather than the old fashioned Merseyside way of poking each other in the eye.
“No-one wants to stand in the way of the regeneration of Kirkby centre. “There will be some hard decisions to make, but we can only make those if we are working in a true partnership.” Lib Dem councillor Jack Colbert, whose Molyneux ward includes Melling, said: “I am looking at the impact the full development will have on Sefton.”

23rd January 2008
By Kevin Francis
Daily Star
Everton midfielder Tim Cahill has warned Chelsea that they will be in for a rude awakening in tonight’s Carling Cup semi-final. Chelsea bring a 2-1 lead into the second leg with Cahill saying: “I know Chelsea are very confident and think they can come to Goodison Park and just walk all over us. “But they will be in for a shock. This is a must-win match for us. “We are very confident that we can get the result we want at home. We will not be fazed in any way. “It is our opportunity to finally reach the final of a competition. “It’s been a while since we have gone this far in a cup competition and to get there would be a great reward for the players and the fans.
“As players, especially, we would have a feeling of real achievement.
“That was the experience I had when we beat Sunderland while I was at Millwall in the semi-finals to reach the FA Cup Final. “We are getting more and more confidence from our experiences in the Premier League and the UEFA Cup. “That shows when we are disappointed when we get just average results. We analyse the games
thoroughly afterwards to see where we went wrong.” The 28-year-old Aussie added: “Getting to the final is something as players that shows you have achieved something. We’re not there yet but that would be the feeling. “This game is another chance to make a special feeling come true. “The reality is there because this is a chance that we’ve got to take. But if we are going to take that chance, we are going to have to be on the ball. “Getting to Wembley would breed confidence. I suppose with the way we have been doing this year in the league and the UEFA Cup, that has been breeding confidence, so when we do get average results, it will really affect us.” Cahill, who has scored nine goals in 18 games, is convinced Everton now have a strong enough squad to bring the glory days back to Goodison Park. He said: “When I first signed here, it was a dream come true. “It was the same for Mikel Arteta, Joleon Lescott and a lot of our other big players. “Now, in the last three years we have smashed the transfer record for James Beattie, Andy Johnson and Yakubu. “The signs are that this club is looking to build. “Basically, our manager David Moyes has brought in stability. Leon Osman and Tony Hibbert have long-term deals and I feel as if the core of a side is there. “He can call upon numerous players and they will play 40 games a season. He knows he can trust them.” Moyes has been linked with a string of managerial vacancies but Cahill said: “I think he is here for the long haul. “He’s a great manager and done very well. “Managers jobs are hard to keep these days but he is building something special. I think it would be a hell of a waste if he walked away.
“He has got so much to achieve with us. He can see a goal and we can see a goal. He has made us all part of it.” Moyes shares Cahill’s confidence about the future and tonight’s game in particular. But he admits Everton will have to be at their best.
He said: “We will need to have as good a performance as we have had against any other team this season. That’s the kind of level that will probably be required to get us through.” Moyes believes that Everton’s run in the UEFA Cup, their high position in the Premier League and their arrival at the semi-final stage of the Carling Cup is an indication of the progress the club is making. He said: “We are working really hard to get a level here. We are not going to stop. We’ll keep going.
“If we have to do the same thing again for the next six years to get there, then we’ll do it. “Hopefully, our new time will come again, even if it takes another six years to build on what we have now. “This club has had great success in the past and the fans are desperate for success now. Hopefully, we can deliver. “The mood is good, we know we have been playing very well although we’ve picked up a couple of results lately where we’ve had to scrap and squeeze it out.”

23rd January 2008
Daily Star
Joe Cole's decisive second-half strike broke Everton's hearts and sent Chelsea to their third Carling Cup final in four years following a 1-0 win at Goodison. The holders out-played the Merseysiders, who just could not find a way to cancel out Chelsea's one-goal lead from the first leg. Everton boss David Moyes' side flirted with a first Wembley final in 13 years, but the tie slowly stretched away from them, and Cole's 69th-minute goal ended any hope of Everton reaching their dream. It will now be Chelsea who will face Tottenham at Wembley on February 24. It was the Londoners who had the first two chances, Alex firing a free-kick into the wall and Shaun Wright-Phillips, who recovered from an ankle injury to start, seeing a 15-yarder deflected wide. After nine minutes it needed a fine Petr Cech save to his left to keep out a Joleon Lescott header from Mikel Arteta's corner. Chelsea were happy to defend deep, with just Nicolas Anelka up front, as they soaked up Everton's growing pressure. Anelka, not cup-tied despite only being signed from Bolton between the two legs of this semi-final, tested Tim Howard with a low drive after 28 minutes.
Everton had struggled for clear chances, but Arteta's clever pass gave Andy Johnson the opening for a right-footer, which deflected just wide off Alex. And Chelsea reached the break comfortably in control. Chelsea almost stunned Everton within a minute of the second-half starting when Anelka found space in the box for a shot that was deflected onto the crossbar by Phil Jagielka. Everton needed to raise their game to unsettle Chelsea, and slowly they started to achieve that. And Phil Neville saw a fierce effort blocked by Cech before Jagielka's close-range back-heel was turned away by the Chelsea keeper. But as Everton pressed, Chelsea struck from deep after 69 minutes. Malouda's long ball from the left found Joe Cole, who expertly controlled the ball before his clinical right-foot finished saw Chelsea ahead on the night, and ultimately ensured their place in another Wembley showpiece after their FA Cup triumph at the stadium last season.

Everton 0, Chelsea 1
Jan 24 2007
By dominic King, Liverpool Echo
SOMETIMES, no matter how difficult it may be, you have to hold your hands up and admit your best was not good enough. Sadly, Evertonians will have awoken today to that feeling. For all the huff and puff shown against Chelsea, there was not enough to blow them all the way to the place at Wembley they so badly craved. But, while tears are the only souvenirs to take from a Carling Cup run which took the Blues to within a whisker of their first major final in 13 years, it is worth remembering one crucial aspect. This campaign is still very much alive and kicking. In the grim and not too distant past, you would have been hard pressed to find reason for excitement in the second half of an Everton season, unless there was some bizarre kick to be taken from a battle against relegation. Things, thankfully, have turned for the better by a considerable distance, so rather than playing for pride - which used to be the case after the domestic cup campaigns had ended - David Moyes and his squad can fix their sights on two targets. Firstly, three weeks from now, Everton’s assault on the UEFA Cup resumes and they will be hot favourites to dispatch SK Brann before moving on to a date with either Rosenborg or Fiorentina in the last 16. The over-riding objective, however, comes via the Premier League and the race to secure fourth place. As they are currently in pole position for that target, should there not be a confidence around the club that they will see it through? Everton, after all, are learning all the time and nobody could dispute the squad which Moyes has assembled is blessed with sufficient talent to ensure headline-grabbing games will become the norm for years to come. As they have shown time and again this season, whether it was at Goodison Park, Old Trafford or Stamford Bridge, the Blues are capable of standing toe-to-toe with the heavyweights and giving as good they get. Yet - and this is the crux - one problem remains: for the moment. They are incapable of landing the killer blow. Brutal though this may sound, Chelsea should have been put away in the first leg two weeks ago, but the nous to do that was missing. When Jon Obi Mikel was sent off and Ayegbeni Yakubu restored parity, Everton could and should have added another couple of goals to make the return leg at Goodison a formality. Instead they squandered a glorious opportunity. The attitude of the PR minions who follow Chelsea around the country makes them an easy club to have an aversion for but, for all that, they do have some magnificent players, who were tailor-made for the demands of last night. Juliano Belletti was outstanding at right-back, Claude Makelele put the shackles on Tim Cahill in the first minute and never released him until the last blast of Steve Bennett’s whistle, while the only thing Nicolas Anelka’s performance lacked was a goal. Two hulking figures in the form of Ricardo Carvalho and Alex, meanwhile, comfortably nullified Andrew Johnson’s relentless running, pushing him into areas where he was never able to threaten Petr Cech. So frustrating. The visiting supporters may have lacked the passion to take up their allocation for this contest but those in the home enclosures - daring to dream that they would witness another ‘Bayern Munich’ night - could not have done any more to help. Greeting their heroes with a roar to make the hair on the back of your neck go rigid, the roof of the old stadium would have been blown off had the early goal for which they were baying arrived. Alas, the closest Everton came was a header from Joleon Lescott which Cech clung onto, as Johnson and Cahill snaffled for any scraps. From as early as the ninth minute, it was apparent things would not go according to the script. Gradually squeezing the life out of the encounter, Chelsea asphyxiated Everton’s attacking zephyrs Cahill, Mikel Arteta, Manuel Fernandes and Leon Osman yet always threatened to score a decisive goal of their own. That they failed to do so was down to the impeccable defending of Lescott and he will have surely gone into the notebook of new England manager Fabio Capello, who watched the action unfold from the director’s box. One tackle to rob Anelka in the second half could not have been more immaculately timed, while his considerable frame always made him a nuisance at set plays - the £4m it cost to sign this strapping 25-year-old has been repaid many times over. Alongside him, Phil Jagielka also caught the eye, hurtling into challenges as though his life depended on them being successful and never flinching when Anelka moved through the gears. After a slow start, he is looking more and more like an Everton player. But, despite their best efforts, Wembley eventually disappeared in the blink of an eye, Florent Malouda exquisitely sending Joe Cole scampering clear to flash an instant shot past Tim Howard. There would be no grandstand comeback. Given Everton only threatened from set pieces, that was no great surprise as the stuffing had been knocked out them, but one cannot help wonder whether anything different might have changed things. Might Victor Anichebe’s muscular threat been better utilised with 45 minutes to play as opposed to a brief cameo just after Cole had scored? How much of a difference could the African contingent have made had they not been away? We will never know. Having put so much effort in, it may seem churlish to criticise and it is futile making excuses - what’s done is done and the thing to do now is make sure this season finishes on a high. It will, of course, be tough to provide a silver lining but the ovation from Everton’s magnificent supporters at full-time proved emphatically that the majority are right behind what Moyes is doing. Making the next giant step, then, is all about the smallest details. EVERTON (4-5-1): Howard; Neville, Jagielka, Lescott, Valente; Arteta, Osman, Carsley (Anichebe 70), Fernandes (Vaughan 78), Cahill; Johnson. Bookings - Carsley (25 foul), Fernandes (73 dissent), Cahill (80 foul), Valente (80 foul), Neville (82 foul), CHELSEA (4-3-3): Cech; Belletti, Alex, Carvalho, Bridge; Sidwell, Makelele, J Cole (Ben Haim 88); Wright-Phillips, Anelka (Pizarro 90), Malouda (A Cole 89).

Everton 0, Chelsea 1
Jan 24, 2007
Chelsea Win 3-1 on
By Ian Doyle, Daily Post
SO the long wait continues. Thirteen years of domestic cup disappointment for Everton will be extended by at least another 12 months after heartache at Goodison Park last night. Joe Cole’s magnificent 69th-minute winner proved too great an obstacle to overcome for David Moyes’s side as their Carling Cup adventure ended with a 3-1 aggregate defeat. Rather than next Wednesday’s home clash with Tottenham Hotspur acting as a dress rehearsal for the February 24 final, it is holders Chelsea who go on to meet their London rivals. This was Everton’s opportunity to reach a first major final since 1995 and a first League Cup showpiece since 1984. A mock-up picture on the cover of the matchday programme placed Moyes’s men players beneath the Wembley arch, but they will have to wait a little longer for that vision to become reality. How Everton will rue the self-inflicted 2-1 defeat at Stamford Bridge in the first leg, when a 10-man Chelsea were gifted undeserved victory by Joleon Lescott’s unfortunate injury-time own goal. Moyes believed progress to next month’s final could usher in a new era at Goodison Park. But while last night may have signalled the end of Everton’s Carling Cup hopes this season, their run in the competition has prompted the beginning of a fresh chapter for the club. The pain from this setback, while significant, should not linger long. After all, with Champions League qualification in their sights and a UEFA Cup campaign to resume, there is still plenty for this improving Everton to play for this season. In terms of effort, the manager certainly couldn’t have asked for any more from his players last night. For almost 70 minutes, Everton went toe-to-toe with their opponents. But class will always out on the big occasion, and Chelsea were just too strong, too good, and too well versed in the art of winning important games. The home team, particularly in the first half, enjoyed enough possession yet struggled to create clear-cut opportunities from open play against a Chelsea team happy to soak up pressure and play on the break. Everton’s main threat came from the accurate set-pieces of Mikel Arteta. However, with both Ricardo Carvalho and Alex immense at the heart of Chelsea’s defence, it was only when Arteta varied his delivery with clever low crosses that Phil Neville and then Phil Jagielka engaged Petr Cech in the visitors’ goal. Those two chances came within 60 seconds of each other when Everton were on top during the second half; within 10 minutes, Cole had landed the decisive blow. History indicated the size of the task Everton faced. They hadn’t beaten Chelsea in their last 18 meetings, and had only once ever fought back from a first-leg deficit in any cup competition. That came in the League Cup against Rotherham in 1992, but last night’s opponents were of much tougher stock; this result means that, since Avram Grant assumed the reins from Jose Mourinho, Chelsea have lost only twice in 28 games – and those defeats were to Manchester United and Arsenal. Despite another failure against a supposed ‘top four’ team, the league table suggests Everton are getting closer. But, as Moyes conceded afterwards, making that final leap into the upper echelons is the most difficult step of all. The respective line-ups underlined the gap. While Africa Cup of Nations commitments have cut into both squads, Chelsea could go out and buy Nicolas Anelka to replace the missing Didier Drogba. There was no such room to manoeuvre for Everton, who sorely missed Yakubu, Joseph Yobo and, perhaps most tellingly, the guile of Steven Pienaar. Although Arteta applied himself with customary aplomb, Manuel Fernandes – handed a ‘second’ debut in central midfield – understandably faded after a bright start while Leon Osman at times looked a player who had only just returned from five weeks out. This was Goodison Park’s biggest game in almost a decade in front of a packed home crowd desperate for success. Chelsea, by contrast, returned some of their initial ticket allocation and even then the away end still had huge empty spaces. In the build-up to kick-off, the screens inside the ground showed Everton semi-final triumphs of yesteryear, most notably the European Cup Winners’ Cup win over Bayern Munich in 1985. Not that the Goodison faithful needed much encouragement. The wall of noise that greeted the players – broken only by a minute’s silence in memory of Wally Fielding – set the tone for a tense first half in which Everton enjoyed the greater possession but struggled to test Cech. The only time the goalkeeper was called into any serious action was in the 10th minute when a diving Tim Cahill couldn’t quite connect with a Joleon Lescott header from Arteta’s corner, allowing Cech to parry and Chelsea to hack clear. Andrew Johnson later had a shot deflected into the side-netting, but the visitors weathered the early storm and appeared more dangerous on the counter-attack the longer the half progressed. Anelka fired straight at a grateful Tim Howard while Florent Malouda culminated Chelsea’s best spell of possession by striking over from the edge of the area. Everton began the second half knowing they had to score at least one goal in the remaining 45 minutes to force extra-time. That almost became two within 50 seconds of the restart after Anelka’s shot was deflected on to the crossbar by the head of Jagielka following clever hold-up play by Cole. The excellent Lescott was alert to nick the ball off Wright-Phillips’ toes as the Chelsea man shaped to shoot and Nuno Valente blocked a Cole drive as the visitors sought to turn the screw. However, that helped open the game up and Everton came close twice inside a minute to open the scoring. On 58 minutes, a short corner by Arteta caught Chelsea napping and Neville unleashed a venomous cross-shot that Cech was fortunate to parry out of reach of the incoming Everton attackers. Then, after another clever set-piece delivery by Arteta from a free-kick on the right, Osman mis-hit a shot into the path of Jagielka, whose improvised backheel was shovelled away by Cech’s foot. But, with Everton in the ascendancy, Chelsea broke away to score a brilliant goal with 21 minutes remaining. The otherwise disappointing Malouda’s inch-perfect crossfield 40-yard pass dropped over both Lescott and Valente to the incoming Cole, who controlled with his first touch and lashed home with his second. Johnson forced Cech into a near-post stop as Everton continued to press but, with gaps understandably appearing in the home defence, Howard had to save well to deny Wright-Phillips and substitute Claudio Pizarro shot just wide. Everton, applauded off by the home fans at the final whistle, were beaten. But they remain unbowed. EVERTON (4-4-1-1): Howard; Neville, Jagielka, Lescott, Valente; Arteta, Fernandes (Vaughan 79), Carsley (Anichebe 70), Osman; Cahill; Johnson. Subs: Wessels, Hibbert, Stubbs. BOOKINGS: Carsley, Valente and Neville (all fouls) and Fernandes (dissent). CHELSEA (4-1-4-1): Cech; Belletti, Carvalho, Alex, Bridge; Makelele; J Cole (Pizarro 82), Wright-Phillips, Sidwell, Malouda (A Cole 90); Anelka. Subs: Cudicini, Ferreira, Ben Haim. BOOKINGS: Makelele (unsporting behaviour) and Belletti (foul). REFEREE: Steve Bennett. ATT: 37,086 NEXT GAME: Everton v Tottenham Hotspur, Barclays Premier League, Wednesday 8pm.

Phil Jagielka: Fourth spot can ease our cup pain
Jan 24 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
PHIL JAGIELKA believes Everton can find the perfect antidote to their crushing Carling Cup disappointment by going full throttle for the Champions League.
The Blues’ hopes of meeting Tottenham in next month’s final at Wembley ended last night when a goal from Joe Cole gave Chelsea a 1-0 win at Goodison Park and saw them through 3-1 on aggregate. As frustrating as that experience was, though, Jagielka was quick to point out today that Everton can still make this a season to remember by winning the race to finish fourth in the Premier League. “We have not put two decent Premier League finishes together consecutively for a while and we knew we had to adjust that situation at the beginning of the season,” said Jagielka, who emerged from last night’s contest with his reputation enhanced. “Hopefully come the end of the season we will have done that. We have got to look to improve on finishing sixth last year. We have had a good season but we are just not quite there. It’s just fine details and with hard work we’ll be okay.” For all their effort and application, Everton failed to build up the head of steam that was required to derail Chelsea but Jagielka has promised there will be no hangover when they return to Premier League action against Spurs next Wednesday. “As soon as they scored a goal, it was a massive kick in the teeth for us,” he said. “We knew it was going to be a massive task but we didn’t get the goal that would have put them under some sort of pressure. “It was a case of us looking good up to the 18-yard box but we didn’t create too many opportunities. Petr Cech pulled off a few good saves and it was just one of those nights. “The boys are all disappointed but if you take a step back and look at the bigger picture, you will see we are fourth in the league, we’ve been in the semi-final of a cup and still going along nicely in Europe. “It’s not been a bad season so far. All the boys wanted to go to Wembley and we will just have to make sure that happens next season. We are getting closer to them and as long as we keep progressing, nights like this will come around and we’ll be cheering at the end.” Everton are waiting to discover whether Tim Cahill, Tony Hibbert and Phil Neville will be available for the Spurs game – each has crossed the five-booking threshold for a suspension and are set to serve one-match bans shortly.

Everton are missing 'magic ingredient' - David Moyes
Jan 24 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES admits Everton must find a missing "magic ingredient" if they are to make the step from nearly men to cup finalists. The Blues boss admitted his side came close against Chelsea last night, but must find the missing x-factor to take the next step in their development. “We need to find that magic ingredient,” he said. “That’s the bit we need to find. “I think we played well in periods of the game, certainly the first part of the first half and a big period in the second half and it was a brilliant effort by the players. “But we need to find that bit that gets you to cup finals, wins them or gets you in the top four. “We need to try and become better; we haven’t been great in the cups to be truthful, but we’re looking a better side and we’re looking likely.
“Because of that we don’t want the wait to be long and hopefully we’ll gain from tonight’s experience and find that magic that gets you into the echelons of reaching cup finals and the top four. “Over two legs, to beat one of the top teams was always going to be a tough ask, but let’s be fair, we were very close.” The Blues had a handful of half chances, but couldn’t carve out one clear cut opportunity – and were ultimately undone when Joe Cole struck clinically on the counter attack. “We had chances but the run of the ball wasn’t with us,” added Moyes. “I don’t know if it was poor positional play by our forwards or good goalkeeping, but the ball just didn’t seem to break for us. “In semi-finals against teams like Chelsea you have to take your chances. “The best chance was probably the one in the first half when Andy (Johnson) and Tim (Cahill) had an opportunity to redirect the ball, but couldn’t get their heads on it. It was a big effort from the players, but maybe we lacked a bit of concentration when they scored.” The Blues have a week to lick their wounds before Tottenham visit Goodison Park next Wednesday and Moyes added: “We have to make sure that this doesn’t unsettle our league campaign. And we have the bit between our teeth in the UEFA Cup. That’s a competition we really want to do well in. There were a lot of good things about tonight, but ultimately we are very disappointed.”

David Prentice: Time for Blues to go fourth and conquer
Jan 24 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
A SEMI-FINAL defeat is always the cruellest to take. No day out, no big build-up, no clamour for tickets. But you’d have struggled to work out which fans were planning trips to Wembley last night. As the final whistle blew on a quite magnificently executed smash and grab raid by Chelsea at Goodison Park, a resounding “By far the greatest team . . .” rang around the stadium. Then generous applause rained down on the dejected Everton players. Finishing fourth in a cup competition is failure – which is what Everton had to endure last night. But the shifted emphasis of modern football means that fourth place in the league is considered stirring success, and that’s the focus Evertonians must now switch to . . . that and the little matter of a UEFA Cup campaign. It’s a sign of the progress Everton have made ithat exits from both domestic cup competitions don’t spell the end of the season. And their team’s efforts last night against a club who, love them or loathe them (and most people in this city detest them), boast one of the most formidable squads in world football, showed that the Blues are becoming better and better equipped to see that particular race through.
Everton came up short last night. But not by much, and against a team whose defensive excellence it was impossible not to admire. Petr Cech was a colossus; Juliano Belletti outstanding, and the central defensive pillars of Alex and Carvalho unshakeable – and that’s without even mentioning the smothering, suffocating shackles of Claude Makelele. Huff and puff as they did, Everton simply couldn’t find even a shaft of daylight in that impressive rearguard. Everton’s most impressive performer was also a defender. Under the watchful eyes of Fabio Capello, Joleon Lescott was monumental. And he was involved in the moment when Everton came closest. They had half a chance when he headed down Arteta’s corner, but both Johnson and Cahill failed to make contact in front of Cech; and against teams as tight and as mean as Chelsea, such half-chances have to be snaffled up. A more physical presence was clearly required alongside Andy Johnson up front, but the Blues couldn’t afford to take a man out of their overworked midfield until they were chasing the game. What is it with Everton semi-finals and Nigerians? Daniel Amokachi became an Everton hero with his belated arrival in the 1995 FA Cup semi-final; 13 years on and Yakubu’s premature departure was almost as influential.
But then the League Cup has never been kind to Everton. The Blues became the first team from this city to reach the final, but have still never won it. And any luck which was going went against them last night. The turning point was the 66th minute moment when a foul was harshly awarded to Cech. Phil Jagielka’s leap made no contact with the Chelsea keeper, but referee Steve Bennett blew, just as a man in a blue shirt was about to roll the ball into the Gwladys Street goal after Cech had spectacularly blocked Cahill’s drive. Four minutes later Everton’s tiring legs allowed Florent Malouda just a fraction too long on the ball – and he delivered a wonderful pass to Joe Cole, which received an even more impressive finish. It was easy to admire Chelsea’s players last night, especially with more loathsome stars like Ashley Cole, Michael Ballack and Frank Lampard on the sidelines, but it’s less difficult to find words of praise for their clueless supporters. “Your support is s***” they chanted without a trace of irony, from a half-empty away section. With Wembley only a couple of stops on the tube from Sloane Square, they may sell out for the Cup Final.
Or maybe not.You can’t help feeling that the Carling Cup is wasted on their followers.
Chelsea’s players certainly take it seriously, and it was Everton’s misfortune that they should be drawn against the one side from the big four who consistently treat the tournament with respect. Semi-final defeat is not an experience Evertonians have been used to. Younger fans have avoided the heartache, simply because the club never got near them in recent years, while older supporters followed sides who never looked like losing them. Everton’s previous semi-final exit was 20 years ago, in this same competition, a defeat balanced by FA Cup semi-final victories in ’84, ’85, ’86, ’89 and finally 1995. Thirteen years is too long to wait for a club of Everton’s stature to figure in meaningful matches. But they have the opportunity to take part in another within months. It’s important Everton learn from last night’s heartache, rather than dwell on this experience. The message should be simple. Go fourth . . . and conquer.

Everton promise to pay for Kirkby parking
Jan 24 2008 by Tina Miles, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON FC bosses today pledged to pay for a massive residents’ parking scheme if they move to Kirkby. Under the plan, supporters would be banned from parking along residential streets around the new stadium. They would also be barred from town centre shoppers’ car parks to prevent the area becoming gridlocked on match days. Everton will fund the proposals and costs of running the scheme, which would cover a 20-30 minute walking distance from the venue. The exact area will be determined following public consultation and the agreement of Knowsley council.
Borough planners are currently considering a planning application from Everton and Tesco to build a 55,000-seater stadium in the town. Key aspects include:
Free permits for residents to allow parking Free visitor permits for all residents
Specific times of operation displayed on prominent signs Strict penalties for football fans flouting the rules such as fines, clamping and towing cars away. Tesco’s Neil Skitt said: “This would be one of the most comprehensive and stringently policed controlled parking areas connected to a football club in the entire country.
“Reliable and convenient public transport, along with secure park-and-ride and park-and-walk facilities will get the vast majority of supporters to and from the stadium.
“We have taken a leaf out of the new Wembley and Arsenal’s Emirates stadium book by providing a sustainable and simple ways to get supporters in and out of the stadium with minimum disruption to residents.” Everton chief executive, Keith Wyness said: “It is absolutely imperative the people of Kirkby understand we will be spending an enormous amount of time and money addressing this question. “In truth, the supporters of Everton Football Club are already fully-acquainted with the implementation of a residents only parking scheme on match days as an identical scheme has been in operation around Goodison Park for many years.” But Ian Morris from Kirkby residents action group (Krag) was not convinced. He said: “I think anything that would stop congestion and address parking fears would be welcome, but the people of Kirkby are concerned. “Even if there is a residents’ only scheme, fans will park there anyway and worry about a fine later. People living around Goodison have experienced major problems with match day parking. “Everton officials said they wanted to be ‘a good neighbour’ with Kirkby residents, but they didn’t even turn up to a public consultation, so it doesn’t instil people with confidence.”
Have your say
KIRKBY residents can view plans and ask questions at: Southdene Community Centre on Wednesday, January 23, from 6.30pm to 8.30pm St Maries Arts & Sports Centre, Northwood, on Thursday, January 24, 6pm-8pm. Kirkby town centre drop-in day, Osprey Room, Kirkby Civic Suite, on Friday, January 25, 12pm-7pm, and Saturday, January 26. LHT Hostel, Field Lane, on Monday, February 4.

The Jury: What did you make of Everton's Carling Cup semi-final?
Jan 24 2007, Liverpool Echo
Cole Fraser, Litherland
UNFORTUNATELY, it just wasn’t our night. We didn’t play poorly but Chelsea had done their homework and managed to keep us at bay. The height in their backline meant that we had to play on the floor which they managed to stop us from doing for long periods. A couple of our players drifted in and out of the game which stopped us from playing with any flow. I think our best player was Andy Johnson, but he didn’t look likely to cause them any real problems on his own. On the bright side, this cup run has highlighted the strides that this club has taken in recent years. I can say with some confidence that Everton will be playing in more games of this importance sooner rather than later. We can’t be too down about our exit as we are a side that is still building and not ready to challenge the 'big three' just yet. Now we must keep the good league form going and hopefully pile more misery on our neighbours by snatching fourth spot.
Michael Drummond, Speke I AM disheartened that we were so close to a cup final that would have meant the world to us. It was just another go at the “Mickey Mouse” cup to one of the big four, but it is Chelsea who seem to always win it despite not being their priority! Our support was fantastic, unlike Chelsea's attendance, but that alone should not justify getting into the final! For the past week, we have been put down by 'top' pundits such as Stan Collymore and Ray Wilkins, stating Chelsea's quality is too much for us to handle. Well I'm sorry to say, but Chelsea did nothing spectacular to win and you have got to give credit to our players for rising above the comments and giving it their all. You couldn't have asked for any more from the players, but some things were just not going for us. Manuel Fernandes was particularly good and will be of great use come the rest of the season, because let’s not forget we have the UEFA Cup and the challenge for fourth place.
Debbie Smaje, Upholland LAST night was inevitable. Chelsea are the best team in the country at defending a lead, and we looked like we didn’t believe we could break them down. Too often we resorted to pointless long balls, rather than playing the kind of stuff we know we can. Our missing players and lack of fitness in others also told. Chelsea were missing players, too, but the depth and quality in their squad proves how wide the gap is. Ultimately, our negativity in inviting them on towards the end of the first leg, and giving them the advantage meant last night was exactly the scenario Chelsea thrive on. Despite massive steps, we aren’t good enough yet to beat even a weakened top side. But we shouldn’t let the defeat ruin what can still be a successful season We are in an excellent position regarding European qualification, as well as still looking good in this year’s UEFA Cup. We just can’t let one defeat to a much better team spoil what could still be a very good season.
Tony Scott, Walton I EXPECTED us to be at Chelsea from the the first whistle, an “in their faces” type of game, but it wasn't to be. Everton testedPetr Cech on several occasions, but we were waiting for lady luck to shine on us in and around the penalty area and I'm afraid she deserted us. I thought our defence was immense, especially Joleon Lescott, who is probably one of the best players in the the country at the moment. Andy Johnson ran his socks off and did all he could on the limited service he was given. Where we lost our momentum was in midfield, where Osman, Cahill, Fernandes, Arteta and Carsley weren't at the races at all and could have done a lot more. The reality check hits home now, so let’s look where we are: In the knockout stages of the UEFA Cup and sitting pretty at fourth in the Premiership. The league table doesn't lie and outside the top three teams, that Champions League place is well up for grabs.

24th January 2008
By Danny Fullbrook
Daily Star
Everton..0 Chelsea...1 (Chelsea win 3-1 on agg)
JOE COLE ensured the Carling Cup Final will be an all-London affair last night.
The England midfielder silenced Goodison Park with a stunning goal in the 69th minute. Florent Malouda’s pin-point pass over the top of the Everton defence picked out Cole, who neatly brought the ball down before firing an unstoppable first-time shot past keeper Tim Howard. Having secured a 2-1 first-leg lead at Stamford Bridge, Cole’s goal ensured that Chelsea will now take on Spurs in the Wembley showpiece on February 24. Chelsea were well worth their lead, with new £15m Blues striker Nicolas Anelka striking the crossbar just minutes into the second half of a tight second leg. The ball found Anelka after Cole had weaved his way to the edge of the penalty area. Anelka struck his effort first time, but it took a slight deflection off Phil Jagielka and cannoned back off the woodwork, with Howard just looking helplessly above his head. Chelsea manager Avram Grant made it very clear what he thought about this competition in the build-up to the game. Not for the first time, he claimed style was more important than silverware, which obviously did not go down well at Everton. The fact he taunted David Moyes’ outfit as being a “small club” also upset the home crowd. However, in reality, this was more important to Everton than Chelsea, given the fact the Londoners have won this competition twice in the last three years, as well as two titles and an FA Cup. For Everton, this was their biggest game since 1998 when they played Coventry in the last game of the season and a 1-1 draw was enough to keep them in the top flight. In silverware terms, though, Everton have won nothing since the 1995 FA Cup Final when they beat Manchester United and have not reached a League Cup Final since 1984. So maybe, just maybe, Grant had a point. The atmosphere at Goodison last night was electric, especially as so many Everton fans were nervous about the game, given that they had to go looking for goals. The first chance which came their way was typically from Joleon Lescott. He peeled away from his marker and got a header in on goal from a corner, only for Petr Cech to make a neat save. The Chelsea fans followed the example set by their manager towards this competition because out of a 6,000 allocation of tickets that the club asked for, only 2,600 were sold. There was no lack of passion from the home support, though, as they urged their side on to upset the odds and get the all-important opening goal. Spurs had managed to stop Arsenal the night before with an incredible 5-1 mauling. Everton could only dream about doing the same, but they certainly started this game as they meant business as Andy Johnson’s shot was the next to flash wide of Cech’s goal. Anelka, who was booed last night for the fact he once wore the red of Liverpool, was the next player to have a shot on goal saved. The French striker weaved his way into a scoring position in the 30th minute, only for Howard to block his effort. Chelsea were starting to flex their muscles and Malouda was the next visiting player to chance his luck at goal, only to see his effort flash high and wide of the goal. Tempers were starting rise and perhaps predictably it was Lee Carsley who picked up the first booking of the night as he was yellow carded for kicking Shaun Wright-Phillips up into the air. It was a sterile and nervy first half, though, as Everton seemed to be holding themselves back, not wanting to give anything away.
They eventually threatened again in the 38th minute when Mikael Arteta found Johnson on his way goalwards, but his effort was tipped around the post by Cech.
The big Chelsea goalkeeper was playing despite the fact his wife Martina had given birth earlier in the day to a little girl called Adela. Phil Neville then forced Cech into a smart save at the start of the second half after a clever corner move saw the left-back given enough space to strike, with the rebound going through Johnson’s legs.
Then the Chelsea keeper was alert again to deny a flick from Jagielka as he tried to touch home an Leon Osman shot before Cole settled this hard-fought tie.

Future looks in safe hands
Jan 25 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
THE cherished mantle of youngest scorer in Everton’s history stood for 65 years. But just three years after Wayne Rooney had memorably claimed the crown, James Vaughan claimed it from him. And on both occasions it made banner headlines.
Back in 1937, when a strapping young centre-forward called Tommy Lawton made his Everton debut at Wolves, the headlines surrounded the Molineux side’s scoring feats. The Midlanders triumphed 7-2, although Everton’s young debutant – 17 years 132 days young – did get his name on the scoresheet. “Lawton, making his First Division debut, did quite well and his penchant for shooting strongly from unexpected quarters with rare accuracy showed him to be a most promising young man,” reported the following Monday’s Daily Post. “Bell, tried as inside left, started well, but later got a severe leg injury which came to the penalty process, Lawton being given the kick from the spot as Britton’s slow-paced effort would probably have dragged to breaking – or should it be braking – point. “Lawton took the kick like an old man and thus gained his first goal in a series that will grow very large in due course.”
Little was made of the goalscoring youngsters in the years that followed, although Alan Tyrer briefly captured the imagination when he scored against Leeds United in the final home game of the 1959/60 season. He was 17 years 137 days young, just five days older than Lawton had been, and this time his strike was the only goal of the game. Herbert Llewellyn was a little older, 17 years 203 days old, when he’d scored on his debut in the third match of the 1956/57 season – but it was four decades before the Blues set out on another teenage rampage. Michael Branch was a positively mature 18 years old when he touched the ball into the Stamford Bridge net on December 7, 1996, but not even a year later the Blues boasted two 17-year-olds on the scoresheet in the same match. It was a ringing endorsement of the club’s flourishing youth policy when Michael Ball headed past David Seaman just five days short of his 18th birthday, then Danny Cadamarteri crashed in an equaliser, a week after scoring his first Everton goal against Barnsley aged 17 years 344 days old. It was the age of little boys blue rattling in goals. Francis Jeffers became the Blues’ youngest FA Cup goalscorer when he scored against Coventry in 1999, aged 18 years 20 days, then came the precocious talent that was Wayne Rooney. The stunning Premier League strike against Arsenal was the goal which captured the nation’s imagination, largely because it ended an unbeaten run which had stretched for more than a year – and Rooney was still a few days short of his 17th birthday. But he actually broke his duck a few weeks earlier on October 1, 2002 – 23 days short of his 17th birthday.
Rooney came off the Blues’ bench in a Worthington Cup second round tie at the Racecourse to write his name into the record books. He later added a second, although Wrexham boss Denis Smith sniffily snapped his wife could have scored the first!
Given the circumstances of his departure just two short years later, Evertonians were willing James Vaughan to erase his name from the record books when he burst onto the first team scene at the end of the 2004/05 season – and he obliged towards the end of a Goodison Park romp against Crystal Palace. Vaughan was 16 years 271 days old when he stepped off the substitutes’ bench to shatter a series of records in one go.
He became the youngest player in Everton history, beating Joe Royle’s proud record by days, his 84th minute strike surpassed Rooney’s record of being the youngest Everton goalscorer, and at the same time he overtook James Milner as the Premiership’s youngest scorer, who previously held the record at 16 years 357 days.
Joe Royle was quick to pay tribute to Vaughan, but still clung on to part of the proud record he claimed way back in January 1966 when he replaced fans’ favourite Alex Young at Blackpool. “It was something I wasn’t all that aware of at the time, but it was something I grew prouder and prouder of as the years passed and it is still a record I am immensely proud to have held,” he explained. “I didn’t even know there was a chance of it being beaten. “I hadn’t heard that James had been named substitute against Crystal Palace and I was on the training pitch preparing for our game at Wolves when it was broken. “Our coach driver, who is a Scouser, came running over and told me I wasn’t the youngest player any more. I thanked him for letting me know so promptly! “I’m delighted for James and it’s great for Evertonians as well. He’s another young prospect to look out for and I hope he goes on to become a very good player. “But he still hasn’t started a game for the first team yet! I must still have a share of it!” Vaughan, of course, has started several games since then, and celebrated several goals – but the impressive success of the Everton youth academy means that it may not be 65 years before his record is eclipsed.

the blue warrior
Jan 25 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
THE 1950s was the decade which unleashed rock ‘n’ roll on an unsuspecting world.
With his towering blond quiff, rumbustious playing style and engaging personality Dave Hickson was Everton's very own equivalent of a rock ‘n’ roll star. A swashbuckling centre-forward ready to give blood for the royal blue cause – which he did, frequently – he grabbed the affection and imagination of the Everton supporters like few other players have, before or since. The 1950s were a lacklustre period for Everton Football Club, but Hickson constantly provided a charismatic cocktail of goals, unswerving commitment and occasional scrapes with opponents and officials.
He had the finest possible mentor as a young player – the incomparable Dixie Dean – who coached him when he played for Cheshire Army Cadets. His raw potential soon became obvious and, like so many famous Blues before him, the young striker was discovered by Blues' boss Cliff Britton playing non-league football in Ellesmere Port.
He was taken to Everton in 1948, but had his career put on temporary hold by the call of National Service. He was first called to the royal blue colours in September 1951 at Leeds United, soon cemented a permanent place in the first team and in 1953 established his place in Everton folklore. The Blues were enduring one of only four seasons outside the top division in 1952-53, when they embarked upon a stirring FA Cup run. After home wins over Ipswich Town and Nottingham Forest, mighty Manchester United were drawn to visit Goodison Park in the fifth round.
Predictably the visitors took the lead, before Tommy Eglington snatched an equaliser – and Hickson made his bid for Everton immortality. In the days before substitutes were allowed, Hickson typically threw his blond quiff in amongst flying boots and emerged with a wicked gash over his eyebrow. He left the pitch to have the injury stitched – and 10 team-mates and 50,000 supporters gloomily accepted that Everton would be a man down for the remainder of the match. They reckoned without Hickson's unfailing courage. An ear-splitting roar greeted his return to the fray – with five stitches hastily inserted in the wound – and minutes later he scored the match-winner. As if to confirm his warrior’s stature, he re-opened the wound in a heading duel, resisted pleas by team-mates and referee to leave the field again, and eventually retired after 90 minutes to a hero’s ovation. He scored a spectacular match-winner in the quarter-final, too, against Aston Villa – before the Blues’ brave bid for Wembley glory ended in a seven goal thriller in Manchester against Bolton Wanderers.
A star had been born during that rousing run, however, and the following season Hickson hammered 25 league goals in the successful promotion campaign.
After one season back in the top flight, Cliff Britton sold Hickson to Aston Villa, but the player could never settle away from Goodison. A spell at Huddersfield was similarly short-lived and he returned to his spiritual home in August 1957.
The goals weren't quite as free-flowing second time around – but there was still a riotous outcry when he was allowed to leave Everton again two years later.
The problem was his next port of call – Liverpool Football Club! The deal sparked outrage among Everton and Liverpool supporters alike – until he scored on his Anfield debut to silence one section of the doubters. He later went on to play for Tranmere Rovers – and while it is one of Dave Hickson's many claims to fame that he is one of the few professional footballers to have played for all three Merseyside clubs, there has never been any doubt where his loyalties lie. In Everton’s original official history video, released in 1988, he famously declared: “I’d have given blood for every club I played for, but I’d have died for Everton.” Evertonians appreciated the sentiment, but were traumatised when Hickson collapsed in the foyer of Goodison Park before the recent clash with Sunderland after suffering a heart attack.
Predictably, he was back on his feet and back out in front of the fans little more than a month later. The reception he received from the Goodison faithful showed that his appeal endures to this day.

Phil Neville: ‘Joleon Lescott can be England regular for Fabio Capello’
Jan 25 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
PHIL NEVILLE today backed Joleon Lescott to become a fixture in Fabio Capello’s England squad after another command performance for his club.
Though Everton slipped out of the Carling Cup semi-finals on Wednesday evening, there were positives to take from the tussle with Chelsea, not least Lescott’s towering display at the centre of defence. With Capello – who will name his first squad for the friendly against Switzerland on February 6 next Friday – sitting in the stands at Goodison Park, Lescott hardly put a foot wrong to earn a glowing tribute from his captain. Neville (59 caps) and Lescott (four) are at opposite ends of their international careers but the 31-year-old sees no reason why his team-mate will not be heavily involved in England’s 2010 World Cup qualifying campaign.
“Joleon was excellent once again,” he said. “He can be justifiably proud of his performance against Chelsea. He is a very good defender who has everything you would want and he has not let us down all year. He can certainly make the next step.
“We have good individual players now. We aren’t reliant on Mikel or Tim to score us a goal. We have a good team and good squad, and hopefully when the African trio come back we can become even more powerful.” Neville, meanwhile, is confident that Everton can learn some vital lessons from their two games with Chelsea and believes it is only a matter of time before the Blues claim a significant scalp.
“The only regret from the first leg was the goal we conceded right at the end,” he added. “It was almost the perfect performance. We couldn’t have given any more but, probably, the best team went through. “Over the two legs, perhaps they shaded it and created more chances. But the gap is closing when we play the top four teams. We now enjoy playing in these kind of games and hopefully there will be more to come.”
Everton still have to face Chelsea in the Premier League at Goodison and also have trips to the Emirates Stadium and Anfield to contend with before the end of the campaign but their skipper is confident of a bold show. “The gaffer told us he was pleased with our efforts, that we couldn’t have given any more, and that we must keep learning when we play these big games,” said Neville. “Beating the top sides is the biggest hurdle for us to make now. We’ve made strides where consistently we can challenge for fifth or fourth place, now the next stride is to cement a place in fourth and challenge for honours consistently. “There are a lot of teams trying to do it. But at the moment we are the team that is pushing hardest to make it. The boss is making big and good decisions to try and get us up there. “Last season we finished sixth, and this season it looks like we can finish higher. We are showing a progression. We need to keep showing our consistency. That’s the key between now and the end of the season. We need to learn that mistakes cost you dear.”

Howard Kendall: Why joining the elite takes time
Jan 25 2008 Howard Kendall
IF anyone needed a refresher course in the power of the Russian rouble, you only had to digest events at Goodison on Wednesday evening. Though Chelsea had seven of their first choice starting line-up missing through injury and international call-ups, the fact that Avram Grant was still able to field such a powerful line-up against Everton ultimately proved decisive. Quality oozed from every position and particularly through the middle. In goal, Petr Cech was outstanding, Ricardo Carvalho and Alex were towers of strength, Claude Makelele pulled the strings in midfield, while Nicolas Anelka gave an exemplary striker’s display. But just think how much they cost.
You would not get any change from £50m for those men yet Chelsea have been able to sign them without blinking an eye and that, quite simply, is the difference between the top sides and the chasing pack. Everton, unfortunately, do not have the ability yet to go out and buy three or four world class players. So that means grabbing a place in the Premier League’s elite class will not happen overnight. Don’t, however, get too disheartened about that. Slowly but surely we are bridging the gap and while it was disappointing to have a trip to Wembley wrestled out of our grasp, the signs for the future are encouraging. Occasionally, teams can get to this stage of affairs and things can start to look bleak – out of the cups, no European campaign and nothing to aim at in the league other than mid-table respectability. Thankfully, Everton are still fighting on two fronts and that’s why it would be an exercise in futility to dwell on the disappointment of losing the Carling Cup semi-final. If you need anything to cheer you up, just have a look at the league table. Left is best for Cahill WITH Yakubu away at the African Cup of Nations, the striking mantle has been passed to Andrew Johnson but I sometimes feel he could do with more assistance. Maybe Victor Anichebe would be a good foil for him while Yakubu is not around but that may lead you to ask the question: where does Tim Cahill fit in? Simple. How about trying him on the left side of midfield? Gary Speed started off in that position and, like Cahill, he had such terrific ability in the air. I just wonder if putting Cahill out there would increase his goal threat, as he’d be able to steal an even greater march on defenders.
Blues have perfect spur THOUGH there is no game to look forward to this weekend, a chance to catch breath might just work in Everton’s favour. Tottenham will arrive at Goodison on Wednesday brimming with confidence after claiming a Carling Cup final place and they are starting to show that their league position is a false one.
I have been impressed by the work Juande Ramos has done since taking over from Martin Jol and you can see a spring in the step of Tottenham’s players again. Robbie Keane and Dimitar Berbatov, in particular, are flourishing. But they must negotiate an FA Cup clash with Manchester United before coming to Merseyside – surely that will sap their energy levels? – and Everton certainly can take advantage to strengthen their grip on fourth place. As good a side as Tottenham are, they are not invincible and the Blues showed at White Hart Lane last August that they are a capable of taking their measure. It’s a chance to get the Chelsea disappointment out of everyone’s system.

David Moyes inspired by Everton's history
Jan 25 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
SO near but still so far. Despite the relentless progress Everton have made during David Moyes’ time at the helm, the first trophy to gloss everything remains elusive.
But while supporters continue to wrestle with the disappointment of falling at the penultimate flight on the road to Wembley, the experience has merely served to strengthen the manager’s resolve to give his public what they want. There may be constant reminders around Goodison Park of the club’s illustrious past yet Moyes does not find the nostalgia a burden. If anything he wants it to inspire his players and help them make the next step. How long that will take, nobody knows. Given they do not have the fiscal power to go out and cherry pick the world’s top players a la Chelsea, it is not going to happen in the blink of an eye, but it is clear to see the foundations are in place. Losing the Carling Cup semi-final may have been a bitter pill to swallow, but there is no chance that it will be a fatal blow to Everton’s hopes. The ambitious Scot who prowls the home technical area simply will not allow that to be the case. “We are working really hard to get a level here,” said Moyes. “We are not going to stop, we’ll keep going. And if we have to do the same thing again for the next six years to get there, then we’ll do it. “I don’t find talking about the old days tedious as it’s an enormous part of the history of this club. “For Everton, it was a big time for them as a football club. I’m really keen to bring those days back. It’s a different era now, different players and the game has moved on since then. I look back with respect and admire what happened in the old days. “But we want to achieve something here. We want to finish high in the league, to win a cup, but it’s easy to say that. We were knocked out of the FA Cup by Oldham the other week, and did I want to win the FA Cup? Definitely.” The pain of Wednesday evening, no doubt, has been nullified by the fact that Everton are still firmly in the hunt for a Champions League place, not to mention looking forward to a UEFA Cup round of 32 meeting with SK Brann of Bergen. By the time that fixture comes around, there is a remote possibility that the Blues’ contingent of African players – Joseph Yobo, Ayegbeni Yakubu and Steven Pienaar – will have returned from Ghana to bolster the squad. They, certainly, will play a key role in the business end of the campaign, as will Tim Cahill, and he is confident that when opportunity knocks, Everton have the squad to make the most of it. Everyone, after all, is working towards a common goal. “We are going to be under scrutiny for the last bit of the season,” said Cahill. “But it’s a new stepping stone for some of the lads. All the players have got to take their chance when it comes along.
“It is sad that we have lost Joey Yobo, Yak and Steven Pienaar for a while but Manny Fernandes has come in and is an exceptional player and Ossie is back from injury, so we have got to take the positives. “The gaffer has got so much to achieve with us. He can see a goal and so can we. He has made us all part of it. Mikel has signed a deal, I have and a lot of the players have. That is the main key to a side – stability and the core of a team.”

Football Masters class at ECHO Arena
Jan 25 2008 by Luke Traynor, Liverpool Echo
RED and Blue heroes are set to wipe the dust off their old boots for a nostalgic night of football at the new ECHO Arena. The much-loved annual Masters Football tournament will make its debut in Liverpool on June 28. Thousands of fans are set to pack out the city’s waterfront venue to watch their old favourites in action.
This year the Masters celebrates its 10-year anniversary with many famous names gracing the blue carpet. Teams from Liverpool and Everton have qualified for the final and are expected to be serious contenders for the overall crown. This year, fans can sample the skills of former Reds and Blues like Ian Rush, Jan Molby, John Aldridge, Nigel Spackman, Peter Beagrie, Duncan Ferguson and Adrian Heath. The Reds, in particular, are fond of the tournament after sweeping all before them in 2001 and 2002. The honours have since gone elsewhere, with Leicester winning twice in the last three years. Four teams – which will also include Wigan and Tranmere – will go head-to-head, with the winners battling it out in a grand final on the Saturday.
Kop legend Ian Rush told the ECHO: “All the lads are made up to be playing football on Merseyside once again and especially in such a fantastic arena.
“To have home support is a real boost and with four local derbies, I’ll make sure not to forget my shin pads! “Being back in Liverpool is so important and all the players I’ve spoken to are really up for putting on a good show for the fans.” The Masters is a six-a-side competition featuring players over the age of 35 chosen to represent the club for which they played. The winners from regional heats go forward to a national final which this year is coming to Merseyside. Games last for 16 minutes and the keenly-contested matches are often televised live on Sky Sports. Will Rogers at Masters Football said: “We are delighted to bring Masters Football to Liverpool for the first time. “Since the Masters Cup began we have been eager to give fans the event they deserve and with both Merseyside teams attracting great support, this is already shaping up to be the highlight of the 2008 series.” luketraynor@liverpoolecho.co.uk 0151 472 2486

latch earned legend status
Jan 25 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
THE 1970s was a decade when Evertonians sometimes struggled to keep their heads above water. But the biggest, boldest crowd hero of that era was a man the supporters believed walked on the stuff. The Gwladys Street forged an instant bond with Bob Latchford the day his record-breaking transfer from Birmingham City was finalised, and from February 1974 the chant: “Bobby Latchford Walks On Water!” boomed around Goodison Park. That transfer package was priced at £350,000 – a British transfer record – but Birmingham insisted on Blues skipper Howard Kendall and utility man Archie Styles being part of the deal. That placed instant pressure on the broad shoulders of a man recognised as a prolific marksman. He failed to score on his debut, or even in his next appearance at home to Coventry City. But when he struck with his left-foot at Leicester City, past England goalkeeper Peter Shilton, it sparked a torrent of goals which marked Latchford down as a centre-forward in the Dean, Lawton, Young, Hickson and Royle mould, capable of carrying on the great Everton tradition. In five successive seasons Latchford topped Everton’s club goalscoring charts, but it was the 1977-78 season, when he topped the nation’s scoring charts, that Latchford really fired the public imagination. Concerned by the apparent demise of out and out goalscorers, a national newspaper offered a £10,000 prize to the first man to score 30 League goals in a single season. The previous man to reach such a daunting total had been Manchester City’s Francis Lee – seven years previously – who included a record 13 penalty kicks in his haul. Aided by the precise crossing skills of Dave Thomas, Latchford reached that total on April 29, 1978. A last day of the season double against Chelsea secured the prize – with almost perfect timing – just six days short of the 50th anniversary of Dixie Dean’s 60-goal milestone. His goals that afternoon came from a sharp header, and a penalty kick he had recently been given the responsibility for in a bid to reach the 30-goal target. Indeed, of his huge 138 goal haul for the Blues, only three came from the penalty spot. A goal poacher supreme, many of Latchford’s goals for Everton came from close range. A deceptively quick sprinter over short distances, the burly six-footer possessed the uncanny ability to hang in the air to meet a cross – never better exemplified than in scoring the winning goal in the 1977 League Cup semi-final at Bolton. But diving headers were his speciality.
Time after time Latchford would fling himself at the near post to meet a driven cross – and with one flick of his forehead send the ball arrowing into the opposite corner of the net, the goalkeeper completely foxed. The dramatic extra-time equaliser at Elland Road in an FA Cup semi-final against West Ham was typical. Billy Wright’s driven cross carried sufficient power to have flashed across the penalty area before most strikers could have blinked. Latchford, however, plunged to meet the ball with his head and arrowed a perfectly placed header into the Hammers’ net. Typical of Everton and Latchford’s fortunes that decade, however, West Ham swept straight back down to the opposite end of the pitch to snatch a scrappy winner. It was a similar story in the 1977 League Cup Final trilogy. In the only domestic final to go to two replays, Latchford scored a dramatic last minute equaliser in the first replay at Hillsborough, then opened the scoring against Aston Villa in a second replay at Old Trafford.
Villa came back to end normal time at 2-2, then scored an injury time extra time winner. It was frustrations like that which eventually convinced Latchford his future lay elsewhere, after five successive seasons top scoring at Goodison. He joined Swansea in July 1981, where he proved he still had goals left in him with a remarkable 32-goal campaign in the top flight in 1982-83. Until the emergence of Graeme Sharp at Goodison, Latchford lay second only to Dixie Dean in the club’s all-time goalscoring charts. It was his successful fulfilment of that goalscoring legacy which gave him such a notable place in the affections of all Evertonians.

BOBBY PARKER’S story might have been one of the most sensational in even Everton’s proud history of goalscoring heroes. Instead it was one of the most tragic.
Jan 25 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
Parker was a big, robust centre forward who joined the Blues from Glasgow Rangers in November 1913 and transformed the Toffees from nearly men to champions with one of the most prolific goals-per game ratios in the club’s history.
Then the Great War not only wiped his peak playing years from his professional record, but when he returned to Merseyside with a German bullet in his back, he was never as effective again. Parker was signed by the Blues after two below-par campaigns. Runners-up in 1912, they tumbled to 11th, then 15th in the following two seasons. In November 1913, Parker was snapped up from Rangers. He scored on his debut – a 1-1 draw at Goodison against Sheffield Wednesday and celebrated his first hat-trick three weeks later, in a 5-0 Boxing Day drubbing of Manchester United, ending the season with an outstanding 17 goals in 24 appearances.
But the spree which followed in his first full season at Goodison was incredible. Parker pilfered 36 league goals in 35 appearances in 1914-15 to take Everton to only their second League title. Everton had started the season slowly, with a couple of useful wins over Spurs and Newcastle being followed by seven dropped points from a possible eight. But then came the Anfield derby. Everton had not lost at the home of their fiercest rivals since 1899 - and on October 3, 1914 they extended that run with a sparkling 5-0 victory, Parker grabbing a hat trick. The result took Everton above Liverpool for the first time that season - a position they did not relinquish.
Parker's most prolific spell came in November. A hat trick at home to Sunderland was followed by all four in a 4-1 win at Sheffield Wednesday the week after.
Parker then notched the winner in a 2-1 defeat of West Bromwich Albion and grabbed another hat-trick when Manchester City were dispatched 4-1 at Goodison.
For a time, Parker's spree left Everton on target for the double. Leading the title race, they also reached the FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea. An early injury to Harry Makepeace in the days before substitutes, meant Everton had to play the majority of the match with ten men and subsequently lost 2-0. But they exacted ample consolation when they clinched the Championship with a 2-2 draw against Chelsea. Parker scored their second goal that afternoon to ensure he ended his first full season at Goodison as the League's leading marksman. It took his overall tally in a royal blue jersey to 55 goals in 65 games, and left Evertonians licking their lips at the prospect of further successes. The outbreak of War put an end to that. Even the Football ECHO could barely muster any enthusiasm for Everton's title triumph. The front page was dominated by drawings of the battle front at Ypres, with Everton's title win pushed to the back pages. Parker joined up and while he was fortunate to return home again after the Great War, he did so with a crippling injury. A Football ECHO report soon after the end of World War Two, 30 years later, recalled: “Bobby Parker today lies at his Dublin home, a cripple through a hole in his back - the last-but-one-war caused this.
“Everton FC, to their everlasting glory, have never said a word about it, but I will tell you they have pensioned Bobby Parker all these years - a good deed done, without stealth or advertisement.” Whether the public was unaware of Parker's injury, or whether it was felt public morale would suffer after the appalling losses sustained during the War, is unclear. But the press were hardly charitable when he made his long-awaited comeback four years later . . . in December 1919 in an Anfield derby.
Parker, predictably, scored - in a 3-1 defeat - but the Daily Post report the next day mean-spiritedly stated: “Parker was hardly a success.” The War had robbed Parker of his peak years - and with international football suspended, any sort of international career too. He added 11 goals and moved on to Nottingham Forest. He finished his career as manager of Dublin club Bohemians, but Evertonians would always be left wondering what might have been.

WILF CHADWICK was English football’s top scorer in 1923-24, but his name rarely figures even in Everton record books.
Jan 25 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
The reasons are two-fold. Wilf suffered unfairly and unfavourably from comparisons with another Chadwick who had graced Goodison some 20 years earlier – the legendary Edgar Chadwick – and the man he made way for at Goodison Park became the greatest of all time, William Ralph Dean. But Wilf Chadwick’s contribution to Everton's inter- war record was significant. His 55 Everton goals came from just 109 appearances - an impressive ratio of a goal every other game. And in 1923-24 his 28-goal tally was unmatched by any other English striker. But that sparkling season was a summit Chadwick found impossible to emulate. Signed from local junior football, he made his Blues debut on March 4, 1922 - having boasted an average of two goals a game in reserve team football. It was a reputation he maintained with both goals on his debut in a 2-0 defeat of Bradford City. The ECHO said: “Everton have found another good centre-forward, who can justly be called an opportunist, but he does not finish at that, for his passes to the wings were always accurate and well conceived.”
The Daily Post wasn't quite so complimentary: “Chadwick showed promise in the centre position though he is distinctly on the slow side. He scored twice but otherwise did little of note.” That seemed an overly harsh assessment of a player who scored again the following week to finish his first season in senior football with three goals in four games. The following season he added a further 13 goals in 27 appearances, but usually found himself overshadowed in a forward line which contained the brilliant Bobby Irvine, the flamboyant Jack Cock and the dazzling wing twins Sam Chedgzoy and Alec Troup. Unfazed, Chadwick continued to amass a healthy total of goals and in 1923-24 he registered 28 in the league, and another couple in the FA Cup, as Everton finished a respectable seventh. But it was the calm before the storm. In 1924-25 the Blues only narrowly escaped relegation. Chadwick was injured for much of the campaign and scored six goals. It was a dramatic fall from grace – and 1925-26 was even worse. Chadwick played alongside a young centre forward called Dixie Dean just once at the end of 1924-25. Dean scored, Chadwick didn't - and Wilf made just two more appearances the following campaign. Chadwick was transferred to Leeds in November 1925, and his accomplishments quickly became a faded footnote in Goodison folklore. For one superb season, though, he was the best striker in English football - a player for whom the term 'unsung hero' might have been especially coined.

Future looks in safe hands
Jan 25 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
THE cherished mantle of youngest scorer in Everton’s history stood for 65 years. But just three years after Wayne Rooney had memorably claimed the crown, James Vaughan claimed it from him. And on both occasions it made banner headlines.
Back in 1937, when a strapping young centre-forward called Tommy Lawton made his Everton debut at Wolves, the headlines surrounded the Molineux side’s scoring feats. The Midlanders triumphed 7-2, although Everton’s young debutant – 17 years 132 days young – did get his name on the scoresheet. “Lawton, making his First Division debut, did quite well and his penchant for shooting strongly from unexpected quarters with rare accuracy showed him to be a most promising young man,” reported the following Monday’s Daily Post. “Bell, tried as inside left, started well, but later got a severe leg injury which came to the penalty process, Lawton being given the kick from the spot as Britton’s slow-paced effort would probably have dragged to breaking – or should it be braking – point. “Lawton took the kick like an old man and thus gained his first goal in a series that will grow very large in due course.”
Little was made of the goalscoring youngsters in the years that followed, although Alan Tyrer briefly captured the imagination when he scored against Leeds United in the final home game of the 1959/60 season. He was 17 years 137 days young, just five days older than Lawton had been, and this time his strike was the only goal of the game. Herbert Llewellyn was a little older, 17 years 203 days old, when he’d scored on his debut in the third match of the 1956/57 season – but it was four decades before the Blues set out on another teenage rampage. Michael Branch was a positively mature 18 years old when he touched the ball into the Stamford Bridge net on December 7, 1996, but not even a year later the Blues boasted two 17-year-olds on the scoresheet in the same match. It was a ringing endorsement of the club’s flourishing youth policy when Michael Ball headed past David Seaman just five days short of his 18th birthday, then Danny Cadamarteri crashed in an equaliser, a week after scoring his first Everton goal against Barnsley aged 17 years 344 days old. It was the age of little boys blue rattling in goals. Francis Jeffers became the Blues’ youngest FA Cup goalscorer when he scored against Coventry in 1999, aged 18 years 20 days, then came the precocious talent that was Wayne Rooney. The stunning Premier League strike against Arsenal was the goal which captured the nation’s imagination, largely because it ended an unbeaten run which had stretched for more than a year – and Rooney was still a few days short of his 17th birthday. But he actually broke his duck a few weeks earlier on October 1, 2002 – 23 days short of his 17th birthday.
Rooney came off the Blues’ bench in a Worthington Cup second round tie at the Racecourse to write his name into the record books. He later added a second, although Wrexham boss Denis Smith sniffily snapped his wife could have scored the first!
Given the circumstances of his departure just two short years later, Evertonians were willing James Vaughan to erase his name from the record books when he burst onto the first team scene at the end of the 2004/05 season – and he obliged towards the end of a Goodison Park romp against Crystal Palace. Vaughan was 16 years 271 days old when he stepped off the substitutes’ bench to shatter a series of records in one go.
He became the youngest player in Everton history, beating Joe Royle’s proud record by days, his 84th minute strike surpassed Rooney’s record of being the youngest Everton goalscorer, and at the same time he overtook James Milner as the Premiership’s youngest scorer, who previously held the record at 16 years 357 days.
Joe Royle was quick to pay tribute to Vaughan, but still clung on to part of the proud record he claimed way back in January 1966 when he replaced fans’ favourite Alex Young at Blackpool. “It was something I wasn’t all that aware of at the time, but it was something I grew prouder and prouder of as the years passed and it is still a record I am immensely proud to have held,” he explained. “I didn’t even know there was a chance of it being beaten. “I hadn’t heard that James had been named substitute against Crystal Palace and I was on the training pitch preparing for our game at Wolves when it was broken. “Our coach driver, who is a Scouser, came running over and told me I wasn’t the youngest player any more. I thanked him for letting me know so promptly! “I’m delighted for James and it’s great for Evertonians as well. He’s another young prospect to look out for and I hope he goes on to become a very good player. “But he still hasn’t started a game for the first team yet! I must still have a share of it!” Vaughan, of course, has started several games since then, and celebrated several goals – but the impressive success of the Everton youth academy means that it may not be 65 years before his record is eclipsed.

JACK SOUTHWORTH was an early Everton sharp-shooter christened the “Prince of Dribblers.” A more modern description, however, might have been the Victorian Gary Lineker.
Jan 25 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
He served Everton for just one full season, finished that campaign as the top division’s top scorer, but still left the club empty handed. But unlike Lineker’s, Southworth’s departure in October 1894 was forced by injury, just 18 months after the Blues had splashed out £400 for his signature. With 27 league goals in 22 appearances in his first full season Everton recouped immediate dividends for their outlay. That haul was boosted by an astonishing scoring spree either side of Christmas – a blitz which created a club record which stands to this day. On December 30, 1893, Southworth became the first – and so far the only Evertonian to celebrate a double hat-trick . . . a week after he had scored four goals in an 8-1 defeat of Sheffield Wednesday. The double hat-trick came in a 7-1 defeat of West Brom at Goodison . The gate at kick-off of 12,000 was described as “enormous” by that day’s Echo. When the second half commenced the attendance had increased to “some 18,000” and before the finish had swollen to “about 25,000.” Maybe the extra numbers had been attracted by Southworth's goal-getting feats. “Southworth gave one of his wonderfully good displays,” reported the Football Echo. “There is not the slightest doubt but that the whole of the Everton successes now are traceable to the skilful manipulation of the ball by Southworth. The rest of the team apparently recognises Southworth's grand form and unselfishly afford him every opportunity for displaying it.” After finishing the League's top scorer at the end of the 1893-94 season, he kicked off the following campaign with nine goals in nine games, before an injury brought to a close a career which ended with the incredible record of 139 goals in 139 appearances for Blackburn Olympic, Blackburn Rovers and Everton. He was also capped three times by England, and predictably registered three goals. After his enforced retirement Southworth played with the Halle Orchestra in Manchester. The musical accompaniment to his career might well have been Unfinished Symphony.

WHEN he announced his retirement in 1921, Bert Freeman was described as “one of the most remarkable players of the last 20 years”.
Jan 25 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
Surprising then, that Everton had to be talked into signing the striker from Woolwich Arsenal by an Echo journalist! The respected Ernest Edwards, otherwise known as ‘Bee’ and the man who christened Anfield’s home end The Spion Kop, set up an early player agency. An Everton director had been sent to watch Freeman play in 1907, and on his return was asked by the board: “Did he score any goals?” The unnamed director, distinctly unimpressed, apparently reported back: “He scored all four of them, but he did nothing else!” Edwards convinced the Blues that Freeman was worth taking a chance on and the 22-year-old signed in time to make his debut at the tail end of the 1907-08 season. Despite an outstanding goals return - 65 goals in 94 appearances - Freeman always struggled to impress the hierarchy at Everton and he was allowed to leave in 1911, aged 26, the Blues believing he was past his best.
It made the decision to let David Johnson join Ipswich in 1971 look inspired.
Freeman continued to play for a further decade, when he received the following newspaper tribute: “Freeman may justly be described as one of the most remarkable players of the past 20 years, a centre-forward who was a leader in deed as well as name. “The modern tendency is for the leaders of attack to wait for opportunities to be provided for them. They have to be spoon fed to succeed, merely relying upon pace, weight and ability to shoot. “Freeman could burst through with the best; moreover he could also engineer openings for his colleagues and was an artist with the ball at his toes. That queer, short step of his misled many defenders and it was one of the surprises of football when in 1909 Everton decided that his playing days were over.
“So far from the fact did the Everton judgement prove that Freeman led Burnley to promotion and to victory in the English Cup. “He has been with the Turf Moor club for 11 years and has taken part in 300 games for them in which he has scored 174 goals - a wonderful record for a player supposed to be at the end of his career.
“He will be greatly missed at Turf Moor, where he made himself one of the most popular players the club has ever possessed.” The only consolation for Everton was that the FA Cup success in 1914, when Freeman scored the winning goal, was against Liverpool! Freeman played for England five times, twice while with Everton.
He may never have reached the inspired peak he did with Everton in 1908-09 again, but he undoubtedly remained a top class striker for many seasons after.
It was during that goal-laden campaign that Freeman cracked 38 league goals, shattering the previous record held by Liverpool’s Sam Raybould. Freeman’s record remained unbeaten until his retirement in 1921. Freeman's haul was augmented by an amazing autumnal spree of 10 successive goalscoring appearances - during which he struck 17 times. After scoring twice in a 4-0 win over Bury, he followed up with a hat-trick against Sheffield United. Goals continued to flow over the next eight games, until a 2-0 victory over Leicester City in which he did not register, finally ended the run. It was a temporary lull and he was soon back on the goal trail, knocking in the goals which elevated Everton to a distant runners-up behind Newcastle United in the chase for the First Division Championship. Everton officials rewarded the players by taking them on their most adventurous close season tour yet, a trip to South America where they played a series of successful exhibition matches. The tour led some to suggest that it was playing against stars like Bert Freeman which led the South Americans to develop such wondrous ball-playing skills! A Brummie, born in Handsworth in 1885, Freeman played schools football for Gower Street in Aston. He ended his schooldays with two games in which he scored seven and nine times respectively. After moving to Gower Street Old Boys at 16 , he was spotted by Aston Villa, signed professionally but was transferred in November of the same year to Woolwich Arsenal. He helped the Gunners twice reach the semi-finals of the FA Cup, before Everton swooped. Despite the curtailed nature of his Goodison career, it was a move they hardly regretted.

FRED GEARY was the first Everton centre-forward to capture the imagination of their supporters. But the Victorian front-runner wasn’t a stereotypical Goodison centre-forward.
Jan 25 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
Small and powerful, he was built more like a Bobby Collins than a Duncan Ferguson.
But his goals record was phenomenal. He stood barely 5ft 2ins and weighed 9st 6lbs. But the statistics which really mattered were 98 appearances for Everton, with the remarkable return of 86 goals. And he was the spearhead of the first Everton team to claim the League Championship in 1890-91. Geary scored in each of the first six league matches that season as Everton raced out of the blocks and rarely looked like being caught. That was Geary’s second full season as an Everton striker.
As a youngster he had won many sprinting titles on the athletics track and relied on his pace and acceleration to get away from defenders. Team-mates complained that he was sometimes too quick, leaving the ball or his strike partners behind with his turbo-charged bursts. There is no doubt that Geary was the star of the first title winning side. When the Blues played a prestigious New Year’s Day friendly at Celtic he was injured but the organisers insisted he played in goal for Everton in order to give the fans a glimpse of him. Surprisingly, Everton only lost 3-2! The Blues board had actively targeted a goalscorer following an inaugural league season which saw them struggle in front of goal. The search took them to Grimsby where 21-year-old Geary was snapped up. He scored twice on his league debut against Blackburn Rovers – in the days when Everton still played at Anfield – but also holds the distinction of being the first Everton player to score at Goodison Park. He managed that in a friendly against Bolton to celebrate the opening of the stadium, then repeated the feat the next day against Nottingham Forest in the first league fixture to be staged there. When he made his England debut against Ireland in 1890 he celebrated with a hat-trick. Stricken by injuries towards the end of his career, he signed for Liverpool in 1895 for £60. Although his pace had been eroded, he still managed 14 goals in 45 appearances before returning to Everton as a groundsman.

fired up vernon WAS TRUE GREAT
Jan 25 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
THERE’S Denis Law, there’s Jimmy Greaves . . . and there’s me.”
So said Roy Vernon when he was asked for the names of the best strikers of the 1960s. It was no idle boast either. But while Law and Greaves are still feted even today, Vernon is largely overlooked outside Goodison and Blackburn.
Evertonians, however, are in no doubt as to his qualities. A superbly gifted inside-forward with pace, perception, dribbling skills and a venomous shot with virtually no backlift, he was the Blues’ top scorer in four successive seasons during the 1960s.
One of those seasons saw Everton claim the League Championship, with Vernon forging a dazzling partnership up front with Alex Young. Young grabbed 22 league goals, but Vernon top scored with 24. One of Everton’s most ruthless penalty takers – he only ever missed one of the 20 he took – he was cherished by Blues fans.
“Here was the perfect footballer,” recalled the Daily Post’s Len Capeling on learning of the Everton captain’s death in December 1993. “Balance, pace, flair, grace under pressure, he had the lot. “He scored 100 goals in 199 games and I probably saw 90 of them. They were always taken with a swagger.” Like the penalty kick in an FA Cup tie against Leeds. Vernon had been sent home from a tour of the USA for the first of what would prove to be numerous run-ins with Harry Catterick, and had been taken off penalty-taking duties. Alex Scott was the reluctant replacement, and when he tentatively took the kick the Leeds keeper saved. The referee claimed the keeper had moved, however, and ordered a retake. Scott picked up the ball again but Vernon snatched it from him and, while Scott stood open-mouthed, placed the ball on the spot, took a couple of steps backwards and scored with his usual minimum of back-lift. It is unrecorded what Catterick’s view of the incident was, but it wouldn’t have been the only occasion Vernon had brushes with authority. A Welsh firebrand, he was sent off early in his Everton career at Nottingham Forest, an incident which left an indelible mark on his memory. He initially claimed he was “finished with football” after being harshly dismissed for a mistimed tackle from behind. “I am not at all surprised that I have been quoted as saying that I was finished, that I would find other ways of making a living,” he later told the Daily Post in a colourful and comprehensive interview which ran to more than a thousand words.
“So beside myself with grief was I that I really was not responsible for the words I uttered. “When the referee pointed to the dressing room with the terse words ‘Get off’ I could scarcely believe it was happening. “Yet I knew it was true, for though I tried to obey the order my legs were like jelly. To say I was shocked would be a gross understatement. “My world simply disintegrated. As long as I live I shall never forget Nottingham - at 4.21pm on October 29.” The Post’s Horace Yates was certainly sympathetic. “If there has ever been a greater travesty of justice on a football field than this I am thankful I have not seen it. “How the referee can even begin to justify his decision I do not know,” he wrote. But that was the low point. There were plenty of high points in Roy Vernon’s Everton career, like the hat-trick against Fulham which clinched the League Championship in 1963 – taking him to 24 league goals, and just ahead of team-mate and striking partner Alex Young who finished with 22.
In December 1964, three weeks after being fined for turning up late for training and carpeted for giving a Press interview, he was dropped for a trip to Spurs.
A transfer request followed on New Year’s Eve and soon after Vernon joined Stoke City. His predatory powers were probably on the wane by this stage, but in the first half of the Sixties he was one of the game’s greatest strikers. “Roy Vernon deserves to be remembered in his waspish pomp,” chronicled Ivan Ponting in his marvellous “Player by Player” volume. “Built like a Biro but tough as rawhide, he was in his element in the penalty area, lurking like some dark assassin to deliver the deadly stiletto thrusts that were his trademark.” There was Denis Law, there was Jimmy Greaves . . . and there was Royston Thomas Vernon.

True blue blossomed into a star
Jan 25 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
RARELY has a player’s name been more appropriate. Everton’s striking heritage is rich, varied and prolific – but only one man scored more goals than Dixie Dean.
Graeme Sharp lived up to his surname. Renowned early in his career as being an occasional scorer of great goals, he later added consistency to his game and became a great goalscorer. But scoring goals was only part of his game. His aerial ability was majestic. The usually unflappable Alan Hansen hated facing him, and when Ian Rush was once asked by Juventus who he’d like as a strike partner, he instantly nominated Sharp. Happily for Evertonians the move never materialised. In addition to his aerial prowess, his touch was deft and sure, his pace decent and his ability to trick and dribble his way through packed defences excellent. He was capable of controlling the ball with any part of his anatomy and excelled at holding the ball up, invariably distributing accurately with head or foot. But his party piece was undoubtedly his ability to volley. His career is sprinkled with stunning long range strikes.
A blistering volley early in his career against Spurs was reminiscent of Marco van Basten’s famous Euro ’88 winner against Russia, a crashing FA Cup semi-final winner against Sheffield Wednesday was later repeated against the same opposition in an FA Cup replay, while the memorable Anfield match-winner in 1984 is every 40-something Evertonian’s favourite ever goal. “I haven’t seen a goal quite like that in a Merseyside derby for years!” screamed John Motson. Happily Evertonians became accustomed to such spectacular strikes from their twin Scottish strikeforce in the mid 1980s. It’s strange to recall that throughout the early part of his Everton career, Sharp craved self-confidence to go with his undoubted talent. The arrival of Andy Gray at Goodison Park in November 1983 was a catalyst in helping change all that.
“I got on very well with Andy. He was one of my heroes when I was a young kid,” explained Sharp. “He came into the dressing room and was a breath of fresh air.”
He offered Sharp tips on timing his leaps so that defenders couldn’t mark him, and taught him to believe in himself. He swiftly began to blossom. He scored the opener in the 2-0 FA Cup Final win over Watford in 1984 – a precise right-footed shot, riotously received as the first goal Evertonians had enjoyed at Wembley Stadium for 18 years; he netted the equaliser in the following season’s Cup Winners’ Cup semi-final against Bayern Munich; and scored the opening goal in the match which clinched the 1984/85 League Championship against QPR. While strikers came and went at Goodison Park – Andy Gray, Adrian Heath, Gary Lineker, Tony Cottee, Wayne Clarke, Paul Wilkinson – Sharp proved the one constant. Acting as a nursemaid to the newcomers, he still maintained his own goals ratio – once scoring all four goals in a 4-0 win at Southampton. His Everton career ended in 1991, 11 years after his debut against Brighton in May 1980, and there were plenty of Evertonians who felt the Blues had still let him go too early. Sharp made it clear he never wanted to leave.
“A friend approached me while I was on holiday in America with the missus and kids,” he later revealed, “and asked if I would fancy going to Oldham? I told him to get lost. “I came back from holiday and at pre-season training Howard Kendall called me in and accused me of speaking to Joe Royle which I denied. “He told me he was thinking of bringing Dean Saunders in and I said I was willing to fight for my place.
“Howard said he had sorted something with Joe, I asked him to phone and cancel which he wouldn’t. I met up with Joe and told him straight I didn’t wish to go.
“Howard clearly did not want me and said Everton could not match Oldham’s offer! I felt that I had served the club for 11 years and the whole thing could have been handled much better. “It was a sad time. They got £500,000 for me when I never wanted to leave.” He left with a host of happy memories, and years later returned as the club’s fans’ liaison officer – a role he still fills today.

The Air force!
Jan 25 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
INSPIRATION or enigma? World beater or waster? Head man or head case?
Wherever Duncan Ferguson was discussed – and he was, often – he always sparked two dramatically different views. For some supporters, he was the Tartan talisman who could do no wrong – a footballing braveheart who regularly turned it on against Liverpool and Manchester United, and a player who loved the club so much he had a crest tattooed on his shoulder. To others, he was an expensive liability with a long injury list and a short fuse, a player who loved himself more than the team, a player who could have been a legend, but lacked the motivation. Regardless of where you stand on the argument, Ferguson’s name still figures large in Everton’s recent history – and with a return of 72 goals in his 273 appearances he’s the most prolific Everton goalscorer since Tony Cottee left the club in 1994. He achieved notoriety when a witchhunt by the Scottish authorities led to him being jailed for an on-field assault during his time at Glasgow Rangers. “The support I received from the people of Liverpool when I was in jail was special,” he later told The Evertonian magazine. “Everton fans will be in part of my blood. “I will always have fond memories of the club. Getting to captain the club and wearing the number nine shirt after so many other great names meant a lot to me.” “Hopefully, they will see me as someone who put his heart into the club.” Ferguson’s interviews were rare. But his silence ensured he enjoyed an almost mystical aura in the game. It also generated problems for him.
That silence meant that even people inside the game never knew him properly – and he often fell victim to his reputation. He was sent off seven times in his Goodison career, but the first two were laughable and the third was for calling David Elleray a baldy b*****d. It was only when his body began to fail him and he became increasingly frustrated with his physical condition that flailing elbows and, in one instance, a recklessly stupid punch, meant his suspensions began to be justified.
That enigmatic aura, however, also created a sense of menace about him which unsettled opponents. Before a half-fit Ferguson came on as a half-time substitute at Anfield in November 1996, it is recorded that the Liverpool management spent the entire half-time interval discussing how they could stop him. They didn't – and Everton snatched a late draw. A glance at the bare statistics which accompany Ferguson's career do not tell his full story. Just 72 goals in 191 starts, plus a further 82 substitute appearances, are not the stats of a goalscoring legend. But statistics cannot conjure up the sensation of seeing him dab on the Braveheart war paint and go to war.
In full cry, he was an inspiring sight. And while those days were less frequent in his second spell at the club, he turned back the clock during an Indian summer which gave a younger generation of Evertonians a glimpse at what their dads had been going on about and helped Everton finish fourth and qualify for a Champions League qualifier. His performance against Manchester United was inspirational – and the goal he headed into the Gwladys Street net a reminder of what he used to do more regularly. Ferguson finally called time on his Goodison career in typically emotional fashion, missing a last minute penalty kick at the Gwladys Street End against West Brom, then converting the rebound! That was just one of many memories he left behind.

Jan 25 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
TWO men bearing the name Alex Young represented Everton FC. Both were Scottish, both were FA Cup winners and both scored goals galore. But for Evertonians of a certain vintage there was only one Alex Young, the deified Golden Vision who shimmered across the Goodison firmament like a football angel. The hero worship Alex Young inspired during the 1960s bordered on the hysterical. When Harry Catterick left Young on the sidelines to blood a promising centre- forward named Joe Royle in January 1966, the Everton boss was jostled in the Blackpool car park by his own fans. Brian Labone was once booed by the home crowd because he had injured Young in training. So why the fuss? In sum, Alex Young came possibly as close as any single player to embodying the essence of the Soccer School of Science.
He stroked the ball, rather than kicked it. He glided across even the heaviest of surfaces, shimmying and tricking his way past clogging defenders before effortlessly floating shots past baffled keepers. A deep-lying centre-forward, he was never in the same mould as traditional Everton number nines, but he possessed incredible spring and could hang in the air to meet crosses before dispatching bullet headers with one flick of his blond halo. The soaring header which earned both points against Tottenham in the 1962-63 title run-in is still spoken of now by many of the 67,650 fans who were inside Goodison that day. Signed in November 1960 from Hearts for £40,000, he peaked in the 1962/63 Championship side, when his partnership with Roy Vernon was the bane of First Division defences. Young scored 22 goals, and created countless more for his skipper, as Everton claimed their sixth League title.
He was also an integral member of the 1966 FA Cup winning side, the team which became the first to pull back a two goal deficit to win at Wembley.
Despite suffering from blistered feet throughout his playing career, Young amassed 273 appearances for Everton. His goals return of 87 in those matches was more than respectable – but it was his almost mythical appeal, rather than mere statistical successes, which endeared him to the Everton supporters. Neville Smith and Gordon Honeycombe made him the subject of a TV play entitled The Golden Vision, and the nickname endures to this day. After leaving to become player- manager of Irish side Glentoran in 1968, he briefly played for Stockport. Yet three decades on his adoration among Evertonians is undimmed, and the memory of The Golden Vision is still crystal clear among a legion of Blues.

Dixie’s record is safe forever
Jan 25 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
ARGUABLY the greatest goalscorer ever to grace the English game, undeniably the greatest Everton player of all-time, William Ralph Dean, it was memorably claimed: “belongs in the company of the supremely great . . . like Beethoven, Shakespeare and Rembrandt. His record of goalscoring is the most amazing thing under the sun.”
That stirring tribute came from Liverpool manager Bill Shankly – and underlined that Dean’s greatness knew no boundaries. Is it true what they said about Dixie?
Just read what people said, look at his goals record, then make up your own mind.
In 1980, legendary Liverpool boss Bob Paisley declared: “I cringe when I think of what anyone would have to pay for a player like him at today’s prices.
“I knew him and I am a better man for knowing him. We will never see his like again.” The man who replaced Dean in the Everton forward line, the remarkable Tommy Lawton, said: “People ask me who was the greatest. It was Dean.”
Team-mate Joe Mercer added: “There was an atmosphere wherever Dixie went; there was excitement. I’ve seen around 2,000 people following him around in places like Switzerland, Germany and France. He was bigger and better than life.”
Former Labour Party leader Michael Foot said quite simply: “He was the greatest goalscorer with his head there has ever been.” While Steve Bloomer, whose record of 352 career goals Dean beat in 1936, said: “I reckon Dean is the best centre-forward I have ever seen . . . and I saw all the old time lads. They were good at heart, but Dean has something none of the others ever had. It is his bonny method of getting away from the centre-half and his unequalled skill in heading a ball.” During the 1933 FA Cup final, the Mayor of Liverpool turned to the watching Queen Mother and explained: “Ma’am, the number nine is Dixie Dean.” The Queen Mum snapped back: “Even I know Dean!” So what was all the fuss about? The achievement for which Dean is best remembered is the individual goalscoring record of 60 League goals in a single season – a record set in 1928 and never likely to be beaten. But that was just part of a remarkable story. Signed from Tranmere Rovers for £3,000 in 1925, he scored 32 League goals in his first full season as an Evertonian. That was just six goals short of the then League record of 38, held by another former Everton centre-forward, Bert Freeman. But his chances of eventually overtaking the record were severely doubted during the summer of 1926. Indeed his ability to play football ever again was questioned, following a motorcycle accident in which his skull and jaw were fractured. Thomas Keates’ Jubilee History of Everton Football Club recorded: “Doctors were afraid he could not live for many hours. His survival astonished them. When recovery was assured the medical pronouncement was: ‘This man will never be able to play football again’.” Play again he did, to such startling effect that romantic tales began to surround his spell in hospital. Quick, sharp and intelligent in his centre-forward play, his greatest quality was undoubtedly his astonishing aerial ability.
“Ordinary players butt the ball with the crown of their heads,” wrote a contemporary report. “Dean artistically glides it downwards with the side of his head. In this respect he excels every other famous centre-forward.” Such was his success that envious contemporaries began to suggest that surgeons had left a steel plate in his skull following his life-saving surgery. The stories, of course, were nonsensical, but indicate the aura which surrounded the man. His record breaking season of 1927-28, when Everton won the Championship, was a Roy of the Rovers style saga.
Dean scored in each of the first nine matches – including all five in a 5-2 home defeat of Manchester United. By Christmas he was halfway to his target. Goals 41, 42 and 43 came at Anfield in a 3-3 draw, but then a four game drought when nobody in an Everton jersey scored seemed to put the brakes on the record charge. With nine matches remaining, Dean needed 17 goals for the record – a seemingly impossible target. But after doubles against Derby, Blackburn, Sheffield United and Aston Villa, a sparkling four goal haul at Burnley put the record in sight again. Worryingly, Dean had to leave the Turf Moor pitch through injury and he was nursed through the next seven days by trainer Harry Cook. He was eventually declared fit for the final match, at home to Herbert Chapman’s legendary Arsenal side, but needed a hat-trick for the record. The Gunners had the famous Charles Buchan playing his final match in defence before retirement, eager to ensure Everton’s star didn’t steal his show.
It was, however, undeniably Dean’s day. A header and a penalty equalled George Camsell’s record, then with time ticking away Dean broke the record outright.
“Five minutes from time we made up our minds that Dixie wasn’t going to get the other goal we longed to see,” wrote Thomas Keates. “Good heavens! While the thought was formulating, Troup sent a nice dropping shot in front of goal, the ball hung in the air, Dixie’s magical head went for it and tipped it into the net. “You talk about explosions, and loud applause; we have heard many explosions, and much applause in our long pilgrimage, but, believe us, we have never heard such a prolonged roar of thundering, congratulatory applause before as to that which ascended to heaven when Dixie broke the record.” This was only the first significant achievement of Dean’s long and successful playing career – but it is still the most memorable. Everton were relegated for a single season in 1930-31, but Second Division defences were no match for a striker of Dean’s talents. During the promotion campaign he scored more goals than matches he actually played in! He captained Everton to a further title success in 1932, scoring an astonishing 45 League goals in 38 games, then in 1933 he led Everton to FA Cup glory at Wembley. Typically, he scored in every round except the semi-final – and with shirt numbering introduced for the first time at Wembley to aid radio listeners, became the first Everton number nine.
Revered for his sportsmanship as well as his burgeoning talent, he was never once booked or dismissed – despite the kind of provocation which once saw him lose a testicle in a match. For a man whose life was linked so indelibly with Everton, it was fitting that he died at Goodison in March 1980, minutes after the final whistle of a derby match. His image, however, still stands over the stadium in the shape of the magnificent bronze statue erected in 2001.

HE flitted across the Goodison firmament fleetingly. But Evertonians all agreed that for the 61 games and 21 months he spent at Goodison, “Duncan McKenzie was Magic!”
Jan 25 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
A born entertainer with a Pandora’s Box of tricks, feints and dummies at his disposal, someone mentioned to McKenzie before his home debut against Birmingham City in December 1976: “Do a few tricks and the fans will love you.” He did – and they did.
The fact that he scored twice, too, also helped. But the McKenzie legend was firmly entrenched in Evertonian affections in an FA Cup tie against Stoke City three weeks later. Supermac, as he was predictably christened, scored the match clinching second goal in a 2-0 win – but it was a dribble from the corner of the Goodison Road side of the pitch, decorated with at least three dummied back-heels, which had the crowd in uproar. Perhaps adding to the McKenzie legend was the response on national TV the next day. The abrasive Anfield Iron, Tommy Smith – the very antithesis of McKenzie’s football philosophy – had been invited to offer post-match analysis and select a Man of the Match. “Well, no problems in choosing a man of the match then Tommy,” smiled Elton Welsby. “No,” growled Smithy. “It’s Andy King.” Before going on to declare that McKenzie’s talents would be better employed in a circus than on a football pitch. McKenzie got his own back in an FA Cup semi-final at Maine Road, when he nutmegged Smith in a match notorious for Clive Thomas’s incorrect decision to disallow Bryan Hamilton’s late winner. McKenzie also scored in that game, but his football philosophy never sat easily with that of Gordon Lee, who had replaced Billy Bingham just a month after McKenzie’s signing. Despite forming a lively strike partnership with Bob Latchford, he was sold in September 1978 to Chelsea and replaced by big-money flop Mickey Walsh. But the Everton fans didn’t forget their hero. He returned to Goodison with his new employers just six weeks later – opened the scoring for Chelsea and was greeted with as loud a roar as if he’d still been wearing royal blue.

Andy Gray was Everton FC's catalyst for glory
Jan 25 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
ANDY GRAY breezed into Goodison in November 1983. Barely 19 months later his Everton career was over. But the charismatic Scot crammed more into that season and a half than many players manage in an entire career – and as a result he was adored by Evertonians. His spell at Goodison Park might have come from the pages of a fictional novel. When he arrived at Everton the Blues were five places off the foot of the First Division, goals were in desperately short supply and Howard Kendall’s swoop for a supposedly burned out striker with dodgy knees was seen as the act of a desperate man. On his debut Gray chested a ball into Adrian Heath’s path to set up a winning goal against Nottingham Forest, but it was the reaction which set Gray apart.
When somebody scored for Everton – anybody – Gray’s face lit up and he was the cheerleader who ensured morale was sent soaring. Just check out video recordings of the era – Gray is usually the first to celebrate with any goalscorer, eagerly beckoning his team-mates across to share in the joy. At his peak Gray had been a top class striker who once cost a British record shattering transfer fee. It was believed his best days had been and gone by the time Kendall swooped, but the Scottish gladiator enjoyed a glorious Indian summer at Everton, his boldness and hunger for the ball enlivening team-mates on the pitch, and his effervescent energy and charisma off it imbuing his team-mates with a confidence which had been hitherto hidden. The effect and the influence he had on strike partner Graeme Sharp helped turn his international team-mate from promising youngster into top class target man. His aerial ability and his bravery were matchless – and while cup-tied for the Milk Cup campaign, he spearheaded an assault on Wembley in the FA Cup. A diving header in the pouring rain at Notts County, where Gray slid in on his face to finish parallel with the floor as he diverted the ball into the County net was legendary. Two months later he connected with another flying header – via goalkeeper Steve Sherwood’s fists – this time at Wembley, and a 14-year wait for silverware was finally over.
That trophy, however, was merely the catalyst for things to come.
Gray was an intermittent performer at the outset of the halcyon 1984/85 season, but when Heath sustained aseason ending injury he stepped in for the most thrilling spell of his entire career. His performances were inspirational. Flying headers against Sunderland defied belief, a hat-trick in a European Cup Winners’ Cup quarter-final against Fortuna Sittard was classical – right foot, brave header, left foot volley; a sizzling volley at White Hart Lane gave Everton a vital edge in the title race, then at Leicester he buried a close range header and was so desperate to race away and celebrate with his team-mates he ran straight into a goalpost! Undaunted he bounced straight back up and his face beaming with joy became an iconic image for the BBC’s Match of the Day programme. That was just the start. He scored in the European Cup Winners’ Cup semi-final against Bayern Munich, added another in the final against Rapid Vienna – and earned himself a title winner’s medal. Bizarrely, with his career at its peak, Howard Kendall controversially replaced him with Gary Lineker.
There is little doubt Gray’s best had been and gone, but Evertonians were still devastated by his departure and eternally grateful. Hundreds upon hundreds wrote letters of support and thanks, so many that Gray had to respond via the pages of the Liverpool ECHO. Eighteen months later more than 20,000 fans made the trip to Villa Park to cheer Everton on to the brink of a second league title in three years.
Kevin Sheedy’s match-winner prompted the loudest roar of the day, but only just.
The travelling supporters were united in their appreciation of a man wearing claret and blue that afternoon . . . one Andrew Mullen Gray.

Everton captain Phil Neville
25th January 2008
By Kevin Francis
Daily Star
Everton captain Phil Neville yesterday brushed aside the disappointment of missing out on the Carling Cup final to insist: “This is not the end – this is the beginning.”
Everton were beaten 1-0 by Chelsea in the second leg of the semi-final at Goodison Park on Wednesday, giving the Londoners a 3-1 aggregate win. But Neville chose to look on the bright side for the high-flying Merseysiders and said: “We’ve still got fourth place to play for and the UEFA Cup, so let’s make it a great end to the season and not wallow in defeat – although this does hurt. “No one likes to lose a semi-final. But, as we said after losing the Arsenal and Manchester United games in the league, big games are decided by small percentages. “I think we are getting better and improving as a team. I said in the dressing room after the game, this is not the end – this is the beginning. It’s the beginning of playing in games like this where the pressure is really on and making sure we go out there and enjoy it.” Neville added: “This can’t be a negative. We have to take all the positives out of this Carling Cup run. We have changed the perception of what people think of us, teams are respecting us more now. “We must make this the start to a great end of the season.
“We have Tottenham and Blackburn coming up next week, which are two massive games. “In my previous two seasons at the club, around this time we have had nothing to play for. Now we have everything to play for. “Every game seems like a cup final, and for me in particular that’s what I want. “That’s the level I want to be playing in football.” Neville believes that Everton’s failure to convert their chances into goals cost them dearly against Chelsea, whose experience of regular European competition came to their aid. He explained: “We didn’t score when we were on top, particularly after half-time when we had a couple of chances and were piling on the pressure.
“Then they scored when we were on top. “They have the experience from playing in European football and big games of taking that one chance and we have to start learning that. If you get one chance, you need to take it. But that’s coming.
“Beating the top sides is the biggest hurdle for us to make now. “There are a lot of teams trying to do it. But at the moment we are the team that is pushing hardest to make it.”

Tim Cahill set for tug of war over World Cup
Jan 26 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
TIM CAHILL is heading towards another club-versus-country wrangle after being picked for Australia’s opening World Cup qualifier against Qatar next month.
New Socceroos coach Pim Verbeek named a 39-man squad - including Liverpool’s Harry Kewell - for the clash in Melbourne on February 6, which comes in the middle of an important week for Everton, who have games against Blackburn Rovers and Reading. Australia will be attempting to qualify for the 2010 finals in South Africa for the first time through the Asia route and must finish in the top two in their group, which includes China and Asian champions Iraq. Verbeek wants to start off with as strong a side as possible but Blues boss David Moyes is loathe to lose Cahill, particularly as the influential midfielder has only recently returned from a substantial injury lay-off. Moyes had a meeting with Verbeek at Everton’s Finch Farm training complex earlier this month and raised his concerns about Cahill having to travel so far for a game that the Socceroos are expected to win comfortably. He is, however, powerless to stop the 28-year-old from joining up with Australia and Cahill has made it clear that he wants to honour his commitments Down Under, much to Moyes’ chagrin. “We said it would be better if Tim Cahill didn’t go and we don’t want to lose him at the minute but it’s going to be Tim’s decision,” said Moyes. “He has missed a lot of football and a lot of it has been playing for Australia. “So I think Tim is going to have to look at it himself and decide what he wants to do.” After missing the final three months of last season with a broken metatarsal, Cahill got himself fit to play in the Asia Cup, which was held in Thailand, but on his return to Goodison Park, suffered the same injury in a friendly against Werder Bremen. Since getting his campaign off to a belated start in October, though, Cahill has been in excellent form, scoring nine times to help Everton advance in the UEFA Cup and move into pole position in the race for a top four place. Moyes, understandably, has concerns about Cahill flying halfway around the world and back in such a short space of time but he has done it before - in October 2006. Lee Carsley, meanwhile, has been named in the Republic of Ireland squad by caretaker manager Don Givens that will face Brazil at Croke Park on February 6.

Everton can hold heads up high
Jan 26 2008 by Barry Horne, Liverpool Echo
ALTHOUGH the ultimate sensation on Wednesday was one of disappointment at Goodison Park, there were many positives to come out of the evening.
Not least the way in which the perception of Everton Football Club is changing.
Avram Grant raised one or two eyebrows in the media with his comments about the relative status of the two clubs, but the coverage of the game, the atmosphere in the stadium and the manner in which David Moyes, Everton’s players and the fans conducted themselves confirmed Everton’s standing in the Premier League.
For the best part of a decade from the mid 1990s there was a perception of Everton as perennial strugglers. That notion now seems to have been well and truly laid to rest, and the focus on Wednesday was on an enthralling and engrossing Cup clash.
Ultimately, and perhaps almost inevitably, Everton came up just short. But they nevertheless emerged with credit, just as they did in outplaying Arsenal for 45 minutes, in matching Manchester United for 89 minutes before dramatically losing and the day they were undeservedly robbed against Liverpool. The fans that remained in the stadium after the match showed their appreciation of the players’ efforts with a fantastic ovation. Everton are fourth in the Premier League, and the current table is about as accurate a gauge as to how the season has gone so far as you could possibly wish to see. If we take out the only occasion which still rankles with me this season, the FA Cup defeat by Oldham, we could easily usher in March – in the last 16 of the UEFA Cup and chasing a Champions League place. That would be the basis of a great season.

Joleon Lescott must be named for England role
Jan 26 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
NEW international managers always spring a surprise when announcing their first squads, and that trend is sure to be upheld when the Fabio Capello era begins next Friday. Sven-Goran Eriksson picked Gavin McCann – once of this parish – to play in his first game against Spain at Villa Park seven years ago, while Steve McClaren tried to set the tone for his reign by axing David Beckham after taking over from the Swede. But while the main focus will be on the likely inclusion of Beckham and his bid to win a 100th cap in Capello’s first game in charge against Switzerland, there will be huge gasps on Merseyside if the name of one Everton player is missing from the ranks. For the best part of 18 months, Joleon Lescott has looked every inch an international performer in the making and in front of Capello on Wednesday evening, the 25-year-old gave a master class in defending. Having been bedded into the England set-up under McClaren, winning four caps against Estonia, Russia, Austria and Croatia last autumn, Lescott will surely add many more to his collection if he continues performing to such outstanding levels. It is easy, of course, to get carried away sometimes and champion a player for international selection when the simple truth is that a coach does not deem them good enough, but that is not the case whatsoever with Lescott. Nicolas Anelka may have dazzled for Chelsea during the second leg of the Carling Cup semi-final, but Lescott stood firm, his efforts characterised by a magnificent tackle to whip the ball off the Frenchman’s toe.
Seeing him fare so well against Anelka – one of the world’s best strikers when in the mood – will have registered on Capello’s radar and he will surely use the friendlies England have before their World Cup qualifying campaign to take a look at him.
Of course, it needs to be remembered that England have a lot of options in the centre of defence. John Terry and Rio Ferdinand were the partnership of choice for McClaren, yet that does not mean Capello will follow suit. But as father time is catching up with Sol Campbell, Jamie Carragher is in international retirement and Jonathon Woodgate compromised by his dubious fitness record, the options to replace the injured Terry against Switzerland are not so plentiful. That is likely to mean Lescott battling it out with Tottenham’s Michael Dawson and Ledley King for a place alongside Ferdinand at Wembley next month and his display against Anelka might just swing it for him. Add to the equation his goalscoring ability, not to mention his durability – Lescott has played in each of Everton’s 77 competitive games since he joined the club – and Capello will certainly have left Goodison with food for thought earlier this week. With the nucleus of David Moyes’ squad tied down on long-term contracts, it is only going to be a matter of time before Lescott is offered improved terms and that will be just as important a signing as any of the ones that have gone before. As he approaches the peak years of his career, it is evident Lescott is going to be a man for a club and country. Amazing to think, then, that Nicky Shorey was capped before him.

Fernandes keen to help the push for Euro success
Jan 26 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
IT was a comment delivered almost as a throwaway line – but the connotations could not have been more significant. Holding court at Everton’s swish new media lounge at Finch Farm, David Moyes was talking about his side’s progress when the subject, inevitably, of Manuel Fernandes’ return cropped up. Given the midfielder’s undoubted talent, Moyes was keen to focus on what he could give to the Blues push for a Champions League place and spoke about where Fernandes would fit in before he concluded with the words: “Maybe he needs to feel loved.” While there is no question that Fernandes has the ability to mix it with the very best, the fact he spent two nomadic years flitting between Portugal, England and Spain before ending up back on Merseyside suggests he has not been able to settle. No wonder, then, that he jumped at the chance of a return to Everton when things failed to go according to plan in Valencia. If love, as his manager says, is what he needs to show his true colours, he will certainly get it at Goodison Park. The ovation Fernandes received when his name was read out before Wednesday night’s Carling Cup semi-final with Chelsea emphatically showed that his popularity remains as strong as it was at its peak last season. Though a minority were suspicious of the way he ended up at Valencia last August when a permanent move to Goodison appeared all but done and dusted, Fernandes is anxious to set the record straight and now wants to move on to repay the faith bestowed in him. “I want to make it clear: I did not walk out on this club,” Fernandes stressed. “The fact I left was nothing to do with my will, because I knew of the interest from Valencia before, but wanted to join Everton. “I even spent 10 days training here because I was confident that would happen. I wasn’t happy when I heard people saying that I left the club. That isn’t true. When I came here I thought I was staying but it didn’t work out and I needed to get my life going. “I am happy to because this is a chance for me to come and play regularly. That’s the main thing. The most important thing when you are in a place is that people want you there, particularly the coach. “When that doesn’t happen, it is difficult. You feel as though you are unable to make less mistakes than the others and when that occurs, that makes things difficult. So I just wanted to come to a place where people want me and I can play. “It’s nice when your work is recognised by your team-mates, the coach and the fans. That kind of feeling is really nice.” Judging by his performance in the defeat against Chelsea, Fernandes is still short of peak condition, but that will be rectified quickly as, unlike last season, the second half of Everton’s campaign should be hectic.
Apart from battling for a Champions League place, Everton’s UEFA Cup adventure recommences in Norway next month and Fernandes, who is eligible for Europe despite making three Champions League appearances for Valencia, believes the future is rosy. Having had a chance to assess the state of a squad which has changed dramatically since he first arrived on, the 21-year-old has no doubt that Everton can hang on to fourth place and make progress in Europe, so long as they remain focused.
“Last year, I had a small part in the achievement of qualifying for the UEFA Cup and I am happy to help the club go as far as possible,” said Fernandes. “I am looking forward to playing in the UEFA Cup. The most important thing is to concentrate on the SK Brann match “People want to think about Fiorentina and Rosenborg, but the most important thing is to think about the next game, otherwise we won’t play against either of those teams. “They are going to be difficult games although people may think they are easy because there are tougher teams in the UEFA Cup. “It is going to be difficult because if they are in the last 32, they are there for a reason. After that, if we can play against Fiorentina or Rosenborg, then fantastic. I also think a top four place is really possible for us. “We are in fourth place now, playing really well and I think teams now respect Everton more. While the UEFA Cup is important, the main thing is to achieve fourth place, or even higher if possible.” Certainly Fernandes – as he showed in patches against Chelsea – has the ability to sprinkle stardust on important games to decide their outcome and Moyes hopes he can add an ‘X Factor’ to the top four push. “If Manny does as well as he did do, we will be really pleased,” said Moyes. “I think he looks leaner and he is in good condition. Obviously his match practice is lacking but that will improve. “But we are looking forward to seeing how he does for us. I’m hoping that he can fit in again and that it won’t be too big a shock for him. He gets on well with the boys and they are happy to have him back.”

Everton FC promises to be a good neighbour
Jan 26 2008 by Tina Miles, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON today moved to dismiss claims they failed to attend meetings with Kirkby residents over their new stadium plans. This week the Kirkby Residents Action Group, which is opposed to the plans, claimed the club had not bothered to go along to a three-day public consultation exercise. Ian Ross, head of public relations and external affairs, vowed Everton wants to be good neighbours with Kirkby residents.
He said: “I was present on all three days and met with dozens of local residents to discuss the proposed ‘Destination Kirkby’ project.” He said: “Public consultation is an important part of this hugely ambitious project and it is a process which will continue in the months ahead. “As a club we are actively looking at ways in which we can make even stronger our ties with the community of Kirkby. “We have a number of initiatives currently under discussion and we can promise the people of Kirkby that we will be, as we promised all along, very good neighbours.”

An extra special talent
Jan 26 2008 by Barry Horne, Liverpool Echo
UNDER the new Chelsea regime, Michael Ballack and Andriy Shevchenko have been revitalised. But one man has remained supremely consistent throughout both regimes, and that is Jose Mourinho’s first signing and most trusted lieutenant, Ricardo Carvalho. He has great qualities and is also very clever as we saw at Goodison Park on Wednesday. With Everton just threatening to build a bit of momentum, he went to ground and stayed down for treatment. While not condoning that kind of behaviour, it helped Chelsea enormously at a pivotal period. If Carvalho was Italian or German, I think we would be talking about him in the same breath as Baresi or Beckenbauer. He really is that good.

Embarrassing exits and cup days in the sun
Jan 26 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
IT'S been 17 years since a non-league team last faced Liverpool or Everton in the FA Cup. But there have been plenty of instances throughout history . . . including one or two we would rather forget!
Here's our top 10 of magical FA Cup escapades.
Worcester City 2 Liverpool 1 1959
1 THIS was the match which hastened the departure of Phil Taylor, and ushered in the Bill Shankly era. Liverpool were a high-flying Second Division side, Worcester were a Southern League outfit, but manager Bill Thompson conceived the 'Thompson Plan' to cause the Reds maximum discomfort. It worked. Tommy Skuse, just 18, and a Dick White own goal put Worcester 2-0 up before Geoff Twentyman hit back in the 83rd minute with a penalty. The Worcester Evening Times remarked: "The Liverpool rearguard were as nervous as old ladies on icy pavements."
The alarm bells had rung for the Reds before kick-off, Billy Liddell missing his first FA Cup tie, after playing all 40 previous post-war ties. It was a good game to miss . . .
Everton 1 Altrincham 1 1975
2 EVERTON'S match programme of January 4, 1975 declared: "The FA Cup draw has pitched Altrincham into the dream world of playing at Goodison Park."
It quickly became a nightmare for the Blues. Everton were top of the First Division and looking well placed to claim their eighth League Championship.
Altrincham, by contrast, were a modest Northern Premier League side – five rungs below the Blues in the league ladder. But The Robins snatched a shock lead – and worse was to follow. John Connolly was stretchered off with a broken leg – after Everton had already brought on their one permitted substitute, and Gary Jones was sent off. The nine men managed to rally and equalised when Dave Irving was brought down by Stan Allan, and Dave Clements cooly slotted home. It was perhaps the most famous FA Cup day of all time. All five non-league clubs survived and went into the fourth round draw. Wimbledon beat top flight Burnley 1-0, Leatherhead Lip Chris Kelly, got the winner at Brighton, while Alty, Stafford and Wycombe drew.
Everton made no mistakes in their replay, staged at Old Trafford in front of 35,000 fans, winning 2-0.
Southampton 4 Liverpool 1 1902
3 PERHAPS not the same kind of upset enjoyed by Worcester City 57 years later, but The Saints were reigning Southern League champions when they overcame the Reds in 1902 - just a week after the Reds had knocked out neighbours Everton.
George Fleming scored for Liverpool, but it was scant consolation for an embarrassing exit.
Everton 3 Telford 0 1985
4 THERE was enormous interest in Everton's fifth round clash with non-league Telford in 1985 - not least because a big freeze meant that only two ties survived, Everton's undersoil heating doing the trick. No fewer than five TV camera crews attended the match – and this was in the days before satellite or cable TV. They didn't witness any romance. In front of 47,000 fans, goals by Trevor Steven, Kevin Sheedy and one credited to Peter Reid, after he had deflected Gary Stevens' shot, earned Everton a 3-0 win. The non-league team's approach was criticised afterwards for being overly physical, but it didn't stop Everton from marching on in the most successful season in the club's history.
Liverpool 4 Altrincham 1 1981
5 LIVERPOOL'S 4-1 home win over Alliance Premier League side Altrincham was routine . . . very routine, in fact. It was an astonishing 85th consecutive home match without defeat for The Reds! Terry McDermott, Ray Kennedy and two from Kenny Dalglish meant that Liverpool's awesome record was never in danger.
Current LFC Academy manager John Owens was on the losing side, while Bill Shankly bizarrely travelled to the game on the Altrincham team coach and went into the visitors' dressing room before the game, as part of a promotional campaign for Robinson's Barley Water! Altrincham's consolation was a penalty scored after Ray Clemence had bundled over Zak Whitbread's dad Barry. “We lasted 27 minutes before Terry McDermott scored," recalled John Owens. "A bit like Luton last week, once the first went in it was always on the cards we were going to lose."
Everton 1 Woking 0 1991
6 TIM Buzaglo was the talk of the nation after his hat-trick sank West Brom in the FA Cup. But Woking's run ended in the next round, when Kevin Sheedy scored the winner. One quirk is that Everton took to the field at Goodison Park wearing blue shorts. They had been drawn as the away side, but Woking switched the match to benefit from a gate in excess of 30,000.
Liverpool 2 Norwich City 3 1909
7 QUIRK time again.
Norwich City might be familiar to most fans today, but back in 1909 they were a little known Southern League side – and they caused an upset when they came to Anfield and won 3-2. Jack Cox and Robert Robinson scored for the Reds, but it wasn't enough to prevent an FA Cup exit.
Bedford Town 0 Everton 3 1966
8 MORE than 18,000 fans crammed into Bedford's tiny ground for the 1966 fourth round tie. There was no romance, however. A highly professional Everton performance together with goals by Derek Temple (two) and Fred Pickering ensured a 3-2 win.
Everton 3 Poole Town 1 1927
9 POOLE turned professional in 1926 and joined the Western League - and were rewarded with a run to the third round and a match at Goodison against Everton and Dixie Dean. Predictably he scored, but the Southerners were not embarrassed.
Everton 4 King's Lynn 0 1962.
10 NO squad rotation in 1962, even with the visit of non-league King's Lynn to Goodison Park. Billy Bingham, Bobby Collins and Roy Vernon were all on target in a comfortable 4-0 win. The attendance of 44,916 is still a club record for The Linnets.

Everton may be boosted by return of key trio
Jan 28 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON could receive a surprise selection boost in time for Saturday’s testing trip to Blackburn. Nigeria and South Africa are both on the verge of shock early exits from the African Nations Cup, which means Yakubu, Joseph Yobo and Steven Pienaar could all be coming home early. Nigerian duo Yakubu and Yobo will know their fate as early as tomorrow night, when even a handsome victory over Group B whipping boys Benin may not be enough. The Nigerians have failed to score a goal in their opening two games and know a draw tomorrow night between Mali and Ivory Coast would be enough to see Mali qualify and Ivory Coast top the table – this in a tournament where accusations of attempted bribery and match fixing have already been rife. Mali coach Jean-Francois Jodar, however, has dismissed talk of a convenient draw. “It would an insult to the players just to think about it,” Jodar told a news conference. “There will be no agreement,” added team captain Mahamadou Diarra, who is suspended. “Of course the game will probably be less spectacular than if both teams were desperate for all three points.” Nigeria have one point from their two games, while Mali are on four and Ivory Coast already qualified with six.
South Africa are in similarly dire straits. After drawing their opening match with Angola they lost to Tunisia last night and must now beat Senegal on Thursday to ensure qualification for next week’s quarter-finals. Pienaar set up the South Africans’ late consolation in a 3-1 defeat, but it was not enough. The return of the Africans would be a major boost, especially with Tim Cahill wrestling with the decision whether to travel back to Australia following the Blackburn match for a World Cup qualifier against Qatar. Cahill has been named in the Australian squad for a match to be staged in between the trip to Blackburn Rovers and a home game against Reading.
David Moyes will leave the final decision to Cahill. Everton youngster John Paul Kissock, meanwhile, could make his Gretna debut in the Scottish Cup fourth round replay against Morton tonight. The 18-year-old attacking midfielder joined the struggling Scottish Premier League team In a loan deal on Friday. Coventry have signed former Everton left-back Daniel Fox from Walsall for £400,000 – just two years after the youngster was released by the Goodison club as a free agent.

Nigel Martyn: Next two matches can push Blues on
Jan 29 2008 by Nigel Martyn, Liverpool Echo
PUBLICLY Everton will be making lots of cautious noises about taking each game as it comes, trying to keeping in touch with the top end of the table and maybe chasing a place in the UEFA Cup next season. Privately they will be totally convinced they can fight for that lucrative fourth place in the Premier League and claim a Champions League place next season. That’s why the next two matches are so very important.
Tottenham have improved significantly since Juande Ramos arrived and look like a side capable of challenging for the top four; Blackburn are already doing just that – and if Everton can collect four points from these next two fixtures they will not just have reinforced their own prospects, they will have put a serious dent in ambitions of two of their rivals. While things aren’t exactly all sweetness and light across the park, Everton have to take advantage. Spurs still look a little sloppy defensively at times and the Blues will have to try and force the issue tomorrow night.
They’ve had a week now to try and overcome the disappointment of the Chelsea defeat. And I’m hoping they can do what they have done whenever they have been faced by setbacks before this season. After the disappointment of the derby defeat earlier this season they put together a tremendous run of results, and if they can do the same again this time it can take them to the brink of an outstanding league finish.
The scoreline against Chelsea was a crushing blow, but the season is still very much alive with some big prizes to play for. And the next few days could play a significant part in helping to secure one of them.
I suffered at hands of cereal offenders!
POOR Michael Ball had every reason to feel upset by the bizarre balloon incident at Bramall Lane on Sunday. Alien objects in the six yard box are an undoubted distraction, especially for goalkeepers, and the presence of half a dozen sky blue and white balloons in Michael’s eye-line clearly distracted him. But I wonder how he would have coped with a couple of hundred Weetabix being tossed at him!
That was about the weirdest set of objects I’ve ever had thrown at me. I was playing for Bristol Rovers at Shrewsbury and to this day I’ve still got no idea what it was all about. I spent about five minutes before the kick-off desperately scurrying around trying to pick them all up before they could have an influence on any balls played into our box. I just about managed it and there were no problems during the game.
Whenever I was faced with balloons floating in my area I used to burst them as quickly as possible. Joe Hart is still inexperienced and he probably wishes he had done the same now. Sometimes, though, there’s nothing you can do about it.
I was the Leeds goalkeeper playing at Middlesbrough when I complained to the referee before the match about a re-laid six yard box. The entire six yard area had been replaced but not dug in properly, so that it stood up proud by a couple of inches.
During the pre-match warm up balls were catching the edge of the area and flying up at all kinds of ridiculous angles. The referee didn’t want to know, though, and sure enough Middlesbrough scored an equalising goal with a shot which reared up off the turf. I complained bitterly about it, but it stood and the match ended 1-1!
No reason to worry about transfer talk
ACCORDING to the Sunday papers, Manchester United and Arsenal are both “monitoring Joleon Lescott’s situation” whatever that means. I’m not surprised. He has done tremendously well since Everton bought him from Wolves, when nobody wanted to take a risk after he had spent a year out with a serious knee problem.
I’m sure Everton appreciate his value to the side and will want to talk to him about a new deal before too long. But let’s remember that Joleon still has two-and-a- half years remaining on his current contract, and there’s also a flip side. Joleon owes a bit of loyalty to the Blues after they took the risk on his potential 18 months ago.
A lot of clubs looked at him, but Everton decided to take the plunge and the transfer has been mutually beneficial for all parties. Basically, Joleon is very happy at Everton, Everton are very happy with Joleon and I’m sure the Blues will sit down with him in the near future and talk about tying him to the club for the long term.
Which means United and Arsenal can monitor all they want!

Liverpool's Jurgen Klinsmann approach ridiculous – David Moyes
Jan 29 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES has jumped to the defence of local rival Rafa Benitez by branding the Liverpool owners’ approach for Jurgen Klinsmann as “ridiculous”.
The Everton manager has followed the example of Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson, who condemned Tom Hicks and George Gillett for sounding out Klinsmann about the Anfield manager’s job last November. Moyes remains cautious of the approach billionaire investors from abroad are taking to the English game and was bewildered by Hicks’ claim that he spoke to Klinsmann as an “insurance” policy in case Benitez went to Real Madrid. “I think it is ridiculous that a club would go to somebody else while their manager is still at work, that’s wrong,” said Moyes.
“I thought it was tremendous that Sir Alex came out and said the things supporting of Rafa and, in a way, have a go at the board because it’s the board that make the decisions. “Sir Alex has stood up. He is very much part of the LMA and the union that supports the managers, so we are all trying to look after each other and make sure we’re all in work as long as we can.”

Blues to wait on Bradley
Jan 29 2007, By David Prentice
EVERTON are prepared to wait for USA midfielder Michael Bradley. The Blues have enquired about the Heerenveen star, but been quoted a fee of around 5million Euros (£3.7m). David Moyes won’t pay that amount for a 20-year-old who has just 18-months remaining on his contract with the Dutch club, but could go back in for him this summer. The Blues boss said today he does not expect to conduct any further transfer business before the January window closes on Thursday. And Heerenveen coach Gertjan Verbeek added: “Never say never in football, but I count on Bradley staying here.” The 6ft 1in American international, who moved to the Eredivisie in 2006, has scored 15 times this season, including eight in his last eight games as Heerenveen have climbed to third in the table. The Blues have watched him several times and been quietly impressed. Goodison officials, meanwhile, are urgently scouring African flight timetables as Nigeria stand on the brink of African Nations Cup elimination tonight. Chelsea have a private jet on standby to bring John Obi Mikel back from Ghana should a draw between Mali and Ivory Coast knock out Nigeria. But the Blues are trying to ensure Yakubu and Joseph Yobo return quickly by more conventional means. African players have gone walkabout following major tournaments before, but the Nigerians are unlikely to want to return to their home country should their early elimination be confirmed. They have failed to score in their two matches so far, and Nigerian sports commissioner Brown Ebewele said: “I wish I could see Berti Vogts right now. “I will slap him so he can get a little feel of what Nigerians think about him presently. “He will do himself, Nigerians and football in Africa a lot of good if he quietly sneaks out of Ghana and into his country.” Blues midfielder Leon Osman is a doubt for tomorrow’s visit of Spurs.

Everton draw in six-goal thriller
Jan 29 2008 by Chris Wright, Liverpool Daily Post
DESPITE two goals from Kieren Agard putting Everton under-18s 3-1 ahead they had to settle for a point once again as the shared six goals with Manchester United at the Carrington Complex on Saturday. It was Neil Dewsnip’s side’s third successive draw since they returned from the Christmas break. Despite a positive start from the visitors they went behind on 15 minutes. A throw-in which Everton thought was theirs by taken quickly by United and caught them out. The referee allowed United to play on and score. Everton equalised 15 minutes later when Lewis Codling lobbed home from 25 yards after linking with strike partner Agard. The London-born forward Agard then got on the scoresheet himself to give Everton a 2-1 half-time lead via a deflected shot. Midway through the second half Agard doubled Everton’s advantage breaking onto a through-ball by Jose Baxter to net his 10th goal of the season. Australian keeper Michael McEntagart denied United with a couple of fine saves, but the home team finally reduced the deficit to set up a nervous end. And with five minutes left, United were awarded a free-kick on the edge of the Everton area and from it they equalised with a shot into the top corner that gave McEntagart no chance. Dewsnip said: “I looked at the conditions before the game – it was very windy – and felt it would be a very close game. “It turned out in terms of the score it was a close match, but in the context of the game we feel a little bit disappointed, especially with a couple of the decisions. But these things happen and are all part of the youngsters’ development.” Everton are not in action this weekend so they must wait until February 9 as they look to record their first win of 2008 when they face Wolverhampton Wanderers at Finch Farm (kick-off 11am). EVERTON UNDER-18s: McEntagart; Stewart, Rodwell, Barnett, Sinnott; McCready (Akpan 60), Redmond, O’Kane, Baxter (Krenn 75); Codling, Agard. Subs: Sheppard, Stubhaug.

David Moyes: Points would spur us on
Jan 30 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES today challenged his side to get the result against Tottenham that will give their season a fresh impetus. The last time Spurs came to Goodison Park, the Blues lost 2-1 in the dying minutes and were booed after supporters turned their anger on Moyes for what they perceived to be two negative substitutions. After that result, however, Moyes’ side lost only two of their remaining 11 fixtures to qualify for Europe and the manager is looking for a similar return in the closing stages of this campaign, as Everton chase a Champions League place. Though Moyes says it is still far too early to start making predictions about where Everton may end up, he recognises the next six weeks are crucial to ambitions and that’s why he sees victory tonight as being crucial. “This is a great game for us and we have been playing well,” said Moyes, who will be without the suspended pair of Tim Cahill and Tony Hibbert, while Leon Osman (calf) and Thomas Gravesen (knee) both miss out with injury.
“I think we have improved a lot since the start of the season. We are on a good run in the league and we want to keep that going. “It’s a crucial month for us. That’s why I was so pleased we beat Manchester City, Middlesbrough and Wigan. “I have got a squad at the minute which is thin on the ground but hopefully we’ll keep them out at one end and score at the other. “The big thing we have got to do is just keeping going as we have been. We don‘t have to do anything weird or wonderful. With Cahill and Osman both missing, Manuel Fernandes will be given an opportunity to build on his encouraging return in the Carling Cup semi-final. But Moyes is not sure how long it will take him to get back up to full speed. “Fernandes feels a lot better with that game under his belt,” said Moyes. “He’s still got a bit to go in terms of match fitness and match tempo and the level that is required here. “But he’s done better and lasted longer that we’d have thought.” Moyes, meanwhile, will be without Ayegbeni Yakubu and Joseph Yobo for at least another week after Nigeria beat Benin 2-0 last night to go through to the African Cup of Nations quarter-finals. Yakubu scored the second goal and although his club boss is disappointed to be without their services for longer, he hopes they can continue to flourish in Ghana. “I’ve spoken to them two or three times,” said Moyes. “I want the boys to do well.“I’ve watched their games and, in the main, they have both done well.“Yak has caught the eye, while Steven Pienaar was the best player on the pitch for South Africa the other night.”

Phil Jagielka: We can forth with confidence
Jan 30 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
WEMBLEY dreams may have slipped from the horizon but, listening to Phil Jagielka, it's clear Everton's players will not spend the rest of the campaign wallowing in self pity. Seven days after suffering the crushing disappointment of losing their Carling Cup semi-final with Chelsea, the Blues return to Premier League action this evening determined to take another step towards emulating the fabled class of 2005.
Silverware is obviously the one thing supporters covet but if Everton could finish in the top four, it would certainly make up for missing out on a trip to the capital and banish the notion that the achievement three years ago was a fluke. The hard work, however, starts with the visit of Tottenham Hotspur as Everton face a number of crucial matches in the next week which will go a long way to determining their final position come May 11. Europe-chasing Blackburn Rovers, Manchester City and Portsmouth must all be faced in the next six weeks. But it is a run of Having worked so hard to get into their current lofty position – Everton’s last 13 Premier League fixtures have yielded nine wins and two draws – the momentum is with them and it is that sequence which Jagielka feels can provide everyone with an antidote to the Chelsea defeat. Provided they can improve on what he refers to as ‘the l details’ in big games, the former Sheffield United captain is confident he and his team-mates can still make this a season to remember. “Against Chelsea it was a case of looking good up to the 18-yard box but we didn’t create too many opportunities other than from set pieces,” said Jagielka. “It was disappointing, of course, but let’s just take a step back and have a think about what we have done. “We are fourth in the Premier League and we want to stay there for the rest of the season. It will be hard but we all believe that we can do it. As well as that, we are ticking along nicely in the UEFA Cup, so there is lots to play for. It’s not been a bad season so far. “We had some aims at the beginning of the season, mainly being to improve our consistency in the league – it had been a while since we’ve put together two back-to-back good seasons – and go as far as we can in Europe. It’s just a question of little details.” No FA Cup commitments last weekend allowed Jagielka chance to reflect on what went wrong against Chelsea, but he is quick to point out that the two meetings showed Everton are certainly bridging the gap between them and the top. “Of course it was frustrating. Everyone wanted a trip to Wembley. But we would rather be that close to achieving something rather than being a million miles away,” he added. “We’ve acquitted ourselves well and we know that we are getting closer and closer.” This evening, though, brings a completely different challenge. Tottenham may go into the contest in 11th place but they have shown signs since Juande Ramos replaced Martin Jol of fulfilling their vast potential and there is little doubt they will be formidable opponents. What’s more, they have proven to be Everton’s bogey side at Goodison Park in the past decade, winning five and drawing four times since Gary Speed’s flying header into the Gwladys Street settled a tense encounter in April 1997. But Everton’s home form has, by and large, been good and if they needed to draw on any confidence, Jagielka points to the corresponding fixture earlier this season, which the Blues won 3-1 in a canter.
“We won’t be taking too much notice of Tottenham’s league position,” said Jagielka, who made his Everton debut that night at White Hart Lane. “They had a terrible start and it cost them dearly. But they are kicking on now and they have got a lot of important players back to full fitness. “We know it’s going to be a massive game. But we have managed to get ourselves into fourth place and we are going to try and stay there for as long as possible. They played ever so well against Arsenal last week.
“They have got some fantastic footballers. A lot of people were expecting them to be up there from the start of the season and I’m sure once Juande Ramos puts his stamp on things from next year, they will be a great team. “But we don’t fear anyone at Goodison. We’ve only lost a couple of games here this season and – except for the meeting with Arsenal – we’ve been in them right up until the final whistle. We won’t be fazed by Tottenham. We know it will be a hard game but hopefully we’ll get the points.”

30th January 2008
Daily Star
Everton manager David Moyes believes the Barclays Premier League should look at closing down during the African Nations Cup. Fourth-placed Everton are decimated by suspension, injuries and international absences - Joseph Yobo, Stephen Pienaar and Ayegbeni Yakubu are in Ghana for the African tournament - for Wednesday night's visit of Tottenham to Goodison Park. Talk of FIFA moving other global tournaments in line with the European summer has rumbled on for a decade but Moyes has offered an alternative solution, saying: "Maybe now we have to consider if we close the Premier League season down during the African Nations Cup. That would be the correct respect for Africa and the players in it." He added: "If we want to bring players in from that part of the world, we should be rightly allowed to do so, which we are, but it is not a fair playing field if you cannot field your best team." A potential further disruption to Everton's bid for a Champions League place is the call-up of midfielder Tim Cahill for Australia's match against Qatar in Melbourne next week, which will lead to him missing league encounters with Blackburn and Reading.
"I think it's ridiculous that someone has to fly halfway around the world in between two league matches at this stage of the season," said Moyes. "But Tim has to make the decision on whether he goes to play for Australia or not. He has got a hamstring injury just now so we will have to see if that hinders him in any way."

30th January 2008
Daily Star
Everton failed to take full advantage of neighbours Liverpool's indifferent run of form as they were held to a 0-0 draw by Spurs. With Liverpool losing at West Ham, Everton could have been sitting pretty in fourth spot in the Barclays Premier League table, five points ahead of their troubled city rivals. But in the end Everton had to settle for just one point and a lead of three over the Anfield side in the table.
Tottenham had the outstanding Jonathan Woodgate making his debut and the north Londoners - who can only qualify realistically for Europe by winning the Carling Cup - were able to almost cruise to a point. Leighton Baines started on the left of midfield, and he managed the first shot of the night, a 20-yard effort which was claimed by Radek Cerny. Steed Malbranque responded with an overhead kick which was held by Tim Howard as the game, if not the night, warmed up. Victor Anichebe and Baines then had shots blocked in the six-yard box, before Phil Neville's cross reached Andrew Johnson - but his shot on the turn was held by Cerny. Two minutes into the second half Mikel Arteta worked his way past three defenders in the box to reach the line before firing a low cross into the six-yard box - and Anichebe's lunge missed connecting by inches. Robbie Keane's 15-yard effort was then claimed by Howard, the ball reaching him after Phil Neville gave the ball away to Dimitar Berbatov. Cerny then produced the best save of the night, diving smartly to his left to block a Johnson effort from eight yards. Spurs produced good pressure towards the end, with Berbatov seeing a header from a Lennon run and cross saved by Howard, but neither side deserved all three points.

Everton 0, Tottenham 0 (Echo)
Jan 31 2007
Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
CERTAIN items are compulsory for attending football games, namely hats, caps, scarves and badges, but it appears we have reached the stage when another item becomes crucial: the pocket radio. The bigger the situation a team finds itself in, the more important it becomes to hear how rivals are doing elsewhere and last night a Chinese whisper swept Goodison Park to spark scenes of delight. Doubtless it will happen again and again before May 11. If the idea had been dismissed in some quarters beforehand, there is now no escaping the fact that Everton are genuine contenders for a place in next season’s Champions League and, on current evidence, should be favourites to finish fourth. They might not have played their slickest football of the campaign against Spurs, nor did they even register a win, but the point the Toffees secured from this encounter might just be crucial in the final reckoning. With his side doughty and determined throughout, David Moyes will be rightly pleased today with their efforts, and the result from Upton Park which was greeted with such glee confirms they have the upper hand in this particular race. Injuries, suspension and international commitments ensured Everton’s squad had a rather threadbare look to it and the fact Andy van der Meyde – back in from the shadows after 10 weeks on the sidelines with a gashed shin – was sitting on the bench spoke volumes. That Leighton Baines was also asked to play in an unfamiliar position on the left flank merely confirmed the impression that the Blues were painfully short of fit, experienced personnel but they made light of the problem. Baines is going to be Everton’s first choice left-back for many years, but he has the talent to fill in further forward when needed, and while a lack of match practice meant he could not cover the ground as fluently as he does when fully attuned, he caught the eye. Diligently sticking to his task, he never hid when others in a similar predicament would have used the ankle problem that has troubled him since last October to stand on the periphery and offer little. Baines, thankfully, is made of much sterner stuff. No surprise, then, that this little terrier had Everton’s first meaningful shot on target after 22 minutes, a curling effort which Radek Cerny comfortably saved, and was involved as the home side tried to obtain the upper hand. Steed Malbranque briefly threatened for Tottenham with an acrobatic overhead kick that Tim Howard plucked from under his crossbar, but that was a break from the norm as most of the action took place in front of the Park End goal. The passing might not have been slick or quick, but the effort and application enabled Everton to build up some good pressure and had Tottenham not been blessed with a defender of Jonathan Woodgate’s calibre, Baines would have put the Blues in front. Unfortunately, the England international managed to extend a telescopic leg to block the 23-year-old’s shot after Victor Anichebe’s physical presence and the pace of Andrew Johnson had unsettled a number of Woodgate’s colleagues. Tom Huddlestone, in particular, looked ill-at-ease whenever Johnson started galloping into top gear and it looked as if he had finally cracked just after the half hour mark when the Blues’ £8.6m man was sent sprawling with him in close proximity. Not surprisingly, screams from the terraces for a penalty were vociferous, as were those of Johnson and a livid Moyes, but television replays showed the striker had actually tripped over himself and referee Andre Marriner had made the correct call. It was an incident that typified Johnson’s evening. Every time he looked to engage overdrive so that something significant might happen, the end product invariably disappointed. Such a shame as his work off the ball was outstanding. When he tried to shoot, his efforts lacked pace or power and too often he was betrayed in dangerous positions by a clumsy final touch. Nothing went for him, not even when Manuel Fernandes put him clean through after 59 minutes. A Johnson brimming with confidence would have burst the back of the Gwladys Street net but, in this instance, his body language suggested he lacked conviction and Cerny was able to smother the subsequent drive away for a corner. For some reason, however, that was the last occasion when Everton looked like scoring and the final quarter was consumed with keeping Spurs at arm’s length. In many ways, it resembled the wretched night when these sides met here last February. Yet, thankfully, there was to be no repeat of the last-gasp heartbreak which was suffered back then, and that was down to enormous contributions from Lee Carsley, Joleon Lescott and, above all, Phil Jagielka. Having given as good as he got and more besides against Nicolas Anelka seven days earlier, the challenge of shackling Dimitar Berbatov was something this rapidly-improving 24-year-old relished and it was a test he passed with flying colours. Twice Berbatov threatened to snatch a winner as the clock ticked down, yet both times Jagielka flung himself into tackles that screamed ‘thou shall not pass’ to stop the classy Bulgarian in his tracks. Quite clearly, central defence is the position where he is going to excel in the long-term, but there is much to admire about his recent efforts and one of his careless team-mates will be especially thankful that Jagielka is in such good heart. Fernandes might not be able to do any wrong in some eyes but – not for the first time – he was guilty of ridiculous over-elaboration here, especially so in the final minute when Jermaine Jenas robbed him to start the move from which Berbatov almost scored. One shudders to think what would have happened had Everton been mugged, but, as it was, the situation looks even better today in terms of potentially qualifying for the Champions League than it did before. Some may understandably fear Everton will rue not taking three points off Tottenham but why not believe this is the point that, in the final reckoning, will push them over the line for the promised land? At present, such a scenario is looking more and more likely. EVERTON (4-4-2): Howard; Neville, Lescott, Jagielka, Valente; Arteta, Carsley, Fernandes, Baines; Anichebe (Vaughan 71), Johnson. Bookings - Valente (foul, 77) TOTTENHAM (4-4-2): Cerny; Chimbonda, Woodgate, Huddlestone, Gunter (Boateng 62); Lennon, Malbranque, Jenas, O’Hara; Berbatov, Keane. Bookings - Woodgate (foul, 82) Referee - Andre Marriner Attendance - 35, 840

Everton 0, Tottenham 0 (D,Post)
Jan 31 2007
Ian Doyle Liverpool daily Post
FOR the second Wednesday in succession, Goodison was forced to lament a missed opportunity last night. Having seen hopes of a first final in 13 years slip from their grasp last week, Everton spurned the chance to put clear daylight between themselves and the chasing pack in the race for fourth place. The arms in the Goodison Park Press box that punched the air at the news of West Ham United’s injury-time winner against Liverpool were too often thrown into the skies in frustration as David Moyes’s side failed to break down a well-drilled Tottenham Hotspur defence. So, instead of enjoying a four-point advantage in the final Champions League qualification place, Everton have eked to just two points ahead of Aston Villa and Manchester City with their Anfield neighbours a further point adrift. Not that anyone at Goodison will be feeling in any way despondent this morning. Indeed, with Liverpool’s defeat coupled by City’s draw at rock-bottom Derby County, optimism abounds. Everton remain the form team. Yet it could – and should – have been better. Seemingly primed to go for the kill after the interval after a dominant first-half performance, Everton’s intensity slipped and allowed Tottenham to work their way back into the game and earn a deserved point. The nearest the home team came was on the hour when Andrew Johnson was put through by Manuel Fernandes but his shot was saved by Tottenham goalkeeper Radek Cerny. It was that kind of evening for the striker. His commitment never wavered and his pace often ensured he found promising positions, but the final pass and finish was lacking. With Yakubu soon to return from Africa Cup of Nations duty with Nigeria, Johnson knows he must make the most of this first team opening. The England international had earlier been involved in mild controversy when he claimed a penalty for a foul by Tom Huddlestone, although television replays indicated referee Andre Marriner was right to wave away appeals with the forward appearing to fall over his own feet. Tottenham, save a late burst of pressure in the closing minutes, rarely threatened, with Joleon Lescott and the again-impressive Phil Jagielka keeping dangerous duo Robbie Keane and Dimitar Berbatov under lock and key. With Goodison Park not having seen a goalless draw since the visit of Middlesbrough in December 2006, perhaps the home supporters were due a dour stalemate. One concern for Moyes, though, will be the fact his team have now failed to win four of their last five home games. Everton had set the tone for their season with a 3-1 win at Tottenham in August, but the Londoners had lost just two of their previous 15 visits to Goodison Park during the Premier League era. Moyes’s side had a week to address the disappointment that last night’s fixture would not be a dress rehearsal for next month’s Carling Cup final, with Tottenham having won through to Wembley by virtue of their demolition of neighbours Arsenal. That 5-1 thrashing was further evidence of the improvement Juande Ramos has engendered since taking over at White Hart Lane in October, guiding Tottenham away from the relegation zone and, like Everton, through to the knockout stages of the UEFA Cup. Moyes already knew he would be without the suspended Tim Cahill and Tony Hibbert and Africa Cup of Nations trio Joseph Yobo, Yakubu and Steven Pienaar last night. So the absence through injury of both Leon Osman and Thomas Gravesen further lessened the manager’s midfield options and saw the lesser-spotted Andy van der Meyde and Anderson de Silva among the home substitutes. Indeed, van der Meyde – whose last appearance was more than nine months ago – has become such a peripheral figure at Goodison Park that the team-sheet spelt his name incorrectly. Moyes was forced to break from his favoured 4-5-1 formation and pair Victor Anichebe with Johnson up front. The manager later threw on James Vaughan but, as Moyes later conceded, no matter how much they tried Everton struggled to create clear-cut chances against a Tottenham defence for whom new £7million signing Jonathan Woodgate was hugely impressive. But given such upheaval in tactics and personnel, this could prove an important point in the final analysis. Following a forgettable low-key opening, Everton grasped the initiative midway through the first half with Tottenham at times hanging on desperately to maintain parity. Leighton Baines, filling in admirably on the left of midfield, fired the first warning shot at Tottenham goalkeeper Cerny and Johnson narrowly failed to latch on to Anichebe’s knockdown from a Nuno Valente cross. Woodgate was in the right place to block Baines’s goalbound shot after more good work from Anichebe, and Johnson then drew a smart save from Cerny with a volley from Phil Neville’s cross before the striker was involved in a moment of controversy on 33 minutes. Chasing on to a long ball inside the area, Johnson fell to the floor under pressure from Tom Huddlestone. The crowd were infuriated that referee Marriner waved play on, although television replays suggested Johnson had tripped over his own feet after negligible contact with the Tottenham centre-back. Tottenham, with the midfield supply lines to Berbatov cut off, could only respond with an ambitious overhead kick from Keane that Tim Howard safely guarded. The second half began in the same vein, Mikel Arteta twisting his way through a clutch of Tottenham defenders inside the area only for his driven cross-cum-shot to evade Anichebe and flash wide. However, Everton had a minor escape shortly afterwards when Neville gifted the ball to Berbatov outside the home area but the Bulgarian’s pass through to Keane was overcooked and Howard easily clutched the eventual shot. Then came Johnson’s glorious chance on 59 minutes. A slack header from Jermaine Jenas in midfield was picked up by Manuel Fernandes and the Portuguese expertly played in Johnson, whose shot was partially stopped by Cerny before Woodgate hacked clear. The openings dried up after that, though, as Tottenham began to gain a foothold in proceedings. Everton were indebted to a resourceful block from Jagielka late on to prevent a Berbatov shot from threatening Howard’s goal, although Steed Malbranque should have been booked for his dive inside the area to try and win a last-minute penalty as Tottenham sought a late sucker-punch. That would have been unmerited. But, as they continue to prove, Everton’s league placing is not. EVERTON (4-4-2): Howard; Neville, Jagielka, Lescott, Nuno Valente; Arteta, Carsley, Fernandes, Baines; Johnson, Anichebe (Vaughan 71). Subs: Wessels, Van der Meyde, Stubbs, Anderson. BOOKINGS: Nuno Valente. TOTTENHAM (4-4-2): Cerny, Chimbonda, Huddlestone, Woodgate, Gunter (Boateng 62), Lennon, Jenas, O’Hara, Malbranque, Berbatov, Keane. Subs: Robinson, Lee, Defoe, Rocha. BOOKINGS: Woodgate. REFEREE: Andre Marriner (W Midlands). ATT: 35,840. NEXT MATCH: Blackburn Rovers v Everton, Barclays Premier League, Saturday 3pm.

Derby County make late bid for Alan Stubbs
Jan 31 2008 EXCLUSIVE by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DERBY COUNTY were today making a last-gasp attempt to lure Alan Stubbs away from Goodison Park. The Premier League’s basement side have approached Everton to speak to their vice captain and are understood to be prepared to offer Stubbs a deal at Pride Park until the end of the next season, with the option for another year afterwards. Stubbs’ current contract at Goodison runs out this summer and – as is club policy with players over the age of 30 – talks are not scheduled to take place until after the last match of the season. Paul Jewell is desperate to stiffen Derby’s defence as he tries to plot a miraculous escape from the drop and sees Stubbs as the ideal man, but is now waiting to hear from the 36-year-old, who has discussed the approach with Moyes. With his squad stretched at present, Moyes would be reluctant to let Stubbs, who has made 192 appearances for his boyhood club, leave, particularly with Joseph Yobo away at the African Cup of Nations for another week at least. But Stubbs has only played once since November 3 because of injury – in the 1-0 FA Cup defeat against Oldham Athletic – and the outstanding form of Joleon Lescott and Phil Jagielka has made it difficult to press for a recall. If Stubbs does leave, that will be the only business Everton conduct on transfer deadline day as they have no intentions of bringing a new face in before the window closes at midnight, either permanently or on loan. Leighton Baines, meanwhile, insisted today that last night’s 0-0 draw with Tottenham was “a point gained” rather than two squandered as it strengthened the Blues’ grip on fourth place. It was only the second time since October 28 that Baines has completed 90 minutes, but he came through after playing in an unfamiliar role on the left side of midfield without too much trouble and is looking forward to the remainder of the campaign. “We want to win all our home games, but given the form that Tottenham have been in and seeing what they did to Arsenal, a draw wasn’t too bad,” said Baines. “We were missing a few lads and a couple of us had to fill in and do jobs in areas that we don’t really play, so, on the face of it, it was a good point. When we saw what the results were elsewhere, it didn’t take long to realise things could have been much better. “But it’s a point gained. If the sides below us had won, the picture would have been a lot different but we are another game closer to the end of the season and a point better off, so the situation is very good.”

Expectation not as great on us - David Moyes
Jan 31 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES is refusing to get carried away even though Everton strengthened their grip on the final Champions League place with a creditable draw against Spurs.
Though the Blues boss has no intention of making any rash declarations, he knows a magnificent run of form recently gives his squad a chance to emulate the class of 2005. Everton have only lost twice in the Premier League since Liverpool’s smash-and-grab raid in the derby on October 20, despite suffering from a lack of numbers lately. Last night’s 0-0 draw – the first such scoreline at Goodison Park since Boxing Day 2006 – keeps the momentum behind them and Moyes is relishing the challenge that awaits. “There’s less pressure on us because we aren’t expected to finish fourth. When you talk about the top four, you never talk about Everton,” he said.
“There is less expectation on us to finish fourth than there is on Liverpool, and there is less financial pressure, too. I think I would back myself against any of the top teams.
“But in the same breath, Aston Villa are a strong team this year, Manchester City have done exceptionally well and Portsmouth, Blackburn and West Ham can do it.
“A lot of those clubs’ ambitions at the start of the season was to make Europe, and there will be clubs, including us, that could end up being disappointed.
“If we can make fourth it would be an outstanding achievement, but I don’t think there’s any point in me talking about that until a month to go in the season, if we are still there.” While Everton had good opportunities to win a keenly contested fixture, Moyes had few complaints with the scoreline. “We thought we had done enough in the first half to be in front, but in the second half maybe not quite enough,” he said.
“We had the best chance when AJ went through but maybe I’d have settled for a point beforehand,” he added.

The Jury: What did you make of the display last night?
Jan 31 2008 Liverpool Echo
COME May, who knows how precious that point we got last night could be.
With several key players missing I think a draw against a very good side was a fair result. Missing players like Yobo, Pienaar, Osman, Cahill and Yakubu is always going to be tough. But we are doing an amazing job considering the teams below us and the kind of money they have all spent. Last night the defence was rock solid with Jagielka just shading Lescott as man of the match. Our two most talented players in Arteta and Fernandes haven't been playing well lately. Arteta definitely needs to shoot at goal more. He tries to walk the ball in at times. Fernandes really needs to get his fitness back up to scratch and stop giving the ball away in dangerous areas.
We still sit in fourth spot after Liverpool's Jamie Carragher gave away the last minute penalty which proved to be the winner.
What goes around . . .
A POINT against big spending Tottenham was not a bad result considering the players we were missing. We missed our creative players in Osman, Cahill and Pienaar. Fernandes and Baines also need to get some games under their belt to improve their fitness as they clearly tired in the second half. The point keeps us in fourth spot and going well in the league. We need to stay positive and keep behind the players. Getting on their backs won’t help at all. We have another tough game on Saturday at Blackburn. A win against them would increase the gap over them and strengthen our push for European football again. They will want to close the gap and take three points off us, so We need to keep it tight and take our chances to claim a win.
Another winnable home game is next against Reading, so we can stay in fourth spot over the next couple of weeks before the next round of Europe kicks in.
It will be good to welcome back our players from Africa soon, we have clearly missed them. Hopefully, by the time our European adventure starts again, our players who have been away in Africa will be back in the squad. Keep on doing well, boys. It’s been a great season so far!
A FRUSTRATING night in front of goal for the Blues didn’t stop the push for fourth place; rather it temporally slowed the charge. On another night, AJ could have had a hat-trick as he impressed with a performance that was brave and tireless.
Missing major players could be an argument used by both sets of managers on the night, but it was clear Everton’s selection was forced rather than crafted.
Everton do deserve credit, as Spurs are a much improved side, while Lescott and Jags once again gave the Goodison faithful a performance of the highest quality.
Three points would have been better, but with Liverpool failing to capitalise in the capital you would have to question the Reds ‘bottle’ for the fight. Maybe the false dawn of a Yankee revolution has finally taken its toll on the once proud Liverpool.
Silverware is the true litmus test for the Everton team, failing that fourth spot and a real go in the Champions League next season would be a bitter sweet pill to swallow.
SPURS had that horrendous start to the season where they were the victims of hype and outsized ambition. All they had to do was turn up and a Champions League spot was guaranteed. Taxi for Martin Jol. With one of the best forward lines in the Premiership and a suspect defence it was bound to be a high scoring game, pinpoint passing, non-stop end-to-end attacking, a feast of football, thrills a minute?
But, two thirds through the season, we saw a goalless bore draw, a night of tired legs, misdirected passes, goalkeepers seriously under worked, quality non-existent. Even Berbatov looked leaden footed. Everton have stopped creating chances, over-reliant on set pieces and Joleon Lescott stealing a goal. What the hell was happening in the second half? The long ball and an aerial duel between Andy Johnson and Jonathan Woodgate was never going to be a contest. Still, we gained another point, and I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles . . .

Graham Stuart backs The Alex Connarty Appeal
Jan 31 2008 Liverpool Echo
THE man who pulled off Everton’s Great Escape, together with comedian Tony Roscoe, will be trying to raise funds for The Alex Connarty Appeal at the Eldonian tomorrow night. Graham Stuart will be talking about the famous Wimbledon match and the FA Cup triumph of the following season. Tickets are £10 each. Ring 07810 560216 and ask for Paul or Jim.
For further details on The Alex Connarty appeal, see

31st January 2008
Daily Star
Derby have signed Everton defender Alan Stubbs on an 18-month contract, the Rams have announced on their website. No fee is involved for the 36-year-old who has made almost 350 league appearances in England as well as more than 100 in all competitions in Scotland. Stubbs joins a club marooned at the bottom of the Barclays Premier League and seemingly destined to be relegated after just one season in the top flight. Manager Paul Jewell believes Stubbs' experience will be invaluable as the Rams aim to bridge a 12-point gap to safety. Jewell told the club's official website, www.dcfc.co.uk: "It's a terrific capture for us. "Stubbsy is a first-class pro, someone who has been there, seen it and done it. "I'm delighted to have him on board and he will add experience and steel to the backline. He will train with us on Friday and is very much in contention for a place in the team on Saturday." Stubbs began his career at Bolton where he made over 200 appearances in a six-year spell during which he captained the Trotters to the 1995 League Cup final as well as a play-off final victory over Reading. After a season in the top flight, Stubbs moved north of the border to Celtic in a £3.5million move in 1996, where he won two league titles but also had to overcome testicular cancer. Five years later he returned to England to join his boyhood favourites Everton on a free transfer where he spent four years before moving on to Sunderland for just six months when he returned to Goodison Park in January 2006.

31st January 2008
By George Scott
Daily Star
Everton 0 Tottenham 0
JONATHAN WOODGATE marked his Spurs debut with a towering defensive display as Everton were forced to suffer a night of frustration at Goodison Park.
Woodgate was back to his best as he helped keep the Toffees at bay on his first start for Juande Ramos’s troops. The £7.5m signing from Middlesbrough looked at home along Tom Huddlestone at the heart of the Spurs backline. In a disappointing encounter, Everton carved out the better chances but found themselves increasingly frustrated as they were thwarted by Woodgate and Co. Everton were seeking their first league double over Spurs since the 1985-86 season, when they finished the campaign runners-up to Liverpool. But the Toffees started last night knowing that a fourth successive league win would guarantee that they went into February above their arch-rivals in the table. However David Moyes’s troops have found Tottenham really troublesome opponents at Goodison Park in recent season. Everton had lost the last three meetings with the Londoners at Goodison with Spurs suffering just one defeat in their last 10 visits to the venue. And once again Everton found them just as awkward as they struggled to breakdown the visitors. Everton, once again without Yakubu, Joseph Yobo and Steven Pienaar because of the African Nations Cup, were boosted by the return of Leighton Baines from an ankle injury. And it was Baines who had the game’s first effort on target in a dreadful first half of precious few chances. The pint-sized player produced a rare moment of quality by skipping past a couple of Spurs challenges before firing tamely at Radek Cerny in the 22nd minute. Tottenham had their Czech Republic keeper to thank six minutes later after diving to keep out a powerful effort from Andy Johnson following a pinpoint cross from skipper Phil Neville. It proved the highlight of a drab first half in which both defences dominated.
Despite cementing a place in the Carling Cup Final at Arsenal’s expense, Tottenham started 15 points and seven places behind Everton in the table. Boss Ramos handed an instant debut to Woodgate. And the former Real Madrid defender conceded an early free-kick just outside his own area but other than that was at his composed best at the heart of the Tottenham defence. Which is more than can be said of Tom Huddlestone, whose challenge on the busy Johnson had Moyes appealing for a penalty. Everton were beginning to stamp their authority on the game with Mikel Arteta firing narrowly over the bar from a 30-yard free-kick. And Johnson was unfortunate to see the ball run away from him as he was about to pull the trigger after being teed-up by powerful and impressive strike partner Victor Anichebe. Spurs striker Robbie Keane had netted in each of his previous four outings. Yet the Republic of Ireland hot-shot hardly had a sniff at goal as Spurs struggled to carve out chances during an uneventful first half. Keane and strike partner Dimitar Berbatov have scored 19 times in the top-flight between them this season. But Tottenham’s best chance of the half fell to Steed Malbranque, whose clever 23rd-minute overhead kick was comfortably saved by Everton’s American keeper Tim Howard. The Toffees started the second half in positive fashion as Arteta weaved his way through the Spurs defence before drilling the ball across the six-yard area just beyond the reach of Anichebe. But Spurs should have taken the lead against the run of play in the 50th minute. A rare error by Neville, who gifted possession to Berbatov, allowed Keane a clear sight of goal for the first time in the match. But the 27-year-old, who has been in terrific form this season, was left holding his head in his hands as Howard produced a stunning save to deny the Spurs striker his 19th goal of the campaign. Malbranque later had a penalty claim turned down after he beat Joleon Lescott, as the two sides ultimately battled it out for a draw.

January 2008