Everton Independent Research Data


Koumas 'keen on move to Goodison'
Jun 1 2007
by Ian Doyle, Liverpool Daily Post
JASON KOUMAS has joined Phil Jagielka in wanting a move to Everton – as Derby County were linked with an interest in James McFadden. Sources in the Midlands yesterday suggested Koumas is desperate to join David Moyes’s side, with one report claiming a £4million transfer is imminent. Everton have distanced themselves from such talk and insist a bid for Koumas is not on the immediate agenda. But the 27-year-old is keen on a return to the Premiership after West Brom failed in their attempts to gain promotion to the top flight, losing to Derby County in the Coca-Cola Championship play-off final on Monday. Moyes originally considered signing Koumas in July 2002 from previous club Tranmere Rovers, but would not meet the £2.25million asking price the Baggies paid a month later. Moyes has since kept tabs on the Wales international with an Everton move for the player having been speculated for some time. The Goodison outfit remain clear favourites to sign Jagielka, though, despite Wigan Athletic ramping up their efforts to secure the Sheffield United utility man. Jagielka wants to join Everton and is expected to inform new Blades manager Bryan Robson of his intentions when the pair meet. And Sheffield United goalkeeper Paddy Kenny concedes the time is right for his 24-year-old team-mate to seek a fresh challenge. "I’m surprised he hasn’t moved before, but now I think it’s time,- said Kenny. "He did well for us last season and if something did come along I don’t think he’d turn it down. "He deserves his chance, he’s a Premiership quality player and if he does leave he will be missed." Promoted Derby, meanwhile, are tracking Everton forward McFadden. The Rams’ Scottish manager Billy Davies is an admirer of his compatriot but is likely to be thwarted in his attempts to sign the player, with Moyes looking to hold on to players given Everton’s UEFA Cup commitments next season. West Ham United will be met with a similar response if they follow up reported interest in Tim Cahill. Elsewhere, James Vaughan has set his sights on a starting role for England in the European Under-21 Championships after his inclusion in Stuart Pearce’s 23-man squad. The 18-year-old faces competition from the experienced trio of Preston North End’s David Nugent, Ashley Young of Aston Villa and Reading forward Leroy Lita. But Vaughan said: "I’m delighted to be in the squad and I just hope I can take it further now and make the starting XI. "Obviously that won’t be easy because there is a lot of quality within the squad. But all I can do is my best in training and if I get a chance in the team then it’s up to me to make the most of it. "I am still only 18 and I am the youngest player in the squad so I still have an awful lot to learn. Playing and training alongside the best young footballers in the country can only benefit me and I’m really looking forward to it."

Vaughan can prove big hit with England
Jun 1 2007
by Howard Kendall, Liverpool Echo
JAMES VAUGHAN will be counting down the days to the Under-21 European Championships and his call-up is fully deserved. As he showed during the end to the recent season, he is a fearless competitor, who combines a tremendous work ethic with an ability to find the net. He scored four times in his last six appearances and that is a ratio with which any striker would be proud. From what I can gather, James has been in sparkling form during a pre-tournament training camp in Spain and it is no surprise that Stuart Pearce has taken the decision to pitch him in. If he gives him an opportunity in the starting line-up, he will not be let down. The way he linked up with Andrew Johnson augurs well for Everton’s future and the experience he gains from being away at an important international tournament will be invaluable. Defenders won’t get a minute’s peace when James is around. ONE man’s name has dominated the headlines this week and, in all likelihood, will continue to do so until England have kicked their final ball in Estonia next Wednesday. David Beckham’s recall to the England squad has set tongues wagging but that is only down to the profile he commands. Strip the situation down to the bare bones and all you will see is a manager picking a player who is in form. Few would disagree that Beckham was out of sorts at the World Cup last summer and, while some made it out to be Steve McClaren making a statement when picking his first squad, he really had no option but to make that decision. Had it been anyone else other than Beckham, the fuss would have been minimal. Since then, though, the former captain has done the right thing and his performances for Real Madrid have been top class. He fully deserves to be back in. If a player drops below the levels that many know they are capable of, they can’t quibble if they find themselves out of the team. Likewise, when a manager deems a player to be back in form, it is churlish to say he is doing anything other than a professional job. It will, of course, be interesting to see how he fares against Brazil tonight and with Aaron Lennon injured, he seems a certainty to start in Tallinn. Things will only get interesting once Owen Hargreaves is fit and available once again. For if Beckham plays well, McClaren will be faced with a difficult decision and the one player who will be sweating most is Frank Lampard. In my opinion, using Beckham on the right and Hargreaves as a holding midfielder means only one thing – Lampard gets dropped. There is no way England will deploy Steven Gerrard as Liverpool do because that will affect how Wayne Rooney plays. Gerrard is best rampaging from the centre of midfield, not as someone floating in behind a main striker. One thing, however, is certain and that is the game against Brazil will be an occasion to remember. There could not be more fitting opponents for England’s return to Wembley and a good performance will set them up perfectly for Estonia.

Being sent to Coventry is a perfect experience
Jun 1 2007
by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
IF Evertonians are wondering what the future might hold for their new stadium, a small pointer can be found on the outskirts of Coventry. While the city’s football team will forever be synonymous with Highfield Road, that ramshackle old stadium closed its doors for the final time in April 2005 and allowed the Championship club to move to something completely different. With considerable financial help from Tesco, the Ricoh Arena was built at a cost of £113m and was given an immediate thumbs-up by supporters, who had been frustrated by the lack of facilities at their previous ground. Of course, it was a wrench for them to leave behind a ground that was associated with a number of happy memories, but there was an acceptance that change needed to be made and, two years on, there are few gripes. Echo Sport spent a Saturday afternoon before the end of last season at the Ricoh Arena and the first thing in its favour is its accessibility; few football grounds in the United Kingdom can be reached as easily as this one - provided you have a car. Given its proximity to the M6, getting in and out by road is easy, but there have been complaints it is difficult to access by foot, while a supporters’ group are petitioning for a platform to be brought into use on the rail line behind the stadium. That, though, seems to be the only gripe. The Ricoh Arena itself has everything you would expect from a new ground - unobstructed views, comfortable seats and lots of outlets to buy food and drink. A 69-bedroom hotel is also attached, plus an exhibition hall capable of staging rock concerts. In terms of design, it lacks in ‘wow’ factor but Everton fans can rest assured that any new ground they move to will not be based on the Ricoh Arena - a more likely model is the stadium in Cologne that hosted a number of World Cup matches. And, if Coventry is anything to go by, supporters are unlikely to have to worry about where to get their shopping on the way home from games. A good goal kick behind the Ricoh Arena’s Jewson Stand is one of the biggest Tesco stores you are likely to see. A sign of the future perhaps?

Silence is not always golden in Blues debate
Jun 1 2007
by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
TIME gallops by at a relentless pace but the clocks are unlikely to have ever ticked quicker in Liverpool town hall than they will in the next two weeks. Crunch time is looming for the thorny issue that is Everton’s possible move to Kirkby and if council leader Warren Bradley is serious about keeping the Blues inside the city boundaries, he must be prepared to act. Fast. As the moment draws ever nearer when Everton must decide where their destiny lies, it would appear that Bradley is not in a position to offer a site that can match the potential of the one Tesco and Knowsley Council will provide four miles away from Goodison Park. Plots close to Gillmoss and Speke have been vaguely mooted in the past, but the council have not come up with anything concrete and their silence at the minute is likely to push Everton into the arms of another love. Everton have always been straightforward that the package offered by Knowsley and Tesco is a hugely positive one in their effort to take the club forward. Does this mean Liverpool City Council can’t provide the same kind of package as Knowsley? In essence, what they need to offer is a piece of land with retail planning permission that could involve Tesco and it is understood that they have been talking to Liverpool council for some time now. Why, then, is there silence? The Blues have enjoyed excellent relations with both Knowsley and Tesco and while Bradley suggested earlier this year that there is a way to keep Everton within the city boundaries, the wheels have not started turning. The longer the delay, the more unlikely any move becomes. “There has been no contact but we are working under an exclusivity agreement at the moment, anyway,” said Everton chief executive Keith Wyness. “However, Liverpool city council have not come forward with any plan that we are aware of, and they are aware of our situation.” True, moving to Kirkby may not be universally popular and the brouhaha has rumbled since the deal with Tesco and Knowsley was confirmed at the AGM last December. But at this moment in time, it is the best option to take the club forward. Some will put forward the argument that Goodison Park can be redeveloped, yet that is simply not feasible. Ditto sharing a ground with Liverpool. Love it or loathe it, Kirkby ticks a number of boxes. In an ideal world, Everton would stay within the city boundaries, yet that is looking less and less likely to happen. The longer the silence continues at the town hall, the more chances of Everton moving away increase. Chairman Bill Kenwright has spiked speculation that the move from Goodison is a “done deal” and has pledged his commitment to staging a fans vote, while Wyness is already working on the detail of that independently co-ordinated ballot. Both men are determined to take a club that has made significant progress in the past five years – three top seven finishes in that period proves a point – onto the next level, and finding a new home for Everton is essential if that plan is to come to fruition. For the time being, everything points to that being in Kirkby, yet if Bradley can swing into action in the next fortnight, things might not be as clear cut as they appear at present.

Blues to line up double swoop
Jun 1 2007
by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON are ready to turn their attentions to Jason Koumas and Paul Scharner after Newcastle United became clear favourites to sign Joey Barton. Though David Moyes has long been an admirer of the Manchester City midfielder, it appears that his pursuit will be a fruitless one as Newcastle are prepared to offer Barton a ‘double your money’ deal. Moyes, however, is determined to bolster Everton’s midfield options during the summer and moves for both West Brom’s Koumas and Wigan Athletic’s Austrian international Scharner are being considered. Koumas has long been linked with a move to Goodison Park and Moyes was interested in signing him in the summer of 2002 but could not agree a fee with Tranmere Rovers, which paved the way for the Wales international to move to the Hawthorns. The 27-year-old has had his ups-and-downs during his time in the Black Country but there is no disputing his talent and with West Brom having missed out on promotion to the Premiership, he has almost certainly played his last game for them. Everton have watched Koumas on a number of occasions in recent months and he caught the eye again during his side’s 1-0 defeat against Derby on Bank Holiday Monday. He is likely to command a fee in the region of £4m. Scharner, meanwhile, is in a slightly different position to Koumas as Wigan are reluctant to sell a player who was influential in helping them beat the drop but Everton have already enquired about his availability. As someone who can play in a number of positions in the engine room, his versatility appeals and Scharner, who has a knack of scoring against Everton, has indicated that he would jump at a move to Merseyside. But while the respective merits of Koumas and Scharner continue to be discussed, it would be wrong to suggest that a move for either man is imminent; at the moment, Everton’s pressing concern is to finalise a deal for Phil Jagielka. Wigan might be keen on signing a player who impressed for England’s B team against Albania last Friday but Everton are confident that they will be able to unveil Jagielka in the not too distant future before moving on to other matters. Meanwhile, Everton are unlikely to be represented in the first international at the new Wembley Stadium this evening as Steve McClaren is ready to start Wes Brown ahead of Phil Neville against Brazil. England’s head coach will experiment with a few things during the friendly and is likely to save the experienced Neville for next Wednesday’s potentially tricky Euro 2008 qualifier in Estonia. One man who would have had an outstanding chance of figuring had he been fit is record signing Andrew Johnson but his hopes were scuppered by ankle surgery. He is, though, making good progress and is expected to be ready for pre-season training. “Andy had a really good season and he will get better again,” said Moyes. “His goals were so important and the one against Arsenal really gave us a big lift.”

Blues to make swoop for Koumas, Jagielka
June 2 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON’S hopes of making Phil Jagielka their first summer signing have been given a significant boost – as Jason Koumas admitted it would be a “dream” to follow suit. With Sheffield United resigned to losing Jagielka, the 24-year-old has made it clear that he favours a move to Goodison Park rather than anywhere else.
And the defender’s hopes will now be high that a deal can be wrapped up once the two clubs enter into discussions. “Keeping Phil looks like it is going to be a problem,” said Robson of a player who has a £4m release clause in his contract.
And once business with Jagielka is completed, Everton will be able to turn their attentions to signing Koumas, who made it quite clear yesterday that he would jump at the chance to move back to Merseyside. The Wales international, who has been on the Blues’ radar since he first emerged at Tranmere Rovers, is desperate to test himself in the Premiership. But, for the time being, he is concentrating on his country’s Euro 2008 qualifier with the Czech Republic. “Any player will say they should be in the Premiership, and I am no different,” said Koumas, who scored 10 goals from midfield for West Brom last season. “I feel I can play in the Premier League, no problem.
“I’m a local lad from Liverpool. I suppose a move back to the city would be a dream move for me, but I am just concentrating on the Czech match now and what happens in the summer will happen. “People are saying I should be in the Premier League, but I will leave that for others to decide. “I hope I am in the Premiership next season, but if it doesn't happen I will just keep playing to the best of my ability with West Brom.
“I just want to get better as a player. As for the future, I only played my last game for West Brom on Monday and it was a shattering blow.” Meanwhile, United States head coach Bob Bradley has indicated that Blues’ goalkeeper Tim Howard will be spared an arduous summer as he does not plan to include him in his squad for the Copa America. The tournament takes place in Venezuela between June 26 and July 15 and though the United States are in a group that includes Argentina, Paraguay and Colombia, Bradley is tempted to give Howard chance to catch his breath.
“At the moment the feeling is neither Tim nor Kasey (Keller) would play in Copa America,” said Bradley. “That could change, but that’s the feeling at this time.”

Clubs face ban on booze brand for kids’ shirts
Jun 4 2007
by Mike Hornby, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON and Liverpool football clubs could be hit by new rules preventing replica shirts emblazoned with alcohol sponsors being sold to children. Drinks firms sponsoring sports teams have agreed a voluntary scheme to remove alcohol brands from children’s sized-shirts. Merseyside’s two Premiership teams are among the football clubs that could be hit by the regulations, which were announced yesterday by Britain’s drinks industry’s representative body, the Portman Group. The ban will apply to all sponsorship contracts signed from January next year, which could mean that Liverpool and its sponsor Carlsberg escape the clampdown. It is thought the beer brand and the club have agreed a new £20m three-year deal within the past few days. The Portman Group wrote to sports associations informing them of the change last week. Everton are sponsored by Chang, a Thai beer. The agreement is to be included in the industry’s code of conduct. David Poley, chief executive of the Portman Group, said: “This move may make alcohol companies relatively unattractive as sponsors. One of the concerns is that if you do take your branding off there may well be some fall-out in terms of reduced sales.”

Naysmith seeking talks on his future
Jun 4 2007
by Nick Smith, Liverpool Daily Post
GARY NAYSMITH is seeking clear-the-air talks with Everton manager David Moyes as he ponders his future at the club. The Scotland international, who will appear for his country in the Euro 2008 qualifier in the Faroe Islands on Wednesday, intends to speak to Moyes when he returns from his summer holiday amid fears his failure to break into the starting line-up could signal the end of his seven-year Goodison career. Naysmith made just 10 starts during last season, when he was out for three months with a knee injury and was then kept out of the side by Joleon Lescott’s successful switch to left-back. The 28-year-old is out of contract next summer and although he has already voiced his concerns to Moyes at the end of the season, he insists he would like to stay at the club. Naysmith said: “I like it at Everton but after you have had a year or two of injuries and you don't play as much as you should then you get to my age you think, ‘well, I need to start playing a bit’. “Hopefully it will be at Everton. But after the Faroes game I will go on holiday and then come back and maybe speak with the manager. “I am not saying I want to leave Everton, far from it. I actually don’t. If I was going to be Everton's number one left-back I would be signing a longer contract. “But there comes a time when you ask yourself how long can you be a 16 player rather than a first choice one? “The gaffer has been good to me, he treats me for what I am, an experienced player so I don't have any problems with him. “We have had a talk and we will keep that between ourselves and now keep in touch over the summer. “I don't have any bad feeling or anything, I’m just a bit frustrated that I never played as much football as I would have liked.” Lescott’s shift to left-back was initially to cover for Naysmith when he suffered a knee injury at Newcastle in September that sidelined him until Christmas. With Portuguese international left-back Nuno Valente also missing for most of the season because of injury, Lescott impressed in the role and became first choice in that position. And the form of Alan Stubbs, who signed a new one-year deal after his solid performances in the second half of the campaign, also meant Moyes had no need to move Lescott back inside. With Moyes hoping that Valente, who was given a one-year contract extension in February, can put his injury problems behind him next season, the added cover in the left-back slot could freeze Naysmith further out of the picture. “Last season was frustrating,” said Naysmith, who did enjoy a decent end to it when he scored in the 3-0 win over Portsmouth in the penultimate game of the Premiership season that secured UEFA Cup qualification. “Great from Everton’s point of view, but I’ve always been in the 16 without playing in enough games. That’s been frustrating for me. “It’s big Joleon Lescott who is keeping me out of the team. “I had a niggle in one game and to be fair to him he has been different class. “Stubbsy went into the centre-half, I went out of the team and I think they only lost one game out of 13, so there’s not much you can do. “The gaffer is not going to change it when that happens. “It’s frustrating for me when you're champing at the bit to play and you're being kept out of the team because a centre-half is playing so well at left-back. “He has done so well, he has got into the England B team and played left-back. And he got Players’ Player of the Year award and thoroughly deserved it.” Meanwhile, Everton are once again laughing off further speculation linking West Ham with a bid for Andrew Johnson. The Goodison club has no intention of listening to offers for their record signing, who last season was forced to re-iterate how happy he was on Merseyside after reports claimed he wanted to move back to London. Everton are treating suggestions West Ham will also make a move for Mikel Arteta with similar disdain. In terms of new recruits, Moyes will this week continue to monitor the situations of Phil Jagielka and Jason Koumas, who are both seeking moves from Sheffield United and West Bromwich Albion respectively. Both players, released from Goodison as youngsters, are keen to rejoin but Everton need to come up with £8milion if they decide to pursue both.

Blues chief rubbishes ‘mad’ talk on Johnson
Jun 4 2007
by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON have described reports linking West Ham with a £13m bid for prized asset Andy Johnson as "usual summer madness." And Blues chief executive Keith Wyness today confirmed that even if the Hammers made an offer as high as £18m, as some reports today suggested, "it would not be enough." The Blues are prepared to resist all raids on their most talented stars this summer - and Johnson is considered one of the club's most influential figures. Wyness said today: "I spoke to West Ham chairman Eggert Magnusson at last week's Premier League meeting and we discussed the rumours about Andy Johnson. He told me the stories were absolute rubbish and they were not planning a bid. "I also spoke to Andy's agent and he reassured me that Andrew is completely happy at Everton. "It's just the usual summer madness. "The same story also suggested we are struggling to raise funds to buy certain players which is also completely wide of the mark." The Blues were linked with a succession of players over the weekend, among them Manchester United striker Alan Smith, usual suspects Jason Koumas and Phil Jagielka, plus new names in Estrela Da Amadora defender Tiago Gomez and Steaua Bucharest centre-back Dorin Goian. But no transfer activity is expected this week. One player who will be seeking to clarify his position later this summer, however, is defender Gary Naysmith. The left-back is currently on duty with Scotland preparing for a European Championship qualifier against the Faroe Islands on Wednesday. But while he is first choice for his country, at Everton he has been displaced by the form of Joleon Lescott at left-back, who in turn has been shuffled across to that role because of the fine form of Alan Stubbs. "The season was frustrating," said Naysmith. "Great from Everton's point of view, we have qualified for Europe. But I've always been in the 16 without playing in enough games. That's been frustrating for me. "It's big Joleon Lescott who is keeping me out of the team. I had a niggle in one game and to be fair to him he has been the Players' Player of the Year. He has been different class. Stubbsy went into the centre half. I went out of the team and I think they only lost one game out of 13, so there's not much you can do. "The gaffer is not going to change it when that happens. It's frustrating for me when you're champing at the bit to play and you're being kept out of the team because a centre half is playing so well at left-back, but I don't have any problems with the gaffer.”

Blues to visit the Palace
June 5 2007 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON will finalise their preparations for the 2007/08 season with a friendly match at Crystal Palace. The Blues will visit Selhurst Park on Saturday August 4, seven days before the big kick-off. It is the third match confirmed in Everton’s pre-season schedule, following trips to Bury on Saturday, July 14 and Preston on July 18.
It will see Andrew Johnson return to his former club, who finished 12th in last season’s Championship. The Blues will also enjoy a pre-season tour in-between the Preston and Palace fixtures, but final details are still being worked on.
For a clutch of Blues players, meanwhile, the current season still hasn’t ended.
Phil Neville is with the England squad which has travelled to Tallinn for a must-win match against Estonia tomorrow, while Gary Naysmith is likely to start for Scotland, who play in the Faroe Islands the same night. James McFadden and Iain Turner were both forced to withdraw from the Scottish squad through injury. Goalkeeper Tim Howard and the USA get their Gold Cup campaign underway on home soil when they face Guatemala in California with kick-off at 2am (GMT) on Friday morning.
Some of the Toffees' young guns are also in action. James Vaughan will be hoping to make his England Under-21 bow tonight when Stuart Pearce’s side take on Slovakia in a friendly. The game is a warm-up for the Under 21 European Championships, with England kicking off against the Czech Republic next Monday. Manuel Fernandes, who spent the second half of last season on loan at Everton, is in Portugal’s squad for the eight-team final tournament. They begin against Belgium on Sunday.
And youngster Bjarni Vidarsson has been playing for Iceland in the Elite qualifying round of the European Under-19 Championships.

Blues interest cooling over Smith
Jun 6 2007
by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
FORMER Everton target Alan Smith will not be offered a new contract by Manchester United. But that is unlikely to spark renewed interest from Everton. Blues boss David Moyes has long been an admirer of Smith’s aggressive front-running style, and made a firm bid for the striker when he left Leeds three years ago. But Smith’s agent, Alex Black, dashed the hopes of potential suitors when he said today: “Alan remains contracted to United for the next two years so unless the club decides to sell him he intends to stay.” The progress of young strikers James Vaughan and Victor Anichebe last season has also seen Everton prioritise their squad strengthening this summer in other areas. Phil Jagielka remains the likeliest capture, but Sheffield United are reluctant to release their skipper until it is 100% confirmed they will be playing in the Championship next season. The Blades are still clinging to the faint hope that their Premier League status will be reinstated as a result of West Ham’s fielding of ineligible players last season. The Blues have also been linked with the signing of Shelbourne Under-16 captain Karl Sheppard for an undisclosed fee. Everton have beaten off competition from a host of clubs including Spurs, Glasgow Celtic and Middlesbrough for the young Irishman's signature. The 16-year old midfielder is expected to sign scholarship terms within the next week. Sheppard is a key member of the Republic of Ireland Under-16 squad.

No raid for Goodison trio, insist Hammers
Jun 7 2007
by Nick Smith, Liverpool Daily Post
WEST HAM have finally delivered the response Everton were waiting for by quashing rumours regarding Andrew Johnson’s future. The striker has been constantly linked with a move to the London club, who had been reported to be lining up a £13million bid for Everton’s record signing. The proposed figure even rose to £20m as the speculation continued yesterday morning but Hammers chairman Eggert Magnusson, who has pledged to bankroll manager Alan Curbishley’s pursuit of his summer targets, confirmed that England international striker Johnson isn’t one of them. And he revealed he also has no intention of going for Everton midfielders Mikel Arteta and Tim Cahill, who were also thought to be subjects of imminent bids from Upton Park. Magnusson, who spent £7m to bring midfielder Scott Parker from Newcastle United yesterday, said: “I’ve had a very positive discussion with my good friend Bill Kenwright, the Everton chairman, and can confirm that West Ham have not and are not bidding for any Everton player at this time.” Although a significant profit on the £8.6m they paid Crystal Palace for Johnson a year ago would have been tempting, Everton have remained steadfast in their dismissing of the speculation. Weekend stories were initially laughed off but further fuel has been added to the fire as the week has progressed, with both Everton chief executive and manager David Moyes publicly warning West Ham off their players. But Magnusson’s statement does, in fact, merely echo Wyness’s insistence that the Icelandic owner told him personally that he wasn’t eyeing up any of Moyes’s squad. He added: “We are involved in negotiations but it would not be appropriate to comment on those discussions until they are finalised one way or another. “Of course, throughout this period there will be a great deal of media speculation about players, transfer fees and even salary levels, much of which will not reflect reality.” Everton are also mystified by continuing reports in the southern media that Johnson is struggling to settle on Merseyside and wants to return to London. The 26-year-old, who hit 11 goals in his first season back in the Premiership, rubbished such suggestions during last season, when the West Ham rumours started to fly. And he will remain the focal point of Everton’s attack next season, particularly as any interest Moyes had in considering an offer for Alan Smith is set to diminish. The Manchester United forward has been told he won’t be offered a new contract when his current contract expires but his agent confirmed he intends to see out his deal. Everton’s current activity in the transfer market centres around sealing the signing of Phil Jagielka from Sheffield United and Moyes considering negotiations with Benfica to tie up a further loan deal for Manuel Fernandes.

Hammers: No bid for Johnson
June 7 2007 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
WEST HAM have been forced to issue a public statement over the escalating Andrew Johnson rumours. Yet another report linked the London club with the Everton striker yesterday, this time suggesting it was the player's wife who was unsettled on Merseyside. And after vociferous denials from manager David Moyes and chief executive Keith Wyness failed to clear up the issue, chairman Bill Kenwright took the step of contacting his Hammers counterpart Eggert Magnusson yesterday.
Magnusson published a statement on his club's website soon after, declaring: "I've had a very positive discussion with my good friend Bill Kenwright, the Everton chairman, and can confirm that West Ham have not and are not bidding for any Everton player at this time. "Of course, throughout this period there will be a great deal of media speculation about players, transfer fees and even salary levels, much of which will not reflect reality. "Wherever there is progress to report and real decisions made we will announce that via our official website. In the meantime I believe that our supporters know that we are seeking to take the club on to the next level as we prepare for next season and will always act in the best interests of West Ham in the decisions we take."
The Blues hope that the unsettling reports regarding their top scorer will now end.
There is not expected to be any transfer activity at Everton this week, with the Blues unable to secure first target Phil Jagielka until Sheffield United's status is confirmed.
Gary Naysmith, meanwhile, was the only Everton player in international action last night, helping Scotland to a 2-0 win in the Faroe Islands while Phil Neville looked on from the substitutes' bench in Estonia during England's 3-0 success

Blues boost in race for Jagielka
Jun 8 2007
by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON edged closer to their first summer signing after prime target Phil Jagielka told Sheffield United he wants Premiership football. David Moyes wants to make the versatile 24-year-old the first piece of his summer strengthening plans. And new Blades boss Bryan Robson said last night: “Phil has made it known that his intention is to play Premiership football and, with him having an appropriate clause in his contract, we may have to grant his wish.” Sheffield United’s only hope of keeping hold of their skipper would appear to be if a legal battle to retain their Premiership place proves successful. Jagielka is believed to favour Everton and as soon as United’s future is resolved should move. David Nugent, however,may have to start next season outside the Premiership. The 22-year-old Everton fan, frequently linked with the Blues, had vowed to quit Preston for the top flight following his club’s failure to escape the Championship last term. The £6m-rated forward has firmly stated his desire to play for the club he supported as a boy, but Moyes has prioritised other areas of his squad for strengthening and Preston boss Paul Simpson admits he has already started to pencil Nugent in for Preston’s promotion push next season. Simpson said: “We had all the kit for pre-season delivered on Monday and we will be marking David Nugent’s kit up for him because, at this moment, I am expecting him to come back to us. “I’m hoping that he comes back to us, but in a way, it is out of our hands. “We can’t do anything, but we are not trying to sell him. We’ve got him here and we want it to stay that way.” Norwegian striker Thorstein Helstad has claimed that Everton watched him last season and bid for his services in January. Helstad said: “I haven’t heard anything official since Everton in January. “It is a possibility to play abroad again, but I like it very much at Brann at the moment.” The 30-year-old is the second top scorer in the Tippeligaen with five goals in eight games. The experienced hitman, is under contract in Bergen until late 2009. But his agent Stig Lillejord last night confirmed Celtic are watching him closely. Lillejord said: “His form makes it natural that the interest in him has increased. One of the clubs that have watched him most times is Celtic.”

Memorial for Ball
June 8 2007 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
A MEMORIAL service to celebrate the life of Everton and England legend Alan Ball will be held in his home town of Farnworth tomorrow. Ball’s children will be joined by many of their dad’s former team-mates and contemporaries at Bolton Parish Church from 1.30pm. The family have requested no black ties be worn and are encouraging people to wear colours and football shirts. Ball’s daughter, Keely Allan, said: “Dad was so proud of his roots in the town. We want this to be a celebration of his life.”

Cahill fit for Asian mission
June 8 2007 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
TIM CAHILL will not be ready to rejoin Everton’s pre-season preparations until two weeks before the big kick-off, after the Australian midfielder declared his fitness for the Socceroos’ Asian Cup campaign. The Blues midfielder will not be risked in a warm-up match against Singapore on June 30, but is almost certain to figure in Australia’s opening game against Oman in Bangkok on July 8. With games against Iraq and Thailand to follow, also in Bangkok, Australia are expected to progress in a tournament which does not conclude until July 29. And Cahill is vital to his country’s cup hopes with 11 goals in his 23 internationals so far. The midfielder has not played since suffering a broken metatarsal in Everton’s match at Sheffield United on March 3. But after undergoing intense rehabilitation, he said: “I’ve got another X-ray to go but they’ve given me the all-clear for the Asian Cup. “It’s feeling well. It’s just good to be back, good to be involved.” Australia’s strength and conditioning coach Anthony Crea has been working closely with Cahill, and Everton’s head physio Mick Rathbone, who travelled Down Under to be involved in the recovery process.
Crea said: “He’ll miss the Singapore game, but that’s not a big drama. At the moment we’re still on straight-line running and just basically building his core fitness strength up with gym work. “Once we get over to Singapore we’ll start doing a bit more ball work and working on pivoting and moving from side to side. “He’ll definitely be ready. After the last scans he had the doctors were really happy with him.
“The Everton physio came out and he was also happy so that’s a good thing.”
Former Everton star Mike Trebilcock, the 1966 FA Cup hero who now lives Down Under, explained the popularity of Cahill in Australia. “He’s bigger than Mark Viduka and Harry Kewell,” said Trebilcock, who was back in Britain recently for a family wedding. “Most of the shirts over there have got Cahill on the back and the guy has done a great job. He gets his rewards because he works hard. “At the end of the day it’s about rolling up your sleeves, working hard and getting stuck in. That’s what he does.” Although it is almost 40 years since Trebilcock left Everton for Portsmouth, he is still clearly passionate about the club and about the game. “Oh, I love it!. People in Australia say ‘it’s only a game’ but they don’t understand. Football’s your life and it never leaves you.”

Fernandes price puts off Blues
June 9 2007 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
MANUEL FERNANDES looks like being priced out of a permanent move to Merseyside. The Portuguese midfielder has enjoyed a brief but bright spell at Everton since arriving on loan from Portsmouth on the last day of the January transfer window. But it would cost £12m to make the move permanent next season and Blues boss David Moyes does not rank the player in that category. Benfica will not consider another loan deal, while the player himself is also keen on a permanent move.
But complicating the issue is the fact that Fernandes’ contract is part-owned by Benfica and part-owned by a management company. It is the same situation which caused West Ham to be fined £5.5m for fielding Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano, and why Everton’s negotiations for the loan back in January were so protracted.
Fernandes started eight matches for the Blues scoring two goals, including one sensational strike against Man United. But he sat out most of the month of April with a thigh injury, before he then became ill. Moyes is keen to strengthen central midfield, but will want to see any asking price dramatically reduced before Fernandes becomes an option. Blues goalkeeper Tim Howard, meanwhile, kept a clean sheet as the USA began their Gold Cup campaign with a 1-0 win over Guatemala. The Americans are in action again tonight when they take on Trinidad and Tobago in Massachusetts, but Howard could be rested in favour of veteran Kasey Keller this time.

Time to forgive Poll for howler
June 9 2007 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
GRAHAM POLL took just seven years to own up to a derby day howler – the decision to blow for time with a clearance off Don Hutchison’s back rolling towards the Gwladys Street goal. Everyone knew at the time it was simply a convenient way of sidestepping a difficult decision. Two minutes of time had been added on – only 90 seconds had been played – when Sander Westerveld tried to take a quick free-kick and booted the ball straight into Hutchison, who was not 10 yards away. This week Poll explained: “I remember when I made a right ricket in the last minute of an Everton-Liverpool derby match and disallowed what was probably a perfectly good goal.
“I tried to explain it away, and when I watched the video afterwards I thought maybe I should have kept my mouth shut!” Fair play to Poll for coming clean about a decision which, in fairness, could have gone either way. It’s 30 years now since that other derby decision. But don’t expect a climb down from the Welsh Prince of Darkness.

Moyes ponders striking options
Jun 11 2007
Liverpool Daily Post
SCOTTISH outcast Garry O'Connor is hoping to make the move from Russia to the Premiership - with love. The 24-year-old striker moved from Hibernian to Lokomotiv Moscow in a £1.6million move last February, but his young family have failed to settle in their new homeland and his fiancee is spending most of her time back in Scotland. O'Connor is keen to reunite his family, especially with a second child on the way, after also making his peace with his international bosses. He has marked his return to the Scotland team, after going AWOL ahead of a Euro 2008 qualifier against Ukraine back in October, with goals against Austria and the Faroe Islands. That has alerted a number of Premiership clubs, with Everton said to be monitoring the situation should manager David Moyes decide to shake up his striking options. Everton have also been linked with a renewed move for Preston's David Nugent but they are yet to be convinced he represents good value for money. That may leave the door open for Sunderland to stump up a transfer fee in the region of £7m for a player whose future won't be resolved until after England's participation in the finals of the European Under-21 Championships. Fulham and Portsmouth have also been linked with O'Connor, but his agent fears the Russian club's asking price of around £3.4m may frighten clubs off. "People have contacted us and there have been talks but there is nothing concrete at the moment," said O'Connor's representative Rudi Vata. "There have been enquiries and we have given those clubs all the information they want to know. "Many clubs would love to have Garry O'Connor but the question mark right now is over the transfer fee. So many clubs can't pay the fee. He would love to play in the Premiership for sure. It's the best football league in the world and it would be a fantastic experience for Garry. "I'm sure if he had the chance to go there, he would. Garry is missing his family a lot. His fiancée didn't settle in Russia at all and is pregnant with their second child so she is spending most of the time in Scotland. It's not easy for him but he's doing okay. It's been a difficult year for him but it will toughen him up, it will be good experience for him."

Yobo out of Nigeria squad
Jun 11 2007
Liverpool Daily Post
EVERTON defender Joseph Yobo has pulled out of the Nigeria squad to face Niger after failing to shake off a back injury. The 26-year-old centre-half was originally in the party for the African Cup of Nations qualifier fixture on June 17 but will now miss his first international assignment since 2004. Yobo, who was an ever-present for David Moyes' side last season, said: "I've made frantic effort to shake off the injury but it is more severe than I first thought. "I played with the pains all through the game (against Uganda) in Kampala and now need to rest it and wait to recover fully. The doctor says it could get worse if I keep pushing myself with it or playing through with painkillers."

Yobo told: Take a rest
June 11 2007 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON have played down fears that defender Joseph Yobo has sustained a serious back injury. But the Blues have still ordered the Nigerian international to take a month’s complete rest. Yobo pulled out of his country’s African Nations Cup qualifier with Niger next weekend, after injuring his back against Uganda in last weekend’s defeat. He told a Nigerian radio station: “I’ve been struggling since the match against Uganda in Abeokuta, that’s where I hurt my back, when I landed badly.
“I have been playing through the pain barrier just to finish the season and I struggled to play against Uganda in Namboole. “It’s something that I have to look after now, because if I don’t do, it could put my career in danger.” Blues’ physio Mick Rathbone has seen Yobo, however, assessed the problem and eased the player’s fears.
“Joe injured his back last weekend, and because he had some intermittent pain towards the end of last season we wanted to see him immediately,” said Rathbone.
“We saw him last week and while the injury isn’t as serious as he first thought we feel that he should rest for the remainder of the month. “We’re confident he will be fine in time for the start of pre-season.” Yobo completed Everton’s Premiership season with the proud record of having played every minute of every league match.
Boyhood Evertonian David Nugent, meanwhile, has told his Preston employers he intends to be playing Premiership football next season. But the striker admits he will not “hang around” waiting for a bid from the Blues. “Everyone knows that Everton is my favourite club, but if that doesn’t happen then I’m not going to hang around waiting for them,” he declared. “Obviously there’s another few clubs interested and hopefully it will be sorted at the end of the tournament (European Under-21 Championships). “Obviously I need to play in the Premiership and I hope this tournament will prove to people I’m good enough to play in the Premiership.
“The fans and the club know I need to play in the Premiership. If a bid does come along, I will be leaving, if it doesn’t then I’ll be staying. “But I need to leave and hopefully someone will make the bid, and I will be playing in the Premiership next season.”

Sheffield in last-ditch attempt to keep Jagielka
Jun 12 2007
by Nick Smith, Liverpool Daily Post
SHEFFIELD UNITED will launch a last-gasp bid to keep Phil Jagielka at Bramall Lane as they fight to regain their Premiership status. Everton will trigger a £4million release clause in Jagielka’s contract when United’s relegation to the Championship is confirmed, but this figure becomes obsolete if they stave off relegation. The Yorkshire club are still attempting to overturn the FA’s decision to not deduct points from West Ham as punishment for breaching Premier League rules with the signings of Argentinians Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano. Only receiving a fine gave the Londoners a controversial reprieve that they capitalised on to the full by winning seven of their last nine Premiership games to send Neil Warnock’s side down. United will tomorrow take an early day motion, already signed by more than 50 MPS, to the House of Commons calling on the club to be reinstated. The arbitration hearing, which will make the final ruling on this, will then take place next Monday and Tuesday, when the status of Jagielka will become much clearer. Chairman Kevin McCabe is urging the 24-year-old not to decide on his future until the outcome is known but this is unlikely to change the midfielder’s desire to leave the club. Not only he is keen to play for Everton, but new United manager Bryan Robson has conceded he will have to let him go. In the unlikely event that United do stay up, the £4million get-out clause will no longer apply and Everton might have to enter into a bidding war with other clubs who have shown an interest in the 24-year-old, such as Middlesbrough and Wigan Athletic. As it stands, Everton are in no rush to complete the deal because of the player’s desire to return to the club that released him as a junior and their commitment to raising the £4million fee. That figure can be made up with other players as part exchange, however, giving manager David Moyes the option of setting up swap deals for fringe members of his squad.
Meanwhile, Everton have confirmed that Joseph Yobo had to withdraw from international action to ensure he is fit for the new season – not to save his career. The defender, who completed every minute of all 38 Premiership games last season, pulled out of Nigeria’s Africa Nations Cup qualifier with Niger this weekend after sustaining a back injury in the previous game with Uganda. However, Everton physio Mick Rathbone is confident the break Yobo is taking will ensure he is fit and ready to launch himself into the new club campaign and dispelled fears that the injury was career-threatening. He said; “Joe injured his back last weekend, and because he had some intermittent pain towards the end of last season we wanted to see him immediately “We saw him last week and while the injury isn’t as serious as he first thought we feel that he should rest for the remainder of the month,” added Rathbone. “We’re confident he will be fine in time for the start of pre-season.” Everton forward James Vaughan was an unused substitute as Stuart Pearce’s England began their European Under-21 Championship campaign with a 0-0 draw against the Czech Republic in Arnhem last night.

AJ on mend
Jun 12 2007
by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
ANDREW JOHNSON kicked off his pre-season preparations at Bellefield yesterday – a full month ahead of his team-mates. The Everton striker’s season ended in April when he limped off at West Ham with an ankle injury which required surgery. As a result he was forced to miss England’s June clashes against Brazil and Estonia. But he was back at the Blues’ training ground yesterday in a bid to ensure his readiness for pre-season training next month. Physio Mick Rathbone explained: “Andy was back at Bellefield yesterday just starting some light jogging. “He’s fully recovered from the surgery he underwent at the end of last season and this work is to ensure he’s completely ready to join in with the other lads when pre-season training starts in earnest next month.” Johnson top scored in his debut season at Everton, but missed the last three matches after going over on his ankle at Upton Park. His final goal of the campaign was the dramatic last minute winner against Arsenal in March – a game which also saw James Vaughan make his full Premiership debut. The young Blues striker is still waiting to make his England under-21 bow, however. The 19-year-old was an unused substitute as England drew 0-0 with the Czech Republic in their European Championships Group B opener last night. England’s next game is against Italy on Thursday.

Blues set to take on Northern Ireland XI
June 13 2007 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON will face a Northern Ireland international XI next month as part of their pre-season preparations. The Blues today confirmed they will send a side to Coleraine on July 14 – the same date they are scheduled to face Bury – as part of the Milk Cup's 25th anniversary. A similar scenario was played out last pre-season when Everton split their squad between friendlies against Port Vale and Bury on the same day.
The Milk Cup competition is an international youth tournament that has a proud reputation. Tournament chairman Victor Leonard said: "We want this game to be a special celebration for everyone as we continue our 25th anniversary year programme in the run -up to the tournament at the end of July. "David Moyes has always been a firm supporter of the event and his father has been a regular visitor at the Milk Cup for many years. He has encouraged Everton's participation in the competition and also helped make the draw for us together with Wayne Rooney four years ago."
Northern Ireland under-21 coach Roy Millar will take control of the Irish side, with several current internationals expected to turn out. The game is scheduled for a 4pm kick-off and is pencilled in for the Coleraine Showgrounds. Derby County, meanwhile, have named fleeting Everton chief Trevor Birch as their new chief executive. The former Liverpool player was briefly at the helm at Goodison in the summer of 2004 before quitting. He replaces Mike Horton at Derby, who was known to have clashed with manager Billy Davies.

Blues to open with Latics test
June 14 2007 By Dan Kay, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON will open the new season with a home game against Wigan Athletic.
The Latics, under new manager Chris Hutchings, will travel to Goodison Park on the weekend of August 11/12, having maintained their Premiership status by the skin of their teeth on the final day of last season. The Blues then face a pair of tricky away matches at Tottenham (August 14) and Reading (August 18) before entertaining Mark Hughes' Blackburn on August 25. David Moyes' men will travel to fellow UEFA qualifiers Bolton on September 1 before hosting champions Manchester United on September 15. Liverpool will travel to Goodison Park for the first time since their three-goal trouncing last season on October 20, before another Derby match, of sorts, a week later at Pride Park (October 27). Everton face a testing Christmas programme with trips to Manchester United (December 22) and Newcastle (January 1) coupled with home games against Bolton (December 26) and Arsenal (December 29).
The Blues travel to Anfield for the return derby match on March 29 before racing a run-in that includes trips to Birmingham (April 12) and Arsenal (May 3) and home games with Chelsea (April 19) and Aston Villa (April 26), before facing Middlesborough at Goodison on the last day of the season. All dates are subject to change with Sky Sports likely to announce their televised line-up within the next week.

Feeling Blue . . . but it is only mid-June
June 15 2007 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
TUESDAY, June 12. Even in a quiet football summer it was the earliest phone-moan of the summer. The third cricket Test was still a bright memory, Wimbledon was more than a fortnight away, and footballers hadn’t even started to build up the preposterous tans and highlights they’ll sport in August. But the voice on the other end of the phone was insistent. “Why aren’t you giving Kenwright stick? It’s a disgrace. Whatever happened to Nil Satis Nisi Optimum. The ECHO’s in the club’s pocket. etc. etc.” Eventually the penny dropped. It was a lack of meaningful transfer activity which was worrying this born worrier. By this time last summer Everton had safely identified and secured the services of Andrew Johnson and Joleon Lescott. Tim Howard followed on July 1. This summer there’s been nothing. Just a meaningful link with Phil Jagielka and a succession of names you’d be hard pressed to make up – Dorin Goian anyone? Even worse, David Moyes hasn’t had a family holiday yet, and Mrs Moyes is starting to put her foot down. So any transfer activity may be still a little further down the line. The Blues’ boss is acutely aware of the need to bolster the numbers in his squad next season – especially with the potential for Thursday-Sunday fixtures on at least six occasions before Christmas. But, as he has shown in the past, he will spend the club’s money like it’s his own. So you can rule out £12m deals for Manuel Fernandes and the fulfilment of website headlines like: “Everton are set for a £15m triple swoop for David Nugent, Phil Jagielka and Steua Bucharest's Dorin Goian.” (Told you). Everton will make signings before the transfer window closes . . . on August 31 don’t forget. They’ll have to. But don’t start jumping and screaming now. At least wait until pre-season training is underway.

Being a dad means more than soccer glory
Jun 15 2007 by Amanda Killelea, Liverpool Echo
With Father’s Day this weekend, Everton defender Phil Neville tells Amanda Killelea why being a dad is the best thing that has ever happened to him
PLAYING football for a living, travelling the world and staying in top hotels – it is every man’s dream come true. People are very quick to envy the millionaire’s lifestyle Premiership footballers of today enjoy. But while all the privileges are obvious, it is easy to forget that being a footballer often means being separated from your family and friends for weeks on end. And when that family includes children it makes it so much harder. Phil Neville’s footballing career has had many highlights. He was a Manchester United player from being a schoolboy until signing for Everton two seasons ago, where he is now club captain. His honours include six Premiership titles, three FA Cups and a Champions League winner’s medal – but he can honestly say his proudest moment was when he became a dad. Phil, 30, says: “Before we had children, going away all the time didn’t really bother me that much. I did miss my wife Julie and home, but travelling is part of being a footballer and I am used to it. “But since the children came along it is so much harder. I really miss them and they miss me.
“I always wanted to have children – I have always loved kids. But nothing can describe how you feel when you have a child of your own. “Harvey and Isabella are amazing – so funny. They both have their own little personalities which are so different. “Kids are such a great leveller. If we’ve lost a match I can get really down and frustrated, but as soon as I walk into the players’ lounge after the game the kids just run up and give me a big hug and the match is all forgotten. Children just put everything into perspective for you.” Cricketer Andrew Flintoff famously missed the birth of his son to captain England last year. Phil was lucky enough to be at the births of both his children – although one was so much more traumatic than the other.
Harvey was born in June, after the season had finished, but Phil had to make an emergency flight back from Dubai to be with wife Julie when she went into premature labour a year later with their daughter Isabella, now three. Phil says: “I was at a Manchester United training camp in Dubai when Julie rang to say her waters had broken and she was in hospital. “She was only six months pregnant at the time so I knew things were bad. I got special permission to fly back to Manchester.”
Phil raced to St Mary’s Hospital where doctors were desperately trying to delay Julie’s labour. For the next two weeks Phil’s life revolved around training before heading straight back to St Mary’s to be with Julie. Then one day just as Phil was about to leave the hospital, Julie haemorrhaged. Doctors rushed her straight to theatre for an emergency caesarean section in a bid to save her life and that of her unborn child.
Phil remembers: “There was blood everywhere and there were loads of doctors and nurses working on Julie. They gave her a general anaesthetic and I had to leave the room.” Just a few minutes later Phil was told he and Julie had a beautiful baby girl. But weighing just 3lb 3oz she was desperately ill and had to be rushed to neo-natal intensive care. When Julie came round she was convinced their baby had died – but Phil was there to reassure her that Isabella was alive and fighting. That night Phil got the phone call that every parent dreads. He says: “I was at home in bed when the hospital rang to say that Isabella had taken a turn for the worse. They asked if I wanted to go and sit with her. “I rang my mum and dad to come and look after Harvey and I drove straight there. It was terrible seeing her in her incubator fighting for every breath. Julie was so ill herself that she hadn’t even seen her.” But against the odds Isabella pulled through and six weeks later she was well enough to come home.
Phil and Julie are so grateful to the staff at St Mary’s for saving Isabella’s life that they are now backing the New Children’s Hospital Appeal. In 2009 Manchester will be home to a new state-of-the-art children’s hospital which will be the biggest in the country. The appeal is aiming to raise £20m to fund parents’ accommodation and specialist equipment for the new hospital. Phil says: “We know what it is like to have to kiss your sick child goodbye each night and leave them in their hospital cot. That is why we are backing this appeal. It is so important for parents to be able to stay with their children when they are in hospital. When children are ill all they want is their mums and dads close by.”

Blues add US tour to pre-season schedule
Jun 15 2007
by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON will return to the USA this summer, after successful campaigns following their previous pre-season trips across the Atlantic. American MLS side Real Salt Lake have announced a friendly with Everton on Saturday July 21, in Salt Lake City, Utah. ‘Soccer prodigy’ Freddy Adu and one-time Everton target Eddie Pope are on Real Salt Lake’s current squad. Salt Lake will be midway through their MLS season when they face the Blues, but after 12 matches of the current campaign they boast just one win. The Blues hope to announce another fixture in the USA during their tour. Everton enjoyed a successful tour of Texas before they finished fourth in 2004/05, while last season’s UEFA Cup qualifying campaign was preceded by games against Columbus Crew and Club America. Manuel Fernandes, who spent the second half of last season on loan at Everton, admits he is unsure about his immediate future. "I enjoyed England, it was a great experience and I learned a lot,” he said. “I'm not sure what will happen now. Living in England is certainly different to living in Lisbon." James Vaughan finally won his first England under-21 cap as a late substitute in last night’s draw with Italy and will hope to play in Sunday’s crunch game with Serbia.

Rideout aims to be a Wizard US coach
Jun 16 2007
by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
PAUL RIDEOUT is currently living the American dream. But the hero of Everton’s last trophy winning side has another dream. Now 42 and taking his first formative steps into coaching, Rideout has designs on becoming a manager. And after experience which includes spells at Bari, Glasgow Rangers, French club Red Star and most recently Kansas City Wizards, Rideout believes he has plenty to offer. Always a supremely fit athlete, the former Blues striker has only recently called time on his playing career and accepted a post as Head Coach of Kansas City Wiz juniors. “It’s something that I wanted and it’s the next step in my coaching development,” he explained. “I had done the local club coaching and got a very good feel for the grass roots and bedrock of US Soccer, now I want to go to the next level and work as part of a professional environment. Working at club level has been a good apprenticeship to the youth environment. “My role is to bring in players that want to play at a professional level, not just college level, and this excites me. “It’s something I wanted to do for a while. In this environment the kids will be there if they really want to play soccer rather than soccer being seen as part of a wider curriculum of the child’s development.” Rideout arrived at Everton in the summer of 1992 for £500,000, initially to an underwhelming reaction with supporters hoping for a big-money, more traditional type of target-man. But Rideout proved a shrewd and invaluable investment by Howard Kendall, even if it was another Everton manager who saw the best of him. Joe Royle, himself a former centre-forward, worked closely with Rideout – showing him videos of how former Goodison heroes like Bob Latchford got in front of defenders. And with 40 goals in 112 appearances, he was rewarded royally. The most celebrated strike, of course, was the matchwinner at Wembley against Manchester United in 1995. It’s a moment Rideout still reflects regularly on even today. “Yes, I still enjoy it,” he declared. “It’s everyone’s dream to be involved in a FA Cup final, and I got to experience it. “I watched the Arsenal v Ipswich final (1978) and Roger Osborne’s winning goal, and figured it would be cool to do the same. It was a special moment in my life and hopefully here at Kansas we will have one or two of the boys doing just that in years to come.” Rideout’s aim presently is to produce players at Kansas capable of following in his own footsteps in England. “Youth soccer in America has improved 100 per cent since I first came here,” he added. “There are a lot more qualified coaches that understand the game, and a lot more quality US coaches that have studied the game and know a lot more. “I think there is also a shift to get kids through the professional ranks, not just college. Most kids come into soccer to play Division One. Playing as a pro is not their first thought and I think this will be the next development. “When I came to the MLS it had not been going that long. There had been improvements but it was not where it is now. The improvements in the league have been immense and now the plan is to bring those steps forward in youth soccer also. “The technical ability has improved along with fitness and pace of the game. You can’t compare the leagues, it’s not possible because of the weather. In this kind of temperature players simply can’t play the same tempo and style as happens in Europe. “But the standard of players is now comparable with European top divisions. I saw a quote from Alan Mullery saying the MLS equates to the English Conference. This is ill informed and ignorant.” Such straight-talking views suggest Rideout would be a manager worth listening to if his ultimate dream comes true. “To manage in the MLS is obviously my target,” he added. “There are a lot of British guys here who I’ve played with or against and are doing well, and that is where everyone wants to be, but this will be a good education for me. I'm still learning and I'm not ready for that yet. This is the perfect environment for me to progress in.” He’s also looking forward to the arrival of a certain former England skipper to the States in the very near future. “I played against him although he didn’t make it onto the pitch in the 1995 final,” he said. “It is massive for the league, and MLS will get a huge boost globally from his play and profile. “It will be tough for him out here but he is the type of personality that can handle it. I think people will realize just how far the game has come.”

United close to releasing Jagielka
Jun 16 2007
by Nick Smith, Liverpool Daily Post
SHEFFIELD UNITED are on the verge of conceding defeat in their attempts to persuade Phil Jagielka not to join Everton. If an independent arbitration panel goes against them and refuses to overturn their relegation from the Premiership next week, club chiefs will then admit that a fight for financial compensation is the best they can hope for. And once their Championship status is confirmed for next season, Everton are then free to trigger the £4million release clause that will enable Jagielka to complete his desired move to Goodison. Blades plc chairman Kevin McCabe has told Jagielka to delay a decision on his future until after Tuesday, when a final decision is due on United’s appeal. He is convinced that the midfielder will stay with the club if they remain in the top flight, but is also hoping to extract a higher price from Everton if the release clause is invalidated by the relegation being wiped out. A club delegation in Brussels yesterday made presentations to European Commission officials and representatives of Timothy Kirkhope, the leader of the Conservatives in the European Parliament. The Blades are adamant West Ham, who stayed up at their expense, should have been deducted points for fielding Argentinians Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano. United media manager Andy Pack said: “It was an opportunity to inform them of where we are, and to express our concerns about the whole affair.” Meanwhile, Everton will kick off their pre-season tour of America with a friendly against MLS side Real Salt Lake City taking place at the Rice-Eccles Stadium in Utah. The game will be played on Saturday, July 21 but Everton are still in the process of finalising a second friendly for the tour. Their match against a Northern Ireland international side in Coleraine a week earlier on July 14 is still scheduled to go ahead despite concerns over the condition of the venue. Everton will, however, seek assurances following reports that the Showgrounds doesn’t meet the required safety standards. With the first team squad in America, an Everton reserve side will travel to Scotland to take on Stirling Albion in a friendly on July 26 before going to non-league Kendal Town on the following Saturday, July 28.

Blues meeting
JUne 16 2007 by John Thompson, Liverpool Echo
A MEETING of the Everton Supporters Club, Wallasey area, will be held at the Primrose Inn at 4pm tomorrow to pay for this year’s bus. New members are welcome to attend. For more information call 07974 804 279.

Being Faddy over gifts that matter
June 16 2007 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
WHILE the weddings of Steven Gerrard, John Terry and Gary Neville will dominate the pages of the tabloids, the glossy mags and Sky TV next week, here’s a wedding day tale to warm the cockles of your heart. James McFadden and new wife Gillian Hunter plan to present a cheque for £6,000 to the neo-natal unit at Wishaw General Hospital, the department which treated their one-year-old son James, born prematurely last June. The cash was raised when the couple, who wed in Hamilton, Lanarkshire, last week, asked guests at their big day to make a donation instead of buying them gifts. A host of football stars attended the wedding including James' Scotland team-mates Darren Fletcher, Lee McCulloch and David Weir. Everton colleagues James Beattie and Alan Stubbs were also there to see him tie the knot. And bride Gillian, said: "Young James was a premature baby as he was born five weeks early.
"Because of that we asked guests to donate money or cheques rather than buy us presents. "We intend to present the total, which currently stands in the region of £6,000, to the neo-natal department's intensive car unit at Wishaw General Hospital, where baby James was looked after, when we return from our honeymoon."
Young James wore a tiny black kilt to see his mum and dad married at Our Lady and St Anne's Chapel in Hamilton. After the ceremony, the couple held a plush reception at a top Glasgow hotel and jetted off on honeymoon. But Gillian, who met James when he was a young player at Motherwell, said the newlyweds did not want to become a Scottish Posh and Becks. She added: "James is really good to me and all the luxuries are nice but we prefer a normal life. "With the exception of charity events and things like that, we rarely socialise with other footballers and their wives and girlfriends. "We have lived in Warrington for three years and have no immediate plans to move because we are happy there." Earlier this week, it was revealed, McFadden had bought a fish and chip shop in Glasgow, for parents Anne-Marie, 47, and James Senior, 48. James Senior said: "He gave us the capital to make the purchase. My wife has been working the nightshift."

Manuel fee cuts down suitors
Jun 18 2007
by Nick Smith, Liverpool Daily Post
EVERTON are continuing to monitor the possibility of taking Manuel Fernandes on loan for another year. The midfielder – whose Portugal side were eliminated from the European Under-21 Championship at the weekend despite his goal in the 4-0 win over Israel – has written off his chances of securing a permanent move to the Premiership after his club, Benifca, valued him at £12million. That price is well out of Everton’s range and other clubs Fernandes has been linked with, such as Arsenal and West Ham, will also refuse to meet the asking price. But the 21-year-old has previously admitted his season in the Premiership, which he spent the first half of at Portsmouth before switching to Goodison, has given him the appetite to stay. After playing in Portugal’s 2-1 defeat to Euro Under-21 hosts Holland last week Fernandes said: “I’m back at Benfica now, it’s finished for me in England but I enjoyed it, it was a great experience.” He could, however, return for another loan period if Benfica are open to him gaining more first-team experience and Everton manager David Moyes will continue to monitor the situation. Fernandes, who scored twice in the nine appearances he made after joining at the end of the January transfer window, is part-owned by agent Jorge Mendes. The fact that he would have to be bought out of this contract if he was signed on a permanent basis is a major factor in why his price is out of reach for potential suitors. Meanwhile, sources in the north east claim Everton will offer James Beattie plus cash for England winger Stuart Downing in a deal worth £10million.

Blues seek Jagielka go-ahead
Jun 18 2007
by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON are hoping their efforts to sign Phil Jagielka will be given the green light in the next few days following Sheffield United’s meeting with an independent arbitration panel. The England B international is David Moyes’ number one transfer target but the Blues have been unable to press ahead with completing a £4m deal due to United’s wrangle with the Premiership over the West Ham affair. But with the Blades due to discover shortly whether they will be playing in the Championship or the Premiership next season, Everton are hopeful that it won’t be too long before Jagielka finally puts pen-to-paper at Goodison Park. Though a number of other clubs are interested in a man who can play in both midfield and defence, Jagielka has made it clear that he wants to play for Everton next season and now it is just a question of remaining patient. Everton were again linked with a number of names over the weekend, primarily Manchester United’s Alan Smith and Stewart Downing of Middlesbrough, but neither player is likely to start the new campaign on Merseyside. Smith has been told he can leave Old Trafford but Everton will not be bidding for him as Moyes - who chased the England international when he left Leeds United in 2004 - has other areas of his team that need strengthening before his striking department. One of those is the left side of his midfield. Downing certainly fits the bill and he has a number of admirers at Goodison, but Middlesbrough are not interested in selling and have never given an indication to suggest the opposite is true. Meanwhile, Tim Cahill is itching to get back into competitive action again and is counting down the days until Australia’s first Asia Cup match against Oman on July 8. Though the Everton midfielder missed the Socceroos recent friendly with Uruguay, all has gone to plan with his rehabilitation. “I’m really happy with my fitness levels,” said Cahill, who broke the fifth metatarsal in his left foot against Sheffield United on March 3. “Touch wood, I’ve come through at the other end just fine and I’m raring to go again. “If everything works out, which I hope it does, this is our first real chance of bringing back some silverware. “I think the biggest hurdle we're facing is acclimatising to the weather. The heat and humidity pose as big a threat as the opposition we're going to come up against.”

Boro determined to keep Downing
Jun 19 2007
by Nick Smith, Liverpool Daily Post
MIDDLESBROUGH have scotched speculation linking Stewart Downing with Everton by stating their determination not to sell the England winger. Riverside manager Gareth Southgate yesterday took a defiant stance in the face of reports Everton were tracking the 22-year-old. Sources in the north east at the weekend suggested Everton, who have a vacancy for a naturally left-sided attacker, were ready to mount a bid worth £10million, including James Beattie as part of the package. But Southgate said: “Stewart is definitely not for sale so other clubs would be wasting their time even considering making an offer. “Stewart is such a good player and is now an established player in the England squad, so I’m not at all surprised that other clubs might be interested in him – but that’s as far as it goes. “The idea that we would want to sell the likes of Stewart is way off target. As I've said before, we are looking to play an attractive brand of winning football next season – and Stewart will be a major part in that.” Southgate, however, is remaining open to signing Beattie as he searches for a replacement in his forward line for Mark Viduka, who has joined Newcastle. Meanwhile, Karl Sheppard has revealed that pace is his greatest asset as he gets ready to join Everton’s youth set-up. The Goodison club beat off interest from Premiership rivals to secure the signature of the 16-year-old Irish striker from Shelbourne. Sheppard, who is an Ireland under-16 international, is now targeting a breakthrough to the reserve side as one of his main ambitions for the next two seasons. He said: “Clubs were coming in but Everton was the team for me.
“For the first year my ambition is to break into the under-18s side and then within a year and a half try and get into the reserves. “Pace would be one of the best things about my game, that and finishing. “Settling in England will be hard but once I get going I will be grand.”

Howard can go on to rival Southall
June 19 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
PHIL NEVILLE today handed Tim Howard the ultimate compliment as Everton’s keeper bids for a golden end to his season. Though Premiership business was wrapped up five weeks ago, Howard has had little time to draw breath and is currently helping the United States’ bid to retain the CONCACAF Gold Cup. They play Canada in the semi-finals on Thursday night in Chicago. Howard kept 14 clean sheets in the Premiership as the Blues qualified for Europe and has continued that good form into the summer, only conceding once in four games, but that has come as no surprise to Everton’s skipper. Having played alongside him at Old Trafford, Neville always knew Howard had vast potential and he believes that the 27-year-old can create a legacy at Goodison Park which would have Everton’s greatest keeper – the incomparable Neville Southall – nodding in approval. “Neville Southall is the best keeper to ever have played for Everton and the older generation will have tremendous memories of him,” said the England international. “But we have got a keeper now who is more than capable of creating his own legacy. He can give this team the kind of terrific protection and reassurance that Big Nev did back in the 1980s and early 1990s.
“Of the three signings we made last summer, Tim was probably the one who attracted least attention, but he made as big an impact as any. He came from Manchester United and even though he had played for a big club, he still had something to prove.
“He has come in here and worked his socks off. He fitted in superbly and his performances have spoken volumes. During the course of the season, there were maybe only two or three goals he was at fault for and for a keeper, that puts him right in the top bracket.” David Moyes’ squad do not report back for pre-season training until July 2, but Neville has been counting down the days since the fixtures for the new campaign were announced last week and can’t wait to get going again.
He has been keeping a keen eye on the players who have been linked with moves to Goodison and though no business has been conducted yet, Neville hopes there will be a couple of new faces introduced in the near future. “Shortly after the season finished, I was on a massive downer because we had achieved our objective of qualifying for Europe and it was strange without the pressure,” said Neville. “After we had played Chelsea, there was a real sadness because you spend nine months with a group of players who are fantastic and you don’t want it to end. In a way, I wish pre-season was starting tomorrow so we could get back into it. “It’s a feeling I always used to get with Manchester United and it’s a feeling I’ve got now; 12 months ago, I was glad that the season had ended. Not now. I can’t wait to get back and I just hope that we can build on the success we’ve had with a couple of good signings.”

Blues play down move for £2m Bardsley
Jun 20 2007
by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON today scotched speculation that Phil Bardsley is set to become their first summer signing as they continue to wait patiently for number one target Phil Jagielka. Some morning reports suggested that the Blues had agreed a £2m fee with Manchester United defender and boss David Moyes was set to hold talks with the right-back over a move to Goodison Park. That, however, is not the case at all. Moyes has run the rule over Bardsley in the past, but the 22-year-old is some way down the pecking order of possible arrivals. Heading the list, of course, is Jagielka, but Everton are frustratingly unable to complete a deal to sign the versatile England B international until Sheffield United have their relegation to the Championship confirmed. With an independent arbitration panel failing to deliver a verdict on the Blades’ squabble with West Ham United last night and unlikely to give one until the end of this month, Everton hopes of landing Jagielka continue to be thwarted. If, as expected, United are relegated, a clause will be triggered in Jagielka’s contract that allows him to move for £4m and though other clubs have shown an interest, as well as offering him more money, his heart is set on Everton. But should Bryan Robson’s team stay up, Jagielka’s price will be increased - possibly above £6m - and that could make negotiations more tricky. There is confidence, nevertheless, at Goodison that they will land their man sooner rather than later. Should things take a turn for the worse with Jagielka, only then would Everton consider moving for Bardsley, who had loan spells with Glasgow Rangers and Aston Villa last season but is surplus to requirements at Old Trafford. Meanwhile, James Vaughan will be hoping to get a slice of the action this evening as England’s under-21s take on hosts Holland in Heerenveen for a place in the European Championship final. The 18-year-old, who scored four goals in six Premiership appearances at the end of last season to help Everton secure a UEFA Cup spot, has hardly had a look in so far during the tournament. Vaughan’s involvement in Holland has been limited to a six minute cameo in the 2-2 draw with Italy last week. But he is keeping his fingers crossed that he has done enough to convince team boss Stuart Pearce to give him a lengthier role against the Dutch.

Blues play down move for £2m Bardsley
June 20 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON today scotched speculation that Phil Bardsley is set to become their first summer signing as they continue to wait patiently for number one target Phil Jagielka.
Some morning reports suggested that the Blues had agreed a £2m fee with Manchester United defender and boss David Moyes was set to hold talks with the right-back over a move to Goodison Park. That, however, is not the case at all. Moyes has run the rule over Bardsley in the past, but the 22-year-old is some way down the pecking order of possible arrivals. Heading the list, of course, is Jagielka, but Everton are frustratingly unable to complete a deal to sign the versatile England B international until Sheffield United have their relegation to the Championship confirmed. With an independent arbitration panel failing to deliver a verdict on the Blades’ squabble with West Ham United last night and unlikely to give one until the end of this month, Everton hopes of landing Jagielka continue to be thwarted. If, as expected, United are relegated, a clause will be triggered in Jagielka’s contract that allows him to move for £4m and though other clubs have shown an interest, as well as offering him more money, his heart is set on Everton. But should Bryan Robson’s team stay up, Jagielka’s price will be increased - possibly above £6m - and that could make negotiations more tricky. There is confidence, nevertheless, at Goodison that they will land their man sooner rather than later. Should things take a turn for the worse with Jagielka, only then would Everton consider moving for Bardsley, who had loan spells with Glasgow Rangers and Aston Villa last season but is surplus to requirements at Old Trafford.
Meanwhile, James Vaughan will be hoping to get a slice of the action this evening as England’s under-21s take on hosts Holland in Heerenveen for a place in the European Championship final. The 18-year-old, who scored four goals in six Premiership appearances at the end of last season to help Everton secure a UEFA Cup spot, has hardly had a look in so far during the tournament. Vaughan’s involvement in Holland has been limited to a six minute cameo in the 2-2 draw with Italy last week.
But he is keeping his fingers crossed that he has done enough to convince team boss Stuart Pearce to give him a lengthier role against the Dutch.

Return would be fine by Fernandes
Jun 21 2007
by Nick Smith, Liverpool Daily Post
MANUEL Fernandes last night left the door open for a return to Everton after thanking the club for taking him on to the next level. The Portuguese under-21 international has returned to Benfica following a loan spell but feels the Premiership is the league that most suits the development of his game. Although Everton, and other potential suitors for the midfielder, will be priced out of a permanent move for Fernandes, this opens up the possibility of a further loan period. But Fernandes, whose Portugal side was knocked out of the European Under-21s Championships last week despite his goal in a 4-0 win over Israel in their final group game, admits he remains uncertain about his future. He said: “At the moment I am a Benfica player and at the moment my time with Everton is over and I don’t know what is going to happen. “But like I’ve said on many other occasions, England is the best place to be for a young player and I am not an exception.” “Everton was really good to me. I developed a lot as a player in the months I’ve been there so I need to thank them a lot because they were really good to me.” Fernandes revealed that he is due to hold talks with his agent about his next move, which at this stage seems to be fighting for a place in the Benfica side for next season as they hold out for a £12million transfer fee. But if this doesn’t materialise the Portuguese side remain open to giving him another loan spell. In terms of more imminent targets, Everton remain in no rush to force Sheffield United’s hand over Phil Jagielka despite the delay in deciding the fate of the Yorkshire club. Goodison chiefs will wait for the arbitration panel looking into the punishment for West Ham that resulted in the Blades’ relegation, with a decision due within the next 10 days. New United manager Bryan Robson is getting frustrated at the hold-up in determining where his club will be playing next season – but is still clinging to the hope he can persuade Jagielka to stay. He will net £4million in transfer funds if they are confirmed as a Championship club, when Everton will then trigger that amount in his release clause. But Robson is currently unable to enter the market and even if the arbitration panel find in his club’s favour that will involve a Premier League re-trial for West Ham over the Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano transfer deals – which delay the whole process even further. Meanwhile, reports yesterday that Everton have agreed a fee of £2million for Manchester United right-back Phil Bardsley were dismissed as “complete nonsense” by the player’s representative Des Wroe. Everton also played down speculation lining with a player who has been considered by manager David Moyes in the past but plays in a position that his squad has adequate cover for.

Grella closes door on Goodison switch
Jun 21 2007
by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
TIM CAHILL’S hopes of having his pal Vince Grella join him at Goodison Park were thwarted today when the Australian international joined Serie A side Torino. Everton were linked with the versatile midfielder earlier this week and, given he was available on a free transfer, his name had been discussed as a potential target. However, Grella has spent the majority of his career playing in Italy and opted for a move to Turin, after three years at Parma, rather than take a chance in the Premiership. Cahill, who is getting close to peak fitness after three months on the sidelines with a broken metatarsal, had been advocating Grella’s talents but his efforts were to no avail. Once the Blues have wrapped up a deal for Sheffield United’s Phil Jagielka, they will turn their attentions to bolstering their engine room and, not surprisingly, another name was linked today. Fulham’s Papa Bouba Diop has been mentioned but there is little chance of him arriving at Goodison, as there are questions marks both over his fitness and attitude. A more viable alternative is West Brom’s Jason Koumas, but the Baggies could price the Welsh international out of a dream move back to Merseyside. They are only likely to do business at £5.5m, which is above Everton’s valuation of the player, and that has allowed Wigan Athletic to manoeuvre themselves to the front of the queue. Wigan boss Chris Hutchings is planning to step up his efforts to sign the former Tranmere man, but that does not mean Everton are out of the race. Meanwhile, Manuel Fernandes has thanked the Blues for the role they played in developing his game – but the midfield playmaker is unlikely to return for next season. The Portugal Under-21 international was a hit with supporters after arriving on loan from Benfica in January but a £12m asking price has scuppered any hopes of a permanent deal. Fernandes’ nine appearances yielded two goals as Everton clinched a UEFA Cup spot but while he enjoyed his time on Merseyside, the midfielder knows his future is up in the air. “At the moment I am a Benfica player,” said Fernandes. “And at the moment, my time with Everton is over. “I don’t know what is going to happen. “Everton was really good for me. I developed a lot as a player in the months that I have been there, so I need to thank them because they were really good for me.”

Blues told to improve Gunter offer
June 22 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON will have to up the ante if they want to sign highly-rated Cardiff City defender Chris Gunter. The Blues have already had two bids for the player rejected but are considering going back with an improved offer for the 17-year-old who made his full international debut for Wales against New Zealand last month.
David Moyes is eager to build for the future by snapping up bright, young talents from around the British Isles and so far this summer has already signed promising strikers Karl Sheppard, 16, from Shelbourne and Swindon’s Lukas Jutkiewicz, 18.
Gunter made his debut for Cardiff in a League Cup tie against Barnet last August and went on to make another 16 appearances; his progress was recognised by the Football League, who named him apprentice of the year. Though Cardiff boss Dave Jones is eager to keep hold of Gunter, chairman Peter Ridsdale has admitted he would be prepared to sell at the right price, particularly as they need finances to build a new ground. Meanwhile, Everton’s pre-season programme has become much clearer after the club revealed they will play Werder Bremen at Goodison Park on Tuesday, July 31, the only friendly that will be played at home. With fixtures against Bury, Northern Ireland, Preston, Real Salt Lake and Crystal Palace already arranged, boss Moyes was anxious for his side to take on a top European team as a tune up before their UEFA Cup campaign. In recent seasons, Everton have faced Udinese, Fenerbahce in Istanbul and 12 months ago played host to Atletic Bilbao but there is little doubt that Bremen – who finished third in the Bundesliga – will provide a stiff test. They reached the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup last year and have German internationals Torsten Frings, Tim Borowski, Per Mertesacker and Frank Baumann among a squad that includes the Brazilian Diego, who scored at Wembley recently. While most of Everton’s squad are away on holiday, Tim Howard has one more game to play before his season ends after the United States beat Canada 2-1 in Chicago last night to reach the final of the CONCACAF Gold Cup. Having only conceded one goal in four matches, Howard was given a break against the Canadians but is likely to be back between the posts on Sunday when USA face Mexico.

Vaughan straining at leash as new season beckons
June 23 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
HAD fortune favoured the brave, James Vaughan would have had an outstanding chance to win the first major honour of his career in Groningen tonight.
With injuries and suspensions wreaking havoc with his plans, England under-21 head coach Stuart Pearce would have been left with little option but to unleash Everton’s up-and-coming striker on Serbia in the European Championship final. Unfortunately, the bane of every English footballer’s life – a penalty shootout – thwarted that dream, meaning Vaughan’s involvement in the tournament was limited to six painfully short minutes in a 2-2 draw with Italy. His lack of action may have puzzled his admirers – he had to deal with a barrage of text messages from club colleagues asking why he wasn’t playing – but Vaughan took Pearce’s decision with a maturity that belies the numbers on his birth certificate. At just 18 years of age, Vaughan has time on his side and if he makes the progress many anticipate, this won’t be the only big tournament he will be involved in during his career. He would have loved to have had a bigger role in the Netherlands but the experience, nonetheless, was still invaluable and he intends to put it to good use when the new Premiership campaign kicks off on August 11. “In the end it was a bit frustrating to lose on penalties and not play much of a part but it was still a terrific experience,” said Vaughan, who looked on helplessly as England were beaten 13-12 on penalties by the hosts in Heerenveen on Wednesday night. “I enjoyed being away with the Under-21s. You are always aware that you are representing your country and there is no greater honour than that, particularly in a competition as big as the European Championships. “Of course, I would have liked more time on the pitch but I know that time is on my side and that if I keep working hard other chances will come. I learned a great deal from being in a competition environment with so many great young players. “There was a terrific spirit in the camp. You could see the pain we all felt when we lost against Holland. That was probably the worst bit – watching the lads take all those penalties knowing that I wasn’t going to get the chance to take one myself.” Vaughan’s energetic presence provided Everton’s push for Europe with a timely lift towards the end of the season – he scored four times in his last six appearances – but few expected him to be named in Pearce’s 23-man squad. However, he made the most of the chance he was afforded to shine during a training camp in Valencia and the fact that he was able to muscle his way into the group that headed for Holland spoke volumes for his determination and ability. “Some of the lads sent me text messages asking why I wasn’t playing,” he said. “But I knew the situation before we went out there. “I was the youngest member of the squad and although we are all young, players like David Nugent and Leroy Lita do have a bit more experience. I’ll go away now for a bit of a rest. “But I’m looking forward to getting back with the lads and preparing for the new season. I said a couple of times I didn’t want the last one to end. and I can’t wait for the new one to start.”
The emergence of Vaughan and his best pal Victor Anichebe was a real highlight for everyone at Goodison Park last year and manager David Moyes hopes the pair will shine for many seasons to come. “It has been a great boost for us to bring those two young boys through,” said Moyes. “Victor finished the season before last really well and kicked on during pre-season 12 months ago. He was the one scoring all the goals.
“James was only just recovering from his serious knee injury and there were times when he was struggling to jog. It was becoming frustrating for him. We did discuss whether we should send him out on loan. “But in the end, we stuck with him and he ended up finishing off the last two months in really great form. Those two have certainly been a big boost and hopefully they will continue to develop in the right way.”

Aussies will not gamble on Cahill
June 23 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
GRAHAM ARNOLD has sent Everton a message of reassurance by promising not to jeopardise Tim Cahill’s return from injury. Australia step up their preparations for next month’s Asia Cup with a friendly against Singapore next Saturday but the Everton midfielder will not be involved. Blues boss David Moyes has not always seen eye to eye with the demands Australia have placed on Cahill and he aired his views when Arnold visited Bellefield in April. The Australia coach was made aware back then of the severity of Cahill’s broken metatarsal and he left Merseyside assuring Moyes that he would not take any unnecessary risks. So while Cahill maybe desperate to play his first game since March, Arnold is likely to rein him back until Australia begin their Asia Cup challenge against Oman. “While it’s great to see Tim is running around, I’m not going to risk him for the friendly,” said Arnold. “The Asian Championship is a long tournament and I want him there not just for the group games, but hopefully all the way to the final.” Cahill started the most recent campaign in blistering form and scored seven times early on before damaging his medial ligaments in a 1-0 home defeat to Aston Villa. He returned in January but only made a handful of appearances before breaking his metatarsal at Sheffield United. His rehabilitation, though, has gone smoothly. “Mick Rathbone and a second member of Everton’s medical staff are flying across to watch me and advise the Australian team management of my fitness,” said Cahill. “I’m feeling fine and finally I’m getting the chance to do the business. “My fitness is fine. I’ve been doing a lot of running and I’ve trimmed right down. “I think the biggest challenge I’ll face when I get over to Singapore and the tournament proper is acclimatising to the weather.”

Those prophets of doom are so far off the mark
June 23 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
Royal Blue
THE new Premiership campaign does not get underway for another seven weeks, but already the prophets of doom are predicting bleak times for Everton. With no new signings to quicken the pulse, those who rattle like a string of worry beads the moment things do not go according to plan see the frivolous transfer dealings of West Ham United and Newcastle United and immediately turn their ire on the board.
Here we go again. Royal Ascot has yet to finish, Wimbledon does not start for another couple of days and another month has to pass before the first ball is struck at the Open Championship, but already panic is setting in. The remedy in some eyes? Time for Bill Kenwright to go. One question: What would that achieve? Three years and three weeks in to his reign as chairman, the way Everton run their business now is a world away from Peter Johnson’s chaotic reign, yet it is not enough for some.
They cast glances towards Upton Park, where Eggert Magnusson is throwing money around like it is printed by Monopoly, towards St Andrews, where Birmingham City have been the subject of takeover talk and towards Manchester City, who could soon have new owners. The gripe of the restless natives is a familiar one. Where’s our investment? If clubs that could not even hold a candle to Everton’s history and heritage can attract money from overseas, why can’t the Blues? Surely, they claim, it is a cover up. Hogwash. If a party had seriously mounted a bid to take control only for it to be rejected, wouldn’t they have made that public? After all, they would have nothing to lose so the fact that nobody has done this yet speaks volumes. Quite simply, there have been no concrete offers. Now let’s examine some of the individuals who have ‘invested’ or are looking to invest in Premiership sides recently. Ask yourself this: Would you want somebody in charge at Everton who is facing corruption charges and is threatened with jail in his native country? Would you want a couple of characters at the helm who say they are committed to re-building and are versed in the club’s traditions but all they seem good at producing is hot air to infuriate their manager? Would you want someone in charge whose actions in trying to sign players are alienating his club from the rest of the Premiership with their absurd wage offers and bids that are likely to send the transfer market into meltdown?
Draw your own conclusions. Of course, it is slightly frustrating that there have been no new signings, but there are mitigating circumstances. For the time being, most people in football are away on holiday and Everton aren’t the only side who have been dormant in terms of transfers. While it is natural to think back to events last summer – at the corresponding stage 12 months ago Andrew Johnson, Joleon Lescott and Tim Howard had all been signed – rarely do things go as smoothly as they did then.
Mind you, Kaka and Ronaldinho could have been recruited already with the promise of Samuel Eto’o and Thierry Henry to come and still some people would find one or two things to quibble about. Absolute madness. This, it must be stressed, is only the view of a small minority and it was reassuring to see a topic on one internet website earlier this week that suggested most supporters are getting fed up with the constant rumblings of discontent from Grumpy of Goodison and alike. If nobody has been signed by the time the transfer window closes – on August 31 – and Everton’s rivals have made significant purchases, that is the time to come out with all guns blazing and pose questions about ambition. But for the time being, there is no point getting hot under the collar. Once the first ball is kicked against Wigan on August 11, there will be plenty of opportunities to rant. At this time of the year, there are far more important things to worry about than football.
He’s someone to look up to!
ANDREW JOHNSON has the knack of out-muscling and out-jumping big defenders, but he met his match earlier this week at Bellefield. The England international helped launch Everton’s new basketball team, Everton Tigers, but was dwarfed by 6ft 10ins Mohamed Niang, one of the Tigers’ star players. The new team will play at the highest level, the British Basketball League, and the Everton in the Community registered charity is behind the initiative. EitC Trustee Gary Townsend explained the link-up: "About ten years ago, Everton in the Community began working with Toxteth Tigers. It started off as just football coaching but it has developed, embracing race and diversity issues, and six months ago we decided to form Everton Tigers."
Change of plan
THE various television channels have yet to publish the fixtures they want to screen from the start of the season until Christmas but Everton are already going to have to reschedule two fixtures. The games away at Aston Villa (September 22) and Middlesbrough (October 6) will need to be put back either 24 or 48 hours as the Blues will have UEFA Cup commitments on the Thursdays preceding those contests.
Meanwhile, club officials are still waiting to confirm the final two pre-season fixtures on Everton’s agenda. One will hopefully take place in California during the US tour, while German side Werder Bremen will visit Goodison on Tuesday July 31.

Hero Howard to receive extra leave
Jun 25 2007
by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON will hand Tim Howard an extra week’s holiday after his heroic performance in last night’s CONCACAF Gold Cup final. The Blues’ goalkeeper played a starring role as the United States retained their title after coming from behind to beat Mexico 2-1 in Chicago and made a wonder save from Adolfo Bautista in the dying seconds to secure victory. Howard enjoyed a terrific first season on Merseyside and kept 14 clean sheets as Everton qualified for the UEFA Cup but has been kept on the go by his country since the final match against Chelsea on May 13. David Moyes will see the vast majority of his squad return to Bellefield next week but Howard – who played in all the USA’s Gold Cup games bar the semi-final win over Canada – is to be given a chance to recharge his batteries ahead of the new campaign. Not surprisingly, the self-effacing Howard was keen to play down his role in the win but was overjoyed at adding another gong to the FA Cup medal he won with Manchester United in 2004. “I’m still in shock you know,” said Howard. “It’s just one of those things where you practice all the time, and sometimes it comes off for you. I saw the ball break through and I tried my best and today it was good enough. It's one I’ll remember forever. “Sometimes the team needs you to come up with a big save, and you know you can make a difference. I was elated. We knew we only needed a goal to get ourselves back in it, so we were really calm and composed and we came out and did the job.” The USA now take part in the Copa America, which is being held in Venezuela, but Howard was not named in Bob Bradley’s original squad and will now take a break with his family before heading back to Merseyside. Meanwhile, the weekend saw Everton predictably linked with a whole host of players and among the new names was Juventus’ midfielder Oliver Kapo but he is not – and never has been – on the Blues’ wanted list. The only likely arrival at present is Phil Jagielka but Everton cannot do any business with Sheffield United until an independent arbitration panel decides whether to uphold the Blades’ relegation to the Championship.

Nugent’s Goodison anguish
June 26 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID NUGENT’S dreams of joining his boyhood heroes Everton this summer will not come true. Once again this morning, there were reports that Nugent – who has held talks with both Sunderland and West Ham – is pinning his hopes on the Blues coming in with a 11th hour bid to win the race for his signature. However, the England international is going to be in for a long wait. Everton do not agree with Preston’s £6m valuation of a striker who averages a goal every three games in the Championship. The Blues have made enquiries about Nugent in recent years but they are not going to spend £6m on a player who they could theoretically sign for free in 12 months when his contract at Deepdale expires. If Nugent were prepared to sit tight and spend another year at Deepdale, the chance for him to fulfil a burning ambition and pull on a Blue shirt would dramatically improve, but if he is intent on moving this summer, it won’t be to Goodison. David Moyes – who is still away on holiday – is anxious to strengthen other areas of his team first and the priority remains securing Phil Jagielka’s signature before he thinks about adding to his attacking options.
Meanwhile, Blues legend Kevin Ratcliffe has advised Jason Koumas that Everton would provide him with the perfect platform to showcase his talents if, as expected, the Wales international leaves West Brom this summer. Everton have had Koumas watched on a number of occasions in the past few months and were impressed with what they saw but the Baggies’ £5m asking price could prove to be a sticking point in any future deal. Wigan are understood to be heading the chase for his signature.
“If you asked him, he would most probably say he fancied Everton,” said Ratcliffe. “But if you look at them they’ve got that kind of player already with Mikel Arteta, Tim Cahill and Leon Osman. “For them to be spending £5 million or more on a player they'd be wanting something different from what they’ve already got. “No disrespect to Wigan, but even a club like that would be better for Jason than staying at West Brom because they’re already in the Premiership and that's where he needs to be now.”

Revealed: First details of the Blues new stadium
Jun 26 2007
EXCLUSIVE by Nick Coligan, Liverpool Echo
THE exact location for Everton FC’s proposed new stadium was unveiled today.
Open land off Valley Road and Bewley Drive, Kirkby, has been identified by the Blues for their possible future home. The 50,000-seater stadium could sit alongside a big shopping district on land currently occupied by playing fields, a small housing estate and All Saints Catholic high school. Knowsley council was today revealing the most detailed plans so far to residents at the start of a two-week consultation programme. Although they do not include images of what a replacement for Goodison Park might look like, they do show its proposed location, ending months of speculation. The multi-million pound shopping development would be based around one of the biggest Tesco supermarkets in the country, creating about 700 full and part-time jobs. Other high street big names are in talks with Tesco about opening up stores alongside it, although their identities are a closely-guarded secret. Council officials now want residents’ views on the proposed development before any planning application is drawn up by Everton and Tesco. A second option, just to concentrate on regenerating the existing town centre, is also on the table. Council chief executive Sheena Ramsey said: “This is not just about bringing Tesco and potentially a football stadium – it is the complete rejuvenation of Kirkby town centre. “It potentially looks fantastic. It would catapult Kirkby 20 years forward and it is all privately funded. “This opportunity has come along in a way we never dared to think about before. It would bring night-time attractions and high street shops, and put the heart back into Kirkby.” Everton are not taking part in the consultation events because they have not made a final decision whether to leave the city for Kirkby yet. Blues chief executive Keith Wyness has always said fans will be balloted on the move, and council officials hope the club might be ready to do that over the next couple of months. Tesco, whose chief executive Sir Terry Leahy is an Everton fan, are attending the exhibition and say Kirkby residents would be the first to benefit from their superstore. A spokesman said: “It would be among the biggest in the country and sell our full range of products. “The likely number of jobs is more than 700, a mix of full and part-time, and there would be an exclusive period for local people to apply for them. “We also hope to work with training providers so long-term unemployed people, who might lack the confidence to apply for a job straightaway, can come forward.”

Cahill aims to get back among goals ahead of season
Jun 27 2007
by Nick Smith, Liverpool Daily Post
TIM CAHILL is hoping to get back into his famous scoring groove ahead of the new season. The Australian is gearing up for his first action in four months as he trains in Thailand for the Asian Cup. Cahill has missed the back end of Everton’s previous two seasons with injury but a year ago he warmed up for his return to club action with the World Cup in Germany. That tournament, in which Cahill scored his country’s first ever goal in the finals with his double in the win over Japan, teed him up perfectly for when he returned to Everton. He continued his form by scoring seven times in his first 12 appearances before further injuries restricted his involvement. Cahill won’t be risked for Australia’s warm-up game against Singapore on Saturday but is hoping he can get back into the scoring swing when he takes to the field for their opening game against Oman July 8. But he insists that victory in their opening group game, and Australia living up to their tag as favourites, is the most important detail.
“I would love to be the first to score in Asia as well,” Cahill said. “I want the players to go out there and really show that we’re a very, very good side. It’s the first time we’ve gone into a competition going in as favourites so it’s a massive compliment. It seems they’re talking about us being favourites and I want it to be a positive, not a negative.” Everton announced 11 new additions to their full-time Academy ranks yesterday. Jack Rodwell, James McCarten, Luke Powell, Michael Stewart, Tom McCready, Moses Barnett, Karl Sheppard, , Hope Akpan, Danny Redmond Louis Codling and Austrian George Krenn are set to form the basis of the Everton under-18 side next season.

Van der Meyde heading for exit
Jun 27 2007
by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
ANDY VAN DER MEYDE’S Everton career is as good as over after the controversial winger’s latest outburst. The one-time Holland international is understood to have said during an interview with a television station in his home country that he needs to leave Goodison Park to play regular first team football and Everton will not stand in his way if he can find another club. Since he joined the Blues from Internazionale in August 2005, van der Meyde has never fulfilled his potential as a catalogue of injuries and off-field problems took a heavy toll. He has only managed to complete 90 minutes once - against Blackburn Rovers in the FA Cup - in 21 appearances. Van der Meyde’s role in helping Everton qualify for the UEFA Cup was minimal - the only games in which he played during the final three months were against Blackburn and Manchester United. He also enraged David Moyes when he claimed the manager “told lies” about his fitness. Though the 27-year-old apologised for that incident at Easter, it is clear his days on Merseyside are numbered. This latest episode is likely to speed up his departure from Goodison. While the player would jump at the chance to return to Italy, there have not been any offers. But there has been some interest in Holland, headed by FC Twente Enschede. For that to happen, though, van der Meyde would need to take a significant pay cut. With only 12 months remaining on his contract, Everton would only recoup a fraction of the £1.7m they spent when buying him but are anxious to move him on rather than have van der Meyde sitting around collecting his wages and not playing. Meanwhile, Aston Villa are weighing up a move for Jason Koumas and could be prepared to offer West Brom a player-plus-cash deal to sign the Wales international, who is also a target for Everton. Koumas, however, has made it clear that he would prefer to move back to Merseyside and his name figures prominently among a list of players that Moyes is hoping to sign before the start of the new campaign. Heading the list is Sheffield United’s Phil Jagielka. There are suggestions that Bolton have jumped to the head of the queue in the race for his signature, but Everton are confident they will sign him.

Memories so special for true Blue Alan
June 27 2007 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
ALAN STUBBS was a starry-eyed 15-year-old the last time Everton were crowned champions. But he remembers the occasion as if it was yesterday. The veteran defender, now 35 years young, was a boyhood Blues fan sitting on a Gwladys Street crush barrier when Kevin Ratcliffe raised the League title trophy in 1987.
“Saturday was the highlight of the week,” he recalled. “I used to go down there, sometimes with my dad or sometimes with my younger brother . . . then it was time to find the crate at the front of the Gwladys Street to stand on to watch the game!
“Or sometimes I’d be lifted up onto the crush barriers to see what was going on.
“When there was a goal there was a big rush and everyone was pushed forward.
“Great memories. It’s sad that grounds aren’t like that any more, but they changed for the right reasons. “Goodison was absolutely buzzing then. We had a great team, plus results and trophies to go with it. “I’m very lucky really that when I started to go and watch the game it was Everton’s most successful period, so I was a little bit spoiled.”
Signed as a centre-half from Celtic in the summer of 2001, Stubbs naturally has the highest regard for legendary Everton centre-backs Kevin Ratcliffe and Dave Watson.
But he reveals that the title winning centre-backs in 1987 weren’t his idols.
“I wasn’t a centre-half when I was a kid. I was more of a striker, then I went to left wing and then started playing midfield,” he added. “So my heroes were Graeme Sharp and Peter Reid. They were my two main heroes. “I used to love watching them all the time and would hang about at the end of the game trying to get their autographs.
“Sharpie was a fantastic centre-forward and I was fortunate enough when I first started playing football to play against him in an ‘A team’ game at Bellefield for Bolton.
“Sharpie must have been coming back from an injury and I was in total awe for 90 minutes. “We had a few injuries at Bolton and I’d just started playing centre-half, and when I walked out and I saw Sharpie walk out – and he was a big guy with big, broad shoulders – I thought ‘Oh no!’ “He was one of those players who hung in the air for ages. He used to jump really early and you could never get close to him.
“Playing against him and watching him were exactly the same – he was awesome.
“Great touch for a big fella, good in the air, he was always pulling off your shoulder and was just a really clever, really good footballer. “All the fans loved Reidy because of his tenacity and his never say die attitude. If someone caught Reidy it wouldn’t be long before he was trying to get them back. “We had some great midfield players in that team, Bracewell, Steven, Sheedy, and Reidy was the one who looked after them.
“If one of them got a kick he was first on the scene. “He was a legend for Everton. It’s as simple as that.” If 1984-85 was the iconic Everton season when the Blues swept all before them at home and abroad, 1986-87 was a different type of title winning campaign. Ravaged by injuries, Howard Kendall was forced to go into the campaign without key figures like Reid, Neville Southall, Gary Stevens, Pat Van Den Hauwe and Derek Mountfield. Reid was missing until February, Van Den Hauwe until January and Stevens until December, while Neville Southall was sidelined with a broken ankle until mid-October. In the days when squad rotation was unheard of, Everton’s was very much a squad success – with figures like Paul Power, Alan Harper, Wayne Clarke, Paul Wilkinson, Kevin Langley and Neil Pointon all playing key roles in the title success. For Stubbs, though, Southall’s return to the first team fold was decisive. “A lot of people say Schmeichel, but for me Neville Southall was the best goalkeeper I’ve ever seen. He was everything you want from a goalkeeper,” he declared. “He spoke well, he commanded his area, he had a massive presence about him. “Everyone thought he couldn’t be beaten. He was just that type of person and he made some unbelievable saves. “I have conversations with Howard Kendall now, who was manager of that team, and he talks about the players then and I have to pinch myself. “He’s a lovely man and has great conversation. “Everything he talks about is interesting. “His tactics, the way he used to deal with players and treat players.
“His man-management was fantastic and that shows now when you see all the ex-players with him. They have nothing but utter respect for him.” Ironically, it was during one of those conversations that the legendary Blues’ boss revealed how he tried to bring Stubbs to Goodison – years before Walter Smith signed him on a free transfer. “It was weird but I was speaking to Howard not so long ago and he told me he tried to get me when I was at Celtic,” he explained ruefully. “He tried to do a swap with Slaven Bilic for me. “It was strange because about four weeks later I was at Howard’s birthday party, and I was sat next to Joe Royle, and he said to me ‘I tried to buy you!’ “It was when I was at Bolton, but Colin Todd who was manager at the time said ‘Do me a favour and don’t say anything to him because if you do I’ve lost him.’
“When I look back I really wish it had been then, rather than when Walter brought me.
“But I’ve had a great time and what I’ve done here no-one can ever take away from me. “Hopefully in 20 years time I’ll be saying to my grandchildren ‘I was lucky enough to play for Everton.’ “There’s only really ever been one club I wanted to play for and it was Everton. “I thank myself, but I also thank people above that they’ve given me a chance to do that. “It’s been everything I thought it was going to be.
“Everton is a special club. “Players now, who haven’t been brought up in Liverpool, play here and realise when they’re part of it how special a club Everton is.
“It grabs you.”

Everton set to pounce for Phil Jagielka
Jun 28 2007
by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON expect to discover within the next 24 hours if they can press ahead with their efforts to finally sign Sheffield United’s Phil Jagielka. Though Bolton have emerged as rivals to the Blues for Jagielka’s signature, there is confidence at Goodison that a deal for the England B international can be successfully concluded in the not too distant future. An independent arbitration committee sat for two days last week to consider Sheffield United’s case against West Ham and their controversial signings of Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano – now at Liverpool – last summer. The Blades are aiming to get their relegation to the Championship overturned but it is expected that the arbitration committee will uphold that judgement and endorse the original £5.5m fine the Premier League handed to West Ham for fielding ineligible players. While Everton have not conducted any transfer business so far, things are set to step up a gear once David Moyes returns from his summer holiday and wrapping up a deal for Jagielka will be his priority. Jagielka – who can occupy a number of positions in defence and midfield – was on Everton’s books as a schoolboy but was released a decade ago and has been at Bramall Lane ever since, but has set his heart on returning to Merseyside. United’s expected relegation will trigger a clause in his contract that allows him to leave should any club make a bid of £4m but there is also a chance that Everton could offer Bryan Robson’s side a player-plus-cash deal. Wigan are also in the running to sign Jagielka and United’s football chairman Terry Robinson has revealed that they and Everton have the edge over Bolton. “We have received no new approaches recently,” he said. “At this stage we have received two – from clubs you already know about – but since then nobody else has come to us with anything proper.”

Dutch winger Van der Meyde to leave Goodison
Jun 28 2007
by Richard Williamson, Liverpool Daily Post
FORMER Holland international Andy van der Meyde could be heading out of Everton after apparently claiming he needs a move away to play first team football. The controversial winger, whose two-year spell at Goodison Park has been beset by injury and off-field problems, has managed just one 90-minute outing during that time – in an FA Cup tie against Blackburn Rovers. Otherwise used as a substitute, but with only 20 further outings in two seasons, van der Meyde fell out with manager David Moyes after accusing the Goodison Park manager of lying about his injury problems.
Now 27-year-old van der Meyde is alleged to have said in an interview for Dutch television that he needs to quit Everton in order to resurrect his career elsewhere – and Moyes won’t stand in the way. While the player would jump at the chance to return to Italy, there have not been any offers. But there has been some interest in Holland, headed by FC Twente Enschede. For that to happen, though, van der Meyde would need to take a significant pay cut. With only 12 months remaining on his contract, Everton would only recoup a fraction of the £1.7m they spent when buying him but are anxious to move him on. Meanwhile Moses Barnett was named in the England squad for the forthcoming FIFA Under-17s World Cup in Korea. The 16-year-old, who signed from Arsenal last season, has been named in the 30-strong party. The defender completed his move to Goodison yesterday when he became a member of the Academy on a full time basis along with 10 other scholars. The Young Lions have been placed in Group B and will be pitting their wits against Brazil, New Zealand and Korea DPR. England will open the tournament when they take on hosts Korea on August 18.

Dutch winger Van der Meyde to leave Goodison
Jun 28 2007
by Richard Williamson, Liverpool Daily Post
FORMER Holland international Andy van der Meyde could be heading out of Everton after apparently claiming he needs a move away to play first team football. The controversial winger, whose two-year spell at Goodison Park has been beset by injury and off-field problems, has managed just one 90-minute outing during that time – in an FA Cup tie against Blackburn Rovers. Otherwise used as a substitute, but with only 20 further outings in two seasons, van der Meyde fell out with manager David Moyes after accusing the Goodison Park manager of lying about his injury problems.
Now 27-year-old van der Meyde is alleged to have said in an interview for Dutch television that he needs to quit Everton in order to resurrect his career elsewhere – and Moyes won’t stand in the way. While the player would jump at the chance to return to Italy, there have not been any offers. But there has been some interest in Holland, headed by FC Twente Enschede. For that to happen, though, van der Meyde would need to take a significant pay cut. With only 12 months remaining on his contract, Everton would only recoup a fraction of the £1.7m they spent when buying him but are anxious to move him on. Meanwhile Moses Barnett was named in the England squad for the forthcoming FIFA Under-17s World Cup in Korea. The 16-year-old, who signed from Arsenal last season, has been named in the 30-strong party. The defender completed his move to Goodison yesterday when he became a member of the Academy on a full time basis along with 10 other scholars. The Young Lions have been placed in Group B and will be pitting their wits against Brazil, New Zealand and Korea DPR. England will open the tournament when they take on hosts Korea on August 18.

Everton legend Dave Watson on the Blues' title-winning season
June 28 2007 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
DAVE WATSON put his body on the line for Everton countless times during a 529-match Goodison career. His courage, consistency and character became legendary amongst Blues’ fans. But unknown to most supporters, it wasn’t just on the pitch that Watson made sacrifices. A league title winner in his first season as an Evertonian – 1986-87 – Watson was at the heart of the Blues’ defence on Boxing Day 1986 when Everton travelled to Tyneside and confirmed their Championship credentials with a crushing 4-0 success. They followed up 48 hours later with a 5-1 demolition of Leicester, a game which was the centrepoint of six successive victories. But Watson had other reasons to celebrate. “My missus was having our first kid,” he explained.
“We travelled up to Newcastle on Christmas Day, and she was taken into hospital the same day. Howard said I could stay with her until 10 o’clock in the evening to see if she’d had the baby by then. “Ten o’clock came and she hadn’t had the baby, so I went up to the hotel in Newcastle and as soon as I got there I had a phone call to say that she’d just given birth to a baby boy, so I actually missed the birth – but the next day the performance was magnificent from the lads and we went on to win the title.
“So I’ve always said to my lad that that medal is his. “These days players wouldn’t miss the birth for anything, but for me it was important at the time, the team was doing magnificently and I didn’t want to let anyone down, and I don’t think I let my missus down. “I think deep down she knew it was something I wanted to do and it’s been great for the family that I’ve done it and it’s turned out okay.” Watson’s comments sum up the fierce team spirit which burned throughout that Everton team in the mid-80s. Even today, 20 years on, the mutual respect the class of ‘87 had for each other shines through at the reunion dinners staged in their honour.
But Watson admits it took him a little time before he was completely accepted as an Evertonian. “I’d taken over from Derek Mountfield and he was obviously a massive crowd hero who had done magnificently for the club and scored some great goals,” he added. “All of a sudden I’d been thrown in, an ex-Liverpool player, so the crowd were on my back straightaway. “But I wasn’t playing well. I don’t know what it was, whether it was the £900,000 price tag I really don’t know, but I did have a nightmare when I first came to Everton.” ‘Nightmare’ seems to overstress the case slightly.
Perhaps for the first month or so, Watson’s exacting standards dipped slightly below what he expected from himself, but after an enforced break through injury in November, he came back better than ever. Skipper and central defensive partner Kevin Ratcliffe certainly noticed the change. “He was able to take a backseat and maybe have a look at the way we played which was completely different to the way that he played at Norwich,” he explained. “He was used to marking the number nine, and wherever the number nine went he would go. It happened a couple of times in games and it was about trying to explain to Dave that we don’t do that here.
“We mark areas, we stay on the same side of the pitch, we pass people across and on to each other, and when he got injured and came back, it was as if we’d signed a different player. “He was tremendous as his record showed after that. “It showed his character as well, because the crowd turned a little bit against him as well. From having a crowd favourite like Derek Mountfield, the first six games weren’t the best for him. “The crowd were against him, but he won them over and I think that shows great character in the way he did it.” It is testament to Watson’s ability that Everton’s title winning team of 1987 boasted the best defensive record in the division by a mile.
They conceded just 31 goals in a 42 match season – and it is even more impressive when you consider the number of changes forced upon Howard Kendall during an injury-ravaged season. Neville Southall, Bobby Mimms, Alan Harper, Dave Watson, Derek Mountfield, Kevin Ratcliffe, Pat van den Hauwe and Neil Pointon all played key roles in the Blues’ defensive unit during the title winning campaign – then there was arguably the greatest “squad players” Howard Kendall ever signed.
In the summer of 1986 Paul Power was an evergreen professional, nearing the end of an impressive – but trophyless – career with Manchester City. Nine months and 49 consecutive appearances later, Power was the proud possessor of a league title winner’s medal. He explained his introduction to Everton. “My wife had just had a baby and we didn’t go abroad that year. We went to a place in Devon called Saunton Sands and there was a message on the room phone to get in touch with Jimmy Frizzell, the assistant boss at City at the time. “I’d just signed a contract to stay at City for another year, but he said that Howard Kendall had phoned up and would I give him a ring? “So I rang Howard straight away and he said he wanted to sign me. But it was the first time I’d been away on holiday and I didn’t want to break the holiday up, so I asked him would he mind if I left it until the Friday. “I went down to see him then and actually signed on the same day as Neil Adams so we went and had our medicals the same time with Doctor Irvine and that was it, all very quick really. “I thought I was going down to have a chat, but the whole thing was concluded in a couple of hours. “Howard honestly said to me, ‘you’re probably going to be here as a squad player’ and I was quite happy to take that chance because I knew it was an opportunity to play with some tremendous individual players. I knew that there was a problem with Pat van den Hauwe’s injury so I thought there’s an opportunity for me to start and if I start well it might be difficult for him to leave me out. “That was always the aim.” Such was Power’s presence and influence he quickly became irreplaceable, and when van den Hauwe returned from injury, he was pushed forward into midfield.
That, ironically, led to his ‘Denis Law moment’ – his first goal for Everton at the club where he’d spent more than a decade. “I suppose it was inevitable I’d score my first goal at City,” he went on. “Howard had told me he wanted me to play further up the pitch, and it was nice to score, but difficult to be running around in front of players I’d played with the season before.” He made up for it when he added his second a week later, this time at Goodison against Norwich.

Everton poised to move for Phil Jagielka
Jun 29 2007
by Nick Smith, Liverpool Daily Post
SHEFFIELD UNITED have re-iterated their confidence that Phil Jagielka will stay if they have their relegation reversed. Everton are poised to bring the midfielder to Goodison Park for the release clause of £4million. But that will only be activated if an arbitration panel looking into West Ham’s punishment for breaking Premier League transfer rules last season upholds their fine. An announcement – which is not expected to give Sheffield United a reprieve by paving the way for West Ham to be docked points – had been due today, although could now be delayed until next week. But whenever the decision is made, Blades chairman Terry Robinson has acknowledged that Jagielka has chosen Everton as the Premiership club he wants to join. However, he has also confirmed that if they do manage to win their fight to stay up, which will be prolonged even further if the arbitration panel order a re-trial, Jagielka will be going nowhere. “We’re waiting to see the outcome of the arbitration,” Robinson said. “If Sheffield United are reinstated, it’s highly unlikely that Phil will leave. “If we’re not re-instated, then he’ll invoke the clause in his contract. If we’re re-instated we wouldn’t even be having this discussion. “I spoke to Phil’s agent this morning and we’re all singing from the same hymn sheet. “Everton are the favourites – it is Phil’s preferred choice. Wigan and Bolton have shown some interest in him, as have Everton.”

Tim Cahill and Mikel Arteta sign new deals
Jun 29 2007
by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON wrapped up their first two major signings today as Mikel Arteta and Tim Cahill agreed new five year deals. Although the current contracts of both players were not due to expire until June 2010, Everton’s hierarchy were anxious to stave off interest from potential suitors in the Premiership and on the continent and reward the contributions they have made in recent seasons. Talks have been on-going since the end of last season and were conducted in harmony with the midfielders, who have received significant pay increases; Arteta will sign his contract next Monday, while Cahill will dot the I’s and cross the T’s once he returns from the Asia Cup next month. Not only will the news delight Evertonians everywhere, it provides the perfect boost ahead of the squad’s return to training next week, and chairman Bill Kenwright believes it is a major coup for the club that Arteta and Cahill have decided to stay. “David (Moyes) and I were determined to get these two contracts extended this summer and we wanted to do it the Everton way - quietly, calmly and efficiently,” said Kenwright. “Negotiations have been going on for several weeks and have been concluded happily for all concerned. We know that the boys are as delighted as we are.” Arteta’s decision to spend the best years of his career at Goodison Park will be particularly well received. The current darling of the Gwladys Street end has been the club’s Player of the Year for the past two seasons and was hugely influential in helping Everton secure a UEFA Cup place. Speculation was rife earlier this year that clubs in Spain - namely Atletico Madrid - wanted to bring Arteta back to La Liga, but the 25-year-old made it clear all along that he wanted to stay on Merseyside and Blues boss Moyes is adamant his best is yet to come. “We are delighted with how he has done,” said Moyes. “He has played really well. We like his skills and ability but he has grown into the team ethic that we have here and I think that has been the reason he has done so well. He has Spanish technique and a British mentality.” Cahill spent a significant chunk of last year sidelined with medial ligament damage and a broken metatarsal but has developed into one of the most influential members of Moyes’ squad since he arrived from Millwall in July 2004. West Ham United were understood to be keen on taking Cahill - who has scored 27 goals in 98 appearances - back to London but he is settled on Merseyside and described signing his last deal in August 2005 as “another dream come true”. With that business wrapped up, Everton will now turn their attentions to adding some new faces to their squad and deal to bring Phil Jagielka to Goodison Park will be concluded once Sheffield United’s fate has been decided by an independent arbitration panel. After - as expected - he arrives, Everton will step up the pursuit of a new midfielder. Jason Koumas of West Brom and Manchester United’s Kieron Richardson figure among the names that have been discussed.

Blues’ grudge matches . . . against Luton!
June 29 2007 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
THE 1980s produced more grudge matches than yuppies and woollen leg warmers.
There was Maggie and the miners, Sugar Ray v Hands of Stone, McEnroe against Borg, Senna versus Prost. But Everton and Luton Town? It may sound strange 20 years on, but in the mid-80s the Toffees and the Hatters were regularly at each other’s throats . . . never more so than when Everton were due to be presented with the League Championship trophy at Goodison Park in May 1987. The Blues had clinched the title the Saturday before at Carrow Road, and Luton were cast in the role of onlookers at Everton’s title party. They tried to turn party-poopers, however, by taking the lead – and even though Everton came back to triumph 3-1, the Hatters were intent on spoiling the celebration. Graeme Sharp only discovered quite how intent last year.
“I was speaking to Luton’s old skipper Steve Foster in La Manga last summer and we were talking about that last game,” he said. “Things had kicked off earlier in the game when I caught the late Les Sealey on the head and left him unconscious for a bit.
“We’d had a bit of a go in the tunnel at half-time so it was certainly lively.
“But Steve was telling me that when we got presented with the trophy, Mick Harford was at the side of the pitch waiting to start it all off again and kick it off in the tunnel!
“It was incredible. They just did not like us, although we didn’t like them either.
“Steve said Luton always had something against Everton. I don’t know whether it went back to us beating them in the semi-final in 1985 or the quarter-final the year after, but we always used to beat them. “They had Mick Harford, Mal Donaghy and quite a few scrappers, too. “There was this rivalry between us so that even in the last game, where they had nothing to play for and we expected them to come here on a jolly and respect us, that wasn’t the case.” Everton came through the physical challenge, as they passed almost every test which was placed in front of them during 1986/87. As skipper Kevin Ratcliffe explained, it was the Blues’ ability to adapt to different circumstances which made them so difficult to beat. “We were a team that could mix it,” he explained. “If people wanted to battle against us we’d stand up and have a battle, if they’d let us play football we’d play football and I think that was what was so good about the side right the way through. “We could mix and match.”
Terry Darracott, himself a player of immense character, was on the coaching staff in 1987 and he endorsed his skipper’s view. “The team was full of characters, and they were real leaders, leaders of men,” he declared. “They all looked after one another and all had their own say, when Reidy was talking they’d all sit down and listen and when Ratters was speaking they’d all listen. “There were a number of them in the team that spoke up, and when they did they all paid attention. It was that sort of atmosphere amongst them. “There were a lot of leaders in the team and you thought that if they had a problem, they could solve it. “If there’s a problem on the pitch there’s not much you can do about it from the sidelines, but there were players on the pitch who could sort problems out, which was fantastic.” Kevin Sheedy, one of the artists of the 1987 side, spoke of the confidence which coursed through players’ veins just through glancing around the dressing room before a match.He explained: “When we were getting changed you’d look at Neville Southall and the back four, then the midfield players and you’d think ‘well if we go out and play maybe 60-70 per cent we should win’ and if we all play 90 per cent then we definitely will win. “It gave you incredible self-confidence. Whenever you looked around the dressing room it was full of characters and a lot of leaders.” As well as character and leadership, the Blues’ squad was also packed full of skilful, technically gifted players. Trevor Steven was a captivating combination of excitement and consistency, a cultivated crosser of the ball and a supremely balanced winger, while Sheedy possessed quite simply the sweetest left foot Evertonians have ever seen. Team-mate Ratcliffe, himself the proud possessor of a tidy left-peg, often found himself in awe. “God knows what he’d be able to do with the ball in today’s game,” he declared. “The ball was certainly harder than it is now and it didn’t produce as much movement. But he used to make things happen with those old Mitre balls that were like medicine balls. “He could bend them, he could find a pass over 40 or 50 yards, 60 yards if necessary, he could bend them with the inside and outside of his foot, and he was so relaxed in the way he played.
“He was so instrumental in our team.” Sheedy’s goals record at Everton was phenomenal. For a player who played his career exclusively in midfield, and only occasionally took penalties, he scored 93 goals in his 337 starts. Many were quite stunningly dispatched free-kicks. During the Blues’ previous title winning campaign of 1984/85, he scored a free-kick in a cup tie against Ipswich which those present will never forget. After stylishly curling the ball over Ipswich’s defensive wall and into the top left hand corner of the Park End goal, the referee ordered a retake. Unperturbed, Sheedy shrugged, replaced the ball and curled it into the top right hand corner.
“People ask me what was my favourite free-kick, and I have to say, while there was that one against Ipswich, it was the one in the 1986/87 title season against Liverpool,” he declared. “It was unsaveable as soon as it left my foot. “As soon as I hit it I knew it was in, so I managed to run to the Kop End and give a gesture to the Kop, which got me hauled in front of the FA. “But I managed to talk my way out of it so it was a double whammy really. It was nice to score at the Kop End, give a gesture and get away with it!”

Turner wants Howard jersey
June 30 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
IAIN TURNER is hoping the decision to cut short his summer will see him reap the benefits next season. The Scotland Under-21 international is held in high esteem at Goodison Park and, with Richard Wright having been released, he will start the new campaign as Tim Howard’s deputy. However, Turner is ambitious and is desperate to get into a position where he is putting pressure on Howard for a regular starting place between the posts. Although, given the USA international keeper’s success, he appreciates the task will not be an easy one. That is why he spent a couple of days at Bellefield earlier this week to start his preparations ahead of the squad’s return on Monday so that he can hit the ground running. “I have enjoyed my holidays so I am back trying to get a bit extra before we start the pre-season, which is a very hard time for the players,” said Turner. “It is always hard work in getting ready for the new season. “It was a precautionary thing, my groin is fine now and I am ready to get back in training. The way things stand I should be number two this season. “I'll be looking to push on and hopefully get the number one jersey off Tim. “He had a phenomenal year to be fair to him and it's continued playing for America. So it is going to be a hard year, but I am looking forward to it. Towards the end of last season I was playing regularly and enjoying it.” Though Turner only made two appearances for Everton’s first team last year, he enjoyed a confidence boosting spell on loan with Sheffield Wednesday and he made such an impression that Owls boss Brian Laws wanted to keep him at Hillsborough. David Moyes, though, has made it quite clear that Turner - who was signed from Stirling Albion in July 2003 - will have a role to play for the Blues this season, but the 23-year-old recognises he will have to be patient.
“Goalkeeper is a strange position,” said Turner. “There is only one place; only one person can play there at the weekend - but we are all mates and work together every day. “I’d like to think I have progressed and improved every year and hopefully that will keep going. “I loved it at Sheffield Wednesday, and that is what I am after - first team football. “You have more of a chance in starting pre-season so hopefully I can make my mark and show that I am ready. “The team is going up and up and up so who knows where we will end the season.”

They’re the jewels in the Goodison crown
June 30 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
A COUPLE of new faces will arrive at Goodison Park in the next few weeks but no future deal will be as important as the ones Everton completed yesterday.
The decisions of Mikel Arteta and Tim Cahill to commit the best years of their lives to playing at Goodison Park should leave Evertonians all over the land feeling assured and assuage any anxieties that may have been lurking during this painfully quiet pre-season. Bringing players in from different clubs may generate excitement, but there are occasions when the best things are already in front of you, and who would argue that Arteta and Cahill are the current jewels in the Goodison crown? As chairman Bill Kenwright observed, the deals to keep Arteta and Cahill were conducted “the Everton way – quietly, calmly and efficiently” and ensured potential suitors – there were many – never had the chance to unsettle either man. Make no mistake about it, this is a coup for Everton. There have been frustrating occasions in the past when the Blues have been forced into selling their best talent – transfer requests from Francis Jeffers and Wayne Rooney – but now they are in a position to beat off the vultures.
Atletico Madrid would have stumped up a king’s ransom to bring Arteta back to Spain, while closer to home a number of other clubs in the Premier League had identified him as a player who could help radically transform their fortunes.
No wonder. This may seem a bold statement but Everton have not had a player as important as Arteta in the past decade, Rooney included. A joy to watch at his magnificent best, Arteta could end up in the pantheon of Goodison greats if he stays until 2012 and helps win a trophy. Players who can generate audible gasps of excitement amongst supporters when the ball falls at their feet are few and far between, but Arteta is certainly one of them. His talent should be cherished and enjoyed for many years to come. Having eschewed the opportunity to play for more money elsewhere, the stage is set for Arteta – scorer of 12 goals in 76 appearances since he joined from Real Sociedad – to become Everton’s talisman and who would bet against him playing a starring role next year? Similar sentiments apply to Cahill. West Ham United were ready to throw reservoirs of cash in his direction to team the Australian international up with his close pal Lucas Neill at Upton Park, and there was a quiet confidence not so long ago that the pursuit would be successful.
It must be said, nonetheless, that the confidence was one-sided. Goalscoring midfielders are worth their weight in gold and it would have been lunacy to part with a man who has a better strike ratio than some centre-forwards; Everton were never going to sell Cahill. Aside from that, there is more to football, than simply accruing as much cash as you can during your career, and it’s clear that Cahill, who described signing his last contract as a dream come true, can see the potential Everton have for success in the future. Why? Take a look at the first team squad. The vast majority are all young and tied down to lengthy contracts and there is no question that David Moyes will make his first move in the transfer market at some point in the next week.
It is only a matter of time before Phil Jagielka puts pen to paper and with European football an enticing carrot, a couple of other players are sure to have their heads turned when Moyes comes calling. Goodison is fast becoming an attractive destination.
This weekend, however, the talk will be all about Cahill and Arteta and rightly so, as it sends out a positive message on so many different levels. In the dim and distant past, there may have been a weary acceptance that such quality players would leave. Not any longer. Now Everton have made a statement that they mean business and that cashing in on big names is no longer an option. This particular piece of good news could not have come at a better time.

Versatile Inchy turns up trumps for glory
June 30 2007 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON’S last title winners were among the first practitioners of the squad rotation system, in the days before squad rotation had even been invented.
But Howard Kendall’s novel initiative was borne of necessity, rather than invention.
After romping to a league title two years earlier, when the only significant change to Howard Kendall’s regular starting XI came when Adrian Heath sustained a career-threatening injury, Everton reclaimed their crown in 1987 with 20 players all making significant contributions. Among them was a now fit again Heath. Ever present and enormously influential in the autumn of 1984, a knee ligament injury sustained in a challenge with Sheffield Wednesday’s Brian Marwood ended his season on the first day of December. With Gary Lineker recruited in the summer of 1985, he was not a regular selection during the double disappointment that was 1985/86, but with Lineker’s Goodison career a fleeting one, he was back in the starting line-up on the opening day of the title-winning campaign. The dreadful knee injury had taken an edge off his lightning instincts in front of goal. In 17 league appearances in 1984/85 he scored 11 goals. He finished with the same total from 41 league appearances two seasons later, but this time his influence stretched far beyond the opposition penalty box. “Inchy was incredibly versatile,” recalled the skipper of the Blues’ last title- winning side, Kevin Ratcliffe. “I don’t think we allowed him to play in the back four, but he was certainly a valuable asset to the squad and to this day I still don’t know what his best position would have been. “I know Graeme Sharp always rated him as the best striker he’d played with. He did have good movement, very good movement, typical really of the way foreign players played. “He was always coming short to go long, long to come short, and he had a great understanding with Kevin Sheedy. That was instrumental to a lot of the chances we created and a lot of the goals we scored.”
Ratcliffe’s defensive partner, Dave Watson, agreed. “Even when Inchy wasn’t playing he was still a bubbly character and when he did come back he scored some vital goals.
“It takes a lot of character to come back from the type of injury Inchy had. A lot of people would have finished the game because of that but he showed incredible determination and it was well worth the wait when he did come back.”
It wasn’t just rapidly changing personnel, however, that Everton’s title winners of 1986/87 had to adjust to, but different environments around the old First Division.
Queens Park Rangers and Luton Town both played on plastic pitches, while Wimbledon’s original Crazy Gang were still operating out of the infamous, but appropriately named Plough Lane. “Plough Lane? What a place!” recalled Graeme Sharp, 20 years later. “They made it very difficult for you in all aspects.
“Wimbledon were tough competitors who played the long ball. You had to be up for a fight and you had to defend for your life. “But off the field, as well, they made it tough. In the dressing room they would make sure that the windows had been open all day, the place was freezing, they’d take all the light bulbs out, the electricity was always off, the bath was cold and the showers were cold. “They made it very difficult.
“You’d come in at half-time for your tea and nobody would dare try it because you didn’t know what was in it. “It was a very intimidating place.” Intimidating it might have been, but Everton still managed an important 2-1 victory there in September, with Sharp and Sheedy scoring, five months before the Blues’ FA Cup aspirations perished at the same venue. The Blues also secured an even more impressive away win at Loftus Road, possessor of one of the mistrusted plastic pitches.
“It wasn’t a proper game of football down there and you’d see players suffering all kinds of burn injuries,” explained Sheedy. “You had to pass to feet, you couldn’t play into space because the ball would skid out of play and it was really unpredictable.
“The ball would bounce over your head. It was totally different to what you were used to week in, week out. “I don’t think it was a proper spectacle for supporters and it was a big advantage for teams like QPR because they played on it and trained on it all the time. “We just went down on the Friday, sorted our footwear out and couldn’t wait to get it over with. “There was no real passion in the game. It was like playing five-a-side football. We didn’t like playing on it so to win down at QPR was a really big win for us. “It was a close encounter down there in 1987, but a great goal from Sharpy settled it.”

June 2007