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Everton 2, Aston Villa 0 (D,Post)
Mar 1 2004 By David Prior At Goodison Park, Daily Post
LAST WEEK no pill or potion at Bellefield could prevent David Moyes from taking the first sick day of his managerial career.On Saturday he hit upon an instant cure.The 59 days of 2004 up until then had seen Everton slide perplexingly onto the critical list.Winless in the league, penniless in the bank, and increasingly consumed by the paranoia of a side unable to diagnose the symptons of its slump, the threat of relegation had somehow reared again.Performances that have veered from the encouraging, like last week's 3-3 draw at Southampton, to the downright atrocious - the defeat at St Andrews - only served to intensify the feeling that, although Everton were on paper a lot better than their league position implied, something was lacking.Something that ensured a new hard-luck tale was written each week; something that meant virtually every game was soaked through with frustration and regret.But while Moyes' health may be back on an upward curve, experience from this season cautions against filing Saturday's victory under 'turning point'. At least, not yet.For 78 minutes at Goodison, Everton served up a handy microcosm of their season so far - territorial dominance made utterly futile by a failure to take chances.For what it was, though, their long-awaited addition to the win column could have far-reaching effects beyond the three points. Gone was the brittleness that had shipped 10 goals in a fortnight - Everton's back four rode the early withdrawal of Alessandro Pistone to deliver their most commanding performance since Anfield. Juan-Pablo Angel and Darius Vassell barely got a touch.All over the pitch was the togetherness that Moyes banged on about in his programme notes, contagiously lulling the crowd out of its early tension to ensure a far more upbeat second half all round that could well have smoothed the passage to the eventual breathrough.And, at last, a bit of luck. Tomasz Radzinski's introduction came at exactly the right time - his pace upset the Villa backline and changed the course of the game to such an extent that even Thomas Gravesen, a sorry figure in the opening half, had enough confidence to attack the visitors and pull out a gem of a goal."It was Thomas's brother out there in the first half," admitted Moyes afterwards.And he wasn't talking about Lee Carsley. There certainly appeared to be a few imposters in Blue in the first half. The only change Moyes made from the 3-3 draw at Southampton was the reintroduction of Alan Stubbs alongside Joseph Yobo at centre-back after the Englishman passed a late fitness test on a groin strain.David Unsworth dropped to the bench, but it took just 21 minutes before he was back on the pitch when Pistone hobbled off.In the meantime Everton had shown flashes of promise without ever threatening.They had been virtually lifeless, Villa well in command, until Rooney burst through the centre after seven minutes. Initially he seemed to be clean through, but Villa soon covered and snuffed out the 18-year-old's prospects.Rooney though, so exciting at the St Mary's Stadium, again looked the most lively player on show - with an unnecessary tussle with Lee Hendrie thrown in after 16 minutes for good measure.Everton had been given the dubious honour of being next up for Matt Messias, the referee responsible for the extraordinary blunders that marred Liverpool's FA Cup exit at Portsmouth the previous week.This time the official missed an obvious handball from Rooney which allowed the striker to escape his marker before Ulises de la Cruz's abrupt intervention. It seemed a likely penalty but, possibly in an attempt to even up his mistake, Messias waved play on.There was a general lack of cohesiveness in Everton's play, however, and poor service from the wings that consistently ended attacks prematurely.Rooney's late strike had won this encounter last season, but under David O'Leary Villa are an entirely different proposition, and had it not been for Birmingham's late leveller in the Midlands derby would have entered this game on a run of four straight victories.Just before the half-hour Ronny Johnsen floored Rooney just outside the penalty box and Ferguson curled the resulting free-kick narrowly over with Thomas Sorensen stranded.The half-time entertainment was provided by Graeme Sharp and Neville Southall, the former striker sentimentally thundering a series of penalties past the big Welshman, all in the name of charity.When the latter eventually retreated to a seat high up in the main stand, someone only halfjokingly called out for him to put his boots back on and get back out on the pitch.But while the gist of the fan's plea could be understood, given his side's present predicament, there was absolutely no need to bring Nigel Martyn's afternoon to an early end.The veteran was, once again, imperious. Having bravely cleared Nobby Solano's 32nd-minute inswinger, Hendrie was denied on the stroke of half-time by the goalkeeper's outstretched legs.Seconds after the interval he reacted instinctively to tip Darius Vassell's point-blank volley over the bar. That save - or let-off - seemed to galvanise Everton and they embarked upon their now established dominant period.Plenty of possession, plenty of spurned opportunities.Kevin Kilbane's ball found Watson five minutes into the second half, but the former Villa man's header ballooned wide with Duncan Ferguson seemingly impeding his effort.Gravesen swung in a cross, Kil-bane headed over. Then it was Unsworth to supply, Ferguson to squander.There was barely a man in the stadium who didn't think Everton were closing in on yet another missed opportunity, but then on came the little Canadian.It was Rooney who made his goal, though, skipping past Johnsen on the right flank before picking out Radzinski with a perfect cross that the substitute confidently glanced in. Almost visibly the weight dropped off Everton's shoulders.Now virtually rampant, they made it two when Gravesen drove past Hendrie and Johnsen before dispatching past Thomas Sorensen.Whether the confidence that will undoubtedly be gleaned from Saturday's victory extends to the visit of FA Cup quarter-finalists Portsmouth, a long two weeks off, remains to be seen.At last, though, the first brick has been laid in a revival. Perhaps this one can outlast every other revival so far this season.
EVERTON (4-4-2): Martyn; Pistone (Unsworth 21), Stubbs, Yobo, Hibbert; Kilbane, Gravesen, Linderoth, Watson (Radzinski 66); Rooney, Ferguson (Campbell 88). Subs: Simonsen, McFadden.
BOOKINGS: Unsworth, Rooney, Gravesen.
ASTON VILLA (4-4-2): Sorensen; Samuel, Mellberg, Johnsen, de la Cruz; Barry, Hitzlsperger, Hendrie, Solano; Vassell (Crouch 77), Angel. Subs: Dublin, Postma, Whittingham, Ridgewell.
BOOKINGS: Samuel, Hendrie.
REFEREE: M Messias.
ATT: 39,353.

Triumph will be a catalyst - Watson
By David Prior Daily Post Staff
Mar 1 2004
STEVE WATSON hoped Everton's first league win of 2004 would be the catalyst to a strong end to their season - after unwittingly playing a part in the goal that eventually broke Aston Villa's resistance on Saturday. The 29-year-old, came off after 66 minutes to be replaced by Tomasz Radzinski, and it was the Canadian who finally ended a frustrating afternoon for the Goodison club with a fine header 12 minutes from time. And Watson agreed that his replacement was critical to Everton ending their eightgame winless streak in the Premiership. He said: "I was the man to come off but I didn't mind - there were no complaints from me. We needed a bit more pace up front and that's what Tomasz gave us. "It was a big relief to win - the result was all-important, especially going into a two-week break. "It would have been difficult in training even if we'd just got a draw.
"The gaffer was annoyed with us at half-time and we responded in the second half - there were plenty of chances, I had a chance, so did Duncan and Kevin Kilbane, and at last we got one."
Radzinski's goal capped another dominant period of possession for Everton, who went on to score an excellent second five minutes later through Thomas Gravesen's solo strike. And Watson was keen to single out Everton's backline, with Juan Pablo Angel and Darius Vassell virtually anonymous figures as the Midlanders' fine recent run came to a grinding halt. He added: "I think credit should be paid to our defence too." Watson added: "Angel and Vassell have been in top form lately and our back four had to be at their best to contain them. "Hopefully that can be the catalyst for us now. We haven't been playing that badly but the job's not done yet, we need to take it on and climb the table." Team-mate Alan Stubbs, meanwhile, admitted Everton now needed to "roll their sleeves up" to ensure the result was no one-off. The majority of their remaining games are against sides in the bottom half of the table, and Stubbs claimed success in those games would be vital to Everton reaching safety. He said: "It was a much-needed win. We could see that the crowd were getting intense. We're in the position now where there must be no frills, and we must try not to get beat and hope that we get a break. "In the end it was comfortable. But we're not out of this, we've got to stick together to get out. Radzinski came on the right time and he created problems. We've got to roll our sleeves up and make sure we don't have a nervous end to the season. We're good enough to get out." He added: "It's been a long time coming. At times, because you've been on a bit of a losing run, you wonder what's going to happen. But fair play to the lads, they stuck at it and in the end I thought they thoroughly go what they deserved. "I thought at times we did our best to give it to them. We were a bit sloppy in our passing everywhere and we made it easier for them to dominate the first half. But in the end we've created a couple of chances and more or less had them pinned back in the second half. "We knew that if we played to our strengths and everyone did their jobs then the points there for the taking on Saturday. We've got the all important three points that we all wanted." The result lifted Everton to 14th place in the table, still just five points above the drop zone. And Stubbs cautioned: "Five points is a little bit of breathing space but it's not enough. We need to make it more. "We're definitely too good for the position that we're in at the moment and we've been saying that, but when you're not winning games and you're drawing games you deserve to be there. "The table doesn't tell lies. We've been far too inconsistent this season and it's time that we did something about it and put a run together. We've got a couple of games now which are very winnable and hopefully we can get the right results to pull us away from the bottom." Meanwhile, Everton last night dismissed a story linking them with a potential bid from Libyan ruler Colonel Gaddafi.

Rooney's still learning to keep his cool
By David Prior, Daily Post
Mar 1 2004
WAYNE ROONEY enjoyed yet another headline-grabbing afternoon in an Everton shirt - and it's all part of the learning process as far as his manager is concerned. The 18-year-old, (right), picked up where he left off at Southampton, capping a lively display with the inch-perfect cross that Tomasz Radzinski dispatched for Everton's opener. Rooney also picked up a booking for dissent - his ninth of the campaign - was involved in a needless scuffle with Lee Hendrie, and had a legitimate penalty claim turned down. At times he seemed in danger of boiling over, but he just about kept his temper in check - and was rewarded with a week's holiday by manager David Moyes. He said: "Wayne is learning. He was very anxious about the situation, but then so were we all. "It's easy to pick up on little things but we like him because he's a good footballer. "He'll always be an aggressive player. It'll be important for him to get a few days' rest. He may want a few days in Scarborough. But wherever he goes, it's a chance to relax and put his feet up." Team-mate Alan Stubbs also sprang to the defence of Rooney - and added that teams were now "fearing" the prodigious youngster. He said: "Wayne was very unfortunate to get booked, I thought he looked calm and composed. "He's come into his own of late and has brought a breath of fresh air into the side. "Teams fear him and that's the way we like it. Why was Hendrie involved? Was he trying to get him sent off? He has looked good and worked wonders and will be an important player for us." Thomas Gravesen and Tobias Linderoth were also handed a break by Moyes, with the Scot keen to have all three refreshed for the Premiership run-in - Everton's next game isn't until Portsmouth at home a week on Saturday - and the Euro 2004 finals. Moyes said: "I am letting all three of the lads who could be going to Portugal to have a week off. These players have so many matches these days and this is a chance to recharge their batteries before the end-of-season run-in. "It will also help them with Portugal in mind. As a club we want our players to be properly prepared for the European finals as well as being on song for the final games of the season." The result gave Everton a welcome lift after nine games without a win. "We have not been getting the points our performances have deserved," added Moyes.
"We were all anxious out there, Wayne was no different, but he is still learning. We had been giving the ball away too much, our passes were going astray. "I think everyone was happy to get into the dressing room at half-time so we could start to put things right."

Moyes inspires some promising signs of recovery
By Ian Doyle, Daily Post
Mar 1 2004
PHEW. It's been a long time in coming, but David Moyes and Everton enjoyed some blessed relief from their recent ills on Saturday. Moyes, was laid low during the week with a bout of the flu and marauded the touchline at a chilly Goodison sporting a red eye which gave his normal icy glare even greater menace. His unsettling appearance must have given an extra edge to his halftime teamtalk, because after a blast of the hair-dryer treatment Everton made amends for a desperate first-half display to ease past Aston Villa and record their first Premiership win of 2004. Like Moyes, Evertonians have been feeling under the weather of late, that familiar sick feeling building in the stomach as their team slipped further towards the relegation zone with each winless weekend.
Given the standard of a desperately poor Premiership this season, realistically Everton have enough in their locker to steer clear of the drop. But try telling that to an edgy Goodison faithful which has seen their side flirt with danger too many times for comfort over the past decade. Only when the Blues are mathematically safe will the supporters rest easy. After all, stranger things have happened - although it's debatable we'll ever see a decent performance from Saturday's lamentable referee Matt Messias. Victory against Aston Villa was therefore imperative to an Everton side which had probably spent the majority of the past week trying to comprehend how they let a certain three points slip at Southampton the previous week. And while the goals on Saturday were well-taken, what will have pleased Moyes most was the clean sheet. After shipping 12 goals in their previous four games, Everton have been in drastic need of a return to the stingy defence which formed the backbone of last season's fine league showing. They delivered. Nigel Martyn was his usual reliable self - his second-half save from Darius Vassell at point-blank range a real turning point - but it was ahead of him where the main plaudits should be placed. Alan Stubbs, to use a quote from his manager, was colossal. Chief organiser at the back, he kept the troublesome Juan Pablo Angel quiet throughout and, with Joseph Yobo offering sterling support in the centre of defence, the in-form Vassell rarely caught a glimpse of goal. Further forward, a little tactical tinkering from Moyes helped turn the tide Everton's way. The home side had already wrested the initiative when the manager threw Tomasz Radzinski into the fray in the second half. By the end, the Canadian had headed Moyes' men into the lead and laid the way for Thomas Gravesen to waltz through the Villa defence for a match-clinching second in a fine closing 20-minute spell, out of keeping with a previously belowpar Everton display. Radzinski finds himself in a catch 22 situation. Many believe Everton have a greater threat up front with the former Anderlecht man in attendance, his pace and diagonal runs capable of causing even the finest defences moments of real concern. However, with Duncan Ferguson back to something like his destructive best and Wayne Rooney clearly much happier in a central role playing off the big man, the question is where Radzinski could fit in. Against Villa, Moyes opted to sacrifice the wide play of Steve Watson and withdraw Rooney behind a forward pairing of Radzinski and Ferguson. It worked in the short term - Rooney providing the cross for the Canadian to head home the opener, drawing central defender Ronny Johnsen out of position in the process - but it is not something which can be used long term, at least not until Everton are higher up the table.
Still, it's a pleasant headache for Moyes to have. One he could do without, though, is the form of Thomas Gravesen. Is there a more infuriating performer in the Premiership? One week brilliant, the next week awful, Gravesen has long been accused of saving his best for Goodison. Inconsistency is his trademark, but it's unlikely the Dane will have had quite as contrasting a 90 minutes as that on Saturday. In the first half he was awful; in the second half he was much better, although his superb goal, in which he danced past two players before slotting home, was undeserving of a game which on the whole was instantly forgettable. As for Villa, they made some pretty patterns but their high league placement is a sad indictment of Premiership standards this season. Now Moyes must hope his team can repeat that final quarter on a more regular basis. Otherwise, there might be a few more red eyes before the season's end.

Radzinski repays manager's faith
View From The Stands, By Steven Mills, Daily Post
Mar 1 2004
FINALLY we have a win to talk about in 2004. It wasn't pretty, in fact at times it was ugly, but an inspired substitution from David Moyes was enough to give us three much-needed points. First half we seemed edgy and continually gave the ball away, with Thomas Gravesen seemingly the main culprit. In truth it was only the Dane, Wayne Rooney and Kevin Kilbane who looked like doing anything in the opening period. Villa played pretty football at times but lacked penetration. We can only thank the stars that Joseph Yobo has returned to the centre of defence as his pace and reading of the game has been sorely missed. After the break Moyes took off Steve Watson, who still seems short of match fitness, and replaced him with Tomasz Radzinski. I can't believe that some fans still criticise him for missing chances. Yes, he does miss his fair share but he has never let his head go down and always gives 100%. His pace worried Villa and I wasn't surprised to see him notch the first goal. Rooney also seemed to revel in Radzinski's presence. His cross was inch perfect and all Tomasz had to do was stick his head on it. Gravesen then went from villain to hero as he slotted the second. Radzinski again played a part but Gravesen did most of the hard work himself. It was then a matter of playing down the clock. With homes games against Portsmouth, Spurs, Middlesbrough, Blackburn and Bolton we should be looking up the league rather than down from now on. This win should give us that confidence that's been lacking in front of goal and maybe now, finally, we are going to put a run together similar to last season's.

Everton 2, Aston Villa 0 (Echo)
Mar 1 2004 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
THERE is a fine line between confidence and complacency.Last week I interviewed former Everton defender Craig Short. Now at Blackburn, the 35-year-old was telling me how worried he was by Rovers' current league predicament. He even mentioned the possibility of the 'r' word.It was an interesting insight because there has been no such talk around the Everton camp, despite the Blues going into the weekend fixtures a point worse off than Blackburn.But any suggestion of complacency in the squad was blown apart on Saturday.The Blues have merely remained confident in their own ability. And that confidence was justified by a rousing end to Saturday's clash with Villa which, at long last, provided the club with their first league victory of 2004.It was the nature of the victory as much as anything which backed up the unwavering belief inside the squad that they will avoid a relegation battle.After such a long spell without a win, a scrambled three points would have been acceptable.Instead, Villa were swept aside by a late flourish from the Blues as their key players turned on the style.Wayne Rooney, Thomas Graves-en, Duncan Ferguson and Tomasz Radzinski are gifted attacking play-ers most Premiership managers would find places for.But for each, in their own way, consistency has been a problem this season.In the latter stages of Saturday's match, however, they clicked into gear and the win was assured.It was a timely reminder that, if the going were to get tough in the final weeks of the season, then Everton have players good enough to win a game with a moment of magic.On this occasion it was the arrival of Radzinski in place of Steve Watson which proved the catalyst for victory, with David Moyes switching from a 4-4-2 to a 4-3-3 formation.
The Canadian international provided the perfect response to his manager after being omitted from the starting line-up for the last couple of games.He started and finished the move which broke the deadlock 12 minutes from time, spreading a pass out to Rooney on the right flank with the visitors stretched to breaking point.The 18-year-old hurdled a desperate challenge from Ronny Johnsen and turned in a pinpoint cross which Radzinski met with a powerful header at the near post as he sprinted into the six-yard box.It was a clinical strike and a reminder of the quality available to Moyes.Radzinski turned provider for the second, slipping the neatest of layoffs into the path of Gravesen 25 yards from goal.That is normally the cue for the mercurial Dane to unleash an effort from distance which fails to find the target.On this occasion he chose to run with the ball, for once making the most of his impressive ability to dribble past players in an area of the pitch where it can do the most damage.He skipped into the penalty box and fired a shot across Thomas Sorenson and into the far corner of the net for his first goal of the season and only the sixth of his Goodison career.For a player with his skill and flair, that is a woefully poor return.But it was a timely strike, coming as it did in a game in which he had received a fair degree of stick.Gravesen is one of the most gifted players in the Everton squad - yet fans seem to take great pleasure in getting on his back when he has an off day, as was the case on Saturday.He can be infuriating to watch because his form does vary dramatically. And when he is not at his best he has a tendency to give the ball away cheaply.But he deserves a little more consideration from certain sections of the crowd because of what his talent can offer the team. That talent inflicted on Villa the killer blow six minutes from time. It also ensured the two-week break from competitive action will be a stress-free one for the fans, who were beginning to get a little worried.After enduring end-of-season dogfights so often in the last decade it was inevitable that the recent run of form would concern the fans.And had Saturday not gone well, it could have started to concern the players as well. The confidence which has been a constant amongst the staff at Bellefield in recent weeks could have become eroded. The forthcoming games against Portsmouth and Leicester would have become gargantuan. And in that kind of stressful situation belief can drain away.That is why Saturday was such a huge result. Everton are still not out of the woods.But their confidence has been justified, rather than undermined.The form of Ferguson, who has also been bringing the best out of Rooney, has also provided a timely fillip.For once he had a referee in Matt Messias who realised that a player standing his ground does not constitute a foul merely because the striker is over six feet tall.As a result, the Scot caused all kinds of problems for a Villa defence who were intimidated by his physical pressence.Had he generated more power from a header early in the second half he would have capped his 200th appearance for Everton with a goal.He seems to relishing being skipper again and his leadership will be influential in the coming months.And for those who believe there are not enough leaders in the Everton side, there was the welcome return to defence of Alan Stubbs.He may have lost the captaincy to his good mate but that did not stop him producing an outstanding defensive display alongside Joseph Yobo.After conceding 10 goals in three games, it was a welcome relief to see the Blues keep a clean sheet for the first time since the Anfield derby in January.Nigel Martyn played a part in that, producing a couple of excellent saves either side of half-time that were even good enough to put Neville Southall's return to competitive action at Goodison in the shade.The legendary keeper provided the half-time entertainment along with Graeme Sharp in a penalty shoot-out at the Gwladys Street to publicise the launch of the club's new matchday game.
Thankfully, he was the only Everton hero Paying the Penalty on Saturday.
EVERTON (4-4-2): Martyn; Pistone (Unsworth 21), Stubbs, Yobo, Hibbert; Kilbane, Gravesen, Linderoth, Watson (Radzinski 66); Rooney, Ferguson (Campbell 88). Subs: Simonsen, McFadden.
BOOKINGS: Unsworth, Rooney, Gravesen.
ASTON VILLA (4-4-2): Sorensen; Samuel, Mellberg, Johnsen, de la Cruz; Barry, Hitzlsperger, Hendrie, Solano; Vassell (Crouch 77), Angel. Subs: Dublin, Postma, Whittingham, Ridgewell.
BOOKINGS: Samuel, Hendrie.
REFEREE: M Messias.
ATT: 39,353.

Rooney quiz on spitting
Mar 1 2004 Liverpool Echo
WAYNE Rooney will be questioned this week by police over claims he spat in a woman's face during a nightclub argument. Police are arranging a suitable time and location to interview the Everton teenage star. They are speaking to his advisers and will tell them the Goodison hero has the option of giving his version of events at a police station. But it is more likely the interview will take place at Rooney's new £900,000 mansion in Formby he shares with girlfriend Colleen McLoughlin. Greater Manchester police launched an investigation after Nicola Sunenberry, 23, made a report of common assault against the England international. She says they got into an argument inside Manchester's Ampersand nightclub as Rooney enjoyed a night out with team-mates. It is claimed she told him he "looked like the FA Cup" and, as the row got more heated, he spat in her face. Detectives took a statement from Nicola, from Skelmersdale, in the days after the alleged incident. They have also spoken to other revellers at the nightspot. A police spokeswoman said Rooney would not be under arrest. It is believed the investigation will last several more weeks as officers compile a file of information. That will then be passed to the crown prosecution service who will decide if Rooney should be brought before a court. The alleged offence carries a punishment of a fine. A spokesman for Everton said: "We do not deal with inquiries of a nonfootballing nature to do with Wayne."

Dunc's our inspiration
Mar 1 2004 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON'S Alan Stubbs is happy for his close mate Duncan Ferguson to keep the skipper's armband.
Stubbs has led the side for much of the season in the absence of club captain David Weir. But, Ferguson, took the armband in Stubbs' absence at Southampton last week and kept it for Saturday's clash with Aston Villa despite the defender's return after injury. It is something that does not concern the experienced 32-year-old. "Duncan is captain at the moment and it is something I don't think should be passed here, there and everywhere," explained Stubbs. "As far as I am concerned now I won't be captain and it is as simple as that. "You know what you are getting from Dunc. He is a leader, he is a big presence and he has done absolutely fantastically for the team, which is there for everybody to see. You don't need me to say that. "Everyone has been thoroughly delighted with the way Dunc has performed lately and us as players have seen that." Manager David Moyes spoke with Stubbs ahead of Saturday's match to explain his decision. Moyes said: "In the Southampton game I was pleased with the way Duncan approached the role so I decided to keep the captaincy with him. "I was privy to events in the dressing room before the game and he did the motivational side of the job very well. "I spoke to Alan and explained my reasons to him fully. He accepted that."
Stubbs was happy to be back in the side after recovering from a groin strain and believes an important factor in the solid display was the 4-4-2 formation. Although it was the late switch to 4-3-3 which finally overcame Villa, Stubbs is keen for the Blues to continue with the more solid 4-4-2.
He added: "We have had a belief that we shouldn't be where we are in the table. But you can look at that from the other side and say teams are where they are because they deserve to be there.
"We have had good performances, bad performances and indifferent performances throughout the season. We have had a real mixed bag and that is our biggest downfall. "Th is season we haven't imposed our presence on teams enough in games. "4-3-3 is more attacking and at the moment we need to be difficult to beat. We have started to do that in the last couple of games" Meanwhile, Niclas Alexandersson has said his farewells at Everton. Moyes added: "He left the club on Friday to return to Sweden. He has signed a pre-contract agreement with Gothenburg and we are allowing him to leave early. "I would like to thank him for his contribution to the club, particularly during my early days here, when he played a big part in helping us to avoid relegation."

Grav's split personality
Mar 1 2004 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
THOMAS GRAVESEN turned a Goodison give-away into a Goodison get-away on Saturday, by transforming his own personal performance either side of half-time against Aston Villa.
After 45 frustrating minutes, when he regularly squandered possession, Everton's Danish midfielder was handed a pointed message from his manager at half-time. His second half display, however, satisfied David Moyes to the point where he told the maverick midfielder to take a week off afterwards. "There were two different players out there," said the Blues' boss afterwards. "Tommy's brother was out there in the first half, Tommy Gravesen in the second half. And yes, we did have a word at half-time. "I don't want to see him now until the beginning of next week. "I've given the European Championship boys, Wayne Rooney, Tommy Gravesen and Tobias Linderoth a week off. Wayne's had an awful lot of football and I want those boys to be right for the end of the season for us and also for their countries. "Hopefully, it will be for the benefit of Everton first and foremost, but also for Denmark, England and Sweden - although Nigel Martyn is claiming he might be in the England squad now as well!" "Wayne didn't get much of a break last summer so I just want him to put his feet up and relax. It's his choice what he does. He might want a few days in Scarborough, I don't know!" The decision to bring on Tomasz Radzinski as a substitute and push Rooney out to the right flank resulted in the move which broke the deadlock - Rooney crossing for the substitute to head his first goal since the equaliser against Arsenal in January. "We've got strikers who can do different things and we're fortunate to have them," explained Moyes. "The idea was to play Rooney as a pushed on right-sided forward to play against Samuel, and if we were short to help out a bit, but we knew if he could get a bit more space he might pick a pass out and it worked out a little bit like that. "I think he enjoyed playing off the target man, although we missed someone running in behind at times and we lacked people getting in the box because Wayne does like to show a little bit. But we were aware of that as the game was going on and that's why we brought Radz on. He is someone who upsets defences. "Last week was the first time really that the centre-forwards have shown a bit of combination and got a few goals, but Radz has come on now and scored which is great. "But a lot of credit should also go to the back-four and the goalkeeper for ensuring we got a clean sheet. "I think the players kept at it. It wasn't the prettiest for long periods, but we got our goal in the end which gave us the confidence to go and get the second." Moyes added: "Nigel's save just after half-time was probably a critical moment for us. We've needed a wee rub of the green recently, but whether you'd call that the rub of the green I don't know, because it was a real good save. "We woke up a little then and probably played better from that point onwards.
"It was a relief to get the result, because we've had a month or two where the points probably haven't mirrored the performances - with the exception of the Birmingham City game. David O'Leary summed up the match from Villa's perspective in one sentence. "Everton's desire and hunger in the final 25 minutes was much greater than ours."

Blues can benefit from strikers' role reversal
Mar 1 2004 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
LAST St David's Day, Wayne Rooney was still uncomfortably adjusting to his role as an Everton supersub. Team-mate Tomasz Radzinski, meanwhile, was happily carrying off another man of the match award as The Toffees picked off their 49th point of the season at Middlesbrough. Fast-forward 12 months and Rooney has already won one personal challenge. He is the man in possession, while Radzinski is resigned to coming off the bench to play the super-hero.
And therein lies the formula for Everton's charge away from the squirty-bottom end of the Premiership. This time last year the little Canadian was one match away from a mystery groin strain which ended his season early. And it left Everton short of options and firepower just when they needed them most. That harrowing experience might just explain David Moyes' deadline day swoop for Francis Jeffers this season. The striking department is not one where Everton are short of numbers. But maybe Moyes hadn't banked on Duncan Ferguson making such a complete recovery from a fragile back and an even more fragile temperament. Saturday was his fourth consecutive starting appearance. It's almost two years since he enjoyed such an unbroken run - and he has completed every one of those games, too. But more importantly his role in those four games has been increasingly influential. It is no exaggeration to suggest that there have been times in the not too distant past when the Bellefield coaching staff believed they would never see Duncan Ferguson pull on a Royal Blue jersey again. A pain-filled back and a wicked tongue appeared to have seen to that. But Ferguson has not only overcome his glass-back syndrome, he has buried the hatchet with his manager to the point where he is now once again the captain of Everton Football Club. There is no doubt Ferguson's most consistently influential moments at Everton have come with an armband around his left bicep. His first outing as skipper famously resulted in his first Goodison hat-trick. And during the run-in to the harrowing 1997-98 season he battled on with a painful knee injury to do as much as anybody to oversee Everton's scramble away from relegation. He was the skipper David Moyes inherited in 2002 and he is leading both the line and the team with gusto once again. His actions just after half-time on Saturday pointed to a man who reve ls in the responsibility. While Aston Villa left Everton kicking their heels on the pitch for two minutes, Ferguson was all animation - running around offering advice to team-mates. Ferguson responds to being skipper - and with a dearth of candidates elsewhere - Alan Stubbs was the only man in the starting line-up on Saturday to offer a possible challenge - the Blues should be thankful. Everton's fixture list is still littered with the kind of matches fans look at and label 'winnable.' The Blues have already played four of the top six home and away. The next month offers three point incentives against Portsmouth, Leicester an d Middlesbrough The availablity of striking options in the weeks ahead is further cause for optimism.
Instead of looking at the five point gap between Wolves and themselves, optimistic Evertonians are now looking at the five point gap which distances them from the top half of the table. It's certainly breachable. With Ferguson fit until the end of the season, Rooney employed in his most potent position alongside him, Nigel Martyn continuing to exude his own brand of calm assurance and Tomasz Radzinski offering the threat of pace and penetration from the substitutes' bench Everton can start to look upwards again. Until the next match at least . . .

Pistone facing new spell on sidelines
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Mar 2 2004
ALESSANDRO PISTONE will today discover whether he faces another spell on the Goodison sidelines.
The Everton defender, was forced out of Saturday's win over Aston Villa after only 21 minutes with a hamstring strain - his third different injury of a disruptive season. Pistone, who has been restricted to 13 appearances for David Moyes' side this term due to hernia and shoulder problems, underwent a scan on his latest setback yesterday. Everton are hoping for confirmation of their initial assessment that the Italian faces a fortnight out so that, with no game this weekend, he only misses the visit of Portsmouth on March 13. But they are taking no chances given the 28-year-old's recent injury record and will await today's results before scheduling a return. "Alessandro sustained a minor hamstring injury on Saturday," confirmed head of physio Mick Rathbone. "He said that he felt it very early on in the game when he overstretched for the ball, but he tried to carry on playing.
"Alessandro is very, very upset at the moment. He's had his fair share of injuries, but it doesn't look too bad. "We took a look at him after the game and on Sunday morning and we'll send him for a scan, but clinically, it looks very minor at the moment. "At the moment, I don't think he'll be ready for the Portsmouth game." Moyes, meanwhile, is taking a strong squad to the Republic of Ireland tonight for a hastily-arranged friendly against Bray Wanderers. Richard Wright and David Weir will make their first appearances of the year as they return from knee injuries at the Carlisle Ground in County Wicklow (kick-off 7.30pm). The Everton manager explained: "Richard and David need to get some foot-ball under their belts. They've not played for a while and with no game this Saturday I felt it would be a good time to arrange a friendly." Meanwhile, Thomas Gravesen is out of the away trip to Leicester on March 20 due to suspension. The Danish midfielder collected his fifth booking of the season in the weekend win over Villa and must serve a one-match ban.

Supporters still can't work out Thomas enigma
By Mark Lawrenson, Daily Post
Mar 2 2004
YOU could be a professor of psychology and I bet you still wouldn't have any idea why Thomas Gravesen can be so influential one moment and then so anonymous the next. Everton's Danish midfielder, demonstrated his two extremes against Aston Villa at the weekend when he was poor in the first half and brilliant in the second. That is just the way he is and if people knew why, they would surely try to change him. However, Everton will have to accept the debit side of his performances, because when he is in credit and playing well, he is a real positive influence - probably their most creative player. Certainly he is a player who is not afraid to try something out of the ordinary and when it comes off, it is amazing. When it doesn't, well, the best you can say is that it was well intentioned. The key for David Moyes is to surround Gravesen with players who are consistent so that his unpredictability can be supported by hard work and effort. That's probably why they spent so long courting Sean Davis at Fulham, because he could offer what Gravesen does, but a bit more often. When you look at Gravesen, there are times when you think he is a top class player and I am sure bigger teams have thought that as well. However ,when he has a bad half or match those same clubs swiftly look else-where, which is why he has never played for a real top-class side. The difference with teams at the top of the table is they have play-ers who are capable of doing the things that Gravesen does, but for 80-90 minutes and for eight games out of 10, instead of for 45 minutes and five games out of 10. It is like when Duncan McKenzie played for Everton - he would do fantastic things in games, but occasionally he would totally drift out of play. As a manager it must be frustrating, but Moyes is used to taking the rough with the smooth from the Dane.
Looking at it from a wider perspective, the Dane is a personification of the team as a whole - sometimes brilliant and purposeful, sometimes disappointing and anonymous. However, after their victory against Aston Villa - and looking at some of the fixtures Everton have in the next few weeks - I can see them going on a little run of wins to get them away from the relegation zone and into mid-table, starting against Portsmouth at Goodison Park.

Board to blame
Post Soapbox, Icliverpool & Daily Post
Mar 2 2004
Board to blame
THE troubles Everton have suffered over the post-war years began when they commenced a downhill spiral of selling their best players. Tommy Lawton and Joe Mercer were the first and it's been more of the same ever since. The current situation has been caused through bad management by the board of directors over many years.
Derek Walker (via e-mail)
Keep Tomasz
EVERTON sell Radzinski? Almost as daft a suggestion as those who want to sell Rooney. The intensity seemed to carry the guys through against Villa, which was a welcome change in attitude to that shown against the likes of Birmingham. Let us not rest on our laurels though; some serious changes need to be implemented in the close-season.
Jim Duggan,Merseyside
Sell Tobias
A CONVINCING win against Villa who have been looking solid for the last while was great news.
We should also get rid of Linderoth - may he be the first of many to leave this year. But not Rooney. The lad is showing his class that some doubted now he is getting his game. A top 10 finish is not out of reach by any means
Scott Darlett, Liverpool

Under-17s stay on title course
Academy Football By Chris Wright, Daily Post
Mar 2 2004
PAUL HOPKINS'S second-half equaliser was enough keep Everton under-17s on top of the FA Premier Academy League Group A table. Gary Ablett's team drew 1-1 with second-placed Manchester United at the Carrington Complex on Saturday to stay in pole position on goal difference. Everton also have a game in hand with just four matches left to play. United went in front early on, but James Harris was brought down in the area to give Everton a chance from the spot on the half-hour mark. Hopkins initially saw his spot-kick saved but followed up for the rebound. Coach Ablett said: "We showed tremendous character, passion, commitment - everything you would hope we would show for a game of this importance." And in the absence of suspended captain Mark Hughes and fellow defender Stephen Wynne, Ablett was delighted with the younger members of his side. He added: "Because of the importance of the game I thought John Irving did particularly well. He is an under-15 and it could have been a very difficult game for him. But he showed he has the correct attitude and showed a tremendous amount of character and maturity." Everton under-19s finally got some reward for their efforts on Saturday. Neil Dewsnip's side hit four for the first time this season as they won 4-2 at Sheffield Wednesday. An own goal from a back-pass that went under the keeper's foot early on set the U19s on their way. Then Italian striker Patrice Pascucci doubled their advantage after 20 minutes and Brian Moogan got up to make it 3-0 from the penalty spot.
Wednesday did pull a goal back before half-time, but Anthony Barry added a goal to his fine all-round display to make it 4-1. The home side claimed a second soon after. Coach Dewsnip said: "It is just what we needed for a million different reasons. It was smashing to win and score some goals. The defending wasn't great but we can get better at that."
EVERTON UNDER-19s: Lake; Flood, Gerrard, Potter, Fox; Booth, B Moogan, Barry, Martland (Joseph Jones 45); Lynch (O'Donnell 80), Pascucci (Brown 88). Subs: Thorbinson, Garside.
EVERTON UNDER-17s: Gallagher; Irving, Kearney, Wright, Boyle; Wilson, Harris, Seargeant, Johnson; Hopkins (Phelan 80), Fowler (Vaughan 80). Subs: Morrison, Pearson, Anichebe.

City keep tabs on Unsworth
Chris Bailey
March 02, 2004
Manchester Evening News
NEIGHBOURS Manchester City and Bolton could be involved in a summer scrap for the services of central defender David Unsworth. The 30-year-old former England man is out of contract at Everton at the end of the season and has yet to be offered a suitable new deal. Unsworth, who came through the youth ranks at Goodison Park before brief, ill-fated moves to West Ham and then Aston Villa, will be available on a Bosman free transfer. Both Kevin Keegan and Sam Allardyce are in the market for bolstering the middle of their defence and according to close friends of Unsworth both clubs have made initial contact with the Chorley-born player .

Rooney doesn't need a holiday
By Andy Gray, Liverpool Echo
Mar 2 2004
WAYNE ROONEY will be thrilled to be handed a week's holiday ahead of the intense end-of-season run-in. But I'm not sure he needs it. I started my own playing career at Dundee United when I was 17, so I know how young footballers feel. If I had been told at that age to take a week's holiday, I would have said: "Are you sure? I still have plenty to learn" and I probably would not have gone.
When you are 18 you want to play every day and you still have to absorb a huge amount of knowledge about your craft. The difference between my situation and Wayne's of course, is the intensity of the media glare. That is maybe why David Moyes wants Wayne away from Bellefield for a week. After coming back for pre-season training a little over-weight, then struggling with injury, it is only in recent weeks that Wayne has looked really fit and sharp. In order to maintain that sharpness, the best thing for Wayne would be to carry on playing. At his age you have an abundance of energy, and the physical demands of football certainly will not be affecting him. But it is the mental pressures he probably needs a break from. I would like to think Wayne will book a week in the sun somewhere and get away completely from the papers and the TV. It will defeat the object of the exercise if he sits around at home with the sports channel on all day. The scrutiny he will experience this summer at the European Championships will be like nothing even he has endured in his career so far. Maybe the break will benefit England - but more importantly, hopefully Everton will reap the benefits first.

Face it - Gravesen will always be inconsistent
By Andy Gray, Liverpool Echo
Mar 2 2004
THOMAS GRAVESEN has scored four goals in his 35 Danish international appearances. Not prolific, but certainly a respectable enough ratio. Saturday's strike against Aston Villa, though, was only his sixth in 125 Everton outings. Given that international football is supposed to be harder than playing for your club, something does not balance up. Of course it could be merely something simple like a different role for club and country, except that David Moyes will have analysed that possibility and done all he can to improve Gravesen's goals output in a Blue jersey. Sometimes you just have to accept that certain individuals will always be burdened by the tag of inconsistency. There is little doubt that Gravesen is a talented midfielder with the ability to both create goals and score them.
Everton sorely lack that kind of player, which is why they indulge Gravesen, even when he is playing poorly. Saturday highlighted that perfectly. For 45 minutes he was dreadful, but David had a firm word with him at the interval, sent him back out again and he was not only much improved . . . he scored that eye-catching goal. Everton will continue to be enthralled and exasperated by Gravesen in equal measure. But they may have to bite the bullet and just let him get on with things.

Bray Wanderers 0, Everton 4 (D,Post)
Mar 3 2004
Daily Post
DAVID MOYES took the opportunity of no Premiership match this week to send some of his fringe players to Dublin to take on Eircon League Division One side Bray Wanderers last night.Everton also included a host of big names as Richard Wright and David Weir, (left), returned to action in Dublin. And a large attendance turned up at the Carlisle Ground despite crowd-pleaser Wayne Rooney not being on show.England international Wright, who has played just one reserve game since September, dealt with his early touches comfortably and showed no signs of the knee injury which has kept him sidelined for so long.Not surprisingly Everton dominated proceedings from the off and saw chances from Francis Jeffers, James McFadden and Lee Carsley all dealt with by the Bray keeper. Eventually the Blues did get the breakthrough, McFadden broke free on the left and sent in a superb ball for the waiting Jeffers who finished right-footed past O'Connor.Just before the break Kieren O'Brien then forced a block from Wright, with the Everton keeper saving well to his right.Jeffers then got his second in stoppage time in the first half. A mistake by Colm Tresson let in Carsley, who squared to the Everton striker who finished calmly.Everton assistant boss Alan Irvine changed things round at halftime with Kevin Campbell and David Unsworth being replaced by Tomasz Radzinski and Steve Watson.Watson forced an early save out of O'Connor with a curling shot and then Canadian international Radzinski shot just wide on 58 minutes.McFadden, who had been busy all night, made it three on 78 minutes with a superb run and shot into the far right corner.Then Tresson again forced Wright into making a save with a rightfooted shot.Nick Chadwick, (left), replaced Jeffers, who had earlier come close to getting his hat-trick only for the keeper to deny him the match ball.Chadwick was quickly into the action with a effort from 10 yards out but the Everton striker could only produce a weak shot.Watson then went close with a header which looped over the crossbar.But Chadwick did get on the scoresheet in the 89th minute when the ball ran free to him in the area and the Goodison striker, likely to go on loan to Millwall in the next few weeks, finished past O'Connor.An easy victory for Everton was expected, however, the night saw the welcome return of both Wright and Weir, who performed admirably. Around 5,000 fans went home happy despite the scoreline.
EVERTON: Wright, Weir, Unsworth (Watson 45), Campbell (Radzinski 45), Jeffers (Chadwick 73), Naysmith, Gemmill, Nyarko, McFadden, Carsley, Hibbert. Subs: Kilbane, Martyn.
BRAY WANDERERS: O'Connor, Tresson, Farrell, Lynch, Charles, Gormley, McGuiness, James, O'Brien, Grogan, Quinn.

Wright returns in Irish friendly
By David Prior, Daily Post
Mar 3 2004
RICHARD WRIGHT made his long-awaited first-team return last night as Everton eased past Bray Wanderers in a friendly in the Republic of Ireland. The 26-year-old goalkeeper, has endured an injury-ravaged campaign that has limited him to just four appearances and none since September, Wright eventually forced into career-saving knee surgery in the United States just before Christmas.
He played 90 minutes at the Carlisle Ground in County Wicklow last night as the visitors won 4-0.
Also coming through the match was David Weir, out since early January with a knee injury, as Alan Irvine, filling in for David Moyes who stayed on Merseyside, fielded a near fullstrength side.
Francis Jeffers scored twice in the first half with James McFadden and Nick Chadwick completing the rout late on. Alessandro Pistone's latest setback was confirmed yesterday with a scan confirming the hamstring injury he suffered against Aston Villa on Saturday will keep him out for "several weeks". The Italian defender was forced off after just 21 minutes at Goodison. Results from a precautionary scan showed that the 28-year-old had damaged fibres in the hamstring in his right leg.
"We knew as soon as we got him off the park that it was a minor hamstring strain, so Alessandro went for a scan yesterday and that confirmed our initial diagnosis," said head physio Mick Rathbone. "It will be several weeks and we will take our time with 'Sandro."

Bray Wanderers 0, Everton 4 (Echo)
Mar 3 2004
Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES welcomed back defensive duo Richard Wright and David Weir last night as Everton thrashed Eircon League Division One side Bray Wanderers 4-0 in Dublin.Wright, (left), made his first appearance for the Blues after a six-month injury-enforced absence, while Weir donned a Blue shirt for the first time in over a month.England international Wright, who has played just one reserve game since September, dealt with his early touches comfortably and showed no signs of of the knee injury which has kept him sidelined for so long.Around 5,000 local fans turned out for the match and saw their side comprehensively outplayed, Everton dominating proceedings from the off.Chances from Francis Jeffers, James McFadden and Lee Carsley were all dealt with by Bray keeper O'Connor.Eventually the Blues made the breakthrough. McFadden broke free on the left and sent in a superb ball for the waiting Jeffers, who finished with a right-foot shot past O'Connor.Just before the break Kieren O'Brien forced a block from Wright, with the Everton keeper saving well to his right.Jeffers then got his second in stoppage time in the first half. A mistake by Colm Tresson let in Carsley, who squared to the Everton striker, who finished calmly.Everton assistant boss Alan Irvine changed things round at half-time with Kevin Campbell and David Unsworth being replaced by Tomasz Radzinski and Steve Watson.Watson forced an early save out of O'Connor with a curling shot and the Canadian international Radzinski shot wide on 58 minutes.McFadden, who had been busy all night, made it three on 78 minutes with a superb run and shot into the far right corner.Then Tresson again forced Wright into making a save with a right-footed shot.Nick Chadwick replaced Jeffers, who had earlier come close to getting a hat-trick only for the keeper to deny him the match ball.The young striker, whose first-team chances have been severely limited thanks to injury and the sheer volume of more senior front-men at the club, was quickly into the action with an effort from 10 yards out but could only produce a weak shot.Watson then went close with a header which looped over the cross bar. But Chadwick did get on the score sheet in the 89th minute when the ball ran free to him in the area and the Blues striker, likely to go back to Division One side Millwall on loan in the next few weeks, made it four by beating O'Connor to complete the scoring for the visitors.
EVERTON: Wright, Weir, Unsowrth (Watson 45), Campbell (Radzinski 45), Jeffers (Chadwick 73), Naysmith, Gemmill, Nyarko, McFadden, Carsley, Hibbert. Subs: Kilbane, Martyn
BRAY WANDERERS: O'Connor, Tresson, Farrell, Lynch, Charles, Gormley, McGuiness, James, O'Brien, Grogan, Quinn.

Everton's new mint
Mar 3 2004
By Neil Hodgson, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON goalie Nigel Martyn knows a good save when he sees one. He has helped launch a new Royal Liver savings scheme for the club's fans. It is the first affinity deal the Pier Head-based firm has struck with a football club and will give the Blues a bonus depending on the level of take-up among their followers. The Liver will use Everton's database to mail all Toffees fans with details of their new ISA which allows them to invest in the stock market, but with a safety net to protect them against falls in sharevalue. As an added incentive to fans, anyone requesting information on the new ISA before April 5, the end of the current tax year, goes into a draw for autographed Wayne Rooney shirts. Colin Nugent, from Royal Liver, said the ISA is perfect for fans who want a low risk savings scheme: "Investors are looking to shelter their savings from the types of stockmarket falls that we have seen in recent years and want security in their investment." Everton commercial manager Alistair Saverimutto said: "Both Everton and Royal Live uphold traditional core values and strong links with the community." A Royal Liver spokesman added: "This is the first affinity deal we have done with a football club but we are keen to tie up with more commercial organisations across the region and other sports clubs."

Wright passes the first test
Mar 3 2004 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
RICHARD WRIGHT says he is one game away from first team contention - but acknowledges budging Nigel Martyn will be a difficult task. Everton's young England goalkeeper, made his comeback in last night's friendly at Bray Wanderers, and kept a clean sheet in a 4-0 win. After six months on the sidelines with a mystery knee problem, he said afterwards: "I have been ready for the last few weeks, but the boss made it clear I need to play games and I know that as well. "The knee was fine. I haven't had any doubts about it for the last three weeks. "It's just a case of keeping up my fitness and I know it will be physically strong enough. "Hopefully I can get another game in next week and then be in contention for the first team, but Nigel is performing well and it will be difficult." Former skipper David Weir also returned in Ireland after a long spell out with injury himself. "I am glad to be back," he said. "I needed a game and I really enjoyed it. It came earlier than expected but you just try to get back whenever you are ready. "I feel that I am now ready and I am ready whenever the manager wants me." Francis Jeffers made a point with two goals, after not figuring in the first team squad for the last three matches. But boss David Moyes was not there to witness them. Alan Irvine took charge, while Moyes attended a funeral.

Former manager Smith in at United
By Ian Doyle Daily Post Staff
Mar 4 2004
FORMER Everton manager Walter Smith stepped out of the soccer wilderness last night when he was named assistant manager at Manchester United until the end of the season. Sir Alex Ferguson has revived an old partnership with his fellow Scot, who has been without of club role since being sacked by Everton in March 2002 after four years in charge. The pair worked together when Ferguson was Scotland manager in the 1986 World Cup and Smith, an old friend from the 1970s, was his number two. Smith, who was also manager at Glasgow Rangers between 1991 and 1998, said: "The chance to come to Manchester United is some-thing I couldn't turn down. "There are few bigger challenges in football than helping a successful side sustain their achievements. I have huge admiration for what Sir Alex has achieved at United and I'm excited to be part of it." Ferguson had been in no hurry to replace Carlos Queiroz, who left the club last summer to take over at Real Madrid, so the short-term appointment is an indication of sudden desire to have a man he can rely on in any crisis. Ferguson said: "There are few people in the game with his experience, knowledge and technical ability." Smith's short-term role means he will follow in the steps of his former assistant at Everton, Archie Knox. Knox was number two to Ferguson at Manchester United before moving to Rangers in a similar position when Smith was named manager at the Scottish club in 1991.

Weir: I'm ready for a first-team return
By Ian Doyle Daily Post Staff
Mar 4 2004
DAVID WEIR has insisted he is ready to step back into the Everton first-team following his return from injury in Ireland on Tuesday night. The Scottish defender, played his first football since the FA Cup fourth round replay at Fulham last month when he played the full 90 minutes in Everton's 4-0 friendly victory over Bray Wanderers in Dublin. Weir had been sidelined with a knee injury similar to the one which ruled him out for eight weeks earlier in the campaign. His return was ahead of schedule, although he was frustrated during his recovery for a fortnight due to a lack of reserve team fixtures. "It is always quiet this time of year regarding reserve games," he said. "So there haven't been many opportunities. "But I'm glad to be back. I needed a game under my belt and I really enjoyed it. "Tuesday was really my first chance and hopefully I can get playing soon.
"It's been earlier than expected, returning from the injury, but you just try to get back whenever you are ready. "I feel that I am now and hopefully, in the next few weeks, I can continue to make progress, but I'm ready whenever the manager wants me. I want to play, but that is, of course, the manager's decision." With Everton's next game not until a week on Saturday at home to Portsmouth, manager David Moyes could have Weir, Alan Stubbs, Joseph Yobo and David Unsworth all available in central defence. Weir was joined on the comeback trail by goalkeeper Richard Wright, who has been sidelined for almost six months with a knee complaint Wright also played the full game and reported suffering no reaction to the injury which has restricted him to just four appearances this season. "I've been ready for the last few weeks," admitted Wright. "But the manager made it clear I needed to play games and I know that as well. "The knee was fine, I haven't had any doubts about the knee for about the last three weeks. It's just a case of keeping up my fitness work and I know the knee will be physically strong enough." Wright believes he still requires another outing before being considered for first-team selection, but conceded ousting the impressive Nigel Martyn in goal would be a difficult task. He added: "Hopefully I can get another game in the next week and then be in contention, but Nigel Martyn is performing very well and it is going to be difficult."

Will a winter break leave our clubs better off?
Sport Talk, Daily Post
Mar 4 2004
The batteries run down on the very best players PREMIER League chairmen have voted in principle to introduce a winter break, starting next season. They have agreed to a two-year experiment for a 13-day break in January provided a balanced fixture schedule can be arranged. It means there would be one blank weekend. England has found itself out of step with the rest of Europe over this issue and international manager Sven-Goran Eriksson is an advocate of a mid-season breather, saying his players often arrive tired at the end of a hard season for the summer competitions. Professional Footballers' Association chief executive Gordon Taylor is also in favour of change. "In general it's a move that will be welcomed by managers, particularly by the England manager," Taylor argues.
"The batteries run down on the very best players as there is big demand on them in the modern game, so it will be good both physically and mentally to give them a short break," Taylor argues.
"There will be those at the top of the Premiership worried by a change in the pattern, but those at the bottom will be glad of the break." Taylor also predicts that Football League clubs could benefit as fans look for an alternative game to watch during the break. Former England international Tony Dorigo believes that the quality of performance drops when players are not given time to recuperate. "By the time you get to the third game in the Christmas period it got very difficult as a player," said Dorigo. "The game always took a while to get going and they weren't always the best spectacle, to be honest. "In Italy they shut down for a while, and it was great. We had ten days off and it certainly helped. "I don't think jamming games into a short period of time does anyone any good. From the players' point of view there should be a break."
We trained in the sun but did not take that intensity back with us SCOTTISH football adopted a mid-winter break, but has since abandoned the idea. Managers, originally enthusiastic about the scheme, have found that unless the spell of inactivity is handled correctly it can backfire.
Hearts boss Craig Levein took his players to a winter training camp in Portugal, but saw his team crumble 4-0 on their return to action in a Scottish Cup tie against Falkirk. After returning from Algarve two years ago his team needed a replay to beat Berwick Rangers and in reviewing the defeat the manager admitted: "It was a completely bizarre situation and completely out of character for the lads. I can only come to the conclusion we have not switched back on after the break. "That's twice we have been to Portugal and twice we have came back and the same thing has happened. There is no chance we will be doing it again." Levein had seen the mid-season break as a chance to help injured players back into the squad. He said: "We were not up to speed when we came back from Portugal. We worked our backsides off when we were there, we trained twice a day two hours at a time. But we trained with the sun on our back and we have not taken the intensity of the training sessions back with us." Meanwhile Hibernian boss Bobby Williamson was another who grew increasingly concerned that there was little to be gained from the break. He said: "I was for the shut-down initially, but looking at it now it was only really brought in to give succour to Rangers and Celtic. "Those two clubs have a hefty fixture load with their European commitments and I think the break is certainly beneficial to them. "As for the rest of us, I'm not so sure. If you're going to have a shutdown then three weeks isn't long enough in terms of both resting players and avoid-ing the worst of the weather."

Dixie Dean honoured by FA Cup triumph
Post Past By Phil Redmond, Daily Post
Mar 4 2004
THIS week the Blues are without a game because of their premature FA Cup exit at the hands of Fulham. It was a different story 24 years ago though as Everton qualified for the semifinals with an emotion-packed victory against high-flying Ipswich at Goodison. Gordon Lee's team went into the game in the midst of a troubled season and a league placing worryingly near the drop zone. Bobby Robson's outfit, meanwhile, were unbeaten for about three months and only four weeks earlier had humiliated Everton 4-0 at Goodi-son against the backdrop of a massive "Lee Out" demonstration.
The other main subplot to this game was the death of Everton, and indeed football, icon Bill Dean at the previous Saturday's Merseyside derby. Indeed Bill's funeral took place the day before the Ipswich game, with his coffin carried by, amongst others, Bob Latchford and Mike Lyons. On the day, Gordon Lee made a telling tactical switch that was instrumental in Everton's eventual triumph, with John Gidman switching from full-back into midfield as a ploy to counter Ipswich's Eric Gates whose deep lying role just behind the front two had caused havoc in the previous encounter. After a shaky opening, in which Town twice went desperately close, Everton got a grip on proceedings, and fittingly it was one of Bill Dean's pallbearers, Latchford, who broke the deadlock with a typical header on the half hour. On a heavy pitch Everton continued to dominate after the break, but it wasn't until the last quarter of an hour that Brian Kidd effectively settled the game with a free-kick down at the Gwladys St end. This being Everton though, they couldn't make things easy for us and with about three minutes left, Kevin Beattie headed Ipswich a lifeline. Eventually though it was all over, Ipswich had been avenged and the memory of Bill Dean had been honoured.

Steven hails Smith signing
March 04, 2004
Manchester Evening News
WALTER Smith's shock appointment as assistant to Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson could prove to be a masterstroke according to former England international Trevor Steven. Ferguson surprised the soccer world last night by bringing his old friend Smith, who has been out of the game since being sacked by Everton three years ago, to Old Trafford to shore up his coaching team. It has been largely interpreted as an act of desperation at a time when United's form has slumped alarmingly, threatening their existence in the Champions League as well as leaving them nine points adrift of Barclaycard Premiership leaders Arsenal. The next 10 days are set to shape United's entire season, with Saturday's FA Cup sixth-round clash with Fulham to be followed by a do-or-die midweek Champions League encounter with FC Porto and finally the Red Devils' first Manchester derby trip to Eastlands.
Smith will have to work fast if he is to have any impact on those games but Steven, who had experience of Smith both as an assistant and as manager during his seven years in two stints as a player at Ibrox, believes the combination of the two fiery Scots, who first worked together at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, can ignite United's flagging campaign. "It could be a masterstroke," Steven told MUTV. "Walter has such vast experience and if Sir Alex feels he needs somebody with him at this time, there is no-one better. "When I first joined Rangers, Walter was the calming influence to a fiery manager in Graeme Souness and I expect him to do the same thing at United.
"He worked very well with the players and I am sure he will enjoy getting back on the training pitch."
While some fans and pundits have been quick to condemn 56-year-old Smith as yesterday's man, pointing to his perceived failure at Everton, Steven actually thinks his time at Goodison Park was a success.
And the former England international also thinks United have got someone who can reinforce Ferguson's demand for discipline. "Walter can be softly-spoken at times but that shouldn't disguise the fact he has a rod of iron as a backbone," said Steven. "If he is unhappy about something, he is quick to let you know. Nothing will be left to the imagination. "He obviously had a difficult time at Everton but there seem to be problems at the club and he probably did well to keep them in the Premiership."

Walter Smith factfile
March 04, 2004
Manchester Evening News
Born: Feb 24 1948
Birthplace: Carmyle, Glasgow
Career: Trained as an electrician.
1966 - Signed pro for Dundee United.
1975 - Signed for Dumbarton
1977 - Returned to Dundee United
1978 - Appointed assistant to Scotland youth team boss Andy Roxburgh
1982 - Returned to Dundee United as assistant to Jim McLean
1983 - Scottish title with Dundee United
1986 - Joined Rangers as number two to Graeme Souness
1986 - Worked with Alex Ferguson when United boss was temporary Scotland manager at World Cup in Mexico
1987 - Scottish league title with Rangers as number two
1991 - Becomes Rangers boss
1992 - Scottish title and FA Cup double
1993 - Scottish treble
1994 - Scottish title and League Cup
1995 - Scottish title
1996 - Scottish title and FA Cup double
1997 - Scottish title.
1997 - Awarded OBE.
1998 - New Everton manager.
2002 - Sacked at Goodison in March.
Qualities: Like Ferguson, recognised as a winner. Highly rated as defensive tactician. Has a calm air of authority,but can match Fergie's famous `hair-dryer'. Invited Paul Gascoigne round to his home for Christmas dinner when Gazza was alone in Glasgow after signing for Rangers. Superstitious - Smith became famous for wearing a blue knitted waistcoat when Rangers were going for their nine-in-a-row Scottish titles in the 90s Interests: Keen music fan. Favourites are Bon Jovi and Van Morrison. Once returned early from a pre-season tour because Bon Jovi had Ibrox concert

Schumacher races in at Oldham
Fred Austin
March 04, 2004
Manchester Evening News
OLDHAM have completed the signing of Everton teenager Steven Schumacher. The 19-year-old midfielder put pen to paper yesterday on a deal which will keep him at Boundary Park for at least a month. Schumacher, who impressed in trials during two reserve team outings, is being released by Everton in the summer. He played against the Latics in an FA Cup tie in November while he was on loan to third division strugglers Carlisle. Liverpool-born Schumacher, a former England youth captain, said: "I must have done something right or I wouldn't be here."

I've blown my chance - Clarke
Mar 4 2004 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
PETER CLARKE fears he may have blown his chances of getting a second month on loan at Coventry.
Everton's former Under-21 international, went to Highfield Road on a month-long loan last month.
He is out of contract at Goodison in the summer and had hoped to extend his stay with the first division club. But his chances have been undermined after he was sent off with a straight red card inside the opening five minutes of Tuesday's 1-0 win at Cardiff City. He is facing the prospect of a three match ban for a tackle on Johnson which left Coventry down to 10 men after just three
He said: "Things had been going fairly well because we had won two games and kept two clean sheets and if it suited both parties then a second month would probably have been agreed for me.
"But with a suspension looming the board and manager have got a decision to make - can they afford to have a player on loan who is going to be missing for three games? "Hopefully, if the referee can look at the decision again, that won't be the case. If he feels he was a touch hasty then maybe there won't be a suspension. "I know I will be okay to play on Saturday but I don't know when the suspension will kick in and it could affect the loan spell, which is not ideal." Coventry boss Eric Black is undecided about Clarke's short-term future with the club, saying: "We will have to assess that. I think he has done well and it is unfortunate that it has happened." Clarke has only made two starts for Everton in the last 13 months, playing against Shrewsbury in the FA Cup last season and in the 2-1 defeat at Blackburn in November. His chances of a contract extension at Everton seem slim.

I won't forget the 3-4 against United
Mar 4 2004 JBlue, Liverpool Echo
WE are searching for young Blues whose devotion to all things Everton knows no limits. Each month we are featuring your nominations for our JBlue Fan of the Year award. At the end of the season, a winner will be selected to receive a VIP day out at Goodison. This month we feature seven-year-old Jay Ellison, from Huyton, a season ticket holder who has been going to Goodison since he was two and travels to as many away matches as possible with his dad, Lee. Jay plays for Woolton Warriors, but his ambition is to pull on the royal blue jersey. Mum Kelly said: "He won't miss a home game. If his dad can't take him, his uncle or our next-door neighbour takes him. "His best moment was when Kevin Kilbane scored to make it 3-3 against Manchester United this season. His worst moment was when Ruud van Nistelrooy made it 3-4. "Jay loves Tomasz Radzinski and has his signed Everton shirt. Jay's own Everton shirt has been signed by Tony Hibbert and he even has Wayne Rooney's autograph on the front page of his season ticket book."

Former boss happy to join Fergie
Mar 4 2004 Liverpool Echo
WALTER SMITH admitted he had been made an offer he couldn't refuse after joining Manchester United as Sir Alex Ferguson's assistant until the end of the season. The pair worked together when Ferguson was Scotland manager in the 1986 World Cup and former Everton and Rang-ers boss Smith, an old friend from the 1970s, was his number two. Smith achieved tremendous success at Rangers, winning the Scottish Premier League title in all his six seasons in charge, plus three Scottish Cups and three Scottish League Cups along the way. He said: "The chance to come to Manchester United is something I couldn't turn down. "There are few bigger challenges in football than helping a successful side sustain their achievements. I have huge admiration for what Sir Alex has achieved at United and I'm excited to be part of it." The appointment means Ferguson will have a close ally in the United camp for the next three months - someone he can rely on for unquestioning support at a time when he is under pressure to both turn the team's fortunes around and deal with his 'Rock of Gibraltar' battle with John Magnier. Ferguson had been in no hurry to replace Carlos Queiroz, who left the club last summer to take over at Real Madrid, so the short-term appointment is an indication of the sudden desire to have a man he can rely on in any crisis. "I am delighted that Walter has accepted the chance to join United," said Ferguson. "There are few people in the game with his experience, knowledge and technical ability. His talent and background will be major assets at such a critical time of the season." Ferguson and Smith share many similarities. Both were from Glasgow, both had other trades (Ferguson in the Govan shipyard, Smith as an electrician) before embarking on unremarkable careers as professional footballers. Both men made their mark coaching unfashionable sides on the east coast of Scotland. Ferguson first tried to appoint Smith as his assistant when he took over at Aberdeen in 1978, but Jim McLean refused to release him from the same post at Dundee United. The pair were eventually united when Ferguson took over as Scotland manager from Jock Stein in 1985, and after the 1986 World Cup Smith joined Rangers as Graeme Souness' assistant. He took over as the first team coach in 1991, leading to a period of complete dominance by Rangers in Scotland. He was awarded an OBE in 1997. Twelve months later he succeeded Howard Kendall as Everton boss, but his three-and-a-half years at the helm was always hampered by the club's financial problems. During that period he famously balanced the books - bringing in as much transfer revenue as he spent - a feat only West Ham could match in the same timescale. Everton reached three FA Cup quarterfinals in that period - losing to Newcastle, Aston Villa and finally Middlesbrough, but never threatened consistent progress in the Premiership.

Red devil Smith not the only winner
Fanscene By Mark O'Brien, Daily Post
Mar 5 2004
WELL, it's been a week of firsts. Most importantly Everton got their first league win of 2004 while just down the East Lancs at Old Trafford our ex-boss Walter Smith has landed his first job since leaving the Blues. Manchester United have suffered a loss of form of late and made some terrible moves in the transfer market, so no doubt their fans will be relieved to have a man with Smith's experience and acumen on board to put all that right. They can only go from strength to strength.
Hopefully Everton can do likewise following a hard-earned win against Aston Villa. It wasn't the prettiest display of football by any stretch, in fact that Nick Leeson lookalike on Faking It was more convincing than some of our play in the first half. Neither Thomas Gravesen nor Wayne Rooney had played anywhere near as well as they can, but the youngster's run and cross for the opener, and the Dane's superb solo effort to seal the match, underlined the fact you can have all the graft-ers in the world, but you still need those players with that little bit extra to make the difference in the tight games. If Darius Vassell's finishing was on a par with the rest of his game we probably would have lost, putting pressure on ourselves for the visit of Portsmouth in a fortnight, but as things stand we can now approach it with a degree of confidence. If we complete a Premiership double over Harry Redknapp's team and open up a respectable gap between us and the drop zone the run in could take on a whole new complexion: the games against the bottom sides might start to look like golden chances to take easy points of the division's weaklings and race up the table rather than relegation six pointers. The game in Ireland on Tuesday also gave some of the less utilised players a chance to remind everyone they're still around as well as some much-needed match practice after lengthy lay-offs. I was going to finish this off really neatly, referring back to my opening statement, by saying that with almost a fully fit squad we stand a great chance of beating Pompey next week and notching back-to-back Premiership victories - yet another first this season. But it won't be, a check of the stats shows that we actually beat Pompey and Leicester in consecutive games in December.
Typical Everton, they ruin everything.

Title quest still in the balance
Academy Football With Chris Wright, Daily Post
Mar 5 2004
EVERTON continue their quest for the FA Premier League Group A title tomorrow at Wolverhampton Wanderers (kick-off 11am). Gary Ablett's side maintained their position on top of the table with last weekend's 1-1 draw with second-placed Manchester United. With just four games left Everton are ahead on goal difference, but they do have a game in hand on United. Third-placed Blackburn are three points behind. The game in hand could prove crucial with just two play-off places up for grabs in each of the four regional Academy Leagues. Wolves inflicted the under-17's first defeat of the season, 1-0 in October. Coach Ablett said: "It is in our own hands now, so we don't have to rely on other results. We just have to rely on ourselves and our own perform-ances and hopefully that will be good enough." Ablett will welcome back captain Mark Hughes after suspension but fellow defender Stephen Wynne, who was also banned for last week's match in Manchester, will be unavailable for two more weeks. Alan Kearney took a knock last week but should shake it off to play tomorrow. Neil Dewsnip's side are one of four teams vying to take the runners-up spot behind runaway Group A leaders Manchester City. But they will have to wait for a chance to claim that place as their match at Manchester United tomorrow has had to be postponed. United are in FA Youth Cup action against Blackburn this week so the game will have to be re-arranged for a later date.
Everton had hoped to build on last Saturday's 4-2 victory at Sheffield Wednesday and build-up a head of steam for the final four matches of the season.

Smith: United return was like a movie scene
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Mar 5 2004
FORMER Everton manager Walter Smith admits his shock return to football with Manchester United is like something out of a movie. Smith, only became aware of United's interest on Tuesday - when he met Sir Alex Ferguson at the funeral of Douglas Smith, the man who founded the Drumchapel Amateurs junior club in Glasgow. And despite resisting a number of jobs since his dismissal by Everton two years ago Smith revealed he had no hesitation accepting an invitation from close friend Ferguson. "It's a bit like a movie," said Smith, who will be assistant manager at Old Trafford until the end of the season. "Imagine the situation. You are sitting at home, going to a few games as a spectator and getting a little bit frustrated when suddenly the best manager in the country with the biggest club in the country comes and asks whether you will give them a hand for 10 weeks.
"You don't tend to think about things like that happening. "I had a few opportunities to get back into the game but I didn't want to go back in unless it was something I really want to do. This is something I couldn't possibly turn down." Smith took his first training session at United yesterday and, after four years fighting the on-going financial restraints at Goodison Park, admits his new role is a welcome relief. "I have enjoyed my spells as a manager, but there are some aspects of the job I don't particularly relish," he added. "If you were to ask most people who came through the coaching system as I did they would say they enjoy working on the training ground more than anything else. "Just to get the chance to watch so many players in training every day is something to relish, and I will do whatever Sir Alex and (coach) Mike Phelan think is required. "I hope the experience I have gained over the years can be of some kind of help but I certainly don't think it is a case of coming in and trying to change things around. "Sometimes having an extra pair of eyes having a fresh look at some small details can help. But Manchester United have been enormously successful down the years, and Mike Phelan has been running the training sessions for ages. If I can be a sounding board that is great."

No price rises on season tickets
Post Soapbox, Icliverpool & Daily Post
Mar 5 2004
No price rises
MICHAEL DUNFORD says that ticket prices have to go up next season - why? He fails to mention that by next season Everton will have changed their home strip three times in succession! He says we need the money. I say who handed big, fat lucrative contracts to players who had seen better days - not I - the board!
Mike Gee, Prescot
Happy memories
I'VE just been reading about that FA Cup game in 1980 against Ipswich. They'd just stuffed us 4-0 when Lee said we want them in the Cup. I thought he was mad but Gidman had a stormer and what a day at Villa Park. I remember playing Ipswich in the 80s in the game Harry Catterick died at. Sheedy put a free-kick in one corner of the net, the referee blew to disallow it so he promptly put the ball down and put it in the opposite corner - oh for that team now.
Ged Brown, Everton
Gronkjaer bid
GREAT result on Saturday - let's hope we can be like Blackburn last season and get into Europe with a late run. One player I think we should put a bid in for in the summer is Jesper Gronkjaer. He would be a quality signing on the right and a £3million bid might just tempt Chelsea and a player who wants first-team football.
Dominic McHale, Widnes
Vital victory
WELL, how important was that result! The 2-0 versus Aston Villa was a massive result for the club, and although we have played better this season, we needed to grind out this win. The problem we have at the moment is every time a player comes on as a substitute he scores and in doing so turns the game. It would be nice if the forwards who started the game could get some goals, as this may make up Moyes' mind on who should play up front. At least it is a positive headache for the manager, and the back four looked better with Alan Stubbs free from injury again.
Allan Maldon, Merseyside

Matter of trust in Walter role
Mar 5 2004 By Howard Kendall, Liverpool Echo
ON the face of it, Walter Smith seems an odd choice as Sir Alex Ferguson's assistant. He is a similar age to Sir Alex and has spent much of the last decade running two of the biggest clubs in British football. He is not someone you would expect to see becoming an assistant. It is hard to imagine Walter in the dug-out on a match day when he is not the boss. But I suspect Sir Alex has made the choice because he wants someone alongside him he knows well and he can trust. In the past, he has had to build a relationship with a new assistant. But not with Walter. He will provide a good sounding board for the manager. He will not be a 'yes' man; he will be a confidante. He will be someone who will offer his wealth of experience freely. I expect he will not be a prominent figure. He will stay in the background. Every manager needs someone around them who they can trust and whose opinion they value. When I was at Birmingham I had a good friendship with Freddie Goodwin, the manager. He came into the dressing room one day and told me he had been thinking all night about switching Roger Hynd, a defender, up front to give us a bit more presence in attack.
I just looked at him and said 'Oh no, boss'. He was looking for the opinion of someone he could trust in order to help him make his decision. Thankfully, Roger stayed in defence.

Owen and Rooney are England's finest
By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
Mar 5 2004
EVERY shot Darius Vassell directs straight at an opposition goalkeeper, every match James Beattie starts on the Southampton subs' bench, every yellow card Alan Smith collects and every . . . erm, every, sorry I can't think of anything Emile Heskey has actually done for a month, adds to the clamour for Alan Shearer's return to the England fold. But regardless of whether Shearer would ever agree to end his self-imposed exile from international football, does his country really need the old warhorse back in an England jersey? I'm not so sure. In cold, analytical terms the evidence is an overwhelming no. Wednesday night's goal against Valerenga was just his second non-penalty goal in his last 14 appearances. But apart from his recent dip in form, Shearer support-ers point out that his old, wise head might help guide Wayne Rooney through his difficult first full international tournament. Michael Owen could answer that one. Remember 1998 and the World Cup in France?
The tournament when every Englishman outside of Glenn Hoddle craved the inclusion of the 18-year-old dervish from Anfield? Hoddle resisted until Owen came off the bench in a losing situation against Romania, scored and simply forced his inclusion against Argentina. And the theory in France around the England camp at the time was that Hoddle was terrified of undermining the old SAS strikeforce of Shearer and Sheringham. There was even a suggestion that Shearer resented the attention being given to his young pretender. And who can forget the sage advice offered when a nervous Owen asked his skipper what he should do ahead of the nerve-jarring penalty shoot-out with Argentina? The answer was simple, if not all that helpful. "Just do what you always do and put it in," he shrugged. Owen, uncharacteristically some might say, dispatched his shot clinically into the top corner. Other observers have spotted other instances of Shear-er's . . . single-mindedness, let's call it. One observer this week recalled Kevin Phillips' England debut, when he received not a single sign of encouragement all night from his strike partner. The same observer also remembered a goal being set up at Wembley for Shearer by a young Kieron Dyer, striving to build an international reputation, to be greeted by the familiar raised finger salute, but no gesture of acknowledgement.
To question Shearer's ability, appetite and standing as one of the greatest centre-forwards this country has ever seen would be folly. But that single-mindedness which has made him such a celebrated striker does not mark him down as someone England need this summer. It may make him a marvellous manager . . . but that's for another day. For now, England would be better off letting Rooney learn his lessons from the man, barring accident, he will almost certainly play alongside in Portugal - Michael Owen.

Chairman Sinnott resigns
Mar 5 2004 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
THE Chairman of Everton Shareholders Association has resigned - just nine months after the previous regime was ousted in a sweeping rebellion. John Sinnott stood down this week after a row involving vice chairman Steve Allinson over a potential share rights issue. Committee member Rob Evans also resigned. Allinson, now acting chairman, continued to trade shares privately while seeking a share issue to benefit Everton but says the Association executive was fully aware of, and indeed supported, his actions throughout. But Sinnott, the chief executive of Leicestershire County Counci l, explained: "I resigned as chairman of the shareholders' association because, as a matter of principle, I am not prepared to chair an organisation where the vice chairman has a clear conflict of interest between holding that role and his Everton share transactions which involve his private company. "I also believe the way in which the shareholders' association conducts its business must show that everything is being done by the book. "The vice chairman could not give me an assurance that he had not sold and would not sell Everton shares at a higher price than he paid for them. "He has led the shareholders' association into unnecessary confrontation with the club at a difficult time when all Evertonians need to pull together, and is reducing the role of the association to 'shouting from the sidelines.' "The desirable aim of more Evertonians owning shares in the club has been taken backwards by the vice chair-man's application of schoolboy economics in his rights issue proposal." Steve Allinson insisted that all of his actions had the backing of the association. "Everything I have been doing has been quite clear from the outset, and has been explained to and had the support of the executive," said Allinson. "I want to create more shareholders and bring new blood into the club - and my view is that investment in Everton is available and as a shareholders' association we must seek to bring in that investment. "John simply doesn't accept the committee's decision. My actions have been put to the comittee, they are covered by the committee rules and the committee decision is final. "Everyone is aware of what I have done, which is in keeping with the committee's vision, missions and objectives. There never has been a profit motive for me in this and this has been wholly accepted by the committee. "Quite simply Mr Sinnott has been unable to work with the executive. As for his final point that we are applying schoolboy economics, I do take umbrage. A lot of people have put a lot of work into this and we intend to succeed. "Hopefully this issue can now be put behind us and we can work in partnership with the club to take Everton forward."

Turner eyes on the title
Mar 5 2004 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
ONE of Everton's best kept secrets could be out of the bag. David Moyes' decision to invest the modest sum of £50,000 on young Scottish goalkeeper Iain Turner, in January last year failed to grab the headlines. But the coaching staff at Bellefield knew they had uncovered a gem and, 12 months on, the 20-year-old is backing up that assessment with a series of impressive performances on loan at Chester. Indeed, he has been in such good form for the Conference leaders that they want him to stay longer than the initial one-month loan spell which ends on Sunday. And Turner is happy to stay on at the Deva Stadium, believing that in aiding Chester back into the Football League he will also boost his chances of making the grade at Goodison. "It is just a month-long loan but I am happy to stay on because I am enjoying myself over there and it would be good to help them win promotion to the league," said Turner. "I don't know if I will, that is up to the gaffer, but I would be happy to."
If his stay at the Deva is extended, Turner has no doubts it will prove beneficial. "Playing these games has helped my game," he adds. "I have been made up with how things have gone. "I still train for half the week at Belle-field, getting good quality goalkeeper coaching from Chris Woods. Then at the end of the week I go over to Chester to train with them and get to know the boys. "But the best thing about the move is playing on a Saturday. You can't beat being involved in proper competitive matches. "They have got some good players there and great support. It is my fourth game this weekend and we are doing really well. "You need that competitive edge. I had missed it. "Mark Wright is a good coach and he has got them flying. "I have been surprised by the quality of the football. It is better than I expected. "I would say it is on a par with the Scottish first division and the crowds even match some of the teams in the SPL. We had 3,000 at Chester last weekend, which is really great support." Turner's career began as a teenager in the Scottish third division with Stirling Albion. He caught the attention of the Everton scouts and Moyes decided to move quickly, aware that Tottenham and Charlton had also shown an interest in the youngster. He is softly spoken and unassuming but he has settled quickly into life on Merseyside. In fact, he recently bought his own home in the city after his bright start to life at Everton was rewarded earlier this season with a two-year contract extension, tying him to the club until the summer of 2006. That move by the club, at a time when new contract offers are scarce, confirmed the manager's belief in Turner. It also alerted fans to his potential. With Steve Simonsen and Paul Gerrard set to leave in the summer, Turner will move up to become the manager's third-choice keeper. He continues: "I am not aware of any expectations from the fans. I have just been training and trying to get as many games as I can.
"It was a bit strange coming down here but I am used to it now. I have got my own place and have settled down. Hopefully, I will be here for a while. "I have been lucky to be on the bench for a couple of games this season and, obviously, I want to build on that in time." Regular first-team football at Chester, where former first choice keeper Wayne Brown has been ruled out until the end of the season, will help. The fact Wright had no hesitation in drafting in Turner, despite his lack of senior football, says a lot. "I must admit, I was surprised I got this chance," Turner readily admits.
"When it comes to keepers most managers are looking for experience. And so when I heard Chester were interested in me I was surprised because they are top of the Conference. "But I am very grateful to have been given the chance to join them and I hope I can play my part in helping them win promotion." That decision will be made by the Everton boss early next week.

Help stars like Rooney - Colly
Mar 5 2004 Liverpool Echo
STAN COLLYMORE believes his current personal problems are a direct result of the pressure he was put under as a top flight footballer. And the ex-Liverpool striker, warned that new stars such as Wayne Rooney must be given more protection. Collymore has hit the headlines for the wrong reasons on several occasions during his playing days. He claims that this week's revelations about his private life are also a legacy of not being given enough support when he was under the spotlight.
Collymore said: "I don't think there is a great support network in football in general. "You are bought, you are thrown into the limelight and there is no guidebook that says this is how to deal with being a famous professional footballer, a celebrity or whatever. "Clubs should be aware that their employees are human beings with human frailties. You are going to have your top class pros and you are going to have players who have issues and problems. "People have to realise that for the likes of Paul Merson or Tony Adams, it's a case of when you hit rock bottom you have to do something to get a quick fix and elevate your mood." Look at Wayne Rooney and the exposure he's been subjected to. "Not everyone is a Michael Owen that takes everything in their stride."

St Mary's solid foundations
By David Prior Daily Post Staff
Mar 8 2004
THE PAST few weeks at Southampton have been, it is fair to say, hectic. Without warning their highlyregarded manager annnouces he is quitting the club; their fans explode in uproar at the prospect of the return of their nemesis; the St Mary's board hastily reconsider their target, before ushering in a unknown face abruptly hauled from his Division Two safe haven. A dizzying chain of events even by Premiership standards, but it is a chaos set against one of the most stable backdrops in modern-day football. Last month the Liverpool Daily Post reported on the on-going attempts by the Everton Shareholders Association, in conjunction with the Goodison board, to explore new ways of refinancing Everton. Such efforts comprise an acknowledgment of the sickly financial state the club is in. With a part of future revenues already committed to paying off loans which paid off debts, fresh investment is swiftly becoming an essential reality, with time at a premium. A forum, entitled 'Investment in Everton', aired potential income streams, with particular reference to a share rights issue and the redevelopement of the stadium. Steve Allinson, vice chairman of the ESA, encapsulated the predicament. "Everton is short of investment," he said, "yet there are so many things going for the club, not least the 500,000 fanbase in the UK alone which does justify the club's claim to still be among the biggest in the country. "There has to be opportunity to bring all of that support together for the benefit of investment in Everton Football Club." It is just that kind of opportunity which has been ruthlessly exploited by Southampton. One part of our report sparked more feedback than any other, perhaps as it served to highlight just how far Everton have slipped behind. Management consultant Joe Beardwood spoke of the new financial sphere in which Everton moved, arguing that the club now struggled to be compared even with the middle tier of Premiership clubs - Manchester City, Tottenham, Aston Villa, Leeds and Southampton, clubs with turnovers of £65million or less. He said: "Of those six clubs, Southampton are now bigger than Everton with a £49million turnover against a £47million turnover based on last season's annual reports. "(Southampton) took on £31million debt to build their new stadium but have £11million net assets after its construction so are in good shape. Everton, by contrast, have negative liabilities of £6million, with only £5million worth of tangible assets from the stadium, corporate facilities and Bellefield." So what's the secret of the Saints' success? First, the bare numbers. Last year Southampton Leisure Hold-ings PLC, the club's parent company, announced a huge increase in turnover from £38.5milllion in 2002 to £48.8m in 2003. The increased turnover helped Saints to an operating profit (be-fore player trading) of £8.7million, an astonishing 85% increase on the previous year. Their financial health meant Saints were able to spend considerably more on players than in past years. An FA Cup final appearance and a best-ever Premiership finish - just below Everton - put the cap on a superb year for the club, on and off the pitch. Rupert Lowe, Southampton's chairman, explains the story behind the glowing bank balance. "The Cup run we had last season, along with an eighth place finish in the FA Premier League, contributed greatly to our turnover growth and allowed us to pay our existing players more, as well as bringing in many new faces," he says. "Much progress has also been made in generating greater revenue from our commercial opera-tions for which our staff deserve recognition. "In terms of comparative league turnover our club now ranks somewhere around 12th position in the FA Premier League." Lowe has achieved his aim of ensuring whoever is in charge of Southampton - and for the fore-seeable future, that man will be Paul Sturrock - can put the requirements of his playing staff above everything else at the club. "Our most important aim remains to win football matches," adds Lowe. "I believe that relative to the teams against whom we regularly compete, we have continued to make headway." Off the pitch, the club is blossoming, with the superb new stadium, the £32million, 32,500-seater Friends provident St Mary's, effectively christened when the FA chose it to host England's European Championship qualifier against Macedonia in November 2002. The strong set of financial results also allowed Saints to show its commitment to shareholders by increasing the dividend from 2p to 3p. Broadcasting, match day revenue and non-match day revenues also showed impressive increases. Another significant aspect was the drop in players' wages as a percentage of turnover from 48 to 44 per cent. Lowe outlined his version of a football club's blueprint for success. "The business is reliant upon a mixture of sound financial management, footballing ability and luck where the winner takes all and the loser is often reduced to financial penury," he said. Our squad is deeper and stronger than at any time under my chairmanship but there is no room for complacency. It is always better to travel than arrive and in football terms we are very much still travelling." It was a road fraught with risks that Lowe and Southampton embarked upon, but one which evidently has brought them rich reward. Their story should serve as an inspiration for Everton as they set out on the next part of their journey, and surely the toughest yet.
Founded: 1878
Home: Goodison Park since 1892 (capacity 40,170)
Honours: Division One champions 1891, 1915, 1928, 1932, 1939, 1963, 1970, 1985, 1987. Division Two champions 1931. FA Cup winners 1906, 1933, 1966, 1984, 1995. European Cup Winners' Cup 1985.
Best Premiership finish: 6th (1996).
Founded: 1885
Home: The Friends Provident St Mary's Stadium (capacity 32,689)
Previous ground: The Dell (1898-2001)
Honours: Division Three South champions 1922, Division Three champions 1960, FA Cup winners 1976.
Best Premiership finish: 8th (2003).

Belles toll for Everton after late strike
Daily Post
Mar 8 2004
EVERTON LADIES were beaten by a goal two minutes from time at Doncaster Belles in the FA Nationwide Women's Premier League. The visitors took the lead when Chantel Woodhead opened the scoring three minutes before the break. But a superb header from Karen Walker and a Jodie Handler volley in the 88th minute overturned the deficit, leaving the Belles manager John Buckley to reflect: "We seem to wait until we've gone a goal down before we start playing. We were very poor in the first half but after the break we played as I expect." Charlton installed themselves as firm favourites for the championship with a 2-1 win over Fulham, ending the champions' unbeaten league record thanks to two goals from Carmaine Walker. EVERTON LADIES: Hill, Vaughan, Jenny. Jones, Johnson, Parry, Byrne, McDougall, Hill., Boyle, Worrall, Kane. Subs: Oldham, Cathy Jones, Koo, Blackburn, Woodhead.

Living legends who should be on Pele's list
Ian Doyle explains which players should really have been included in Pele's legends list, Daily Post
Mar 8 2004
POOR Pele deserves better as he moves into his twilight years. It's bad enough that to an entire generation of young football supporters, the greatest player ever is better known as "that bloke off that advert that my dad keeps turning off". Or that the man who apparently scored more than a thousand goals during a glittering career is maybe more fondly recalled for two chances that he missed: the header which Gordon Banks saved in the 1970 World Cup, and the dummy which he dragged narrowly wide later on in the same tournament. So it was possibly an ill-advised decision for the Brazilian legend to take on the task of naming the 100 greatest living footballers as part of FIFA's centenary celebrations. Even Pele couldn't manage that - settling on a roll of honour 125-strong - but there was still enough scope for the famous number 10 to offend an awful lot of people.
Such lists are always arbitrary, but old Edson managed to befuddle and bewilder many an observer in midweek when he unveiled his selection, which ranged from some play-ers he was being charitable to while other choices were just plain wrong. Of course, as a chief ambassador for the world's beautiful game, political recommendations had to be taken into consideration - how else to explain the inclusion of a pair of American women in the list? - but while it would have come across as slightly biased to make the list topheavy with Brazilians, at least they'd have been in on merit.
Clearly, some of his fellow teammates from that famous 1970 World Cup-winning side were hurt by their omissions - Jairzinho huffed, Gerson ripped up the list on television while coach Mario Zagallo sagely noted Pele's choices "had a lot to be desired" - but they weren't alone. Since the 125 were named, debate has been raging on who should be in and who should be out. It would probably take a book the size of the Bible to compile the claims of every international foot-baller who believes he should be on the list. Instead, and with a nod or two in the direction of Merseyside heroes past and present, we have produced a list of footballers from Britain and Ireland who Pele should have included.
Neville Southall: Okay, so he may never have been the most sartorially elegant of footballers, but Big Nev took some beating when in goal. Was undoubtedly the world's best keeper during the 1980s.
Peter Shilton: He may not have been able to hold on to his money for any great length of time, but Shilts was much safer with a football in his hands. As David Seaman proved, not just anyone can keep goal for England while in their late 30s.
Ray Clemence: 'Shilton or Clemence' was the great England conundrum during the 1970s, so Pele made it easy on himself by including neither. A master in the art of concentration, he was a main-stay of Liverpool's successful side during that decade.
Pat Jennings: Big hands, big hair, big heart, big talent. The Northern Irishman - who was at Everton for the briefest of periods - played in two World Cups and for more than two decades during a golden era for goalkeeping in the Football League.
Ray Wilson: A World Cup winner and true Goodison legend, he was the finest full-back of his time. His place in footballing folklore in this country will never be erased.
Bryan Robson: Captain Marvel, as he was known by a fawning media, was nevertheless an outstanding player, even if he did play for Manchester United. Guided England to two World Cup finals - then promptly missed the major-ity of both through injury.
Graeme Souness: Tough, uncompromising, ruthless, competitive, but played with such poise, power and finesse that he was only ever going to be a winner, whether it be with Liverpool, Rangers or Sampdoria. Not Scotland, though.
Liam Brady: Like Souness, this Republic of Ireland international made the trek from the English league to Italy during the 1980s, and was an even greater success there. His left foot became more well-known than he was.
Paul Gascoigne: Say what you like about a career wasted through self-inflicted injury or reckless off-field actions, there is no disputing that Gazza was the finest, most naturally gifted English foot-baller of his generation.
Alan Ball: Another World Cup winner and another Everton hero, his midfield tenacity earned him as many enemies as friends, but for pure talent everyone spoke highly of him.
John Barnes: Forget the comedy of his suits, his Channel Five appearances and his stint as Celtic manager. Barnes is one of the most talented players ever to play for Liverpool - Pele has obviously not forgiven him for that goal against Brazil 20 years ago.
Tom Finney: Maybe the most surprising omission of all, the Preston winger epitomises football from yesteryear and remains one of the most enduring names in the English game.
Denis Law: With Bobby Charlton and George Best in attendance, the list cannot be complete without the Lawman. The finest header of the ball, perhaps ever, and along with Kenny Dalglish is Scotland's greatest ever player.
Ian Rush: He scored 346 goals for Liverpool, won the European Cup, the League Championship, the League Cup, the FA Cup, is Wales's record goalscorer and is regarded as one of the top forwards of all time in Britain. But not as good as Davor Suker, clearly.
Jimmy Greaves: Almost 40 years on, he is still obviously paying the price for not playing in the World Cup final against Germany in 1966. Scored on his debut for every club he played for, he remains England's best natural striker.
Geoff Hurst: Okay, so he might not have been the most talented footballer, but he did score a hat-trick in a World Cup final - a feat which to this day remains unique. Surely that alone deserves inclusion ahead of Rustu Recber?

Li Tie's misery as Everton line up Chinese moves
Mar 8 2004 By David Prior, Daily Post Staff
LI TIE has spoken of his disappointing second season at Everton as the club revealed they are lining up two of his compatriots for a move to Merseyside. The 26-year-old's miserable campaign came to an abrupt end last month when he fractured his shin while training with China, ruling the midfielder, out for the rest of the season. He has been told to remain in his homeland for a further month before reporting back to Bellefield to continue his rehabilitation, but Li Tie has revealed he is ruing the missed opportunity to resurrect what had been a deeply frustrating season. He said: "It's definitely a bad time to get injured, although no time is a good time. It's also a serious injury. I am not sure when I can get back to full fitness but I hope it's as soon as possible. "I've not played as many games as last season and this season has been disappointing for me, especially when you compare it to the season I had last year. As a footballer the most important thing is to play for your team, and it's frustrating when you can't. "But, injuries happen; it's normal if you're a footballer, you can't complain about it. The only thing you can do is concentrate on your work and improving yourself. In my country people always say: "tomorrow will be much better than today'." He added: "I am missing the training ground, missing my team-mates, missing playing and our fans as well.
"I care a lot about Everton. I felt so happy after last Saturday's result against Aston Villa, which must have been a fantastic game. I'm a bit disappointed that I wasn't at Goodison for it." On the injury, Li Tie said: "It's very painful but it's getting better now. I still need several weeks to recover, I still can't move as normal or go outside at the moment. Everton's Chinese contingent looks set to increase next season, meanwhile. Academy Manager Ray Hall has returned from a scouting trip to the country and Everton are confident that two as yet unnamed players, both members of China's Under-17 squad, will join the club's academy next season. Hall said: "The trip was extremely worthwhile. My brief was to go over there and look at the standard of young players in Beijing, Liaoning and Cheng Du. "I was my job to identify a couple of Chinese players and invite them over to our academy, providing that the legislation can be put into place. "That's been done. There are two strikers that will be coming over here in the summer and both are Chinese internationals in their age group. "Two other schoolboy strikers from Cheng Du will be coming over here for a few months, but that's really a cultural exchange to build up a relationship with the academy in China. "Providing everything goes well and we can get the paperwork in order, we'll look forward to welcoming these players to Merseyside." Hall added: "From what I've seen, Everton is massive in China and I didn't understand just how much of a superstar Li Tie is in his homeland."

Turner told to carry on keeping
Mar 8 2004 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo

IAIN TURNER'S loan spell at high flying Conference side Chester City is to be extended until the end of the season. The talented young stopper, bought by David Moyes from Stirling Albion for £50,000 last year, has impressed in his first month at the Deva. Chester boss Mark Wright is keen to keep hold of the 22-year-old and Moyes believes the extended stay will benefit the promising youngster.
He said: "We are happy for Iain to stay until the end of the season. "We have several young players out on loan at the moment and I want them to gain the necessary experience before coming back here." Richard Wright's return to action in a friendly against Bray Wanderers has convinced Moyes that Turner is not needed as cover in the short term. "Both Richard and David Weir came through last week's game without any problems and they will get another game under their belts for the reserves against Blackburn on Wednesday. "We have got a good run of reserve games coming up and that will help them" Meanwhile, Everton Academy manager Ray Hall has invited two Chinese Under-17 internationals to join the club's academy next season following a scouting trip to the Far East. Hall said: "It was my job to identify a couple of Chinese players. That's been done.
"There are two strikers that will be coming over here in the summer and both are Chinese internationals in their age group. "Two other schoolboy strikers from Cheng Du will be coming over here for a couple of months but that's really a cultural exchange to build up a relationship with the academy in China."

Blues fans will pay
Mar 8 2004 By Scott Mcleod Liverpool Echo
EVERTON fans are prepared to pay for a brighter future at Goodison. That is the result of a new poll to gauge the response of Evertonians to the admission by chief executive Michael Dunford that season ticket prices will increase this summer. Seventy six per cent of supporters responded yes to the question "Are Everton right to increase the price of season tickets next season?" on our website.
Dunford has admitted: "Gate revenue has to increase. "I believe we have always worked as hard as any other club to keep prices down here. "Our average season ticket prices are way down among the lowest in the Premier League. "That is going to be addressed by the board. There has to be some form of increase in match prices and season ticket prices." Meanwhile, Everton head physio Mick Rathbone has praised Duncan Ferguson for his approach to training. The 32-year-old has netted eight goals in 21 ances this season and is the club's top scorer. Rathbone reveals: "It might be interesting to note that since last March, when he recovered from that big operation on the nerve that was trapped in his back, I don't think he has missed a day's training apart from when he was quite ill and was a couple of weeks away. "When I first came here, people were saying to me 'God help you with Duncan, he is always injured', so I was a bit reticent. But I can honestly say that every injury he has had has been a ine one and he has got the scars to prove it. "It may surprise people but Duncan comes in here every Sunday on his own to do his own training and on regular training days he is often first in and the last to leave."

Ball backs Rooney to be star of Euro 2004
Mar 8 2004 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
ALAN BALL thinks he can see himself in Wayne Rooney - and he is not just talking about his white boots. He can see the same passion, the same flair and the same fearlessness. And that is why the Everton legend is tipping Rooney, to follow in his footsteps by taking the European Championships by storm this summer. Ball had only just turned 21 when he won the World Cup with England in 1966. Rooney will be even younger when he lines up for Sven Goran Eriksson's side against France in the opening game of this summer's finals in Portugal on June 13. "You try telling him he is not going to make an impression because of his age," insisted Ball. "He will be licking his lips with anticipation. That is how I felt before the World Cup. I was not over-awed. "In fact, I was determined I was going to become a World Cup winner. Once they gave me that England shirt I was not going to let it go, which is what Wayne has done, despite his age. "He will be looking forward to the summer and he will believe he will be able to win it with England. "The game at Southampton a couple of weeks ago was the first time I had seen him play in the flesh and he was exactly what you would expect. "He has got what I call the Merseyside way of playing, which can politely be described as 'committed'. "He plays for the fans. You can tell he has got Everton at heart in everything he does. He wants to do so well for the people who support the Blues and he wants to do well for himself. "That is why the fans love him so much and that is why he has done so well. There are not many players like that around nowadays and it is a good asset to have, both for Everton and England." Ball joined Everton for £110,000 a month after lifting the Jules Rimet trophy at Wembley.
In his five years at Goodison he cemented his place in the club's history, becoming one of the greatest players to ever don the Royal Blue jersey. The little red head was loved by the fans as much for his temperament and spirit as his unerring skill. It is that fact which led Howard Kendall, one-third of the legendary Harvey/Ball/Kendall triumvirate, to compare Rooney to his former team-mate.
Kendall explains: "I think Wayne's well aware of his temper but if you take that away from him, that passion and that commitment, I think he'd lose something from his game. "You've only got to look at the likes of Alan Ball. There was nobody fierier than him. He picked up his suspensions and whatever and he was a world-class player. "I think if you'd taken that away from Bally then you'd have taken something away from his game as well." It is a point Ball readily accepts. He continues: "I can see where Howard is coming from when he says we are similar. I was like that because I realised what a fantastic place Liverpool is to play football. "I was pleased to play there because I knew you couldn't kid the fans. They want you to shed some blood for the cause and get sweat on your shirt.
"Wayne is a flashback to those days and, in that respect, he is a proper footballer. "He has got that bit of arrogance about him which is something you need to get to the very top. "It is not the same kind of arrogance you see off the field from people in everyday life, it is an arrogance based on knowing what you have got in your locker. He knows what he can do on a football pitch and you can see that arrogance in the way he carries himself on the pitch. "I had that. I knew I had that little bit of something extra, that something different from the other players. "Wayne is not scared of the company he is in because he has that belief in his own ability. "When you have that you don't get nervous. I didn't get nervous before games - I was never one of the lads with shaky knees before a game. There were a few flutters before the really big games, but that was it." But what will worry Premiership managers all over the country is Ball's assertion that there are still flaws in Rooney's game. He adds: "At Southampton he played right up front with Duncan Ferguson and my only criticism is that he didn't look comfortable when it came to making things happen for other people.
"He didn't play people in as he would have liked to be played in himself. Maybe that is something that comes with age, but that is my only criticism. And even that is nit-picking. "He has got so much going for him. He is very brave, he will get hurt to score a goal, he has a turn of pace and he loves to run at people. He is just a gem that needs a little polishing. "And when he is polished we will have a terrific talent." It is a terrific talent which Ball believes must stay at Goodison. And that is where the comparisons between the two players should end. Ball was still in his prime when he was sold to Arsenal for £220,000 by Harry Catterick in 1971. The speculation has been rife in recent months linking Rooney with potential big money moves to Real Madrid, Chelsea and Manchester United.
But Ball is confident the 18-year-old will remain at Goodison. Indeed, he believes the player needs to stay at Goodison. He continues: "Everton have got a terrific young manager. Woe betide anyone who dares tell him Everton are not going to be great one day like those clubs linked with Wayne.
"Knowing him as I do and having spent time with him I am sure he will be thinking he is going to make Everton great and to do that he needs great players. "Wayne would find it hard somewhere else. He is in good hands with David Moyes." The young striker is set to continue up front alongside new skipper Duncan Ferguson at home against Portsmouth this weekend. It is a crucial match for the Blues if they are to put even more daylight between themselves and the relegation zone.
But regardless of the outcome, Ball is confident both of his former clubs will escape the drop.

He concludes: "I think they will both be okay because they are both good enough at home. That is the key. "It also means that Everton will have the edge this weekend. It will be a very difficult game for Portsmouth. "But their fate will be decided at Fratton Park. Both of them will survive because of their home form." And the form of Rooney, and his eye-catching white boots, will play a key role as well - both for Everton and England.

Title triumph in sight for Everton
Academy Football By Chris Wright, Daily Post
Mar 9 2004
EVERTON under-17s are just three games from the FA Premier Academy League Group A title after Saturday's 4-1 victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers. Everton are now three points ahead of secondplaced Manchester United after Saturday's victory. United lost 2-1 to Nottingham Forest and Everton still have the advantage of a game in hand. A three-goal burst in the opening half-hour set Gary Ablett's side up for victory. Paul Hopkins finished coolly after he broke free onto a ball over the top and after out-muscling the centre-half opened the scoring after just five minutes.
Five minutes later it was 2-0 as Christian Seargeant side-footed home after a good move down the right involving Scott Phelan and Hopkins. From Phelan's cross Seargeant scored after initially hitting the post. Hopkins grabbed his second of the match and his 10th of the season for the U17s, reacting well to score at close range from Scottish youth international Patrick Boyle's cross after his initial corner had been cleared back to him. Wolves grabbed the consolation in the final minute, but Sean Wright restored Everton's three-goal lead in injury time after another corner from Boyle. With matches at Nottingham Forest and Crewe and a home game with Derby County, Ablett's side are looking good for the title and one of the two national play-offs places. Coach Ablett said: "The game was won in the first half - it was 3-0 at half-time. "We played okay but I think we can play a lot better. We didn't give our best footballing performance, but I think at this stage of the season the result is more important than the performance. We have just got to keep on winning to be involved in the top two at the end of our league season." Everton under-19s were without a game on Saturday as their scheduled fixture with Manchester United was postponed due to the Old Trafford club's sixth round FA Youth Cup match with Blackburn Rovers. Cup holders United lost 2-0 to Blackburn and the date has yet to be fixed for the rearranged Academy League fixture.
EVERTON UNDER-17s: Gallagher; Irving (Molyneux 75), Hughes, Wright, Boyle; Wilson, Harris, Seargeant, Phelan; Hopkins (Anichebe 80), Fowler (Vaughan 80). Subs: Jamie Jones, Kelly.

Neighbours appealing against striker's plans to build flats
Daily Post
Mar 9 2004
EVERTON striker Duncan Ferguson faces a fresh battle with neighbours who want to stop him building a block of flats in his grounds. Representatives of the £35,000-a-week Blues star, are due to appeal for permission for him to build a 12 flats at his £2.1m property in Victoria Road, Formby, at a public inquiry in Southport Town Hall. It comes after councillors made a U-turn last month when documents revealing planners believed there were no grounds for defending the plan were made public. Council representatives are to tell the planning inspectorate the borough does not wish to defend its decision to oppose the appeal. But last night it emerged ten local families have commissioned a consultant to urge the planning inspectorate to reject the appeal.

Jeffers in interview over race allegation
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Mar 9 2004
investigation into racist abuse claims against Duncan Ferguson. The Everton striker has emerged as a key witness into allegations his team-mate abused Luis Boa Morte during the FA Cup tie with Fulham on January 25. And his testimony could lead to Ferguson being acquitted of the charge by the end of this week. The FA enquiry began 11 days after the Goodison Cup draw when they received a formal complaint from Fulham, claiming Ferguson had called Boa Morte a "black ----".
Fulham manager Chris Coleman chastised the Portuguese midfielder for making his claim public via a national newspaper rather than FA channels and admitted evidence was in short supply. After speaking to several Fulham players, members of the FA's disciplinary committee questioned Ferguson at Everton's Bellefield training complex a fortnight ago. The Scot strenuously denied the allegation and expects to be fully exonorated. But he must wait until the FA have spoken to Jeffers and compiled their report before discovering the outcome of the six-week enquiry.

Blues in a mess
Post Soapbox, Icliverpool & Daily Post
Mar 9 2004
Blues in a mess
HOW can a club like Everton still be so far in debt when we've been recieving amazing crowds each week and no big-money signings? How can the likes of Southampton (new stadium), Bolton (new stadium and an abundance of high-earning players) and Birmingham (back in the top flight for the first time since the mid-80s) be more financially sound? After a really good year, money should have been made available for Moyes to build on. Fresh blood has to be brought in and the wage bill reduced.
Joe Hill (via e-mail)
Rooney worry
ROBBIE FOWLER and Michael Owen are great favourites of mine, but compared with Wayne Rooney they look ordinary. He has everything and is already a legend. He should keep his head cool and he will end up as England's greatest ever. The tragic fact though is that he needs to move to another club to reach his peak level.
B Carlsen (via e-mail)
Time to sing
IT seems unfashionable to sing at Goodison these days. Even under Gordon Lee, that standing position right behind the goal generated the tremendous sound of 'Run, run wherever you may be' and 'if you know your history'. Come on lads, let's lift the players and suck that ball into the net instead of waiting for them to do something to lift us.
Dean Barry, Liverpool

The Evertonian - OUT NOW
Mar 10 2004
HOW is your 100 per cent official EVERTONIAN magazine different from other publications?
The simple answer is that it is written from the heart of Goodison Park and the Bellefield training ground with access to all areas. It gets inside the minds of the manager and the players and its aim to keep you informed about everything that moves at our great club. This month we felt it would be intriguing to reflect on a life in the day of a big match at Goodison. Many people simply see the game as that two-hour stretch between 3pm and 5pm, albeit a rather important period!
The truth is that our stadium on a match day is a hive of activity several hours before the players emerge to the inspirational sound of the Z-Cars theme. We set EVERTONIAN correspondent Claire Gray a fascinating task. Be there when the first door opens at 7am and follow all the activity right through to kick-off, focusing on everything from the delivery of the pies to the in-depth security briefing that ensures your safety on match day. She was there to meet the manager, the first player to surface and the first fan to arrive. Find out what a "Life In The Day" of Goodison means inside.
Alan Stubbs joined us for a special photo shoot near his home, down on the beach at Formby.
In this quiet and peaceful setting, Alan opened up about the difficult experiences that he has had to confront, but hammers home that he is more committed than ever to the club he has supported since a boy. David Moyes begins to think about who might replace him as Manager of the Year and goalkeeper Richard Wright reflects on his own challenging season. The EVERTONIAN will continue to be the voice of the Blues. We hope you enjoy this edition. Nil Satis . . .

Sam's out for Unsy
Mar 10 2004 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
BOLTON boss Sam Allardyce has confirmed his interest in taking David Unsworth to the Reebok Stadium this summer. The 30-year-old defender is out of contract at Everton at the end of the season. He is a top target for the Trotters and Manchester City, who have both held preliminary talks with the player's advisers. Unsworth is believed to be keen on remaining at Goodison Park, despite turning down a one-year contract extension on reduced wages before Christmas.
But he wants a longer term contract, which both Bolton and City are believed to be prepared to provide. Allardyce said: "Somebody with his experience would be very good for a club like ours.
"Anybody who has played Premiership football and is available would interest me if they fell within our wage structure and would be happy with the length of contract we would be prepared to offer."
The Blues are expected to renew negotiations with the influential defender at the end of the season.
He has made 26 appearances for the club this season and 345 in total during more than 10 seasons at Goodison. Meanwhile, Everton will field a strong reserve side at Blackburn tonight. Andy Holden's squad will include Francis Jeffers, James McFadden, Richard Wright, David Weir and Nick Chadwick.
It will be the second competitive match for both Weir and Wright after recovering from long term injuries. Manager David Moyes has ruled both players out of contention for Saturday's Premiership clash with Portsmouth in order to give them as long as possible to regain full fitness.

Rooney ready to pummel Pompey
By Len Capeling, Daily Post
Mar 10 2004
THE more fearful of Everton fans will dwell on one disquieting fact from Portsmouth's patchy season.
The best team in Hampshire haven't yet won an away game in what could be a very short stopover in the Premiership. And there's the rub, given Everton's longesablished tendency for helping the feeble back to their feet - whether it's a striker out of form or a team in need of a square meal.
No way, I can hear David Moyes, bawl. Not any more. He should be right, of course, bearing in mind the damage done to Pompey by Arsenal's total football. Where Liverpool made Harry Hedknapp's side look half-decent. unstoppable Arsenal made them look like Sunday Leaguers playing with nine men, eight of them unconscious. It could have been 10-0 by half-time and that wouldn't have flat-tered Arsenal, who, turning Sir Bobby Robson's analogy on its head, were playing against 11 dustbins. I expect Everton to be similarly dismissive of a team with allegedly 16 first-teamers still missing. The totemic Teddy Sheringham did return with a goal against the Gunners, so that will help, but not enough. Could this be the day when Wayne Rooney scores his first senior hat-trick? Have a flutter.

Ferguson wins fight to build flats
Daily Post
Mar 10 2004
EVERTON striker Duncan Ferguson has effectively won a year-long battle for permission to to build a block of luxury flats in the grounds of his home. The former Scottish international, has been involved in a dispute with his neighbours and Sefton Council about the development in the garden of his £2.1m house in Formby since last March. At a public enquiry in Southport Town Hall yesterday, it was revealed that all opposition to Ferguson's plan has collapsed. Ferguson, 32, was originally refused planning permission to build a block of 12 flats by councillors in March 2003, despite planning officers' advice that they should grant permission. Yesterday it was revealed that Sefton council taxpayers could now have to foot Ferguson's hefty legal bill after the Council withdrew its objections. The embarrassing U-turn was forced last month after documents revealing that planning officials believed there were no grounds to oppose the plan, were made public.

Wright forced to play waiting game
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Mar 10 2004
RICHARD WRIGHT begins his quest to reclaim the Everton goalkeeper's jersey tonight with his first competitive appearance for six months. But manager David Moyes is not anticipating an immediate threat to Nigel Martyn's authority. England international Wright, and defender David Weir are due to start for Everton reserves tonight when they take on Blackburn Rovers at Morecambe FC.
Both Wright and Weir have been sidelined for most of this season with knee injuries, with the former undergoing surgery in December to cure a persistent pain whenever he kicked a ball.
The former Ipswich and Arsenal keeper has not appeared in the Premiership since an early withdrawal against Newcastle at Goodison on September 13, while his last competitive outing came for the reserves against Birmingham a month later. Since then he has watched veteran Martyn establish himself as Everton's number one with a series of commanding displays for Moyes's side.
After reporting no reaction to his 90-minute display against Bray Wanderers in last week's friendly, Wright has been given the all-clear to press for a recall. Moyes, however, insists neither his £3.5million keeper nor Weir - who has been plagued by two knee ligament injuries in recent months - are in contention for the weekend visit of Portsmouth. I think they will need a bit longer and we won't shove them into match action before I think they are ready," said Moyes. "Then it will be a hard task to get back into the team but competition is something that we want here at Everton."
Moyes believes Saturday's Premiership encounter with Harry Redknapp's side will determine whether his side are involved in a relegation struggle until the end of the season. Everton could open up an eight-point gap over Portsmouth with victory at Goodison, although the south coast club have a game in hand. And Moyes admitted: "This is a vital game because we know we can put some daylight between ourselves and Portsmouth and if we don't we know we will be scrapping until the end."

Chance to play like Rooney
Football In The Community, Daily Post
Mar 10 2004
ShareEVERTON'S football in the community team have announced their latest soccer schools. The club's coaches will be at Hudson Primary School in Maghull from April 5-7 and then at Victoria Park in Warrington, between April 14-16. The three-day courses cost £40. Each day lasts from 10am until 2pm, and camps are open to boys and girls aged five-12. The youngsters are grouped into age and ability bands on the first day by coaches, before enjoying a typical footballer's warm-up session.
From there they have a go at skill sessions, penalty competitions, smallsided games and water breaks. The last hour of each day is a tournament. A small number of youngsters will also be spotted and recommended for trial at Everton's youth academy with a chance to become a member of one of the club's academy teams.

Blackburn Res 1, Everton Res 0
Mar 11 2004
Daily Post
A BRIAN MOOGAN own goal was the difference between the two sides at Christie Park, Morecambe, as Everton Reserves went down to a strong Rovers line-up.Everton too had a side with plenty of Premiership experience with Richard Wright, (left), playing his second game in eight days, and but for him the visitors may well have lost more heavily.The England international made a string of fine saves but was powerless to prevent the home side taking the lead on 25 minutes.The unfortunate Moogan headed Ciaran Donnelly's cross past Wright as the young defender got his attempted clearance all wrong.Everton had threatened to take the lead themselves previous to the goal with Nick Chadwick and Francis Jeffers combining well but the former put his shot wide of the target.Richard Wright continued to deny the home side as they looked to increase their advantage. Lorenzo Amoruso thought he had doubled the Black-burn tally only for the Everton keeper to palm away the effort.The night got worse for Everton late on as David Weir and Amoruso tangled.The Scottish defender looked to have slung out an arm at his Italian counterpart and was immediately shown a straight red card in what was his second game back after injury. Amoruso was given just a yellow for his involvement.Jeffers and Chadwick continued to search for the equal-iser but it wasn't to be and the Rovers victory saw them leapfrog their Merseyside opponents in the league.
BLACKBURN: Enckelman, Fitzgerald, Gresko, Danns, Amoruso, Johansson, Donnelly, Yorke, Johnson, Nelson (Harkins 78), Morgan (Watt 68). Subs: Yelldell, Taylor, Barker.
EVERTON: Wright, B Moogan, Fox, Nyarko (Brown 80), Carsley, Weir, Gemmill, Gerrard, Chadwick, Jeffers, McFadden. Subs: Symes, Gallagher, Wilson, Hughes.

One Pompey clash fans try to forget
Post Past By Phil Redmond Everton Supporter, Daily Post
Mar 11 2004
IN recent years Portsmouth's visits to Goodison have been extremely rare. Indeed, I can only remember two. The first was a routine 2-1 Everton win on Grand National morning in 1988. The second, six years later, is a game that even today raises rueful grimaces whenever Blues reminisce about past disasters during a post-match session. It was September 1994, and Pompey were at Goodison for a second round League Cup first leg. The south coast outfit were struggling near the bottom of the first division and Everton under the 'Silver Fox', Mike Walker, were a club in crisis.
Only three new faces had come in - Vinny Samways from Spurs, a bewildered looking Daniel Amokachi and West Ham's ex-Liverpool defender David Burrows, who had been swapped forTony Cottee. By the time Pompey arrived, the Blues were rock bottom of the Premiership and leaking goals. 15,000 fans assem-bled to watch what would be, in Walker's words, a "springboard to kickstart our season". Portsmouth, though, hadn't read the script and ripped the Blues apart with a little winger called Paul Hall running riot and journeyman striker Gerry Creaney rapping in a double before the break. The song was never heard again. Into the second half and initially it was more of the same. Pompey added a third before Everton finally woke up. Firstly, Samways drove home from range a revival looked on. Stuart struck from the spot after Amokachi was felled on his way to goal, but try as they might, the Blues couldn't level on the night. This proved decisive at Fratton Park a fortnight later in the second leg. Everton played much better, with Duncan Ferguson proving a handful on his debut, but a late goal from first-leg tormentor Hall edged Pompey through. Mike Walker was only weeks away from the bullet. Let's hope Saturday doesn't bring a repeat of that horrible night in 1994.

Pistone in line to return after rapid recovery
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Mar 11 2004
DAVID MOYES could have a full complement of defenders at his disposal this weekend after Alessandro Pistone's rapid recovery from injury. The Italian full-back, was expected to be sidelined until the end of the month with the hamstring strain suffered against Aston Villa. But he has made rapid progress over the past 10 days and has now returned to light training. The 28-year-old could even be fit for Saturday's Premiership visit of Portsmouth although, after a succession of injuries this season, he is unlikely to be rushed back to face Harry Redknapp's side. But his return is further good news for manager Moyes, who last night saw David Weir and Richard Wright step up their comebacks from knee problems in the reserves' 1-0 defeat at Blackburn. "Sandro is making very good progress from the minor hamstring problem that he picked up against Aston Villa," said head physio Mick Rathbone. "We are pushing him on and he has been able to start some light jogging in the past couple of days." Bolton manager Sam Allardyce, meanwhile, has confirmed his interest in signing David Unsworth on a free transfer in the summer. Unsworth is out of contract at Goodison Park at the end of this season after rejecting Everton's offer of a one-year extension to his current deal on reduced wages. The defender still hopes to be offered an improved deal by Everton this summer, but will not be short of offers as a free agent with Bolton, Manchester City and Blackburn all interested. Allardyce said: "Somebody with his experience would be very good for a club like ours. "Anybody who has played Premiership football and is available would interest me if they fell within our wage structure and would be happy with the length of contract we would be prepared to offer."

Everton v Portsmouth preview
Mar 11 2004 By Andrew Clarke, icLiverpool
SPURRED on by their first win of 2004 against Aston Villa two weeks ago, Everton will be looking to build when they meet relegation prospects Portsmouth at Goodison Park on Saturday. A home win will see David Moyes' men complete their first Premiership double of the season. Goals from Lee Carsley and Wayne Rooney, gave the Blues a 2-1 win at Fratton Park just before Christmas, and a repeat performance could open up an eight-point gap between themselves and the drop zone.
Despite making a successful comeback in last week's friendly in Ireland, Saturday's game will come to soon for a return to first team action for Richard Wright and David Weir. Goalkeeper Wright, who has not featured in the senior side since September, will have to wait for his chance to dislodge the in-form Nigel Martyn despite a starring role in the 1-0 reserve defeat against Blackburn on Wednesday night. Weir, who has been plagued with knee ligament injuries this season, could be facing a three match ban just two games into his rehabilitation after receiving a red card against Rovers' second string, and Moyes concedes that neither Weir or Wright are in contention for Saturday's game. Harry Redknapp's Portsmouth, fresh off the back of an FA Cup hiding from Arsenal, have injury problems of their own. Veteran midfield duo Tim Sherwood and Patrik Berger have been ruled out for the season, and Vincent Pericard suffered a thigh tear in a recent comeback match. Better news for the visitors is that defender Dejan Stefanovic could be back in contention for the Everton game, and long-term injury victims Svetoslav Todorov and Lee Bradbury both made scoring comebacks for the reserves in midweek.

New family show is sure to be Blue!
Mar 11 2004 Liverpool Echo
ORGANISERS of the first family football panto 'Snow Blue and the Seven Blue Noses' are frantically applying the finishing touches to the ground-breaking venture. Tommy Birch and Brian Snagg are promoting the family show with a strong football theme. Alongside seasoned showbiz stars like Billy Butler, Mickey Finn, Kenneth Cope and Ed 'Stewpot' Stewart, Everton legends Brian Labone, Howard Kendall, Dave Watson, John Bailey, Roger Kenyon and Ian Snodin have all agreed to appear.
Some of the legends were at Prescot Cables FC on Tuesday night to film a scene which will be used during the panto. The seven Blue Noses - who included Martin Dobson, George Telfer, Howard Kendall and Roger Kenyon - were 'shot' taking penalty-kicks at the end of Cables' Liverpool Senior Cup tie against South-port, which also ended in a penalty shoot-out! The panto runs at the Royal Court from March 30 to April 3. Special Evertonian guests have promised to drop in on different nights and a riotous family night out is promised.

A cliche, but this really is vital for Blues
Mar 11 2004 By John Thompson, Liverpool Echo
A GAME against Portsmouth might not see football back with an obvious bang at Goodison Park on Saturday after a fortnight's break. Harry Redknapp's make-do-and-mend outfit, for all the torment they have inflicted upon Liverpool this season, is hardly a fixture to stir the blood. But it needs to. David Moyes, wasn't talking cliches this week when he told the ECHO that this is a big game for Everton with vital points at stake. Moyes might not have been around to see or feel for himself the trauma of Everton's relegation battles in 1994 and 1998. But rest assured those fans who have taken him to their hearts over the past two years have let him know it was sheer bloody agony. And pleaded with him to spare them such torture ever again. The message has clearly been received and understood by the Blues boss, who knows a passionate and determined performance to secure victory on Saturday will probably ensure Everton and their supporters can breathe much easier.
The pundits and the neutrals might love it when they can hitch a semi-detached ride on rollercoaster cup games or see relegation battles go down to the wire. But true fans caught up in it all hate it at the time. That Wimbledon game which saw Everton 2-0 down and staring lower flight football in the face is now famously recalled as one of the most dramatic days in living memory at Goodison.
But for those Blues present or tuned in to their radios, it was almost too much to bear.
The last time Everton flirted with relegation against Coventry City on the final day of the season was similarly traumatic. The ECHO's picture at the end of one middle-aged fan, crying like a little baby with the upset of the whole business, summed it up perfectly... No more of this will do very nicely, thank-you. All the other emotions which we feel when our clubs come that close to football failure are the reasons why Everton's players should heed their manager's words of wisdom right now.
In 48 hours they can surely do something to spare the Goodison faithful from a night-mare they never thought they'd see under a talented young manager doing his utmost for them in trying financial times. Every Evertonian will be praying they take the chance.

Moyes sees red at Weir dismissal
Mar 11 2004 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON boss David Moyes is fuming at a referee's decision which could leave him with only one recognised centre-half for the vital visit of Middlesbrough in a fortnight. David Weir, was sent off in the reserves' 1-0 defeat at Blackburn last night, just two games into his injury comeback - and now faces a three match ban. And causing further grief for Moyes is that Nigeria want Joseph Yobo to play an Olympic qualifier against Tunisia on the date of that Middlesbrough game. That would leave the Blues with only Alan Stubbs as a recognised central defender on that date, although David Unsworth has successfully filled in there in recent weeks. Moyes, who was at the reserve game in Morecambe, said: "It was a diabolical decision. I would have been disappointed if David had been shown a yellow card, but to receive a red was unbelievable." Weir was dismissed following a tangle with Blackburn's Lorenzo Amoruso which was regarded as violent conduct. The Italian was shown a yellow card. "I will see what can be done about it," said Moyes. "We have a video of the incident and we will investigate how best to resolve the situation." The Blues hope that Yobo will not be bound by FIFA rules to play in the Olympic qualifier, having only just returned from a six week absence at the African Nations Cup. The good news for Moyes is that Richard Wright success-fully came through another 90 minutes of the reserve match - and made a number of fine saves.

Alessandro Pistone is also back in light training after limping off just 25 minutes into the home victory over Aston Villa 10 days ago. "Sandro is making very good progress from the minor hamstring problem that he picked up," said physio Mick Rathbone. "We are pushing him on and he has been able to do some light jogging in the last couple of days."

Ace Wright can't save the Blues
Mar 11 2004 Liverpool Echo
A TREMENDOUS performance from Richard Wright wasn't enough to prevent Everton going down to a strong Rovers line-up as a Brian Moogan own goal and the sending off of David Weir contributed to Everton's downfall. England international Wright, made a string of fine saves but was powerless to prevent the home side taking the lead on 25 minutes when the unfortunate Moogan headed Ciaran Donnelly's cross into his own net. Everton had threatened to take the lead with Nick Chadwick and Francis Jeffers combining well but Chadwick put his shot wide of the target.
Wright continued to deny the home side as they looked to increase their advantage, palming away Lorenzo Amoruso's effort, before the Rovers star tangled with Blues defender David Weir.
The Scottish defender looked to have slung out an arm at his Italian counterpart and was immediately shown a straight red in what was his second game back after injury. Amoruso was given just a yellow for his involvement. Jeffers and Chadwick continued to search for the equaliser but it wasn't to be and the Rovers victory saw them leapfrog their Merseyside opponents in the league.
BLACKBURN RES: Enckelman, Fitzgerald, Gresko, Danns, Amoruso, Johansson, Donnelly, Yorke, Johnson, Nelson (Harkins 78), Morgan (Watt 68). Not used: Yelldell, Taylor, Barker.
EVERTON RES: Wright, B Moogan, Fox, Nyarko (Brown 80), Carsley, Weir, Gemmill, Gerrard, Chadwick, Jeffers, McFadden. Not used: Symes, Gallagher, Wison, Hughes.

Go for youth
Post Soapbox, Icliverpool & Daily Post
Mar 12 2004
Go for youth
THE only club in the Premiership that did not bring in any fresh players was Everton. Our team is slow at the back and lacks guile in midfield. Bring in some younger players to inject pace and hopefully one may blossom into a decent midfield provider. The younger sides at the club are doing okay, surely one or two are worth a run if we have no money to spend.
Trev Lynes, Liverpool
No more OAPs
I AGREE with those fans calling for the use of more of Everton's younger players. I also can't understand why they let so many of the young players go, they will end up with a bunch of OAP'S.
Anthony Barnes, Merseyside
Rooney to go
WAYNE ROONEY is not that great a player, he is all about potential. Granted he has talent, but frankly he needs to move to another club to fulfil this!
H Cowan, Liverpool
Loan arrangers
LOANING out our younger players for experience is a good idea. They will get more out of playing in league football than in the reserves. It's a good thing. One of many our manager has done since he arrived.
Frank Black, Liverpool
System addict
IN THE 70s great teams played 4-2-4 with success. If we want to be a great team we have to adopt 4-2-4, especially with our super attacking strength. In fact we need only two more players to run this system. Goalkeeper: Wright/ Martyn. Defence: Watson, Yobo, Perry(or Upson), Pistone. Midfield: Butt, Grave-son. Strikers: Radzinski, Rooney, Jeffers, Big Dunc(or Macfadden). We can beat anybody with this system, including Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool. The two players (Nicky Butt and a centre defender) will cost the most £6-8million and surely we can afford that since we have £5m this season. We can simply sell a few good for nothing players at the end of the season.
Also, to lure some Manchester United players to join us, maybe we should engage Walter Smith to join us next season as director of football so that Nicky Butt, Phil Neville, Kleberson etc will join us next season.
Jimmy Arcadia, Via e-mail

Teenagers home in on play-offs
Academy Football With Chris Wright, Daily Post
Mar 12 2004
TWO victories from their last three matches will almost certainly see Everton under-17s win the FA Premier Academy League Group A title. Tomorrow Gary Ablett's side travel to Nottingham Forest aiming to remain in pole position and with it qualify for the national play-offs, where the top two in each of the four sections compete in a knockout to become the top side in the country. After last week's 4-1 win over Wolves, Everton three points ahead of second-placed Manchester United. They also have a better goal difference, but Ablett and his side will be concentrating on winning all their remaining games at Forest tomorrow, at Crewe and at home to Derby County. Ablett said: "I don't think they are going to have a better chance of doing something at their of age group. But we have to make sure we keep their feet on the ground. "United lost to Forest 2-1, so our game should be interesting. We played them earlier this year and for 45 minutes they absolutely battered us. They were winning 1-0 and we gave the boys a bit of a talking to and we scored two goals. "But it is just about what we do now. If we continue to progress as we are we should be okay. But if we get too full of our own importance that we are doing well, we'll struggle." John Irving has been deputising for Stephen Wynne at right-back during his suspension, which finishes after today. And the coach said: "When the important boys have been missing - like Mark Hughes and Stephen Wynne who have played in the reserves this season - you'd think we might struggle. But we've had an under-15 and an under-16 in and they have showed they can cope.. "They have been a credit to themselves." The under-19s are with-out a fixture.

Moyes has to mix with right people
Post Soapbox, By Mark O'Brien Everton Supporter
Mar 12 2004
DAVID MOYES has rightly said that tomorrow's game against Portsmouth could prove a pivotal point in our season. Win, and the gap between us and the dead men becomes reassuringly large; lose and we're back in the mixer, as Big Ron might say. Portsmouth's deficiencies were exposed for all to see last week when Arsenal destroyed them in the FA Cup at Fratton Park, and while we're not quite on the same level as Arsene Wenger's side just yet we should have enough about us to secure three points and a Premiership double. After all, despite our ropy form overall this season we're still pretty difficult to beat at Goodison while Harry Redknapp's motley crew have yet to win away from home. David Moyes faces one major selection problem as Thomas Gravesen is set to miss the match through suspension. Will he just make a straight replacement - putting Alex Nyarko in for the Dane - or switch to a midfield three and play both Wayne Rooney and Tomasz Radzinski off Duncan Ferguson up front? Another option, given his performance against Brazil for Ireland recently, would be to bring Kevin Kilbane into the centre and give James McFadden a run on the left. Given the opposition, the temptation must to be to start with the full complement of strikers, but we've seen in the past that making too many changes can cause more problems than it solves. It was interesting to read this week that Francis Jeffers was interviewed by the rather austere sounding FA compliance unit regarding the complaints Luis Boa Morte made against Duncan Ferguson following the FA Cup game at Goodison in January. What do they expect him to say, regardless of what he did or did not hear? This whole sorry incident looked like it was going to boil down to one man's word against another, and that's proving to be the case. It's difficult to see how it will end in any other conclusion other than the charges being dropped. It would be nice for Ferguson to get on the scoresheet tomorrow and make some headlines for footballing reasons. If it's not these race allegations we're reading about it's the planning per-mission for the flats in the grounds of his £2million Formby home. Oh well, at least it's reassuring to know he's got something to fall back on.

Moyes seeing clearly after a year of frustration
Mar 12 2004 The Liverpool Echo
SUNDAY marks David Moyes' second anniversary as Everton boss and the end of the toughest 12 months of his managerial career. After a staggeringly successful first year in the job, the Goodison chief has had to endure a rough ride in his second termat the helm. The Blues failed at the final hurdle last May in their attempt to book a place in Europe. And this campaign has, so far, been a tale of frustration and disappointment. So much so, that victory against Portsmouth tomorrow is essential if Moyes and his men are to avoid being sucked into an end of season battle against relegation. It is little surprise, then, that when he is asked to provide his highlight of the last 12 months the manager responds bluntly, "I wouldn't say there have been any highlights." But as he reaches the midway stage of his four year con-tract the manager believes the lessons of the last year have left him better prepared than ever to lead Everton to a brighter future. He knows what needs to be done on the pitch. But improvements off the pitch are equally important if the success of Moyes' first year in charge can be replicated on a regular basis. "I am much wiser than when I first came in," admits the manager. "My first 12 months were really positive and up until this point last year we were really up there flying high. "But the last year has been disappointing and I wouldn't say there have been any highlights. It is something which I have not enjoyed and is something I am determined not to let happen again. "We have to accept that we are not where we want to be. I am not shielding the players from the situation because the responsibility is there for us to be in a better position. "But there is more to Everton Football Club than just the 11 players who run out on a Saturday. "There is a great deal of responsibility on everybody at the club to make things better.
"We, and when I say that I mean myself, the board of directors, the players and the supporters, need a plan of action to get to where we want to go. In my mind I have a football plan of action. "But I would hope that we would be looking to make changes throughout Everton in the next two years.
"I am not an Everton historian but I do know the club is in need of different things, like a new training ground and possibly a new stadium. We are looking for signs of progression and that is what everybody associated with Everton wants to see. "As the manager I am determined to deliver on my side of the deal." Two years after Walter Smith's departure Moyes is still working with a squad which consists largely of players he inherited. Patience is a virtue the manager does not readily embrace. His aversion to that particular quality has helped him become one of the most highly rated young bosses in British football. But the contractual situation of the majority of players at Goodison, combined with a modest transfer kitty, has necessitated a degree of patience in the last couple of years. And his determination to keep hold of the club's one major saleable asset, a certain 18-year-old by the name of Wayne Rooney, means that his work to improve the long-term future for the club on the pitch will take time. With a host of players coming to the end of their deals in the next 18 months, that is a situation which should change. He adds: "In my period here we have only had about three or four players out of contract. It has meant that I have been unable to make many changes, but I think everybody is aware of that. "The day I took over Everton it was my team. People say that I have another manager's players, but the moment you take over, it is your team. "I am a great believer in trusting and giving the players at your club an opportunity. "I know exactly what we have got here and I have an idea of what we would like to get. "Bridging the gap between those two points is something we will have to resolve because we cannot change the wheel over night.
"What we can do is show that we are trying to make a fist of things and do something about it.
"In the first year I felt my job was to make my own mark on Everton and put down the foundations.
"I thought in the first 12 months that did happen. We have made further progress this year because we are another year down the line, but the results haven't borne that out. "From that point of view I am disappointed. But it has helped me see things a lot clearer, on and off the field. "I know that as a football manager you cannot always please everybody. But I think in the main, people have said 'look, Everton have been in this position for years, for years and we have had numerous managers'.
"I think they have said 'wait a minute here, we have seen this before so let's give him a chance to get on with it'. I think that in the main the average Evertonian is supportive of what we are trying to do.
"When you come to Everton you become an Evertonian. It has happened to so many managers and so many players, the club grips you. "I know there are a lot of things I need to do and I am going to have a good go at making them happen. "I am really grateful for all the support I get here. The fans have been incredibly loyal. "And for us to be getting full houses is great. Last summer I got a thrill seeing the club selling all its season tickets and people coming back to Goodison. "For me to be part of that was something that I was proud of. I am not willing to let that go. We need to get back to the standards we set last year."
Everton (expected): Martyn, Hibbert, Yobo, Stubbs, Unsworth, Watson, Gravesen, Linderoth, Kilbane, Rooney, Ferguson
Portsmouth(expected): Hislop, Pasanen, Primus, De Zeeuw, Taylor, Smertin, Faye, Quashie, Stone, Sheringham, Yakubu

Blues play the penalty
Mar 12 2004 Liverpool Echo
THE half-time entertainment at Everton will be very different from tomorrow - thanks to a moment of inspiration from one dedicated fan. Welder Peter Farrell came up with the idea for a half-time game entitled 'Pay the Penalty' last year and was compelled to contact his beloved Blues.
He recalls: "I wrote to Bill Kenwright asking if he would be interested. He rang me and said he thought it was a brilliant idea. The club were in touch and have taken it on board. "It has taken a lot of work to get up and running but it is very exciting. I just wanted to come up with something which got the fans more involved at half-time. "I am very grateful to Everton for being so supportive."
Tickets for the competition went on sale last week. Every week two tickets are drawn, with one winning supporter receiving a home shirt and the other a goalkeeper's jersey. They are then invited onto the Goodison pitch for the next home game for the penalty competition, with £1,000 up for grabs. The penalty taker wins by scoring, the keeper by saving the shot. And if the effort goes high or wide the prizemoney rollsover. The profits from the game will be invested into the club's Youth Academy. Farrell, who lives in Bebington with his wife and four children, is now planning to give up welding in order to focus his attentions on marketing the game throughout the Premiership and the Nationwide League. He adds: "I am hoping to develop it. We have spoken to Aston Villa and Portsmouth and I have a meeting coming up at Tranmere. "I would love to see all three Merseyside clubs taking on the game because I think it is something the fans will take to."

Sick of being a sore loser
Mar 12 2004 Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES has vowed to improve his Saturday nights - by helping Everton pick up more Premiership points. He explains: "I would say I am extremely hard on myself and it is something I am trying to work on. "I have taken this year and the results badly myself. "There are two ways to look at that. I don't want to lose that feeling of not accepting defeat, but also I have got to learn to understand that until I can turn Everton around I may have to put up with it for a wee while.

"But I am determined I am not going to endure as many bad Saturday nights as I have put up with this year. "A good Saturday night would probably entail taking the wife and the kids out for a meal, then getting home in time to watch the Premiership. You have a glow abou t yourse l f because the team has won. "But if we don't win it is a carry out on the way home and I am in bed before the Premiership even comes on. "Maybe with age I will mellow a little and be able to handle it better.
"I think supporters want to see that the manager cares and that the players care."

'Players' spirit can spur us on to strong finish'
Mar 12 2004 Liverpool Echo
DESPITE Everton's disappointing run of results this season David Moyes has never lost faith in the spirit of his players. "Inside them there is a heartbeat, a spirit amongst the players that is strong enough to make sure we get the points which are required. "We are the first to accept we are not gifted with the most talented squad in the Premiership but what we have been gifted with is players with great attitude." The manager can trace Everton's run of poor form this season back to last summer. That is when he believes his side lost that vital asset - momentum. He reveals: "If you get a momentum going that is so, so important. We got some momentum from as soon as I took over and we kept it going into last season. But we lost that a wee bit in our pre-season and it is something we took into the start of the season. "There's lots of things we will look back on at the end of the season. "But I am aiming to win every one of those remaining 11 games and get more points than we did last season. It is still possible. "At the end of the season we will see what the difference is."

Commitment needed in Blues' final straight
Mar 12 2004 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON'S run-in to the end of another disappointing Premiership season promises to be like a particularly bloody episode of 'Your Life in Their Hands' - with the colour turned up high. Everton may not be on bended knee to Barclays Bank any more. But neither are they ready to take the Richard Pryor role in Brewster's Millions, splashing the cash with reckless abandon. There is the opportunity to bring some much needed funds in, however, even before the long-drawn out process of a share-rights issue is investigated. And it is highly appropriate that the individuals who drain so much out of Everton Football Club could be responsible. The players David Moyes sends out in the weeks ahead could provide their manager with a windfall. Failure to grasp that opportunity and . . . well, let's just say the manager wears his heart on his sleeve. Another brutally honest individual at Everton is chief executive Michael Dunford, a man who has courted a little criticism in recent weeks for simply telling it as it is. "There is no surplus for transfers available - at present," he said in a revealing ECHO interview. "At present" were the significant words. Everton have it in their own hands to significantly improve David Moyes' spending power this summer, with results on the pitch.
After the unexpected encouragement of last season, the Evertonian experience for much of this term has so far proved the footballing equivalent of water torture. But since the dark days of Bolton and Blackburn there have been bright spots. And the promise of the home defeat of Aston Villa a fortnight ago is matched by the names which litter the remainder of Everton's fixture list. The Blues have already met five of the current top seven home and away. And starting with Portsmouth tomorrow, Leicester, Middlesbrough, Spurs, Leeds, Blackburn, Wolves, Bolton and Manchester City shouldn't give undue cause for alarm. More importantly they offer a golden opportunity to harvest a clutch of points between now and mid-May. With an astonishing £500,000 per League place at stake in the top division - and the Premiership table tighter than Paul Gregg's back-pocket - a late flurry could flood Goodison's coffers with unexpected loot. It's a bizarre fact of modern footballing life that a so-called 'money-spinning' run in the FA Cup would net a lucky club around £1m. A life-changing sum to you and I - the kind of cash that might even make Duncan Ferguson get out of bed - but small potatoes to a Premiership football club. Just one League victory, however, could elevate a club the two places it would take to generate that sort of prize money in the Premiership.
It was only four years ago that Everton faced Middlesbrough in their last match of the season with six League places at stake. In financial terms that meant £3m hung on the out-come of one match.
Everton lost. It's not beyond the realms of possibility that the same scenario could present itself this season. And surely the players are aware they have a responsibility to produce. The fans at Everton are doing their bit. Tomorrow's visit of a struggling Portsmouth side is already a near sell-out.
They can't do any more - but the men they pay to watch could. It might have been amusing to count the number of times Everton officials prefixed descriptions of Alessandro Pistone's recent hamstring injury with the word "minor" - if it hadn't been for what it implied. There were suggestions last season that Tomasz Radzinski might have pushed himself back into action for just one of the crucial last eight games he missed through injury. Evertonians need total commitment from their footballers in the 11 games remaining of this season. Failure to do so could be expensive, both for them and for Everton.

Driven by ambition
Mar 12 2004 Liverpool Echo
THE Everton chief is determined to provide a lasting legacy at Goodison. He has signed eight players in his two years at the helm. Only Nigel Martyn is over the age of 27. Having inherited an ageing squad with very little sell-on value, Moyes is keen to ensure Everton's future assets will not just be in bricks and mortar. He explains: "Young players take time. You don't always get time as a manager, but I want to make sure that when my time comes there are some pieces of fine furniture in there for Everton FC. "I want to make sure there is a future at the club and that there is some good stock amongst the players. "The most important thing is that we make sure Everton is always viable and that the club is always going to be there." And having invested in youth, Moyes now wants to stay around long enough to see his side grow into one capable of challenging for the highest honours.
He adds: "I would like to think the last two years is just the starting point. "I would like to manage in European competition. I am really ambitious and I want to win trophies. That is something that is burning inside because I have never done it."

Shocked Weir in red card appeal
Mar 12 2004 By Andy Hunter, Daiy Post
DAVID WEIR last night described his shock at the red card decision that could curtail his comeback before it has even begun. The Everton defender, is facing a three-match Premiership ban after he was dismissed for allegedly kicking Lorenzo Amoruso towards the end of Wednesday's reserve game against Blackburn. It was Weir's first competitive outing for three months, after being sidelined by his second knee ligament injury of the season. But now the 33-year-old will miss league games against Middlesbrough, Newcastle and Tottenham unless Everton manage to get the red card rescinded - an appeal David Moyes admits faces several problems. Weir revealed: "I am still completely shocked by the referee's decision. I wasn't even expecting him to speak to me to be honest. I just tried to get the ball back. "The referee said I kicked him, which I didn't do. It's a massive disappointment and not an ideal situation because I'm looking at a suspension after just coming back from injury. I hope common sense will prevail and that there's a video that shows I didn't kick him and it will get over-turned." Everton do have video footage of the incident which they intend to send to the FA's disciplinary committee. But Moyes, who was in the crowd at Christie Park, is not holding out much hope for the impending appeal. "We will try to appeal but they put obstacles in your way all the time," he said. "We'll do everything we can to do something about it."

The Everton manager added: "It was a ludicrous decision. I was disappointed when I thought the referee was calling him over maybe to book him, and I couldn't believe it when he gave him the red card. "But that's what you get, the refereeing standards in the reserve games are poor." Moyes is also facing the potential loss of Joseph Yobo for the March 27 game against Middlesbrough as the centre-half is wanted by Nigeria for an Olympic qualifier on the same date. But having just lost Yobo for six weeks due to the African Nations Cup, Everton officials hope FIFA will not enforce international call-ups for Olympic matches.

Yobo lifts Blues
Mar 12 2004 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
JOSEPH YOBO is determined to solve Everton's forthcoming defensive crisis. David Weir's red card during Wednesday night's reserve match has left the Blues facing the prospect of having only one recognised centre-back available for the home game with Middlesbrough in a fortnight. Nigerian international Yobo, is needed by his country for an Olympic qualifier that weekend, but he has made it clear he wants to stay with Everton to aid the club's march away from the relegation zone.
Manager David Moyes revealed today: "I have spoken to Joe and he has indicated that he won't be going on international duty, but we have got to see what the rules state. "I have spoken to Michael Dunford about David's red card and we will definitely try to do something about it. But we would like to have Joe here regardless." The Toffees go into tomorrow's game against Portsmouth in search of their first double of the season, having triumphed 2-1 at Fratton Park in December. Despite that being the club's only away win this season, the manager is not taking tomorrow's game lightly.
He said: "We know how important this game is for us, because we want to climb the table.
"But Portsmouth have played quite well recently, producing a good performance at Anfield. From our point of view every game has been tough this season and tomorrow will be no different, but we remain confident." David Weir and Richard Wright are both in contention for a return to the first team squad after figuring for the reserves in midweek at Blackburn.

Dunne: I faced sack for boozing
Pete Spencer
March 14, 2004
Manchester Evening News
RICHARD Dunne's booze battle has a silver lining for the Blues. The City defender, who has valiantly fought back to become a first-team regular after being accused by boss Kevin Keegan of being drunk on the training pitch, will be a key player in today's derby showdown at Eastlands. Now, he has agreed to share his sad experiences with the club's young players. Academy starlets, who have regular briefings from older pros and senior figures in the media, will be hearing about the day Dunne thought his career was over. Keegan asked him point blank during training at Carrington whether he was drunk. He was facing the sack before 11th-hour intervention from PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor, who successfully pleaded for Dunne to be given a final chance.
Dunne also vowed to change his lifestyle . . . a switch helped by the number of foreign players in the Blues squad who are more interested in getting back to their families than going out after training or matches. Dunne brought to Maine Road by Joe Royle from Everton for £3m in 2000 spoke with one of his potential opponents today Roy Keane about lifestyle issues. Dunne recalled that Keane told him during a Republic trip that he'd struggle to extend his career because of what he'd been like before he was 25.

Everton 1, Portsmouth 0 (D,Post)
Mar 15 2004 By Andy Hunter at Goodison Park, Daily Post
THIS MUST rank as the finest free advertisement Scarborough has ever had.* The small Yorkshire coastal resort doesn't fit in with the blue-chip companies who have lined up to have their products endorsed by Wayne Rooney these past 18 months.But David Moyes endorsed its virtues a fortnight ago when he advised the striker to spend a few days soaking up the North Sea air ahead of the Premiership finale and Euro 2004.And it was Everton, Moyes and Rooney who reaped its recuperative powers this weekend when the 18-year-old returned suitably refreshed to clinch the victory that should alleviate relegation fears and clear the way for a steady end-of-season rise.Who needs La Manga? Before wallowing in Everton's first back-to-back wins at Goodison Park for 13 months, it must be noted a holiday down by the English seaside in early March was infinitely more appealing than this slender defeat of struggling Portsmouth, whose travels this season have yielded no wins and the miserly total of six goals.But having mourned so many hard luck tales this year, when stirring displays have returned only the forgotten chill of relegation, it would be churlish to dismiss three valuable points simply because they arrived without the exhilaration of Brazil 1970 or the panache of total football.This is the results business after all, although with Rooney, Everton finally have a guarantee of entertainment too.It has been the youngster's problems, whether real or imagined, that have received more national attention this season with bookings, fall-outs, England relief and transfer speculation all symptoms of the second season syndrome. And he has suffered with it.Yet lately he has shone, shedding the suspicion natural talent has been curbed by increasing demands and in turn inspiring the results that are slowly altering the course of Everton's season.This was by no means one of Rooney's finest displays in a blue shirt. In fact, until he scored in the 78th minute on Saturday, his performance was more notable for a few mid-air karate kicks as the inertia and confusion that contributed to Everton's overall mess of a display enveloped their most gifted star too.But on one instant he showed why expectation rises whenever he is in possession - and why his presence contributed to yet another sell-out Goodison crowd - which proved enough to sepa-rate Everton from Portsmouth, and a valuable win from a worrying draw. Receiving Tomasz Radzinski's pass after an untimely slip by Linvoy Primus in his own penalty area, the striker ignored the close attentions of two Portsmouth defenders and wellplaced team-mate Steve Watson to skip around John Curtis and beat Shaka Hislop with a piercing low drive from 18 yards. It was the awkward made to look perfectly simple, the sign of something special.Inspired by the goal - and an extraordinary celebration that took him the length of the Bullens Road Stand to silence the taunts of those from the south coast - Rooney was suddenly unplayable, a class apart.On Saturday he was the difference between two points, but he means much more to Everton than that. Imagine them without him? On second thoughts, on the basis of this display, don't.Moyes stated he would accept victories from scrappy performances after seeing this season's progress undermined by so many defeats from decent ones. And this was as scrappy and as lifeless a display as they come.The hope must be that two successive victories, for only the second time this season, will inspire the confidence required to dispense of forthcoming opponents Leicester and Middlesbrough in the manner Everton are more than capable of, but often struggle to achieve due to brittle self-belief.This was a slow puncture of a performance, gradually flattening until Rooney's moment arrived.And while the headline writer was predictable, Everton's other key contributor was anything but. Alex Nyarko, standing in for the suspended Thomas Gravesen, delivered the mature, intelligent midfield display we assumed had disappeared for good when he walked off at Highbury in astonishing circumstances almost three years ago.Supported by the improving Tobias Linderoth, the Ghanaian was Everton's most creative and threatening source throughout, delivering not only the few quality passes the team could muster but also a belated reminder of what might have been.Whether Nyarko's revival will be sustained is debatable in the extreme, but who could have thought welcome central mid-field dilemmas would be associated with Moyes this season, as it will when Gravesen returns at Leicester this weekend?A more pressing engagement for the Everton manager, however, is to find the answer to his team's inability to sustain the basics for 90 minutes; issues such as pass and move.As Saturday exemplified, they can produce incisive, destructive moves one minute, then moments later give only a passable impression of the Keystone Cops by running into each other, leaving the ball to one another, standing on the ball and falling over and taking unbelievable, unnecessary risks. A more clinical team than Portsmouth would have made Everton pay for those indescretions. Fortunately, after a fortnight's break proved long enough for defenders to forget each other's names, they stumbled across the team with the meekest away attack in the league.Harry Redknapp's team never convinced they would record a seventh away goal at Goodison despite several invitations and a justifiable frustration at the final result.A mix-up between Alan Stubbs and Nigel Martyn let in Aiyegbeni Yakubu after only 14 minutes and though the Everton keeper parried the striker's initial effort, he was able to find Eyal Berkovic at the second attempt and only a fortunate block from Joseph Yobo deflected the Israeli's shot just wide.Yakubu failed to connect with an inviting cross from substitute Matthew Taylor minutes into the second half, and turned a delicate chip from Berkovic wide of the far post in the 54th minute as Everton's fragile defending somehow survived unpunished.At the opposite end the hosts' early hopes lay with the aerial prowess of Duncan Ferguson, until he was forced off with a hamstring injury and replaced by Radzinski just after the half hour.Ferguson played in Kevin Kilbane for the contest's first chance on three minutes, the Irishman's rising drive tipped over by Hislop, and despite good chances on the volley for both Rooney and Radzinski during the first half - both missed - it was Portsmouth who looked the more inventive side.It remained that way at the start of the second period too, as Everton's performance disintegrated even further. But then Rooney struck.Thereafter Everton took command, although they could have been pegged back had Ivica Mornar kept his header from Taylor's corner down minutes before gashing Stubbs' head with an elbow.Rooney could have finished with a hat-trick of goals into the bottom right hand corner only to miss by inches after twisting, turning and dancing his way into two good shooting positions, and was foiled by Hislop when he cut inside Curtis again after Steve Watson's neat through ball.His starring role had been brief, but Rooney's brief is to star. And through the mire, he delivered.* Not that he went there, of course.
EVERTON (4-4-2): Martyn; Hibbert, Yobo, Stubbs, Naysmith; Watson, Linderoth, Nyarko, Kilbane; Ferguson (Radzinski 32), Rooney. Subs: Wright, Unsworth, McFadden, Carsley.
PORTSMOUTH (4-4-2): Hislop; Pasanen, Primus, De Zeeuw, Curtis; Stone (Sheringham 79), Hughes, Faye, Berkovic (Mornar 67); Yakubu, LuaLua (Taylor 46). Subs: Todorov, Wapenaar.
BOOKINGS: Portsmouth's Berkovic (dissent), Pasanen (foul).
REFEREE: Neale Barry.
ATT: 40,105.
NEXT GAME: Leicester City v Everton, Premiership, Saturday 3pm

Moyes' dilemma spotlighted by Rooney sparkle
By Len Capeling, Daily Post
Mar 15 2004
YOU know things are grim at Goodison when the birds flying overhead wear blindfolds. We've seen some bleak displays this season, but this was bottom of the barrel and beyond. A flash of Wayne Rooney magic gave Everton the points and sent the fans home with some consolation. But it won't have erased memories of a gruesome afternoon when Premiership football hit a new low. Pre-match, David Moyes admitted that he and his team had underachieved this season, and, as if to ram home the point, along came 90 minutes of nausea. "Terrible when you can't see a good game at either ground," said one leathery veteran, who'd prevously endured the agonies of Liverpool versus Marseille. David Moyes was of a like mind, refusing to apply any gloss to an undignified scrap in which too many players showed how to complicate the simplicities of soccer. Early on, Kevin Kilbane tried to bring some order to the chaos, and so did Tobias Linderoth, who at least wanted to play to feet. But on the manager's second anniversary, the cake proved to be half-baked and lacking even a semblance of flavour. Yet, with one or two useful additions, this is the same side that stormed to seventh spot in the Premiership last season - and looked capable of doing even better. Ten months on, the movement is just about upwards after historic back-to-back home victories. But that's all you can say. Not that Moyes should treat himself too severely. The fact is that his ambitions are never going to matched by his boardroom. "If we're to make real progress we need serious finance," was the message delivered by Moyes to my col-league Andy Hunter on Friday. But with no sign of that and debts which grow greater by the day, Moyes is left to contemplate another summer of fire sales and mounting frustration. Where Wayne Rooney fits into all this poverty-stricken scrabbling is the question that most concerns Everton supporters. Wayne was no better and no worse that most of his team-mates until substitute Tomasz Radzinski's cutback set him up for a sweet strike past Shaka Hislop. But he remains a gem and you have to ask whether the bargain-basement can bring the best out of a teenager whose talents fit the stage that only England presently provides for him. The beauty of Rooney is that even when proceedings are as poor as this, he has the wondrous ability to transform it, with a shimmy or a searing shot. Here he found himself ground down for much of the match by passing that was sub-standard and move-ment off the ball that was largely non-existent.
Even his own range was affected as pallid Portsmouth lurched into town determined to do nothing of note other than survive another nudge towards the trapdoor. They haven't won away all season, and you can see why. They had three shots on goal and two of those were wide. Alan Stubbs gave them early hope with an emergency ward back-pass, but apart from the thud and blunder of Ayegbeni Yakubu their attack had all the presence and penetration of a paper dart. Some of Everton's distress could be put down to the early loss of Duncan Ferguson who, buoyed by his burgeoning property fortfolio, began like a spring lamb. He brought one sprawling save out of Hislop, and with Kilbane also look-ing sharp, the portents seemed good. They weren't. Ferguson abruptly exited with a hamstring strain, Everton's defence and midfield got the jitters, and any semblance of entertainment headed for home. Three points eventually helped ease the heartburn, but Moyes faces some tough choices if major improvements are to take place. He desperately wants to hang on to Rooney, but knows that the only way to bring in big money is to let someone go. And who else is there? His plea for cash from other sources is not a runner. So the Rooney saga is likely to be a continuing concern for Everton fans. The teenager explosively decided this game, ably assisted by Everton's next-best forward, Tomasz Radzinski - and with Portsmouth at least streaming foward, he might have had three more. He is a pearl, no doubt, and one Moyes will want to keep in the Goodison Park setting. Everton's directors finding the finance Moyes needs to polish up Rooney's supporting cast wouldn't go amiss either.

Ferguson to undergo scan on hamstring
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Mar 15 2004
DUNCAN FERGUSON will undergo a scan today on the hamstring strain that forced him off after only 32 minutes at Goodison. And manager David Moyes admitted it had been a far from vintage performance from his team. Moyes said: "I didn't think you could blame having two weeks without a game, albeit you could say the game was poor. "I know how well the players have trained this week. I don't like making excuses but the pitch is really lively at the moment, the ball is bobbling at you, it's coming up around your waist and to get it down isn't easy. It's a factor in the game. He added: "Through the season you have some performances where you don't play well and you come up with a win. "But if you'd said to me did I think Villa should have beaten us and Portsmouth should have beaten us, I'd have to say no, I don't think so. "But we have had better performances in other games and didn't get the win but football does that to you sometimes." Moyes hailed Wayne Rooney's seventh goal of the season which hauled Everton away from the relegation zone. "The quality came at the end from Wayne," he said. "He had been finding things a bit tough out there until that moment. "He had found it hard to make an impact, but that it was good players do.
They produce a little bit of magic when it is needed. "And I forgive him for that celebration when he was in front of the Portsmouth fans. He's a young lad, a centre-forward and he is excitable.
"He just wanted to celebrate, I certainly was on the bench!" Moyes added: "There has been a lot of tension here for years, I think last season was the only season in 10 years when there hasn't been any tension around the place. Everybody is used to it. "But I can have a quiet beer now to celebrate my second year here, it has been a tough few months so at least I can relax a bit. "I'd like to be top, but realistically I know that is not possible. I just aim to win a lot more matches in my third year and make progress." Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp also accepted that Rooney was the difference between the sides. He said: "He's a smashing little player and took his goal very well.
"But it was one we should have stopped, the ball bounced off one of our lads straight to him.
"We felt there was a point in this one for us, Everton were not very good and we were on top in the first half, for sure. "But you have to score and we are just not doing that away from home. It has been the problem all season and it is hard to know why."

Moment in time was everything
View from the stands, By James Davis Everton Supporter, Daily Post
Mar 15 2004
LIKE most Everton fans, I watched for 90 minutes on Saturday at Goodison Park, but only enjoyed a split-second of brilliance from Wayne Rooney. Although he still looks like he should be delivering the Daily Post on his BMX at times, Wayne simply comes alive with the ball at his feet and a seemingly impossible route between him and the goal. When he picked up the ball it was the herald to a simply breathtaking few seconds that eclipsed everything that had gone before and came after.
To me, we should all be thankful to have such a player in Blue and pray that we will still have him here to enjoy in the future. Every time he scores a goal like that, the inevitable talk starts about him moving on and the likes of Chelsea and Real Madrid sniffing around. If that were to happen it would be a crime of epic proportions. Certainly his team-mates do not look capable of matching his level of excellence, even sporadically. That was ever more the case without Thomas Gravesen who may look like Yul Brynner but is hardly magnificent at times. When the mood is upon him though, he is a dynamic influence in the middle of the park and while Alex Nyarko played well, I still prefer the Dane. Still, it was another three points that should make us safe from relegation which is what everyone wanted. Given it looked at times this year like we would be sucked into a battle for survival, and that we have struggled this season, that is great news. I can't say the same about Portsmouth, who were hopeless. How they beat Liverpool I'll never know.

Laughing Nyarko is a Rooney advocate
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Mar 15 2004
ALEX NYARKO revealed he has been left in hysterics by the scintillating skills of Wayne Rooney as the Everton striker deflated Portsmouth on Saturday. David Moyes's team are now eight points clear of the relegation zone after Rooney's seventh goal of the season secured their first back-to-back wins at Goodison for 13 months. And Nyarko, who believes the 18-year-old is already one of the finest talents he has ever encountered, admitted he is regularly reduced to laughter by the teenager's audaciousness. "For the first day I came back here and saw Rooney play I have been amazed by him," said the Ghanaian, (pictured). "He is very serious player and very aggressive but he's such a nice guy and a great character to have at the club. "He is an unbelievable talent. There have been times in training when I've found myself laughing at him because he's scored an incredible goal or shown some unbelievable skill. "You cannot explain some of the things he does, so you find yourself laughing out loud at his amazing talent. When he plays it comes from the heart but he also has the ability to play with his brain as well." Nyarko continued: "Wayne seems to be a step ahead of every-body when he gets the ball, and his intelligence on the ball is what makes him something special.
"I have seen a lot of outstanding players in my career but he has the potential to be the best I've ever played with. "He knows when to step things up and when to change a game. Even if things are tough he can lift the whole team with a piece of skill or a goal and he can carry the team through."
Rooney's late goal was the undoubted highlight of a dour contest with Harry Redknapp's struggling side. And Nyarko added: "He is still very young and it is important he stays healthy and does the right things because he can become a great player. "He isn't a baby anymore though, not when you're 18 and built like he is!" Nyarko also made a telling contribution in place of the suspended Thomas Gravesen. The £4.5m midfielder produced his finest display for Everton since returning to the club last summer following two seasons on loan in the wake of his infamous walkout at Highbury in April 2001. Everton will seek a new work permit for Nyarko this summer to cover the final 12 months of his Goodison contract. And the 30-year-old revealed he is anxious to make the most of his second, unexpected, Everton career. He said: "I came back in difficult circumstances but I've just got to try and stay fit so that when the manager needs me I'm ready. "I hoped I would get a chance with Thomas being suspended and I'm delighted with how it went for me and the team. "I don't know what the future holds for me at Everton. I have a year left on my contract and need to renew my work permit in the summer and I'd love to stay in the team and make my mark here. "Despite what happened I am very, very happy to be back here. I am surrounded by great players, a great coach and good people and I want to repay them," he added.

Portsmouth players' coach in brick attack
Daily Post
Mar 15 2004
THE manager of Portsmouth football club last night claimed one of his players could have been killed after the team's coach was pelted with bricks near Everton's ground. Harry Redknapp spoke after two bricks smashed windows on the coach after Saturday's match in Liverpool. The bricks were thrown as the vehicle, which was heading to Liverpool John Lennon Airport, stopped at traffic lights on Goodison Road. Portsmouth players, management and officials were all on the coach. No one was hurt in the attack, which happened at around 6.15pm. Mr Redknapp told the Daily Post: "They chucked two house bricks through the windows. "One was round the back and one the small side window. It was lucky that the driver didn't crash, and even luckier that no-one was hurt, because obviously people were sitting near where they smashed. "Fortunately it was reinforced glass which just shattered. As soon as we set off, though, both windows came out. "It could have killed someone because they were thrown with such force." A spokesman for Everton FC said he didn't believe Blues fans were responsible. He said: "We suspect this was an act of mindless vandalism more than anything football related." A police motorcycle was escorting the coach. A spokesman for Merseyside Police said: "We would like to appeal for anyone who may have seen the incident to come forward."

Everton 1, Portsmouth 0 (Echo)
Mar 15 2004 By Scott Mcleod At Goodison, Liverpool Echo
APPARENTLY there is a mega-rich Russian on the Kings Road who has 30 million reasons why Everton should say goodbye to Wayne Rooney.But none of them are more convincing than the one the 18-year-old provided on Saturday as to why he should stay.What he can offer the team on the pitch outweighs any financial incentive.Because losing him would rob the Blues of that rare gift - a player who can transform a game with a moment of magic.No sum of money, not even enough to help David Moyes strengthen key areas of the squad, can replace that.And for 77 minutes of Saturday's game those key areas of the team in need of strengthening were all too clear.Both sides served up an uninspiring, incoherent match which left the fans twitchy and concerned. Everton's passing was sloppy and the attacking play lacked incision.The early loss of Duncan Ferguson with a hamstring injury disrupted the rhythm.Even Rooney seemed to be having an off day. He was as guilty as anyone of relinquishing possession cheaply with some stray passes.But class will out. When Tomasz Radzinski robbed Linvoy Primus of the ball 13 minutes from time, skipped across the left edge of the box and squared a pass to Rooney there could be only one outcome.He may need to do a little work on his predatory skills in and around the six yard box, but when he is presented with an opportunity to unleash one of his thunderbolts from 18 yards out, the outcome is predictable.A neat body swerve took him past John Curtis and presented him with just enough time to smack a right-foot effort into into the middle of the net.It wasn't too far away from Shaka Hislop, but the power ensured the keeper was helpless to prevent it finding the target.There has been a lot of talk recently about Everton's perilous league position.But with Rooney in the ranks the Blues were always going to have enough in their locker to avoid the drop. And as long as he remains at Goodison they always will. He has now netted crucial winning goals three times this season, against Portsmouth twice and in the Christmas clash with Leicester.Each of those matches has been a sixpointer. And so come the end of May it will have been Rooney's goals as much as anything which will have ensured Everton's Premier League safety.He is a player with that unerring ability to deliver when his side needs it most.The fact he is an Evertonian helps significantly on that score.The sound of the travelling Portsmouth fans singing that old show tune which is popular on the other side of Stanley Park wound up the home crowd.Indeed, it was the only thing which seemed capable of inspiring the Goodison faithful into song during an eerily quiet opening period.And it clearly got to Rooney as well. But as a lifelong Blue, it was inevitable.When he netted the winner in front of the Gwladys Street, he made sure his feelings on the subject were clear.He sprinted 80 yards to the away fans in the Lower Bullens and placed his index finger to his lips.It was the perfect way to silence them. It was what more than 30,000 Blues would have done in the same situation.It is another reason why he is priceless to the club.The great irony is, however, that keeping Rooney complicates matters for the manager.Last summer the Blues struggled to compete in the transfer market with clubs like Blackburn and Southampton because they had been given Roman Abramovich money to spend, thanks to the sales of Damien Duff and Wayne Bridge.This summer Charlton will be in a similar position, as will Fulham thanks to Sir Alex Ferguson's generous offer for Luis Saha.Time and again the clubs Everton are trying to compete against in the battle to finish as the best of the rest behind the filthy rich big three are having their coffers boosted.Everton's only saleable assets worth decent money are Rooney, Radzinski, Joseph Yobo and Thomas Gravesen, who was suspended for Saturday's match.The manager is paying the price for inheriting an ageing squad. With little money at his disposal last summer and possibly even less this summer, the Goodison chief is quickly learning about the reality of managing Everton.But Rooney is intrinsically linked with his plans for the future of the club.And in the coming months the teenager will have the chance to demonstrate why keeping him can be more lucrative than any one-off lump sum from a generous Russian.There are 10 matches left in which Everton can not only put even more daylight between themselves and the bottom three, they can climb back into the top half of the table.Last season's finish in seventh spot provided the club with more Premiership winnings than anyone expected.A repeat this year will help bridge the financial gap with those clubs we have mentioned.And that is where Rooney is sure to be vital.He was given a week off after the Aston Villa game to recharge his batteries.That break will serve the Blues well in the coming games.His energy in the closing stages of Saturday's otherwise dire match suggested that.He could have had a hat-trick in that period, firing wide of the target and forcing Hislop into a reaction save at his near post in the minutes after his goal.A repeat performance against Leicester on Saturday will dispel any lingering worries about the bottom end of the table.But Saturday's win means that looking over shoulders is no longer on the agenda.Portsmouth deserve to feel a little aggrieved because they performed well and went close on a number of occasions to breaking the deadlock, with Eyal Berkovic at the heart of most of their best play.And in the dying minutes Ivica Mornar, a bruising eastern European striker who left Alan Stubbs with a nasty reminder of his brief appearance, courtesy of a gaping head wound, sent a header inches over the bar.But Pompey didn't have Rooney. They didn't have that touch of magic which will prove so influential for Everton in the coming weeks.No amount of cash can take that away from Everton.
EVERTON (4-4-2): Martyn; Hibbert, Yobo, Stubbs, Naysmith; Watson, Linderoth, Nyarko, Kilbane; Ferguson (Radzinski 32), Rooney. Subs: Wright, Unsworth, McFadden, Carsley.
PORTSMOUTH (4-4-2): Hislop; Pasanen, Primus, De Zeeuw, Curtis; Stone (Sheringham 79), Hughes, Faye, Berkovic (Mornar 67); Yakubu, LuaLua (Taylor 46). Subs: Todorov, Wapenaar.
BOOKINGS: Portsmouth's Berkovic (dissent), Pasanen (foul).
REFEREE: Neale Barry.
ATT: 40,105.

Home win for the Rooney family
Mar 15 2004 Liverpool Echo
WAYNE ROONEY is a hero on and off the pitch. On Saturday the teenage striker netted the only goal in Everton's 1-0 victory at Goodison Park against Portsmouth, easing the Blues' relegation fears.
Wayne snapped up the Croxteth council house where he was born and brought up under the right-to-buy scheme. He is clearly anxious to keep it in the family for sentimental reasons. The Stonebridge Lane house is being stripped, fitted out with all the mod cons, and is having a conservatory added so that family members can move in. Scaffolding has already gone up and there is a skip outside the three-bedroomed terrace. The house - which cost around a week's wage for Wayne - is a far cry from the £1m, eight-bedroomed Formby mansion he bought with his fiancee Coleen McLoughlin recently. Last year he bought his parents a £600,000 luxury home in West Derby's Sandfield Park.

Nyarko hungry for more
Mar 15 2004 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
ALEX NYARKO is enjoying his resurrection as an Everton player - and keeping his fingers crossed it will be allowed to continue into next season. The 30-year-old Ghanaian midfielder made his ninth appearance of the season for the Blues in Saturday's 1-0 win over Portsmouth at Goodison.
That is nine more appearances in a Blue shirt than seemed likely 12 months ago, with the player having spent two years away from Merseyside in a series of loan deals. But having now established himself in Moyes' squad, the softly-spoken Nyarko has revealed his future at Goodison depends on his work permit being renewed in the summer, despite there still being more than a year remaining on his five-year contract. He explains: "I don't know the future, nobody does. "My work permit finishes in June and I still have one year ahead of me, so I cannot tell what comes tomorrow.
"I am just happy I came back and happy I am here. I enjoy the group, the manager and all the staff and people around me." Everton are not anticipating a problem with the player's application, despite having not played the required percentage of games for the club over the last four years.
The situation has arisen because rules at the time of Nyarko's arrival in the summer of 2000 restricted the length of a work permit. Had the player been signed 12 months later the permit would have covered the length of his contract. Nyarko prefers to focus on his football, and was delighted to get the chance to replace the suspended Thomas Gravesen on Saturday - and witness Wayne Rooney claiming the three points with a clinically-taken 77th-minute goal. He adds: "I have been training hard and trying to make sure I am ready when I am needed. I played on Wednesday and I was happy. "I knew Thomas was suspended so I thought I may get an opportunity. I can't play like him. "I am not too bad holding the ball and myself and Tobi (Tobias Linderoth) worked very hard. Thomas has more skill and technique so I didn't play like that, but there was space in the first half to run with the ball. "Collectively we were trying hard to find a goal, but it was like the Aston Villa game. "We knew that if we kept creating chances we would get a goal. The performance showed that we would win the game. "You are never going to get an entire match where it is straightforward. But everybody kept working hard and we knew we would have to fight and hope that the goal would come. "We made sure we didn't concede and thanks to Wayne he got us through. "Since I came here I have really liked Wayne. He is very aggressive with his football and very serious, which is good. "He is unbelievable to watch sometimes in training. He is a great guy and he has a good character. "He shows some great stuff for a player his age. "I have not seen many players at that age with that ability, and I have never had the chance to play with somebody like that. "When he plays it comes from the heart. He is strong and he knows when he has to do something he can do it. "Football is played in the head, and he is a very clever player."

Hamstring pull rocks Dunc's run
Mar 15 2004 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
DUNCAN FERGUSON'S return to form as Everton skipper has been put on hold by a hamstring injury.
The 32-year-old striker, was substituted midway through the first half of Saturday's 1-0 win over Portsmouth. While the Everton medical staff do not deem the injury serious, it is set to keep Ferguson out of the first team frame for Saturday's trip to Leicester. Manager David Moyes said today: "The injury is not too severe because we caught it early in the game before it got any worse.
"It is not as bad as first feared but you have to be careful with hamstring injuries and so it is difficult to say if he has a chance for Saturday." If Ferguson fails to play against Leicester it will bring to an end a run of five consecutive starts for the forward who won back the captaincy at Southampton last month as a result of his recent form. Meanwhile, defender Peter Clarke is facing the prospect of a month on the sidelines after his loan move to Coventry was cut short. The 22-year-old was handed a four-match ban last week for a straight red card in Coventry's 1-0 win at Cardiff. It was his second dismissal of the season and means he is now unavailable for Everton's next four league games, ruling him out until the trip to Leeds on April 13. Had he remained at Highfield Road he would have been eligible to play again more than a fort-night earlier on April 3 as Coventry have a busier fixture list than Everton.
* The Blues have received good news with the return to full training of Italian defender Alessandro Pistone, who picked up a hamstring strain against Aston Villa at the end of last month.

Rooney quizzed by cops
Mar 15 2004 Liverpool Echo
EVERTON FC star Wayne Rooney has been questioned by police over allegations that he spat in a girl's face during a nightclub bust-up. The Crown Prosecution Service was deciding today whether he should appear in court. Rooney, 18, went to Bootle Street police station in Manchester last night with his advisers. It came after Nicola Sunenberry, 23, made a report of common assault against the England striker. She claims he spat in her face and insulted her after a row broke at Manchester's trendy Ampersand nightclub last month. Rooney was with a group of Everton team mates when the incident is said to have happened. During Ms Sunenberry's row with the young goalscorer, she allegedly said he looked like the FA Cup. Rooney's advisers strongly deny the player did anything wrong.

Form is temporary, class is permanent
By Mark Lawrenson, Daily Post
Mar 16 2004
WITH Liverpool and Everton experiencing differing fortunes at the weekend, their results were a tale of two strikers as much as anything else. For Liverpool at Southampton, Michael Owen looked a shadow of his once lethal self, missing two clear chances and a penalty. For Everton against Portsmouth, Wayne Rooney confirmed his re-emergence from the doldrums of a few weeks ago with a stunning winner against Portsmouth. I am a big fan of both players, because they are special talents and people with their gifts do not come along too often. The closest thing I could liken it to is when I played with Kenny Dalglish at Liverpool - truly a world class player and one who could win you games and trophies virtually on his own. That is something Michael Owen has done throughout his Liverpool career, but at the moment he does not look right. At St Mary's his body language was flat and hesitant and that carried over to his finishing, which was light years away from what he is capable of. Just like his penalty against Portsmouth, Sunday's spot-kick was a limp effort and Niemi saved it without being at full stretch. At the moment there are all sorts of theories going around about what is the reason behind his poor form. I've heard people saying he is not bothered and will be off in the summer, the usual conspiracy theories, as well as that he is not the same player he was.
I don't agree with any of them because no player of Michael's class becomes a bad player over-night.
I remember when Ian Rush scored five for Liverpool against Luton and he naturally got all the headlines. Then in training on Monday, he missed a chance in the five-a-side and Ronnie Moran said 'same player'. Just as Ronnie was saying Rushie had not suddenly become able to walk on water in front of goal, so Michael has not suddenly lost the assets on which he built his reputation. I am a great believer that somewhere between the headlines and the criticism is the real player, and with the support of Gerard Houllier - who is fantastically loyal to all his players - he will soon be scoring again. Having said that, I believe that the time is right to let someone else take the penalties. That is not a lack of support, just taking Michael out of the spotlight for a while until the goals begin to go in again. When that happens, he will be the first to knock on Houllier's door saying 'let me take them again'. Just as Michael Owen is suffering at the moment, so Wayne Rooney was going through a difficult spell earlier in the season. The problem for Wayne is that he made such an impact that all he has to do is have a bad game and it is national disaster. People should remember that he is still only 18 and as such he is learning his trade. As he gets older, he will become better and more consistent. Just like Michael, the real player lies in the middle of the praise and the criticism.
Also like Michael, Wayne has had tremendous support from his manager. David Moyes has handled him in exactly the right way. When he has been flying, Moyes has given Wayne his head and when he has been struggling, he has just reined him in by putting an arm around his shoulder, giving him a rest or dropping him to the bench. That must have been a real help to Wayne, especially as he has been surrounded by rumour and speculation about his future, none of it coming from him.
Wayne is the best game-changer and game-breaker at Everton. That is why he needs a bit of help every now and again. Whether that would class as special treatment or not, he is more than worth it because he is the difference between teams when he is on form. Again to make the comparison with Kenny Dalglish, everybody realised he was on bigger wages than we were, but no-one complained because we all realised just what he could do for the team. Football is a team sport, but players like Rooney and Owen stand out and make things happen. Having people like that in your team makes you look a better player and brings more success than you would have without them.
They may take a bit of banter for their high profile, but they are worth every effort to make sure they perform at their best. Because of what they can do, you take the rough with the smooth and yes, there will be times when they struggle. That is when it is up to their team-mates to give that little bit extra because it won't be long before the star men are doing what they do best again.

Linderoth urged to become Mr Nasty
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Mar 16 2004
DAVID MOYES wants Tobias Linderoth to shed his nice-guy image and develop the nasty streak needed to solve Everton's pressing midfield problem. The Goodison manager has made no secret of his desire to strengthen central midfield after last summer's pursuit of Sean Davis was aborted on medical grounds. Moyes was delighted with Linderoth's display in Saturday's valuable victory over Portsmouth when, along with Alex Nyarko, he eased the loss of the suspended Thomas Gravesen.
It was Everton's third game without defeat since the Swedish international, was recalled in the wake of the Birmingham debacle on February 11. But Moyes believes the 24-year-old needs more aggression in his game to make an even greater impact on Everton's season. "Tobias has a lot going for him," said the Everton manager. "He is a quietly spoken Swede who gets on with his work, although there are things about his game I want him to improve. "The one thing we cannot improve is his stature. Everybody now is looking for big powerful players but we would like him to improve his play, his passing. What he is very good at is finding holes, doing the dirty work and breaking things up. Sometimes that can go unnoticed. "But if you want to be a central midfield player in England you are going to have to be tough and make your own mark. If you are small like that you are going to have to be really competitive, and able to challenge. You don't need to be a great passer, just very good and simple and keep it moving." Moyes admits central midfield must be improved if Everton are to make genuine progress. But he has challenged Linderoth, a £2.5m signing from Stabaek in January 2002, to ensure he remains part of those plans. The Everton manager, (left), added: "He's been a wee bit upset because he's not played in all the games but we've been looking to improve in that area as much as we can. "Toby's had two or three games now and done well for us. He had a big influence for us against Portsmouth and he needed to. "We've not been strong in that area. We have got the numbers but are lacking in quality. He is somebody who is improving and because he is young the European Championships will be a big test for him and maybe he'll find out where he is as well. "He is an international who has proved himself, he doesn't need to prove anything to me. But every player at any club is always having to fight to get into the side." Duncan Ferguson's hamstring injury, meanwhile, is not as serious as initially feared but is
likely to force him out of Saturday's trip to Leicester. The striker limped out of the win over Portsmouth after just 32 minutes and while a scan yesterday revealed no serious damage, he faces a week on the sidelines. Manager Moyes said: "The injury is not as bad as first feared, but you have to be careful with hamstring injuries." Alessandro Pistone has now returned to full training following the hamstring injury he suffered against Aston Villa last month.

Everton's midfield woe
Post Soapbox, Icliverpool & Daily Post
Mar 16 2004
Midfield woe
HAVING been present at Goodison on Saturday, I witnessed what was one of the worst performances I have seen from Everton in a long time. Perhaps the most disturbing aspect was the dreadful performance of the two centre midfielders. We may as well have had nobody in there, Linderoth looked slow, and Nyarko was out of position constantly, and always gifted the ball to the sky or Portsmouth. If Everton are to make any progress, this problem needs to be urgently addressed in the summer.
Mark Lawson, Liverpool
Money matters
I'M a true Blue, but we really need to get some money into our club. No matter how many managers we have, we are going nowhere until money is pumped in to 'the People's Club'.
We can expect to be coming in the bottom half of the table until we get a buyer with fresh ideas and plenty of money to buy quality players.
Andy Dowd, Widnes

Everton working on Nyarko permit
By Paul Walker, Daily Post
Mar 16 2004
EVERTON have confirmed they have applied for a new work permit for Alex Nyarko and expect to be allowed to play the Ghanaian for the final year of his contract. Nyarko arrived on a five-year contract as a £4.5million signing under Walter Smith's regime, but at the time Government regulations only allowed a four-year permit to be issued. But now the club are keen to hang on to a player they were once so disappointed with they tried to offload almost anywhere in Europe.
An Everton spokesman revealed: "The application has already been made. "If he arrived in the UK now on a five-year contract he would be able to get a five-year permit, but the rules were different then and four was as much as he could have. "Now he has worked his way back into the first team squad and we would want him playing in the final year of his contract." And this for a player who was shipped out on loan to Monaco and Paris St Germain after he was involved in an infamous incident, (pictured above), when a disgruntled Everton fan ran onto the field at Arsenal to offer to swap shirts because he considered Nyarko's performance was not good enough. At the time the player said then he "would never play for the club again". But, after Saturday's man-of-the-match display against Portsmouth, the midfielder admitted he hoped to play a continued part in David Moyes's Goodison plans.

Youngsters stay on track for title
Academy Football with Chris Wright, Daily Post
Mar 16 2004
EVERTON'S two Academy teams have experienced the highs and lows of youth football this week.
As Gary Ablett's under-17s stayed on course for the FA Premier Academy League Group A title with a 2-1 win over Nottingham Forest, most of Neil Dewsnip's under-19s were told they would not be retained by the club when their contracts end this summer. Six players - England youth international Scott Brown, midfielder Brian Moogan, defenders Jack Flood and Joseph Jones and attackers Gavin Lynch and Robert Booth - are at Lilleshall for the Premiership exit trials which began yesterday and last three days. The rest of the squad are having trials at various clubs from the Nationwide League first and third divisions this week, hoping that the end of their time at Goodison is not the end of their hopes of being a professional footballer. Coach Dewsnip said: "Although they have just come short at our club, they are interesting a large number of clubs. And the exit trials will increase that interest hopefully. So with a bit of luck the boys will get another opportunity." The U17s' 2-1 victory at Forest keeps them on top of the table three points ahead of Manchester United and with a much better goal difference. And with just two matches remaining they look like crowning their superb efforts by staying in pole position and claiming one of the two end-of-season national play-off places. But Ablett's side had to come from behind. Forest took an early lead after a long clearance caught Everton flat-footed. But Everton hit back, striker Paul Hopkins scoring the equaliser with his 11th goal of the season for the U17s on the half-hour. Scottish youth international Patrick Boyle's great run and cross saw Hopkins head home from close in. In the second half Hopkins was the provider, setting up strike partner Andrew Fowler to score. Coach Ablett said: "We had a bit of a dodgy start. But after that we controlled the game, pressed them really well and stopped them from playing. "I am really pleased, because at this stage of the season it is more about the result than the performance." EVERTON UNDER-17s: Gallagher; Irving, Hughes, Wright, Boyle; Wilson, Harris, Seargeant, Phelan; Hopkins (Anichebe 70), Fowler (Vaughan 70). Subs: Molynuex, Johnson, Lake.

Moyes' eyes on prize fund
Mar 16 2004 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON boss David Moyes has set his sights on remaining unbeaten until the end of the season.
Saturday's 1-0 win over Portsmouth was only the second time this season the club has recorded back to back league victories. It extended the side's unbeaten run to three matches and increased the gap between the Blues and the relegation zone to eight points. But the manager, wants to increase that gap and, more importantly, move up the table to secure a bigger share of the Premier League's prize fund. He said: "We want to try and go unbeaten between now and the end of the season. That will be hard to achieve but we have done well in the last three games. "We all need to keep doing the best we can to gain as many points as we can. Realistically, we know we have not got the points we should have this season. "But the higher up the table we get the better it is for the club financially." Each league placing is worth an extra £500,000 in winnings. Meanwhile, the club are set to receive a response to their appeal against David Weir's red card at the end of the week.
The experienced defender was shown a straight red following a clash with Lorenzo Amoruso during the 1-0 defeat to Blackburn at Morecambe last week. If the club loses its appeal against the decision the player will be suspended for three games, beginning with the Middlesbrough game on Saturday week. The former Scottish international is set to get another game under his belt for the reserves against Leeds United tonight. Peter Clarke would welcome the chance to return to Coventry on a permanent contract in the summer if Everton don't offer the 22-year-old a new deal. He is out of contract at Goodison in the summer. He returned to Bellefield yesterday after cutting short a loan spell at Highfield Road after being slapped with a four-match ban following his second red card of the season. Defender Clarke said: "If things don't work out for me here and Coventry are interested I would certainly take them into account." Meanwhile, the majority of Neil Dewsnip's Everton under-19s have been told they will not be retained by the club when their contracts expire in the summer. Scott Brown, Brian Moogan, Jack Flood, Joseph Jones, Gavin Lynch and Patrick Booth are now at Lilleshall trying to impress in the miership exit trials, which began yesterday. The remaining players are having trials at Nationwide League clubs this week. * There are a few tickets remaining for Friday night's sportsman's dinner at Goodison. Guest speaker is land World Cup winner and former Republic of Ireland manager Jack Charlton.

Everton Reserves 1, Leeds United Reserves 1
Mar 17 2004
Daily Post
EVERTON Reserves made it four matches without a victory as Leeds United took a point at Haig Avenue. With just three minutes on the clock Andy Holden's side took the lead when James McFadden broke and after beating two men crossed for Michael Symes to finish past Scott Carson.
Indeed McFadden,was unlucky not have made it two on 22 minutes when his clever free kick beat all but the crossbar and fortunately for the visitors went out. Leeds however had a number of opportunities themselves to pull level but a combination of good goal-keeping from Richard Wright and missed chances kept the Blues in front. Symes should have doubled Everton's lead at the break but a tremendous save from Carson in the Leeds goal denied him. Daniel Fox came close five minutes after the break only for Kilgallon to clear as his shot looked goal bound but eventually Leeds began to get the measure of the Everton defence, and Wright was helpless to prevent Johnson drawing level after 68 minutes. Lee Carsley, David Weir and James McFadden all got another run out and Scottish defender Weir, sent off in his last reserve game, nearly won it for Everton late on.
EVERTON: R Wright, S Wright, Fox, Carsley(Harris 46), Weir, Hopkins (Pascucci 89), Wilson, Gerrard, Chadwick, Symes, McFadden (Boyle 69). Unused subs: Lake, Hughes.

Poor Walter's stepping into a right mess
By Len Capeling, Daily Post
Mar 17 2004
Summoned by his old friend Sir Alex Ferguson to slam some bolts on Manchester United's increasingly creaky back door, he finds himself enduring the kind of white-knuckle ride so familiar to him during his Goodison agonies. Sunday at City showed that without Rio Ferdinand and Gary Neville, the champions' defence is as rock-solid as a drug-test alibi. Wes Brown never inspires confidence, while Mikael Silvestre is very much second man to a dominant other. Think Sol Campbell or - ouch! - Jaap Stam. Worse still for Walter and Co, other parts of the United fabric are beginning to fray. The midfield, once so vibrant, is now too predictable and leaden-footed. Shame on the United insiders who rubbished David Beckham's contribution to the Old Trafford cause. Without him, they don't possess the same stability or threat. Ask Ruud van Nistelrooy if you want confirmation of that fact.
* THE ONLY mystery about the attack on the Portsmouth coach in the shadow of Goodison Park is where were the boys in dark blue? You can't move for manure before the match, but when you need a horse and rider they've galloped off into the wind and rain. And here's me thinking that all visiting sides got a police escort from every ground in the Premiership. Instead, they hit a brick wall. Ahead of a return visit to the area tonight.

Rooney remains the light to follow
By Len Capeling, Daily Post
Mar 17 2004
BEST line of the week came from a deadpan David Moyes after a diabolical game against Portsmouth. "I don't know what that was," he said. "But it'll never replace football." He wasn't joking. Rarely can so many players have had so many nightmares at one and the same time.
Portsmouth had some slight excuse. They're already on death row and are finding it increasingly difficult to summon up the will to live. But Everton? Who knows. They'd had a week off and should have been bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. They weren't and the 90 minutes that transpired was memorable only for the variety of moans and groans escaping from the throats of tormented Evertonians. There was a couple of sunny spots: the three points which keep Everton clear of trouble, and the goal, cleverly set up by Tomasz Radzinski and powerfully finished by Wayne Rooney.
No wonder his name reverberated round the stadium after the grief that had gone before. Like all of his teammates - though we shall excuse Nigel Martyn - Wayne had one of those afternoons when most of his passes had too much or too little on them. But, after the goal, he blossomed as few others did. Like Michael Owen, our other big hope for Euro 2004, Wayne doesn't get the best of service from a largely sterile midfield and that has to drain his confidence. Yet he still looks special amid so much that isn't. As for Portsmouth, well, they look a genuine first division side. Lots of effort, a few splashes of skill, usually provided by Eyal Berkovic, but not much else. Pompey manager Harry Redknapp deserves to get lucky, but won't with this ragbag of a team.

Eastern plans going west for Everton
Exclusive By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Mar 17 2004
EVERTON'S involvement in the Far East is to be significantly reduced this summer. Goodison officials cancelled a proposed end of season tour of China last night for the second year running. And it is understood they will also be seeking a new main sponsor next season as Kejian are unlikely to extend their present deal when it expires in four months' time. The Chinese electronics company signed a two-year contract worth around £1.5million to Everton in 2002 and financed international midfielder Li Tie's move to Merseyside. The innovative deal enabled Everton to make significant inroads in the Far East while Kejian profited from Li Tie's impressive debut season in English football.
But while the partnership will continue in some form for another 12 months, Kejian will not remain Everton's main commercial sponsor due to increased financial commitments in China. Those pressures are believed to have influenced the cancellation of Everton's tour, which Kejian were expected to fund. A clash of dates with the new Chinese season and the broken leg suffered recently by Li Tie - which would have ruled the country's biggest star out of the three matches - were other factors. The decision follows last season's withdrawal from the Kejian Tournament after the outbreak of the SARS virus. Chief executive Michael Dunford, said: "Again we've hit a brick wall in as much as David Moyes would want to take the team away immediately after the conclusion of the season and that's understandable because of the Euro Championships that follow in the following month. "But the opening games of the new Chinese Premier League correspond with the original dates that we were indicating we would be available ourselves to go out to China. "Unfortunately we are not in any position to fix the three fixtures we wanted with the local teams because their Premiership season is starting. Obviously I can understand that that will take priority in their calendar." Everton are still obliged to play in the Far East under the terms of their original deal with Kejian. But whether that will happen next season, when the company's commercial interest has reduced and the club has a new shirt sponsor, remains to be seen.

Holden's men fail to make most of Symes strike
Mar 17 2004 Liverpool Echo
A SIMON JOHNSON goal midway through the second half denied Everton Reserves victory at Haig Avenue, despite the Blues taking an early lead. With just three minutes played, Andy Holden's side went in front when James McFadden broke and after beating two men, crossed for Michael Symes to finish past Scott Carson. McFadden was unlucky not have made it two on 22 minutes when his clever free-kick struck the crossbar. Leeds, however, had a number of opportunities, but a combination of good goal-keeping from Richard Wright and missed chances kept the Blues in front.
Symes should have doubled Everton's lead at the break but a tremendous save from Carson in the Leeds goal denied him. Daniel Fox came close five minutes after the break only for Kilgallon to clear as his shot looked goal-bound but eventually Leeds began to get the measure of the Everton defence and threatened on a number of occasions. Johnson first tested Wright but the England keeper was alert to save from Duberry. However, the Blues keeper was helpless to prevent Johnson from levelling matters after 68 minutes. Lennon and Kilgallon combined and the latter's cross was turned in by Johnson from a few yards out. Lee Carsley and David Weir enjoyed another good run-out and Weir, sent off in his last reserve game, nearly won it for the Blues, but was denied by another good save from Carson. The side have now gone four games without a victory but still remain in the top half of the Barclaycard Premier Reserve League. EVERTON: R Wright, S Wright, Fox, Carsley (Harris 46), Weir, Hopkins (Pascucci 89), Wilson, Gerrard, Chadwick, Symes, McFadden (Boyle 69). Subs Unused: Lake, Hughes.

Genius the Blues can't do without
Mar 17 2004 By Tommy Smith, Liverpool Echo
THERE wasn't much to keep the crowd at Goodison Park entertained on Saturday. Both Everton and Portsmouth were guilty of giving the ball away far too easily and the football wasn't exactly quality stuff. The Blues seemed to miss Thomas Gravesen, who can be a bit of an in and out performer in midfield, but is usually a key influence. Wayne Rooney may not have had his greatest game but he managed to come up with that one moment of magic which he, above all, is capable of producing.
In getting the winning goal he has secured three important points to help keep Everton away from any relegation dogfight. David Moyes has spent a long time trying to protect Rooney from over-exposure on the pitch or in the media. But now the days of him being on the bench must be numbered. Everton need him out there for 90 minutes because he's one player who can turn things around in a flash. His strike livened up a dull afternoon.

Hibbo: I have a lot more to offer
Mar 17 2004 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
TONY HIBBERT believes the best is yet to come this season - from both him and the Everton defence.
Saturday's clean sheet in the victory over Portsmouth was the club's second in succession but only the ninth from 31 league and FA Cup matches this season. It is a record which the team is intent on improving, just as the 23-year-old is intent on improving his own form. "It has been a big relief to get two clean sheets back to back," admitted Hibbert. "But we should have had more before them. We have let sides back into games too often. "You know that if you keep a clean sheet you are going to at least get a point. "That helps breed confidence. "From my point of view, I have not really had a good season. I know I have got a lot more to offer the team. "I felt comfortable with my performances last season and I have been doing okay but I know I can do a lot better.
"That is what I try to do in every match. If I play well, that is great but if not I want to put things right. I still have a lot of work to do and a lot more to give." Hibbert words reflect the sentiments of the manager, who has warned his defenders that despite the recent clean sheets he expects more from them. "In the last two games, our back four has kept two clean sheets, so that's good, but we made silly defensive mistakes against Portsmouth," explained David Moyes, himself a former centre-back.
But despite the manager's critical eye, he is pleased that his side has brought to an end the run of conceding goals left, right and centre. Prior to the recent home victories, Everton had shipped 10 goals in three matches. It has helped propel the side up the table. Maintain the run and the prospect of matching last season's seventh place finish is not out of the question. Hibbert adds: "Our confidence has been helped by the last couple of games. The defenders do tend to get the credit for keeping clean sheets but it is the whole team which has to defend and which has to deliver the goals as well. "We have had two big games in the last couple of weeks and we needed the points. The league is so tight that back to back wins can quickly put you in a nice position.
"If we can keep that run going this weekend we could even be looking at getting into the top 10 because the table is so close. "A good run will catapult us into a much better position."

Cottee set for debut
Mar 17 2004 Liverpool Echo
TONY COTTEE will make his debut at the annual Everton Hall of Fame gathering tomorrow.
The 99-goal Everton striker will be joined at the adrenaline-fuelled Adelphi Hotel rally by Hall of Fame regulars like Ball-Harvey-Kendall, Brian Labone, Gordon West, Derek Temple, TE Jones, Tom Jackson, Bryan Hamilton, Ian Snodin, Kevin Sheedy, Graeme Sharp, Neville Southall, Roger Kenyon, Jim Pearson, John Connolly, Frank D'Arcy, Harry Bennett, George Telfer, Martin Dobson, Mark Ward, Matt Jackson, John Bailey, Barry Horne and many more. Launched five years ago under the title Gwlady s Street's Hall of Fame, it is now being run by Brian Snagg of Blue nose Promotions.
The dinner sold out months ago.

Blues to take away Chinese
Mar 17 2004 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON could have new shirt sponsors next season - as a result of the weakening American dollar!
The Blues are currently in talks with present sponsors Kejian, but confirmed today that a change could be imminent. Chief Executive Michael Dunford, admitted: "We are still in dialogue with Kejian and a number of other interested parties with regard to our main sponsorship for next season."
The ground-breaking deal with Kejian is due for renewal this summer. But the Chinese electronics company operates in American dollars and since the original deal was struck, the US currency has slipped significantly in value, rendering the present deal less attractive. There is also a suggestion that Kejian will now concentrate on more domestic commitments. Kejian became Everton's fifth shirt sponsor in 2002 - following Hafnia, NEC, Danka and One2One. The deal was worth around £1.5m to the Blues and also financed the loans of Li Tie and Li Wei Fung, with the Tie transfer since having become permanent. The Blues remain committed to a tour of China as part of their present contract, but that will not now take place at the end of this season. Mr Dunford explained: "David Moyes insists, quite correctly, that he will only consider a tour at the end of the season - but the end of the Premiership season coincides with the first week of the new Chinese season, so we cannot find a date for the proposed fixtures. "We still remain committed to a Chinese tour, but when that will be we don't know."

Lineker and Southall combine for victory
Post Past With Phil Redmond, Daily Post
Mar 18 2004
THIS week The Blues make their first visit to Leicester's Walkers Stadium, yet another of those identikit new grounds brought to you by the same people who designed Pride Park, the Riverside, et al. Over the years there have been a number of memorable encounters with The Foxes/Filberts (delete as appropriate) down there, and one game that always sticks in my mind was the encounter in February 1985 when an Andy Gray double brought a vital three-point return from a difficult game.
Everton went into the match nursing a number of injuries from the previous week's cup-tie when Telford had attempted to kick the Blues off the park. Indeed Trevor Steven, who'd just been picked for the England squad for the first time, was moved up front to partner Andy Gray who was experiencing a barren spell in front of goal after returning to the team in December at the expense of the crocked Adrian Heath. Leicester, meanwhile, were smarting after a shock FA cup exit to Millwall. On the day Leicester gave the Blues one of their biggest tests of that season and but for a masterful display from Neville Southall and some slack finishing from future Everton striker Gary Lineker, they would have won the game comfortably. As it was, Gray finally broke his duck midway through the second half, heading home a deflected Paul Bracewell cross and then running into a goal-post. Inside the last 10 minutes and Leicester's Steve Lynex levelled from a suspiciously offside position before Gray immediately struck again with a powerful low shot on the turn. There was still time for Southall to break Leicester hearts with yet another acrobatic save, this time from a Lineker header. And so it was, the Blues took another giant step towards the title, particularly given that closest rivals Spurs had that day won at Anfield for the first time since the sinking of the Titanic.
Historic victory or not, nothing was going to deny The Blues that glorious year.

Moyes in the hunt for Cahill
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Mar 18 2004
DAVID MOYES is monitoring Millwall midfielder Tim Cahill as he considers options for rebuilding the Everton midfield this summer. The Goodison manager was at Prenton Park on Tuesday as the First Division side overcame Tranmere to secure their place in the FA Cup semi-finals for the first time in 70 years. And it is believed Cahill, an attacking midfielder from Australia, was in Moyes' sights.
Glasgow Rangers are also interested in signing the 24-year-old, who has twice been voted Millwall's Young Player of the Year after leaving Sydney in search of a professional career in England.
Everton have not made an approach to Millwall for Cahill, who has scored 53 goals in just over 200 appearances for the club, nor is Moyes likely to get a sizeable transfer fund at the end of this campaign. But his interest in the Australian shows midfield remains the priority area for the Everton manager this summer. Moyes, meanwhile, has failed in his attempt to have David Weir's three-match suspension overturned on appeal. The Scottish defender was dismissed on his reserve team comeback against Blackburn recently for allegedly aiming a kick at Lorenzo Amoruso. Both Weir and Moyes were stunned by the decision, which the latter described as "ludicrous", and Everton immediately sent footage of the incident to the FA. But the Video Advisory Panel have declared there is insufficient evidence to clear the 33-year-old and he will now miss Premiership games against Middlesbrough, Newcastle and Tottenham as his injury-hit campaign receives another enforced delay. With Peter Clarke also suspended until April 10, Moyes only has three recognised centre-backs available in Alan Stubbs, Joseph Yobo and David Unsworth. And, in a further set-back for Weir, he is also banned from rebuilding his match fitness in the reserves as his offence was deemed "serious foul play". Meanwhile, Luis Boa Morte was last night cleared of making offensive gestures to Everton fans. But the Fulham winger is still sweating on the FA verdict on his race-abuse allegation against Duncan Ferguson. Portuguese international Boa Morte was hit by an improper conduct charge after his behaviour in front of Blues' supporters during the Cottagers' 2-1 victory at Loftus Road on January 10. The 26-year-old attended a hearing yesterday, after which the FA announced the accusation was "not proven". A Fulham statement said that was due to "insufficient grounds to substantiate the claim". However, Boa Morte is still waiting to hear whether the FA will act against Everton striker Ferguson, who he accused of racially abusing him during the 1-1 FA Cup draw at Goodison Park on January 25. Soho Square officials have been probing the incident for six weeks but are not believed to be close to announcing a decision. It is understood the case against Ferguson may collapse due to a lack of evidence supporting Boa Morte's claim.

Rooney sparks a Swede dream
Mar 18 2004 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
SWEDISH midfielder Tobias Linderoth witnessed first-hand last weekend the goalscoring power his own country will miss in Portugal this summer. Linderoth was delighted with Wayne Rooney's classy late winner for Everton against Portsmouth on Saturday. But the goal from England's young lion also brought home just how much his own nation will miss the predatory prowess of Henrik Larsson at the European Championship finals. The Celtic striker has announced his retirement from international football, and Linderoth explained: "We did well in qualifying, but we have a lot of key players injured at the moment and Henrik Larsson has indicated that he won't be playing.
"Henrik is one of the best strikers in Europe and a goalscorer and player of his ability would be missed by any country." The Swedes play host to Wayne Rooney and England at the end of this month in Gothenburg. And Linderoth added: "The Swedish League season hasn't started yet and I don't think everyone is focussed on football just yet. "But when it does get under way in April and we play England on March 31, the excitement and the interest will really increase." Linderoth's club boss, David Moyes, hopes that Euro 2004 could provide a valuable learning curve for his 24-year-old midfielder. After starting the season in Everton's engine room, Linderoth has been used sparingly since November, but Moyes believes he could still have a part to play at Goodison. "Toby has a lot of things going for him," he said. "He's a quietly spoken Swede who gets on with his work and he had an influence for us against Portsmouth. "He's been a wee bit upset that he hasn't played more games, but we have been looking to improve in that area as much as we can. "Toby is someone who is improving and because he is young the European Championships will be a big test for him."
Since his £2.5m arrival from Stabaek in the death throes of Walter Smith's reign, Linderoth has endured an injury-plagued spell. Steadfastly ignored by David Moyes until the final match of that first season at Arsenal - when he performed well - he had to wait until an October 27 trip to West Ham for his first start of the following season. A 1-0 win at Upton Park, followed by the Blues' first Elland Road success for 51 years seemed to set up the Swede for an extended run - until he pulled his hamstring half-an-hour into a Worthington Cup tie at Newcastle. He didn't figure again, and saw his most extended spell of action under Moyes - 12 starts in the opening 16 games of this season - ended sharply after the 2-0 disaster at Bolton. He has only just forced his way back in and Moyes explained: "I would want Toby to improve many things about his game. The one thing we can't improve is his stature. Everyone is looking for big, powerful players if possible and we can't improve that. "He's an international and he has proved himself. He doesn't really need to prove anything to me, but any player at any club always has to fight to get into the side."

Moyes wary of Foxes
Mar 18 2004 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES believes Everton could not be going to Leicester at a worse time. Saturday's Premiership game will be the first match at the Walker's Stadium since the arrests in La Manga two weeks ago which have rocked football. The Goodison chief has warned his players to expect a backlash on the pitch from Micky Adams' under-pressure squad. He said: "I think it will be a tougher trip than maybe it would have been a few weeks ago. "When you feel that everybody is against you, you stand stronger together and I'm sure they will be using what has happened to fire them up. "That was the case last week at Birmingham and this is the first game at Leicester since the allegations in Spain." The Blues go into the game unbeaten in their last three outings and the manager is determined to extend that run to steer clear of the relegation zone. He added: "We need to keep daylight between us and Leicester and so it is important to avoid defeat.
"We are in a decent run right now and want to stay unbeaten for as long as possible, although obviously we would like all three points." Duncan Ferguson could yet be involved on Saturday after making good progress in his recovery from a minor hamstring injury picked up last weekend.
Meanwhile, Moyes has rubbished reports linking him with a summer move for Millwall midfielder Tim Cahill. He said: "I'm not interested in him."

Youngsters feel league nerves
Academy Football With Chris Wright, Daily Post
Mar 19 2004
TWO games in three days will decide whether Everton under-17s are crowned FA Premier Academy League Group A champions. Gary Ablett's side are top of the table by three points and face Derby County at Netherton tomorrow (kick-off 11am), followed by their final game of the season, also at Netherton, against Crewe Alexandra on Monday evening (KO 7.30pm). Last week's 2-1 victory at Nottingham Forest has left Everton with a great chance of finishing on top of the table and taking one of the two play-off National quarter-final places, which begin on April 3. And Ablett said: "They are coping with the situation well. Yes, there are signs of nerves, but it shows that they care and want to do well." Ablett is also pleased with some individual performances. He added: "A couple of them have been involved with the reserves this week and it is just reward for how well they have done. "It is a little bonus for them and we hope it will help them. "Paul Hopkins and Andrew Fowler have been working really well up front and they have come to the fore. "Paul has been scoring a good few goals and Andy got the goal last week that his form has warranted. "Hopefully they can go from the strength-to-strength because they are still learning and getting better." Neil Dewsnip's under-19s play Newcastle United at Netherton tomorrow (KO 11am) and also face Manchester United at the Carrington Complex on Monday afternoon (KO 2.30pm). The majority of the squad have been told they will not be staying at the club when their contracts end this summer. So, with several players having appeared in the Premiership exit trials and a number of others having been training at other clubs trying to impress, tomorrow's side may have an unfamiliar look. Dewsnip said: "It will vary which players stay or go. It depends on several things like their education because some of them are still doing A levels, but it also depends on geography in some cases. Each case is individual. "Obviously we want to help them get the next opportunity, so it that means they would not play for us again, them so be it. But ideally they would obviously see the season out with us."

Moyes tells Gravesen to earn back his place
By Ian Doyle Daily Post Staff
Mar 19 2004
DAVID MOYES has warned Thomas Gravesen not to expect an immediate recall to the Everton midfield against Leicester City tomorrow. The Danish international sat out last weekend's victory over Portsmouth while serving a one-match suspension after accruing five yellow cards. Alex Nyarko was brought into the Everton line-up by Moyes, and the Ghanaian midfielder responded with a man-of-the-match performance as the home side recorded back-to-back victories at Goodison Park for the first time in 13 months. And with fellow midfielder Tobias Linderoth also earning plaudits for his display against Harry Redknapp's side, Moyes admits the onus is on Gravesen to force his way back into a winning side. "We were disappointed to miss Tommy," said Moyes. "I think he's an influence in the way we play. "But Toby and Alex both did well in the game. I can't fault them. "They stuck at their task when the game wasn't too pretty at times. I thought those two in the end won their individual battles in the middle of the park so that holds well. "We've now seen that those two can come in and do a job so it's up to Tommy to try and get himself back in the team now." Moyes could still call on the services in attack of captain Duncan Ferguson, who continues to make good progress in recovering from the hamstring strain which forced him off during the first half of last Saturday's game. Victory at troubled Leicester tomorrow would pull Everton further away from the relegation zone and open up a nine-point gap to Micky Adams's side. It would also give Everton only their second away Premiership win of the season after having earned just seven points out of a possible 39 on their travels. "Our away record has been a disappointment and a surprise but we still have half a dozen games away from home to try and change that," insisted Moyes. "Last season we won games away from home and, coupled with the fact that, in the main, we weren't a bad side at Goodison, that was the reason why we were near the top of the league." Meanwhile, striker Nick Chadwick has moved on loan to first division Millwall for a second time. The 21-year-old scored two goals in six games for them earlier this season before his loan spell was curtailed by a hernia operation.

Leicester's Dickov poised for first-team return
By John Curtis Daily Post
Mar 19 2004
LEICESTER striker Paul Dickov is set to make his first senior appearance since the La Manga affair in tomorrow's Premiership clash with Everton at the Walkers Stadium. The Scotland international is understood to have impressed manager Micky Adams sufficiently during training and Tuesday's reserve game at Southampton to earn a recall. Dickov, Frank Sinclair and Keith Gillespie are all currently on bail after being charged with sexual aggression following allegations by three German women during the team's training camp in Spain. Dickov is one of the key players for Leicester and has already scored 10 goals this season to add to the 20 in the promotion season of 2002-03.
He has formed an effective partnership with either Les Ferdinand or Marcus Bent in attack in giving the Foxes a realistic hope of surviving in the top flight. It remains to be seen whether the former Manchester City player goes straight back into the starting line-up or has to be content with a place on the substitutes' bench against David Moyes' side. Adams is still contemplating whether to include Sinclair, who is out of contract in the summer, and Gillespie, in his plans for tomorrow. But in reality the pair have had only a peripheral part to play in events with Leicester this season. Neither would be expected to start against Everton in normal circumstances, although Sinclair has been involved as a sub since returning from a long-term Achilles problem. Adams is believed to be in favour of any of the three players making their come-back in their home surroundings rather than on their travels when they could face a hostile reception from opposing fans.

Nyarko will never be more than a bit-part midfielder
By Mark O'Brien Daily Post
Mar 19 2004
SOCIOLOGISTS and legal reformers often make the observation that rather than rehabilitating, incarceration can often lead to individuals simply picking up further bad habits from their fellow inmates. If that's the case then don't be surprised if the defenders playing for the prisoners' team in Sangonera, Spain, concede a stack of own goals before the end of the season following Frank Sinclair's brief sojourn at their facility. A cheap shot, granted, but undoubtedly mild compared with what's to come this weekend if any of the 'La Manga Three' play against Everton at the Walker Stadium. Buoyed by the possible return of three players who, as the rosy-cheeked Micky Adams is at pains to point out, are at this point only guilty of staying out drinking too late, with Les Ferdinand in their side and on the back of a great win at Birmingham, Leicester will probably fancy their chances of denying us our second away win of the season. And if Everton play as badly as they did against Portsmouth last Saturday then we might as well forget about it altogether. The three points were ultimately what mattered, but a feeble Pompey outfit, for whom Eyal Berkovic was the only player with any class whatsoever, made us look extremely ordinary. In fact 'ordinary' is being kind.
Without Thomas Gravesen we didn't have anyone who could really keep hold of the ball. Even his most fierce critics must now concede that we do rely heavily on the Dane. Granted, Everton are trying to get Alex Nyarko's work permit extended - they might as well, they're paying his wages - but with the best will in the world his aversion to the more physical aspects of his chosen sport mean he's never going to dominate a game and there-fore he's never going to be anything more than a bit-part player in that central mid-field. It's just luckily for us we've got Wayne Rooney. His moment of magic on the edge of the box was ultimately the difference between the two sides, and considering this is meant to be his difficult second season, where the opposition defenders have got him sussed, it's worth noting just how many points he's clinched for us by either scoring or setting up a team-mate. Class, there really is no substitute for it, so let's just hope we've got the will to impose ours on Leicester tomorrow and extend our unbeaten 'run' to four games.

Ferdinand factor should finally be put to rest
By Ian Doyle Daily Post Staff
Mar 19 2004
COME five o'clock tomorrow evening, Everton players and supporters will unite in a collective sigh of relief that a 15-year torment has come to an end. It will have been Les Ferdinand's last ever game against the Goodison Park side. The mere mention of the name is enough to send shudders through every Evertonian who has grown accustomed to the sight of the striker wheeling away in delight after yet another goal. Ferdinand has netted 16 times in 17 league games against Everton - a post-war record - and was on the mark again in December when the two sides met at Goodison. Small wonder Everton will be glad to see the back of the forward, who has announced that this will be his last season as a player. But despite being in his 38th year, his match-winner at Birmingham City last weekend to earn Leicester their first Premiership victory in 14 games demonstrated the former England international has lost none of his potency. "We've put a contract out on him!" joked former Everton winger and current media pundit Ronnie Goodlass. "Players suit playing against certain teams, and his record against Everton has been fantastic. "He has a jinx over us. Whoever he has been playing for, he always seems to do the business against us. "In a player's career, they will come up against teams they hardly score against and others they always score against. "Ian Rush is the perfect example. He rarely scored against Manchester United but couldn't stop scoring against Everton. "It shouldn't happen, but it does. And it becomes a mental thing, it does prey on players' minds. "When Ferdinand was at Tottenham for the first game of last season, he'd only been on the pitch a couple of minutes and he had scored. "And then in the home game this season against Leicester, as soon as it became apparent Ferdinand was going to hit the free-kick, you just knew he was going to score. "Because he has such a good record against Everton, Ferdinand will be relaxed and confident when he hits things. He will be the big threat to us." Goodlass added: "He is a model professional, to be honest. All through his career he has been a fantastic servant. He has everything you would want from a centre-forward, and at the age of 37 he can still do the business. "If he can keep getting the goals between now and the end of the season, then I think he will be the difference between Leicester staying up and being relegated." The bad news for Everton - and the rest of the Premiership - is that team-mate Ben Thatcher is attempted to lure Ferdinand into agreeing to one last season as a professional. "I played against Les when he was at Newcastle and he was frightening," said Thatcher. "His record speaks for itself. I bet there are a few managers around that will try and talk him into playing an extra year next season. "He is 37 but he has scored enough goals this season and he has led the line very well even though he is nowhere near 100% fit.
"He has got a bad knee that probably needs an operation but he keeps soldiering on. That is the mark of the man." Goodlass, meanwhile, believes that victory in the Midlands tomorrow could prove the platform for a late-season surge up the table for David Moyes's outfit. "Everton will play a lot of teams that are around them in the league table before the end of the season, and they could finish strongly if they can continue creating the chances for the likes of Wayne Rooney and Tomasz Radzinski," he says. "But it is ironic that with the trouble that has gone, Leicester seem to have turned a corner. What has happened to them can either make you or destroy you. "It's probably the worst time we could be going there." The view is one shared by Everton manager Moyes, whose side will be the first visitors to the Walker's Stadium since the La Manga affair two weeks ago.
"I think it will be a tougher trip than maybe it would have been a few weeks ago," said Moyes.
"When you feel that everybody is against you, you stand stronger together and I'm sure they will be using what has happened to fire them up. "That was the case last week at Birmingham and this is the first game at Leicester since the allegations in Spain."

China crisis
Icliverpool And Daily Post
Mar 19 2004
China crisis
YET another example of incompetence from administators and board. What headstart we had in marketing terms in China has just been thrown away. As a business we are a second division outfit!
The fans are doing their job - another full house last week, and Moyes and the players are doing theirs. Pity about the board!
John Grimes, Skelmersdale
Home comfort
IF only we can get our away form right, we would be up in the top six. We have won seven at Goodison this season, that's one less than Chelsea and one more than Liverpool. Houllier has spent £120million over five years and they are light years away from winning the league. Just imagine if he had no money to spend like Moyesy, where would they be? The third division I hear you say.
D Boothroyd, Formby
I HAVE just read the news that Everton have had to cancel the trip to China for the second time. The first, due to SARS, was unlucky. This time it is down to sheer incompetence and unprofessionalism.
Michael Dunford states that the time that David Moyes wanted to take the team clashes 'as it happens' with the start of the Chinese league season. Didn't anybody think of checking this out? At a time when we need all the exposure - and therefore money - we can get, the people in charge of our club once again are seen to be not up to the job.
Rob Williamson, (via e-mail)
Good sign
WELL I have to say we played rubbish on Saturday but a good sign is playing rubbish and winning.
I can recall Chelsea at home, we murdered them and got beat 1-0 so Saturday's win and clean sheet will do the players some good. A few more wins and the season will look alot different.
Otter Woods, Southport
Rooney plea
WHILE I'm pleased that we have just strung a few wins together (about time), I can't see any quality in the side coming forward, Rooney apart obviously. Why Nyarko keeps getting a game is beyond me, Linderoth may win the ball but when he does, can't use it. Gravesen continues to make me shout "excellent" and also "what the hell was that" on an equally regular basis. The midfield desperately needs improving, if only we coud have got some of the lads we wanted at the start of the season - Davis, Dunn, even that cheeky bid for Joe Cole on loan. Thank God for Rooney who has won us the last two with his goals and vision. I just pray we can appeal to his blue side to stay forever!
Danny Boyd, Liverpool

Everton's 'fortress' mission
Mar 19 2004 Liverpool Echo
STEVE WATSON is under no illusions as to the scale of the task facing Everton tomorrow. The Blues will be the first visitors to Leicester's Walker's Stadium since the arrests in La Manga a fortnight ago which rocked the Midlands club. Watson said: "We know how hard it will be at Leicester. The place will be like a fortress after what they have been through. "The fans, the players, the staff - they will be like one solid unit trying to prove to the rest of the country that they can fight their way out of the problems they have had. "The result they got last week against Birmingham says a lot about them. St Andrews is a hard place to go so you have to take your hats off to them for getting a result like that in their first game after the incident."

Duncan races back
Mar 19 2004 By Scott Mcleod Liverpool Echo
DUNCAN FERGUSON is set to complete a remarkable recovery from a hamstring injury to figure for Everton at Leicester tomorrow. The 32-year-old limped out of the action midway through the opening half of last Saturday's home win over Portsmouth. He was initially given no chance of playing at the Walkers Stadium and continuing his role as captain. But he has responded well to treatment and will face a late fitness test tomorrow, giving manager David Moyes a selection headache after Tomasz Radzinski impressed during his 60 minute substitute's appearance against Pompey. It is the wealth of Everton's attacking options which has convinced former Goodison favourite Tony Cottee that the Blues will have the edge over Leicester, another of his former clubs, tomorrow. Cottee said: "You just have to look at the quality they have in attack with Duncan, Wayne Rooney and Tomasz Radzinski, who is an excellent player, as well as Francis Jeffers and Kevin Campbell. "There are a lot of managers who would love to have that kind of firepower. It is frustrating that the side hasn't hit it off as you would have liked in front of goal this season, but sometimes that happens. "It is inevitable they will start banging the goals in and when that happens they will get into a nice comfortable mid-table position. "I think tomorrow's game will be tight but Everton should be confident. "Leicester had a good win at Birmingham last week and nobody expected that - I certainly didn't. "But Everton have nothing to fear because Leicester have been disappointing this season "Everton can go there off the back of two wins and full of confidence."
Meanwhile, David Moyes has called on Thomas Gravesen to continue where he left off when he returns from suspension tomorrow - if he earns a recall. The Danish international missed last weekend's home game against Portsmouth after picking up his fifth booking of the season against Aston Villa, and in his absence Alex Nyarko impressed alongside Tobias Linderoth. Moyes said: "Thomas is available again. But Tobias and Alex did okay last week, so I have a decision to make.
"Thomas has got the ability to do things the other midfielders can't, but having said that, the others offer something which Thomas can't. "Toby and Alex stuck at their task when the game wasn't too pretty at times. I thought those two in the end won their individual battles in the middle of the park.
"It is up to Tommy to try and get himself back in the team now." * Nick Chadwick has finally completed his second loan move to Millwall after a delay caused by his hernia injury. scored two goals in six games for Londoners during a spell with them over Christmas. He will stay at the New Den until May 4, although the deal has a recall clause.

Bring back Lineker!
Mar 19 2004 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
EVEN when he was scoring 40 goals a season, Gary Lineker found it hard to win over Evertonian affection. That was a legacy of replacing Andy Gray rather than any lack of effort or achievement at Goodison. But Blues will welcome him back - and more particularly the show he fronts - with open arms next season. Any Everton supporter waiting for a glimpse of their team on ITV's The Premiership this season, does so only armed with a pot of coffee, a packet of Pro-Plus and a box full of matches to prop under drooping eyelids. And even then, the 30-second slot which invariably follows hardly makes the effort worthwhile. Come back Match of the Day, all is forgiven.

Blues need to watch wily old Fox Ferdinand
Mar 19 2004 By Howard Kendall, Liverpool Echo
HOPEFULLY Everton will be facing Les Ferdinand for the last time tomorrow. The veteran striker has an incredible scoring record against the Blues, no matter what club he has played for. Even though he is in the twilight of his career, he still looks fit and is as big an aerial threat as he has always been.
The 37-year-old will be going into tomorrow's game knowing he always seems to score against Everton. He will be on a high after scoring the winner at Birmingham in his last game, and scored at Goodison earlier this season. The Blues can expect a fierce backlash from Leicester. It will be the Foxes' first home game since the troubles in La Manga and they will have the full support of the crowd. Micky Adams' play-ers showed in the win at Birmingham last weekend that they have rallied together after all the adverse publicity. Everton must not be shocked when Leicester go straight at them from the first whistle. The Blues have to weather the early stormand calm the game down.
Just because Leicester are near the bottom fighting against relegation does not mean it will be an easy game. Recent events will ensure that. To come away from the Walkers Stadium with a point has to be considered a good result for David Moyes' men.
Hold back Gravesen
I'M not expecting an instant recall for Thomas Gravesen. He sat out the win over Portsmouth because of suspension and in his absence Tobias Linderoth and Alex Nyarko did well in the middle of the park. It is a partnership I would retain and I doubt David Moyes will want to change a line-up that secured three points and kept a clean sheet. Gravesen has his qualities, but positional discipline is not one of them. He pops up all over the place. Linderoth and Nyarko are more disciplined in that respect. The team seemed tighter defensively with them in there. That will be crucial at Leicester.
Pace yourself at pens
I'M all for strikers taking penalties. It boosts their goals tally and therefore their reputation and valuation. But Michael Owen's poor success rate means he really should have passed on the responsibility by now. He deserves credit for wanting to continue taking them. He clearly believes in himself, but part of the problem is that Michael's style is to try and place his penalties.
If the keeper guesses the right way, the odds are good that he will save it. The key is to strike the ball with pace.

Leicester 1, Everton 1 (D, Post)
Mar 22 2004 Andy Hunter At The Walkers Stadium, Daily Post
NEVER meet your heroes. And after a thoroughly depressing afternoon at The Walkers Stadium the thought occurred whether Wayne Rooney, now an idol to so many himself, shares that sentiment.
Duncan Ferguson was the boyhood favourite of Everton's true star, as he was to most of his success-starved generation when his talent and passion were an appropriate match for his physique - head and shoulders above the rest. The image of the Scot towering above the starstruck Rooney at Bellefield several years ago is an essential part of the youngster's captivating tale, confirming to Evertonians that this incredible talent is "one of them". Now, however, the mantle of popularity and class has shifted across the photograph and it is Ferguson with every reason to return the compliment. Irrespective of Marcus Bent's demoralising equaliser with the final touch of Saturday's game at Leicester, the 32-year-old owes his junior counterpart a debt of gratitude for taking Everton to within touching distance of arguably their most significant victory of the season after he had left them in the lurch once again. This may sound harsh on the Scot, who deserves praise for rekindling a Premiership career against the odds, who has been instrumental in the prodigy's recent revival and who was harshly booked by Barry Knight for using his arm to keep Nikos Dabizas off his back on Saturday. But having collected one controversial yellow card he foolishly sought retribution and three minutes later, having escaped two further swipes at his former Newcastle team-mate, he earned the inevitable outcome and no sympathy whatsoever. It was the sixth dismissal of his Goodison career but, more damagingly, the third time in three different relegation battles that Ferguson - as Everton captain - has appeared more intent on inviting red than leading his club out of the mire. A forearm into Paulo Wanchope's chops against Derby County in 1998, a punch into the midriff of Fredi Bobic after just 19 minutes against Bolton in 2002 and now Leicester in 2004.
All games that could lift spirits and fears at a similar point in the season, that demanded responsibility from the club's highest paid player, who was back in form and fitness for every one, and all games in which the striker has been guilty of a dereliction of duty. You can add last season's elbow on Aston Villa's Thomas Hitzlsperger to that list, too. It is now Rooney on whom Everton's fortunes depend, and fortunately he is far more dependable. But while he was first to offer support to his captain as he trudged from the pitch on Saturday he could also be forgiven for pondering, professionally at least, Ferguson's contribution to a survival cause he is almost having to single-handedly inspire. Almost, because when Ferguson walked his remaining teammates responded superbly, shaking off the lethargy of a first-half performance that bore too many comparisons with Portsmouth to produce a resilient defensive show coupled with intelligent, incisive breaks.
And when Rooney produced a carbon-copy of his excellent winner a week earlier with 15 minutes remaining the cliche of the 10-man response appeared complete to leave David Moyes' side on the brink of their third, and finest, victory in succession. Ironically, evidence of Moyes's adventurous spirit first emerged at Everton after Ferguson's dismissal against Bolton during the initial firefighting task at the end of the 2002 season when he threw on Nick Chadwick as the visitors pressed for a leveller and was rewarded with a winning third goal from the youngster. He was at it again this weekend, ignoring any temptation to strengthen midfield or defence in the face of a dominant first half display by Leicester and maintaining a twoman attack with Tomasz Radzinski joining Rooney at the interval. And again the bold approach paid off when Radzinski seized on a defensive mistake for the second week running, this time from Ricardo Scimeca when he misjudged Joseph Yobo's free-kick, to turn the ball square for Rooney, who committed the nearest defender and despatched a clinical shot under Ian Walker. The wild celebrations that followed in front of the travelling corner underlined the belief Everton were about to clamber into mid-table having survived a first-half slump of their own making. If only. Leicester, without seriously threatening Nigel Martyn, had been given the run of the game by a visiting team offering no resistance and while complaints over referee Knight were understandable, Everton were still grateful to the official when he spotted Bent's handball over the line after his initial header from a Muzzy Izzet corner had smacked the crossbar. Knight was infuriating, every Leicester tumble and whine was granted with a free-kick, while every indiscretion by the home side appeared to go unpunished. For example Paul Dickov, charged with sexual aggression in Spain and greeted like a returning hero in Leicester, lunged at Martyn long after the Everton keeper had collected the ball late in the second half. Not a word from the referee. Fair enough. But imagine if that had been Rooney? Likewise when Dickov impeded Martyn at the final, costly corner. When Ferguson stretched out an arm to hold off Dabizas in the 38th minute Everton's frustration at the match official was in full flow. Knight waved away the Greek's insistence he had been elbowed by the Scot, then booked the striker anyway. That, however, is where the referee's culpability for Ferguson's abrupt afternoon ends. As Leicester launched the subsequent free-kick forward the centre-forward ran straight into Dabizas and then, while his teammates cleared the ball, threw another arm into his face. Knight missed both incidents, but everyone else inside the ground could see the striker had lost his fragile self-control and Leicester seized on the weakness. Both Dabizas and drama queen Steffen Freund spent the next few minutes goading Everton's number 10 and, despite the experience of 350 top-flight appearances, he walked straight into their sting operation. Reacting to a nudge in the back he grabbed the German midfielder in a head lock and pulled him to the ground. The second yellow card from Knight was almost as inevitable as the furious reaction that followed from Ferguson, as he lunged at Freund and then offered a suggestion to the Leicester fans over where they could stick their taunts. That could be enough to turn a one-match ban into a more substantial suspension if the FA are invited to flex their authority by the match report. The truly damaging punishment as far as Everton's campaign is concerned, however, is the loss of Rooney against Newcastle and Tottenham, two testing encounters for a team who have not broken clear of danger. The 18-year-old's contribution was again immense but his booking for a lunge at Matt Heath - the 10th of the season that triggered an automatic two-match suspension - was one of five that Everton could have avoided, if you include Ferguson's second. James McFadden, Thomas Gravesen and Radzinski all invited yellow cards from the obliging Knight to leave manager Moyes furious, though the focus of his frustration on Saturday was the latest injury-time goal to cost his team dear. Everton have conceded three stoppage time goals in their last six matches at a price of five points, the difference between a worrying 14th place and a comfortable 10th as the Premiership table stands today.
Those four places also represent the difference in roughly £2.2m of prize money from the Premier League at the end of this season. And for a manager whose transfer funds needs every penny Everton can find, it is no wonder Moyes admitted: "These goals could have a massive bearing on our season." Gravesen and Radzinski should have made the latest stoppagetime setback irrelevant by doubling Everton's lead with seven minutes remaining when they both wasted an inviting break.
And when Martyn turned Scimeca's shot onto the post in the 92nd minute the victory did seem assured. But, like Ruud van Nistelrooy and Fabien Fernandes before him, Leicester striker Bent was allowed the final say and his soaring header from Steve Guppy's corner somehow squeezed its way past Tobias Linderoth at the near post. It was an all-too familiar, depressing end to an afternoon for Everton. But when the tragic news a fan had lost his life on the way to the game filtered through shortly afterwards, completely irrelevant.
LEICESTER (4-4-2): Walker; Scimeca, Dabizas, Heath, Thatcher; Bent, Izzet, Freund (Nalis 84), Benjamin (Guppy 46); Ferdinand (Canero 58), Dickov. Subs: Coyne, Davidson. BOOKING: Scimeca (foul).
EVERTON (4-4-2): Martyn; Pistone, Yobo, Stubbs, Naysmith; Watson, Gravesen, Linderoth, McFadden (Radzinski 46); Rooney (Campbell 88), Ferguson. Subs: Wright, Unsworth, Nyarko. BOOKINGS: McFadden, Rooney (fouls), Gravesen, Radzinski (dissent). SENDING-OFF: Ferguson (two bookable offences).
REFEREE: Barry Knight (Kent)
ATT: 31,650

Death puts game in perspective
By Mike Brown, Daily Post
Mar 22 2004
ShareTHE news that an Everton supporter had died after being hit by wind-blown debris while walking to the match helps to put the game and all its ills into perspective somewhat. The same wind played a part in the game, of course, making conditions very difficult for two sides who were never going to serve up a football feast. This was a game that Everton should have won, despite the best efforts of an incompetent referee. He did little to endear himself to either set of fans.
A poor first half exploded into life with the dismissal of Duncan Ferguson five minutes before the break. Duncan will have done little for his cause, or reputation, by his attempt to throttle Freund on his way off and then making a gesture to the jeering Leicester fans. The incident seemed to galvanise the remaining 10 men, though, and Everton's performance improved in the second half. Les Ferdinand's substitution on the hour received a standing ovation of relief from the travelling Evertonians. We were going to get through a game without him scoring against us. As the half wore on, Everton became more threatening and, with 15 minutes to go our young hero delivered his magic again with a goal remarkably similar to his strike against Portsmouth a week earlier. This lad is so important to Everton. But when Marcus Bent scored in injury time we'd done it again - grabbed a draw from the jaws of an away victory. As we queued for the exit, the stadium announcer gave us the news about the tragic pre-match accident, later confirmed to be an Evertonian. Our thoughts and sympathy go to his family and friends.

Everton rallying round sent-off skipper
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Mar 22 2004
EVERTON united behind Duncan Ferguson after his controversial dismissal at Leicester on Saturday as David Moyes admitted other indiscretions had cost his team dear. Moyes insisted the Scottish striker had been the victim of his own reputation when he received the sixth red card of his Everton career during Saturday's 1-1 draw at The Walkers Stadium. But he accepted several other bookings should have been avoided as Everton's disciplinary record threatens to disrupt their climb away from relegation trouble. Ferguson misses the trip to former club Newcastle on April 3 as he serves a one-match suspension for Saturday's dismissal, although that could be increased if the FA deem his subsequent reaction worthy of further punishment. And, crucially, he will be joined on the sidelines at St James's Park by Wayne Rooney, whose fourth goal in four games was cancelled out in stoppage time by Marcus Bent. Rooney has inspired Everton's recent run of four games without defeat but now faces a two-match ban, against Newcastle and Tottenham, for reaching ten bookings this season. Moyes, who saw James McFadden, Thomas Gravesen and Tomasz Radzinski also punished by referee Barry Knight as Everton succumbed to a last-minute goal for the third time in six matches, said: "We have worked hard on the disciplinary side of our game and I am disappointed with a few of the bookings we picked up. The players know my stance on it. I want them to be competitive but not collect bookings that should be avoided as we did today. "But, saying that, you've got to look at the match official as well. I find it hard to think of a decision he gave us all day. Everybody knows this referee and they know what standard he is." Defender Alessandro Pistone added: "The referee was on their side all afternoon and every time he took his whistle out it was to give a decision to them. I don't understand why. "It seemed as though we were playing against another man out there."
Ferguson received his marching orders for two book-ings in three first-half minutes, the second sparking a furious reaction from the Scot who grabbed Steffen Freund by the throat before gesturing towards the home fans. Referee Knight refused to explain the bookings or whether he would mention Ferguson's actions in his match report. "That is a matter for me and the FA," he said.
But Moyes insisted: "He shouldn't have been sent off. We think it was for persistent fouling but we'll have to wait for the referee's report to find out. "Things happen in the heat of a match. We hadn't taken a grip of the game and a bit of frustration was coming out. We were desperate to change the flow of the game and Duncan's reaction mirrored how we all felt. "But he was the victim of his own reputation as far as the cards were concerned." That assessment was echoed by Alan Stubbs, who admitted the Everton dressing room was distraught after conceding a late equaliser for the second successive away game. "It was hard enough to play with ten men but to play against 12 didn't make it any easier," said the defender. "The referee is up there with the worst we have had this season.
"It felt like it was one rule for us and another for them. Their players were getting away with everything we didn't. The referee showed no consistency at all. "I kicked Les (Ferdinand) a few times and they got the foul every time, yet Duncan was getting exactly the same treatment and got nothing. I find it hard to believe he can be pulled up for persistent misconduct when he's got four players around him all the time trying to knock him out of his stride. "He is a physical player, that's Duncan's game, but he suffers by reputation and gets absolutely no protection from referees."
Stubbs added: "It was a hard, tough game but having defended so well for so long it was so painful to concede a late goal like that. It is two points dropped as far as we are concerned, especially given the position we are in."

Prison trio join in team spirit - Bent
By Ken Gaunt, Daily Post
Mar 22 2004
MARCUS BENT revealed after scoring Leicester's stoppage-time equaliser that the special spirit in the Foxes dressing room is beginning to return. No-one is treating the La Manga affair with anything other than the utmost seriousness. After all Paul Dickov, who returned to the team on Saturday, and Keith Gillespie and Frank Sinclair are all facing charges of sexual aggression following the club's training camp in Spain. But there is a strong bond developing among the players that could yet see the club avoid relegation. Talking about the three, Bent said: "They are getting back into the team banter; back into the team spirit. "Dicky (Dickov) showed a bit of sharpness and hopefully he will be back on form next week (they host Liverpool on Sunday)." Leicester are becoming increasingly difficult to beat as that is five matches without defeat now. But manager Micky Adams knows they face a tough fight in the coming weeks. Highlighting the weaknesses in his side, he said: "At the business end of the pitch you've got to spend millions of pounds to have creative, flair players, particularly in the front four. "When you have spent £50,000 as we have done it becomes difficult. I am not having a go. That's the facts in the Premier League. "When teams sit behind the ball you have got to find a way of breaking them down. "We didn't do that. The effort was there again and they kept going." Adams is looking for Scotland striker Dickov to get back to top form in the coming weeks. "Paul will be the first to say he wasn't at his best and at his sharpest," said the Leicester boss. "As a person he is still traumatised by events but that 90 minutes will have done him a world of good. "His general play wasn't the Paul Dickov we know. Maybe he is trying to not make the headlines for all the wrong reasons, maybe that will affect his game. "As a manager I have to try and take that burden away from him. He has to concentrate on what he does best. That is the difficulty he has got and he has to get used to it."

Football supporter killed in freak tragedy
Mar 22 2004 By Debbie James And Andy Hunter, Daily Post
THE family of an Everton fan killed by flying debris as he arrived at the Walkers Stadium in Leicester spoke last night of their devastation. Bernard Murphy, 40, died minutes before Saturday's Premiership fixture when he was hit by a piece of timber sent flying by gusting winds reaching 75mph. Mr Murphy, who has a 15-year-old son, was a season ticket holder at Goodison and followed his club all over the country as well as travelling to overseas fixtures. The Huyton factory electrician was walking along Leicester's Upperton Road with a party of friends when the accident happened at around 2.20pm. Mr Murphy's brother, John, 23, said: "Bernard was a real gentleman.
"I have never met anybody who has so many friends. He could not walk down the street without bumping into someone he knew. "He was a fantastic father to his son John. "He loved football and worked overtime to pay for football tickets for him and John, even though John was a Liverpool fan.
"The two of them were really close, like best friends, and John is totally devastated. "It is so hard to accept that he died in an accident like this when all he was planning was to do something he loved so much - watching Everton play." Fans attending the 1-1 draw were told of the tragedy over the stadium's public address system after the final whistle. Father-of-four Tony Redfearn, 40, of Carmeadow Hey, Bootle, witnessed the accident. He said: "I know Bernard by sight. "He was with one mate and his 12-year-old son. They were just behind us on the other side of the road walking to the ground. "There were hundreds of people walking over this bridge, it was quite windy but it didn't feel dangerous. "Then out of nowhere this big plywood hoarding, about 8ft by 3ft blew from a building site over the bridge perimeter fence, which was about six foot high. "It blew across the road and hit Bernard under his chin. "It knocked him off his feet. "We rushed across to them, his friend was helping him and checking his mouth to make sure he wasn't choking on anything. "Between us we lifted him into the recovery position. "Two Leicester fans came over to help us.
"A woman who was a trained nurse came over and started heart massage. At one point he looked like he might recover but by the time the ambulance got there it was too late. "It was such a freak accident, the way that board flew out it could have hit anyone, it was a million to one shot that it hit him. "I would just like to send my condolences to his family, we tried our hardest to help but in the end there was nothing we could do to save him." Mr Redfearn said there was concern that emergency services did not arrive to help sooner. He said: "He lay on the ground for a full 50 minutes before he was put in an ambulance." Messages of sympathy were last night flooding in to the Everton FC and supporters clubs' websites.

Leicester 1, Everton 1(Echo)
Mar 22 2004 Scott Mcleod At The Walkers Stadium, Liverpool Echo
THERE was a look of relief on the face of the Leicester steward as the fans began filtering from the Walkers Stadium. "It is about time we did that to somebody," he said, reflecting on Marcus Bent's 92nd minute header which earned the Foxes a draw and cancelled out Wayne Rooney's 75th minute strike. He went on to explain that Leicester have conceded costly late goals themselves five times this season. Apparently, that is a big reason why they are in such a dire league position. You have to admire such optimism. But I am sure the real reason why Leicester are staring relegation in the face is because they are not as good as most of the other sides in the Premiership. It is easy to talk about 'what ifs'. Bolton fans did it a few years ago, telling anyone who would listen that had the Premiership games been played over 80 minutes instead of 90 they would have finished in mid-table and not the bottom three. But it is a trap that Everton should not allow themselves to fall into.
Saturday's result means they have now dropped five points in the last six games through conceding injury-time goals. Had they prevented those goals, the club would be 10th, seven points off fifth spot and a lucrative European place. But they didn't. And the fact it has now happened three times in quick succession suggests it is not just bad luck. At St Mary's and against Manchester United the side only had themselves to blame for sitting back in the closing stages. They were not guilty of the same mistake on Saturday but nobody should feel hard done by because the Foxes dared to score a goal 10 seconds from time. A draw would have been a welcome result before kick-off and it should be viewed in the same way now. Everton were up against a side galvanised by recent events.
It was more than a little unnerving to hear Paul Dickov receiving such a rapturous welcome when his name was read out in the starting line-up before the game. But, right or wrong, Leicester feel aggrieved and have adopted a siege mentality. That fact, coupled with the galeforce wind which was swirling around the Walkers Stadium, ensured this was a really tough awayday. Getting a point should be applauded, particularly after playing 50 minutes of the game with 10 men. And the draw means the side has now put together a run of four league games without defeat for the first time this season. However, if you are still searching for something to cling to, there was no shortage of potential scapegoats on Saturday. Barry Knight was the top of most people's list - justifiably so. The Orpington official had a stinker, regularly penalising Everton for the kind of offences Leicester were getting away with all over the pitch. But, in a perverse way, Knight's two biggest clangers benefited the visitors. First of all he ruled out a goal from Bent on 30 minutes which, on second viewing, didn't appear to have a lot wrong with it. Then he sent off Duncan Ferguson for his second yellow card of the game. Why was that beneficial? Without the temptation to launch long balls to the big Scot, Everton's football improved despite being a man down. The red card also came at a time when it was becoming increasingly clear that Ferguson was in danger of exploding with frustration. He was allowing Knight's inadequacies to get to him. His booking in the 37th minute for raising his arms as he challenged Nikos Dabizas for an aerial ball sent Ferguson over the edge. In the three minutes that followed the striker was on a crusade. He clashed with Dabizas once again and then man-handled Steffen Freund out of the way just a couple of feet from the referee. It was a free-kick. Nothing more than that. But by allowing his temper to get the better of him, Ferguson presented the ref with an opportunity he was in no mood to turn down. As the red card was brandished the striker's red mist descended. The sight of him grabbing Freund by the throat made it clear he would be better off in the changing room. Like last week, Tomasz Radzinski was an influential sub, coming on at half-time in place of the disappointing James McFadden. He turned provider for Rooney 15 minutes from time for a goal which was a carbon-copy of last weekend's winner against Portsmouth.
A neat side-step left Matt Heath on his backside and allowed Rooney to smash the ball home.
The 18-year-old has rediscovered the glorious swagger of a striker who knows he is better than the defenders he is up against. But he would be well advised to ignore Ferguson's 'Me-against-the-world' approach. A rash challenge on Heath moments before the goal means Rooney will be suspended along with his hero for the trip to Newcastle in a couple of weeks. They will be missed, particularly on current form. Without them it is hard to see Everton securing what would be only their second away win of the season. They were denied it on Saturday in the 92nd minute.
Nigel Martyn produced a magnificent save to push a Ricardo Scimeca drive onto the post and behind for a corner. He didn't deserve what followed. Muzzy Izzet whipped the ball in and Bent connected six yards out, producing a powerful downward header. Martyn had to charge Dickov out of the way in order to get a hand to the effort. But in doing that he inadvertently diverted it beyond the boot of Tobias Linderoth at the far post and into the bottom of the net. That was enough to please Leicester's fans and one steward in particular. But it should not be allowed to distract Everton from the main point - Premiership safety is now all but assured.

Moyes refuses to slam 'victim' Dunc
Mar 22 2004 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON boss David Moyes believes Duncan Ferguson was a victim of his own reputation at Leicester on Saturday. The 32-year-old striker was sent off for the sixth time in his Everton career for two bookable offences in the opening half. But Moyes leapt to the defence of his skipper, criticising the performance of Orpington referee Barry Knight. He said: "I find it hard to think if a decision went our way the whole day. Everybody knows this referee and they know his standard.
"In the heat of the match things happen. But we didn't get a grip of the game and there was a lot of frustration coming out because we were desperately trying to change the flow of the game.
"I think Duncan's reaction mirrored how we all felt. "He sometimes feels he is a victim of his own reputation. "We have worked hard no our disciplinary record and the players know my stance on it. I want them to be competitive but I think you have to look at the match official as well." Before Saturday, Ferguson had been the last player sent off in the fixture - harshly dismissed in a 2-2 draw at Filbert Street along with Vinny Samways in March 1995. But this time around the manager felt his side's performance improved as a result of Ferguson's 40th-minute dismissal. "We did pick up our game when we went down to 10 men, but I think we needed to," added Moyes. "I didn't think we had any fluent play at all, but Leicester play a power game which puts you on the back foot all the time. "You have to be brave enough to get the ball down and play and we didn't do that in the first half. We didn't even put them under similar pressure. "The wind was terrible, but it was the same for both teams. With 10 players we kept the ball better and looked a lot more enterprising than we did during the first half." What pleased the manager was that the defence coped admirably against a physical Leicester side led by Les Ferdinand and Paul Dickov. He added: "To get to the 92nd minute and concede a goal from a corner kick was har sh because we ' d defended well. I can't fault the players at all because they stuck to the task after we went down to 10 men. "That is two points dropped at Southampton and two more here, which could make a massive difference to us. "But it is still a point and it is a good one."

Let's dump this defence of Dunc
Mar 22 2004 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
DUNCAN FERGUSON'S latest red card has prompted a predictable reaction from Goodison officials and team-mates. They have rushed to his defence. They have slaughtered referee Barry Knight. And they have bleated outrage and injustice on their captain's behalf. All very admirable. But all utterly pointless. Because Ferguson has been here before. And he will let you down again. I have been in the no-win position of defending Duncan Ferguson in the past - notably after another red card at Leicester. Harshly red-carded for a shove on John Jensen a year earlier - when locally we leaped to his defence - in 1995 Paul Durkin took exception to a legitimate aerial challenge on Jimmy Willis and dismissed him. Joe Royle jumped to his player's defence. So did TV analysts as unlikely as Alan Hansen. And so did Jimmy Willis when I chased him down and cajoled him into defending his 'assailant.' Ferguson's response? He was sent off at Blackburn for calling David Elleray a "baldy b******". He was sent off against Derby for chopping Paulo Wanchope's windpipe. At home. As captain. After 15 minutes. And with Everton's Premiership future hanging by a thread. He was sent off at home to Bolton in another must-win relegation battle, for punching Freddie Bobic. As captain. After 20 minutes. He did not start a Premiership match last season. But still courted controversy.
He should have been sent off in a reserve game for striking Stephen Caldwell. He should have been sent off in a Premiership match for striking Thomas Hitzlsperger. Unfortunately for him, TV cameras follow Premiership matches and he was belatedly banned. You can defend Ferguson as often and as vehemently as you want. But he will still let you down. His first yellow card on Saturday was certainly harsh. And there is no doubt that Knight is that most invidious of officials - a dreadful 'homer.' But Ferguson allowed himself to be wound up after that and allowed himself to be dismissed. His reaction afterwards beggared belief. Evertonians affected outrage when Alan Wiley mouthed 'watch him' as Ferguson jogged on at Highbury earlier this season. You can hardly blame the official. More worrying is that the impressionable Wayne Rooney has been watching Ferguson all his young life. Just when the 18-year-old needs a role model, just as he is showing signs of learning some restraint, he witnesses his captain behaving like a vigilante. Ferguson has clearly kissed good-bye to any hopes of captaining Everton again. But such is the paucity of resources at Everton, David Moyes will have to rely on this most unre-liable of performers again and again in the next 18 months. The show of team spirit at Everton was admirable. But those outraged Evertonians need not have bothered. Ferguson cannot be relied upon - and the sooner his team-mates realise that the better.

Foxes flare-up could cost Dunc £140,000
Mar 22 2004 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
DUNCAN FERGUSON is facing the prospect of a double fine from Everton and a four game suspension from the FA. The Scottish striker will automatically lose two weeks wages under club rules as his punishment for being red carded in the first half at Leicester. But if he is slapped with an FA disrepute charge for grabbing Steffen Freund around the neck and gesturing at the home fans after his dismissal the player is set to be fined again by the Blues. The FA disciplinary panel met today to read referee Barry Knight's report and analyse the video of the incident. Although an announcement will not be made until tomorrow Ferguson is expected to be charged. And that will mean another two week club fine, leaving Ferguson £140,000 out of pocket. A violent conduct charge will bring an added three game ban on top of the one match suspension he will receive for picking up two bookings. But if the big Scot is charged with bringing the game into disrepute the FA punishment will be open-ended. Ferguson is also facing the prospect of losing the captaincy he regained only last month for the trip to Southampton. Manager David Moyes has expressed his disappointment at Ferguson's reaction to the red card after watching a video of the incident yesterday. He said: "I amnot totally convinced it was a sending off for both the offences, but what Duncan did afterwards was unacceptable. I amdisappointed in that. "It made it hard for the lads in a game which was already difficult." Meanwhile, Moyes has revealed that Tony Hibbert was dropped for the trip to the Walkers Stadium because of his height. The manager explains: "I decided to bring Alessandro Pistone in because of his extra height. I felt we needed at the back because of the way Leicester play and that is how it turned out."

Bring Chadwick back
Icliverpool And Daily Post
Mar 23 2004
Nick Nick back
WHATEVER the reasons, Everton will be without Ferguson and Rooney during the run-in. Bring back Nick Chadwick and let him play up front with Rooney when available and Radzinski when not, with Jeffers or Campbell on the bench. I also advocate bringing back Leon Osman for one of the midfield positions.
Trevor Lynes, Liverpool
Waste of space
I HAVE long held the opinion that Everton are a better team without Ferguson and this was never more evident than on Saturday. Not only were we a better team without him, but we were a better team without him with only 10 men. Up until his dismissal we were a one-trick pony, humping long, hopeful balls for him to lollop half-heartedly after, while after his sending-off and the subsequent substitution of the disappointing McFadden we became a different side.
Colin Baxter, Liverpool
Blue liability
DUNCAN FERGUSON is both a financial and playing liability to Everton. The club should bite the bullet and buy out his contract, because it will be cheaper in the long run. He is too often injured and he has on more than one occasion wrestled with or punched opponents to earn himself yellow or red cards that have cost the team vital points.
Bill Gard, (via e-mail)
Height needed
WITH hindsight, if Everton had to take Rooney off on Saturday then why not put someone on with a bit of height to defend corners? We know Unsworth would have done a committed job for us in the final minutes. However, well done to the 10 men who had to battle to make up for the silly actions of our "captain".
Sean Childer, Thornton
Money matters
WHY can't Everton attract financial backing? It's a mystery. With the name Rooney there is marketing potential, and with a few million to spend David Moyes could build a decent team.
I don't think Everton put enough emphasis on marketing or publicity.
Phil Jones, Liverpool

Poor discipline may yet strangle Duncan's future
By Mark Lawrenson, Daily Post
Mar 23 2004
DUNCAN FERGUSON has let himself and the club down. The last place Everton need the big Scot to be is sitting in the stands at such an important stage of the season. Everyone knows what a devastating player he can be. Aggression is all part of his game and he can be such a positive influence on the side. Everton need Ferguson out on the pitch. But having been booked for one foul, Ferguson should have cooled off and counted to 10. As it was, he didn't get past one. Once a player has been booked they are treading a very fine line, particularly given the ease with which yellow cards are handed out nowadays. Everyone in the crowd knows you are on a booking and whenever a visiting player commits a foul the home supporters will be in full cry hoping to sway the official. That is why it is so important not to overstep the mark. There is not a lot a manager can do when the red mist descends on one of his players. But it seems certain the FA will now take a dim view of Ferguson's reaction to his dismissal and instead of missing just one match, I fear Everton will have to without the striker for a couple more. He will be joined on the sidelines for the Newcastle game by Wayne Rooney, who picked up his 10th booking of the season at Leicester and a two-match suspension. But I think the disciplinary problems of the two players are different. Rooney's style of play is more the aggression of youth. Given more experience and time in the game, he will learn to curb that side of his game. People forget that even Michael Owen got sent off for a late tackle early in his career, but he has learnt from those mistakes. When decisions go against you as a young player, it is easy to take out your frustration on the opposition. But as you get older your realise the injustice of the situation is still not worth getting sent off for and you just have to shrug your shoulders and accept the decision and get on with it. It is a different problem to Ferguson. He has been in the game long enough to understand, even against a background of the changing physical demands of football, what you can and cannot do. In terms of experience, Rooney is still on the first rung of the ladder. Everton clearly felt aggrieved about the performance of referee Barry Knight against Leicester. We always hear complaints about referees but I am sure they do not set out to deliberately disrupt a game. Often the final result can colour the view of the referee's display and it will be interesting to see whether manager David Moyes takes any internal disciplinary action against Ferguson once he has reviewed the match video. The FA will undoubtedly take a close look at the situation, although the referee's comments that whether Ferguson would be reported was a matter between him and the FA were hardly helpful. What he should have been saying was: "Of course I'll be reporting him. Everyone saw what happened." These are professional referees who should be prepared to discuss their decisions in the public domain. The one thing that might work in Everton's favour in the short term is the length of time the disciplinary machinery takes to work.
On the Continent this would be dealt with in a matter of days so that it does not drag on.
Surely it is not beyond the wit of the FA to establish a committee that can handle these matters speedily and decisively.

Everton claim under-17s title
Academy Football With Chris Wright, Daily Post
Mar 23 2004
EVERTON under-17s claimed the FA Premier Academy League Group A title last night with a 3-0 win over Crewe Alexandra. Gary Ablett's side will now meet either Leicester City or Birmingham City in the quarter-finals of the national play-offs on Saturday, April 3 at Netherton. It was goalless in the first half but Christian Seargeant opened the scoring after the break. Then Andrew Fowler double the advantage with a low shot from the edge of the box. Paul Hopkins scored his 10th goal of the season after latching on to James Harris's throughball and finishing from an acute angle.
Ablett said: "I am obviously pleased with the win, but not the manner of how we got it. We were a bit nervous and Crewe came to try and win the game. But we finished well and we deserved to win."
On Saturday they had confirmed their play-off place with a 1-1 draw at Netherton against Derby County in windy conditions. Paul Hopkins collected a long ball on his chest before lashing it past the Derby keeper after 30 minutes. But the visitors levelled with eight minutes left. Ablett said: "It was a very disappointing performance - although I am happy we qualified for the play-offs." Everton under-19s lost 3-1 to Newcastle United at Netherton on Saturday, but gave themselves a chance of finishing runners-up in Group A by beating Manchester United 3-1 at the Carrington Complex yesterday afternoon. Scott Brown opened the scoring from the edge of the box after 38 minutes. Then two goals in the first 15 minutes of the second half killed the game off. Patrice Pascucci made it 2-0 on 52 minutes after Carl O'Donnell's shot was parried out to the Italian striker to score. Five minutes later Daniel Fox shot home after his initial header from a corner was blocked. United hit a consolation with three minutes left. On Saturday Neil Dewsnip's side fell behind but Gavin Lynch equalised. But the Magpies hit back with two goals 10 minutes before the break.
EVERTON UNDER-19s (v Newcastle): Lake; Smith, Gerrard, Potter, Fox; Booth (Brown 45), B Moogan, J Jones (Martland 60), Barry; Lynch, Pascucci (Garside 45). EVERTON UNDER-17s (v Derby County): Gallagher; Irving, Hughes, Wright, Boyle; Seargeant, Wilson, Harris, Phelan; Hopkins (Anichebe 80), Fowler (Vaughan 80). Subs: Molynuex, Pearson, Kearney. pTeams for yesterday's matches will appear in Friday's Daily Post.

Anxious Moyes sweats on Ferguson fate
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Mar 23 2004
DAVID MOYES faces an anxious wait to discover whether Duncan Ferguson has seriously disrupted his plans for Premiership survival. Ferguson could miss four of Everton's final nine games this season if his reaction to Saturday's dismissal at Leicester is deemed worthy of further censure.
The previously in-form striker must serve an automatic one-match ban at Newcastle on April 3. But that could be increased by three games if the FA find him guilty of violent conduct against Steffen Freund and of making an obscene gesture to Leicester fans. The FA, however, have not commenced any disciplinary action against Ferguson as they are still awaiting the match report of referee Barry Knight. And it leaves Moyes without any indication the 32-year-old could miss almost half of Everton's remaining fixtures. Referee Knight left The Walkers Stadium without giving the Everton manager an explanation for Ferguson's two yellow cards, and refused to disclose whether his subsequent actions would feature in his report. "That is a matter for me and the FA," he told chasing reporters. What is certain is the controversy surrounding the sixth sending off of Ferguson's Everton career will hit the striker in the pocket. Ferguson is to be fined two weeks' wages by Everton for his dismissal - around £70,000 - and that could be doubled by another club punishment if he is found guilty of bringing the game into disrepute. "I am not totally convinced it was a sending off but what Duncan did afterwards was unacceptable and I am disappointed in that," said Moyes.
The Everton manager, yesterday linked with a summer move for 22-year-old Spanish defender Pablo Ibanez, has allowed Leon Osman to remain on loan at Derby County for another month. Osman has been a major success at Pride Park, scoring two goals in 10 appearances for the Rams. And Moyes believes regular first division football is proving more beneficial to the Academy graduate than life on the fringes of the Everton first team. Kevin Kilbane and Lee Carsley, meanwhile, have both been included in the Republic of Ireland squad to play the Czech Republic at Lansdowne Road, Dublin, next Wednesday.

Moyes offers condolences to tragic fan's family
Daily Post
Mar 23 2004
EVERTON manager David Moyes has offered his sympathy to the family of Bernard Murphy, the supporter who died after being hit by debris blown by high winds on Saturday. Mr Murphy, 40, a father from Huyton, was killed as he approached the Walkers Stadium ahead of the Everton match at Leicester City. Last night, Mr Moyes expressed his shock and sorrow at the tragedy. He said: "I would like to offer my sincere condolences to the family of the supporter. "We always thank everybody who watches Everton, both home and away, because they are so passionate and loyal, and for this tragedy to happen to someone who is just trying to get to see his team play is devastating. "It's difficult to find the right words at a time like this but my thoughts are with the family and we will do everything we can to help them through this awful time." Ian Ross, Everton's head of public relations, announced that, after consultation with Mr Murphy's immediate family, there would be a period of silence before the kick-off at Goodison Park on Saturday. Mr Ross added the club had received messages from all over the world since Saturday afternoon. "It's very touching and it underscores the belief that football is a huge family. It's a family game and these tragedies do not go unnoticed around Europe."

Roon on tune
Mar 23 2004 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON are entering the Premiership run-in buoyed by Wayne Rooney's return to his dynamic best. The 18-year-old netted his fourth goal in as many games at the Walkers Stadium on Saturday in the Blues' 1-1 draw. The 75th-minute strike was a carbon copy of his winning goal a week earlier in the Goodison encounter with Portsmouth. Having spent much of the season being criticised for his lack of a killer instinct in front of goal, team-mate Gary Naysmith believes Rooney is now starting to show he has got what it takes to be a regular goalscorer. Naysmith said: "Wayne has hit a patch of form where he can be out of the game for so long but when he gets a chance you know he is going to score it. Long may that continue. "Everybody has got to remember he is only an 18-year-old lad and he is going to have ups and downs. "And when he has his quiet games there is no need to say anything to him because you know he will explode and do something special in the next match."
The one downside for Rooney on Saturday was the booking he picked up for a clumsy challenge on Matt Heath. That was his 10th of the season and he is now facing a two-game ban, beginning with the trip to Newcastle in 10 days. There is no doubt that on current form he will be badly missed. Naysmith knows that only too well. But the Scottish defender also points out that the spirit in the squad is strong, as demonstrated at Leicester when the Blues played 50 minutes with 10 men following Duncan Ferguson's sending off for two bookable offences. He adds: "We had to show togetherness when we were down to 10 men. "We were disappointed not to get three points but if you look at the way we have played with 10 men and how we battled it shows how unified the group is. "We knew Leicester were going to lump the ball forward because of the height in their team and we knew we were going to have to win the headers. For 91 minutes we did that. "But we are happy with a point because we went down to 10 men, even though we were disappointed to concede in the last minute. "We were unlucky to concede that, but we have scored against teams in the last minute as well. "It is all about how we respond in the next game. "We have to make sure we get three points next week against Middlesbrough." The need for points was underlined by Portsmouth's victory over Southampton on Sunday. That result means the gap between the Toffees and the relegation zone is six points. Naysmith concludes: "We have got all the teams around us in the table to play. "We have taken eight points from 12 in the last four games and barring two last-minute goals it would have been maximumpoints. "If we make sure we are not getting beaten, then we will be making sure the teams below us are not catching us."

Rooney form is scary
Mar 23 2004 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
WAYNE ROONEY is running into the best scoring form of his brief Premiership career. But with England facing Sweden next week, there are still suggestions his best form comes in an England jersey. Everton team-mate Kevin Campbell, however, says that has nothing to do with the quality of the squad at Goodison. "Wayne's scary," said the Blues' striker. "But I don't think he plays better for England because he is surrounded by better players. It's because he has more time on the ball.
"He will play better for England throughout his career, because international football is not like the Premiership, all thunder and hell. "For England he has time to look up, like in that first game against Turkey. He looked awesome that day. "Sure there were better players around him too, but he still looked better than everyone else on the pitch. "I think he's going to take the European Championship by storm this summer. But in the Premier League it will take time until he really knows what he's got. "And we're not a Manchester United, Chelsea or Arsenal. He's having to grind it out like the rest of us." A looming two-game ban for Rooney, coupled with Duncan Ferguson's possibly prolonged absence - means that Campbell is likely to come in for his first Everton start for several months. And the man who finished top scorer in three of his first four seasons at Goodison says he is ready. Actively involved in the launch of his own record label '2 Wikid', which releases its debut single 'Backstabbers' next month, he says: "I'm always the first into the training ground and I might make a couple of calls from the car park, but once I'm out of the car I would never let that interfere with football. I've got to be giving Everton 100 per cent. "I've been on the bench a lot recently, but I've been in football a long time and it's not my style to get despondent about it. My style is to support whoever's playing and hope they look at you and think 'If I'm ever left out I'd like to follow his lead, and not whine about it'."

By Len Capeling, Daily Post
Mar 24 2004
LIFE'S never dull when there's a Duncan Ferguson in the house. While not being the man Sir Alex Ferguson accused of starting a fight in an empty room, the Big Yin never seems to shy away from the wild side of life. Getting sent off at Leicester - the sixth dismissal of a stormtossed career - would normally have been regarded as just another ragged tear in the rich tapestry of a colourful life.
It was what happened next that lifted it on to the smelling salts shelf and caused sports editors to bay for the close-up of Dunc demonstrating an SAS strangehold on a stunned Steffen Freund.
Andy McNab, of SAS and best-seller fame, would have been proud of the ferocious Scot. The picture might even find its way into McNab's next survival-in-enemy-territory opus. Opposite an off-duty snap of a delighted Dunc, leafing through his millionaire's property portfolio and puffing on a large Cuban cigar. Send the latter photograph to the FA, they may see the joke, though I doubt it
A rap sheet as long as your outstretched arm plus video evidence and a wordy report from the officious Barry Knight threatens to send the Scot on his second spot of gardening leave this season.
His earlier banishment came when he fell out with his manager, David Moyes, thus proving, after Saturday's shenanigans, that Duncan doesn't play favourites when it comes to confrontations.
On this occasion, Moyes defended his fire-breathing centre-forward, believing that the two yellows and the inevitable red (for persistent foul play) was a case of an iffy referee getting even for previous insults. So far as the bookings are concerned, they were nothing that would have registered before the game lost its common sense. Players getting tangled up and swinging their handbags.
That's Duncan and many others. He's a head-on collision of a player who rejoices in the rough and tumble, an opponent that any hard-case centre-half would delight in sorting. Where he went wrong at the Walkers Stadium was in trying to take Freund's neck measurements in such an unorthodox fashion. Read his lips and you can just imagine him saying. Suit you, sir! Suit you, sir! Or, perhaps not, as a jury might say, handing down a guilty verdict and a spell in chokey. Sadly, Everton didn't help matters by accusing officials of having a vendetta against the club and its players. It's nonsense, of course. Barry Knight may lack the wit to be a top-class referee - a Paul Durkin might well have steered the hotheaded Ferguson away from the pit he was digging for himself. But please, let's forget this rubbish about vendettas. The fact that a referee knows about a player's past misdeeds is what you'd expect. It's as significant as managers knowing the strengths and weaknesses of the opposition. No more, no less. It doesn't mean that Barry Knight, Jeff Winter, Graham Poll or whoever spend their days plotting to get even with some uppity player, or manager. Duncan Ferguson plays a high-risk game, where blows are given and taken. Occasionally, you have to take your punishment and get on with it. That's always happened. Only the afters cause a real stir and enable certain columnists to don the black cap and play hanging judges. Dunc is in trouble. We've seen the pictures. But even with that textbook SAS throttle, surely the furore outweighs the crime.
Pity Duncangate overshadowed what was another significant performance from Wayne Rooney.
Earlier in the season an Evertonian of little faith informed me that Wayne was already deteriorating as a player and ought to be sold. The ought-to-be-sold tag may yet come back to haunt Blues fans who don't trust the Everton board to do the right thing with debts mounting by the day. Rooney's season is very much like Michael Owen's. Neither has done as well as excepted, both suffer because of underpowered, underperforming midfields. Difficult to see that changing either side of Stanley Park, though Rooney does possess that priceless gift of creating for himself even when things look bleak. And so on to Middlesbrough, the meanest of defences before last Saturday's shambles. Does that foreshadow a Goodison goalfest? We shall see.

Moyes' honesty is so refreshing
By Stuart Rayner, Liverpool Echo
Mar 24 2004
DAVID MOYES ripped up the football managers' manual this week - and actually criticised one of his own players. Saying that Duncan Ferguson was wrong to try and strangle the life out of Steffen Freund after being sent off against Leicester City might seem to be stating the obvious. But for a football manager it was revolutionary. "I am not totally convinced it was a sending off, but what Duncan did afterwards was unacceptable," Moyes admitted. "I am disappointed with that.
"It made it hard for the lads in a game which was already difficult." Moyes' honesty was extremely refreshing - though it must be said his initial reaction was to stand up for Ferguson. One can't help but wonder if he would have been equally critical were it another temperamental striker of his, rather than someone with whom he appears to have a rather strained relationship. Nonetheless, once he got round to it, Moyes did the right thing - and bucked the trend by doing so. In football, it seems, sorry has become the hardest word to say. Managers appear totally unprepared to speak out in public when their players behave badly. We are always told they are saving the criticism until they get the player behind a closed office door, but bosses are making themselves look ridiculous trying to defend the indefensible antics of some of their players. Footballers are said to respect managers who keep their criticisms "in house". But surely they would not lose respect for someone who owned up when one of his stars did something which was undeniably wrong. And players are surely not likely to complain when their manager points out, as Moyes did, that one of their team-mates had let them down. Roy Keane slagged off Manchester United's younger players for their lack of professionalism on numerous occasions leading up to his side's European Cup last-16 clash with Porto. Then, with minutes of the first leg remaining, he petulantly stamped on Vitor Baia, earning himself a red card and a suspension for the all-important second leg. It was completely unprofessional. But rather than give Keane a taste of his own medicine, Sir Alex Ferguson did what he often does in these situations - and put up the smokescreen. Baia over--reacted, the referee was poor and the Porto players were divers. The next day's headlines were written and Keane got off scot-free. The Manchester United boss is by no means the only culprit. Others seem to have watched the most successful manager in modern British football excusing away the antics of players such as Keane, Eric Cantona and Rio Ferdinand, and convinced themselves this is how it should be done. Presumably that's why people like Gerard Houllier and Graeme Souness will defend away X-rated tackles until they are blue in the face - and why others, like Arsene Wenger, won't even see them. Ultimately it just creates a climate where footballers do not have to take responsibility for their actions. That flies in the face of a team ethic and causes problems of his own. Would Rio Ferdinand have found himself in the mess he currently does had he or his club shown a little humility? A more public expression of regret certainly would not have done Ferdinand any harm.
Hopefully United's mis-handling of that case and Moyes' recent comments will prove to be the first steps towards a new attitude of honesty and acceptance of responsibility from managers and players alike. If it is, football will be the better for it.

Everton legend Kendall in panto? Oh no, he isn't
By Philip Key, Daily Post
Mar 24 2004
A PANTOMIME about Everton Football Club descended into a farce last night. Howard Kendall, the most successful manager in the club's history, was at the centre of a row about the new show, "Snow Blue and the Seven Blue Noses", which is due to open at Liverpool's Royal Court Theatre next week. Everton's public relations officer Ian Ross said the club did not wish to associate itself with the show, billed as the first ever football pantomime, because it just wasn't funny. Not only that, but he claimed that high-profile former Everton players said to be taking part, including Kendall, had now backed out of the production. "Oh no, he hasn't," said the show's Everton fan writer Mike Howl. "Oh yes, I have," responded Kendall himself. The row broke out after the Daily Post revealed yesterday that Kendall, Everton and England veteran defender Brian Labone and other former Everton heroes were to tread the boards in the panto, which centres on an audacious plot by Liverpool FC to buy Wayne Rooney. Club officials studied a script of the show, and clearly decided that Everton's theatrical impresario owner Bill Kenwright would not approve. The villain of the piece, played by the author, is a French-accented character called Count Houllio, who owes more than a passing nod to Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier. Ross said there were fears that comedy attacks on Liverpool FC personnel could rebound on Everton. "It also wasn't very funny." "Some former players who were due to appear have withdrawn from it," he added. He said Labone, who still worked for the club, would not be in the production and nor would Kendall, who was originally said to be appearing. The production is being staged by Bluenose Promotions and that company was not officially involved with the club, added Ross. But Howl insisted former players would be in the pantomime. He agreed some who were to be in it had dropped out after leaflets advertising their presence had been printed. But he named Roger Kenyon, George Telfer and Derek Temple as among those appearing. None of them is employed by Everton today. Howard Kendall would also be appearing, he said. "He has already done a read through." Howl was annoyed that Everton had got hold of a script. "Very few have gone out and anyway it has been changed about six times already," he said. "I would have thought that Everton had more things to worry about than a pantomime."
However, Howard Kendall last night said that he would not be on stage in the show. "I am not in it but I may go along to have a look," he said. Rehearsals were continuing at the theatre yesterday, where manager Simon Geddes said the show would go on as advertised from next Tuesday. "It is being directed by Jane Brown who has directed other pantomimes here and is very professional. I have every confidence the show she directs will not cause offence."
* SNOW Blue and the Seven Blue Noses is due to run at the Royal Court, from March 30 to April 3.

FA ready to charge red-carded Ferguson
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Mar 24 2004
DUNCAN FERGUSON will be charged with violent conduct following his reaction to being sent off at Leicester City last Saturday. The striker has already been handed a one-match ban and been fined two weeks' wages after his dismissal for two bookable offences at The Walkers Stadium.
And now referee Barry Knight has mentioned Ferguson's subsequent actions in his submitted match report - which will prompt the FA to commence further disciplinary action against the Everton striker. If found guilty, the 32-year-old will be suspended for an additional three games, which would rule him out of almost half of Everton's remaining nine Premiership games this season.
Moyes had insisted the red card for Ferguson was harsh, but admitted his reaction - in which the striker manhandled Steffen Freund and made an obscene gesture to the Leicester supporters - was "unacceptable". Ferguson is already to be fined a fortnight's wages for the sending off - worth around £70,000 - and will be docked the same amount again if the FA's disciplinary panel uphold the violent conduct charge. Meanwhile, Richard Wright has targeted a return to first-team action before the end of the season. Wright has not featured for the senior side since September after suffering from a niggling knee complaint which eventually required surgery. The 26-year-old has played in the reserves' last two outings, and will be in goal again tonight when the Everton second string take on Middlesbrough at Southport's Haig Avenue. During his spell on the sidelines, Wright has seen Nigel Martyn take on his mantle as Everton's first-choice goalkeeper. But he insisted: "I really would like to get involved with the first team before the end of the season. "That's my main target at the moment and I've just got to work hard and hopefully I'll get an opportunity. "I think the spell on the sidelines has just made me more hungry. I really want to play, I'm desperate to play as many games as I can, get playing again and get that buzz of playing a game of football. "I'm getting bits and pieces in the reserves, I'm enjoying football there and I just want to make sure that I get it at the first team level." Another Everton goalkeeper, Iain Turner, is celebrating after has being called up to the Scotland under-21 squad for the first time. Turner, who was signed from Stirling Albion in the summer, has impressed during a loan spell at Nationwide Conference leaders Chester City. His form has led Scotland U21 Rainer Bonhof to draft the 20-year-old into his squad to face their Romanian counterparts at Firhill next Tuesday. "It came as a surprise to me, I didn't realise until about 1pm on Tuesday," said Turner. "I didn't expect it. I've been just enjoying regular football with Chester and doing my best for them. To find out I've been selected for the U21s is great news."
* BOTH James McFadden and Gary Naysmith have been called up to Scotland's full squad for the game against Romania at Hampden Park on March 31.

Everton reward for work to get rid of racism
Football In The Community, Daily Post
Mar 24 2004
EVERTON have been honoured for leading the way in the battle against racism in football. The Merseyside club was inducted by the charity 'Show Racism the Red Card' into its 'Hall of Fame'.
Everton were given a club award for their outstanding contribution to the campaign, which was collected by Everton Football in the Community officer, Alan Johnson. The honours were presented in London as part of a star-studded awards ceremony. Held for the first time, the awards have been designed to recognise the contribution of time and commitment these celebrity patrons have given to the anti-racism charity in their fight against racism in football. Ged Greeby, Project Co-ordinator of Show Racism the Red Card said: "The Hall of Fame event is our opportunity to thank the professional footballers who have made our campaign such a success. "The twin pillars of our campaign's success have been the players and the football clubs who have given us marvellous backing. The aim of the campaign is to combat racism through anti-racist education and the role model status of footballers makes their message a strong one." Winners, who also included Rio Ferdinand and former Everton player Earl Barrett, were presented with engraved lead crystal statuettes by ex-Wimbledon player Robbie Earle and "Emmerdale" and "Brassed Off" actress Charlie Hardwick. Typically, a patron of the charity will dedicate their time and make use of their high profile to support the charity by taking part in educational road shows, publicity campaigns and appearing in SRTRC videos and literature. Show Racism the Red Card was established in January 1996 with the aim of using professional foot-ballers as anti-racist role models. The campaign has involved hundreds of top footballers and managers, and has harnessed the high profile of these role models in campaigning to help combat racism through education programmes. So successful is the charity's activity that they have now expanded throughout Europe and the video is now available in seven European languages. Professional footballers such as Liverpool legnd John Barnes have been excellent ambassadors for the charity. Barnes said: "Racism is not only a problem in football, it's a problem in society. Until we tackle it in society, we can't tackle it in football. "I think that it is very important to target young people, particularly in the multi-cultural and multi-racial world."

Dunc in double trouble
Mar 24 2004 By Scott McLeod Liverpool Echo
DUNCAN FERGUSON was today charged with two offences by the Football Association for his reaction to being sent off at Leicester last weekend. The 32-year-old striker was charged with violent behaviour and improper conduct for grabbing Steffen Freund around the neck and making offensive gestures at the crowd as he left the pitch. Combined with the one game suspension he has already received for picking up two bookings, Ferguson is now facing the prospect of missing five of Everton's remaining nine league matches. The FA charges will also lead to a second two-week fine from the club, costing him another £70,000, and the loss of the captaincy he only regained in the trip to Southampton last month. With Wayne Rooney also facing a two-match suspension after receiving his 10th booking of the season at the Walkers Stadium manager David Moyes could be ready to activate the release clause incorporated into the loan deal which took Nick Chadwick to Millwall last week. Meanwhile, goalkeeper Iain Turner is delighted after being called up for Scotland Under-21s. The 20-year-old, who is on loan at Chester until the end of the season, said: "It came as a surprise to me. I've been selected twice now for Scotland Future squads, but never the Under-21s.
"Hopefully, I can win my first cap next Wednesday and go on from there. "As long as you keep playing well, keep training hard and progressing, you could go anywhere." The reserves are in action at Haig Avenue tonight. The game against Middlesbrough kicks-off at 7pm with reserve boss Andy Holden set to name a young side for the game.

Everton Res 0, Middlesbrough Res 0
Mar 25 2004
Daily Post
A VERY young Everton Reserves side withstood a lot of pressure against a spirited Middlesbrough side and held on to share the spoils at Haig Avenue. Andy Holden fielded a team of Academy players but for England international goal-keeper Richard Wright as the visitors went close to taking all three points on more than one occasion. Craig Dove had Boro's first effort but thankfully his shot went just wide of Wright's goal and it wasn't long before the former Arsenal keeper was called into action to deny the same player midway through the first period. Everton's chances were few and far between with Italian Patrice Pascucci going close on 38 minutes and then again as the half ended only for his chip to go just wide of the visitors' goal. The second half was much the same story, Middlebrough carving out the best chances but Everton managing somehow to keep Stuart Parnaby's side at bay. Dove was a thorn in Everton's side all night but a combination of poor finishing and steady goalkeeping from Wright kept the scores level. Further chances from McMahon, Bates and Allan Johnston all tested Everton's resolve but first Stephen Wynne cleared off his line and Daniel Fox soon followed suit. Wright again came to Everton's rescue denying Johnston from a free-kick. With such an inexperienced side on show Holden will be happy with the point. As far as the watching David Moyes was concerned, another 90 minutes for Richard Wright will have been good to see. EVERTON RES: R Wright, Wynne, Fox, Hughes, Gerrard, B Moogan, Seargent, Booth, Lynch (Hopkins 77) Pascucci, Wilson. Subs: Lake, Harris, Potter, S Wright.

Ferguson is facing double trouble
By David Prior, Daily Post
Mar 25 2004
DUNCAN FERGUSON will face a ban of at least four games if found guilty of the dual charge levied by the Football Association yesterday. The governing body have come down hard on the Scot, charging him with violent behaviour over his clash with Leicester's Steffen Freund after being red-carded at the Walkers Stadium last Saturday and also improper conduct for making an offensive gesture to City fans as he walked off. Given the video evidence available, Ferguson looks certain to be handed at least a threematch suspension by the FA. He already faces a one-game ban following his sending-off for two bookable offences during the 1-1 draw, a dismissal which is understood to have led to a fine of two weeks' wages by the club. Ferguson received his second caution after clashing with Freund in an aerial challenge, with his fury spilling over as the Scottish striker grabbed hold of the German midfielder by the neck. After being shown the red card by referee Barry Knight, Ferguson did little to aid his cause and reputation by gesturing to the Foxes fans, an incident which is likely to lead to a further fine from the FA. Everton boss David Moyes, although believing the dismissal was harsh on Ferguson, refused to condone his actions which followed, describing them as "unacceptable".
The 32-year-old club captain now has 14 days to respond, with a personal hearing likely to be requested, with the only question then as to how quickly the FA will deal with the case as any suspension could yet spill over into next season. "Duncan has 14 days to reply to the charges and whether he pleads guilty or not guilty, he has the option to request a personal hearing for either plea," confirmed club secretary David Harrison. "The club will now sit down with Duncan and discuss the matter before deciding the best way forward." Ferguson is still under investigation by the FA for alleged racial abuse towards Fulham striker Luis Boa Morte during a 2-1 league defeat at Loftus Road on January 10. However, it is believed the claim is not a convincing one, and although the FA are duty bound to conduct an inquiry, it would appear Ferguson will escape any charge and potential sanction in this instance.

Daily Post Sport Talk
Daily Post
Mar 25 2004
This week we ask: Is it better to sign British footballers rather than their foreign counterparts?
When you go foreign, you're taking a risk
BIRMINGHAM City owner David Sullivan wants Steve Bruce to focus on bringing British players to St Andrews rather than foreign imports. Sullivan speaks from the point of view of a chairman frustrated at having wasted his money abroad time and again. "The best way forward for us is to have a team made up of English or British grafters," Sullivan said. "When you go foreign, you're taking a risk. You've got a language problem, how they settle in and whether they can actually cope with the demands of our football." Luciano Figuroa, a £2.5million Argentinian summer signing, came off the bench just once before his contract was cancelled, while Frenchman Christophe Dugarry also had his deal paid up after complaining that he couldn't settle. It is money that a club like Birmingham cannot afford to squander. Compare that to the commitment he gets from Robbie Savage (pictured playing for Wales) and you can see why he won't be looking too far afield for new blood. Even the best foreign players come with baggage. When West Ham needed him most, Paulo Di Canio preferred to stay at home. Dennis Bergkamp may be a great player, but would Paul Scholes turn down the chance to play Juventus because it involved getting on a plane? While Pierre Van Hoojdonk's Nottingham Forest team-mates were staring relegation in the face, the Dutchman simply went on strike. Bolton boss Sam Allardyce staked his reputation on the signing of chubby Brazilian Jardel. Five months later, the former Sporting Lisbon man is fighting relegation with Serie A side Ancona. Coach Giovanni Galeone is far from pleased with his striker. He said: "He's a joke. Defenders could fall asleep in front of him and still nothing would happen." Add to that the countless players bought on the back of an impressive World Cup and Sullivan's words ring true. Look at Tomas Brolin. "I don't think there's any point in judging a player in the baking heat during the European Championship, it's on a cold, wet winter's day when it matters," he says. Better hope your manager doesn't choose Portugal as a summer holiday desination.
When you bring something good it raises the level of competition
HOW can David Sullivan really believe foreign players aren't good for the Premiership? Ask Arsenal fans what they prefer. The swashbuckling Thierry Henry and Robert Pires carving defences to pieces or Alan Smith and Perry Groves. The arrival of the likes of Gianfranco Zola, Ruud Gullit, Henry, Dennis Bergkamp, Eric Cantona has co-incided with an explosion of football in this country.
Sullivan admits he prefers a team of English grafters and Birmingham fans will be glad to hear it, regularly feasting on the sight of Jamie Clapham or Stephen Clemence in full flow. Sullivan may be pleased to hear that David Batty will be looking for a new club this summer. Meanwhile, Patrick Vieira has never been accused of not pulling his weight, but the same cannot be said of Birmingham's very own David Dunn. And the glamour and class brought by certain imports is unquestionable. Chelsea pulled off a coup with the signing of Zola for £4.5million in 1996 and the little Italian has cemented himself in Stamford Bridge folklore. He is understandably a keen advocate of buying foreign. "English football has grown up a lot since my arrival. When you bring something good from other countries it will always raise the level of competition," says the Sardinian. "Frank Lampard is a great example. When he arrived at Chelsea I could see straight away that he had a lot of potential. It has really helped that he's had great players around him. Today young English players can live out their fantasies, playing alongside World Cup winners."
Ray Parlour believes his Arsenal career was saved by learning lessons from foreign arrivals and turning his back on the drinking culture that had always dominated the English game. Despite recent events to the contrary, Zola agrees that things have changed for the better. "The obvious changes have been in training technique and skills but probably the biggest difference has been in the attitude of players. "What you do off the pitch reflects what you do on it."

Night Everton finally found the goalposts
Post Past By Phil Redmond, Daily Post
Mar 25 2004
Walter Smith checks in at Goodison
IN February 1999 Evertonians were a depressed breed. It was Walter Smith's first season at the helm and things weren't going quite how we all thought. Walter had been given a transfer kitty that David Moyes could only dream of and had invested in class players like Olivier Dacourt and John Collins.
Unfortunately, Walter's tactics were that negative that such guile in midfield was overwhelmed and isolated by the presence of up to six centre-halves filling the defensive and wide positions. As a result, boring sterile rubbish was the order of the day, and in the first 12 home games the faithful had been 'treated' to an unbelievable three goals. In Walter's defence, attacking options had been limited by the enforced and apparently underhand sale of Duncan Ferguson, an act that signalled the end of Peter Johnson's time at Goodison. However, he'd done himself few favours with the signing of Ibrahima Bakayoko. The one glimmer of hope had come with the scoring debut of Francis Jeffers against Coventry in the cup the previous Saturday. So it was that on a wet Wednesday night, Boro came to Goodison in their customary mid-table slot and the Blues duly went goal crazy. The star of the show was Nick Barmby, who touched home a Jeffers cross in the first minute before delightfully dinking an effort over Mark Schwarzer. Into the second half, and another unwanted record was broken when Dacourt slotted the third. Incredibly enough this was the first Everton goal scored at the Gwladys Street end that season. Before the 90 minutes were up the faithful witnessed another couple as the Blues tore Boro apart with some slick football. Erratic Italian Marco Matterazzi curled home a beauty for the fourth before David Unsworth glanced home the fifth. So there it was, brighter times seemed just around the corner for Everton, but things would get much worse before salvation in the form of Kevin Campbell arrived that Easter.
But that's another story.

The peak of derby pride
Mar 25 2004 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
IT was 20 years ago today . . .Everton and Liverpool met at Wembley Stadium for the first time.
The Milk Cup final fittingly ended in a draw - and both sets of fans produced a moving expression of civic pride. The legend of the 'unique' atmosphere surrounding the Mersey derby was forged on March 25, 1984. After decades of near misses - and mischievous suggestions that the authorities had manipulated semi-final draws to avoid the prospect of a Mersey cup final for fear of crowd trouble - Everton and Liverpool met in a major final for the first time. The city of Liverpool was a ghost town. The fans did travel down to London together, with red and blue colours intertwined.
And fears of crowd trouble were so far removed as to be absurd. During the match "Merseyside, Merseyside!" rang out around the stadium and afterwards John Bailey, Everton's Scouse defender observed: "At the end of the game I ran around the ground with Alan Kennedy, with a blue scarf and a red scarf tied together above our heads. "I remember the fans singing, and it still brings a lump to my throat thinking about it now." A poem submitted to the Liverpool ECHO that week contained the lines: "For it's Merseyside's cup final, and the winner's not the teams, but that city by the Mersey, and its people's future dreams." They were apt. There are fans with long derby memories who regard this occasion as the one they most cherish. It was a unique occasion - aided possibly by the fact the teams shared the honours on the day. Everton boss Howard Kendall recalled: "Supporters did travel down together. There was no segregation. No need. We're better than that. "We are probably more passionate and more partisan than anyone when it comes to defending the interests of our clubs, but Evertonians and Liverpudlians can drink together and laugh together as well.
"That's what makes us so special and it's something we should work hard to retain, despite the fact there have been bits and pieces of problems at derbies in subsequent years." Liverpool eventually won a Maine Road replay and Reds' boss Joe Fagan, carrying his first trophy back to Anfield, said: "A lot of Evertonians will go home crying tonight, but they needn't. "They should be proud of their team. . . I just hope they get to Wembley again and win the FA Cup, so we can play them again in the Charity Shield next August." He got his wish. The sun shone on August 18, 1984, the fans again mixed freely and charitably - and this time Everton won. But while the London police once again praised the behaviour of the Merseyside visitors, the occasion didn't quite have the same historic feel as that rain-drenched Sunday afternoon 20 years ago today.

Moyes losing patience
Mar 25 2004 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES will not tolerate a repeat of the defensive lapses which have cost Everton four points in the last four games. The Blues have been denied victories at Southampton and Leicester in recent weeks because of goals conceded deep into injury time. And they missed out on a point against Manchester United at Goodison last month because of a goal in the dying stages. It is a worrying trend which the manager intends to stamp out. He said: "It is something we have to make sure doesn't happen again. Had it not been for late goals we would have had 12 points from our last four matches. "It is just a case of centrating that little bit harder and being a bit more professional in the last 10 minutes of matches. We have to make sure we see games out. "Concentration is not something you can work on in training. All we can do is talk to the players about it because we don't want it to happen again. "It has cost us points. Last season we were scoring late goals. That is what we want to get back to. "There was a real sense of disappointment last weekend at losing the goal in the last few seconds. But there was a lot of pride at having dug in for so long with 10 men."
Meanwhile, Duncan Ferguson has 13 days in which to respond to two charges made against him by the Football Association yesterday. The striker was charged with violent conduct and improper conduct for his actions in the aftermath of his red card at Leicester. The striker is facing the prospect of a four-game ban and a fine on top of the one-match suspension he has already been given for picking up two yellow cards. He is likely to seek a personal hearing. Sean O'Hanlon, meanwhile, has joined Swindon Town permanently after a successful loan spell there, while Michael Symes has moved to Crewe Alexandra for a month.
* EVERTON have thanked Liverpool supporters for their response to the news of Bernie Murphy's death at Leicester last weekend. The 40-year-old Evertonian died after being hit by an advertising hoarding in the strong winds ahead of Everton's game at the Walkers Stadium. Ian Ross, Everton's Head of PR, said: "We have hundreds of e-mails, letters and phone calls passing on condolences to Bernie's family. "Many have been from Liverpool supporters and we have also had flowers from Liverpool fans left at the Dixie Dean statue. "It is heartening to realise that in times of tragedy there are no divides."

Thanks Duncan
Post Soapbox, Icliverpool & Daily Post
Mar 26 2004
Thanks Duncan
DUNCAN FERGUSON is to be congratulated for his selfless contribution this season. By being sent off at Leicester and getting himself banned for possibly four games, he has singlehandedly guaranteed our survival. Who knows? Without him we may even qualify for Europe. Had David Moyes continued to play him, I had my doubts about the the last 10 games. I have much more confidence now. Thanks Dunc.
Peter Fearon, Liverpool
End of road
A COUPLE more wins should see us safe but we have to learn the lessons of a long hard season.
Duncan must go. Whilst on his day he can still strike fear into heart of many a defence, he's injury-prone, expensive and easily riled.
Rich Jones, Lymm
IN the space of a week we have been outplayed in the middle of the park by two of the poorest teams in the division - Portsmouth and Leicester. Surely Moyes must realise this fact.
Mark Lawson, Liverpool
GOD bless Bernie Murphy. Thoughts with his family. He only went to a game, he deserved to come home.
B Reade, Liverpool
Kit sponsor?
WHEN are they going to come clean and tell us we have a new kit sponsor for next season? Will they tell us when they have sold all the stock as all we see is 40% off all the stock in the shop.
Dave Williams, Liverpool
Loan arranger
SORRY, but Ferguson needs to be loaned out to whoever will pay us half of his wages. He is a liability. For a so-called captain to be sent off for two stupid bookings in three minutes is irresponsible. It's not like we play better with him. We invariably play worse. He might serve some purpose as a sub for the last 15 minutes to give a tired defence something new to worry about - but as a starting striker and captain? Forget it. What is worrying me is that Moyes can't see this. I say bring Chaddy to the bench and move Kilbane up front with Rooney or Radzinski.
B Masters, Liverpool

Rooney cleared of spitting at woman
Mar 26 2004
By Scott Hesketh Daily Post Correspondent
EVERTON footballer Wayne Rooney will not face any police charges after a woman claimed he spat in her face, police said last night. Nicola Sunenberry, 23, alleged that the England international spat at and insulted her during a row at Manchester night-club Ampersand last month. The footballer was enjoying a night out with friends following his team's Premiership encounter with Manchester United on February 7 when the incident was alleged to have taken place. Rooney, 18, was interviewed by Greater Manchester Police and a file was passed on for prosecutors to consider the evidence. A spokeswoman for the Crown Prosecution Service said yesterday: "After careful consideration, prosecutors decided there was insufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction." Rooney's agent, Paul Stretford, last night said that he was "amazed" that resources were spent on what appeared to be a "malicious" complaint by the woman. He said: "The original complaint appeared either to be malicious or frivolous, and frankly we are amazed that so much public resource was invested in examining it." Mr Stretford also expressed his anger at those who try to tarnish the already flagging reputation of footballers. He added: "Sadly there is a small minority of individuals who make it impossible for footballers to enjoy a normal life, because of their determination to prey on and, in some cases, profit by their fame. "Perhaps some of those who moralise about the game, and the decent young men like Wayne who play it, should bear this in mind before leaping to judgment in the future." Ms Sunenberry, from Skelmersdale, yesterday refused to comment. Since bursting on to the scene at the beginning of last season, Wayne Rooney has set the Premiership alight and delighted the Everton faithful with some blistering displays of pace and skill. He has also figured prominently in the England set-up and is tipped for stardom at this year's European Championships. But his short career has not been without controversy. Following the Merseyside derby in 2003 the England forward faced allegations of spitting at Liverpool fans during the match. Rooney was reported to have approached the fans and spat in their direction. Although several Liverpool fans reported the alleged incident, police took no action.

Results the key for play-off joy
Academy Football With Chris Wright, Daily Post
Mar 26 2004
AFTER sealing the FA Premier Academy League Group A title, Everton under-17s take a wellearned rest before the national play-offs start next Saturday. Gary Ablett's side beat Crewe 3-0 on Monday night to finish top of Group A and next week they begin the play-offs which they hope will see them become national champions come May. The U17s take on the Group C runners-up, which looks like being Leicester City - although Birmingham City still have a chance of qualifying if they win their last two games well - at Netherton (kick-off 11am) in the quarter-finals of the playoffs. And after proving the best of the North West division, they want to end the season on a high by becoming the best in the country. For most of them this will be a new type of competition. Whereas in the league performances and individual development are the most important thing, in the play-offs results are key to progress. Ablett said: "I have been very pleased with them this season. We were value for our win (against Crewe on Monday), but we showed some nerves because the lads knew there was pressure because we had to win. The performance was a little disappointing. Apart from the goals we didn't show too many sparks of good play. "We have stressed to them that the play-offs are a knockout and therefore winner takes all, so you can't afford to have an off-day. But I'm sure they will do well. "They have a week off and we will work on a few things and we will be raring to go next week." Everton under-19s face Sheffield United at Netherton looking to end the campaign on a high. With just two games left Everton can still finish runners-up. Monday's victory at Manchester United lifted Neil Dewsnip's side into third spot, just a point behind Liverpool, although their Merseyside neighbours do have a game in hand. But Dewsnip is just hoping to end the season on a high note
He said: "Our aim is still to finish as high as possible. We have two games left and are in a dogfight."
EVERTON U17s (v Crewe, Monday, March 22): Lake; Wynne, Hughes, Wright, Boyle; Wilson, Harris, Seargeant, Phelan (Kearney 84); Hopkins, Fowler (Vaughan 75). Subs: Pearson, Anichebe.
EVERTON U19s (v Man Utd, Monday, March 22): Lake; Flood, Gerrard, Potter, Fox; Brown, B Moogan (Joseph Jones 60), Booth, Martland; Lynch (O'Donnell 45), Pascucci (Garside 65). Sub: Molyneux.

Ehiogu prepared for Goodison physical
By David Prior Daily Post Staff
Mar 26 2004
his side have to win the physical battle to end the Goodison side's six-week unbeaten run.
The England defender will make his sixth consecutive league appearance against David Moyes's men in what he hopes will be a much tighter display than last weekend. Birmingham breached the Middlesbrough defence three times last Saturday, the only saving grace being that Steve McClaren's side scored five at the other end in an entertaining win. And 31-year-old Ehiogu said that his side were wary of the threat posed by the in-form Wayne Rooney, as well as the inthe-spotlight Duncan Ferguson. He said: "Last Saturday's system left the match quite open but it's something that will happen if you are going for goals. It's something that we have to deal with. "We have worked on a few things in training this week to get everybody in good heart and the best frame of mind, and also to deal with the kind of things that Everton do. "They will be a mighty test, especially away from home with the aerial threat from Duncan Ferguson and the pace and power of Rooney."
He added: "It's always a physical game at Goodison and if we don't match and compete with that physicality of their game then we will get beat." David Moyes has called on his side to cut out the slackness that has seen them concede a host of crucial late goals in recent weeks. Despite a sequence of four games without defeat, Moyes has watched with frustration as his side have squandered five points in the last six weeks after late goals from Southampton and Leicester.
Ruud van Nistlerooy had begun the run when denying Everton their second-half comeback in Manchester United's 4-3 win at Goodison in February. And Moyes said: "It is something we have to make sure doesn't happen again. Had it not been for late goals we would have had 12 points from our last four matches. "It is just a case of concentrating that little bit harder and being a bit more professional in the last 10 minutes of matches. We have to make sure we see games out. It has cost us points. Last season we were scoring late goals. That is what we want to get back to. "Concentration is not something you can work on in training. All we can do is talk to the players about it because we don't want it to happen again. "There was a real sense of disappointment last weekend at losing the goal in the last few seconds. But there was a lot of pride at having dug in for so long with 10 men."

Words seem hollow at a time like this
By Mark O'Brien, Daily Post
Mar 26 2004
IT'S obviously a sad week for Evertonians given the death of Bernard Murphy at Leicester last Saturday. Words always seem a little bit hollow when someone is killed in such an arbitrary manner; none of us can really bear to imagine how his family must feel. The period of silence in honour of Mr Murphy before tomorrow's game will give us all time to reflect on just how lucky we are. An oft-used phrase at times like this is that 'it puts football into perspective'. It's probably true, but it's a shame that it takes such a tragedy to make us take stock and remember that football is just a game.
The game at the Walkers Stadium had everything, and in many ways it encapsulated our season so far. The biggest talking point was obviously the dismissal of our captain, Duncan Ferguson. Opinions appear to be split down the middle on this one, with some believing he was the victim of an awful referee while others say he only had himself to blame. The fouls themselves were hardly x-rated, in fact Ferguson only seems to give as good as he gets off defenders yet receives nowhere as much protection as some of the whiners, divers and imaginary card brandishers who play up front for most Premiership sides. And given the awful conditions and the fact that the ball was in the air for 90% of the game it was inevitable that there were going to be a few tussles. Where Ferguson let himself down though was in the way he antagonised the officious Barry Knight after the first yellow card. He should have been a bit cannier rather than refusing to be summoned over and then hurling a mouthful of abuse. Being reasonable to such a prissy official no doubt sticks in the craw but ultimately Ferguson's a professional, get over it. It hardly took Russell Grant to work out what was going to happen as soon as his arm came out as he jumped with Steffen Freund. Thanks to his Albert De Salvo impression before he eventually departed Ferguson now faces an extra FA charge and seems certain to miss a sizeable chunk of the run in. Well done. The least he can do is put in a big performance tomorrow against a stubborn Middlesbrough team. After that - with an illtimed suspension for Wayne Rooney looming as well - it will be up to our other strikers to try to ensure we can continue our recent run of relatively good form.

Gerrard's career at Goodison is over
By David Prior Daily Post Staff
Mar 26 2004
PAUL GERRARD'S Everton career is over after he signed a loan deal with Nottingham Forest until the end of the season. The 31-year-old goalkeeper, bought for £1million by Joe Royle from Oldham in 1996, has played only a handful of games under David Moyes. Gerrard's contract is up at the end of the season and he is hoping his latest loan move, after spells at Ipswich and Sheffield United, will help him to find a more permanent deal when he becomes a free agent. He said: "I'm looking forward to it. It will be a challenge because they're near the bottom and it's a nice change for me to go there and play at the weekend. "It's not been all doom and gloom. I've been working hard in training and instead of having the weekend off I've been coming in and just training on my own on a Saturday morning, so I feel good and I'm looking forward to playing a few games." He added: "You're in the shop window. If you play well then you get yourself a move for the following season, so it is an incentive for me to do well there. "Hopefully I can do as well as I did at Sheffield because I enjoyed my time there." Gerrard made 99 appearances for the Goodison club, his most successful spell coming in the 1999-2000 campaign. Meanwhile reserve defender Sean O'Hanlon has completed a permanent move to Swindon Town. The 21-year-old has spent the past two months at the County Ground, making 10 appearances and scoring one goal, and has now been taken on a long-term contract by the second division promotion chasers.

Funeral for soccer fan
Mar 26 2004
Liverpool Echo
THE family of the Everton fan killed outside the Walkers Stadium in last weekend's gales will lay him to rest on Tuesday. Bernard Murphy, 40, was killed when a piece of hoarding loosened by winds of 75mph struck him minutes before Everton's 1-1 draw against Leicester. The father-of-one, from Huyton, will be mourned during a minute's silence at Goodison this Saturday before Everton take on Middlesbrough. His funeral will be held at St Aloysius Church on Tuesday afternoon. Mr Murphy was a season ticket holder who had not missed a match in three seasons and also coached a team of under-10s footballers. An inquest into Mr Murphy's death has been opened and adjourned.

Let unruly Dunc keep captaincy
Mar 26 2004 By Howard Kendall, Liverpool Echo
DUNCAN FERGUSON lost his cool last weekend and he will have to accept his punishment.
But now is not the time to start talking about him losing the Everton captaincy. I can recall Roy Keane, Patrick Vieira and Eric Cantona all doing things similar or worse. Their indiscretions did not deprive them of the captaincy. Duncan deserves his punishment for reacting the way he did last weekend, but he remains an important member of the squad and a man capable of leading the side.
I made him Everton skipper for the first time during my time in charge. He is a talisman. As captain, there will be questions about the example he set last weekend. But I know one thing about the player, he is no cheat. He is an honest player. You get so many p layer s throwing themselves around and making a meal of things, crying foul to the referee. It is infuriating. No doubt that got to Dunc at Leicester. He reacted in the wrong way after the red card because he felt cheated. It was not a good example to set. But similar moments of indiscretion fuelled by a sense of injustice have not cost Keane the United captaincy in the last few years - and he has even been accused of ending a player's career. He, Vieira and Duncan are all players who play hard but play fair. Unfortunately, there are a lot of other players in the top flight who don't. There are a lot of players who focus on individuals because they think they have a short fuse. Duncan took the bait and will now be missed during his suspension. He should take his punishment. But I don't think the issue of the captaincy should come into the debate.
Encouraging words
EVERTON have conceded late goals in three of their last six games. But they are not the only club suffering. Injury time goals seem to be commonplace nowadays. And I am sure one factor is the announcement over the public address system of the time remaining. It lets the players and the crowd know exactly what they are up against. It is human nature for the team that is leading to sit back, while the team that is losing know it is a case of 'now or never'.
Proven goalscorer
CRITICS are very quick to jump on our finest young talents. Michael Owen has gone through a spell where he has been described as 'over the hill' virtually every seaso n si nce h e exploded into the Premiership. It seems Wayne Rooney will have to endure the same doubts. But those people who suggested he was not a goalscorer have been silenced by his return of four goals in the last four games. The lad has got it. And the more often he plays up front the better his goal average will get.
You don't want him creating goals, you want him scoring them. And the time to judge a striker is at the end of the season. Then you can assess a player's goal return based on the amount of time he has spent on the pitch. Wayne (below) has got a natural eye for goal. And his scoring rate is pretty good, particularly considering he is not the side's penalty taker. He has got his swagger back. He is brimming with confidence at the moment and we are seeing the real Rooney.
Every player has quiet spells.
But that should not lead to immediate criticism and suggestions he is not the genuine article.
He is and he will be for years to come.

Rooney can be Euro star - Sir Geoff
Mar 26 2004 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
THE only thing Wayne Rooney needs to become an England striking legend is to score more goals.
And they will come. That's the view of the only man in history to have scored three goals in a World Cup Final. Sir Geoff Hurst, in Liverpool yesterday to meet the winner of the ECHO and McDonald's England mascot competition for 2004, spoke about the impact Everton's young lion has made since he became the youngest England international in history. Rooney has scored three times in his 10 internationals so far, and Hurst said: "He's got to score goals. "To be considered among the best for England, Wayne's got to score one in two. "It's no good being an exciting front player unless you are productive. "He scored a great goal on Saturday at Leicester, but when you look at his record it has to be one in two. "But I'm sure that will come with experience. He will score goals because he is such a great talent. "I was at Leicester last Saturday when he took his chance brilliantly. "He came in from the left, threatening to hit it then let it go past him and tucked it away. "He's a great young talent, very instinctive - and you have to keep that instinctiveness but also add to your understanding of the game and how you play it as a front player." Sir Geoff, the hero of England's World Cup victory in 1966, was 23 when he made history with his hat-trick. But he believes Rooney, even at 18, has what it takes to make a major impact in Portugal this summer. "It takes a dozen games to find your feet at international level. Kevin Keegan will tell you that," he said. "He's only 18 so it will take time, but some of his internationals have been terrific. "He's an exciting young talent, and one who has to be nurtured properly. "But can he do well in the European Championships? Yes, he can. "There's no limits to what he can achieve. "A major finals is very different to regular international football, but he can handle it. "I'm always of a mind to bring young players in slowly, but there are players who come along from time to time who you just have to stick in and Wayne is one of them. record books. "He is physically quite strong and aggressive, but you have to chan n e l that aggression sensibly. He was booked on Saturday and you don't want him missing games getting booked or sent off unnecessarily. "That's no good for England or his career. "But you don't want to knock his aggression out of him." The second goal of Hurst's famous hat-trick, of course, was the much-debated shot wh ich bounced down off the underside of the crossbar. But Hurst is a firm advocate of video technology being used to clear up the kind of confusion which has surrounded his strike for almost 40 years. "My goal stands," he declared. "The match finished 4-2. Just look in the
"But I think in big games, as long as it doesn't interfere with the flow of the match too much - and it doesn't in cricket matches - you could incorporate some form of video technology. "I think it should happen. Whether it will, I don't know." Sir Geoff may lack conviction in that area, but he is convinced England have a European Championship star in the making.

Out of Africa dedication is just perfect
Mar 26 2004 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON'S lucky mascot has turned down the opportunity to exact revenge for Nigeria's premature exit from the African Nations Cup in order to face Middlesbrough tomorrow. Joseph Yobo, was wanted by the Super Eagles for Sunday's Olympic qualifying decider against Tunisia, the nation which knocked Nigeria out of the African Nations Cup at the semi-final stage last month. But the 23-year-old has chosen to remain on Merseyside to help the Blues extend their longest unbeaten run in the Premiership this season. It is a decision which has been well received at Goodison. Since returning from the African Nations Cup with a bronze medal and rich plaudits ringing in his ears, Yobo has been in excellent form, helping Everton remain unbeaten as they have picked up eight points from the last 12 available. "At the moment I am just focused and concentrating on my club. I have told the Nigerian FA that," explains Yobo. It is an attitude which is welcomed by David Moyes, who has been delighted with the form of the central defender. Before the Africans Nations Cup Yobo had been suffering from the same affliction which had struck Wayne Rooney. Namely, second season syndrome. Both players exploded onto the Premiership scene last year but struggled to maintain their high standards in the early months of the current campaign. "Since he came back Joseph has done very well," enthuses the manager. "The form of young players is liable to go up and down, especially with defenders because one mistake can lead to a goal. People forget how young Joseph still is and that should be taken into consideration. "But Joe has come into the Premiership and done well. We have been pleased with his early development and I am sure getting good reviews for his performances in the African Nations Cup boosted his confidence." Yobo is quick to put that success down to the influence of his manager, himself a former central defender. "That helps," he concedes. "Since I have been here I have learned a lot. I think if I had been given the chance to learn those things at my other clubs I would be a lot better player than I amnow. "But I have learned a lot being here and people can see that, even when I am playing for the national team. They can see me adapting to the game and the Premiership, which I am very happy about. "In Tunisia the tournament was different from (the football) here, but it is always about focus and what you want to do. I wanted to help my country win that tournament. "I just wanted to give my best and that is what I did, which is why I was very satisfied with how I did. "I am back here now and I want to do the same for Everton." Despite putting together an unbeaten run the Blues remain just six points above the relegation zone. It is a situation which does concern Yobo. But he insists that the one thing which Everton needed to move away from the danger zone was a confidence boost -not losing a game for the last seven weeks has provided that. "Since I came back we have played four games, not lost and we could have won all four," adds Yobo. The Nigerian international admits he has had to change his approach to the game in order to fit in with the side's needs. Gone are the touches of flair and runs with the ball which caught the eye last season and led to the realisation the Blues had uncovered a player of real quality. Instead he has adopted a more rudimentary style. He explains: "I am very composed. I never get nervous in the game but at the moment we need points. There are so many things that I like to do in the game but which I can't do now because it might be too risky for us. "I just have to play more like a normal defender and kick the ball clear. "When I was in Tunisia I was following the team results and I knew the side wasn't doing well. I just thought that when I get back I will put in the work to make sure we don't struggle because I don't like playing football and panicking on the pitch. "In the situation we are in now we need to put the work in and play the scrappy games that will help us win. "We know the next three matches will be tough but we are looking forward to it. "There is a lot of confidence. Nobody is panicking. Everybody wants to play, and we are helping each other because we know what we want for the team." With the lucky mascot in the side, who would bet against it?

Mersey pride still playing key role
Mar 26 2004 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
TWENTY YEARS ago this week, Merseyside was the centre of the sporting universe. On a wet Sunday lunch-time in 1984, Everton and Liverpool contested the first all-Mersey Cup Final. A tumbleweed could have blown down the entire length of Church Street with-out any human presence blocking its path, as Evertonians and Liverpudlians migrated - together - to Wembley. Or as Kopites called it at the time, Anfield South. But despite critical unemployment levels, civic finances about to fold and a labour council set to announce a budget advocating £290m expenditure, against an income of £109m - sports fans walked with a swagger. It was an era when Scousers had every reason to celebrate their sporting achievement. Liverpool were the most successful football club certainly in Europe, if not the planet. Everton were poised to topple them from their domestic pinnacle.
And in youth culture Merseyside once again led the way. Frankie Goes to Hollywood had just started a run of record-equalling number ones. Whose record did they equal? Fellow Scousers Gerry and the Pacemakers'. It all depends on your age whether you think Atomic Kitten, The Coral or Sugababes are better. And our football clubs may not boast the same eminence they enjoyed 20 years ago, but in the build-up to Capital of Culture there is even more for local sports fans to feel-good about. Liverpool is a re-born and revitalised city - and sports administrators finally appear to be recognising the fact. Top class tennis returns to the city this summer at Calderstones Park. The British Open Golf Championship takes place on Merseyside - twice - before 2008. The British Triathlon Championships will be staged on the waterfront in September. Not a huge deal in the sporting world at large admittedly, but it will be covered by BBC's Grandstand show. In 1984 the BBC would only have sent a camera crew to the Albert Dock to screen the dead seagulls floating in the polluted water. Now the water quality on the Albert Dock meets European bathing standards - and the Beeb will beam images of a wonderfully regenerated waterfront around Britain. There is also still the most prestigious horse race in Europe here next week. We may have meekly handed over our capital of football crown - to North-west London? - but Liverpool's sports fans still have a huge amount to be proud of.

Duncan to stay skipper - Moyes
Mar 26 2004 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
DUNCAN FERGUSON will keep the Everton captaincy for tomorrow's game with Middlesbrough.
The 32-year-old striker will serve a one game suspension next week following his red card at Leicester and he has also been charged with violent and improper conduct for his reaction to that dismissal. But manager David Moyes has not stripped the forward of the captaincy he regained at Southampton last month. Moyes said: "Duncan Ferguson is going to be in the squad tomorrow and will remain captain if he is fit. "He is the best man for the job and he will keep the armband." Wayne Rooney is also set to continue on attack against Boro. The 18-year-old will begin a two game suspension at Newcastle next week after his 10th booking of the campaign at the Walkers Stadium.
Meanwhile, England boss Sven Goran Eriksson is ready to offer Nigel Martyn a return to the England fray. Chris Kirkland has been ruled out until the end of the season and Martyn is seen as the ideal deputy, although the keeper may be reluctant to commit himself to joining England's squad for Portugal 2004. Moyes added: "Nigel is old enough and experienced enough to decide for himself but it would be hard for him to go and be third choice keeper." Moyes is confident his side can find the goals to secure victory tomorrow against a Middlesbrough team with an impressive defensive record. He said: "They have always been a strong side defensively. They seem to have gained a lot of confidence from winning the Carling Cup and, within that, they have become better balanced attacking-wise. "But we are the home side and we will be doing what we are good at - putting the opposition under pressure. "We have started to get goals more regularly. Back in January, we were struggling to turn our performances into goals but now we are finding the net more often." Meanwhile, Paul Gerrard's Everton career ended last night after eight years when he completed a deadline day move to Nottingham Forest.

Everton 1, Middlesbrough 1 (D,Post)
Mar 29 2004 By Andy Hunter at Goodison Park, Daily Post
THERE was a moment midway through the first half of this instantly forgettable encounter which neatly encapsulated Everton's predicament this season. Picking up the ball inside the Middlesbrough half, Wayne Rooney ran forward and then cut inside, and waited for support from his team-mates. And waited. After throwing his arms into the air in bemusement at the lack of backup, the youngster turned and ran at the Boro defence before piercing a shot which flew just wide of goal. it's not the first time and probably won't be the last that Rooney has felt compelled to share his frustration with his colleagues, but it unwittingly gave rise to an issue David Moyes has been all too aware of during this campaign. He might be the brightest young talent in English football today, but poor Wayne can't do it all by himself. Everton's mini-revival of December coincided with three goals in four games from the 18-year-old, and the current unbeaten run has been built on Rooney's return to form with four goals in as many games from the youngster. And while he failed to extend that goalscoring run on Saturday, Rooney was once again the game's standout performer and provided the greatest threat for the home side on an afternoon where intelligence and spark was in disappointingly short supply elsewhere. Much has been made recently of Rooney enjoying himself more playing alongside the towering presence of Duncan Ferguson. But with the big Scot crying off on Saturday with a groin strain, Rooney was reunited with Tomasz Radzinski in a 'little and littler' forward line-up and still managed to deliver. Good players are good no matter who they line up with. Yet too often Rooney's quality has masked the shortcomings of a team which has underachieved given the standards they set themselves last season. And when the youngster has suffered from inevitable growing pains, so the team has seemingly suffered with him. The value of his contribution will no doubt be highlighted in the coming weeks with his lateseason resurgence now checked by a two-game suspension following a 10th booking of the season picked up at Leicester. Of course, such wayward discipline will become less of a problem as he matures, but short-term his presence will be missed by an Everton side earning the points but still not performing to the level expected by their manager. Moyes insisted before the game that he believed Everton remain a bigger club than Middlesbrough, despite the Teesiders celebrating Carling Cup success this campaign and a first-ever place in Europe. "They've done well, but we should be finishing above them every season," was the tone of his message. And he's right. If a club like Middlesbrough can turn themselves into a trophy-winning outfit, then what is stopping Everton from engendering the same transformation? Alas, we all know the answer to that one. With Moyes's short-term target in mind, victory on Saturday would have taken Everton to within a point of Steve McClaren's side in the Premiership table. And when the home side went ahead on 78 minutes after the one quality passing move of the game, a narrowing of the gap between the sides seemed likely. A loose ball by Gaizka Mendieta was intercepted by Joseph Yobo inside his own half and the Nigerian played a crossfield ball to Kevin Kilbane. The winger's perfectly-weighted pass was cushioned into the path of Tomasz Radzinski, who attacked the space invited to him by the retreating Chris Riggott before firing in at Mark Schwarzer's near post. It should have sealed a third consecutive home victory for Everton. It didn't because of the re-emergence of two of Moyes's greatest bugbears - the concession of a late goal and the rank ineptitude of referee Steve Bennett. With less than 10 minutes remaining, a dubious free-kick was awarded against Steve Watson for a foul on Bolo Zenden. Bennett then called the defender over and motioned to book him, but instead gave him just a ticking off and allowed Middlesbrough to take the set-piece quickly with Watson out of position. The cross was then headed behind by David Unsworth, who received a shove in the back which was missed by the referee.
From the resultant corner delivered by Zenden, a brief game of pinball in the Everton box ended with the otherwise impressive Yobo hammering his attempted clearance against Job's knee and into the net. It wasn't quite as late as the injury-time levellers which have denied Everton victories at Southampton and Leicester City in recent weeks, but it cost Moyes's side a win which would have probably been deserved and put to bed any lingering fears of relegation. Moyes refuses to contemplate that possibility, but the sooner Everton make themselves safe the better it will be for weary supporters with nerves frayed from one too many end-of-season relegation scraps.
They might want it done in a style a tad more entertaining than on Saturday, however.
Ferguson's absence gave Alan Stubbs the opportunity to skipper the side on his 400th senior appearance in club football. However, a groin injury forced the defender off at half-time, and he handed the captain's armband on to substitute David Unsworth - who was making his 300th league appearance for Everton. The game had been preceded by an immaculately observed minute's silence for Everton supporter Bernard Murphy, who lost his life before the game at Leicester game last week and was the subject of a poignant full-page obituary inside the matchday programme. Given the emotion of the occasion, the home side were understandably slow to get into their rhythm and a long ball over the top from Franck Queudrue in the opening minutes played Job in behind the Everton back line with Nigel Martyn producing a sharp parry at his near post. Middlesbrough then imposed an element of control on the game, but for all their undoubted class and decent possession, they lacked a cutting edge and it allowed Everton's midfield to play themselves back into the game. A mazy run by Thomas Gravesen was ended by a foul - despite the blundering Bennett refusing to allow a clear advantage which could have been played - and from Gary Naysmith's free-kick, Stubbs saw his far-post header beaten out by Schwarzer.
With no Ferguson to aim for, Everton were forced to modify their gameplan and once they began to play to their strikers' strengths and keep the ball on the floor, their effectiveness increased.
Moments before the break, neat interplay between Radzinski, Watson and Gravesen provided Rooney with a chance to shoot which the otherwise dreadful Danny Mills deflected wide with a last-ditch challenge, and it appeared Everton were primed to step up a gear in the second half. It didn't materialise. With Middlesbrough clearly having used up their entertaining game quota for this season with last week's 5-3 win over Birmingham, stale-mate ensued with a dominant Everton failing to put the visitors' defence under any concerted pressure. Things became so tedious that Middlesbrough substitute Doriva had only been on the pitch six minutes when he decided he'd had enough and trudged back off again. Groin injury? A likely story. Alessandro Pistone provided the wrong kind of excitement for Moyes on the 67th minute, when his mindless backpass was intercepted by Job, with the Italian defender grateful for the intervention of Martyn who blocked the Middlesbrough striker's goal-bound attempt. At the other end, Yobo came close with a header which flashed narrowly wide before the late excitement meant Everton's best run of league results in 14 months was achieved with one point rather than three. Now they must extend that run without their talisman.
EVERTON (4-4-2): Martyn; Pistone, Stubbs (Unsworth 46), Yobo, Naysmith; Watson (Jeffers 85), Gravesen, Linderoth, Kilbane; Radzinski, Rooney. Subs: Wright, Nyarko, McFadden.
MIDDLESBROUGH (4-4-2): Schwarzer; Mills (Nemeth 79), Riggott, Southgate, Queudrue; Mendieta, Boateng, Juninho, Zenden; Maccarone (Doriva 58 (Parnaby 64)), Job. Subs: Jones, Ricketts. BOOKINGS: Boateng and Zenden (fouls).
REFEREE: Steve Bennett.
ATT: 38,210.
NEXT GAME: Newcastle v Everton, Premiership, Saturday April 3, 3pm.

Time for pretty football's gone
By Russell Sloane Everton Supporter, Daily Post
Mar 29 2004
ANOTHER week, another late goal conceded - I feel I should be more upset but perhaps I'm just becoming immune to them now.It's deeply frustrating knowing had the referee blown 10 minutes earlier at all our games this season, we would probably now be challenging for a European place.But that fact alone should be enough to silence some of the doom-merchants at Goodison.Okay, so we're not exactly playing the prettiest football at the moment, but then the time for playing pretty football ended around the time the Christ-mas lights came down.Everton are in a scrap and as such have to stick to the basics - don't let any goals in and hopefully nick one at the other end.That sort of approach is never going to win us any prizes for style but in a year when there are still no absolute dead-certs for the drop in April, we cannot afford to take any chances.I thought on Saturday we were unlucky. Middlesbrough were as billed - impressive on paper, rubbish on the pitch.We weren't that much better but at least we kept on going for the win and when Radz stuck that late goal away, I thought that would be enough for us.Of course, fat chance. They pin-balled an equal-iser to leave us still grasping for safety.Please let us reach that 40-point mark sooner rather than later.I must make mention of the tribute held for Bernard Murphy before the game.The minute's silence was impeccably observed by both sides and I must say I thought the club's decision to bring Bernard's brother and son down to the touch-line alongside David Moyes was a wonderful gesture.

Awful, horrid... this deserved all the abuse it got
By Len Capeling, Daily Post
Mar 29 2004
ShareTHAT was horrible. Really horrible," wailed the fan on the phone-in, his voice unsteady, his head still reeling from the awfulness of it all.For once, nothing needed to be tacked on to the blunt assessment. Except, possibly, the sound of a cat being kicked. Gently, of course.As an end-of-the season encounter, this match might just have been forgiven and forgotten.But as a game where Everton needed to further affirm their topflight status and mediocre Middlesbrough were required to push on to their best-ever Premiership finish, it fully deserved all the abuse it got.Truly, these are afternoons when you lose the will to go on. When the alternative of feeding your fingers into the mincer sounds positively attractive.David Moyes knows the feeling only to well, which is probably why he didn't make any great claims for 94 minutes that numbed and numbed again.Only the lobster-red Steve McClaren clung on to the illusion that his side's performance showed they wanted something more from the season after winning the Carling Cup.You've got to admire his cheek. Not only does this man fancy his chances of succeeding Sven, he also believes that bog-standard Boro are the coming team.Much money has been lavished on Middlesbrough by Steve Gibson - the kind of chairman Everton would love to own.But what has it got him apart from a tin-pot trophy? On this viewing, very little. Gareth Southgate is a class act and late-replacement Chris Riggott - once assiduously courted by Liverpool - did enough to suggest he's worth a regular place at centre-back.Unfortunately, all around them were bit-part players - Gaizka Mendieta, Juninho, Boudewijn Zenden - who initially showed up well only to run out of interest.As for Massimo Maccarone - former Italian whizkid - could this be his last season of listlessness on Tees-side?Boro bloomed to begin with, thanks to the acres of space Everton afforded them in central midfield, where Thomas Gravesen and Tobias Linderoth did not prosper.Moyes is always demanding more from this pair, particularly from the Dane, but this was one of those days when the Gravesen twin swapped one good pass for another that immediately gave away possession.No wonder he has as many detractors as firm fans.Back at the trough of despond, it was getting no better.Shut your eyes and you could read the pattern of play by crowd reaction alone. Pass, pass, groan, pass, groan, pass, pass, pass, groan, pass, groan, groan. And so it went on.The wailing abated when Everton's man-of-the-match Joseph Yobo robbed the dawdling Mendieta, pass-ing to Kevin Kilbane who cleverly steered it on into Tomasz Radzinski's surging run.A powerful finish to beat Mark Schwarzer on his near post and dancing in the stands - and the streets - as Everton dragged what appeared to be a valuable victory from a previously dismal day.But wait. Anxious glances at the scoreboard timepiece only served to increase the unease among the fretting. Too many minutes to go. An unlucky 13 of them to be precise. So a few knees continued to knock.Boro deserved nothing. But unhappily got it a mere six minutes later when an attempted clearance by Yobo ricocheted into the net off Joseph-Desire Job, pretty much his first serious contribution of the match.Steve Bennett, one of David Moyes's all-time favourite referees, contributed to the anguish by allowing a rolling ball to be played while deep in conversation with a couple of other players.Still, with so many participants having a bad time of it, Gordon probably didn't want to be left out. And that was that.The crowd chanted Roooneey! Roooneey! Roooneey! but for once the England star couldn't oblige, not least because of a painful rake down his lower back and a shuddering challenge that left his limping on an injured ankle.He still looked the likeliest hero, fizzing a couple of ferocious efforts just wide.But with Yobo also placing a close-range header inches away from the goal, and Alan Stubbs - an injury victim himself - having another scraped off the line, this was one game that got away.Even for the caller to Radio Merseyside, and the others who followed him.

Everton fans stand in silence to honour hoarding death man
Daily Post
Mar 29 2004
EVERTON manager David Moyes led a minute silence at Goodison Park before his team's clash with Middlesbrough on Saturday in memory of a fan who was killed in a freak accident last week.
More than 30,000 fans stood in silence to honour Bernard Murphy ahead of the Premiership game. The 40-year-old father, from Huyton, was hit on the head by a wooden hoarding blown free by high winds as he approached Leicester City's Walkers stadium for the match last weekend.Messages of condolence flooded in from all over Europe last week, including a fax from the president of Barcelona FC.Saturday gave the Goodison faithful the chance to remember one of their own, who also coached an under-10s team in Huyton.As a season ticket holder, he had not missed a match in three seasons.

Southgate praise for injury-hit Rooney
By Ian Doyle Daily Post Staff
Mar 29 2004
GARETH SOUTHGATE has hailed the "out-standing talent" of Wayne Rooney after the youngster was given the all clear to join the England squad yesterday.Rooney will meet up with the rest of Sven-Goran Eriksson's party today ahead of Wednesday's friendly in Sweden.But the 18-year-old is still a doubt for the Stockholm game after sustaining knee and ankle injuries during Everton's 1-1 home draw with Middlesbrough at the weekend.Rooney is already ruled out of Everton's next two games through suspension after accruing 10 book-ings this season with his yellow card at Leicester City last weekend."It probably suits me if he goes with England and gets a game because he is out of the next two for us," admitted Everton manager David Moyes."He is a tough boy and he will want to play with England."Middlesbrough defender Southgate, meanwhile, has praised Rooney following a man-of-the-match performance by the striker on Saturday.Southgate, who will join up with Rooney in the England squad this week, admitted he had to be at his best to combat the 18-year-old's talents."I know exactly what Wayne is about and what he can do," said Southgate. "He is an outstanding talent, and he looked dangerous at times. We knew we had to be at our best to deal with him."He is strong, he is prepared to shoot from anywhere and he is not afraid to miss."The thing that has impressed me the most when he has been playing with England is his movement for someone at his age. He takes up positions that make defenders think whether they really want to go in and mark him. He is an outstanding talent."He has the fearlessness of youth. They have protected him well at Everton."Southgate also discovered first hand the competitiveness of the youngster when he required lengthy treatment after a collision with Rooney early during the game on Saturday."He caught me early on with an old boxing trick, I think!" joked Southgate. "But it was a pure accident, he caught me with a finger in the eye. I don't expect any favours from him!"He added: "You try to help all the youngsters in the England squad. He is a very quiet lad, but he knows a few other players better than myself. And I'm not sure he wants to get stuck with a grandad type figure like me!"Meanwhile, Alan Stubbs is facing a race against time to be fit for Everton's trip to Newcastle United on Saturday after being forced at half-time against Middlesbrough with a recurrence of his groin injury.The centre-back has been troubled by the complaint for some time now and has been instructed to rest by the club's medical staff.

Referee blamed for late leveller
By Ian Doyle Daily Post Staff
Mar 29 2004
DAVID MOYES voiced his dismay at referee Steve Bennett after Everton were held to a home draw by Middlesbrough on Saturday.The Everton manager was upset with the officiating of the referee during the build-up to Joseph-Desire Job's 82nd-minute equaliser for the visitors.Explained Moyes: "The referee pulls Steve Watson over and talks to him regarding an incident and he actually goes to put his hand in his pocket, which was suggesting that he was going to book him, but then allowed Middlesbrough to take the free-kick quickly."That meant that Steve Watson was out of position when the free-kick was taken and that led to the corner, which in turn led to their goal."So, I don't think the referee was fair to us then, as it gave them an advantage."Moyes was otherwise happy with Everton's peformance, which means they have extended their unbeaten run to five games - their best run of form in 14 months."We played better than we have done lately, especially in the first half," said Moyes. "We played some really good football and created some good chances."The run we're on is good at the moment, but I think it should be five wins, not five unbeaten, but it shows signs that we're moving in the right direction. I am disappointed we did not get the three points because we did a lot of good things today."He added: "I don't think we are in danger, but I haven't set any points target between now and the end of the season."An injury to Duncan Ferguson meant Moyes was forced to select Tomasz Radzinski with Wayne Rooney up front for the first time since the 3-0 defeat at Birmingham last month.And Moyes said: "We have had success with the partnership in the past, but earlier this season it wasn't working. I think both players weren't up to standard back then, Wayne wasn't ready and Tomasz wasn't fully fit."

Everton 1, Middlesbrough 1 (Echo)
Mar 29 2004 By Scott McLeod, Liverpool Echo
JEFF WINTER was the after-dinner speaker at the ECHO's Sports Personality of the Year award in February. His 45 minute speech was undeniably entertaining. But it was also unnerving. Not only did his mere presence confirm that refs have become footballing celebrities in their own right, he also inadvertently managed to affirm what every football fan has long suspected - refereeing impartiality can never be guaranteed. His series of jokes at the expense of Gordon Strachan and an anecdote about using the reaction of the Kop to decide if he should give a penalty against Liverpool were just some of the stand out moments. All very funny, but not really what you want to hear from a referee. And that brings me to Saturday's game. There is quite a lot of history between Steve Bennett, David Moyes and Everton. The Orpington official was conned into a penalty by the most theatrical of dives from Marian Pahars at Southampton last season. That decision cost the side a point. And when he officiated over an Everton game again a few months later, this time at West Brom, he awarded another controversial penalty and banished the Goodison chief from the touch-line for his remonstrations for the use of 'foul and abusive language'. That is almost 12 months ago. But Saturday proved that absence has not made the heart grow fonder. And Bennett was once again the focus during a series of key decisions which ultimately cost the home side two points. Ever wondered why the Premiership never bothers showing extended high-lights of Everton's games? If you have, the answer was provided by this match. For 78 minutes, there were simply no highlights, bar the few moments of magic when Wayne Rooney took possession of the ball. The crowd couldn't even be bothered to hot things up by providing a worthwhile atmosphere. But then came the glittering gem of quality which illuminated proceedings. For the fourth consecutive match, the Blues took the lead with less than 15 minutes remaining. Joseph Yobo intercepted a poor ball from Gaizka Mendieta and launched a 40 yard pass to pick out Kevin Kilbane on the left of midfield. That pass was matched by the Irish-man's perfectly-weighted first time volley which picked out the run of Tomasz Radzinski. Before Chris Riggott could close him down, the 30-year-old had slotted a left foot shot inside the near post. An exquisitely crafted goal which more than deserved to prove the winner in what was otherwise a horror show of a game. But Radzinski was denied that honour by Bennett's indecision and one of the clumsiest goals you are ever likely to see. For much of the contest, the ref had managed to avoid controversy. At Southampton and Leicester, the late blows were largely self-inflicted, but Saturday was different. With eight minutes remaining, Steve Watson committed a foul in midfield and was called over by Bennett for a talking to, just as Boro took a quick free-kick. As a result, the midfielder was not in position to support Alessandro Pistone as the visitors surged down the left. And Bennett was too far from the action to spot the blatant push on David Unsworth as the cross came in from the flank. Unsworth, making his 300th league appearance for the Blues after replacing Alan Stubbs at half-time, was stumbling over as he put the ball behind. What followed was calamitous. Still infuriated by what had preceded the corner, the Blues committed the one offence the manager had warned them against ahead of this game - they allowed their concentration to slip.
The defending was sloppy, they struggled to clear, and the otherwise faultless Joseph Yobo hacked at the ball, which deflected off Joseph Desire-Job and into the net. Once again, a draw was snatched from the jaws of victory, only this time it was the ref doing the snatching. There is no point dwelling on what might have been. But the threat of relegation has yet to be totally eradicated. The trip to Newcastle next week will provide the sternest test yet for the Blues' unbeaten run, which is now the best since January 2003. The biggest concern is how the side will cope without the magnificent Rooney. They proved on Saturday they can cope without Duncan Ferguson, whose enforced absence began a week ahead of schedule thanks to a groin injury. But losing Rooney because of suspension for the next two games is a more significant blow. Not even a series of robust challenges from Riggott which left him nursing a back injury and a badly bruised ankle could stop the boy wonder underlining his supreme quality again. The way in which his confidence and form rubs off on everybody around him is reminiscent of Ferguson, circa 1995. Without Rooney and the ageing Ferguson, the pressure on Radzinski will be immense next weekend. He has combined well with Rooney in recent weeks. And, after turning provider for the teenager in the two outings before Saturday, it was good to see him impressing the watching Canadian boss with a memorable strike of his own. But even with Radzinski restored to the starting line-up, the loss of Rooney is huge. Financial constraints over an extended period mean that Everton cannot boast the same depth of quality in the squad as many of their Premiership rivals. Middlesbrough is a much smaller club than Everton. But Steve Gibson's millions meant that Steve McClaren could field a midfield of star names, including Spain's Mendieta, Brazil's Juninho and Holland's Zenden. The Everton midfield worked hard, with Kilbane exemplary down the left, backed up by Gary Naysmith. But there was a reluctance to over-commit because of the threat posed by Boro's array of stars. And that meant the Blues were never able to cut loose as an attacking force. When you have Rooney, however, that gap can be bridged. He is a player who stands head and shoulders above all but the very finest in the division. He made Boro's defence, regarded as one of the best in the division, appear pedestrian, particularly during the opening 45 minutes. Without him at St James' Park the going will be tough.
The silver lining? There will be no Steve Bennett, either.
EVERTON (4-4-2): Martyn; Pistone, Stubbs (Unsworth 46), Yobo, Naysmith; Watson (Jeffers 85), Gravesen, Linderoth, Kilbane; Radzinski, Rooney. Subs: Wright, Nyarko, McFadden.
MIDDLESBROUGH (4-4-2): Schwarzer; Mills (Nemeth 79), Riggott, Southgate, Queudrue; Mendieta, Boateng, Juninho, Zenden; Maccarone (Doriva 58 (Parnaby 64)), Job. Subs: Jones, Ricketts. BOOKINGS: Boateng and Zenden (fouls).
REFEREE: Steve Bennett.

Rooney fit for England squad
Mar 29 2004 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
WAYNE ROONEY was given the green light to join up with the England squad today and is set to play against Sweden on Wednesday night. The 18-year-old reported to Bellefield yesterday for treatment on the back and ankle injuries he sustained at Goodison on Saturday. Head physio Mick Rathbone revealed: "He got a couple of bangs on Saturday which have been causing him some discomfort but hopefully it will settle down in the next few days. "He is going down to London to meet up with the squad." The injuries are not expected to deny Rooney the opportunity of claiming his 11th England cap in Gothenburg. And, contrary to reports, the striker did not injure his hand during his girlfriend's 18th birthday bash at the Devonshire hotel on Saturday night. Meanwhile, David Unsworth has spoken of his pride at making his 300th league appearance for the Blues on Saturday. He said: "I'm very proud and glad I was able to make the appearance at Goodison in front of the home support.
"It has been a frustrating period but I am experienced enough to know that's football. I'd have played on the right wing to get that 300th appearance." Unsworth's run-out came as a result of a groin injury sustained by Alan Stubbs. The 32-year-old had to be withdrawn at half-time because of the problem which makes him a serious doubt for this weekend's trip to Newcastle. With David Weir also out through suspension, manager David Moyes will have only Unsworth and Joseph Yobo available in the heart of defence.
* Steve Simonsen is wanted by Leeds and Leicester. The goalkeeper is out of contract at the end of the season and available on a free transfer.

Roon fury at brawls
Mar 29 2004 By Tony Barrett Echo Reporter
WAYNE Rooney has said he was left disgusted and distraught after his fiancée's 18th birthday party was ruined by a brawl. The Everton and England star watched in horror as the lavish party he had thrown for partner Colleen McCloughlin descended into violence. Rooney's agent Paul Stretford today confirmed there had been a disturbance and said the striker was disgusted by what happened.
He said: "There was some sort of disturbance but we do not know who was involved or what it was about. "But Wayne is distraught that someone could do such a thing and ruin Colleen's party like this." Fellow Blues stars Duncan Ferguson and Franny Jeffers had just left the lavish function at the Devonshire House Hotel in Edge Lane when the trouble flared. It is believed the brawl began when the bar closed at 2am and partygoers were asked to move on to the hotel bar. A fight broke out and hotel staff moved quickly to move Wayne and Colleen into the kitchens to safety. Colleen was seen leaving the hotel in tears shortly after the disturbance in the early hours of Sunday. Just hours earlier, she had been enjoying her birthday with family and friends. But the free booze night ended abruptly when partygoers, including many of Rooney's Everton teammates, saw a minor argument turn into a fight. Earlier, Rooney surprised guests by singing the Travis hit Why Does It Always Rain On Me on the karaoke. He had decorated the room with photographs of Colleen and blue-and-white balloons. Colleen was presented with a diamond ring and bracelet worth £4,000 by Wayne.
Mr Stretford denied allegations that Rooney picked up a hand injury during the scuffle. He added: "There is no truth whatsoever in stories suggesting Wayne will report for England duty nursing a hand injury."

Revitalised Yobo helps ease late heartache
Mar 29 2004 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
WISHING your life away is usually only the preserve of the severely depressed. And Goodison regulars don't fall into that category just yet. But a legion of exasperated Evertonians can be forgiven for wishing that football matches this season ended after 80 minutes. That's quite a few hours knocked off the lifespan of the long-suffering Blue. Less time for pre-match drinkies. Less time for extolling the virtues of the bright-est young talent in British football. And less time for enjoying video re-runs of the 1985 European semi-final. But the extra seven points the Blues would have boasted would have seen them chasing Charlton in the Champions League pack. As late goals go, Middlesbrough's pinball equaliser on Saturday was hardly last gasp. But coming just five minutes after expectations had been raised through the roof by another Tomasz Radzinski rocket it was enough to leave Goodison flatter than week-old lager. But if the usual worries troubled Blue brows on Saturday night - an anonymous central midfield and a right-wing showing all the potency of the Tory party - there was a reassuringly strong spine to savour. Wayne Rooney is showing more and more maturity with every passing week. The wonderful skill and talent which means he must always remain 'barley' when transfers are talked about, are now being allied to tactical awareness, intelligence and responsibility. Which is just as well. Because he's still having to do far too much on his own. The moment midway through the first-half was telling. Cutting in dangerously from the left, he halted at the lack of options in front of him, threw his arms wide in frustration, put his head down and beat another couple of players and finally got a shot away which travelled only a foot or so wide. But if Rooney was an influential fulcrum in the final third of the pitch, at the opposite end Joseph Yobo was just as impressive. Last season the young Nigerian's displays were such that newspaper readers could have been forgiven for thinking he'd gone down the Marvelous Marvin Hagler route, and changed his name by deed poll to Imperious Joseph Yobo. His form dipped a little after Christmas, but since his return from African Nations Cup duty there is evidence his zest is returning. Yobo was, well, imperious again, although a central defensive partnership of Glenn Keeley and Geoff Nulty - as they are now in middle age - might have handled a strikeforce containing that rarest of beings, an impotent Italian, and the lumbering Joseph-Desire Job. Yobo is a rarity at Goodison. A young and talented player, secured to a lengthy contract. If he and Rooney provide the spine, Nigel Martyn the ageing but still reliable vital organ and Gravesen the irregular heartbeat, there is still a lot of flesh and blood required. With 24 points still to play for - and 18 of them eminently gettable - David Moyes' spending power could still be boosted by his current squad's performances. But first Everton must stop wishing their life away - and shore up the haemorrhage of late goals.

I hope Rooney plays
Mar 29 2004 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES hopes Wayne Rooney recovers from injury in time to earn his 11th England cap in Sweden on Wednesday. The Everton striker was left limping by a heavy challenge from Chris Riggott on Saturday, after picking up a back injury earlier in the game. But after reporting to Bellefield for treatment yesterday, he joined up with the England squad today. Suspended for Everton's next two matches against Newcastle and Tottenham, Moyes explained: "Wayne's a tough boy as you well know and wouldn't normally come off for treatment. "But it probably suits me if he did play for England because that way he gets a game while he's suspended for us." The Rooney-Radzinski partnership looked lively against Middlesbrough and Moyes added: "We've looked at the Radzinski-Rooney partnership before, but when we tried it earlier in the season both probably weren't up to standard. "On Saturday we had no option. Duncan had a groin injury and Kevin Campbell injured his back in training on Thursday, so we put them out together and they Moyes also had words of praise for defender Joseph Yobo and midfielder Kevin Kilbane. "Yobo played well, especially in the second half when we needed him with Stubbsy (Alan Stubbs) coming off," he added.
"His confidence is growing, but I thought Kevin Kilbane was terrific. "Every time he got it he went past (Danny) Mills and I thought he was exceptional throughout the game." did well."

Blowing whistle on referee's role
Mar 29 2004 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
STEVE WATSON believes Everton's Premiership safety would already be assured, had they avoided the kind of misfortune which cost them victory against Middlesbrough. The midfielder was angered by a controversial decision from referee Steve Bennett in the build-up to Boro's 82nd-minute equaliser at Goodison on Saturday. He said: "I hate people whingeing on about referees, and I don't want to be one of them. "But I will just say what happened and people can make their own decision. I made a tackle (on Boudewijn Zenden) which I thought was fair because I got my foot through the ball. "It was a hard tackle and Zenden fell over. The referee called me over and as I was going it looked like he was going to book me because he had his hand in his pocket. "As we were talking he allowed them to take the free-kick, which is unbelievable because it was taken down my side. I am not sure they are allowed to take it if the referee is talking to me. "That led to a corner and the corner led to a goal. "It wasn't just me, Nigel (Martyn) was straight out to ask the ref why and I questioned him on the way back to the centre circle from the goal. He didn't really give us anything conclusive. "It may be a small thing and these are things that maybe didn't go against us last year. We have virtually given away six points in the last five minutes of games recently. "We are five games unbeaten but we could have been all but safe by now. "I definitely wouldn't have been caught out for the ball to go down the right flank if the ref hadn't called me over. I know that. "It is frustrating, very frustrat-ing. Luck has gone against us again but we are getting points even though things aren't going for us. "We were at home and we needed to impose ourselves, and without it being a classic I thought we did well enough to have won the game. "Hopefully, we can get a couple of wins on the board as soon as possible, relax a little bit and start playing a bit more fluent football."

Rooney is likely to be fit for Sweden game
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Mar 30 2004
WAYNE ROONEY is in line to win his 11th England cap against Sweden after declaring himself fit to train with his international team-mates yesterday. The Everton striker, was a doubt to even travel to Gothenburg after suffering ankle and back injuries in the Goodison draw with Middlesbrough.
But his appearance at England's first training session at Sopwell House yesterday has increased his chances of facing the Swedes. Rooney received intensive treatment at Bellefield on Sunday to help him take part in the friendly, which will mark his last appearance before sitting out a two-match suspension. The 18-year-old misses Everton's games against Newcastle and Tottenham after collecting 10 book-ings this season. And manager David Moyes admitted: "It suits me if he did play for England because that way he gets a game while he's suspended for us." Moyes's main injury concern now rests with Alan Stubbs, who is struggling to overcome a groin strain ahead of Saturday's trip to the north east. With David Weir suspended Everton could have only two recognised centre-halves fit for New-castle - David Unsworth and Joseph Yobo, who continued his fine form against Middlesbrough. "Joseph played very well, especially in the second half when we needed him with Alan Stubbs coming off," said Moyes. "His confidence is growing, but I thought that Kevin Kilbane was terrific. "Every time he got the ball he went past Danny Mills and I thought he was exceptional throughout the game." Elsewhere at yesterday's training camp, Shaun Wright-Phillips pledged to offer Sven-Goran Eriksson "something different" as he prepares to follow in the footsteps of his father. The Manchester City man has been rewarded for his livewire displays in the Barclaycard Premiership this season with his first national team call-up, for Wednesday's Euro 2004 warm-up friendly against Sweden. For Wright-Phillips, that will mean open another chapter in a career frequently compared to that of his dad - Arsenal legend Ian Wright. He said: "I'd like to think I can offer a different option to other players. "Running with the ball is one of the strong points of my game and, if I am involved, I will do that."

More quality is the only thing that can move club forward
By Mark Lawrenson, Daily Post
Mar 30 2004
IT IS the time of the season when everyone at Everton will be looking to get their thinking caps on about how to take the club forward. With eight games to go, plenty of attention will be focused on where they can improve. Certainly David Moyes and Alan Irvine will have the firmest ideas about that, because they know what they have at the club and what they want - more quality. This season was always going to be difficult because the club did not bring players in during the summer who were good enough to take it forward. The likes of James McFadden, Nigel Martyn and Kevin Kilbane are good professionals but will not provide the key to future develop-ment that someone with real creative ability would have done. The problem with that is that David Moyes will need some help if he is to get someone like that to Goodison Park, and by help, quite simply I mean money.
If he is forced to shop in the bargain bin again or look for players on Bosman frees, then it is a lottery just who you get. If four players come in that way, one might be excellent, one might be okay and two could be not good enough. The question of where that money will come from is a thorny issue around Everton at the moment. Looking into the near future at Everton, they have had some good results of late and Wayne Rooney is playing well again. That means it is a blow that he will be out for the next two match-es, while Duncan Ferguson will be out for a bit longer than that. While everyone is used to Duncan being out for a variety of reasons, Rooney's loss will be felt more strongly, but it is an opportunity for one of the other strikers at the club. The likes of Francis Jeffers and Kevin Campbell must see the game against Newcastle as their opportunity to play well and stake their claim for the position.

Young blood needed
Post Soapbox, Icliverpool & Daily Post
Mar 30 2004
ShareYoung blood
EVERTON have got eight games to go and still no sign of blooding any up-and-coming young talent.
We need to replace the likes of Duncan Ferguson, Kevin Campbell, Steve Watson, David Weir, Alan Stubbs and Tobias Linderoth. I am hoping that David Moyes can secure the services of at least two quality midfielders.
F Guy (via e-mail)
Plan for Nigel
WHAT has Nigel Martyn got to do to get into the England squad? It's an insult to him that somebody in poor form - Ian Walker - gets chosen ahead of him.
Si Murray, Formby
Ferguson folly
I WOULD not have Ferguson in my team, let alone as captain. We missed the boat when Joe Royle asked for him on loan at Ipswich. Our present standard of football is dire, all effort and no finesse.
Trev Lynes (via e-mail)
Changing room
IS IT me or are we slowly seeing a clean out of the players Moysie doesn't want/need? Another 12 months and all the deadwood will be gone and Moysie can have a team/squad he has put together.
Ed Smyth (via e-mail)
Safety route
TYPICAL. Just as it looked like we had a late winner, up pop Boro with a dodgy equaliser. At least we're not losing though and should be well safe from the drop zone in a few weeks.
Simon Holden, Bootle
No depth
APART from Messrs Yobo, Rooney, Kilbane and Martyn, the rest of the Everton squad are inadequate for our needs with midfield particularly mediocre.
David Fairclough, Chorley

Everton game is pivotal in European quest - Robson
By David Prior Daily Post Staff
Mar 30 2004
SIR BOBBY ROBSON has pinpointed victory over Everton in Saturday's Premiership game at St James' Park as essential if Newcastle are to pip Liverpool to the final Champions League spot.
Robson, believes the key to getting that lucrative fourth spot lies in their form at St James' Park - with David Moyes' men, unbeaten in five games, next up on Saturday. Last season it took two goals in the last four minutes from Alan Shearer and Craig Bellamy to overcome the Goodison club's challenge after Kevin Campbell had given the visitors a first-half lead. If Bellamy recovers from a tight hamstring that has forced his withdrawal from the Wales squad this week, the same frontline pair will be hoping to end Everton's decent run - as well as keeping up the pressure on their rivals across Stanley Park. Robson admitted: "We need to win our home matches or else we have no chance of that spot. "We have had a terrific run at St James' with winning results and Everton is another game we can win. "I want both the UEFA Cup and a place in the Champions League.
"We have just got to be strong enough to handle what Europe asks you to handle then be able to come back home and get Premiership points." The veteran manager also reckons Lee Bowyer, who was almost signed by Gerard Houllier in 2002 before the move collapsed, will become a major player for Newcastle. The former Leeds midfielder has struggled to find his best form since arriving on a free transfer from West Ham last summer. Bowyer again under-achieved on Sunday in the 1-0 defeat by Bolton at the Reebok Stadium. Robson, though, is convinced the 27-year-old is struggling because of injury setbacks - and a lack of match practice. "Lee and I have had several chats," said the Newcastle manager. "He is suffering from not playing regularly. "That in turn means he has not been able to build up a Premiership match tempo. "When he is not playing as well as you know he can do, the tendency is to leave him out. "But by leaving him out it doesn't help him with his general fitness. It also doesn't help when you trying to get him back into the player we know he can be.
"At the moment he hasn't shown that, in all honesty, and he knows that himself. "He had ankle and hip injuries which have been attended too and are fine. He hasn't hit form for us but I have no doubt he can deliver."

Blues hopes are dashed in defeat
Academy Football With Chris Wright, Daily Post
Mar 30 2004
EVERTON under-19s' hopes of finishing second in the FA Premier Academy League group A table were dashed with a 1-0 defeat to Sheffield United at Netherton on Saturday. With neighbours Liverpool winning their chances of being runners-up to champions Manchester City have gone. Neil Dewsnip's side are now in fifth place in the table, four points behind second-placed Liverpool, but they only have one more match to play, this Saturday at Nottingham Forest. Sheffield scored the only goal of the match on 65 minutes. Dewsnip was disappointed with the match but, with nine of the players due to leave Everton when their scholarships end in the summer, it is a turbulent time for them. He said: "The game was poor, we were poor and they were poor. It was just an end-of-season game really. It is difficult because there were nine of the starting XI who will not be at the club next year. "It is really a tough time for them. They played absolutely magnificently against Manchester United to win 3-1 last Monday, unfortunately we saw the other side on Saturday."
But at least the Everton coach found solace in the performance of schoolboy striker Victor Anichebe, who performed well after coming on as a substitute. Dewsnip said: "I was very pleased with the contribution of Victor Anichebe, one of our under-16s players. That would be a plus from the match. He got the last half an hour and that was good experience for him." Everton under-17s were having a wellearned rest at the weekend after sealing the FA Premier Academy Leagur Group A title last week. Gary Ablett's side were due to play their Academy League play-off quarterfinal with Leicester City this Saturday but all of the last eight ties have now been put back to April 17 due to FA Youth Cup commitments.
EVERTON UNDER-19s: Lake; Flood, Gerrard (Garside 10), Potter, Fox; Brown, Booth, B Moogan, Martland; Lynch (O'Donnell 65), Pascucci (Phelan 65). Subs: Pearson, Joseph Jones.

VIP treatment as Blues take on Bolton
Mar 30 2004 Jblue, Liverpool Echo
EVER wanted to rub shoulders with the Everton stars on match day? Well now you can, thanks to our superb competition. The prize is guaranteed to make your Blue friends green with envy. The lucky winner will receive the full VIP treatment in a unique day out at Goodison Park. As well as two tickets to see Everton's final Premiership home game of the season against Bolton Wanderers on May 8, there will be the chance to meet the players and grab some treasured autographs. And it does not stop there. The winning JBlue member and a parent will be given a fascinating behind-the-scenes tour of the famous stadium, plus a meal before kick-off. To be in with a chance of winning this fantastic prize, just answer the following question: For which country does Blues defender Joseph Yobo play international football? Send your answer to JBlue Competition, James Fell, ECHO Marketing, PO Box 48, Old Hall St, Liverpool L69 3EB. The deadline for entries is April 9.
Don't forget to include your JBlue membership number, plus your name, daytime telephone number and two JBlue/ECHO competition tokens.
* FIFTY lucky JBlue members have been selected for a trip of a lifetime to Everton's Bellefield training ground. After watching the players and manager David Moyes take part in a training session, the youngsters will have the unique opportunity to meet their heroes and collect autographs. Look out for a report on their visit coming soon in the ECHO.

Keep away from Thomas, warns Moyes
Mar 30 2004 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES has issued a firm 'hands off' warning to clubs coveting midfielder Thomas Gravesen.
Hamburg coach Ralf Zumdick was at Goodison for Everton's 1-1 draw with Middlesbrough on Saturday. Reports in the German media have strongly linked the Danish international with a return to his old Bundesliga side in the summer. Gravesen has just a year left on his Goodison contract and remains a popular figure with Hamburg fans, but the Everton manager does not intend to let him go, reiterating this morning: "Thomas Gravesen is going nowhere." The 28-year-old was signed for £2.5m from Hamburg in 2000 and has played 127 games in his Blues career. He spent three years with the Bundesliga outfit prior to his arrival on Merseyside and is believed to be on Klaus Toppmoller's wanted list. There has been no formal approach to Everton from the German outfit.
Meanwhile, Duncan Ferguson will be fit to return to the Everton starting line-up for the clash with Tottenham on April 9. The 32-year-old striker was set to continue as skipper in last weekend's game with Middlesbrough but was forced out by injury. But head physio Mick Rathbone said: "Duncan over-stretched in training on Thursday and he's sustained what looks like a relatively minor groin strain. "He had a fitness test on Saturday morning and he wasn't quite right, so he had to miss the game against Middlesbrough. "Obviously, he cannot play on Saturday, so our mission now is to get him fit and ready for the game against Spurs on Good Friday."
* Everton Independent Blues raised £1,900 in an impromptu whip-round for the family of Bernard Murphy before Saturday's game with Middlesbrough.

Sweden 1 England 0
March 31, 2004
Manchester Evening News
If Sven-Goran Eriksson was hoping a return to his native Sweden would provide some respite from the unflattering headlines of the past week, he was mistaken. New contract or no new contract, Eriksson needs success on the pitch to safeguard his position and England suffered at the hands of Sweden yet again in Gothenburg. Having now failed to beat the Swedes in 11 attempts since 1968, the England coach found no home comforts in the city where he first made his name as a manager.
While a largely second-string England side hit the woodwork twice, a second-half strike by Zlatan Ibrahimovic condemned the visitors to another friendly defeat. Eriksson had insisted just a few hours before this game that "it is not life or death, that is in Portugal" and he is correct in sporting terms.
There were at least some positive signs, albeit among his supporting cast, as Owen Hargreaves impressed on the right and Jermain Defoe was a livewire figure up front. But in the final game before he must pick his provisional 23-man squad for the Euro 2004 finals, it was Sweden who dominated the entire second half and could easily have increased their lead. Then again, this was the first time Eriksson had sent out a side missing David Beckham and Michael Owen, and it was hardly surprising the inspiration of his two leading lights was missed. Indeed, with a whole host of regulars absent, this was very much a shadow side, with at most five first-choice players in the starting line-up. That was hardly surprising in a friendly at this delicate stage of the domestic season and neither was the languid pace of the game. Instead, what was astonishing was to see Olof Mellberg rushing headlong into a foul on - of all people - his Aston Villa team-mate Darius Vassell.
Early change
As a result, Vassell's first international start since facing Sweden at the 2002 World Cup lasted all of 11 minutes before he was replaced suffering from a twisted ankle. David O'Leary's thoughts were not hard to imagine. On went Defoe for his senior debut and if the Tottenham striker lacks anything, it is certainly not confidence. Within two minutes, he had tried his luck from long range and when the ball was turned goalwards at close range by Wayne Rooney, it struck the post and rebounded across the face of goal. Although England were not dominating possession, they were at least creating the best chances at this stage. Indeed, Hargreaves, who was wearing Beckham's number seven shirt, did a passable impersonation of the England captain as he struck a 25-yard free-kick against the crossbar on 26 minutes. Sweden were restricted to rather less successful long-range efforts from Anders Svensson and Anders Andersson. However, Hargreaves, in an industrious display, not only headed narrowly past his own post but also weaved inside at the right end and had a shot tipped around the upright. England still lacked real width, with Alan Thompson failing to find any crossing opportunities. However, the Celtic midfielder caused enough confusion in the Swedish defence to leave Rooney with another opening that was blocked just before the break. The interval was the inevitable cue for further substitutions, with Gareth Southgate and Anthony Gardner replacing the largely effective duo of John Terry and fit-again Jonathan Woodgate. Sweden, meanwhile, made five changes - one of whom, Everton's Tobias Linderoth - promptly passed the ball to Defoe, who charged towards goal, skipped inside and unleashed a drive that was tipped over.
The lively Tottenham striker then volleyed into the side netting from a tight angle, but England were soon behind amid hesitation in their makeshift defence.
Long range
Kim Kallstrom's cross was met by Ibrahimovic, who scooped one of his long legs around the static figure of Jamie Carragher and clipped the ball past David James. Eriksson's response was to introduce Emile Heskey up front, with Joe Cole, Jermaine Jenas and the unfortunate Alan Smith - out on the right flank - coming into the midfield with 30 minutes left. England were, however, restricted to hopeful long-range efforts from Cole, Heskey and Defoe as they laboured in search of an equaliser. Instead, Kallstrom thundered a shot into the side netting, while Christian Wilhelmsson nutmegged Neville with embarrassing ease and was only denied by James' sprawling save.
Kallstrom's volley was also held by James and when Cole was finally handed the chance to equalise in the final minute, the Chelsea midfielder volleyed wide. It was just that sort of night. Eriksson's real test will come this summer and England have always tended to raise their game for competitive fixtures. On this evidence, they will need to.

Ferguson cleared of racial abuse
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Mar 31 2004
DUNCAN FERGUSON has been cleared of racially abusing Luis Boa Morte after a two-month investigation by the FA. But the Everton striker, still faces a lengthy suspension after pleading guilty to charges of violent conduct and improper behaviour following his red card at Leicester. Ferguson will not be charged with racist behaviour after the FA's compliance unit ruled there was insufficient evidence against the 32-year-old. They were forced to act when Fulham striker Boa Morte accused Ferguson of abusing him during the FA Cup draw at Goodison in January. The Portuguese international made his claims in a national newspaper before Fulham lodged a formal complaint a week later. But after an extensive investigation, which included inter-views with Ferguson, Francis Jeffers and several Fulham players, the accusations were last night dismissed. An FA spokesman confirmed: "The FA can announce that it found insufficient evidence to charge Mr Ferguson, following allegations of racial abuse by Fulham player Luis Boa-Morte." The striker, however, could be punished with a five-match suspension for his dismissal at Leicester 12 days ago. Ferguson misses the return to former club Newcastle this Saturday when he serves a one-match ban for his initial sending off by Steve Bennett for two bookable offences. But he faces a further three-match ban for grappling with Steffen Freund after he was dismissed and could also land an extra suspension or a fine for gesturing to Leicester fans as he left the pitch. Ferguson has pleaded guilty to both charges, but has requested a personal hearing with the FA's disciplinary committee to present his case. Everton's head of public relations, Ian Ross, said: "We hope this latest matter with Duncan Ferguson can be cleared up as quickly as possible." David Moyes, meanwhile, has told SV Hamburg to forget about signing Thomas Gravesen this summer. The Germans have again been linked with a move for their former midfielder, who will have only 12 months left on his Goodison contract at the end of this season.

Moogan strike puts Everton into final
By Alan Prole, Daily Post
Mar 31 2004
SOUTHPORT took a good deal of credit despite losing narrowly to Everton in the semi-final of the NatWest Liverpool Senior Cup at Haig Avenue. The difference between the sides was a spectacular goal by Blues skipper Brian Moogan. It came in the 23rd minute when Moogan picked up a loose ball and hammered it past Steve Dickinson from fully 30 yards. Although Everton's youngsters moved the ball around well, they made little impression on the home defence for which Earl Davis was outstanding. Everton were matched by their UniBond League opponents and with a little luck Southport might well have taken them at least to extra-time. Southport had a goal disallowed for offside in the 19th minute when Lee Mulvaney beat Sean Lake with a volley after being set up by Carl Baker. The decision was marginal, but another in the 64th minute was more clear cut when the offside Neil Robinson converted a pass from Kevin Leadbetter. In the closing stages Southport upped the pressure and Lake had to produce good saves - notably from a Baker free-kick - to prevent an equaliser. Everton now have a derby clash with Liverpool in the final of the competition on a date to be arranged.
SOUTHPORT: Dickinson, Jones, Mortimer, Davis, Fitzhenry, Pickford, Baker (Brookfield 79), Price, Mulvaney, Robinson, Leadbetter. Subs: Byrne, Allen, Roscoe, McLaughlin.
EVERTON: Lake, Wright, Fox, Hughes, Gerrard, Moogan, Wynne, Harris, Pascucci (Potter 87), O'Donnell (Vaughan 87), Seargeant. Subs: Flower, Kearney, Anibeche. ATT: 574.

Carter and Moyes at funeral of tragic fan
By Andy Kelly Daily Post Staff
Mar 31 2004
EVERTON'S chairman Sir Philip Carter and manager David Moyes yesterday joined mourners in paying their last respects to Bernard Murphy, the football fan killed in a freak accident on the way to a match. Murphy died when he was struck by a piece of wooden hoarding which was blown by high winds before th match between Everton and Leicester City at the Walkers Stadium on March 20. He had been walking along Leicester's Upperton Road when the tragedy happened. The 40-year-old's funeral took place at St Aloysius church, Huyton, at noon. Moyes read a lesson at the service. Everton chief executive Michael Dunford also attended. Last Saturday, Moyes invited Mr Murphy's brother and son, who are both called John, on to the touchline at Goodison Park as fans stood in a minute's silence in tribute to the dead man. Mr Murphy's son and his father, John, were also given a tour of the club and spent some time in the boardroom where they met senior executives, including Bill Kenwright. Father-of-one Mr Murphy, who worked at a factory in Edge Hill, was a season ticket-holder who had not missed a match in three seasons and also coached a team of under-10s footballers. An inquest has been opened and adjourned.

Panto aimed at lifting the Blues
By Philip Key, Daily Post
Mar 31 2004
EVERTON fans turned out last night in Liverpool for what was billed as the world's first football pantomime, Snow Blue and the Seven Blue Noses. They were rewarded with the sight of footballing heroes on stage at the Royal Court Theatre, among them Kevin Ratcliffe, Roger Kenyon, Martin Dobson, John Bailey and George Telfer. Despite doubts over his appearance in the show, former Everton manager Howard Kendall also arrived on stage to huge cheers. The pantomime had been the cause of controversy after Everton FC distanced itself from the production. There were reports that the club did not like the script. Players still working for the club were forced to withdraw, including former captain Brian Labone who had been due to play an Ugly Sister. Fans sang along to football songs, many of them led by Radio Merseyside presenter Billy Butler, a lifelong Everton fan. Liverpool-born Kenneth Cope appeared as the ghost of Dixie Dean wearing the white suit he sported in the cult television series Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased). Comedian Micky Finn played the King of Goodisonia while writer Mike Howl played the villain, Count Hoolio of Anfoldia. The show is running all week at the Royal Court Theatre.

Rooney's tears after party fights
By Andy Kelly Daily Post Staff
Mar 31 2004
EVERTON star Wayne Rooney has revealed how he burst into tears when his fiancee's 18th birthday party was marred by violence.The young striker and several of his Everton team-mates were at the Devonshire House Hotel in Edge Lane, Liverpool, early on Sunday when fighting broke out.
Police were called and the striker's fiancee, Coleen McLoughlin, left the event in tears.But Rooney last night denied there was any rift between his family and that of Coleen's after claims they were "at war".Speaking from the England team's training camp near Gothenburg in Sweden, he revealed he was desperate to return to Coleen's side and is hoping to score an international goal tonight for her and both families.The 18-year-old said: "I am looking forward to playing for my country again tonight against Sweden but I must admit what I am most looking forward to is getting home to Coleen and letting her know how much I love her."If I get a goal, it will be for her and for the families who raised us and who we both owe so much to."Rooney also revealed his upset that his fiancee's big day had been ruined by just a few "idiots" and said he wanted to "put the record straight".He said: "I am absolutely gutted that Coleen's 18th birthday party was ruined by a few people who behaved like such idiots."I love Coleen so much and I was so heartbroken that I cried when I saw how her night had been ruined by the behaviour of a few people. And it was just a few people who were involved in the stupid fighting."Altogether there were over 300 guests, friends and family, at the party and only about a dozen of them could not behave themselves. Because of them, a lot of rubbish has been written about our two families and I want to put the record straight."Firstly, the party was organised and paid for by Coleen's mum and dad - not by me as some papers have said."It was meant as a gift and celebration of their daughter's 18th and it was a sort of gesture that is typical of two of the nicest people you could ever wish to meet, Colette and Tony. "It was not a celebrity bash to be covered by an exclusive media agreement."It was the sort of party that thousands of people up and down the country have for their 18th or 21st birthdays."And that's how the evening went for most of the night, people I have known all my life having a great time enjoying each other's company, having a drink, a dance and a laugh, nothing over-the-top, just a really good old-fashioned do."Rooney also spoke of his pride in his fiancee who actually surprised him on the night with a gift after he presented her with a £4,000 diamond ring and bracelet.He said: "Coleen looked beautiful and I was so proud of her when she stood up in front of everyone and made a speech thanking her mum and dad and even giving me a gift."The night was everything I could have hoped for her; here I was alongside the girl I totally love and adore and surrounded by our closest friends and family."Then suddenly the fight seemed to erupt from nowhere and, before I knew it, all hell broke loose."It has been claimed that the disturbance was caused by drunken revellers upset after a £10,000 free bar ran out and they were asked to move to the hotel bar at 2am. Rooney said: "I can clearly remember screaming at people to 'pack it in', it was Coleen's night and they were ruining it."In the end, I remember just banging the wall in frustration and anger before being led away by my team-mate, Alan Stubbs, and some of our personal security team."Coleen was heartbroken and I don't mind admitting I cried too - her night had been ruined."Mine and Coleen's family are just ordinary people and like anyone else in a similar situation it is fair to say a few cross words were exchanged borne out of frustration and disappointment.Unfortunately, because of the fame I am lucky to enjoy, people think they can put the spotlight on Coleen's and my family which is not fair on them - as I say they are all just ordinary people who did not ask to be put in a media spotlight."I love my family and I think the world of Coleen's mum and dad."Rooney's Everton team-mates, Duncan Ferguson and Franny Jeffers, had left the Devonshire just before the fighting broke out.

Gravesen continues to pose questions
By Len Capeling, Daily Post
Mar 31 2004
ONE of the sub-plots at Goodison on Saturday involved David Moyes's increasingly fractious attempts to persuade Thomas Gravesen to hold central midfield rather than go walkabout.Gravesen is a puzzle. He has talents but seems loath to fully display them in the royal blue of Everton.Am I doing him a disservice? Clearly not, given the time Moyes has spent asking the Dane to prove the claim that he's among the best midfielders in Europe.So far, no dice, which is why Everton struggled for so long against a mediocre Middlesbrough team.With seven weeks to go, Moyes will look to spend his summer trying to bring some grace and goals to this sterile area.Could he possibly be helped by a contribution from the newly-inflated season ticket prices - up by a rumoured 17 per cent?Doubtful, I'd say, even though a shabby Saturday sat up and begged for more funds to help loyal fans retain their sanity.Nine players out of contract in two months' time, it promises to be cheese-paring time down on Poverty Row.* THE minute's silence for Everton supporter Bernard Murphy, tragically killed on his way to the game at Leicester, was movingly observed.Occasionally, some idiot spoils the moment, but not here. You could have heard a tear fall.* ALAN SHEARER confirms my conviction that the Premiership is poor and getting poorer."If it wasn't we wouldn't be in the running for the Champions League," says Newcastle's finest. Next up, Everton.* ON Saturday, someone attempted to convince me that Jumping Jeff Winter has improved as a referee.No, it wasn't David Moyes, and it wasn't any-where near true as woeful Winter confirmed by ignoring two rock-solid penalties in the Manchester City-Fulham match.Getting better? Negative. Winter will never be guilty of that.
eriksson stays to put up hacks' backs
HEARTWARMING to see the national sports press trying - and failing - to wriggle off a very large hook.Almost to a man they got it dead wrong about Sven-Goran Eriksson's employment plans.And how badly they took the news that soccer's great lover was staying at Soho Square.Firmly believing that the England manager was bound for Roman's goldmines, they had sharpened their hatchets on wounding words like betrayer, traitor, turn-coat, and double-crosser.Imagine their horror then when Sven went nowhere except back to England training.Suddenly, they had to scrap their already-written exposes, and, in a frenzy of selfjustification, slam Sven - or slippery Sven as he'd now become - for leading them astray.Don't trust him, they wailed. He'll still be lured away by Roman's roubles.Evidently, Hell hath no fury like sportswriters made to feel complete Herberts.

Moyes won't spoil striker's dream date
Mar 31 2004 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES will not dash Nick Chadwick's FA Cup dream - even if Everton run out of striking options for this Saturday's trip to Newcastle. The on-loan strike, is an integral member of the Millwall squad preparing for an FA Cup semi-final against Sunderland at Old Trafford. But Everton have Duncan Ferguson and Wayne Rooney suspended this weekend, while Kevin Campbell missed last Saturday's draw against Middlesbrough with a back injury. "We still have Tomasz Radzinski and Francis Jeffers," said boss David Moyes "and we have James McFadden who can play up front if necessary. "We see no real need to recall Nick." Chadwick kicked off the season in Everton's forward line at Arsenal, but his only other start was a goalscoring appearance against Stockport in the Carling Cup. Now in his second at Millwall, he started last weekend's match at Walsall, after coming off the bench to score against West Ham the previous weekend. Duncan Ferguson, meanwhile, is facing a three-game ban after guilty to FA charges of violent and improper conduct.
But the FA have decided the player has no case to answer following allegations he racially abused Luis Boa Morte the FA Cup tie with Fulham at Goodison Park. The striker was hit with the two fresh charges lowing his reaction to being sent-off in the 1-1 draw at Leicester. The player has requested a personal hearing to explain his actions at the Walkers Stadium in a bid for leniency from the FA.
Ferguson grabbed Leicester's Steffen und by the neck following the red card from referee Barry Knight and then made an offensive gesture to the home fans as he left the pitch.

I owe my life to tragic blue fan
Mar 31 2004 By Tony Barrett Echo Reporter
A WOMAN today told how she owed her life to tragic Everton fan Bernie Murphy. Lynne Mann cheated death when a panel hit Mr Murphy, killing him, seconds before it hit her. Leicester City fan Ms Mann was on her way to watch her team's home game with Everton on March 20 when the accident happened. The panel had been picked up and blown into the road by storm-force winds. Mrs Mann, 47, believes had it not hit Mr Murphy, from Huyton, first she would have been killed. She said: "I felt absolutely awful. It sounds terrible, but that man saved my life. I feel so sorry for his family." She said the panel hit Mr Murphy first, then caught her on the legs. "I fell to the floor. It felt like I'd been shot. I felt sure my leg was broken," she added. "My son Michael was with me and he said that a man behind had been hit too." Mr Murphy's funeral took place at St Aloysius Church in Huyton yesterday. Mrs Mann said her husband contacted police twice immediately after the accident and was told an officer would be in touch, They were given a crime number but that was all they heard. "Nobody called us back for days - they've made out that I just got up after being hit and walked away," she said. Police contacted Mrs Mann yesterday and apologised for not getting in touch sooner.

Berti set to stick with McFadden
Mar 31 2004 Liverpool Echo
SCOTLAND manager Berti Vogts is set to give James McFadden a massive morale boost by pitching him in against Romania tonight. The Everton forward has been unable to establish a regular first-team place at Goodison Park, but will now return to the scene of his greatest triumph this year - his winning goal in the Euro 2004 play-off first leg against Holland - in a bid to regain some confidence. "James needs games because he hasn't played so much, but I have only two days," said Vogts. "He dwells on his mistakes and I say to him, 'James, forget the mistakes, you are one of the biggest talents around'."



March 2004