Everton Independent Research Data


Keeper Ruddy looking forward to arrival
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Mar 1 2005
JOHN RUDDY was last night celebrating a sudden elevation to the Premiership after Everton came to the rescue of cash-strapped Cambridge United. The Goodison club will sign the 18-year-old goalkeeper on a four-year contract at the end of this season after striking a deal with the troubled Coca-Cola League Two side. Manchester United, Arsenal and Celtic were all keen on the England under-19 international, who was on trial at OId Trafford earlier this season. But with all three clubs waiting until the summer to final-ise a transfer Everton moved in with an offer that will help Cambridge avoid a potential winding-up order next month. United have to repay £300,000 of a £1.5million debt by the end of March in order to keep administrators at bay. Everton, therefore, have agreed to pay around £200,000 to land Ruddy on a pre-contract agreement now and his transfer will formally take place in the summer. The price could rise to £500,000 depending on the youngster's progress over the next four years. Last night Ruddy said: "I have been around the club, it's a great club and looks good. If you look where they are in the league, that says it all. "Since I went to United they haven't said anything back. Instead of waiting around to see what happens, Everton have come in with a good offer and I am more than happy to play for a good club like Everton. You're not going to get these sort of offers every day. "I only found out about the deal in the last few days. I knew Everton had been to a couple of matches but I didn't think anything would come of it but they put the money on the table and Cambridge accepted." The teenager only made his Cambridge debut at the end of last season and but has already been tipped for a future at Premiership level. He admitted: "I was very surprised, especially with the position Cambridge are in at the minute. It does help being so young and playing regular first team football in the spotlight all depends on how you can handle the pressure."
* EVERTON'S Premiership game against Blackburn on Sunday will kick-off at 4.05pm.

Everton star hurt in attack
Daily Post
Mar 1 2005
EVERTON'S recent £6m signing, James Beattie, was injured in an attack outside a nightclub, it was reported last night. The 27-year-old striker (right) was enjoying a night out with friends in Birmingham following Everton's victory over Aston Villa on Saturday. Beattie - who did not play as he was serving a ban - was involved in a bust-up with another man who, it is claimed, had taunted the football star's girlfriend. After they left the club, Beattie is alleged to have exchanged blows with the man before security staff broke up the fight. However, Beattie was hurt when he allegedly attempted to take one last punch at the man, missed and hit his head on a wall. A friend of the man ran up to Beattie and kicked him full in the face. An Everton spokesman said last night: "James was enjoying a night out with his girlfriend and a group of friends when he was the victim of an unprovoked assault. "He was shaken but not badly injured. "He did speak to the police but will not be pressing charges."

Cahill: Pressure is all on Liverpool now
By Paul Walker, Daily Post
Mar 1 2005
TIM CAHILL believes the pressure is now on Liverpool to catch Everton in the race for fourth place in the Barclays Premiership this season. The 25-year-old (right) played a key role in Everton's best performance of the season at the weekend, the 3-1 win at Aston Villa, meaning the gap between the two is now eight points. Although Rafael Benitez's side, who lost in the Carling Cup final to Chelsea on Sunday, have a game in hand. Cahill returned from suspension to score the opening goal at Villa Park and believes his team-mates are thriving at being the front-runners for the final Champions League place. He said: "The win puts pressure on other teams after what was definitely the best performance of the season." In the 12 years of the Premier League, the average points needed for fourth spot is 67, which means Everton need to win five of their final 10 games to be virtually certain of qualifying for Europe's top competition. "You can say that we are thriving on the pressure at the moment but we have really got no choice," he added. "If you want yourself up there knocking about with the big boys then you have got to play well. "If you play well and give yourself a chance then fair enough but if it is not enough then it's not enough. All we know is that we are very honest lads and we work hard for each other. I suppose it was just one of those days on Saturday when everything falls for you. On other days that does not always happen, I am just happy to be on the winning team. "I am currently loving it. Who would not enjoy playing in the Premier League? It is a different step up from the First Division and when you play in big stadiums like Villa Park it is an absolute pleasure to be a part of it. "There was a lot of pressure on us to get a result. We went to Villa Park, we were strong and we took it to them. It just goes to show how far we have come and how well we have played and if it stays like this, then it is why you play football - it's fantastic.
"We were very organised and difficult to break down. A lot of the lads worked very hard but I think we have been difficult to break down all season and it was important that we bounced back from some poor results of late. It is great to be on the winning team." The pressure will mount again on Liverpool on Saturday when they have a tough away match against Newcastle, their first outing since the shattering experience of losing in Cardiff. If Benitez's side fail to win, Everton can take full advantage at home to struggling Blackburn the following day. Cahill added: "We just have to take it one game at a time and get the most we can out of it. Next weekend we have got Blackburn and again we will be playing for a result."

How Chelsea's win could benefit both Merseyside rivals
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Mar 1 2005
CHELSEA'S victory in the Carling Cup final has established a European safety net for both Liverpool and Everton. While both Merseyside giants are focused on landing the lucrative fourth Champions League spot the outcome of Sunday's final has brought the cushion of an extra UEFA Cup place if they fail. With a 25-point gap between first and fifth Chelsea are destined for the Champions League next season whether they win the title or not. Therefore their UEFA Cup place as Carling Cup winners passes into the Premiership and means sixth place - as well as fifth - qualifies for Europe.
However, Everton could finish fourth and still miss out on a place in the Champions League - but only if Liverpool win a fifth European Cup this season. Under UEFA rules only four clubs from each leading league - England,, Spain and Italy - are allowed to enter Europe's premier competition. So if Liverpool finish fifth but go all the way in the Champions League they will inherit one of the four spots for next season.

Moyes's craft
Post Soapbox, Icliverpool & Daily Post
Mar 1 2005
Moyes's craft
DAVID O'LEARY must get the manager of the year for being the most annoying ever, if he has used one excuse he has used them all. Okay you might have a small squad but so do Everton. Stop moaning and do what David Moyes does and gets on with the job. There is an old saying: "A bad tradesman always blames his tools for mistakes, a good one gets on with the job."
Mark Mahon (via e-mail)
It's if, not when WE are in touching distance of that European Cup play-off spot. We have been there since September. The Reds are convinced that it's only a matter of time before they overtake us. We have heard it all season, but it's if not when now. I think David Moyes will now put every bit of energy into holding on to fourth spot.
Mick Smith, Halewood
Transfer coup
ONCE again this man has pulled off a transfer coup in signing young Arteta and the player of the season Tim Cahill. They are going to be big players for Everton this season and I have every faith in them to win another Merseyside derby. The Peoples Club run by a legend already.
D Salt (via e-mail)
Class Bent
JUST like to compliment Marcus Bent on his attitude and performances. He has been top class.
He may have been forgiven for feeling harshly done to when Beattie came in, but no, he continued to work hard and not one whisper of discon-tent makes a nice change from today's proffesionals.
A Healy, Norris Green
Best for ages
SATURDAY'S performance was one of the best I have seen from an Everton side for a long time. Cahill's performance was superb with Bent, Osman and Arteta just behind. Now he is getting fitter and adapting to the English game Arteta is starting to become more influential. We must now keep to this formation.
John Gosport (via e-mail)

Tireless Tim leading way
Mar 1 2005 By Scott McLeod, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON boss David Moyes intends to capitalise on a rejuvenated Tim Cahill in the final 10 games of the season. The Aussie international (left) was the Man of the Match in Saturday's 3-1 hammering of Aston Villa after returning to the side following suspension. And the Goodison chief believes the enforced two week break has benefited the 26-year-old, who had refused to allow a series of knocks and bruises to keep him out of the side. "The week's break we gave him after his suspension was noticeable at the weekend," Moyes told the ECHO. "He looked sharp, refreshed and ready for the game. "He has been playing with a lot of knocks in recent weeks but he misses very few games because he wants to play. He is willing to go through it in order to play and that is the attitude we want and encourage from our players. "Tim has been very good all season but his game is improving all the time as he becomes more used to the Premier League. "He played his part in a very good all round performance on Saturday." Cahill has only missed two games for the Blues in all competitions since arriving back from the Olympics in August. Both those absences were as a result of suspensions. The Aussie's headed strike against Villa took his total for the season to seven, level with Marcus Bent and Leon Osman. * Everton have delayed a decision on whether to attend this summer's Asia Cup in Shanghai for 48 hours.

My race to break the record
Mar 1 2005 By David Prentice
THIS week marks the 25th anniversary of Dixie Dean's death. Almost 35 years ago the Echo carried the most comprehensive, meticulously collated interview the great man ever gave. This week we reproduce excerpts from the interview which forms a stunning new book - Dixie Dean Uncut: The Greatest Story Ever Told. I KNOW a lot has been written about the time I broke the League record by scoring 60 goals in the 1927-28 season. But I want to start by telling you a story about what happened before the match against Arsenal on the last day of the season when I scored the three goals I needed for the record. I don't think this story has ever been told before because it was kept a close secret at the time. You see, I nearly didn't play against Arsenal at all. And if it hadn't been for old Harry Cooke I wouldn't have played at all. Harry was the trainer at Everton in all my years there and he was a great character. His birthday was the same day as mine, 22nd January, and he was like a father to me. The position was this. George Camsell had set the League scoring record at 59 in the season before, but that was in the Second Division. With two games to go I had scored 53 in 37 League games, so I wanted seven goals from the last two matches to beat George's record. The first of these two games was at Burnley on the Wednesday of the last week of the season. I got four that day all before half-time, and I was particularly pleased because I was playing against Big Jack Hill, the England centre-half in those days, and a particular pal of mine. He was reckoned the best in the business then, but any rate, I got four against Big Jack and he rubbed his face on the ground when the fourth one went in. I didn't do anything in the second half because I pulled a thigh muscle badly, and I was in some pain. Old Harry Cooke was shaking when he found out about it and so was I.
Harry was really worried that I wouldn't be able to play against Arsenal, so when we got back from Burnley that night, he came with me to my home in Alderley Avenue, Birkenhead. He wanted to put hot plasters on my leg to get the muscle right. You're supposed to leave these plasters on pretty hot for about 10 or 12 hours, but Harry wasn't content with that. He wanted to change them every two hours so that the heat from the plasters would really work. So I went to bed and he sat in a chair in my bedroom and woke me up every two hours so that he could put a fresh plaster on. He did this for three nights on the run - the Wednesday, Thursday and Friday nights before the Arsenal game. He put hot towels on as well, and without him I'd never have played that day and never broken that record. What we used to do was that in the morning I'd run him to his home in Wallasey before we went over to Good-ison for more treatment. I didn't know how he'd stuck it for three nights on end without much sleep, but he told me he used to try and get a few hours each afternoon before he came back to my home in Birkenhead to start putting on the plasters all over again. All the lads at Everton would do anything for Harry and he was a wonderful man to me. Anyway, he got me fit for the Arsenal match and I got the three goals I needed to set up a new record. I remember the goals well. The first was a penalty. I was going through with the ball and got to about the penalty spot when the goal-keeper pulled my legs from under me. So that was a penalty and I scored. The second goal was just before half-time. I hit it with my right foot and the ball went in the far corner. Things tightened up a bit after that with the Arsenal defence being so good. It wasn't until about four minutes from the end that we got a corner kick on the left. Alec Troup took the kick. He was so precise with these corners that he could have laid the ball on one of the hairs on my head. Any rate he sent over this beautiful corner kick and that sailed in. I just butted the ball in. The crowd invaded the pitch and I got more whiskers on my face from the Scotland Road lads than Soft Joe. You see, these lads swarmed all round me, some of them rubbing their faces against mine and a lot of them hadn't shaved that day. When they got the ground cleared the game started again, but there wasn't much longer to play. A couple of minutes from the end I went up to the referee and said: "I'll be shooting off in a minute. You don't mind do you?" He said: "I don't blame you, Dean." So I got off before I got another attack of the whiskers. It's a funny thing but I didn't get anything from Everton for breaking the scoring record - no celebration or presents or anything. But the Supporters Club was very good. They gave me a big shield and on it was a record of each one of the 60 goals I'd scored showing the grounds I'd scored them on. It's a beautiful thing and I treasure it. I've shown it around a lot to people and I'm very proud of it. I suppose Everton couldn't give me anything special unless they applied to the League. If they had given it to me they'd have had to give it to the others as well.

Southall delighted to have found footballing 'home'
Mar 1 2005 By Scott McLeod, Liverpool Echo
Dixie Dean Memorial Award - Neville Southall
NEVILLE SOUTHALL was humbled to accept the ECHO's Dixie Dean Award last night on the eve of the 25th anniversary of the legend's death. The greatest goalkeeper in Everton's history was a more than fitting recipient for an award which reflects services to football in the finest tradition, as his response to receiving the accolade proved. "I was lucky that I got a club, manager and coaches who were right for me. If I had gone to another club I don't think I would have been anywhere near what I was. I was meant for the club," said Southall. "It was something I wouldn't have found at another club. When I went to Stoke, I couldn't feel anything for the club. It was like living in the backyard and not being allowed in the house. "Everton was my home and I was lucky. There are Everton players and there are non-Everton players. It was the club which made me the player I was." That passion for Everton will have pleased Dean, who passed away at Goodison following a derby match 25 years ago today. To mark the occasion, the guests at last night's dinner watched archive footage of the great Dean and excerpts of the striker interviewed in his later years. Southall was then joined on the stage at the Crowne Plaza to receive his award by Ray Clemence, who was presented with the Bill Shankly trophy. The former Welsh international admitted he always looked up to his former rival from across Stanley Park. "I never see myself as being from the same era as somebody like Ray," he added. "When I was in non-league I would regularly read about Ray in the Liverpool ECHO and I would watch the likes of him, Gordon West, Peter Shilton and Gordon Banks to learn from them.
"So when I got to play on the same pitch as him it was strange, surreal. They were the names that spurred me on to be what I could be. "I wanted to be as good as them. That is why it is nice to have come from non-league to be in a position where I am compared to people like Ray, because he was among the cream of the crop."

Aston Villa Res 0, Everton Res 1
Mar 2 2005 Daily Post
SCOTTISH youth international Patrick Boyle scored the only goal of the game in a 1-0 win for Everton Reserves against Barclays FA Premier Reserve League North leaders Aston Villa last night. Boyle gave Everton the perfect start, taking the lead after only four minutes. Good work from Paul Hopkins on the right gave him space to feed the ball to James Vaughan in the six-yard area. He turned the defender before squaring it for Boyle to tap home his first reserve goal of the season. After the opener, a series of half-chances ensued. First Vaughan's long-range effort troubled Villa keeper Wayne Henderson, but he gathered the ball on his second attempt. Then a good exchange between reserve debutant Guillaume Plessis and Vaughan, who were both on the bench for the corresponding first-team fixture on Saturday, led to the Frenchman shooting from distance, but his strike flew high and wide. However, as the half went on, the home side got more into the game.
Just before the 30-minute mark, Gabriel Agbonlahor showed electric pace and left Sean Wright for dead on the wing before darting into the box. Looking certain to equalize, Anthony Gerrard came across and dispossessed the tricky winger with a sliding challenge in the nick of time. Boyle nearly doubled the visitors' advantage with three minutes of the half remaining. A mistake in the Villa midfield gave Hopkins the chance to deliver a high cross to Boyle, but the Scotsman's header was straight at the keeper. Seconds later he had another great opportunity but when one-on-one with Henderson he chipped it straight into the keeper's hands. In the second half clear-cut chances were few and far between but Everton still dominated. Villa misplaced their passes far too often whereas Andy Holden's side gave a thoroughly disciplined performance. Plessis always found a Blue shirt while fellow debutant Alan Kearney will be pleased with his first 90 minutes for the second string.
The best chance of the half came on 62 minutes when Boyle put Bjarni Vidarsson through on the left, but the Icelandic youngster's low, rifled shot was well held by Henderson.
EVERTON RES: Turner, Wright, Wilson, Hughes, Gerrard, Kearney, Hopkins, Plessis, Vaughan, Vidarsson, Boyle, Subs: Anichebe, Jones, Phelan, Holt, Davidson
ASTON VILLA RES: Henderson, Bridges (Green 77), Green, Drobny, Troest (Osbourne 67), Paul, Ward, Moore, Agbonlahor, Foley, Kabeya (Williams 84) Subs: Olejnik.

Nightclub fracas lands Beattie in more trouble
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Mar 2 2005
EVERTON'S record signing James Beattie is in more trouble with the Goodison management after being assaulted outside a Birmingham nightclub. The £6million striker (right) was fit to resume training at Bellefield yesterday, albeit with a facial wound, less than 48 hours after being attacked outside the city's SobaR noodle bar. Everton have received several independent witness statements about the incident, in which Beattie is alleged to have reacted to taunts aimed at his girl-friend, and no disciplinary action is being taken against the England international. But manager David Moyes has spoken to the striker about the choice of venue for his 27th birthday celebrations and demanded he shows more responsibility in the future. Beattie was socialising in Birmingham city centre just hours after Everton's comprehensive defeat of Aston Villa, the club he rejected when electing to move to Goodison Park in January. The striker sat out arguably Everton's finest performance of the season as a result of a three-match ban for headbutting Chelsea's William Gallas last month. Beattie was fined around £60,000 for that indiscretion and Moyes, who is currently putting his number eight through a rigorous 'pre-season' training schedule,, will want an instant improvement on an inauspicious start by the striker to his Everton career once he returns for the Merseyside derby on March 20.
Former Everton midfielder Alex Nyarko, meanwhile, has linked up with Norwegian side Start in a bid to earn a contract. Nyarko was a £4.5m signing for Everton when he joined from French side Lens in July 2000. However, the Ghana international has struggled to find a new employer after being unable to get a work permit last summer for the final year of his contract with Everton. He trained with both Middlesbrough and Southampton during the January transfer window but has now turned his attention to Norway as he bids to find a new team. Start finished top of the Norwegian first division last season.

Weir's happy to prove the Everton doubters wrong
By Paul Walker, Daily Post
Mar 2 2005
VETERAN defender David Weir believes that Everton are blossoming as an attacking force at just the right time to grab the chance of Champions League qualification. Everton's outstanding attacking display to beat Aston Villa last week and take a crucial eight-point lead over local rivals Liverpool, has been declared the Goodison side's best performance of the season so far. Everton, usually grudgingly praised for their team work, spirit and sweat, are now being told they can play a bit too.
And that delights Weir as his team attempts to finish the job in their last 10 games of the campaign.
If Everton beat Blackburn at Goodison Park on Sunday and Liverpool lose the day before at Newcastle, the gap will be a virtually uncatchable 11 points. Weir said: "People still expect us to lose, for us to fall flat on our faces. To trip up. But the longer we can go without doing that the better.
"Every time we are written off we respond in the right way, that tells you how strong we are and is the great thing about us this season. "We have had blows all season, losing Wayne Rooney and then Thomas Gravesen. "It would have been easy for us to fold, but the players are not that sort of people, they are top people and top players and it is a good mix. "When you see them working as hard as they have done, the possibilities are endless. It is a good place to work and play, long may it continue." University-educated Weir took time off to help promote World Book Day by helping children with their reading at Everton's Extra Time unit, their study support centre at Goodison Park.
Children from nearby Trinity Catholic Primary School in Vaux-hall were able to benefit from the club's educational unit. And for Weir, the top of the Premiership has made pretty good reading this term. He said: "Hopefully we are blossoming as a football team at just the right time. The praise for us has been about team work and spirit and all those things, but we played the best football of our season at Villa. "Everything had been built up for us to be knocked down. We realised how big a game it was between ourselves, and the manager underlined that. "It was like a cup final. So to put in a performance like that in such a pressure situation said it all about the players because people were expecting us to lose. "The stuff we produced at Villa was not the sort of game that has been our bread and butter. Everyone who knows us and sees us training knows we are capable of flowing, attacking football but we seem to be known by everyone else by the bread and butter stuff, the team work and the effort and running. "That has got us as far as we have come, but it is nice to be able to show people that there is a different side to us. People don't see us as a pretty football team and that does annoy the players. "We get knocked and knocked regardless of how well we do and that serves as the motivation for us, we must look at it that way." He added: "A couple of years ago we got to this stage and were doing equally as well but it all went wrong at the death. It is up to us whether that happens again or we carry to achieve our goals. "We are in the position of being able to control what happens to us. We know there is a big prize waiting for us, it is up to us to grasp it.
"We certainly made the point on Saturday at Villa. A lot of people were building it up as the game we would likely lose and let Liverpool back in. "So we responded in the right way and hopefully we can continue to do so. It's nice to be where we are and it is very rare that the club has been above Liverpool, that's the bottom line."

Arteta is bringing back Blues' balance
Mar 2 2005 By Scott McLeod, Liverpool Echo
MIKEL ARTETA is beginning to fill the void in Everton's midfield left by Thomas Gravesen. That is the view of manager David Moyes, who drafted in the 22-year-old Spanish playmaker on transfer deadline day a month ago in order to bolster his ranks following the departure of Gravesen to Real Madrid. And Moyes believes Arteta, who was signed from Real Sociedad on a six month loan with a view to a permanent £2.7m transfer in the summer, is now starting to justify that decision as he plays his way back to full fitness following a knee injury. Moyes told the ECHO: "We have been really looking for a new balance and blend through the middle of the park. "Mikel Arteta coming in has offered us something and that balance was good on Saturday. "When he arrived he had been injured and he had not played many games. And he is still not quite where his fitness should be but we are starting to see what he can do now. "He is a good footballer and he is fitting in well." Moyes had hoped to give the former Rangers man a fortnight to work on his fitness and to acclimatise to life on Merseyside following his signing. But the size of the Goodison squad meant he made his debut after less than a week, coming on as a substitute in the 2-2 draw at Southampton. He came off the bench again against Chelsea before starting the last two matches against Manchester United and Aston Villa.

The time I almost dropped FA Cup off a train
Mar 2 2005 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
Almost 35 years ago the Echo carried the most comprehensive, meticulously collated interview the great-man ever gave. This week we reproduce excerpts from the interview which form a stunning new book - Dixie Dean Uncut: The Greatest Story Ever Told. ON the Saturday night after we had won the FA Cup by beating Manchester City at Wembley, we all went to a big reception at a London West End hotel. Lord Derby was in the chair and after the dinner was over I went up to him and said to him, "I believe you've got a good horse in the Chester Vase this year." He said, "Yes. My trainer tells me that if it wins the Chester Vase it will win the Derby." The name of the horse was Hyperion so I told all the lads what Lord Derby had said and we all had a good bet on it for the Derby. On the day of the race we were in Copenhagen on tour. We were all sitting in a beer garden in the Hotel Cosmopolitan having a few beers. We were listening to the radio and suddenly we heard this announcement in English, "Here is the result of the English Derby - first Hyperion." At that we all jumped to our feet, knocked over the table and in our excitement spilt all the beer on it. Some of it splashed over a gentleman sitting at the next table. I went to him to apologise and he said, "It's all right. I've enjoyed every moment of your conversation." I looked at him closely and saw that it was that famous old film star, Jean Hersholt. I offered to pay for his suit to be cleaned but he said, "Don't bother. I'd like all you lads to have a drink with me. It's been very nice listening to you all." But to go back to the days immediately after the Cup final, we stayed overnight in London on the Sunday night and came back to Liverpool by train on the Monday. On the train the chairman, old Bill Cuff, said to me, "Billy, take the Cup right through the train. It's a special train with lots of our supporters on it so let them have a look at it." So I started off down the train with the Cup with a few of the lads. Well, of course, by the time I'd got halfway down the train we'd had a few drinks with the people and were all feeling great. When the train was pulling out of Crewe for home there were hundreds of people standing in the fields and lining the track. They had come miles to see the Cup so I opened the window and showed it to them. As I showed it through the open window the lid fell off. As it happened, Tommy Johnson was standing close to me and he just caught the lid before it dropped on the railway line. We got a fantastic reception at Lime Street when we arrived. We went from the station to the Town Hall in a horse-drawn wagonette, sitting in the open on the top so that everyone could see the Cup and the players. I'll never forget the people cheering as we went along Lime Street and Dale Street. After the reception at the Town Hall we went by coach to Goodison Park. The ground had been opened to the public and the place was packed. We went out onto the pitch and walked round to show them the Cup. We had one more match to play in the League against Sheffield Wednesday and that ended a great season - the end of our hat-trick sequence.

FA Cup thugs banned from matches for three years
Mar 2 2005 Liverpool Echo
THREE hooligans have been banned from football grounds after the clashes between Everton and Manchester United fans 10 days ago. Hundreds of fans battled in the street after the FA Cup fixture between the two. Kirkby man Alan Tippler, Richard Latham, of Sandbach in Cheshire, and Jonathon Slee, of the Isle of Man, are barred for three years. District Judge David Fletcher, sitting at Liverpool magistrates court, said: "This was an ugly and frightening spectacle. "You have to take responsibility for your part in that." Prosecutor David Evans said Tippler, who was already known to the Football Intelligence Unit, was arrested while shouting at United fans. The 34-year-old, of Gaywood Green, admitted being drunk and disorderly. Tippler was barred from Liverpool city centre and the Goodison Park area when Everton are playing. Welder Latham, 23, of Milton Way, admitted throwing tea at United fans. He received the same ban and was ordered to pay £150 costs. Darren Jones, mitigating, said his client was not drunk at the game. Manchester United fan Slee, 23, of Agneash, Isle of Man, admitted a public order offence. In addition to his ground ban, Slee was barred from Manchester city centre and the Old Trafford area on match days. He was ordered to pay £50 costs.
* Nicholas Flemming, 27, of Pemberton Road, Woodchurch, Wirral, denied a charge of being drunk and disorderly. He is banned from football matches until his next court appearance on April 19.

Be the Blues' derby mascot
Mar 2 2005 Jblue, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON'S bid for a Champions League spot faces the ultimate test this month when David Moyes' men cross Stanley Park to take on Liverpool. Buoyed by Lee Carsley's solitary strike in the 1-0 victory at Goodison back in December, the Blues will attempt to complete a memorable derby double on Sunday, March 20. And thanks to Jblue, you could be part of the action in our exclusive competition.
We are giving one lucky member of Everton's junior supporters club - girl or boy - the chance to join their heroes on the pitch prior to kick-off as the offical Blues mascot. As well as the pre-game kickabout with the squad, our winner will also receive a full Everton kit and allow one guest to walk down the tunnel with them. They will also be able to see how the players prepare for the big kickoff as they join them in the dressing room for an opportunity to take pictures and get autographs
For your chance to win this once in a lifetime prize, simply answer the following question:
Who scored the winning goal in the last derby at Goodison Park? Send you entries (on a postcard or sealed down envelope) to: Jblue Everton Mascot Competition, Everton Football Club, Goodison Park, Liverpool L4 4EL. As well as your answer, please include your name, address, daytime phone number, date of birth and Jblue membership number. The winner will be the first correct entry picked at random. Closing date is Monday, March 7. Normal competition rules apply.
* If you aren't already a Jblue member, join today for free by calling 0870 794 1985

Racist chants on bus disgust fans
Mar 2 2005 By Greg O' Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON FC today launched an investigation into claims travelling fans sang racist songs and taunted Asian passers-by on their way to a match. Two of the supporters were so horrified they refused to return on the coach which took them to the Blues game against Aston Villa on Saturday.
Season ticket holder Paula Braynion said she felt ashamed as a group of fans made monkey noises at black and Asian passers-by and was further disgusted when 90% of the full coach responded to the singing of "stand up if you hate n*****s". Mrs Braynion, 30, a psychiatric nurse, of St Helens, said: "It made my skin crawl. "Me and my husband were looking forward to the banter and camaraderie of travelling to an away game with other fans. "Instead we had to endure a torrent of racial abuse."
Mrs Braynion and her husband William, 50, booked the coach journey with Barnes worldwide travel, on County Road, Walton. She had tried to book places on an official Everton FC club coach but they were all full and says the club recommended she try Barnes instead. She added: "I feel I have to stand up and say something. I didn't think morons like these still went to football matches. They give our great club a bad name." A spokesman for Everton said the club will investigate the allegations.
He said: "We have received a letter from Mr Braynion regarding these incidents and we are now looking into them as a matter of some urgency." * No-one from Barnes was available for comment.
Root them out
A SPOKESMAN for the Kick Racism Out of Football organisation said: "We would commend Mrs Braynion for having the courage to speak out and are glad Everton take this seriously and are looking into it. "This proves that racism is still a problem in football. Fans like this are a minority but they are a very vocal minority. "The club has done a lot of good work in fighting racism so Everton should try to identify these fans and root them out."

Blues' win at Villa as good as it gets
Mar 2 2005 Echo Letters, icLiverpool & Liverpool Echo
Blues' win at Villa as good as it gets
ONE of the important aspects about Everton's season is that they have only failed to do one thing - capitulate, as the media and many rivals expected. In early season many sceptics said that the Blues' place among the top four was only a temporary situation and we would soon see them plummet the table. Well, it just hasn't happened, and the win at Villa Park was further evidence that if people are waiting for David Moyes' team to collapse, then they will have an extremely long wait. It was a terrific performance throughout the side. Leon Osman is making an impact, Tim Cahill's return only continued to underline what a brilliant buy he has been, and Arteta certainly seems to be slipping into the system. It was felt that the thought of Everton appearing in the Champions League was based on the rantings of fans who haven't got a clue. The Blues, however, have proved all season that it is the critics who are in Cloud Cuckoo Land. We're here to stay.
Good luck, lads.
Phil Bernard, Waterloo
WHAT a great display of playing away from home at Villa. I put it down to us going back to what we do best which was 4-3-2-1 - Carsley back in front of the back four and Arteta in place of the departed Gravesen. You could see everybody knew what they were doing. I feel if we get a win against Blackburn, then come away with nothing less than a draw at Anfield, it will see us in the top four come the end of the season.
Peter Woods, Southport
EVERTON were superb on Saturday - the best I've seen for years. Everton's midfield were breaking through at will and Bent led the line with skill and strength. Arteta has given us an extra option. It seems that he has allowed a more positive approach fron Cahill and Osman and, with Kilbane and Carsley adding skill and defensive bite, it was as good as it gets. The national press have attacked our team with bias towards the top three. Let's show them what we're about.
Eddie Hunter, Merseyside
EIGHT points ahead, playing with confidence home and away, and with a spirit that's second to none. The Blues' bandwagon is rolling along so smoothly and it would require something special from the teams below to prevent us playing in the Champions League next season. I can't see that happening. We have some big games coming up but David Moyes has a team of fighters, who have never really been given the credit they deserve. The incentives are there for the run-in, but I believe there is a "we'll show 'em" mentality that will hopefully give us plenty to shout about come the last day of the season.
Brian Bennett, Crosby

Everton to contest FA charge over Boro incident
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Mar 3 2005
EVERTON are to defend a charge of failing to control their players at Middlesbrough at an FA hearing later this month - despite pleading guilty to the offence at the Riverside. Both Everton and Middlesbrough were stunned to be charged by the Football Association for a goalmouth melee in January's 1-1 draw. Despite their astonishment, and referee Dermot Gallagher's decision not to punish any player for the scuffle, the two clubs subsequently accepted they had breached FA rule E22a, which outlines "A failure to ensure that its players conducted themselves in an orderly fashion and refrained from violent and/or threatening and/or provocative behaviour." However, they still plan to contest the severity of the offence at a personal hearing with the FA's disciplinary committee on March 31. Everton could be fined a maximum £250,000 if found guilty of a serious breach of discipline by their players, although a more realistic threat of £25,000 is hanging over the club in this instance. And with a possible £50,000 fine to come for the assault on Roy Carroll in the recent FA Cup tie with Manchester United club officials hope to use the personal hearing to limit any punishment on the Riverside charge. Meanwhile, Everton manager David Moyes has confirmed 18-year-old goalkeeper John Ruddy, who has agreed a pre-contract deal to join Everton in the summer, will train with the club while continuing to play for Coca-Cola League Two side Cambridge.
Everton this week landed the England under-19 international in a deal that could rise to £500,000, after agreeing to commit to an initial £200,000 to help Cambridge's fight against administration.
Moyes said: "He will work with us a couple of days a week but will continue playing for Cambridge.
"It will give us a chance to break him in but I am telling people he is for the future, he is not for just now."

FA won't be rushed over Goodison incident
By Paul Walker, Daily Post
Mar 3 2005
THE Football Association will "not be rushed" into charging Everton following the coin-throwing incident which marred their FA Cup tie with Manchester United 12 days ago. The club and the FA have been waiting for Merseyside police to make progress in their exhaustive search through CCTV footage in their search to identify the fan who threw the coin which felled United keeper Roy Carroll at Goodison Park. For the club, it would almost certainly bring an FA charge of failing to control fans, but it seems likely now that any move to punish Everton will be delayed until the police investigation is completed. A Merseyside police spokesman said: "It may be next week before we have finished looking through the many hours of CCTV footage, and only then will we consider releasing pictures of suspects." It seems BBC video footage of the match, which showed a fan hurling a missile onto the pitch and was screened on Match of the Day, is no longer part of the investigation because it is believed the supporter in question was not throwing a coin at Carroll. It means the police have had to trawl through over 100 hours of CCTV footage from inside Goodison Park. With the large amount of footage needing to be scrutinised from the crowd disturbances which took place over a mile from the ground after the match - 33 arrests were made - the police have prioritised the more serious public order offences. The spokesman added: "Only after we have looked at all the CCTV will we consider releasing pictures of suspects." The FA would like the police to have made progress before they consider what to do with regard to charging Everton, who have all along claimed it is hard to stop one "mindless moron" from such an act. The club have already banned a local company from sponsoring the matchball again following the touchline altercation with their former striker Wayne Rooney. An FA spokesman said: "We have been in talks with Everton and Merseyside police and we are monitoring the situation. "But we will not be rushed into any action and we are aware that it is an ongoing police investigation. "But it would certainly help the situation if a culprit was discovered." Meanwhile David Moyes has praised loan signing Mikel Arteta for bringing balance back to his Everton midfield. Moyes said: "We have been looking for a new balance and blend through the middle. "Mikel coming in has offered us something and that balance was good on Saturday."

Savage doubt for Rovers' visit to Merseyside
Daily Post
Mar 3 2005
ROBBIE SAVAGE is an injury doubt for Blackburn Rovers visit to Goodison Park this Sunday.
One-time Everton target Savage was taken off during Tuesday night's 2-1 FA Cup fifth round replay win at Burnley after his groin problem flared up again. Rovers manager Mark Hughes may also be without striler Jay Bothroyd, who had to go hospital on Tuesday after suffering a serious thigh injury.
Meanwhile FA Cup match-winner Morten Gamst Pedersen is eyeing further glory. He said: "It felt really special to score the winning goal. But I hope that's not all I'll be remembered for by the fans. I still hope I've got plenty more to achieve here."

Cottee strike helped ease relegation fears
Post Past by Philip J Redmond Everton supporter, Daily Post
Mar 3 2005
WHEN big-spending Blackburn came to Goodison in March 1993, they faced a team and a set of fans who were finally beginning to realise that relegation was indeed a possibility. With dwindling crowds and mounting financial pressures, Howard Kendall was forced to shop around and so we had the veteran former England full-back Kenny Sansom and the little-known Birmingham defender Paul Holmes arriving for minimal fees. The previous Saturday had seen bottom-of-the-table Oldham come back from two-down in injury time to pinch an unlikely point. Rovers had been promoted the previous season and were riding high on the back of Jack Walk-er's millions. Jewel in their crown was the young Alan Shearer, who was scoring for fun after his £3.5million move from Southampton.
Everton started well and ex-Goodison keeper Bobby Mimms had to be alert to thwart Mark Ward and the luckless Stuart Barlow. However, Everton fell behind after dominating the first half, failing to clear a cross which was driven in at the far post by future Manchester United stopper David May.
In the second half they turned the game round with a spirited fightback. For a long time it looked like it wasn't going to happen as first Tony Cottee hit the bar and then a Barlow lob was hacked off the line. But with about 20 minutes to go, young full-back Matt Jackson beat two men and cut into the box before firing a low cross into the middle. Everyone missed except Rovers' Colin Hendry, who hacked into his own net. Ward went close again, but it was Cottee who scored a spectacular winner, sliding the ball past Mimms after beating two Rovers defenders. All that was left was for the Blues to play out the final 10 minutes and the crowd celebrated almost as if it was a derby victory. The win was quickly followed by a few more and any perceived relegation trauma was quickly dispelled.

Skipper Stubbs targets return
Mar 3 2005 By Scott McLeod, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON skipper Alan Stubbs is battling to force his way into contention for a return to the side for Sunday's crunch Premiership clash with Blackburn. The defender (right) was pulled out of the squad for last weekend's victory over Aston Villa on Friday night after sustaining a knee injury in training.
His place alongside David Weir in the heart of Everton's defence was taken by Joseph Yobo as the Blues produced their finest away display of the campaign. Moyes now faces the difficult decision of whether to re-install his skipper to the side or to stick with the same XI which started at Villa Park, provided Stubbs can prove his fitness after returning to light training yesterday. Head-physio Mick Rathbone said: "Alan picked up a knock in training last Friday and is making good progress.
"Hopefully he will be available for Sunday but at the moment it is too early to say." James McFadden is also a doubt for the weekend as he continues his recovery from a thigh injury. Meanwhile, Everton and Middlesbrough will put on a united front in a bid for leniency when they face an FA hearing over the 20-man goal-mouth melee at the end of last month's Premiership encounter at the Riverside.
Both clubs have pleaded guilty to an FA charge of failing to control their players. But they have asked for a personal hearing in order to contest the severity of the offence. The maximum fine for the offence is £250,000 but the club is expecting a fine closer to £25,000.

How the legendary Dixie sized up German skipper
Mar 3 2005 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
Almost 35 years ago the Echo carried the most comprehensive, meticulously collated interview the great man ever gave. This week we reproduce excerpts from the interview which forms a stunning new book - Dixie Dean Uncut: The Greatest Story Ever Told. WE used to tour quite a lot during the summer with Everton in my day. We went to Denmark twice and Germany and also to the Canary Isles one year. I remember once when we were playing Dresden in Germany. The previous year it had taken England all their time to beat the full German team in an international and I had taken with me the programme from that match. The night before Everton's game with Dresden the famous coach, Jimmy Hogan, who was working in Germany at that time, came to me and said, "You've got nothing to worry about tomorrow. You're only playing a club team." But I produced the international programme and checked it with the Dresden team that was going to play us the next day and they had ten internationals in the side - ten of the men who had played against England the previous year. They were trying a right fiddle against us. Their best player was an inside forward called Hoffman. I'd played against him in the England team and knew what a great player he was.
Before the match I said to Bill Bocking, who was going to mark him, "You'll be seeing a lot of this Hoffman if you don't give him the old shoulder charge nice and hard." Before long Hoffman scored a goal and I shouted down to our defence, "Don't forget the next time." So the next time Hoffman moved down on goal he was sorted out and they took him off on a stretcher. We went on to beat them in the end. There was a funny incident before the start of the match. We had taken a supply of size 5 footballs with us and the Dresden team had agreed to use it. When I went to the middle to toss up with the Jerry captain, he was carrying a size 4 ball that he wanted to use. It was just a kid's ball and we didn't want to use it. I said to him, "This is the ball we're going to use", and put the size 5 down on the centre spot. The Jerry captain kicked it away and put his ball down so I kicked that away. The referee was trying to stop all this when I said to the Jerry captain, "All right, give me your ball." I carried it over to the touchline and the captain and the referee followed me. When I got to the line I kicked the size 4 ball right over the stand and out of the ground. I turned to the referee and said, "Now, we'll play with this one - the size 5 ball." We did and won. But we didn't have a very happy tour that year and in the last match in Nuremberg Jimmy Stein broke a leg.

Holden hails his golden reserves
Mar 3 2005 By Scott McLeod, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON reserve boss Andy Holden has praised his young players for emulating the work ethic of the senior side at Aston Villa on Tuesday. The Blues' second string secured a hard-fought 1-0 victory against the Villans at Walsall's Bescott Stadium, courtesy of a fourth minute strike from Patrick Boyle. The size of David Moyes' squad meant there were no senior players in action, although Guillaume Plessis and James Vaughan, who have both been included on the bench for the recent games against Villa and Manchester United, started the game. Holden said: "I thought there was a great tempo to the game and our lads thoroughly deserved the win. "When you see youngsters put in effort like that and workrate like that, you like to think that they will get what they deserve and in this match we did. "We're delighted to have beaten the league leaders. That is the double over them now. "It was Patrick Boyle's first goal for the reserves but hopefully it won't be his last."
Everton are now 11th in the reserve table with 21 points from 17 games.

The Jury
Mar 3 2005 Liverpool Echo
'Cahill's passing, vision, awareness and commitment to the team was great to see' - Ken Stewart
TEN games to go, but is it 10 games from greatness? No, not quite. Put your finger on your lips and shush. As we all know, it would be pretty cringe-worthy to make such a rash statement. Unlike our lovely neighbours, we Evertonians are able to keep a sense of perspective. Fortunately, our financial future does not depend upon a need to qualify for the Champions League so we can relax and enjoy the rest of the season knowing that qualification for the big one would simply be a bonus.
On Saturday the team - particularly the midfield trio of Arteta, Osman and Cahill - produced a true Everton performance. There was flowing football with the goals to match. It all went to show that there is no chance of the pressure getting to us.
WE all know about the long and illustrious history of Everton's centre fowards, from Dixie to Latchford to Sharp. We recognise our great history of centre halves in people like Ratcliffe, Labone, TG Jones and Watson. Then we come to midfield and again we have a wonderful line of names to reel off from Alan Ball to Peter Reid to Colin Harvey. And in our current mid-field we have a player who is probably the most likely of the current squad to join that list of Everton greats - Tim Cahill.
I'm probably still in euphoria mode after Saturday's win, but you couldn't help but notice Cahill's contribution. He was inspirational. His passing, vision, awareness and sheer commitment to the team was great to see. Any fan wants this kind of player in their team.
I WASN'T looking forward to the Villa game, knowing our recent record, but from the first minute we were up for it and played the best football by an Everton team that I've seen in a long time. Our passing was exceptional, every player wanted the ball and our midfield running and tackling was immense. We have been threatening a performance like that all season and the only gripe could be that we didn't score more. When I saw the team before the game I thought it was an attacking line-up and wasn't disappointed. Cahill, Osman and Arteta are all comfortable on the ball and the passing and movement was excellent, with Kilbane and Carsley doing a great job of backing them up.
If we keep producing performances like that, there's no reason why we can't finish fourth.
WHAT a fantastic weekend that was! We played like a team who thoroughly deserve to be where we are in the league. Osman and Cahill were outstanding in midfield along with Mikel Arteta.
Arteta is fitting right into the squad and deserves a lot of credit for his performance on Saturday. He hasn't been here long but he is looking like a fantastic acquisition. All the players deserve so much credit. They made us feel even more proud of them this season. Bill Kenwright has been really lucky. We were all expecting the FSF investment by now but it is yet another broken promise. Either he pulls his finger out or he moves out of the way and lets investment in. If we perform well against Blackburn we could have European football guaranteed within the next four games!

'Surprise' Everton win Riise approval
By Ian Doyle Daily Post Staff
Mar 4 2005
EVERTON'S claims for Champions League football have received unlikely backing - from across Stanley Park. The Goodison outfit are currently eight points clear of neighbours Liverpool in fourth place with just 10 games remaining of the Premiership season, although the Anfield side have a game in hand. David Moyes's men entertain relegation-threatened Blackburn Rovers on Sunday hoping to maintain their advantage by continuing the form which has surprised many observers this season. And with the Merseyside giants due to meet in just over a fortnight for a potentially decisive encounter, the mind games have begun with Everton's achievements drawing praise from rival Liverpool player John Arne Riise. "Everton are doing well and we can't take that away from them," said the Norwegian. "To go away to Aston Villa and win 3-1 is a great result. "We know they're playing well but we just have to concentrate on our own results. "I think everybody has been taken by surprise by their consistency this season. Last year they almost went down and this year they are going for the Champions League. "They have a good work ethic in their team and a good spirit on the pitch, but of course I'm surprised that their good form has carried on for so long. We need to put pressure on them. "We have Everton to play at home which is going to be a massive game."
Moyes is still waiting on the fitness of several players ahead of Sunday's match with Blackburn, with James McFadden the biggest worry. The Scottish international missed last weekend's defeat of Aston Villa due to a back injury sustained in the FA Cup defeat to Manchester United, after originally being troubled by a thigh strain. And although McFadden joined in training yesterday, there are concerns the injury may be linked to a hamstring problem that could hamper the 21-year-old's participation during the Premiership runin. Everton will continue to monitor McFadden's situation along with that of Alan Stubbs, who also missed the Villa Park victory after sustaining a knee injury in training the previous day. "Alan picked up a knock in training last Friday and is making good progress," said Head of Physio Mick Rathbone. "Hopefully he will be available for the weekend but at the moment it is too early to say." Steve Watson will again be missing as he steps up his recovery from a stomach muscle injury. * THERE are still tickets remaining for Everton's home game against Blackburn Rovers on Sunday. Tickets can be purchased at the Everton Box Office during normal office hours.

Nelsen has no regrets over choosing football
By Martyn Ziegler, Daily Post
Mar 4 2005
BLACKBURN'S bid to thwart Everton a place in next year's Champions League will be aided on Sunday by the arrival of new defensive sensation Ryan Nelson. Nelsen turned his back on prospects of playing international cricket with New Zealand to pursue his football career. Nelsen, a brilliant batsman as a schoolboy, was invited to join the New Zealand youth cricket set-up but chose football instead and now captains his country's soccer team - known as the All Whites. The 27-year-old has had an astonishing impact in the Premiership since signing on a free transfer from DC United in January - he was named as Blackburn captain for the Lancashire derby against Burnley on Tuesday in place of the suspended Andy Todd after playing just six times for Rovers. Life could have turned out so differently for Nelsen, who was rated at least the equal of his school contemporary Craig McMillan - now a Black Caps regular - when they were at St Thomas of Canterbury College.
Nelsen's late grandfather had been head of the New Zealand FA, however - and there were other several ex-football internationals in his family, and he made a life-changing choice. "They thought I was mad when I chose soccer over cricket. Their reaction was 'what's the future in soccer?'," said Nelsen. He won a soccer scholarship to the USA where he excelled academically too, emerging with a degree in political science from Stanford University. Four years with DC United, and the captaincy of the New Zealand side, followed before Blackburn manager Mark Hughes swooped in the transfer window, and Nelsen has settled in to the club as though he has lived in Lancashire all his life.
He said: "I absolutely love it here. I love the area. The club has a family atmosphere; everybody has been fantastic. "From the first day I got here I felt happy with the management, the players, the facilities - it's truly awesome. "It was a surprise to get the armband on Tuesday - but it was a fantastic honour with a lot of other experienced players around. The game itself wasn't pretty sometimes. But the main thing was to get the win and Morten Pedersen hit an absolute blinder to win the game. "I had a couple of chances to score myself with headers and I thought both of them were in actually. The goalkeeper made an instinctive save. "The second one I headed it down too hard as it bounced over the bar." Nelsen knows all about the importance of the FA Cup and reckons Blackburn have a great opportunity to progress to at least the semi-finals. He added: "I think we've got the players to make any game competitive." Hughes, meanwhile, just thanks his lucky stars that Nelsen dropped into his lap. The Blackburn manager said: "I just cannot understand why he was not picked up before. He has been fantastic; he came on a free transfer, and it has been a great bit of business. "He's a huge talent - a strong man both on and off the field. He has presence, and I gave him the captaincy because I thought his performances merited it."

We are in the driving seat but we must stay focused
By Mark O'Brien Everton supporter, Daily Post
Mar 4 2005
HOW the chasing pack must have winced when they saw the result from Villa Park last Saturday.
Given the decidedly patchy form since the turn of the year, with the only positive results coming against sides in the lower leagues or those seemingly destined to join them, no one expected Everton to produce their performance of the season at another socalled 'bogey ground'. That's exactly what they did though, blowing Villa away with a display that must have been a bit special if even David O'Leary could find nothing to carp about afterwards. Indeed, the Villa manager, who has transformed himself from a loveable uncle figure he was when scoring the World Cup penalty against Romania into one of the most sour-faced whiners in English football, even went as far as admitting that Everton could easily have scored more goals than they did. Whatever next, a Liverpool supporter admitting that Jose Mourinho's goal celebration was really nothing much at all?
Some of the football Everton played on Saturday was top drawer, with three diminutive midfielders, Leon Osman, Tim Cahill and Mikel Arteta, totally dominant. We already knew what good players the first two are, but Arteta remained an unknown quantity. He's different to Thomas Gravesen, the man he ostensibly replaces, but his passing allowed his team-mates to get forward and support the equally impressive Marcus Bent; something they did with great relish. If he can continue to play like that and find so much space against better players than Eric Djemba-Djemba then we may have unearthed yet another gem. The acid test may come on Sunday against a Blackburn who, despite the protestations of Mark Hughes, must be one of the most physical in the Premiership. They certainly displayed all their manager's aggression with none of his finesse when Everton played them at Ewood Park, and since then the most notable addition is Robbie Savage, so the Toffees have every reason to expect the footballing equivalent of a night out with James Beattie. However, we just need to just concentrate on own game. We're in the driving seat and every win is another body blow for those in our wake. But before we get too excited we need to remember that there's still a quarter of the season to go.

Eyeing up third
Post Soapbox, icLiverpool & Daily Post
Mar 4 2005
Eyeing up third
I THINK its hilarious that Liverpool fans keep saying that they are going to catch us. We are not even interested in fourth anymore - with the form we have shown of late there's no reason why we can't go for third place. Arsenal are all over the place and after our win at Villa confidence is back, as are our key players. Cahill, Arteta and Osman look sound and Bent deserves a medal for the way he has been playing.
Catch us if you can Liverpool.
Barry Unsworth, Ormskirk
No punishment
I CAN'T see why Everton should be punished for anything. The likes of Millwall, Leeds, Cardiff and others have been causing mayhem for years with no punishment whatsoever. We have a couple of incidents and the FA kick off. It is complete and utter nonsense.
Eddie Goddard, (via e-mail)
Arteta is class
IT was an important win for Everton at Villa Park on Saturday. Arteta looks good considering he's not even close to being fully fit and he has only played a couple of games this season before coming to us. Who knows what Moyes might turn him into? As for Cahill, he shone after some time out and showed us what we missed against Chelsea and Manchester United. Osman was also impressive, working hard throughout and scoring two vital goals. Without a shadow of a doubt we will get fourth place this year, which is quite unbelieveble - and it's also good for football.
Neil Young, Wirral
Moyes legend
IF David Moyes doesn't win manager of the year then something is clearly wrong. To take this team to where they are is nigh on a miracle. The whole club have at last shown what they are capable of.
Sue Smith, Formby
Gutless racists
I AM disgusted to hear about this racist chanting, it isn't anywhere near as bad as the 1980s but any racist behaviour should mean a life-time ban. Don't let racism put anyone off from going to the game. Racists are gutless.
Noel Brown (via e-mail)

Moyes can bring title to Goodison - Grav
Mar 4 2005 By Scott McLeod, Liverpool Echo
THOMAS GRAVESEN has backed David Moyes to build a championship winning side at Everton - if he can guide the club to the Champions League this season. The Danish international departed Goodison in January, tempted by the lure of Real Madrid and the Champions League. But the midfielder has kept a close eye on the Blues' progress since his departure. And he believes Moyes can bring the Premiership title to Goodison in the years ahead. "I don't see why they can't win the league in the next few years," he said. "They have a motivated manager and a great group of lads. "If they get into Europe and have the money to spend on a few extra quality players, anything is possible. There's not a team in the Premiership with spirit like them." Gravesen has proved a hit at the Bernabeu since his £2.5m move. And his dream for next season would be to return to Goodison with Madrid in the Champions League. "It would be great to be drawn against Everton in the Champions League," he added. "They deserve it so much. It is not luck that Everton are fourth.
"European games would give them the money and attention they deserve." But despite his passion for Everton, Gravesen has not regretted his move. He added: "As much as I loved Everton, I do not know a player in the world that could turn down Real Madrid. "I want to be in the starting team and hear the Madrid fans singing my name. It will be hard with the many great players we have but I have great faith in my ability. "And when you are playing for the biggest club in the world your ambition must be to win every competition." Everton's push for a top four place continues on Sunday with the televised clash against Blackburn at Goodison. Alan Stubbs is in line for a return to the squad after missing the Villa victory through injury. But there remains a doubt over the fitness of James McFadden, who has been troubled by a hamstring problem since the FA Cup tie with Manchester United.

Moyes' men backed to finish fourth
Mar 4 2005 By Scott McLeod, Liverpool Echo
A HOST of Everton greats have backed David Moyes' men to end the club's 34 year wait to compete in Europe's top club competition. 1971 was the last time the Blues were permitted to take part in the European Cup following their Harvey/Kendall/Ball inspired first division title. And while the league crown may be beyond Everton's reach this season, the club have established an eight-point lead over the chasing pack - and local rivals Liverpool - in the battle for a top four finish which would qualify them for the Champions League. It is an advantage which, with 10 games remaining, memorable faces from the great sides of the past believe will be enough to bring the Champions League to Goodison for the first time. Howard Kendall, the most successful manager in the club's history, admits: "I can't see anybody catching them. Liverpool will think they have got a chance, but they are the only ones. "Everton are the odds-on favourites after the way they played last week. If they keep playing like that, nobody will have a chance of catching them." Those are sentiments echoed by Kevin Ratcliffe, the skipper of the great Everton side of the 1980s. But he believes the crunch games in the bid for a top four finish will come this weekend. He explains: "People have been waiting for Everton to slip up but they have kept battling away and getting results. "Aston Villa last weekend was one of the best games of football all year, they could have easily scored five or six goals and they played really well. "The Liverpool players will have been gutted watching it in their hotel rooms. "But in my opinion, this weekend is the big weekend. If Liverpool don't get a result at Newcastle on Saturday and then Everton beat Blackburn on Sunday, the gap could become 11 points. "At the moment, Liverpool need to win three more games than Everton to close the gap. But after this weekend it could potentially be four games. And with just 10 matches left for them to play after Saturday, that would be too much for them to achieve. "As it stands, if Everton can notch up four wins from their final 10 games then Liverpool will be looking to have to win seven from 11 - and that is something they have not done all season." Talk of Europe may by muted at Bellefield, but it is rising to a crescendo on the streets of the city following last weekend's 3-1 victory at Villa Park.
It was a result which not only extended the Blues' lead over fifth-placed Liverpool to eight points, it also affirmed to many Evertonians the prospect of their team having the wit and wherewithal to maintain a European berth. But what EXACTLY will it take to make that dream a reality?
Two seasons ago, having spent virtually the entire campaign in a European qualifying spot, Moyes' men dropped to seventh after losing the final game of the season at home to Manchester United, allowing Blackburn to snatch the final European place. The memory of that disappointment means any optimism has been cautious among supporters as this season has developed and the prospect of European qualification has emerged. But Kevin Sheedy is confident that disappointment will not affect the players. "I don't even think that will come into their thinking," he revealed. "It has been such a fantastic season that the players won't want to fall short. There has been a determination in their play all season and I am sure it will continue. "The key is that the team has showed they are more than capable of winning games away from home so they are in a position where they can get results in every game. "They are also scoring goals from all areas of the team and that gives them an advantage. "They are working hard for each other and they deserve to be in the strong position they are in." Two years ago, as the Blues were licking their wounds following that final day defeat, Chelsea were securing fourth place with a final day victory over Liverpool. That win gave them a total of 67 points. But 12 months ago, a modest return of 60 points was enough for Gerard Houllier's men. A glance through the Premiership record books shows that, since the Premiership was reduced to 20 clubs in 1995, the average required for fourth place has been 66 points. Everton are currently 15 points short of that total with 30 points left to play for. The final word, for now, goes to Andy Gray. "The situation can change, of course, very quickly. A couple of reverse results this weekend could give Liverpool all the motivation they need. "But somehow I can't see that happening."

Dixie completes his medal collection by lighting up Cup final
Mar 4 2005 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
Almost 35 years ago the ECHO carried the most comprehensive, meticulously collated interview the great man ever gave. All this week we've been reproducing excerpts from the interviews which form a stunning new book - Dixie Dean Uncut: The Greatest Story Ever Told. BY the start of season 1932/33 the Everton team was in really tremendous form. I used to think it was like an orchestra. Everybody was in tune with everyone else's' play. We didn't need to practice moves, we all knew what each other was going to do. Lads like Jimmy Dunn and Tosh Johnson could read the game and they knew exactly where I was going to put the ball to them when it came to me in the air. Everything was instinctive. Most of us had played together for three or four years and when we beat teams like Chelsea by eight or Sheffield Wednesday by nine, you didn't need to practice moves. The moves were all there, all the time. At the start of the season I very much wanted to win the Cup because we'd won the League Championship the season before. The way we were playing we didn't have to try any harder, just play our usual game because we knew it was paying off. We beat Leicester 3-2 in the first round and when we came into the dressing room afterwards I said to the lads, "Well done. Don't alter what you're doing, just keep to the same tune." The only time throughout the Cup run when we might have come unstuck was in the semi-final at Wolverhampton against West Ham. Things didn't come off for us that day and Dick Watson, the West Ham centre forward, could have beaten us. He tried to draw Ted Sagar out of his goal and put the ball past him. If he had shot first time he would have scored but as Ted came out he slipped, but still managed to grab hold of the ball. The semi-final was by far the most difficult game we played that season because we won all our other matches pretty well. In fact, the final against Manchester City at Wembley was so easy. The bookies were backing 7-4 on City and I thought it was a ridiculous price. I liked a bet myself and I thought I'd have a go that time, but I didn't. When we got to Wembley we went out to look at the pitch but we had been to see it a couple of days previously. Just before the game started a commissionaire came to our dressing room door and said, "Get ready to come out. Manchester City are just going down the tunnel." I said, "It's all right. Don't worry, we'll catch them up later. Shut the door." All the lads said to me, "Come on, Bill, we'll have to hurry up." But old Warney Creswell was sitting there as calm as ever, smoking his pipe. So to keep him company I lit a cigarette and I said to the lads, "There's plenty of time. Let them wait." So they did wait in the tunnel so that we could line up with them. They must have waited a good few minutes for us. When I got alongside Sam Cowan, the City captain, he was holding a football in his hand and you could see how nervous he was. I said to him, "That ball is shaking in your hand." So I got hold of his hand and said, "Put your other hand on top and stop the ball from shaking." You should have seen him. It wasn't long before Jimmy Stein scored the first goal. The ball had been pushed down the middle and I nodded it back to Tosh Johnson who placed a great pass between the fullback and the halfback for Jimmy Stein. Jimmy was very fast in those days. He ran through them and round them and didn't hesitate. He hit the ball on the run. It never left the ground and it went right in the far corner of the net. After that there was only one team in it. You didn't have to tell Cliff Britton or Tosh Johnson what to do and early in the second half, Cliff got this ball just in the right position on the halfway line. I knew exactly what he was going to do and he put it right over into the goalmouth.
I went up with Langford, the City goalkeeper. He could see me coming in and he took his eye off the ball. All I had to do was go up and nod it in, just a flick of the head and that was the second.
I've read since that some people think I didn't score that goal - that the ball went in directly from Cliff's centre or that Langford pushed it in himself. But I can tell you that I did head the ball and score. The third goal came soon afterwards. Albert Geldard took a corner on the right. Before he did I said to Jimmy Dunn, "Stand near the corner of the penalty area." This was what he intended to do but Albert hit the corner very hard and it came straight to Dunn instead of me. Jimmy Dunn headed it right back across the goalmouth and as Langford hesitated, looking at me and thinking I was going to move in to head the ball again, Jimmy's header went straight past him into the far corner of the net. Jimmy Dunn ran like mad all round Wembley. He went so far I thought he was the hare on the greyhound track. So that was our 3-0 Wembley win - one of the easiest games we'd had all season.
The one man on the City side I felt sorry for particularly was their inside-left Jimmy McMullan because it was his last game in football and the last chance, of course, that he'd ever have of getting a cup medal. I'll never forget going up to the Royal Box to receive the Cup from the Duchess of York, who later became Queen. She congratulated me and said it was a very good game and that she had enjoyed it. So that was Wembley 1933 and I had then won every honour. The Cup winner's medal completed the collection.

Everton 0, Blackburn 1 (D,Post)
Mar 7 2005 By Andy Hunter at Goodison Park, Daily Post
MOTHERS, not neighbours, should have been the only people bestowed with gifts yesterday.
Everton have admirably kept their counsel while outsiders have queued up to pronounce why they will not figure in the Champions League next season. On Mothering Sunday, however, they managed to present their own argument against inclusion in Europe's premier competition. But perhaps that's just they way they like it. Instead of establishing a commanding 11-point lead over Liverpool in the race for fourth place David Moyes's men ensured their arch-rivals will still have everything to play for when they meet in a fortnight after a defeat that was almost as shocking as their performance. A home game against struggling Blackburn Rovers should have been an ideal opportunity for Everton to take one giant leap towards the Champions League, and throw all the pressure onto Rafael Benitez's side in the process. Instead, and despite the eight-point cushion they boast over fifth, their first participation in a European Cup competition for 34 years remains in the balance and will do so for many more weeks yet. But when have Everton ever taken the easy option during this season of constant surprise? Whether defying the initial odds of relegation, of silencing talk of a collapse in November, December or January, of coping without their finest players or punishing so many sides in the final minutes, Everton have been at their best when expectation is against them, not behind them. They thrive on belligerence, and now they must do so over the final nine games of this campaign to prevent yet more European disappointment arriving at Goodison Park. It is almost as if they want it this way. Every time Liverpool win an earlier game to heighten the pressure on Everton, they respond in kind. Each time Liverpool slip, Everton fail to take advantage. Past form, team spirit and powers of recovery offer little consolation this morning, however. Everton had a fantastic opportunity to shape the rest of their season for the good yesterday, and they blew it miserably. So many consistent performers produced an off-day yesterday that Goodison almost longed for the return of the much-maligned bog that masqueraded as a pitch for so long. At least then they would have had diverts to count. The added incentive for victory provided by Laurent Robert 24 hours earlier failed to transmit itself from the north east as Everton delivered a performance that was as far removed from the command and craft on show at Villa Park as it is possible to get. The lowest Goodison crowd of the season - explained in part by a pitiful away section that could have travelled back to Blackburn in two Transit vans - provided a suitable backdrop to one of the most listless home displays of this campaign. Midfield has been a font of control and intelligence for Everton this season, and was the key to their excellent win at Aston Villa last week. But only Steven Reid and David Thompson, the former Liverpool player and one-time Everton transfer target, displayed any yesterday before Jonathan Stead's 71st-minute winner sealed a deserved defeat. Blackburn's rugged, physical style should have been no surprise to the home side but Rovers threatened to out-Everton Everton in terms of disciplined organisation and impressive work-rate. Where Moyes's men struggled to find any fluidity, with both flanks anonymous throughout, the visitors offered more purpose and penetration and would have been in front after only eight minutes but for a fine save by Nigel Martyn. Reid instigated the chance with a header from Morten Pedersen's long throw that looped over the Everton goalkeeper and forced Alessandro Pistone to hook clear. Everton failed to completely cut out the danger, however, and when Dickov ghosted in behind David Weir it took a brave reflex save by Martyn to keep his volley out. The diminutive thorn in Everton's side lasted only another six minutes though before he pulled up with an apparent thigh strain following an innocuous aerial challenge with Joseph Yobo. But his departure did not alter the pattern of the half and Everton were soon required to reshuffle themselves when Mikel Arteta's chance to build on his encouraging display at Villa was ended by a cynical Aaron Mokoena foul. Despite catching the Spanish international's ankle with a late challenge from behind the South African captain escaped with nothing more than a word of warning from referee Phil Dowd. Arteta's fate was far worse and after soldiering on for six more painful minutes, during which he almost sliced into his own net, he was eventually replaced by Duncan Ferguson.
Ferguson's arrival alongside Marcus Bent should have signalled the end of the comfort zone for the Rovers defence, but they only combined to telling effect once when Mokoena was again fortunate to escape censure. Mokoena was left isolated as the last man when Ferguson flicked on for Bent, who gainfully stayed on his feet after a nudge from the midfielder only to be denied by the legs of the advancing Brad Friedel in the 36th minute. That was the only occasion when Everton seriously troubled the giant American from open play. Every other moment of promise arrived from a Lee Carsley set-piece and though he twice went close, helped create a shooting chance for Pistone's right boot and a free header for Kevin Kilbane, the Blackburn defence easily handled the increasingly predictable threats from Everton. Even when they began the second half with an urgency that the occasion demanded the home side struggled to hurt Rovers and after toiling for so long they succumbed to the classic sucker-punch 19 minutes from time. The influential Reid capitalised on an awful clearance by Yobo and sent Stead sprinting clear. For the second successive season, he plundered a Goodison winner with a low shot across Martyn into the far corner.
In keeping with their overall performance there was only a muted response from Everton, who rarely looked as if they knew they were involved in a potentially defining game of the season.
The next one will be, and they must produce far, far more than this if they expect to silence their Champions League doubters once and for all.
EVERTON (4-5-1): Martyn; Hibbert, Yobo, Weir, Pistone (McFadden 75); Osman, Arteta (Ferguson 23), Carsley, Cahill, Kilbane; Bent. Subs: Wright, Stubbs, Plessis.
BOOKINGS: Weir, Carsley, Cahill (fouls).
BLACKBURN (4-1-4-1): Friedel; Neill, Todd, Nelsen, Johansson; Mokoena; Thompson, Reid, Flitcroft, Pedersen; Dickov (Stead 14). Subs: Short, Tugay, Enckelman, Gallagher.
BOOKINGS: Mokoena, Stead (fouls).
REFEREE: Phil Dowd
ATT: 32,406
NEXT GAME: Liverpool v Everton, Barclays Premiership, Sunday, March 20, 4.05pm

Rueful Moyes laments missed opportunity
Mar 7 2005 By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
DAVID MOYES was left to rue one of the worst Everton performances of the season last night as his side blew the chance to establish a commanding lead in the race for the fourth Champions League place. Everton could have gone 11 points clear of Liverpool with victory over struggling Blackburn yesterday. Instead their Merseyside rivals remain only eight behind - and with a game in hand and the Anfield derby to come - after Jonathan Stead gave Blackburn Rovers a crucial win in their fight to avoid the drop. Everton manager Moyes was at a loss to explain his side's below-par display, which saw Mikel Arteta limp off with suspected ankle ligament damage after only 23 minutes. But he admitted it was among the poorest of the campaign as Everton failed to build on last week's morale-boosting display at Aston Villa. Moyes said: "We didn't play well and we cannot argue with the result. We were not thinking about taking advantage of any opportunities, only of taking three points and we didn't do enough to take them. "We just didn't perform well. "Last week we had nine or 10 players against Aston Villa who were on top of their game. Today we had quite a few who were below the standards they have set themselves this season. "Losing Mikel Arteta didn't help in terms of our formation but we hadn't started well anyway. It didn't massively unbalance us because we were able to bring Duncan on and change our style. That helped us see more of the ball but we lacked quality in our play to make it count." He added: "I just felt we didn't get to the level we have set ourselves this season. I can't put my finger on why we didn't play well. Well, there are one or two but they shall remain private. "Last week we had a great win at Villa and now this. That's football, that is why we love the game but also hate it at times too. "Today was not a good day for us but if we continue to do what we have done throughout this season then we will do well."
Moyes denied the chance to open up such a huge lead on Liverpool following their defeat at Newcastle had contributed to Everton's off-key display. "We are not really looking at what the others are doing," he said. "Anything above finishing out of the relegation zone is a bonus and it will remain that way. "We have not been talking about fourth. We think we have already had a good season and anything else is a bonus ball. "The players are down because they know they did not perform, although I haven't had to say that about them many times this season. "Ideally we would like to get this result out of our system right away but we have picked ourselves up from bad results in the past and we will have to do so again. "This, however, was right down in the bottom echelons when it comes to our performances this season. "A lot of credit must go to Blackburn and Mark Hughes, though. "It was an important victory for them."

Euro visionaries miss cue to hit the high notes
By Mark O'Brien, Daily Post
Mar 7 2005
THE NEW Goodison pitch was so smooth and green that it might have been more fitting if Len Ganley, not Philip Dowd, had officiated Everton's crucial game against Blackburn Rovers yesterday.
Unfortunately Everton took to the improved surface with none of the steely-eyed ruthlessness of, say, a Stephen Hendry; instead they did a fair impression of snooker's serial nearly man, Jimmy White, by following one of the most sparkling performances of the season with one of the most abject. A win against a team only now pulling clear of the relegation zone would have left Liverpool and the rest with a mountain to climb, but Jon Stead's second-half goal meant that while most of the weekend's results went Everton's way, the most important one of all, their own, did not. Evertonians should have recognised the bad omens when the television build-up started interweaving clips of Real Madrid with those of Everton, and the pundits talked of the race for Champions League qualification being as good as over. It's never that simple, not with Everton, even if they have been defying expectations for most of the season. But, buoyed by that display of total football at Villa Park, the mood before the game was expectant - there were few people who thought that David Moyes's men would turn down another chance to pull well clear of the chasing pack. That's exactly what happened though. The last time Everton played a home game straight after a shocking away performance by Liverpool they faced a Charlton Athletic side who defended well, kept possession and took their chance when it was presented. Rovers followed the same formula and once again it paid off handsomely. The home side's cause certainly wasn't helped when a crude challenge from behind sent Mikel Arteta jack-knifing to the turf and then forced the Spaniard to withdraw early in the first half. Duncan Ferguson must have been double checking his watch as he was thrown into the fray with over an hour to go, but it would be unfair on Blackburn, and too easy on the Everton players who failed to perform, to blame the result on one injury and the subsequent reshuffle of the team. Quite simply they failed to reproduce the passing game that bamboo-zled Aston Villa, and perhaps more crucially they also showed little of their fighting spirit, the trait that has been the real hallmark of their season. Leon Osman and Tim Cahill, for instance - the absolute superstars of a week ago - were completely out-shone by the energy and drive of a one-time Everton target, David Thompson. Marcus Bent, meanwhile, wasted Everton's best chance and struggled to have any impact on the game, as always seems to be the case when he's operating in anything but the lone front role. And the less said about the two full-backs and Joseph Yobo, whose wayward pass led to the goal, the better. In short, too many players failed to play anywhere near the standard that we know they're capable of. So, after spending Saturday night with longer faces than beaten Song For Europe favourite, Katie Price, Liverpool fans must be overjoyed that they have once again been let off the hook. Everyone knows the permutations by now: if they win their game in hand and then the derby then the gap between the sides will be reduced to only two points. Psychologically, if nothing else, Everton's result must have come as a boost to a side who struggled to get out of their own half at St James' Park and were expecting to find themselves a massive 11 points adrift come Sunday evening. However, beating Blackburn in that extra game is no formality, especially if Mark Hughes's team show the sort of commitment that they displayed at Goodison. Winning the derby is easier said than done too, especially as Everton, for all their faults yesterday, seem to be more comfortable when playing away from home and have shown on many occasions that they're nothing if not resilient. If the Blues do fail to hold onto fourth spot though - and it's still a big if, the other teams need to improve drastically on what they've shown all season - then this game will definitely be looked back upon as the one where, with their opponents on the verge of needing snookers, they fatally miscued.

Hughes hails his goal hero Stead
By Paul Walker, Daily Post
Mar 7 2005
MARK HUGHES hailed Jonathan Stead's comeback after the youngster hit the priceless goal to give Blackburn a crucial 1-0 victory at Everton. The win pulls Rovers further away from the relegation zone while stopping Everton from increasing their hold on the fourth Champions League spot.
But Rovers manager Hughes was only concerned about his own side's plight and 21-year-old Stead's part in a dogged display. Hughes said: "We knew we needed to get something out of the game considering the other results this weekend for teams below us in the table, Southampton and West Brom. "There is a real resolve in the dressing room and we showed what we are about this time. It has been a difficult season for Jon, he arrived late at the club last season and broke through straight away and made a big impact. "It has been more difficult for him this season and he has struggled with his game and his confidence." Stead arrived from Huddersfield last term and hit the goals which saved Blackburn from relegation, including the winner in the corresponding fixture last season. This goal at Goodison was his first this season. Hughes said: "He came on as a substitute this time in difficult circumstances - we had just lost Paul Dickov - but he ran his socks off and scored a great goal to win the game. "Everybody is delighted for him and you could see that in the reaction of his team-mates because they were delighted for him. It is always the case when youngsters come in, they are always an unknown quantity and they make a big impact. "Teams had to legislate for him this season and he has found it more difficult and it affected his confidence; this goal will go a long way to addressing that. "It was obvious to me and himself that he wasn't playing at the standard he needed. His confidence was down and he could not have expected to get into the side. But in this one he made an impact."

Pale shadow of Villa enterprise
View from the stands by Mark Mckenna Everton supporter, Daily Post
Mar 7 2005
WELL, the weekend was going better than any Evertonian could have dreamed . . . and then Everton played! Dreams of Goodison's ball boys waving that gigantic footy in the centre circle in the Champions League next season were in the minds of many during the build-up to this game with the home team being handed the perfect chance to build up a significant gap on those beneath us.

After the joy we've been given this season, it feels like criticising the players would be an act of treachery, but the team just weren't up for it in a game where we never displayed any of the fluidity, class and energy shown at Villa Park last week. Against a team battling to avoid the relegation zone, Everton never imposed any authority on the game and produced a nervous display from start to finish. In a game everybody expected us to win, it appeared the players are a lot more comfortable when the odds are against them. The loss of Mikel Arteta's quality hit us hard, but I don't feel our response to his injury assisted our cause. My adulation for David Moyes may be leading me to contemplate dyeing my bonce ginger, but I've got to say I think he got it wrong here. Rather than bringing on James McFadden as a replacement in midfield, the switch to 4-4-2 by bringing on Duncan Ferguson never suited the players. Far from the fluidity of our midfield last week, the midfielders seemed unsure of their particular roles and it was in this area of the pitch where Blackburn gradually showed a greater cohesion and deservedly grabbed the win. However, a win in our next game against another struggling Premiership side will go more than a fair way to making up for the poor performance yesterday!

Everton 0, Blackburn 1 (Echo)
Mar 7 2005 By Scott McLeod at Goodison Park
THE assertion from the Goodison boss ahead of this game was that points are more important than performances right now. But sometimes you can't have the former without the latter, as Everton learned yesterday. This was as far removed from the display at Villa Park as you could care to imagine. Telepathic last week, soporific this. For 71 minutes it seemed this lacklustre display would still garner a point. But then Blackburn's approach of remaining solid at the back in the hope a quick break would provide a reward paid dividends, courtesy of substitute Jonathan Stead. The quality of the strike was not in keeping with the game, clinically placing a shot beyond Nigel Martyn. The men in royal blue shook their heads in disbelief. But in reality, they could not suggest they did enough to warrant much more from proceedings. Neither side really deserved to win. But, equally, neither side could have complained had they lost. It was that kind of afternoon. Everton simply did not play well enough. And that was reflected by a lack of goalscoring chances. Despite improving after a torrid opening half to enjoy long periods of territorial advantage, there was just one gilt-edged opportunity for the home side. Bar two sweetly struck Lee Carsley free-kicks which sailed agonisingly off target, the only decent opening fell to Marcus Bent in the first half. He chased on to a flick-on from Duncan Ferguson and shrugged off a clear pull from Aaron Mokoena as he entered the box. But that drag back was enough to take the striker out of his stride and his effort was blocked by Brad Friedel as he dashed off his line. Bent deserved better, because a less honest striker would have chosen to tumble to the ground in search of a penalty. It was a rare moment of incision from the Blues on an afternoon when the passing play which illuminated Villa Park was nowhere to be seen. Clearly the slick new playing surface didn't agree with David Moyes' men. The ball squirmed out of the possession of both sides with such regularity that you could have been forgiven for thinking it was liberally covered in grease. You could expect such sloppy play from a Blackburn outfit which has struggled for goals and points this season. But Everton can do much better than this. And they will have to in the remaining nine matches if they are not to allow their decent lead to be eroded. The worry is that this was the third home game in which Everton have failed to play to their potential.
Yes, the other two games were against Chelsea and Manchester United. But the side cannot afford to let this kind of game become a habit. Liverpool's defeat at Newcastle on Saturday presented the Blues with a glittering chance to open up a lead in double figures which would have provided a telling psychological blow to the men from Anfield. Instead, Everton's local rivals will be buoyed by the fact their defeat at Newcastle has not cost them any ground. We are entering the bottom-twitching period of the campaign. And the next match could be the most important of the lot.
Liverpool could be within five points of the Blues going into that game if they provide a more telling performance against Rovers than Everton mustered here. But the Blues are still very much in the driving seat. The key is to rediscover their top gear at Goodison Park. Do that and they will earn the points they need to book a Champions League spot. In the meantime, they must go to Anfield and make amends. Thank-fully on the road this season they are motoring nicely. But they should heed the lessons from Blackburn. From the outset yesterday, they were knocked out of their rhythm by a Rovers side who display the same endeavour and effort as the Blues without a great deal of flair.
Indeed, in many respects they are the side many would have you believe Everton are. The reality is there is far more quality and oomph to the Blues' play. Normally, anyway. But on this evidence it was Blackburn, inspired by an outstanding defensive performance and the midfield flair of Steven Reid and David Thompson, who were the more cohesive. The va-va voom needs to be redisovered in the fortnight before the Anfield derby. The unwelcome break from Everton's usual passing game was not helped by the early loss of Mikel Arteta and a switch of formation from the now familiar 4-5-1 to 4-4-2. Ferguson's arrival provided a second offensive outlet. But it also meant that the midfield was too fragmented, particularly when the ball was launched forward early - something that happened far too often. And while we are on the subject of regular occurences we could have done without, referee Phil Dowd didn't help matters. What a whistle blower. The second-rate official starved the game of the momentum it so desperately needed. But that should not be used as an excuse. The fact of the matter is that, with the possible exceptions of Tony Hibbert, Joseph Yobo and Carsley, those players who played at their best last week were below par - well below par - here..
After Saturday's results, this was an opportunity squandered. Everton's lead is still impressive.
And it will take an unimaginable run of form for them to allow fourth place to slip away.
But this game provided a chilling reminder that such a loss of form is not out of the question.
Everton can do better. They must do better. They deserve to do better. Because they cannot let the fine work of this campaign slip away by repeating afternoons like this one.
EVERTON (4-5-1): Martyn; Hibbert, Yobo, Weir, Pistone (McFadden 75); Osman, Arteta (Ferguson 23), Carsley, Cahill, Kilbane; Bent. Subs: Wright, Stubbs, Plessis.
BOOKINGS: Weir, Carsley, Cahill (fouls).
BLACKBURN (4-1-4-1): Friedel; Neill, Todd, Nelsen, Johansson; Mokoena; Thompson, Reid, Flitcroft, Pedersen; Dickov (Stead 14). Subs: Short, Tugay, Enckelman, Gallagher.
BOOKINGS: Mokoena, Stead (fouls).
REFEREE: Phil Dowd
ATT: 32,406

Weir tells Blues to stay upbeat
Mar 7 2005 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
DAVID WEIR has urged Everton to employ the power of positive thinking, after one of their worst performances of the season cost them the chance of going 11 points clear of rivals Liverpool.
The Blues went down 1-0 at home to Blackburn yesterday, wasting a chance to score a huge psychological blow in the battle to hang onto the fourth Champions League place. But skipper for the day, Weir, insists Everton have to look forward, not back. "It was a really bad result and a bad performance if we're honest, but we've got to move on from it," he said. "The manager told us that he was disappointed with the way we played, but he didn't have to tell us anything that we didn't already know. "We were disappointed in ourselves, the reaction in the dressing room after the game showed that, but we have to move on. "It's all about responding to it and what we do next, it's not about what's happened." Weir admits that losing midfielder Mikel Arteta to ankle ligament damage in the 23rd minute might have been a contributory factor to a dreadful display. "The sight of Mikel limping off was a real blow because he has been doing well. He gets on the ball and passes," he added. "He can get the entire team moving and we didn't really do that after he went off injured.
"It was just one of those days were things didn't happen for us, but now we have to move on. We can't dwell on it and analyse it too much. We need to look ahead. "The break in the fixtures will give us a chance to regroup, get everyone fit and on top of their game and get ready to go again."

Moyes is cool over Champions League
Mar 7 2005 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES refused to contemplate the jackpot of Champions League qualification next season - after a shocking display saw Everton miss an excellent opportunity to open up an 11-point gap on nearest rivals Liverpool. The Blues were beaten 1-0 at home by relegation threatened Blackburn - and now do not play again until the Merseyside derby in a fortnight. But Moyes refused to look any further than that. "The players here are not talking about fourth place. We think we have already had a good season and anything more is a bonus ball," he declared. "We didn't play well and we cannot argue with the result. We were not thinking about taking any advantage of any opportunities, only of taking three points and we didn't do enough today to earn those points.
"We just didn't perform well. Last week we had nine or 10 players against Aston Villa who were on top of their game. Today we had quite a few who were below the standards they have set for themselves this season. "I have one or two ideas on why that was, but they will remain private.
"Losing Mikel Arteta didn't help in terms of our formation, but we hadn't started well anyway. It didn't massively unbalance us. We changed the formation, changed our style which gave us a wee bit more of the ball, but there wasn't enough quality. "I am only looking at where we are and what we are doing. Anything above relegation is a bonus. "Last week we had a great win at Villa and now this. That's football, that is why we love the game but also hate it at times, too. "Today was not a good day for us, but if we continue to do what we have done throughout this season, then we will do well." Moyes added: "The players are down because they know they did not perform, although I haven't had to say that about them many times this season. "Ideally we would like to get this result out of our system right away, but we have picked ourselves up from bad results in the past and we will have to do so again. This was right down in the bottom echelons when it comes to our performances this season."

Hughes in pledge to do Blues a favour
Mar 7 2005 Liverpool Echo
MARK HUGHES has vowed to do his old club Everton a favour next week by ensuring that Blackburn win at Liverpool. Hughes saw his Rovers team halt Everton's charge towards a Champions League spot yesterday by winning 1-0 at Goodison Park courtesy of Jonathan Stead's first goal of the season.
Liverpool, who lost at Newcastle on Saturday to damage their own hopes of catching fourth-placed Everton in the Premiership, are Blackburn's next opponents a week on Wednesday. And if Rovers can repeat their performance against Everton that night, Hughes will have at least paid back his former Goodison Park employers. Hughes said: "I feel if we play like that at Anfield next week then there is no shadow of a doubt that we can do Everton a favour by beating Liverpool. "That level of performance will stand us in good stead and very few teams would have beaten us the way we played. "I think Everton have enough about them to claim that fourth spot. We played very well against them and stopped them getting the ball into the box. "They are very good at that and they have the players to finish things off. We also coped with their midfield runners and tracked them all game. "Most teams will not compete with them as well as we have."

Shocker gives derby an extra edge
Mar 7 2005 Analysis by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
LOVELY pitch. Shame about the performance. Everton finally found themselves some flat, green grass to play on at Goodison Park yesterday - then proceeded to knock the ball long and over it in a thoroughly wretched display. Dreams of an 11 point lead over Champions League rivals Liverpool turned out to be just that, as a nightmare afternoon ensured that there could still be plenty more twists and developments before the identity of the Premiership's fourth team in next season's Euro cash dispenser is known. A weekend which could have seen a huge psychological blow inflicted on the Reds, saw the Anfield boys lose 1-0 themselves, but still wake up today with a glimmer of renewed hope. After Everton's extravagant demolition of Aston Villa last Saturday it was difficult to work out just exactly what went wrong. But, undoubtedly, the departure of Spanish midfielder Mikel Arteta just 24 minutes in, hardly helped. Duncan Ferguson's introduction has swung so many matches Everton's way this season that David Moyes' eagerness to hoist the number 10 board aloft as soon as it became clear Arteta could not continue was understandable. Except this time it backfired. Nothing to do with Ferguson's input, mind. But the lack of the extra body in midfield allowed Blackburn to dictate a game the Blues had already struggled to impose any authority over.
Even more frustratingly, the Blues did have other options available when Arteta limped out of the action. James McFadden's arrival would have allowed Osman to slip into the attacking midfield role he excelled in at Plymouth. But Moyes rarely turns to the conservative option - and Ferguson's headed flick-on did give Marcus Bent the game's best chance after 36 minutes. He failed to clip the ball past Friedel as he raced clear of Mokoena's flailing arms and legs, however, and Everton never came as close again. It truly was a shocking performance. There were more misplaced passes than Casanova let loose in a convent, almost no flair nor creativity - and a sloppily conceded goal to the same player who grabbed the winning goal here last season. After the expressive, free-flowing football of the previous weekend it was even more frustrating for an appalled Goodison gallery to endure. And, due to the vagaries of the fixture computer, Everton now have a fortnight to mull over the result before the Palm Sunday derby which will now prove pivotal to both teams' seasons.
Liverpool, of course, will take great heart from this scoreline. Just when even the most optimistic of Kopites was contemplating a derby match which could quite conceivably have ended with an unbridgeable 14 point gap between themselves and their neighbours, they now have a real-istic possibility of that gap being cut to just two. That, of course, all depends on Rafa Benitez's great inconsistents turning in one of their good days at Anfield next week and beating Blackburn Rovers.
Despite Benitez's claim that his team had "controlled" the game at St James' Park on Saturday - not a single shot on target, and not many off it either, suggested otherwise. But there was certainly nothing to unduly concern them at Goodison Park yesterday. Mark Hughes' men were organised, aggressive - and passed the ball tidily, if unambitiously. Their winner came from a long ball humped down the field for Stead to chase, which he did willingly before cutting a precisely guided shot beyond Nigel Martyn's right hand. And after creating just one goal-scoring chance in the 71 minutes previously, Everton didn't have enough time to conjure up anything else to disturb Brad Friedel's slumbers. Liverpool, of course, have two vitally important fixtures to negotiate before the Anfield derby match. For Everton, the countdown starts now. And they have to be better than this if a season which has promised so much is to eventually deliver.

Blues star tells of brawl with bar yobs
Mar 7 2005 Liverpool Echo
EVERTON star James Beattie revealed he was drawn into last week's Birmingham bar brawl after his girlfriend was assaulted. The 27-year-old Blues striker had watched Everton beat Aston Villa last Saturday. He told a Sunday newspaper he was celebrating his birthday with fiancée Sarah Rendle and a group of friends in the city centre. University graduate Sarah said a group of four men lifted her dress and exposed her underwear in the street as the couple were waiting for a taxi in the early hours of Sunday morning. Beattie said: "I shouted 'who did that?' "Then, all of a sudden I was punched in the face and fell. I remember the aggressive one coming at me and his mates joining in.
"On the CCTV I look like the one starting it, but that's not how it happened."

Everton setting standard for rest
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Mar 8 2005
DAVID THOMPSON believes Everton have set the benchmark for every aspiring Premiership club this season by threatening the elite's monopoly on the Champions League. The former Liverpool midfielder damaged Everton's grip on fourth place on Sunday with an instrumental role in Blackburn Rovers' shock win at Goodison Park. But the boyhood Evertonian is anxious to see David Moyes's side rewarded for their seven-month stay in the top four with a place in Europe's premier competition next season. And he claims the Goodison club have become an inspiration to every top flight club without the riches of the established Premier-ship hierarchy. Thompson said: "I'd like to see Everton and Liverpool both get into the Champions League, but you have to say that Everton are going about it in the right way. "They've got good team spirit and a great young manager. In many ways you could say they have become a benchmark for the rest of us. "It is a tough league. You've got the top three, maybe four if you include Newcastle or possibly Liverpool. Those are the ones with a lot of money to spend, and then the rest of us are much of a muchness. "But Everton are doing it with hard work, and the buys they have made have been very shrewd. I'm sure in the summer our chief executive will assess the money and maybe give our manager some because we look at Everton and think that maybe next year that could be us." Everton missed a glorious opportunity to open up an 11-point gap on Liverpool when they delivered a dreadful display against Rovers. And Thompson believes they may need 14 points from their remaining nine games to clinch the final Champions League spot. "Everton are certainties to get into Europe, and now it's up to them if they want it to be in the Champions League," he said.. "Sixty points will usually get you into Europe, and they're not far away from that now. I'd say 65 would definitely get them into the Champions League." Liverpool's game-in-hand on Everton is against Blackburn next Wednesday. And Thompson believes Rovers can do Everton a favour at Anfield thanks to their victory at Goodison Park. The one-time Moyes target added: "I supported this lot as a kid, and came to a few games when circumstances would allow it, like money. "My heroes were people like Reidy and Kevin Sheedy, from the great team. This is a great stadium to play in, and I love coming here.
"The big thing for us is to do ourselves a favour now against Liverpool. We're not in a position to do them for anyone else. "If it comes off (beating Liverpool) then great for Everton, but we're more concerned with ourselves than other people. We need to do a few favours for ourselves.
"But if we can come to places like Goodison and win, then we can go to Liverpool and do the same - that would be fantastic."

Arteta's expecting to be fit for derby bow
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Mar 8 2005
MIKEL ARTETA last night offered David Moyes a crumb of comfort from Everton's dreadful display against Blackburn when he declared himself fit for the Anfield derby. The Spanish midfielder limped out of Sunday's defeat following a crude challenge by South African captain Aaron Mokoena, the same player who broke Arjen Robben's foot last month. But fears the 22-year-old would be sidelined for several weeks with ankle ligament damage have been allayed and the on-loan midfielder should be fit for the crucial trip to Liverpool on March 20. Arteta said: "I think I have slightly damaged ligaments in my ankle and knee. Hopefully it's not too serious and I'll be able to play in our next match. "I got to the ball earlier than him and he tackled me from behind. I twisted my ankle and turned my knee, so I was in quite a bit of pain. "I tried to play on. I didn't want to come off, but the physio told me that I should leave the field. I wanted to continue, but I couldn't."
The former Barcelona and Real Sociedad player underwent a precautionary scan yesterday. And Everton physio Mick Rathbone confirmed: "Our initial clinical diagnosis was that the injury is not too serious, though we decided to take him for an X-ray. "Nothing obvious showed and though he is obviously in some pain and limping, we are happy that the injury will settle reasonably quickly."

Forget Villa
Mar 8 2005
Post Soapbox, icLiverpool & Daily Post
Forget Villa
FORGET about the great display at Villa - I think some of the players may have thought they only need to run on the pitch and the ball will go in the net. Work your legs off for the next most important game and get a result, we will need it to keep them at bay. Don't let all season be for nothing.
N Land (via e-mail)
Get physical
I HAVE just done a 600-mile round trip to watch that and I just can't understand how we allowed a team like Blackburn to play us off the park. They out-fought and bullied us all over the park, first to every ball. It was obvious that Blackburn was going to play the physical game and the team who took control of midfield would take control of the game, so why go to 4-4-2? We made it so easy for them, with the extra man in the middle. And Yobo, sometimes you look like a world-class defender but other times you look like a pub-team defender. Two bad mistakes have given away goals, you just can't afford to to this at the top level.
S James (via e-mail)
Back Blues
YET again Goodison was like a morgue against Blackburn. We're on the verge of a Champions League place and all the majority of fans can do is sit there in silence criticising every bad pass. The players don't need it with the pressure they're under. We support Everton so do just that, SUPPORT. Get behind them, we're all in this together.
T Adam, Knotty Ash
Derby's vital
WHAT a massive disappointment on Sunday - a chance to go 11 points clear and we blew it. Too many players just didn't turn up. Losing Arteta didn't help, but one player doesn't make a team. This makes the derby on the 20th absolutely massive but I believe we can do it!
B Martin, Formby

Physio is my best signing, says Moyes
Mar 8 2005 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES paid tribute to his "best ever" signing today. Despite Sunday's shocking home defeat by Blackburn, Everton are still eight points clear in an unexpected Champions League place.
And the Blues' boss believes physio Mick Rathbone deserves much of the credit for his unsung work in keeping a small squad fit and free from injury. "I have said all along that 'Baz' is the best signing I have made at the club," he explained "not just for his top quality physio work, but for his personality as well which keeps everyone going at Bellefield. "He and his team have done a great job. Of course we have been fortunate as well, although you tend to find that the less players you have in a squad, the fewer injuries you have as well. "Without naming anybody, there are players here who have happily soldiered on with knocks and injuries this season, and maybe that doesn't happen so much when you have a larger squad. "We have also been in a good position in the Premiership all season and you also tend to find that players are desperate to play and be a part of things when that is happening. "But that shouldn't detract from the work that Baz and his staff have done this season."
Mikel Arteta is the latest player currently in the hands of Rathbone's team, and the Spanish midfielder is confident he will be fit in time for the Anfield derby on March 20. "I think I have slightly damaged ligaments in my knee and ankle," he explained. "Hopefully, it's not too serious and I'll be able to play in our next match. "I tried to play on on Sunday. I didn't want to come off, but the physio told me that I should leave the field. I wanted to continue but I couldn't." Rathbone said: "Our initial diagnosis was that the injury is not too serious, though we decided to take him for an x-ray. "Nothing obvious showed and though he is obviously in some pain and limping, we are happy that the injury will settle reasonably quickly." Even Rathbone's recuperative skills, however, have been unable to hurry Chinese midfielder Li Tie back into action. He will not be involved against Manchester City reserves at Haig Avenue tonight, but Steve Watson will make a long awaited return to competitive action. The versatile star - one of the players of last season - has not played this year, but is hoping to prove his fitness in time for the league run-in.

Rivals heading for derby decider
Mar 8 2005 By Ian Rush, Liverpool Echo
IT'S looking increasingly likely the fourth Champions League place will be decided by the outcome on derby day. Everton are still favourites to claim it, and they may argue they could even afford to lose at Anfield and still be in pole position. However, after last weekend's results, psychologically, if Liverpool can reduce the gap to just two points after their next two games, I feel the momentum will be with Rafa Benitez. Liverpool supporters must have gone from one extreme to the other last weekend. On Saturday night, the race for fourth looked over. Many of us expected the Blues to beat Blackburn and an 11-point gap seemed virtually impossible to make up. Instead, Liverpool now realise they still have a great chance of catching Everton. They may only be one win away from the Blues after the derby. Strangely, both clubs will be happy they're playing each other because it ensures their destiny is in their own hands. For Benitez, there's an ideal opportunity to grab three precious points at his nearest rivals' expense. David Moyes will be thinking his side could be 90 minutes away from effectively ending Liverpool's last hope of catching them.

Ground share row as £11m held back
Mar 8 2005 By Ian Hernon, Liverpool Echo
ANFIELD'S regeneration is being held back as government representatives try to resurrect a shared football stadium, an MP claimed today. The Northwest Development Agency has earmarked £11m for north Liverpool, but has told Walton Labour MP Peter Kilfoyle (right) it will not be released until the shared ground for Liverpool and Everton is back on the agenda. The NWDA is keen to invest money in a ground development if it is a home to both clubs and told sports minister Richard Caborn last October it wanted discussions on a joint stadium before releasing the cash. The plan has widespread opposition in the city, and after a summit between the clubs and sports minister last November, it was revealed that any move towards a shared stadium was off. Yet an NWDA spokesman today confirmed discussions were ongoing, even though the minister has said the plan was "dead in the water". If the ground share scheme were dropped it would allow Liverpool to press ahead with its £120m Stanley Park redevelopment, and leave Everton free to explore redeveloping Goodison or find a new home. Mr Kilfoyle said: "They can support want they want. But I object to them using it to hold back regeneration where it is most needed." Some of the disputed cash has also been earmarked for other projects in Anfield, including landscaping. NWDA chairman Bryan Gray wrote to Liverpool FC chief executive Rick Parry last month. A copy was leaked to Mr Kilfoyle.
It reads: "There is strong support for the concept of a shared stadium and a real desire for Liverpool FC and Everton FC to work together with the city council and the (NWDA) to find a solution.
"It is always easy to find reasons not to do something, but I remain convinced that if there is a real desire to find a solution, then a solution will be found." Mr Kilfoyle said: "Such behaviour on behalf of a government agency is indefensible. "I intend to do all in my power to remedy the illadvised strategy for holding up progress in north Liverpool." Mr Gray told the MP his desire to see a shared stadium revolved around the regeneration, tourism and economy of north Liverpool. A spokesman for the NWDA said: "We are currently in discussions with the Liverpool FC board and until those discussions are completed we cannot say anything more." Liverpool FC refused to comment on the letters. A spokesman for Everton FC said: "Both clubs recently vetoed the plans in their current form, but from Everton's perspective, we have said we will keep all our options open
"Bearing in mind the last shared stadium proposal was unacceptable to us, there would have to be fundamental changes and everyone involved in the process under-stands that. "If the plan was reassessed, there is no reason why we would not be happy to talk about it again."

Royle told to repay £423,000 compensation
Mar 8 2005 Liverpool Echo
EVERTON legend Joe Royle was ordered today to repay the £423,000 compensation he was awarded after he was sacked by Manchester City. The Court of Appeal in London overturned the award and ordered Royle to pay costs of more than £80,000. Manchester City had urged the appeal judges to reflect the reality of the circumstances at the time of Royle's departure in 2001 - City's relegation from the Premier League as soon as the team's last match was played. It asked the judges to rule that he was not entitled to be compensated on a full salary basis. Royle argued that the club was not actually sent down to the First Division until some time later, when the three relegated clubs handed over their Premiership company shares to the three newly promoted teams. But Lady Justice Smith said that whether the club was about to be, or had just been, relegated, it was inevitably going to play in the First Division in the following season.

Everton Res 0, Man City Res 1
Mar 9 2005 Daily Post
STEVE WATSON played 45 minutes of Everton Reserves' Barclays Premier-ship Reserve League Northern Section game against Manchester City as the Blues midfielder returned to action after just over two months on the sidelines. The 30-year-old seemed at ease and showed no reaction to the stomach injury sustained against City in December. While Watson (right) had a good first half the same couldn't be said of the Everton side which struggled for most of the first 45 minutes. Bradley Wright-Phillips, who had played for City's first team just 24 hours earlier went close hitting the woodwork twice early on, first the post and then soon after the crossbar of Richard Wright's goal.
Guillaume Plessis set up Patrick Boyle for Everton's best chance of the half. However, despite an Everton improvement the visitors took the lead. Wright couldn't hold onto a Mikel Bischoff shot and the ball squirmed into the goal. Wright then showed some good goalkeeping to deny Miller just minutes later. As pre-agreed Steve Watson sat out the second half as Everton looked to turn things around. In fact, Andy Holden made three substitutions at the break in an attempt to change his side's fortunes. One of the three, Scott Phelan very nearly got Everton back on level terms with a close-range effort while Paul Hopkins also went close. Despite the better second-half performance, City held on to inflict Everton Reserves' first defeat of 2005 and take a total of four points off the Blues after October's draw in Manchester.
EVERTON RESERVES: R Wright, S Wright, Wilson, Hughes, Gerrard, Kearney (Vidarsson 46), Hopkins, Watson (Anichebe 46), Vaughan, Plessis, Boyle (Phelan 46) Subs: Harris, Turner.
MANCHESTER CITY RSERVES: Weaver, Warrender, Collins, D'Laryea, Richards, Bischoff, Croft (Laird 84), Ireland, B Wright-Phillips (Etuhu 84), Miller, Bennett. Subs: Matthews, Ellegaard, Williamson.

Yobo accepts blame for goal
By David Prior Daily Post Staff
Mar 9 2005
JOSEPH YOBO has accepted responsibility for the Blackburn goal that sent Everton crashing to an untimely defeat at Goodison on Sunday. The Nigerian's solid display was marred by a failure to clear the ball properly 19 minutes from time, which gave Steven Reid the chance to put Jonathan Stead through for the winner. Everton's defeat prevented them from extending their lead over neighbours Liverpool to 11 points in the race for the fourth Champions League spot. Liverpool still have a game in hand to play before the two sides meet at Anfield on March 20. And Yobo admitted: "I think I played well but I lost one ball, I made a mistake and they scored from it. "I was a bit disappointed because I thought we put in a great effort and for us to lose the game like that was very disappointing. Overall I was happy with my performance. "I feel very bad because I was up for the game and to make a mistake like that, which cost us three points, was very disappointing."

The loss came just a week after arguably Everton's finest performance of the season, their 3-1 win at Villa Park, and Yobo conceded that the game was hugely frustrating. He said: "As a team we weren't at our best. We played very well against Aston Villa, took three points away from home, but against Blackburn we suffered a bit." Yobo added: "We didn't really play our best football but but now we're looking forward to the next game, that's all we can do. "When we went 0-1 down we realised that if we didn't put in more effort we were going to lose the game. "I think we tried our best but credit to Blackburn, they got the goal and made it difficult for us to get back into the game.
"It's frustrating but that's football and we've got to move on and look forward to the next game."
Yobo is now hopeful he can atone for his blunder in the crucial Merseyside derby. "I'm going to bounce back," he insisted.. "The most important thing for me is my overall performance and I'm just looking forward to the next game. "I'd like the game to be sooner so I can make amends straight away but the break gives us time to get ready. It's a big game coming up against Liverpool.
"We're happy with what we've done up to now, but the next game is going to be decisive. It will be very, very tough so I think the next game will be the most important."

Groundshare plan 'back on agenda'
By Andy Kelly, Daily Post
Mar 9 2005
LIVERPOOL Football Club will be asked next week to reconsider sharing a stadium with Everton, the Daily Post can reveal. Last night Steve Broomhead, chief executive of the Northwest Development Agency, admitted he is due to meet officials from Anfield and Liverpool City Council - with groundshare at the top of the agenda. The NWDA has made no secret of its support for the shared stadium idea but it appeared it had been finally rejected early this year. Both clubs and the city council wrote to the Government and the NWDA saying there were simply too many obstacles to overcome. But it appears the NWDA is reluctant to take no for an answer and will put another deal on the table next week. The situation is complicated by the fact that Liverpool FC has applied to the NWDA for grants of more than £20m for infrastructure and regeneration work linked to its proposed 60,000-seat stadium on Stanley Park. Walton MP Peter Kilfoyle yesterday accused the NWDA of holding back the regeneration of north Liverpool in order to push the idea of ground share, an allegation denied by Mr Broomhead. He said: "The applications involve a large amount of taxpayers' money and have to go through a proper scrutiny process. "There will be a meeting soon, probably next week, between the city council, the agency and the LFC board. "We will be looking at improving communication. But we also want to have another discussion about groundshare."
That will infuriate many fans of both Liverpool and Everton, the majority of whom have been strongly opposed to sharing. LFC were last night clearly reluctant to reopen the joint stadium debate. Spokesman Ian Cotton said: "The first time we knew about any proposed meeting is when the Daily Post contacted us. "But our position remains unchanged." Everton appeared slightly more enthusiastic, with spokesman Ian Ross saying the club will "keep its options open". However, Mr Kilfoyle criticised the NWDA's handling of the issue. "Such behaviour is indefensible," he said.
"I will do all in my power to remedy the ill-advised strategy for holding up progress in north Liverpool." NWDA chairman Bryan Gray wrote to Liverpool FC chief executive Rick Parry last month and a copy of the letter was leaked to the Labour MP. It read: "There is strong support for the concept of a shared stadium. It is always easy to find reasons not to do something, but if there is a real desire, then a solution will be found."

Watson aims to boost Blues' final push
Mar 9 2005 By Scott McLeod, Liverpool Echo
STEVE WATSON has set his sights on helping Everton's push for Europe after bringing his two month injury nightmare to an end last night. The 30-year-old (right) played 45 minutes for the reserves in their 1-0 home defeat to Manchester City at Haig Avenue. It was his first competitive game since suffering a stomach injury against City at Goodison in the Premiership clash on Boxing Day.
He said today: "The manager needs everybody fit and ready to play and I still believe I have a big part to play this season. "I have to believe I can get back to full fitness. Last night was a big step in that direction. "You can train and you can run all you want at Bellefield, but until you get into a match situation, where you are doing things you can't control, you don't know if you're properly fit."
Watson was delighted to come through his run-out unscathed. He added: "It was a relief and the best I have felt in two months, two very long months in my eyes. "I was delighted. I couldn't get up to full speed on my sprints, but some might people say that isn't particularly a shock. "I actually felt I wanted to play for another 20 or 30 minutes but I got told in no uncertain terms by Andy Holden I was only going to play a half. "Hopefully in the next reserve game I can push to play for an hour or perhaps even the full game and get myself in the frame for the first-team squad."

Francis set to lead out Blues
Mar 9 2005 Jblue, Liverpool Echo
RUNNING onto the pitch with your football idols is something every youngster yearns for, but Francis Ward-Daley's dream is set to become a reality. The six-year-old from Bootle is our Everton mascot competition winner and will head the Blues line-up when they leave the tunnel with their Liverpool counterparts on March 27. And as mum Suzanne explains, the St Monica's Primary School pupil could hardly contain himself on hearing the news. She said: "Francis was thrilled to bits. He was running around screaming that he's going to be the Everton mascot. His dad was the same!"
The 201st Merseyside derby will give Francis the opportunity to see how his heroes prepare for the big game as he joins them in the dressing room to collect autographs and pictures. But the youngster is particularly excited about sharing the Anfield turf with the players prior to kick-off. "I've been supporting Everton for five years and I'm really looking forward to running out onto the pitch with the play-ers," said Francis. "I hope I'm kicking the ball around with Tony Hibbert because he's my favourite player. "I've been telling all my friends at school that I'm going to be the Everton mascot for the away derby and they're all jealous." As for the game itself, Francis has no doubt about the outcome. "I think Everton will win 2-1," he said. "James Beattie and Marcus Bent will score for Everton."
* EVERTON want their fans to help turn the city Blue ahead of the Merseyside derby by flying an Everton car flag in the run-up to the game. Flags are free with every £10 spent in the official club stores where junior items start from only £5, with £10 off junior replica shirts and £15 off junior goalkeeper shirts - with free name and number printing.
* GOODISON scouts are on the lookout for the three young Evertonians pictured on the club's new 'Jblue free' billboard on the Park End car park.

Mersey rivals need to look over shoulders
Mar 9 2005 By Tommy Smith, Liverpool Echo
MOST Reds fans would have been feeling down in the dumps over the weekend because we did not deserve to win at Newcastle. The same goes for Everton fans following the game against Blackburn, who looked far more in control. The Blues' slip-up will help confidence in the Liverpool camp - but David Moyes' men are still in the driving seat for the fourth spot. The Blues have been playing with a lot of confidence and have picked up some vital points, despite some setbacks. Such are the Reds' Jekyll and Hyde performances that you never know which team is going to turn up. But, if both our sides continue to suffer up and down form, there are one or two other clubs who could end up breathing down their necks. Injuries have ruled out so many players, leaving Benitez's squad extremely thin - and it's one that certainly needs improving before we can think of the return of glory days to Anfield.

Dunc switch was tactical mistake
Mar 9 2005 Echo Letters, icLiverpool & Liverpool Echo
BRINGING on Duncan Ferguson for Mikel Arteta was a mistake. David Moyes should have brought on McFadden and saved Dunc for the last 15 minutes. With the introduction of Ferguson, the Blues immediately went route one and looked a pale shadow of the team that beat Villa. Yobo risks a goal a game. He must learn some discipline and not treat games like a training session.
Paddy B, Bootle
AFTER the weekend's results, David Moyes must have realised 4-4-2 is not the preferred formation.
In some ways I am pleased we have more away games to play than home ones. Maybe we can earn our points away from Goodison to make sure of a Champions League place.
Keith Barnes, Wirral
I CAN'T help but sweat slightly when we play at Goodison this season. We hadn't beaten Villa since 1987 and then last week we destroyed them. It was a superb, all-round performance, easily chieved. Talking to fellow Blues, Blackburn would be a formality. I wasn't so sure. Despite their position, they remain a decent side. The Everton performance was lacklustre and disappointing to say the least. I am very comfortable when we play away, and have been since that fantastic show at
Old Trafford earlier in the campaign.
Alan Evans, Merseyside
IT'S never an easy ride following Everton is it? From going to our best performance of the season to one of the worst in a week is the way it goes in football sometimes. The only way we can make a statement that we want the Champions League spot is to beat the Reds on their own turf.
This season has been great but now is the time where everybody connected with Everton has to do their bit to ensure we make Europe.
Jay M, Merseyside
TO achieve a very good win at Aston Villa was superb but to lose at home to Blackburn can only be regarded as a disgrace. Why do Everton shoot themselves in the foot so often? The supporters were on a high before this game and now they have have been let down miserably. It makes one wonder whether they win only when luck is on their side. I truly believe they are short of the necessary skill and guile required of a good Premier-ship side. We have to remain in the top four with the target next season of achieving consistency.
Roger L, North Wales
Stop allowing rivals to get back in race WELL, we keep on doing it. Handing it to Liverpool on a plate every time we have a chance to bury their Champions League hopes. We have had an excellent season, but boy have we lost to some rubbish teams at Goodison. Spurs, Charlton and now a Blackburn side without Savage or Dickov. We were dire on Sunday and the only bright spot was Yobo - until he gave the ball away for the goal. Cahill looked exhausted again as did Kilbane and Carsley. Osman unfortunately was ineffective and at the end of it all, we got what we deserved.
All in all, a shocking performance bearing in mind who we played and what was at stake.
Sharon B, Prescot

Watson return can't help Blues as City triumph
Mar 9 2005 Liverpool Echo
STEVE WATSON came through 45 minutes of action in Everton Reserves' 1-0 defeat to Manchester City at Haig Avenue. The Blues midfielder had been out for just over two months with a stomach injury and showed no reaction to the injury, sustained against City on Boxing Day. While Watson had a good first half the same couldn't be said of the Everton side, which struggled for most of the first 45 minutes. Bradley Wright-Phillips, who had played for City's first team just 24 hours earlier went close, hitting first the post and then beating Richard Wright only to see his shot rebound into play off the bar. Guillaume Plessis set up Patrick Boyle for Everton's best chance of the half, but despite the Blues' improvement City took the lead. Wright couldn't hold onto a Mikel Bischoff shot and the ball squirmed into the goal, before denying Miller minutes later. As pre-agreed, Watson sat out the second half as Everton looked to turn things around, with Andy Holden making three substitutions at the break in an attempt to change his side's fortunes. One of the replacements, Scott Phelan, very nearly put Everton back on level terms with a close range effort while
Paul Hopkins also went close for Holden's men. Despite a better second half performance City held on to inflict the hosts' first defeat of 2005, leaving the Blues fifth from bottom, two points behind neighbours Liverpool.
Everton: Wright, S Wright, Wilson, Hughes, Gerrard, Kearney (Vidarsson 46), Hopkins, Watson (Anichebe 46), Vaughan, Plessis, Boyle (Phelan 46). Unused: Harris, Turner.
Man City: Weaver, Warrender, Collins, D'Laryea, Richards, Bischoff, Croft (Laird 84), Ireland, B Wright-Phillips (Etuhu 84), Miller, Bennett. Unused: Matthews, Ellegaard, Williamson

Watson targets a return to first team
By David Prior Daily Post Staff
Mar 10 2005
STEVE WATSON believes he still has "a big part to play" in Everton's Champions League chase after coming through his comeback unscathed on Tuesday night. The midfielder (right) has not played for David Moyes's men since straining his stomach in the Boxing Day win over Manchester City, compounding a disappointing season which has so far included just six league starts. However Watson yesterday reported no illeffects from his 45-minute run-out for the reserves at Haig Avenue, again against City, and he is already eyeing a return to the first team. "Hopefully in the next reserve game I can push to play for an hour or perhaps even the full game and get myself in the frame for the first-team squad," said the 30-year-old. "It was a relief and the best I've felt in two months, two very long months in my eyes. "There was a big worry in my mind that things might not go as well as they did. It was a big game for me. But personal thoughts aside, this is a big time for the team and a big time for the club." With Everton nearing the season's run-in, Moyes will want to have as many players fit as possible to bolster his limited resources and aid his side's hopes of fourth place.
"The manager needs everybody fit and ready to play and I still believe that I have a big part to play this season," added Watson.. "I have to believe that and I have to believe that I can get back to full fitness. Tuesday night was a big step in that direction. "You can train and you can run all you want at Bellefield, but until you get into a match situation, where you're involved in situations and doing things that you can't control, you don't know if you're properly fit. "I actually felt that I wanted to play for another 20 or 30 minutes, but I got told in no uncertain terms by Andy Holden that I was only going to play a half."

Dogs of War fought a path to Wembley
Post Past by Philip J Redmond Everton supporter, Daily Post
Mar 10 2005
THIS week the Toffees are without a game due to the FA Cup quarter-finals. But 10 years ago, Joe Royle's Dogs of War faced a daunting looking home tie on a Sunday against Kevin Keegan's swashbuckling Newcastle United. Like most Blues fans, I was beginning to think that this could be our year as Royle had galvanised the team into a formidable fighting unit that was taking on and beating all-comers and gradually climbing up the table. The undisputed star of the team was a controversial young Scottish striker called Duncan Ferguson, who was scoring goals and was already worshipped by the faithful. A fortnight earlier Big Dunc had climbed high to slay the champions Man United - could he do the same against the Geordies? Newcastle, just as they are today, were craving their first trophy since decimalisation and while they didn't yet have the likes of Shearer and Ferdinand, they did have ex-Blues striker Peter Beardsley who was still at the top of his game.

Everton meanwhile were buoyed by Liverpool's defeat against Spurs and Jurgen Klinsmann on the Saturday and in the first half at least had much the better of a scrappy game on a bumpy sandy pitch, Ferguson being the undoubted star. After the break, it was more of the same with the Toon having more of the posession but the Blues digging in deep with Barry Horne and Ebbrell tackling like demons. Early in the second half, Barlow was sent clear again, this time by a raking Gary Ablett pass, but the pacy striker could only steer the ball wide. With the game looking ever more likely to end in a stalemate, the breakthrough finally came midway through the second half. Ferguson battled to keep a free-kick in the danger zone before veteran skipper Dave Watson steered a header past the stretching Pavel Srnicek. Everton held on to make the semis, and the draw straight after the game told us that we would face the Reds, conquerers of Tottenham in the semi. Another great day was ahead of us, but that's another story.

Sunday date for final day
Daily Post
Mar 10 2005
ALL the matches on the last day of the Barclays Premiership season have now been moved to a Sunday. With Everton and Liverpool both in contention for the fourth and final UEFA Champions League place, the final games could be crucial. Liverpool fixture with Aston Villa at Anfield and Everton's trip to Bolton Wanderers, who are also in contention for a European spot, scheduled for Saturday, May 14 will now be played 24 hours later on Sunday, May 15. All will kickoff at 4pm.
The other fixtures moved are: Birmingham v Arsenal, Charlton v Crystal Palace, Fulham v Norwich, Man City v Middlesbrough, Newcastle v Chelsea, Southampton v Man Utd, Tottenham v Blackburn, West Brom v Portsmouth.

Break is the perfect tonic, says Moyes
Mar 10 2005 By Scott McLeod, Liverpool Echo
STEPPING out of the pressure cooker atmosphere of regular Premiership football will benefit Everton's players according to manager David Moyes. The Blues have no fixture this weekend because of their exit from the FA Cup at the hands of Manchester United last month. Moyes (left) believes the time off will give his players the chance to recuperate mentally from the demands of the high intensity Premiership battle they are involved in. He said today: "When we knew we were going to have a free weekend we had things planned so the players would do some training to keep them ticking over. But we have also made sure they get some time off. "We have had a hectic schedule in the last few months. This break gives them a chance to recharge, mentally as much as physically. "It will do them no harm to take their heads away from it for a few days. And then we can come in next week ready to focus fully on our next match." They took a break from training yesterday to enjoy a day's golfing. And some members of the squad are expected to spend a day at the races this weekend. Moyes is optimistic he will have a fully fit squad to choose from when the Blues return to Premiership action at Anfield on March 20. Steve Watson is expected to continue his return to full fitness by playing for the reserves against Wolves next week, while midfielder Mikel Arteta is making good progress as he recovers from the ligament injury he picked up early on in Sunday's home defeat to Blackburn. Moyes added: "Mikel is talking well about it and he is happy with how it is going. "But we have got time on our side with him and so we are not going to push him too hard."

Everton FC get the Blues over Reds' £45m
Mar 10 2005 By Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON FC director Paul Gregg has warned that the club will suffer if Liverpool are given £45m to build a new stadium in Stanley Park. The leisure entrepreneur said Everton could become the "poor relation" if plans for Liverpool's new ground proceed. He renewed calls for the clubs to share a stadium and raised doubts over whether it should be in Stanley Park. He told the ECHO: "The last thing I want to see is for Liverpool to build a fantastic new stadium in Anfield and for Goodison to remain as it is. "Everton would be the poor relation within five weeks of Liverpool's new ground opening. "If the North West Developmewnt Agency are going to give Liverpool £45m for a new stadium I don't have a problem with that - but they have to give it to Everton as well. "It's not an anti-Liverpool thing, I just feel that there should be support for both teams, especially when they're both being successful on the pitch. "I support and understand Liverpool's ambition for a new stadium, but if public money is going towards it that must be done fairly." Mr Gregg also said a second proposed ground sharing summit between NWDA chief Steve Broomhead, Liverpool city council and both clubs must go ahead. He added: "Whatever way you look at it, both clubs have financial difficulties in terms of each building a new £100m stadium. "Everton cannot afford to do that and in my heart of hearts I question whether Liverpool can. "It just seems like common sense to get ground sharing back on the agenda. "Merseyside is undergoing fantastic regeneration and its two football clubs are its best ambassadors, with millions watching them play around the world every weekend. "If the financial reality is that neither of those clubs can afford to build their own ground then we are obliged to look at sharing."
Stadium debate
A SHARED stadium for Liverpool and Everton has been on the agenda since Everton's plans for a stadium at King's Dock collapsed in 2003. Fans of both clubs have been opposed to the plan and, last year, both clubs decided to pursue their own developments. Liverpool then applied to the North West Development Agency for a £10m grant to support a new ground in Stanley Park. But the agency is reluctant to finance a separate ground for Liverpool after a report analysing the business case for two new football stadia. Next week club directors, along with NWDA chief Steve Broomhead and Liverpool council leader Mike Storey, will meet for fresh discussions.

The Jury
Mar 10 2005 Liverpool Echo
'Alan Stubbs' experience may be more valuable than Yobo's pace in the derby' – Spowart THE expectation levels for the Blackburn game had obviously risen after the other results on Saturday but when it came to the crunch, Everton missed a golden chance. The result of the impending derby could be the catalyst for Everton to push on and really make that fourth place our own or alternatively it may mean we're constantly looking over our shoulders for the remainder of the season. Without being pessimistic Everton have far exceeded our expectations and as David Moyes says; anything else this season is a bonus. But deep down Moyes, like every Everton player and supporter, won't give up that fourth place without a fight. That's why the Blackburn result is a bit of a leveller and highlights that we need to be on the ball for every game.
THE Champions League race between the two Merseyside clubs currently looks like two bald men fighting over a comb, such is the seeming reluctance of either to put a meaningful run together.
The early loss of Arteta at the weekend highlighted a weakness at breaking sides down at Goodison, as Blackburn displayed both technical and physical superiority. Whether the introduction of Duncan Ferguson was the right one or not, it was not his fault that the side took it as their cue to launch a series of balls at his head. There were one or two positive performances on Sunday. Marcus Bent continues to look a pacy threat, while Nigel Martyn continues to have a solid, reassuring presence.
Defensively however, Joseph Yobo marred another capable performance with a sloppy error that cost a goal and it may be that Alan Stubbs' experience will be more valuable than Yobo's pace in the derby.
IT'S typical of Everton to build up your hopes one week, only to then pull the rug from under you the next. After the recent Villa result I started to believe that Champions League qualification was a possibility, only to then witness one of our worst performances of the season against Blackburn.
We currently sit eight points clear of the Reds and have to hope Blackburn can do us a favour in what will be Liverpool's game in hand over us. I'd like to think that it all depends on the derby result, but I am not that naïve. One look at our run-in tells you that it will be a major achievement to hang on in fourth regardless of how many points we return from Anfield with. Having said that, we have enough about us to grind out the results we need.
FOR any Evertonian who saw Sunday's performance and is in need of therapy, have a look at the recent Jim Carrey film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. It tells the story of a certain clinic, where customers are offered, as a paid service, the complete obliteration of a selected human memory. This provides a convenient way to wipe out experiences, from which nothing can be gained. If only Sunday's game hadn't happened. I would gladly pay to not have the memory of such indifference. It would seem to serve no useful purpose to dwell on the matter. Every individual was as consummately useless as they had been effective the previous weekend. There aren't any reasons, I know we aren't really that bad. I can think of no constructive comment or suggestion, other than to look forward to the return of the otherwise underwhelming Beattie.

Campbell is ideal leader
Mar 10 2005 Liverpool Echo
BRYAN ROBSON has hailed the impact made by Kevin Campbell since his arrival at West Brom from Everton. Campbell has scored three goals in six Barclays Premiership appearances and has quickly been installed as captain by Robson, who recognises his leadership qualities. Robson said: "Kevin's character, not just on the football pitch but also around the training ground, is excellent.
"We all knew his experience as a player, but he has got on with players from the moment he walked through the door to join us in January."

Bad memories will inspire our chase - Moyes
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Mar 11 2005
DAVID MOYES insists Everton will use the memories of their last European disappointment to inspire their final push on the Champions League. Everton's prospects of securing a top-four finish were dented on Sunday when Blackburn Rovers claimed a surprise 1-0 win at Goodison Park. Moyes (right) admitted that display ranked among the worst of the season by Everton, who could go into the Anfield derby only five points clear of Liverpool if Rafael Benitez's team win their game in hand against Rovers next Wednesday. But the Everton manager has backed his side to again confound the sceptics by bouncing back from their untimely slip. And he believes the painful memories of 2003, when his side were pipped by Blackburn to a UEFA Cup place on the final day of the season, will spur them on for the final nine games of the season. "We've kicked on after a few bad results before this season when people were thinking we couldn't hang on," said Moyes.. "And we will have to try and surprise them again. "They still might be right about us but I know the players can kick on again. They have been great all season. "We are still in a very good position in the table but we are not daft and we are not going to say anything is definite. We know that teams can sometimes go on a seven or eight-game unbeaten run at this stage of the season and that can have a big impact on the table. "That is exactly what happened to us two years ago. Blackburn went on an unbelievable run and pipped us to a UEFA Cup place. "It was extremely disappointing not to make the UEFA Cup two years ago but hopefully we have more experience now about what we have to do for the rest of the season."

Blue miracle
Post Soapbox, icLiverpool & Daily Post
Mar 11 2005
Blue miracle
WE are still eight points clear of the Reds, still chasing a Champions League place, which I think we will get, but if not then a UEFA Cup place for sure. Not too bad for a team that nearly everyone had written off as relegation material at start of season. I am so proud to be an Evertonian and think what David Moyes and the lads have done is nothing short of a miracle.
Jean White (via e-mail)
We can do it
IT'S to early to talk about Champions League football but what I will say if we do achieve it, it will be great for football. With the money we would receive we could bolster our squad and if a team like Liverpool can go as far as they have what is to stop us having a real crack at winning it?
Jeff Banks, Whiston
Tactics to blame
IT was a shocking result against Blackburn and David Moyes should take most of the blame. It was the wrong substitution bringing Ferguson on. The whole game was long ball after that. Why bother putting Plessis on the bench if he won't use him?
M O'Kane, Liverpool
No complacency
THERE will be no complacency at Anfield and if we don't get a result, maybe we don't deserve fourth. Let's be honest we would probably trade our squad for at least 10 below us. Credit to the players and David Moyes for outperforming them, but we can't keep doing this. We need a deeper and higher quality squad to have any chance of even maintaining this next season. Still, this season has been an incredible bonus and the fact that the Champions League is even talked about is both a joy and a miracle.
G Wren (via e-mail)
Useful defeat
I THINK that defeat might actually help us in the run in. The players were too confident and not helped I'm sure by people getting carried away. Now I hope we can rest before the game against Liverpool - a game that they must win.
Bobby Collins, Liverpool

Everton should be challenging at top
By Mark O'Brien Everton supporter, Daily Post
Mar 11 2005
WE'VE been spoilt this season. Most of us had forgotten that really sickening feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when travelling home after watching Everton lose a crucial game. Well, we got a reminder on Sunday night as the Blues spurned an opportunity to more or less seal Champions League qualification following Liverpool's no-show at St James' Park on the Saturday. It's the second time Everton have failed to press home their advantage this season, and although their opponents are the ones with it all to do, the psychological impact of being let off the hook once again must be considerable. The fact of the matter is, the fabulous display at Villa Park that had the fans purring and neutral observers declaring the race for fourth all but over, disguised the fact that we have struggled to show any sort of consistency in 2005. Fortunately David Moyes's men built up a considerable lead in the early part of the season and thus far the chasing pack have stumbled and cut each other's throats on a regular basis. However, we can't rely on them to keep on doing that; we need to put a couple of wins together ourselves to finish them off once and for all. The players seemed edgy against Blackburn and failed to match them physically early on. Mark Hughes's side won all the 50-50s, established themselves in the game and then went on to play the better football.

The fact that they dealt with the aerial threat of Duncan Ferguson was also a big plus for them. Any side who can do that at Goodison stands a decent chance of keeping the Blues at bay, as an inordinate amount of our home victories still come as a result of his presence in the opponents' box.
Understandably, Moyes is doing all he can to play down talk of Europe, but we've gone past the point now where anything over and above staying up is viewed as a bonus. The booing at the final whistle, borne of frustration but totally unnecessary, gave the clearest indication that the fans, quite rightly, expect the Blues to press home their advantage. After all, we're talking about Everton, not Norwich or West Brom, and Everton should be challenging the teams at the top. Luckily there is a break now and a chance for players to recover and prepare for a derby that should have been a side-show but now takes on enormous significance for both clubs.

Moyes handed buying power
Mar 11 2005 EXCLUSIVE by Scott McLeod, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES has been told he will have the financial clout to increase the numbers in his Everton squad in the summer - even if there is an exodus of players on free transfers. Seven members of the Blues' senior squad are out of contract in the summer and yet to agree extensions to their Goodison deals. Of that group, only Steve Watson has yet to enter discussions because of his injury-plagued season. But while chief executive Keith Wyness is continuing to negotiate with the representatives of Alan Stubbs, David Weir, Alessandro Pistone, Duncan Ferguson, Leon Osman and Gary Naysmith, he has made it clear the club has a contingency plan if agreements cannot be reached. He told the Echo: "While we are currently in discussions with several players regarding contract renewals, should those discussions not be successful we are well placed to go into the summer transfer market to support the manager's plans and ambitions." The Goodison chief is expected to have a kitty in the region of £10m at his disposal this summer and the search for new faces has already begun.
Moyes is keen to add depth to his squad. The real possibility of being involved in Europe next season means he will have to add numbers to a squad which is currently the smallest in the Premiership.
A host of players have been linked with the club in recent weeks as possible targets, with Juventus midfielder Stephen Appiah mentioned recently in the Italian press. The Blues also have the option of turning Mikel Arteta's loan from Real Sociedad into a permanent deal for £2.7m. Chelsea's Scott Parker is a top target and the London club are believed to be willing to listen to offers for the England international, with Birmingham also chasing the playmaker. Everton are keen to keep many of their out of contract players, but are believed to be unwilling to offer more than one-year extensions to players in their 30s.

The next three years are more important than the last three
Mar 11 2005 By Scott McLeod, Liverpool Echo
David Moyes talks to the ECHO ahead of his third anniversary in charge of the Blues ANNIVERSARIES usually provide an opportunity to reflect on the past. But David Moyes prefers to use them to look to the future. Just days away from the third anniversary of his arrival and the Scot is in the enviable position of being able to make long-term plans for the future - thanks to the contract he signed earlier this season which will keep him with Everton until 2009. That was a reward for the work he has done since replacing Walter Smith as the Goodison chief. But he insists he hasn't even scratched the surface of his ambitions for the club. Not even the sight of his Everton side firmly established in the top four of the table and on course for their best ever Premiership finish is enough to satisfy a manager intent on restoring the Blues to the top table of the English game. "We have probably been in the top 10 more in the last three years than we have been for a long time," he reflects. "So there has been improvement. But now we have to make sure that is a regular thing. "When I came here I said I wanted us to get away from being a club that regarded avoiding relegation as a success. That is something that couldn't be changed overnight. "It was about changing the attitude, bringing in a new winning attitude and that is something people have grasped now. "And when the attitude changes in and around the club, it changes outside as well. "The supporters are beginning to see more success in terms of us winning games. "But they have seen some very successful teams at this club over the years and we still have a lot of work to do. "Over the next three years I want to continue that progress and development. I am more interested in the next three years than the last three." Moyes' impact since arriving at Goodison has led to heightened expectations about the club's future. And the way in which he has transformed the side's fortunes this season in particular has led to comparisons with Howard Kendall's success in the mid 80s. The greatest manager in the club's history didn't build his trophy winning side on a mega budget. Moyes will have to follow that template if he wants to repeat that level of success. But while the boss is not afraid to face the challenge, he is also realistic about the position the club is in right now. "The team in the 80s was terrific and far better than what we have got at this present time," he continues. "That was because they proved themselves by winning things and beating the best. "I wouldn't mention us in the same breath as those people - not yet anyway. But what we want to do is change things - we want to try and bring that kind of success back to the club. "That will take time. But if we can progress in the next three years as we have progressed in the last three we will be heading in the right direction."
It hasn't all been plain sailing for Moyes though. His second season in charge was a huge disappointment. In any other year the torrid points total could easily have led to relegation.
A side he has managed has never finished as low down a table, ending the campaign in 17th spot with just 39 points. It was the lowest points total in the club's history. And yet despite that terrible record, Moyes' win ratio over his three years in charge is still better than any other manager the club has had since 1990. That is a reflection of the impact his hands-on managerial approach has had on the side's performances. And underlines why so few of his doubters from 12 months ago were of the blue persuasion. The way he responded to last year has silenced the rest.
His ability to focus his attentions so intently on the training ground provided the bedrock for this year's soaring success. He went back to basics last summer, picking through the debris of last season to restore a pride, a desire and a togetherness to the squad. Defying the odds has delighted him - as he has continually reminded those members of the press he believes predicted Everton's relegation.
But he refuses to take anything for granted despite the excellent position his players have put the club in. So when he is asked to rate this season against his others as a manager, his response is dismissive: "Of my three years, the last nine months have probably been the most satisfying.
"But I am not ready to judge how I view this season. "I will rate this season when it is over. I remember describing last season as the worst I have experienced as a manager. A big factor in that assessment was the way we finished. "There are still nine games to play of this season. That is a lot of football. You get no prizes in March. And now is not the time to be making judgements." Not of the side maybe. But it is a different story for the manager who celebrates his third anniversary as Goodison chief on Tuesday.

Historic shirt goes missing
Mar 11 2005 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
NO-ONE knew it at the time, but Kevin Campbell's scant consolation goal in Everton's 5-1 flaying at Manchester City in the last match of last season, avoided an unusual - nay, shameful statistic. It ensured that an Everton number nine had scored a goal in every season since William Ralph Dean first claimed the famous jersey in the 1933 Cup final. Kevin Campbell has scored goals again this season, but only in the black and white of West Bromwich Albion. And the Premiership's nonsensical squad numbers system means that when he left, the number nine went with him. So, for the first time since shirt numbering was introduced, Everton Football Club - the club of Dean, Lawton, Hickson, Young, Royle, Latchford, Sharp and Gray - will not boast a number nine amongst its goalscorers this season. Another great footballing institution gone to the dogs in the name of progress.

Drive ban on ex-Blues ace
Mar 11 2005 By Thomas Martin, Liverpool Echo
FORMER Everton star David Unsworth has been banned from the road after being caught three times over the limit - only 200 yards from his house. Unsworth, 31, was nabbed sitting at the wheel of his parked Ford Mondeo with the engine still running outside his luxury home in Whiteley, near Fareham, Hants. Fareham magistrates heard the Portsmouth defender had stormed out of the house after a row with wife Jane. Dan Souter, defending, told the court Unsworth, now on loan at Champion-ship side Ipswich, planned to drive back to the Suffolk town before realising he was over the limited and pulling over. Mr Souter said relations between Unsworth and Jane had become strained after his decision to join Ipswich and leave his wife and three children behind.
He said: "Times are hard for the Unsworth family since he was loaned to Ipswich, because of the pressures of life and football. "He realises he has let himself down in the eyes of those people who look up to him". Mr Souter, who described Unsworth as a model professional, read a character reference from current Ipswich manager and former Everton boss Joe Royle. Unsworth, whose one England cap came against Japan in 1995, earns £ 20,000- a- week at Portsmouth. He was banned from driving for 24 months and fined £4,000. He also agreed to take part in a drink rehabilitation course, which could reduce the ban by six months. In a statement, Unsworth said: "This afternoon I pleaded guilty to drink driving. In a moment of stupidity, I drove 200 yards from home when I was stopped by the police. "I am thankful that no third party was involved. The punishment handed is fully justified and will serve as lesson to me. "Hopefully, it will also serve as a lesson to anyone else who is tempted to drive while over the legal limited. "I am extremely grateful for all the support I have received."

Stubbs: Keep your cool and sing us to Europe
By David Prior Daily Post Staff
Mar 12 2005
ALAN STUBBS has called for calm on the Goodison terraces as Everton's chase for a Champions League spot reaches its conclusion. The captain, who was a substitute in last Sunday's home defeat to Blackburn, admitted he could sense some tension in the crowd as David Moyes's men squandered the chance to move 11 points clear of nearest challengers Liverpool. Everton are still eight points clear in fourth however, and despite that gap potentially being down to just five come the Anfield derby on March 20, Stubbs insists added pressure from the crowd will not help at all in their remaining nine games. He said: "There are going to be a few nerves and a bit of tension now and I thought there was a bit of tension in the crowd last weekend. "There were maybe one or two passes going astray and you could feel the tension there straight away. Obviously, I probably felt it even more because I was on the bench and I could hear it and feel it. But it is not going to help the players. It is a collective thing at this time of the season. "The fans need to do what they have been doing all season but try to be a little bit more relaxed - tension does creep through." Moyes has already spoken this week on how memories of Everton's late failure to qualify for European competition two seasons ago was motivating their charge this season. And Stubbs is adamant the supporters can play their own part in helping to secure a Champions League place next season.
He added: "It works both ways. We have to play our part by sometimes giving the fans something to get them going but if they can see that it is not going the way it should be then they have a part to play as well by getting right behind us and giving us a gee up. "The more they feel it, sometimes it can have an adverse affect on the pitch too. "It is coming to a crunch stage now and we just need to do what we have been doing all season - stick together and keep going - it is as simple as that."
With some level of European competition a virtual certainty, Moyes has meanwhile been told he will have some spending power in the summer, irrespective of several out-of-contract players being able to leave on a free transfer. Chief executive Keith Wyness insisted: "While we are currently in discussions with several players regarding contract renewals, should those discussions not be successful we are well placed to go into the summer transfer market to support the manager's plans and ambitions."

Everton director on his own over stadium sharing
Daily Post
Mar 12 2005
EVERTON have distanced themselves from remarks by one of their own directors suggesting that they join forces with Liverpool to build a new shared stadium in the city rather than at the Anfield club's Stanley Park site. Director Paul Gregg questions the Stanley Park scheme and favours a new link with neighbours Liverpool for a stadium on a different site. This move comes despite Sports Minister Richard Caborn's claims earlier in the week that a shared stadium idea was "dead in the water," and that he would ensure that Liverpool's application for a £23m grant for Stanley Park would not be held up by the North West Development Agency. Everton have issued a statement on the sharing idea, saying: "Whilst happy to encourage both open debate and freedom of speech, we wish to make it clear that Mr Gregg's comments are of a wholly personal nature and do not necessarily represent the views of the club's board of directors." However, the NWDA have announced they will make another bid to salvage the shared stadium idea later in the month with another meeting with both clubs. That would be strongly resisted by Liverpool, who have planning permission for the Stanley Park scheme, while Everton have also stated a shared stadium is no longer on the agenda. Gregg has said: "A shared stadium on Stanley Park would be a substantially different proposition and my understanding is that it would also require a fresh planning application.
"Therefore it is absolutely vital that if we do commit to going down that road we need answers to two hugely important questions. "Firstly, is Stanley Park the best location in terms of impact and accessibility? "Secondly, is the Stanley Park stadium the best or only means of achieving the much-needed regeneration of this residential community? "These are big questions for the clubs, big questions for the city and big questions for the community in north Liverpool."

FA would decide on final spot, say UEFA
By Carl Markham, Daily Post
Mar 12 2005
UEFA have reiterated to Everton they could miss out on a Champions League spot if Liverpool win this season's trophy. Winning this season's competition would not automatically qualify Rafael Benitez's men for next term, if they finish outside the Premiership's top four. Instead the Football Association could nominate them - and that would leave the fourth-placed side, which could well be Everton, in the UEFA Cup. It was reported on Friday that England could have five Champions League places, but UEFA has now denied this. A spokesman said: "One country cannot have more than four places - it would be up to the FA to make the request for Liverpool." UEFA's website includes the Champions League regulations, and rule 1.3 states: "At the request of the national association concerned, the UEFA Champions League title-holders may be entered for this competition... if they have not qualified via the top domestic league championship. "If, in such a case, the title-holders come from an association entitled to enter four teams for the UEFA Champions League, the fourth-placed club in the top domestic league championship has to be entered for the UEFA Cup." That would mean heartache for Everton, who are currently in fourth place, eight points ahead of their Merseyside rivals Liverpool. Liverpool eased into the quarter-finals on Wednesday and manager Rafael Benitez believes his side could go all the way. The draw for the Champions League will take place on Friday. Any team can be drawn against another and the two legs will be played on 5/6 and 12/13 April.

Hibbert can make the World Cup - Moyes
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
MOYES has hailed Tony Hibbert as Everton's answer to Jamie Carragher - and believes Goodison's 'Mr Consistency' can follow the Liverpool star into Sven-Goran Eriksson's England plans. The 24-year-old (left) made his 100th appearance for Everton at Southampton last month and has played an integral role in the team's transformation into Champions League contenders. Hibbert has made more Premiership outings this season than any other Everton player and is currently the most successful tack-ler in the division, outshining the 105 tackles won by Arsenal captain Patrick Vieira by eight. Now Moyes has paid tribute to the defender's outstanding contribution to this campaign. And the Everton manager believes Hibbert can force his way into the England squad for the 2006 World Cup if he maintains his current rate of progress. "If it was based on defending alone then I think Tony would be in the England team," Moyes said last night. "He has been very good for us this year, very consistent, and he has brought an excellent level to the team. The only games Tony has missed this season have been through suspension or injury. "He's a tough little defender who loves to defend and loves to tackle, but I think where he has really improved this season has been in his use of the ball and his understanding of the game. That has got much better and he's been a great defender for us this season. "He is sharper than ever and I think he can go even further. To step up another level he needs to improve his use of the ball, but that is coming. There has been a definite improvement in that part of his game and as a result he is more composed, comfortable in possession and sees things earlier." He added: "I think all of our players deserve great credit for what they have done this season but some get more recognition than others. Tony maybe doesn't stand out as much, but he deserves as much recognition as anybody for what he has done this season." Moyes likens Hibbert's emergence and style to that of fellow Liverpudlian Carragher, who has been an England regular throughout Eriksson's reign and has finally gained recognition for his defensive skills beyond Anfield this season. The Everton manager said: "In a way I can see similarities between his career and Jamie Carragher's. "It was a few years before people started to give Carragher the recognition he deserves and it might go that way for Tony Hibbert. "He has been a regular now for three years and he is improving all the time. "It was Andy Holden who picked him for my first game in charge against Fulham and he has gone from strength to strength. "There have been a few ups and downs along the way, but he recently passed the 100-appearance mark for Everton and that is a great achievement for any player." Moyes, meanwhile, is still hopeful Mikel Arteta will be fit for this Sunday's crucial trip to Anfield even though the Spanish midfielder has only just resumed light training. Arteta injured ankle and knee ligaments following a cynical foul by Blackburn's Aaron Mokoena eight days ago and was only able to start jogging again this weekend.
"It is too early to say whether he will be fit for the derby," said physio Mick Rathbone. "But let's just hope he keeps on improving."

Blues facing troublesome fixture shortage
Mar 14 2005 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
ARSENAL'S FA Cup win at Bolton on Saturday has left Everton with just two games in a month.
The Blues' scheduled trip to Highbury on April 16 will now be rear-ranged, meaning David Moyes' men have just two matches between the Anfield derby on March 20 and April 20, when they entertain Manchester United. Everton's only fixtures in a near four-week period will be a trip to West Bromwich Albion on Sunday, April 3 and a home clash with Crystal Palace the following Sunday, April 10. Assistant boss Alan Irvine (pictured) is concerned by the switches. "There aren't many Saturday games left for us this season and that's never good," he explained. "Through the years players have always been used to playing on a Saturday at 3pm. That's becoming less and less as a result of TV. "It has been great for the game, but the price we've had to pay is that games are on at different times now. "I would prefer to play at regular intervals, but unfortunately because we've got four Sunday games it means that you're really preparing as if those were Saturdays."
The trip to Highbury had been pencilled in as one of those rare Saturday clashes. It will now have to be rearranged, with no date likely to be announced until Sky TV decide on the fate of the Chelsea v Arsenal fixture, currently planned for Wednesday, April 20 but subject to change. Everton reserves, meanwhile, entertain Wolves on Wednesday at Haig Avenue, kick-off 7pm.

Magic Moyes is honour bound
Mar 14 2005 Liverpool Echo
ON the eve of David Moyes' third anniversary in charge of Everton, SCOTT McLEOD explains why the Goodison chief is clear leader for the manager of the year award and why he has provided a blueprint for success for the rest of the Premiership THERE is one commodity which is valued more than any other in modern football - money. It has become the driving force for the Premiership in the last decade. Those who have it in abundance have flourished, moving further and further ahead of the rest to ensure that now, more than 12 years after the first ball was kicked in the new top flight, there is effectively a league within a league. Manchester United and Arsenal are the longest serving members of this new elite. Chelsea brokered their way in two years ago thanks to Roman Abramovich's inordinately deep pockets. And Newcastle and Liverpool have flirted on the periphery, boosted by the increased number of places open to sides for the Champions League in the last five years. It is that European cash cow which has really accentuated the gulf between the haves and have nots. And with each passing season it becomes increasingly difficult for any side without an obscenely wealthy backer to join the party. Which is why what has happened this season at Goodison has provided hope for the English game. And which is why the Premiership should already be preparing for David Moyes' name to be inscribed on whatever trinket they dish out to the manager of the season. Unfortunately, there is something of a tradition in the Premier-ship when it comes to the Manager of the Year award. It dictates that the manager of the club which wins the title also picks up the personal accolade. Only George Burley has broken that cycle in recent seasons after leading Ipswich to fifth place and qualification for Europe in 2001. Couple that tradition with the sycophantic way many in the London based media have drooled over Jose Mourinho, marvelling at his candour and refreshing arrogance, and it is clear the odds are against Moyes. But whether he receives the prize or not - and there is no more fitting a recipient - he has already proved that the race for the Champions League can be gatecrashed without a bottomless pit of cash. Indeed, Everton are one of only four clubs in the Premiership who have actually recouped more from transfers than they have spent this season. Moyes has brought £31.45m into the club's coffers since last summer by selling the likes of Thomas Gravesen, Tomasz Radzinski and Wayne Rooney. They are not transfers the Goodison chief wanted or even encouraged. But in the wake of their departures he has managed to prove that money isn't the only way to achieve success in the English game.
Indeed, as our table shows, Moyes has actually earned the equivalent of £460,000 for every point the Blues have accrued this season. With nine games to go in this campaign, it seems inconceivable that Everton will finish outside the European qualification places. And they remain in pole position in the race for the fourth, hugely lucrative, Champions League berth. Moyes has endeavoured to keep a lid on the expectations of supporters all season. And maybe that low-key approach is why the national media have preferred to focus their adulation on the achievements of Mourinho - a manager who arrived at Stamford Bridge with money to burn and a squad which finished last season second behind Arsenal. But while Moyes always refrains from blowing his own trumpet, the man who has worked by his side for the last three years is more than willing to explain what a huge influence his fellow Scot has had on Everton's upturn in fortunes. Irvine explains: "It's typical of David to be praising other people, but there is no doubt that he is the main man within the club.
"It's testimony to him that we're in this position, because he has done a fantastic job within the club.
"People are quick to blame managers when things go wrong, so it's important that we're quick to praise them as well. "While he involves his backroom staff greatly in a lot of the things that we do, at the end of the day, he makes the final decisions on how things are done. "Clearly, he gets those decisions right a lot more than he gets them wrong. "He's quite right to praise the players, because at the end of it all, it's the players who go out and perform, but what they've done is perform in the way that David has wanted them to and so they deserve lots of credit and David does as well." The stats back that up. Only Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Newcastle have earned more Premiership points than Everton since Moyes' arrival at Goodison. And that despite ending last season with the lowest points total in the club's history. It speaks volumes for the work Moyes has achieved on Merseyside. Particularly because he has only recently been in a position where, financially, he can compete with many of the sides currently languishing behind the Blues in the Premiership table. The impact of that money, a legacy from the sale of Rooney, will not truly be felt until the summer. But by then Moyes may have already provided another huge boost to the club's coffers by booking a place in the Champions League. Achieving that goal will be tough in the final months of the season. But every other manager outside the top six should be backing the Goodison chief to beat the odds. Because if Moyes shows it can be done it would revitalise a league which has become too predictable in the last decade. And that really would be worthy of an award.

Stats man of the hour
Mar 14 2005 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
ANXIOUS Evertonians have been tossed a lifeline. I suggested on Friday that the Blues were about to log an unwarranted historical landmark. Everton Football Club, the club of Dean, Lawton, Hickson, Young, Latchford, Sharp and Gray was about to complete its first season without a number nine featuring in its list of goalscorers since shirt numbering was introduced in 1933.
Then Ian McDonald, a diehard Blue who can claim to be almost as much of an anorak as myself, got in touch and tentatively suggested . . . . "does Kevin Campbell's penalty in the Carling Cup shoot-out at Bristol City count?" It does now. Thanks, Ian. That was an even closer shave than Wimbledon '94 and Coventry '98.

Highbury switch provides break from Euro chase
By David Prior, Daily Post
Mar 15 2005
EVERTON'S chase for a Champions League place has been given an unexpected boost by Arsenal's qualification for the FA Cup semi-finals. David Moyes's men were originally due to meet the Gunners at Highbury on April 16 just four days before they welcomed Manchester United to Goodison. However, with yesterday's draw confirming Arsenal will play their last-four tie against Blackburn on the weekend of April 16-17, their Premiership clash against Everton will be rescheduled allowing Moyes's side up to 10 days to prepare for Wayne Rooney's league return to Goodison. With United themselves facing Newcastle in the other semi-final that weekend, they could have just three days' rest between what is likely to be a demanding game at the Millennium Stadium and their visit to Merseyside. The exact date of Everton's rescheduled game against Arsenal is still to be determined, but it will most probably be played as a midweek fixture in either of the final three weeks of the season. The changes do however mean that Everton will play just two games between Sunday's Anfield derby and the April 20 game against SIr Alex Ferguson's side. April 2 sees them go to struggling West Bromwich Albion while Crystal Palace come to Goodison on Sunday, April 10. And one person not so keen on the changes is assistant manager, Alan Irvine.
"There aren't many Saturday games left for us this season and that's never good," he said. "Through the years players have always been used to playing on a Saturday at 3pm. Obviously that's becoming less and less as a result of TV. "It has been great for the game, but the price we've had to pay is that games are on at different times now. "I would prefer to play at regular intervals, but unfortunately because we've got four Sunday games it means that you're really preparing as if those were Saturdays."

Where the battle for Champions League football will be fought
Daily Post
Mar 15 2005
Sunday's 201st Merseyside derby will bring up the curtain on the region's most enthralling Premiership run-in for years. Here David Prior offers his guide to the climax of the season.
EVERTON (current position 4th, P29 Pts 51)
Sun March 20, 4.05pm Liverpool (A)
Everton's last win at their bitter rivals' home came courtesy of Kevin Campbell's goal back in September 1999. David Moyes's side will be chasing a double this season after Lee Carsley's winning goal back in December, and were they to achieve it, would surely be red-hot favourites to seal fourth.
Sun April 3, 4.05pm West Brom (A)
It'll be nearly eight months since Everton's home fixture against the Baggies way back in August, a game Everton sneaked 2-1 with two headers from Leon Osman, but few observers are any more convinced about the Midlanders' Premiership credentials. Bryan Robson's arrival has however given them a bit of much-needed spirit, and survival-battlers on their home patch are never an easy prospect.
Sun April 10, 3pm Crystal Palace (H)
Everton's comfortable win at Selhurst Park provided the first clue that all was perhaps not going to be as predicted this season regarding Moyes's men. The Londoners' subsequent improvement, and their admirable quelling of Manchester United and Arsenal, showed that Everton also chose a good time of the year to play them too. Palace's away form is another thing entirely, however, with just a sole win from 14 attempts.
TBA Arsenal (A)
Whenever they get round to playing this fixture, it still represents one of the most daunting dates in the calendar even with the Gunners' deterioration this term. Everton can however draw solace from their excellent performances at Stamford Bridge and Old Trafford this season. Plus the fact they will no longer be facing Manchester United and Arsenal within the space of four days can only be of benefit.
Wed April 20, 7.45pm Manchester United (H)
Originally pinpointed as the day Rooney returned, the FA Cup fifth round draw ensured that day came two months early. Bound to be some lingering bad feeling from that tempestuous occasion, but Everton's sole focus should be on getting something out of the game.
Sat April 23, 3pm Birmingham (H)
Birmingham have been poor travellers this term, but they stunned Liverpool on their only other visit to Merseyside this season, and on their day have the players to beat virtually anyone.
Sat April 30, 3pm Fulham (A)
The Londoners are shadows of their 2003-04 selves, and if they continue with their current form will be fighting relegation by the time this fixture is played.
Sat May 7, 3pm Newcastle (H)
A tricky game for Everton to end their Goodison campaign with, but Newcastle are cast adrift in mid-table and could potentially have their minds focused on an FA Cup final.
Sun May 15, 3pm Bolton (A)
Back in December, with Sam Allardyce's men free-falling on the back of six straight Premiership defeats, this game did not look so intimidating. But the Reebok Stadium outfit are an entirely different prospect now, and their FA Cup exit at the weekend means they can now concentrate entirely on winning a place in Europe. Everton will hope to have achieved their own ambitions for this season long before what is bound to be a nerve-shredding final day.
LIVERPOOL (current position 5th, P28 Pts 43)
Wed March 16, 8pm Blackburn (H)
Three points is paramount in this rearranged fixture so as to ensure Liverpool arrive at the derby with the possibility of closing the gap on Everton to just two points. Benitez's men will have had several days' more rest than Mark Hughes's, given Rovers' FA Cup quarter-final win over Leicester on Sunday. Rovers are likely to allow little room for open play.
Sun March 20, 4.05pm Everton (H)
Last year only Nigel Martyn denied Liverpool all three points in a 0-0 draw they dominated. Everton will be relying on the veteran again, plus the continued form of their impressive back four, but Liverpool should have Fernando Morientes back to expose any weakness.
Sat April 2, 3pm Bolton (H)
Liverpool owe Allardyce's men one after their dreadful defeat at the Reebok Stadium back in August, but ironically the Lancastrians are on paper a much stiffer prospect than they were back then. Depending on the result of the derby, anything but a win here could drive a further nail into Liverpool's top-four hopes, with Bolton themselves making a well-timed charge for the European places.
Sat April 9, 3pm Manchester City (A)
Denied a win here by Robbie Fowler's last-gasp equaliser last term, Liverpool cannot afford any such slip-up happening again. The wide City of Manchester Stadium pitch should give the likes of Morientes and Luis Garcia plenty of space to roam.
Sat April 16, 3pm Tottenham (H)
Like the City game, Liverpool's home clash against Tottenham will follow an inevitably energy-sapping quarter-final against as-yet unknown opponents in the Champions League. Whatever that result, Liverpool will have to beware a European hangover.
Wed April 20, 7.45pm Portsmouth (A)
The first of two lengthy away trips inside four days, and to a part of the country - Hampshire - that's yielded no points from 12 in Liverpool's last four games. A continuation of that record will be no good at this juncture of the season.
Sat April 23, 3pm Crystal Palace (A)
Palace have turned nullifying superior opposition into an art-form at Selhurst Park this year, and with them likely to be scrapping for their lives come the season's finale, this will be awkward for Benitez's men.
Sat April 30, 3pm Middlesbrough (H)
Boro could still be challenging hard for Europe so are unlikely to provide anything but a hard-fought battle for Benitez's men. Should the Merseysiders progress, this game will also be sandwiched by the two legs of the Champions League semi-finals.
Sat May 7, 3pm Arsenal (A)
A desperately unlucky twist of the fixture calendar, should Liverpool still be in with a shout of fourth place come the penultimate weekend of the season. Will need to be at their very best to come away with anything. What's worse, Neil Mellor's out for the season.
Sun May 14, 3pm Aston Villa (H)
On paper at least, about as easy as they come for the final day of the season with David O'Leary's men likely to be playing for absolutely nothing save a bit of extra cash. Let's hope Liverpool still have something to play for themselves.

Fowler possiblity
Post Soapbox, icLiverpool & Daily Post
Mar 15 2005
Fowler possiblity
HOWARD KENDALL'S suggestion that Robbie Fowler would be a good acquisition for Everton is certainly worthy of consideration for he is skilful and a proven goalscorer and I believe he would be an excellent partner for Beattie. We need someone of Gravesen's ilk in midfield and also a reliable general in the middle of defence who is skilful and quick. There must be young players in lower divisions who have the necessary skills, if not, what an indictment against the footballing management of Great Britain and Ireland for failing to upgrade footballing skills to enable us to compete inter-nationally.
Roger Sent (via e-mail)
Pitch impossible
RE: GROUNDSHARE, forget any emotive issues, it is technically impossible. Northern English pitches cannot stand up to being used twice a week during winter - think back to Goodison Park two to three weeks ago.
Joe Rafferty (via e-mail)
Share dos
NO CITY, anywhere in the world, ever makes money on stadium deals. If stadiums are going to be funded by taxpayer cash, the only conceivable logic is to share. Let's get into the 21st century, everyone - I can't see for the life of me why I can't turn up at a stadium and feel like a Blue just because Liverpool played there last week (in the days of Howie's Army, we used to do it 2-3 times a year at Wembley). ust takes a bit of architectural creativity.
T May (via e-mail)
WE were nearly relegated last season. If we come in the top 10 this season we should all turn cartwheels. There has been a massive improvement. To come fourth would be a dream but fifth or sixth would still be a massive, massive achievement. Only the very bitter will not recognise what Moyes and the players have already done.
Frank Black, Liverpool

Beattie will be ready to face Reds, says Moyes
Mar 15 2005 By Scott McLeod, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON boss David Moyes will have no qualms about starting with James Beattie in Sunday's derby if he decides to shuffle his line-up. The £6m club record signing has now served the three-match ban he picked up for his red card against Chelsea last month. But the 27-year-old (right) has not played for more than four weeks because of the suspension. Moyes will resist the temptation of giving Beattie an opportunity to get a game under his belt for the reserves against Wolves at Haig Avenue tomorrow night. However, the manager is in no doubt the striker would be ready to face Liverpool if selected. "He has done a lot of training and I am sure he will be ready to play both physically and mentally," said Moyes. "He came to Everton to make a name for himself. He came here because we are a big club with big ambitions. "He has an opportunity to help us in the remaining nine games of the season. "But he has had a stop-start season and, as I have said before, he is here for the long term." Moyes has named the same starting line-up in the last two games. But he could be ready to make changes to accommodate Beattie following the 1-0 home defeat to Blackburn. The Blues are also sweating on the availability of Mikel Arteta. The Spanish midfielder is still receiving treatment for the ankle injury he picked up against Blackburn. Moyes added: "Mikel has done a bit of light training and we will decide later in the week if he is fit enough."

Yobo happy with 'cool' Blues' preparation
Mar 16 2005 By Scott McLeod, Liverpool Echo
JOSEPH YOBO has revealed Everton's players are keeping their cool despite the scale of Sunday's crunch clash with Liverpool. The game has been dubbed the £15m derby because of what could potentially be on offer at the end of the season as both sides chase a Champions League berth.
But Yobo said: "We're just taking it step by step We're not rushing, we're not panicking. "There's a lot at stake this time. They're behind us and they're chasing us. "They want to go above us to get the Champions League spot while we want to stay there. There's a lot at stake but we know the situation this time. "It's not just a local derby, the three points are very important. "It is always a big game against Liverpool and it's very important to us that we win as it is for the fans." The Nigerian international has revealed the mood in the camp has been positive despite the 1-0 reverse to Blackburn. He added: "We've been preparing well and working very hard. A derby sometimes doesn't go to the best team, but you just have to give your best. "It was great in December when we beat Liverpool. If they lose to us or drop points then it will be tough for them to get in the Champions League." Steve Watson plays in tonight's reserve game against Wolves at Haig Avenue.
* Gary Naysmith has been named in Walter Smith's Scotland squad, along with David Weir and James McFadden, for the clash against Italy. Kevin Kilbane, the Republic of Ireland player of the year, is in their squad for the World Cup qualifier against Israel in Tel Aviv on March 26.

Beattie is ready for Sunday - Moyes
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Mar 16 2005
DAVID MOYES insists James Beattie is ready for the 201st Merseyside derby if selected on Sunday as the £6million striker attempts to repay his Everton debt. The trip to Anfield has been labelled a £15m derby because of the finances at stake as Everton and Liverpool contest fourth place in the Premiership and Champions League qualification. Beattie, sent off against Chelsea on February 12, has only now completed his three-match suspension. And manager Moyes believes the centre forward is prepared for an immediate return at Anfield and will not risk the 27-year-old in tonight's reserve match at Wolves. Moyes said: "He has done a lot of training and I am sure he will be ready to play both physically and mentally." The Everton manager has put Beattie through a pre-season training programme during his suspension to get the ex-Southampton striker closer to full fitness.
"He came to Everton to make a name for himself. He came here because we are a big club with big ambitions. Now he has an opportunity to help us in the remaining nine games of the season," said Moyes. Moyes continued: "But he has had a stop-start season and, as I have said before, he is here for the long term." Everton still have doubts over the fitness of Spanish midfielder Mikel Arteta, who is still struggling with an ankle injury sustained in the home defeat by Blackburn 10 days ago.
David Weir, Gary Naysmith and James McFadden, meanwhile, have all been included in Walter Smith's first Scotland squad to face Italy in a World Cup qualifier later this month. It is Weir's first international summons since a 2-2 draw with the Faroe Islands in September 2002, after which he announced his Scotland retirement following criticism from then manager Berti Vogts.

Chang keen to extend deal
Mar 16 2005 By Scott McLeod, Liverpool Echo
CHANG Beer are keen to renegotiate their shirt sponsorship deal with Everton. The Blues have been in talks with a host of companies and are eager to capitalise on the club's success this season.
But Chang remain hopeful of extending their association with the club after their £800,000 deal for this season proved a hit. Wanna Sirivadhanabhakdi, vice chairman of the Thai Beverages marketing co, said: "We are ready to talk to Everton about extending the deal. "We are working out the conditions and the sponsorship deals. Once complete, we will send a team to negotiate with Everton." Malaysia's AirAsia have also confirmed their interest to secure a deal with the Blues.
* Everton will be holding an Easter holiday football camp at Hudson Primary School in Maghull next week. The three day camp will run from March 21 to March 23. If you want to book a place on the camp simply call

Return to days when derbies had more than pride at stake
Mar 16 2005 Liverpool Echo
SUNDAY'S Anfield showdown is the most significant collision of the two great Mersey rivals for years.
Champions League qualification could hinge on the outcome, with Everton lying fourth - and Liverpool breathing down their necks in fifth. It is a throwback to the days when Everton and Liverpool meetings usually held greater significance than just local bragging rights. Carrying off the pride of Merseyside mantle, usually led to other domestic honours . . . although not always! Today we focus on four collosal collisons between the Mersey giants - when the team which won the battle didn't necessarily win the war!
April 25 1987 Liverpool 3, Everton 1
WHEN Everton travelled to Anfield in the spring of 1987, no less a prize than the League title was at stake. Everton lay first and Liverpool second in the Championship table - and the Blue half of the city knew that victory in their neighbours' backyard for the third successive season would hand them a nine point lead, with only three games remaining. The Reds still harboured faint title hopes of their own but, perhaps more importantly, did not want to countenance the prospect of their neighbours celebrating a title triumph on their turf. Former Blue Steve McMahon crashed in a stunning opener, before former Red Kevin Sheedy struck an equally spectacular equal-iser direct from a free-kick.
Ian Rush struck on the stroke of half-time - sparking an Everton onslaught in the second half which saw Adrian Heath and Trevor Steven both hit the post with headers. But Liverpool were always threatening on the counter and Ian Rush settled the match - and claimed a share of Dixie Dean ' s record haul of derby day strikes - with his second of the afternoon, and his 19th in total.
It was widely thought to be Rush's Anfield swan-song, with the striker leaving for Juventus that summer, but it is now Mersey soccer folklore that he returned to claim that record as his own.
Only sad note on a wonderful afternoon was the absence of television cameras to preserve a stunning clash for posterity. But all supporters fortunate enough to be inside Anfield that afternoon witnessed a classic.
April 16 2001 Everton 2, Liverpool 3
FROM an Anfield perspective, the parallels between this fixture and the forthcoming derby are uncanny. Nothing less than three points would keep Liverpool in contention for a Champions League place. A Good Friday defeat to rivals Leeds United three days earlier left European hopes dangling by a thread and manager Gerard Houllier recognised his side would have to win all their remaining games. A dominant performance saw the Reds lead 2-1, but two controversial penalties looked set to deny Houllier's side three points. Robbie Fowler missed, while David Unsworth slammed home after one of several Jeff Winter interventions. Deep into injury time, Gary McAllister lined up a free-kick 35 yards out, and the rest was the stuff of derby folklore. The wild celebrations reflected Liverpool's first Goodison win in a decade, while the dramatic nature of the victory kick-started an impressive finale which not only yielded the coveted Champions League place, but also the FA Cup and UEFA Cup. The return to the European Cup was sealed with a win on the last day of the season at Cardiff, but Liverpudlians recognise it was four weeks earlier the momentum shifted in their favour.
March 20, 1988 Everton 1, Liverpool 0
NO titles were at stake when Liverpool travelled to Goodison Park 17 years ago to the day of this latest derby clash; the Reds' 17th title was as good as in the bag and the bookies had stopped taking bets on Kenny Dalglish's side. But there was one notable record at stake. Liverpool had drawn with Derby to equal Leeds United's record of unbeaten games from the start of the season - 29 games. Avoiding defeat at Goodison would have given them the record outright. One of the local radio stations had the bright idea of inviting Allan Clarke to join their commentary on the day. He had been a member of that successful Leeds side - and brother Wayne was in the Everton line-up that afternoon. It was an inspired decision. Once fate had been tempted there seemed an inevitablity about the outcome: 1-0 to Everton, scorer Wayne Clarke. It was only the third goal Bruce Grobbelaar had conceded in 17 games, but it was enough to give Everton the domestic glory.
The previous season had seen Liverpool take the derby honours, Everton the title.
In 1987-88 the tables were turned.
Feb 22, 1986 Liverpool 0, Everton 2
THIS should have been the result which cemented Everton's grip on their second successive Division One crown. Instead, it proved the catalyst for an amazing run of results for Kenny Dalglish and co.
They bounced back from this home defeat to end the campaign with the prestigious league and cup double which had evaded Howard Kendall's men 12 months earlier. Liverpool won 11 of their remaining 12 league games, drawing the other. And yet Everton still managed to finish just two points behind. To rub salt into those Blue wounds, the Reds secured the double courtesy of a cup final derby win. Such a dismal conclusion to the season would have been unthinkable for the Blues on the evening of Saturday, February 22. Inspired by Gary Lineker's relentless goalscoring form, the defending league champions went into the game on top form and neck and neck with Liverpool in the race for the title. This game was seen by many as a title decider. In the opening half Pat Van den Hauwe had cleared off the line after Ian Rush had rounded Neville Southall. Liverpool hearts were broken when, after 73 minutes of cat-and-mouse derby action, Everton took the lead through skipper Kevin Ratcliffe. It was only his second goal - and what proved to be his last - in an Everton shirt. Much of the blame for the goal went to Bruce Grobbelaar. The clown prince of goalkeepers had produced an eyecatching display despite suffering from a hip injury ahead of the match. But when Ratcliffe unleashed a speculative 25-yarder he allowed it to squirm away from him and roll into the net. After taking the lead the Blues quickly killed the game off, Lineker netting his 28th of the season by chipping Grobbelaar with 12 minutes remaining.

Boost your skills at soccer camp
Mar 16 2005 Jblue, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON'S popular Football in the Community soccer camps kick off next week to help youngsters with the skills needed to become the next Leon Osman. From March 21-23, qualified coaches will be on hand at Hudson Primary School, Maghull, to put boys and girls through various training routines and pass on useful tips. The emphasis is on fun and those attending will compete in competitions and win prizes, as well as receiving a certificate, poster and medal. Jblue members will receive 10% discount on each booking, while nonmembers can enjoy the same benefit by joining the junior supporters' club free of charge. With demand high and places limited, those interested should contact 0151 330 2307 for more information or to book a place. Another advantage of joining Jblue will be the 10% discount on official club merchandise and stadium tours, bookings for which are now being taken on 0151 330 2305.
* EVERTON scouts have tracked down the faces of the 'Jblue free' billboard campaign. Paul McCarthy, Adam Backley and Luke Rush-ton were pictured cheering on the Blues in a pre-season friendly with Real Sociedad last August. After seeing their picture on the billboard outside Goodison's Park End car park the trio, all aged 13, came forward and were rewarded with a full Everton kit and free membership to Jblue Plus Platinum.
WIN tickets to ride . . .
AS Easter approaches Jblue is offering members the chance to win a pair of Pleasureland Southport vouchers which allow the bearer to purchase two unlimited riding wristbands for the price of one.
We have 10 pairs on offer and to have a chance of winning answer the following question: What colour is the current Everton home goalkeeper shirt? Answers, with your name, address, daytime phone number and Jblue membership number to: Jblue Pleasureland Competition, Everton Football Club, Liverpool L4 4EL.
* By purchasing any goalkeeping item from official club stores, fans will be entered into a prize draw to meet Nigel Martyn and Richard Wright.

Blues' transfer cash doesn't add up
Mar 16 2005 Echo Letters, icLiverpool & Liverpool Echo
I HAVE read reports that Moyes will be given around £10m to spend in the summer. That is ludicrous. I was under the impression the £20m up-front payment we got for Rooney was for Moyes to spend. We got £10m last summer and were due £10m this. We spent £6m on Beattie, got £2m from Gravesen's sale, so that leads me to believe we should have at least £16m to spend. There should also be extra for finishing in a good position in the league, extra TV revenue etc, plus more if we get into Europe. The board could mess up again, just as we thought there were signs we could compete at the upper end of the league every year.
Charlie Stephens, Wirral
DESPITE all the references to 'a massive eight points ahead with nine games to play' would you really put your money on Everton to hold on to fourth spot? The gap is likely to be reduced to only five points come derby time. Even a good away draw at Anfield would leave pressure on us with the likes of Man United, Arsenal, Newcastle and Bolton to play. A slip-up by the Reds tonight would help, but other than that we really have to win at Anfield to have a realistic chance of holding them (and Bolton) off.
Simon Potter, Paris
WHATEVER happens at the end of the season this year has been a success for Moyes and the boys. But one good year never makes a good side or future. Moyes needs money in the summer and the rumours that Chelsea want to sell Scott Parker must be heard within the EFC board room. June-August could be the most critical time for the Blues for many years. Let's hope the money is in place otherwise all the effort could be redundant if the other teams purchase new players and the Blues rely on the same squad.
Martin Jones, Liverpool

Watson steps up return bid with goal
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Mar 17 2005
STEVE WATSON is aiming for a derby recall at Anfield this Sunday after stepping up his recovery from a debilitating stomach injury. The Everton midfielder (right) confirmed his rehabilitation last night by claiming the winner in the reserves' 2-1 win over Wolves at Haig Avenue. It was the 30-year-old's second reserve team outing in a week as he continues his progress from the stomach problem that has kept him out since the Boxing Day defeat of Manchester City. With David Moyes's options limited for Sunday's crucial clash with Liverpool the former Newcastle and Aston Villa player is now in contention for a long-awaited senior recall. The Everton manager has included new signing Guillaime Plessis, James Vaughan and Anthony Gerrard on his substitutes' bench in recent weeks and, barring any reaction to his latest reserve run-out, will consider utilising Watson's experience in that role on Sunday. Joseph Yobo, meanwhile, believes Everton will take a major step towards pipping Liverpool to the final Champions League spot if they avoid defeat at Anfield. "If they lose to us or drop points then it will be tough for them to get into the Champions League," said the Nigerian international. Everton have not finished above Liverpool in the table since 1987, but Yobo believes this season represents an ideal chance to end that unwanted record. He added: "There is a lot at stake this time - they are behind us and they are chasing us. They want to go above us to get the Champions League spot while we want to stay there." It is 20 years since Everton completed a league double over Liverpool, and Yobo said: "It was great in December when we beat them. It had been a long time since we had beaten them either at Goodison or at Anfield. "There was a great atmosphere at Goodison, which was very important. But this is a different game because they will be looking at this game and thinking they dare not even drop a point. "It is a big game, it's always a big game against Liverpool. "But we are getting towards the end of the season, there are nine games to go now, and it is very important to us that we win as it is for the fans. We are all looking forward to the game."

Campbell keeps cool in explosive derby
Post Past by Phil J Redmond Everton supporter, Daily Post
Mar 17 2005
THIS WEEK, of course, it's the Anfield derby, a game made even more important by the probable implications of a win for either side. In fact, it is probably the most important league meeting between the two teams since those heady days in the 1980s when Merseyside was host to the best two teams in Europe. It's five and a half years since the Blues last triumphed at Anfield in a stormy encounter in September 1999. The Blues had started the season in promising form. With new arrival Richard Gough rolling back the years with a string of dominant defensive displays, Blues fans were quietly confidant against a Liverpool team that had started the season inconsistently. The winning goal came very early on after Nick Barmby and Francis Jeffers had combined superbly to set up Kevin Campbell for a typically cool close-range finish. In the first half Sander Westerveld saved superbly from Jeffers, while David Weir missed badly with a close-range header. Liverpool's only real opening came from a long-range Jamie Red-knapp drive that Paul Gerrard saved at full-stretch. Generally though, the Blues, with Don Hutchison and John Collins bossing the midfield, controlled the game from start to finish. With it threatening to peter out, the game suddenly exploded into life after Jeffers was sent away again and clashed with Reds keeper West-erveld as the ball ran away from him. The big Dutchman reacted angrily to the youngster's challenge and after a comedy bout of handbags, both teams were down to 10 men. Staunton ended the game in goal and saved from derby debutant Abel Xavier. Before then a deflected Erik Meijer shot had brought the best out of Gerrard, while the Reds went down to nine after Steven Gerrard's ludicrous derby challenge, this one on the match-winner Campbell.

Day Rush drew level with the great Dixie
Post Past by Sean Joseph Liverpool supporter, Daily Post
Mar 17 2005
WHEN Everton last went into a derby match at Anfield with a big lead over Liverpool, it was with a real prize of the title at stake. The phoney war of the Champions League chase really has more to do with money than football achievement. But whatever the prize, the goal to be Merseyside's top team will always be more than a side issue. The last time Everton won the title in 1987 they were desperate to all but confirm it in the enemy's backyard. But the man who hurt them more than anyone else in a Red shirt had one or two parting shots to fire before he said arrivederci and headed to Juventus. Ian Rush had breached the Blue barricades on 17 occasions. He needed two to equal the great Dixie Dean's derby record of 19. But it wasn't Rush who started the scoring. That honour went to former Evertonian Steve McMahon. Gary Ablett played the ball into Rush and he helped it on to McMahon, who let fly a thunderous shot into the top corner. Both sides were the best in the country for that dizzy spell in the mid-80s and Everton showed why when they levelled after 15 minutes. Alan Hansen fouled Wayne Clarke just outside the box and former Anfield reserve Kevin Sheedy hammered home. On the stroke of half-time Liverpool took the lead and who else but Rush could score it. Hooper made a great save from Kevin Ratcliffe and Adrian Heath and Trevor Steven both headed onto the post but the inevitable was just being delayed. Rush, who was denied by Southall with one effort, finally got his recordequalling strike. Ablett's cross was pounced on by Rush and although Southall partially saved, the ball trickled over the line. He did return, of course, to claim the record outright, but that day was certainly one to cherish.

Everton Res 2, Wolves Res 1
Mar 17 2005 Liverpool Echo
STEVE WATSON scored a classy goal to earn Everton Reserves victory over Wolves at Haig Avenue and lift the Blues above Liverpool in the Reserve league table. The midfielder was featuring in his second game following his return from a stomach injury and may have played himself into contention for Sunday's Merseyside derby at Anfield. The Blues, with Gary Naysmith also in their line-up, took the lead after 12 minutes, Patrick Boyle crossing for James Vaughan to head home past Carl Ikeme in the visitors' goal for his sixth league goal of the season. Wolves levelled in somewhat comical circumstances when a Keith Andrews free-kick 25 yards out hit the post and on its way out, struck the luckless Iain Turner's head and fell back into the goal. The Blues' Scottish keeper had an eventful night, later being booked for handling outside his area. Everton had numerous chances to regain their lead before the break with Victor Anichebe and James Vaughan going close along with a goal-line clearance from Wolves' Sammy Clingan after Vaughan looked to have found a way through.
Iain Turner pulled off a number of good saves to deny the visitors in the second half while Colin Cameron came close to giving Wolves the lead as Everton looked vulnerable. However, it was the Blues who took advantage of a late chance. Anichebe broke and played in Watson who chipped keeper Ikeme delightfully to win the game for Andy Holden's side who leap frogged their city rivals into tenth place in the table striking the first blow in derby week.
Everton: Turner, S. Wright, Naysmith, Bosnar, Gerrard, Vidarsson (Harris 71), Watson, Plessis, Vaughan, Anichebe, Boyle. Unused: Hughes, Gallagher, Wilson, Phelan.

We won't get carried away
Mar 17 2005 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES will refuse to be lulled into a false sense of security following Liverpool's shock home draw with Blackburn. The Goodison boss (right) was at Anfield last night as Rafael Benitez's men missed the chance to close the gap on Everton to five points ahead of Sunday's 201st Merseyside derby. But Moyes insists there will be no complacency from his squad despite going into the Anfield clash seven points ahead of their rivals in the race for the Champions League. He told the ECHO: "Everybody knows the importance of the game, I don't need to impress that upon anybody.
"We are comfortable with the position we are in right now and whatever happens on Sunday we will still be in fourth place. "We are in a good position, a position every other club bar the top three would love to be in. That is a healthy position but we also know that if we don't play well that position will dwindle away. "I am trying to treat it the same as any other game. We will go there with our usual attitude and we want to win every game. That is what we will try to do on Sunday. "We are just trying to make sure we keep up the same levels of performance we have been producing all season." The Blues' chief goes into the game with James McFadden as his only serious injury doubt after Mikel Arteta returned to full training. The Spanish midfielder has been sidelined by an ankle injury picked up in the 1-0 defeat to Blackburn. Moyes added: "Mikel is doing well, but James McFadden is a doubt with a hamstring problem." Steve Watson scored the decider for the reserves in last night's 2-1 win over Wolves, but Moyes is cautious about throwing him back into the fray on Sunday. "He added: "Steve is still a bit away. Last night was his first full game for 10 weeks."

Cahill scoops top Oceanic accolade
Mar 17 2005 Liverpool Echo
EVERTON midfielder Tim Cahill has been named Oceania Football Confederation player of the year for 2004. A series of impressive performances during his debut year with the Blues helped Cahill pip countrymen Mark Schwarzer and Liverpool winger Harry Kewell to the award. OFC General Secretary Tai Nicholas said the award was well-deserved. "Tim has had a wonderful season and is a deserved winner of the OFC player of the year award," said Nicholas.. "He is unique in that he has played for two Oceania nations, Western Samoa and Australia at various levels. "It was a fabulous year for Tim scoring the winner in an FA Cup semi-final (for Millwall last season) which has catapulted his career to the next level. "He has certainly served as a fantastic role model not just for youngsters in Australia but also in Samoa." Middlesbrough goalkeeper Schwarzer and Parma midfielder Marco Bresciano, Cahill's Socceroo team-mates, finished second and third respectively with the Solomon Islands striker Commins Menapi having to settle for fourth in a vote among all of the Oceania national federations.

Stevens: Derby day drubbing set us on road to title
Mar 17 2005 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
WHEN Evertonians reminisce about the great side of the 80s, it is always the League Cup game against Oxford in January 1984 which is singled out as the side's watershed moment. The common perception is that the late Adrian Heath goal which earned a 1-1 draw at the Manor Ground was the night Howard Kendall's young side turned the corner. They came of age in the remaining months of that season - going on to win the FA Cup, and the league and European Cup Winners Cup a year later. But Gary Stevens, the right-back in that great side, believes the real turning point - the match which transformed Everton's fortunes and steered the club towards the glittering success to follow - came earlier, in the 1982/83 campaign. And against the Blues' fiercest rivals from the other side of Stanley Park. "Our job in the early 80s was to try and hang on to Liverpool's coat tails," reflects Stevens, who now works as a physio on the Wirral. "We were trying to copy what Liverpool were doing, which was playing simple football, working very hard and using good players. "And for a time in the mid 80s we got there and actually usurped them as the best side in the country. "People have always talked about the Oxford game as being the game which got the ball rolling for the side. But personally I think that moment came against Liverpool in the derby at Goodison when they came and whipped us 5-0. "A lot of the players who went on to be a part of the side which won the title were in the stand that day. "I was watching with Peter Reid and it was such an embarrassing day. It was hard to take. "But after that match Howard dropped about six or seven players. He had to think long and hard about what he was going to do. He changed the side around and found the right balance. "After the derby we didn't play that well but we were getting results. And that spurred us on. "We built from that defeat and the Oxford result was a sign of the work that had been done in the months before. "After winning that tie in the replay we put a run of form together which lasted three years. "So I have to thank Liverpool for wiping the floor with us that day, because looking back it was the best thing that could have happened to the club! "That was one of the big moments for us." Of course, a similar result in this weekend's derby will not be welcomed at Goodison. But two decades on and Stevens can't ignore the similarities between the events in 1984 and what is happening at Goodison this season. David Moyes may have already struck upon a blend which has turned Everton into much more than Premiership also-rans. But Stevens believes Moyes now has the chance to mould a side which will bring trophy success back to Goodison. With that in mind, this weekend's derby could prove to be Oxford, circa 2005. Stevens explains: "David has done terrifically this year with a squad which is actually weaker than last year's. "The key seems to be belief. We discovered it in 1984 and this Everton side seem to have it this season. "The manager has got a base there to build on now but staying in fourth place will make a huge difference to what he can achieve next year. "We hit a run of form which fed our self belief in 1984 a "Momentum is so important. For Everton, this game is very big. They have a chance to keep that daylight between themselves and Liverpool. "Even a draw would go a long way to getting fourth. Two years ago the side were in a similar position but had a torrid end to the season and missed out completely. "To avoid a repeat they need to maintain their momentum and, with each target reached, the side will grow stronger. The mental aspect to football should never be underestimated. "This Everton side may not have any household names or anybody who people believe can light up a game but they have been putting in performances every week. "They have been there all season, so they deserve to get fourth place. But now that togetherness they have been displaying all season is more important than ever.
"Because it could give the club a chance to do something special."

The Jury
Mar 17 2005 Liverpool Echo
If Beattie plays, this is his chance to prove his worth to the fans – McGrae THE players have had plenty of rest and will hopefully be up for this week's derby. They need to bounce back and show the form that comfortably beat Villa. If we can avoid defeat on Sunday, that will go a long way to securing European football. We have six games in April, most of which are winnable, especially our next two against West Brom and Crystal Palace. If Arteta is fit he must come back into the starting line-up and we must try to pass the ball like we did against Villa. This game will be won in the midfield so hopefully ours will all be up for it. I would start Bent up front alone and then we have the option of bringing Ferguson and Beattie off the bench to inject a bit of fight if needed. It will be a hard game on Sunday but I fully expect us to come away with something.
THE upcoming derby will be the most important game in our history. The race for fourth spot is on and this game is key for both teams. The derby is always a matter of pride but this game offers so much more. The gap between us and our bitter rivals is in our favour and if we can win the game we will finish fourth. We still have some hard fixtures in the runin but if we win, it will be a huge morale boost for the players. But we shouldn't speak too soon. Liverpool will be tough opposition at Anfield. This is the game where we want each individual to stand up and be counted with each player playing his heart out. The return of Beattie will be interesting. If he plays, this is his chance to prove his worth to the fans and redeem himself greatly. The derby is always special but this can completely shape our future.
BEN McGRAE, Hunts Cross
If Beattie plays, this is his chance to prove his worth to the fans – McGrae PLAYERS' contracts are clearly an important issue at the club as none of the players out of contract in the summer have yet agreed to sign a new one. Everton were not very subtle at the weekend, letting it be known that the money was there to replace them if they didn't sign! Players like Osman shouldn't be lost though as you can't easily replace the team spirit the squad has. Sunday sees the most important game of the season, not just due to the difference in points it could make, but also the lift it could give the players. If Arteta is fit he should go back into the centre of midfield as he was very effective against Aston Villa. The back four however isn't as straightforward a decision. Although Yobo has much more pace than Stubbs, Stubbs is a more reliable option.
MAYBE it's not quite the decider but Sunday's game is pretty close to being that. Back in the summer, we'd never have thought we would be in this position but we are and if we let it go now, it will be totally gutting. We haven't played well often enough since the turn of the year and many will say it's due to the loss of Gravesen, but even before he left we'd just lost 5-2 to Spurs, so we were in a bad run even back then. We couldn't expect the team to win every game in the second half of the season, but we still have a sizeable gap over our nearest rivals. Liverpool haven't played well either. They beat a team that are seventh in the German league and suddenly they're going to win the Champions League!
Whatever happens on Sunday it will be pivotal in the race for fourth.

Moyes urges Beattie to make amends
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Mar 18 2005
DAVID MOYES last night admitted James Beattie owes a debt to his Everton teammates as he reminded the record signing of his responsibilities on and off the pitch. The £6million striker will be included in an Everton squad for the first time in five weeks on Sunday when Moyes's side take the short but crucial trip across Stanley Park to Liverpool. Beattie has been absent since February 12 when he was sent off for head-butting William Gallas after only eight minutes of the home defeat by Chelsea. The striker's inauspicious start at Goodison Park also includes a fight outside a Birmingham nightclub just hours after Everton's comprehensive defeat of Aston Villa. But as he prepares to return to the Premiership fold, Beattie has been told to repay his Goodison colleagues with the goals that can secure a place in next season's Champions League. "James will certainly be in among my plans this weekend. It's great to have him back and we will need him for the run-in," said Everton manager Moyes. "I don't think he owes the club anything but maybe he owes his team-mates. We lost him from the Chelsea game very early on and that made it very difficult for us to win that game, then obviously we had to do without him for three more games after that. "These things happen in football and you have to be stronger for it. Hopefully James will be. "He has to realise that Everton are a big football club with expectations and we expect high standards on and off the pitch. "I think he knows this is a club that takes things seriously. We are on the move forward and he is a big acquisition for us so he has to be responsible on and off the field. "I am sure he will knuckle down and hopefully get us some important goals between now and the end of the season."
Moyes put Beattie through a rigorous training programme during his suspension to improve the striker's fitness for the Premiership runin. He added: "James has had a stop-start season. I said when he first arrived that he needed to be at full fitness to be at his best. He's a really fit boy and he has got the capacity to work very hard. "I have got my own ideas on what we will do on Sunday but James is a very important player for us." Beattie's role against Liverpool could be determined by Mikel Arteta's recovery from ankle and knee ligament problems. Marcus Bent is expected to play as a lone striker if Arteta is fit to bolster Everton's five-man midfield. But with James McFadden also a doubt for Sunday, Moyes could revert to 4-4-2, with Beattie alongside Bent if the Spanish midfielder fails to recover in time. "Mikel has a good chance," said Moyes last night. "He started training today and we will see how he gets on before I decide anything. Hopefully he will continue to improve."

Cool Moyes striving for calm before derby storm
By Paul Walker, Daily Post
Mar 18 2005
DAVID MOYES admits he is trying his hardest to keep his Everton players cool amid the intensity of Sunday's 201st Merseyside derby. The Everton manager was an interested spectator at Anfield on Wednesday as Liverpool failed to significantly reduce his team's advantage over them in the race for fourth place. Liverpool were held to a goalless draw by Blackburn - who beat Everton less than a fortnight ago - and still have considerable ground to make up if they are to overhaul the fourth-placed Goodison club. It is a situation Moyes wants the players to enjoy and not get anxious about as the pressure increases. Moyes said: "I am doing my best to play everything down. We are in a comfortable position right now and whatever happens on Sunday we know we will still be in fourth place, the position we have held almost all season. "Everybody knows the importance of the game and I do not need to impress that on anyone. We know that the position we are in is the one all but the top three in the division would love to be in. "It is a healthy position but we also know that if we do not play well that position will dwindle away. "I am trying to treat the game like any other, and we will go to Anfield with our usual attitude and as always we want to win every game. And that is what we will try to do on Sunday. "I do not think that if we win it will make it certain that we will qualify for the Champions League. Even 10 points' lead on Liverpool will not be enough because they will not give up the chase." Moyes added: "All I can do is make sure we keep up the same levels of performance we have been producing all season, and I can assure our fans that we will be doing our best to continue the way we have been playing." Tim Cahill, meanwhile, has been named Oceania Football Confederation player of the year for 2004. An impressive debut season in the Premiership following his move to Merseyside from Millwall has impressed Down Under and helped the Australian midfielder beat countrymen Mark Schwarzer and Harry Kewell to the award. OFC General Secretary Tai Nicholas said the award was well-deserved. "Tim has had a wonderful season and is a deserved winner of the OFC player of the year award," Nicholas said. "He is unique in that he has played for two Oceania nations, Western Samoa and Australia at various levels. It was a fabulous year for Tim scoring the winner in an FA Cup semi-final (for Millwall last season) which has catapulted his career to the next level. "He has certainly served as a fantastic role model not just for youngsters in Australia but also in Samoa." Cahill's cup heroics saw him line up against Manchester United in the final and though the first division outfit were defeated, the midfielder had already caught the eye and went on to make his debut for Australia against South Africa before competing in the Olympics last summer. Middlesbrough goalkeeper Schwarzer and Parma midfielder Marco Bresciano, Cahill's Socceroo team-mates, finished second and third respectively with the Solomon Islands striker Commins Menapi having to settle for fourth in a vote among all of the Oceania national federations. Cahill joins Mark Viduka, Brett Emerton, Christian Karembeu and Mark Bosnich among some of the past winners of the prestigious award, which has been in existence since 1988.

Victory is vital
Post Soapbox, icLiverpool & Daily Post
Mar 18 2005
Victory is vital
I BELIEVE Liverpool are there for the taking but Everton need to reproduce the Villa performance and not the Blackburn one. The next 90 minutes are the most important for many years at Everton.
Si Murray, Formby
Crunch match
EVERTON cannot underestimate the importance of Sunday's game. This is the biggest game for decades at our club and it may well shape many years to come. Returning to Europe would open so many doors and the financial implications are phenomenal. We need to approach this game with the same mindset that we went into the Villa game - showing no fear and playing inventive football.
Richard Baker, Bromborough
Midfield crucial
THE derby will be won and lost in midfield. If Everton are to win Leon Osman, Tim Cahill, Lee Carsley and Kevin Kil-bane will be pivotal to the outcome. These players have already given us 110% this season - but now they need to do even more. Thanks to Blackburn the gap in the league table is still significant. However, three more points could make it mission impossible for our neighbours in Anfield.
B Billington (via email)
Mourinho magic
JOSE MOURINHO is not a enemy of football, he has brought the fun back to football. I would much rather listen to him than Wenger or Ferguson. At least Mourinho tells it like it is and doesn't give millions of excuses. I think he is a refreshing character who has brought a lot of good back into a sport which was getting dull and lifeless.
James Croft, Liverpool

Time to tighten grip on European place
By Mark O'Brien Everton supporter, Daily Post
Mar 18 2005
SAM ALLARDYCE must be rubbing his hands with glee at the moment, what with Everton and Liverpool approaching Champions League qualification like two aged gentlemen who are about to use the same door. "After you sir." "Absolutely not my good friend, I simply wouldn't dream of it. After you." The Trotters, for their part, have got Norwich at the weekend and still have to play both Merseyside teams. They could easily come up the inside rail like Moscow Flyer, and Charlton Athletic must think that they are still in with a shout too. Both of those sides will be hoping for a draw or a Liverpool win on Sunday, in what is one of the tough-est derbies to call for a long time.
Despite their lofty league positions, both Merseyside clubs' recent form is poor,, yet either side is capable of producing a good performance out of the blue. For instance, Everton's at Villa Park recently and the Reds' convincing victory over in Germany. The Blues cross the park knowing that a draw will suffice, so David Moyes must be hoping that Mikel Arteta has recovered, allowing him to deploy the five-man midfield which helps stifle the opposition and also enables the Blues to keep possession and patiently build attacks. If the little Spaniard fails to recover then it seems likely that James Beattie will come straight back into the starting line-up. The ex-Southampton striker's Everton career hasn't started in the manner he must have hoped for when he got his big money move during the transfer window, but he now has a golden opportunity to show his worth during these nine crucial remaining games. His three-match suspension has given him plenty of time to get over his fitness problems, so hopefully the manager can now find the best way of accommodating him in the team without causing too much disruption. After all, the present system of play, with Marcus Bent as the lone striker, has enabled us to attain the position we're presently in: namely a seven-point gap over our nearest challenger. Therefore, if Beattie wants to prove his doubters wrong and show that he's worth a place then he has to produce in the one area where Bent is lacking, and that's the ability to find the back of the net on a regular basis. A couple of goals on Sunday would do his cause no harm whatsoever.

Moyes heeds lesson of past
Mar 18 2005 By Scott McLeod, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES believes his side can heed the lessons of two seasons ago as the race for the Champions League enters the finishing straight. The Blues spent much of the 2002/ 03 season in a European qualifying position, only to lose out after a home defeat to Manchester United on the final day. Everton have been in the top four since early September this season and go into Sunday's 201st Merseyside derby at Anfield knowing a draw will be enough to maintain a significant cushion over the chasing pack. But Moyes said: "We have been here before and we have got an idea of what it is like and hopefully we can take things from that period to help us." Liverpool's failure to overcome Blackburn at Anfield on Wednesday has ensured Everton go into the derby with a seven point lead over their neighbours. But Moyes is refusing to seek comfort in the results of rivals, adding: "I would be more disappointed that we haven't capitalised on our chances to go further ahead. "But apart from the Blackburn result we have been quite sound. And, most importantly, there has been a consistent level of performance and we have been pretty close in each game we have played.
"If we can do that in the remaining nine games then we will pick up quite a few points. "I think our preparations have been very good. The players look in good shape and obviously we are confident because we have had a lot of good results this season." Mikel Arteta is pushing to keep his place in the starting line-up for the derby after coming through yesterday's training session unscathed.
The Spanish midfielder picked up an ankle injury in the last game against Blackburn. However, James McFadden is facing a race against time to overcome a hamstring problem which has kept him on the treatment table for much of this week. James Beattie will also return to the squad after completing his three match suspension for his sending off against Chelsea.

'Whatever happens on Sunday, Blues will still be fourth'
Mar 18 2005 By Scott McLeod, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES has done his utmost in the last six months to temper the expectations of supporters as Everton have maintained their grip on a Champions League berth. Every time the question of qualifi-cation for Europe's most prestigious competition has been raised, the Goodison chief has produced a sidestep which would make Maradonna proud. But as his side gear up for Sunday's 201st Merseyside derby, he is finally ready to concede that hopes of a finish in the top four are not misplaced. He insists, however, that if the Blues are to secure the place their form this season has merited, then the really hard work is yet to come - starting with the high intensity of Sunday's Anfield encounter. "It is quite right there is a lot of focus on this game because it is a match that matters very much to both clubs," admits Moyes.. "We have been in the top four for most of the season and whatever happens, we will be fourth after the game as well. "We want to be there at the end of the season now and we have got ourselves in a position to try and do so. "But we know that is going to be a really hard ask. And for us to qualify in any position for Europe this season would be the equivalent of great success for Everton." Moyes has not forgotten the wealth of pundits predicting this would be the season the Blues would slip out of the top flight. "We all know how important our remaining games are, but we have found every game this season important," he continues.. "There were people saying to me before the second game of the season away to Crystal Palace that it was a six-pointer for us. And after we lost the opening game of the season at Arsenal everybody was saying 'here we go, we know where Everton are going'. "So we have got to say the players have done great to go from there to be in this position." So wherever Everton finally do finish, this campaign will be dubbed a success. That provides the kind of freedom many of Everton's rivals crave - including Liverpool. Regular qualification for the Champions League is something Liverpool's fans expect. And, as Moyes points out, it is equally important to the balance sheet at many clubs. He explains: "I wouldn't say there is any more pressure on Liverpool than on us this weekend. "But I do think some teams have an idea of where they should finish in the league and they budget for that. "And I know that we have certainly not budgeted for the position we are in right now. "Now we are in this position we want to do well. But sometimes you forget about Bolton Wanderers, Middlesbrough and Charlton. "They are sides who are doing really well in the Premier League and some of them are on good runs, so it is not really just about Everton and Liverpool for the Champions League spot. There are three or four other clubs who could quite easily come into the running. "I have been looking at the table because I know exactly the position we are in and I know what we probably have to do now. "But you can sit and look at the table for as long as you like, if you don't win football games then you don't move up. "We know we have to win some football games." If one of those wins comes at Anfield, then the Blues will enter the remaining eight matches with a 10- point lead over Liverpool - and a hefty advantage over the other clubs coveting Liverpool's fifth-place position ahead of this weekend. But such a lead would still not be enough to convince Moyes the job is done. He continues: "A 10-point lead wouldn't be enough because there would still be a lot of points to play for. "All we know is that the teams below us have to win more matches than us. But if we can match the sides below us stride for stride then we will stay above them and so we have to try and do that. "Whatever I say right now means nothing. We have just got to play the game. "Whatever happens on Sunday, we will still be fourth on Monday and we will see where we go after that. "In April we have got six games in a month. There is still a lot of football to be played. "The finishing line is still a long way off and because there are so many games in April, things will chop and change and it will really start taking shape in the middle of next month.
"By winning, we can keep the gap there and it will be hard for team's to catch us. If we don't, then we know we will have a tussle on with maybe more than one club, maybe three or four clubs."

Countdown to the 201st Merseyside derby
Mar 18 2005 Liverpool Echo
DAVE WATSON has been to Anfield before knowing that a victory would as good as end the challenge from their neighbours. On that occasion Liverpool won the battle, but Everton won the war - but Watson admits even lifting the League Championship trophy a fortnight later couldn't completely cancel out the disappointment of losing the derby. "I can see the similarities between Sunday's visit to Anfield and our game there in 1987," explained Watson "when we knew if we won we'd have as good as clinched the Championship. "That year we always felt it was only a matter of time before we won the title, but we desperately wanted to win it at Anfield. "That was the biggest disappointment about that match. We could have been running around Anfield celebrating a championship, but instead we had to wait until the following Bank Holiday weekend when we went to Norwich to clinch it. "Likewise, Everton will know that if they can win at Anfield they will have a 10-point lead over the Reds which will take some pulling back. "Both teams will want to keep it tight. Everton don't need to go chasing a win, while Liverpool will know that if they go a goal down, Everton are more than capable of shutting up shop and making it very difficult for the Reds to get back into the game." Today Dave Watson runs the rule over the players aiming to all but secure Champions League qualification by getting a result at Anfield . . .
In the Blue corner
He has this great calming influence which is vitally important to the rest of the defence. When he comes for a ball there's no panic, everything is done with an air of steady reassurance and he always has a smile on his face.
Defensively there are absolutely no worries about Tony. People have questioned his distribution and his ability to get forward, but on Sunday I wouldn't be worried about him overlapping all that much. His priority will be to limit John Arne Riise's effectiveness down Liverpool's left.
Davie Weir and Alan Stubbs are Everton's real steady Eddies which is why, fitness permitting, I would go with that partnership on Sunday. Joseph Yobo would probably get the nod if you were worried about pace, but while Baros is undoubtedly quick, you rarely see Stubbsy or Dave caught out like that. They have the experience and the calming influence.
Sandro's had a great season. We've all looked at him in the past and seen a defender who is good in the air, has two great feet and is quick, but there have occasionally been question marks about his desire. That accusation can't be levelled at him this season. He has been up there among the most consistent defenders in the Premiership. If you could have a fit Alessandro Pistone week-in, week-out, I think most managers would be happy with that.
If you are looking for a bit of creativity and someone who can knock in a vital goal, then Ossie is crucial to Everton's game-plan. He is a young lad who can pick out a pass and when he gets into the box he always has a trick or two up his sleeve.
He has arguably been one of Everton's players of the season with the number of invaluable goals he has grabbed from midfield. He might have had even more - and one missed chance will still be playing on his mind now from the last time the two sides met at Goodison. His miss didn't make any difference that day, but he'll still be desperate to completely bury that memory by scoring at Anfield. He is a potential Everton matchwinner.
For me, Carsley is Everton's top man. He does all the dirty jobs in games that aren't really appreciated. Sometimes he doesn't stand out for the ordinary fan, but his work-rate, his ability to break moves up and keep things simple is invaluable. Every Evertonian, of course, will also remember that he is capable of scoring winning goals in derby matches! Lee Carsley's presence is crucial to Everton.
I honestly don't know all that much about him, but he scored within minutes of his first Old Firm match in Glasgow, so maybe we should take that as an omen! By all accounts he was impressive at Villa Park when Everton produced their best performance of the season and his recovery from injury is vital if Everton are to successfully employ their 4-5-1 formation.
There aren't many good left-sided players around in the Premiership, and Kevin has done a very good job for Everton over the past season-and-a-half. He is incredibly hardworking and with his height can be very important at set-pieces. Just look out for him arriving at the far post on Sunday.
I still remember the reaction of Evertonians when Marcus Bent arrived last summer. Underwhelmed is a fair description. But for me he has set the tone for Everton's performances all season with his work-rate and his intelligent running. His finishing isn't top notch, but then you tend to have to pay more than £450,000 for a top class finisher, but his contribution will again be vital.
There is no guarantee that James will be involved from the start on Sunday, but I just have this feeling about James that he is a big game player with a knack for producing when it matters most. He can certainly cope with the occasion and the atmosphere at Anfield - and while I think Marcus Bent deserves to start, if James is involved I can see him being Everton's matchwinner.
When the teamsheet goes in on Sunday, and Duncan is there on the subs' bench, you can rest assured Liverpool's players will take notice. They'll be saying to each other 'don't kick any of their strikers or that big nuisance will be on.' Duncan still has the ability to upset defenders and though he may only have a limited part to play in the game, you can be sure it will be influential
DAVID FAIRCLOUGH has already taken in one derby match this week. And whatever the Merseyside version throws up on Sunday can't possibly compare with what he witnessed in Plovdiv on Tuesday night. The former Reds star - himself a derby day matchwinner in 1976 - has been in Bulgaria on business.. He was invited to the Botev Plovdiv v Lokomotiv Plovdiv showdown by Hristo Stoichkov and won't forget what he saw in a hurry. "It was absolutely incredible," he declared. "Both the referee and the linesman allowed a highly dubious Lokomotiv goal to stand and the place just erupted. "Play was held up for 10 minutes while the fans rioted, the police piled in and Botev officials tried to persuade their players to walk off the pitch. "It went on for ages before they finally restored some sort of order and Plovdiv eventually won 2-1 with a silver goal in extra-time.
"Even then it wasn't finished. The next morning the referee and the linesman were banned. Whatever happens at Anfield on Sunday can't even begin to compare !" Fairclough has seen plenty of Everton this season and he expects the Blues to come to Anfield with a similar formation and attitude to that shown by Blackburn in midweek. "I have seen then play some open, attractive stuff, but for the most part they make life difficult for teams facing them. "The atmosphere on Sunday might force them to come out a little more, but I can't see it. It's up to Liverpool to be good enough on the day to break them down." So, do Liverpool have the players to break down Everton in Sunday's 201st derby match? David Fairclough assesses the likely Liverpool starting line-up .
In the Red corner
He has made one or two mistakes this season which have proved costly, but I think those errors have taken people's eye off what he does do very well - which is make crucial, match-influencing saves. There are plenty of other keepers not capable of doing that, but Jerzy can make great saves.
He has been really steady this season and has grown in stature. I think he has responded to the faith shown in him by Rafael Benitez and will not be at all overawed by the importance of the occasion - after all, he is a regular international. Occasionally I would like to see more telling balls into the box from him, but Liverpool will have no worries about him on Sunday.
What can you say that hasn't already been said? He typifies what every Liverpool fan wants to see from a Liverpool player - commitment, passion and a burning desire not to lose. The occasions when he has been less than outstanding this season you can count on the fingers of one hand.
I was impressed by Mauricio Pellegrino on Wednesday against Blackburn, but a derby match is not the time to experiment and I expect Hyypia to come back and re-establish his settled partner-ship with Carragher. Sami has put in some of his best performances of the season in recent weeks - notably in the Carling Cup final - and Liverpool can rely on him. Occasionally he can get exposed in a one against one situation, but the way Everton play, that is unlikely to happen on Sunday.
He deserves a run in the first team and it's encouraging from Liverpool's point of view to see a local lad like him get in and do so well. I would certainly have no worries about him on Sunday. He's aggressive, doesn't make glaring mistakes and tackles crisply.
Sunday is a real test for the Spaniard. In Europe he looks more comfortable than he does on occasions in the Premiership when he has been guilty of giving away possession far too easily. What I have been impressed by, though, is his ability to get into goalscoring positions. He could be a threat to Everton on Sunday - whether he is played out wide or just off Morientes - and he can be a Liverpool matchwinner.
I just wish Stevie was allowed to get his head down and get on with his football, but that doesn't look like it's ever going to happen. It's difficult to comprehend the pressure he's been playing under in recent weeks, and I think he has done remarkably well in the circumstances. But what is undeniable is that when he's on his game, he is a world class talent. Let's just hope Sunday is his day.
His performance on Sunday will be vital to Liverpool. Central midfield is where Everton are strong, but he is capable of breaking things up and winning plenty of possession for the Reds. He can be exposed for a lack of mobility at times - and I enjoyed seeing him get further forward earlier in the season - but he still has a vital role to play.
A potential Liverpool matchwinner. I think Everton were much happier to be facing Harry Kewell down their left side in the Goodison derby earlier this season, but John Arne's form this season will cause Everton some concerns. He won't be fazed by the occasion or whoever he is lining up against and I see him as a likely hero.
He is undoubtedly a class act, but I thought he looked short of match-sharpness on Wednesday. He has been frustrated by injury and ineligibility for the Champions League in recent weeks, but he will be all the better for Wednesday's 90 minutes and I wouldn't bet against him getting on the scoresheet.
You don't know what you're going to get from Milan at the moment. But he is tenacious and will battle all day long, and because he was so disappointing on Wednesday, that could be just the motivation he needs to turn it on, on Sunday. He has a point to prove.

Red-hot teaser in Euro climax
Mar 18 2005 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
IT'S a question which has tormented both sides of the Mersey divide, especially since Liverpool continue to look like Champions League winners one week, but incapable of qualifying for the damn thing the next. If the Reds can become the unlikeliest Champions League winners since, well, since Porto, would they deprive the fourth placed team in the Premiership of their own place in next season's competition? The answer is . . . probably. Although the FA is refusing to rule on a hypothetical situation until they have to. UEFA rules are clear. "One country cannot have more than four places," said a spokesman this week. "It would be up to the FA to make a representation on Liverpool's behalf." And who is the recently installed chief executive of the FA? None other than rabid red, Brian Barwick. But, so far at any rate, the FA is refusing to bite. "It's a hypothetical situation," said a perplexed spokesman, "but the UEFA rules state that should a team win the Champions League, but not qualify through league placing, the national organisation can request that they then take up one of their country's places. "But no, we haven't decided whether we would do that yet." The spokesman added: "We would imagine that UEFA would want the Champions League winners to defend their trophy the following season. It is - and will continue to be so - unless Liverpool carry on burying the Bayer Leverkusen's of this world, but blundering against the Blackburns.
Split not helping the cause
A STATEMENT issued by Everton this week read: "The club notes with interest the latest statement issued by Paul Gregg relating to the possibility of a shared stadium with Liverpool. "Whilst happy to encourage open debate and freedom of speech, Everton wishes to make it clear that Mr Gregg's comments are of a wholly personal nature and do not necessarily represent the views of the board."
How many other issues do Everton's board and their rebel director disagree on? Is this the reason why the Fortress Sports Fund investment is incomplete, almost three months after its completion was "imminent"? Just idle speculation - unless a statement from Paul Gregg or Everton says otherwise.

Card sharp Styles is key
Mar 18 2005 You Bet! With Adam Oldfield, Liverpool Echo
MERSEYSIDE derbies are no place for the faint-hearted. So while Harry Kewell tucks into his Sunday roast at the in-laws, over at Anfield, hardened fans will be reinforcing their fingernails with thimbles.
With so much riding on the outcome of the 201st Mersey meeting, even the mounted police will have the trots. But one man more than most is in danger of letting the grandeur of the occasion get the better of him - referee Rob Styles. The Hampshire official, one of the Premiership's leading disciplinarians with four red cards and 40 yellows, takes charge of Sunday's showdown but given the nature of these encounters, his hard-line approach is sure to court controversy. Therefore, totesport's price of 5-1 Liverpool, or 13-2 Everton, being awarded a penalty deserves a small investment as does the 5-2 (Blue Square) a player from either side is given their marching orders.
Indeed, it could even influence the first goalscorer opportunity where respective penalty-takers Steven Gerrard (9-1 William Hill) and Lee Carsley (25-1) are afforded generous odds. The outright result is the market sure to attract most interest though. Liverpool are favoured by the bookies but at a comparatively wholesome 10-11 (Premierbet), whereas the Blues' price has been driven down to 10-3 (Paddy Power) and the draw 9-4 (Stan James). The necessity of arresting their domestic dip should rouse Rafa Benitez's men into taking the three points, and lead to them once again being touted around as strong fancies for fourth spot. But with a more favourable fixture runin, the Blues' exile from Europe's top flight could just be nearing an end.
* Gamebookers is offering 3-1 on Liverpool beating Everton this Sunday then going on to finish fourth, while the Blues are 7-1 to take the three points at Anfield and beat their neighbours to the Champions League spot.

Stadium share plea
Mar 18 2005 Liverpool Echo
REGENERATION chiefs today said they were still pursuing the idea of shared stadium for Liverpool and Everton football clubs. The Anfield club has rejected calls to share with their neighbours but is appealing for £23m public funding to build a new stadium from the Northwest Development Agency.
Part of that cash will fund regeneration work in the Anfield area after the current stadium's demolition. But NWDA chief exectutive Steven Broomhead said the problem is £5m of the funding has been earmarked for an underground car park at the new Anfield. "We have aproblem giving public money for a private investment," he said. "There is a silent business majority who are with us on this and they are telling us to stick with it. "We refuse to understand the word no because there is a bigger prize at stake." Mr Broomhead revealed he recently met the Football Assocation.
"They are genuinely interested in a shared stadium because it would be a major breakthrough for football," he said.

Blues legend in plan to help aids victims
Mar 18 2005 By Scott Mcleod, Liverpool Echo
FORMER Everton hero Gary Stevens has hatched a plan to donate dozens of wheelchairs to Aids victims in South Africa. Gary has followed the path taken by an increasing number of ex-pros by turning his hand to treating injuries as a physiotherapist. And he has taken advantage of his job at Ellesmere Port Cottage hospital to save wheelchairs from the NHS scrapheap. Gary has been helped in his quest by partner Louise Watson who works as an occupational therapist. The 42-year-old former England defender said: "We learned of more than 80 wheelchairs that the NHS were going to destroy. "But they only have small faults and could certainly be of use somewhere. "I am not saying the NHS wastes money, but while the chairs may not be of the required standard here, they can be refurbished and used in Africa. "South Africa is still a third world country with an Aids crisis and these wheelchairs will definitely be of use." Gary is in need of charitable donations, storage space and help with transportation if he is to deliver his promise to get the chairs to Africa. He said: "We have finally been able to convince the company holding the chairs to let us have them. "But now we have got the problem of finding somewhere to store them while we raise the funds to ship them to South Africa. "It has become a big project for us. But it is a good cause." Gary has received help from his local Rotary club as he seeks donations. He is planning to stage a series of fundraising events, including a sportsman's dinner with the help of the Everton Former Players' Foundation..
If you want to help Gary e-mail: stevens_physio@msn.com

Liverpool 2, Everton 1 (D,Post)
By Andy Hunter at Anfield, Daily Post
Mar 21 2005
RAFAEL BENITEZ'S pre-match rallying cry was, roughly translated, for Liverpool to 'stand up and be counted'. It was the only demand they couldn't answer yesterday. Liverpool made everything count in the 201st Merseyside derby all right, but so few of their players were left standing by its pulsating climax that Benitez's uncharacteristic march onto the pitch could have been in desperation as much as celebration. Those in red who survived this derby throwback danced a merry jig in front of the Kop on the final whistle. Jamie Carragher, as he had done throughout, led from the front while his ecstatic manager embraced what was left of his bruised, battered and better side. An ecstatic Benitez? In comparison with his measured reaction to Steven Gerrard's dramatic winner against Olympiakos, the response to his first derby success as Liverpool manager bordered on delirium. When the cauldron had silenced, however, the over-riding emotion for Benitez must have been one of complete and utter bewilderment. The major cause of confusion was the latest example of the incredible mood swings of his schizophrenic team. Their inconsistency is so monotonous it is consistent now and, after the Blackburn bore, Liverpool wore their Sunday best to respond right on cue against sorry Everton. But the puzzle for Benitez did not end with a thoroughly deserved victory that has left Liverpool breathing down their rival's necks in the race for fourth place. Of equal concern to the Liverpool manager will be another reminder of how every step forward this season comes with a heavy, painful price, and that his misfortune shows no sign of abating. Liverpool's joy in restoring local bragging rights and closing in on the Champions League will be tempered, only minimally of course, by the fact they have no strikers for an Anfield game of equal importance against Bolton. Not content with Djibril Cisse, Neil Mellor and Florent Sinama-Pongolle nursing season-ending injuries, they will now be without Fernando Morientes, Milan Baros and possibly Luis Garcia in a fortnight too. Little wonder Sam Allardyce beamed a broad smile in the directors' box as these two contenders attempted to knock each other into submission. The Spaniards, plus Stephen Warnock and Dietmar Hamann, were afflicted by the injury curse with a Anfield season-ticket. The Czech by a moment of idiocy that brought a three-match ban for a horrible foul on Alan Stubbs and left his depleted team-mates battling for the final 13 minutes with 10 men. Nine if you consider Garcia spent the entire second half limping on one foot. To say Liverpool then survived the Alamo would be unfair. The Alamo did not have as many casualties as this and Tim Cahill's immaculate 82nd-minute consolation could not mask how poor Everton were. David Moyes, obviously, insisted afterwards that he would not swap league places with his opposite number. But his concerns are far greater nevertheless. Unlike Liverpool the men from Goodison could afford to drop points yesterday, but their performance level has dipped so steeply this year that their four-point margin will soon disappear if dramatic improvement is not around the corner. They arrived at Anfield with containment in mind, yet once Gerrard stroked a 19-yard free-kick through a visiting wall and into Nigel Martyn's bottom corner on 27 minutes their response - even against 10 men - was minimal.
Everton's first shot in an opening half dominated by Liverpool came in stoppage time, when last derby hero Lee Carsley curled a free-kick just wide. Their second arrived in the 71st minute when Cahill's deflected effort bobbled through to Jerzy Dudek. Elsewhere aimless long balls and a static central midfield added to the visitors' problems,, and though Cahill offered them hope with a crisp low finish with eight minutes to go an Everton draw would have been a gross injustice. And the cue for Baros to hail the nearest taxi. The Liverpool striker worked tirelessly across the front line yet managed to expose his flaws in galling fashion. Twice he broke through to make the game safe in the second half and on both occasions was found wanting, hesitating too long to allow Tony Hibbert to recover with the first and then hitting Martyn's legs despite committing the Everton keeper in the second. In the 77th minute frustration at those misses boiled over and he lunged at the Everton skipper for a straightforward red. Fortunately for Benitez, he was the only man in a red shirt not to rise to the occasion. Liverpool were so dominant before falling like flies, their football so commanding, that Anfield had every right to wonder why it took the visit of Everton for the peseta to drop. Once they had finished celebrating that is. Leverkusen, Blackburn and now Everton; all performances when Liverpool, for better and worse, have set their own agenda in the opening exchanges. Benitez's side tore into their local rivals with a Chelsea-like determination to annihilate, but most shocking of all was the identity of those at the fore-front of the first half onslaught.
Gerrard, Warnock and Carragher were up for the 'must-win' encounter, obviously, but they were equalled in intensity by those too often liable to frustrate. Garcia matched his undoubted skill with a passion and commitment not always seen while Antonio Nunez, so often the scapegoat, was an instant revelation when he replaced Warnock. He may have faded into a defensive role in the second half, but by then the contest was over and his input invaluable. It was Nunez who created the opening goal when he waltzed past the static Alessandro Pistone and crossed for compatriot Garcia, who made the most of Hibbert's fierce tackle on the edge of the area to win a free-kick that was the perfect invitation for Gerrard's intelligence and power. He obliged low through a crumbling wall, and Liverpool rarely looked back. Five minutes later Everton's normally unflappable goalkeeper was caught out when Morientes unleashed a dipping volley from 25-yards. The back-peddling Martyn got two hands to the ball but could only palm it onto the crossbar, and Garcia reacted quickest to head the rebound into the gaping goal. Three additions to the injury list inside 22 minutes was Liverpool's only concern - and the prospect of an abandonment Everton's only hope.
Moyes's men won the midfield battle on the way to victory in December's derby. Likewise, with Gerrard, Garcia and Nunez in tune, Liverpool triumphed through the same channel at Anfield.
Though out-numbered they out-manoeuvred the opposition's midfield five, where the bizarre decision to recall Joseph Yobo in the unfamiliar role in which he struggled in January backfired badly on Everton before he was put out of his misery at half-time. James Beattie and Duncan Ferguson soon joined the fray, with the latter bringing presence and menace to a second-half improvement by Everton that only once seriously troubled Liverpool's resilient defence, for whom Carragher and Mauricio Pellegrino flourished, in the build-up to Cahill's consolation. Contrary to the pre-match hype this Merseyside derby was not the first for 20 years to have serious reward tied to the outcome. That came two years ago when Champions League football was again on offer to the victor. That Easter derby at Goodison also resulted in a 2-1 victory for Liverpool, but a place in Europe's premier competition still eluded them. Everton, for their part, went into a freefall that cost them even a UEFA Cup place on the final day. The warning this time should be obvious to both.
With Merseyside preoccupied with domestic dispute Bolton, who travel to Anfield shortly and entertain Everton on the last day, have crept into contention almost unnoticed. Only if Liverpool show the same levels of passion and fire to complement their skills will they avoid a repeat of 2003 this season, while Everton must recover swiftly to avoid a third end-of-season collapse in succession.
Anfield and Goodison are capable of witnessing both. But today the momentum, the confidence and the casualty list is with Liverpool.
LIVERPOOL (4-4-2): Dudek; Finnan, Carragher, Pellegrino, Warnock (Nunez 21); Garcia, Hamann (Biscan 40), Gerrard, Riise; Baros, Morientes (Smicer 43). Subs: Hyypia, Carson.
BOOKINGS: Finnan (dissent).
SENDING-OFF: Baros (violent conduct)
EVERTON (4-5-1): Martyn; Hibbert, Weir, Stubbs, Pistone (Watson 84); Osman, Yobo (Beattie 46), Carsley, Cahill, Kilbane; Bent (Ferguson 55). Subs: Wright, Naysmith.
BOOKINGS: Weir, Yobo, Osman, Hibbert (fouls).
REFEREE: Rob Styles
ATT: 44,224
NEXT GAMES: Liverpool v Bolton, Saturday, April 2, 3pm; West Brom v Everton, Sunday, April 3, 4.05pm (both Premiership)

Furious defender in attack on Baros
By Nick Hilton Daily Post Staff
Mar 21 2005
EVERTON captain Alan Stubbs accused Liverpool striker Milan Baros of making a challenge "that could have finished my career" in the Merseyside derby. Baros was sent off for the 76th-minute tackle, leaving Liverpool's 10 men to hold on for a 2-1 win. Stubbs had no complaints about Liverpool's right to a victory, that cuts Everton's lead in the race for a European Champions League qualifying spot down to four points. But the experienced centre-back was scathing in his condemnation of Baros's challenge on him. Stubbs said: "It was a ridiculous challenge. I would crucify myself if I made a challenge like that. "It was a challenge that could finish a player's career.
"It was a s--tbag's challenge. I won't have it that it was a striker's challenge, there is no such thing."
Stubbs added: "I can accept players who turn their back and leave their foot dangling. But no player should look at another player, and leave their foot there and deliberately do it. "No matter what, there is no place for that in football." Stubbs was able to continue after the tackle and said: "It will take a lot more than that to knock me down." The departure of Baros was the cue for Everton to put some serious pressure on the Liverpool goal for the first time in the whole game. Tim Cahill scored on 82 minutes, to halve the advantage Liverpool enjoyed through first-half strikes by Steven Gerrard and Luis Garcia. But it was a case of too little too late for Everton who were penned back in their own half for most of the first period, and rarely showed the form that has kept them ahead of their Mersey-side rivals for most of the Premiership campaign. And local boy Stubbs admitted Liverpool had deserved to come out on top on the day. Stubbs said: "All the pressure was on Liverpool today and fair do's to them, they produced a performance. "If they had not taken the game to us at Anfield, something would have been wrong. "After their performance against Blackburn last week, they had to come out and do something. We expected that. "They scored the goals when they had the momentum, and it was always going to be an uphill job for us after that. "We knew we had to up the tempo in the second half, because our first-half performance wasn't good enough. "We needed to score earlier than we did, to give ourselves time to get back in the game. "Liverpool celebrated at the end as if they had taken fourth place but we will see how things stand at the end of the season."
It was a good day for Liverpool with rivals Middlesbrough also losing, at home to Southampton.
However, Stubbs insists: "We are still in the driving seat. The others still have to hope we drop points and they would gladly swap places with us. "This game was important but we won't lose heart because we lost it. "We've had a great season so far, and we have to make sure we keep going.
"We have a big challenge ahead of us, one we are all up for, one that we can rise to." Stubbs described the performance of referee Rob Styles as "very indifferent". He said: "We were the only team that had bookings (David Weir, Marcus Bent, Leon Osman and Tony Hibbert)." He was also unhappy about the award of a free-kick on the edge of the box for a challenge by Hibbert on Garcia that led to Gerrard's goal after 27 minutes. Stubbs said: "Continental players will go down a lot easier. Referees have to be big enough to see that but unfortunately they are not."

We must remain positive in face of defeat - Moyes
By Ian Doyle, Daily Post
Mar 21 2005
DAVID MOYES has urged his Everton players to remain upbeat despite yesterday's derby defeat.
Goals from Steven Gerrard and Luis Garcia gave Liverpool a two-goal half-time lead before Tim Cahill's 82nd-minute strike set up a grandstand finish after Milan Baros had been sent off five minutes earlier for a horrible challenge on Alan Stubbs. The result means Everton are now just four points clear of their neighbours in fourth place. But Moyes refused to criticise his players and insisted they remain in pole position to claim the final Champions League qualification place. "I don't think it was a matter of us doing anything wrong," he said. "It was more Liverpool did things that they have not been doing this season, and you have to give them credit. "I thought that Liverpool were very good in the first half. In the second half they had a couple of good chances but we had to go for it. We came off the pitch thinking we could have got something out of the game. At half-time we had to buck our ideas up and put them under a bit more pressure, and we did that.
"We are still four points clear, and if I'd have come in from the game after having won to go four points clear in fourth, I would have been delighted. We must not forget that. "I think it is great that Everton are competing in a game like this for such a prestigous position. "We have been excellent all year. We are not in the same league in terms of finance and we have done great to compete today and make it a great game for the supporters to watch." Of Baros's sending-off, Moyes added: "I don't think anyone who saw the tackle could complain about the sending off."
Moyes claimed Everton were denied the opportunity of claiming a draw by referee Rob Styles. The Everton manager was convinced the official did not play enough injury time as his side pressed for an equaliser at Anfield. "I thought we were going to get the equaliser and if we would have had enough time then we might have," said Moyes. "The injury time was not three minutes, we should have played more. After we scored, they kicked the ball into the crowd and we did not have a ball to play with, never mind the substitutions and when Alan Stubbs was down injured. "That was all definitely more than three minutes. I think the referee played three minutes. He didn't even play three minutes and a bit, he was right on the button. "The referee might be proven right and I'm not saying I'm right, but we will look at the videos and check it. "I don't want to talk about the referee, but the authorities just have to make sure they pick the right ones for the big games." Moyes also conceded Nigel Martyn was partially at fault for both goals, but fell short of blaming the goalkeeper.
"I think Nigel Martyn could have done better for both goals, and he was in the dressing room saying the same," he said. "I think he thought he was going to fall back into the net with the ball for second goal and decided to palm it away. But who can criticise Nigel after how he has played for us this season?"

Schizophrenics land psychological blow
Merseyside Derby Verdict by Ian Doyle, Daily Post
Mar 21 2005
RAFAEL BENITEZ has been at pains lately to let it be known his Liverpool team are better than Everton. For once yesterday, his players demonstrated they have actually been listening.
How else to explain the remarkable transformation from the miserable midweek draw with Blackburn to the first-half derby hurricane which blew fresh life into a faltering Premiership campaign? It ultimately proved enough to overcome Everton during a genuinely enthralling occasion packed so full of incident that it was impossible to avert your gaze for a second.
What a difference competing for a tangible prize can make. And what a difference in the level of performance from Liverpool, with Wednesday's woe expunged from the memory as the Anfield side rampaged their way to a half-time lead that was only threatened following the sending-off of Milan Baros. While David Moyes was left to rue a suspiciously short period of injury time as his team pressed desperately for an equaliser, Benitez was feeling both proud and perplexed by his schizophrenic side's derby success. Their debilitating inconsistency has led to suggestions many of his players lack the desire and heart required for the club, in particular the Spanish Armada that followed the manager to Anfield. But it was a charge that could not be levelled at them during a thunderous opening period in which Liverpool tore into their neighbours from the first whistle with an intensity sadly seldom witnessed this season. It will have left Benitez and Liverpool supporters alike wondering why the players can't do it every week. For every Arsenal, Olympiakos and Leverkusen there has been a Middlesbrough, Birmingham and Southampton. Midfield is so often the key area in derby clashes and it is where Liverpool fell emphatically short at Goodison earlier in the season. Not so yesterday, where a pumped-up Steven Gerrard was an imperious presence in the centre, ably assisted by first Dietmar Hamann and then Igor Biscan. It was the captain's goal that set Liverpool on their way, but the eventual matchwinner came from the one true moment of genuine class in the game. Fernando Morientes's sublime long-range effort was too hot for Nigel Martyn to handle, allowing Luis Garcia to continue his welcome trait of scoring on the big occasion by nodding home. Gerrard had earlier set the tone for a feisty encounter with a pair of bonecrunching challenges on Lee Carsley and Alessandro Pistone. Garcia took the hint from his skipper and was fortunate to escape censure when launching himself at Kevin Kil-bane while Tim Cahill - dangerously close to the limit throughout - was similarly lucky when catching Stephen Warnock. That tackle eventually forced the young full-back out of action and sparked an unlikely sequence of events which served as a microcosm of Liverpool's injury-ravaged season as Hamann and Fernando Morientes departed before the interval and the clearly hobbling Garcia played 50 minutes as a passenger. It meant Benitez had to look elsewhere for heroes, with oftberated duo Biscan and Antonio Nunez coming to the fore. Like their team-mates, the pair responded to the challenge and although born-and-bred Scousers Jamie Carragher and Gerrard were the stellar performers for Benitez, the manager was rightly quick to salute the team effort as a whole. Alas, almost certainly exempt from that praise was Milan Baros. Strikers are supposed to win games, but the Czech almost ended up losing it for Liverpool. Baros had already spurned two glorious second-half chances to deliver the killer punch to a groggy Everton when, perhaps as Benitez suggested out of frustration at his own performance, he unwisely launched himself into a horrific tackle on Alan Stubbs that became worse with every subsequent viewing. Baros was deservedly shown an instant red card by Rob Styles, a decision contested by precisely no-one at Anfield. With Garcia and Morientes yesterday joining Harry Kewell, Djibril Cisse, Florent Sinama-Pongolle and Neil Mellor on the sidelines, the last thing Benitez needed was for Baros to stupidly earn a suspension that will rule him out of the forthcoming Premiership encounters with Bolton, Manchester City and Tottenham.
For a player who, like many, sees his Anfield career in the balance, it was not the best way to impress his doubting manager. What of Everton? While Moyes will be disappointed with his team's performance, there was no disgrace in defeat even if it took the Goodison side until the 71st minute to strike a shot on target when Cahill's deflected effort was clutched gratefully by Jerzy Dudek.
Apportioning blame is difficult and a touch unfair. As Moyes admitted, it was perhaps more a case of Liverpool doing things they haven't been doing this season, rather than Everton falling short of this campaign's high standards. Their achievements have been underpinned by an unshakeable team spirit, an outstanding work ethic and some canny tactical decisions from the Scot. And none of those could be seriously questioned yesterday, although Moyes may have second thoughts before again employing the ineffective Nigerian international Joseph Yobo in the centre of midfield. Cahill's expertly-struck late strike gave Everton a glimmer of hope, but in truth they were second best all over the field, even in goal where the ever-dependable Nigel Martyn suffered a rare offday with the concession of two preventable goals. The absence of Mikel Arteta was a contributory factor. Even in his short time at the club, the Spaniard has been a creative influence - witness his role in the demolition of Aston Villa last month - and Everton missed someone with the genuine talent to produce from the engine room. Kneejerk reactions are not Moyes's style, and he was honest enough to admit Liverpool's first-half performance gave Everton too much to claw back during an improved display after the break. His side have showed this season they can bounce back from heavier beatings than this, and they are still very much in pole position in the battle for that final Champions League place. But Moyes will be concerned that once again his team are limping towards the finishing line - since their derby success last December, Everton have taken just 15 points from 13 Premier-ship games. That said, irrespective of Liverpool's result against Bolton Wanderers - and how crucial that game has become - Everton will go to West Brom in fourth place. As satisfying as a derby victory may be, the win is still worth only three points to Liverpool. But it is the psychological effect that could yet prove decisive. Four points is indeed a substantial gap with only eight games remaining, and while the onus remains firmly on Benitez's side to keep the pressure on their neighbourly upstarts, yesterday's result was an encouragement Moyes would sooner not have afforded his rivals. Throughout a testing campaign, Benitez has remained supremely confident his team can overhaul Everton and claim fourth place. Maybe now his players are starting to believe, too.
How they rated - By Scott Dougal
NIGEL MARTYN. Will forever wonder why he didn't push Morientes' volley over. Brilliant save from Baros redressed the balance. Score 6
TONY HIBBERT. Challenge on Garcia presented Liverpool with the chance they craved to score the opener. Made amends with a brilliant saving tackle on Baros. Score 7
ALAN STUBBS. Isolated and badly outpaced by Baros at times. Mistake should have gifted Liverpool a third goal. Lucky to escape serious injury from Baros' tackle. Score 6
DAVID WEIR. At full stretch to keep the Reds attack at bay, booked for a foul on Baros, then lost out in a one-on-one battle with the Czech Republic striker that should have been punished. Score 5
ALESSANDRO PISTONE (off 84): Part of a sub-standard Everton defence and resorted to an increasingly more physical approach as the match wore on. Score 5
JOSEPH YOBO (off 46): Pushed into midfield in Mikel Arteta's absence. Never looked comfortable, booked for pulling back Nunez. Score 5
LEON OSMAN. Hardly in the contest until booked for a foul on Baros. Struggled to hurt Liverpool on the counter. Score 5 LEE CARSLEY. Curled a free-kick into the side-netting in first-half stoppage time. Unable to stamp his authority on midfield. Score 5
TIM CAHILL. Forced to drop into increasingly deep positions to get on the ball. Had Everton's first shot after 71 minutes, then brilliantly seized on a half chance to give them hope. Score 8
KEVIN KILBANE. Ineffective display from the Republic of Ireland man. A game that totally passed him by. Score 5
MARCUS BENT (off 55): Hardly got a touch in the first half and nothing much changed in the second thanks to a poor supply. Score 6
STEVE WATSON (on 84): Not enough time to make an impact. Score 6
JAMES BEATTIE (on 46): Fresh air shot at Hibbert's cross not long after his arrival. Not much more to write home about. Score 5
DUNCAN FERGUSON (on 55). Tried to unsettle the Liverpool defence with his aerial threat. Took his time but eventually managed it. Score 7

Key moments that shaped battle for Mersey pride
Daily Post
Mar 21 2005
HERE are the key moments of the 201st Merseyside derby.
One minute - Luis Garcia curls in a terrific cross from the right which Tony Hibbert clears.
13 - Steven Gerrard stabs towards goal but his goal-bound effort is blocked by Hibbert.
21 - Stephen Warnock limps off with Antonio Nunez brought on as a replacement.
24 - Ball breaks to Luis Garcia in a promising position in the penalty area, but the Spaniard volleys over the bar.
27 - Gerrard opens the scoring by planting a free-kick into the bottom right corner from the edge of the area.
32 - Luis Garcia makes it 2--0 to Liverpool, heading in the rebound after Fernando Morientes' brilliant long--range effort was parried against the bar by Nigel Martyn.
36 - Nunez volleys over after the ball ricochets to him in the penalty area.
39 - David Weir booked for a foul on Nunez.
40 - Dietmar Hamann limps off injured, with Igor Biscan brought on.
41 - Joseph Yobo booked for a foul on Nunez.
43 - More injury problems for Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez, with Morientes next off, and Vladimir Smicer his replacement. Luis Garcia, struggling after taking a knock, has to carry on.
45+1 - Leon Osman booked for a hack at Milan Baros.
45+3 - Lee Carsley curls a free-kick just wide of Jerzy Dudek's post.
46 - Yobo comes off, with James Beattie his replacement for the second half.
51 - Baros sent through but Hibbert gets back just in time to make a vital challenge.
53 - Gerrard tries a long-range effort but Martyn is his equal this time.
56 - Everton striker Duncan Ferguson brought on for Marcus Bent.
65 - Baros lashes a volley just over the crossbar from long distance.
69 - Baros gets behind the defence and looks certain to score until Martyn pokes a leg out to divert his effort to safety.
77 - Baros given straight red card after mistiming his challenge and appearing to connect with Alan Stubbs' knee.
82 - Tim Cahill reduces Everton's arrears by lashing in at the near post to make it 2-1.
84 - Alessandro Pistone comes off, with Steve Watson taking his place.
87 - Hibbert booked for a late challenge on Smicer.

Kick up backside to spur us on
View from the stands by Mark Mckenna Everton supporter, Daily Post
Mar 21 2005
THE closeness of the 2-1 scoreline had much more to do with circumstance than it did with Everton's performance. Had Liverpool not experienced the injuries encountered, I doubt we'd have had a sniff. We Evertonians pride ourselves on thinking we're knowledgeable fans, and there won't be a Blue out there who doubts we got out of the match exactly what we deserved. In an away performance reminiscent of Tottenham and Southampton, we made our opponents look far superior because of our own inadequacies. From the very outset, Liverpool came at us and displayed the momentum and tempo that Benitez had requested from his players to replicate the spirit shown by Everton throughout the season. Within the first minute, Liverpool showed more passion than in the entire Blackburn game. The risk we have endured all season is the lack of an insurance policy to cover the loss of key players. With Mikel Arteta being brought in to replace Gravesen, the loss of the Spaniard left Everton with limited options. With Yobo as a desperate replacement in midfield, this game illustrated that this season has been established on a set formation with key components. Though gutting for Evertonians, there is at least a great satisfaction for the McKop that Liverpool are now only four points behind Everton as they approach Easter. In tribute, the Boot Room must be singing their kites off to that Garcia and Nunez La Bamba version.
A debate among Evertonians is what constitutes a failure of our season now. . missing out on the Champions League or just to miss out on the top six? Should we at least match the results of the teams below us, the fourth spot is ours; it really is as simple as that. Was it the battle or the war which was won yesterday? I'm hoping and also believing that this game was the kick-up the behind that will spur us on.

McDougall seals Everton Cup delight
Women's Football, Daily Post
Mar 21 2005
EVERTON secured a place in the FA Women's Cup final by inflicting a first defeat of the season on Arsenal. They set up a meeting in the final with Charlton by posting a 3-0 win, sealed by Kelly McDougall's penalty seven minutes from time. Fara Williams opened the scoring moments before half-time, and Jody Handley doubled the lead with 11 minutes left. Manager Mo Marley was delighted with the result, which she put down to a lot of hard work at the club over the last few years. "We're delighted to go through and feel we fully deserved to," she said. "It was a hard game as everyone has had the attitude that Arsenal were the favourites and they've been giving us no chance, but we knew that if all our players had a good game then we were capable of winning, and that's what we've done. "You've got to have everyone playing well to beat Arsenal, and we have, so I'm delighted. "I'm not going to think about the final at the moment, we're just going to enjoy this moment. "We're probably going to have a game next week so we'll concentrate on that and finishing as high up the table as we can, and when that's all over we can sit down and think about the final. We need to enjoy this moment." Marley's side will be joined in the final by Charlton after they managed to overcame Bristol Rovers by a single goal.

McDougall seals Everton Cup delight
Women's Football, Daily Post
Mar 21 2005
EVERTON secured a place in the FA Women's Cup final by inflicting a first defeat of the season on Arsenal. They set up a meeting in the final with Charlton by posting a 3-0 win, sealed by Kelly McDougall's penalty seven minutes from time. Fara Williams opened the scoring moments before half-time, and Jody Handley doubled the lead with 11 minutes left. Manager Mo Marley was delighted with the result, which she put down to a lot of hard work at the club over the last few years. "We're delighted to go through and feel we fully deserved to," she said. "It was a hard game as everyone has had the attitude that Arsenal were the favourites and they've been giving us no chance, but we knew that if all our players had a good game then we were capable of winning, and that's what we've done. "You've got to have everyone playing well to beat Arsenal, and we have, so I'm delighted. "I'm not going to think about the final at the moment, we're just going to enjoy this moment. "We're probably going to have a game next week so we'll concentrate on that and finishing as high up the table as we can, and when that's all over we can sit down and think about the final. We need to enjoy this moment." Marley's side will be joined in the final by Charlton after they managed to overcame Bristol Rovers by a single goal.

Liverpool 2, Everton 1 (Echo)
Mar 21 2005 By Scott McLeod at Anfield
THERE has been too much evidence to the contrary this season for anyone to dare suggest this Everton side doesn't have the stomach for a fight. But if you hadn't seen the Blues' previous 29 performances, then the verdict on their display in this 201st Merseyside derby would be damning.
The first hour of it anyway. Everton were on the receiving end of the kind of performance they themselves have been dishing out for much of this season. Liverpool were hungry, they were vibrant and they were energetic - particularly during a 110mph opening 30 minutes. Such gung-ho starts are very familiar to fans of the Blue persuasion. And so it was galling that David Moyes' men were not capable of matching it. They should have known this was coming. Derbies are fiery enough at the best of times. But this was something else. This was the intensity of a confrontation between two old rivals spiced by the garnish of European qualification. Everton were walking into Anfield against a side fully aware it was drinking in the last chance saloon, as the over-the-top foul by the diminutive Luis Garcia on Kevin Kilbane inside the opening 10 minutes proved and the celebrations at the final whistle proved. The Blues have stirred things up at the top end of the table. Now they have to prove the guts they displayed to achieve their current position can be utilised to maintain it. Because with the finishing line in sight, the temperature has been turned up a notch. Here they had their fingers burned. But they are still in a position to ensure it is they basking in the warm glow of Champions League qualification at the end of the season. Yes, it is a result which hurts. It always hurts. But if you clean up the gaping wound and assess the real damage it is far less life-threatening than it may feel right now. If this had been any other opposition, the bitter disappointment of defeat would be tempered by the realisation it was nothing more than an opportunity missed. This was Everton's chance to put themselves out of reach of the chasing pack, particularly bearing in mind the defeats for Middlesbrough and Charlton over the weekend. Instead, their lead is now assailable. If it is not to be whittled down further, then the lessons have to be heeded. The Blues can never allow themselves to be beaten out of the blocks. They cannot afford to give up the initiative so easily.
Because the size of the squad and the limited options available to Moyes means there is rarely a convincing Plan B. Even before a ball was kicked here, that was clear. Mikel Arteta's failure to win his fitness battle to play presented Moyes with the kind of selection dilemma a side in the top four should not have to contend with. With no other midfield men fit enough to start, Moyes opted to employ centre-back Joseph Yobo in the holding role in midfield in order to keep the 4-5-1 shape which has proved so effective. It is a role Yobo has been given on a handful of occasions this season. But on this occasion the square peg got jarred in the round hole. The Nigerian international was caught in no-man's land. As a result the Blues surrendered the midfield far too meekly. That not only presented Liverpool with a springboard from which to attack, it also ensured Marcus Bent became isolated. There was no cohesion and so there was very little possession. The passing was as unpredictable as a night out with Pete Doherty. But had fortune favoured them, then Moyes' men could have ridden the storm of the opening 30 minutes. Instead, they fell a goal behind to a well struck Steven Gerrard drive from a free-kick which had looked highly dubious. It was 'earned' by Garcia.. Referee Rob Styles struggled all afternoon to give any indication he had control of proceedings. He got decisions wrong for both sides. But it was Everton who were hardest hit. In the most hostile of contests, too many Premiership referees pander to the home side. Styles was no different, which is why his correct decision to brandish the red card to Milan Baros for a high and wild foul on Alan Stubbs was something of a shock. That came with a quarter of the game remaining. Stubbs will have been delighted to see Baros leaving the pitch, not only because of the Czech's foul but also because his fast feet had caused Everton's experienced defensive pairing countless problems. Thankfully, like his tackling, his goalbound efforts were invariably shocking.
His failings in front of goal ensured the Blues were never out of the contest. But Liverpool's quickfire second after Gerrard's opener meant they were never likely to get back into the game either.
It came four minutes after the first, Nigel Martyn producing the kind of slip up you would not have thought him capable of to allow Garcia to head home. Everton on top form would have struggled to recover from that. On this day? Not a chance. But it is to their credit that the out-come was not the foregone conclusion it should have been. Things improved in the second half, with Yobo saved from his mid-field torment and James Beattie back in the fray for the first time in five weeks. The romantics hoped for a fight-back led by the £6m man. In reality, while his presence helped focus the attacking play, he was clearly a long way short of match sharpness. Maybe a reserve run out against Wolves last Wednesday would have helped. Duncan Ferguson, however, was a different story. When he replaced Bent you knew exactly what to expect: brawn, endeavour, more than a few cross words with the referee and a concerted aerial threat. Such a rudimentary approach is a long way from Moyes' true ethos.. But Machiavellian football has its place. And 2-0 down at Anfield with 30 minutes to play is it. It garnered a goal - a very good goal - with eight minutes remaining. Ferguson nodded down into the path of Tim Cahill and he produced a sweet drive inside the near post.
But it proved too late. The too little had come in the opening 45 minutes. Everton let themselves down badly in that opening period. As a result, they have left the door ajar for their neighbours.
To ensure they don't shove through it, the Blues must prove once again they do have the stomach for a fight.

We're losing our grip, warns defender
Mar 21 2005 By Scott McLeod, Liverpool Echo
DAVID WEIR has warned that Everton are in danger of losing their grip on fourth place if they don't rediscover their winning formula. The Blues were beaten 2-1 in yesterday's 201st Merseyside derby.
It was only the second time this season the Blues have lost back-to-back Premiership games, having suffered a 1-0 reverse against Blackburn at Goodison a fortnight ago. The defeat means their lead over Liverpool in the race for the Champions League has been cut to four points. But Weir believes that, with eight games remaining, Everton have already given up their advantage over the chasing pack. "We have to say we are on a level playing field now, " Weir told the ECHO. "We have got to start winning some games now. We have got to regroup and get back on track because there is still a long way to go." The experienced Scot was hugely disappointed by Everton's performance against Liverpool, admitting the game was lost in the opening 45 minutes when goals from Steven Gerrard and Luis Garcia provided the home side with a two-goal lead. "The first half wasn't good enough from our perspective," he added. "We never closed them down or really got involved in a derby, we just sat back and they got the goals. "We thought the decision for the free-kick which led to the first goal was harsh. "But sometimes you don't get the breaks and in this game I don't think we got our fair share. "It felt like we were being hindered (by the decisions), but we don't want to sound bitter. You have got to give Liverpool credit for the way they came out. "We should have been able to do something about it ourselves rather than relying on other people. "We never really got out of our half at all in the first 45 minutes. We should be able to do better than that. "In the second half we addressed the problems to a certain degree but maybe it was a bit too little too late. "But while we still came up a little bit short we showed we are not going to give up easily."

Throwback to great derbies of the past
Mar 21 2005 Analysis by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
JUST for a moment yesterday, messieurs Molby, Smith, Ratcliffe and Snodin went all misty-eyed in the Anfield press box. This derby day didn't just carry the significance of some of the clashes of old, it carried the same intensity, too. Bone-shuddering challenges, no quarter asked nor given from any individual, a constant wall of noise from the stands - this was how they used to be. But in winning a compelling, absorbing, old-fashioned derby, Liverpool didn't just close the gap on their closest rivals to manageable proportions, they set a marker for the eight Premiership matches they still have remaining - and beyond.. Rafa Benitez has seen enough from his great Anfield inconsistents this season to cling rigorously to the belief that his side will finish fourth. He just hasn't seen it often enough. But just when it mattered most, the peseta dropped. Liverpool produced a red-blooded display that swept Everton aside. Three men off through injury . . . before half-time, Luis Garcia giving a passable impression of Long John Silver as he hobbled off the pitch at the interval, then the brainless Milan Baros dismissed with 14 minutes still remaining, Liverpool showed a character, a resilience and a hunger notably lacking on so many other occasions this season. Symbolic of the transformation was Luis Garcia. Peripheral, fitful and far too easily knocked off the ball during Wednesday's woeful show in another North-West derby, he was snappy, committed and an enormous influence on this one. His decisive goal - after some single-mindedness from Morientes which left Martyn in two minds - reduced the gap on their chief Champions League rivals to just four points. The Reds have a full fortnight to savour that fact. Then their next closest challengers for fourth are at Anfield in another Lancastrian showdown, when Milan Baros will be sat on the sidelines and Fernando Morientes could be alongside him. If the blood and sweat shed yesterday are not to be wasted, Liverpool must see the same level of commitment from their players. Then again, and again, and again. That could have been Benitez's only gripe yesterday. Why did it take the sight of a royal blue jersey to elicit such a reaction? Whenever Everton have matched their neighbours in recent years, it has usually been because of a higher tempo, a greater work-rate and a greater willingness to do the dirty work. From the second Garcia chased to the Kop End corner flag in the opening seconds, beat Pistone and clipped in a dangerous cross, it was clear they were not going to be second best to anything. They were helped by the absence of Mikel Arteta from the Everton engine room - Joseph Yobo may be a talented centre half, but he is lost in the centre of midfield - but only a little. Even Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira might have struggled to match the industry and the sharpness of Steven Gerrard and Dietmar Hamann. In many respects this was a throwback derby, reminiscent of the days when referees would allow both sets of players to boot lumps out of each other for half-an-hour, then someone would toss a ball on. But Liverpool were not intimidated.
There were no bookings for 38-anda-half minutes as referee Rob Styles tried desperately to give the game some semblance of flow - then Weir,, Yobo, Osman, Hibbert, Finnan - and a straight red for Milan Baros all followed. The first half was one of the most one-sided in recent derby memory. Everton might have pointed accusing fingers at Garcia, for the ease with which he tumbled over Hibbert's challenge for the opening goal, then at Nigel Martyn for the second - but there was absolutely no doubt the right team led. Everton's first effort at goal came in the 47th minute, from a free-kick. The introduction of both their totem pole strikers was a necessity, although Beattie's lack of match-sharpness was evident and left one wondering why he hadn't figured in at least one reserve team run-out last week. Ferguson was more of a threat. But while Carragher and Pellegrino had dealt comfortably with the mobility and running of Bent in the first half, they dealt competently with the aerial challenge of the giants in the second. There were only nine minutes left when Ferguson's prodigious leap and header directed the ball down into Cahill's path and he buried a crisp drive. But a second goal then would have seen Everton's players leaving the pitch wearing Dick Turpin masks and carrying sacks marked SWAG. On the pitch Everton were very much second best, but off it they are still best placed for Champions League qualification. They lead by four points and have two relegation-threatened sides up next. Neither West Brom nor Crystal Palace will be easy, but equally they will not pose anything like the threat Liverpool did. Everton have to prove they have the character to bounce back. Liverpool must show they can carry theirs on. There will be a few twists and turns still to come in this Mersey pursuit of Champions League qualification.

Soccer violence arrests
Mar 21 2005 By James Glover, Liverpool Echo
THIRTY-THREE people were arrested when violence flared after yesterday's Liverpool v Everton derby. A police horse suffered a nine-inch cut on the flank when police tried to stop Everton supporters attacking Reds fans passing the Blue House pub near Goodison Park. Officers were looking at video footage to try to identify the thugs. The violence comes a month after yobs suspected of being Liverpool and Everton fans attacked Manchester United supporters after an FA Cup clash at Goodison. Trouble flared after the Anfield derby, which Liverpool won 2-1. Although there were few problems for police at the ground, there were some outbreaks of disorderly behaviour in the four or five hours after the final whistle. More than half of those arrested were picked up for public order offences like being drunk and disorderly. Others were arrested for theft, criminal damage, ticket- touting and assaulting a policeman. Thirty-one of the 33 people picked up by police were released on bail to return to police stations later this week, with one man being charged with stealing a car and another being detained for being wanted on a police warrant.
The police horse was injured when Everton fans began hurling glasses and bottles at the cars of Liverpool fans as they drove past. When police tried to break up the crowd the supporters threw missiles at them, one of which struck police horse Murphy. A police spokeswoman said officers thought the policing operation had gone "very well" and that the trouble came in small isolated bursts, unlike the Everton v Man Utd disorder. She said: "There were very minor incidents but no large-scale disorder. There were no confrontations like at the Manchester United match." Everton spokesman Ian Ross said because the trouble did not take place at Anfield the football clubs should not be blamed for the violence. He said: "The arrests are hugely regrettable but they were well away from the stadium and the question is whether this is a football problem or a problem in society."
Coin yob still on the loose
POLICE are still hunting the supporter who hit Manchester United goalkeeper Roy Carroll with a coin during the FA Cup clash at Goodison Park last month. TV cameras captured the moment when a fan hurled the coin in the second half of the match on February 19. Officers believed they knew who the fan was but have now traced the path of an item he threw and are satisfied that it was not the coin that struck the goalkeeper. They are continuing to scrutinise CCTV and TV footage of the match in a bid to catch the offender. And they now believe they know the names of at least a handful of the supporters who ambushed United fans as they were escorted away from Goodison by police after the game.

Moyes counts the cost of ref Styles
Mar 21 2005 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES accepted his Blues team were second best at Anfield yesterday - but pointed an accusing finger at referee Rob Styles' time-keeping. The official played exactly three minutes of time added on after a frantic encounter and Moyes said: "It couldn't have been three minutes. Alan Stubbs was down for two-and-a-half minutes, then we scored and we didn't have a ball to play with.
"Then the ball went into the crowd and we couldn't get it back, Jerzy Dudek walked right around the goal to take a free-kick, then there were the substitutions and the sending-off. "If you add that together it's a lot more than three minutes. We have got the stats and we will look at them, but I don't want to talk about the referee. "We just need to make sure we pick the right ones for the big matches." He added: "I thought Liverpool were very good in the first half. We tried to go for it in the second and have a go and I thought we were going to pull it back. "But I think Liverpool did things which they haven't done all season so give them credit. "My boys have been excellent all season. We are not in the same league as far as finances are concerned, but we have made it a good game.
"If we had won here today to go four points clear and I would have come in singing and dancing."
Moyes added that Nigel Martyn had accepted responsibility for both Liverpool goals. "Nigel has come in and said he could have done better with both goals. "I think he changed his mind at the last moment with the second and tried to catch it, but you can't criticise Nigel Martyn after the way he has played for Everton. "He has been our best player probably for the last two years - but he has held his hand up today. "We're disappointed with it but he's a terrific goalkeeper and he's saved us many, many times, so we'll move on and hopefully it won't happen again. "Four points is a decent number (advantage over Liverpool) and it's great to talk about us being there. "A lot wasn't expected of us this season so it's nice to be in there."

Birmingham City Res 1, Everton Res 1
Mar 22 2005 Daily Post
EVERTON RESERVES made it four games unbeaten with a battling Barclays Premiership Reserve League North point away at Birmingham. Steve Watson played another full 90 minutes after his substitute appearance against Liverpool on Sunday in the 1-1 draw at Solihull Borough's Damson Park ground. Eddy Bosnar nearly gave Everton a dream start with a free-kick from 25 yards out but his effort was just wide of James Dormand's goal. Birmingham took the lead however six minutes later when Alsop crossed and the impressive Nick Wright headed past his namesake Richard at the far post. The visitors responded well and put pressure on City, with James Vaughan going close on a couple of occasions and Patrick Boyle also testing the home goal. Despite the pressure Everton might have been two down at the break but for a good save by Wright from Howlands low drive. Things looked a whole lot brighter after the break for Everton, with just nine minutes of the second half played it was all square. Dormand in the City goal failed to hold on to Victor Anichebe's shot and as usual, James Vaughan was on hand to mop up the loose ball. It was the young striker's sixth goal of the season. Vaughan might have put the Blues ahead just after with a low drive which went just wide and Bosnar was keeping the home goalkeeper busy with a header which nearly crept under the bar.
Birmingham had a glorious chance to win it two minutes into injury time when goalscorer Nick Wright was denied by Richard Wright as he looked about to head home. Everton move up to ninth in the table with games in hand on most of the clubs around them.
BIRMINGHAM CITY: Dormand, Cottrill (Parratt 74), Alsop, Oji, Painter, Howland, Wright, Hall, Till, Hamilton (Howell 74), Birley. Subs: Blake, Meredith, Price.
EVERTON: R Wright, S Wright, Wilson, Bosnar, Watson, Gerrard, Plessis, Vidarsson (Harris 46), Anichebe, Vaughan, Boyle(Hopkins 74). Subs: Gallagher, Phelan, Hughes.

Everton in no rush to tie up deals for Bosman players
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Mar 22 2005
EVERTON'S potential Bosman players have been told the club is in no rush to end the current impasse over their new contracts. The Goodison club could lose seven players on free transfers at the end of this season and has so far secured only one player, goalkeeper Nigel Martyn, on a new deal. Alan Stubbs, David Weir, Gary Naysmith and Leon Osman (pictured), who was linked with Portsmouth this weekend, have all been offered contract extensions but have yet to put pen to paper, while Alessandro Pistone, Duncan Ferguson and Steve Watson are still waiting to discover what the future holds. Kevin Kilbane is also stalling on a recent contract offer but Everton will exercise a one-year option on his current deal if no agreement is reached with the Republic of Ireland international. The contract situation represents a major dilemma to the Goodison hierarchy.
But chief executive Keith Wyness last night stated Everton will not be pressured into bringing the uncertainty to an end. He said: "There are a number of discussions ongoing and the club is hopeful we can bring those to a close as soon as possible. "There are offers on the table for a number of players. However, if we are unable to reach those agreements the club is prepared to go into the market. "As we have already said, David and myself have discussed the sort of money that is available and we know we will add to the squad if we need to. "I don't think there is a need for any deadline. The players know we have been speaking to them and it is up to them if they wish to take it forward." Naysmith's agent Jim McArthur this weekend indicated his client would be leaving Goodison on a free after rejecting Everton's offer of a new deal before Christmas. But Wyness added: "Discussions were held earlier in the season with Gary and his agent. An agreement couldn't be reached at the time and it was decided to wait until the end of the season to review the situation, so there is no further news either way." David Moyes, meanwhile, has been monitoring AK Graz's Rene Aufhauser with a view to a summer move for the Austrian midfielder. Aufhauser, who played against Liverpool in a Champions League qualifier earlier this season, has been linked with a £2million move from the Arnold Schwarzenegger Stadium this summer. But Moyes will only further his interest if the financiallytroubled Austrians accept a cut-price deal of around £300,000.
"I know Everton are watching me," said Aufhauser yesterday. "Just as they are watching a number of players and waiting to see what happens."

Two charged following violent derby day clashes
By Alan Weston Daily Post Staff
Mar 22 2005
TWO people have been charged in the wake of the violence which flared after the Merseyside football derby on Sunday. A total of 33 arrests were made following the Liverpool v Everton game at Anfield, which Liverpool won 2-1. One man has since been charged with the unauthorised taking of a motor vehicle, while another was found to be wanted by police on an outstanding warrant.
The majority of the others, who were arrested for a variety of public order offences, including drink-related crime, have been conditionally bailed by police. They are due to return to a police station in the week after Easter, when they will either be charged or will be told that no further action is being taken. During Sunday evening's disturbances, a police horse suffered a nine-inch cut on the flank when police tried to stop Everton supporters attacking Liverpool fans passing the Blue House pub near Goodison Park. Officers were yesterday looking at video footage to try to identify the thugs.

The latest violence comes a month after hooligans with links to Liverpool and Everton fans were involved in clashes with Manchester United groups before and after an FA Cup clash at Goodison.
Although there were few problems for police at the ground, there were some outbreaks of disorderly behaviour in the four or five hours after the final whistle. More than half of those arrested were picked up for public order offences such as being drunk and disorderly. Others were arrested for theft, criminal damage, ticket-touting and assaulting a policeman. The police horse was injured when Everton fans began hurling glasses and bottles at the cars of Liverpool fans as they drove past. When police tried to break up the crowd the supporters threw missiles at them, one of which struck police horse Murphy. He was treated by a vet but is not thought to have been seriously hurt. A police spokeswoman said that the trouble came in small isolated bursts, unlike the Everton v Man Utd disorder. She said: "There were very minor incidents but no large-scale disorder. There were no confrontations like at the Manchester United match." Everton spokesman Ian Ross said, because the trouble did not take place at Anfield, the football clubs should not be blamed for the violence. He said: "The arrests are hugely regrettable but they were well away from the stadium and the question is whether this is a football problem or a problem in society."

We are still in front
Post Soapbox, icLiverpool & Daily Post
Mar 22 2005
Still in front
TO be fair, Liverpool deserved the derby win. I thought if we could see out the first 20 minutes, we would be fine but we just never got going at all. We had no shape or balance and the fact that we have kept only one clean sheet in 12 is a major worry. However... we are still four points clear.
Paul Mullally, Liverpool
Fault of system
IF Everton continue to play this 4-1-4-1 system I don't think we will qualify for the Champions League or the UEFA Cup. It was there for all to see in the derby we were getting over-run. Okay this system has served us well in the past, but without Tommy Gravesen in mid-field, teams are battering us.
Sides will attack us from the start and dominate us because the lone striker can't keep hold of the ball long enough for the midfield to get involved, so we lose possesion. As soon as we put two up front we seem to come into games more.
B Bull (via e-mail)
Bent unlucky
MISTAKES were made and putting Yobo in midfield has been one of the biggest - it sent a negative vibe through the team. The only people to come out of the game with credit were Hibbert, Osman and Ferguson. I felt sorry for Bent - he should never have been taken off. All round it was a bad day at the office - let's just hope we can start winning again and soon.
Bobby Collins, Liverpool
Back on deck
WE are at our weakest when we stop playing football and start hoofing the ball forward every chance we get. We played some terrific football against Villa but have been dreadful ever since.
We made Liverpool look awesome at times and in the first half it was clear who wanted the three points more. There was no flow or rhythm just aimless long balls for the whole 90 minutes.
We are just not going to be able to hold onto fourth if we continue playing like that. Let's get the ball on the deck again.
S Khan (via e-mail)
Crosses missing
SORRY, I just thought that was an inept performance for the entire game. We needed crosses from the wings, not long punts upfield. Once again, the sale of Gravesen has cost us three more points and will ultimately cost us a Champions League place.
B Meister, Liverpool

McFadden has to pull out of squad
Daily Post
Mar 22 2005
JAMES McFADDEN has been forced to withdraw from the Scotland squad ahead of their crucial World Cup qualifier against Italy. The Everton forward has been struggling with back and hamstring problems but was named in the squad for Saturday's clash at the San Siro Stadium in the hope that he would recover in time. The signs did not look promising when McFadden was forced to sit out Sunday's Merseyside derby. Scotland manager Walter Smith has yet to make a decision about whether to draft anyone else into the squad.

Naysmith heads for Blues exit
Mar 22 2005 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
GARY NAYSMITH looks set to exit Everton this summer when his contract ends, according to his agent. "It looks certain that Gary will leave," said Jim McArthur. "We have had no encouragement from his present club, Everton." The Blues, however, says it was always their intention to leave contract talks until the end of the season and no decision has been reached either way. "Discussions were held earlier in the season with Gary and his agent," said Goodison chief-executive Keith Wyness. "An agreement couldn't be reached at the time and it was decided to wait until the end of the season to review the situation, so there is no further news either way." Naysmith (pictured) joined Everton from Hearts for £1.75m in October 2000, but Alessandro Pistone's form and fitness this season has restricted him to just eight first team starts. Wyness reiterated that the club had a 'take it or leave it' attitude to a number of on-going contract discussions. "There are offers on the table for a number of players," he added. "However, if we are unable to reach those agree-ments the club is prepared to go into the market. "As we have already said, David and myself have discussed the sort of money that is available and we know we will add to the squad if we need to.
"I don't think there is any need for a deadline. The players know we have been speaking to them and it is up to them if they wish to take it forward."

Baros 'sorry' over tackle
Mar 22 2005 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
MILAN BAROS has apologised to Everton defender Alan Stubbs after the X-rated challenge which saw him sent off in Sunday's Anfield derby. Stubbs reacted furiously to the tackle in his post match interviews, accusing the Czech striker of deliberately trying to injure him, but last night Baros (left) said he did not mean to harm the Blues' defender. "I wanted to kick the ball away," said Baros. "I closed my eyes and ran for it and unluckily I hit his knee. I am sorry. "My style of playing is based on aggressiveness. I appreciate it looked furious on television but I surely didn't want to knowingly foul him. I wanted to kick the ball away. "I saw worse fouls and they were only yellow cards, but this doesn't excuse me. My challenge was surely a red card. I will be given a three-match ban, that's normal here. If we hadn't won, I would have felt guilty for that." It is believed that Stubbs will accept Baros' apology if the player contacts him directly to explain his challenge. Stubbs was furious after the match, saying: "It was a ridiculous challenge. I would crucify myself if I made a challenge like that. "It was a challenge that could finish a player's career. I won't have it that it was a striker's challenge. There is no such thing. That's nonsense. "I can accept players who turn their back and leave their foot dangling. But no player should look at another player and leave their foot there deliberately. I don't accept it. "I'd have been first to shake his hand if he'd turned away and left his foot dangling, but it wasn't the case. There's no place for that in football."

Blues driven by fear of failure
Mar 22 2005 By Scott McLeod, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON will be driven by the fear of failure in the remaining eight games of the season according to Kevin Kilbane. The Blues have occupied a Champions League qualifying spot since early September. But Sunday's 2-1 derby defeat at Liverpool means their cushion over the chasing pack in the race for a top four finish has been cut to four points with 24 points still to play for. "We have got to keep going forward because we can't let this season blow up in our faces," Kilbane insists. "Each game is massive for us now but we have just got to maintain our focus and work as hard as we have done all season and not let what has gone before to sway o u r thoughts. " We don ' t want to be thinking of just protecting what we have got. "It is true that if we match everybody else result for result we will get that fourth place. "But there is a lot of football to be played. We have got some big games to play against Manchester United, Arsenal and Bolton. "Even West Brom away, which is our next game, is a big game. We have to keep our focus and concentration levels up and try to get the maximum from each game." Kilbane is still smarting from the result at Anfield. The quality of Everton's performance in such an important match hurt him. He admits: "We had heard them talk on TV and in the press about the way they were going to start the game. We knew what to expect from them. "But we allowed them to come at us because we sat off them a little when they had the ball and when we had it we weren't forceful and positive. "We went there to win. And we weren't thinking of protecting the lead we had in the league. But it just didn't happen for us.
"We didn't start well, we let them get on top of us and we gave them the opportunity to get their tackles in. "We were dwelling on the ball and that lifted the crowd and gave them the impetus to come at us. When you are 2-0 down in a Merseyside derby you are not expected to get much out of a game. "Those quick goals killed the game and while Tim scored a brilliant goal, we didn't have too many other chances and that is disappointing. But we have a four point lead and now we have to maintain that and extend it." Everton have the chance to do that with their next match at West Bromwich Albion, but not until after a fortnight's international break. Kilbane, who joins up with the Irish squad today, added: "The derby performance certainly wasn't anything to do with a lack of stamina because this is the fittest bunch of lads I have ever worked with. "But it might help me and some of the others to get away and play on the international scene and then come back refreshed - looking forward to the Albion game."

Derby day row facing police
Mar 22 2005 By James Glover, Liverpool Echo
POLICE face a string of complaints about the treatment of fans after Sunday's derby match. Passers-by and drinkers inside the Blue House pub in Walton Lane claim they were sworn at, abused and pushed around by officers on duty after the Liverpool v Everton game. Now some say they will make formal complaints about the way they were treated by the police. The ECHO reported yesterday how officers were hit by bottles and glasses thrown from the Blue House, after police tried to stop drinkers hurling missiles at Liverpool fans driving past. A police horse, Murphy, suffered a 9ins gash to his hind quarters after being hit by a missile before officers in riot gear went into the building and shut it. But police defended their actions, saying they only entered the pub to arrest people after the situation had calmed down. They said they would review CCTV footage recorded by the police helicopter to try to identify other people involved in the disorder. Police made a total of 33 arrests after the match - more than half for being drunk and disorderly - and are looking at video footage of troublespots to identify other offenders. But the force has been accused of going over the top by pushing people around and goading them into reacting. David Cross, 41, who was in the pub when police went inside, said: "They were totally out of order. I've never seen anything like that before in the pub. "We were laughing and joking and then the police came in in riot gear. There was no warning at all. "The police should be ashamed of themselves. Their tactics were wrong." Another Blue House regular, 39-year-old Elaine Burns, said: " My husband was badly beaten by one of the officers. "Everyone is disgusted at what the police did. They are going to get a lot of complaints."
Passer-by Keith Hudson, 37, said: "I'd been to my mother's house to watch the game and tried to pass the pub on my way home when an officer started pushing me around. “We were treated disgracefully." Supt Chris Armitt of Merseyside Police, said: "After 50 minutes officers entered the premises to speak to the licensee and identify and arrest those involved in the disturbance.
"About a dozen people were arrested and appropriate action was used to arrest those people responsible."

Bosses swop derby advice
Mar 22 2005 Liverpool Echo
ST HELENS head coach Ian Millward and Everton manager David Moyes met at the Blues' Bellefield training ground ahead of their respective derby clashes. Although the Blues lost their game against Liverpool, Millward is hoping for a better result when Saints travel to the JJB Stadium to take on arch rivals Wigan Warriors in the Super League this Friday. Tetley's, the 'Official Beer' of St Helens, arranged for Millward to exchange a few tips and advice with Moyes. Millward said: "Everton and Liverpool are flying high in the Premiership with both looking for a place in the Champions League, so last weekend's derby match was a massive game. "At Saints we have a few Liverpool fans, such as Kieron Cunningham, and also a couple of Blues, led by youngster James Graham, and there was plenty of banter in training yesterday!"

Mar 22 2005 By Tim Johnson, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON LADIES' magnificent march to the Women's FA Cup final climaxed on Sunday with a superb performance at South-port to defeat favourites Arsenal 3-0 in the last four. The achievement was made all the more significant by the strong emphasis on youth in a line-up that contains two 17-year-olds and a 16-year-old, who are all currently at school in the local area. The versatile Chantelle Parry (17) attends Alsop HS and is equally at home playing up front or in midfield. Goalkeeper Danielle Hill (17) has graduated to the sixth form at Notre Dame School, Everton. The youngest girl in the squad is defender Jane Eadie (16), who is in Year 11 at St Bede's School, Ormskirk. The match was real test of character for all the players and not least for the three youngsters who all emerged with flying colours. "I played up front and did ok," said striker Parry. "I had one chance that was well saved by the keeper and came off in the last ten minutes." "We thought we might surprise them and it was a great win. At the end we all ran on the pitch on jumped on each other. After the game all the kids wanted autographs, it was great." "After we changed we went to join the Arsenal girls and have something to eat and then got off home to watch the derby." While the Under-19 international was modest when speaking about her own performance, she had nothing but praise for her two teenage team-mates. "Danielle had a good game in goal. She didn't have much to do, but what she did, she did well. She made one excellent save. Jane came on in the last ten minutes for Leanne Duff and played really well." All three girls are the product of a coaching structure around Merseyside for women's football that is producing good players for local and international teams. A prime instigator in setting up the system was the former Women's Merseyside Football Development Officer Mo Marley. The ex-England captain, who has recently taken up a key coaching role with Everton in the Community, was also the team manager who masterminded the semi-final win. She said: "A victory over them has been coming and I went into the game thinking, not just hoping, that we were going to win this one. "I didn't expect to beat them by that many goals but we deserved the win and it's fantastic to reach the final." The youngest player to appear in the male FA Cup final is Curtis Weston aged 17 years and 119 days. Neither of the Everton 17-year-olds are younger, but Jane Eadie will still be only 16 when the final is played at Upton Park in May against Charlton.

Moyes admits fears over Cahill 'burnout'
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Mar 23 2005
DAVID MOYES fears Tim Cahill could be burnt out by the international demands that surround his debut season in the Premiership. The Australian midfielder has been a revelation since his £1.8m arrival from Millwall last summer and was one of the few Everton players to emerge with credit from Sunday's derby defeat at Anfield, where he took his goals tally for the campaign to eight.
Cahill was last week named Oceania's Footballer of the Year for 2004 as recognition of his Premiership impact spreads. But Moyes believes the effects of a gruelling first campaign at the highest level are taking their toll on the influential midfielder. And he fears international commitments could make the situation even worse for Cahill and Everton next season. Instead of enjoying a two-week break ahead of the hectic run-in that will determine Everton's Champions League fate Cahill is now in Sydney preparing for Australia's friendly against Iraq on Saturday.
And he will be in action all summer when Frank Farina's Socceroos are involved in the Confederations Cup. Moyes, who was without Cahill at the start of the season because of the Olympic Games, warned: "Tim has had a great first season in the Premier League and it's good to see him recognised for it with the Oceania award. "I just hope the season doesn't turn out to be too long for him. That is my real concern now. "He has played so many games this season, both for us and Australia, and Australia will be taking him away as soon as this season ends. "He has made a great start for us but I fear the season has been too long for him now. On top of that he's got a lot of international games to come this summer and I fear it could all take its toll and have a major impact on him next season." Cahill will have little time to recover from Everton's Premiership exertions after May 16. The Confederations Cup begins in Germany on June 15, when Australia face the hosts,
Argentina and Tunisia, with the final on June 29 - approximately one week before Everton are due to commence pre-season training for the 2005/06 campaign. The Everton manager added: "People are talking about us having only eight games to go but for some players it doesn't all finish in May.
Tim's season will be a lot longer than that. He could still have another six weeks once the season ends. "He could do with a good rest this summer, especially after coming into his first season in the Premiership straight from the Olympic Games. "I think some national teams should start to take these things into consideration. In the long term it does not only affect the clubs but the countries too." Meanwhile, it is believed Alan Stubbs will accept Milan Baros's apology for the tackle that led to the Liverpool striker's dismissal on Sunday. But only if the Czech Republic international contacts him directly.

We are still in pole position for the Champions League
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Mar 23 2005
TIM CAHILL flew out to Australia this week with a gentle reminder to his deflated Everton teammates: We are still in pole position for the Champions League. Everton's defeat and performance at Anfield on Sunday has raised the spectre of another dose of European disappointment for David Moyes's side, who have occupied a top four spot since September.
But despite the increased pressure from Liverpool and a demanding end-of-season run-in Cahill insists Everton are still favourites to claim the coveted final place in Europe's premier competition.
Moyes's men are still four points clear of their Merseyside rivals with eight games to play and face relegation-threatened West Brom and Crystal Palace in their next two fixtures. And Cahill, now in Sydney preparing for Australia's friendly against Iraq on Saturday, said: "We're still fourth and I'm not worried. "We've worked hard all season and we're four points clear so we've just got to be positive. "Anfield isn't an easy place to go to and get points. "I think people have got to understand that we're still four points clear and they've got to come and get us. "We're still in a very positive position, so other people might be worried but not us. "The table doesn't lie, we're still in fourth and I think the best thing for us is just to stay positive. There's an international break now so all the lads can rest up and look forward to the West Brom game." Cahill admits Everton gave themselves a thankless task at Anfield with a poor first half performance in which Liverpool raced into a two-goal lead. But the midfielder, who gave the visitors belated hope with his eighth goal of the season, believed the second-half improvement showed Everton still have the capacity to hold onto fourth.
He added: "We definitely thought as the second half wore on that we could get back into it. We gave ourselves a real uphill battle throughout the first half. "In the second half we had nothing to lose. We came out well, we didn't sit back and we just played football. "We were a bit slow getting to some balls and it showed in the first half. In the second half I think we need to take a lot of credit out of it and now just look forward to the next couple of weeks. "You can't fold at a place like Anfield. We had massive support there. We didn't come just to make up the numbers, we came to try and play football and try to get the most out of it. "We've got some great lads and we've just been unlucky."
James McFadden, meanwhile, is facing a continued absence on the sidelines as he recovers from back and hamstring injuries. The Everton midfielder has been carrying the problems for almost a month and has been forced to withdraw from the Scotland squad for this weekend's World Cup qualifier in Italy. And he is already a major doubt for Everton's crucial visit to West Bromwich Albion in 11 day's time. Everton physio Mick Rathbone said: "James has got quite a nasty hamstring injury which he did in training 12 days ago and he's pretty bad to be honest. "He had no chance of playing for us in the derby and he has no chance of playing for Scotland. "I would also say that he is a doubt for the West Bromwich Albion game." Mikel Arteta, who missed the derby with knee and ankle problems, is expected to be back for the Hawthorns clash.
* Everton's home Barclays Premiership game with Manchester United on Wednesday, April 20, will now be screened live on Sky Sports with an 8pm kick-off.

Tim's race to make Baggies showdown
Mar 23 2005 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
TIM CAHILL faces a race against time next week - to travel halfway around the world in time to face West Bromwich Albion. Everton's key midfielder plays for Australia in an international double header - against Iraq on Saturday and then Indonesia next Tuesday - before boarding a long-haul flight to get back in time for the Blues' crucial Premiership showdown next Sunday. Any delay could hinder Cahill's chances of being involved against The Baggies, and assistant manager Alan Irvine admits they are concerned. "We've got a few concerns really," he explained. "Obviously we need to assess the impact such a long and exhausting journey will have had on Tim. But he was also struggling with a calf strain before the Liverpool match which we hope he doesn't aggravate. "He was touch and go for the derby. He didn't train on the Friday and only managed a light session on the Saturday. But playing for his country is important to Tim and we certainly wouldn't stand in the way of that. "The fact that the West Brom game has been put back to the Sunday gives us an extra 24 hours which is an advantage, but obviously we want him to be physically and mentally fit and sharp." The midfielder missed the start of the season due to commitments at the Olympic Games and could be asked to extend his season by a further six weeks to represent the Aussies in the Confederations Cup tournament in Germany. "I just hope this season doesn't turn out to be too long for Tim," he said. "That is my real concern now. He has played so many games this season, both for us and for Australia, and Australia will be taking him away as soon as this season ends. "I fear the season has been too long for him now. It could take its toll and have a major impact on him next season." Young Blues' goalkeeper Iain Turner, meanwhile, has joined Doncaster Rovers on-loan until the end of the season. Everton's home match against Manchester United on April 20 will now be screened live on Sky TV and the trip to Arsenal, originally scheduled for the previous weekend, will now be played on Wednesday, May 11.

I could have come back if Berti had asked - Weir
Mar 23 2005 Liverpool Echo
DAVID WEIR claims Berti Vogts could have ended the Everton defender's three-year international exile from the Scotland side when he was still in charge. Weir refused to play for Scotland again after their 2-2 draw with the Faroe Islands, apparently because the German had singled him out for criticism. But on taking over from the departed Vogts last December, Weir's former Everton boss Walter Smith offered an olive branch which the 34-year-old gladly accepted and now the Blues defender is looking forward to taking on Italy in the Scots' World Cup qualifier on Saturday.
Weir admitted: "I would have considered returning if Berti had asked me but it doesn't matter now.
"The problem was not specifically with him, it was with the way things were going and I wasn't enjoying it. "I didn't feel as if I was playing well enough, I wasn't giving myself the chance to play well and I didn't see it getting any better for me. "It's two or three years since I have been in the squad and I forget what it was like back then but it's nice to be back and to go to the San Siro is a big opportunity for me." Weir, however, admits the prospect of playing for Scotland again improved immediately when Smith took over. He said: "When I stopped, I thought that was it. "But obviously things change in football and you never know what is round the corner. "I had a tie-in with Walter and I knew there was a chance but I was surprised when I actually got the call."

Rights and wrongs of incident-packed derby
Mar 23 2005 Derby Letters Special, icLiverpool & Liverpool Echo
THE lads let us down in the first half when Liverpool overwhelmed us with their pace and skill. In the second half we came out fighting with big Dunc always a threat. Keep the faith anyway as fourth in the table is much better than 17th.
Matt O'Shea, Liverpool
LIVERPOOL derserved their derby win. They treated it like a cup final while we played like it was a friendly. Let's hope this idea of playing a defender in midfield is now put to bed. Maybe it's time to go 4-4-2 with Bent and Beattie up front. Eight games to go and we're still four points clear, so we can do it!
Paul Rotheram, Widnes
WE were rubbish in the derby, but there is room for a few positives. Firstly, Liverpool threatened to run riot, but they didn't. Secondly, it wasn't bad misses from Baros that stopped it being four, it was quality defending from Hibbert and Martyn. Thirdly, the 'rally' started before the Baros red card and it wasn't down to Liverpool being depleted.
Greg Davies, Liverpool
I WAS alarmed by more than just our performance in the derby. I was also startled by the linesman who gave a throw-in after Baros cropped Stubbs right in front of him. How on earth do you miss a knee-high tackle two yards in front of you?
Paul Mullally, Liverpool
SUNDAY was a bad day, but if the Reds think they are good enough to cruise to the fourth spot, they need to think again. I just hope David Moyes is working overtime with the 4-4-2 formation in training, seeing that the game is up with the 4-5-1.
Tony Reid, Garston
TO all Evertonians: You have had a great season, you have played really well and even taught us a thing or two about team spirit. Wherever you finish this season you have been a great team.
I hope the Reds finish fourth, you also deserve much credit and respect for your campaign.
Will Anders, Liverpool
THE Reds deserved to win on Sunday but we'll still finish fourth. Keep the faith and stay behind the lads and we'll get there. They deserve unbelievable credit for what they have achieved.
Ian McBride, Kensington
Blues too cautious
IF EVERTON continue to play this 4-1-4-1 system I don't think we will qualify for the Champions League or the UEFA Cup. This system has served us well in the past, but without Tommy Gravesen in midfield, teams are battering us. Teams will attack us from the start and dominate us because the lone striker can't keep hold of the ball long enough for the midfield to get involved.
I am a big fan of David Moyes, but I do think sometimes he can be a bit over cautious.
Barry Parker, Hereford

Take Goodison Easter tour
Mar 23 2005 Jblue, Liverpool Echo
IF you are stuck for something to do over the Easter holidays, then Everton Football Club could have the answer. On Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, Goodison opens its doors to their faithful followers for a behind the scenes tour of the stadium. The tour allows visitors to look around the dressing rooms and take the famous walk down the tunnel and on to the hallowed turf.
You can also revive memories of the club's illustrious past in the Goodison hall of fame and trophy room, while those who take the tour on Easter Sunday will also be able to feast on a special lunch.
The tour costs £5 per child and £8.50 per adult with special family tickets available. To book your place call 0151 330 Jblue members will also receive a 10% discount as one of the many benefits of joining Everton's young supporters club. If you're not already a member, you still have a chance to join free of charge by filling out the application form below and sending it to: Jblue FREE membership department, Everton Football Club, Goodison Park, Liverpool, L4 4EL.
* Jblue Plus Blue and Jblue Plus Platinum members can receive a £5 discount on the game against Crystal Palace on Sunday, April 10. Tickets are on sale now using your ticket priority. 2305.

Watson: Jubilant Anfield's riled us
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Mar 24 2005
STEVE WATSON believes Liverpool have given Everton another incentive to hang on to the fourth Champions League place with their jubilant celebrations at Anfield on Sunday. The gap between the Merseyside rivals now stands at just four points after Liverpool's convincing triumph in the 201st derby. But Watson, a second-half substitute as the visitors chased the game, insists the response of Rafael Benitez's team on and off the pitch after Sunday's final whistle will inspire Everton in a testing Premiership run-in. "We've got eight games and we need to go full throttle on every one," said the midfielder. "We need to go out and play positive football and win as many games as we can - we've got some tough matches coming up. "We've still got United and Arsenal to play and to be honest seeing how Liverpool were after the game on Sunday and their celebrations at the end make us want to get that fourth spot even more now." Watson's late cameo was his first appearance for David Moyes's side since Boxing Day, when he sustained a stomach injury in the defeat of Manchester City.
And Watson added: "It was great to be back in first-team action and it was a great game to get myself back into but the wrong result and I could probably have done with a little bit longer.
"I was shuffling around on the bench for long enough trying to get the gaffer's attention but in the end I got 10 minutes. "I felt that, although the game didn't go great, if we'd have scored 10 minutes earlier and hopefully made my change 10 minutes earlier it would have been much better for me.
"I'd like to think I can play a big part in the final eight games." Reserve goalkeeper Iain Turner, meanwhile, has joined Doncaster Rovers on loan until the end of the season. The Scottish shot-stopper enjoyed a similar spell at Chester City last season in a bid to gain more first-team experience.

Naysmith in shop window
Mar 24 2005 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
GARY NAYSMITH will put himself in the shop window on Saturday night - in the shopping capital of Europe! The Everton full-back (left) has resigned himself to a future away from Goodison this summer, after starting just seven matches all season. But he will start for Scotland in Milan in a World Cup qualifier against Italy. Naysmith is confident his lack of match practice will not hinder him against the Italians. "Playing for your country in this sort of big game lifts you and, hopefully, the adrenaline will get me through it. "I last started for Everton against Manchester United in the FACup five weeks ago and have played one reserve game since. I have been doing extra running so it shouldn't be too bad. "I've asked Alessandro Pistone about the right sided players in the Italian team and I've even asked him what the best shops are in Milan!" Naysmith, in line with a number of his Goodison team-mates, is out of contract at the end of this season. But while Everton officials say it was always their intention to renegotiate once the season has finished, Naysmith and his agent have taken the lack of talks to indicate a certain departure. "It is the first time since I was 17 that I have not been playing every week," said Naysmith. "When it first happened maybe I didn't handle it in the right way. "I had a chat with the manager and other people and decided to knuckle down, work hard and wait for my chance. "Before Christmas there were six or seven games when I wasn't even in the 16, but I worked hard and since Boxing Day have been stripped for every game bar one."
Naysmith will be joined in the San Siro clash by club-mate David Weir, making his international return after a self-imposed exile during the reign of Walter Smith's hapless predecessor, Berti Vogts.
Other Everton players on international duty include Joseph Yobo, playing for Nigeria against Gabon, Tim Cahill who will play for Australia against Iraq and Kevin Kilbane on duty with the Republic of Ireland. James McFadden's hamstring problem, however, has ruled him out of Scotland's squad and he is already a major doubt for Everton's Premiership trip to West Brom next weekend.

The Jury
Mar 24 2005 Liverpool Echo
'Just because Liverpool won the derby, they don't deserve to finish fourth' - Gareth Scott FOR a player who has only completed 90 minutes once in a blue shirt, Mikel Arteta's importance to the destiny of Everton's season should not be underestimated. The only fluent performance since Thomas Gravesen's departure came at Villa Park with the Spaniard combining well with Cahill and Carsley. This ability to keep possession was markedly absent on Sunday, as the central midfield trio that struggled so badly at Southampton fared no better. Without a creative influence, it was inevitable that a more predictable, direct approach became the preferred option. This is the cause of our recent 'wobble', not tiredness or nerves. With a fortnight break and games against two struggling sides to come, there is no reason for the team not to regroup and pick up six points.
EVERTON are still in a fantastic position in the league, and finishing fourth is still in our own hands.
Just because Liverpool won the derby, they don't deserve to finish fourth. We do, that's why we have won more games. The Everton players know their performance was below par and that if they don't perform from now until the end of the season, they are not going to finish fourth. I am still finding it hard to believe that Liverpool think they are going to finish fourth. They have had a woeful season by their standards. We have surprised everyone and just because we lost on Sunday does not mean we are going to throw away this great season. We can try and look on the bright side, our next two games are West Brom and Palace. These are must wins. Maybe in a couple of weeks the derby defeat won't seem too bad.
IN any other season it would be justifiable to launch a stinging attack on what was arguably our worst performance of the season in the derby. It would be easy to underline how bad our passing was, how ineffective Marcus Bent and James Beatttie were in attack, how ropey the defence was and how Nigel Martyn was to blame for the second goal. However, in the context of the campaign we have had, that would be unfair on a team whose performances have restored our place near the top of English football. In addition, we have been able to enjoy watching the Reds struggle to keep in touch with so-called relegation candidates. The truth is we made them look good on Sunday and the true achievements of Moyes' men should not be judged by one rare offday but by the fact that the £100 million Reds celebrated moving within four points of us like they had won the title.

Hunt drops in on Blue night
Mar 24 2005 Liverpool Echo
ROGER HUNT will be guest of honour at the Gwladys Street Hall of Fame dinner tonight - and Evertonians will welcome him with open arms! But it's not the Anfield legend, christened 'Sir' Roger, who will be featuring at the annual Everton celebration. Self-styled football maverick Ernie Hunt (pictured), instead, will be attending for the first time. Christened Roger Patrick Hunt, Hunt changed his name to Ernie when he left school in the 1950s. "It had nothing to do with avoiding confusion with Liverpool's Roger Hunt," he explained. "I went round with my dad, Ernie, quite a bit. "He used to ride a bike for a local speedway team and I was the mascot. All his mates used to say 'Here comes little Ernie' or 'Young Ernie' and it stuck." Famous more for his celebrated donkey kick goal against Everton in October 1970 - witnessed by 11million Match of the Day viewers - as his six month stint with the Blues, he is still remembered fondly by his former Goodison team-mates. This will be his first Goodison reunion for 35 years and former skipper Brian Labone quipped: "Don't leave it another 35 years or we'll be meeting up in heaven!" Ernie Hunt's autobiography 'Joker in the Pack' will be on sale at the Adelphi before tonight's dinner, along with The Brian Harris story, both ghosted by author Chris Westcott, and both ready to be signed by the players. Hunt and Harris will be just two of scores of former Everton legends descending upon the Adelphi for the annual Everton function. Tickets for the dinner sold out within days of last year's event ending, but non-dinner goers can still purchase either of the above books between 6.30pm-7.30pm.

Fresh Cahill setback for Everton manager
Mar 25 2005
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
DAVID MOYES'S concerns over the fitness of Tim Cahill heightened last night when the Everton midfielder confirmed his involvement in both Australia fixtures this Easter. Cahill, who played in the Merseyside derby with a slight calf strain, is in Sydney ahead of tomorrow's international friendly against Iraq. Everton manager Moyes had hoped the Oceania Player of the Year would be released by Australian officials after the game to give him time to recover for the trip to West Bromwich Albion on April 3. But Cahill has agreed to take part in a Tsunami benefit game against Indonesia next Tuesday as he looks to a place in Frank Farina's plans for November's World Cup playoffs.
The midfielder, who is due back in this country next Thursday, said: "I'm available for selection for both games and I know everyone's got to fight for their place. "We've got to try things out and that means spending time with the lads and being part of the squad. "I was really upset about last month's South Africa game (through injury) because I had my heart set on playing and it's always disheartening when you miss out for your country. "I'm nursing a few knocks but hopefully I'll get myself right and enjoy these games. I'm just willing to put as much effort as possible into playing well for both my club and Australia." Earlier this week Moyes voiced his concern over the gruelling effects of international duty on Cahill's long-term fitness. The midfielder missed the start of this Premiership season due to the Olympic Games and will be involved in the Confederations Cup once the campaign ends. And Cahill acknowledged: "It's difficult for all the lads because we have a lot of big games coming up at Everton and are four points clear going for the Champions League spot. "So you can understand the club's point of view but you must also understand Australia - it's probably a bit of give and take." Meanwhile, Everton centre-back Anthony Gerrard has joined Walsall on loan until the end of the season. Walsall player-manager Paul Merson said: "Anthony's a centre-half and I know we've got a good player because they bring them up properly at Everton."

Naysmith happy to play for Smith again
Mar 25 2005
By Ronnie Esplin, Daily Post
SCOTLAND defender Gary Naysmith admits he is delighted to be teaming up again with his former Goodison manager Walter Smith. The former Hearts player was brought to Everton by then manager Smith in 2000 and played regularly until the former Rangers manager was replaced by David Moyes two years later. The 26-year-old however, was reunited with his ex-manager at international level when Smith took over from Berti Vogts at the end of last year. And looking forward to the World Cup qualifier against Italy in Milan tomorrow - Smith's first game as national coach - Naysmith was fulsome in his praise of the former Everton manager. He said: "I had a great relationship with Walter and I was delighted when he was appointed manager. "I got on with Berti as well but having worked under Walter before I could not wait to get started again. "Players play for him. I lost count of the times that I never trained Monday to Friday but played on the Saturday.
"He would say to me that he knew I was struggling but he needed me to do a job for him. "But he looked after us and defended us from criticism. He had boardroom problems and injuries and the fans were getting on his back but never once did he turn round and say anything about the players. I think that is where he gets his respect from and I am sure it will be the same for Scotland." Naysmith has had a troubled time at Goodison this season, failing to earn a regular place in the side which has led to speculation about a possible move back to Scotland with one of the Old Firm teams.
The former Hearts players admits he has struggled to accept being on the sidelines but was tight-lipped about returning to the Bank of Scotland Premier League. He said: "The last time I played was against Manchester United in the FA Cup which will be five weeks ago on Saturday coming. But I have been keeping myself quite fit with some extra work and hopefully the adrenalin will get me through against Italy."

Stuttering Everton in dire need of some inspiration
By Mark O'Brien Everton supporter, Daily Post
Mar 25 2005
WELL at least that's both derbies out of the way for another season. Sadly, Everton were way off the pace at Anfield last Sunday in a game that underlined just how much they still miss Thomas Gravesen. The Dane was immense in the Goodison fixture against the same opposition back in December, when he completely overshadowed the likes of Steven Gerrard, but this time around it was Joseph Yobo who was press-ganged into facing one of the best midfielders in the country.
Unsurprisingly, the talented central defender came up some way short. With hindsight it's easy to say that David Moyes should have played some other formation, but in all honesty there was no ideal permutation with the resources the Everton manager had at his disposal. Liverpool had a better shape, were more comfortable on the ball and their movement was far superior. Indeed, for those of us still trying to fill in the missing letters to decipher what sort of bag Alan Stubbs associated Milan Baros with, we can only say for certain that it wasn't 'onion'. The Czech striker spurned a couple of chances that, if he had slotted, would have produced a scoreline that better reflected the home side's dominance of the first hour of the game. It was that bad. If it was a one-off then we would probably shrug, as we did earlier in the season when faced with adverse results, but we've been stuttering along since the turn of the year now and there must be real doubts about the prospect of playing Champions League football next season. No one questions the effort of the players, who have done magnificently all season, but, in the absence of someone who can keep hold of the ball and knit the team together then they simply concede possession too easily and spend too much time doing thankless running and chasing. Mikel Arteta needs to return sooner rather than later and the team need to reproduce the sort of possession football that impressed everyone at Villa Park. If they don't, and they're reduced to the sort of desperate long-ball game that they played at Anfield, then they will struggle against the likes of Birmingham, West Brom and Crystal Palace, never mind Manchester United and Arsenal. It's too early to throw the towel in - we're still four points clear after all - but we certainly need a bit of inspiration from somewhere.

Laid-back Kerr gives us confidence - Kilbane
By Ian Parkes In Tel Aviv, Daily Post
Mar 25 2005
0ShareKEVIN KILBANE believes Brian Kerr's laid-back managerial style provides the bedrock for the Republic of Ireland's march along the road to Germany. While Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho hogs the headlines for his seemingly continual flouting of the rules and for a speak-your-mind approach which rubs authority and his rivals up the wrong way, Kerr is almost angelic by contrast. Yet both have found a formula that works when it comes to getting the best out of their players, with Kerr's task arguably the greater as he meets up with his squad on a handful of occasions throughout any year. His record of 15 wins and just two defeats from 25 matches in charge speaks volumes for a man who goes about his business with a quiet yet commanding air of efficiency. His rise through the ranks of the Ireland set-up has further ensured he has the respect of all he now leads at senior level, and that is proving successful as Ireland aim to qualify for the 2006 World Cup finals. "He is very good to play for," said Everton midfielder and Ireland's player of the year Kilbane when asked about Kerr. That perhaps came a little too easily as Kerr was sat alongside him at the time, but Kilbane pressed on, adding: "It's true because he gives you confidence. If it's not going well for you, he will call you up, you come in and you know that he wants the very best for you. "Whatever it is, if it is something to do with home or on the pitch, he will speak to you, he is there for you and you know he is. "It's all about individual styles. Managers who get the best out of players have their own style and Brian has his. "David Moyes has his own style, as have other managers I have worked with in the past, but it is fair to say Brian certainly gets the best out of the players he has here." Kerr will need to do so again tomorrow when Ireland face an Israel team who may have surprised many with their own unbeaten start to Group Four after four matches, trailing the Irish and France - who also have eight points - on goal difference.. Kilbane, though, believes the current squad is better than the one Mick McCarthy took to Japan and South Korea for the 2002 World Cup finals. "I personally believe that," insisted Kilbane.. "We've some wonderful attacking talent. Everyone knows all about Damien Duff and Robbie Keane, and with Andy Reid moving to Spurs, he is producing performances at the top level as well."

Liverpool Res 1, Everton Res 1
Mar 25 2005 Liverpool Echo
A SECOND HALF goal from Vladimir Smicer gave Liverpool Reserves a share of the points in the second mini derby of the season at Haig Avenue. Everton once again fielded both Richard Wright and Steve Watson, while the Reds had the experience of Smicer, Mauricio Pellegrino and Antonio Nunez to offer. Everton had the best of the opening exchanges and should have opened the scoring when Paul Hopkins beat James Smith to the ball, rounded Paul Harrison and just as he was about to roll the ball over the line, Pellegrino came from nowhere to clear. The Blues took the lead just after the half hour mark. A free-kick was awarded 30 yards out and Australian Eddy Bosnar rifled home a piledriver. The big defender's joy would end prematurely however as a challenge from Nunez meant he couldn't reap-pear for the second half. Liverpool were far brighter in the second half and it was no surprise when they levelled. Smicer found David Raven on the wing and when the youngster crossed, the Czech was there to finish the move off in style. Liverpool pressed again and only a tidy save from Wright denied David Mannix the winner.
Everton Res: R Wright, Wynne, S Wright, Bosnar (Kearney 46), Hughes, Harris, Watson, Plessis, Anichebe, Hopkins, Seargeant. Unused subs: Vidarsson, Fowler, Gallagher, Holt.
Liverpool Res: Harrison, Otsemobor, Raven, J Smith, Pellegrino, Hogg, Nunez, Mannix, Platt, Smicer, Wilkie. Unused subs: O'Donnell, Luzi, Noon, Hammill, Barratt.

Moyes makes Cahill tick
Mar 25 2005 By Ahmer Khokhar, Liverpool Echo
AUSTRALIA coach Frank Farina has praised David Moyes for his contribution in making Tim Cahill Oceania Footballer of the Year. The Socceroos manager, a previous winner of the award, said: "Tim has been a revelation at Everton this year with his attacking runs from midfield and the number of assists he has had. "Everton is clearly the right club for him and he has played some of the best football of his career for David Moyes, who knows how to get the best out of him." Cahill, who grabbed his seventh goal of the season at Anfield on Sunday to become the Blues' top scorer, flew Down Under immediately afterwards. The 25-year-old midfielder joined up with the Socceroos for their match against Iraq in Sydney tomorrow and then against Indonesia in Perth next Tuesday.
"I haven't played (for the Socceroos) in Sydney and I've missed the last few trips through injury so I owe it to Australia to play well," he said.. "I love pulling on the Australian top and playing for your country. International football allows you to mix with the best players." Cahill pipped two of his Australian teammates, including Middlesbrough goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer, to the prestigious award, which was announced in Sydney by Football Confederation secretary Tai Nicholas.
"Tim has had a wonderful season and is a deserved winner of the OFC player of the year award," Nicholas said. "He is unique in that he has played for two Oceania nations, Western Samoa and Australia, at various levels. "It was a fabulous year for Tim, scoring the winner in an FA Cup semi-final (for Millwall last year) which catapulted his career to the next level. "He has certainly served as a fantastic role model, not just for youngsters in Australia, but also in Samoa. "Tim follows in the footsteps of greats like Frank Farina in receiving this award."

Beatting the drum
Mar 25 2005 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
JAMES BEATTIE has vowed to bounce back from an "indifferent start" to his Everton career - and recapture the form which saw him called up for England 18 months ago. Everton's £6m striker led the line for England against Liechtenstein at Old Trafford in October 2003. England are back in Manchester tomorrow to face Northern Ireland, but this time Beattie didn't even know England were playing in the north west. That Liechtenstein call-up saw Beattie win the last of his five international caps, and he admits to a complete switch of focus since then. Trying to settle in to life at Goodison Park following his move from Southampton, he declared: "I haven't even thought about England to be honest. I didn't even know they were playing at Old Trafford, but I went to Manchester the other day and saw the England team bus. "Of course I'm hoping to get in the England set-up, but I haven't played for six weeks so the first thing is to try and get back in the Everton side. "I think I have something to offer England, but it's at the discretion of the manager and I just have to try and play well for Everton and try to remain in that fourth spot. "What I have to look at is my own performance." Beattie admits he has endured an indifferent opening to his Everton career. "I have had a bit of an indifferent start, with the sending off and what have you," he added.
"I didn't play for six weeks. But hopefully now I have got my fitness back, I can get in the team and we can hang on to fourth place. "My first game back was the derby and I was happy to be involved, but the result wasn't the best. "We are not going to make any predictions, but the attitude and the commitment of the lads, coupled with the talent we have in the dressing room will, I'm sure, be enough to see us hang on."

Austrian claiming Everton interest
By Ian Doyle, Daily Post
Mar 26 2005
AUSTRIAN international Rene Aufhauser has claimed Everton are interested in signing him. The Grazer AK midfielder believes he is among a number of players the Goodison club are scouting as part of David Moyes's summer overhaul of his squad. Aufhauser, who will line up against Wales in Cardiff for his country's World Cup qualifier today, said: "I know Everton are watching me, just as they are watching a number of players and waiting to see what happens." Grazer value the player at £2million, but their financial problems could force them to accept an offer as low as £300,000.
Aufhauser came to prominence on Mersey-side earlier this season when the referee failed to send him off during Grazer's 1-0 Champions League win at Liverpool, despite booking him twice. Meanwhile, James Beattie has insisted he is back to full fitness after conceding he had made an unsteady start to his Everton career. "I have had a bit of an indifferent start, with the sending off and what have you," he added. "I didn't play for six weeks. But hopefully now I have got my fitness back, I can get in the team and we can hang on to fourth place."

Lumsden: We don't want any regrets
By Ian Doyle, Daily Post
Mar 28 2005
JIMMY LUMSDEN has urged Champions League-chasing Everton not to end the season with any regrets. The Goodison outfit remain in fourth place despite losing their last two Premiership games, including last week's Merseyside derby that saw Liverpool move to within four points of David Moyes's side. And first-team coach Lumsden believes Everton cannot afford to dwell on their disappointment or risk ruing what might have been come May. "Obviously, we were disappointed after last week, but we've got to get on with it," said Lumsden. "Teams have had disappointments through the season and it is about how you react. We don't want to have any regrets at the end of the season. "We've had one or two blips, but even the top teams have had blips. Manchester United had theirs at the start, but they got over it. We have lost two games in succession and we want to win the next." He added: "I think the pressure is on the other teams who are trying to catch us up. We just need that win as quickly as possible." Meanwhile, Everton have confirmed Li Tie will not play again this season as he continues his recovery from his ankle injury.

Weir on the way from misery to happiness
Daily Post
Mar 28 2005
SCOTLAND defender David Weir believes the team have restored some pride after the 2-0 World Cup qualifying defeat by Italy in the San Siro. Two expertly-taken free-kicks by Andrea Pirlo meant Walter Smith's reign as national team coach ended in defeat at the San Siro. But Everton centre-back Weir, who was restored to the international fold by Smith, is confident the national side can look forward to the future with renewed optimism after a difficult time under Berti Vogts. Reflecting on the game, Weir said: "It was disappointing losing the goals obviously, but I thought we put in a good performance and gave the fans something to cheer about. "We had a couple of chances and, although we were disappointed with the goal before half-time - we didn't think it was a free-kick - but we responded in the right way. "We showed we had a bit of heart about us and played better in the second half. "We had a couple of chances and, if we had taken them, then it could have been a different result. "Everybody played well. Losing Rob Douglas to injury was disappointing but Craig Gordon came on and did really well. "You go through the whole team and there wasn't a failure. That is what we have got to be looking for in the future. "We will try as hard as we can (for qualification) and, if we can play like that from now on, we won't be far away. "We gave a good account of ourselves which is a starting point for us and I'm sure Walter will be happy and we can move on from here."

Gerrard unsure of Goodison future
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Mar 29 2005
EVERTON defender Anthony Gerrard admits he is still in the dark about his Goodison future - three months before his current contract expires. The 18-year-old joined Paul Merson's Walsall on loan last week to gain more first-team experience with the League One strugglers. The centre-half has commanded a regular place in the Everton reserve team this season and was on the bench for last month's visit of Chelsea. But with talks over a new contract yet to commence, Gerrard is facing an uncertain future at Goodison Park. He revealed: "I am here to try and help Walsall out until the end of the season and then it depends on what Mr Moyes wants. "Either he will keep me on or let me go, in which case I will have to get my face known around a few clubs. "I don't know what is thought about me at Everton. I am getting mixed opinions. "I don't see much of Mr Moyes but I feel if you keep working hard then your reward will come." Gerrard's first senior deal at Everton ends this summer when, despite his concerns, he could be offered a new one-year contract as the club continues to monitor his development. The defender, who spent a month on loan at Accrington Stanley earlier this season, made his debut for Walsall in Saturday's home defeat by Oldham and retained his place in yesterday's 3-2 loss at Barnsley. "I was apprehensive at first but as the Oldham game went on I came into my own," added Gerrard,, who received a good luck text from cousin Steven ahead of his debut. "It was much more physical but it was a pleasant change from the reserve league. With Walsall being down near the bottom there is a lot to play for, for everyone. "If I do get released by Everton it is not all bad because, as I've shown, I am comfortable in this league. If I stay at Everton then all well and good" Mikel Arteta, meanwhile, will today resume full training for the first time since damaging ankle and knee ligaments in the home defeat by Blackburn. He will provide David Moyes with a welcome option for Sunday's trip to West Bromwich Albion.

Weir confident Scotland can still qualify
By Jon West, Daily Post
Mar 29 2005
DEFENDER David Weir is convinced Scotland's showing against Italy in Milan is proof that the World Cup dream is still alive. The Everton centre-back ended his self-imposed international exile to marshal the defence against the Serie A superstars. The Scots lost 2-0 thanks to a brace of expertly-struck free-kicks from AC Milan's Andrea Pirlo but new manager Walter Smith's first game in charge was a marked improvement on the displays under previous coach Berti Vogts. Weir retired from international football in 2002 after a fall-out with Vogts but returned to put in an impressive display against the group leaders. It leaves Scotland still second-bottom in their group but with renewed optimism that second place can be reached before the end of the campaign. Weir said: "I am not too sure of the mathematics just now, but there was definitely an improvement and we must keep improving and showing we can play at this level. "The experience for the young boys, allied to the experience they are getting at their clubs, can only benefit Scotland in the long run. Walter has a decent base for the future now. "There have been a couple of years where the Scottish team has not been as good as we have all wanted it to be, but I don't think anyone should be too quick to be negative about us now. "We can start to redress the balance now. We know this is only one game and it's not the be all and end all but we can certainly build on this." Italy were far superior in the first half and took the lead in the 35th minute through Pirlo. The final 45 minutes were a different story however as Scotland threatened an equal-iser before being finally beaten by the second goal five minutes from time. Weir said: "Italy have dangerous players and they certainly caused us some problems but we played well in defence and we managed to limit them to only a few chances apart from the free-kicks. "It's not as if you can do anything about free-kicks like those, they were absolute top quality. Walter was very positive after the game. We have worked hard and although that isn't always enough there was a really good team spirit again, and we played really well in the second half." Scotland have just two points from four games but can improve their standing with results in June's double-header with Moldova and Belarus.

Mikel back to face Baggies
Mar 29 2005 By Scott McLeod, Liverpool Echo
MIKEL ARTETA is on course for a return to the Everton squad for this weekend's trip to West Brom.
The Spanish midfielder (right) has been sidelined for three weeks after picking up an ankle injury in the 1-0 defeat to Blackburn. He failed to prove his fitness ahead of the Liverpool derby 10 days ago but was given the green light to resume full training this morning as the squad returned to Bellefield after a five day break. The Blues also have injury worries over Gary Naysmith and James McFadden.
Assistant boss Alan Irvine revealed: "Mikel is back in training today. Gary Naysmith has returned from international duty with Scotland with a small problem but he should be okay in time for the weekend. "James McFadden is stepping up his rehabilitation (from a back and hamstring problem) but we are not sure yet if he will be back." The Blues are also keeping their fingers crossed that Kevin Kilbane and Tim Cahill return from international duty unscathed. Cahill will line up for the Aussies against Indonesia tonight, while Kil-bane is set to figure for the Republic of Ireland against China at Lansdowne Road. Irvine admits the international break has proved a nuisance as the Blues prepare for the clash with Albion. "You cannot do all your team work if you don't have all your players available," he added. "The international games will be tiring for Kevin and Tim but it is slightly better for us that our game is on Sunday. Everton's rivals in the race for fourth place are all in action a day earlier. But Irvine intends to make sure the Goodison squad do not become preoccupied with results elsewhere. "The danger of looking at other people's results is that you start looking for other people to do your work for you. "We would love to watch the results go our way on Saturday but we cannot allow that to convince us our job is already done." Meanwhile, Everton have been linked with a summer swoop for Deportivo La Coruna defender Cesar. The 27-year-old Argentinian is available after failing to agree terms over a new deal at the Riazor.

Nott'm Forest Res 0, Everton Res 1
Mar 30 2005 Daily Post
EVERTON RESERVES captain Mark Hughes secured victory at the City Ground over Nottingham Forest in the FA Premier Reserve League North last night. But it was Forest who should have taken an early lead when in the 17th minute they broke from Everton corner into the visitors' penalty area where Hughes tripped Lewis McGugan. The referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot, but Robert Hughes's kick struck the foot of the post. Surviving that let-off, Everton created a couple of openings of their own, as James Harris volleyed from distance straight at Paddy Gamble before the Forest man made a fine stop to keep out a glancing header from Victor Anichebe. Everton nearly led when Andrew Fowler's cross was powerfully met by the head of Mark Hughes, but defender Ricky Hanson was on hand to scramble the ball clear. With nine minutes to go, 16-year-old schoolboy John Irving replaced the injured Stephen Wynne for his reserve-team debut. Hughes scored the winner on the 85 minutes when he comfortably dispatched a penalty kick that had been given when Hanson sent Bjarni Vidarsson tumbling inside the area.
EVERTON RES: Lake, Wynne (Irving 81), Wright, Holt, M Hughes, Harris, Plessis, Vidarsson, Anichebe, (Kearney 49), Fowler, Seargeant, Subs: Morrison, Gallagher, Davidsen.
NOTTINGHAM FOREST RES: Gamble, Hanson, Blair, Beaumont, Fernandez, Roberts, Wilmet, McGugan, Glass (Pittman 70), Mullarkey, R Hughes. Subs: Vickers, Vickerton, Bastians, Cullingworth.

No fitness worries as Cahill set to return
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Mar 30 2005
TIM CAHILL will resume his Champions League chase with Everton this weekend after Australia heeded David Moyes's concerns over the fitness of the influential midfielder. Oceania's Player of the Year (left) is due back on Merseyside today after taking part in two internationals over the Easter holiday. Everton manager Moyes had feared the double-header, against Iran in Sydney on Saturday and Indonesia in Perth yesterday, would take a punishing toll on the 25-year-old at a crucial stage of his debut Premiership season. But Australia coach Frank Farina eased the pressure on Cahill by leaving him on the bench for the 3-0 defeat of Indonesia, ensuring he should be fit to face West Brom at The Hawthorns. Cahill, who along with his team-mates donated his match fee for the Indonesia game to the Tsunami Relief Fund, will be joined in the Everton squad this Sunday by Mikel Arteta. The Spanish midfielder yesterday returned to full training after three weeks out with knee and ankle problems. Juventus, meanwhile, are reportedly open to offers for Ghana international and possible Everton transfer target Stephen Appiah. Coach Fabio Capello has told director general Luciano Moggi to offload the midfielder this summer, along with fellow midfielder Alessio Tacchinardi, to raise transfer funds. The 24-year-old Appiah has several Premiership admirers, including Everton, Middlesbrough and Aston Villa, and Juventus would want £3m for his services.

Flights will take toll on Tim - Moyes
Mar 30 2005 By Scott McLeod, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES is concerned that jetlag could hinder Tim Cahill's preparations for Sunday's Premiership game at West Bromwich Albion. The midfielder has been Down Under for the last week on international duty with Australia. He played in Saturday's win over Iran but Aussie coach Frank Farina left the 26-year-old on the bench for yesterday's 3-0 friendly victory over Indonesia in Sydney.
However, the gruelling 24 hour flight back to the UK means Moyes is worried Cahill will not be 100 per cent for the trip to the Hawthorns. The Goodison boss told the ECHO: "Anybody who has experienced jetlag will tell you it takes a few days to get over. "It is a long flight for Tim and he won't be back with us until tomorrow. Our game being on Sunday means Tim has a little extra time, but we will have to see how he is when he gets back." Cahill had hoped to return to the UK after the World Cup qualifier but Farina kept his entire squad together for the charity match with Indonesia. The midfielder will be back on Merseyside tomorrow and Moyes will assess the midfielder's condition after his gruelling week away. Moyes welcomed back his other international players today. Kevin Kilbane was back on Mersey-side after playing in last night's 1-0 friendly victory over China at Lansdowne Road, while Joseph Yobo has returned to training after being given a couple of days off following his excursions for Nigeria over the weekend. Gary Naysmith has returned from Scotland duty with a knock to his foot but he is expected to be given the green light for Sunday.

Hughes shows namesake how it should be done
Mar 30 2005 Liverpool Echo
A LATE penalty from captain Mark Hughes earned Everton three points at the City Ground. The home side squandered a golden opportunity to take the lead in the 17th minute. After comfortably defending a poor Everton corner, Forest quickly switched play to the Blues' penalty area where Hughes tripped Lewis McGugan. The referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot, but Robert Hughes' kick struck the foot of the post. Surviving that let-off, Everton created a couple of openings of their own. A James Harris half volley from distance went straight at Paddy Gamble and then the keeper made a fine stop to keep out a glancing header from Victor Anichebe. The rest of the first half was sloppy and things didn't improve after the break. On 54, Sam Mullarkey had a shot which struck Sean Lake, but two minutes later Everton should have taken the lead. Andrew Fowler's cross from the right was powerfully met by the head of Mark Hughes, but Forest defender Ricky Hanson was on hand to scramble the ball clear. With nine minutes to go, 16-year-old schoolboy John Irving replaced the injured Stephen Wynne for his reserve team debut. Hughes scored the winning goal in the 85th minute when he comfortably despatched a penalty kick that had been given when Hanson sent Bjarni Vidarsson tumbling in the box.

Parker would be a terrific Blue recruit
Mar 30 2005 Echo Letters, icLiverpool & Liverpool Echo
I COMPLETELY agree with the letter writer who said Everton should try to lure Scott Parker to Goodison this summer. Champions League qualification is still within our grasp, but we have missed Gravesen very badly since the dubious decision to let him go to Madrid during the transfer window and Parker could fill his boots very well. He's an excellent midfielder with an awful lot to his game.
If Chelsea could be persuaded to let him go, and that's not necessarily a given considering their finances, then I'm sure Parker would be delighted to join Everton rather than the likes of Birmingham or Middlesbrough. I'm sure he would form a fantastic combination with Mikel Arteta - who has been another terrific signing by the manager - and really strengthen our midfield.
Les Nixon, Crosby
MUCH as Moyes seemed to have made a mistake in deploying Yobo in unusual defensive midfield, it is not fair at all to put unwarranted pressure on the gaffer. He has pulled off tremendous results this season and he himself knows we did not play well. We should remember Moyes watched Blackburn using the same approach to frustrate Liverpool which we needed as well. So we should keep it up, cheer the boys and Champions League is around the corner.
Sam Hinds, Widnes
IT was always going to be a tall order getting something from Anfield given the circumstances. Of more immediate concern is the lack of form since the departure of Gravesen. Three successive home defeats (11 points from a possible 33) and a failure to fill the gap. David Moyes has done a great job this season but his unwillingness to gamble on a quality replacement will, I fear, cost us dear. Europe is drifting away.
C Gillbanks, Maghull
NO, we've not been playing fantastically well recently and losing the derby was painful, but even achieving a UEFA Cup place would be a huge progression. It will hurt if Liverpool overtake us but at the start of the season we would have been happy with a top six finish.
Deborah Hodge, Formby

Wyness flies out for talks over deal
By Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Mar 31 2005
EVERTON chief executive Keith Wyness has flown to Thailand in the hope of securing a sponsorship extension with Chang Beer. Thai Beverages signed a one-year deal with the Goodison club last summer with a further 12-month option. Everton received £1.5m for the initial shirt deal but their unexpected success this season, and the prospect of European football next term, makes them a more attractive proposition to potential sponsors this summer. AirAsia are one of several companies interested in Everton but Chang have first option as part of their original contract. However, they may have to improve their investment to secure exposure at Goodison Park next season. Other Goodison officials, meanwhile, will attend a personal hearing with the FA in London today over charges the club failed to control its players during January's draw at Middlesbrough.
Everton and Middlesbrough have pleaded guilty to the offence, despite their astonishment at the charge, but have sought personal hearings to appeal for leniency. The FA could punish Everton with a maximum £250,000 fine for the offence although, in this instance, a £25,000 penalty is more likely.

Baggies cut down by rampaging Psycho
Mar 31 2005
Post Past by Philip J Redmond Everton supporter, Daily Post
WHEN Everton travelled down to the Hawthorns in December 1985, they were beginning to run into the form that brought their first title for 15 years the previous season. Everton looked shaky during the first few weeks of their defence. Injuries to Peter Reid and Derek Mountfield didn't help and there was uncertainty up front as Graeme Sharp and Adrian Heath vied to partner new record signing Gary Lineker. This was the season when Ron Atkinson's Manchester United won their first 10 games and were crowned champions by the media by late November. However as Christmas approached, a clutch of teams including Everton and Liverpool were gradually wittling down United's lead. By contrast Albion had suffered a nightmare start and looked relegation certainties. This was reflected in a pitiful gate of about 12,000, including 4,000 travelling Blues. The game itself was something of a stroll for Everton, indeed they were two up inside the first 10 minutes, however for one cult figure it was a special afternoon, as it was the day when Pat Van Den Hauwe scored his first goal for Everton. The man they called Psycho Pat headed in the second at the far post. The tough defender celebrated wildly in front of the travelling fans who had taken the tough-tackling, but constructive, full-back to their hearts. This added to an early Kevin Sheedy volley that was fumbled in by Albion keeper Tony Godden. The Baggies looked a broken, beaten team as Everton took their foot off the gas adding just one more, a crisp finish by Gary Lineker. As it was, Albion were relegated while Everton missed out agonisingly on a league and cup double to our bitterest rivals from across the park. This season Merseyside's big two find themselves neck and neck for Champions League football. Whatever happens in the run in this season, it won't compare to the pain felt by Blues back in May 1986.

Moyes confident Blues can stay on track
Mar 31 2005 By Scott McLeod, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON are in peak condition ahead of their return to Premiership action this weekend according to David Moyes. The Anfield derby defeat to Liverpool meant the Blues went into the fortnight Easter break from league action smarting from only their second back-to-back defeats of the campaign. But Moyes (right) insists his side has reaped the benefits of their time away from the Premiership spotlight and that there can be no excuses ahead of Sunday's trip to West Bromwich Albion. He told the ECHO: "The Easter weekend gave most of our players the opportunity to have a break and spend some time with their families. "It has given us time to recharge batteries and now we are back to work and focused on the job in hand. "There can be no excuses as far as fatigue is concerned. We are ready to go." Moyes gave his squad a five day break from training over the weekend, allowing many to get away for a few days in the sun with their families. Joseph Yobo was given an extended break after playing for Nigeria. Only Kevin Kilbane and Tim Cahill have had two international fixtures over the Easter period. But while the manager insists the rest means his small squad is perfectly prepared physically for the remaining eight games of the season, he is refusing to take Sunday's opponents lightly. Bryan Robson's Albion are favourites for the drop but have produced an upturn in form in recent weeks. Moyes continues: "They are working very hard to stay in the Premier League and their recent results will have given them a lot of confidence."

The Jury
Mar 31 2005 Liverpool Echo
'West Brom and Palace are essential victories, but this time for more than survival' – Harrison IN a week where there has been no game, the focus has been the hope that we can get players back from international duty unscathed and our injured players fit. The forthcoming games against West Brom (yet another game on TV!) and Crystal Palace have increased in importance considering the teams below us play each other. This time however, I would hope Everton take advantage of this opportunity. I have been a little dismayed with the negativity and doom merchants that have adopted a mentality of fourth place or nothing. While losing out on fourth place would be disappointing, it would not be a disaster, bearing in mind last year's finish. Wherever we finish in the league this year we must build on it in the summer to ensure that we can compete again at this level year on year.
BEFORE the season began Kevin Campbell said '17th would be good enough'. We lost heavily at home to Arsenal on the opening day of the season and few people were arguing with him. We then played Palace and West Brom knowing nothing less than two wins against 'relegation rivals' would be enough. Now, here we are, in a similar but entirely different situation. West Brom and Palace are essential victories, but this time for more than survival. So why haven't I enjoyed the season as much as two years ago? The season before last we had the expectancy of the emerging Rooney and other positive factors. Now it's nervy glances over our shoulder. Yes indeed, ingratitude is a terrible thing.
IT'S a relief to have a game on Sunday as it feels like we have been stuck on 51 points forever!
The two-week break before our last eight games is, as Gandalf in Lord of the Rings says, 'a deep breath before the final plunge'. We can all try to predict the Liverpool v Bolton result but it is a waste of time. We just need to win. We are on a run of games which take place on Sunday afternoons which increases the pressure, but it's something we just have to cope with as top sides must accept it as a penalty for being successful. In the early part of the season we played with a high tempo but against both Blackburn and Liverpool the opposition set the early pace. Against West Brom we need to make sure we assert ourselves from the start. If we do, I'm confident we'll win.
WHEN Steven Gerrard mentioned how he felt the local media seemed to be against Liverpool in the recent Mersey-side derby it made me smile. If the local media did favour a team then wouldn't it be the team in the higher league position, the one with a seven point lead and the bookies' favourites for fourth place? If you look at the past 30 years, the favouritism has been there, but has any side complained over it, even though they'd have every right too? Sometimes it seems that clubs and players make themselves out to be untouchable and when criticism or maybe a shade of favouritism affects one team, it gets to them. If Liverpool get fourth they get the plaudits, if Everton get fourth, we get the plaudits.
Simple really.













































March 2005