Everton Independent Research Data


Neville's vow after England 'surprise'
By Ian Doyle Daily Post Staff
Mar 1 2006
0SharePHIL NEVILLE has not given up hope of playing in this summer's World Cup - despite being snubbed by England this week. The Everton midfielder was a surprise omission from Sven-Goran Eriksson's squad to face Uruguay in a friendly at Anfield this evening. Neville has earned 52 caps and has been a regular member of the England set-up since Eriksson became coach in 2001. However, the 29-year-old has not made an international appearance in more than nine months. And this latest snub has heightened fears Neville could face World Cup heartbreak for the third successive tournament after missing out in 1998 and 2002. However, Neville remains confident he can force his way back into Eriksson's thinking before the finals in Germany in June. Of his omission from the squad, he admitted: "It was a surprise to me. I have been in the squad for the last four years really under Sven so it was a bit of a disappointment. "But the good thing now is that I have got 11 games to play well for Everton to make sure that I cement my place in the World Cup squad. To go to a World Cup is the pinnacle for every player and I have missed out on the two previous times so this would be a great chance for me and I am still confident that I can get into that squad. "If I was at the World Cup then came back to Everton in Europe then that would be great. "Sven has said that he has not shut the door on any players outside the squad that has been named this week and it is my job now to make sure that I play well for Everton first and fore-most, to hopefully impress the England manager. The decision to overlook Neville has raised eyebrows, particularly given he has been a consistently impressive performer since moving to Goodison from Manchester United last summer. "It has been one of my most enjoyable seasons, and I just hope that I carry on for the next 11 games," added Neville. "I have not put too much pressure on myself for the World Cup and I won't do in the next 11 games. "I can't do any more than what I am doing at club level, so the next 11 games are important for Everton and if I get the bonus to go to the World Cup then that would be a great end to the season." Neville's club manager David Moyes has called Eriksson's decision a "kick in the nuts" for the midfielder. "I was surprised not to see him in the squad," admitted Moyes. "The England manager shows a lot of loyalty to his players, and I expected to see him there. "Phil has had quite a severe kick in the nuts. The best way for Phil to answer it is for the England manager to come along and watch him in his next three games. People who know Phil and people who have worked with him at Manchester United know he is the ultimate professional. "He is a keen trainer and he is very patriotic about his country. All he can do is keep working hard and hope that Mr Eriksson comes to watch a few Everton matches soon. "He only ever speaks well of the England set-up and the things that are going on there." Meanwhile, Everton are to send a young side to play Bohemians on April 25. A team expected to be made up mainly of youngsters will play the Irish outfit, for whom former Everton midfielder Gareth Farrelly is player-manager

Naysmith aims for last laugh
Mar 1 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
GARY NAYSMITH relaunches his international career this evening, determined not to become the butt of the jokes in Everton's dressing room. Along with Goodison Park team-mates David Weir and James McFadden, Naysmith will be in the Scotland squad that tackles Switzerland in a friendly at Hampden Park. Should Walter Smith start with the left-sided defender, it will be Naysmith's first appearance for his country since last March when he played in the 1-1 draw with Italy. But the 27-year-old has been encouraged by the strides Scotland have taken under Smith and would take great pleasure in silencing those who taunt him at Bellefield. "This will be my fifth qualifying campaign either for the World Cup or the European Championships and we haven't qualified for one yet, so time is running out," he said. "I do not know what the feeling is among the fans about the draw for Euro 2008 but if you go on the Everton dressing room, they will tell you we've got no chance. "I have been taking a bit of stick with some players even saying that it is over before it has started. "But since I have been with the national team, we have achieved better results against better teams, so hopefully that will continue for the coming campaign." Having been limited to just one substitute appearance this season by a serious ankle problem, Naysmith will happily accept any minutes on the pitch against Switzerland. He is, however, especially keen to play a part helping Scotland end a Hampden hoodoo in friendly matches that stretches back to 1997. "I know that we had some poor results under Berti Vogts but I did not know it was that long since we had won a friendly at home," said Nay-smith. "Obviously we want to put that right in the build up and show what we want to achieve ahead of the campaign. "The Swiss have qualified for the World Cup and had a great result in the play-offs against Turkey. "The Republic of Ireland have played them four times over the last two campaigns and failed to beat them. "I spoken to Kevin Kilbane about them and he said they are a really good team. We all know it is going to be a difficult game."

Blues woefully short of goals
Mar 1 2006 Echo Letters, icLiverpool & Liverpool Echo
SOME people have been very critical of Saturday's game. Others think the result was a blip and that Everton played well. I would have thought that two headers by a man many think should not be playing and a free-kick are probably the things that Glenn Roeder pointed to at half-time when he told his team that we were there for the taking. Regarding the blip. Much had been made of our seven-match unbeaten run. If you look at the last 12 league games, it's W6 L5 D1 - 11 goals for 17 against. The first 12 games of the season were: W3 L8 D1, so it is an improvement. We cannot score goals for toffee and I am still amazed when I think that during the 20 games before the transfer window opened we scored 10 goals and sold a striker. Brian Williams, Huyton
I HAVE watched the Newcastle game twice now and the three points could have easily gone our way, but the luck was with them. I think David Moyes is doing a fantastic job with no dosh and a small squad. We are lucky to have him. Tommy Roberts, Merseyside
WHAT a kick in the nuts the Newcastle result was. To lose to such an awful team is hard to take. Am I the only person who believes the first goal should have been disallowed for a blatant push? Van der Meyde is desperately needed for the runin, as is a fit Carsley. Tony Hibbert - please don't get suspended again, you're our most consistent performer by far, no frills but all heart. Ted Pearson, Liverpool
WHY is Phil Neville suddenly not good enough for the England squad? Could it be because he is no longer a Manchester United player? Chris Park, BootleWE desperately need at least two strikers because when we play away, Beattie looks a totally different player to the one we get at home. At Newcastle we probably could have wrapped it up by half-time if we had a striker like Robbie Keane. Karl Rowlands, Huyton
IT'S about time we put an end to David Weir's playing days. That's about the fourth time this season he has been left for dead by anyone with a bit of pace. His attempted tackle at Newcastle was so unprofessional, he had a good 10 yards on the attacker but failed to read the situation again. Come on David Moyes. it's about time you gave the younger, more athletic players a chance. Bernie Ellis, Warrington
DID anyone else notice Babayaro's clear elbow to Tim Cahill's throat at the weekend? He should be given a ban for doing that. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, if Duncan Ferguson had done that he'd have been punished, no question. But I'm sure the powers that be won't do anything in this instance. Matteo Ferarri and Joseph Yobo at the back is the right combination for Everton as is James McFadden and James Beattie up front. Stuart Amos, Merseyside
Blues woefully short of goals
Mar 1 2006 Echo Letters, icLiverpool & Liverpool Echo
SOME people have been very critical of Saturday's game. Others think the result was a blip and that Everton played well. I would have thought that two headers by a man many think should not be playing and a free-kick are probably the things that Glenn Roeder pointed to at half-time when he told his team that we were there for the taking. Regarding the blip. Much had been made of our seven-match unbeaten run. If you look at the last 12 league games, it's W6 L5 D1 - 11 goals for 17 against. The first 12 games of the season were: W3 L8 D1, so it is an improvement. We cannot score goals for toffee and I am still amazed when I think that during the 20 games before the transfer window opened we scored 10 goals and sold a striker. Brian Williams, Huyton I HAVE watched the Newcastle game twice now and the three points could have easily gone our way, but the luck was with them. I think David Moyes is doing a fantastic job with no dosh and a small squad. We are lucky to have him. Tommy Roberts, Merseyside WHAT a kick in the nuts the Newcastle result was. To lose to such an awful team is hard to take. Am I the only person who believes the first goal should have been disallowed for a blatant push? Van der Meyde is desperately needed for the runin, as is a fit Carsley. Tony Hibbert - please don't get suspended again, you're our most consistent performer by far, no frills but all heart. Ted Pearson, Liverpool WHY is Phil Neville suddenly not good enough for the England squad? Could it be because he is no longer a Manchester United player? Chris Park, Bootle WE desperately need at least two strikers because when we play away, Beattie looks a totally different player to the one we get at home. At Newcastle we probably could have wrapped it up by half-time if we had a striker like Robbie Keane. Karl Rowlands, Huyton IT'S about time we put an end to David Weir's playing days. That's about the fourth time this season he has been left for dead by anyone with a bit of pace. His attempted tackle at Newcastle was so unprofessional, he had a good 10 yards on the attacker but failed to read the situation again. Come on David Moyes. it's about time you gave the younger, more athletic players a chance. Bernie Ellis, Warrington DID anyone else notice Babayaro's clear elbow to Tim Cahill's throat at the weekend? He should be given a ban for doing that. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, if Duncan Ferguson had done that he'd have been punished, no question. But I'm sure the powers that be won't do anything in this instance. Matteo Ferarri and Joseph Yobo at the back is the right combination for Everton as is James McFadden and James Beattie up front. Stuart Amos, Merseyside

Dutchman vows to secure a call-up
Mar 2 2006 By Ian Doyle, Daily Post
ANDY VAN DER MEYDE has joined Everton team-mates Phil Neville and James Beattie in vowing to end the season in style in a bid to earn a place at this summer's World Cup. The Dutch winger has been sidelined since December with a serious thigh injury, having been forced to wait until October for his debut following a groin injury. Those setbacks have restricted van der Meyde to only six appearances this season, seemingly scuppering any chance of forcing his way into Holland's squad for the finals in Germany. But as he nears a comeback, the 26-year-old believes he still has enough time to impress Dutch team coach Marco van Basten. "There are only 11 games before the World Cup but if I play 10 or 11 good games then the coach can still choose me," said van der Meyde.
"In Holland they show a lot of English games and there is a lot of interest in English football so if I play then they see me. "It is difficult because I was injured before I came here as well and I have only played six games then I was injured again. Van der Meyde added: "It is difficult in your head and you have to concentrate but now I am getting back and I feel happy again and I just want to be important again for the supporters and for the rest of the team." Neville earlier this week pledged to regain his place in Sven-Goran Eriksson's squad in time for the World Cup, after being over-looked for last night's friendly against Uruguay. And yesterday James Beattie also insisted he has not given up hope of breaking into the Swede's finals squad. "I certainly won't give up until the final squad is named," said the striker. "If I can get a few more goals, keep performing quite well, then who knows what could happen? "If anyone gets in the squad, they've got there on merit. "I have a determination within myself to prove people wrong. There's only one thing I can do - play well for Everton and get as many goals as I can. "I knew from day one I would come good for Everton."
Meanwhile, Richard Wright remains at least 10 days away from a return from his ankle injury.
"Richard is making very good progress, he has been doing some light goalkeeping with me, and a little bit of twisting and turning," said head physio Mick Rathbone. "It is early days and we will have to see how he progresses in the next week or so." Sander Westerveld will again deputise at West Ham United on Saturd

Everton 2, Tranmere 2 (aet) Tranmere win 6-5 on penalties
Mar 2 2006 Daily Post
EVERTON will not defend their Liverpool Senior Cup title after losing to Tranmere Rovers on penalties last night. In an unusual game, all the scoring took place in the opening period, with the two sides going in 2-2 at half-time at Southport's Haig Avenue. But there was no further scoring and the match had to be decided on penalties as the Prenton Park outfit ran out 6-5 winners. In the first 45 minutes, Everton showed excellent character to twice equalise. Tranmere took the lead after a flicked on corner was prodded home in a melee by Jamie Garry, but Everton hit back immediately.
Lee Molyneux's free-kick was parried by Phillip Palethorpe in the visitors net, and Victor Anichebe was on hand to level the scores. The game was not at 1-1 for long though, and Tranmere soon had a free-kick of their own. Its excellent execution by young Rovers striker Steve Davies from around 20 yards out left keeper Thordur Ingason helpless and Everton were behind again. Once again the Premiership side's second string rallied though, and Anichebe was once again involved. He combined with John Paul Kissock in a move that culminated with the diminuitive forward getting a second equaliser. In the second period, and throughout extra-time the game deteriorated as neither side sought to take risks. There were few real chances, but Anichebe could have won it when one-on-one with Palethorpe, but the opportunity went begging. At the other end Ingason made a few tidy saves, but the game was destined to end in the most dramatic fashion, with Palethorpe saving three of the penalties taken against him.
EVERTON: Ingason, Irving (Morrison 46), Molyneux, Boyle, S Wright, Wynne, Harris, Densmore (Phelan 60), Seargeant, Anichebe, Elder (Kissock 15). Subs: Dennehy, O'Brien.

Nelsen warned by FA
Mar 2 2006 Daily Post
BLACKBURN defender Ryan Nelsen has been warned as to his future conduct by the FA after comments he made following the defeat to Everton in December. Andy Todd had been sent off for deliberate handball in the first half of the Goodison Park clash, with the hosts going on to win 2-0.
Nelsen, 28, was one of a host of Rovers players angry with referee Mark Halsey after the dismissal. He will not face a suspension or a fine.

Weir: We'll get back on track
Mar 2 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID WEIR today promised that Everton are ready to atone for the mistakes which brought their seven game unbeaten run to a halt when they tackle West Ham on Saturday. The Blues skipper has been away in international duty since last weekend's 2-0 defeat against Newcastle United but, like the rest of the squad, has spent plenty of time reflecting on what went wrong at St James' Park. "Newcastle was a game we could and should have won but we came away getting beaten," said Weir, who played in Scotland's 3-1 defeat against Switzerland last night. "It was the kind of game where the team who scored first would go on to win it. We just couldn't quite do it. "There is a fine line in this league and if you go a goal behind, you leave yourself a mountain to climb. We have got to look at things. We can't be happy with any defeat but that's what we are all about. We just want to get better. "We've been on a good run but that has ended so now we have got to look to the next game and get back on a similar run. We've got to take things on board and we will address them." Meanwhile, Andy van der Meyde is desperate to make his longa aited return to the first team after stepping up his rehabilitation programme this wee

There is no substitute for duo's experience
Mar 2 2006 Evertonia, Liverpool Echo
Honorary President Alan Ball on the Blues' resurgence since Alan Stubbs' return to Goodison THERE is a great deal of focus on pace in the modern game. But while there is no doubt that players with electrifying speed can make all the difference to sides in the Premiership, there is one physical attribute that is even more important. An experienced footballing brain is quicker than even the swiftest feet. And in the last month Everton's central defensive pairing have helped underline that point. Alan Stubbs' return to Goodison from Sunderland has allowed David Moyes to reunite the defensive pairing that was so formidable last season. Both players are approaching the end of their careers, . but there is no substitute for experience. When you have a quick-thinking football brain, you can save yourself plenty of unnecessary running. It also means you are invariably in the right place at the right time. And that has proved to be the case for Weir and Stubbs. When a side starts leaking goals as Everton were before and over Christmas you begin to fear the worst because no side can achieve anything in the Premiership if goals are flying in so regularly. But since the turn of the year the Blues have rediscovered the hard-to-beat approach that earned them so many 1-0 wins last season. I am sure the return of Stubbs has played a role in that. * ENGLAND unveiled their 'new' second strip this week ahead of the World Cup in the summer. I use the word 'new' sparingly as it intentionally harks back to the famous red strip we wore in 1966. Forty years on and it would be fabulous to see England wearing those 'new' shirts once again in the final in Germany.

Blues ticket details
Mar 2 2006 Liverpool Echo
EVERTON v FULHAM on Saturday, March 11 (3pm)
Tickets for this game are now on general sale from the Park End box office (9.30 to 4.30, Monday to Friday). To book tickets you can call dial-a-seat on 08707 383786 or visit www.evertonfc.com/ Junior Evertonia members can receive £5 off the price of their ticket when they present their £5 discount voucher with their membership card at the box office.
EVERTON v ASTON VILLA on Saturday, March 18 (12.45pm)
Tickets for this game are now on general sale from the Park End box office (9.30 to 4.30, Monday to Friday). To book tickets you can call dial-a-seat on 08707 383786 or visit www.evertonfc.com/ A combined Adult and Junior ticket for £30 (offer excludes Main Stand and Upper Bullens) can be purchased from the box office for this fixture.

Returning players can propel us into Europe
Mar 3 2006 By Ian Doyle Daily Post Staff
DAVID MOYES is hoping the return of the cavalry can help Everton's charge towards Europe - with Alessandro Pistone unexpectedly joining the list of players nearing fitness at Goodison. A clutch of players are closing in on a first-team comeback as the Goodison outfit enter the final weeks of the season harbouring genuine ambitions of UEFA Cup qualification. James Vaughan and Andy van der Meyde both resumed training this week after lengthy spells on the sidelines, while Lee Carsley is close to his first start of an injury-dogged campaign after having made a number of recent substitute appearances. And it emerged yesterday that long-term injury victim Pistone will begin full training again on Monday. The Italian was not expected to play again this season after suffering cruciate ligament damage at Bolton back on August 21, but is now in line to make a shock return in the coming weeks. And Everton manager Moyes believes this increased competition for places can only benefit his team during the run-in. "With Lee Carsley, James Vaughan, Andy van der Meyde and Alessandro Pistone coming back, I think their introduction in the last 11 games will help us," said Moyes. "They will be like new players coming in and give us an added impetus. There is going to be a lot of competition whereas maybe in the last few years it has been pretty much as it is. It keeps everybody on their toes and hopefully gives us all a boost.
"I am hoping that the impact these players have can help us during the run-in. Alessandro Pistone will start training on Monday, which is way ahead of schedule. I expect he will be able to play before the end of the season unless he has any setbacks."

Moyes added: "We have still got a bit to play for. We know that if we win the majority of our games between now and the end of the season, it could still end up being a decent season. We know there is a chance for us to finish the season well."

Groin and thigh injuries have restricted Van der Meyde to just six appearances since joining from Inter Milan in the summer, while Vaughan came on as substitute at Fulham in August before suffering a knee injury while on England U19 duty that has sidelined him until now.
Everton currently stand seven points adrift of fifth-placed Blackburn Rovers, but Manchester United's Carling Cup victory on Sunday means there will almost certainly be an extra UEFA Cup qualification berth through league placing. Everton travel to West Ham United tomorrow with Iain Turner, Tony Hibbert and Phil Neville available again after being suspended for the defeat at Newcastle United. Richard Wright resumed light training yesterday and is an out-side consideration for the Upton Park clash, with loan signing Sander Westerveld again standing by to deputise. "I think we are a bit better with the likes of Tony Hibbert and Phil Neville back again," said Moyes.. "Richard Wright is going to try and do a little bit of training, and he has got a chance of being available. "James Vaughan and Andy van der Meyde are back in training. I am not saying they will be available this week or next week but they are certainly much closer now they are training with the first team again." Simon Davies is a minor doubt after picking up a knock during Wales's goalless draw with Paraguay on Wednesday.

McFadden wants a Scotland roadshow
Mar 3 2006 By Gavin McCafferty, Daily Post
SCOTLAND international James McFadden has urged the Scottish Football Association to stage friendlies around the country after another miserable night at Hampden Park. The 3-1 defeat by Switzerland ensured Scotland's run without a friendly win at the national stadium would break the 10-year mark. With just over 20,000 fans braving the freezing cold for the visit of the World Cup qualifiers, the Everton striker believes the low attendance undermines the sense of occasion. McFadden said: "I don't think it's the results we need to look at, it's the size of the crowd. "The argument could be if you take the game to Easter Road, Tyne-castle or Pittodrie, the ground would be full and it would be a closer atmosphere. "It's not a criticism of the fans not turning up, some have commitments and can't make it. I'm just saying if it's a half-empty stadium, it's not usual for the big games at Hampden."

Goal struggle
Mar 3 2006 Post Soapbox, icLiverpool & Daily Post
IT'S NOT hard to see why we struggle for goal. Leon Osman, one goal; Simon Davies, one goal; Tim Cahill: three goals; Mikel Arteta: one goal; Phil Neville and Kevin Kilbane both no goals this season.
Basically the midfield is just not contributing to anything like enough goals this time around and add to that the fact we don't have anyone in defence who can get maybe four or five. I personally think Mikel Arteta is wasted playing so deep every game. A man with Arteta's ability should be further up field. So there you have it. It's not just a case of buying a striker and all will change. The team as a whole hasn't contributed to goals this season.
A James, Merseyside
Striker light YES we need a striker, but Maradona or Pele couldn't help this team. A striker depends on someone having the ability to either pass the ball to them or into a space they can run into.
Apart from Arteta, there is not another single player capable of doing that. Chasing a ball that has been wellied up the pitch or is of no use to anyone. Yobo and Ferrari have the class but you can see that the philosophy of 'into the stands' permeates throughout the back four. The midfield tackles well, but when they have time on the ball they're like a rabbit caught in the lights. Van der Meyde will add some much-needed quality. Up front, Vaughan will fulfil his massive promise. David Moyes is the best man for us and I desperately want him to sign the calibre of players he was trying to sign last summer. A good finish to the season and a good kitty, may just get us a couple of the right sort here.

Defensive shuffle on cards for Hammers
Mar 3 2006
By Mark O'Brien Everton supporter, Daily Post
IT always seems odd that managers make indignant statements about how they feel that their players should be recognised with international caps, or in Phil Neville's case this week, how he shouldn't have been dropped from the England squad, and then on other occasions complain about them being burnt out and overworked. Some fans seem to get worked up about it too, but ever since Neville Southall knackered his ankle on a Lansdowne Road pitch that resembled Terry Waite's allotment, many Blues prefer their idols tucked up in bed early in preparation for important league games rather than risking injury while training and playing with England, Ireland or whoever they represent. Neville certainly seems well down the pecking order for England and it shouldn't really come as any surprise to anyone that he seems unlikely to go to the World Cup. His greatest asset is his versatility, but when a manager is able to pick a big squad from the cream of the country's players then that attribute becomes a lot less valuable. Hopefully he doesn't take it too much to heart though and manages to get over his kick in the lower abdomen in time for Everton's game at Upton Park tomorrow. It looks a tricky game, as the Hammers are playing with a lot of confidence and go forward with a lot of pace. Thankfully, as well as Neville, Tony Hibbert will be back after suspension, as Joseph Yobo had a less than brilliant match at full-back up at Newcastle against Charles N'Zogbia, a player probably less dangerous than the Irons' left-winger, Matthew Etherington. With more or less the full complement of defenders available, it will be interesting to see whether David Moyes decides to move Yobo into the centre, to try and counter the pace of the likes of Marlon Harewood, or sticks with the wily old pairing of Alan Stubbs and David Weir. In fairness though, they made light of their lack of speed when faced with Thierry Henry and co at Good-ison recently. While the Newcastle result was obviously disappointing, at least Sander Westerveld's contribution represented a small plus. Once the fans got over the somewhat odd sight of an ex-Red in an Everton shirt, they couldn't help but be impressed with a decent performance from the big Dutchman. Many more of those - and there's every chance he will have to have his wits about him tomorrow - and there might even be pleas for the manager to sign him up.
Moyes hands it to Sandro
Mar 3 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES has hailed Alessandro Pistone's astonishing return from injury and tipped the defender to pull on an Everton shirt again before the end of the season. The Italian has been out of action since August 21 after badly damaging his cruciate ligaments during the 1-0 win against Bolton Wanderers and it was widely believed he would not play again this season. However, Pistone has made such good progress he is on target to return to full training next week, two months ahead of schedule. Though Moyes will not tempt fate, he expects the 30-year-old to be pushing for a starting place soon. "Sandro will start training on Monday, which is way ahead of schedule. He will play before the end of the season unless he has any setbacks," said Moyes. "At the moment, he's shaved months rather than weeks off his recovery time. "He's a very good specimen. He is a good professional who tries to prepare his body well. But with his cruciate, it's something we will judge daily for a reaction. "But he seems quite good. He tries to do the right things and makes sure his physical preparation allows him to get in shape. When you have a cruciate injury, you have to spend a lot of time on your own. "He's had it before, so knew what to expect. He's been back here full-time for the last few weeks. Because he's so far ahead of schedule, we've give him a bit of time off, then he's trained and everything is going well." With Pistone following long-term absentees Lee Carsley, Andy van der Meyde and James Vaughan out of the treatment room, Everton's squad has a much healthier look as they enter the final stages of the campaign. The manager is refusing to rule the Blues out of the race for Europe and in a further boost, he will have Phil Neville and the rejuvenated Tony Hibbert back from suspension when they tackle West Ham United at Upton Park tomorrow. "Hibbo's form has been quite consistent all season but he came back into a real vein of form after Christmas," Moyes observed. "We missed his consistency and his reliability at Newcastle." Moyes will as usual leave team selection to the last possible moment but he has not ruled Richard Wright out of the reckoning. The keeper has been out with damaged ankle ligaments but is not far off peak condition. "Richard started a bit of training yesterday but I'm not quite sure how he is," said Moyes. "Both Andy and James have missed an awful lot of football but we are delighted to have them back. "Richard will be quite keen and if he comes through training ok, he will come into consideration. "We thought it might take another week, which it might do, but he wants to get started. "He tried to give it a go before last weekend's game and it just didn't quite happen for him. "But I was pleased with Sander. He did fine. "He had one save to make last week and we had no problem with him."

Neville will let his football do the talking
Mar 3 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
WHILE some players would sulk and others would choose to launch a stinging attack, Phil Neville intends to use the frustration of being dropped from the England's squad to his advantage this weekend. Missing out on the chance to win his 53rd cap, having been seen as a fixture in Sven-Goran Eriksson's plans came as a huge shock. Neville can't really understand what the fuss is all about for, once he had got over the initial blow, he has spent the time since preparing for Everton's crucial Premiership clash with West Ham at Upton Park tomorrow. Having sat out last weekend's 2-0 defeat against Newcastle, he is determined to give Eriksson a timely reminder of his abilities. "It was disappointing to miss out on the England squad, especially as it was the last one named before the World Cup finals," he said. "But reading some of the comments from Sven, he's been positive and I'm not totally out of his plans. "I'm still relatively confident that I've got a chance of going to the World Cup. "He knows what I can do. The thing in my favour is that I have got 11 games to play and there are more chances to impress. "I have never taken being named in the England squad for granted, so when the squad was announced, all I was thinking was 'am I going to be in it?' "I thought I was going to be, but you never know, and other people are making bigger things of it. Once the squad was announced, my thoughts were totally changed to the West Ham game. "I've not played for a couple of weeks now and I can't wait to get back." There is no escaping how much he wants to board the flight to Germany. Having been left crestfallen before the 1998 tournament in France and again in Japan four years later, Neville has no wish to make it a hat-trick. "Everyone knows I'm desperate to go to this one," he said. "I've missed out on two right at the last stage. "But, to be honest, after the initial disappointment, I just wanted to get back to playing. It's not life or death. "If I make the World Cup squad after such an enjoyable season it will cap everything off. If it doesn't happen, it won't be for the want of not trying." That is something Neville could never be accused of, as those who have seen the way he has played this season could testify. Left-back and central defence are two of the positions he has filled, but he will return to his favoured midfield spot tomorrow. That should bring him into close contact with friend and former colleague Teddy Sheringham, a man playing in the twilight of his career, but still exerting a considerable influence over West Ham's young squad. "He's an unbelievable player," said Neville. "He looks younger now than he did five years ago when I played with him. He's one of the best I've played with a professionalism dedicated to his work. "He's a great team player and probably doesn't get the credit he deserves outside the team, although everyone knows what a great player he is. He does the unselfish things, the things that help your team win games. "He went down in Manchester United history by scoring a goal in the European Cup final." Yet there will be no room for sentiment tomorrow, as Everton look to return to the form that saw them win six and draw one of their previous seven games before Newcastle. If anything, Neville will be even more fired up. The memory of the way Alan Pardew's side came to Goodison before Christmas and ran out comfortable 2-1 winners still stings the 28-year-old and he is desperate for Everton to settle the score. "I thought we played really well at Newcastle, but the sooner we get back to winning ways, the better. "We need to get what the manager said in training the other day - the eye of the tiger," said Neville. "Losing to West Ham was one of the biggest disappointments. We had got a draw at Old Trafford the Sunday before, beaten Blackburn and Newcastle as well and we thought we'd turned the corner. "But then we had two home games in the space of four days and conceded six goals which knocked the stuffing out of us. "We didn't think we gave them a game that night and we want to put that right on Saturday." The Blues still have some hopes of claiming a UEFA Cup spot, and with Manchester United having won the Carling Cup and being odds on for a Champions League berth, it means that sixth spot in the Premiership should mean European football. Last week, they also applied to enter the Intertoto Cup, where qualification for the UEFA Cup is much easier now, with only one qualifying round to negotiate. On-loan keeper Sander Westerveld will face the Hammers, who are aiming for a European place themselves.

Li Tie happy to be back
Mar 3 2006 Liverpool Echo
LI TIE has returned to Merseyside today after playing in his first competitive matches for China after 18 months out through injury. The Everton midfielder has made several international appearances this season since regaining fitness following a serious shin injury. But Wednesday's Asia Cup Group E qualifier against Iraq was only the second competitive match Li Tie has figured in, just a few days after the victory over Palestine. China suffered a disappointing 2-1 defeat to Iraq and Li Tie said: "I had played four friendly matches since last November, but the atmosphere in these games is totally different. "The Asian Cup is the biggest football tournament in Asia, and we are very disappointed with the result. Three points would have virtually secured a place in the final stages." Li Tie, whose current contract comes to an end in the summer, has yet to start a senior match for Everton since returning from injury.

Beattie still has plenty to prove
Mar 3 2006 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
MORE than a year has now passed since James Beattie scored his only away goal for Everton. And as that volley came at St Mary's, a stadium Beattie called home for seven years anyway, you could even say we're still waiting for one. I mention that stat in response to the Everton striker's self-congratulatory words on the club's official website this week. "I knew from day one I would come good for Everton," he declared. Pardon me, but when did that day actually arrive? Seven league goals by March, in a team which doesn't chisel out chances regularly, is a solid return. But it is still four less than Tomasz Radzinski managed at the same stage three years ago. I genuinely like Beattie. His work ethic and enthusiasm has been impeccable in recent months - and his performances in the home victories over Arsenal and Blackburn truly heroic. He still has an infuriating habit of missing simple chances, but he is also the only striker Everton possess who looks like scoring regularly.
But he isn't that good . . . yet. Beattie has won the same number of England caps as Joe Royle and Fred Pickering put together, but he isn't half as good as either. Royle's last goal for Everton came in an away match . . . at West Ham United. A goal from Beattie on the same stage tomorrow would help add some substance to words which, at present, ring just a little hollow. * QUICK note for those local football fans who love baseball, hate Gary Neville - and enjoy wasting hours on computer games.

Moyes in salute to season's-best Arteta
By David Prior Daily Post Staff
Mar 6 2006
0ShareDAVID MOYES hailed "terrific" Mikel Arteta as Everton's best player of the season after the Spaniard inspired the Goodison club's superb comeback at Upton Park on Saturday. Goals from Leon Osman and James Beattie twice cancelled out strikes from Marlon Harewood and Dean Ashton as Everton ended West Ham's five-game winning run. And with Arteta leading a dominant display after the break, the visitors should really have gone on to claim a deserved victory. Afterwards Moyes paid tribute to the versatility and increased strength of midfielder Arteta, who he agreed had been his finest player this campaign. He said: "Arteta was excellent. He can play everywhere across the middle of the park. He is 23 years old but I think he has looked a terrific player. He has an ability to go past players, he can pass it, he can play central midfield, wide right, wide left as he did against West Ham for me. "He was a thorn in their side all day. I think he is showing ability to win games for us. The thing that you have to remember with him that he is only a young Spanish lad but he has come in and kept at it. I've been really impressed by him for that reason. "Now and again I've had to ask him 'can you give me more' but maybe his time with Glasgow Rangers has toughened him up for the British style of play week in, week out." Moyes also revealed how a half-time telling-off for Phil Neville had helped to spur the midfielder on to a fantastic display after the break, under the watching eyes of England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson. "I wasn't pleased with him in the first half and I told him," the manager said. "But in the second half, his touch and his control, as well as his positional play was much better." Moyes hoped Neville's performance might just have forced a rethink from the Swede, who left the midfielder out of last week's international friendly against Uruguay. He added: "Sven is very loyal. When you have been in and around the squad for something like four years, which he has then I think if there is one player deserving to go it is Phil Neville because of the type of player he is. "I've got to say - and I'm a passionate Scotsman - that he is an extremely passionate Englishman whose only concern is to win the World Cup and come back and rub my nose in it. "I think because of his versatility - he can play left-back and right back - he doesn't let you down. You can ask him to do any job and he will always do it to the best of his ability. At times you need those players in the team if you are a little bit short. "We were all disappointed that Phil wasn't in the squad. But the manager has to pick his squad in the same way I have to pick mine. I have spoken to him about it. I told him I was disappointed that he wasn't in but the only way he will get in is if the England manager comes to watch him." Osman's first-half strike featured a sweeping move involving four players, and Moyes said: "I thought our first goal was terrific. The approach play was excellent but then five minutes later we were 2-1 down with their second shot. I started to feel at that point like it might not be our day, especially if we were going to concede goals like that. "I thought we played quite well but the goals can sometimes change your views of how things went. We had two headers from corners, one was from Alan Stubbs, the other from Nuno Valente. Most of the opportunities were from us but West Ham got the goals. "I think we have moved on. We are on a run where we are showing a lot of consistency and hopefully we can continue that right until the end. "We have got a lot of confidence and a lot of self-belief but we have just got to try and keep that going until the end of the season. It's just disappointing that we didn't get the win."

West Ham 2, Everton 2 (D,Post)
Mar 6 2006
HE probably won't have spent yesterday making hasty revisions to his World Cup squad, but Sven-Goran Eriksson will still have gleaned some new information from his trip to Upton Park on Saturday.
Having last week been implored by David Moyes to show his face with more regularity at Everton games, the England manager - whether by accident or design - made amends at the first opportunity. Those he had no doubt come to view - Messrs Beattie, Hibbert, Neville, Ashton, Harewood and Konchesky - may or may not have caught his eye, if indeed eye-catching is enough for any peripheral player to be at this late stage of preparation for Germany. What the Swede will have learnt, though, is that Everton are made of considerably sterner stuff than the last time he watched them play, the openingday defeat to Manchester United. For while that early setback was no disgrace, it gave Eriksson a preview of what was to follow, when European pre-occupation, lowered confidence and a worrying lack of backbone heralded a seemingly uncontrollable spiral from the heights of last season. With his assistant Tord Grip having also seen Everton defeated - albeit at Stamford Bridge and Highbury - it would be fair to suggest the England camp's picture of even this turbulent Goodison campaign was somewhat incomplete. That's not the case this morning. What Eriksson saw on Saturday were the very qualities that have helped to drag Everton from the boggy swamp they became entrenched in before Christmas. There was, first and foremost, a good deal of quality. This wasn't the negative, non-committal Everton that Eriksson may have heard about; this was an Everton side outplaying a winning team that has become this season's byword for attractive, free-flowing football. On their own patch, too. There were goals, which while hardly indicative of Everton this season, at least backs up their recent habit - St James' Park aside - of doing enough to get something out of a game. These were no tap-ins either - James Beattie's smart chip following Leon Osman's opener, which featured a contender for Everton's finest move of the campaign.
But it was the fighting spirit which may well have surprised Eriksson the most. Having seen Osman's goal sandwiched by two sucker-punches from their opponents, who clinically despatched just about the two half-chances they had in the whole of the opening 45 minutes, there must have been a temptation for Everton to throw their arms up and resign themselves to a fifth defeat in the capital this season. That they didn't, and indeed that they emerged from the interval to deliver a second-half performance that merited all three points, says a great deal not just for David Moyes's motivational powers - the manager by all accounts came up trumps at half-time - but also the belief that's been coursing through the team so far in 2006. That helped to ensure perhaps the most telling statistic to come out of the game - this was the first time Everton had recovered a league deficit in 13 months. It added up, Eriksson or not, to a crucial point. Aside from avoiding a second successive defeat - and Moyes does not need reminding this season about the difficulties of getting off a losing sequence - it also kept Alan Pardew's men in sight. There's still some way for Everton to go, but this could be an important result when the finishing line for European qualification emerges in May.

Once again, Everton's display was to an extent borne out of adversity. Moyes could well have been considering a return for Joseph Yobo, whose pace and power seemed better suited to dealing with the fleet-footed Hammers attack, and David Weir had in any case been involved with Scotland midweek. But the option was taken out of Moyes's hands by a groin injury suffered by the Nigerian during training on Friday, leaving Weir and Alan Stubbs to resume their partnership. How well they would cope with the likes of Marlon Harewood, Dean Ashton and Bobby Zamora, not to mention the evergreen Teddy Sheringham, appeared central to the outcome. Such questions were immediately put on hold at Upton Park as Everton, just as at Newcastle the previous week, made a bright start, and Nuno Valente could perhaps have done better with a header he bounced over the bar from James McFadden's seventh-minute corner. Their promising opening was brought to an abrupt halt, however, just three minutes later. The Hammers had barely ventured into their own half before they gave a clinical demonstration of the kind of football that has garnered such a profitable return to the top flight. A quick-footed move involving Ashton, Nigel Reo-Coker and Yossi Benayoun ended at the feet of Harewood just outside the box, and in one classy motion the striker turned and fired a low shot past Sander Westerveld. It was his 13th Premiership goal of the season. More stung than stunned, Everton immediately hit back. First, Phil Neville's long throw was flicked on by James Beattie, and had Tim Cahill caught the loose ball with considerably more conviction than he did, Shaka Hislop would not have been able to gather comfortably in the way he did. Everton continued to press though, and after 18 minutes they were back on level terms. Phil Neville started the move, feeding McFadden who played a cute onetwo with the game's outstanding protagonist, Mikel Arteta. The Spaniard forged a path through the encouragingly open territory created for him by the retreating hosts before laying off Osman, who crashed a powerful shot into the roof of the net from just inside the area. Again, though, Everton found their bubble of optimism quickly - and infuriatingly - burst.. Having been on the defensive, Hare-wood hooked a ball over the top that was taken in his path by Ashton. The £7.25million front-man, often linked with Everton before his big move to Upton Park, realised what must have been Moyes's fears by charging past Weir and slotting an admit-tedly well-placed shot into West-erveld's far corner. Everton rallied again, with Lionel Scaloni hooking away McFadden's effort, but after such a furious flow of activity the game finally settled down into more of a midfield tussle. The second half found Everton not only early - perhaps they'd been enticed by the flimsily-clad Hammerette cheerleaders - but renewed. Now they controlled their hosts with more assured-ness than had been the case, and while they didn't exactly look in danger of scoring, they looked in far less danger of conceding. That all changed 19 minutes from time. Valente's cross was haplessly missed by both Scaloni and Anton Ferdinand, and after the ball ricocheted back off Danny Gabbidon, Beattie chipped the ball neatly over Hislop for his ninth of the season. It was also his first away goal since his effort at St Mary's Stadium a full 13 months ago.
Parity restored, Everton should really have gone on to win the game. Twice the consistently excellent Arteta took advantage the gaping space left by Scaloni down the left flank, and on second occasion his floated centre should really have been converted by substitute Simon Davies.
The worst miss was still to come, however. This time it was Kevin Kilbane, another sub, tearing down the left flank, but after the Irishman had thumped in a low cross to the far post, Beattie somehow failed to supply the simple touch required to divert the ball goalside of the netting. A disappointing end, but otherwise an immensely encouraging day.
WEST HAM (4-4-2): Hislop; Scaloni, Ferdinand, Gabbidon, Konchesky; Benayoun (Zamora 76), Mullins, Reo-Coker, Etherington; Harewood, Ashton (Sheringham 84). Subs: Bywater, Dailly, Newton.
BOOKINGS: Benayoun, Scaloni (both fouls), Ferdinand (ungentlemanly conduct).
EVERTON (4-5-1): Westerveld; Hibbert, Stubbs, Weir, Hibbert; Arteta (Kilbane 90), Cahill, Neville, Osman, McFadden (Davies 85); Beattie. Subs: Naysmith, Turner, Carsley.
BOOKINGS: Neville, Hibbert (both fouls), Arteta (ungentlemanly conduct).
REFEREE: Mike Riley
ATT: 34,866
NEXT GAME: Everton v Fulham, Barclays Premiership, Saturday 3pm

Beattie still has England call-up dream
Mar 6 2006 By David Prior, Daily Post
JAMES BEATTIE insists he will keep trying to persuade Sven-Goran Eriksson he is worthy of a World Cup place having scored in front of the Swede on Saturday. The England manager was in the directors' box at Upton Park to see Beattie claim Everton's second goal, his ninth of the season.
And striker Beattie believes his only hope of securing a late call-up is by maintaining his form for the Goodison club. "All I can do is keep playing well for Everton," he said.. "It's not for me to say (whether I deserve a place). "No matter where you're playing, or what you're doing, of course you harbour ambitions. I'm just trying to keep my head down, do well for Everton and if I miss out I will be disappointed but I will just have to get on with it. "I'm happy playing my football and scoring a few goals. If that's good enough then great." Beattie does however feel that his team-mate Phil Neville, who was dropped for last week's friendly against Uruguay, should be on the plane to Germany. "Phil has been in every England squad since whenever, so obviously he's disappointed," revealed Beattie. "Obviously there is nothing he can do. He would be a great asset and he's a good player. "He took it quite hard and everyone rallied round him. I told him he will still go. I didn't think I would be in the squad so it's different for me." Beattie was pleased to grab the goal that put yet more distance between his difficult early days at Goodison. "I've always enjoyed playing for Everton, but I didn't get off to the best of starts with injuries and suspension," he added. "I've always said that when I'm fit I will score my fair share of goals and I try to play witha smile on my face. It's been hard, but the lads, family, friends and the supporters have been there for me. "It's hard sometimes, but I've been mentally strong and I've got a lot of self-belief and that's what gets me through." Hammers manager Alan Pardew, meanwhile, apologised to Neville after they exchanged words and rude gestures in a dis-tasteful touchline clash. Everton had been awarded a free-kick when trailing 2-1 in the 54th minute. Neville ignored Pardew and rushed to retrieve the ball as it rolled out of play. There was an exchange of words and both men raised a hand to insult each other. Pardew said afterwards: "I am a bit disappointed with myself and I have apologised to him (Neville) on that. It was just the emotion of the moment and it was right in front of me." He added: "It was a below par performance. In the end we got out of jail."

Dogged Everton prove a point
Mar 6 2006
View from the stands by John Nelson Everton supporter, Daily Post
IT is hard to know what to feel after Saturday's draw at Upton Park. On the one hand you have to hand it to the players for battling so courageously. Having been behind twice in the Premiership it is rare these days that you manage to salvage anything, and when you consider the opposition - a side that prior to Christmas destroyed and demoralized us on our own patch - you have to feel somewhat pleased with not only Everton's spirit but also the valuable point earned. But, as James Beattie was quick to point out in the post-match interviews, it did feel like two points dropped, rather than a point gained, such were the golden oppotunities which came our way to seal the points our display deserved. For a sustained period now, Beattie has been proving his critics wrong. Not only has he been netting on a much more desirable basis, but his overall workrate has, much like the rest of the team, been immeasurable. He shows more of a willingness to chase down defenders and run after seemingly lost causes. But, and he would be the first to concede, he must put away the simple chances. Similarly to the one against Arsenal, Beattie spurned a decent late chance to put the result beyond the Hammers. And he was not alone. At the back the lack of pace persists. Weir and Stubbs have proved excellent in recent weeks but they were carved open on numerous occasions on Saturday, against hardly the quickest of strikeforces. However frustration aside, after the defeat to Newcastle, it was essential we steadied the ship. Now we must get back on track with a win against our old favourites Fulham.

West Ham 2, Everton 2 (Echo)
Mar 6 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
IT is fitting that pie is one of the local delicacies around Upton Park as Alan Pardew should be tucking into a large portion of the humble variety today. When he breezed into Goodison Park's Press room before Christmas to smugly suggest West Ham had given Everton "a football lesson" after a 2-1 win, the only way he could have incensed the home dressing room further was if he had worn a Liverpool shirt to deliver his speech. Perhaps he had been caught up in the moment. Perhaps, with time to reflect, the West Ham manager will appreciate why his comments rankled so much. But what Pardew failed to appreciate when he muttered that line was that he had effectively written David Moyes' team talk for the return fixture. Slick, quick and bursting with ideas, it is a long time since Everton have gone away from home and played such accomplished football. If Moyes was pleased with the display at Newcastle United seven days prior, he should be over the moon with this offering. Everything they weren't that miserable night back in December when last tussling with West Ham, they now were as Everton showed their true colours to leave Pardew squirming uncomfortably on the touchline for much of a highly entertaining 90 minutes. The thing is, they didn't get the rewards their efforts deserved. Only time will tell how costly these two dropped points will prove to be but if there is any consolation, it is clear to see they will be formidable opponents for anyone in the closing weeks. Especially if Mikel Arteta stays free from injury. Wherever this Spaniard wanders, he invariably leaves a sprinkling of star dust to bamboozle defenders. West Ham's Lionel Scaloni was the latest man to be left tied in knots. With Kevin Kilbane dropped to the bench, Moyes asked Arteta to play in an unfamiliar role on the left wing but he still managed to be the most influential figure on view. Danger loomed every time the ball arrived at his dancing feet. If Sven Goran Eriksson - watching an Everton game for the first time since August 13 - gleaned any World Cup pointers from his vantage point in the Main Stand, one assumes that he will want to avoid Spain at all costs. Arteta has been head and shoulders Everton's best player this season, his level of performance rarely dropping below exemplary, yet he cannot get anywhere near Luis Aragones' squad. Spain must have formidable strength in depth. As magical as Arteta was, there were other towering performances from those clad in Blue who did something in a Premiership game for the first time since February 2005 in East London - they came from behind to save a match.
Alan Stubbs once again barely put a foot out of place. Tony Hibbert and Nuno Valente were their usual diligent selves. Leon Osman was industrious down the right, while James Beattie made a nuisance of himself. Phil Neville, meanwhile, set about channelling his frustration of missing out on England's friendly against Uruguay by attempting to tackle everything that moved. Though a few passes went askew, he can be pleased with his efforts. Sven take note. Shuttling the ball around at pace, Everton started brightly but found themselves a goal behind in the blink of eye. Lax defending allowed Ashton and Yossi Benayoun to free Marlon Harewood, whose instinctive drive flashed past Sander Westerveld. That may have come against the run of play but it was encouraging to see the manner of Everton's response - too many times this year they have been unable to fight back. Valente went close with a header and McFadden peppered Shaka Hislop's goal from distance.
So it came as no surprise when Osman levelled, applying the gloss to a move which pulled West Ham's defence apart. McFadden and Arteta were the architects, dancing past challenges to create the chance for their gleeful team-mate to smash home. Brilliant. How frustrating, then, that parity lasted only five minutes. Ashton's speed and strength turned a hopeful ball forward into a killer pass, the former Crewe striker surging away from David Weir before blasting irresistibly into the corner of the net. Poor Westerveld. In two appearances, he has barely had a save to make, done whatever has been required of him with aplomb yet ended up conceding four goals. His biggest concern during the second half was keeping warm on a bitterly cold afternoon. Still, the sight of Everton taking the game to West Ham must have helped. West Ham have been talked of as being possible contenders for a European place but they did nothing to advertise those claims here. Anton Ferdinand - a carbon copy of older brother Rio in that he appears to spend more time worrying about his dreadlocks and facial hair rather than defending - needed to resort to foul play to keep the rampaging Arteta in check. He was also nowhere to be seen when Beattie popped up with his first goal away from Goodison since February 2005 to level again, capitalising on Danny Gabbidon's mistake to lob Hislop from ten yards. As cool as that finish was, he should have won the game in the dying minutes when Kilbane, on as substitute for Arteta, flashed a ball across the six yard box. On this occasion, Beattie could only fire into the side netting. Such a shame. Moyes collapsed to the floor, unable to disguise his frustration. Beattie hoofed the advertising boards in anger. In the away section, there was a collective placing of hands on heads, cursing the one that got away. Still, it could have been worse and Everton have now ended a run of eight consecutive Premiership defeats in the capital stretching back to August 2004. This draw also keeps them in the hunt for a top eight finish. Too much to ask? Not really. Six of the Blues' remaining 10 games are at home and with opponents including Fulham, Aston Villa, Sunderland, Birmingham City and West Bromwich Albion there is a chance to make real strides. Football being the game it is, however, things rarely go according to plan and there are sure to be as many twists and turns as there have been in the 28 games that have gone before. Yet the encouraging aspect is that Everton appear to be in a completely different situation to this time last year. Just as they were starting to run out of gas last spring, now they are pressing hard on the throttle. Rustle up a few more performances of this quality between now and May 7 then who knows what will be possible?

Arteta worthy of Spain call-up
Mar 6 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
JAMES BEATTIE today joined the clamour to see Everton's player of the season Mikel Arteta at the World Cup. Arteta has consistently conjured up performances out of the top draw since joining the Blues from Real Sociedad in a £2.5m deal last summer, and was imperious once again during Saturday's 2- 2 draw against West Ham. His displays, though, have left Beattie confused as to why the former Spain under-21 international is still waiting to win his first senior cap. Having been given so much top class service by Arteta, the Blues striker is adamant his team-mate has the ability to deliver on the biggest stage of all. "I asked Mikel last week why he wasn't in the Spanish squad and he turned to me and said 'no, there are too many good players there'," said Beattie. "So I asked him, 'What are you, then?' "He is just a quiet, modest character. Mikel gets on with his work but he is a fabulous player. I believe that he should get a shout for a place (at the World Cup). He has such quality and he is still very young. "He has had a tremendous career already but he has got many years ahead of him. If he keeps progressing and keeps improving as a player, then he will be fantastic for Everton." As for his own World Cup ambitions, Beattie grabbed his ninth goal of the season at Upton Park in front of England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson and has still not given up hope that he might gate-crash the squad for Germany. I'll just keep trying to play well for Everton, that's all I'm going to do," he said. "If he gives me a call to see how I'm doing or gives me a call for anything else, I'll be happy to talk to him." Beattie's main concern at present is scoring enough goals to help Everton finish the season with a bang and while he was happy to end a run of 13 months without a goal away from Goodison Park, he was left to rue the one that got away. The £6m striker had a glorious chance to grab three points for Everton in the final seconds but fired into the side netting. "We basically only restricted them to two chances but they scored from both," said Beattie. "We played well in the first half but in the second half we dominated. We should have gone on and won. "Everybody knows how important the first goal is in the Premiership. Only about four per cent of teams come from behind and win. So when you look at that, it's a great performance. "We shifted our formation a couple of times to try and counter them. We are on a tremendous run and we were on top of the form table for a few weeks. We performed quite well at Newcastle. Not the best but we have responded in the right way. "We had a lot of fans there and it was important that we put in a performance. We were hungry and we got a good point. We have been doing really well at home and we are happy that six of our last ten are at Goodison Park. "I'm not going to say we could do this or we could do that, especially after the start we had, but we have done well within ourselves and we are quite happy with the progress we have made."

England need the versatility of Neville
DAVID MOYES believes Phil Neville's commanding display against West Ham has provided Sven-Goran Eriksson with a timely reminder of his capabilities. Having been left out of the squad which faced Uruguay last week, Neville bounced back from that disappointment in the best possible manner during the Blues' 2-2 draw at Upton Park, where Eriksson was an interested spectator. Though he has been to the European Championships twice, Neville has suffered the heartbreak of missing out on two World Cups, but has made it clear that he intends to do everything he can to avoid completing an unwanted hat-trick this summer. However, Moyes is adamant that the 29-year-old is deserving of a place in the 22 that heads to Germany - even if it means the Everton manager ends up becoming the butt of Neville's jokes. "Sven is very loyal," said Moyes. "When you have been in and around the squad for something like four years, which he has, then I think if there is one player deserving to go it is Phil Neville because of the type of player he is. "I've got to say - and I'm a passionate Scotsman - that he is an extremely passionate Englishman whose only concern is to win the World Cup and come back and rub my nose in it! He's told me he wants to come back and show me his medal. "He is versatile. He can play left back, right back, he doesn't let you down. You can ask him to do any job and he will always do it to the best of his ability. He's even played centre back for us. "At times, you need those players in the team if you are a little bit short. We were all disappointed that Phil wasn't in the squad. But the manager has to pick his squad in the same way I have to pick mine. I have spoken to him about it. I told him I was disappointed that he wasn't in but the only way he will get in is if the England manager comes to watch him." Neville was not the only midfielder to enhance his reputation during a performance that keeps Everton in the chase for a European place, as Mikel Arteta was central to everything positive his side created. "Arteta was excellent," Moyes agreed. "He can play everywhere across the middle of the park. He has looked a terrific player. "He has an ability to go past players, he can pass it, he can play central midfield, wide right, wide left, as he did against West Ham for me. He was a thorn in their side all day. I think he is showing ability to win games for us. "The thing that you have to remember is that he is only a young Spanish lad and it may have taken him time to settle, but he has come in and kept at it. I've been really impressed by him for that reason." As pleased as he was with his players' efforts, Moyes felt the final score left Everton short changed, particularly as they twice came from behind and dominated the second half. He now wants a repetition of this display in the remainder of the season. "We are disappointed that we didn't get all three points," said Moyes. "You have got to give the players credit for coming back. We started the game well but all of a sudden we were a goal down. "We have got a lot of confidence, a lot of self- belief, but we have just got to try and keep that going until the end of the season. It's just disappointing that we didn't get the win. We played really well."

Moyes slams Robson snub
Mar 6 2006 Liverpool Echo
EVERTON boss David Moyes has hit out at Chelsea counterpart Jose Mourinho for snubbing Bryan Robson following Saturday's badtempered tussle with West Brom at The Hawthorns. Mourinho and Robson clashed on several occasions during Chelsea's 2-1 win. Robson was incensed by Chelsea's late arrival back onto the pitch after half-time while the pair also exchanged words after Didier Drogba appeared to make the most of a Jonathan Greening challenge. After the final whistle, Mourinho side-stepped the usual handshake between rival managers, preferring instead to march onto the field while punching the air. The Portuguese also then ignored Robson's offer of a post-match drink, behaviour which has disappointed Moyes. The Scot said: "Over here, in this country, we shake hands at the end of the game and you always invite the managers to come in. "They don't need to come in, but I think that's something that the British managers in the main accept, that you come in and have a glass of wine or a beer with them after. "We're all passionate and we all want to win and we all have to protect our own teams, but I think at the end there's also a wee bit of dignity needed." A Chelsea spokesman later blamed Robson for sparking the day's illfeeling, saying he was "insulting our players and our bench virtually from the start". However, Robson hit back by declaring: "I'm sure people will judge both myself and Jose Mourinho on our respective records of behaviour on the touchline. "I invited him into my office after the game for a glass of wine. However, he decided not to take up my invitation," he said. The Football Association were today expected to hit Chelsea with three charges relating to Saturday's stormy clash with West Brom. West Brom are also likely to be in the dock after it was confirmed that referee Mark Halsey has included several of the ugly incidents which marred the match in his official report. Chelsea look set to face three separate charges - for confronting the referee, for Jose Mourinho's touchline behaviour and for being late onto the pitch after half-time. On Saturday, Mourinho offered Halsey ironic applause when the referee controversially sent Arjen Robben off in the bad-tempered game. Chelsea's players surrounded the referee after his decision to dismiss the Dutch winger for his reckless challenge on Jonathan Greening. But the Blues camp claim West Brom's Paul Robinson started the problem by running to Halsey demanding a red card. Mourinho also became locked in an angry exchange of words with Albion boss Bryan Robson on the touchline. Robson was angry because the Blues were late out after half-time and then the former England captain blew his top when he thought Didier Drogba had made a meal of a challenge by Greening.

Stubbs: We need Goodison victories
By David Prior, Daily Post
Mar 7 2006
ALAN STUBBS believes Everton's upcoming doubleheader at Goodison gives them the perfect opportunity to turn performances into points. David Moyes's side face home games against Fulham and Aston Villa over the next couple of weeks as they look to maintain a belated charge for European qualification. Both their last two games, at Newcastle and then at West Ham on Saturday, witnessed two of Everton's best displays on the road this season but they came away with just a single point to show for them. Now Stubbs is hoping a return to Goodison will result in a more accurate reflection of the way his team-mates are currently playing. He said: "The Premiership is all about taking your chances and we were unfortunate last week (against Newcastle) when we had two headers cleared off the line. "Had they gone in I honestly believe we would have won the game but it wasn't to be. "We've had two difficult away games against Newcastle and West Ham and we've had chances to have got something from both of them. But we've got two home games coming up now which gives us a chance to put the record straight. "Teams don't relish coming to Goodison because our home form since November has been very good and we want to keep that going." Stubbs, who was one of the outstanding performers in Saturday's 2-2 draw at Upton Park, claimed his side should have converted their domination into maximum points. James Beattie had perhaps the best chance to snatch victory but he found the side-netting from close range. Stubbs, however, felt the main blame for the miss lay with Kevin Kilbane. "That was a good chance and I think Kevin just got caught in two minds whether to shoot or cross."

Blues pair in reserve run out
Mar 7 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
ANDY VAN DER MEYDE and James Vaughan will put themselves in contention for a place on the bench against Fulham this weekend if they come through this evening's reserve team clash at Aston Villa. Everton boss David Moyes is expected to travel to the Midlands to watch the Dutch winger and his young striker take another step on the road to recovery from long-term injury alongside fellow first-teamers Lee Carsley and Gary Naysmith. Van der Meyde has been out since December 3 with a ruptured thigh muscle, while Vaughan has not played for Everton since last August after having two knee operations. But both are now close to full fitness. Moyes confirmed: "Van der Meyde and Vaughan will play for the reserves tonight as will Lee and Gary. "It's the first time we've had chance to play a team like that all season. It's good news." In a further boost to Moyes, Richard Wright has been given the all clear to return to full training after a month out with damaged ankle ligaments, as has Joseph Yobo, who missed Saturday's 2-2 draw with West Ham because of a groin strain. Moyes added: "Everyone is coming back. Sandro Pistone started training yesterday but is not ready for a reserve team match yet. "We'll just try and get James and Andy 45 minutes at least. If we can get an hour into them, we'll see how they go."

Pistone so happy to be back
Mar 7 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
HAVING dumbfounded Everton's medical staff for a second time, Alessandro Pistone today set about fulfilling the dream that aided his rehabilitation - pulling on a Blue shirt once again. When he was stretchered off at the Reebok Stadium last August with a severely damaged cruciate ligament, the initial prognosis suggested that Pistone's season was over before it had started. Pistone, however, had other ideas. As he had suffered a similar injury previously in his career, the Italian defender knew exactly what he needed to do to boost his recovery time. The results have been spectacular. Eighteen weeks after having surgery in America to repair his knee, Pistone returned to full training yesterday almost two months ahead of schedule. Of course, it was hard work, a far cry from lifting weights or playing head tennis inside Belle-field's gymnasium, but the chance to have a ball at his feet again made the fatigue worthwhile. Yet another challenge awaits. While he has done all his rehabilitation work, Pistone must now prove to David Moyes that he can play in the Premiership again and aid Everton's UEFA Cup push. It is, though, a task from which he won't shy away. Missing out on European football was a bitter pill for Pistone to swallow and he is determined to complete some unfinished business. "It would be a dream," said the 31-year-old, considering the tantalising prospect of playing at Good-ison for the first time since the opening day of the campaign. "We have been doing well since Christmas. We are getting some good results, picking up lots of points. We are not in the right position but know where we want to go. "One of the main reasons I wanted to stay here in the summer and continue the relationship was because I knew we could do as well as last year, if not better. "That means finishing in Europe, at least in the UEFA Cup spot, so we can do it again next year. There aren't many games but we have got to try and get as many points to finish in the top six." As much as Pistone did everything right during his convalescence, the constant backing of his manager and team-mates was equally crucial during the tough times. "I had a lot of support and everyone made sure it was a positive atmosphere," he said. "The worst part has been watching everyone going out to train. "Even watching them do the most simple movement was so frustrating because I couldn't do that. "I am really happy because things are going well. I just needed to be sure of a few things." How long it will take Pistone to get fully tuned up for Premiership battle remains to be seen, but he already has his eye on a couple of reserve fixtures later this month. The hard part now is waiting and making sure he does nothing rash to jeopardise all his good work. "At this point, you think about every movement," said Pistone, who has made 120 appearances for Everton. "That's why I have got to rejoin the team to see how things go and gauge how I am doing. "I will have to play some games for the reserves but everything depends on the way training goes. "I feel good. The knee is okay. I am well ahead of the time that they gave me at the beginning but I just want to be 100 per cent sure now and see how the knee responds. "You cannot wait to be back, but you have to be careful that everything is fine because you don't want to have to stop again. "When you have this type of injury, you have to gradually improve your work but I was lucky because there were no major problems or complications

Rested Blues ready for international clash with Iceland
Mar 7 2006 By Paul Garrity, Liverpool Echo
FIVE Everton players are in the England squad to face Iceland at Carrow Road on Thursday night. Goalkeeper Rachel Brown, defenders Lindsay Johnson and Rachel Unitt, midfielder Fara Williams and striker Jody Handley are in the squad of 20. This is the last friendly for Hope Powell's team before their crunch World Cup qualifier against France at Ewood Park on Sunday, March 26. The Everton players will be fresh for international action after their weekend match with Leeds at Bellefield was postponed. Liverpool were due to travel to Northern Division leaders Blackburn Rovers but that was also a victim of the weather. Meanwhile, the first piece of silverware of 2006 was won by Charlton Athletic after they beat Arsenal 2-1 to win the FA Premier League Cup. Arsenal, who knocked Everton out in the semi-finals, were favourites, but two goals from Addicks striker Eniola Aluko dented the Gunners' dreams. Aluko's grabbed her first with a lob over keeper Emma Byrne after Casey Stoney's long ball played her in. The 19-year-old's second was a cool finish after she raced on to a through ball from Sarah Snare. Arsenal got back into it when Scotland striker Julie Fleeting broke free to finish, but Charlton survived a late onslaught from the champion-ship leaders. Liverpool face Leeds on Sunday in the semi-finals of the FA Women's Cup at Guise-ley AFC (3pm). Everton also return to action as they entertain Sunderland in the Premier League at Marine FC (1.30pm), while Tranmere travel to Wolves hoping to continue their recent good form.

Ferrari hopes for derby return
Mar 8 2006 By Ian Doyle, Daily Post
MATTEO FERRARI remains weeks away from a return to the Everton first team. The Italian centre-back, on a season-long loan from Roma, has played just one of the last seven games because of a niggling hamstring injury. Ferrari initially suffered the damage during the 1-0 home victory over Arsenal in January. Everton manager David Moyes revealed the 26-year-old visited a specialist last week in Italy in an attempt to find the root of the problem. And now it has emerged Ferrari is unlikely to return to contention until the Merseyside derby at Anfield on March 25 at the earliest.
"I think everybody saw the Arsenal game where he had that fall and injured a nerve at the back of his ham-string," said head of physio Mick Rathbone. "He played against Chelsea in the FA Cup and he had been training but he still had a few symptoms in his hamstring so to be fair to him we have said, 'let's get you right'. "He is having a couple of weeks off and we are getting the thing totally sorted. He is making very good progress and I don't anticipate him being out too long." Of the unusual nature of the injury, Rathbone added: "I've never seen an injury like it. "It was mainly the nerve that was damaged but full credit to him, he stepped in when needed against Chelsea and got through the game okay. "Even though he trained a couple of days after it wasn't pain-free and I think we have got a few players back now so we want to make sure Matteo is okay and feels 100% so he can give his best for the team."
Meanwhile, Joseph Yobo's groin strain is not considered to be serious and could be available for this week-end's Premiership encounter with Fulham at Goodison. The Nigerian international was ruled out of last Saturday's visit to West Ham United after sustaining the injury during training. * ANDY VAN DER MEYDE and James Vaughan suffered frustration in their attempts to return from injury after Everton's FA Premier Reserve League North match with Sunder-land was postponed last night due to a waterlogged pitch. The match had been scheduled as the comeback for the pair, with Gary Naysmith, Iain Turner and Lee Carsley also set to play.
Davies has a big role to play in run-in - Moyes
Mar 8 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES today backed Simon Davies to make a significant contribution before the end of the season. The Welsh international has only started two matches since the turn of the year, a combination of injury and the good form of other players restricting his chances to make an impact. Moyes, though, has nothing but praise for the way the 26-year-old has stuck to the task of trying to win back his place and remains convinced of his ability. "I have been pleased with Simon," said Moyes. "I really have. He is part of a good group of players but the midfield has been playing really well of late. "He has just been a bit unfortunate that he has missed out. But he has played a majority of the games this season and he will have a role to play before the end of the year, too." Where Moyes would really like to see his £3.5m signing come good, however, is in front of goal, as he has not scored in the Premiership since October 29 at Birmingham. He should have doubled his tally last Saturday but, much to Moyes' dismay, headed a glorious chance over from close range. "The next 10 games will see everyone who is fit play some sort of role," said Moyes. "The thing we want to see from Simon now is goals. I knew he could get goals before he came here. I think he has got goals in him. "Maybe he should have done better with his header against West Ham and he knows that. "But he's someone who gets into the box and can score, so I'm hoping he gets another two or three before the end of the season. "He can play either out wide or in the centre of midfield. He is a composed football player and he is technically very good on the ball."

Keeping Arteta must be Blues' biggest target
Mar 8 2006 Echo Letters, icLiverpool & Liverpool Echo
MY ONE concern for the summer is keeping Mikel Arteta. He is a top class player and a consistent performer.There surely must be some big name teams eyeing him up because of his form, and why he isn't playing for Spain already is a mystery. I just hope that we don't lose him, because it would be a monumental loss to our team, even more than Gravesen was in my opinion. Tommy Bates, Tuebrook MIKEL Arteta and James Beattie - compare and contrast. Arteta has been, despite the efforts of Phil Neville, our best player this season but for some reason is not being picked for a Spain side which made hard work of qualifying for the World Cup. Beattie, meanwhile, has just scored his eighth (count 'em) Premiership goal of the campaign and cannot seem to stop talking about getting into the England squad. Arteta just lets his football do the talking. If Beattie were a bit more like his team-mate and concentrated on playing for Everton, he might have found the net a few more times and Eriksson might give him a passing thought. David Lawrie, Moreton WE PLAYED fantastically well on Saturday and were extremely unfortunate not to come back home with all three points. We need to keep not just our run going but also the performance levels, becauses we played good stuff on Saturday as well as in the first half against Newcastle. If we win seven out of our final 10 (which isn't out of the question considering our opposition) we could still qualify for Europe. Gary Tremlett, Maghull IT'S a massive game against Fulham this weekend. They have not won away all season, and it's great to be watching a confident Everton team once again. We have a top manager, a hungry team and with Europe still a possibilty it's all about sticking together and roaring the lads on. Barry Woolrich, Toxteth THE present Everton side must be the worst in terms of strikers I have seen in all my 50 years of going to Goodison. How many goals have Beattie and McFadden contributed this season? The sooner we get rid of McFadden, buy a better goalkeeper and replace the likes of Hibbert and Weir the better. I know that we are lumbered with the players we have until the end of the season, but the board need to tell Moyes to start looking around for the players he wants for 2006-07. We have won too many games 1-0. D Cummins, Bromborough

Moyes' plan to keep Osman dazzling
Mar 9 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES will throw a protective arm around Leon Osman to ensure he maintains his dazzling form as Everton's season heads towards an exciting finale. Since regaining his place in the side in January, Osman has been one of the Blues' top performers and scored his third goal of the year against West Ham last weekend. Given he struggled to show his true colours at the beginning of the campaign, the resurgence in form shown by the 24-year-old has delighted Moyes, who claims the midfielder is playing as consistently as anyone in the Premiership. "Ossie's form last year was very good," said Moyes. "He is a player who can go through good spells but there are times when he may need resting. "At the start of the season, his form wasn't so good and it took him a while to get up and running. But he is a player who plays better the longer he's in the team. "At times when he needs resting, he takes a little while to recover. But I've been very pleased with him and he has great ability. "With the versatility of him and Mikel Arteta, it gives us options. I can decide whether I want to play them on the right, the left or just behind the main striker. "That's given me a bit more freedom when I look at the opposition and see where I can hurt them or need to make sure we are a bit tighter." Though there are still some rough edges on his game that need polishing, Moyes feels that in a couple of years time, Osman may even be ready for a crack at international football. "If there was any B squad football like there used to be a few years ago for players who were not under-21 and were playing well for their clubs, then Leon would be ideal," said Moyes. "People are talking about Kevin Nolan but I think Leon is in that type of group. He is playing so well at the minute, as well as anyone in the country." Everton, meanwhile, have been linked with a move for Wolves defender Joleon Lescott, who has attracted the attentions of a number of Premiership clubs. With Everton's reserve game at Sunderland called off on Tuesday night, Moyes went to Molineux to watch Wolves' Championship clash with Stoke City, where Lescott - who would cost £2.5m - impressed.

Everton show an interest in Lescott
Mar 9 2006 By David Prior Daily Post Staff
EVERTON have joined a growing list of clubs interested in Wolverhampton Wanderers defender Joleon Lescott. Manager David Moyes travelled to Molineux to view the highly-rated 23-year-old in action during the Midlanders' clash against Stoke on Tuesday night. Lescott, who is also known to have attracted several other Premiership clubs including Manchester City, has two and a half years left on his current contract. He is a quick and powerful left-sided centre-back who would cost in the region of £2.5million.

We need more goals from midfielder
Mar 9 2006
By David Prior Daily Post Staff
DAVID MOYES has admitted his disappointment at his midfielders' goal return this season - and called for an improvement over the closing weeks of the campaign. Despite an upturn since the turn of the year, Everton are still well short of the total of 28 goals they scored from midfield on the way to Champions League qualification last term. Leon Osman's strike at West Ham increased the tally for this season to 13, but both he and Tim Cahill are struggling to match their returns from last time. With his striking options currently limited, however, manager Moyes could do with a greater contribution from those immediately behind them. He said: "I think there are goals in the midfield. Ossie can get a goal, Mikel should score more, Simon Davies can definitely score goals and I would be hoping that he can score two or three before the end of the Season. "And as we know Tim has got a goal in him, so it is disappointing that we have not scored as many as we should have done this season. But maybe we are saving them up for the rest of the season." Moyes is though delighted with the overall performance of his midfield, with the Scot believing they now possess a better balance than earlier in the season.

Win tickets to see the Blues
Mar 9 2006 Evertonia, Liverpool Echo
EVERTONIA is offering members the chance to win tickets for the forthcoming Goodison clash with Sunderland. David Moyes' men host the Black Cats on Saturday, April 1 and Evertonia has four tickets to give away. Only members of Evertonia can enter the competition, with the lucky winner getting the chance to watch the Toffees in action at Goodison alongside their family. For your chance to win this great prize, simply answer the following question: Which player netted the winning goal for Everton in the victory over Sunderland at the Stadium of Light on New Year's Eve? Send your answers on a postcard to: Sunderland Competition, Sarah McMahon, Everton Football Club, Goodison Park, L4 4EL. Include your name, address, daytime contact number and Evertonia membership number on your entry. David Moyes' side are in a rich vein of form at the moment and the manager is delighted to have so many injured players returning to fitness in time for the run-in. By the time the Blues line up against Sunderland the likes of Andy van der Meyde, Matteo Ferrari, Lee Carsley, Nigel Martyn and Alessandro Pistone will all be pushing hard for places in the team. Moyes told Evertonia: "Hopefully they can give us some fresh impetus in the remaining games. "If the lads in the team keep winning then I won't need to use them. But what I do know is that I have got these boys ready to play." * EVERTONIA is a members club for fans of the Blues. Membership costs £9.99 or juniors and £19.99 for adults. For further details visit evertonfc.com or ring 0870 442 1878.

Move justified, now I'd love to stay - Stubbs
Mar 10 2006 By David Prior, Daily Post
ALAN STUBBS believes he has justified David Moyes's decision to give him a second chance at Goodison - and admitted he would love to stay at Everton beyond this summer. The 34-year-old defender made a surprise return to the club in January having failed to settle at Sunderland, who he joined last summer having failed to agree on a new deal at Everton. His presence in the side has coincided with the best period of Everton's season, with a European place now a realistic aim after a run of just one defeat in nine games. And Stubbs, who revealed he had not been prop-erly fit when called into immediate action against Arsenal following an injury to Matteo Ferrari, hopes his displays will guarantee an extension of his second stint at boyhood club. "It would obviously be very nice," he said. "I feel as if I am playing well, I'm very happy within myself, my family is happy again and my little boy and girl are made up again that I'm back at Everton. "It's gone really well, probably better than I expected. I was probably still two or three weeks from being properly fit when I came, because obviously I hadn't played enough games." Stubbs added: "But I found myself getting put in quite early because of an injury to Matteo, and things have really progressed from there. I couldn't have asked for anything better. "Fortunately, results have gone well too, but I think just think it's a coincidence. Timing's a wonderful thing, and I've probably timed coming back to perfection
Stubbs left under a cloud last summer having fallen out with the club over an alleged 'cancer clause' in his contract offer. That's an episode Stubbs believes is behind him now, and is sure that the club have no regrets about taking him back. "I think Everton knew what I could do, and hopefully I've showed them what they've missed," he said. "But I sorely missed Everton too. I don't think there were any winners (last summer). Looking at it I think we both made a mistake and luckily enough we've had a chance to rectify that." Stubbs and David Weir have resumed a solid part-nership, and although he admitted it is not "the quickest", Kirkby-born Stubbs insisted experience and nous are just as important attributes. "When I did came back it was as if I hadn't been away, it was as if I'd just been injured for six months, and that's no disrespect to Sunderland," added Stubbs. "I was alongside Davie again and we know each other really well, we're no spring chickens but I think we're quite clever players upstairs, and that's what we use. "We're not the quickest but I haven't seen the quicker pairings against us get in behind us and torture us since I've come back." Asked if, looking back, he wishes he had taken the one-year deal offered to last year, Stubbs said: "Hind-sight is a wonderful thing. It's a difficult question - I could say yes but I could also say no. "Looking back now, then yeah. But I could have gone through the season and not been able to get in the team, and come the end of the season I wouldn't have got a contract." He added: "First and fore-most it's the team. It's certainly not about me - If I get a new contract then great. But first and fore-most it's the team, and if I can help the team in any way achieve something this season then great."

Time to make our superiority count
By Mark O'Brien Everton Supporter, Daily Post
Mar 10 2006
0ShareIT WAS almost a knocking bet that after praising Sander Westerveld and wondering whether we might hear Terry Curran-style chants of 'Sign him up', he would go and have a less than brilliant game down at West Ham. He could have done better with Marlon Harewood's opener, and the Blues could very well have gone on and taken all three points from a game in which they underlined to everyone just how much they have improved since facing the same opposition at Goodison back in Black September. Simon Davies might have helped clinch a win too had he shown more composure when going for a header in the dying stages, but he ended up miscuing quite badly and putting the ball over. It kind of summed up his season so far, and David Moyes has come out in the press this week in bid to show his faith in the player and boost his confidence. He hasn't been a roaring success so far, but that doesn't mean he won't come good. He's struggled with various injuries and we've not really seen him at full fitness since his move from Tottenham in the summer. Until we do it's perhaps a little bit unfair to judge him and write him off. After all, we only have to look at some other recent signings, the likes of, say, Nuno Valente, James Beat-tie and even Mikel Arteta, arguably the star of this season so far, to realise that fitting into a new team and a new style of play is hard enough at the best of times, but it's made twice as difficult when you are struggling to give 100% physically. Hopefully before the end of the season Davies can recapture some of the form that made Moyes track him for so long and even attracted the interest of Manchester United.
He will certainly have to play well if he's to depose anyone from a midfield that is playing some excellent stuff at the moment and was in complete control for most of the match at West Ham.
In theory, tomorrow's opponents, Fulham, should pose little threat whatsoever. They've not won away from home all season and indeed their record at Goodison down the years is woeful.
Things like that only raise concerns for world-weary Blues though, not to mention the inclusion of an ex-Toffees striker, Tomasz Radzinski, who's only scored one goal all season. The way Everton have been playing though, anything less than a home win though would be a very disappointing result indeed.

Leon's place
Mar 10 2006 Icliverpool And Daily Post
REGARDING Leon Osman, I have no problem with his ability, I think he is technically excellent, but my problem is what is his best position? Some would say right midfield, others in the hole just behind the front man. I think a right midfielder needs to be quick and provide width for the team, not Ossie's best strength because he comes inside too much. As for playing in the hole behind the front man, I think we need two strikers thus leaving Osman as only a squad player, but a good one nonetheless. C David, Wirral
Everton all-stars IF we could have a team, using all the great players ever to have the honour to play for EFC, mine would be: N Southall, T Wright, B Labone, D Watson, K Newton, A Ball, B Rioch, M Dobson, A Young, B Latchford, J Morrissey. This team would have had some goals in it. But there are also so many greats I have had to leave out. B Magee (via e-mail)
Beattie for Sven
AFTER Wednesday night's memorable performance from the 'Clowns of Europe', how can Crouch even be considered for the England World Cup squad ahead of James Beattie? Crouch could get into the freestyle diving squad for the Commonwealth Games though. Roy Batty

Stubbs: We must push on in fight for Europe
Mar 10 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
ALAN STUBBS has insisted Everton must push on and fight for a European place to keep their resurgent season alive. The Blues defender, who rejoined the club after a brief spell at Sunderland this year, also admitted explaining to his young son last year that he was no longer playing for the Blues made him realise his heart still belonged at Goodison.

Wright back for Fulham showdown
Mar 10 2006 Liverpool Echo
RICHARD WRIGHT is in line to make a return to first team action against Fulham tomorrow. The keeper has been out of action since damaging ankle ligaments before the FA Cup replay at Chelsea last month. However, Wright has had trained normally all week with David Moyes' squad and, provided he suffers no reaction, will replace Sander Westerveld. Andy van der Meyde and James Vaughan, though, are unlikely to feature after a waterlogged pitch scuppered their chances of playing for the reserves at Sunderland on Tuesday. But Moyes, who also has Joseph Yobo fit after he missed the 2-2 draw against West Ham with a groin strain, will keep an open mind just in case the pair show enough to suggest they can take their place on the bench. "Joseph has trained, so hopefully he will be okay," Moyes confirmed. "Matteo [Ferrari] is back doing a bit of training and Richard is in contention. "We will see how Andy and James go but if we can get these players back for the run in, we will be fresher and have fresh players back amongst us." Everton have not dropped a point at home to Fulham since 1959 but Moyes is taking nothing for granted and wants a repeat of the attitude his players showed at Upton Park. "Hopefully we won't go behind in any of these last 10 games. But if we do, we've got to show we come back like on Saturday."

Wright back for Fulham showdown
Mar 10 2006 Liverpool Echo
RICHARD WRIGHT is in line to make a return to first team action against Fulham tomorrow. The keeper has been out of action since damaging ankle ligaments before the FA Cup replay at Chelsea last month. However, Wright has had trained normally all week with David Moyes' squad and, provided he suffers no reaction, will replace Sander Westerveld. Andy van der Meyde and James Vaughan, though, are unlikely to feature after a waterlogged pitch scuppered their chances of playing for the reserves at Sunderland on Tuesday. But Moyes, who also has Joseph Yobo fit after he missed the 2-2 draw against West Ham with a groin strain, will keep an open mind just in case the pair show enough to suggest they can take their place on the bench. "Joseph has trained, so hopefully he will be okay," Moyes confirmed. "Matteo [Ferrari] is back doing a bit of training and Richard is in contention. "We will see how Andy and James go but if we can get these players back for the run in, we will be fresher and have fresh players back amongst us." Everton have not dropped a point at home to Fulham since 1959 but Moyes is taking nothing for granted and wants a repeat of the attitude his players showed at Upton Park. "Hopefully we won't go behind in any of these last 10 games. But if we do, we've got to show we come back like on Saturday."

Moyes is big fan of the Farm
Mar 10 2006 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
THE National Football Museum in Preston asked managers and players to name their favourite books. The answers revealed this week were strangely appropriate. Jose Mourinho, Chelsea's self-styled 'Special One', perhaps seeks a role model from his preferred read, The Bible. Paul Jewell and Sam Allardyce are admirers of aggressive football - and chose Bravo Two Zero and Muhammad Ali's Soul of a Butterfly, respectively. Wayne Rooney might even have been looking in the mirror when he suggested the tale of a teenage wizard in selecting Harry Potter. Others were almost as fitting. The recently sacked Mick McCarthy chose The Da Vinci Code, a tale of blind faith and political intrigue, Burnley boss Steve Cotterill went for a tome called Beyond Winning, a title which sums up his team's efforts this season, while Sir Alex Ferguson chose Treasure Island, an old classic about the relentless pursuit of silver. But Alan Curbishley's Bobalong The Brownie Man by Agnes Grozier Herbertson, out of print since 1953, was impossible to work out. Likewise Martin Jol offering up Hemingway's Old Man And The Sea, while most fascinating was David Moyes' choice, Animal Farm. If I can remember back as far as O-level English, the animals created seven new commandments. One read: Whoever goes on two legs is an enemy. That should encom-pass everybody in the Premiership - except, of course, Didier Drogba, who can't stay on his - and Andy Van der Meyde when he argues he should be going to the World Cup with Holland. He hasn't got a leg to stand on.

Young son's question was a turning point!
Mar 10 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
CLAD in Royal Blue, sat in the Main Stand on a balmy night last August, Sam Stubbs was getting ready to sample his first European game when - as children so often do - he posed a question that left his father speechless. "How come you're not leading the team out, Dad?" young Sam asked, as the teams from Everton and Villarreal stood side by side, patiently waiting for the Champions League anthem to stop blurring over Goodison Park's speakers. Eight months on, Alan Stubbs still finds it difficult to provide a suitable answer. Back at his spiritual home following a brief spell with Sunderland, missing the chance of leading Everton into Europe's premier competition clearly rankles. But anybody expecting this teak-tough son of Kirkby to be consumed with bitterness and anger would be advised to think again. Having returned on a short-term deal during the transfer window, Stubbs has unfinished business with his boyhood club. Desperate to prove to David Moyes he is worthy of a contract extension in the summer, the 34-year-old wants to bring his Everton career to an appropriate conclusion after that ill-fated stint on Wearside. Hindsight says he should never have left at all. " It was hard, very hard," said Stubbs. "In my heart I was still here. It was really weird. I would take my little lad or girl to the game and one time my little lad said to me: 'how come you're not leading the team out, Dad?' " I kept having to explain that I had left as Sam said he kept forgetting. It was as if I still should have been there. Whatever happened, happened. It was unfortunate for both parties and I've said all along that hindsight is a wonderful thing. "If we could all go over the mistakes that we have made . . . well, I think we've all regretted doing certain things during our short life span, haven't we? It happens. Simple as that. You move on, get on with it, learn from the experience." He has no intentions, though, of experiencing an evening like the one when Villarreal came to town again if he can help it. Sam's innocent enquiry effectively brought home to Stubbs for the first what he had turned his back on. "I got there quite handy and the atmosphere was brilliant, " recalled Stubbs, set to pull on a Blue shirt for the 149th time tomorrow against Fulham. "I was with Sam and really looking forward to the game, even though I knew it was going to be tough. "But I still fancied Everton to get a good result and knew if they did that, they had every chance going away and seeing out the job. Yet as soon as they walked out, I just thought 'that should be me out there'. It was just one of those things." This is a story, however, that could be heading for a fairytale ending. The bit between their teeth after an impressive run of results since the turn of the year, Everton have emerged as dark horses to claim a place in Europe next season. True, picking up one point from the last six available is hardly ideal yet displays against Newcastle United and West Ham United do not offer a fair reflection of the way Everton have performed. Stubbs rightly suggests that last week's offering at Upton Park ranks with the best the Blues have served up all season yet knows it will be meaningless unless they can consistently replicate it at Goodison in the coming weeks. "Our home form was pivotal in qualifying for the Champions League," Stubbs points out. "We now find ourselves with a situation where our home form can put us within touching distance of realising something, as in getting into Europe. "It's still a little bit of an outside shot. But we have got that to play for. With us doing so well lately, we don't want things just to fizzle out. We don't want to start thinking that we are safe just because we are in mid-table. "We are only six points off Blackburn so there is a lot to play for. We have got some tough away games, like against Chelsea and Charlton, but when you are pushing for a European place, there are no easy games." That may be so but the difference between the Everton from the start of the season and the one ready to tackle Fulham is that the Blues now believe they are capable of conquering any challenge. It certainly wasn't the case before Christmas. "I watched a few games when I wasn't playing and when we were getting beaten, sometimes we didn't look like getting back into the game," said Stubbs.. "From a fan's point of view, you were thinking 'how are they going to do something?'. But when we go a goal down now, there seems to be a bit more belief among the players and fans. We showed it at West Ham." Fulham, a side for whom he has the utmost respect, may be occupying Stubbs' immediate thoughts, but lurking in the back of his mind is what will happen after the final home game of the campaign against West Brom. The dream scenario, of course, involves Everton qualifying for the UEFA Cup and Moyes offering Stubbs the chance to stay for another 12 months. He now has 10 games to make sure the dream comes true. "I have thought about the summer," said Stubbs. "I think every player who is in my situation will think about the summer. Obviously I would like something sorted out if it was going to happen. "But it is probably similar to last year when the manager said he is going to assess it in May. We know where we are there. I think I have got to make it hard for him not to give me a contract. "At the moment I am doing all right. What I have got to do, I'm doing. But I've got to make it so there is no reason he can't offer me a deal."

We must attack to aid push up table
Mar 11 2006 By Ian Doyle Daily Post Staff
DAVID MOYES has challenged his players to take the initiative and go for goals at Goodison to fire Everton towards a top-half finish. Six of Everton's final 10 Premiership games are at home, starting with the visit of Chris Coleman's Fulham this afternoon. Tuesday marks the fourth anniversary of Moyes taking over at the club, with the Londoners ironically providing the first opposition for the new manager. Although Everton have experienced a turbulent season, they are six points behind sixth-placed Blackburn Rovers and still have an outside chance of European qualification. But any hopes of a strong finish to the campaign rest on improving their scoring record at Goodison, with only Portsmouth and Sunderland having netted fewer home league goals in the top flight this season. It is a fact not lost on Moyes, who believes his inform team are capable of bolstering a return of just 11 goals in 13 home Premiership outings. "We need to try and score more goals," said the Everton manager. "We've started to look like we might be about to do that, and I want us to score more goals at home as I can. "Europe looks a tough challenge at the moment, but if we can win on Saturday we know we have another home game coming up. We have to keep knocking at the door, but if we keep sustaining the same form as we have shown in the last few months then we will come close. "Given the position we were in at the start of the season, we are taking it each game as it comes. But we want to finish on a high, and if we keep the momentum going then we can have a good finish to the season."
Victory this afternoon would take Everton on to 40 points, the generally accepted points tally for survival. Having spent the first three months of the season in the relegation zone, Moyes admits it is testament to the response of his players that safety could be assured with nine games remaining.
"It is a big step that people are no longer talking about us as relegation candidates," he said. "For 10-12 weeks we weren't in a good position, but we have been in a good run of form and have done really well to get out of the situation. That's why I don't want to put any more pressure on the players. "I just want them to go and enjoy themselves, relax and hopefully score a few more goals. It's in our hands how we do now. I know that if we win our home games we can finish in a good position. We need to show that we can stand up and take that responsibility." Encouraging performances at Newcastle United and West Ham United in the past fortnight have yielded just one point. And Moyes explained: "We didn't take our opportunities at Newcastle when we had them, and at West Ham we also missed chances late on and let in some soft goals. "If you score two goals away from home you would like to think you'd have a good chance of winning."

I think people look to me as an example - Stubbs
Mar 11 2006 By Ian Doyle, Daily Post
WITH a contract extension and the rewards of European football both tantalisingly within his grasp, the stakes are once again substantial for Alan Stubbs following his return to Everton in January.
The veteran defender is back at Goodison having answered David Moyes's centre-back emergency to play for his boyhood club following his surprise departure to Sunderland during last summer.
But it is his second chance at life itself that gives the personable defender a perspective too often lost amid the hype of modern day football. In an age when players too often quibble over exorbitant wages and such trivialities like being forced to play out of position, Stubbs stands as an example of what a refusal to give up can achieve. The 34-year-old defeated testicular cancer not once but twice during his time at Celtic, demonstrating a strength of character, determination and self-belief that marks him out as a genuine inspiration to his team-mates and other cancer sufferers. Stubbs was speaking at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool on Thursday as part of the 'Keep Your Eye on The Ball' awareness fortnight. And he believes that his experiences can give hope to others to who find themselves in a similar life-threatening situation. "I think people do look to me as an example," says Stubbs. "There are a lot of young lads who are having similar experiences. I've had a few phone calls from people I know who are thinking they've got something wrong, and asking me for help.
"I see my specialist once a year now, and for me that's an achievement - from month to month, to two months, to six months, to a year now. I see my specialist and for five minutes it's about me and my health, and for 40 minutes it's about football! That's really reassuring as it means he thinks I'm out of the woods. And all we will talk about is the influence that I have on other people - that I'm an example. I've been there. "My second one (cancer) was really bad, it was touch and go whether I would have made it, but now I'm talking about it and back at the top of my game. And if that's not an example to people and what they can achieve, then I don't know what is." With his cancer now having been in remission for close to five years, Stubbs has proven, like other high-profile sportsmen Lance Armstrong and fellow footballers Neil Harris and Jason Cundy, the illness is not an insurmountable obstacle. "Sometimes you get letters from people asking how to deal with it, and the best thing I can offer is I can only tell them how I dealt with it," says Stubbs. "That's not to say they're the guidelines for everyone to deal with it. "But I think it's got to come from within, from that one individual. I didn't want people mollycoddling me. I wanted people to be themselves.
"I had a personal belief that it wasn't going to beat me, whether that was me just not realising how serious it was, I don't know. But I honestly from day one thought I was going to beat it.
"A lot of it - not all of it - is mind over matter, and if you really think strong and be strong it goes an awful long way to helping you to deal with it and come through the tunnel." Such strength has also helped Stubbs deal with the inevitable barbs and insults from opposing players for whom there are no boundaries in attempting to gain even the slightest advantage on the field. "Players can be brutal at times and get a bit personal," says Stubbs. "But if someone called me 'Baldy' or whatever (when during chemotherapy) it's not going to hurt me. It's just banter and it's what makes being a footballer great sometimes. "If someone said to me 'one ball' or whatever, then so what. I can take all that on the chin. I had a few fans say it once, and I turned round and laughed. They think they were saying that to get at me, but it's water off a duck's back." However, there was plenty of support from both within and outside the game. "I was getting thousands of letters from all over the country," he says. "One of the games when I came back was the Celtic-Rangers derby, and one of the banners in the Rangers end said 'Get Well Soon Stubbsy'. When you realise all the rivalry that goes on there, it was a nice touch." It was due to a misunderstanding over the now infamous 'cancer clause' in his proposed contract that led Stubbs to walk away from Everton in the summer and head to the north east. In previous times, that might have been enough for the defender to vow never to return. And as Stubbs admits: "I honestly think that if I hadn't had the cancer then I would have been different towards it. There would have been bitterness or whatever there. "But what's happened to me has made me realise that you don't hold any grudges. "I try and do that first and foremost with my family, and then football comes second. "Whereas five or six years ago, football sometimes came first and I was terribly wrong about that. "Now it's changed, my family is definitely first and football comes a remote second." It's that kind of attitude that has had a positive effect on Everton since his return to the club, with Moyes's side having lost just once in the Premiership since Stubbs stepped back into the starting line-up. "The biggest thing that sticks out for me is that on the first day I came back I had members of the training staff, the secretaries and the players all waiting for me at the door with scarves saying 'welcome home'," he says. "Sometimes you don't hear about that sort of thing but it shows how close we are as players at Everton." Stubbs's brief Sunderland sojourn meant he missed Everton's European adventures in both the Champions League and the UEFA Cup earlier this season.
Beattie's strike no surprise for Irvine
Mar 12 2006 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
JAMES BEATTIE scored the best goal of his Everton career against Fulham on Saturday. The Blues striker reached double figures in the Premiership with an exquisitely judged chip over Tony Warner's giant frame to help the Blues on the way to a comfortable 3-1 win. But afterwards assistant boss Alan Irvine explained he has seen Beattie score goals like that all his life. "I have known him since he was 15 or 16 years of age and he scores goals like that in training regularly," said Irvine. "I have seen him score a goal of the season contender every year since he was about 15 and hopefully his second goal today will give him even more confidence than he is playing with right now. "He is doing well for us, scoring the goals that we thought he would score when we brought him here." But despite his recent goals rush, Irvine was still sceptical about the centre-forward's chances of gatecrashing England's World Cup squad this summer. "Goals give strikers confidence and James is playing with a great deal of confidence at the moment," he went on. "As far as the World Cup is concerned, I think he has probably still got a lot to do to get in, but at the same time he has to show that he can continue to perform like that and then he will give himself a chance if anyone drops out. "I am biased. I have known James Beattie a long time and I would love to see him travelling with the England squad to Germany. It would give me a great thrill. "At this moment, though, Sven Goran Eriksson has his own ideas on who will go and James has to carry on scoring to change his mind." Beattie's goals, however, have given him an outside chance of continental football of a different kind. "Europe is not in our own hands," added Irvine. "But if we have the same run of results in our remaining nine matches that we have had in our last nine games then we will have a real chance. "But it will be difficult to have that kind of run again. We need teams above us to slip up, but we just need to keep doing our own job. "The last five minutes on Saturday were scary without a doubt, which you couldn't really see coming because of the 85 minutes or so before it, but I was delighted overall by the performance. "We scored a couple of terrific goals - and even the penalty was a good one, too. But people expect you to score that one. The other two were outstanding. "We thoroughly deserved it and played very, very well in the first half. Perhaps we could have had even more. "When you are playing as well as that you have to capitalise on it because you know you can't play as well every week -and Fulham are a good side. "We were playing so well and creating so many chances that it would have been nice to have made a bit more of a dent in our goal difference which isn't great just now. "That will probably cost us a point at the end of the season unless we can pick up some more big victories between now and then. "We were a little bit concerned because we felt that we deserved to get something out of the Newcastle game, then we felt we should definitely have won at West Ham, yet there we were with only one point from six. "We knew with Fulham coming here, they were going to win sometime before the end of the season. Will they do it at Anfield on Wednesday? They might do, I don't know! But I will be amazed if they go through to the end of the season without winning away."

Everton 3, Fulham 1 (D,Post)
Mar 13 2006 By David Prior at Goodison Park, Daily Post
THERE was a time this season when 40 points seemed as unlikely a target for Everton fans as three home points still seems for Sunderland. That they've reached it when snow still covers the ground should perhaps be the main cause for celebration this morning. For let's not forget, this is a team that on the morning of October 23 lay rooted to the foot of the Premiership, a tally of three points from eight games a just about fair reflection of their start. They hadn't won - nor even scored - for two months in the league, and they'd already been eliminated from three cup competitions. That's the backdrop we should never lose sight of, even as Everton continue to stage the kind of recovery that with each week clears the path back to European qualification. But while some perspective is important, performances like Saturday's mean it is becoming increasingly difficult to suppress the feeling that had evaporated along with that dismal start to the season. David Moyes won't admit it for a few weeks yet, but there's expectation in the air around Goodison. This was the day Everton had threatened for some time. Not just because their form merited it, but also because the confidence garnered from a lengthy run of success surely encourages more convincing scorelines than 1-0. And that's seven wins out of 10 Premiership games now. Five of those had been of the desperately hard-fought single-goal variety, but this game quickly suggested it was not about to follow suit. Fulham were probably this season's most incompetent visitors to Goodison, their display leaving you wondering firstly why any of their fans had bothered to make the trip north at all, but also how on earth they'd managed three draws to go with their now 12 defeats on the road.
And when their manager labels it his most painful day at the club - this being the manager who broke both legs, an ankle and ruined his knee in a car crash six years ago - you get the impression that even in a season of ineptitude away from Craven Cottage, this was a low. But then it was tough luck that they ran into such merciless hosts. Everton carried on the form they showed in the second half at Upton Park, opening at a good tempo and only letting up when the game was won.
That it was won so comfortably was more down to individual brilliance than teamwork.
Having had their early nerves settled by the clumsiness of Zat Knight, Everton supplied two contenders for goal of the month within 19 minutes. James Beattie's main problem used to be an ill-deserved swagger. If he continues to score goals like his second on Saturday, he can swagger all he likes. Living up to the hope detailed in the afternoon's programme, Beattie has now reached double figures in the scoring column and is certainly doing a manful job of that late bid for the World Cup. It's still probably too late for the Everton striker, but it won't be for want of trying. When James McFadden added a third of similar quality 10 minutes after the break, Everton perhaps snuffed out the last semblance of doubt that may have surrounded their goalscoring ability, and perhaps indeed the quality that really does exist in the team. The breakthrough had been all of Nuno Valente's making. The Portuguese left-back sent a long ball forward that fell perfectly into the stride of James Beattie and proved far too cute for Knight. The Fulham defender bundled Beattie to the floor, and the Good-ison striker picked himself up to despatch an excellent penalty just inside Tony Warner's right-hand post. The goal served to calm the hosts down somewhat, in what was their first game on home turf for four weeks. Mikel Arteta - the predictable source of most moments of real quality - had picked up where he left off against West Ham by charging down the left flank in Everton's first attack only to overhit his attempted centre. But after some probing forward work by the hosts after 25 minutes, the ball again fell to the Spaniard who laid it off to the overlapping Valente. The latter's ball for Beattie was far shorter than the one that led to the spot-kick, but it was just as accurate and Beattie rose to head down and just wide of Warner's left-hand post. Moyes has already credited Arteta with being his finest player of the season, and there are few who are disagreeing.
Ten minutes before the break he was back at the centre of the action, picking up Alan Stubbs' pass and after playing a one-two with James McFadden, pulled a fine clawing save out of Warner with a low shot. But while Arteta was merely maintaining his excellent form, the day's headlines were rapidly being grabbed by his number nine-wearing team-mate. His second, after 37 minutes, was sheer class. With Stubbs pumping a free-kick forward, Tim Cahill knocked a short pass back to Beattie who, with the arrogance of a Cantona, feathered a delicious lob over Warner's flailing arms and into the back of the net. He may have scored 13 often important goals so far in his Goodison career, but here was the moment he may well have truly arrived. It provided that rare feeling at Goodison, a two-goal cushion, and as a result Everton threw off the shackles that so often restricts their play. Little moments of skill, usually from the feet of Arteta or Osman, increasingly peppered the home side's football and served to illustrate just how important goals are to a team's confidence.
And there was more to come, 55 minutes in, and what a goal it was once again. Similar in its construction to its predecessor, this time it was David Weir feeding the long ball forward for Beattie to knock back for McFadden. But while Beat-tie's effort had been all about subtlety and finesse, the Scot's was all power, lashing a left-footed volley that dipped over Warner and into the far corner. From there Everton took their foot off the pedal, resorting somewhat over-enthusiastically to the kind of football managers hate, with a wayward 40-yard effort from Beattie perhaps exemplifying the nonchalance that ever so slightly set in. Carelessly, the lessening in intensity resulted in a slack finish. First Tony Hibbert blotted another excellent day by rashly bringing down Collins John, the Cottagers' substitute converting the resulting penalty. And then with the hosts suddenly ragged, Brian McBride could have claimed two from point-blank range had Alan Stubbs and Richard Wright - who was back from injury in place of Sander Westerveld - not posted alert blocks. But then Everton could not have let a home fixture pass without a certain amount of high drama. And given the final act this season increasingly seems to have in store, it won't be the last.
EVERTON (4-4-2): Wright; Hibbert, Stubbs, Weir, Valente (Davies 77); Osman, Cahill (van der Meyde 83), Neville, Arteta; Beattie, McFadden (Kilbane 77). Subs: Yobo, Westerveld.
BOOKINGS: Neville (deliberate handball), Stubbs (foul).
FULHAM (4-5-1): Warner; Volz, Knight, Bocanegra, Rosenior; Malbranque, Pembridge, Elliott (Christanval 43), Boa Morte, Helguson (John 72); McBride. Subs: Crossley, Goma, Jensen.
BOOKINGS: Bocanegra, Rosenior (both fouls).
REFEREE: Uriah Rennie.
ATT: 36,515.
NEXT GAME: Everton v Aston Villa, Premiership, Saturday, 12.45pm

Kenwright: My faith in Moyes never wavered
Mar 13 2006 By David Prior Daily Post Staff
BILL KENWRIGHT has hailed the "majesty" of David Moyes as he insisted he never thought of sacking the Scot despite Everton's dismal start to the season. The Goodison chairman spoke out after two goals from James Beat-tie and a James McFadden strike gave Everton an impressive 3-1 victory that took them within five points of a European place. It also extended the resurgent form that has turned Everton's season around, with Moyes's men having been bottom of the Premiership as late as October. But Kenwright has revealed how his faith in Moyes did not waver - particularly after a November meeting when the manager unveiled his salvage plan for Everton's ailing campaign.
He said: "I have always thought he was the right manager for the club and even in the dark days before Christmas, while I wouldn't tell anyone we weren't worried, there was no panic.
"I remember around the end of November we sat down and he said, 'This is the plan'. He gave me a points target by January 1, a points target by the end of February, a points target by Easter and a late run-in. "We are ahead of that points target as we speak and that points target would probably see us finish ninth or 10th." He added: "He has this thing about him: this majesty, this focus. Within 30 seconds of meeting him he said win, win, win and I knew he was the right man for the job.
"We were sitting there and a creeping calm goes over your body; 'okay, that's what we are going to do'. I never thought it wouldn't be okay because of what David is like. "He did predict a top 10 finish when the soothsayers were saying relegation. I never thought it was optimistic because I know the man. I have the relationship with him. He hadn't just gone, 'I'm going to see Bill, I better make some figures up'. He has looked at the picture, and said I can do that." Kenwright hit out at the people who had called for Moyes's head in the aftermath of Everton's demoral-ising exit from European competition. He said: "The pressure is enormous, and that is why when he gets the manager of the year and four months later people are saying he has to go, you think, 'are you for real?'
"The first thing you have to see is if there is a spirit in the team and I saw that the night of the Bucharest game away when we got beat 5-1. There were players in tears almost, so if anybody says these players don't care I'll thump them. "There was never going to be knee-jerk decision. The fans have to look for a scapegoat and all I ever think I can do is talk to them. "So I said, 'so you want me to get rid of David Moyes?' But when I say it they think about that. "I have an insight into the way he works and believe me, whatever the players were feeling he was feeling double. He is dead straight. He asks the right questions. If you can use a chairman in the right way, he does. He is totally focused and more than anything he hates losing. He is a winner. "We have had two bad times here the season before last and earlier this season. Winning becomes a habit and losing becomes crisis.

"You are talking to an Evertonian before a chairman, I think we are making progress but there is still a long way to go. We have to build on the squad but I hope the perception of the club is changing.
"I think it is a squad and club that is looking up rather than over its shoulder. I want this club to succeed." Moyes, meanwhile, was pleased to see Beattie reach double figures for the season with a penalty and then a delightful 25-yard chip. He said: "I'm delighted for James, he's beginning to show the form that we know he is capable of, and getting a brace today was good - it keeps his goal tally ticking over. "If he keeps producing the goals then you never know, he could be there. He's got the bit between his teeth now and I think he senses that he's coming back into form and as you can see he's starting to get a goal."

Beattie 'best' helps brings smiles back
Mar 13 2006
By David Prior Daily Post Staff
TWO-GOAL James Beattie believes Everton are now playing with a smile on their faces as he savoured his "best" goal in an Royal Blue shirt. Beattie enhanced his outside chances of gatecrashing England's World Cup squad with his brace, with James McFadden scoring a spectacular effort of his own in a comfortable victory. And the 28 yearsold striker's beaming smile after his double is being replicated right around Goodison Park. "I am certainly playing with a smile on my face again, all the lads are," he said.. "We had Fulham under pressure from the word go and went on to put in a great performance. "My second goal obviously pleased me. I had an idea Tony Warner would be slightly advanced and just tried to lift the ball over him and it dropped in perfectly. "When you're low on confidence, things like that don't come off. When things are going for you, they do. That's the best goal I've scored for Everton. "But I feel Faddy's (McFadden) goal was the best. He scores goals like that all the time in training and should try them more. It just flashed in and it certainly put a smile on his face. "The point is we are all enjoying our football, and Mikel Arteta is outstanding. I asked him recently why he wasn't in the Spain squad and he just said there were plenty of good midfielders available, so I just said one was sitting opposite me and should be in." As to his World Cup hopes, Beattie added: "If I went to Germany I'd be happy however I got there. It's just a matter of hard work, keeping your head down." Fulham manager Chris Coleman accused his senior players of not taking responsibility and called an inept dis-play "embarrassing and unacceptable". "We were outplayed and outclassed. You have to start asking questions, and that is certainly what I will be doing," he said.. "We now have a big game at Liverpool on Wednesday and for sure the team that played at Everton will not be the same one that plays at Anfield. It doesn't take rocket science to understand why. "If we go through the season without winning an away game, regardless of where we finish, that for me will be a real embarrassment and not something I want on my CV. We have to make sure it doesn't happen."

Beattie the legend
Mar 13 2006
Post Soapbox, icLiverpool & Daily Post
Beattie the legend
WE are witnessing the birth of a legend in James Beattie. Well done to all the lads on Saturday. What a fine win - and what incredible goals. Mickey French, Walton
Different class
HOW can Sven ignore James Beattie and opt for the likes of Crouch. Beattie is different class as shown this weekend. Could any Liverpool fan honestly see that beanpole scoring a 20-yard chip like Beattie did on Saturday. As if.
Tania Harding (via email)
WHO says we only score once! Save for a nervy last couple of minutes, Saturday showed what a potentially class side we have. Arteta was outstanding, McFadden's goal was world class and Beattie should be playing alongside Wayne Rooney in Germany. Keep it up. Rick Sharp (via e-mail)
Where's Jon?
WELL DONE Everton. I am especially proud of Beattie. I really believe he will turn out to be a great buy by Moyes. Our team has so much latent talent and I think this will be shown in the run-in this season. I do not say the squad should play with reckless abandon but I feel they should show everyone how good they really are. All we need is perhaps a proficient striker to partner Beattie and a fast and accurate right-back who can provide excellent support and is a good crosser of a ball. Come on lads prove me right. Lance Goodman, Bootle Euro problem
I BOUGHT a satellite navigation system yesterday. But, I'm going take it back - it keeps telling me Liverpool is in Europe. James Poole, (via email)

Mersey soccer clubs back adult learning courses
Mar 13 2006 Daily Post
LIVERPOOL and Everton football clubs have joined forces with other Premiership sides to promote an adult learning scheme. They have teamed up with the government to sign on fans wanting to improve their literacy, language or numeracy skills. The Heading for Success project aims to use the power of football to attract adults into learning, such as learning maths by understanding transfer fees or the battle to avoid relegation, or improving reading and writing by producing match reports or analysing commentary. It was launched at the FA headquarters in London by skills minister Phil Hope, minister for sport Richard Caborn, and FA head of football development, Sir Trevor Brooking.
Sir Trevor said: "It's never too late to learn as an adult." Anyone wanting to sign up for a free adult literacy or numeracy course should call 0800 100 900 and mention "Heading for Success."

Everton 3, Fulham 1 (Echo)
Mar 13 2006 By Dominic King
THE text message which bleeped through shortly after James McFadden had scored a sublime third goal defied all sense of logic. Yet, given the circumstances, the sentiments were completely understandable. "I can't believe we're better than Barcelona," it boldly read. Of course, even the most fervent Evertonian would not seriously offer a credible argument that David Moyes' side have overtaken the Catalan giants as Europe's pre-eminent force. Indeed, much work still has to be done before the Blues can claim they are in a position to consistently challenge the top four teams in the Premiership. If proof were needed, however, that Everton are moving irresistibly in the right direction again, it came in buckets at raucous Goodison Park on Saturday as Fulham were swatted aside in the manner you would dis-patch a particularly irritating wasp. Having accrued 23 points from the last 27 available, there can be no disputing that Everton are embroiled in the tussle for a European place. Outsiders they may be, but the challenge they are mounting is a compelling one.
After the calamities at the likes of Villa Park and the Hawthorns, following not long after the abysmal experience of Bucharest, it would have been preposterous to claim at Christmas that Everton would emerge as credible UEFA Cup candidates. But should the Blues play with the swagger and style which took an abysmal Fulham side apart, anything is possible - certainly a top eight finish, which would almost certainly guarantee entry to the Intertoto Cup. Encouragingly, it appears Everton's players have discovered their shooting boots in the nick of time, too. The goal difference column in the table might make grim reading but they are certainly doing all they can to rectify matters. Take James Beattie. Burdened by the weight of expectation and a club record £6m transfer fee when he moved to Merseyside in January 2005, many questioned whether Beat-tie would ever come up with the goods following a miserable start. Some questioned his attitude, others queried his fitness. Most terrace detractors doubted he would ever be a prolific marksman for the club after only scoring twice in five months. How things have changed. A player who could never be accused of lacking self confidence, Beattie's weekend double - one a crisply dispatched penalty, the other an outrageous chip - takes his tally for the year for 11, all bar one in the Premiership. It seems unlikely that he will be given a chance to go to the World Cup this summer, regardless of what he does in the meantime.
He may not be the quickest and some of the edges still need smoothing on his game but consider this. Beattie is playing regularly, with confidence and is in form. Can the same be said of some of the candidates in front of him? "James is showing the form we know he is capable of," said Moyes. "Getting a brace was good and it keeps his goal tally ticking over. "He's got the bit between his teeth now, his confidence is up and apart from the goals, he had another three or four efforts. He is determined." Beattie's second goal illustrated just how confident he is at present, an outrageous chip from Tim Cahill's knock down floating majestically into the Park End net. How many times have we seem such efforts actually end up in the Park End? Arguably, Beattie's effort was eclipsed by McFadden's strike, a perfectly executed volley from 30 yards that raced beyond Tony Warner's flailing arm into the roof of the Gwladys Street goal. Again, McFadden is another player who can sometimes flatter to deceive, the decisions he makes on the field often leave Moyes tearing his hair out in his technical area. There is no question, though, he has talent. He also dovetails sweetly with Beattie. On any normal occasion, those two goals would have dominated conversations on Saturday evening but not for the first and certainly not the last time, Mikel Arteta - whose talents were groomed in the Camp Nou - towered over proceedings. Arteta's mesmerising display against Fulham should draw a line under any worries. Hoodwinking defenders with feints and shuffles, begging for possession to wreak havoc in the opposition ranks, he was a joy to watch. How does he not play for Spain? While the influence of Beattie, McFadden and Arteta cannot be over-stated, it would be unfair to overlook the efforts of their team-mates. Leon Osman was excellent, unlucky not to join the strikers on the scoresheet. Phil Neville and Cahill were ruthlessly efficient, the defence never looked like being put under any significant pressure and Richard Wright did what he had to do in goal without fuss. Such a shame he was beaten by Collins John's late penalty. There was also time to give the popular Andy van der Meyde a runout for the first time since December 3, adding credence to the fact that Everton's squad is healthier than it has been all season just in time for the final push.
Moyes celebrates his fourth anniversary in charge at Goodison tomorrow and when he was appointed by chairman Bill Kenwright, one of his briefs was to ensure that heart-stopping, last day dramas were consigned to the past. Unfortunately, he won't get that wish this year as Everton are in a race for Europe that will go down to the wire. Conjure up anymore 'Barcelona' performances and it is a race they could yet win.
EVERTON (4-4-2): Wright; Hibbert, Stubbs, Weir, Valente (Davies 77); Osman, Cahill (van der Meyde 83), Neville, Arteta; Beattie, McFadden (Kilbane 77). Subs: Yobo, Westerveld.
BOOKINGS: Neville (deliberate handball), Stubbs (foul).
FULHAM (4-5-1): Warner; Volz, Knight, Bocanegra, Rosenior; Malbranque, Pembridge, Elliott (Christanval 43), Boa Morte, Helguson (John 72); McBride. Subs: Crossley, Goma, Jensen.
BOOKINGS: Bocanegra, Rosenior (both fouls).
REFEREE: Uriah Rennie.
ATT: 36,515.

Driving force
Mar 13 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID WEIR today revealed the fear of being left out in the cold is driving Everton's relentless late push for Europe. After seeing so many of his players struck down with injuries at different points through the year, David Moyes is close to having his squad back to full strength for the final nine games. But such has been Everton's form since the turn of the year, those on the fringes are finding it difficult to get back in to the first eleven. Their case has been made even harder following Saturday's 3-1 win over Fulham - Everton's seventh in the last 10 Premiership matches - and Weir has made it clear that the men who are in position of starting place will not give them up without a fight. "It's another good home result. We have got to be happy with scoring three goals and playing some good stuff," said the Everton captain. "It's always been about the team here. That's been the secret of our success. It's nice for people like James Beattie to get the limelight but there are a lot of others doing well. "Tony Hibbert has been outstanding all season, Leon Osman the same for the past two or three months. There's lots of people in the team doing well. "There's now tremendous competition. Lee Carsley and Gary Naysmith weren't even on the bench against Fulham and they are top players, so it just shows you the competition. "It also shows the quality we have got when everybody is fit. That does spur you on. Myself and Stubbsy are playing knowing that Joe is sitting there waiting for his chance. "He hasn't done a lot wrong but as soon as we don't perform, we'll be out of the team and everybody else knows that. There are people ready to jump in, so you have got to be on top of your game." Beattie's double was the highlight of a performance that keeps Everton within touching distance of the top eight and also took his tally for the season to 11. All bar one of those goals have come in the Premiership and Weir feels Everton's record signing is making a compelling argument to be included in England's World Cup squad. But even if he doesn't make it to Germany, Weir is sure Beattie is ready to end the season in style and believes he could be the spark that ignites Everton's UEFA Cup bid. "He's getting the rewards for his work and he's doing things that are making people sit up and take notice. But he's a team player and has been great for us all year. "I don't see why it's too late for him to get to Germany. He is one of the strikers in form. If he keeps banging in goals and playing like he is, then he has got to be in with a shout. "He is full of life, that's the kind of guy he is. He enjoys his football. He works hard, he is physical and does everything right. We love having him here. "Beats is a handful for defenders. He puts in a lot of work and makes sure they are occupied for the full game."

Wing wizard Arteta cut above the rest
Mar 13 2006 Analysis by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
THE post-match talk, predictably, focused on the international claims of the man who finished off Fulham. Two goals, one a sublime chip, the other a penalty from a kick he won himself, plus a deftly cushioned assist for a third goal, meant that James Beattie deserved the plaudits. But it was the international claims of the man who fashioned the onesided romp over Fulham which were ignored once again - as they have been all season by his country. There isn't a more consistently creative midfielder in Britain right now than Mikel Arteta. Yet Spanish coach Luis Aragones believes there are two better players here on Merseyside. The supremely gifted Xabi Alonso has not repeated his imperious form of last season. Luis Garcia has been peripheral and poor. Yet both were in the Spanish side which edged out Ivory Coast recently, while Arteta sat at home wondering what he's doing wrong. There is certainly nothing wrong with the quality of his play at present. The closest Evertonians have come to a school of science footballer since Peter Beardsley enjoyed a top flight swansong more than a decade ago, he has produced two top class performances in a not entirely comfortable left flank role. The reliable artisans of Stubbs, Hibbert and Neville gave the artists the platform on which to flourish -and Arteta sparkled. Alan Irvine, no stranger to a little wing wizardry himself in the past, was asked afterwards if he could find the words to describe Arteta's dis-play. Irvine enthused: "He was outstanding today, absolutely outstanding. He has been playing very well, but today was one of the best performances that I have seen for a long time. "I don't know if he made a mistake all day. He was terrific from start to finish." The only surprise was that he wasn't directly responsible for creating any of Everton's three goals - two of them classics. The 78th minute dribble which left Luis Boa Morte with twisted blood as well as a twisted attitude - four times he was thrown first one way, then the other, before he finally lost patience and booted the Spaniard - was worth the admission money alone. But Everton had been showboating since the 64th minute - oles ringing around the ground as the Blues threatened to win by a landslide. That they didn't was typically Everton. Having utterly dominated a wretched, feeble Fulham for 85 minutes, they conceded a goal from a penalty kick then saw Collins John carve out two golden chances which could have put a totally insane complexion on the match. One was missed, one was saved, as the Blues saw out a comfortable 3-1 win. But if those late jitters were typically Everton, of far more significance is the lack of relegation jitters at the end of a Premiership season. Everton have now reached the supposedly 'safe' 40 points total with nine matches still remaining. That is two seasons in succession Blues fans have not been worried by the dread spectre of a relegation fight. You know the last time that happened? Fourteen years ago. David Moyes celebrates four years as Everton manager tomorrow. The stability that has brought the club has clearly helped. But that stat also shows that clear progress is being made under him. Back-to-back seasons free from relegation worries, a gilding of class from Arteta and a late cameo from Andy van der Meyde: There is evidence that Everton are building something lasting, something solid and something worth watching at Goodison Park. There is much still to be done, of course, but a few more afternoons like Saturday's and the journey will be one to savour.

Fans hold their breath as Eileen proposes on the pitch
Mar 13 2006 By Catherine Jones, Liverpool Echo
SATURDAY was a big day for two of Everton's biggest fans and one brave little girl. The team beat Fulham 3-1 with the best player named as the Blues' Mikel Arteta. But Eileen Lackey's own man of the match was boyfriend Mark Tregunna - and to prove it she popped the question in front of 36,000 fans. The blushing bride-to-be strode out into the middle of the pitch, accompanied by club MC Simon Ross, and proposed at half-time. A spokesman for Everton said today: "Eileen contacted the club and and asked if she could ask the question on the pitch. Simon asked the crowd what her boyfriend should do and they were all shouting 'No!' " The couple are big Evertonians and their house in Gwladys Street, the spiritual home of the Blues, is even painted in the club's colours. Brave heart and lung transplant girl Kayley Keir also got an ovation when she appeared on the pitch at half-time. The 10-year-old, from Kirkdale, was invited by the club and was presented with a shirt with her name on the back. The Everton spokesman said: "She was really nervous in the tunnel before she went on to the pitch, but the crowd really gave her a good reception." * On Saturday, the ECHO revealed Kayley, who has cystic fibrosis, may have to miss out on a dream chance to swim with dolphins after her family were denied a loan to help fund the trip. Anyone who would like to help Kayley should call 0151-472 2497.

Moyes vows to deliver silverware
Mar 14 2006 By Paul Walker Daily Post Correspondent
DAVID MOYES celebrates four years in control of Everton today - and has again affirmed his desire to bring silverware to Goodison Park. The Scot has enjoyed a rollercoaster ride since moving to Goodison from Preston back in March 2002, during which time Liverpool have claimed the Champions League, Carling Cup and Super Cup prizes. But Moyes - whose Everton record is played 177, won 69, drawn 38 and lost 70 - believes the club are on an upward curve and can soon claim their own slice of success. He said: "I believe I can win something here. I have enjoyed all my time at Everton. In the difficult periods it is not quite as good but I have enjoyed every minute. I relish the job every day that I come into work. "All managers have to go through tough periods, unless you are one of the top boys who win most weeks, then you will have periods when you don't win for five or six games and then there will be periods where you do win five or six in a row, that is the way it goes. "But you have to get through it and learn from it if you can. Backing from the club is important for all managers, and the media play such a big part in football these days, with the phone-ins providing a platform to criticise. "They are right to do so at times, but you also need people who are educated and ready to answer those questions correctly." Moyes's side are currently in the chase for European qualification having been rooted to the foot of the Premiership as late as October and out of the Champions League, UEFA Cup and Carling Cup. There were calls for his time to be up but chairman Bill Kenwright refused to budge. And Moyes added: "I am very fortunate that I have got a board which is stable, which maybe in the past hasn't been, but it is very stable now. "For me, achievement is winning something and I still plan to make sure that we win things at Everton. Last year we were close to winning something in qualifying for the Champions League, but I am determined to win a trophy and make sure we get something to shout about at Everton."
Moyes added: "I do feel that on and off the pitch progress has been made. There is much more stability at the club. I don't think the debt is as bad as it was when I came here. There are a lot of things ongoing, such as the new training ground which is under-way as well. "I like to think that in the four years since I came in I have a strategy that was right for the club, an idea where I thought we should take the club. In the main I think the board have kept with that."

National poser
Post Soapbox, icLiverpool & Daily Post
Mar 14 2006
JAMES BEATTIE is 10 times better that Peter Crouch and therefore good enough for England.
As an older supporter who was at the '66 World Cup Final I remember how proud I was to have one of our boys in the team. We then signed Ball during the close season. But I also remember losing Lineker after he was leading scorer in the '86 World Cup and we all know about the profile the boy from Croxteth got from Euro 2004. So I have mixed feelings about Beattie and Mikel Arteta playing for their countries. Bill Scott (via e-mail) Strike force
I NOTICE Beattie has scored more Premiership goals for us than all of the Liverpool forwards put together. Oh, and on Saturday alone, twice as many as they've scored since Christmas. C Page, Waterloo
The winner is...
BILL KENWRIGHT says in his first statement for a long time that David Moyes is a winner. Yes I do agree. It is just a shame that Kenwright isn't. C Oddie (via e-mail)
Lay off Weir
I CAN'T believe people are giving David Weir stick. Okay, he was a bit of a liability early in the season but he's been a great servant of Everton and a very good player. Get off his case, he deserves better.
Harry Potts, Liverpool Top-six target
WHAT a performance from the Blues. A pleasure to watch. On Saturday we looked like a team who wanted to win, we were hungry and passionate. f our boys can carry on this good run of form then there is no reason why we can't catch the top six spot. Neil Houltram, St Helens

Arteta cool on Spain link
Mar 14 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
MIKEL ARTETA today played down suggestions that his sparkling form has been good enough to warrant a World Cup call-up. The Everton midfielder has earned rave reviews in recent weeks, starring in a number of different positions and put in a magnificent display against Fulham last Saturday. Blues boss David Moyes and striker James Beattie have been so impressed by Arteta's quality that they feel he would not look out of place in the Spain squad which heads to Germany in the summer. However, the 23-year-old knows he still has a lot of work to do to catch Spanish coach Luis Aragones' eye. "I still think there are many better players than me," said Arteta. "Midfielders? There are so many. They are all different. I would love to have the chance one day to play. "All I can do is keep playing well and hope the manager notices me but it is not easy. If he thinks I am good enough to go, I would be really pleased. Do I want to go? Of course! "But I can't change anything. It's not down to me. I haven't really discussed things with Xabi because he has played so many games. It's different for him, anyway. "He plays for a team that has won the Champions League and plays in Europe. Players who play for Arsenal or Man United or Chelsea, maybe it is easier for them because of the clubs they are at. "After the start that we had to the season, nobody talked about us in Spain if I am honest because we didn't do very well. But I still believe that one day I want to go and we will see what happens." A number of conspiratory theorists suggested on the internet last week that Arteta was unhappy at Goodison Park and was agitating to get a new deal. Nothing could be further from the truth. Desperate to help Everton finish the season with a bang, the former Rangers man says he has never felt more at home than he does on Merseyside and only has eyes for the Blues. "Having played in Scotland, I under-stood the culture, the way the fans and how the clubs work in England," said Arteta, a £2.5m signing from Real Sociedad. "There are so many differences from my country to here. You need to adapt and when you know what you need to adapt to, it is better. "The language really helps, too. After that? I feel I belong here. I am at a club where everything is good. "The atmosphere, the fans, I feel very good in the city and when you feel like that, you cannot help but coming into training smiling every day and know what is important in life."

Becky suffering the blues
Mar 14 2006 Women's Football by Paul Garrity, Liverpool Echo
FIXTURES in the Women's Premier League and FA Cup fell victim of the weather at the weekend for the second successive week. It is a frustrating time, especially as Everton Ladies are battling with Arsenal and Charlton for the title. Blues full-back Becky Easton can't wait to get a series of games under her belt. "It's sometimes difficult when we've had games called off with the weather," she said. "When you start back up again you can be a little rusty. "It's going to be a difficult end to the season. Mathematically, we can still win the league if we win all our games, but I think we have got to rely on other teams to drop points. "That means we have to play well in the five games remaining." Easton scored a wonderful diving header last time out against Birmingham and admits she may have been a bit fortunate. "It was a bit of a collector's item. I didn't really know too much about it. I saw the ball come from Jody Handley's corner and I just threw myself at it." The next Everton match is away against Birmingham City on Sunday, April 2. Meanwhile, Liverpool hope to play their FA Cup semi-final at Guiseley FC against Leeds United this weekend (3.00pm), after snow prevented it going ahead on Sunday. The winners play either Arsenal or Charlton.

I've never thought of leaving - Moyes
Mar 15 2006 By Ian Doyle, Daily Post
DAVID MOYES marked four years in charge at Everton yesterday by insisting he has never considered quitting Goodison. The manager came in for some fierce criticism earlier this season as his team slumped to the bottom of the Premiership and crashed out of the Champions League, UEFA Cup and Carling Cup. Some pundits called for Moyes to be sacked but, with the continued backing of chairman Bill Kenwright and the Everton board, the Goodison manager has overseen a turnaround in the team's fortunes since the turn of the year. And with Everton now harbouring hopes of European qualification, Moyes has defended his record at the club and claimed he did not contemplate resignation during those dark autumn days. "I never questioned if I was at the right place," said Moyes.. "There have been a couple of occasions where I thought that some people must have short memories. "Everton have not been in the top 10 many times, about two or three times in the last 13-14 years. "Suddenly in the three-and-a-half years I've been here, we've been in the Champions League and just missed out on the UEFA Cup with a record points total. "With some of the criticism we were getting this season, I thought to myself that Everton must have had some great success if people want this all the time, but the facts are Everton haven't had much success in recent years.
"I felt that some of the criticism was not correct. I didn't doubt my ability because I knew we were going in the right direction and people who knew football and understood how clubs work were supporting me, and that support included the chairman and the board of directors here. "They have not panicked, they have been very supportive and gone about things the right way. Any club that jumps up and down because they've won a few games and chops and changes their manager all the time is not going to get any success." Moyes believes Everton's improvement over the last few years has been aided by the club's board giving him the time to progress with his rebuilding plans. "You do not get time as a manager and I did not ask for time when I first came here," added Moyes. "People want results. But realistically I knew you could not turn things around here straight away. "Everton are considered one of the top six big clubs in the country yet if you look at their performance over the recent years then they are more of a bottom six club. We have to try and change that, and I hope that in the last three years we have shown signs of going in the right direction. "I do not know if we will ever get it back to the level where Everton are winning the league and in the European Cup, but we will try to do that." Andy van der Meyde, Lee Carsley and Gary Naysmith are expected to play in the reserves at Aston Villa tonight.

Van der Meyde aims for Europe
Mar 15 2006 Daily Post
INJURY-JINXED Everton winger Andy van der Meyde believes he can help the club qualify for Europe after returning from nearly four months on the sidelines. The 26-year-old Dutchman made his comeback as a late substitute in Saturday's 3-1 win over Fulham. He said: "It was a good feeling to hear the fans singing for me before I came on and it gives a lot of trust for the next game.
"I hope to give something back to them. I was impressed by what I saw from the bench, and our form is good enough to get back into Europe."

Van der Meyde nets his chance
Mar 15 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
ANDY van der Meyde will be given the chance to show he is pressing for a return to Everton's first team when the reserves face Aston Villa this evening. Having been out for more than three months with a ruptured thigh muscle, van der Meyde caught the eye when coming on for the final few moments of the Blues' 3-1 win over Fulham last Saturday. Though he is still short of peak condition, his return to the squad comes as another boost for boss David Moyes. As well as van der Meyde, Lee Carsley and Gary Naysmith will also be in action for the second string in the Midlands. "It was only nine minutes but Andy looked quite sharp," said Moyes, who confirmed that Nigel Martyn is still not ready to return to full training following ankle surgery. "We couldn't take the chance of giving him any more than that because he needs more football. "But it is another player back for competition in the squad and we will give Gary and Cars a run out, too. The boys have been doing well. "We are looking to keep things going. They are playing with confidence and we are feeling that we can win a lot of games. We need to try and make that happen." Van der Meyde, who has made just seven appearances for the Blues, is well aware that he still has a lot to prove following his £1.2m signing from Inter Milan last August but insists the challenge is one to relish. His spirits lifted now that he has swapped the treatment room for the training field, the 26-year-old Dutch international is desperate to repay the faith of those who have stood by him, particularly the supporters who have been quick to make him a crowd favourite. "I am almost back now," said Van der Meyde, whose start to life on Merseyside was compromised by a serious groin problem. "I trained by myself with the physiotherapist for three months but now I am finally back in the squad. "It is terrific to work with the squad again. When you are doing just running it is boring. Now I can finally touch the ball and have a laugh with the boys. That is what I like. "It has been difficult because I was injured before I came here as well and I had only played six games before getting injured again. "It is difficult to deal with but you just have to concentrate on getting back. Now I am getting back and feel happy again for the supporters and the rest of the team."

Everton and Chang in line for sponsorship award
Mar 15 2006 Liverpool Echo
EVERTON FC and sponsors Chang Beer have been nominated for an international award.
Everton's partnership with Chang has received a nomination in the Hollis Sponsorship Awards, which recognise the best and most effective sponsorship campaigns. Everton have been working alongside Chang since June 2004, when the club signed a one-year sponsorship deal with the Thailand-based company. The partnership proved so successful that a more comprehensive three-year extension was signed in the summer of 2005. Phil Broeders, Everton's head of partnerships, said: "It is recognition for a tremendous amount of hard work by both Everton and Chang to make this partnership a success." Thai football has benefited from the Everton expertise and knowledge.

Defence the key to Blues' run of form
Mar 15 2006 Echo Letters, icLiverpool & Liverpool Echo
OUR UP-TURN in form has coincided with the return of Alan Stubbs. While he has not been blessed with exceptional skill or pace, he more than makes up for it in his commitment, passion and true love for the club. All of this rubs off on his teammates, and gives them the encouragement and desire to play with all their hearts for the right to wear the jersey, which is certainly the catalyst for the making of a great team. Daniel Cooper, Tuebrook ONE OF the reasons the team has been playing so well, as Davy Weir said this week, is the competition for places - especially in defence. Weir and Stubbs have been playing well together and now Yobo is back from international duty there are quality players in depth in all our key positions. You don't play for Everton because of past performances. Weir has been a grand servant and after a shaky start has done well again this season. Bill Kenwright constantly gets criticism from some quarters, but everything he does comes with the best intentions. How many Blues fans have remortgaged their house for Everton? How many would have got rid of Moyes when Gregg wanted him out or (b) after a poor start? Barry Woolrich, ToxtethTHERE'S been a lot of talk about James Beattie and Mikel Arteta making their respective World Cup squads, but personally I think it would be great if they don't. Playing in Germany would only give them increased exposure and heighten the risk of the club receiving bids that would be deemed 'too good to turn down'. I may be being a bit selfish but that's the way it is. If we had managed to win three of the eight games we lost at the start of the season we would be in a Champions League spot again this year. I can't wait for the start of next season. I genuinely believe we have a squad capable of challenging for the CL year in, year out. Hopefully we can sneak a UEFA spot this year but I have a feeling we have left it too late. Steve Evans, Woolton WE'VE BEEN linked with John O'Shea and I think he would be a fantastic buy for us. He is a good player and, like Phil Neville, he is versatile. We have to face the fact we will be short in defence next season because even if Weir and Stubbs do stay on they surely won't be regulars week in week out. We have to understand they are not getting any younger and add to that the likely fact that Matteo Ferrari may go back to Roma. I think defence as well as the strikeforce are the areas which will need strengthening. Neil Cameron, Merseyside

Moyes ready to move for Palace striker Johnson
Mar 16 2006 By Ian Doyle Daily Post Staff
DAVID MOYES faces a battle to bring Andy Johnson to Everton this summer. The Goodison manager is lining up a £6million move for the highly-rated Crystal Palace striker at the end of the season. Moyes will launch a bid for the 25-year-old should Coca-Cola Championship outfit Palace fail in their efforts to gain promotion to the Premiership. The Everton manager has been a long-time admirer of the England international, and was linked with a move for Johnson last summer. Johnson has netted 14 goals so far this campaign and scored 22 goals last season as Palace narrowly failed in their attempts to remain in the top flight. Crystal Palace chairman Simon Jordan has previously stated he is reluctant to part with Johnson and turned down a £9m bid from an unnamed club for the player last year. Palace also turned down a £5.5m offer from West Ham United for the forward during the recent transfer window and also snubbed a playersplus-cash deal worth £6.5m from Johnson's former club Birmingham City. Johnson signed a five-year deal at Selhurst Park last summer but is not believed to be willing to spend another season outside the Premiership should Palace not earn an instant promotion out of the Championship. Palace are unlikely to want an unhappy player on their books, and that would open the way for Moyes to test their resolve with a £6m bid.

Van der Meyde back for reserves
Mar 16 2006 By Ian Doyle Daily Post Staff
ANDY van der Meyde strengthened his claims for a first-team start with a run-out for Everton's reserves last night. The Holland international played 45 minutes in the second string's 2-1 defeat at Aston Villa. Van der Meyde made only his seventh appearance of his Goodison career on Saturday with a seven-minute cameo as late substitute in the 3-1 win over Fulham. The winger, who was signed from Inter Milan in August, had to wait until October for his debut due to a groin injury and then spent three months on the sidelines with a serious thigh injury. Lee Carsley and Gary Naysmith also stepped up their fitness in last night's fixture.

Aston Villa Res 2, Everton Res 1
Mar 16 2006 Daily Post
ANDY VAN DER MEYDE staked his claim for a return to the Everton starting line-up with an eye-catching 45 minute run-out for the reserves last night. The Dutch winger was named in a starting XI that included Gary Nay-smith and Lee Carsley. He was withdrawn at half-time after producing some neat touches on the left flank for Andy Hold-en's charges, suggesting he could be in contention for a more prominent role fr the first team against Villa at Goodison on Saturday. But it was 17-year-old striker Victor Anichebe who made the strongest impression, putting the visitors in control of the contest with a low drive from the edge of the box in the 33rd minute. It was no less than Everton deserved in an opening period in which they were the sharper side, aided by Carsley's control of the midfield. But having struck the post on the stroke of half-time through Gabriel Agbonlahor, the Villans produced an equaliser two minutes after the restart. Peter Whittingham exposed a gaping hole in the Everton defence to connect with an Isaiah Osbourne through ball and chip over the advancing John Ruddy. The winning goal came from Agbonlahor with 10 minutes to go. Lee Hendrie was the architect, splitting the Everton defence with a great through ball that presented the young striker with a glorious chance. Ruddy was left stranded by the forward's neat finish. Minutes earlier Hendrie had forced Nay-smith into a goalline clearance as the home side took a grip on the contest in the closing stages. Everton were left to rue some missed first-half chances. Midfielder Christian Seargeant enjoyed a hat-trick of openings inside the first 25 minutes, heading over from a van der Meyde corner, blasting inches off target from 25 yards and forcing a great save from Stuart Taylor after connecting with a raking pass from Carsley. Both Carsley and Naysmith demonstrated they are growing in strength after overcoming long-term injuries.

Moyes' goals test for Faddy
Mar 16 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
today threw down the gauntlet to James McFadden and challenged him to boost his goals tally before the end of the season. Though James Beattie and Mikel Arteta grabbed the headlines in last weekend's 3-1 defeat of Fulham, the Blues boss was equally pleased with McFadden's contribution, which he put the gloss on with a stunning volley. That took the Scotland international's tally for the campaign up to four but Moyes feels that the way McFadden - who is still in talks over a new contract extension - is playing, he is capable of adding a few more in the final nine Premiership games. "Faddy played well and he scored quite a good goal but we are looking for him to do that a bit more often," said Moyes, who distanced himself from morning reports linking him with Crystal Palace striker Andy Johnson. "But I am pleased with him. He has actually been playing a lot better since Christmas time. His form is good and he has been a wee bit unlucky not to play even more games. But the people who have been playing have been doing really well." Everton have only lost three of the 11 games McFadden has started alongside James Beattie this season and Moyes feels their partnership has a lot of potential. They will be given another chance to prove so against Aston Villa on Saturday. However, as happy as he is with the progress they have made, Moyes has made it clear to his strike force that the pressure is on them to keep coming up with the goods, as Everton chase a European place. "The two of them have done well together," said Moyes. "They know they need to keep playing well because of what is available now. "There are lots of people waiting to come into the team. There is competition not just for James but for all the players. "Kevin Kilbane is unfortunate that he is out just now, so too is Simon Davies because they have both played very well at times this season." Andy van der Meyde, meanwhile, played 45 minutes for the reserves last night against Aston Villa and came through unscathed. He is likely to take his place on the bench again at Goodison Park this weekend. Joseph Yobo could also come into contention for a return, having missed the games against West Ham United and Fulham with a groin injury. The Nigerian international has trained all week but Moyes has been happy with the form of Alan Stubbs and David Weir. Weir has come through a difficult spell before Christmas to return to something like his best form but he is taking nothing for granted that his place in the side is guaranteed. "Within our team there are lots of people doing special things," said the Everton skipper. "There is competition for places and quality here. "That does spur you on."

Fan cleared of violent disorder
Mar 16 2006 Liverpool Echo
A MAN has been cleared of taking part in violence after an Everton football match. Joseph Delap, 25, of Stranstead Avenue, Warrington, was acquitted at Liverpool crown court of violent disorder. Last week Colin Stewart, 37, of Store Street, Kirkdale; Terence Sweeney, 40, of Cockington Close, Northwich; Steven Wetherall, 35, of Hawthorne Avenue, Halewood, were found guilty of violent disorder and will be sentenced on March 31. They were involved in a clash with Manchester United fans after last year's FA Cup 5th round game at Goodison Park on February 19 as police escorted United fans away from the ground towards the city centre. Mark Feeney, 30, of Leyfield Road, West Derby, was acquitted of violent disorder. The jury could not decide on a verdict in relation to Mark Leary, 45, of Lister Road, Kensington, and his case will be mentioned before the court again next Monday.

Everton ready to discourage Yobo approach
Mar 17 2006
By Ian Doyle, Daily Post
EVERTON are expected to stand firm in the face of anticipated summer bids for Joseph Yobo from Arsenal and Marseille. The Nigerian international centre-back, who is out of contract at the end of next season, has made only one appearance for David Moyes's side since returning from the African Cup of Nations last month. Yobo missed Everton's last two games with a groin strain, and while he should be fit for tomorrow's home clash with Aston Villa, in his absence David Weir and Alan Stubbs have quickly rediscovered their successful partnership in the heart of the defence. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is understood to be interested in capturing Yobo as a possible long-term replacement for Sol Campbell. Marseille, from whom Everton signed the 25-year-old on an initial year-long loan before clinching a permanent deal in 2003, are similarly keen on signing the player. But with both Weir and Stubbs in the veteran stage of their careers and Matteo Ferrari at present returning to Roma once his loan spell expires at the end of the season, Moyes has no intention of allowing Yobo to depart. However, with Yobo's present deal due to expire in less than 16 months, Everton could be left facing a testing decision should anyone approach them for the player's services this summer.

Wright tipping Everton to qualify for Europe
Mar 17 2006 By Paul Walker, Daily Post
RICHARD WRIGHT has beaten the odds himself this season and now he believes Everton can do the same and qualify for Europe. The injury-jinxed goalkeeper suffered the most bizarre injury of the season when he fell over a sign on the pitch at Chelsea in February, which was specifically warning players to keep out of the goalmouths. The 28-year-old was already used to being the butt of dressing-room jokes having previously injured himself when falling out of a loft at home. Wright was out for four games after the FA Cup replay calamity at Stamford Bridge with damaged ankle ligaments. But he was expected to be sidelined for much longer and made a surprise return at the weekend in the 3-1 defeat of Fulham, a result which further enhanced Everton's hopes of qualifying for the UEFA Cup having been bottom of the table in October. Now Wright feels Everton can complete a dramatic turnaround to end their season on a high. "There is so much we can achieve," said the goalkeeper.. "There are 27 points on the table for us from nine games left and we have got to go out with the same attitude that we have been showing recently and keep performing. "Yes, we can qualify for Europe if we keep playing the way we are." Everton have emerged as outsiders for the automatic European places thanks to a remarkable run of form which has seen the side take 20 points from the last 27 available in the Premiership. With nine games remaining, Everton are six points behind Blackburn and the last automatic European qualification spot. Wright said: "We need to keep trying to improve ourselves and work hard in training. "If you look at the way James Beattie is performing at the moment with his goals and his work rate it is fantastic. "Mikel Arteta is playing fantastically and you can just go round the team and speak about every individual and everyone is on top of their game, and everyone is enjoying their football at the moment." Wright's own future has been doubted this season after a succession of injuries had reduced his first-team opportunities behind veteran Nigel Martyn. But with Martyn now also injured, Wright can stake a claim to establish himself in the side. "For myself, the aim was to get into the team," he said.. "And if we can achieve stuff as a team and I am a part of that by playing then that would be fantastic. That is what I want. "But the main thing is that Everton achieves success and that we keep playing well. "I am sure we can go about that with the confidence that we have in the team at the moment. "When you come into the team and everyone is playing well around you then it definitely makes it easier. "There is so much confidence within the team and the squad." He added: "We have got Lee Carsley and Gary Naysmith not even in the 16 so there are great players who are chomping at the bit and trying to get their places now, so competition is always healthy. "I just want to go out and enjoy my football, that is the main thing for me. "The other thing is that it is a team game and if I can do well then hopefully the team will be up there as well."

Excitable responses after classy display
Mar 17 2006
By Mark O'Brien Everton supporter, Daily Post
EVERTON for Europe and Beattie for England. They were some of the more excitable responses after the Blues' most convincing performance of the season last Saturday. Qualification for the UEFA Cup is certainly feasible, although in reality it would require the form shown since Christmas to continue pretty much unabated while some of the sides above would need to fall away dramatically.
The fact it is even a consideration though, and that we have already reached the 40-point staging post with nine games remaining, is just further testament to the sterling work being done by the players and the management. David Moyes, while reflecting on his four years in charge this week, was justified in pointing out that overall the Blues have improved while he has been in charge. He was also right to give praise to those in the boardroom who never panicked when things were looking grim in the first half of the season and held firm while more than a few people were saying that the manager had to go or else relegation was a certainty. There are always going to be critics, especially when things aren't going well, although even when Everton have been making progress they still seem to get more than their fair share of complaints. Two of the main areas that seem to attract the attention of the disenchanted are Moyes's ability to capture decent players in the transfer market and the style of football that his teams play. However, even those of the sourest disposition would have struggled to leave Goodison on Saturday with anything but a smile on their face. For a start, the standard of the football was superb, with the Blues continuing where they left off against West Ham, passing the ball superbly and going forward with real purpose. And at the heart of this display were two of Moyes's biggest signings, Mikel Arteta and James Beattie. They're both completely different sorts of players, obviously - the Spaniard oozes class in everything he does while what Beattie lacks in technique he more than makes up for with endeavour and audacity - but what they do both have in common is that they are benefiting hugely from the confidence that is running through the whole side at the moment. All the Toffees can do between now and the end of the season is to keep trying to reproduce that sort of form and playing with the same joie de vivre.

Go for it!
Mar 17 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES has admitted that Everton will need to maintain their dazzling post-Christmas form if they are going to defy the odds and claim a European place. Having won seven of their last 10 Premiership matches, Everton's season has been transformed and Moyes' squad go into tomorrow's match with Aston Villa six points behind sixth-placed Blackburn Rovers. Victory in the lunchtime kick-off would momentarily hoist the Blues into the top half of the table and extend their winning run at home to a sixth match but Moyes is under no illusion that Villa will offer a stern test of their credentials. With only nine games to go, though, the manager is also well aware that Everton have no margin for error in the coming weeks if they going to defy the odds yet Moyes has full confidence that his players are up to the challenge. "I think we will need to see if we can tighten up a little bit more. We are six points behind with nine games to go, so it's quite a tough call," said Moyes. "But we will need to try and maintain the form that we have been in between now and the end of the season. But we are capable of doing that. We have got players who are coming into form." Everton have not kept a clean sheet since beating Blackburn 1-0 at Goodison on February 11, conceding five times in the process but Moyes - who is delighted with the form of Alan Stubbs and David Weir - does not feel that paints a fair picture of the way his back four have been playing. "We have defended quite well but there are one or two things which we feel we could have done better," said Moyes. "The boys at the back have been steady. It doesn't tell the whole story but we were disappointed to lose two at Newcastle and against West Ham. "When Stubbsy came back I told him that it was as cover. He knew he would be behind Joseph Yobo, Davie and Matteo Ferrari at the time. "But injuries were such that he got in right away and he's deserved to stay in. It's up to other people to get in and fight their way back into the team." Moyes is likely to name the side that beat Fulham last week but he has warned it will need a similar performance to get a maximum return against Villa. When they last met on Boxing Day, David O'Leary's men ran out 4-0 winners and Moyes is desperate to level the scores. "The game went against us but we came away sorely beaten on the day," said Moyes. "We have moved on from there, though, and we are doing much better. We have got to try and avenge that defeat. "Villa have got good quality players and we have to be wary of that. I know they played well at Blackburn and were unlucky not to get a result. "We have to be aware that their away record is very good and that they could cause us problems. But we are hoping our home form can see us through. We have to keep that going."

Keeper happy to be back after freak injury
Mar 17 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
HAVING found himself on the wrong end of the dressing room banter for the last couple of weeks, Richard Wright is determined to have the last laugh now he is back between the posts for Everton. Wright infamously injured himself during the warm-up ahead of the Blues' FA Cup replay at Chelsea last month, damaging ankle ligaments when he collided with a placard that he moved which read: 'Area not in use - please use temporary goalmouth'. Once Wright's colleagues realised that there was no serious damage, the ribbing began in earnest. Until some other poor soul does something to deflect the attention, the Everton keeper is well aware he will be reminded of the incident again and again. As one of life's chirpier characters, though, Wright has been happy to roll with the verbal jousting and has not allowed the episode to weigh him down. Had that been the case, it is unlikely he would have returned ahead of schedule. "I'm not worried about it," said Wright, one of David Moyes' first signings in the summer of 2002. "It's gone now. I've had enough stick from the lads and there have been enough jokes, even from the fans behind the goal. But I can't worry about it. "It happened. I can't change it, so there is no way I'm going to look back and think about it. I twisted my ankle and straight away they took me to hospital. Fortunately, there was a specialist at the ground. "He saw there was no break and then it was just a case of getting the scan the next day. But I got myself fit ahead of schedule and I'm very pleased because in the end I was only out for four weeks. "The main thing is I'm back and now I can look forward to the future. Everyone is working so hard and there are lots of players who are performing out of their skin. "James Beattie has been fantastic, James McFadden scored a great goal against Fulham. "If you just look at the whole team, they are performing to a very high standard. I've also got to do that." As much as he makes light of the incident, it was a huge relief to get back between the posts last Saturday to show his well being with a confident display in the 3-1 win over Fulham that keeps Everton in the hunt for Europe. The challenge now, as the 28-year-old is well aware, is for him to play a significant role in helping Everton keep the pressure on those sides immediately above them in the table as the season approaches boiling point. Injury aside, it has been a slightly frustrating campaign for Wright. The excellent form of Nigel Martyn limited his chances before Christmas, so no wonder he is determined to make the most of every opportunity he gets. "I was delighted to come back into the team, especially the way in which we performed," he reflected. "It was great to get the result. "The one thing we have got to take out of it is that we got three points. "I would have been pleased to keep a clean sheet, but from the penalty spot you can't do much about it. Hopefully, you can guess the right way and you have a chance to save it, but it just never worked out that way. "Confidence is high in the camp and I'm just looking forward to playing each game. I want to get a run in the team and play regular football. "Since I have been back in though there has been a little lay-off in between, I've really enjoyed it. We have had some good results." That quest continues tomorrow when Aston Villa visit Goodison Park. After winning their last five matches on home turf, it is hardly surprising that Everton are hot favourites to make it six in a row. If so, they will be another step closer to putting themselves in line for a UEFA Cup spot - something that seemed a million miles away when the Blues were thumped 4-0 at Villa Park on Boxing Day night. "If we keep performing as we have been doing, who knows what might happen?" Wright added. "There is no easy game in the Premiership and no team will come here and lie down. They have got some good individual players. "They had a good result against us at Christmas. That's why we have got to make sure we go out there and put up a good performance and make sure we come out with three points. Europe is certainly achievable. "At the moment, we have just got to make sure that we keep working hard. That's especially the case for myself. "I must concentrate on putting performances in and enjoying my football."

Johnson 'happy' to stay at Palace
Mar 17 2006 By Ian Doyle, Daily Post
DAVID MOYES will not be discouraged by striking target Andrew Johnson yesterday insisting he is happy to stay at Crystal Palace. The 25-year-old's future is still likely to depend on which division Palace are in next term, with manager Iain Dowie having already admitted it would be difficult to keep him if the club do not win promotion. Johnson said: "I'm happy at Palace. There is a great bunch of players, and I would be more than happy to stay." Johnson has still not given up hope of winning a place in the England World Cup squad. The forward added: "Sven-Goran Eriksson has kept his word and kept me involved, even though I'm playing in the Championship."

The facts behind Moyes' reaction to the critics
Mar 17 2006 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
WHAT David Moyes actually said this week: "I never questioned if I was at the right place. But there have been a couple of occasions where I thought that some people must have short memories. "Everton have not been in the top 10 many times, about two or three times in the last 14 years. "Suddenly in the three-and-a-half years I've been here, we've been in the Champions League and just missed out on the UEFA Cup with a record points total. "With some of the criticism we were getting this season, I thought to myself that Everton must have had some great success if people want this all the time, but the facts are Everton haven't had much success in recent years. "I felt that some of the criticism was not correct. I didn't doubt my ability because I knew we were going in the right direction and people who knew football and understood how clubs work were supporting me, and that support included the chairman and the board of directors. "They have not panicked, they have been very supportive and gone about things the right way. "Everton are considered one of the top six big clubs in the country yet if you look at their performance over the recent years then they are more of a bottom six club. We have to try and change that, and I hope that in the last three years we have shown signs of going in the right direction." What he really meant to say: "What the hell do you lot want? You've watched relegation football for the best part of 15 years, I managed to turn things round in two out of my first three seasons, then the first sight of a blip and half of you decide I've taken you as far as I can! "Thank God Bill and Jon didn't react the way some of you lot did. Man City have had about 10 managers in 10 years and they've won loads haven't they? "I've not had much cash, but replaced old, washed up stars like Gascoigne and Ginola with young, hungry play-ers like Cahill and McFadden. And slowly, but surely, we're getting better. "The only thing Everton have lived up to in their motto since 1987 has been nil. But if you stick with me we might actually be able to stand shoulder to shoulder with clubs like Tottenham once again. "So stop your moaning, or next time we have a dip in form I'm off to Celtic." * STEVE BRUCE claims he is getting by on two hours sleep a night. Perhaps that's why it's called beauty sleep.

Injury rules Martyn out for rest of season
Mar 18 2006 By Ian Doyle Daily Post Staff
NIGEL MARTYN faces an anxious wait over his Everton future after effectively being ruled out for the remainder of the season. The goalkeeper is out for up to six weeks after a scan on his troublesome ankle discovered a hairline fracture in the joint. And he will be joined on the sidelines by young striker James Vaughan, who will visit world-renowned special-ist Dr Richard Steadman in America next week in a bid to cure his long-term knee injury. Martyn, who had been struggling with problems in both ankles earlier in the campaign, has not played since the FA Cup fourth round draw with Chelsea on January 28. The 39-year-old had been hopeful of returning in time for the Merseyside derby next week after undergoing an operation to repair the damage in his right ankle. But despite returning to training, Martyn continued to complain of discomfort and another scan this week has unearthed the more serious problem. "We have found a small hairline fracture deep inside a joint in Nigel's ankle and he is going to be out of action for six weeks," said Moyes. "We are going to have to look at the injury differently, and he will have to rest. He will do well to come back again this season.
"It is a really strange injury. It's only just shown up in the bone scans in the last two weeks. He'd actually started to do some training, and we went to get him checked and this has shown up. The specialists have said that because it is unusual he has to rest for Martyn is out of contract in the summer and is now highly unlikely to be given a chance to press his claims before his deal expires.
Moyes will not make a decision on the renewal of any players' contracts until the end of season.
But he said: "I hope Nigel has not played his last game for us. He has done great for us, is a great lad and is great to have around. I hope that his ankle heals. "I won't make a decision on any contracts until the end of the season, whether it is Nigel or anyone else. "He's 39 now and he's picked up an unusual injury. He's pretty gutted about it. He is a great lad and a great goalkeeper and he just didn't think his ankle has been right and the checks have shown up something else." Richard Wright will continue to deputise in goal against Aston Villa this afternoon, although Moyes has yet to make a decision on whether to extend Sander Westerveld's loan deal from Portsmouth. "I have not thought about the ramifications of it," he added. "The difference is that we also have the other goalkeepers here now (John Ruddy and Iain Turner)." Meanwhile, Vaughan will visit Steadman next week to discover the cause of the knee injury that has restricted him to just one substitute appearance this season. "James Vaughan is going to see Richard Steadman in America next week about his knee," said Moyes.. "He had an operation on his cartilage and now we want a second opinion. He is only 17 years of age. Everytime he trains his knee swells up. "I don't think we'll see him again this season. It is a blow."

Everton 4, Aston Villa 1 (D,Post)
Mar 20 2006 By Ian Doyle at Goodison Park, Daily Post
DAVID MOYES had spoken before Saturday's game of his shock that so many people were surprised by his team's poor start to the season. "I thought that's where Everton were used to being in recent years," said the Goodison manager. "Maybe we should have taken the reaction as a compliment."

Perhaps an even greater mark of respect should be just how little of that shock and surprise greeted the weekend's dismantling of Aston Villa. These are hugely encouraging times for Moyes and his players. The fear and trepidation that preceded every fixture as Everton languished in the Premiership nether regions have been replaced by hope and expectation. When Moyes's side were thumped 4-0 at Villa Park on Boxing Day, most supporters were praying for the season to end as soon as possible. Less than three months later, you'd be hard pressed to find an Evertonian who wants the campaign to stop. And why should they? Saturday's win was an eighth in Everton's last 11 league games and a club record sixth straight home Premiership success with nine goals having been scored in their last three outings. That's title-challenging form. No chance of that now, of course, but Europe remains an ever-more attainable target. The little steps Moyes has been demanding continue to be taken, with Everton popping their head above the halfway mark in the Premiership table for the first time this season. The confidence coursing through the players at present is obvious, particularly among the forwards. Having struggled for goals for much of the campaign, suddenly things have started to come together in an Everton attack that looked dangerous with every foray into the Villa half on Saturday. Central to that resurgence has been Mikel Arteta. The Span-iard's recent displays have led his team-mates and manager to suggest he is worthy of a place in his country's World Cup squad, and even though his afternoon was halted with 33 minutes remaining - a precautionary substitution ahead of the next week's Anfield derby - Arteta, demonstrating trademark vision, creativity and tenacity, was the standout performer ahead of a hugely impressive supporting cast. James Beattie probably won't make the World Cup either - time seems against the former Southampton man - but his form since the turn of the year has finally convinced any remaining doubt-ers among the Everton support that he is worthy of the shirt.
Beattie may not have scored on Saturday but he tormented the visiting defence with another selfless example of the target man's art. The striker played a part in all three first-half goals as Moyes's side ruthlessly exploited the disharmony so evident among a desperately poor Villa side. The last meeting between the sides led to murmurings for Moyes to be sacked; now it's the turn of Villa manager David O'Leary to incur the supporters' wrath. With James McFadden buzzing with intent off the bludgeoning Beattie and the direct running of Leon Osman leaving defenders in a daze, Everton played with great freedom and expression, the players feeding off each other's sky-high morale. And as Phil Neville mopped up what little threat Villa's midfield could muster, it gave Tim Cahill the chance to improve his goals tally with an opportunist brace. Yes, the level of performance dipped noticeably once Arteta was forced to depart, with Villa's belated charge in the final third of the game causing a few flutters in the home defence. But the game had already effectively been sewn up by half-time - and how many times have Everton been able to say that in recent seasons? The only genuine blemish was the 65th-minute goal for Villa debutant Gabriel Agbonlahor, pressed into action due to the absence of senior forwards Milan Baros, Juan Pablo Angel and Kevin Phillips.
It means Everton have kept only two clean sheets in their last nine games - something of which Moyes is acutely aware. With the injured Nigel Martyn unlikely to be seen again this season - and, who knows, possibly never again at Goodison - the soft nature of the strike will not have done Richard Wright's long-term chances any favours. Otherwise the defence, in which Gary Naysmith was making his first start in almost a year, held firm, particularly during a brief first-half flurry that represented Everton's only real period of concern. That followed the opening goal in the 16th minute that illustrated McFadden's burgeoning confidence. A free-kick from his own half was pumped forward by Alan Stubbs on to the head of Beattie, who knocked the ball down for the oncoming McFadden to crash home on a right-footed volley into the bottom corner from just outside the area. Villa responded with a Steven Davis shot that Nay-smith was forced to clear from in front of goal. From the resultant corner, Agbonlahor's header was cleared off the line by McFadden and Davis's follow-up shot was deflected over by Cahill from under the Everton crossbar. The home side, however, were always in control and after Osman had warmed the palms of Thomas Sorensen, they doubled their advantage midway through the half. A long throw from the left by Neville into the area was flicked on by the ubiquitous Beat-tie, and after McFadden was unfortunate to see his hooked effort inside the six-yard area strike the post, Cahill was on hand to bundle in the rebound.
Beattie attempted a cheeky lob before initiating the move that brought the third goal on the stroke of half-time, finding Cahill who in turn set Arteta free down the left. The Spaniard raced on beyond Jlloyd Samuel and slipped a pass across goal that Osman slid in at the far post. Cahill headed an Arteta free-kick wide and Osman blazed wastefully over as the second half followed the pattern of the first until the 64th minute when Agbonlahor - who had scored against Everton's reserves earlier in the week - embarrassed Wright with a shot from the angle that went through the goalkeeper.
As Everton eased off the gas, it gave Villa something to hold on to and they at least made a better fist of things. Wright got enough on the ball to prevent a second goal for Agbonlahor, Lee Hendrie's shot was blocked by Nay-smith, former Everton player Gavin McCann headed at Wright and Weir had to be alert to clear from Luke Moore. Sorensen was slightly fortunate not to be sent off after seeming to handle outside the area, but Everton's efforts earned a final reward in the last minute. A free-kick from Neville was flicked on by Cahill to McFadden, and the Scot repaid the compliment with a clever backheel that gave space for Cahill to hammer home. Having scored two against West Ham United, three against Fulham and now four against Aston Villa in successive games, such a pattern suggests a nap hand for Everton in their next fixture. Liverpool might have something to say about that. But for Moyes's men, the evidence suggests a vast improvement on their last derby showing in December is a certainty at the very least.
EVERTON (4-4-2): Wright; Hibbert, Stubbs, Weir, Naysmith; Osman, Cahill, Neville, Arteta (Kilbane 56); Beattie, McFadden. Subs: Westerveld, Yobo, Davies, van der Meyde.
BOOKING: Cahill (foul).
ASTON VILLA (4-4-2): Sorensen; Hughes (Samuel 29), Mellberg, Ridgewell, Bouma; Gardner (Hendrie 57), McCann, Davis, Barry; Moore, Agbonlahor. Subs: Taylor, Djemba-Djemba, Whittingham.
BOOKINGS: Bouma and Mellberg (both fouls).
REFEREE: Rob Styles.
ATT: 36,507.
NEXT GAME: Liverpool v Everton, Premiership, Saturday, 12.45pm

Arteta worth a shot at the World Cup
By Ian Doyle Daily Post Staff
Mar 20 2006
0ShareDAVID MOYES has urged Spain coach Luis Aragones to run the rule over Mikel Arteta after the Everton midfielder excelled in Saturday's 4-1 thrashing of Aston Villa. The 23-year-old is expected to be fit for next week's Merseyside derby against Liverpool at Anfield despite being withdrawn in the 56th minute complaining of a sore hamstring. Arteta had already done enough to ensure a club record sixth successive Premiership home win for Everton that moved Moyes's side into the top half of the table for the first time this season. And the Goodison manager has implored Spanish national team coach Aragones to assess first-hand Arteta's outstanding recent form, with less than two months remaining before the World Cup squads are finalised. "I think Mikel is playing tremendously well," said Moyes. "Because he can play in three or four positions, he is a tremendous player for us to have. "The World Cup may come a bit too soon for him, and I've already told him that he should be looking at the next European Championships possibly. "The Spanish team seems quite settled. But if the manager wants to come over here and look at the players across the park (at Liverpool), I hope he would come and have a look at Mikel as well. "He is a great player, a great passer with two good feet and is very good on the ball. He's done very well for us. "And he should be okay for next week. He felt something at the top of his hamstring, but we hope it is nothing too serious."
James McFadden set Everton on their way to victory at the weekend with a well-taken 16th-minute strike. It was his fifth of the season and followed his similarly spectacular effort against Fulham the previous week. The Scotland international also played a part in both of Tim Cahill's goals, leaving Moyes impressed by his compatriot's recent form. "He can be Scotland's Wayne Rooney, if you want to put it that way," said the Everton manager. "I've always thought that his football ability is unquestionable, but I've said to him that he's a young player who needs time to develop.
"I didn't know whether he'd accept that. He's questioned that at times. I didn't think it was a gamble signing him because of his ability. But perhaps people looked at him and wondered where he would play. "I wanted to look at him and see whether he was better on the left wing, the right wing or through the middle. I think his versatility is good for him, but his best position is centre-forward where he is playing now. But we might need him to drop on to the left wing at times." McFadden's opener was followed by first-half goals from Cahill and Leon Osman - his fourth of the season - and although Villa debutant Gabriel Agbonlahor reduced the arrears in the 64th minute, Cahill sealed Everton's win in the final minute. Everton have now taken 23 points from the last 30 and scored nine times in three games, and Moyes said: "We are producing some great attacking play now, and you can all see from the celebrations that the players are enjoying themselves. "We have always had players capable of creating goals and you can see now that we have players capable of scoring goals as well. He added: "When Villa got it back to 3-1 you get a bit jittery because it changes the complexion of the game. But the boys stuck with it and we thor-oughly deserved to win." Everton retain an outside chance of earning a UEFA Cup qualification place, and Moyes added: "We now have four home games and four away games to go, and we have just got to keep our form up now. We know that it is going to be close." Nuno Valente missed the game with a thigh injury, allowing Gary Naysmith to make his first start since the 4-0 win over Crystal Palace last April.

Cahill: We want a top six finish
Mar 20 2006 By Paul Walker Daily Post Correspondent
TWO-GOAL hero Tim Cahill believes revitalised Everton can reach the Barclays Premiership top six and again qualify for Europe after crushing Aston Villa. Everton overpowered Villa at Goodison Park to leave disgruntled visiting fans calling for the head of their manager David O'Leary. Villa manager O'Leary pointed the finger at the club's ongoing takeover confusion and lack of funds for their disarray - but conceded his team have failed to handle long balls and set plays all season.
By contrast Everton have come through off-field turmoil and an early-season crisis in confidence to put together the sort of run that took them to fourth last year. Cahill said: "Our aim is the top six now, that is a very realistic proposition for us in this form." And it will not have helped O'Leary's mood to have seen the main architect of his side's demise being striker James Beattie, the man he thought was heading for Villa Park. Beattie was impressive, helping to create three of the four goals in his valiant - but probably belated - bid for England's World Cup squad. "All I can do is keep my head down and I will keep working hard and if I get the call it would be brilliant," Beattie said. "I have put in a lot of hard work and I have had loads of support from the lads and from the fans as well."
David Moyes also pinpointed Beattie's contribution to the club's sixth successive home league win.
He said: "Beattie did a great job up front, winning head-ers - he was strong and powerful as well as making goals. "That is all part of being a centre-forward, some days chances are made for you but other times you have to do that for your colleagues and he is excellent at that. His all-round general play is improving. "As for a European place, all we can do is to keep our form up. But we have been coming from a long way away, we are getting close and it is not going to be easy. "I told the lads to remember what it felt like at Christmas when we lost 4-0 at Villa, we were very down at that period.
"I told them to enjoy this one, keep looking after each other and score goals. If we keep doing this we will be pretty close to our objectives at the end. We have eight games left and just have to keep this run going." Villa's O'Leary said: "All season we have been giving away soft goals and that means we have mountains to climb. "We are in a period in which I know what is needed, the whole club is. We have to just wait and see what changes will come along. Until then we have to battle on as best we can. "Anyone else who came in would face the same problems as I am. I know what is needed, but it is not possible right now."

Classy Everton still suffering backline nerves
Mar 20 2006 By Mark O'Brien, Daily Post
SPORTS psychologists would probably have a field day with this current Everton team. For a start they would probably like to explore the mental factors and childhood traumas that make a side that is winning by three goals suddenly freeze and hand the initiative to opponents who had previously looked incapable of passing the ball to a team-mate, never mind scoring a goal and threatening a grandstand finish. Twice that has happened now, with the fans expecting to see Everton notch up rugby scores against Fulham and Villa but then ending up biting their nails and shaking their heads in disbelief. Luckily Tim Cahill's late goal put paid to any hope that David O'Leary's side had of sustaining a real comeback. The few fans who made the journey up from the Midlands will probably point to the introduction of the out-of-favour Lee Hendrie at half-time as the catalyst for their rally, although Evertonians would more likely consider Mikel Arteta's withdrawal as the key to their side's drop in standards. A lot has been said about how well the Spaniard is playing at the moment, all of it justified, but what is most impressive isn't just the level of his performances but the fact that he is producing them in what is not his natural position. He is ostensibly a central midfielder, a cultured schemer who dictates the play from the centre circle, but he has transformed himself into one of the most exciting wingers in the country at the moment. When he was first shifted out onto the flank last season, in an effort to supply some decent crosses for Duncan Ferguson to attack, he played the role in a similar way to David Beckham - making himself a bit of space and firing crosses in from deep. Now though, he seems to be thriving on taking people on and tying them in knots with his quick feet and superb close control. The run and the cross for Everton's third goal, when he destroyed Jloyd Samuel - a player for whom the phrase 'lost his way' could have been invented - brought back memories of Anders Limpar at his best. Oddly enough, while Arteta is going from strength to strength since moving out to the wing, James McFadden seems to be benefiting from getting away from the touch-line, where all too often he used to waste his energy running down blind alleys. Now that he has more freedom to find space without a full-back standing on his ankles, the Everton fans are starting to see more of the talent that made him such a hot property in Scotland. He certainly took his goal well and we are seeing his tricks, like the backheel to set up Cahill, in the right areas of the pitch - in the opponents' penalty area, not on the halfway line.
McFadden is also being helped no end by the form of James Beattie, who, although he didn't score, gave possibly his most complete performance in an Everton shirt. We all know that he puts in the effort and that he has a knack of finding the back of the net, but his all-round game can often leave a little to be desired. On Saturday though he looked like a proper target-man, winning everything in the air, holding the ball up superbly and bringing his teammates into play. Olof Mellberg, an international central defender, looked like a nervous wreck after 90 minutes up against Beattie, the man who has ensured that Ferguson hasn't been missed in the slightest. Now it seems a long time since that could be said of an Everton team. There are still some obvious weaknesses in this side, and they were highlighted during Villa's second-half fightback. Most notably, David Weir was frequently unsettled by the pace of Gabriel Agbonlahor - although to be fair there would be few defenders who would fancy keeping up with the teenager - while Richard Wright didn't cover himself in glory with the goal. More to the point, Wright doesn't seem to inspire any confidence in either the crowd or, more importantly, the defenders in front of him. With Nigel Martyn out for the rest of the season and unfortunately considering retirement, a new keeper with a bit of authority as well as ability would seem to be an even bigger priority than this elusive pacy striker. Still, Everton have every right to go into Saturday's derby full of confidence, and while nothing can be taken for granted against one of the toughest sides to play against in the Premiership, you don't need to be a sports psychologist to know that this side will present a far sterner test for Liverpool than the one they faced at Goodison back in December.

Yobo quality
Post Soapbox, icLiverpool & Daily Post
Mar 20 2006
DON'T let Joseph Yobo go, he's one of the best defenders in the Premiership, so David Moyes would be right to rebuff any offers for him. Anna Thomas (via e-mail)
Team player
KEVIN KILBANE always gives of his best. He didn't cost the earth, gets stuck in and is happy to go along with the manager's team selection. He never moans about being dropped. he just gets on with it. We have had players like him in the past - Gary Ablett and Alan Harper for instance.
Brian Jones, Huyton
Handy target
ANDREW JOHNSON would forge a strong and potent strikeforce with James Beattie. With doubts over the future of Nigel Martyn, I would go for Mark Schwarzer from Middlesbrough. Great agility and experience. Matthew Upson would be my next target, as he and Joseph Yobo would form a partnership as solid as a frozen spud. And I wouldn't rule out finding places for David Nugent, Jason Koumas, and Michael Ball to give the club a bright future.
David Morris (via e-mail)
Best eleven
I WOULD like to suggest this is my all time Everton XI. I never saw the great Dean or Lawton or TG Jones. But how about: Southall; Parker, Wilson, Gabriel, Labone, Kay, Kanchelskis, Lineker, Latchford, Ball, Ring. Subs: Vernon, Kendall, Harvey, West, Wright? Joe Murray, Kirkdale

Everton 4, Aston Villa 1 (Echo)
Mar 20 2006 By Dominic King
FROM relegation candidates to European challengers in the space of three months, the whirlwind transformation of Everton's outrageous season shows no sign of relenting. While David Moyes and his squad will go quietly about their business, refusing to make any outlandish statements as they look no further than the next game, there was something symbolic about Saturday's 4-1 thrashing of Aston Villa. It was at Villa Park on Boxing Day, you will recall with a shudder, that Everton's fortunes plummeted to a miserable nadir. With Per Kroldrup making his sole Premiership appearance, the Blues fell asunder and were beaten 4-0. If you had suggested back then that 84 days later Everton would be the league's form team, playing with a swagger and have an outside chance of amassing more points than they did last year, it is fair to say your sanity would have been questioned. When Liverpool waltzed out of Goodison Park 48 hours after that debacle in the West Midlands having won 3-1, Everton were 17th with a similar amount of points. Qualifying for Europe, meanwhile, appeared to rest on their ability to write a decent song. How things change. Now? With eight games to go, there is every reason to believe the momentum behind the Blues - who have collected 26 of the last 36 points available - will carry them into a UEFA Cup spot. The players believe that more than most. Before he headed home clutching two bottles of sponsors' bubbly, the outstanding Tim Cahill made it clear that finishing in the top six was a "realistic" target. Going on the performance against hapless Villa, it is hard to disagree with the Australian. All of a sudden, the team that could not buy a goal in the opening weeks of the campaign cannot stop scoring. That's nine in three matches. It took 16 games to register that tally between August and December. As confidence surges through the ranks, the more players are willing to try different things. Consider the fourth goal and the way Cahill and James McFadden stylishly combined to present Cahill with an opportunity to lash home his second of the game. That was no more than he deserved. Some have questioned whether Cahill can make the same kind of impact in an orthodox four man midfield as he did in a five, mainly because he has not chipped in with as many goals as he did during his debut season. True, there have been occasions in recent months when Cahill has not contributed as much to the team as he might have done but he more than made up for lost time against Villa with a display that was nothing short of faultless. Long or short, passes found their target with monotonous regularity. Tackles were crisp and clean and as well as getting on the scoresheet twice, he even managed to pop up and make a vital headed clearance off the line in the first half. Mind you, he needed to do something special to get the man-of-the-match award because all around him, men clad in royal blue staked impressive claims. Take James Beattie's superb performance. Though there were no goals to celebrate, in terms of leading the line Beattie was faultless. A blur of perpetual motion, he made sure Olof Mellberg and Liam Ridgewell endured a wretched afternoon. The clamour for him to go to the World Cup gets louder. Two of his cushioned headers early in the game resulted in goals, the first one allowing McFadden to crash a drive past Thomas Sorensen, the other led to his strike partner clipping the woodwork before Cahill bundled home. McFadden was another who can feel completely satisfied with his efforts. The Everton manager may still not be sure of his best position but the Scotland international is making a compelling argument to played exclusively as central striker. Still only 22, there is no question he has a huge amount of ability but it has not always been properly applied. So, it has been encouraging, then, to see in the last few matches he is starting to think about the decisions he makes when in possession. But as good as his goal was, it was surpassed by Leon Osman's effort that effectively ended the game as a contest a minute before half-time. Cahill's superb pass allowed Mikel Arteta to gallop free and cross for Osman to put the gloss on the move. He was excellent, likewise Arteta. Hopefully, the hamstring injury which forced the Spaniard off after 57 minutes will not prevent him from displaying his lavish skills against Liverpool next Saturday. A word, too, for Phil Neville. While the more attack minded players grabbed the limelight, his contribution did not go unnoticed, the artisan's tackles and ability to break up attacks giving the artists a platform on which to shine. The defence will be frustrated to have conceded a goal once again - Richard Wright should have done better with Gabi Agbonlahor's shot in the second half - but they were not overly stretched despite David O'Leary's preposterous claims to the contrary. Unfortunately, Everton are unlikely to find opponents in such charitable mood as Villa in their final eight games but they will not need to rely on gifts if they keep playing with the swagger they have shown since the turn of the year. Of course, there are some difficult tasks to negotiate, notably away games at Anfield and Stamford Bridge, as well as a home game with Champions League-chasing Tottenham Hotspur. Equally, games at home to relegation haunted West Bromwich Albion and Birmingham City will be more difficult than the league table will suggest. With 24 priceless points to play for, however, Everton are well placed to make one final push. The fact they are being spoken about as UEFA Cup hopefuls shows how well they have done to turn things around since that miserable evening in Birmingham. After looking dead and buried at Christmas, only a brave man would now bet against them finishing the job.
EVERTON (4-4-2): Wright; Hibbert, Stubbs, Weir, Naysmith; Osman, Cahill, Neville, Arteta (Kilbane 56); Beattie, McFadden. Subs: Westerveld, Yobo, Davies, van der Meyde.
BOOKING: Cahill (foul).
ASTON VILLA (4-4-2): Sorensen; Hughes (Samuel 29), Mellberg, Ridgewell, Bouma; Gardner (Hendrie 57), McCann, Davis, Barry; Moore, Agbonlahor. Subs: Taylor, Djemba-Djemba, Whittingham.
BOOKINGS: Bouma and Mellberg (both fouls).
REFEREE: Rob Styles.
ATT: 36,507.

Osman on revenge mission
Mar 20 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
LEON OSMAN today admitted Everton's players are desperate to atone for one of their most miserable nights of the season by winning at Anfield at the weekend. Having kept themselves in the hunt for a UEFA Cup spot with Saturday's 4-1 thrashing of Aston Villa, the Blues will make the short trip across Stanley Park with their confidence levels soaring. Everton have not beaten Liverpool away from home since 1999 but if they could break that hoodoo, their chances of playing in Europe would be significantly enhanced. Osman, however, has revealed that Everton will be on a revenge mission following the last meeting between the two sides at Christmas. Liverpool ran out comfortable 3-1 winners at Goodison Park when Everton were at a low ebb and Osman says there is a determination in the dressing room to prove that display was all wrong. "We didn't want to go into that game on the back of a defeat," Osman stressed. "We want to go over there as confident as we can be and we've made that the case after beating Villa. "When we played Liverpool at home, it was really disappointing and we were well beaten. I was sub and never got on either, which was especially frustrating. "It was just a disappointing night for everyone. But we will go into the next game determined and we want to put things right. "We are definitely coming good at the right time, picking up points and if we can get ourselves into Europe, we will all be happy. "We are on a fantastic run but we are realistic to know that we can't win every single game. There are going to be slip ups. But we will do our best to make sure that doesn't happen." Provided they keep playing with the same verve so evident against Villa on Saturday, Osman is well aware that Everton will be winning far more games than they lose. Stretching their winning sequence at home to a club record sixth match and having picked up 26 points since December 31, David Moyes' squad are on course to finish the season with a bang. Osman, in particular, has made it clear he will be going at full throttle to keep his place in the team. Having taken his goal tally to four, the 24-year-old wants to beat last year's haul of seven. "We've been making Goodison a really difficult place for teams to come to and that has proven the case against Villa," continued Osman, one of Everton's most impressive weekend performers. "We always believed it was possible to turn things around and we're all happy that it's started to happen. "The more you win, the more confident you become and the more you want to try things, especially when you go a couple of goals up like we have done in the last two games. "We are scoring some really good goals and nine in the three games is a good return. It's something that we felt we needed to improve. "Everyone knows that we struggled to score goals at the beginning of the season, as we did last year when we were winning a lot of games. "Now we are all understanding each others' games and we are all benefitting from it. I just want to put as many away as I can. If I can match last season's total, I will be happy." Sander Westerveld, meanwhile, has played his last game for Everton. The goalkeeper has returned to Portsmouth after making two appearances during his month-long loan.

Moyes kept faith with 'McRooney'
Mar 20 2006 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES never gave up on the young striker he calls his "Scottish Wayne Rooney". And he is delighted that James McFadden decided not to give up on Everton. The £1.5m signing from Motherwell was linked with a move back north of the border several times as he struggled to hold down a regular place in Everton's starting line-up. But he refused to give up on his Premiership dream and after scoring a spectacular goal for the second weekend in succession against Aston Villa at Goodison Park, there are signs he is forging a useful strike-partnership with James Beattie. "I've never, ever given up on Faddy because of the ability he has got. I think the biggest thing was that Faddy might have given up on us, because he wants to play and rightly so," explained Moyes.
"We see his ability and what he's capable of doing. He's still so young and he sometimes forgets that himself. He thinks of himself as a senior, mature player and to be a young centre-forward in the Premiership is a difficult thing to do. "I think he's beginning to mature. I think he's got the technical abilities, but his game's beginning to mature much better. "He had an awful lot very young. He's had to work hard and he's had to earn his right to get some regular games. "If he keeps playing well, he'll keep getting more games as well. His best position is still debatable and I think there'll be times when we'll play him wide and times when we'll play him up front, but I think he's done well for us up front. "I think he's probably himself feeling much happier at having a bit more freedom up front and I thought he played really well today. "I was just concerned that he was a boy who had had an awful lot early in his career - playing for Motherwell, getting in to the Scotland team. If the truth be known, he was probably Scotland's Wayne Rooney if you want to put it that way.
"When I signed him it was a little bit of a gamble because people asked 'what does he do?' and 'where does he play?' but I thought his football ability was unquestionable. "I've said to him many times he's a young player and he's going to have to develop. It might take time and I didn't know if Faddy would listen to that and say, yeah, I'm happy to accept that. "But he has. He's questioned it at times and said he wants to play more - and rightly so - that's what we want. "But the big thing we've always asked him to do is improve his decision making on the field and you can see at the moment the way he's linking things up with play and getting a goal now." McFadden's decision making was impeccable on Saturday, as Everton celebrated a sixth successive home win in the Premiership for the first time since 1990. He opened the scoring with a stinging drive from James Beattie's knockdown, shot against the post from another Beat-tie flick-on to give Tim Cahill his first goal and cleverly flicked the ball into Cahill's path again to wrap up the scoring in the last minute. Moyes was delighted with his performance, and now hopes McFadden will start to add 'scruffy' striker's goals to his repertoire as well. "He has probably had a better run at international level than he has down here, but he has scored goals for them and he needs to score goals regularly for us," he added. "Scoring spectacular goals is great, but what you want is a regular scorer and they have to come from all ways. Sometimes a tap-in, rebounds and going round the goalkeeper will get you most of your goals. In a season you only get one or two long-range shots. "I think he's got the ability to get into the box and score, but I think he needs to concentrate a little bit more and show a bit more focus when opportunities come around and if he does that then he'll get more chances. "I didn't know his best position when I signed him and I didn't want to know. I wanted him to develop."

Cahill's recovering from second-season syndrome
Mar 20 2006 Analysis by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
EVERTONIANS didn't know where to turn next to dish out standing ovations on Saturday. There were outstanding performances everywhere they looked, as the Blues celebrated a sixth successive home win in the Premiership for the first time since 1990. James Beattie didn't score. But the biggest compliment you could pay him is that on Saturday he looked every inch a 'proper' Everton centre-forward. James McFadden did score - and created two others as he showed once again signs of maturing into a quality Premiership striker - while Mikel Arteta produced another virtuoso display of the midfield arts until a tight hamstring forced him off 10 minutes into the second half. All three were rightly saluted afterwards. But the game's real driving force, the man who started - and twice finished - many of Everton's best moves was a player who regularly claimed the headlines last season, but seemed to be suffering second-season syndrome in 2005-06. Tim Cahill was outstanding, which isn't always a sentence you could utter since his astonishing debut season in the top flight. Everton's dispensing of a five-man midfield in favour of a more traditional 4-4-2, placed much greater responsibility on the little Aussie's shoulders. His late bursts into opposition penalty boxes had to be timed more responsibly, he had to learn to hold the ball and dictate play - and he had to learn to thread a pass through for other players. On Saturday he did all three impeccably. Twice he arrived with Sekonda timing in the Villa penalty box to rasp the ball past Thomas Sorensen, his all-round midfield generalship was excellent - and the perfectly weighted pass for Mikel Arteta to race after was as much responsible for Leon Osman's goal as the little Spaniard's deceptive change of pace and pass. But off the field Cahill also showed impressive qualities. Predictably, he was the man the TV cameras wanted to focus on after his two-goal salvo, but he promptly turned the attention onto James Beattie and demanded the centre-forward be given a place on England's plane to Germany this summer. As a sign of the squad's growing togetherness and team spirit, it was as persuasive as the work-rate and pressing which had demolished a dangerous looking Villa side before half-time. The man who started the rout, with another stunning goal, was another player who has come good after a lean spell. James McFadden is a footballer who has often frustrated since his switch from Motherwell two-and-a-half years ago. The dashing, dazzling, buccaneering runs which marked his first two appearances against Stockport County and Leeds United were followed up far too often by blind-alley dashes, ineffective afternoons and poor decision making.
The ability was clearly there. But McFadden looked to be running the risk of becoming a latter day John Oster. While Oster's top-flight career petered out, to be summed up largely by the song Sunderland supporters coined for him (One Johnny Oster, One Johnny Oster . . . he used to be s****, now he's all right!) McFadden knuckled down, never once moaned publicly about being left out and on Saturday even heard his name mentioned in the same sentence as Wayne Rooney by his manager. The comparison was largely to explain the hype which had accompanied his arrival on the Scottish stage, but there were times on Saturday when he justified a direct link. It wasn't the only apparently outrageous comparison made on Saturday. There were several observers - Derek Mountfield amongst them - who pointed out the similarities between 1983-84 - the catalyst season for the greatest era in Everton's history - and this current campaign: a wretched first half of the campaign followed by a promising, purposeful second half. Not even Evertonians on Prozac would suddenly claim the Blues are on the verge of becoming a title-chasing team. But they do look capable of finishing in the top half of the table - and becoming good to watch while doing it.
For Evertonians who had given up not that many years ago on seeing their club ever salvage some self-respect, that's plenty to be going on with.

We've hit form at right time - Cahill
Mar 21 2006 By Christopher Beesley Daily Post Staff
TIM CAHILL reckons a 'buzzing' Everton have come into form just at the right time ahead of Saturday's Merseyside derby at Anfield. The previously goal-shy Blues, who had netted just 21 times in 28 Premiership games before Fulham's visit to Goodison 10 days ago, have now bagged seven in their last two matches. Cahill helped himself to two of Everton's four goals against Aston Villa on Saturday and revealed that confidence is now high in the camp thanks to a New Year revival which followed a woeful first half of the campaign. He said: "The boys are absolutely flying. We're getting better and better and it is only what we deserve. "It is good to see all the lads buzzing. We are looking strong so we have got to look to push forward." Everton went into the last derby at Goodison on December 28 on the back of successive 4-0 thrashings - including a Boxing Day drubbing at Villa. But Saturday's revenge mission over David O'Leary's side extended their impressive run since losing 3-1 to Liverpool to just one defeat in 11 Premiership outings. The sequence has also included six consecutive Everton home victories in the league for the first time since the Premiership began. Although his weekend brace took Cahill's seasonal tally to seven - only one of which came before the now watershed 1-0 victory at Sunderland on New Year's Eve - the midfielder Acknowledged that the Blues' recent successes have been down to a solid team effort. He said: "I am happy with the goals but it is all made by the lads, all made together." Cahill also believes his Goodison team-mate James Beattie should be included in England's World Cup squad. He said: "We are really trying to push for Beats to get on this plane and he has played a massive part in this success. "There is so much we are working on at the training ground but the biggest thing is Beats.
"You can see him coming on strong and there is so much more from him, so he is starting to show a bit of attitude and a bit of arrogance and that is what we need from him." With other fringe strikers like Jermain Defoe and Darren Bent expected to be given opportunities ahead of the finals, Cahill believes Everton's record £6m signing should be given a fair crack of the whip. He said: "There are so many lads getting a chance so why not Beats? "He has shown his worth and his record speaks for itself. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to work that out." Meanwhile, former Liverpool keeper Sander Westerveld has ended his 28-day emergency loan at Everton and returned to Portsmouth.
The Blues now have Richard Wright, Iain Turner and John Ruddy fit and clear of suspension.

Goodison legend Gray hails inspired Beattie
Mar 21 2006 By Christopher Beesley Daily Post Staff
EVERTON cult hero Andy Gray has joined David Moyes and Tim Cahill in championing James Beattie's cause for the World Cup finals - claiming the Goodison striker is better than his Anfield counterpart Peter Crouch. Both players left Southampton for Merseyside in 2005 - Beattie for £6m and Crouch for £7m - but while Beattie has bagged 11 goals this season for his club opposed to Crouch's seven, it is the latter who seems far more likely to be included in Sven-Goran Eriksson's squad this summer.
Gray, who is now a pundit on Sky Television, played for Everton between 1983-85, helping them to win the League Championship as well as scoring in FA Cup and European Cup-Winners' Cup final successes and reckons the Swede should reconsider his options and plump for the goalscoring favourite at his former club. He said: "James has probably left it a bit late as far as the World Cup goes but in my opinion, he's a much better option than Peter Crouch, at his best. "He offers more goals and more ability. The only thing he doesn't offer more of is inches, and even though he's not 6ft 7in, he's probably a more powerful header of the ball. "He's looking like the Beattie of old that made him such a hot property at Southampton. "There's still a long way to go before he repays that transfer fee, but he certainly looks fitter and sharper than the Beattie of a year ago." Gray also believes that while Everton's awful start to the season means that they'll finish in a lower league position than last season, the overall direction of the club is positive. He said: "Everton will undoubtedly finish lower in the Premiership this season than last, but fans should be happier this May than last May because for the first time in 15 years they could have managed two consecutive top-10 finishes. "The bane of every Evertonian's life recently has been that every great season has been followed by a relegation fight. That's been the pattern and it's been a frustrating one.
"If Everton finish this season in the top 10 they will have bucked the trend and proved that for the first time in a long time they're moving forward." The Blues have enjoyed a remarkable turnaround in fortunes since New Year's Eve and Gray reckons their revival is down to a change in mentality as well as form. He said: "What's the difference? A bit of luck and a lot of confidence. "Players like Mikel Arteta and James Beattie are looking like the footballers we know they can be, and it's not because they're working any harder, but because they go out onto the pitch believing they are going to win." Gray also praised Goodison chairman Bill Kenwright for backing manager David Moyes through the troubles of 2005 and is pleased that the Everton supremo's patience has now been rewarded. He said: "Everton's spirit was epitomised in Bill Kenwright's loyalty towards David Moyes. "Too many chairmen can get itchy trigger fingers when fans are starting to get restless, but Ken-wright had faith in the manager who had taken them into Europe. "It reminded me of the calls for Howard Kendall's head before the mid-Eighties success that Evertonians can only dream about now."

Wild west shoot-out as Everton chief saddles up
Daily Post Mar 21 2006
0ShareBill Kenwright is heading for the deserts of Arizona, reports Graham Davies IT'S a long way from soccer shoot-outs to cowboy gunfights but Everton chairman Bill Kenwright is saddling up for the ride - and is seeing another lifelong dream come true. In May, while the Goodison Park faithful and most other fans start the countdown to the World Cup, the 60-year-old impresario will be heading for Arizona for three months to direct his first film - a Western called Incident at Twenty Mile. No stranger to the screen, Allerton-born Mr Kenwright got into acting at 18 when he landed a part in TV's The Villains with follow-up spots in shows like Z Cars, the gritty police series set in Kirkby.
His big break came in 1968 when he won the role of Betty Turpin's son, Gordon Clegg, in Coronation Street. He spent four years in the role before leaving to pursue a musical career. It was the launch pad to another stage in a brilliant career. During the 1970s, he made the transition into production. Since then he has produced hundreds of plays, including Willy Russell's long-running hit, Blood Brothers. Bill Kenwright Ltd, is now the largest independent theatre and film production company.
He is currently directing the musical Whistle Down the Wind in London's West End. He has already moved into movie producing, with films like Us Begins with You, but has never directed films before.
Apart from the theatre, the other major love of Mr Kenwright's life is Everton. A lifelong Blue, he joined the board of directors in 1989. His marathon battle to take over culminated on Boxing Day in 1999, a day that also saw a 5-0 victory for Everton over Sunderland. Bill Kenwright is heading for the deserts of Arizona, reports Graham Davies Mr Kenwright, who remortgaged his home to pay for the club, became chairman in 2004, succeeding Sir Phillip Carter. He has confessed the job was the culmination of a lifelong dream. Now he is fulfilling his other passion - Westerns. Talking to Simon Mayo on BBC Radio Five Live, Mr Kenwright said: "I'm directing a movie next year. I'm giving up three months of my life to go to Arizona." He said he would be flying out in May and would spend the summer filming. The movie has not yet been cast. Comparing his idea for the movie set to something out of Gunfight at the OK Corral, he said: "All my life I've loved Westerns." He added: "It's a great script and I'm passionate about it." The movie is adapted from a 1999 book by author Trevanian and tells the story of Twenty-Mile, a dying silver-mining town in 1898 Wyoming. When escaped murderer Hamilton Leider concocts a plan to rob the mine, it is down to young drifter Matthew to lead the town's violent struggle for survival. graham.davies@liverpool.com
How he could combine his two loves
BILL KENWRIGHT is yet to cast his movie. Here, we suggest how Westerns could prove a lucrative sideline for his players past and present. * THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN Midfielder Lee Carsley's bald head could stand in for Yul Brynner's shiny dome in a remake of the 1960 classic. * UNFORGIVEN Who else but Nick Barmby - for leaving the club to join arch rivals Liverpool. * THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY * "Golden boy" manager David Moyes, jailed former player Mark Ward and, er, Wayne Rooney.

England calling
Post Soapbox, icLiverpool & Daily Post
Mar 21 2006
WHY is Peter Crouch being picked for England ahead of Jame Beattie - there is no comparison in class. One is weak in the air, has a poor goal return and can be muscled out of a challenge - the other is on fire!
Beattie for England.
James Hutchinson (via-email)
Super Spaniard
MIKEL ARTETA is pure class and Everton should do everything in their power to make sure big clubs don't snaffle him up. You could see on Saturday how the level of performance went down as soon as he left the field.
Paul Gooding (via e-mail)
Osman class
WHY isn't Osman in the England squad yet? He is probably the best offensive midfielder in Europe at the moment. Eriksson should play him and Beattie up front in the World Cup - they are the best combination we have.
Larry Malone, Merseyside
WE were exceptional on Saturday. Villa didn't know what had hit them. Special mention for Gary Naysmith - he was superb especially having come back from such a bad injury. Killbane also had a great game when he came on. I'm really looking forward to Saturday's derby now - the People's Club against Michael Howard's club - it should be very interesting.
Barry Woolrich, Toxteth

Moyes rubbishes reports of £6m Forlan bid
Mar 21 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON today rubbished suggestions they have opened talks with Villarreal over a £6m move for Diego Forlan. It had been claimed this morning David Moyes has identified the former Manchester United striker as the man he wants to bring to Goodison Park during the summer. Though it is no secret that the Blues boss wants to add to his forward line, having sold Marcus Bent to Charlton Athletic during the last transfer window, Forlan's name is not on the wanted list - especially at the price Villarreal are quoting. "I had some money to spend in the January transfer window which I didn't use so I know that money is there," said Moyes, who refused to comment on stories linking him with vacant Newcastle job. "Obviously, we took money back in for Per Kroldrup and Marcus Bent, so there is money to spend but I don't think it will be bundles." For the time being, however, top of his list of priorities is ensuring Everton maintain their push for Europe when they travel to Anfield on Saturday but the manager could have to make a few changes. Having sat out the 4-1 demolition of Aston Villa last weekend with a thigh strain, Nuno Valente will be missing once again. The man who replaced him against Villa - Gary Naysmith - is also struggling with an ankle problem. Mikel Arteta, who limped off with a hamstring problem, is expected to pull through. "Hopefully Mikel will be okay," said Moyes. "We think the injury could be a nerve in his back but he will not train until later in the week, if he trains at all, so we will have to wait and see." Everton's reserves are in action against West Brom this evening. The match takes place at the Halton Stadium in Widnes, not Haig Avenue.

Everton Res 1, WBA Res 0
Mar 22 2006 Daily Post
ITALIAN defender Alessandro Pistone made his long-awaited return to action in Everton Reserves victory over West Bromwich Albion at the Halton stadium in Widnes. The game, moved due to Southport's home match in the Conference, also saw Lee Carsley continue his quest for full fitness.
It was the visitors who had the first real chance on 14 minutes when Stuart Nicholson broke free of the Everton defence, but as the Albion striker ran in on goal the ball got stuck in his feet, enabling Patrick Boyle to clear. Paul Hopkins had Everton's first meaningful chance but his shot got the slightest of deflections and went wide. Victor Anichebe then gave the small crowd a glimpse of what was to come with a good effort which just cleared Russell Hoult's crossbar. Zoltan Gera, back from a lengthy lay-off, tested Iain Turner just before the break as the half ended goalless. It wasn't that way for long however as the second period sprung into life quickly, both sides had chances with Anichebe missing a glorious opportunity and then Gera again testing Turner. Everton took control of the game 10 minutes into the half. Anichebe was there to put right his earlier miss and Everton ahead. Carsley's quick throw in found Seargeant who squared for the big striker to finish. Carsley and Pistone where both withdrawn midway through the second half, possibly with one eye on Saturday's Merseyside derby with Gary Naysmith and Nuno Valente both struggling. Everton didn't struggle for the remainder of the game and eased to full-time with only a half chance for Gera causing any concern.
EVERTON: Turner, Irving, Pistone(Molyneux 64) Boyle, S Wright, Seargeant, Carsley (Morrison 64), Phelan, Kissock, Hopkins, Anichebe. Subs: Ruddy, Elder, Denehey.
WEST BROM: Hoult, Hodgkiss, Baker (McMenamin 75), R Davies, Gaardsoe, Forsyth, Gera, Sissoko, Elvins, Nicholson, Kelleher. Subs: Pringle, Daniels, McQuilken, Manchester.

Ferguson ready, Weir warns derby rivals
Mar 22 2006 By Ian Doyle, Daily Post
DAVID WEIR has warned Liverpool that Duncan Ferguson is straining at the leash to be released in Saturday's Merseyside derby. Ferguson is available for the weekend trip to Anfield having completed a seven-match suspension following his sending off at Wigan on January 31. The 34-year-old has not scored this season but has proven a problem for Liverpool in previous derbies ever since netting against them on his Everton debut in 1994. Ferguson, who is currently suffering from a bout of illness that has affected a number of Everton players over the last few days, is almost certain to be on the bench at best of Saturday. But club skipper Weir is convinced his fellow Scot can make an impact should he be feature at Anfield. "Duncan will be looking forward to being involved again," said Weir. "He has not played for seven weeks, and everyone knows how big the derbies are for Duncan and the club. I would have thought he would be desperate to play in the game. That is up to the manager but he has been training well and I am sure Liverpool wouldn't look forward to facing him. I can remember playing against him when I was at Falkirk. "I have a few memories but it is not really a secret that he is a handful." Weir added: "The game is changing and Duncan has a lot of characteristics that are maybe going out of the game. The game is becoming less physical and you cannot get away with as much now. But Duncan still has a lot to offer, that's for sure." Mikel Arteta remains a slight doubt for Saturday's game. "Hopefully Mikel will be okay," said Moyes,, who has dismissed reports of a summer £6million move for Villarreal forward Diego Forlan. Everton and Newcastle United yesterday took the unusual step of releasing a joint statement denying speculation of Moyes taking over the vacant manager's role at St James' Park.. Everton chairman Bill Kenwright and Newcastle counterpart Freddie Shepherd moved quickly to quash the rumours. And Kenwright said: "I know David Moyes. I know Freddy Shepherd. The story is fabrication and total nonsense - it should be discounted immediately."

Moyes hails player power
Mar 22 2006 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES has saluted the influence of his players for Everton's dramatic revival this year - and the Blues' boss insists he can't take any credit for the turn-around. Linked with the managerial vacancy at Newcastle yesterday - instantly dismissed as "fabrication" by both clubs - Moyes has overseen a remarkable renaissance. But he has given the credit to his players. Since a streaky 1-0 win at Sunderland on New Year's Eve, Everton have lost just once in the Premiership, winning seven times, drawing twice and claiming six successive home wins in the league for the first time since 1990. Moyes said: "I think the resurgence of players into form has turned it around. I don't think it's anything I've done, or anything we had or hadn't done on the training ground. "I think, really and genuinely, it's players coming back into form who hadn't been playing well and are now getting close to top form again. "It's like the Everton of last season who, in the main, were consistent for certainly two-thirds of the season before we struggled to get over the line. This season, we have been poor for the first third, not bad in the middle third, and hopefully the last third we can keep it going.
"I think a few players probably realised at Christmas 'this isn't us and no matter how good we think we are, we have to prove it on the field.' "Since then, I think a few of them really started to strike good form." Since Christmas players like James Beattie, Mikel Arteta and James McFadden have shown the most consistently sustained form of their Everton careers, while Tim Cahill has rediscovered the form he showed in his debut season at Goodison. But the Blues' boss also highlighted the contribution of the re-signed Alan Stubbs. "I think there has been a steadying with Stubbsy coming back. And we have had a period where Faddy's now beginning to come into it," he added. "I also hope we are on the verge of getting Andy van der Meyde and Alessandro Pistone back. Lee Carsley and Gary Naysmith are already back and that makes the squad more competitive."

Blues ready to punch their weight
Mar 22 2006 Icliverpool And Liverpool Echo
I'M convinced Tim Cahill will be our derby match-winner on Saturday. Cahill has been improving week by week and after a slow start by his standards, he is ready to set the Premiership alight again this weekend. Two goals from Cahill last weekend were a good way to warm up for a trip to Anfield and with other threats coming from Mikel Arteta, Leon Osman and James McFadden, we will certainly cause that lot from across the park some problems. Cahill and the others are feeling the benefit of having a fit and in-form James Beattie leading the line. Beattie is putting himself about, causing mayhem for defenders and chipping in with goals himself to finally justify the £6million we spent on him. All the components are coming together at the right time.
Wayne Rayner, Aigburth.
IT WAS a great performance by the Blues against Aston Villa on Saturday. Mikel Arteta was pure class, Leon Osman played really well and James Beattie was top drawer. If he doesn't go to Germany and Crouch does it will be a crime. The Reds are definitely beatable this weekend.
Clive Owen, Wirral
WHAT A great result on Saturday. I'd love to know where all the 'Moyes Out' so called fans are now.
They really should go over to the other side of Stanley Park and be at home with the other team.
Speaking of the dark side, I think a few early physical challenges by Neville and Cahill should set us up nicely for the rest of the game on Saturday. You know the continental players on that team hate the pysical stuff. Just don't get booked early otherwise we will lose momentum for the rest of the game.
Elizabeth May, Upton
JAMES BEATTIE is going to send the Kop home crying this weekend - this will be the day he becomes our new True Blue cult hero. How he can possibly be over-looked by Sven for the World Cup this summer is beyond me. His performances since the turn of the year have been inspiring and the secret of our success. Europe here we come. But first of all there's derby points to be won.
Junior Walker, Halewood.

Weir warns: We are different side now
Mar 23 2006 By Ian Doyle Daily Post Staff
DAVID WEIR has warned Liverpool they will be facing a different Everton on Saturday to the one that succumbed to derby defeat in December. Rafael Benitez's side sauntered to a 3-1 triumph at Good-ison over Christmas against a home side struggling for form and hovering above the relegation zone.
Everton's fortunes have undergone a transformation since that evening, winning eight, drawing two and losing just one of their next 11 Premiership games. That run has moved David Moyes's side into the top half of the table and given them realistic hope of a challenge for UEFA Cup qualification.
And club skipper Weir insists Everton, who have scored nine goals in their last three games, will be a much tougher proposition when they visit Anfield for the 203rd Merseyside derby at the weekend.
"We are on a decent run," said the Scotland international. "We have scored a few goals in the last couple of games and things are quite buoyant right now. "There are things we still need to work on, we are by no means the finished article, but there are a lot of positives. "Regardless of the circumstances, derby matches are different. They take care of themselves, but there is a lot of confidence in the team. "The way the last derby went it was a real low point in the season, but we have had a few low points and we have rebounded well from them. "We are getting the benefit of them now. "Sometimes to enjoy the good times, you have to have the bad times as well." Everton went into the last derby on the back of 4-0 defeats to Bolton Wanderers and Aston Villa. And Weir added: "Liverpool were comfortable and there have not been many derbies when it has been like that and there have been a couple of goals in it. "It wasn't an enjoyable experience and it wasn't a nice atmosphere and that is what you have got to expect because the game means so much to so many people. "It is important in this game that we go out and give a performance."

Pain of loss driving Weir on for derby revenge
Mar 23 2006 By Ian Doyle, Daily Post
THERE will be no greater spur for Everton this weekend than the feeling that engulfed the home dressing room at Goodison on December 28. David Moyes's side had just been comfortably beaten 3-1 by neighbours Liverpool to leave them hovering dangerously above the relegation zone.
Everton players and supporters were understandably distraught. But as they head across Stanley Park for the return game at Anfield on Saturday, emotions and expectations are far removed from that evening. And club captain David Weir has revealed the determination to ensure the Goodison outfit do not suffer more post-match despair come the weekend. "I can remember the feeling in the dressing room after every defeat, but after a derby the feeling is doubly worse," says Weir.. "It means a lot to the players as well as the supporters. "I think it is important for us to remember how we did feel that night afterwards and try and get the other feeling. The feeling Liverpool had."
Weir, a veteran of 12 derbies, has experienced both the highs and lows of the fixture since moving to Goodison from Hearts in February 1999. And the 35-year-old is acutely aware of what victory - and defeat - means to Evertonians, who were hugely disgrunted by the festive humbling meted out by their neighbours. "Every derby you lose you are bound to get a bit of recrimination because it is hard for the fans," says Weir.. "They know they are going to get a hard time until the next derby match.
"That is part and parcel and you have to realise how big the game is how much it means and if you don't win then you have to take the downside. That is why it is so important to win and put a performance on. "I have a feeling for the city and the club and winning a derby is a special occasion. I played in the last derby win at Anfield that was a great game. I hadn't been down here too long. Kevin Campbell scored." Of the criticism from the crowd, Weir adds: "Obviously you hear it. But it is what happens on the pitch that dictates what happens in the stands. "We can only affect what is happening on the pitch. You can tell when the crowd are on edge and you have to expect that when things go wrong in a derby." Matters couldn't be more different on the pitch for Everton at present compared to their last meeting with Liverpool. Having taken 26 points from a possible 33 since then, Moyes's side are now fighting for a place in Europe rather than to escape relegation. "It is a massive transformation, but it is a fine line between winning and losing," says Weir.. "We showed that last season when we went on a winning streak. "When you believe in yourself you are hard to play against. "At the start of this season we got into the losing habit and the opposite happens. Sometimes it just takes a little bit of good fortune to change it and it happened up at Sunderland. We got a goal in the last minute and it was a little bit of luck. "We didn't play well that day by any means, but we got a result and that has kind of been the turning point. We started to believe in ourselves a bit more. It is amazing how quickly it can turn for the better or worse." The derby defeat was perhaps the lowest point of an Everton season that until then had been synonymous with disappointment and deflation. Moyes's men slumped to the bottom of the Premiership table following a desperate start the campaign in which they were eliminated from the Champions League, the UEFA Cup and the Carling Cup. A mini-revival moved Everton clear of immediate relegation danger, but Liverpool's victory heightened fears of another slip towards the drop zone until their Sunderland-sparked second coming. "After every defeat you question yourself, what I can do better? What can the team do better?" adds Weir.. "That is part of the job, but when we are as bad as we were I think you look at yourself a bit harder and see what you can do better.

"The people at the club realised we had a lot of qualities. We got together and realised there was no point pointing fingers and singling people out, it was what we did as a team and together that would get us out of it. "Maybe earlier in the season not everyone was contributing. The difference has been everyone is doing the dirty jobs and doing the less glamorous bits. "Everybody wants to score a goal and everybody wants to get the headlines, but at the end of the day it is all about winning games and Everton that matters." Winning at Anfield on Saturday would matter very much indeed for Weir, his team-mates and Everton's supporters.

Fowler could be handed a derby return
Mar 23 2006 By Ian Doyle, Daily Post
RAFAEL BENITEZ is contemplating handing Robbie Fowler an emotional recall against Everton this weekend. The Liverpool striker was cup-tied for Tuesday's FA Cup quarter-final at Birmingham City, in which his teammates rattled in a record-breaking seven goals without reply. Fowler saw Peter Crouch scored twice while Liverpool's other senior strikers Fernando Morientes and Djibril Cisse also found the target, with Benitez's side now having racked up 15 goals in their last three games.
Fowler was instead in action for the reserves against Wigan Athletic on Monday night, and netted during a 45-minute run-out. The 30-year-old made only a fleeting appearance in the win at Newcastle United on Sunday but has been regularly involved in Liverpool's Premiership games since arriving from Manchester City in January. And Benitez could now be prepared to give Fowler a first start in a Merseyside derby since the clash at Goodison in April 2001.

Cahill key to form - Moyes
Mar 23 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES today hailed Tim Cahill's resurgence in form and tipped his influential midfielder to finish the season with a flurry of goals. Having endured a nine-match scoring drought, the Australian international made up for lost time in the 4-1 drubbing of Aston Villa with a double to take his tally for the year to six, all bar one coming in the Premiership. While he was delighted to see Cahill back among the goals, Moyes was even more pleased with the 27-year-old's overall performance - his excellent pass paved the way for the Blues' third - and suggested it was his best of the campaign. "Tim has had a period from Christmas through to now where he has played really well," Moyes said. He has maybe had the odd game where he has slipped off it a little bit but he has been much more consistent in this period. "We judge Tim a lot by his goals because of what he achieved last year and we rely on them so much. He should take that as a compliment. But looking at last Saturday, he took his goals brilliantly. "For a central midfielder to react the way he did was outstanding. He has got six now and if he ends up with another couple at least before the end of the season, that will be a good return for him once again." Given he made such a huge impression after signing from Millwall in the summer of 2004, Cahill's slow start to this season led some observers to question whether he was suited to playing in a two-man central midfield instead of a three. Moyes, however, feels it was unfair the way Cahill was singled out as Everton faltered. Even though he struggled for goals, his effort never dropped and his ability to play in a number of different roles went unnoticed. "He played in a two for most of last season and played in a three as well," said Moyes. "If you asked him, I'm sure he'd tell you that he has always played in a two. But we know that Tim has got great versatility. "We can play him up front, he plays wide at times for Australia and he is an attacking midfielder who has got goals in him. "If he had got goals early on, he could have set himself and moved on. He then went probably the longest period he has ever done without finding the target. "He scored two brilliant headers against Charlton, so I'm hoping that he can keep that coming between now and the end of the season. It would be great if he could."

Have we lost derby spirit
Mar 23 2006 Liverpool Echo
The way we were . . Chief Sports Writer DAVID PRENTICE looks back on a symbolic anniversary for the Merseyside derby. THE date of Saturday's 203rd derby is symbolic. It will be 22 years ago to the day that Everton and Liverpool contested the Milk Cup final - the first time both clubs had met at Wembley Stadium. That historic showpiece provided an excuse for a city-wide celebration. Street parties were staged back in Liverpool, while North London became a temporary vehicle for Scouse civic pride. In recent years it has become fashionable to deride the concept of a 'friendly derby' as a mythical creation, invented by professional Scousers with no real experience of the nerve-shredding, gut-churning twice-yearly event.
But on Sunday, March 25, 1984 - it did happen.
One hundred thousand Scousers travelled together to London, where they mocked fears of violence and unrest by behaving impeccably. Cars did have blue scarves dangling from one window, red from the other. And segregation was sketchy at best.
The Daily Post's Ian Ross, now Everton's head of corporate affairs, was an impartial observer that afternoon - and he reported: "Long before referee Alan Robinson brought a nerve-jarring two hours of fiercely competitive football to a halt, officials at the famous stadium had dubbed this first-ever all Mersey showdown 'the friendly final' - and how right they were. "A combined lap of honour in front of a sea of blue and red was confirmation, should it ever have been needed, that whatever divisions may exist in Liverpool the proud people of a much maligned city are united by their common love of sport." The 1984 Milk Cup final wasn't a one-off. It was the same at the 1986 FA Cup final, and in two Charity Shields between the sides.
The way we were . . Chief Sports Writer DAVID PRENTICE looks back on a symbolic anniversary for the Merseyside derby. John Bailey, Everton's man of the match that afternoon in March 1984, recalled: "The moment I'll take to my grave is when I walked out of the tunnel. The noise, the cheering, the red and blue everywhere, no segregation. You couldn't see that anywhere else in the world. "At the end of the game I ran around the ground with Alan Kennedy, with a blue scarf and a red scarf tied together above our heads. I remember the fans singing and it still brings a lump to my throat thinking about it now." Did the venue provide the motivation - a desire to prove to the rest of the country that Scousers weren't the volatile, aggressive types, years later caricatured by Harry Enfield? Or did both clubs' domination of the domestic game nationally at that time ease the local rivalry? It would take a sociologist to examine the cause and effect, but the mood undeniably changed - and it is difficult to pinpoint exactly when. Five years later, the first post-Hillsborough derby match provided another ringing endorsement of mutual respect. "LFC thanks EFC. We Never Walked Alone" was one banner typical of the mood that night. But in the FA Cup final a month later there were suggestions the mood was subtlely shifting. Pitch invasions at the final whistle prevented the triumphant Liverpool team enjoying a lap of honour. Even so, subsequent derbies were still not accompanied by the level of hostility which now exists. By the mid-90s, an air of resentment was evident on both sides. By the end of the decade the derby day atmosphere had soured poisonously.
Theories abound. Many feel that as the historical significance of the Heysel tragedy on Everton's fortunes became apparent, their fans became increasingly bitter towards their rivals. Some feel that Liverpool supporters, bred on a diet of almost unbroken derby success in the '70s, couldn't handle a brief period of Everton dominance. Perhaps it's a lot more simple than all that. A more partisan atmosphere was inevitable as soon as both clubs started slashing the allocation of tickets for visiting fans. At the Wembley showpieces, the split was always 50-50. In Anfield and Goodison derbies of the same era, away fans would always dominate at least one section of the stadium - with a healthy minority finding their way into other sections also. Blue on the Kop? Red on the Gwladys Street? It happened more regularly than you'd think. Until the late 1980s. That outstanding Anfield administrator Peter Robinson remembers the time well. "After Heysel and Hillsborough, ground capacities were reduced dramatically as all-seater stadia were introduced," he recalled. "I think Anfield came down from 48,000 to 42,000. We were the first club to host a derby match after the changes and in order to satisfy our season ticket hold-ers I think the only section remaining for visiting fans was a small standing area of 1,500. "We reduced the allocation for away fans, but Everton did exactly the same." All-seater stadia meant smaller capacities - smaller capacities meant smaller away allocations - and smaller away sections led to a small-minded mentality towards the now isolated away fans creeping in. The derby day atmosphere has deteriorated dramatically in the past 15 years. I thought I'd done some Liverpool supporting friends a favour by getting them tickets for a Goodison derby. They felt so intimidated they asked me not to bother again. An Everton Supporters Club official said this week: "I didn't know whether to laugh or get angry at Reds' safety officer Ged Poynton apologising in a national paper to Manchester United fans over missiles thrown at their fans. What happened last season to Evertonians was just as bad. "A 12-year-old girl had her head split open. What will it take to stop this spiralling bitterness - a tragedy? Maybe I'm wasting my time asking for decent banter again on both sides." It used to be Anfield tradition for a fan to race from the Kop and hand Gordon 'Honey' West a handbag before the derby. Twenty years later, Evertonians dressed as jesters jogged onto the Goodison Park pitch and 'clowned' about with Bruce Grobbelaar. Both sets of fans laughed. Supporters today would be more likely to scream for their ejection. But it's not so long ago that relations were respectful. Look back again to the coverage of that historic Milk Cup final. "Fans wearing red and blue travelled down together, shared the stadium together without having to be segregated, and returned home together. "Everywhere was good humour and not a sign of the violence that has marred many cup final occasions in recent years. To consolidate the atmosphere of comradeship which showed a city united in adversity, the two teams did a combined lap of honour in front of the fans. "Wembley boomed to the chant of 'Merseyside, Merseyside, Mersey-side,' as they did so. "There were no cups or medals handed out, but there was one winner - the unique sporting spirit, witnessed by a worldwide TV audience, brought to Wembley by Merseyside." Can that level of camaraderie ever be recaptured? It's not a myth. It's not some sentimental, dewy eyed view of how football fans used to be in this city. The Merseyside derby was genuinely different. And it's time we tried to take a step back and reclaim that difference.

Curtain set to come down on Li Tie's Goodison career
Mar 23 2006 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
LI TIE may have kicked his last ball for Everton. The Chinese international, whose contract expires this summer, has undergone another operation to resolve a long-standing ankle injury and will not figure again this season. With his current deal ending this season, it is likely he will be forced to seek a new club. The midfielder has endured pain in his ankle since recovering from the broken shin he sustained on international duty in February 2004. He has not appeared in the Premiership since then. Tie said: "This is a long term problem. I have not been feeling comfortable with my right ankle since I was fully back from the last injury. "I went to the hospital and the doctor said the best thing is to have the operation as soon as possible. "The club arranged the operation for me on Monday. It only lasted about one hour but I hope that will make the big difference when I can go back to the pitch." The operation was to remove slivers of bone that had grown on Tie's ankle during his long spell on the sidelines. The player added: "It was hard for me to make a decision like this, because as everyone knows I am going to be out of my contract with Everton at the end of this season. "To be honest, having the operation right now isn't the best time, but I know that it will be beneficial for my future in the long term." Tie's last Premiership appearance for the Blues was against Arsenal in January 2004. He has only been included in Everton's 16-man squad twice this term - for the second leg of the Champions League qualifier against Villarreal at the start of the campaign, and for the draw with Manchester United at Old Trafford in December. He joined the club from Liaioning Bird in August 2002 as part of the deal with club sponsors Kejian. Compatriot Li Wei feng returned to China after just two appearances, but Li Tie was a regular during the first half of the season and made 40 appearances in total.

Blue Mark's a dead ringer for Red Rafa
Mar 23 2006
The Insider, Liverpool Echo
IT couldn't be could it? Has Reds supremo Rafa Benitez really been tempted to show his true colours ahead of Saturday's derby game? It certainly looks that way, especially since he's been spotted in the stands at Goodison cheering for the opposition. But Insider can reveal there's been no foul play between managers. The man with the looks familiar to thousands of fans is, in fact, not the Spanish soccer boss but Liverpool cabbie Mark Jones. Although a true Blue, Mark is such a spitting image of Rafa that he gets stopped by baffled fans every day. He's been known to sign autographs and try out his best tourist Spanish to play along with the joke and even performed a celebrity switch-on of neighbour Tony Crosbie's Christmas lights. Mark, who lives a stone's throw from both grounds, says he couldn't believe his eyes when Rafa took charge. "I got such a fright watching his first game," Mark tells Insider. "I thought, oh my God, there's my double. We're even the same age. "From then on, I get people coming up to me all the time and every conversation begins: 'Eh mate, you don't half look like ...' Even Mark's missus Joanne, daughter Siobhan and his mum Jean can't believe the likeness. "When I go to the pub to watch the match, they all chant Rafa as I walk in," says Mark. As a life-long Evertonian, Davy Liver driver Mark is hoping for a Blue victory this weekend, although he won't be at Anfield. "When I go to the match, I get some funny looks. The likeness really is uncanny. I said to my dad: 'Are you sure you didn't go to Benidorm in the 60s'!"

Trio crucial to Euro hopes - Stubbs
Mar 23 2006 Evertonia, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON defender Alan Stubbs believes the club's creative midfield triumvirate have hit form at the perfect time. Football ECHO columnist Barry Horne suggested earlier this month that the performances of Mikel Arteta, Leon Osman and Tim Cahill justified comparisons with the famous trio of Ball, Harvey and Kendall. Stubbs insists that is a little premature, but believes the trio will have a key role to play against Liverpool at Anfield on Saturday. He said: "I know people have started to relate the midfield to Ball, Harvey and Kendall but, with no disrespect to the lads, that was some midfield. "What I think people are trying to get at is that they are playing the type of football that they played. They had someone who could win the ball and sit, they had someone who was very creative, and they had someone who could run all day. I think that is where the comparisons are coming from. "They are expressing themselves in the games and it is there for everyone to see. "If they carry on what they are doing then maybe we have an outside chance of gatecrashing a European spot." The Blues will be aiming for their first victory at Anfield since 1999. "It would be great to go there and get a result, we haven't done it for a while, but we hadn't had a home win for a long time (over Liverpool) before last season and we managed to get one so we go there full of confidence. We fear no-one at the moment," Stubbs added. * Evertonia is the official members club for Evertonians of all ages.

From village green to Anfield Road
Mar 24 2006 By Ian Doyle, Daily Post
THEY were once colleagues at cubs, rivals at school and teammates for England schoolboys. Now Leon Osman and Stephen Warnock will once again stand on opposite sides come tomorrow afternoon. The pair are hopeful of appearing in the 203rd running of the country's most famous derby when Everton make the short journey across Stanley Park to face neighbours Liverpool.

It would be the latest chapter in careers that have moved in similar trajectories ever since the duo first became acquainted while at under-11 level. Having captured attention with their national recognition, both Osman and Warnock had to then overcome injury problems that threatened to prevent them from ever making their mark at their respective clubs. Osman suffered serious knee damage and was restricted to 24 minutes' worth of substitute appearances at Everton in 16 months - sandwiched between loan spells at Carlisle United and Derby County - before scoring three minutes into his first Premiership start at Wolverhampton Wanderers in May 2004. He has never looked back. Ditto Warnock, who broke his leg three times and was shipped out to Bradford City and Coventry City before Rafael Benitez gave him his chance. Billinge-born Osman believes such experiences mean both he and Warnock, who hails from Ormskirk, appreciate more than most that every first-team opportunity must be taken. We both did well at youth level and we both had injuries and never broke into the first team straight away," says Osman.. "Maybe we have had to work harder we have had to prove ourselves at other clubs. I went to Carlisle and Derby and Stephen went to Bradford and Coventry. We have had to prove ourselves each step of the way. "I do appreciate what we have now and I am determined to keep myself at this level. "We have had a few knock-backs with people thinking we weren't ready or weren't good enough and injuries. It makes tougher and means you have to believe in yourself. "You maybe go into the game thinking this might be my only chance and I have to perform and there is added pressure because of that. It is all part and parcel of football. "I just take it game to game and if your form is good you look to keep yourself in the team." Both now 24, the friendship between the pair was such that at one point Osman's father used to take boyhood Liverpool fan Warnock to games on the Kop. And the Everton midfielder recalls: "Stephen and I played for England schoolboys together - in the same team as Joe Cole - and we are from the same district and have known each other a long time. We still say hello.
"We played against each other for our schools. He was at St Bedes in Ormskirk and I was from Up Holland High. We played a good few games against each other. They had the better team to be honest, but we nicked a few more. I think he played central midfield for the school, but winger for England schoolboys. I went to cubs when I was under-11s and I think we met then as well. "I think my dad used to take him on the Kop a few times, but that was a long time ago. "Maybe we were spoken about in our small district, but there were a lot of good players at Liverpool and Everton at that time, like Francis Jeffers and Steven Gerrard. 'We just got on with our jobs quietly at that time. I am sure Stephen is just like me and wants to stay where he is now. "He is a really tough competitor and the derby is his type of game but I will be looking forward to it also." Osman will be hopeful of better derby memories than the last fixture at Goodison in December. He was an unused substituted as Liverpool won 3-1 to leave Everton hovering dangerously above the relegation zone and contemplating a difficult second half to the season. However, eight wins in their next 11 Premiership games have moved David Moyes's side into the top half of the table and, with nine goals in their last three games, in the mood to avenge that festive setback against their neighbours. "Since Christmas we have played some really good football, we have won our last six home games and picked up some points full of confidence and hope to come away with a win," says Osman. "I just think we are full of confidence at the moment and maybe this is the right time for us to go into a derby. I don't think we could go into one any more confident than we are right now and hopefully that will show on the pitch and we can play some good football. "We all believe in each other and we are confident that we are not going to make mistakes. If we do then we know someone will be there to cover. We are starting to find the net and hopefully this will be the first victory since Kevin Campbell won us the game there in 1999." He adds: "We had a tough time over Christmas for whatever reason. It was very disappointing to lose the derby and we played Sunderland the next game.
"Confidence was low but we managed to win with the last minute of the game and from there confidence seemed to come back and it has gone on from there. "You are always disappointed to lose a derby, we were disappointed but we have bounced back in the right way since then and hopefully we can keep the run going. "We weren't playing as good football as we are now, we were struggling to score goals and we were conceding them too readily. I think we are a different team now to the one Liverpool faced then. We have turned that around now." Osman has played an integral part in that reversal of fortune, scoring twice in his last three games - form that led to newspapers in Turkey enquiring whether the player had the required ancestry to play for their country. Those hopes were soon dashed. But in any case, Osman is currently too preoccupied with earning Everton a UEFA Cup qualification place. "We have got eight games to go and if we pick up the points, who knows where we could finish?" adds Osman.. "We are quietly going about our jobs and if we can keep picking up points Europe is possible. "There isn't much margin for error for us if we are going to get into Europe, but the way we are feeling at the moment everyone is playing their part in a team effort and hopefully we will keep everyone injury free and keep the ball rolling."

A move to Liverpool? I'm not going there
Mar 24 2006 By Ian Doyle Daily Post Staff
MIKEL ARTETA yesterday insisted he has no intention of joining Liverpool's growing Spanish contingent. Speculation has grown during the past few weeks that the Everton midfielder is contemplating a summer move across Stanley Park to join friend and fellow Basque Xabi Alonso.
But on the eve of tomorrow's 203rd Merseyside derby, Arteta has moved to quash the rumours and reaffirmed his commitment to David Moyes's side. "There has been so much speculation, people in the street have been asking me about it," said Arteta. "But I'm really honest in saying I'm not going there. Definitely not." The 23-year-old joined Everton initially on loan from Real Sociedad in January 2005 before making a permanent £2million transfer last summer. Arteta has become a huge favourite among Everton supporters, and his recent fine performances have led his manager Moyes to tout him for a possible World Cup call-up to the Spanish national team. The midfielder is fighting to be fit for tomorrow's game after jar-ring a nerve in his back during the 4-1 win over Aston Villa last Saturday. And Arteta - who was sent off in the 3-1 derby defeat in December and missed last season's Anfield clash through injury - is eager to put one over former Sociedad team-mate Alonso.
"We are really looking forward to it - we want to go there and do something important," he said.
"The way we lost the first game at home, we are going to go out there and try to make a good fight.
"I want to play and this is a game we desperately need to win to put right what happened in the first match earlier in the season." Andy van der Meyde is another Everton player keen to make an impact tomorrow, having returned to fitness following four months out with a serious thigh injury.
And the Holland international, who has played in a Milan derby, has dismissed any notion he could be intimidated by the home Anfield crowd. "I am fit and I want to play, and I want to have an impact on the game, but that is the same for all of our players," said the winger. "I have played in the Milan derby in front of 80,000 people, so 40,000 is nothing to me. "It is nice to play in front of so many people and I have heard a lot about this game so we will see what happens, I am looking forward to it." Van der Meyde added: "I have been training well and maybe I can start. You never know, but the manager will decide that and I will do my best for Everton if I come in. "The competition for places is good. Everybody is fit and in form you see the players doing incredible things now. "At the start of the season it was not like this, we have a few games at home so maybe we can have a good finish this season."

Arteta staying
Mar 24 2006 Post Soapbox, icLiverpool & Daily Post
GREAT to see Arteta coming out and saying there's no way I'd leave Everton to join Liverpool. Mind you didn't Nick Barmby say that? Peter Simon, Formby
Meyde option
I SINCERELY hope Van der Meyde gets his chance on Saturday. He is a class player who can not only work hard but also turn a game. I think the odds will be stacked against us, but I am quietly confident that we can do the business. Arteta is on fire and the likes of Beattie, Faddy and Cahill will prove too much to handle. And don't forget about little Ossie - he is fast becoming our secret weapon.
George Perkins, Liverpool
Draw suits
IF we can get a draw out of tomorrow's game that will be an excellent result. To be fair Liverpool are still streets above us and in Stevie G they have a player too powerful. Eddie Sharp, Birkenhead
Valente worry
I HOPE Valente is fit for tomorrow's encounter as he gives us some extra class at the back.
I would also like to see Van der Meyde and Big Dunc give a run out in the last stages of the game as they could just sneak a winner.
Jon Birch, Bromborough
No goals galore
DESPITE the recent goal-feasts offered up by both Liverpool and Everton in recent games, I wouldn't be at all surprised if it ended up as a goalless draw! Both sides have strong defences and let's face it there have been times all season were both sides have struggled to score too. Everton are the masters of the 1-0 and Liverpool's strikers have many times struggled to find the net. I predict a gritty, entertaining, albeit goalless derby.
Michael Slater, Tanhouse
Kenwright blast
IT WILL be interesting to see if Bill Kenwright does any post-match interviews if we lose on Saturday.
He's like that one at Fulham - he only ever pops up when we are doing well. Having said that I am glad the club moved quick to dispel any rumours of Moyesy signing for Newcastle. Like that would happen anyway!
Michael Golding, Liverpool

Super Spaniard may hold key to success
By Mark O'Brien Everton supporter, Daily Post
Mar 24 2006
0ShareIT has certainly been an eventful week building up to this highly anticipated Merseyside derby. Liverpool's seven-goal trouncing of Birmingham certainly caught the eye - not bad for a team who can't score - while Everton's four against Aston Villa last Saturday was none too shabby either.
Naturally though, whenever the Blues are doing well and hopes are up a story surfaces that casts a cloud, however small, over the club. We have already had the ones telling us that Mikel Arteta is moving to Liverpool in the summer, but that has since been superseded by the 'Moyes to Newcastle' headlines. Obviously the vast majority of fans would be devastated if there was any truth to such tales, but that seems unlikely given Arteta's scotching of the Anfield link and the quick and somewhat surprising joint statement from Bill Kenwright and Freddie Shepherd pouring scorn on the Moyes one. Still, if Moyes was to move to St James' Park he would at least get to work with the players he originally coveted in the summer, although the ones he eventually had to settle for instead are certainly doing him proud at Goodison. The aforementioned Arteta has been key to the great football the side are playing, as highlighted by their low key second-half performance against the Villans once the Spaniard left the field. He will have to be at the top of his game at Anfield, along with the rest of the midfield, as keeping possession will be key to Everton's chances of success. In the past the Blues have been accused of adopting an overly-physical approach in derby matches, as opposed to their opponents' measured style, but the tables have turned in that the Reds, to their manager's credit, are no longer the pushovers that perhaps they once were. And after years of mocking the Blues' utilisation of Duncan Ferguson as a target-man it seems almost ironic that their strongest team for a very long time is built around a striker who is three or four inches taller than Everton's talismanic Scot. Ferguson is obviously eligible after his lengthy suspension and obviously Evertonians have been daydreaming all week about him signing off in his final derby with a late winner. In truth though, any scorer will do if it means they can record a win at their place and try and make amends for that horror show in the first game at Goodison in December.
Duncan desperate to answer Blues call
Mar 24 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES is debating whether to take the wraps off Duncan Ferguson in tomorrow's derby at Anfield. Ferguson is available for what would almost certainly be his last Merseyside derby having served a seven-match ban for a sending off at Wigan and, according to team-mates, has been "chomping at the bit" in training. Since scoring his first goal for the Blues in a Goodison Park derby win in November 1994, Ferguson has proven to be a thorn in Liverpool's side on numerous occasions and would love to have another crack at them in what could be his last Anfield hurrah. Given the excellent form of James Beattie and James McFadden, the best Ferguson could hope for is a place on the bench. Moyes will leave his decision until the last minute, as he assesses the 34-year-old's physical condition. Chasing a first victory across Stanley Park since September 1999, the manager has a couple of other fitness worries concerning Gary Naysmith (ankle) and Mikel Arteta (hamstring) but is desperate to give Evertonians the result they crave. "I'm one of them as well and I want to win it," Moyes declared today. "But I have got to realise that is part of a run that we are on. We want to keep that run going and finish as high as we possibly can. "To go and win there would be good but we know how hard it is going to be. I just want the players to go and do as well as they have been. If they do that, then we can't ask for anything more. "They are giving their best week in, week out whether it be Liverpool or Aston Villa last week. "All we can ask them to do is play as well as they can and to be fair to them, in recent weeks they have done that." Eight wins in the last 11 matches make Everton the Premiership's form team and has given them a chance of qualifying for Europe - something which appeared impossible after Liverpool had beaten them on December 28. It was, without question, one of the most miserable nights of the season - the pain of a 3-1 defeat exacerbated by red cards for Phil Neville and Mikel Arteta - but he is looking forward to the challenge of pitting his wits against Rafa Benitez. "It wasn't a good game at Goodison, so we will try to go to Anfield and do better than we did at home," said Moyes. "We will try and continue that good run of form we are on now. "You always want to play against the better teams and there is no doubt that Liverpool are one of the better teams in the Premiership. "I want to try and compete against the best managers and the manager there is one of the better ones. "It's a challenge for us all. The next game is always a tough one. We've had tough games for different reasons recently but going to your neighbours in a derby is always a big test. They will be thinking the same about Everton. "We have started to score a few goals and so have they. It's difficult to read in to what is going to happen. I can't say which way it is going to go. I just hope that we score more than they do!"

Weir's derby nightmare
Mar 24 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
THREE months have passed since the 202nd Merseyside derby, but time has not proved to be a healer for David Weir. Things may have changed dramatically at Goodison Park following the last meeting between the Blues and Reds at Christmas, but Weir still thinks about the gut-wrenching misery he felt after Liverpool had left with the bragging rights. Sitting in the dressing room after that 3-1 defeat, the Everton skipper and his team-mates did not need reminding they had let themselves down. For a side which had finished fourth in the Premiership during the preceding spring, it simply wasn't good enough. Football being the game it is, however, Everton have the chance to put things right at Anfield when they face Liverpool in round 203 of this local squabble. Judging by the atmosphere at Bellefield in recent days, it is a chance they intend to take. Having accrued 26 points of the last 33 available, Everton will hop across Stanley Park in anticipation rather than trepidation but, as Weir accepts, Liverpool will be similarly confident. As opposed to December 28, this has the makings of a classic. "I don't think Liverpool playing this week will have made any difference," said Weir. "People can look at all these things and say they will be tired. But in my experience, that doesn't make any difference. "All the other things are irrelevant. It is all about which team turns up and which team wants it most on the day. We are banking on ourselves to be that team. "We were probably at one of our lowest ebbs when we played them last. We were comfortably beaten, if we are honest, so it is up to us to show we have improved and we are better than that. The best way to show that is to go there and get a result."
Try as the players might to suggest this is just another game on a road which will hopefully lead to UEFA C u p qualification, the buzz around the city has made it quite clear to Weir and company that there is something more at stake than three points. No wonder, then, that the 35-year-old is expecting 90 minutes of unrelenting action. He is equally flummoxed by suggestions that derbies have lost their edge. "We are on a decent run of form and have had a few good results, so hopefully the Everton fans will be going into the game with a bit of confidence," said Weir. "There's definitely more of a buzz around the training ground in the week leading up to a derby. You can sense it building as the week goes on. It is a massive game in any circumstances but the fact both teams are doing pretty well makes it even better. "The lads are starting to bang in a few goals and it is looking like half chances are starting to go in which hasn't always been the case this season, so we are really firing on all cylinders. "Derbies haven't changed. In my experience they have always been the same, regardless of form and where teams are in the league, they are always competitive and they are always played at 100 miles an hour. "They are great games to play in and I am sure they are great games to watch. You don't have time to enjoy them, only if you are winning by a couple of goals with not much time left, but that is rarely the case." Going by that, Weir will have savoured Everton's last two matches, the resounding wins over Fulham and Aston Villa. With the squad practically at full strength, those in possession of a starting place know the pressure is on them even more than before. "It was another good home result," the skipper reflected. "We played some good stuff and we've got to be happy with that. People throughout the team know that there are lads waiting to jump in if we don't perform. "I've enjoyed my time at Everton. I think now we have definitely raised expectations. We have got higher standards for ourselves. Last season we finished fourth and we qualified for the Champions League. "Anything less than that is going to be a disappointment because we have set those high standards. But we are in a good position and we are on a decent run. We want to start challenging at that end of the table again." During the seven years he has been at Everton, Weir has been a model professional and the number of poor displays in the 259 appearances he has made can be counted on one hand. But it remains to be seen whether he will be at the club next season. Boss David Moyes will not talk about new deals for Weir and Alan Stubbs until May and the Scotland international knows the onus is on him to impress. "Myself and Stubbsy will only be judged on what we do on the pitch between now and the end of the season," Weir acknowledged. "As long as we do it out there, everything else will be taken care of. That's how I'm approaching it and I'm sure that Stubbsy is the same."

Benitez expects derby classic
Mar 24 2006 By Chris Bascombe, Liverpool Echo
RAFA BENITEZ today predicted a derby classic at Anfield, but warned his Liverpool side were 'facing a different team to the one we beat at Goodison'. Liverpool comfortably beat their neighbours in the first meeting in December, but both clubs are currently in buoyant mood. After seeing the Reds plunder 15 goals in their last three games, Benitez knows hopes are high for another scoring spree at Anfield. But he recognises the task against David Moyes' side will be vastly different to those faced in the last seven days. "We know it's not going to be the same in the derby," said Benitez. "It should be a good derby with good football. We are playing a team which, like us, is in form, is scoring goals and has a lot of confidence." Djimi Traore is the Reds' main injury concern ahead of tomorrow's game with damaged knee ligaments.

Form points to a derby day classic
Mar 24 2006 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
THE resurrection of the tartan talisman's name this week struck the only sour note in the build-up to an eagerly anticipated derby match. For one, Liverpool are not afraid of Duncan Ferguson any more.
But secondly, and perhaps more importantly, Everton have a lot more to offer than a long ball to a monolithic centre-forward who has collected more red cards than goals this season. Everton have dared to speak bull-ishly about tomorrow's trip to Anfield - and despite not having won there since 1999, their mood is understandable. James Beattie is currently producing the best form of his Everton career, Mikel Arteta, Leon Osman and Tim Cahill have matured into a midfield unit boasting creativity and craft, while Phil Neville sits solidly as the platform on which it is all constructed.
Up until a week ago, Liverpool fans were eyeing the fixture with a mix of apprehension and angst.
But that was then. A striking drought of biblical proportions, coupled with morale shattering defeats by Benfica and Arsenal, has been replaced by a stunning salvo of 15 goals in three games, the influential Momo Sissoko has made a remarkable recovery from injury . . . and even Fernando Morientes has scored twice in three games! It all adds up to a potentially mouth-watering match that is desperately difficult to call. Both sides are in form. Both sides fancy it. And both teams believe they can triumph. So where will it be won and lost? The answer, for me, lies on the Everton treatment table. Everton look like losing left-backs Nuno Valente and Gary Naysmith to injury, just as Momo Sissoko's return to fitness has unleashed Steven Gerrard as a right-flank marauder once again. That spells danger for the Toffees. The last thing David Moyes will want to do is take midfield minder Phil Neville out of that department and redeploy him as a left-back. Which leaves either Kevin Kilbane as an emergency stand-in - or a ridiculously early comeback for Alessandro Pistone.
You could almost sense the relish in Steven Gerrard's voice on Tuesday night as he muttered: "I was listening to a few of the Everton players talking about how it was nice to come to Anfield with a bit of confidence. But it is now good for us to go into the game like that as well." Of course Liverpool also have a problem at left-back, but it wouldn't be overly cruel to suggest that the injury sustained by Djimi Traore at Birmingham is a boost to their hopes. Everywhere else you look, the question marks have a blue hue. Pepe Reina has occasionally looked vulnerable to crosses. But not recently, while Richard Wright looks vulnerable at least once every match. Liverpool have rediscovered the defensive resilience that saw them set a club record for clean sheets earlier in the season. But while Everton have also defended well, they have conceded in each of their last three games - and they do lack pace. Alan Stubbs has been rock solid, but David Weir has creaked and at Upton Park was left for dead by the less than dashing Dean Ashton. The counter to that is that Liverpool aren't exactly blessed with sprinters up front themselves, while Rafael Benitez seems reluctant to use his only pacy runner as little more than a glorified right-winger - or a substitute. But Everton possess a burning desire to wipe out the memory of that wretched night at Goodison Park in December - and if things do start to go wrong, they can always call on Plan B (that's B for battering ram). Even that ploy can be countered by the performance Jamie Carragher produced as an emergency centre-half at Goodison in April 2003. Switched to mark Duncan Ferguson after Igor Biscan had raised the white flag in the eighth minute, he countered the aerial threat superbly. See? For every argument, there's a counter argument, for every plus there's a minus, for every positive, a negative. Which is why I'm going for the result which will hopefully satisfy both sides - an entertaining draw. Of course Royle's Derby Day Law - the one which says the complete opposite to what you expect - points to something completely different. Liverpool have scored 15 goals in three games; Everton nine in three. Tomorrow's score? You've guessed it. A nailed on 0-0 draw!

Who's that wearing number 08?
Mar 24 2006 By Luke Traynor, Liverpool Echo

JAMES Beattie and Steven Gerrard will wear 08 on the back of their shirts during tomorrow's Merseyside derby to promote the city's Capital of Culture year. The reminder of Liverpool's special year will be broadcast to millions around the world. The unique 08 jersey is first time the number 08 has featured at a top flight English football match. After the game, the shirts will be presented to the Capital of Culture Company to be framed and auctioned as a collector's item. Beattie said: "I haven't lived in Merseyside for that long, but I am already aware that Liverpool is a unique city. "I am happy to do my bit for Liverpool and spread the word about Capital of Culture year around the world." A Liverpool FC spokesman said: "The derby will be shown live around the world and we are delighted that we can fly the flag for Capital of Culture year. Liverpool council leader Warren Bradley said: "The 08 shirts are a tremendous gesture of support for our 08 ambassador programme. "Both clubs have promoted the city around the world for more than a century and this latest act will be witnessed by an audience of millions. "To see Steven Gerrard and James Beattie wearing 08 underlines that the whole city is united in supporting us."

Steer clear of a derby wager
Mar 24 2006 You Bet! with Adam Oldfield, Liverpool Echo
THE free-scoring eccentricity currently enthralling followers of Merseyside's two Premiership clubs has helped make this weekend's derby renewal one of the most hotly anticipated. Both Everton and Liverpool go into tomorrow's Anfield encounter with an impressive tally of nine goals in their previous three league games - a statistic perhaps belittling to the Reds' midweek cup exploits.
It certainly answers criticism from the perennial naysayers, particularly in respect to either side's once barren attack. Key to the upturn in fortunes have been James Beattie and Peter Crouch. The opposing Englishmen have been at the heart of their side's attacking verve and will be looking to do so again tomorrow. Recognising their renewed potency, Blue Square have decided to pitch the strikers against one another in a match special - the online specialists quoting Crouch at 2-1 to outscore Beattie at Anfield, 9-2 to the contrary and 4-6 a tie. Denied a hat-trick by his early withdrawal against Birmingham on Tuesday night, Crouch is this time 28-1 to plunder a treble and Beattie 33-1. In the match betting, Rafa Benitez is 4-7 (Paddy Power) to record a derby double, while David Moyes' men are 5-1 for victory and 5-2 the draw. Such is the air of unpredictability surrounding these fiery derby contests, impartial punters will be well advised to steer clear of the Merseyside showdown on their weekend coupon. Instead, make Arsenal (8-11) the cornerstone of your accumulator as they travel to take on Portsmouth. To that add home wins for Ipswich (v Hull), Watford (v Millwall), Carlisle (v Boston) and Northampton (v Notts County). The five-timer is nearly 12-1 with Stan James.

Liverpool 3, Everton 1 (Echo)
Mar 27 2006 By Dominic King
DURING his media briefing on the eve of Saturday's eagerly awaited Merseyside derby, David Moyes spoke at length about the need for his squad to keep cool if temperatures soared on the pitch. Barely 24 hours and following a wretched, indisciplined performance, he was asked to discuss the subject again. This time, however, the Everton manager chose to keep his own counsel. Thing is, his decision to keep schtum spoke volumes. After a bright and busy opening 15 minutes when the passing was slick, the movement quick and every raid into enemy territory carefully thought out, the Blues were presented with the type of gift that rarely comes along. A deserved sending off for the wreckless Steven Gerrard - Liverpool's talisman, no less - left Everton with 72 minutes to make full use of their numerical advantage and go on to record what would have been only their third win at Anfield since 1988. Given the opportunity they had, it is all the more puzzling that Everton's players allowed themselves to get caught up in the emotion of the occasion and forgot to do the things which have come so easily in recent months. Harsh? No chance. During the brief period when it was 11 against 11, Tim Cahill twice went close. First he was unable to get enough power behind a shot after Leon Osman had jinked through, then the Australian blasted wide after James Beattie had caused panic. Beattie also had the ball in the net following good work by Osman - one of the few players to remain exempt from criticism - but was correctly flagged offside. The threat posed by Liverpool, meanwhile, was negligible. After Gerrard's dismissal? Everton did not force one corner before half-time nor did they manage a shot with which to trouble Pepe Reina. When the Blues did get into threatening positions, too many balls were pumped aimlessly in. Not good enough.
It was as if Everton assumed the role of Blackburn Rovers when they visited Goodison Park last month. That day, Mark Hughes' side had 81 minutes to play with a man extra, fell behind at a set piece and never recovered, losing their wrags on the way. Think of the way the Blues - urged on manically by a hostile home support that used every poor refereeing decision to their advantage - calmly went about their business to grab a result against the odds. Now reflect on the contrast of Saturday's offering. "It was difficult to be heard so we thought we would get through to half-time and make changes then," said Moyes, choosing his words carefully. "I thought we started well and the players were calm. But sometimes against 10 men, it is difficult." The manager may not have chastised them in public but he has every right to feel aggrieved with his players, as they will be disappointed with themselves. After heading across Stanley Park with such confidence, this was not supposed to happen. Having worked so hard to defy the odds to join the race for a UEFA Cup place, Everton fluffed their lines when it mattered most. Tempers frayed, passes went astray and once Liverpool went in front - albeit fortuitously - they were never in trouble. How the calming influence of Mikel Arteta was missed. Where Liverpool had Xabi Alonso to dictate matters, Everton's orchestrator sat helplessly in the director's box with a jarred nerve in his back and disappointment etched on his face. "He was a big miss, especially when it went to 10 men," said Moyes. "I think I could have done with his composure and playing ability. I thought we lacked that. He might have been the one that could have taken the sting out of things." There will be some who lay the blame of this disjointed performance on the shoulders of referee Phil Dowd. True, his infuriating whistle blowing did not help Everton when they wanted to get into a tempo. Also from the moment he prematurely ended Gerrard's afternoon, Dowd appeared desperate to even up the score and needed no second invitation to brandish a red card to Andy van der Meyde after the substitute had wafted an arm in Alonso's face. Get away from that, however, and ask yourself why Everton had seven players booked compared to Liverpool's two. Some were ridiculous - take the yellow cards Alan Stubbs and Harry Kewell received for jostling in the area - others indefensible. Speaking of indefensible, Luis Garcia's gesturing for David Weir to be booked after a foul on Momo Sissoko left a bitter taste, especially as he appeared to catch Gary Naysmith with an flailing elbow in the first half which went unpunished. Charting all this makes it sound like it was a dirty game but the opposite is true. The problem was Everton's giddiness made it easier for an official sticking directly to the letter of the law to administer punishment. Is it a surprise that Moyes' best result against Liverpool came in December 2004 when the Blues were ruthlessly efficient, never did anything rash and were always in control of proceedings? In the three meetings since, that hasn't been the case. The more you reflect on things, the more frustrated you become. The harshest critics - and they appeared over the weekend - will say it is pointless thumping strugglers such as Fulham and Aston Villa at home, when the feat can't be repeated in big games. To imply that is grossly unfair. Think of the giant strides that have been made since last December when the sides met. Who would have thought Everton would have been in contention for a European place then? Exactly. This defeat means the task of qualifying for the UEFA Cup has become an even more onerous one but it has not inflicted a fatal blow to ambitions. Next Saturday's clash with relegation haunted Sunderland offers the perfect chance to get back on track. As disappointing as this experience was, it should not mean that the season folds tamely - and that certainly won't happen if Everton can respond in a manner similar to the last time Liverpool beat them.
LIVERPOOL (4-4-1-1): Reina; Finnan, Hyypia, Carragher, Riise; Gerrard, Alonso, Sissoko, Kewell (Warnock 87); Garcia; Crouch (Morientes 90). Subs: Dudek, Kromkamp, Fowler.
BOOKINGS: Gerrard (dissent), Alonso (foul), Kewell (unsporting behaviour).
SENDING-OFF: Gerrard (second bookable offence).
EVERTON (4-4-2): Wright; Hibbert, Weir, Stubbs, Naysmith; Osman, Cahill, Neville, Kilbane (van der Meyde 68); McFadden (Ferguson 68), Beattie. Subs: Turner, Yobo, Davies.
BOOKINGS: Cahill, Kilbane, Weir, Ferguson, Neville (fouls), Stubbs (unsporting behaviour), Hibbert (dissent).
SENDING-OFF: van der Meyde (violent conduct).
REFEREE: Phil Dowd.
ATT: 44,923.

Neville: I'm to blame
Mar 27 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
PHIL NEVILLE today apologised for the blunder he feels ruined Everton's chances of winning the 203rd Merseyside derby. The Blues midfielder headed a Xabi Alonso corner into his own net in first half injury time to give 10-man Liverpool a lead they never relinquished, eventually running out 3-1 winners. Though they started brightly, Everton never imposed themselves when Steven Gerrard was sent-off after 17 minutes and failed to show the form that had taken them into the race for a UEFA Cup spot. But a distraught Neville - one of seven Blues booked - feels his error proved to be the turning point and the chance to atone against Sunderland next weekend can't come quick enough.
"It was a derby match that we went into in the best possible form," said Neville, who was baffled by some of referee Phil Dowd's decisions. "It was nicely set up. With them down to 10 men so early in the game, it was even better set up for us. "But we didn't play after Gerrard was sent off. It happens sometimes. When teams lose a player, they become more resilient. It fires them up even more and we didn't take the game by the scruff of the neck. "The first goal was always going to be crucial and I hold my hands up. It was my mistake and in a way it cost us the game. They hadn't been troubling us at all. But we didn't reproduce the form we had shown in the previous 11 games. "I don't think I have played in a game where there have been so many fouls. It was so stop start. It suited Liverpool more than us but the feeling is one of bitter disappointment. "You can criticise the referee but he has got a tough job to do. Maybe he was a bit fussy in dishing out some yellow cards. We've seen the video of Andy's challenge and we hope that the referee will look at it again." Defeat may have made the task of qualifying for Europe even more difficult but Neville was quick to point out that nobody in the dressing room will be waving the white flag yet. With seven games still to play, there is time for David Moyes' side to get back on track and the England international says there is a etermination in the dressing room to ensure Everton finish the season with a flourish. "Even though we are bitterly disappointed, we are even more disappointed for the fans. We start again today and we have got Sunderland next Saturday," he said. "We have got to get back to doing what we have been."

Blues missed great chance
Mar 27 2006 By Nick Peet, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES confessed that Everton missed the opportunity to pick up their first Anfield derby victory in seven years on Saturday. The Blues boss believes his side had only themselves to blame after succumbing to a 3-1 defeat despite playing against a Liverpool team reduced to ten men for most of the match. Moyes said: "We didn't deserve anything because we didn't play well enough.
"It was a great opportunity missed against ten men. We couldn't capitalise on it. "After their sending off we got excitable, instead of being calm and waiting for the opportunities. We suddenly found ourselves coming back from two down." Ironically Everton looked more comfortable against 11 men, when they created a couple of chances and were far more positive. "For that period we were the better team," said Moyes. "But we got worse when Liverpool were down to 10 men. We should have been calm enough to produce the form we have been showing of late. " Losing a goal deep into first half injury time and then almost immediately after the restart wrecked Moyes' half-time team-talk, in which he tried to encourage his players to stretch Liverpool across the park and use the width to get behind the defence. "At half-time I was going to tell the players to get more width and make the pitch wider for us against the ten men," added Moyes. "But we lost a goal right on half-time that I didn't think looked like coming and we then lost another goal just after half-time and all of a sudden we are two down." Everton were compromised by the loss of Mikel Arteta, who succumbed to an injury just before kick-off and Moyes believes his own Spanish playmaker could have made the difference. "We missed Mikel Arteta's ability on the ball - it was a bad blow for us to lose him."

Blues' overcaution just to Reds' liking
Mar 27 2006 Analysis by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
FORTUNE favours the brave. And Saturday's 203rd Merseyside derby went comfortably Liverpool's way because Everton, quite bluntly, weren't brave enough. The Blues were handed a wonderful opportunity to end their seven year Anfield itch by Steven Gerrard's stupidity. But they simply withdrew into a shell which said "hey, we might not lose this now!" They tried to get through to half-time before making the tactical switches which might have given Liverpool problems. Then they conceded a cruel own-goal which altered the whole complexion of the match. Then when three bold changes were finally considered early enough in the second half to make a difference, they were put back on ice because Tim Cahill scored. But while Everton dithered and dallied, Liverpool woke up from a sloppy opening quarter, increased the tempo and the pace and ran out thoroughly deserving victors. As ever on derby day, it had all been totally unexpected. Everton started the match the brighter team. With Tim Cahill playing in an unusually advanced role, and Leon Osman tormenting John Arne Riise, Cahill missed two half-chances and James Beattie saw a 'goal' ruled out for offside. Then Liverpool saw their skip-per red-carded - and the dynamics of the entire game changed. Everton unconsciously embraced a mood which suggested that now perhaps they didn't need to press as forcefully or as belligerently as they had been doing. Liverpool, however - hitherto lethargic and sloppy - were instantly energised. Their attitude was summed up in the performance of their centre-forward. The debate whether James Beat-tie or Peter Crouch should be on the plane for Germany this summer hasn't ever really got further than a Mersey audience, but on Saturday, Crouch ensured the arguments won't get any further. Left largely isolated following Steven Gerrard's red card, he was excellent. His aerial presence proved too difficult a problem for Stubbs or Weir to fathom out legally, while his ability to hold up possession proved invaluable to Liverpool's attempts to make headway against numerically superior opposition. Everton had enjoyed that numerical superiority, of course, because local hero Steven Gerrard fell victim - once again - to a derby-day daze. It is curious that at Goodison Park, where he is so often the focus of fans' abuse, he seems able to act more responsibly. But in front of his own he was gripped once again by misplaced machismo.
Already sent off as an impetuous teenager for scything Kevin Campbell, he was also handed a retrospective ban for a similarly reckless challenge on Gary Nay-smith. On Saturday it was indiscretions 35-seconds apart which cost him. His actions, however, weren't the only baffling ones from those wearing red. "You're not fit to referee!" bellowed individuals not fit to bear the good name of the Kop, formerly the home of the most knowledgeable and fair-minded supporters in the land. Of course, it is difficult to keep a level head in such a super-charged derby atmosphere, but criticism of the referee was as stupid as Steven Gerrard's dismissal. The only decisions Phil Dowd called wrong in the opening 45 minutes were unnecessarily officious yellow cards for Harry Kewell and Alan Stubbs, and a couple of arms on Peter Crouch's shoulder which he missed. Yet he left the pitch at half-time accompanied by the kind of crescendo of boos which suggested he had been the guilty party and not the Reds skipper. Perhaps they came from the same red-eyed souls who applauded Milan Baros off the pitch for stupidly getting himself sent-off in last season's Anfield derby. The intensity of the crowd reaction ensured that Mr Dowd controlled the second half like a man on edge. Yellow cards were brandished for every illegal challenge, Andy van der Meyde saw red for a less premeditated elbow than Luis Garcia had thrown in the first-half - and the increasingly manic Mr Dowd even had Tim Cahill begging him to calm down as the card count reached a ludicrous 10 yellow and two red. It was certainly a niggly derby. But nothing more, and when it came to quality in possession there was only one team in it. For 20 minutes in the second half Liverpool played like the team with the numerical advantage as they peppered Richard Wright's goal with effort after effort - while Harry Kewell's 83rd minute match-clincher was a sweet and as sublimely struck a shot as you could ever hope to see. Missing the hugely influential Mikel Arteta, Everton's only threat came from a set-piece or a long throw-in. Everton have made giant strides since Christmas, but they are still miles behind Liverpool in footballing quality. "Everton FC - 1,244 steps away from European champions," said one imaginative banner, made by a fan who has presumably counted the length of journey across Stanley Park. The Blues don't look like closing that gap any time soon. They were handed a marvellous opportunity to score the kind of morale-boosting victory which could have super-charged the rest of their season. They blew it. Liverpool, however, have ended the most demanding period of their season with four spectacular successes and now look in great shape for their next big blue-shirted challenge . . . the one which could see their season end with silverware.

Everton to face FA disciplinary charge
Mar 27 2006 Liverpool Echo
SEVEN bookings and a red card leave Everton facing up to an FA disciplinary charge following Saturday's Anfield derby. Yet David Moyes believes that "fussy" refereeing by referee Phil Dowd led to the spate of cards. Although the Blues boss did not dispute Andy van der Meyde's red card, he did suggest the referee had been a little too quick to reach for his top pocket. "I was disappointed with the amount of free-kicks we gave away today," he added. "The game didn't flow because of it but it wasn't just Everton players even though we got most of the the bookings." Moyes believes TV replays provide a different insight into van der Meyde's red card. The Dutchman was shown a straight red after he caught Xabi Alonso in the face with a raised arm when jumping for a header.
Dowd deemed it violent conduct. But while the Everton boss had no complaint with the referee's decision he believes replays of the collision provide varying assessments of the winger's intent.

Stubbs' call for action in cards storm
Mar 27 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
ALAN STUBBS today urged the Football Association to get tough on the players who badger officials to book their fellow professionals. The Everton defender became embroiled in a row with Luis Garcia during Saturday's 3-1 derby defeat at Anfield when the Spaniard appeared to urge referee Phil Dowd to show David Weir a yellow card after he fouled Momo Sissoko. This season more and more players are gesturing for action to be taken when fouls are committed and Stubbs has made it clear he - like so many others - feels it is something that needs eradicating quickly. "The FA should clamp down on that," said Stubbs. "When you have got a player coming over and wanting another player to be booked, fair enough if that player has made a foul. But so should the player who is demanding the booking. "It has crept into our game lately. It is a foreign thing. They have brought a lot of good things to the game but the (playacting) is something that we don't want. I could say a lot of things but it is up to the authorities to stop it. "We can only stop it as players on the pitch by asking them what are they doing. The authorities have got to clamp down on that. Ask any British player. That is the last thing we want to see. There is no place for that in football. It's a sly thing." Stubbs, meanwhile, was bitterly frustrated that Everton failed to show their true colours at Anfield, especially as they had a numerical advantage for the majority of the game following Steven Gerrard's first half dismissal. However, Stubbs believes the erratic officiating of Dowd ruined the game as a spectacle - he made nine bookings and showed two red cards. "I thought we were in control until half-time and then we gave a goal away from a set-piece, which was disappointing," Stubbs reflected. "We have basically given them two goals and left ourselves a mountain to climb. "I don't think it was a great game passing-wise. Liverpool just look for Crouch as quick as they can. It's just so disappointing that we didn't put them under any pressure. "You can talk all day about the football but the biggest talking point is what the referee did and didn't get wrong. If Andy van der Meyde deserved to be sent-off then so did Garcia for elbowing Kevin Kilbane. If Kev had rolled around, maybe he would. "There were a lot of things. Where do you start? I got booked for holding my ground against Harry Kewell. It was just pathetic and petty. The referee made it that type of game. I don't think there was a dirty tackle yet two players got sent off."

Pistone closing on Blues return
Mar 28 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
ALESSANDRO PISTONE is poised to take another step nearer to an astonishing first team return when Everton reserves travel to Manchester City this evening. The Italian defender made his first appearance in a Blue shirt since damaging his cruciate ligaments against Bolton when he appeared for reserves last Tuesday. Pistone came through that tussle against West Bromwich Albion without problem and will be looking to build on that at SportCity, where he will be joined by Lee Carsley.
When he returned to training at the beginning of March - six weeks ahead of schedule - Pistone said it would be "a dream" to play in the Premiership before the end of the season. Everton boss David Moyes has been delighted with the way Pistone has worked tirelessly to win his fitness battle and the Italian is quick to thank everyone at the club for the encouragement they have given him. "I had a lot of support and everyone made sure it was a positive atmosphere," said Pistone. "The worst part of being injured was watching everyone going out to train. "Even watching them do the most simple movement was so frustrating because I couldn't do that. I am really, really happy because things are going well." While Pistone steps up his work, Moyes has given Mikel Arteta a couple of days off in the hope that will speed up the process of healing a trapped nerve in his back. Another man who has been given time off is Nuno Valente, who is recovering from a thigh strain. James Vaughan will fly out to America this week to see Dr Richard Steadman in bid to get to the bottom of a problem with fluid on his knee. Everton's youngest goalscorer has had two cartilage operations since last August but every time he trains, his knee swells up and the Blues are anxious to find out what is wrong.

Derby misery won't destroy our confidence
Mar 28 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
ALAN STUBBS today vowed that derby day disappointment will not lead to Everton's season falling apart at the seams. Though he is still smarting at the manner in which the Blues lost 3-1 at Anfield, Stubbs is confident that there will be no hangover when Premiership battle resumes against his former club Sunderland next Saturday. He is well aware, however, that there cannot be any repeats if the Blues are going to keep the feint flame flickering beneath their push for Europe. Another false move will see hopes extinguished completely. To avoid that scenario unfolding, lessons must be heeded and the defensive stoicism which was so evident at the turn of the year needs to be recaptured - Everton have not kept a clean sheet since beating Blackburn Rovers on February 11. As Stubbs points out, the Blues were masters of their down fall at the weekend, individual errors gifting Liverpool goals either side of half-time but those lapses have been creeping in more and more in recent weeks. An untidy five minutes at the end of the Fulham game presented Chris Coleman's side with a barely deserved goal, while Aston Villa also profited from a few moments of mayhem to get on the scoresheet when they should not have been given a chance. Plenty to work on at Bellefield during the week, then, and Stubbs has promised the players will be doing everything they can to get things back on track as quickly as possible. "It's a blow and obviously a big blow because they are our local rivals. But I actually don't think there was an awful lot between the two teams," said Stubbs, one of the few Everton players to do himself justice during the weekend skirmish.
"They may have played better than us but there wasn't much created. We were very disappointed with the goals that we gave away. Okay, the third is a great strike by Harry Kewell. But take that away and we have given them two goals. "We'll dust ourselves down and go again. We knew it was going to be difficult but we fancied ourselves very strongly. The goal before half-time made a big difference, especially to them psychologically. "Any time you concede a goal it is difficult but we before then we got the feeling that Liverpool were only going to score against us from a set play and that's how it proved. Concentration is the biggest thing that has let us down." Sentiments with which Phil Neville agrees. His frustrations exacerbated by the fact it was his own goal in first half stoppage time which had Liverpool the initative, the England international can't wait for a chance to atone against Sunderland. But rather than dwell on past misery, Neville is determined to look to the future and is adamant there is still a lot to play for in the closing weeks, especially as four of Everton's remaining seven games are at Goodison Park. Having won their last six matches on home soil, the fixture list suggests Everton have an excellent chance to make the tally a perfect 10 given Sunder-land, Tottenham Hotspur, Birmingham City and West Bromwich Albion are the sides set to come to Merseyside. Take maximum points from those games and Neville feels Europe will be firmly back on the agenda. "The last thing the manager said to us was 'come on, let's keep this run going' and we are not going to let one defeat spoil what has been a tremendous couple of months for us," said Neville. "As players, we won't allow that to happen. Look at the away games we have got now. Chelsea, Charlton and Middlesbrough. They are going to be tough. So we are going to have make sure our home form remains as solid as it has been. "If we can do that and pick up a couple of points on our travels, then I don't think that we'll be far away from a UEFA Cup place, I'm sure of that."

Dramatic and passionate - just what a derby should be
Mar 28 2006 By Ian Rush, Liverpool Echo
AFTER clenching my fist with delight after last weekend's derby, I've found myself shaking my head in bemusement at some of the articles I've read since. You'd have thought the game was a blood bath judging by the number of cards shown, but that's far from the case. It wasn't even a dirty game.
Besides, the day a derby lacks the kind of passion we saw at times at Anfield, we might as well stop getting excited by the game. What makes the fixture unique is the level of intensity it generates. If everyone behaved like choir boys, there would be far more reason to be critical. Over the years we've seen far more serious misdemeanours than we witnessed on Saturday. Even the sendings-off weren't due to anything malicious. You have to accept players will get caught up in the heat of the moment sometimes. Imagine if some of the challenges which were typical of the match in the 1980s had been made at the weekend? How many players would have been left on the pitch. Referee Philip Dowd didn't win many plaudits for his performance, and I think the accusation he was over-fussy is fair. It was the first time he's refereed the game, and it showed. Once the first yellow card came out, he lost it a bit and it seemed every indiscretion was punished. Sometimes, it's common sense to make an allowance for the occasion. There were no disagreements with Steven Gerrard's sending-off, but there were plenty of other bookings which were petty and avoidable.
I read Alan Stubbs' comments about players trying to get each other booked, and I have to say I agree with many of his observations. However, the suggestion only Liverpool's foreign players were guilty of trying to get the opponents into trouble is wrong. There were plenty of blue shirts chasing the referee to make sure Gerrard got his marching orders too. This is a trend which has crept into the game and all clubs have their culprits, whether they're from England, Europe or everywhere else. I've said before the only way to cut it out is for the PFA to become self-policing. When a player like Didier Drogba actually admits to diving, it's time for the union to take action rather than take a back seat. I'm heartened to hear Drogba's actions have even provoked Chelsea's fans to make their discontent known. Maybe this is a taste of things to come. If players feel their cheating is turning their own fans against them, they'll soon cut it out. Despite all the fuss, I don't feel the referee's performance had any impact on the game. The better side won, which was doubly pleasing for me since I'd bet on a 3-1 Liverpool win. When Gerrard was sent off, I didn't think there was any chance that was going to happen. Most credit should go to Xabi Alonso and Momo Sissoko for holding the midfield together, but also the manager for winning the tactical battle. At 1-0, most managers would have urged his side to sit back and defend what they had. Benitez continued to push men forward, and that certainly surprised Everton. Liverpool were duly rewarded for keeping their positive approach, and they're now probably just a couple of wins from securing a top four place. If Benitez leads his side above the 70 point mark, that will be a tremendous improvement on last season and offer the perfect platform for more success next year. Chester in need of stability AS a former player and manager, I'm desperately hoping Chester City get themselves off the foot of the football league as soon as possible. The team has endured a terrible run recently, but there's still time to get out of trouble. Every football club needs stability, whether they're in the Premiership or in the lower leagues, and it's the clubs who've changed managers most who struggle. In the current situation, there's nothing much the manager can do but put his faith in the players he's got and hope they deliver. Hopefully Chester will survive the drop this time and get the chance to find some elusive stability in the years to come.

Brown keeps England on target
Mar 28 2006 By Paul Garrity, Liverpool Echo
ENGLAND'S women still sit top in their qualification group for the 2007 World Cup after securing a 0-0 draw with rivals France on Sunday. The game was the first competitive game on home soil for the Three Lions since the Euro 2005 tournament last summer. Three Everton players Rachel Brown, Rachel Unitt and Fara Williams started the game, with Brown later receiving the player of the match award for her outstanding goalkeeping display. But it was Everton midfielder Williams who had the first effort on goal after 16 minutes, but Sarah Bouhaddi in the French goal comfortably held her 25-yard free kick. Winger Karen Carney then headed wide from a Rachel Yankey free kick and Kelly Smith shot over just two minutes later, as England began to get a foothold in the game. Charlton's Eniola Aluko then found herself free, following a long clearance by Brown, but the young striker's shot was straight into the arms of the French keeper. Just before half time the away side could have easily taken the lead through Hoda Lattaf, but she shot wide of the far post. The second half was tighter than the first, and keeper Brown was then called into action. Brown pulled off a magnificent save to deny Marinette Pichon. Further saves from efforts by Pichon and Camille Abily meant that Hope Powell's side still have a great chance of reaching the finals next year. Although the international match took centre stage, Liverpool and Tranmere also played at the weekend. Liverpool beat Manchester City 3-2 thanks to goals from Jade Thomas, Gayle Formston and a debut goal from Danielle Sheen. But Keith Cliffe's side were made to sweat it out in the second half as City's Lindsay Savage grabbed a brace. The win for the Reds means that they hold onto second place in the Northern Division with-Tranmere right on their heels in third. Rovers beat Curzon Ashton 4-0 thanks to goals from Helen Johnson (1), Kelly Jones (1) and Vicky Abbott (2).

Liverpool 3, Everton 1 (D,Post)
Mar 27 2006 By Ian Doyle at Anfield, Daily Post
THE symbolic image of Saturday's Merseyside derby wasn't Rafael Benitez racing on to the Anfield pitch at the final whistle to congratulate his players on a courageous victory. Nor was it the sight of the Liverpool manager barely acknowledging Steven Gerrard as his skipper trudged disconsolately into the dressing room after his mindless 18th-minute red card threatened hope of a home triumph.
Instead, the snapshot that encapsulated the essence of a fractious, pulsating encounter came when, after Andy van der Meyde prepared to follow Gerrard down the tunnel for an early exit in the 73rd minute, David Moyes stood by the dug-out, hand clasped to his forehead in seeming disbelief at what was transpiring. No wonder. It had been Everton's ideal opportunity to end their near seven-year wait for a win at Anfield. And, as an exasperated Moyes's body language suggested, they had blown it. Not that Liverpool cared. While their neighbours lamented what might have been, Benitez's side celebrated a third successive derby victory following a performance in which they were forced to reach deep into their reserves of character and resolve. That it was wholly deserved says as much about the attitude and application of the Liverpool players as it does the hugely disappointing failure of Everton to perform. The visitors might have been expected to capitalise on the early expulsion of Gerrard, the Liverpool captain scything down Kevin Kilbane barely a minute after being cautioned for kicking the ball away. Yet rather than encourage an Everton side who had began the game the brighter, the dismissal served only to galvanise the home side into a display which would have yielded three points even without infuriating referee Phil Dowd evening the numbers with van der Meyde's sending-off. Moyes had warned his players beforehand that discipline would prove key in an encounter that has seen more red cards than any other Premiership fixture, 14 now the total. Ironic, then, that after Gerrard's moment of madness, it was Liverpool who, with Xabi Alonso magnificent in midfield, maintained control as, not for the first time in this fixture under Moyes, Everton gradually lost the plot, lost the game and probably lost a realistic chance of UEFA Cup qualification. Perhaps ultimately the out-come was determined by which team coped better with the loss of the best player. And while Liverpool prospered without Gerrard, Everton never came to terms with the absence of Mikel Areta. As Moyes later conceded, Arteta's composure had been sorely missed. The free-flowing football that had seen Everton net nine goals in their last three games simply failed to materialise, whereas Liverpool - boasting 15 goals in the same period - could have netted more than the three they eventually did. Benitez's side were undoubtedly aided by the timing of key events on Saturday. Phil Neville's unfortunate own goal opener came in first-half injury time and was followed two minutes after the break by a second from Luis Garcia, and after a shellshocked Everton gave themselves a flicker of hope with Tim Cahill's header just past the hour, it was extinguished by van der Meyde's red card five minutes after the Dutchman had arrived from the bench as the visitors sought an unlikely equaliser. While the decision to dismiss the winger for an elbow on Alonso was a tad harsh - particularly as Garcia had not even been booked for a similar offence on Kilbane in the first half - referee Dowd otherwise called the major decisions correctly. It was basically everything else that led the derby debutant to be harangued by both sets of supporters. Besides the two sendingsoff, there were 10 yellow cards - seven of those to Everton, who now face an FA charge - yet nobody could genuinely say this was a dirty game. But while Alan Stubbs later pointed an accusing finger at Liverpool's foreign contingent for play-acting and encouraging bookings, such comments over-looked the fact Everton were just as guilty of unnecessary conduct during a niggly 90 minutes. That said, it made for an exciting, absorbing spectacle, with the best of what football could be played between the flurry of yellow and red cards coming from Liverpool. A sigh of relief, then, for Gerrard, with Benitez insisting the midfielder will learn from his experience. And with this win, perhaps Liverpool can lay to rest the accusation they are simply a one-man team. Of course, Gerrard was wearing '08' on his shirt to advertise the city's tenure as Capital of Culture in two years time. The pictures of him leaving the field weren't quite the publicity the campaign team had in mind, while fellow '08' James Beattie hardly helped with an anonymous second-half showing. The Everton striker had, however, been busy in the opening 10 minutes, causing Sami Hyypia problems as the visitors came close with two Cahill efforts, the first from six yards deflecting off Alonso into the grateful arms of Pepe Reina while an ambitious second struck the side-netting. Once Gerrard was dismissed, action was sparse at either end besides a speculative Garcia curler that landed on to the roof of the net. But seconds after forcing their first corner of the game, Liverpool's second on the stroke of half-time saw a wicked delivery from the right by Alonso towards the near post be glanced into his own net by Neville, sent off in the Goodison derby in December. Coming from a former Manchester United player, Anfield's delight was understandable. Two minutes after the break, that joy was heightened. Under instruction from Jamie Carragher, Reina launched a huge goal kick downfield and, after Crouch had beaten Stubbs to the flick-on, Garcia moved past an off-guard Gary Naysmith and lobbed the ball expertly home over Richard Wright, whose questionable rush from his goalline into no-man's land had made the Spaniard's mind up for him. After forcing their own first corner on the hour, Everton's second a minute later brought them back into the game when Cahill exploited slack marking in the Liverpool defence to head Leon Osman's left-hand cross in off the far post. However, the goal didn't alter the pattern of play, and it couldn't disguise a below-par performance from Cahill, who was maybe compromised by his 12th-minute booking. He wasn't alone, with only the busy Osman and overly-busy Stubbs emerging with any semblance of credit for Everton. The midfield, so often where these games are decided, was instead dominated by Liverpool. Alonso, despite his own first-half booking, pulled the strings while it is hard to believe Mohamed Sissoko's career was under threat just five weeks ago, given his typical all-action, energetic performance. Everton's defence, and David Weir in particular, found Peter Crouch practically unplayable while Harry Kewell rediscovered a spark to his game that has been missing in recent weeks. With Liverpool firmly in the ascendancy during the final quarter, Alonso struck the bar with a free-kick, Stubbs made a goal-saving challenge on Garcia, Kewell drew a good save from Wright and Hyypia headed in Alonso's free-kick only for the goal to be ruled out after Crouch had wandered off-side. But the coup de grace was eventually supplied six minutes from time when, after receiving Steve Finnan's short pass, Kewell, with minimal backlift, thumped a left-footed shot beyond Wright from 20 yards. Cue Benitez joining his players to rejoice after the final whistle. For Moyes and Everton, the sense of regret is the feeling that will linger longest.
LIVERPOOL (4-4-1-1): Reina; Finnan, Hyypia, Carragher, Riise; Gerrard, Alonso, Sissoko, Kewell (Warnock 87); Garcia; Crouch (Morientes 90). Subs: Dudek, Kromkamp, Fowler.
BOOKINGS: Gerrard (dissent), Alonso (foul), Kewell (unsporting behaviour).
SENDING-OFF: Gerrard (second bookable offence).
EVERTON (4-4-2): Wright; Hibbert, Weir, Stubbs, Naysmith; Osman, Cahill, Neville, Kil-bane (van der Meyde 68); McFadden (Ferguson 68), Beattie. Subs: Turner, Yobo, Davies.
BOOKINGS: Cahill, Kilbane, Weir, Ferguson, Neville (fouls), Stubbs (unsporting behaviour), Hibbert (dissent).
SENDING-OFF: van der Meyde (violent conduct).
REFEREE: Phil Dowd.
ATT: 44,923.
NEXT GAME: Everton v Sunderland, Premiership, Saturday, 3pm.

Man City Reserves 3, Everton Reserves 2
Mar 29 2006 Daily Post
ALESSANDRO PISTONE got another 45 minutes under his belt in last night's FA Premier Reserve League North defeat at Manchester City as Everton's Italian defender continues his path back to full fitness. The former Newcastle man made his first competitive appearance of 2006 in last week's 1-0 reserve victory over West Brom. But having played an hour of that match, the left-back only managed 45 minutes at Manchester City before being withdrawn on a wet and windy night at SportCity. The star of the show for Everton was 16-year-old John-Paul Kissock. The England under-18 international fired in a stunning drive to level the scores at 2-2 for Everton four minutes into the second half. It was a major boost Everton having been outplayed by a Manchester City side in the opening half inspired by the fit-again Antoine Sibierski. The forward netted the opening goal from a free-kick in the 13th minute. The lead lasted less than a minute, thanks to a Paul Hopkins' penalty earned when Victor Anichebe was up-ended. The home side continued to dominate proceedings though, with Marc Laird, Lee Croft and Sibierski all going close before the 31-year-old Frenchman grabbed his second goal with a deft header. Everton battled well at the start of the second period and deserved their cracking equaliser from Kissock. But wastefulness at one end from Icelandic midfielder Bjarni Vidarsson, who missed a glorious chance to put the visitors in the lead for the first time, was not matched at the other by the more experienced Bradley Wright-Phillips.
The young forward restored City's advantage on 67 minutes with an overhead kick after Mark Hughes, back in the side following a loan spell at Stockport, had cleared off the line.
EVERTON RESERVES: Ruddy, Wynne, Pistone (Irving 46), Boyle, Hughes, Phelan, Seargeant, Vidarsson, Anichebe, Hopkins, Kissock. Subs: S Wright, J Jones, Dennehy, Elder.

I can't leave Stubbs out - Moyes
Mar 29 2006 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
ALAN STUBBS is lining up to face his old Sunderland team-mates on Saturday - after making himself an "in-dispensable" member of the Everton team. Barely six months after being told he was surplus to requirements, Stubbs has convinced manager David Moyes that he should be one of the first names on the Goodison team-sheet. And his form has kept Moyes' player of the first half of the season kicking his heels on the sidelines. Joseph Yobo played in every minute of every match from August to January - an unbroken run of 26 appearances. But since his return from the African Nations Cup the Nigerian international - reported to be a £3m target for Arsenal at the end of the season - has made one solitary appearance, out of position at right-back against Newcastle United on February 25. "Joseph was perhaps my player of the season up until Christmas, along with Mikel Arteta," explained Moyes. "But he then went away to the African Nations Cup, we decided to let Per Kroldrup go in the transfer window and we needed to bring in a player who knew the club, someone who could step into the team without too much disruption and someone who was within our price range. "Stubbsy fitted the bill on all three counts, but when he came in I told him he was being brought as cover and he accepted that. "But he got himself into the team because of an injury to Matteo Ferrari and has proved himself to be indispensable. His experience has been very important for us. "But Joseph's opportunity will definitely come again, and he has to be ready to take it when it does." Tim Cahill, meanwhile, must avoid being booked against Sunderland on Saturday and Charlton the following weekend to avoid a two-game ban.

Kissock's stunning strike in vain as Wright-Phillips nets winner
Mar 29 2006 Liverpool Echo
ALESSANDRO PISTONE got another 45 minutes under his belt in last night's reserve team defeat at Manchester City as he continues his battle back to full fitness. Everton's Italian defender made his first competitive appearance of 2006 when he played an hour of last week's 1-0 reserve victory over West Brom. The star of the show for the Toffees on a wet and windy night at SportCity was 16-year-old John-Paul Kissock. The England Under-18 international fired in a stunning drive to level the game at 2-2four minutes into the second half. Kissock's performance was a major boost for the visitors, who had been outplayed in the first half by a Manchester City side inspired by the fit-again Antoine Sibierski. The striker netted the opening goal from a direct free-kick in the 13th minute, but the lead lasted less than a minute. Paul Hopkins equalised from the spot after Victor Anichebe had been brought down in the area. The home side continued to dominate proceedings, with Marc Laird, Lee Croft and Sibierski all going close before the 31-year-old Frenchman grabbed his second goal of the game with a deft header. Everton battled well at the start of the second period and deserved their cracking equal-iser from Kissock. But wastefulness at one end from Vidarsson, who missed a glorious chance to put the visitors in the lead for the first time, was not matched at the other by the more experienced Bradley Wright-Phillips. The young forward restored City's lead on 67 minutes with an overhead kick after Mark Hughes, back in the side following a loan spell at Stockport, had cleared off the line. Everton did their utmost to claw the game back for a third time, with Vidarsson again going close. But Andy Holden's young charges were denied, with Nicky Weaver proving too tough an obstacle in the final stages. EVERTON: Ruddy, Wynne, Pistone (Irving 46), Boyle, Hughes, Phelan, Seargeant, Vidarsson, Anichebe, Hopkins, Kissock. Not Used: S Wright, J Jones, Dennehy, Elder.

Valente out for season
Mar 30 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
A SERIOUS thigh injury has almost certainly brought Nuno Valente's first season in the Premiership to a premature end. Having missed the games against Aston Villa and Liverpool, Everton boss David Moyes was hoping the Portugal international would be available for this weekend's clash with relegationhaunted Sunderland. Scans, however, have shown the problem to be more serious than initially thought and will keep him on the sidelines for another four weeks, meaning the next competitive match in which Valente plays will more than likely be at the World Cup finals. "Nuno has a thigh strain which looks like keeping him out for another four weeks, maybe even more," Moyes confirmed. "It could well be that he misses the rest of the season and that would be a shame." Though it took time for Valente to get used to English football following his £1.4m switch from Porto last August, he has been one of Everton's most consistent performers since the turn of the year. "It's not a strain like the one Andy van der Meyde had but it's enough to keep him out for up to six weeks," added Moyes. Valente's absence should give Gary Naysmith an extended run in the side but the Scotland international will be aware that Alessandro Pistone is making good progress on his comeback from a cruciate injury and will be challenging for a place soon. The Italian played another 45 minutes for the reserves against Manchester City on Tuesday evening and Moyes has made it quite clear that if he impresses enough, there will be opportunities for him. "There has been no reaction," said Moyes. "He is ahead of schedule. Sandro is just finding it a bit of a struggle to get up to speed with the rest of the lads in training at the minute. "He won't be back in the team next week or anything like that, it will be further down the line when that happens. But I would hope that Sandro would be available for the first team before the end of the season and that's his goal as well. "It's the same for Andy and Lee Carsley. Andy is suspended just now while Lee has been fit for a month or so. Breaking into the team is the hardest part and that is what they have to do." Moyes, meanwhile, was waiting for Mikel Arteta to return from Spain today before deciding whether he has a chance of featuring against Sunderland. The midfielder returned home earlier this week for treatment on a sciatic nerve. "We will wait and see how he is," said Moyes. "He went to see his back specialist in Spain and we will know more when he gets back whether he will be available or not."

Chance to watch Blues train at Goodison
Mar 30 2006 Evertonia, Liverpool Echo
EVERTONIA members are being given the opportunity to attend a first team training session at Goodison Park. David Moyes and his squad will carry out a full training session exclusively for supporters who are members of Evertonia, club shareholders or season ticket holders. The manager and the players will be at Goodison on Tuesday, April 11 and admission will be by ticket only. Tickets are available on an unreserved basis from the Park End Box Office or by postal application. The event is free, with the turnstiles opening at 9.30am. It is a fabulous opportunity for supporters to watch David Moyes, Alan Irvine and the rest of the coaching staff putting the players through their paces. You will have the opportunity to watch Mikel Arteta practice his ball skills or James Beattie perfecting his shooting skills. Everton membership manager Dawn Farrelly said: "This is going to be a great event and something that I am certain will be very popular with our supporters. "We are constantly looking at innovative ideas to reward our loyal fans and the chance to watch the players training at Goodison is a great one. "I would, however, urge anyone interested in attending to make sure they don't delay when applying for tickets. The demand is sure to be massive." To apply, simply call at the Park End Box Office with your shareholder or Evertonia card or season ticket voucher number 58 from your book. Alternatively, you can write to the box office to request tickets, providing your client reference number or member-ship number. The deadline for ticket applications is Friday, April 7. Places are limited and are on a first come, first served basis. Strictly one ticket per Evertonia member, season ticket holder or shareholder. An adult who also belongs to one of the selected three groups must accompany under-16s.

He's the Scouser for all seasons!
Mar 30 2006 By James Pearce, Liverpool Echo
SCOUSER David Eyres is the Peter Pan of English football. At the age of 42 most players have long since hung up their boots, but the lifelong Evertonian is not even contemplating retirement.
The Oldham left winger continues to defy the ageing process as the oldest outfield player in the Football League closes in on 800 league and cup appearances. During an illustrious professional career in the North West, Eyres has also graced the colours of Blackpool, Burnley and Preston - not bad for a player who at the age of 25 was working in the Ford car plant at Halewood and playing part-time for Welsh outfit Rhyl. "People ask me all the time why I've been able to keep playing for so long but there's no big secret," he said. "I think players usually get to a stage where they can't take the pre-season and the training. "But my body feels as good now as it did 10 years ago, and touch wood, I've been lucky with injuries. I must be some sort of freak but I just love training. "When I wake up every morning I feel very fortunate that I get paid to keep fit. I look back to my Ford days when I was doing two weeks of days and two weeks of nights and realise how lucky I am.
"I've spoken to a lot of ex-pros and they've told me to keep playing for as long as possible. I would be the first to say 'enough is enough' if I thought I was going to embarrass myself, but I feel that I'm capable of carrying on for at least another year." Eyres grew up in Wavertree before moving to Cantril Farm, now Stock-bridge Village. As a youngster, his talent attracted attention from Liverpool, but he spurned the opportunity of a trial with the Reds. "Being the ultimate Blue, there was no way I wanted to go there and I turned it down," he explained. "Looking back it was foolish but I don't really regret it. As a kid, all my mates were Evertonians and I don't think they would have ever spoken to me again if I had gone to Liverpool for a trial. "Anyway, I was more interested in going to watch Everton at weekends. I used to go home and away and I didn't really take playing seriously until I was 18 or 19. "If our games don't clash then I still go to watch Everton. I'm as keen an Evertonian now as I was 25 years ago and when they lose it hurts just as much as it did back then."
Eyres, who played youth football for Barons Hey, was snapped up from the Sunday League ranks by Morecambe. A spell at Southport followed before he headed to Rhyl. In 1989, at the age of 25, opportunity knocked as Blackpool came calling. "People used to say to me 'why don't you write to clubs and try to get some trials?'. But I was happy with the way things were going. "I had a decent job fitting car bumpers and door panels and was enjoying playing non-league. "But apparently Blackpool had been watching me towards the end of the season and Jimmy Mullen invited me up to play a reserve team game against Oldham. After the game he signed me straight away.
"When I first signed for Blackpool I thought if I got four or five years in the pro game I would be doing well. Here I am still playing at the age of 42." Within three years, Eyres had graced Wembley Stadium twice in Division Four play-off finals - an agonising spot-kick defeat to Torquay followed by penalty glory against Scunthorpe. In 1993 Mullen took Eyres with him to Burnley for £90,000 and the winger's fairytale rise continued. Eyres said: "In my first year there I scored 29 goals, including one in the play-off final at Wembley when we beat Stockport. "That season was amazing and probably the highlight of my career. "I was later told that the club turned down an offer for me from West Ham around that time. "They kept it quiet, put a two year extension in front of me and I signed it. I was quite happy and it was a great club to play for." Folllowing the arrival of Chris Waddle as manager, Eyres was appointed skipper but in October 1997 the club accepted a bid of £80,000 from Preston for his services. David Moyes was assistant boss at Deepdale but he soon took the reins following the departure of Gary Peters and another glorious chapter in Eyres' career was written. "It was fantastic playing under David Moyes and he's one of the best managers I've ever played under," he said. "You could see from day one that he meant business. He said if people stuck with him he would back them all the way. He took that club from being mediocre to being the best as we walked the division with over 100 points. "After that Moyes changed the system and played with no wingers, with his midfield players tucked in. "I was on the bench getting 15 or 20 minutes here and there. At 37 I needed to be playing regularly. I asked to go out on loan but he said if someone was prepared to take my contract on I could leave." He signed for Oldham on a free transfer in October 2000 and has since firmly established himself as a fans' favourite at Boundary Park. Eyres was put in temporary charge after Ian Dowie quit the club to join Crystal Palace. "I had a taste of being a manager, but nothing beats playing," he said. "I played 53 games last season and I still feel I have something to offer. "Some people say you can do both, but I want to focus completely on playing. Then, when I hang my boots up, I will focus fully on management and coaching."
Moyes joins Eyres tribute
EVERTON boss David Moyes will lend his support when David Eyres' benefit game is held at Boundary Park on Monday, May 1. The match has been arranged by support ers group Trust Oldham. Moyes will manage a Celebrity XI against a Latics Legends XI bossed by Joe Royle.
Among those lined up for the Celebrity XI are comedian Patrick McGuinness, John Regis, Arctic Monkeys and Harvey. For more information contact organiser Diane Mellor on 07889 161178.

Moyes: We're set to go again
Mar 31 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES has backed Everton's players to use derby day frustration to their advantage as they resume their push for Europe against Sunderland. Moyes is still bitterly disappointed Everton fluffed a golden opportunity at Anfield last weekend, buts says the response in training since has been exactly what he wanted. The manager has warned his squad there is no margin for error in the final seven games if they want to bridge the gap between themselves and their UEFA Cup rivals.
"The players are disappointed because there was an opportunity and we weren't able to capitalise on it," said Moyes, who could make some significant changes to his Goodison starting lineup.
"We will now try and get rid of that and Squad reaction delights Moyes move on. But I didn't come into a club on Monday morning where the players were feeling sorry for themselves. We were just frustrated at missing the chance. "The first goal was always going to be important. We were never under any real pressure in the first 45 minutes, only having a couple of long shots to deal with but there was nothing else. "We were the better side going into half-time and I felt that we could come out second half and step up again, making the man advantage count but then we lost the goal."
Sunderland will be relegated if they lose at Goodison Park and West Bromwich Albion avoid defeat against Liverpool but Moyes - who will make a late check on Mikel Arteta's fitness - argues that will make the Black Cats even more dangerous opponents. But Everton are chasing a seventh consecutive win at Goodison Park in the Premiership and he feels that a reproduction of recent home performances will be good enough to secure the points. "Any Premier League game is difficult, whether it is the team at the bottom or the team at the top," said Moyes, recalling the test Sunderland provided for his side on New Year's Eve. "Sunderland are at the bottom because they have not had good results. "So you never know what response you will get. The pressure is off for them and they have got nothing to lose but it's difficult and I can't worry too much about Sunderland. "All I can think about is what we are going to do and if we can approach the game the way that we have done in recent home matches, I will be happy with what the players have given me. "It was one of the things which we could probably put down to with the change regarding results. I wouldn't say it was the only one. "But it was a game where I think back where we were a bit fortunate to get the result but nevertheless we got the three points."

When Blues' tide turned
Mar 31 2006 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
FOR Evertonians of a certain vintage, recalling a Christmas victory against Sunderland away from home should be enough to trigger an avalanche of happy memories. Having travelled to Wearside on Boxing Day 1984 with just one win in five games to their credit, some observers had started to question whether Everton really had the credentials to fashion a credible challenge for the First Division Championship. Two Derek Mountfield goals later, the doubters were forced to start making hasty retractions. That 2-1 win at Roker Park provided the catalyst to go on a run which beggared belief. In the ensuing 18 league games, Everton won 16 times, drew twice and won the title race in a canter. Twenty one years later, Wearside once again proved to be the destination were Everton's season turned upside down. Few Blues would have entertained thoughts of European football when the sides last met on New Year's Eve. But that, incredibly, is the case. Though there have been a number of reasons why David Moyes' side have become the Premiership's in-form side of 2006, it is impossible to ignore the impact Tim Cahill's last-gasp flying header had on reviving fortunes. Battered for much of the 90 minutes at the Stadium of Light and looking destined for nothing other than a relegation fight, Everton's squad - in terms of confidence and belief - is unrecognisable from the one that ventured to the North East 90 days ago. Take Cahill. Before that game, many were wondering whether he was burnt out, the effects of making numerous trips around the world to aid Australia's World Cup qualification bid having taken their toll. Now? Buzzing from box to box, he has eight goals to his credit and is determined to ensure the Blues can bounce back from last weekend's frustrating derby defeat in the best possible manner against a Sunderland side that can be relegated tomorrow. Cahill is not the only member of Moyes' squad to have blossomed since. Leon Osman has flourished, likewise James McFadden. As for James Beattie, his goals have seen him talked up as a possible late candidate for England's World Cup squad. So what's changed? "Not much," says Cahill. When the chips were down and critics were rounding on Everton before Christmas, the squad developed a siege mentality, remaining confident in their ability. The power of positive thinking has reaped its rewards. “ When Faddy comes in, he works hard and when he has had a run of six to 10 games, then you will see the real James McFadden," said Cahill, who continues to make the £1.5m it cost to sign him from Millwall in the summer of 2004 look like loose change. "It's all about confidence and getting some football. We have also had other players coming into form. Beats has been in form and getting some goals. Ossie and Hibbo have both done well, too. "We work hard to take the onus off Beats and in terms of getting goals, when I come from deep Beats is great at holding the ball, while Faddy gets into areas to test defenders. "We do not have four or five strikers on the bench but what we do have is players who are working hard and will run their socks off for everyone. "It's all down to hard work but the quality is starting to show through as a result." Equally, Cahill is also quick to point the return of Alan Stubbs as a defining moment in the campaign and how good it is to have the veteran defender "moaning" in the dressing room again. His spell at Sunderland may not have gone according to plan but Stubbs is still fondly thought of by the players he left behind in January. "We know Stubbsy from when he was here and he is a good player," said Black Cats striker Jon Stead. "Things didn't work for him at Sunderland but he knows the game inside out. "The only thing lacking is his legs, so we will be trying to get him on the turn and get behind him as often as we can." If the recent form of both players is anything to go by, Stead won't be having much look. Sunderland fans have not seen him score since his £1.8m move from Blackburn last summer.

Moyes' dilemma over keepers at crossroads
Mar 31 2006 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES has a difficult decision to make tomorrow. He has an even harder one to make in the summer. Who will keep goal for Everton? Because the time is now surely right for change.

Richard Wright has finally exhausted fans' patience in him. His ill-timed decision to dash from his goalline last Saturday was the latest in a long line of misjudgements which have cost crucial goals.
The lazy flop the previous Saturday against Aston Villa wasn't costly, just indicative of increasing unreliability. But then Wright mistakes aren't a new phenomena. He accepted responsibility for an error on his debut against Spurs four years ago - and he has looked less than secure ever since. The clean sheet against Manchester City on February 4 was his first in the Premiership for almost three years - a shocking statistic for a goalkeeper who plays in a team which has specialised in 1-0 wins.
With the wonderfully reliable Nigel Martyn's future clouded by an ankle injury and a birth certificate which says 1966, David Moyes has major decisions on the horizon. The only grey area is whether he makes that decision now, or in June. The dilemma facing Moyes tomorrow is two-fold. Already doomed Sunderland is perhaps the most obvious fixture in which to blood a young goalkeeper.
But if Iain Turner is not quite ready for Premiership football, Moyes may then have to go back to a keeper whose fragile confidence has been shattered. "Don't bother," snapped an exasperated Evertonian of my acquaintance. "Play John Ruddy instead. In fact, play anybody ahead of Wright. He's the worst I've ever seen." Given that the man in question is 48, and can recall the horrors of David Lawson and Dai Davies, that's some statement. Moyes may have to be less hasty in the short term, but long term he must surely have accepted that Everton need a reliable goalkeeper.
Somebody of the stature and solidity of Martyn, but with a longer shelf-life. Because Wright's sell-by date has long since expired.

Video nasties that belittle Blues
Mar 31 2006 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
THE improvement in Everton's retail fortunes under the splendidly spiky Keith Wyness ("G14 is a very dangerous group motivated by greed and self-interest") has been almost as impressive as their on-pitch improvement. But does this improvement really rely on gimmicks like this latest DVD to hit the shelves? Available in all good retail stores for just £11.99, "Off to a Flyer," we are enthusiastically informed, "relives Everton's splendid return to form, with highlights from three of the best games from the turn of the year. "Witness Tim Cahill's talisman performance against Charlton, the return home of Alan Stubbs against the mighty Arsenal and an unexpected debut for teenage goalkeeper John Ruddy in a brave and fighting performance from the Toffeemen against Blackburn Rovers." Alright, sell these DVDs if you must. But 'Off to a Flyer?' in a campaign when Everton came close to matching their worst start to a season ever? The marketing men know no shame when it comes to grasping for a snappy hook to hang these offers on. Remember 'Magnificent Seventh' ? Yes, I know it's a decent pun. But there was absolutely nothing magnificent about finishing seventh. How about the cringeworthy: 'Champions League, We're Having a Laugh'. Yes, how everybody else laughed when Everton failed to actually reach the Champions League - and that particular video still adorned the shelves. And who remembers 'The Great Escape' ? Despite the celebrations borne of intense relief that a scrambled 1-1 draw with Coventry elicited, there is absolutely nothing 'Great' about escaping from relegation. So what can we look forward to this summer if Everton maintain their current tenth place? What will this season's video be called? Perfect tenth? Force Ten? Magnifi-TEN!
Don't. How about 2005-06 review? And, while we're on the subject, isn't it about time the Toffees put together a DVD from the 1984-85 season? Terrestrial television covered a huge number of matches that season. And you really could call that one "The Greatest!" without any fear of contradiction.

Still pride at stake says Ball
Mar 31 2006 Liverpool Echo
KEVIN BALL, who experienced three relegation campaigns throughout a distinguished playing career, wants Sunderland to go down fighting against Everton, insisting pride is very much at stake.
Sunderland will make an immediate return to the Coca-Cola Championship tomorrow if they lose a seventh successive match and West Brom overcome Liverpool at The Hawthorns. But caretaker boss Ball, who has lost his first three matches in the Black Cats hot seat, believes his side are capable of prolonging the agony beyond the visit to Goodison Park. Ball admitted. "It's not going to be easy. But what I have been stressing to the players is their pride is at stake and they are playing to win. "A lot of people presume the atmosphere is like a morgue with everybody walking around with their faces down. "At times you can understand people being like that because of what has happened this season, but that has not been the case with the players. "They come in quite bright and breezy, which is what you would expect. They are professionals and it's a great job. "There are still points to be won and if any of them came in with their faces like a slapped backside, I would be quite inclined to tell them to turn round because they would be no use to us. "I am aware we could be relegated this weekend but I only want to focus on the Everton game - that's the most important thing. "It's hard to win games because it's a good league and bearing in mind the run we are on, it was always going to be difficult. "I was fully aware of that. The players have been beaten so often it's very difficult for them to pick themselves up. "That's why we went down different roads to try and get the mental state right and make them fully aware they are more than capable of winning games."

Blues' 2-week price freeze
Mar 31 2006 By Mike Hornby, Liverpool Echo
SEASON ticket prices for Goodison Park in 2006/07 can be revealed by the ECHO today. Everton fans will have a two-week window to buy an adult season ticket for next year at the same price as this season. Most junior season tickets have been permanently frozen at last year's price, with the rest made cheaper. The student season ticket will be scrapped in favour of a ticket for all fans aged between 16 and 21 regardless of being in education. The Blues' chief executive Keith Wyness said he wanted to reward fans' loyalty. Season tickets go on sale on April 21, with the adult discount available until May 7. This year, the club is also accepting new season ticket applications during the renewal period and the message to all current season ticket holders is to renew early to avoid the possibility of losing their seat. An adult season ticket in the Top Balcony, Family Enclosure, Upper Gwladys and Paddock will rise to £524. The Lower Bullens and Lower Gwladys will cost £474 and the Park End £573. The Main Stand and Upper Bullens will rise to £557. The cost of lounge memberships will be revealed on Monday Mr Wyness said: "In contrast to many other top-flight clubs, we are still one of the most competitive. "But this year we wanted something different, we wanted to repay the loyalty of our fan-base and that has led to the introduction of the two-week price freeze." The cost of a junior season ticket remains between £230 and £380. Mr Wyness added: "We have also been mindful of the important and crucial part youth plays at Everton and feel our freeze on junior tickets is testament to our ongoing commitment to the Evertonians of the future. "The single biggest way of helping the club is with the purchase of a season ticket." Ian McDonald, spokesman for the Independent Supporters Club, said: "Many Everton supporters are on low incomes and need time to get the money together and I'd like to see the club ease that pressure. "But it is good news for the junior fans."

























































March 2006