Protest that is doomed to fail
Mar 1 2007 Blue Watch, by Mark O'Brien, Liverpool Daily Post
THERE’S been quite a bit of talk about protests in this last week or so.
Apparently the mooted one at Vicarage Road was never anything more than a figment of the mischievous imagination of a journalist from a national paper. Manchester United fans, on the other hand, did express their displeasure at the prices they were charged to watch their team play at Craven Cottage. The boycott of Fulham’s catering outlets will probably have little impact on the London club’s pricing structure, but at least it was an attempt to speak to them in the only language they understand, that of economics. The Football Supporters’ Federation have started campaigning on the same subject, but you have to wonder how effective their calls for signatures on an online petition will be. Presently they have almost 10,000 people signed up, but is that really going to impress chairmen or provoke them into action? Surely it can be taken as read that every single person who hands over cash to watch football would like it to be cheaper? After all, you really don’t need to canvas the farmyard to know that the turkeys are keen on vetoing Christmas. While the punters keep on turning up and paying the extortionate prices though, club chairmen will simply shrug and wonder what all the fuss is about. The likes of Manchester City, Blackburn and Wigan are going to cut their prices next season. Now that might simply be because men like Dave Whelan have suddenly come over all philanthropic in their old age but more likely it’s because these clubs have already been hit hard in terms of falling attendances. The saying goes, for instance, that there are more blue seats on show at City games than at the 1979 general election, but there are plenty of other examples up and down the country – demand for the Premiership product is not limitless.
Hopefully these clubs do reap dividends by reducing their ticket prices, because if that proves the case then you can rest assured that the rest of the clubs will follow suit post haste. That’s because in business, which football ultimately is whether we like it or not, one figure on the bottom line of a balance sheet will always say far more than a million signatures on a petition.
Ferguson too honest
If DUNCAN FERGUSON still watches Match of the Day - you always got the impression he wasn't that mad on football even when he played - he must have been chuckling to himself somewhat when he saw the penalty that Steven Gerrard was awarded on Saturday. The iconic Everton striker used to get his shirt pulled mercilessly at every setpiece and opposing managers would assign players to block his runs, grid-iron style, paying no attention to the ball whenever the Blues won a corner.
Did he ever win a penalty though? Very rarely. More often than not the officials would observe the melee and take the easy option, awarding a fee-kick against the incredulous Scot. Maybe if he had flopped like Gerrard, making imploring eyes to the referee on the way to the turf, he would have been far more successful.
He was too honest though, and Joe Royle said that officials had it in for Ferguson - that he was an easy target because he was six foot four and 14 stone. Royle was probably right too. Although with hindsight, Ferguson probably never really helped himself by continually punching people.
Fernandes asked to take it up a notch
Mar 1 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES today challenged Manuel Fernandes to crank his impressive form up another level to boost Everton’s UEFA Cup hopes. The Portugal international has continually caught the eye since arriving on a six-month loan from Benfica and scored his first goal for the Blues in last Saturday’s 3-0 win over Watford. But Moyes believes that Fernandes has plenty more to offer in the remaining 10 games of the campaign, even though the manager has been delighted with how he has settled in.
Given he had not played for two months before arriving at Goodison Park, Fernandes is still short of peak condition and Moyes believes the 21-year-old’s contribution will significantly improve once he becomes fully attuned to Everton’s methods.
“We are pleased with Manuel. I have seen some things that look really pleasing but I have also seen some things that I would like to chisel out of him, too,” said Moyes.
“He has a lot of ability and a lot of skill but he has got to realise that he is a team player and he has got to get back and help when required. That is something I demand of all the players but he has definitely been a plus since he arrived here. “Don’t forget, we’ve only had him for just over a month and that has hardly given us much time to work on things with him. I get the feeling, though, that he is really enjoying things and his performances have been good. “There have been times in the last couple of games when he has shown signs of being a bit tired and that’s why we have had to bring him off but he is an exciting talent and I think he has already made a big contribution. Hopefully he will continue to do so before the end of the season.” Fernandes spent much of the game at Vicarage Road playing on the flanks as Moyes deployed three attack-minded midfielders with Lee Carsley sitting in behind, just as he did at Reading before Christmas. That formation - spearheaded by two strikers - has produced Everton’s two best away results of the year but Moyes, whose side travel to Sheffield United on Saturday, will pick and choose which venues he chooses to go on the attack. “We have got to be adaptable,” said Moyes. “Some players can do some jobs, some can do other things well and really we are going to look at games individually and see what style our opponents play. “That’s why we had a lot of big men playing at Watford last week.” Meanwhile, Tony Hibbert and Alessandro Pistone were denied the chance to get some much-needed match practice last night when the mini-derby was called off due to waterlogging at Wrexham’s Racecourse Ground. The fixture was originally due to be played in January but was initially postponed because of a frozen pitch. A new date has yet to be arranged.
Moyes shows he has the courage of his convictions
Mar 2 2007 by Mark O'Brien, Everton Supporter, Liverpool Daily Post
WITH Phil Neville, for instance, talking up James Beattie’s form, and after Everton fielding two up front and comprehensively outplaying Watford, it seems more than likely that the Toffees will start with the same formation again at Bramall Lane tomorrow. If David Moyes does deploy his players in that manner then hopefully it is because he genuinely believes that is the most effective way of dealing with a physical but technically limited Sheffield United outfit, and not because he feels under pressure because of what happened at Goodison against Tottenham. After all, he hasn’t been proclaimed manager of the season twice because he manages by committee.
The arrival of Manuel Fernandes, with his pace and energy in midfield, might make 4-4-2 a more viable option now, but it would be a mistake to simply brand the 4-5-1 as inherently negative as a result. There were no complaints when, for instance, Andrew Johnson, up front alone but supported by a deeper lying Tim Cahill, tore the back out of Liverpool in the Goodison derby. Even Chelsea and Manchester United exercise a degree of caution at times, especially away from home – the trick for the manager is identifying the point at which it’s right to go for broke and when discretion is the better part of valour. Moyes’s critics argue he is too cautious too often, and there are times when they have a point, but the Blues’s goals scored column does compare favourably with most sides in a league where more and more managers are realising that they need to be very pragmatic to even begin to hold their own against the moneyed elite. Someone else who has to believe in himself and not pay too much heed to the opinions of others is Johnson. After seemingly going into his shell a bit following the initial batch of diving allegations he looked far more defiant at Vicarage Road, winning and converting the crucial penalty. There were some raised eyebrows at his celebration, but most Evertonians will have been happy to see that sort of confidence from one of their players. Hopefully one of Johnson’s worst critics, the big pantomime dame Neil Warnock, will be having one of his customary moans on Match of the Day this Saturday night and on the couch with Chris Kamara on Sunday.
Because, of course, that will mean that Everton have more than likely taken all three points.
Fernandes adjusting to being a loan
Mar 2 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
MERSEYSIDE’S inclement weather might not impress Manuel Fernandes, but fortunately for Evertonians, he is certainly finding conditions at Goodison Park to his taste. Since joining the Blues on a short-term loan from Benfica, Fernandes has spent much of his time shacked up in his city centre apartment, sheltering from the wind and rain that has battered Liverpool for the past month. Given the fact he is also a long way from his family home in Lisbon, the situation could be bleak for this 21-year-old.
Happily, though, all is well for Fernandes at present, not least because he has made such an encouraging start to his Everton career. Three appearances have yielded one goal and a myriad of compliments. And the weather apart, he has no doubts that he made the right choice during the transfer window. “Sometimes it is difficult being on your own,” said Fernandes. “I speak English but, of course, it is always easier when you are near your family. But I made the decision to come here and I will be doing my best. It is not a problem. I’m enjoying myself. “I don’t walk around too much because it is always cold and raining. What I have seen of the city centre so far is nice. But when it gets too cold, the only place I will be is at home with the heaters on! Playing is not bad – walking around in the cold is the thing that is not so easy!” Having spent time on loan at Portsmouth earlier in the season, Fernandes had a clear idea of what to expect when he joined Everton. But few could have predicted that he would settle in so quickly. Not surprisingly, the clamour is growing louder for his signature to be made permanent. That, however, is for the future and at the forefront of Fernandes’ thoughts is tomorrow’s tussle with Sheffield United. Buoyed by last Saturday’s 3-0 victory over Watford, Everton are chasing a first league win at Bramall Lane since October 1972, to keep themselves in the hunt for Europe. If results go according to plan, David Moyes’ side could be in sixth place by the end of play this weekend, but to make that happen, a performance similar to the one at Vicarage Road will be required. Sheffield United, after all, are fighting for their lives. “It was nice to score my first goal and I was really happy,” said Fernandes, who somehow beat Andrew Johnson in a race to a loose ball to open the scoring against Watford. “The most important thing is that we won so soon after the disappointing result against Tottenham. “I knew AJ wanted to claim it but I got the touch – definitely! The pace of the game in England was never a problem. “It was just a bit of fitness and when you are playing games regularly, that helps so much. I am very happy with the way things are going for me here, the other guys are making things very easy. “This is a really nice club, a big club. The people around me are so nice and the group of players is very good. Everyone wants to do well. “It was an easy decision to come here and I didn’t really need to speak to Nuno Valente, who already I knew from the Portugal squad. “I was told that I was going to play, so that was the big chance for me. I am young and I just want to play. That is the most important part of anything when you are a player.” Frustrated by a lack of opportunities at Fratton Park, Fernandes has been determined to make up for lost time ever since he set foot in Bellefield, and his willingness to embrace hard work has struck a chord with his new team-mates.
“Manuel has come in and you can see that he is a very good player,” noted James Beattie. “He’s made himself right at home. He’s settled in well with the lads, he’s got a good character. He likes to put his foot in and do his work and that’s what Everton are all about.” Only time will tell how long Fernandes remains part of the Blues’ squad – Benfica are likely to want a fee in the region of £8m – and for the time being, he only wants to concentrate on helping Everton’s push for Europe. If anything happens in the summer, all well and good. But he stressed: “I’m not thinking that far ahead. “It’s not something that depends on me. Even if I want to stay here, I can’t decide that. Let’s see what happens. I’m just happy that I am playing a part in what we are doing and I want to enjoy the next few months.”
Moyes to stick with big guns
Mar 2 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES is ready to give his £15m strikeforce another chance to improve their flourishing partnership at Sheffield United as the race for Europe intensifies.
Andrew Johnson and James Beattie have only started nine games together this season but in that period, Everton have won five and drawn twice, with their only defeats coming against Portsmouth and Manchester City. Despite not having played alongside each other for eight weeks, the pair showed no signs of rustiness at Vicarage Road last Saturday and their performances left Moyes believing they are ready to hit top form.
Johnson has been a regular scorer since he arrived on Merseyside but Beattie has not found the net since converting a penalty against Sheffield United on October 21.
Moyes, however, believes that is about to change. “I think he will be feeling a bit happier about himself now because his form has improved,” the manager said today.
“He has worked hard to get himself into that situation and what he needs now is a couple of goals to really set himself up. “But as long as he keeps doing what he has done in the last couple of games, that will come. He linked well with AJ.
“We have got a situation at the minute, where we have AJ, who is so quick and a real poacher and Tim Cahill, who is really effective at coming in from deep. “It was the right time to use that system against Watford and it suited the players in that game.
“Sheffield United will offer a different challenge. We need to be adaptable.
“Yes, It was a positive line-up but we started positively against Tottenham too.”
With Reading facing Arsenal and Portsmouth hosting Chelsea, Everton could finish the weekend in sixth place if results go accordingly and Johnson is confident the Blues can register their second double of the season. Everton have not won back-to-back games since beating Liverpool and Tottenham last summer but even though he appreciates that Sheffield United will provide tough opposition, the England international expects a bold show at Bramall Lane. “It is important we get the three points this weekend because after that we go into a two-week break so it would be good to go into it with a win,” said Johnson. “Sheffield United are similar, although they try to play more football. But they work really hard and it is a tough place to go to. “The manager there is brilliant and he gets the side rallied up and they are doing well. “But we are travelling well at the moment and if we keep that going then hopefully the home games will take care of themselves. “It is going to be exciting in the last 10 games and the race for sixth place. If we could get that position, it would be a fantastic season for us.” The early indications are that Moyes will name the same starting line-up as he did against Watford, but Alan Stubbs, who sat out the trip to Vicarage Road with a thigh problem, could return to the squad after he resumed training this week. l Everton today confirmed their entry into next season’s Intertoto Cup.
Warnock praises Blues hitman
Mar 2 2007 Liverpool Echo
SHEFFIELD UNITED boss Neil Warnock has hailed Andrew Johnson “the best buy of the season“. Critics baulked when a bidding war broke out last summer for the striker’s services between Everton, Wigan and Bolton. The Goodison Park club won the day with an £8.5million bid, and the England international has responded with 11 goals this season, including four in his last six matches. Warnock feels Johnson deserves more of an opportunity with England as the 26-year-old has won only four caps at international level. “People said Everton paid a lot of money, but there are not many exceptional players at that price, yet Andy is one of them,” said Warnock.
“He’s very unfortunate his face does not seem to fit England-wise, but personally I would love to see him have two or three games in the team. “I think he would do a very good job because he is unpredictable, pacy and he works his socks off. That’s why he is a team player. “Everton may have spent £8.5million on him, but he has been the best buy of the season - value for money.”
Sad finale for a success story
Mar 3 2007 by Barry Horne, Liverpool Echo
IT was a real shame that one of the final acts of a hugely successful five years of domestic cup finals at the Millennium Stadium should be clouded in controversy.
The switch to Cardiff has really underlined what a combination of stadium, city and people can do for an event. It is an opportunity the city of Cardiff has grabbed with both hands, putting on successful events time after time, and the experiment has coloured a lot of people’s views on what going to football matches should be like.
I don’t think people will have anything like the same sense of occasion, even with Cup Finals switched back to their spiritual home of Wembley. That might be a cautionary tale for Everton, in terms of what they seem to be planning at the moment.
The more I think about it the more uncomfortable I get about a move out of the city.
But that’s for another article. As regards last Sunday, yes it was ugly, yes it was unseemly and it certainly set a bad example to young footballers across the country.
But some of the nonsense which has been spouted since the Arsenal-Chelsea bust-up has been ludicrous. Once in a blue moon incidents like that will happen, and we should deal with it in a mature fashion - which is exactly what the FA have done.
Arsene Wenger, however, has been in this country too long now and is too intelligent a person to claim that his comments about “lying” officials have been misinterpreted.
He did not come out of it well, but I thought the behaviour of Emmanuel Adebayor and Wayne Bridge was even worse. Adebayor is a young man and his reaction in refusing to leave the pitch after his red card was childish. Wayne Bridge’s dramatic collapse after feeling the slightest of brushes to his head was preposterous.
It was all such an unecessary finish to five years of unqualified success at the Millennium.
Sheffield United 1, Everton 1 (D,Post)
Mar 5 2007 by Christopher Beesley at Bramhall Lane, Liverpool Daily Post
MANY an eyebrow was raised in January when several transfer gossip columns declared that Sheffield United’s Phil Jagielka could cost Liverpool £9million in a summer transfer swoop – but just how much could he cost Everton if Tim Cahill’s toe injury scuppers their push for a UEFA Cup place? Australian international Cahill fell awkwardly following a seemingly innocuous challenge with the former Everton Youth Academy player late in the first half of this match and despite being sportingly carried by the blameless Jagielka to the sidelines, a broken fifth metatarsal in his left foot is now set to keep him out for the remainder of the season. Although the short-term benefit from this match was a point gained in difficult circumstances which moved Everton a place up the Premiership table and into sixth place and an automatic UEFA Cup berth at the expense of Reading who went down 2-1 at Arsenal, the challenge for David Moyes’s men is to now maintain that spot without their talismanic goalscoring midfielder. What it should mean, unless Moyes experiments with a tactical reshuffle of employing either Manuel Fernandes or Leon Osman ‘in the hole’, is that Everton can expect to be playing a 4-4-2 formation as used against Watford and Sheffield United over the past two weeks much more in the last few weeks of the season.
Presuming that Everton will be employing two frontmen together on a more regular basis, a defining moment has now arisen for James Beattie to get his Goodison career back on track. The striker, so prolific during his Southampton days, waited 18 months following his arrival at Everton to be handed the coveted number nine jersey but this latest blank in front of goal ensures that he will now complete an entire calendar year without scoring from open play. A mere 12 months ago, Beattie, seemingly recovered from a slow start to his time on Merseyside was already in double figures for the season and was being seriously touted for a place in England’s World Cup squad.
Yet at Bramall Lane, the Lancaster-born centre-forward struggled to build on his encouraging display at Watford a week earlier and after being mostly kept under wraps by Chris Morgan and Claude Davis, he was hauled off to be replaced by teenager James Vaughan shortly after Sheffield United had taken the lead.
At Bramall Lane, Everton were unchanged from the side that won 3-0 at Watford as Leon Osman’s wonder goal was not enough to earn a place in the starting line-up and he remained on the substitute’s bench where he was joined by Alan Stubbs who had recovered from a knee injury. In contrast, Neil Warnock made four changes to the team that rolled over so meekly in their 4-0 defeat at Anfield seven days earlier as Chris Lucketti, Rob Kozluk, Michael Tongue and Nick Montgomery made way for Claude Davis, Chris Morgan, Colin Kazim-Richards and Jon Stead.
The Blades are a different proposition at their Bramall Lane home – where they’d lost just once in the previous seven matches – and they proved difficult for Everton to break down.Beattie’s play seemed obviously affected by a soft early booking for supposedly elbowing Davis and both sides struggled to build up a rhythm as referee Mike Riley officiated in a manner that for a long time now continues to infuriate players, managers and supporters of many clubs and sparked Warnock into his latest post-match tirade.
Home striker Stead may not have the most prolific of Barclays Premiership scoring records but his uncanny knack of nicking a goal against Everton must have had many an away fan twitching as he twice got shots in on goal in the first half – the second of which was a decent opportunity after a fortunate rebound off Carsley – but Tim Howard gathered both efforts comfortably.
The best opening of the first half came when Gary Naysmith, still only 28, rolled back the years to maraud down the left flank, shrugging off several attempted challenges before despatching a cross from the by-line to Cahill at the back post. However, the Australian’s goalbound header which looked like it would be his eighth goal of the campaign but first since the Emirates Stadium in October, was cleared off the line by Davis and Cahill’s afternoon and seemingly season too, ended in disappointment a minute before the interval as he hobbled off to be replaced by Osman. Still smarting from the blow, Everton fell behind seven minutes into the second half when Mikel Arteta attempted to intercept a Sheffield United throw-in with a header only for the ball to loop back towards Kazim-Richards who shrugged off a challenge from Naysmith and crossed low towards Rob Hulse who got beyond Joseph Yobo to stretch out a leg and roll the ball past Howard into the bottom right corner of the goal.
Barely a minute later, Beattie departed to be replaced by Vaughan as the game threatened to slip away from the visitors due to increasingly petulant exchanges and punctuated style which was intensified by a seeming reluctance by the Bramall Lane ball boys to go anywhere near the ball whenever it was knocked out of play for an Everton throw-in or corner kick. Whether this ploy was a deliberate one from the Yorkshire side or not, Moyes was not taking any chances and unable to hold back any longer he sprinted almost halfway down the touchline at one point to retrieve the ball which led to a number of cat calls from the home fans and an intervention from Riley.
But as on so many occasions, the adversity roused a reaction from Everton and they got their break 15 minutes from the end in what from a Sheffield United point of view were totally avoidable circumstances. Being chased by Johnson, Davis allowed a long ball over the top to bounce on the left-hand side of the area but home keeper Paddy Kenny should still have been presented with a simple catch. Yet Kenny proceeded to drop the ball at Johnson’s feet and as the England striker attempted to race towards goal from an angle, he was unceremoniously clipped by the custodian’s despairing lunge for the most blatant penalty he’s won this season.It was true Keystone Kops defending from the Blades who have now conceded five spot-kicks in four games against both Merseyside clubs this season as Arteta fired home from 12 yards out, albeit via the crossbar as his effort rebounded down and over the line before bouncing out again. Everton finished the stronger and could even have gone on to win the game moments later when Arteta curled in a free-kick and unsighted by Osman in front of him, Kenny recovered to save well and Morgan hacked the ball clear.
While not entirely satisfactory for either of the two sides, a share of the spoils will do as both clubs now look to have given themselves a fair chance of reaching their end-of-season objectives of staying up and reaching Europe respectively.
SHEFF UTD: Kenny, Geary, Morgan (A Quinn 83), Davis, Armstrong, Kazim-Richards, Fathi, Jagielka, Stephen S Quinn, Stead (Nade 61), Hulse. Subs: Bromby, Webber, Gillespie.
BOOKINGS: Kenny, Davis, Nade.
EVERTON: Howard, Neville, Yobo, Lescott, Naysmith, Cahill (Osman 44), Carsley, Fernandes, Arteta, Johnson, Beattie (Vaughan 54). Subs: Wright, Hibbert, Stubbs.
BOOKINGS: Beattie, Vaughan.
REFEREE: Mike Riley (West Yorkshire)
NEXT MATCH: Everton v Arsenal, Barclays Premiership, Sunday March 18, 4pm.
Sheffield United 1, Everton 1 (Echo)
Mar 5 2007 by Dominic King
BRING out the bubble wrap and send for extra supplies of cotton wool. Simplify training sessions. Why? Everton’s charge for Europe is in desperate need of protection. As David Moyes and his squad do the sensible thing by heading off for a couple of days rest and relaxation this week, there should be a feeling of satisfaction in the camp after they finally clambered back into the top six on Saturday.
If only. Unfortunately, the thought of Tim Cahill spending the next few months hobbling around on crutches will be enough to dampen the spirits after he became the latest player to succumb to the curse of the broken metatarsal. Incredible. Just when Moyes was on the verge of finally having a full complement from which to choose – James McFadden and Nuno Valente are likely to be back for the start of April – disaster has struck once again. Injuries, of course, are a footballer’s occupational hazard but how Moyes must wish his medical staff had some ‘simple’ woes to deal with, such as the odd tight hamstring or bruised ego, rather than ruptured groins, damaged medial ligaments and torn calf muscles. “I cannot really put into words how big a blow this is to us,” said an ashen-face Moyes, who had seen Cahill have a header kicked off the line in the first half. “We need Tim in games like this and we will also need him to score the goals.” Given the number of fitness issues with which Everton have been forced to contend this season, the fact they are in the driving seat to secure sixth place speaks volumes for the character and determination in the ranks.
Time and again since August, a squad painfully low on numbers has been stretched to breaking point, but they have refused to buckle. One wonders, though, just how many more blows they can take – some glum faces boarded the coach home from Sheffield.
Losing the feisty Cahill – who was only just back from an 11-week lay-off – for the rest of the campaign is bad enough, so heaven forbid anything should happen to Mikel Arteta, Andrew Johnson or Joleon Lescott. Try not to entertain that thought.
Sadly, no amount of positive thinking – remember Uri Geller with David Beckham before the 2002 World Cup – will allow Cahill to play in the remaining nine matches, but he will at least take some comfort from the fact Everton are within touching distance of a UEFA Cup spot. Some may suggest that making such a claim is jumping the gun, particularly given some of the teams they have to face. But it is becoming difficult to envisage the Blues not playing in Europe next season. Evidence arrived in bucket loads against Sheffield United. It would be stretching the borders of credibility to describe Everton’s latest offering as vintage; in fact, it would be generous in the extreme to say they even played well. But their refusal to believe they were beaten was so encouraging. We will be kind to Sheffield United and describe them as one of the more limited members of the Premiership. Their style of play could never be called ‘Total Football’, yet it is effective, particularly at their raucous Bramall Lane home. As a number of sides have discovered, a failure to deal with the physical aspect of United’s play invariably means leaving without reward – only four of 15 visiting teams have managed to win in this corner of south Yorkshire. So when Rob Hulse bundled home Colin Kazim-Richards cross early in the second half, moments after Cahill had limped out of the action, it would not have been the greatest surprise had Everton folded. Plenty of games like this have been lost in the past. Not so. If anything, Hulse’s goal was taken by many of Everton’s players as a personal affront, and they declined to go under as the contest turned from a football match to a war of attrition. The more the seconds ebbed away, the greater their hunger became.
Johnson did not have one of his better games, but he never stopped running. Arteta kept his cool despite his legs being kicked from under him plenty of times. Lescott and Joseph Yobo were immense at the back, while Manuel Fernandes battled relentlessly. Moyes even sprinted, well, sauntered down the touchline to get the ball back. “I knew exactly what it was going to be like,” said Moyes. “Our last two away games at Watford and Sheffield United have been similar in style and we knew we’d have to compete and battle with them. “I didn’t think we played too well when we had the ball, but we stuck at it. They are fighting to stay in the Premier League so they are not going to give things up lightly. I have to give our players a lot of credit for coming back.” While Moyes was pleased with his players’ efforts, diplomacy stopped him fromthanking Paddy Kenny for his involvement in Everton’s equaliser. Make no mistake – excuse the pun – here was a contender for gaffe of the season.
Mercilessly barracked by the travelling supporters for the way he refuels between games, the rotund keeper dropped a bouncing ball as he was put under pressure by Johnson. Maybe Kenny would have gathered safely if the ball had been a bouncing doughnut. No matter. Having exacerbated his blunder by tripping up Johnson, Kenny could do nothing to prevent Arteta crashing home the resulting spot-kick off the underside of the bar. It could prove to be the most important goal of Everton’s season.
With Reading losing at Arsenal and Portsmouth flattened by Chelsea, once again, the Toffees could not have wished for better results. But it would have been pointless had they not taken something themselves. The fact they did augurs well for the run-in. What Everton lack in numbers, they more than make up for in belief. But, even accounting for that, it wouldn’t do any harm to keep the squad under wraps until they face Arsenal on March 18.
Bubble wrap, anyone?
Liverpool U18 1, Everton U18 1
Mar 5 2007 by Chris Wright, Liverpool Daily Post
LIVERPOOL and Everton shared the points in a 1-1 draw in Saturday's FA Premier Academy League derby at the Kirkby Academy.
In a typically competitive contest both sides had chances to take all three points, but in the end a draw was probably a fair result. Craig Lindfield gave Liverpool the lead on 35 minutes when he turned in Ryan Flynn's shot across the face of the goal. John Owens's side went in 1-0 ahead at the break, but four minutes after the restart Everton equalised. Aidan Downes was played in by John Paul Kissock, and the Irish youth international forward rounded Liverpool's Danish keeper Martin Hansen to equalise. Both Downes and Kissock were then denied by the woodwork. Liverpool also had a chance late on but in the end, as in the goalless draw at Netherton in October, honours ended even.
We’ll find a way to replace Tim’s goals
Mar 5 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
MIKEL ARTETA today vowed to take the heat off Everton’s strikers as he set his sights on achieving a personal best. The Blues flew to New York for a short training break today but one notable absentee from the travelling part was Tim Cahill, who broke the fifth metatarsal in his left during Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Sheffield United.
That injury will rule the Australian international out for the remainder of the campaign and Arteta admitted it is a huge blow to Everton’s European ambitions, particularly as Cahill has the ability to score so many goals from midfield. But Arteta’s successfully converted penalty at Bramall Lane took his tally for the year to eight and he now wants to break into double figures for the first time in his career. The most he has ever scored in a season was nine, when he was Glasgow Rangers four years ago.
“Hopefully we can deal without Tim but it is a massive, massive loss,” said Arteta. “He is a really important player and we need him. It’s not just about his goals. He’s got presence and he’s a great character in the dressing room. He has been really good for us. “Now he is out, we have got to look forward. Maybe Ossie will come in. Maybe it could be Victor (Anichebe) or Vaughany. Everyone will have a role to play from this point and it is crucial that we all do our best. “Can I get 10 goals? I will try my best. I want to score as many as I can to help the team. The gaffer keeps asking me to improve the number of goals I score and I want to become a better player. If I can score a lot of goals, that will help the team.” Everton only have one more game this month - against Arsenal on March 18 - and boss David Moyes has used the break in the fixture list to take his squad to New York for a short training break. They are due to fly back to England on Thursday evening. Not surprisingly, the squad headed out to the Big Apple in high spirits, as results over the weekend saw them move into sixth place and while they were not at their best against Sheffield United, Arteta feels it could prove to be a hugely significant result. “Maybe we will look at this point at the end of the season and see that it made a real difference,” said Arteta. “It was really difficult game. It was all about work rate, trying to win second balls from throw-ins and free kicks. We just couldn’t get the ball down to play. “We know how good the other results have been for us over the weekend. We are happy. “Being in sixth place is massive and it helps us after what happened to Tim. In terms of confidence, it has given us a really big lift, as it was a game that we looked like losing.”
Neville: I didn’t row with fans
Mar 5 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
PHIL NEVILLE has rubbished suggestions he was involved in an argument with Everton supporters during Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Sheffield United.
Everton’s skipper was seen to throw a plastic bottle back towards the visiting section of Bramall Lane after the Blues had been awarded a penalty. But, contrary to some reports, he was not rowing with fans. Neville, who described the season-ending injury to Tim Cahill as “an absolutely massive blow”, was thrilled with the support that Everton received in south Yorkshire, but said there is no excuse for missiles being thrown onto the pitch. “The fans were fantastic,” said Neville. “It wasn’t a criticism when I went behind the goal, it was a case of saying calm down a little and telling people not to be daft. I was as excited as the fans at that moment. “But in terms of throwing things on to the pitch, it is not what football needs, never mind Everton, because I believe we have got the best support in the land. “We don’t want anyone labelling us as having bad fans, because we haven’t.” Ian Ross, Everton’s Head of PR, added: “Although this is an isolated incident with a plastic bottle thrown on to the pitch such actions cannot be condoned. “Phil, as club skipper, reacted quickly to calm the situation and he deserves credit for that.”
We’ll miss Cahill’s goals, declares Goodison boss
Mar 5 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES is keeping his fingers crossed that Everton’s treatment room will be clear by the time the race for Europe intensifies. Having seen Tim Cahill hobble out of Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Sheffield United after breaking the fifth metatarsal in his left foot, an injury that has ended his season, the manager was unable to disguise his feelings. The Australian international had scored seven goals before damaging medial ligaments during a 1-0 defeat against Aston Villa last November, and his 11-week absence coincided with Everton’s most erratic form of the campaign. But with only one more game this month, against Arsenal on March 18, Moyes is hoping that James McFadden, Nuno Valente and Tony Hibbert will all be back to play a part in the crucial Easter period, when Everton face three games in seven days. “It’s a really big blow for us and a big blow for Tim,” said Moyes. “We have already missed him for three months of the season with a knee injury, and to miss him again is terrible. He is important for us. He had worked hard to get back after that injury. “In lots of ways, he is a big part of our team. Against teams like Sheffield United, we know what he will give us. He is very good in the air, he is very competitive and that helps in these games, especially. But what we’ll miss him most for is his goals. “I was saying to him before the game that he was due one. He came close on a couple of occasions in the first half and we missed him when he went off. Tim is an attacking midfielder who is good at getting in the box and scoring. “We are really short at the minute. Thankfully we have only got one game in March now.” While Cahill’s injury was difficult to stomach, Moyes was satisfied with the efforts of his players after they came from behind to rescue a point, which took Everton back into the top six for the first time since October 28. “The game did not allow our better players to get a foot on the ball,” said Moyes. “We possibly have to give Sheffield United credit for that. We have got one game in 28 days now and there is nothing we can do about it. “All I can do is try and keep the players ticking over. I wouldn’t have wanted to go into the break on the back of a defeat. “We didn’t play well but we needed something to go for us. Maybe the slowness of their play riled our team. There was a challenge on Andy Johnson that finished with the ball being kicked at him. “I thought those things inspired the boys and drove them on. We had been a bit flat up until then. “It was a definite penalty. But if Andy is being questioned about a dive, you really need to look at their centre-forward going down in the last minute.”
Honours even in youth derby
Mar 5 2007 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
THE mini, mini-derby ended all square at Kirkby – with both sides left to rue what might have been. Liverpool Under-18s led the Academy fixture through Craig Lindfield’s 35th minute goal, before Everton hit back through Aidan Downes four minutes after the interval. The Blues then struck the woodwork twice in a rousing second period, before Liverpool were presented with a glorious chance in the closing seconds but missed it. After the goalless draw at Netherton earlier in the season, it ensured Academy honours were even for the season. The Blues shared the spoils for the 10th time this term. Lee Molyneux tested the keeper early in the game as Everton started brightly. But the home team took the lead in the 35th minute after a neat passing move stretched Everton’s defence. Ryan Flynn’s innocuous shot from the edge of the box looked destined to go wide before it was turned into the net at the back post by Lindfield. Everton regrouped at the break and came out strongly in the second period, the equaliser coming just four minutes after the restart.
It was a flowing move that began in the heart of the Everton defence with Jack Rodwell. The ball was played through midfield and John Paul Kissock teed up Irish youth international Downes, who raced into the box, around goalkeeper Martin Hansen and calmly slid the ball into the empty net. The young forward went close to putting the visitors ahead shortly after when a well struck volley bounced back off the woodwork. And as the game entered the latter stages Everton were denied by the post once again. Molyneux combined effectively down the left with Kissock before drilling a shot beyond the keeper only to see it hit the inside of the post and roll agonisingly across the face of goal before being cleared. Having gone so close, Everton were almost punished in the dying seconds when a defensive slip from Rodwell presented Liverpool with a glorious opportunity. But his chip from the edge of box sailed over the bar.
Ambitious Everton can make Europe
Mar 5 2007 View From The Stands by Joe Jennings, Everton supporter, Liverpool Daily Post
FINALLY Everton have re-entered the top six. Although the performance wasn't brilliant and the overall game was far from stimulating the result proved a crucial point. Moyes showed ambition and initiative introducing Vaughan when the goal went in, replacing the ineffective Beattie. In the past Moyes has been criticised for leaving it 'too late' before making changes, however this was a positive switch and should be commended. As predicted this really was a physical test and silky football was at a premium, which came as no surprise while losing Tim Cahill was a blow.
Manuel Fernandes produced another assured performance, proving his credentials further. It will be interesting to see whether we make a serious attempt to sign the Portuguese international although a reported £12m could be a huge stumbling block.
With a 15-day break to follow it was pivotal that we left Bramall Lane with a positive result, and after entering the top six, the players will surely be in confident mood as the end of season run in begins. Our superior goal difference could prove vital in the coming weeks. Barring no disastrous results, it looks as if we will finish with the fifth best goal difference in the Premiership, which could be deemed an 'extra point'
As for our application for the Intertoto Cup, this can only be branded a positive step. Hopefully we won't need this pre-season tournament and will qualify for the UEFA Cup via league placings, however it will need a huge effort and a continual support of the players and manager alike.
Hibbert can help us seal Euro place
Mar 6 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
TONY HIBBERT will finally get the opportunity to get some much-needed match practice tonight when Everton’s reserves tackle Blackburn Rovers. While the vast majority of David Moyes’ squad have travelled to New York for a training break, Hibbert has stayed behind on Merseyside in order to improve his sharpness after being sidelined for most of this season. Having missed the opening weeks of the campaign with a tropical illness, the 26-year-old only played three times before he was sent off at Newcastle in September and his misery was exacerbated the following month when he ruptured his groin against Middlesbrough. Though he returned to play a starring role in Everton’s 0-0 draw at Anfield last month, he then damaged his knee in training and his only appearance since was briefly as a substitute when Spurs won at Goodison Park two weeks ago. But should Hibbert come through tonight’s game at the Halton Stadium (7pm) without trouble, he will come back into contention for a first team place and Alan Stubbs has no doubt that his fellow defender can make a contribution to Everton’s push for a top six place. “I think he’d agree with me if I said it’s been a season to forget for him so far,” said Stubbs. “But I’m sure he will still have a part to play. He’s a great lad and a great player, too. Hopefully it won’t be too long before we have got everyone back fit again.” Lee Carsley, meanwhile, believes breaking back into the top six for the first time since last October should provide Everton with the impetus to secure the UEFA Cup spot they have been chasing all season.
Though there are a number of teams snapping at Everton’s heels, Carsley – the Blues’ only ever present – is confident that they can repel all challengers and points to the determined way his side came from behind at Bramall Lane on Saturday to secure a 1-1 draw. “Having played everyone now, there is no reason to think we cannot finish in the top six,” said Carsley. “We have some fantastic players at this club and, if I’m being honest, I don’t think we have had a great season so far. “It’s been a bit up and down. With the quality that we have in this squad, a top six finish has been a realistic target from the start of the season and we have given ourselves a realistic chance of achieving that now. “Everton are a big club and we need to be challenging for those top six positions every season. While we have not come out and said that we expect to be in the UEFA Cup next season, that is certainly the target.”
Cahill foot injury puts the boot in
Mar 6 2007 by Tony Cottee, Liverpool Echo
TIM CAHILL has become the latest in a long line of broken metatarsal victims.
And the circumstances surrounding his injury confirm what I’ve long suspected.
A combination of lightweight football boots and rock hard football pitches means that the broken metatarsal has become the curse of modern players. I always find it quite amusing when people talk about fractured metatarsals. When I was still playing footballers would occasionally break a foot or a toe, but no-one had ever heard of a metatarsal. But after David Beckham’s race to be fit for the World Cup in 2002 everybody seemed to be suffering from it. Michael Owen, Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney all fractured metatarsals, while at Everton James McFadden is already suffering from the same problem. The boots which players wear nowadays clearly contribute to the problem, but I think football pitches today are an equally big factor.
I remember talking to a groundsman at Leicester a few years ago, moaning at him for producing a pitch which was rock hard. I asked him if there was any chance he could water the pitch a little to create some give in the ground. He refused, explaining to me that modern pitches usually had a mesh underlay containing a compound mix which actually got harder when water fell upon it! There’s no doubt that the majority of pitches look lovely nowadays and produce a much truer run of the ball than they ever did, but I’m convinced they have contributed to the increasing incidence of broken foot injuries. Tim Cahill has become the latest – ironically from nothing more traumatic than landing awkwardly after challenging for a header – and his absence will be a massive blow. You just have to face up to a blow like that and get on with things. As ever in situations like this, a door slamming in one player’s face creates an opening for somebody else – and it’s up to whoever gets that chance to take it.
Leon Osman would be favourite to come in and he has shown many times in the past that he has a sharp eye for goal. But I’ve also said before that I’m a big advocate of using two players up front and hopefully that will continue regardless of who comes in for Cahill. Losing one of your best players at such a critical stage of the season is a dreadful disappointment. But it need not be a fatal blow to Everton’s European ambitions. It’s up to the other players to overcome that disappointment.
Trip to NY will end boredom
EVERTON’S players have hit the jackpot this week - an all-expenses-paid trip to New York as a "bonding" exercise. I’ve been to New York a few times and it’s a fantastic place. And I genuinely think it’s a great idea to get the players away somewhere different at this time of year. The problem at this stage of the season is boredom. I don’t want supporters to read this and get the wrong idea - playing football every day of your working life is a fantastic way to earn a living. But there are only so many training routines and sessions you can follow before you start repeating the same things over and over again. A lot of players today have low boredom thresholds and it’s very difficult to keep things fresh at the training ground.
Trips like this break up the routine, however, - then when they come back hopefully feel fresh, sharp and ready to focus fully on an important match against Arsenal at Goodison.
Neville correct to take action
Mar 7 2007 Blue Watch by Mark O'Brien, Liverpool Daily Post
IT SEEMS as though people at Everton have been doing a lot of unnecessary explaining of late. In the wake of the defeat by Tottenham the other week, David Moyes felt the need to defend his record as manager of Everton, while this week Phil Neville has come out and justified to his angry gesture to the away fans at Bramall Lane. Or, more pointedly, to the fan who threw the bottle onto the pitch.
The Everton skipper was very diplomatic, as ever, with his comments after the game, praising the fans who he always makes a point of applauding, especially away from home. There was no need for him to do that though, as he was well within his rights to be annoyed by the incident. For a start, the health and safety implications of hurling glassware are pretty clear for just about anyone with opposable thumbs. Added to the obvious danger of cracking open some poor individual’s noggin though is the fact that Everton have been in trouble with the FA on several occasions with regards to objects being thrown onto the pitch. They have incurred several fines before now – only this season Claus Jensen was struck by a missile at Craven Cottage – and quite frankly the reputation of the Everton fans has been tarnished by too many unsavoury incidents like this in the past few years. With that in mind then, it’s the individual who threw the bottle at Bramall Lane who should be feeling sheepish now, not Neville.
While most neutrals were simply wowed by Sunday’s humdinger of a game at Upton Park, Evertonians were left cursing Roy Carroll’s card school, Anton Ferdinand’s transatlantic dash, baby Bentley’s and any of the other 101 reasons given for West Ham’s current plight. That’s not because of any innate affection for the Irons, even if they did win the World Cup in 1966, but rather because the result moved Tottenham closer to the Toffees in the table. While Portsmouth and Reading look as if they might fade out in the latter stages of the season, Spurs’s present form looks somewhat ominous, and along with Blackburn Rovers they look the side most likely to push the Blues for an automatic UEFA Cup spot.
TALKING of spots, how nerve-wracking is it whenever Everton get a penalty nowadays? Our record has been pretty good in converting them, with only Mikel Arteta missing the one against Luton in the cup, but it's unsettling not knowing who is going to step up. If whoever's turn it is misses, there is always the thought that it should have gone to someone else. Andy Johnson's record from the spot at Crystal Palace was excellent, and he did convert against Watford, but those that go straight down the middle are always scary,just because the keeper might stay rooted to the spot and let it smack him in the face. Arteta, on the other hand, is as sweet astriker of the ball as you would wish to see, but while no keeper in the world would have got neat that penalty on Saturday,the travelling Evertonians nearly suffered amass coronary as it smashed offthe underside of the bar. In truth, despite all his critics, the most reassuring spot-kick taker thus far this season has actually been the man who is struggling so badly to get asniffof goal from open play,James Beattie.
Now,hedoesn't often get many votes of confidence, but there's one at least.
Johnson can lift Euro bid- Moyes
Mar 7 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES believes Andrew Johnson’s return to full fitness will see him recapture the sparkling form that illuminated the start to his Everton career.
The England international hardly trained last month, six weeks after suffering separate ankle and knee injuries but that has not stopped him scoring four in his last seven matches. Though Everton’s squad are currently away in New York, the manager is keeping things ticking over and he feels Johnson, who scored six times in the opening weeks of the season, is ready to start terrorising defenders again. “I think Andy has been on form but missed training in spells recently,” said Moyes. “We want him as sharp as he was at the start of the season and I can see signs he is getting back to that kind of form. “If he keeps the goals going in the final games of the season, it will really help our cause. Coming here has helped him and in today's market the price we paid looks cheap. But it is not his value that bothers me, it is him scoring goals.”
Everton should return from New York on Friday morning but Bjarni Vidarsson is already back at Bellefield. The young Icelandic midfielder has spent the last month on loan at Bournemouth and made his final appearance for the Cherries as a substitute in a 2-0 defeat against Blackpool last night. Vidarsson caught the eye when he scored for the Blues in a friendly against Bournemouth on the South Coast in January and could get a chance to impress for the first team in the near future. With Tim Cahill out for the season with a broken foot, Moyes, who has described Vidarsson as a player “capable of getting a goal from midfield” - will need as many options as possible as Everton chase a UEFA Cup place. Vidarsson said: “Everton have decided to recall me. Injury problems played a part in this decision.”
Everton Res 0, Blackburn Res 0
Mar 7 2007 Liverpool Daily Post
A MISSED penalty midway through the second half was as close as Everton reserves came to taking all three points off Blackburn Rovers at the Halton Stadium.
Tony Hibbert was in the home starting line up and he had some early defending to do as Sergio Peter went close just two minutes into the game. Everton began to put their own pressure on the visitors goal and Kieran Agard saw a chance cleared off the line by Stopforth. The first half was a scrappy affair with plenty of stops in play and the second period started in the same way. John Paul Kissock went very close with a curling shot and then Everton won their spot kick after Eddie Nolan pulled down Stephen Connor. Lee Molyneux stepped up only for Fielding in the Rovers goal to save well. Keith Treacy should have won it for the visitors but his effort came off the crossbar and away.
EVERTON RES: Jones, Hibbert, Molyneux, Irving,Dennehy, Harpur (Morrison), Densmore, De Silva, Agard, Downes (Connor),Kissock Subs: Spencer, McEntegart, Elder, Morrison.
BLACKBURN RES: Fielding, Nolan, Berner, Stopforth, Winnard, Pezzoni, Treacy, Judge, De Vita, Barker, Peter. Subs: Olsson, Somodi, Thomson.
Yobo turns down Big Apple trip
Mar 8 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
JOSEPH YOBO rejected the opportunity of a trip to New York so he can cram some extra training in ahead of his biggest test of the season. Though the majority of Everton’s squad headed out to the Big Apple on Monday for a bonding trip, a couple of players - notably Yobo and Lee Carsley - remained at Bellefield for treatment on injuries and to work on their fitness. The Nigerian international has returned to top form in recent weeks and played a significant role in helping Everton establish the fifth best goals against column in the Premiership but he feels there is still room for improvement. With a game against Arsenal looming on the horizon, Yobo knows Everton’s European credentials will be given a stern examination by Thierry Henry and Co, but it is a challenge that he is looking forward. “We are doing a bit of work to keep ourselves going,” Yobo said today. “There is a long time before the next game and we have to keep our fitness up. “Every game is getting bigger for us, especially now that we are in sixth position. That is what we wanted. We have got it now, but we haven’t done all the work. We want a European place. “Arsenal is a massive game. It is probably the biggest for us this season. Every game is going to be like that because of the position we are in. “It is going to be tough but we are looking forward to it.”Since being knocked out of the FA Cup, Everton’s campaign has been stop-start, but Yobo feels that a chance to recharge the batteries this weekend will be extremely beneficial as they begin the final push. But he admits it will be difficult without Tim Cahill. The Australian international had an operation to insert a screw into his broken metatarsal on Tuesday, yet even though the procedure was successful Cahill will still be out for the rest of the season. “Hopefully, we will get a good result against Arsenal and take it from there,” said Yobo. “Sometimes a little bit of a break makes you feel better when you get back to action. “ We have got options but Tim is a massive player for us and we are going to miss him. “It is an opportunity for those who come into the team to prove what they can do and they have to grab the chance.” Yobo, meanwhile, is likely to have a familiar face alongside him when he joins up with Nigeria’s squad for an African Nations Cup qualifier later this month against Uganda as new Super Eagles coach Bertie Vogts has picked Victor Anichebe in his initial 37-man party.
Yobo turns down Big Apple trip
Mar 8 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
Extra work for Yobo
JOSEPH YOBO rejected the opportunity of a trip to New York so he can cram some extra training in ahead of his biggest test of the season. Though the majority of Everton’s squad headed out to the Big Apple on Monday for a bonding trip, a couple of players - notably Yobo and Lee Carsley - remained at Bellefield for treatment on injuries and to work on their fitness. The Nigerian international has returned to top form in recent weeks and played a significant role in helping Everton establish the fifth best goals against column in the Premiership but he feels there is still room for improvement. With a game against Arsenal looming on the horizon, Yobo knows Everton’s European credentials will be given a stern examination by Thierry Henry and Co, but it is a challenge that he is looking forward. “We are doing a bit of work to keep ourselves going,” Yobo said today. “There is a long time before the next game and we have to keep our fitness up. “Every game is getting bigger for us, especially now that we are in sixth position. That is what we wanted. We have got it now, but we haven’t done all the work. We want a European place. “Arsenal is a massive game. It is probably the biggest for us this season. Every game is going to be like that because of the position we are in. “It is going to be tough but we are looking forward to it.”
Since being knocked out of the FA Cup, Everton’s campaign has been stop-start, but Yobo feels that a chance to recharge the batteries this weekend will be extremely beneficial as they begin the final push. But he admits it will be difficult without Tim Cahill. The Australian international had an operation to insert a screw into his broken metatarsal on Tuesday, yet even though the procedure was successful Cahill will still be out for the rest of the season. “Hopefully, we will get a good result against Arsenal and take it from there,” said Yobo. “Sometimes a little bit of a break makes you feel better when you get back to action. “ We have got options but Tim is a massive player for us and we are going to miss him. “It is an opportunity for those who come into the team to prove what they can do and they have to grab the chance.” Yobo, meanwhile, is likely to have a familiar face alongside him when he joins up with Nigeria’s squad for an African Nations Cup qualifier later this month against Uganda as new Super Eagles coach Bertie Vogts has picked Victor Anichebe in his initial 37-man party.
Blues launch strip for Barca showdown
Mar 8 2007 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
Blues launch strip for Barca showdown MORE than two decades after Everton last hoped to host Barcelona – and 83 years after the clubs actually did come face to face – the clubs will clash again at Goodison Park. And a special strip has been launched to commemorate the occasion. Football legends like Michael Laudrup, Luis Enrique and Nadal are scheduled to take on Everton greats like Dave Watson, Graeme Sharp and Peter Reid on March 28. The showdown is part of a fundraising initiative set up to help acquire the David France Collection. But it’s also unfinished business.
Barcelona were European Cup finalists in 1986, the year Everton had hoped to mount a European Cup challenge of their own until the ban on English clubs was inflicted.
And the two clubs first clashed in Spain in 1924 for the Barcelona Cup – a competition set up to celebrate the Catalan outfit’s 25th anniversary (Everton won one match 2-1 and lost the second by the same score). The two clubs have also established close links recently through their Former Players’ Foundations. Everton became the first club in Britain to establish a registered charity to aid its former stars – and were invited by Barcelona in 2004 to help set up a European Former Players’ Association with clubs involved from Spain, Scotland, Belgium, Greece, Germany and France.
The match later this month is part of ‘Heritage Week’ – a series of events designed to help The Everton Collection Charitable Trust secure the France Collection.
Howard Kendall will be manager of the Everton Former Players team.
Once linked with a switch to Barcelona, he is still highly respected in Spain for his spell as boss of Athletic Bilbao. “I’m delighted to help this great charity in any way I can,” he said. “It will be a terrific night at Goodison and I hope that many Evertonians will attend.” Dave Watson will wear the captain’s armband while a host of other club favourites from the 80s and 90s have also confirmed their appearance. Tickets for the match are on sale now from the box office at Goodison Park, priced at just £10 for adults and £5 for juniors and OAPs. All profits from the game will go towards The Everton Collection Charitable Trust. The Trust has also launched a range of merchandise to commemorate the game. Pride of place is a totally unique football shirt, sporting half Everton and half Barcelona colours, with the name and date of the match woven in between the logos of the two teams. Also in the range are Everton/Barcelona caps, mugs, key rings and badges and, of course, a specially produced scarf. “We are going to launch the range at Everton’s home match against Arsenal on March 18,” said Tony Tighe, trustee of the charity. “They will be available from all the sellers around Goodison Park on the day. They look fantastic but I must warn Evertonians, as we are a charity we have not been able to order in massive stocks, so it will be first come first served.”
Arteta invaluable but we need others to perform
Mar 9 2007 by Mark O'Brien, Everton supporter, Liverpool Daily Post
IS anyone really paying any heed to Mikel Arteta’s apparent comments about having a dream of playing for Atletico Madrid? Surely we are all way too worldly-wise nowadays to take any notice to ‘comments made to a foreign newspaper’.
That is of course unless the player is saying something nice, and it was only a couple of weeks ago that Arteta was apparently extolling the virtues of Everton, David Moyes and English football in general in an interview in his homeland, so maybe we would be better just waiting until the summer and seeing whether he actually does go anywhere before getting too down in the mouth. The Spanish schemer has been one of the Blues’ better players this season, but even more is going to be required from him and the other senior players if Everton are going to hold onto sixth place in the league and qualify for the UEFA Cup. Other teams just below us are hitting form – indeed Tottenham could go above us soon given that their next game is at home to Watford while we next face Arsenal – and the loss of Tim Cahill for the rest of the campaign is a huge blow. Everton rely heavily on the Australian, for leadership, drive and of course for his goals. With him missing now there is an opportunity for someone else to make a name for himself, but there are no obvious candidates at present.
Leon Osman is an attacking midfielder and possibly the closest thing to a straight replacement for Cahill, but he’s not having the greatest of seasons by any stretch; he seems to go missing for long stretches in matches, especially away from home.
That leaves the strikers. At the moment Victor Anichebe only really looks effective as a substitute battering ram – his all round game needs to improve before he’s a regular Premiership starter. And we keep waiting for James Beattie to suddenly come to life and start banging in the goals. James Vaughan is still an unknown quantity and has less experience than even Anichebe. All in all then, it’s not an ideal situation by any stretch. However, trying to find a positive example from our recent past, who would ever have thought that a team led by Marcus Bent could finish fourth?
Everton 3, Prescot Cables 1
Mar 9 2007 by Chris Wright, Liverpool Daily Post
TWO goals from Scott Spencer helped Everton into the fourth round of the Liverpool Senior Cup as they beat Prescot Cables 3-1 at The Halton Stadium.
The side which was made up entirely of Neil Dewsnip’s FA Premier Academy League squad were worthy winners. Former Oldham forward Spencer opened the scoring after 16 minutes before John Irving doubled the advantage two minutes later. Spencer made it three on 69 minutes before Dean Thurston scored a consolation goal with 10 minutes remaining. Everton were almost on the attack from the start and opened the scoring on 16 minutes when John Paul Kissock put Spencer in on goal to lift over Prescot keeper Peter Collis from the edge of the area. Within two minutes it was 2-0 when Lee Molyneux broke down the left and from his low cross full-back Irving stroked home at the far post. Everton keeper Jamie Jones had little to do, but Karl Bell missed a good opportunity to reduce the deficit for Cables, but fired wide from six yards. Four minutes into the second half Prescot substitute Lee Smith did score, but his effort was disallowed for offside. Prescot pressed although Spencer should have made it 3-0, but he shot over the bar after going round Cables’ keeper Collis.
He did finally grab his second and Everton’s third in the 65th minute. Spencer scored again from another pass from Kissock. Everton made a couple of changes late with Elder replacing Spencer and Norwegian goalkeeper Lars Stubhaug coming on.
But almost his first touch of the ball was picking the ball out of the net as Thurston gave him no chance to fire in.
EVERTON: Jones (Stubhaug 82); Irving, Molyneux, Rodwell, Dennehy; Harpur, Connor, Densmore; Spencer (Elder 80), Kissock, Morrison. Subs: Agard, Hall.
PRESCOT: Collis; Standley, Burke, O'Hara, Bell, Flynn, Johnson, Moore, Stanhope, Thurston, Stannard (Smith 45). Subs: Owens, Wheeler.
REFEREE: Mr G Johnson.
Arteta targets Europe
Mar 9 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
MIKEL ARTETA feels it is absolutely vital to bring European football back to Goodison Park if Everton are to become one of the Premiership’s leading lights again.
The Blues’ squad returned from a four-day bonding trip in New York this morning and immediately turned their attentions to next Sunday’s Arsenal clash.
Though Everton have an Intertoto Cup entry if they miss out on a top six place, the players are determined to ensure that remains only a precautionary measure by scoring six wins between now and May 13. Should they do that, Everton would almost certainly be guaranteed a place in next year’s UEFA and Arteta - the club’s second highest scorer with eight goals - reckons they are perfectly placed to start realising their potential, on and off the pitch. “It would be massive if we could hang on to sixth place,” said Arteta. “We know the last nine games are going to be difficult. But we have got a big chance. “Alan Irvine said that we need six wins, so hopefully that will be enough to take us where we want to be. If we could get that, it would be absolutely amazing for everyone. “It is so important that we are playing in Europe – not just for the players and the management, but for the fans. If we want to start building a better club and being more ambitious, we have got to be in Europe. “If it meant starting in July for the Intertoto, that’s fine. It wouldn’t be great, but we would accept it. Hopefully, we won’t need to play in that competition.” Arteta was again mischievously linked with a move to Atletico Madrid this week, but Everton laughed off the reports from Spain and intend to open talks in the summer with their influential midfielder over a new deal. Arteta is satisfied with how things are going for him on Merseyside and is quick to point out how much he feels his game has improved during the time he has been at Everton. “You see the work rate in a game like against Sheffield United and you know you have got to match them,” he said. “You’d never find a game like that in Spain, but it is really good if you can handle it, as it shows you are improving. You learn to play another kind of football and become a more complete player.”
Euro hurdles facing blues
Mar 9 2007 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
Everton crept into sixth place last weekend for the first time since October 28 but a number of clubs are determined to dislodge them. Everton correspondent DOMINIC KING assesses the runners and riders in the race for Europe
IT’S the time of year when heads are buried in books. Facts and figures are digested so every eventuality can be plotted out. The arrival of spring, of course, can only mean one thing - excitement levels in the Premiership are about to crank up another notch.
But while the respective battles for the title and to avoid the drop promise to be compelling, the six-way scrap for two, possibly three, UEFA Cup spots should be equally dramatic. Best league in the world? Certainly the most exciting.
For clubs such as Everton, Bolton Wanderers, Tottenham Hotspur and Blackburn Rovers, Europe has been on the agenda from the first day their players returned to pre-season training. Yet, now that it is in view, suddenly it seems so far away.
An injury here, a mistake there; a lapse from a referee or a linesman. One split-second incident can nullify all the good work that has been put in during the past eight months. Quite simply, there is no margin for error. That’s why supporters all over the land will frantically scour fixture lists in the coming weeks, trying to work out how many points their beloved clubs will accrue, while at the same time trying to predict when and where their rivals will come unstuck. Sadly, for all the studying, it is impossible to predict. Gaze into crystal balls all you like looking for signs, but the only thing likely to happen is that you will become dizzy with all the staring.
That won’t stop us doing it, though, will it? Take Everton, for example. For the past couple of weeks, chatter around offices and bars has been about whether the Blues will hang onto the sixth spot they clambered into after last Saturday’s instantly forgettable 1-1 draw at Sheffield United. Alan Irvine, Everton’s assistant manager, had claimed before that trip to Bramall Lane that six wins would be required to make certain of a UEFA Cup spot and, despite results elsewhere, that target has not changed. Everton crept into sixth place last weekend for the first time since October 28 but a number of clubs are determined to dislodge them. Everton correspondent DOMINIC KING assesses the runners and riders in the race for Europe
Optimists say Everton will achieve that objective with the minimum of fuss. Pessimists, on the other hand, scrunch up their faces and point to games against Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea, suggesting this is where they will come up short. There is no question that those three fixtures will be hugely difficult examinations, but would you bet against Everton - even accounting for the absence of the stricken Tim Cahill - taking something from them? Look at Arsenal. Rarely have they travelled well this season and, having lost the Carling Cup and been knocked out of the Champions League and FA Cup in the space of 10 days, they may be coming to Goodison Park next week at just the right time. Arsene Wenger’s side play some wonderful football but they are certainly beatable; should Everton take three points, it might just give the same kind of impetus that beating United did two years ago on the march to fourth place. It’s not as if Everton are shrinking violets when the opportunity arises to play on the big stage. The one thing, nonetheless, that Everton must do if they are serious about playing European football next year is rack up a sequence of wins somewhere. Not since beating Spurs and Liverpool in September have the Blues celebrated back-to-back victories. “If we want to challenge the top places, we need to win as many games as we possibly can,” David Moyes said, aware that Everton have been seen as weak finishers. “With our section of the Premiership so tight, it is important to gather as many points as we can - particularly at home.” Take maximum points from the five games that remain at Goodison and, in all likelihood, Everton will be home and dry. What’s more, they will have an outstanding chance of surpassing the points tally of 61 that secured fourth place in 2005. Seldom, though, are things so straightforward, and it is not a surprise to see glances cast in the direction of Tottenham and Blackburn, both of whom are moving with menace at present. They appear to be hitting form at just the right time. As well as Portsmouth and Reading have acquitted themselves thus far, it is hard to imagine them being in the final shake-up. Do they have the necessary class to make their presence felt? Some may wonder the same about Everton. Provided Mikel Arteta and Andrew Johnson stay fit and the defence remains in the same generally solid form it has done since the turn of the year, it is not hard to envisage Mission Europe being accomplished. After all, some of their rivals will take points off each other. Perish the thought, however, that anything should happen to them. Scratch beneath the surface and it is clear to see that the Blues do not have the playing resources that others boast - falling short because of a lack of numbers would be a bitter pill to swallow. Fingers crossed it won’t come to that. All being well, Everton will travel to Stamford Bridge on the final day, free from anxiety. having successfully negotiated the run-in. But how often do things turn out as predicted? Prepare yourself for plenty of twists and turns.
Bramall battle not for purists
Mar 9 2007 by Howard Kendall, Liverpool Echo
IT’S funny how people interpret games so differently. As I was unable to get over to Sheffield last weekend, I spent the afternoon watching Soccer Saturday for regular updates from Bramall Lane. This, unfortunately, meant I was hanging on Charlie Nicholas’ every word. From his perspective, Everton’s tussle with Sheffield United was an end-to-end affair, full of drama and excitement. Then I watched Football First and received reports from some reliable source, who begged to differ.
Drama and excitement? Mind you, if Scottish football is the only thing you watch regularly, it’s no wonder that a scrap like that might seem to be similar to something served up between Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. The Battle of Bramall Lane, though, was certainly not for the purists. That said, the point that the Blues came away with is looking much better now, particularly as Bolton, Reading and Portsmouth all lost. A European spot is now within Everton’s grasp but it is still going to take a huge effort to secure sixth place. Why? Losing Tim Cahill is a massive blow. A few years ago, few people knew anything about metatarsals but now they are as regular as the common cold. It’s baffling and surely must have something to do with the flimsy nature of modern boots. There is no question that he will be missed in the final nine matches, but his absence need not be a fatal blow to ambitions. It shouldn’t be if David Moyes continues to adopt an adventurous approach. With Cahill sidelined, I would hope that he continues with a midfield of Lee Carsley, Manuel Fernandes and Mikel Arteta with Leon Osman to come in. It would be slightly disappointing if Andrew Johnson was deployed as a sole striker. Surely, though, that won’t happen. Everton have received a tremendous psychological boost by climbing into the top six again and, all being well, they will stay there. The break in New York will have done the squad good and hopefully they will reap the benefits, starting against Arsenal a week on Sunday.
Moyes has lifted burden
Mar 10 2007 by Barry Horne, Liverpool Echo
AS we approach the fifth anniversary of David Moyes’ Goodison arrival it is appropriate to look back over that period and assess his progress, or otherwise.
There is undoubtedly a minority of Everton fans who will say that they are “still not sure” about Moyes. They will justify their doubts with vague mutterings about transfer dealings, an inability to motivate players, lack of cup success and a lack of boldness.
Most passionate football fans, however, suffer from the same problem – selective amnesia. Walter Smith was a man of great integrity and character and I believe he did a good job in difficult circumstances. The success he enjoyed in charge of the Scottish national team is, I am sure, something he will repeat at Rangers. But, for all of his sterling efforts at Everton, he was the boy with his finger in the dyke. He still slowed down an alarming descent at the club, and I fail to see how anyone can question the fact that David Moyes has not just continued to slow that descent, but has actually turned it around in impressive fashion over five years. Those kind of turnarounds don’t happen overnight in England. Martin O’Neill was an overnight success at Celtic, but back in a league which has just seen three of its members qualify for the last eight of the Champions League, he has struggled to make the same kind of impact. Moyes took over a club financially struggling under a heavy burden of accumulated debts, the playing staff was full of short term signings by Howard Kendall andSmith, at a time when they were fire-fighting at the club, and the club had endured perennial relegation battles. Now there are healthy crowds at Goodison, we have enjoyed Champions League football for the first time and our league position points to the possibility of another European qualification. We have not had a cup run to excite, but with the exception of Shrewsbury I think we have always gone out to decent sides like Arsenal and Chelsea. The cups are unpredictable and should not define a manager’s career.
Moyes has operated with the club’s financial plight always a spectre which has possibly been more significant than we can know. The average age of the squad has come down and there are some jewels there – Joseph Yobo, Joleon Lescott, Mikel Arteta and Tim Cahill would be coveted by a host of Premiership clubs if they were ever made available – and the club’s league position has improved significantly.
People expect year on year improvement – and that’s a challenge I am sure Moyes will relish.
Hibbert aims to figure in Euro bid
Mar 10 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
TONY HIBBERT has set his sights on an interrupted end to the season having finally got some much-needed match practice under his belt. Like Joseph Yobo and Lee Carsley, Everton’s right-back remained on Merseyside this week while the majority of the squad went on a bonding trip to New York. It is not a decision, though, that Hibbert regrets. Given his season has been decimated by illness and injury, the 26-year-old was only too happy to stay behind for a reserve game. Now that he has come through 90 minutes without any problems, Hibbert is looking forward to the end of the campaign and hopes he can play a part in Everton’s push for Europe. “I asked to play in the reserve game before I knew we were going away,” said Hibbert, who has made just six appearances so far this season. “I needed a game – the Liverpool (reserve) game got called off but I need as many games as I can now and hopefully I can play a couple more for the first team. “The pitch was heavy and I tired towards the end, which is how I knew it would be. But at least I got the full 90 minutes and I’m made up with it . Hopefully I can push on.” But while Hibbert is ready to wave goodbye to his injury nightmare – a ruptured groin and a tropical illness have been two of his ailments – one man’s is just beginning. Tim Cahill underwent a successful operation to repair his broken metatarsal in midweek but will be out for the season and Hibbert has a huge amount of sympathy for his pal. “For me to get back into the team and start playing football will be good,” said a clearly relieved Hibbert. “But Tim getting injured is a bad blow for us. “Now I am back we may have more options for different formations and to play people differently so I think it will help.”
Osman desperate to get back to his best
Mar 10 2007 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
EUROPE may be within Everton’s sights but there is no chance of Leon Osman letting himself look too far into the future. While the Blues moved into the driving seat for a UEFA Cup spot with a point against Sheffield United seven days ago, taking sixth place in the Premiership was bittersweet for Osman, who caught the eye at Bramall Lane. Though delighted to have played a part in that 1-1 draw, there is no disputing he would have preferred to have done so in differing circumstances. Having started on the bench, Osman was summoned to duty earlier than anticipated after Tim Cahill broke his foot. All footballers are the same; for all the fame and fortune, the only thing they want to do is be involved at three o’clock on a Saturday afternoon. Yet if it is at the expense of a stricken colleague, the experience is far from satisfying.
That Cahill will miss the final nine matches of Everton’s campaign should mean the 25-year-old is pitched back into action from the first whistle after finding himself among the substitutes at Watford and Sheffield United. Given he had started almost every game prior to that this year, being axed from the first XI certainly stung. But his response - scoring a gem at Vicarage Road and playing with enthusiasm against the Blades - will have been just what David Moyes was looking for. Now, not surprisingly, Osman is eager to get back to his very best as the campaign approaches its defining moment; Everton might be habitually slow finishers, but the elegant midfielder believes that is about to change. “What has happened in the past is history. It doesn’t really have an effect on this season,” said Osman. “The position that we are in now, we need to push on from. If we can get a good little run going, we can push for Europe, which is the aim. “If I’m being honest, the only way we are going to do that is by giving performances like the one in the derby, where every man played well and gave 100%. If we perform like we did that day, we’ll definitely win more than we draw or lose. “In other games, we will have more of the ball and if every man is doing their job right, then we will win the game. We need to make sure that we are kicking on from here and not falling by the wayside. “I don’t think we will be looking as far ahead as five or six games down the line. It’s more ‘this is the next game, this is winnable, let’s get out and do it’. Once you’ve got that out of the way, then you can move on.” A frustrating season personally has not been helped by picking up the first ban of his career, which led to him missing the 1-0 win over Blackburn Rovers last month. Osman’s sole start since came in the calamitous 2-1 Goodison Park defeat against Tottenham two weeks ago. “Every booking I’ve had this season, you’d say ‘I’ll take a booking for that’,” he accepted. “You’ve got to expect to be booked in a derby game - it’s just one of those things. It’s a shame as I’ve been through other seasons picking up the odd one or two.” If there are no complaints about the ban, one area that will certainly get Osman grumbling is the fact his goal tally currently stands at three and not four. It is not the first time he has found himself at loggerheads with the dubious goals panel. Having been denied efforts by those beaks at Soho Square last year against Portsmouth and Wigan Athletic, Osman was dismayed to find out another - in a 1-1 draw at Charlton last November - had gone the same way.
When other ‘goals’ that have been awarded to certain individuals are considered, it is hardly a surprise to learn that Osman is composing a letter to argue his case. Surely the panel will find it hard to dispute his evidence? “I didn’t get the goal but I am going to appeal,” said Osman. “In the game against Chelsea, Michael Ballack equalising free-kick hit the post, came out, hit Tim Howard on the back and went in.
“Surprisingly, he’s been awarded that goal even though it was coming back out until it hit Tim, whereas mine was on target and destined for the corner. There’s no consistency. There’s no way you can justify the difference, so I’m going to ask the question.”
Let’s show true belief
Mar 12 2007EXCLUSIVE by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
TIM CAHILL today backed his team-mates to provide him with the perfect pick-me-up – a victory over Arsenal to keep Everton’s push for Europe on track.
The Australian international will miss the remainder of the season after breaking the fifth metatarsal in his left foot during the Blues’ 1-1 draw at Sheffield United nine days ago – but has since had a successful operation to screw the bone together.
Not surprisingly, Cahill – who sustained a similar injury during his time at Millwall seven years ago – is devastated he won’t play a part in Everton’s bid to secure a top six place but has every confidence a UEFA Cup spot is within grasp. Beating Arsenal would certainly give the club a huge boost and Cahill, Everton’s scorer in a 1-1 draw at the Emirates Stadium last October, feels the players are primed to give a bold show in what will certainly be the biggest game of the season. “I’m really confident,” said Cahill, who must keep all pressure off his left foot for another two weeks. “I think Arsenal are a team you can always score against because they’re very vulnerable in defence. At set-plays they are quite weak and you can hit them on the counter-attack.
“Saying that, they flourish with a lot of counter-attacks of their own in a game and do tend to score from quite a few of them. “I feel that we’ve evolved as a team and our defence has really been strong with Stubbsy coming in and out and adding that extra bit of experience. “Tony Hibbert is returning to full fitness and Gary Naysmith has added an extra oomph to the defence. Then we have the silent achievers like Lee Carsley and Phil Neville who are the rocks of the team – they don’t score the goals but they stop them from going in. “I feel that if defensively we can hold them off, we can definitely nick something. A bit of brilliance from one of the lads up front or in the midfield can definitely change the sway of the game and these are the games which can make or break a season. “We’ve got a chance now to finish in the UEFA Cup places and for all the players, Europe’s where we want to play and show our talent.”
After playing Arsenal, Everton do not have another game until April 2 at Aston Villa and there is no question that such long breaks between fixtures are far from ideal. But with numbers thin on the ground, Cahill reckons the squad will feel the benefit on the run in. “It’s hard but I think for a team like us, we’ve got to take advantage of it,” said Cahill. “We are a team with a small squad who play a lot of football games and don’t get much rest and time off like this, so I think it’s a positive. “I know some people say they’d like to keep going and keep the momentum but I think preparation is everything. If we prepare ourselves right and go into the Arsenal game with the right frame of mind there’s nothing to say that we can’t win this game.”
Rachel’s healthy goal . . .
Mar 12 2007 by Mike Hornby, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON and England ladies goalkeeper Rachel Brown showed off her skills at a sporting event for Liverpool children. Rachel paid a visit to pupils at Lawrence community primary in Wavertree as part of the city’s healthy schools campaign.
The Wavertree school is the 50th to be visited by the Healthy Schools Bus, sponsored by the council and Arriva. The mobile classroom will visit all Year 3 children in Liverpool to educate children on the benefits of healthy eating and an active lifestyle.
The programme is delivered by Rachel, who as well as playing for England and Everton, is a qualified teacher, and Lee Lockley, a qualified multi-sports coach.
Moyes’ five year plan
Mar 13 2007 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES has prepared a five year plan for Everton – even though he may not be the manager to benefit from it. The Blues boss celebrates five years in charge at Goodison this week – the first man to pass that milestone since Howard Kendall 20 years ago. And he has already prepared a blueprint for the club’s progress through to 2012, when he still hopes to be pulling the strings at Goodison. “I’ve put a plan for the next five years together and presented it to the board,” he said. “It’s how I think the club should be run, even if I’m not here. “They got it two months ago, and it details what I think the club should be doing on and off the pitch. “It’s necessary to plan that far ahead. “In my first week here, after I’d got the first game out of the way, the first thing the board did was drive me to a field at Finch Farm to ask me what I thought about the area for a new training complex. “That was five years ago, when we first looked into it, and it’s only just being finished now. “So things at football clubs don’t happen that quickly, unfortunately. “I’m hoping I will be around long enough to see a new stadium, wherever it is, and that could well take five years to get developed, if that’s what we decide to do. “So in between that period I need to try to do well enough at Goodison, to make Goodison work for us, and to attract players to the club.”
The contents of Moyes’ blueprint will remain between him and the board, but he stressed he was delighted by the support he was receiving from his chairman and directors.
“Bill Kenwright is always looking for investment and I can’t think of anybody who has tried to do more for this club than him,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Blues hopes of qualifying for Europe next season received a boost yesterday when the FA Cup semi-final draw kept Manchester United and Chelsea apart.
The winners of the FA Cup automatically qualify for entry into the UEFA Cup.
If the winners of the Cup have already qualified for Europe via the league, then the runners-up will receive the UEFA Cup slot instead.
If both Cup finalists have already qualified, the side that finishes seventh in the Premiership would take the European place. Everton are currently sixth in the Premiership, battling with Bolton, Portsmouth, Reading, Tottenham and Blackburn for UEFA Cup football. Manchester United and Chelsea, of course, have still to overcome quarter-final replays before taking their place in the semi-finals against Watford and Blackburn respectively.
Manchester City Res 2, Everton Res 1
Mar 14 2007 Liverpool Daily Post
JAMES VAUGHAN scored a first half goal for Everton's second string but it wasn’t enough to prevent the Blues going down 2-1 at Manchester City. Vaughan was playing alongside Victor Anichebe in the Everton attack and both showed good running early on but their efforts were fruitless. City took the lead just after the half hour mark when young Ashley Grimes broke forward and finished a good move down the left. Vaughan made his goal and Everton’s equaliser himself charging down Joe Hart’s clearance and rolling the ball into the empty net. City took the lead for the second time on 64 minutes when Ched Evans curled a low shot past Ruddy.
Everton Res: Ruddy,Irving, Molyneux, Dennehey, Rodwell,Phelan, Kearney, cannot help but coming into training smiling every day and know what is important in life.
'Moyes is one of the greatest'
Mar 14 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
BILL KENWRIGHT today handed David Moyes the ultimate compliment on the fifth anniversary of his appointment as Everton manager when declaring: “He’s one of the greatest around.” The Blues chairman claimed when he unveiled Moyes in March 2002 the Scotsman would go to the top of his profession and he has seen nothing to suggest otherwise. Moyes might have had his critics recently - particularly when he was booed during a 2-1 defeat against Tottenham - but Kenwright insists he is the man to bring back the glory days. “I said when he came to us that he was going to be one of the greatest football managers in the world and I still stand by that,” stressed Everton’s supremo. “Even in moments when you are in the depths of despair like that, I truly believe that you have to acknowledge what is good about our club. And David Moyes is good about our club.” “He is committed and wants to win for Evertonians
Moyes: I’m totally committed to Blues
Mar 14 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES celebrates five years in charge at Goodison today and in the process has become Everton’s longest serving manager in more than two decades. Though he has had his critics, the Scotsman has made significant improvements and, in this exclusive interview, Bill Kenwright tells DOMINIC KING why Moyes is still the right man for the job
A LOT has happened in the last five years at Everton, both on and off the pitch. Are you surprised how quickly the time has gone since David took over from Walter Smith?
It certainly doesn’t seem that long. We had lost to West Ham on the Wednesday evening before we lost at Middlesbrough in the FA Cup and that was one of the poorest performances I have ever seen from an Everton team.
Things have clearly improved from then, though. David Moyes was always your number one choice to succeed Walter. What do you remember about your first meeting with him?
He never said he was coming in with an idea of doing this or that. When David came here, he didn’t sell himself to me. He didn’t sell his philosophy. He is his philosophy.
But what he has often done is sat down and told me what he believes is going to happen. He plans things meticulously. I have said sometimes that I think things will work quicker and better if we do it in another way. And he listens. But he gives 24 hours a day, seven days a week to this football club. You just ask his wife!
In life, there is a path that you want to go on and David’s path is absolute, total commitment to this football club. A few years ago when there were rumours he was going to Manchester United, it never even entered my head that he would leave because I know the man’s commitment. He wants to win for Evertonians.
In the past few months, it seems that a section of supporters feel he has taken the team as far as he can; the reaction to the defeat against Tottenham suggested their patience had snapped. Did that shock you?
Nobody understands more than me the frustration and disappointment when the away team scores a goal in the last minute. It hurts being a fan when that happens and it hurts as the man who needs the money for the club that victory brings, but I was amazed to hear such a loud, unified booing. David knew what it was about. They weren’t booing the team. They were booing him for that substitution.
What did you think?
I have always believed that if someone is in charge, you have got to support them.
If you don’t, don’t have them in charge. So when something like that happens, you think to yourself – did I disagree with that? And how much of a job threatening situation was that? The truth is I agreed with him. I agreed as a fan at what he did.
I could see that Manuel Fernandes was tiring and looking at the bench. You could see the urgent need to bolster the midfield and that’s why Phil Neville moved up and Tony Hibbert was brought on. Okay, another attacker could have been brought on.
But it’s very easy for us all to say when an attacker comes on that it’s too late. I’ve only worked closely with two managers – Walter and David – and I’ve been very close to Joe Royle and Howard Kendall. In situations like that, they will all tell you the same thing; the players that the fans want are never the players that are available when you are losing. There is always a desperate need for change when you are losing. I understand that. Yet even in moments when you are in the depths of despair, such as the Tottenham game, I truly believe that you have to acknowledge what is good about our club. And David Moyes is good about our club. It’s important for Evertonians to acknowledge what is good about Everton. Other people in football do, you know? They know what Everton stands for
DAVID MOYES celebrates five years in charge at Goodison today and in the process has become Everton’s longest serving manager in more than two decades. Though he has had his critics, the Scotsman has made significant improvements and, in this exclusive interview, Bill Kenwright tells DOMINIC KING why Moyes is still the right man for the job
When you look at where the club was five years ago – battling to stay up – to now, fighting for a European place, surely that is a sign of the significant progress that has been made during David’s tenure?
We have always got to be looking to reach that little bit further. I have had some success in my life but the success I want more than anything on this planet is to see that team win silverware.
As you build a relationship with someone, you learn about them. He is desperate for success. So when a fan gives the impression that the manager has got it wrong knowingly, you have got to sit down and think about it.
But if you look at Everton Football Club on and off the field, you will see it is going in the right direction. It is all about sustainable growth. Of course, there will always be the small minority who say you are bullshitting and those who disagree with you.
They have a right to have a voice. But, I also believe that the majority of Evertonians feel deep down that he is the right man. They care passionately about the style in which their club is run and the way it is managed.
Do you ever worry, though, that there will come a time when he tells you he has had enough?
We would be very odd people if, as mates, we didn’t say to each other from time to time ‘come on, what’s happening?’ For me it is different. I do listen to Evertonians and I do hear what they are saying. When there are comments about the manager’s style and saying it is time for him to go, I truly as an Evertonian – forget as the chairman – do not get it. I have an insight to the man, how he runs his life and his football club and it is never anything other than impressive. He has got his faults. We’ve all got our faults. We talk about those too because he wants to be better in every way. But he is a great football manager. I said when he came to us that he was going to be one of the great football managers in the world and I still stand by that comment. Whenever I go to any football grounds around the country and I speak to other football fans, they tell me ‘you’ve got a great manager’ and I think most Evertonians think that. And part of his greatness is in his thoroughness, his attention to detail. You know that when that team steps out on to the pitch, they will be prepared. When we beat Watford after the Tottenham game, I spoke to him afterwards and he said ‘I knew I had done my work. That was an important game for me and I didn’t leave anything untouched.’
Happily the highs have outweighed the lows during the five seasons he has been at the club. He has twice been named Manager of the Year and taken you to within a whisker of qualifying for the Champions League group stages. His stock in the game is high. Do you think, then, he will still be here in 2012?
I would hope that he would want to be here in five years. Do you know, on the Friday after the Spurs game and there was all the stuff in the papers about there being protests at the Watford game, I received a phone call – from Walter Smith.
He couldn’t believe what was going on. He said ‘you’ve got a great manager, doing a great job’. He said we are really building. That’s right. We know the problems. We know where the gaps are and we have got to work to fill those gaps. We have spent a lot of money and the money that we spent last summer was a big, bold move. We have spent a lot of money and if we had any more, David would get it. The only way of making substantial profits is success in the Champions League.
What you have got to do is try and get there. The double edge sword is to get a better team. That’s what we are trying to do. When he first sat down with me, the idea was an improvement of two players every season. We have never done less than that.
Will there be spending in the summer?
Yes there will. I would love Everton to have the money so we could build and improve gradually, so we could break into that top four in a sustainable way. We were so close two years ago. That was horrible. Can you imagine that you were just steps away from £20m? One of the downsides of being chairman is that you have to think in terms of money when the ball goes in. It’s just a matter of the job.
David Moyes - The facts
Mar 14 2007 Liverpool Echo
April 25, 1963 – Born, Blythswood, Glasgow.
1980 – joined Glasgow Celtic as a junior, won a Championship medal and marked Marco van Basten in a European Cup tie.
1983-93 – played for Cambridge, Bristol City, Shrewsbury, Hamilton and Dunfermline, before moving to Preston North End.
Took his first coaching badge at 22 years old.
After more than 170 appearances for PNE was appointed their manager on January 12, 1998.
Won Second Division championship in 2000
Interviewed by Alex Ferguson
Finished fourth in Division One in 2001, but beaten in a play-off final by Bolton.
March 2002 – joins Everton as manager.
2003 – finishes seventh in first full season, missing out on Europe on last day. Voted LMA’s Manager of the Year.
2005 – takes Everton to fourth place finish and a Champions League qualifier against eventual semi-finalists Villarreal. Wins LMA Manager of the Year award for second time.
2007 – becomes first Everton manager to serve for five years since Howard Kendall 20 years ago.
It’s more money or more of the same for Moyes
Mar 15 2007 Blue Watch by Mark O'Brien, Liverpool Daily Post
IT would be fascinating to know what exactly is contained within the five-year plan that David Moyes has presented to the Everton board. If his initial aim when he arrived from Preston was to stabilise the Blues and make them compete at the right end of the table, instead of starting every season with the fear of relegation hanging over them, then he has to have been judged reasonably successful. With some windfalls from player sales and the drawing forward of television moneys, he has had some cash to spend to establish the Blues as one of the leaders of what Martin Jol called ‘the best of the rest’, but a great deal of the progress has been down to the organisation and professionalism that Moyes has brought to a playing side that at times down the years has been run like a circus. Moyes has established a base level of performance from the players, in terms of application at least, that in many ways we now take for granted. It’s rare that you hear Evertonians declaring, like, say, West Ham fans, that all they want to see from the players is a bit of effort and commitment.
That work ethic has brought us to where we are now – we are an established upper-mid-table side who start every season with realistic UEFA Cup aspirations. The next five years though – what is the manager’s aim? Presumably it all depends on money. Investment is obviously something of a buzzword, but we just don’t know if there is an Arab Sheikh, American high-roller or Scandinavian confectionery magnate out there with a hankering to put their money into the Blues. If they do exist they are certainly playing their hands very close to their chests. Moyes has stated quite clearly that he thinks that a move to new stadium is a must. The accepted wisdom is that a new ground equals greater income and therefore more money for players. There are plenty who are sceptical about the simplicity of that equation, but that’s the theory anyway. Without serious amounts of extra money, the best we can hope for is more of the same. Which is better than a lot of clubs could even dream of, but presumably Moyes is hoping to be more ambitious than that. You have to believe that in five year’s time he sees us in serious contention for the Champions League places again, if we are lucky. Luck though, is said to be when preparation meets opportunity. Moyes, in his first five years has certainly got Everton prepared, it just remains to be seen whether the finances are going to become available to present us with the opportunity to move onwards and upwards in the next five.
Euro saviour Stubbs
THE news that Lee Carsley and Alan Stubbs are rumoured to be on the verge of being offered new one-year deals at Goodison hasn’t caused the same sort uproar that was experienced when Stubbs and David Weir - man of the match in the recent Old Firm derby, by the way - were negotiating extended contracts at the beginning of last season. Stubbs in particular, although third choice central defender now, has been exemplary ever since his brief time away with Sunderland. In fact, one of the Everton manager’s worst errors during his five-year reign was initially allowing the veteran to leave. You can’t help wondering if things might have been different against Villareal, and especially Dinamo Bucharest, if the wise old head had been on the pitch when things got really tough.
I’d love to sign for ever, says Johnson
Mar 15 2007 by John Thompson, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON striker Andrew Johnson today declared: “I’d love to sign for Everton for good.” England international Johnson was responding angrily to unfounded claims he is unhappy at Everton. One report claimed the 11-goal Goodison favourite is homesick and keen for a summer return to the south, with relegation candidates West Ham said to be interested in trying to prise him away. But Johnson condemned the report and made the strongest statement possible, saying: "If I could sign here for the rest of my career, I would do it tomorrow. "I am more than happy here, I love the club, the fans and the lads in the dressing room. “I am sure the fans can see how much I love it here in my football. I want to make it clear there is no truth in this report.
“I am loving being an Everton player and I regard it as a great honour to put that blue shirt on every week. "I would love to think I will still be here in seven years."
Johnson has been a huge hit at Goodison following his £8.6m summer arrival from Crystal Palace. The Blues' top scorer is tipped to lead England's attack alongside Wayne Rooney in the Euro 2008 qualifiers later this month.
Euro goal can attract stars, insists Moyes
Mar 15 2007 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES wants European football at Goodison next season – to help attract a better class of player. The Blues boss believes the lure of UEFA Cup football can help bring the continent’s best players, after missing out on a number of foreign successes in the Premiership. “We were interested in Dirk Kuyt and Dimitar Berbatov when they were available and made bids for both, but they decided to go elsewhere,” explained Moyes. “Then we got very close to bringing Mohammed Sissoko here as well, before he changed his mind at the last moment. “Maybe European football would help convince other targets to come here in the future.” Moyes has not discussed his summer squad building plans, despite recent speculation regarding contract offers for Mikel Arteta, Alan Stubbs and Lee Carsley. But goalkeeper Richard Wright looks certain to exit with his current contract nearing an end. Young Scottish keeper Iain Turner, however, saw his stock rise considerably yesterday with his first call-up to the senior Scotland squad for the forthcoming games against Georgia and Italy. The 23-year-old goalkeeper has been in outstanding form on loan at Sheffield Wednesday recently, after an earlier spell at Crystal Palace. Turner’s only first team appearance this season saw him keep a clean sheet in the Carling Cup defeat of Luton. He is one of three goalkeepers in the party, and is joined by Toffees team-mate Gary Naysmith and former club captain David Weir – who is now at Rangers. McLeish’s men take on the Georgians at Hampden Park on March 24, before travelling to Bari to play Italy four days later.
Moving on up
Mar 15 2007 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
On the fifth anniversary of his reign as Everton manager, David Moyes speaks frankly to the ECHO’S Chief Sports Writer David Prentice
IN the summer of 2001, Everton fans were celebrating . . . sort of.
Two missed penalties by Bradford City at Goodison Park ensured top flight football had been secured once again, this time with two games to spare. That was an improvement on 1998/99 – not to mention two traumatic last day nerve-shredders in the 1990s. The same summer, meanwhile, David Moyes, was squaring up to six feet five inch goalkeeper, Teuvo Moilanen, during a pre-season spat at Preston, the club he managed. Moyes has changed since then. So, too, has Everton. And the Blues boss believes that is the greatest success of his five years in charge of Everton. Moyes could point towards a remarkable fourth place finish in 2005 as the legacy of his spell in charge at a club which had perennially under-achieved in the Premiership era, or even the fact that he has endured longer than any other manager since Howard Kendall’s halcyon reign 20 years ago. But rather than highlight the high point, he uses a crushing low 12 months earlier to underline the sea change in outlook he has effected at Everton Football Club. “My lowest point?” he grimaces. “Possibly the Manchester City game on the last day of 2003/04. “That season we had got ourselves to 40 points by Easter with five or six games to go and knew that if we had won our next four of five games we could easily have been in the top half of the table. “But we lost 5-1 at Manchester City on the last day of the season, on the back of a terrible run before then – and we had all summer to brood about it. “That, for me, highlighted Everton always just trying to avoid relegation – that once it had been avoided, let’s get on holiday sort of thing. “It was accepted. “I felt a lot of the changes I have had to make at Everton have been mental ones like that. It’s not because of any person who was there at the time or anybody who has been there before, but I felt that I came to a club where I had to try and change the players’ mentality, and that of some supporters, a mentality that avoiding relegation was acceptable. “Have I done that? “Well, I’ve always said that raising expectancy is a manager’s job because that means you’re doing better, but for me there comes a point when you have to say, and I may be contradicting myself here, are the positions Everton have finished in over the last three, four or five years what you would think Everton would do?“There’s a couple of years when people would say we’ve probably finished higher than we should have done and a couple of years when we’ve finished lower. “But in the main I think Everton have done better. “Since the Champions League started I think there have only been two clubs who have broken the mould of the big four, Everton once and Newcastle once. “We have to look at that and say we have done it once and we can do it again. “I hope we can, although realistically we have to say we have done it with not an awful lot of resources. “But I knew that when I took over the job and Everton supporters should have known that because they’ve been here for years. “So, to be crying for lots and lots of money is wrong. I’m certainly not crying for lots and lots of money and supporters have to be the same. It’s just the way it is.” That’s just the way it is . . . But is David Moyes circa 2007 just the way he was in the spring of 2002 – a workaholic, ambitious, inventive, young firebrand? Nearly, but not quite. “Have you changed as a person?” he is asked. After a brief moment’s reflection, he replies: “I think so. My management skills have probably become better. “But I keep thinking maybe that’s not such a good thing, because Jimmy Lumsden is with me here and he keeps telling me how hard I was on the Preston lads, how tough I was. “Maybe I’ve brought that with me. Maybe I’ve mellowed a little bit. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. “If you ask a supporter what you’d rather have, a manager who is too soft or too hard, I think you’d always say too hard. “Maybe in the past, again no criticism of any individual, it needed feathers ruffled here, it needed changing, the mindset had to change, it had to become tougher. “I don’t think I was that tough. All I’ve ever been is honest. And all I’ve ever really asked for in return is honesty.” One aspect of Moyes’ outlook which has not changed one iota is his voracious desire to succeed. One of those people who seems to survive without sleep, Moyes is first at the training ground and usually found on the circuit at all kinds of obscure games. “The fact of the matter is I am really determined to try and succeed. It’s something which I’ve worked my career for,” he says with an intensity of gaze which matches his intensity of drive. “I wanted to try and be a coach if I could be, then try to be a manager. I worked at it for years and years and worked on it from a very young age, and I’m determined to try and see it through. “Personally I want to try and challenge the top managers if I can, and as a football club I want to try and manage the top teams. “So at the moment if there was a better way to do it I would. “If I thought the best way was to go out and buy all the old players, bring them in and try and have a one season wonder at it, I would do that because I’m determined to have success.
“But I actually don’t think the best way for Everton or for David Moyes to be successful is to try and have a short term plan. “I remember my first day walking in as a new manager and seeing David Ginola, Paul Gascoigne, Tommy Gravesen, Duncan Ferguson, Kevin Campbell - all senior, senior players . . . you have to swim very quickly or you get swallowed up. “I had to look at it and find a way how we would become better. I thought the best way was to put a plan in place. “And I would ask now, have those group of players I took over on the first day got the same value as the team now? “Obviously I would accept a lot has changed in the last five years regarding Premiership players, but I think there’s much more value to Everton Football Club now than there was then. “Is the position better? Well I would say, yes, in the main it is. “Is the debt better? Yes I think it is. “Have we got the new training ground? “Well we’re moving in the summer. “Is there talk of a new stadium? Well at least there’s talk about it now. “So I would have to say, certainly talking as a businessman, most of those things are better than they were five years ago and I’m hoping that my plan can make the club, in the next five years, better again.”
Johnson says he's staying, but will Nugent join him?
Mar 16 2007 by Mark O'Brien, Everton supporter, Liverpool Daily Post
IT'S all about the strikers at the moment. Firstly, although you're always wise to take footballers' pronouncements with a healthy pinch of salt, it was still reassuring to see Andrew Johnson move so swiftly to quash rumours that he is homesick for London, despite the fact he is from Bedford and played the early portion of his career in Birmingham. Evertonians are obviously somewhat jaded when it comes to any player declaring their undying love for the club - we all remember a certain slogan on a T-shirt - so while there's every chance that Johnson might some day wish to move from Goodison, he showed at Crystal Palace that he has more loyalty than most.
David Nugent is another forward who has been expressing his love of all things Everton recently, but you have to wonder whether an international call, as is being mooted, might see him move out of our price range. He seems to be highly rated by everyone but unlike Johnson, who had enjoyed one successful season in the top flight before David Moyes moved for him, he still has no Premiership experience. Neither did Joleon Lescott though, and he has proved an outstanding acquisition. Moyes certainly has more luck with those sorts of players from the lower leagues, who he knows are already acclimatised to the unique rigours of the English game, than with some of his buys from foreign clubs, so it probably wouldn't surprise anyone if he tries to make the Preston front-man his big purchase of the summer. He may try to partly fund any such move by off-loading James Beattie, with stories circulating that Sunderland would be interested should they gain promotion. It seems like a lifetime ago that he was terrorising the back-line of Sunday's opponents, Arsenal, and scoring the only goal in last season's 1-0 victory at Goodison. There were even calls for him to be called up into the England squad at that point, such was his brief spurt of good form. It goes without saying then that are turn of his goalscoring touch would prove invaluable, starting this weekend against the Gunners in a match that could prove pivotal with regards to our European ambitions.
Moyes to redress balance after Cahill loss
Mar 16 2007 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES may have to find a whole new shape to his Everton side – as he tries to overcome the crippling loss of Tim Cahill. The Aussie midfielder will miss the Blues’ run-in to the season after breaking his foot at Sheffield United last week, and Moyes says he doesn’t have a like-for-like replacement. “Tim is very important to us and we will need to find a new balance now, a new blend. It’s something I need to look for,” he explained. “I wasn’t pleased with our performance against Sheffield United even though I was happy with the point in the end. “But losing Tim for such an important chunk of the season is a big, big miss. “With our squad they way it is we are quite limited in our options. But I’ll have to find something.” James Beattie is the obvious replacement, with Everton switching to a 4-4-2 formation, but the striker was lacklustre at Bramall Lane and hauled off early in the second half. But it was the visit of Arsenal last season which provided one of the high points of Beattie’s Everton career. The Gunners are the only one of the big four clubs Everton have consistently fared well against at Goodison.Beattie’s goal secured a 1-0 win last season, the sides drew in 2003/04 and Wayne Rooney’s first league goal famously ended Arsenal’s year-long unbeaten record in 2002. “I don’t think there’s any single reason why we’ve got the results we have against them,” added Moyes. “You hope to win as many of your home games as you can. I just hope we can do it again. “It’s a big ask. They have been here already this season and beaten us in the Carling Cup. We know we have to change that around. “But we played with 10-men that night for most of the match, against a team which then went on to do very well in other cup ties. “It’s a real hard game, but one we have to take something from.” Nuno Valente is back in training but will not be considered for a recall yet. Promising Swindon youngster Lukas Jutkiewicz, meanwhile, is set to join Everton in the summer. The striker met David Moyes this week and is expected to complete an £800,000 move when the transfer window re-opens. A 17-year-old, Jutkiewicz has made 28 appearances, for the Robins, 17 from the substitutes’ bench, scoring three times. A former Southampton youngster, he rose to prominence when he finished top scorer at the Youth Milk Cup in Northern Ireland last summer, signing a three-year deal at the County Ground soon after.
Sizing up Goodison
Mar 16 2007 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES has been Everton manager for five years this week. But in one respect, the job has come full circle. On the day he stepped into Goodison, Moyes expressed his surprise at the number of people who came up to him and revealed Evertonian leanings. He is still being surprised five years on. On the anniversary of his Everton accession he was asked if the club had lived up to expectations. His reply took him back to day one. “The size of the whole club took me a little by surprise,” he admitted “but the most surprising thing has been the amount of Everton supporters I meet everywhere I go. It goes back to my very first day and one of the first things I said. “Everywhere I go I bump into Everton supporters, I really do. And that for me gives me a great thrill because I know then that this is a club which is a big club. “There’s no doubting that, regardless of what happens at other clubs, were not too far away. “I think what surprised me also is the expectancy. There was a real high expectancy for a club that, if we’re being truthfully honest, had really under-performed for many, many years. “It’s good that the supporters have kept that expectancy high and the memories are still sharp from the 80s when Everton were at their peak. But you know, that’s quite a few years now . . .” While Everton haven’t won a European trophy under Moyes’ stewardship, they did qualify for a first European campaign in a decade in 2005, and in his first full season as Blues boss, Moyes saw another UEFA Cup excursion cruelly snatched away at the last possible moment. That would have given Everton European football in two out of three seasons – a feat they haven’t reproduced since 1978 and 1979. The memory of that first near miss is still etched on Moyes mind. “We had to beat Manchester United on the last day to qualify for the UEFA Cup, when they were champions already,” he recalled. “Blackburn were playing Tottenham away and they won 4-0. We lost, but only after we were leading and Mike Riley had given a shocking penalty decision which I have never really forgiven. “That stopped us competing in the UEFA Cup, so apart from 2005 we have been really close on other occasions. “I think our record overall has been quite good and might even have been better than I’d hoped it could have been. “But having said that I still understand that people want to get Everton right back to the top.” Everton are perfectly poised to go one better than that Manchester United experience this season. They currently occupy sixth place, with the possibility of a Chelsea-Manchester United Cup Final extending UEFA Cup qualification another place down to seventh. And that makes the recent dissent towards Moyes during the home defeat by Spurs so unexpected. “The Spurs reaction really disappointed me, but I can understand why,” he declared. “But I hope the supporters may also understand my decision now as well. “Spurs outplayed us in the first half when we played 4-4-2. I’ve heard an awful lot of people say recently ‘he’s become more positive’ well I was more positive in that first half against Spurs and we got totally outplayed. “I actually think I made one of my big decisions when I took the centre-forward off (Victor Anichebe) and put a left-back in midfield (Gary Naysmith) to make us harder to beat and try to get a foothold in midfield. “Well I thought we did get a foothold in the game and did much better in the second half, but in the last five or 10 minutes we had started to get weary again and we made a decision which we thought would shore us up. “It was simple enough. Tony Hibbert’s a regular here, Manuel Fernandes was tiring. Now maybe people will look back and accept that – because Tottenham have walloped Bolton and Fulham since then, beaten West Ham and Braga and nearly beaten Chelsea. “I made a decision and it worked against us, but I can think of many times when changes have worked for us. “But the one thing I cannot do is please everybody and I will not try and do that. It’s the biggest recipe for disaster. I can only please myself and try and do what’s right at the time and hopefully make more right decisions than wrong ones. “Folks will say what about Per Kroldrup? Well at the time we thought that was right, we made a bit of a loss on him, but I can think of 10 or 15 clubs off the top of my head who have made bigger signings and made bigger losses than that. “Yet strangely enough, at Everton that would be brought up. “Maybe everything that happens at Everton Football Club is scrutinised more closely, but if you look back we bought him for five and sold him for three-and-a-half. “He was a great lad, but it didn’t work for him and I recognised that quickly enough to say I’m changing him. “From day one the supporters have been great with me. Everywhere I go, every supporters function I go to, they have been terrific. “I think in the main that’s the way it’s been.” If mention of Kroldrup’s calamitous spell highlights Moyes most unsuccessful signing, there have been plenty of successes. Tim Cahill, Joleon Lescott, Andrew Johnson and Mikel Arteta have all been unqualified triumphs, so which does the Blues boss consider to be his most astute purchase? None of the above. “Probably Nigel Martyn,” he says. “We picked him up for nothing and I think he was brilliant for us. It was a big loss to lose him in the manner we did. “And if you also think what Marcus Bent did for us, for £600,000 – and then we sold him for £2m. “Kevin Kilbane was another who was fantastic for us and we’ve missed him greatly for lots of reasons, but it was the right thing to let him go when we did. “Most things which I think haven’t worked I’ve turned round very quickly. “I can think of clubs not too far away who have made quite significant losses on players, but because this is Everton we have to be as prudent and as careful as we can. “Maybe that’s not been the case at other so-called big clubs who can splash it out a little bit easier.” Rafa Benitez’s recent ‘small club’ jibes clearly irritated, but perhaps it’s a sign that Everton are starting to get under their neighbours’ skin again after years of being dismissed as embarrassing neighbours. “I have great respect for Liverpool Football Club and the team they’ve got,” said Moyes. “People who understand football would say ‘Everton have a long way to go to catch them up’ and we know that, but we’re competing against them and attempting to match them. “We’re trying not to fall too far behind and I think sometimes that has to be accepted. “But don’t forget two seasons ago we pipped them to the Champions League and this season we’ve done quite well against them so if you’re only judging us on the last three seasons against them we’ve done quite well. “We’re fighting hard to compete against them and obviously their investment makes that more difficult.” Ah yes, investment. Football’s thorny perennial. David Moyes has struggled to name five experienced substitutes on occasions this season, so can Everton’s current squad realistically sustain European football next season? Moyes is typically forthright in his response. “No. The board already knows the squad is too small. “We’ve cut it to a level now where we can’t go any smaller. The squad needs adding to, but what that might mean is we need to bring in some Bosman players or we need to bring in some players who maybe might not have been my first choice. “A lot will depend on what level of spending we can do.But we’re definitely short on numbers.” Short on numbers – and since 1995 short on silverware, one issue Moyes is desperate to address. “Bringing trophies here will always be the main thing,” he added. “I think having been here five years is terrific, but then I really want something on the sideboard.”
Why some fans are standing up for change
Mar 16 2007 by Tony Barrett, Liverpool Echo
With a survey revealing 92% of football fans are in favour of bringing back standing on the terraces, Tony Barrett speaks to those touched by the tragedy of Hillsborough
JOHN Glover lost his 20-year-old son Ian on the terraces of Hillsborough.
So when the campaign to bring back terracing to British football stadia was re-ignited this week you might expect him to be one of its most vociferous opponents. Nothing could be further from the truth. “I’ve always said I am not against standing at games and nothing I have heard or read since Hillsborough has changed my mind,” says John, from Walton. “But what I would say is that if it is brought back it has to be strictly controlled and there has to be a proper commitment that fences will not be introduced and that clubs will not look to pack fans in. “I stood on the Kop for years and I never had a problem. I always felt safe, even though there were a couple of occasions when I felt uncomfortable, and the atmosphere was always better then than it is now.” John’s belief that terraces can be safe has not been dented by what happened at Hillsborough. Rather, it has been bolstered by his knowledge of what happened on that fateful day on April 15, 1989 when 96 Liverpool fans lost their lives.
“If anyone studies what actually happened at Hillsborough they will realise that people died that day because of a breakdown in policing. “It was nothing to do with standing in itself.” And John is anything but a voice in the wilderness if the findings of a newly published survey of British football fans are anything to go by. The poll, conducted by the Football Fans Census (FFC), found an overwhelming 92% of supporters want clubs to bring back safe standing areas. FFC co-founder Tim Gentles says: “This is the fourth time we have polled fans on this issue and support for standing in safe, designated areas has consistently been over 90%.” The sample for this poll was 2,100 fans from all clubs and divisions, 45% of whom were season-ticket holders. Phil Gatenby of the Football Supporters’ Federation was not surprised by the findings and he is confident that the modern day football fan would be fully able to adapt to terraces. He says: “Nobody wants to downplay what happened at Hillsborough or return to the hooligan problems of the 70s and 80s, but fans are different now and so is the technology.” Portsmouth South MP Mike Hancock has introduced an Early Day Motion to Parliament, urging the government to “re-examine the case for introducing small, limited sections of safe standing areas at football grounds”. The motion has won the support of 135 MPs and Mr Hancock is adamant he can see no reason why football fans cannot stand safely. He says: “I am delighted that fans around the country are, at last, getting mobilised to put pressure on MPs to change the regulations about standing at football matches. “I see absolutely no reason why there cannot be safe standing areas in every football ground. “I believe that for grounds with capacities of up to 30,000, then 10% could be given over to two safe areas. “For 50,000 it would be four safe areas in different parts of the ground, on Euro style terracing. “Access to these areas would be rigorously stewarded, and with a strict cap on the numbers for each area. “This proposal recognises the causes of past tragedies and how to enable a return to safe standing areas.” As ever, it is those who are campaigning for change who are shouting the loudest. But the government is thus far remaining steadfast and refusing to budge from its position that all-seater stadia provide the safest way to watch football – as the Taylor Report into the Hillsborough disaster stipulated. Jenni Hicks who lost daughters Sarah and Vicki at Hillsborough hopes the government sticks to its guns and is not swayed by the growing clamour for the re-introduction of terraces. She says: “Lord Justice Taylor’s report set out a vision for football that would ensure there would be no more Hillsboroughs. “The key recommendation, among others addressing the police reaction to the incident, was that terraces be removed and football stadiums become all-seater. “For those there who watched in horror as the tragedy unfolded, it was clear that a combination of standing terraces with people caged in behind metal fences and the inability to monitor how many people were admitted into standing areas were all contributing factors causing the crush. “A forward step was needed to improve the safety of football fans and all-seater stadiums were needed. “The argument that the atmosphere is not the same if people are forced to sit pales into insignificance when you compare it to the increased safety seating provides. “To see the re-introduction of standing terraces can only be a backwards step. “Just like at Hillsborough, there is the chance that more and more fans will be pushed into standing areas, way beyond capacity set for that ground.
“And if that goes ahead we will simply recreate the conditions that will mean another Hillsborough is only a matter of time. “If we create the same conditions will the authorities react again in the same way?”
ID cards? They must be joking!
Mar 17 2007 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
SO you think you know your history? But can you recognise these Everton stalwarts from pictures even their own mother wouldn’t recognise? They’re all taken from David France and Barry Hewitt’s affectionate tribute to the bubble gum cards of our childhood. “Toffee Cards - The Bubble Gum Years” catalogues the 313 sets of cards ever printed featuring the men and teams of Everton. All 1,265 cards issued in the past 60 years are listed chronologically – some more recognisable than others. For example, would Mrs Walsh recognise her big boy Mickey from this Sun Soccercard issued in 1979 (right) and is that exactly the same face with different hair on top, purporting to be Geoff Nulty? Let’s be gracious and say the artwork is a nod towards expressionism. Whereas the Promatch cards published 20 years later were altogether sharper and more distinct. But does that make them any more recognisable? Is that Lee Harvey Oswald or Arjen Robben (top left)? Erm, no. It’s actually FA Cup winning skipper Dave Watson, while the guy below him, apparently, is central defensive partner Craig Short. And let’s not allow this company to wriggle off the hook. Yes, that really is John Hurst (bottom left) in the Daily Post Team of the Century Collection published in 1995 – not Val Doonican. And the man doing the Billy Kenny impression in the Corinthian Premier League Collection (below, right) is actually Andy Hinchcliffe. But I defy anybody to identify the individuals in the Corinthian collection (far right) Is that Tony Kay or Alan Tracey from Thunderbirds? (No it’s David Moyes). Tim Cahill? (actually it’s David Weir) and Yazz minus her Plastic Population? (Actually no, it’s Niclas Alexandersson with a plastic perm). Nowadays it’s all Panini stickers. David France and Barry Hewitt, however, have helped to bring bubble gum cards flooding back into our consciousness. In days gone by, Gordon West could reliably claim to be worth three Brian Labone’s – and this book is touchingly dedicated to his old pal and skipper. Printed as a companion to the celebrated Toffee Pages (detailing post-war programmes) and Toffee Cards - The Tobacco Years (cataloguing cigarette cards), Bubble Gum Years is available at £7.95. The memories will come flooding back, even if the faces don’t.
Lescott for England
Mar 17 2007 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES believes he has the answer to England’s left-back problems for the vital European Championship qualifier in Israel – play Joleon Lescott out of position.
Everton’s central defender has played as an emergency left-back several times this season, and the Blues boss believes he can to do it at the highest level. With Ashley Cole suspended, Liverpool’s Jamie Carragher and Lescott’s team-mate, Phil Neville, have been earmarked to play out of position in Tel Aviv next Saturday. But Moyes says Lescott’s form in that role for Everton this season should have seen him thrust him into the spotlight. “Joleon could probably be the left-back for England,” said Moyes. “His form for Everton at left-back has been outstanding – and he isn’t a left-back. I should emphasise that. He’s a left central defender. “But I don’t think there’s anybody who’s gone against him this season and given him a tough time. “He might not be the most comfortable on the ball going forward, but no-one will go past him. “I don’t think Joleon Lescott’s far from stepping up to the mark in international football – whether as a left sided centre-back or a left back. “I don’t think he’d let anybody down and everybody at Everton would say that.”
Johnson is vital as Blues keep on gunning for goals
Mar 17 2007 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
ARSENAL are one of the few Premiership teams Andrew Johnson hasn’t scored against this season. But that hasn’t stopped him making a big impression on Arsene Wenger. The Gunners boss was the first Premiership manager to publicly criticise the Everton striker for going down too easily in the box earlier this season. But he also offered words of praise for Johnson’s unstinting work-rate during a solo striking mission at the Emirates Stadium. It’s a work ethic David Moyes hopes his top scorer can maintain – especially with Tim Cahill missing for the rest of the season and James Beattie toiling for form and confidence in front of goal. “I think Andy is going to be vital for us now,” Moyes explained. “He needs to keep the meter ticking over with his goals. “Our goals return has been quite decent this season which is a lot to do with him and we want him to finish high up the scoring charts. But his goals could be vital for us.” Johnson has enjoyed an outstanding debut season at Goodison, both in the number of goals he has scored and the opportunities he has created from his turbo charged runs into opposition penalty boxes. He has also settled swiftly into the area, which is why Moyes completely disregarded a mischievous newspaper report last week suggesting Johnson was homesick for the south. “I didn’t take any notice of it,” added Moyes. “It just shows Andy’s character that he’s come out and made his feelings clear straight away. “He says he wants to stay here for the rest of his career, which makes me feel we’ve made a big impression on him – and I’m sure he feels good because his form has been good since he’s been here. “I hope that continues and I hope he earns the England call-ups he deserves.” International football, however, is a double edged sword for club managers. “It might just be coincidence, but the two players who have been at the World Cup are the two players who have missed large chunks of our season through injury – Nuno Valente and Tim Cahill,” added Moyes. “We can’t really blame the World Cup for Tim, because Lee Carsley injured his knee for him and then he fell awkwardly on his foot, but his early season form was terrific and we have to hope that it doesn’t all fall on Andy Johnson to provide all the goals. “We need other people to pop up with them, and never more so than now.” The visit of Arsenal – even a Gunners side shorn of the injured Thierry Henry and the suspended Emmanuel Adebayor – still poses a formidable test. And Moyes knows whatever side he sends out will have to reproduce the kind of form which has seen Everton win two and draw one of their last four Premiership clashes at Goodison Park against Arsenal. The solitary reverse – a 4-1 defeat on the opening day of the 2004/05 season – underlines what can happen when Arsenal click on opponents’ territory. “I saw Arsenal play at Aston Villa in midweek, but I’m not sure it will help me,” he said. “Arsenal have two different teams and you’re never sure which one they’re going to use. “We need to worry more about what we’re going to do. “As far as our team selection goes, I’ll always do what I think is right. We changed at half-time against Tottenham because I didn’t think what we were doing was working for us. I’ll look at our personnel and make sure we have round pegs in round holes as much as we can. “The biggest problem we have is trying to find the right balance in the middle of the park, because we don’t really see Manuel Fernandes as an attacking midfielder so it limits us a wee bit to how we play. “It’s difficult to fit Neville, Carsley and Fernandes into the same midfield so we have to find ways of changing the balance. “It’s why I think we’re in a bit of a difficult period. “The loss of Tim makes things difficult for us. Part of the reason we play the way we do is because it suits Tim Cahill and we don’t have him at this moment in time. “In my mind I think I know what we’re going to do, but we’ll have to see tomorrow.”
Wind up? No, just another fool plan
Mar 17 2007 by Barry Horne, Liverpool Echo
I RECEIVED a telephone call at around 7.00pm on Wednesday night from a man purporting to be a journalist from the Evening Standard. He wanted a reaction to a breaking news story. I didn’t know the guy, so I was naturally wary. Then, when he told me the story was about the Football League voting to finish matches with a penalty shoot-out , I instantly checked the calendar. It wasn’t April 1, so I told the guy “this is a wind up, isn’t it?” He assured me it wasn’t, but I remained sceptical.
It was only when I thought of some of Sepp Blatter’s other preposterous schemes to “improve football” that I gave him the benefit of the doubt. The whole idea is so ludicrous that Blatter’s fingerprints have to be on it somewhere. Somebody clearly believes it will encourage attacking football. I believe it will have the opposite affect.
Teams are more likely to be encouraged to hang on for a draw in the knowledge that if they can get through 90 minutes unbeaten, they will then have a chance to win the game. Some of the most pulsating matches I have witnessed have ended drawn, while some of the dullest have been one-sided wins. I am definitely in Chris Coleman’s corner. When asked about the idea, he responded: “Why not send out the referee wearing a red nose and a flower, too?”
Arsenal caught in a storm at Goodison
Mar 19 2007 View from the stands, by Eddie O'Gara, Everton supporter, Liverpool Daily Post
AS THE sleet fell and wind blew on the way to Goodison yesterday, how many of us actually thought 'yes we'll have some of this'? Already without their first-choice front men and having their confidence shorn by a series of recent cup exits, Arsenal took to the Goodison pitch complete with 11 long-sleeve jerseys and 22 pairs of gloves.
In this respect, they were beaten mentally before the game kicked off. As the elements worsened and the sleet returned in the last few minutes, it was no surprise that the short-sleeved Andrew Johnson struck our winner. But this was far more than a smash and grab victory by a coarse northern side who had bullied Wenger's cosmopolitan troops ala Bolton or Sheffield United. Long balls were obviously a no-go area with out-of-sorts target man James Beattie dumped to the bench. Moyes's midfield maestros Manuel Fernandes and Mikel Arteta matched Arsenal's flair and we held firm to play our way to victory and nobody could begrudge us shading the contest.
Having seen two of our UEFA Cup rivals Spurs and Reading leapfrog above us before we played, the pressure was to get the win but we keep our unbeaten run going as we enter another two-week break. Let's just hope we can finish the season strongly for once.
Everton 1, Arsenal 0 (D,Post)
Mar 19 2007 by Ian Doyle at Goodison Park, Liverpool Daily Post
IT was less than a month ago that a last-minute winner was greeted with a cacophony of boos from the Goodison faithful. Yesterday, however, those late jeers made way for resounding cheers as Andrew Johnson demonstrated similar timing to help Everton further down the road toward European qualification. That late, late defeat to Tottenham Hotspur on a miserable Wednesday evening had sparked debate among certain sections of Everton’s support about whether David Moyes remained the right man to take the club forward. Such doubters will be conspicuously silent this morning after the Scot entered his sixth year in charge at Goodison by masterminding his team to a deserved victory over Arsenal. While mapping out the next five years, Moyes last week touted the Gunners as the benchmark Everton should aim to attain, a well-run club reaping the benefits of stability and a long-term vision. But in the short-term, Moyes’s men have again proved themselves more than a match for an Arsenal team, his decision to employ an attacking formation reaping a rich dividend yesterday.
That’s four points from six against Arsene Wenger’s men this season following a similar return against Liverpool and indication of the strides that are being made in the Barclays Premiership. Momentum and confidence continues to grow. Also, with the carrot of a top-six place and UEFA Cup qualification dangling tantalisingly in front of them, Everton will have only themselves to blame if they now allow their season to fall away from such a strong position. When Arsenal fell to defeat at Goodison last season, an unhappy Wenger moaned about what he perceived over-physical approach to the game from the home team. There could be no such gripes yesterday. With the impressive Manuel Fernandes easing the creative burden on Mikel Arteta, a bold Everton caused Arsenal enough problems to have secured victory long before Johnson’s decisive contribution. Fernandes in particular caught the eye, his tenacity, touch and distribution the ideal combination to help take Moyes’s side on to the next level. One delightful cameo midway through the half, when his close control saw him skip beyond Cesc Fabregas, Abou Diaby and Aliadiere, illustrated why the board would be wise to find Moyes the reported £12million required to prise the 21-year-old away from Benfica on a permanent basis. Republic of Ireland international Lee Carsley came close to celebrating St Patrick’s weekend in style with a blistering volley that crashed against the woodwork while Leon Osman followed suit after the interval from closer range.
In truth, compared to the standards he has been setting in recent times, yesterday was not one of Johnson’s better games.
Yet his injury-time finish, thrashing home from 10 yards after Arsenal had failed to properly clear Arteta’s corner from the right, demonstrated why England coach Steve McClaren will rightly place his faith in the striker for his country’s forthcoming Euro 2008 qualifiers against Israel and Andorra.
It was Johnson’s 12th goal of the season, but until then more of the attention had been focused on the performance of his strike partner. After 11 substitute appearances spread over an injury-hit two years, James Vaughan was finally rewarded for his hard work and faith in a recovery with a richly-deserved first senior start of his career.
The unfazed youngster set about his task with the youthful exuberance, upending Kolo Toure early on with a feisty tackle and later clattering into Jens Lehmann, which solicited a petulant kick out from the German, a lecture form referee Mark Clattenberg and roars of approval from the home crowd. You wonder what James Beattie made of all that. The forward, having last week passed the year mark in his wait for a goal from open play, had been hauled off during Everton’s previous game at Sheffield United after another insipid performance. To then be usurped from the starting line-up by a debutant suggests Beattie may be seeking pastures new in the summer, particularly given Moyes’s weekend comments stating time is running out for the underachieving striker to regain his form. That Victor Anichebe was subsequently preferred as a late substitute for the tiring Vaughan spoke volumes. The 18-year-old was one of three changes to the team that drew at Bramall Lane, with Osman returning in place of the injured Tim Cahill. Alan Stubbs stepped in at centre-back with Joleon Lescott moving across to left-back, and both defenders impressed in containing an Arsenal attack that was at times guilty of attempting to walk the ball into the back of the Everton net. There were shouts for a penalty from both teams inside the opening 10 minutes, most convincingly by Everton after Johnson’s pace caused problems for a makeshift Arsenal defence again featuring Gilberto at centre-back. Johnson, reacting quickly to a Vaughan flick-on, forced the Brazilian to clear towards his own goal and in the ensuing chase for possession with Lehmann, the striker hit the deck as he challenged with the Arsenal goalkeeper. The home crowd bayed for a spot-kick but replays suggested Lehmann had done well to take the ball and not the man.Referee Clattenberg was certainly correct to wave play on moments later when Jeremie Aliadiere tumbled over the onrushing Tim Howard. That was a rare forward sortie from Arsenal during an opening quarter in which an urgent Everton, with Fernandes the fulcrum in central midfield alongside the industrious Carsley, enjoyed the better of the play.
And they were almost rewarded for such enterprise in the 25th minute when, with Arsenal failing to properly clear their lines, the ball dropped off Osman’s chest into the path of Carsley who unleashed an instant volley that crashed off Lehmann’s left-hand post.
Arsenal, without the suspended Emmanuel Adebayor and injured Thierry Henry to lead the attack, struggled to find their rhythm but with Everton failing to find a final pass, the visitors began to click during an ominous closing six minutes to the half.
After Howard palmed over a 20-yard shot from Aliadiere and Julio Baptista curled a free-kick wide, the Everton goalkeeper’s legs denied Cesc Fabregas after a sweeping move involving Tomas Rosicky and Baptista had left the Spaniard unmarked inside the area. Abou Diaby shot off target before Baptista spurned a great chance in first-half stoppage time, heading wastefully over from six yards after Diaby had helped on a Fabregas corner from the right. Everton, though, began the second half the brighter, Fernandes striking wide after unselfish work from Johnson before Joseph Yobo looped a header on to the roof of the net after Carsley returned Arteta’s half-cleared free-kick into the danger zone. At the other end, an unattended Aliadiere blazed over from Rosicky’s pull back and Freddie Ljungberg was similarly profligate at the end of a decent Arsenal move. Lehmann’s woodwork rattled again 17 minutes from time when Vaughan and Johnson made a nuisance of themselves in the Arsenal area and a stretching Osman struck the loose ball against the post. When the midfielder then headed wide at the far post from Arteta’s cross, it seemed Everton’s last chance had gone. Enter Johnson among all the March snow – and a goal worth cheering loudly for any Evertonian.
EVERTON (4-4-2): Howard; Neville, Yobo, Stubbs, Lescott; Arteta, Fernandes, Carsley, Osman; Johnson, Vaughan (Anichebe 86). Subs: Wright, Hibbert, Naysmith, Beattie.
BOOKINGS: Stubbs, Fernandes, Lescott and Vaughan (all fouls) and Anichebe (unsporting behaviour).
ARSENAL (4-4-2): Lehmann; Toure, Gallas, Gilberto, Hoyte; Ljungberg, Fabregas, Diaby, Rosicky (Hleb 69); Baptista (Denilson 85), Aliadiere (Walcott 75). Subs: Almunia, Senderos.
REFEREE: Mark Clattenberg (County Durham).
NEXT GAME: Aston Villa v Everton, Barclays Premiership, Monday, April 2 8pm
Everton 1, Arsenal 0 (Echo)
Mar 19 2007 by Dominic King
THE scenes at the final whistle may have been the same five years ago, and the result similarly positive, but that was the only feeling of deja vu at Goodison Park yesterday.
Just as was the case on his first afternoon as Everton manager, David Moyes marked his fifth anniversary with a triumphant march onto the pitch and fist-pumping salute to the Gwladys Street. That victory over Fulham was only the launch pad to successfully beat relegation. This latest three points should go some way to ensuring a bright, new era at the club, with European football brought back to Goodison on a regular basis.
Contrary to what some think, giant strides have been made since Moyes arrived in March 2002 and if proof were needed, it came in bundles. Could Everton have hoped to play football against Arsenal five years ago and get a result? Exactly.
That, however, is what they can do now. There were no complaints from Arsene Wenger about Everton being too physical, nor did he grumble about the goal his team conceded to Andrew Johnson in the dying minutes. Sure, the Blues are still building, but since the turn of the year it has been quite clear that it won’t be long before they are ready to make the next step forward. Results and displays such as this serve only to increase the optimism. While Arsenal have a reputation for being able to cut their opponents to pieces with a swaggering brand of football, they never looked like doing so here and that was down to the commitment and endeavour of every player clad in royal blue. From the goalscorer to his novice partner all the way back to the defenders and goalkeeper, Everton were committed and controlled throughout. Johnson and James Vaughan were bursting with enthusiasm and determination and set the tone.
It has been a long and, at times, frustrating wait for the youngest scorer in Everton’s history to begin a game, but patience gets its reward. There are still a few rough edges to be polished but, all being well, his selection should prove to be the first of many.
What, though, does it say for James Beattie? Once the Blues’ most expensive purchase, he has been jettisoned from the starting line-up on two occasions this season and replaced by novices. A parting of the ways looks almost inevitable.
One man certainly not heading for pastures new during the close season – contrary to what one fictitious story claimed in the run up to this contest – is Johnson, whose performance against Arsenal was simply bubbling. Having made a nuisance of himself from the first whistle, the England international might have had a penalty after bustling up Gilberto and Jens Lehmann. Television replays, though, showed that referee Mark Clattenburg had made the correct decision. Undeterred, Everton kept probing and were desperately unlucky not to take the lead just before the half hour when the excellent Lee Carsley rattled a post with a ferocious half-volley from 30 yards. He deserved better than to see it cannon away to safety. With Everton doing everything they could to poke their noses in front – and given the significance of the game – it was slightly puzzling as to why the atmosphere around Goodison was so subdued to start with. Too often this season the vibes around this famous old ground have been listless. Arsenal’s visit in the Carling Cup and the FA Cup tie with Blackburn Rovers, in particular, stick in the mind for being humdrum rather than hotbed. Of course, it would be unrealistic to expect every home game to be ‘special’ but, equally, it would be satisfying to hear a far from full visiting section drowned out. Even when Arsenal fans asked for a song, the response was muted. vertonians, however, were usually at their most animated when either Manuel Fernandes or Mikel Arteta were in possession. Imagine the rave reviews they would receive if they played for, say, Arsenal? As good as Arteta was, however, for the first time in goodness knows how long his was not the most significant contribution. Fernandes, showing all that fancy footwork and incisive passing, oozed class and was the game’s best player. While his manager may not have appreciated one moment in the first half when he found himself harried by three red and white shirts near Everton’s area, the way he pirouetted out of danger prompted one of the biggest cheers of the day. Brilliant.
Willing to track back and put a foot in, but equally comfortable foraging forward, he is living up to the big reputation with which he arrived on Merseyside. Will he be around next season? That’s the £10m question every Evertonian wants to know. But Fernandes is certainly stating an impressive case. To say he was the only reason Everton ended up with three richly-deserved points would be grossly unfair to his colleagues, for every player involved did what was asked of them. “We were playing a really good team and taking four points off Arsenal this season isn’t a bad return,” noted Moyes, who celebrated Johnson’s winner with an impromptu jig that had echoes of Sir Alex Ferguson and Brian Kidd at Old Trafford in April 1993.
“I thought the two forwards were always a threat. You look at the boys at the back as well, and Lee Carsley and the other midfielders. It was hard to pick any faults.”
Carsley had one of his best afternoons of the campaign. Joleon Lescott barely put a foot wrong at left-back, while Tim Howard was alert to everything that came his way. Leon Osman might have scored twice – and then there was Alan Stubbs.
Launching himself into tackles, using possession astutely and winning headers in a manner that suggested he had a magnet between his ears, this was another performance from Stubbs which can be filed away under the title ‘faultless’.
The headlines, nonetheless, will belong to the brilliance of Johnson – and rightly so – for the nerveless way he drilled Everton back into the driving seat for a UEFA Cup spot in the dying moments of a compelling game that was expertly officiated by Clattenburg. Victories that are achieved in such dramatic fashion often prove the catalyst for teams vying for major targets to go on and finish the job they started.
With that in mind, who would bet against Everton needing passports to get to some grounds next season?
The special one
Mar 19 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
ALAN STUBBS paid a glowing tribute to Andrew Johnson’s special talent today and backed him to fill the void that has hindered Everton for more than a decade. Since Andrei Kanchelskis scored 16 times in 1996, the Blues have missed a striker who is able to score goals on a regular basis but Johnson is doing his best to change that.
Yesterday’s last-gasp winner against Arsenal took his tally for the campaign to 12 and Stubbs sees no reason why the England international can’t surpass the mark set by Kanchelskis. The veteran defender insisted any team that has designs on Europe must have a prolific marksman and he is in no doubt that Johnson is the man to do it for Everton. “I don’t want this to sound bad but he is a player that we have lacked for a number of years now,” said Stubbs, one of the Blues’ outstanding performers yesterday. “That’s me talking as a fan, rather than as a player, as I don’t think it would be just for me to do that. As a fan, we have missed that special someone. “We have missed a prolific striker, who has scored 15-plus goals a season. Andrei Kanchelskis was the last person to break through that barrier and it’s been too long. “All being well, AJ is going to beat that this season and it’s something we've badly needed.
“Every team that is challenging at the top needs a striker that is going to score a lot of goals and all credit to AJ. He and Vaughny were a constant threat and I’m glad I don’t have to mark them.”Victory over the Gunners has put Everton back into the driving seat for a UEFA Cup spot and they are now just a point off fifth-placed Bolton with eight games to play. If Everton play with the same composure as they did yesterday, Stubbs feels they will be able to overhaul his former club and took great heart from the way Arsenal were toppled. Rather than relying on brute force, Everton played some excellent football at times and he is confident the Blues can build from this platform. “This win has put us right where we want to be at the minute,” said Stubbs. “I thought overall, we deserved to edge it. They had a couple of half chances but when you are playing against a team of their quality, you expect that to happen. “But on the whole, we acquitted ourselves very well. We had a good blend. We passed the ball well but when we had to be physical, we were. Everyone knows that Arsenal want to play football and they don’t like getting into a battle. “That’s part and parcel of football, though, and you don’t win Championships by playing total football. We deserved to win and hopefully it can give us the push we need.”
Vaughan almost back to his best - Moyes
Mar 19 2007 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
JAMES VAUGHAN is back to reclaim the limelight at Goodison – almost two years after he first burst onto the scene. Vaughan was barely 16-years- old when he became the youngest goalscorer in Everton's history with a strike against Crystal Palace.
But a knee injury sustained on international duty with England soon after that wiped more than a year from his development. He was finally handed his full Premiership debut yesterday – and Blues boss David Moyes believes the 18-year-old is now nearly back to the level he was at before the injury. "There were some really big performances out there today, and there had to be," he explained. "James Vaughan was selected to start because he looked the sharpest in training. He's missed 14 months and I've just seen signs in training that he's beginning to get back to the level he was at when he came on the scene. "To miss a year of development at that age is a massive thing for a young boy. He missed the training, the technique work and the fitness work. "It's one of the biggest years for a youngster so it was always going to take a longer time to get him back. "We actually debated whether we were going to send him out on loan. We were going to do it but because of the injury to James McFadden we didn't. "Did he confirm our faith in selecting him? Not half! "He showed everything which we know he's got. Everybody loves a trier."Moyes explained that the injury to Tim Cahill meant he had to try and unearth a new system which suited the players he had available. "I think when you play Arsenal there aren't many teams who will dominate possession against them, so it's always going to be difficult to get the upper hand," he added. "But I thought we kept sticking to the task, kept working hard and were rewarded. "Tim Cahill makes us play in a way that suits him and suits the team, and it's been good for us. But when we've not got him we have to find another way. "Most teams try and shut up shop against Arsenal – we did it down there – but today I felt that we were at home so we might as well have a bit of a go. "Someone said to me coming up the stairs here, you've now taken four points off Liverpool this season and four points off Arsenal. I'm not sure if today will beat the feeling when we got the first win against them the first year I came here, but that came very close. "There are signs that we're moving forward. Arsenal were without some players, but so were we in a different way." Moyes also had words of praise for man of the match Lee Carsley and matchwinner Andrew Johnson. "Carsley was terrific again," he added. "We sometimes ask him to play in front of the back four. Today, we asked him to change and he went about his job. "He's done well for us, and people who know him know that he's a good lad around the club as well. "Andy Johnson's fit for England and I thought he was a threat all day. He got the other side of Lehmann and you have to give the goalkeeper credit for getting a punch on it. "But that's been him all season. "If people can play him in for England he'll get there because he's that quick and that sharp, and his finish was excellent . "We know that it's going to be tough in the chase for Europe, the way some sides are playing, but you also hope that during your run in you win a couple of games that people maybe don't see you winning and maybe that was one of them for us today."
Spring in Euro step
Mar 19 2007 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
ONE-NIL is not an unfamiliar scoreline to Arsenal, even when they're on the receiving end.But the nature of this one was. When Everton secured the same scoreline in last season's corresponding fixture, they scratched out the result.
They battered Arsenal into submission and when James Beattie out-muscled Philippe Senderos for the winner it was symbolic of Everton's approach. This season they took on the Gunners in a football match. In the past that has been tantamount to scribbling out a soccer suicide note. This time, however, Everton had the personnel to back up their ambitious approach. And while they lived on their luck a couple of times so, too, did Arsenal – and the victory was the greatest possible encouragement for them to continue in that fashion. Manuel Fernandes and Mikel Arteta were a wonderfully fertile heartbeat, built on the rock of Lee Carsley's monumental display, while the selection of two lightning quick strikers was both unexpected and refreshing. Of course, a 1-0 win is only worth three points, regardless of the fashion in which it is gathered. But, perhaps, psychologically this one could be worth just a little bit more.
In Everton's last successful assault on Europe, there was one stand-out result – a home win that was completely unexpected. Three points claimed from a game when most might have settled for just one. A victory which dispirited their Euro- chasing rivals as much as it inspired Evertonian imaginations. Could Arsenal 2007 eventually carry the same significance as the 1-0 defeat of Manchester United two years ago? There's a little more of the campaign to come than there was back then. But yesterday's dramatic success has given Everton the perfect springboard for a push for Europe.
Once again, the success came courtesy of a centre-forward. Duncan Ferguson was the talisman in 2005. But the big Scot's contributions towards the tail end of his career were sporadic. This time, as he has been for most of the season, it was Andrew Johnson. His 91st minute left-footed laser brought the house down. But while Johnson was once more the difference, he had ample back-up from the men around him.
Fernandes has grown in stature and influence since an impressive debut against Blackburn a month ago. Yesterday, his performance sparkled. But he was given the platform to sprinkle stardust over Everton's midfield by yet another disciplined and doughty display from Carsley. It was heartening to see the eternally unsung Irish international collect the Man of the Match champagne – and typical to see him dedicate it to someone else, the mother of kit man Tony Sage who passed away last week. But there was togetherness throughout this Everton performance. While Phil Neville was charging to all four corners of Goodison Park to celebrate in the snow which had started to fall at the final whistle, Beattie was waiting to congratulate everybody as they left the pitch. A word, also, for the manager. Few would have been surprised at a 4-5-1 formation with Johnson left to chase shadows on his own up front. Instead David Moyes went for the unexpected option. He played two up top, but neither Beattie nor Victor Anichebe were the preferred partner to Johnson. Instead, James Vaughan came in for his full debut. It was a little surprising to learn that the 18-year-old was starting a senior match for the first time. But if he seems to have been around for years, that's because he has. It was a month shy of two years ago when a then 16-year-old sharpshooter deprived Wayne Rooney of the mantle of youngest scorer in Everton's history. A long and lonely battle against injury ensued, but yesterday's display showed that the trials of the treatment room are behind him. He was sharp, aggressive and surprisingly successful in the aerial battles. And while Everton's fixture list is not encouraging – there's a trip to Chelsea and a visit of Manchester United still to come – results like this one have put them in pole position.
The only disappointment is that it's now another fortnight before the Blues get the chance to build on it. But at least yesterday's success gave Moyes a 100per cent record for March. Manager of the month, anyone?
A killer instinct
Mar 20 2007 by Tony Cottee, Liverpool Echo
ANDY JOHNSON is a natural and instinctive finisher – which is why he has to be the choice to spearhead England’s forward line alongside Wayne Rooney next Saturday.
People, quite rightly, have been talking about the quality of his finish which sunk Arsenal on Sunday. It was on his wrong foot, it was in time added on – and he had a postage stamp sized space to squeeze the ball into on the goalline. The connection was sweet, the placing immaculate and the power impressive. But for me there was much more to the goal than just the finish. It was Andy who headed the ball on at the near post from Mikel Arteta’s corner. Centre-halves routinely head balls on like that, but how often do you see them then finishing the chance off? It wasn’t coincidence or good fortune that the ball then found its way back to Johnson. Like all good strikers Andy headed the ball on, then rather than congratulating himself on a job well done, instantly turned and started looking for any scraps he could feed off. He was rewarded when the ball dropped at his feet, and as I’ve already said the finish was devastating.
It gave Everton a massive boost for their European push, but it was also a timely boost for AJ ahead of next Saturday’s trip to Israel. Johnson has to be in the starting line up in Tel Aviv. The only other available striker in the current England set up who is as natural a finisher as Johnson is Jermain Defoe. But Defoe is more like I was in that he is very much a penalty box predator. Andy is more of a team player and does much of his work outside the area. He has also been playing regularly, while Defoe hasn’t. Regular football is crucial for strikers hoping to show some consistency, and that’s why I feel for James Beattie at the moment. But for those reasons I think Johnson has to partner Rooney next weekend. Any other decision would be a joke. It will be interesting to see what decisions David Moyes makes now as regards his own forward line. James Vaughan was a surprising selection on Sunday, but he did really well. He’s had a difficult time in the last couple of years, but his return to the senior fold has come at just the right time for the Blues. All the best sides have four good strikers to choose from – and Moyes can now select from AJ, Beattie, Victor Anichebe and Vaughan. Vaughan’s presence alongside Johnson also saw Everton keep the ball down and not play as many direct balls which was heartening to see. Everton’s squad has just received a welcome boost at a vital period in the season. And hopefully England’s campaign will receive the same kind of boost from AJ on Saturday.
Johnson can lift England
Mar 20 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
ANDREW JOHNSON may have been an unknown quantity to Manuel Fernandes until a few weeks ago, but now the midfielder is predicting big things from Everton’s man of the moment. Though the Portugal international had previously had a spell on loan at Portsmouth earlier in the season, his knowledge of Premiership football was limited and, as a result, he arrived at Goodison Park in January unaware of Johnson’s prowess. Things, though, have changed quickly. Since Fernandes arrived on loan from Benfica during the transfer window, Johnson has recaptured the scoring swagger that illuminated the start to his own Everton career to fire David Moyes’ side into contention for a UEFA Cup place. Sunday’s dramatic last-gasp winner against Arsenal was the 26-year-old’s 12th goal of the campaign and his third in the last four games.
He heads into England’s Euro 2008 double header with Israel and Andorra in blistering form. It has left Fernandes claiming that Johnson can break his international duck in Tel Aviv to provide some much-needed relief for under fire national coach Steve McClaren. But, most importantly, give Everton the firepower to secure a spot in Europe next season. “Andy is a great player and we have a lot of great players in our team,” said Fernandes, who enjoyed his best performance in an Everton shirt against Arsenal. “I don’t think anybody will be surprised if we stay in the top five or six in the league now. “I train with him every day so obviously I’m going to say he should play for England. But the way he plays and the way he helps the team, he should play.
“I didn’t know much about him before I joined here. You get to know players when you train alongside them. I knew that he was good, but I’m finding out he’s really good.” Victor Anichebe, meanwhile, has rubbished speculation that talks surrounding a new contract have hit trouble. The 18-year-old, who made an instant impact as a late substitute in Sunday’s victory over the Gunners, only signed his first professional deal last summer. He has made terrific progress this season and has started six times, while he has also received a call up into Nigeria’s full international squad. But he has no intentions of rocking the boat while he is still the most inexperienced member of Everton’s team. “I am aware that there was speculation about my future but all I want to do is concentrate on playing for Everton,” said Anichebe, who has scored three times this year. “I have been given a terrific opportunity at this club and everyone here has played a big part in my development. The stories about me wanting big money and long deals are simply not true. “I am a young player and I still have much to learn. Being here at Everton under David Moyes and the rest of the coaching staff is perfect for me. “I signed a two-year deal last year and am happy here. “Negotiations are ongoing between my agent and the club and I don’t envisage any problems.”
Goodison dismay as Emre escapes
Mar 20 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON were today shocked and disgusted that allegations of racist abuse against Newcastle midfielder Emre have been deemed “not proven”. Though there was no official reaction from Goodison Park, it is understood that club officials are bewildered at the outcome. The Blues cannot understand why the FA allowed the case to go so far when they were looking for “overwhelming” evidence against Emre.
The evidence was hearsay from both sides - three Everton players alleged Emre made racist remarks, while three Newcastle players alleged the opposite. There is dismay at Goodison that the saga has dragged on for four months and ended up almost becoming a pantomime. It was alleged that the Turkey international had used racially aggravated abusive and/or insulting words towards Joseph Yobo - within ear shot of Joleon Lescott and Tim Howard - during Everton’s 3-0 victory over Newcastle on December 30. Howard and Lescott appeared at the tribunal in York yesterday - Yobo is away on international duty - having already provided written statements, as they were so determined to prove a point, particularly as the FA felt Emre had a case to answer.
Emre had character witnesses from team-mates Kieron Dyer and Nicky Butt, national coach Faith Terim and was backed by a high-powered delegation from St James’ Park that included chairman Freddy Shepherd and manager Glenn Roeder. While the verdict fell short of completely exonerating Emre, he insisted that he is not racist and said: “I am very pleased to be found not guilty. I am not racist and condemn racism.
“I never accused the Everton players and they know that is true. We shook hands and it is just a misunderstanding.” An FA statement read: “Having heard all the evidence presented and having regard to the standard of proof with both the FA and Newcastle United, we were not satisfied that the charge was proved.” Everton, however, are disgusted with the outcome, particularly because of the weight of evidence provided by so many of their players, and that FA chief executive Brian Barwick appeared to be driving the charge. Emre was charged after match referee Dermot Gallagher - who did not hear what was said during an angry exchange between Emre, Lescott, Howard and Yobo - was informed of the allegations and included them in his match report.
Reds v Blues in triathlon clash of the legends
Mar 20 2007 by Adrian Butler, Liverpool Echo
LIVERPOOL and Everton stars will compete at the world’s biggest community triathlon. Anfield hero Alan Kennedy is competing in the Sefton Triathlon against Everton’s Dave Watson. Both players have vowed to beat the other in the event’s 150m swim, 5km bike ride and 2.5km run. Fans will be able to read regular updates on both players’ training in the ECHO. John Moran, one of the event’s organisers said: “We’re thrilled that both players are taking part. “They’re fierce rivals and both men are keen to come out on top. “Hopefully fans of both teams will get behind them with their sponsor money.” The triathlon, whose patron is Olympic rower Sir Steve Redgrave, is the biggest schools’ race of its kind in the world. This year’s race will include a “Children with Disabilities” section for both junior and senior schoolchildren, making the event one of the most inclusive races of its kind in Europe.
There is also a new team category which is free to enter for adults competing in teams of three. Sponsors for the event include Formby Cycles and Taskers. Organisers want to sign more than 1,500 people up. For more information and to apply for an application form, ring 07962 055 404.
Play with real Blues legends
Mar 21 2007 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
GOODISON PARK plays host to a mouth-watering European challenge next Wednesday, when a side of Everton Legends takes on Barcelona – and you could be lining up for the Blues! The ECHO has joined forces with Everton and the Everton Collection Charitable Trust to offer a money can’t buy prize to the winner of this exclusive competition. You could be joining Howard Kendall’s squad to listen to his pre-match pep-talk in the home dressing room, warming-up on the famous Goodison pitch with Everton greats like Peter Reid, Paul Bracewell and Graeme Sharp – then most spectacularly of all, running out under the floodlights to play the final 10 minutes of the match against a side of Barca greats. It is a unique prize, and it could be yours. All you need to do to enter is answer the question shown here correctly
Which Spanish club has Howard Kendall managed?
a) Real Sociedad
b) Real Betis
c) Athletico Bilbao
To enter, simply text: EFC (answer) to 80210*. The closing date for entries is Friday, March 23. The match itself is the highlight of Heritage Week, with all the money raised from the match going to the Everton Collection Charitable Trust.
The Trust was founded in order to raise the funds necessary to secure the David France Collection – the most comprehensive collection of football memorabilia relating to one club in the world. In the week that Everton showcases its rich and unique history, you could become a part of that very same history by taking to the pitch. The match against Barcelona will be held at Goodison Park on Wednesday, March 28 and will kick off at 7.30pm. Tickets are available at £10 for adults, £5 for OAPs and Under-16s from the box office at Goodison, or by calling 0870 442 1878.
The Heritage Week will open with an exhibition at Goodison Park on Sunday (March 25) when fans will have the opportunity to see a taster of what will become the Everton Collection (free admission). The exhibition will take place at the Captain’s Table Lounge in the Park End Stand, with doors open from 10am to 4pm.
A celebration dinner with the Everton and Barcelona teams will take place at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Liverpool on Tuesday, March 27, the evening before the game.
* Each entry costs £1.50 plus your standard network rate. By taking part in the competition you agree to the terms and conditions available on
‘Faddy can still rescue his season’
Mar 21 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
JAMES McFADDEN has taken a significant step towards salvaging his season after stepping up his rehabilitation programme. The Everton striker broke the fifth metatarsal in his left foot in freak circumstances last January – he was playing head tennis at Bellefield – and there were initial fears the injury would scupper his hopes of being involved in the Blues’ push for Europe. But even though he will have to suffer the disappointment of not being involved in Scotland’s Euro 2008 double header against Georgia and world champions Italy this week, it is not all doom and gloom for McFadden. His latest check up with Everton’s medical staff has shown that the break has healed as expected and the player is now back running every day with physios at Bellefield and could be back in contention for a starting place within the next three weeks. Though Everton’s next game at Aston Villa on April 2 is likely to come too soon, Alan Irvine has been thrilled with McFadden’s progress and would not be surprised if things significantly accelerated between now and then.
“Faddy is doing really well at the minute and that is pleasing to see,” said Everton’s assistant manager. “Though we don’t think he will be ready for Aston Villa, there are almost another two weeks before we play again and it is too early to say.
“The progress that he is making at the minute is very good and if he keeps making such progress, who knows? He is a fit lad and it won’t take much to get him ready again. It will be a really big boost when we have him back.” Hopes had been high that McFadden would make a significant impact this season, particularly after he starred in a number of Everton’s warm-up fixtures, but a number of frustrating episodes have resulted in him making just eight starts. Sidelined for a month after tearing his hamstring on international duty last September, the 23-year-old was stupidly sent off in Everton’s 1-0 Carling Cup defeat against Arsenal for swearing and then failed to hang on to his starting place before Christmas. However, Irvine does not feel all is lost for McFadden and with another eight games of the campaign remaining, he reckons there is still time for him to have an impact as Everton’s push for a UEFA Cup spot gathers pace. “Faddy was excellent in pre-season,” Irvine agreed. “But unfortunately one or two things have stopped him doing what we thought he might be able to this year. It’s been very frustrating for everyone. Hopefully, though, he can still make a contribution this year.” International call-ups means there is only a skeleton crew at Bellefield for the next couple of days but that won’t stop the Blues fielding a strong reserve side against Manchester United tomorrow night. Nuno Valente, Tony Hibbert, Alessandro Pistone and Andy van der Meyde will all play.
Go back to the drawing board
Mar 22 2007 Blue Watch by Miles Shackley, Liverpool Daily Post
HATS off to Sir Brian Mawhinney for literally making me splurt mouthfuls of tea across the table the other day, much to my good lady’s chagrin. Mawhinney’s well thought out plans of rewarding mediocrity with even more points down in the badlands of English football mustn’t pass without comment. Sir Brian, as I’m sure you will have already read, has come up with the revolutionary idea of taking drawn games to penalty shoot-outs. Both sides earn a point with the shoot-out winner picking up an extra one. Football fans love the excitement of penalty shoot-outs,” he went on record as saying, although I personally wasn’t consulted. Who are these people that think they can change for the better a game that has been the opium of the masses for over a hundred years? Who think that with a gentle tweak here and a twist of the footballing spanner there, they can improve a game that has been doing pretty well off its own back for more than a century? Cast your minds back to the Arsenal v Everton game at the Emirates earlier this season. Everton took the lead, narrowly missed out on a second and then spent the remaining 70 minutes on the back foot. Arsenal snatched a draw, and the press roundly and universally pilloried Everton for playing ‘anti-football’ for the sake of a draw. Now just imagine if we’d won the penalty shoot-out. We’d have been canoeing home on a Fleet Street generated river of puritanical, self-righteous tears. It has been a long time since regulation introduced into football has improved it for the better. Other than the back-pass rule, the relationship between rule change and improvement in the game has been inversely proportional.
It’s bad enough that players can’t celebrate as they see fit or goad opposition fans any more. It beggars belief that a side can finish sixth in its division and get promoted at the expense of a side which finishes three places above them. But of all the potential rules that could be changed, the current points system, one that rewards a team for not losing and triples up for a team who actually goes out and tries to win, should remain sacrosanct and beyond any tinkering. At the moment – and I’m applying the rule change to the Premiership here – if you draw every single game, you get 38 points and you get relegated. Now imagine if you do that and win all your penalty shoot-outs.
You’re looking at finishing between second and fourth on 76 points. It would almost be worth it to see what any of the current ‘big four’ would make of being diddled out of Champion’s League football (and there’s another one, rule fans) by Wigan.
The footballing powers-that-be are in the extraordinarily privileged position of shaping the future of this once-great game of ours. The Mawhinnys of this world ought to be rewarded for their endeavours with directions to the nearest exit, played out to the theme tune of Laurel and Hardy before they do irreparable damage.
Cahill’s fugitive brother arrested in Sydney
Mar 22 2007 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
THE brother of Everton star Tim Cahill fled the UK for almost two years after allegedly blinding a man in a street brawl. Sean Cahill, 28, jumped bail and flew home to Sydney before a trial but is now set to be extradited back to the UK.
Metropolitan police have been working with Australian counterparts to find Sean Cahill since he vanished in 2005 while his brother was playing for Milwall.
He is accused of injuring the man outside a cab rank after a night out with his younger brother Chris. Today, a spokesman for Tim Cahill said the player was not involved in the incident and was in Liverpool at the time. He added that it was a private matter for the Cahill family. Sean Cahill pleaded not guilty to assault at Croydon crown court but then flew to Sydney before the proposed trial date in May, 2005. When Metropolitan police realised the amateur footballer had breached his bail they issued an arrest warrant. He was tracked down on March 9 and has been in custody until extradition back to the UK in the next few weeks. The two brothers had been in Bromley nightclub Delano’s on the evening of the alleged assault in July 2004.
The victim received nerve damage to one of his eyes and, despite the best efforts of hospital specialists he lost the sight in his eye. The 28-year-old man from Orpington also lost his trade, as well as having to go through extensive dental treatment.
Sean Cahill, who had been living in Bromley, was once a promising goalkeeper for Sydney football team Parramatta Power. A 2004 article in Australian newspaper The Age said Sean Cahill was planning to settle permanently in the UK and was set to join the police force and begin training in January 2005. A spokesman for the Metropolitan police said: “We can confirm we have been told that Sean Cahill has been arrested in Sydney and agreed to return to the UK. He is in custody.” The Cahill brothers’ father Tim Snr is a London-born ex-sailor who borrowed £3,000, putting his family into debt, to fund 16-year-old Tim's move to London to play for Millwall. Tim Cahill has a younger brother Chris who is also a promising footballer. A spokesman for Everton FC declined to comment.
Terrace talk is a step backwards
Mar 22 2007 Sports View by John Thompson, Liverpool Echo
IT’S often said in legal circles that hard cases make bad law.
In other words, it is always wise to avoid making radical or dramatic changes on the back of a sudden shocking event or tragic set of circumstances which seem to cry out for them. Far better to let the emotion seep away and examine the whole picture more calmly and forensically, before deciding whether sweeping change really is such a good idea after all. But there’s an exception to every rule, and maybe the Hillsborough Disaster was one. If the horrific death-trap squalor of the Leppings Lane end at Sheffield taught us one thing, it was that football fans everywhere deserved to be treated like human beings, not herded cattle. Cue the late Lord Justice Taylor.
As almost everyone acknowledged in the aftermath of Hillsborough, the terraces had to go. And in pinning the blame for Hillsborough squarely on a tragic loss of police control, Taylor also articulated an undeniable case for all seater stadia at football’s top level. His legacy is that Britain’s top clubs now have some of the best facilities in the world. Fans are safer, better policed and far more comfortable as spectators.
But Everton chief executive Keith Wyness is one of many who believes it has perhaps all come at a price. And the atmosphere at many matches has suffered as a result.
Most people would agree Wyness is right. A heaving Gwladys Street at Goodison or a swaying Kop at Anfield evoked special days and magical memories which many still mourn for. But for all those fond memories, it must be remembered there were others less cherished. Like lines of men urinating publicly against a wall just yards from a counter where staff sold pies and drinks to other fans. Or like theft, fainting and tumbling down banks of steps in fear. The truth is, standing at football matches, for all its romantic attraction, lends itself to a poorer footballing culture. And that culture which we consigned to yesterday would begin to return if the terraces were restored.
Ultimately, it is down to clubs and fans themselves to find ways to bring real atmosphere to games where it’s gone missing. And it can be done. The atmosphere at Goodison on Sunday was pulsating well before Andy Johnson thumped home a last gasp winner. In the minutes that followed, the place was electric. Across Stanley Park, many Reds acknowledge the best ever atmosphere came not during the days of the standing Kop, but two years ago when Chelsea visited in the Champions League semi-final. Barcelona a fortnight ago, wasn’t bad either. So while the demise of the terracing has meant the loss of atmosphere at some grounds and games, sad as it is, it has been a price worth paying. Bringing back standing fans would simply be a retrograde step. And even though standing could be made safer than it used to be, there must surely be better ways of engendering the atmospheres which are admittedly crucial to football’s core appeal. Let’s explore those ways with open minds and creativity. That’s because bringing back standing fans would be a mistake for a game that has come on leaps and bounds from those so called good old days.
Gunners debut has inspired Vaughan
Mar 22 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
JAMES VAUGHAN spent his childhood idolising Arsenal’s star-studded strikeforce so to be handed a full debut against the Gunners was beyond his wildest dreams.
And having grasped his chance to impress with both hands in last Sunday’s dramatic Goodison Park victory, the 18-year-old compared the experience to the day when he etched his name into Everton folklore two seasons ago. The England Under-20s striker, of course, is the youngest player ever to score for Everton but since he propelled himself into the limelight against Crystal Palace on April 10, 2005, Vaughan’s chances to impress have been few and far between. A serious knee injury decimated the player’s hopes of figuring prominently last year and, more often than not, he has found himself at the back of the queue behind Andrew Johnson, Victor Anichebe and James Beattie during the current campaign. Happily, though, Vaughan’s patience was rewarded against Arsenal and he could not have made a better impression alongside Johnson; there were no signs of nerves despite coming up against established international defenders Kolo Toure and William Gallas.
Now Vaughan has set his sights on playing a part in Everton’s push for a UEFA Cup spot but has admitted it will take a while for his debut to sink in. “It was a good performance from the whole team and I just wanted it to carry on and see if we could get a victory, which we did in the end. It was a good result,” said Vaughan. “I don’t get nervous, I was just excited. I haven’t played from the start before and it was a dream of mine to start for Everton and I just want to keep it going now. “Arsenal were one of my favourite teams growing up, so it was even more special to play against them. It was just good to get the victory in the end. “I was celebrating just as much as the boys on the field, don’t worry about that! It was a brilliant feeling to know that we had beaten them. “It goes along with scoring on my first appearance, those two days – I will never forget them, so it is special.”
Osman focused on Blues’ rise
Mar 22 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
LEON OSMAN believes Everton hold outstanding claims of winning the league within a league – especially if they repeat their big game performances until the end of the season. The Blues moved to within a point of fifth-placed Bolton after last Sunday’s victory over Arsenal and remain on course to bring European football back to Goodison Park next year. Though he accepts that overhauling the eight point gap that separates Everton from a place in the top four may prove difficult, Osman stresses that he and his team-mates are ready for the challenge. Getting past Bolton, however, remains the first objective and having remained unbeaten against Liverpool and Arsenal in the Premiership this year, Osman feels that David Moyes’ squad will finish best of the rest if they remain consistent on the run-in. “Definitely,” said Osman today. “If you look at some of the results that we’ve had this year - taking four points off Arsenal and Liverpool, beating Tottenham at White Hart Lane – we are going to the big teams and taking more points off them than they are off us. “If we could just be consistent and beat the so-called lesser teams, we wouldn’t be far away. We have got to concentrate on ourselves. We have gone back up a couple of places and we are chasing Bolton now. “That has got to be our first target. We just want to pick up as many points as we can. If we can get ourselves ahead of them, we’ll reassess what we are aiming for.” With an international break to contend with this weekend, there is frustration around Bellefield that Everton do not have a chance to build on their efforts against Arsenal. Osman, though, doesn’t think there will be a hangover when they return at Aston Villa on April 2. “We’ve beaten Watford, drawn with Sheffield United, had a big break then come back and beaten Arsenal,” said Osman.” We are trying to keep the lads together and keep the momentum going. “It’s hugely difficult to come back after a long break and we have got another one coming up. It's frustrating as when you are getting the right results, you just want to keep going.
“We know that April is going to be a really busy month for us. We have just got to deal with. We believe we are going to get a result every game we play. ”
Everton will take a strong reserve side to Hyde this evening when they face Manchester United’s reserves and it was confirmed last night that the Premiership clash between the two sides on April 28 will now kick off at 12.45pm, rather than noon as had been scheduled.
Predator Johnson - only reason to watch England distraction
Mar 23 2007 by Miles Shackley, Everton supporter, Liverpool Daily Post
INTERNATIONAL football – two words guaranteed to have me scurrying around our place attempting to put up shelves and fixing household bric-a-brac that I’ve been putting off for months. In short, it’s rubbish and only ever offers proper entertainment when it’s at the knock-out stage of a major tournament. Even then, that’s mostly because it provides the opportunity to see moody, handsome continental men crying at full-time like a bunch of Jessies. However, there’s added interest for Evertonians this weekend in that Andrew Johnson may be playing for England, and possibly even in his correct position as a striker. I quite like the speedy striker. He’s integral to the way Everton play and most of the bright spots of this season have focused around him.
Strikers are meant to be headline grabbers, and he’s certainly generated most of ours, good and bad, this season. It’s nice to hear of him being spoken of in terms of England’s potential next big thing. Not because I feel any affiliation with the national team – far from it. But it’s just reward for what has been a satisfying, if a little stop-start, first season for Johnson in the dapper Royal Blue. It’s tempered somewhat by the fact that we’re Everton and bad things have a habit of happening to us.
Our last big names to pull on the shirt for England both cleared off to bitter rivals shortly after announcing themselves on the international scene, earning themselves a place in some of the more unpleasant songs of the Gwladys Street choirboys for their efforts. It seems unlikely that Johnson will be following them down that path just yet.
The greater concern is that he’ll have lumps kicked out of his legs in the last minute of a game that England are cruising through and miss our final push for the European places. While Bolton are beginning to fade and Reading can’t qualify for Europe on account of them being both a football club and a hobby, Tottenham’s stealthy assault on the heady heights of fifth place won’t have gone unnoticed in the Moyes household. For Everton to cement a European place, we’ll need as many potential match-winners as possible to be fully fit for the remainder of the season. Johnson’s importance to Everton cannot be overstated at present.
Blues’ treat for boys in tug-of-love
Mar 23 2007 by Mary Murtagh, Liverpool Echo
TWO brothers caught in a transatlantic tug of love are back in Liverpool supporting their favourite team. Louis and John Tod are spending their Easter holidays in their home town and got the chance to catch their footballing heroes in action at Goodison Park on Sunday. The boys, who are keen Evertonians, were special guests of the club for the day and watched the Blues beat Arsenal. Louis, 12, and John, eight, are hoping to get to every match when they leave Florida and return to Liverpool for good this summer. Their father Jeff said: “The kids had their best day of their lives. I have never seen them so excited and delighted. We almost didn’t make the match because our flight from Florida was delayed. “But Louis was so determined to get there he went on the internet and found us another flight. “It was the first time John had ever been to an Everton match so he was over the moon. They were singing and jumping up and down. “It‘s wonderful for all three of us to be back in Liverpool.” The boys were caught up in a custody wrangle between their Merseyside father Jeff and American mother Leslie. Their fight to stay in Liverpool took them to the high court in London, but they were ordered to return to Florida in May 2005. Mr Tod ran up a £25,000 legal bill in his custody battle and the right for his children to return to Liverpool.
Now the boys’ mother has renounced her claim to her sons and given written permission for them to come home after almost two years. The boys will return to Liverpool after finishing their Florida school year in May. John cannot wait to rejoin pals at Knotty Ash primary school, and Louis is hoping to go to St Edward’s College.
Fagan robs the Blues of point
Mar 23 2007 by Our Correspondent, Liverpool Echo
RICHARD WRIGHT and Tony Hibbert both played against Manchester United reserves, but were unable to prevent Brian McClair's side from taking all three points.
James Vaughan and Victor Anichebe were both on international duty, so Kieran Agard and John Paul Kissock played in attack. Keeper Wright had to be alert early on as both Sean Evans and Chris Eagles had chances saved. Stephen Connor and Agard went close for the visitors but saw their efforts fly wide of United’s goal. Connor then beat United’s Kieran Lee and pulled the ball back for Bjarni Vidarsson, who forced a great save from Tom Heaton. Despite playing well Everton couldn't find a way through United’s defence in the first half and the second showed no sign of changing fortunes. In fact, it was United who began to dominate the game and they went close through Eagles and Fabian Brandy before they struck with nine minutes remaining. Substitute Chris Fagan got on the end of Eagles’ cross and fired the ball home from inside the box. This was the first of two games in the space of six days against United as Everton play them again at the Halton Stadium next Tuesday.
MANCHESTER UNITED RES: Heaton, Lee, Eckersley, Chester, Lea, Drinkwater, Mullan, Evans, Brandy, Eagles, Barnes (Fagan76). Subs unused: Burns, Zieler,Derbyshire, Bryan.EVERTON RES: Wright, Hibbert, Molyneux, Irving, Dennehy, Connor, Phelan, Vidarsson, Agard, Kissock, Kearney. Subs unused: Morrison, Ruddy, Harpur, Downes, Spencer
McClaren must be given time
Mar 23 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DEPENDING on who you have been listening to recently, Steve McClaren will be seeking alternative employment if England come a cropper against Israel.
While McClaren’s start to life as head coach has been less than impressive, whatever happens in Tel Aviv he must be given a good bit longer to show whether he is up to the challenge, even if the knives are out. It takes time for a new man to come in and implement his own ideas. Sure, he was Sven Goran Eriksson’s assistant but that doesn’t mean to say he will have agreed with all his methods. He will want to try a different approach and it doesn’t just happen over night. Surely, though, England have sufficient talent to come good against Israel? The atmosphere is bound to be lively tomorrow evening but whoever McClaren chooses to start with must be professional enough to deal with it. One thing certainly in McClaren’s favour is that he will go into the game with two forwards in blistering form and, hopefully, we will finally see Andrew Johnson given a chance to prosper in his best position. Injuries have denied him the chance to play for his country a couple of times this season and on another occasion he was shuffled out onto the right wing. As we know, however, he is a completely different proposition played through the middle. His confidence will be high after the last-gasp goal he scored against Arsenal and Johnson is certainly a player who will be appreciated by his team-mates, given the amount of hard work he puts in during a game. Phil Neville has claimed that, at the minute, there is no better finisher in the Premiership and while that may be a generous assessment, he is certainly in the top three and is definitely improving. It could be quite an exciting partnership between him and Rooney. If they hit it off as anticipated, I’m sure England will be able to stroll to six points from their qualifiers with Israel and Andorra. Even if they don’t happen to be on top form, I still think England will be too good – McClaren will be keeping his fingers crossed that is the case.
Lescott joins ex-Blues stars at Adelphi
Mar 23 2007 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
THIS column has occasionally made reference to footballers who have failed to turn up for fans presentation evenings So it’s only proper to point out when they do.
Joleon Lescott was a current star in amongst the sea of former players at last night’s ninth Hall of Fame celebration. And while he declined the invitation to speak (these Adelphi gatherings can make the Nuremburg Rally look like a whist drive) he looked suitably stunned by his high octane reception. David Moyes, however, did put it into words. “If you change, the club changes,” he declared. “We signed Andrew Johnson and Joleon Lescott last summer. “I couldn’t tell them we had the greatest stadium with the best facilities, and I couldn’t tell them we had the best training ground, but I could and I did tell them we had the best supporters.” For report and pictures see tomorrow’s Football Echo.
Naysmith ready to fight for his place
Mar 23 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
GARY NAYSMITH is ready to vent his frustrations on Georgia tomorrow after missing out on Everton’s biggest win of the season. Though the Scotland international began the season in terrific form, he has found starting chances hard to come by since damaging his medial ligaments in a 1-1 draw at Newcastle in September.
Having suffered the ignominy of being a substituted substitute in the 2-1 home defeat against Tottenham last month, Naysmith bounced back with impressive displays against Watford and Sheffield United, yet he dropped down to the bench for Arsenal’s visit. That prompted talk north of the border that he might consider his options at the end of the year, but Naysmith has rubbished suggestions he’s unhappy. “I’m fit now but not playing every week for Everton,” said Naysmith, who has started just five of the Blues last 13 matches. “I’ve played two of the last three and am fully fit but I was back on the bench on Sunday for the Arsenal game. “I’ve not had as many games as I would have liked but with the transfer window shut there's no point in worrying about it right now. “I’m looking to these Scotland games, the Premiership run-in and then the summer trip to the Faroes. “Beyond that, I’ve not really looked. We do know, though, that if we can get a couple of results over the next three games then next season could be a massive year for Scotland. “Two good results against Georgia and Italy would give us one hell of a chance of qualifying. Meanwhile, Everton’s latest recruit, Lukas Jutkiewicz, is counting down the days to when he can finally launch his Goodison Park career. The Swindon Town striker will join the Blues this summer after the two clubs agreed a £500,000 deal last week. “Obviously I’ll be sad to leave but career-wise you'd be crazy to turn down an opportunity like this,” said Jutkiewicz.
“It’s definitely about grasping the moment whenever an opportunity like this presents itself.”
Manchester United Res 1, Everton Res 0
Mar 23 2007 Liverpool Daily Post
EVERTON Reserves lost the first of a double header with Manchester United in the space of six days as the home side scored the only goal after through substitute Chris Fagan’s strike nine minutes from time. Everton had Richard Wright and Tony Hibbert in their line up and the goalkeeper had to be alert early on as both Sean Evans and Chris Eagles saw chances saved. Stephen Connor and Kieran Agard went close for the visitors but both put their efforts wide of United’s goal. Connor then beat United’s Kieran Lee and pulled the ball back for Bjarni Vidarsson who forced a great save from Tom Heaton. Despite playing well Everton couldn’t find a way through United’s defence and with just nine minutes remaining substitute Chris Fagan got on the end of Chris Eagles’ cross and fired the ball home from inside the box Everton play United at the Halton stadium next Tuesday.
MANCHESTER UNITED RES: Heaton, Lee, Eckersley, Chester, Lea, Drinkwater, Mullan, Evans, Brandy, Eagles, Barnes (Fagan76): Subs: Burns, Zieler, Derbyshire, Bryan EVERTON RES: Wright, Hibbert, Molyneux, Irving, Dennehy, Connor, Phelan, Vidarsson, Agard, Kissock, Kearney Subs: Morrison, Ruddy, Harpur, Downes, Spencer
Exhibition of France Collection
Mar 24 2007 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON’S Heritage Week kicks off tomorrow – with a special exhibition of artefacts from the David France Collection. The Captain’s Table Lounge at the Park End of Goodison Park will be host to some of the rarest items of football memorabilia . . . including the FA Cup and the old Canon League Championship trophy.
The Exhibition is open between 10am and 4pm and entry is free. The Heritage Week is the centrepiece of the fund-raising efforts by the Everton Collection Charitable Trust to secure the France Collection for public ownership. Having taken a quarter of a century to assemble, it has been described as the most comprehensive collection of football memorabilia. The Everton Collection Charitable Trust is endeavouring to raise the funds necessary to secure the collection, combine it with the memorabilia already in place at the club and showcase it in the Liverpool Records Office
The Lord Mayor of Liverpool Cllr Joan Lang, Lord Grantchester and David France will officially open tomorrow’s Exhibition. Every 20 minutes during the day fans will be able to watch the Charitable Trust's Patron, Alan Ball, introduce a short film on the Everton Collection. Fans will be asked to buy raffle tickets to win a limited edition box set of a Barcelona/Everton shirt and a signed copy of David France's book.
Visitors will also be able to have their photograph taken with the FA Cup and the Canon League Trophy by the Trust's official photographer in return for a donation of £5 to the Trust. Everton Collection Charitable Trust trustees Lord Grantchester and Tony Tighe will take part in a question and answer session at 12 noon and at 3pm.
A team of former Everton stars will take on a team of Barcelona legends at Goodison on Wednesday night. Entry on the night is by ticket only, which will be on sale up until an hour before kick-off - price £10 adults, £5 juniors and OAPs.
I went through same as Newell
Mar 24 2007 by John Aldridge, Liverpool Echo
MIKE NEWELL has come in for some fierce criticism in the past few days from disgruntled Luton Town supporters, who are furious after it was claimed he profited personally from transfer deals. Given he had blown his top prior to being sacked, voicing his dismay that he had not seen a penny of the £9m he had generated from selling his best players, it is easy to see why some fans will brand Mike a hypocrite.
I can, however, understand exactly where Mike is coming from. It must be emphasised he has done absolutely nothing wrong but the fact that he had a clause inserted in his contract giving him 10 per cent of all outgoing transfer fees leaves himself open to criticism. Some chairmen put such clauses in contracts to keep managers sweet when the time comes to cash in on talent. But Mike had clearly got to a point where things have got on top of him and he could stand no more.
It is a situation with which I am familiar. St Patrick’s Day marked the sixth anniversary of my leaving Tranmere Rovers and, when the time had come to go, I had similar grievances. Don’t forget, we sold some tremendous players. Alan Rogers, Ian Moore, Steve Simonsen, Kenny Irons, Ged Brannan and John McGreal were just a handful of the names who left Prenton Park and it was a case of having to sell to survive, as we brought in around £10m in transfer fees. Some managers are quite happy to let that happen. Indeed, there is one individual in the North West who is known in the lower leagues as “Mr 10 per cent”. He is quite happy to see his players come through and take his bonus down the line. He’s been doing it for years.
But, as Mike will know, when you are ambitious and want to build a team, it gets to the point where things just get on top of you and become impossible to tolerate. If you are the type of person who wears your heart on the sleeve, sooner or later there will be an eruption. I just hope that this does not prove detrimental to Mike’s hopes of gaining employment. He has done a terrific job for Luton and he deserves to prove himself somewhere else. All being well, he will bounce back stronger for the experience.
In memory of Brian
Mar 24 2007 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
BRIAN LABONE missed his first Hall of Fame gathering since he helped create the concept nine years ago. But his name was everywhere at the Adelphi Hotel on Thursday night. The life of Everton’s dearly departed skipper was celebrated at the Hall of Fame dinner, renamed the Brian Labone Awards Night in his honour.
Daughter Rachelle was present to accept an award from Blues’ boss David Moyes – and many of Labone’s friends, team-mates and fans were there too.
Moyes’ first visit to this uniquely Evertonian evening five years ago saw fans hanging onto his arms and shoulders as he strode into the crammed hall. On Thursday, they were hanging onto his words. “If you change, the club changes,” he said. “We signed Andy Johnson and Joleon Lescott last summer. I couldn’t tell them we had the greatest stadium with the best facilities, I couldn’t tell them we had the best training ground. But I could, and did, tell them that we had the best supporters. That’s you.”
Moyes was presented with an award to commemorate his five years in charge of the club, Joleon Lescott turned up to collect the Young Player of the Year award, while Moyes accepted the Player of the Year award on behalf of Mikel Arteta. But there were also numerous off-beat awards. Graeme Sharp collected the Goal of the Century award for his Anfield volley in 1984, the Manager of the Century award went to Howard Kendall, there was a special award to Ball-Harvey-Kendall, all of whom were present, and Gordon West was named the ‘Best goalkeeper Brian Labone played in front of’ – some claim, given Labone played in front of Gordon Banks when he made THAT save from Pele! There was an award for Bill Kenwright, and a presentation to Dr David France, the founder of the Hall of Fame evenings and the Everton Former Players Foundation. There was also a ‘Sandy Brown Award’ for the most spectacular own goal of last season. It was awarded to Phil Neville – and David Moyes dropped it! “Phil has really got into life on Merseyside,” said Moyes. “He went out for an evening in town recently for the first time which, because he used to play for another big club not far from here, he was a little wary about. He had a wonderful night and can’t wait to go out in Liverpool again.” Among the Everton stars past and present at the Adelphi were: Alan Ball, Colin Harvey, Howard Kendall, Joe Royle, Jimmy Husband, Tommy Jackson, Alex Young, Alan Whittle, Roger Kenyon, Gordon West, John Bailey, Graeme Sharp, Tony Cottee, Jim Pearson, Martin Dobson, Gary Jones, Dai Davies, Frank Darcy, Alex Parker, Derek Temple and Ray Wilson.
‘Braveheart’ Stubbs is an ageless hero
Mar 24 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
IT was the Saturday before Christmas and, shortly after the final whistle had blown at the Madejski Stadium, two of Reading’s backroom staff were seen shaking their heads in disbelief. While they had no complaints that Everton were worthy 2-0 winners that afternoon, they were overheard grumbling about the Blues’ good fortune. Why? Alan Stubbs had been injured during the pre-match warm up and was unable to play.
Their school of thought centred around the veteran defender lacking mobility and that Everton would be vulnerable if they targeted him. More fool them. While Stubbs’ legs may not move as quickly as they used to, his speed of thought is sharper than ever before. Having racked up 567 games during a career that took him from Bolton to his spiritual home of Goodison Park via stints with Celtic and Sunderland, Stubbs has amassed such experience that suggestions he would leave himself exposed to pace border on the farcical. Not to mention disrespectful. Though Father Time may have looked to have caught up with Stubbs in an ill-fated spell with Sunderland, since returning to Goodison 14 months ago he has barely put a foot wrong. Take last Sunday’s performance against Arsenal. While Andrew Johnson may have grabbed the headlines with his last-gasp winner and Lee Carsley won a richly-deserved bottle of the sponsors’ bubbly for his efforts, Stubbs’ mammoth contribution cannot be overlooked. “He was fabulous,” said assistant boss Alan Irvine, as he was reminded of Stubbs’ ice-cool dummy in the dying minutes. “I feel defenders improve with age and that is certainly the case with Stubbsy. He is a fantastic professional and has such experience.” Experience that will prove priceless in the next few weeks. As the chase for a UEFA Cup spot intensifies and the games come thick and fast, Everton will need bravehearts like Stubbs to keep things on an even keel, as much as they need sporadic flashes of brilliance. No wonder, then, that there has been talk that Stubbs - and another unsung hero Lee Carsley - will be given the chance to extend his stay at the club for another 12 months, once his current deal expires in the summer. Though it might be expecting too much to figure in every fixture - he candidly admitted after his Herculean performance in the Merseyside derby that it now takes between three and four days to recover from a game, Stubbs still has much to offer. Apart from being one of the first you would want to stand alongside in the trenches, it should come as no surprise that Joseph Yobo and Joleon Lescott have come on in leaps and bounds with the 35-year-old alongside them. Surely it would not be a surprise if a place on Everton’s coaching staff beckoned for Stubbs when he hangs up his boots? He and David Moyes may not have seen eye to eye in the past but differences have been buried and Moyes appreciates the worth of his teak-tough son of Kirkby. So, too, do his team-mates. Of course, it is only natural for artists like Johnson, Mikel Arteta and Manuel Fernandes to be crowd pleasers, but artisans such as Stubbs - men who take defeat as a personal affront - are worth their weight in gold. If people are prepared to underestimate him, he could even emerge as Everton’s secret weapon in the race for Europe.
Incoming striker relishing Johnson link-up
Mar 24 2007 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
TEENAGE striker Lukas Jutkiewicz is already looking forward to linking up with Andy Johnson next season. Everton have agreed an undisclosed fee to bring the 18-year-old Swindon Town starlet (pictured left) to Goodison this summer.
And despite just 11 league starts to his name, the youngster is already aiming high.
“Obviously I'll be sad to leave Swindon,” he said “but career-wise you'd be crazy to turn down an opportunity like this. "It's definitely about grasping the moment whenever an opportunity like this presents itself. “There are a lot of really good players in the Football League that have, maybe through no fault of their own, missed the chance – they didn't take it and it hasn't come around again. "The first thing I heard was two weeks ago. I was pulled into the manager's office and he told me a bid had been made and the club had accepted it. "He asked me which club I thought it was and obviously I didn't have a clue – and he told me it was Everton. "It took me a while to get my head around it but I'm just really excited. This time last year I hadn't even made any appearances for the first team so it's come about really quickly."
AJ is here to stay - Wyness
Mar 26 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
ANDREW JOHNSON was today keeping his fingers crossed that he gets another chances to impress for England - as Everton slammed the latest speculation linking with a move away. The Blues record signing was substituted during England’s dismal 0-0 draw with Israel on Saturday evening and yesterday mentioned as being a potential target for Tottenham and Arsenal this summer. However, Everton chief executive Keith Wyness was unequivocal that Johnson will start the new campaign at Goodison Park and said: “I can only imagine this (speculation) comes from an erroneous story in one national newspaper a couple of weeks ago. “There is absolutely nothing in it. AJ has made it quite clear that he is happy here and we are absolutely delighted with him.” Having scored 12 goals for the Blues since his record breaking move from Crystal Palace, Johnson had hoped to carry that form up to international level as he made his first start for England in the Ramat Gan Stadium. Chances to break his duck, though, were few and far between and he made way for Jermain Defoe late on but hopes that he has done enough to warrant another start when England face Andorra in Barcelona on Wednesday evening. “At this stage in my career, I don’t think it gets any bigger than starting an England qualifier,” said Johnson.
“Steve McClaren is a top manager and to hear those comments before I joined up meant a lot. It feels like I’m more part of the England set-up than maybe I was 18 months ago.” Phil Neville, meanwhile, has admitted that even if England win for the first time in five matches against Andorra, success will have a hollow feel to it.
The aim before travelling to Tel Aviv was to get maximum points from their two qualifiers, but that is not possible now and the Everton skipper knows England face an uphill battle if they are to clinch a place at Euro 2008. “It was a better performance in Israel than in some recent games but the result was still disappointing,” said Neville. “We did everything but score a goal. We didn’t take our chances when they came and at this level you have to do that. “We wanted six points from the two games this week and now we can only get four and we’re all disappointed. Israel just got men behind the ball, played really deep and didn’t show any kind of ambition to win the game after the first 10 to 15 minutes. “It really was there for us to go on and win the game but we couldn’t do that. “Andorra is now a must-win game and one we’ve got to score a few goals in. “We need to show a lot more invention and creativity to break down another stubborn team.”
Everton Res 1, Man United Res 2
Mar 28 2007 Liverpool Daily Post
ANDY VAN DER MEYDE played for the majority of the match as Everton Reserves lost 2-1 to Manchester United in the FA Premier Reserve League Northern Section at the Halton Stadium last night. The Dutch international winger was looking to prove his fitness as he attempts to return to David Moyes’s first team line-up on a regular basis. He played for 78 minutes before being replaced by Irish Academy forward Aidan Downes. Van der Meyde was involved in most of the first-half action in a promising display. After enjoying a number of early chances Everton took the lead on the stroke of half-time. Shaun Densmore back-heeled to Steven Morrison and his cross was met by London-born forward Kieren Agard, who headed past Tom Heaton in the United goal. But the visitors were level soon after the re-start. Sam Hewson’s free-kick was headed home past John Ruddy by Craig Cathcart. United were much the better team in the second half and Ruddy in the Everton goal had to make a couple of good saves including one to deny Hewson. The United captain then put his side ahead when Eagles’s shot was deflected and Hewson was on hand to put the ball past Ruddy. Everton put on some pressure at the end but to no avail.
EVERTON RESERVES: Ruddy; Densmore, Kearney, Irving, Dennehy; Phelan, Morrison, Vidarsson, Agard, van der Meyde (Downes 78), Connor. Subs: Harpur, Jones, Spencer, Elder.
MAN UNITED RES: Heaton; Eckersley, Lea, Chester, Cathcart; S Evans, Lee, Hewson, Mullan; Eagles, Burns. Subs: Barnes, Zieler, Drinkwater, Fagan, C Evans.
Mar 29 2007
How important are veteran stars Alan Stubbs and LeeCarsley to the Blues future?
IF you read Everton's match day programme, the players say that Carsley is the joker and Stubbs is the moaner. That makes them important players both on and off the field, even though they're closer in age to Moyes than Vaughan or Anichebe. In big games this season Stubbs' experience has stood out and both Yobo and Le-scott look better playing alongside him. We would be mad not to extend his contract for another season, bearing in mind how few centre halves we have and the fact that he is a100% committed Blue.Carsley's workrate makes him another vital squad member. His consistent performances this season have often been overlooked but you can't fail to notice, particularly in away games, the number of opposition attacks he breaks up. Although the average age of the team has dropped under Moyes, which is obviously agood thing, we still need experienced players if we're going to continue to compete for Europe. HANNAH BARGERY, Widnes
CARSLEY and Stubbs are both important players and offering them new contracts is definitely the right thing to do this summer. At the start of the season Stubbs was only asquad player and I thought Carsley had lost ayard of pace and was being overrun at times. But in the last few months, especially when the squad has had injuries and suspensions, they have come to the fore and their experience has been invaluable. They were both outstanding against Arsenal. Stubbs is a Blue through and through. His passion for the club and experience can only help the younger players. Carsley's experience too will rub off on younger players like Fernandes and he is a good professional to have about. Both players will be valuable assets in the coming year, especially if we qualify for Europe. They may not play as much as they would like, but we need to keep as many players as possible. The two of them would be very hard to replace . JAY TYRELL, Woolton
THERE have been times this season when having Stubbs and Carsley in the side has forced us to play certain players out of position but we do benefit from their great experience. Looking back at the Arsenal game, Carsley was fantastic. His reading of the game was great and he looked far better than Arsenal's multi-million pound midfielders. In some games Carsley has not fitted in and with the loss of Tony Hibbert at right-back, it has meant Phil Neville could not take up his preferred role in the middle of the park. But Carsley deserves a lot of credit for the last couple of months and he has been an invaluable member of the squad. As for Stubbs, even when he doesn't play you can see he has an effect on Yobo and Lescott. Those two have improved with every game and when Stubbs does play Everton seem alot stronger. New 12 month contracts for Carsley and Stubbs would be well deserved. GARETH SCOTT, West Derby
THE business end of the season usually throws up a few questions for Everton fans. Will we get relegated? Is the top 10 a possibility? Europe maybe? Do you reckon Jorg Albertz will sign? And should the elder statesmen of the team get a new contract? The elder statesmen have become a rare, dying breed at the sanctuary that is Goodison Park. Big Dunc went last summer, tears a plenty, while Davie Weir left this January, his head held high and with a nice final pay packet from Rangers. That leaves two, Alan Stubbs and Lee Carsley. Both, when needed this season, have been excellent. Carsley has been an ever present when fit, battling and scrapping his way through matches and taking no prisoners -just ask Tim Cahill! He deserves a year on his current deal but Stubbs is different. Yes, he's been immense when called upon, but can he last another year in the Premiership? Anyway, I hear that Albertz fella can play centre half too! KEN STEWART, St Helens
Everton 3, Barcelona 5
Mar 29 2007
Past masters show their class in vintage display
by Ian Doyle at Godison Park
PLAYERS from the past did their bit to help secure Everton memories for the future on an enjoyable evening at Goodison last night. While England toiled against Andorra in Barcelona, those with common sense instead watched a team of veterans from the Catalan heartland and their Everton counterparts serve up a goalfest. The fixture was the centrepiece of Heritage Week, a series of events organised by the Everton Collection Charitable Trust as part of the fundraising initiative to acquire the David France Collection. Receipts from the game will be used to help purchase the collection, part of which was on display at Goodison at the weekend and is widely regarded as the finest collection of football memorabilia relating to a specific club.Everton have donated £250,000 to the Trust and Lord Grantchester a further £100,000, meaning the appeal was already almost halfway towards the £800,000 target required before this week. For those Evertonians that made up a modest crowd, last night was a chance to see heroes of yesteryear back at the venue where they made their names. Managed by Howard Kendall, Everton’s line-up boasted championship winners such as skipper-for-the-night Dave Watson, Peter Reid, Paul Bracewell, Ian Snodin, Adrian Heath, Kevin Richardson, Alan Harper, Neil Pointon and Graeme Sharp. And while what’s left of the hair on many of the players may be approaching the colour of the white shirts they were wearing last night, Everton’s old boys were not treating the game lightly, something particularly evident when Snodin left Javier Villena in a heap early on. Veterans football is taken seriously in Spain and Barcelona – packed with La Liga winners – demonstrated the skills and silky passing that was the cornerstone of their success during the late 80s and early 90s. Sharp and Heath’s striking reunion lasted 13 minutes before the latter made way for Stuart Barlow, still plying his trade in the lower leagues. And Sharp was on the end of the first real chance moments later, but couldn’t quite stretch enough to meet Graham Stuart’s right-wing cross at the far post. For all his talents, Bracewell scored only 10 times in almost 150 appearances for Everton. So when the midfielder blazed wildly over the bar when put clear through and then shot at goalkeeper Pere Mora after a clever Sharp pass, there were some wry smiles among the home fans. Barcelona’s Enrique Estebaranz showed how it was done with a fine hat-trick. On 25 minutes, he ran half the length of the field before chipping cleverly over Bobby Mimms, fired home a tremendous volley two minutes before the break and tapped in soon after the restart. Lluis Milla made it four from 20 yards, but the biggest cheers of the night came when Watson headed in Stuart’s free-kick midway through the second half and Stuart then scored himself soon after. Everton supporter Scott Fenney lived the dream after winning a competition to kick-off the game and appear as a late substitute, during which time Mike Newell pulled another goal back before Pointon conceded a penalty from which Jordi Rebollo completed the scoring. The result, though, was immaterial on an evening when everything was for the right cause.EVERTON: Mimms (K O’Brien 69), Harper, Watson, Snodin, Pointon, Stuart, Reid (Richardson 46), Bracewell (M O’Brien 61), Beagrie (Fenney 80), Sharp (Newell 46), Heath (Barlow 13). Sub: Newell.
BARCELONA: Mora, de la Cruz (Serrano 46 (Navarro 75)), Sanchez (Nogues 62), Blanquera, Navarro (Priego 46), Milla, Delfi, Villena, Alonso (Rebollo 33), Oscar, Estebaranz. Subs: Zuviria, Ramos.
REFEREE: Mark Halsey.
It'll take more than vague words to scupper Kirkby
Mar 30 2007 by Mark O'Brien, Everton supporter, Liverpool Daily Post
THERE'S a bit of a macho saying, probably used by city types with red braces, bizarre spectacles and those horrible shirts which have coloured bodies and white collars and cuffs, that goes something along the lines of, "Money talks and, well, the other stuff walks." And for all Councillor Warren Bradley's wishes that Everton would share a stadium with Liverpool and remain within the city boundaries, it would appear that it is Tesco money -every little helps - that is doing all the talking at the moment.
Quite frankly it seems a little bit late now to start making vague wistful statements about what would be nice when Keith Wyness and the Tesco people are making up plans and talking actual figures. There might very well be commercial partners who like the idea of teaming up with Everton, but you would have to ask what exactly they have been doing since the Kings Dock fell through. Whether you are appalled by the thought of Everton moving to Kirkby, or anywhere away from Goodison for that matter, it is undeniable that Terry Leahy and co. are in the habit of getting things done.
Even if the American owners of Liverpool FC do wish to 'sweat their asset' and are amenable to sharing with Everton, there is still the question of where exactly we would raise the money from to pay for their half. The nub of the matter is always going to be the fact that the land in Kirkby is available for basically nothing while Tesco are apparently going to shell out for the majority if not all of the costs of the ground itself, or so we are led to believe. You don't have to be Gordon Gecko to work out that represents a decent deal. That's not to say it's the right decision for the long term future of Everton football Club as we know it - not by any means - but it is easy to see why the powers that be seem to find it so alluring. So anyone wishing to change their minds and make the dreams of Cllr Bradley and many other Evertonians come true really needs to look at pulling their finger out awfully quickly.
Moyes: Neville can lead Blues into Europe
Mar 30 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES today backed Phil Neville to emerge from a difficult week by leading Everton’s push for a European place. The Blues captain returned to Bellefield this morning along with Andrew Johnson, the pair having been part of England’s squad for the Euro 2008 qualifiers against Israel and Andorra. Though Neville started the 0-0 draw in Tel Aviv, he was dropped as England chased a goal and then failed to figure in the 3-0 victory over the Andorrans in Barcelona. Moyes, though, knows his international contingent return to a training ground bursting with confidence and knows the former Manchester United man will not suffer any kind of hangover when Everton face Aston Villa on Monday. Neville only became Everton’s club captain after David Weir joined Glasgow Rangers during the transfer window and Moyes feels the role is bringing the best out him as a person and a player. “It doesn’t really concern me what other people outside the club think,” said Moyes. “Everyone here knows what he gives the team, both as a player and as captain. “Phil is still relatively new here and I expect that he will get better the more he gets to know the place. “But the good thing about him is that he had been around a winning team before he joined us and we hope that attitude will rub off on others.” Everton will step up preparations for the trip to Villa Park over the weekend once Moyes has checked out all those who have been representing their countries. Apart from Neville and Johnson, Gary Naysmith, Joseph Yobo and Lee Carsley were also in action. There is a possibility that Tony Hibbert will figure at Villa, but it looks unlikely that Andy van der Meyde will be involved after he claimed Moyes had “told lies” about his fitness. Moyes has taken a dim view of the interview van der Meyde conducted with a Dutch newspaper and said: “In the wake of Andy van der Meyde’s comments, I think it is important that I set the record straight. “Andy did not have a knee injury in the days leading up to the game against Arsenal and at no point did I suggest he had. I selected the squad which I believed to be right for that particular game.”
Revenge is Yobo aim
Mar 30 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DURING the momentous campaign that culminated with a fourth place finish two seasons ago, Villa Park provided the setting for one of the most memorable Everton performances in recent years. Slick, quick and bursting with endeavour, a final scoreline of 3-1 did not accurately convey Everton’s dominance that afternoon over a hapless Aston Villa side that spent much of the 90 minutes chasing shadows.
Last year’s visit, by contrast, was one to file away under the title ‘instantly forgettable’; coming smack in the middle of a catastrophic run of form, Everton were beaten 4-0 and looked like a side destined for a fight against relegation. Supporters making the trip to the West Midlands on Monday evening will certainly be looking for a repeat of the former display, as the Blues look to keep their push for a UEFA Cup spot on track and Joseph Yobo has confidence that will be the case. Having just returned from international combat with Nigeria, Yobo is ready to launch himself into the final six weeks of the campaign that he hopes - like every other Blue - will yield a passport to Europe that their form since the turn of the year deserves. Rapidly homing in on his 150th Everton appearance, Yobo signed a contract last season that should see him serve the best years of his career at Goodison Park and he is only too quick to point out how much the club has progressed during his time on Merseyside. “Since I’ve been here, we’ve only really had one bad season where we were close to relegation,” said a man who was David Moyes’ first signing in the summer of 2002. “We have such strong characters here. Even when we are not playing well, we always speak up. “That’s what good teams do. You can’t play well all season but we have shown good character. I am ready to give it my very best. A European place is what I have wanted and the team have wanted since the start of the season and we’re right there now. “There is still a long way to go but we are in the top six. It’s the last period of the season now and we have four or five teams who are breathing down our necks. It’s going to be very difficult but we are in the position where we want to be. Hopefully we will be there at the end. “Right now we are still in the hunt for a place in Europe and we'll try to achieve it. “We had a little blip earlier on, but we are not far away and if we keep doing what we are doing, we will get there. Looking at the players we have got, we should be playing for a European place every season.” Of the players whom Yobo speaks so enthusiastically about, Manuel Fernandes comes in for some particularly handsome praise. That, however, should not come as a surprise, given the way he has settled in so quickly. ne of the many contenders to be named man of the match in a win against Arsenal that could provide Everton with the impetus to push on, the Portugal international made a positive impression in his first training session and has not looked back. “Everyone has welcomed him,” said Yobo, who like Lee Carsley, has started every Premiership game this season. “That’s the thing about this place. It’s more like a family club and that’s good for team spirit. Players settle in quickly and Manuel is a good addition to the squad.” Villa came out on top when the sides met at Goodison in November, with Chris Sutton scoring the only goal, but since then Martin O’Neill’s men have struggled badly, winning just two of their ensuing 19 fixtures. But while it may appear to be the perfect time for Everton to make the relatively short hop down the M6, Moyes is warning that their most recent effort against Arsenal will stand for nothing if they do not follow it up. With six games in 30 days, April will be the month that makes or breaks Everton dreams and Moyes knows that if they are not going to be left broken hearted in the final reckoning, his players must secure back-to-back wins for the first time since last September. “We know that we have got to be ready for the next game,” said Moyes, whose side have only lost twice in the Premiership since December 23. “We enjoyed the win over Arsenal, but it has gone now and this is going to be a big month for us.
“We are pushing for Europe but it is far too early to say what might happen. It’s going to be a tough call with the games that we have got coming up, starting against Aston Villa. But we have got good players and the results we have got have given us confidence. We will see what happens.”
Never mind trouble with the neighbours
Mar 30 2007 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
IT isn’t just Z-Cars Everton share with Watford. According to a recent feature in The Hornets’ programme, they also share a philosophy. The article provided independent endorsement of an argument many Blues fans have pushed for decades, and which could be paraphrased by one fans’ flag, hauled up in Villarreal in 2005. “Sorry we’re late. Trouble with the neighbours.” As a stand alone banner, it was light-hearted and funny, but the flag underlined a deeper, more victimised feeling at the heart of Evertonian thinking, that Liverpool were to blame for the club’s trials and tribulations since the last truly great Everton team graced Goodison Park. The argument suggests that the Heysel outrage was the root of Everton’s subsequent fall. But for the European ban, the argument runs, Howard Kendall wouldn’t have left to manage Athletic Bilbao, Gary Stevens and Trevor Steven wouldn’t have jumped ship for regular European football with Rangers, and the side voted European Team of the Year in 1985 would almost certainly have gone on to win the European Cup. Perhaps. The fact is, we’ll never know. Nottingham Forest kicked off the 1980s with back to back European Cups, and were relegated a decade later. You could point out that Everton willingly and prematurely off-loaded the finest goalscorer of his generation, without a long-term replacement. But regardless of the injustice of the ban they served, Everton have enjoyed two European campaigns since. Both have been crudely short-lived. In 1995 a Cup Winners Cup campaign came crashing down at the hands of Feyenoord. A decade later the Blues ran into a Villarreal team which was much better than anybody thought, and a referee who wasn’t as good as everybody thought. Then the consolation of a qualifier for the UEFA Cup spectacularly self-destructed in Bucharest. Hopefully lessons have been learned.
Mac should not have walked out
Mar 30 2007 by Howard Kendall, Liverpool Echo
STEVE McCLAREN is going to have to develop a thick skin if he is to cope with being England manager – however long he has left in the job. When someone takes such a high profile position, receiving criticism is something that goes with the territory, particularly if results go badly. It’s bad enough when you are a league manager but what else does he expect given that he is in charge of the national team?
Personally, I don’t think he did himself any favours by walking out of his Press conference, having fielded just two questions following the win over Andorra. He’s got to realise that he must have a relationship with his critics. It all made me think about the time when things were getting very sticky for me during my first spell in charge of Everton; leaflets were being distributed saying it was time for me to go and crowds were down, so it was only to be expected that criticism would follow in the papers. Some of what was written didn’t make pleasant reading and after reading one report that said I was on the verge of being sacked, I took umbrage with the local reporters and banned them. That ban lasted all of three days. Why? I knew I couldn’t win and that it was a pointless exercise. Part of a manager’s job is to promote the football club positively and keep fans informed of what is going on, and it didn’t take long for me to realise that I had made a mistake. There are occasions, though, when you have to make a point. Maybe McClaren felt he was doing that by just answering two questions, and if he can move on from here, so be it. He has to if he wants to make a real go of it. The only way to calm things down is to win matches and win them well; it might not have been the greatest performance against Andorra but three points gives him some breathing space.
Don’t settle for sixth
EVERTON return to Premiership business on Monday evening and I’ll be surprised if they don’t go close to taking three points in the west Midlands. Expectations have been high at Villa Park following Martin O’Neill’s arrival last summer and many supporters will be disappointed that Villa have not done better. Given O’Neill’s track record, you would have thought they would be in the top eight at least. That is not the case, however, and Everton could not have a better opportunity to push on from the win over Arsenal - overhauling Bolton must be the prime objective now, rather than settling for sixth place. There will, of course, be games on the run-in where Everton slip up, but I don’t envisage this being one of them. As long as the mentality is right - and the Blues must approach this game the same way they did Arsenal - they shouldn’t have much trouble. MIKE NEWELL has had a tough time of things in the past couple of weeks and it didn’t get any easier for him when he walked into the dressing room at Goodison Park on Wednesday. After his sacking by Luton, he was just expecting to slip in unnoticed, but as soon as the door opened and I spotted him, that was the end of it: "You wouldn’t make much here, Newelly lad," I told him.
"Why gaffer?" came the response. "Just have a look around you," I said, pointing to the old boys who were getting ready to face Barcelona. "You wouldn’t get tuppence for this lot!"
Liverpool’s own school of football excellence
Mar 30 2007 by Tony Barrett, Liverpool Echo
As England’s footballers come under increasing pressure, Tony Barrett discovers the shared West Derby origins of two real scoring heroes
IF Cardinal Heenan High School in West Derby was ever to consider a name change it could do a lot worse than St Saviour’s. After all, two of its former pupils were the saviours of the English national team when they overcame Andorra on Wednesday night. Both Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard and Preston North End’s David Nugent got their names on the scoresheet in the 3-0 win and both attended Cardinal Heenan as teenagers. Statisticians are currently plundering the history books in a bid to find out if this was the first time two ex-pupils of the same school scored in the same England match. But, regardless of the results of their research, staff and pupils at Cardinal Heenan will quite rightly continue to toast the pair as national heroes. So how do you go about producing not one but two goalscoring England internationals, particularly at a time when such players are about as common as rocking horse droppings? Headteacher Dave Forshaw insists there is no secret magic formula. “There is no secret,” he says. “Obviously, the bulk of the credit has to go to the individuals because they have the talent and determination that you need to succeed at such a level. “But with our facilities and our staff, both Steven and David were able to develop their sports skills and we are all delighted to see them doing so well.” There may not be a secret formula but staff at Cardinal Heenan are undoubtedly doing something right when it comes to producing the stars of tomorrow. Including Gerrard and Nugent there are currently 12 former pupils plying their trade for clubs in the English leagues, a figure which is, at the very least, comparable with the number of players produced at many of the academies run by some of the biggest clubs in the country. “We have had a good reputation with regards to football for a number of years so there are lots of talented footballers out there who want to come here,” says Dave. “But once they are here the main thing is that we offer them a variety of sports, including rugby, swimming and athletics, which means they are kept fresh for football while also building up other skills which will benefit them.” Gerrard was a pupil at the school from 1991-96, with Nugent joining in the year the future Liverpool skipper left before ending his time there in 2000. As far as Dave Forshaw is concerned both showed the qualities that have taken them all the way to the top from a very early stage. “I suppose the thing that marked them both out was their determination and their will to succeed,” he recalls. “Both of them were very talented athletes. David was actually an excellent long distance runner and Steven was a very good tennis player. “I suppose it was more obvious that Steven would go on to become a footballer because when he came here he already had the academy background. “In David’s case he was not as naturally gifted as Steven but he was just as determined and he would never give up.” Sports teacher Mark Greaves was thrilled when he sat down in front of his TV set to watch England take on Andorra and saw two former pupils steal the headlines. “Having them playing together for England is brilliant in itself,” he says. “But for both to score in the same match is the icing on the cake. Most of the teaching staff were watching and I know they were all very proud, as well.” Dave Forshaw was among those who tuned in and he admits to jumping up and down when Nugent scored – even though “Nugget” had taken the goal off one of his Spurs heroes. “I’m a Tottenham fan,” he admits, “so when Jermaine Defoe had the shot and it looked like it was going in I was cheering. “But then I saw David running in and stealing the goal on the line and I was cheering even louder. “It was a great moment for David and a great moment for the school. “It’s always nice to see a former pupil doing well but to see two former pupils doing so well for their country makes it extra special.” Cardinal Heenan has already made its mark in English sporting history but the school is not ready to rest on its laurels. “We’ve got quite a few talented footballers with us at the moment,” says Dave, before reeling off a list of kids who could make it in the future. Watch this space – at this rate it won’t be long before score lines like Cardinal Heenan 3 Andorra 0 become a regular occurrence.
Johnson deserves to play for England – Moyes
Mar 31 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES has predicted that Andrew Johnson will continue to play a significant role in England’s push for Euro 2008 despite drawing blanks against Israel and Andorra. Wayne Rooney is banned for England’s next qualifier against Estonia in June but under-pressure head coach Steve McClaren could have plenty of options up front by then. David Nugent, Peter Crouch, Darren Bent, Jermain Defoe and, possibly, Michael Owen may all be pushing to play in Tallinn, but Moyes doesn’t think Johnson should worry. With 12 goals to his credit this season, Johnson has impressed his boss at club level. And Everton’s manager believes it is only a matter of time before he breaks his duck for England and scores with the same frequency as he does for his club. “I have tried not to pay too much attention to things,” said Moyes. “but what I do know is that Andrew Johnson deserves to play for England. “And that’s down to the way he has played for Everton. That’s how you get in any international team – by playing well for your club. “If he keeps scoring goals for Everton, he will continue to be selected for England. I wasn’t in Andorra, so I don’t really know what happened. “But Andy and Phil [Neville] are fine and they understand the situation. They are proud to play for their country and I’m sure they’ll continue to do that.” The Blues will step up preparations for Monday night’s trip to Villa Park over the next couple of days, but just one member of Everton’s squad will be in action over the weekend. Iain Turner will look to continue his good run of form for Sheffield Wednesday this afternoon against Crystal Palace, another side with whom he has had a loan spell. Wednesday boss Brian Laws would love to sign Turner on a permanent basis but Moyes has made it clear he wouldn’t entertain doing a deal. “Iain is on loan and will return here at the end of the season,” said Moyes. “He won’t be going anywhere, and Sheffield Wednesday know that. ”Meanwhile, Moyes says he has no plans to sign Crewe’s highly-rated defender Billy Jones.
Stubbs mission puts respect for O’Neill on hold
Mar 31 2007 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
ALAN STUBBS has never hidden the esteem in which he holds Martin O’Neill, but he is ready to heap misery on his old boss as Everton’s European challenge gathers pace. When he was in charge of Celtic, the Aston Villa manager made things as easy as possible for Stubbs and his family when he was fighting testicular cancer and he was similarly benevolent when the chance to join Everton arose for the defender in 2000. His deeds all those years ago will ensure Stubbs has nothing but a kind word to say about O’Neill but, as the race for a UEFA Cup spot intensifies, the only thing on the 35-year-old’s mind at present is extending Everton’s recent good form. Nearly two weeks have passed since Andrew Johnson’s dramatic late winner against Arsenal, yet the buoyancy that goal generated has not subsided; Everton’s players are straining to be let off the leash again. Thrilled by a performance that, on occasions, saw the ball shuttle between Blue shirts with the same fluency of their esteemed opponents, Stubbs knows victory at Villa Park on Monday evening would keep things ticking along nicely. Stalking fifth-placed Bolton Wanderers, he and the rest of Everton’s squad have set their sights on leapfrogging his old team and if they can do that it would, he says, put the gloss on a season of solid improvement. “I think we acquitted ourselves very well against Arsenal,” said Stubbs. “I think we had a really good blend. We passed the ball well but when we had to be physical we were. That’s all part and parcel of football and it was just a good performance all around. “I still think it’s a bit too early to say where we will end up. Maybe we are just that bit out of reach to push for fourth place. Unless one of the teams above us have a really bad run and it looks like there are just too many points separating us. “But if you look at the overall season, if we were to finish fifth in May, that would be an absolutely fantastic achievement. It just goes to show how much things can change around in a month. Not so long ago, there were a few questions being asked of us.
“We were just on the fringes and maybe we were struggling to find a bit of consistency but we have put a really strong run together, we’ve found that bit of consistency and put ourselves a point behind fifth place. “All credit to everyone here because it has taken a big effort. The fans have got high expectations and it is up to us to try and deliver for them. With the run that we have been on, we have given ourselves a real good chance of doing so.” This wily old professional, however, is quick to sound a note of caution. David Moyes may be close to having a full complement of players available again, but with six fixtures to cram in before the end of April, resources could be stretched to breaking point. “March was a bit of a mad month,” he continued. “We have had to wait a fortnight from the Arsenal game to get going again but all of a sudden we are going to see the games coming at us thick and fast. “With the size of the squad that we have got, it’s going to test us. But if we can come through April well, we won’t be far away from being where we want to be come the end of the season. We’ve got to keep together.” If Everton can bring European football back to Goodison Park - and the next 14 days will be crucial to ambitions - Stubbs feels it will be another significant step on the road to changing the way the club is perceived in certain quarters. He was in the starting line up when Moyes first took charge of the team in March 2002, when the Blues’ sole target was preserving their top flight status. Fast forward to the present day and things have changed dramatically but Stubbs feels this is just the start. “The big thing that I can say about the five years he has been here is that we are not now an ‘up-and-down’ team,” Stubbs observed. “When the gaffer first came here, it was all about holding on and trying to stay in the Premiership. “The following season was a good one but then it was a struggle again. Over the last couple of years, though, we have started to establish ourselves as a strong top 10 team and I think now people are seeing us a team that can challenge for a place in Europe. “That is progress. Three or four years ago, people would not have thought about us in that way. The money situation here means that building is going to be a slow process but we are definitely going the right way. “We made two fantastic signings last summer in AJ and Joleon and have followed that up this winter with Tim Howard, who I believed was a ‘must’. “If we can get into Europe this year, hopefully we will make a couple more signings like that in the summer.”
McClaren action is self-defeating
Mar 31 2007 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
WITHOUT wishing to heap more criticism on Steve McClaren’s sagging shoulders, I was at odds with both the England coach’s assessment of his side’s performance last weekend and the opinion of TV studio pundits Glenn Hoddle and Jamie Redknapp.
They claimed that England had played well, created a wealth of chances and deserved a comfortable victory. I didn’t see that at all. To me it looked like an unbalanced team playing within itself without any pizzazz or flair. I know that international football is not always about those qualities and that it is very much a results-based business, but part of the problem is that Steve McClaren has sent out some very dull line-ups. His team selection is usually stilted and usually always prefers the safe option. Even against Andorra, when he did make changes, he didn’t really ‘go for it.’ I think that is part of the reason the England fans have taken such exception to his management. I’m a great believer in square pegs in square holes selection policies and a bit of honesty does not go amiss. England should be beating Israel, even away from home, and should not be labouring for almost an hour to score against Andorra. No matter what Brian Barwick or any number of ex-managers say, England fans will have their say and Steve McClaren has done himself no favours with his conduct at the post-match press conference on Wednesday night. For someone who pays so much attention to his media persona – where every smile, twitch and tic is carefully coached – to walk out of a press conference after two questions is tantamount to committing professional suicide. He has effectively given the press free rein to voice their opinions and anyone who might have had a modicum of sympathy for him will have turned against him. With difficult games to come, he has effectively invited more pressure on himself and his players.