Everton Independent Research Data


Everton 2 West Brom 0
Mar 2 2009 by Chris Beesley, Liverpool Daily Post
AT HOME to the division’s basement team, on paper this was Everton’s easiest Premier League fixture of the season. But as everyone knows, games are won and lost on the pitch not on paper. That’s just as well for David Moyes’s side, because just one look at their horrific injury list this season would be enough to fool you into thinking that the campaign should be a write-off. Everton’s Finch Farm must resemble a field hospital more than a training complex these days, and Moyes could be forgiven if he abandoned drilling his side at all between matches and ordered his stars to stay at home wrapped in cotton wool. Yet there can be no escaping the dangers of actually taking to the field in Premier League combat itself. With trips to Newcastle possessing more stamps than philatelist French president Nicolas Sarkozy then the Goodison Park outfit are always going to run the risk of adding to their growing list of crocks.
While play-maker Mikel Arteta’s sickening injury was one of those blameless incidents that seemed so innocuous at the time, the sickening challenge by Kevin Nolan that looks like keeping Victor Anichebe on the sidelines for the season along with the Spaniard was inexcusable and looks worse with every viewing.
Nolan’s red card tackle at St James’ Park will go down as the most infamous moment from a match that for footballing reasons was unremarkable. But there was another ‘over the top’ challenge that went relatively unnoticed from fellow Merseysider Ryan Taylor which subsequently prevented Jack Rodwell from training last week and forced the teenager to sit out the Baggies’ visit on Saturday. With such a series of setbacks to so many of their players, teams with lesser resolve would have cracked by now but, fortunately, Everton’s walking wounded have coped admirably throughout adversity to date and the nature of the Premier League table this term suggests that a third successive UEFA Cup qualification should be secured come May. But it’s FA Cup glory these success-starved fans dream of the most. They’ll be hoping that Middlesbrough peaked a week too early but even though the Teessiders’ quarter-final visit to Goodison Park was another two games away, the prevalent chant from the home support against Tony Mowbray’s side remained the defiant Cup anthem ‘We shall not be moved’. Publicly Moyes maintains that doing well in their ‘bread and butter’ matches remains his priority but he nevertheless rested Joleon Lescott from this encounter in order to prevent the risk of the defender picking up a booking which would rule him out of the last eight tie against Gareth Southgate’s troops. In doing so, the Birmingham-born defender missed out on his chance play in the most consecutive matches of any Everton player from signing for the club.Although five of his appearances have been as a substitute, before Saturday Lescott had featured in all 129 Everton games since he arrived from Wolves in 2006. Perhaps increasingly motivated by the fact that he missed the Molineux club’s sole Premier League season in 2003/04 due to a serious knee injury which led Everton to renegotiate the terms of his protracted transfer, the England international hates to miss out on playing and it was ironic that his run ended against his former employers’ Black Country rivals.
Lescott was actually set to come off the bench when Louis Saha netted, but the two-goal cushion prompted Moyes to withdraw Jo for Segundo Castillo instead.
So instead the 26-year-old, who fought back from being hit by a car as a child to become a professional footballer, saw his sequence halted six games shy of Everton’s first FA Cup-winning captain Jack Taylor, a man killed in a motor accident in 1949, who played in 135 consecutive fixtures after arriving at Goodison Park in 1896.
Although Lescott stepped down, Moyes opted to start with Phil Neville despite his skipper also walking a disciplinary tightrope ahead of the Middlesbrough game.
Tim Cahill and Tony Hibbert, who were both suspended for the previous weekend’s trip to Newcastle were restored but enjoyed contrasting fortunes. The Australian thought he had volleyed Everton ahead when he connected with a left-wing cross from Leighton Baines but his effort was ruled out for a push on visiting skipper Paul Robinson. Hibbert lasted just 26 minutes before becoming the latest player to succumb to Everton’s injury jinx when he picked up a thigh strain and was replaced by another team-mate returning to fitness, Leon Osman. However, 10 minutes later Cahill did score a goal that counted as he headed in another delivery from the left by Baines, this time from a free-kick, with hapless Scott Carson still leaving observers wondering just how he got near to the England squad by being caught in no-man’s land and running into Marouane Fellaini. Unsurprisingly it wasn’t the only collision that the Belgian midfielder was involved in on the day and his now obligatory booking arrived early in the second half following a foul on substitute Jonathan Greening who had only been on the pitch for a matter of moments. Seemingly doomed West Brom have picked up just a single point out of their last 30 on their Premier League travels and haven’t won at Goodison Park for 30 years. They almost netted an equaliser when their most likely attacking outlet, substitute Luke Moore, flicked on a header by Ryan Donk, from a Chris Brunt right-wing corner, only to see his goal-bound effort scooped off the line by Phil Jagielka with Tim Howard catching the ball. The Baggies continued to press on the counter and James Morrison capitalised on a slip by Cahill to drive forward and work an opening past Joseph Yobo, who attempted to jockey him, but dragged his effort across the face of goal.But for all the visitors’ workmanlike qualities and their persistence in a positive approach which will win them far more friends than points this season, they do not possess a top-class match-winner like Louis Saha. Manchester United don’t make a habit of letting their best players go, but Moyes has profited on several occasions in recent years in taking on Sir Alex Ferguson’s fringe squad members. Phil Neville is now a club stalwart, a captain who is a leader both on and off the field. In goalkeeper Howard Everton have finally found the much-anticipated long-term successor to Neville Southall.
Saha’s body no longer allows him to operate at the highest level on a consistent week-in, week-out basis, but when he is fit his class is still there for all to see. The French striker sealed the points on 69 minutes when, receiving the ball with his back to goal from Steven Pienaar, he turned to fire an instinctive left-foot finish into the bottom right-hand corner of Carson’s goal. There was still time for Moore to rattle Howard’s crossbar but any fightback looked impossible. As long as Moyes can continue to get any given 11 men on the park on any given matchday then his battling Everton side will remain a match for most of the Premier League. Who knows, the way things are going the lesser-spotted Lars Jacobsen might even make it on to the pitch sometime soon.

Everton 2 West Brom 0: A moment of magic
Mar 2 2009 by James Pearce, Liverpool Echo
IT’S fair to say the DVD of this one won’t be flying off the shelves.
But if the sign of a good side is the ability to win when not at their best then Everton certainly fitted the bill at Goodison on Saturday. It wasn't pretty but crucially the Blues got the job done and kept their push for Europe firmly on track. No-one thought life without Mikel Arteta was going to be easy and the artistry of the Spaniard was undoubtedly missed as Everton struggled to break down the Premier League's bottom club. However, in his absence Louis Saha stepped up to the mark and suggested if it's inspiration the Blues are after then he could be the man to provide it in the coming months. The Frenchman settled what was becoming an increasingly nervy contest with a moment of true class midway through the second half. It was a glimpse of why Manchester United shelled out nearly £13million for him five years ago. Injuries have cruelly hampered the 30-year-old's career and he has been limited to just eight starts for the Blues since he signed last summer. A hamstring problem meant he hadn't played at Goodison since November but the substitute appeared keen to make up for lost time as he slammed a sweet 20-yarder past Scott Carson. Saha needs to be wrapped in cotton wool because if the Blues can keep him fit he will have a crucial role to play in their push for a top five finish and FA Cup glory. His strike triggered a collective sigh of relief after the plucky Baggies had threatened to cancel out Tim Cahill's first half header. Victory extended the Blues' impressive run to just one defeat in 15 games in all competitions dating back to early December. Their success is built on firm foundations with that sequence including a remarkable 10 clean sheets.
In fact the Blues have conceded just three goals in their last 11 league games, with Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United the only sides able to penetrate their defences. Tim Howard's goal led a charmed life at times on Saturday but a combination of solid defending, expert goalkeeping and a slice of good fortune kept West Brom out. Phil Jagielka produced another faultless display at the centre of the rearguard but the real star of the show was Leighton Baines. The defender has had to be patient over the past 18 months but he is now clearly relishing an extended run in the side. Saturday was his 13th successive start for the Blues and on current form there is no better left back in the Premier League. He always looked likely to be the Blues’ best hope of carving out a breakthrough as he provided a great outlet down the left flank and linked up well with Steven Pienaar. It was Baines' pinpoint delivery from a free-kick that allowed top scorer Cahill to nod home his eighth of the campaign on his return from suspension. The Aussie took full advantage of some shocking marking and comedy goalkeeping from the hapless Carson.
That arrived 10 minutes before the break and it was a case of third time lucky for Cahill who had seen an earlier strike disallowed for a foul on Paul Robinson before scuffing another chance straight at Carson. The goal was tough on West Brom who had enjoyed the better of the opening half hour. David Moyes has made no secret of his dislike for early kick-offs and it's easy to see why. Predictably, the atmosphere was flat and that was reflected in a dour spectacle. The toothless Baggies appear doomed but there's no doubt their neat passing and slick build-up play is easy on the eye.
Scottish international James Morrison and Slovenian Robert Koren caused problems with their attacking bursts, while on-loan striker Marc-Antoine Fortune was twice denied by Howard. The loss of Tony Hibbert with a thigh strain forced Moyes into an early reshuffle with Leon Osman making his return from injury and Phil Neville switching to right back.
The change actually aided the Blues with Osman clearly keen to impress. His tireless efforts provided a welcome injection of energy into the home side's midfield on a day when the injured Jack Rodwell was sorely missed and Marouane Fellaini struggled.
The Belgian contributed little and picked up a 12th yellow card of the season for a needless foul before making way for Saha in the second half. It was also a disappointing afternoon for Jo who struggled to keep possession and was largely a peripheral figure. However, just as his two-goal home debut against Bolton didn't make the Brazilian a world beater, it would be unfair to make any swift judgements about him on Saturday's showing. Cahill's goal jolted the Blues into life and Pienaar almost added a second after a neat one-two with Fellaini, but after the break it was West Brom who looked the more likely to score. The fact they didn't was largely down to Jagielka who expertly shackled the speedy Jay Simpson and was on hand to clear off the line after substitute Luke Moore had glanced Ryan Donk's header goalwards. Morrison and Koren also went close as the Blues' passing became increasingly sloppy and apprehension spread through the stands. Thankfully, Saha turned those groans to roars of delight as he exquisitely turned away from Abdoulaye Meite and gave Carson no chance. His celebration highlighted the spirit in Moyes’ squad as he raced to the touchline to share his moment of joy with unused substitute Joleon Lescott. The defender had played in every game for Everton since arriving from Wolves prior to the start of the 2006/7 campaign but his run of 129 successive appearances was ended by Moyes' fears he might pick up a booking to rule him out of next Sunday's FA Cup tie with Middlesbrough. Pienaar should have added a third late on after a great pass from Baines, while at the other end the Baggies' misery was compounded when Moore's thunderbolt struck the underside of the bar. Everton can play much better and they will have to if they are going to realise their Wembley dream. But winning was all that mattered on Saturday and it's a useful habit to have as they enter a period that will make or break their season.

Everton FC's David Moyes: Louis Saha played through pain barrier
Mar 2 2009 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
LOUIS SAHA wrapped up the points for Everton on Saturday – on one leg!
The French striker made his third dramatic intervention of the season against West Brom, following match-winning contributions against Fulham and West Ham.
But after a classy finish which sealed a 2-0 victory over the Baggies, boss David Moyes revealed Saha agreed to play despite carrying an injury. “I think you could see he wasn’t running freely,” said the Blues boss. “He told me he couldn’t run properly because of his thigh, but I asked him before the game if he thought he could give me 20 minutes and said he thought he could do it, so good on him. “He’s got ice on his thigh now and when he was asked to run I could see he was carrying it. “In the end he played about 30 minutes, but I felt at the time as if we needed a change and what he’s got is that ability to score you a goal out of very little. “He has that quality and that technique when he has half a chance. “I hope it’s more starts that I can use him in, but if not I’ll use him in what way his body is able to.” Moyes admitted he has been delighted with Saha’s contribution, despite a long lay-off with a hamstring injury picked up at Tottenham in November. “I’ve found him a very likeable lad. He’s keen to play and keen to be part of it. That’s the thing which has impressed me,” added Moyes. “I don’t see a malingerer there. I see someone who wants to play. “I think he wanted to get rid of the injured tag which he had when he came here. It seems strange saying that when we’re talking about him being injured again, but he’ll probably feel he’s made a contribution to Everton. “He might give us that little bit extra. He’s had an injury which he’s come back from and now he’s just felt something different, which happens quite regularly. “But we want him to be available, because there have been months where we’ve been playing with no options at all. “We’ve been sitting there knowing we’ve got nothing to change. But when you’ve got Louis he always makes you think maybe he can nick you a winning goal. “That wasn’t the winning goal today, but it was certainly a goal which mattered. “He’s played his part already this season and if he keeps doing that in four or five games this season it will be great.” Moyes added: “Up until the injury he got at Tottenham he’d only missed one day’s training in the whole time he’d been here. So I haven’t seen that person which maybe people think is there. “In the last month or two he’s been injured but if we get him for the remaining games it will give me something. I need people who can play centre-forward.”

David Prentice: Why Everton FC's Louis Saha is the perfect solution for Mr Fixit David Moyes
Mar 2 2009
ANOTHER week, another injury-induced brain teaser. And yet again, David Moyes unearthed another make do and mend solution. Handed a casualty list to make Florence Nightingale extinguish her lamp, the Blues boss has proved a master of the short-term fix this season. The challenge this week . . . how to overcome the absence of his squad’s most creative catalyst. Fortunately, against the Premier League’s most slipshod defence, it wasn’t exactly Times crossword material this time ­– especially for a manager who has already worked out how to win matches without any strikers this season. But it still needed solving – and once again he found a solution.
Steven Pienaar’s promising return against the beleaguered Baggies provided part of the answer. But perhaps the best long-term solution could come from a fully fit Louis Saha. Okay, he’s not a midfield general capable of chiselling out chances for other players. But he’s pretty adept at conjuring up opportunities for himself. With Everton pondering shutting up shop against West Bromwich Albion and preserving a shaky 1-0 lead, Pienaar’s forward push was little more than a hopeful prod. But with an instant clip through his heels Saha rendered his marker redundant and opened up an opportunity to shoot. It was a difficult opportunity, granted, and from a range of 20 yards hardly gimme territory either. But such was the laser guided precision of the Frenchman’s subsequent left-footed drive that Scott Carson was left diving in vain.
It’s that kind of ingenuity which can help Everton overcome Arteta’s absence.
Of course the phrase ‘long-term’ is rarely used in conjunction with the words Louis Saha unless the word injury is also included. And it was typical that the Frenchman provided a telling 30-minute cameo whilst labouring with a thigh strain. But at least his presence back in the squad offers one more option to a manager who has seen choices ripped away from him all season. Saturday’s stricken list included Yakubu, Victor Anichebe, James Vaughan, Mikel Arteta, Nuno Valente and Jack Rodwell – then Tony Hibbert had to limp off with the match 25 minutes old. But Saha was at least fit enough to offer a devastating option from the subs’ bench. And his energy and desire during that half-hour showed that debilitating though his injuries may be, there’s little wrong with his heart. Not everyone was thrilled by Saha’s impact, though. The Frenchman’s strike effectively ended Joleon Lescott’s remarkable modern sequence of 129 successive appearances since he joined the club.
Stripped and ready to enter the fray, the cushion of a second goal forced David Moyes to change his mind about introducing Lescott. “At 1-0 I thought the game was in the balance and they were putting us under pressure, so I was going to put Phil Neville back in midfield and juggle things around at the back,” he explained. “But when it was two I thought there was no point in risking Joleon in that situation so we brought Segundo on.” Cruelly, Lescott was just six games short of Jack Taylor’s club record of consecutive appearances from joining the club, set when footballers wore walrus moustaches. But with the threat of one more yellow card ruling Lescott out of his FA Cup quarter-final planning, David Moyes couldn’t afford to take that risk.
“At least I don’t need to worry about yellow cards now,” he said afterwards, referring to the amnesty which has now kicked in. That was perhaps the only thing he got wrong all day. He doesn’t have to worry about the possibility of suspensions for players hovering on four cards since the start of the season. But an individual who has now collected 12 – since mid-September – is still offering cause for concern.
Steve Bennett was in one of his more benevolent moods, but there could still be no complaints about Marouane Fellaini’s latest stupid booking. The big Belgian goes through every football match like an out of control dodgem. His collisions are never threatening nor severe, but there’s always enough of them to make even the most lenient of referees finally lose patience. The youngster – let’s not forget that we’re still talking about a 21-year-old – is still coming to terms with a new country and culture.
But worryingly he left Belgium complaining about officials pursuing some kind of personal vendetta against him. Not every Evertonian appears convinced of his playing abilities. I am. He offers aerial threat, is far from embarrassed with a football at his feet and possesses vision and a stinging shot. All of which is largely irrelevant if he spends a quarter of every season suspended. With injuries already depriving Everton, David Moyes doesn’t need to find solutions to avoidable problems. There’s only so many times he can go to the well before it dries up.

Phil Jagielka - Louis Saha has key role to play
Mar 2 2009 by James Pearce, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON defender Phil Jagielka believes Louis Saha can ease the goal scoring burden on top scorer Tim Cahill. The Frenchman marked his first appearance at Goodison since mid-November with a stunning strike to wrap up a 2-0 victory over West Brom on Saturday. With forwards Victor Anichebe, Yakubu and James Vaughan all injured and Jo ineligible for Sunday's FA Cup tie with Middlesbrough, Saha's return to fitness after nearly three months with a hamstring problem is timely.
Jagielka said: "I think if you ask anyone who has either played alongside or against Louis they will tell you he is a fantastic player. "He proved it again with a great goal. He didn't even look up and it was a top quality finish. "Injuries have meant he's not been able to play a massive amount this season but now it's important we keep him as fit as possible. "He's trained really well recently and when he joins in the five-a-side it's clear he has a hell of a lot of natural ability – he's been proving that on a daily basis. "We can't always rely on Tim for goals and Louis has a key role to play in that. If we can keep him injury-free it will be a massive bonus for us in the next few months." Jagielka admitted the Blues were not at their best against the Baggies but insisted he was proud of the resilience the depleted home side showed.
Having already lost Mikel Arteta and Victor Anichebe with serious injuries, the Blues also had to do without Jack Rodwell (thigh) and then Tony Hibbert limped off in the first half. "It was not our best performance by a long shot but more importantly we kept a clean sheet and got the three points," Jagielka said. "We set ourselves high targets and maybe we didn't reach them but in the end we're happy with a 2-0 win.
"It was a difficult week with us losing Mikel and Victor. Victor was coming into a bit of form and Mikel had been fantastic since he moved back into the centre of midfield.
"But we're not going to have them for the foreseeable future so it’s up to this group of lads to step up to the plate and take it on. “We’ve not managed to play a settled side for a while because of injuries and suspensions, and the manager had to shuffle the pack around again. “But this squad is doing well and if we keep grinding out 2-0 wins everyone will be happy.” Jagielka continued his rich vein of form with a fine defensive display but he was keen to deflect the praise for the Blues’ 10th clean sheet in 15 games. “It was Tim Howard's turn to get us out of trouble a few times,” he insisted. “Tim’s not been that busy this season but when he's called upon he's been fantastic.” The Blues’ victory helped David Moyes’ side close the gap on the fifth placed Arsenal to just two points ahead of Wednesday’s trip to Blackburn.

Liverpool FC and Everton FC's early story is to be told
Mar 2 2009 By Paddy Shennan
IT’S a unique historical collection which details the early days of Everton and Liverpool Football Clubs – and now another winning team is preparing to put it on public show. About 15 staff and volunteers in the Liverpool Record Office at Liverpool Central Library are currently cataloguing, labelling and digitising 17,000 items which will be of interest to Blues and Reds in particular, and also football fans across the country. The Everton Collection has been put together by the independent Everton Collection Charitable Trust from the previous David France Collection – which the Trust bought in 2007 with the help of Heritage Lottery funding – and Everton FC’s own archive. And since June last year, a three-year-project – again funded by the lottery – has been underway to “catalogue, conserve and promote The Everton Collection to as many audiences as possible”. The total project cost is more than £2m and lifelong Evertonian Tony Tighe, along with former Blues director Lord Grantchester, was the driving force behind the bid to secure the famous Collection of diehard Blue and private collector Dr David France. Tony says: “Our partnership with the Liverpool Record Office provides the perfect solution for this unique Collection. I am delighted that it will be in the city for evermore and that fans will finally be able to access and enjoy it – starting later this year.” Project officer Max Dunbar opened up a tiny part of the Collection’s treasure trove to the ECHO – and the word “fascinating” doesn’t even begin to describe it. From an 1886 document signed by John Houlding – Everton’s former landlord at Anfield whose rent increase led to Everton moving to Walton (and the formation of LFC) in 1892 – to the boots worn by Duncan Ferguson in the Blues’ 1995 FA Cup Final win over Man United (one of the boots has a tartan insole), the historical delights came thick and fast. They included: Everton’s earliest volume of pre-Football League match programmes – single pieces of card dating from September 4, 1886, when Everton took on Astley Bridge in a “Grand Match” at Anfield, “kick off 4.30pm sharp”. Programmes from 1888/1889 – the first season of the Football League – including the oldest existing league programme featuring Man Utd (then known as Newton Heath). A League championship winner’s medal from Everton’s first title-winning season, 1890/91. It was a year before Liverpool FC came into being and the symbol on the medal, which was produced by Everton FC, is . . . a Liver Bird. Other medals include the multi-talented Dixie Dean’s Liverpool National Baseball League Division 2 winner’s medal from 1936, Alex Young’s championship winner’s medal from 1962-63 and Brian Labone’s 1966 FA Cup winner’s medal.
The (shared) Everton and Liverpool Football Programmes. That’s right. Between 1904 and 1935, the clubs didn’t have their own dedicated programmes. Can you imagine this today? No, nor me. Everton Member’s Cards (the season tickets of their day) from 1882-83 (dark blue in colour), 1883-84 (red!) and 1884-85 (blue).
The cards included the team’s fixture list for the season. In 1882-83, for example, Everton took on the likes of Bolton, Burscough, Birkenhead, Bootle, Liverpool Ramblers, Southport, Wirral Association, Crewe, Turton, Oswestry and Northwich.
The John Houlding document, regarding the estimated cost of some building work at Anfield for Everton – to be completed by August 1886, for £34, 2s, 6d.
As Max Dunbar says: “The fact that it is signed by Houlding as well makes it very special.” Then there was . . . a photograph taken at the reception held in Everton’s honour in Liverpool Town Hall after they won the FA Cup in 1933, a wooden rattle used at the 1966 FA Cup Final and the number 3 shirt worn by Sandy Brown in the 1969/70 championship-winning season. Meanwhile, more research needs to be carried out regarding an item the team recently unearthed. It’s a ticket for an Everton-Liverpool charity match in 1885 – seven years before LFC was formed!
One theory is that the Liverpool XI may have been made up of players from several local sides – Everton’s initial rivals included the likes of Bootle, Stanley and Liverpool Ramblers. All this, together with those boots worn by Big Dunc (size 11, if you’re interested), represents just the tip of a hugely-impressive iceberg.
Other items include 29 volumes of minute books from 1887 to 1964. These ledgers – described as being “the DNA of the club” by David France – show the minutes from various committee meetings. “There’s nothing like this,” says Max Dunbar. “It’s the most comprehensive football collection relating to a single club in the world but, with the programmes and various other documents, it also brings in so many other clubs – not least Everton’s nearest neighbours.” But what happens next? Here’s what you need to know . . . The Everton Collection will be launched in September with a major exhibition, new website and learning programme. The free exhibition will take place in the Picton Room in Liverpool Central Library from September 2009 to early 2010.
The majority of the collection will be digitised over the next two years. Users will be able to read every page of every minute book on the web. Other material being digitised includes every pre-war programme, contracts, letters and cigarette cards.
The learning programme will see the Everton Collection go into schools, with education packs and online learning resources being produced to help teachers incorporate it into the national curriculum.

Lars Jacobsen may quit Everton FC
Mar 3 2009 by James Pearce, Liverpool Echo
LARS JACOBSEN has admitted he may be forced to leave Everton this summer.
The Denmark right-back is still waiting to make his Blues debut – seven months after he arrived on a free transfer from FC Nuremberg. Jacobsen suffered a dislocated shoulder while on international duty in September and since returning to fitness he has been sat on the bench. The frustrated 29-year-old was overlooked again against West Brom on Saturday despite Tony Hibbert going off with a thigh strain in the first half.
“It’s a nice club and I have some really good team-mates,” Jacobsen said.
“The only thing that is not so good is the playing time. “We will just see what happens but it is not sustainable in the long term that I do not play. I have to play some matches. “I must play in a club where I can get playing time and if I cannot stay here it must be somewhere else. “But that does not mean I am leaving. Now I will give it a chance here and will see what happens.” Jacobsen will be hoping to finally get his chance to shine at Blackburn tomorrow as Hibbert is almost certain to miss out.
The Blues’ first choice right-back is also a major doubt for Sunday’s FA Cup clash with Middlesbrough. Everton head physio Mick Rathbone said: “Tony hit the ball and picked up a thigh strain. “We never rule players out and it’s amazing what players can get through, especially players like Tony Hibbert, but he has to be a doubt for the next couple of games.” However, there was some good news for the Blues with long term absentees Nuno Valente and James Vaughan nearing a return to full training after serious knee injuries. “Nuno could be back in a couple of weeks and Vaughany in three or four weeks,” Rathbone added. Meanwhile, Everton may face New Zealand club Wellington Phoenix as part of their pre-season programme in July.
The Blues have already agreed to play A-League team Perth Glory, subject to playing at least one other team Down Under. Melbourne, Sydney and Gold Coast are also exploring the possibility of hosting Moyes’ side. Phoenix chief executive Tony Pignata said he had been approached by Everton but any deal would come down to “commercial viability”. “If it suits then definitely we’ll do it. It really comes down to dollars, and how many people we’d get through the gate. “It would be great to get teams from the English Premiership playing here.”

Everton FC swoop to sign Southend's Femi Orenuga
Mar 3 2009 by James Pearce, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON have beaten off competition from Manchester United to sign exciting youngster Femi Orenuga from Southend United. The 15-year-old midfielder will move to the Blues for an undisclosed fee after he has completed his GCSEs this summer. Orenuga, who became the Seasiders’ youngest ever player after he came on as a substitute in the FA Cup against Luton Town in November, will sign an Academy scholarship on July 1. He has the caught the eye of a whole host of Premier League sides this season and has had trials with Manchester United. However, Orenuga revealed the sight of teenagers Jack Rodwell and Dan Gosling being given the chance to shine by Everton boss David Moyes convinced him his future lay at Goodison.
“I’m really excited about the move,” said Orenuga. “When I went to Everton I saw how many youth players had gone through into the first team and I think I will have a better chance with them than some of the other sides who were interested.
“I will be sad to leave though as I have really enjoyed my time at Southend and Ricky Duncan and Luke Hobbs have really brought the best out of me. “But it was too good an opportunity to turn down. I might never get another chance to prove myself at a Premier League side.” Orenuga will continue to train with Southend until the summer and the League One outfit’s head of youth, Ricky Duncan, believes he will be a hit with the Blues. “A good youth policy produces players for the first team and sells players to other sides,” he said. “Obviously we are disappointed to lose someone of his talent but we couldn’t stand in Femi’s way. “Hopefully it will work out for him but if not then we have a good relationship with Femi and his family and there will always be a place here for him.” As part of the deal, Southend will receive a fee upfront with further payments depending on appearances.

NIGEL MARTYN: Everton FC should set sights on taking fourth spot in the Premier League
Mar 3 2009 by Nigel Martyn, Liverpool Echo
THERE'S no doubt this is a massive week in the context of Everton's season.
Of course everyone is looking forward to Sunday's FA Cup quarter-final with Middlesbrough but David Moyes will be insisting his players keep their focus on tomorrow night's league clash at Blackburn. I know the fans are desperate for a day out at Wembley but there's still a great deal to play for in the Premier League.
Manchester United's Carling Cup triumph means sixth place will be good enough for Europe but the Blues should have their sights set higher. It was a great weekend with us beating West Brom and then Arsenal and Aston Villa dropping points. We're now just two behind Arsenal and eight behind Villa. Finishing fourth will be tough and you would have to say we're third favourites for that coveted spot at the moment but there are a lot of points still to play for and it's certainly not beyond the realms of possibility. Confidence is high and if we can get another good result at Blackburn then the pressure will really be on the other two clubs. It's going to be tough at Ewood Park because Sam Allardyce's side are fighting for their lives. They had a good win at Hull at the weekend but they are still in big trouble and it has got the makings of a really tight game. After tomorrow night the build up will start to Sunday's cup clash at Goodison. It's a tougher tie than it looked when the draw was made because Middlesbrough have picked up some good results recently. They did well to knock out West Ham in their replay and then caused a surprise by beating Liverpool at home last weekend.How can you go from winning at the Bernabeu to losing at the Riverside? That just doesn't make sense and the result highlighted some of the problems there are on the other side of Stanley Park. Boro are resurgent but I still think we should have too much for them. I hope I'm right because the supporters and the manager really deserve to get through to Wembley. David Moyes has done so much for the club and it would be a reward for all his efforts. Hopefully we'll have two trips there in a short space of time and ultimately lift that trophy. There are some big names left in it but anything can happen.

NIGEL MARTYN: Winning pretty is not a necessity for David Moyes
Mar 3 2009 by Nigel Martyn, Liverpool Echo
SATURDAY'S game wasn't pretty but the Blues got the three points and that's all that matters. The success this side is enjoying is down to firm foundations. With a shortage of strikers it would have been easy for results to drop off in recent months but the defensive strength has helped keep the season on track. Tim Howard was excellent against West Brom and I'm sure he was delighted with another clean sheet.
West Brom might be struggling but they play decent football. They created some good chances and Howard had to be at his best. We do the basics better than most other teams and it was a great delivery from Leighton Baines which created the opening goal for Tim Cahill. Baines' Everton career has been very stop-start. He found it difficult to hold down a place but now he's having an extended run he clearly feels like part of the team.

Everton FC latest - Jose Baxter signs long-term deal
Mar 4 2009 By David Prentice
EVERTON'S exciting youngster Jose Baxter has become the latest teen star to commit his long-term future to the Blues. The 17-year signed a two-and-a-half year deal today, following clubmate Jack Rodwell who signed a new deal last week.
Baxter only turned 17 last month and has already earned a place in the Goodison record books. He became the youngest player in the club's history on the opening day of the season - aged 16 years 196 days - when he came off the substitutes' bench to feature against Blackburn. He then became the youngest player in the club's history to start a match at West Bromwich Albion the following weekend. Baxter has been at the club since he was six-years-old and skippered England under-17s in the Algarve Tournament last month. After signing his new deal, the Bootle born midfielder said: "It's a dream come true to sign a contract for Everton. "To be offered a contract was a great feeling but actually signing it was something else. I have to keep working hard now and make sure I earn another one in the future."

David Moyes salutes his Everton FC squad
Mar 4 2009 by James Pearce, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON boss David Moyes today saluted his players and admitted they have surpassed his own expectations this season. The Blues travel to Blackburn Rovers in the Premier League tonight looking to maintain a remarkable run which has seen them lose just once in their last 15 games in all competitions. Despite a lengthy injury list they have recovered from a miserable start to the campaign and firmly established themselves in the top six. “I thought it might be a struggle to finish in the top 10,” Moyes admitted. “We had very little recruitment and had players injured, and at the time the form of some key players had not come back. “I looked at the spending power of Tottenham and Newcastle and thought it would be a strong Premier League season. “But the return to form of key players has made a difference. For the opening two to three months, I thought Marouane Fellaini carried the team a bit with his form.
“But that’s the way this football club works – we expect it of players. “I do not care how we do it but we are doing it. We aren’t going to feel sorry for ourselves and the players have been fantastic.” Moyes faces a tricky selection dilemma with Sunday’s FA Cup quarter-final with Middlesbrough looming. “I have one eye on the Cup game,” Moyes said. “But if I am asked if I have an eye on fourth place, which I do, then I would have to say that I also have an eye on the teams in seventh or eighth. We don’t want them catching us. “It will be hard to catch Aston Villa as they have got the points on the board but we are not going to give up.” Midfielder Jack Rodwell is available after missing the win over West Bromwich Albion due to a dead leg but Tony Hibbert is ruled out with a thigh problem. Meanwhile, Moyes has leapt to the defence of top scorer Tim Cahill in the face of criticism from Sam Allardyce.
The Blackburn boss accused the Aussie of deceiving referees and claimed he is treated leniently for someone who “most of the time plays the man before the ball”.
Moyes said: “Tim has not got a terrible record on challenges and the referees get it right with him. I think Tim is rated very highly by everybody in football, who understand his capabilities.” Mikel Arteta’s knee operation has been hailed a success.
The Spanish midfielder went under the knife in Barcelona yesterday and had his anterior cruciate ligament reconstructed. Victor Anichebe will discover today whether he requires knee surgery as a result of Kevin Nolan’s horrific challenge at Newcastle United

Everton FC's Tim Howard determination to avenge Blackburn misery
Mar 4 2009 by James Pearce, Liverpool Echo
THE memories of Everton’s last trip to Ewood Park are enough to send a chill down Tim Howard’s spine. The American and his team-mates trooped off with boos ringing in their ears last September after being dumped out of the Carling Cup by an under-strength Blackburn side. Martin Olsson’s early strike ended the Blues’ interest in the competition at the first hurdle and those supporters, who accounted for nearly half of the sparse 14,366 crowd, vented their frustration at a woeful performance.
The away end will be packed out again tonight and Howard admits the Blues are desperate to ensure there is no repeat. “That performance was really sub par and the fans had every right to feel upset with us,” he said. “There was no cohesion to our play and it was a difficult night for everyone. “Hopefully we can get things right this time and play the kind of football we want to play and dictate how the game goes.
“Our travelling support is one of the best in the league and it’s great at Ewood Park because we get the whole stand which will be filled to the rafters. “We owe it to those fans who are so passionate to ensure this time they have a more enjoyable trip home.”
That Carling Cup defeat came in the middle of an eight-game winless streak which also saw the Blues struggle in the Premier League and bow out of Europe.
In contrast, this time they travel to Blackburn on a high after just one defeat in 15 games in all competitions. Howard, who celebrates his 30th birthday on Friday, believes Everton now represent a much tougher proposition. “There’s no question we are miles now from where we were back then,” he said. “That was undoubtedly a tough spell for us both as a team and as a club. Our home form was crap and confidence was low. “But since November time we’ve started to stamp our authority on games and performances have been much better. “I think we have got back to basics and if you look at our form over the past few months it’s where we want it to be. “We all know our roles better now and where everyone fits into the team. Everyone is working hard but you don’t see guys trying to do too much and we’re playing well as a unit. “Of course on any given night anything can happen but for the most part we’ve been quite happy with how we’ve been playing.” Howard, who has been ever present this season, has played a key role in Everton’s progress with his consistent displays between the posts. His heroics helped ensure West Brom went home empty handed last Saturday as he kept a 10th clean sheet in the last 15 matches.
Just three goals have got past him in Everton’s last 11 league outings but typically he is keen to deflect the praise. “We didn’t play that well at Newcastle or at home to West Brom but we didn’t concede in either game and that’s important,” he said.
“I am very proud of the way the defenders are playing in front of me. As I’ve said all along a goalkeeper is only as good as his defenders are. “The lads have got their bodies in the way and have limited the number of chances our opponents are getting.
“The best thing for me is our cohesion. The communication has really been good – the understanding of each other and the body language. “I know what Joleon, Jags, Bainesy or Hibbo are going to do and they know what I’m going to do – that’s crucial.
“Joleon and Jags are on top of their game at the moment and there’s a good balance there. “What one lacks the other one makes up for. To be honest they don’t lack much but it’s very much a balancing act and for as long as I can remember that balance has been really good.” Manchester United’s Carling Cup triumph means sixth place will be good enough for a place in next season’s newly named Europa League.
However, Howard believes victory over relegation threatened Rovers tonight could be the springboard for the Blues to catch fourth placed Aston Villa and reach the holy grail of the Champions League. He said: “For our club it’s vitally important we make sixth spot our own and get into Europe. “We’ve been able to establish ourselves in the top six and now the target has to be to kick on and attack the teams above us.
“Things are going well and we have to try to keep ourselves in contention for fourth until the last month of the season. “If we can do that we’ll have a great chance of breaking into the top four.” Everton were not at their best against West Brom on Saturday but they got the job done and Howard was impressed by the way the Blues responded to the loss of Mikel Arteta and Victor Anichebe to long-term injury.
“It’s been like a bad joke,” Howard said. “When the manager brought in Jo on loan and Louis Saha got himself fit, I thought ‘here we go, the problems are easing and we’re coming out the other side’. “But those two serious injuries were a real setback. Mikel was playing some of the best football I’ve ever seen him play, while Victor seemed to be inspired. “But we’ve kept our run going and getting three points against West Brom was vital.” With so much still to play for in the league, Howard knows the Blues can’t afford to be distracted by Sunday’s FA Cup quarter-final with Middlesbrough at Goodison. However, he admits he is relishing the chance to help the Blues book a trip to Wembley. “I played at Wembley for the USA against England last summer and it’s a fantastic venue. “To go back there with Everton would be amazing because the FA Cup is special for this club.”

Blackburn 0, Everton 0
Mar 4 2009 Liverpool Daily Post
EVERTON missed out on a chance to close the gap on Aston Villa after a goalless draw with relegation-threatened Blackburn at Ewood Park.
Both sides were left to rue missed opportunities in a generally dismal affair when real chances were few and far between. Jason Roberts had the pick of them - a one-on-one run at the keeper he should have buried, while Joleon Lescott could have won it for the visitors at the death. This was certainly no advert for the Premier League for the live TV audience on an evening of general excitement elsewhere, with both managers putting their faith in graft and perspiration rather than craft and inspiration.
Apologists will point to the stakes being so high for both, but nothing ventured, nothing gained. Not only are Rovers back in the relegation trio, thanks to Stoke winning over Bolton, but Everton have drifted away from the top five. It had all started so promisingly. Latecomers, understandably dawdling over their pints in expectation of a cagey start, missed Jo shaking the home side into life after just 14 seconds with a powerful shot that might have troubled stand-in keeper Jason Brown only for a deflection to divert it for a corner. Rovers hit back with a passage of play where there were three strikes at goal, the most promising by Stephen Warnock, but all were blocked by Everton defenders. Those incidents apart, the opening half had little going for it. El Hadji Diouf raised a flutter of excitement in home fans’ hearts when he took Andre Ooijer’s cross on the chest but Lescott stepped in with a powerful clearance, then Roque Santa Cruz broke down the left and produced an exquisite cross that allowed Keith Andrews to take deliberate aim - but a touch too long as his left-footed strike was also blocked out. It took 38 minutes for either keeper to make a save worthy of note but when it came, courtesy of Brown, it was certainly noteworthy.
Blackburn struggled to clear their lines after Phil Neville had fired in a cross from the left, and the ball came to Steven Pienaar 15 yards out who looked odds on to hand Everton the lead. The ball was firmly struck and heading into the top corner only for Brown to come to his side’s rescue with an excellent diving save. Jo was on target as the visitors ended the half on top but his shot was feeble after he had done well to earn himself space. Allardyce made a positive change at half-time, sending on Tugay in place of Vince Grella, and soon after Santa Cruz nearly grabbed the lead.
Warnock jinked past a challenge into the box and Santa Cruz took over with a first-time shot that drifted to the left of the post. Santa Cruz sent a header from Diouf’s cross over the bar before the two managers had a heated exchange of words after Gael Givet’s aerial challenge on Leon Osman left both players on the floor needing attention. As it was Givet came off worst having to leave the field with Aaron Mokoena coming on. Suddenly the match burst into life. Twice in a minute Blackburn came within an inch but were denied. First Warnock, deliberately going for goal with a free-kick from deep on the right, struck the crossbar then Jason Roberts burst through to be one on one with Tim Howard. Roberts attempted to poke the ball under the Everton keeper but Howard read it easily and saved with his foot before clasping the ball to his chest. Moyes played his ace, in the form of Louis Saha, to try to steal victory and the French striker so nearly had an immediate impact on the result when he put Pienaar through only for Warnock to come in with a last-ditch block.
Tim Cahill lashed a half-volley from 25 yards but straight down Brown’s throat.
In the dying minutes Lescott could have had a barely-deserved winner for Everton but volleyed a yard over. It made for a relatively comfortable 45 minutes for the Everton defence, with Howard in danger of freezing over, such was his lack of involvement.
Allardyce demonstrated his tactical acumen by starting with Roque Santa Cruz, the Paraguayan striker Rovers had rejected a £20million bid from Manchester City for in January, on the right of midfield. Santa Cruz was more involved at the beginning of the second half, his first-time shot from a Stephen Warnock lay-off dragged hurriedly across goal when the forward could have taken another touch. At the other end, Cahill headed a deflected Pienaar cross at Brown, before Blackburn left-back Gael Givet caught Osman late in an aerial challenge shortly past the hour that brought an angry Moyes racing on to the pitch to protest. Givet, though, came off worse; booked and then forced off through injury as a result of his unwise tackle. Blackburn finally roused themselves midway through the second half. Moments after Warnock’s ridiculously ambitious free-kick struck the crossbar, Jason Roberts was sent clear of the Everton defence but Howard did well to save an admittedly weak effort with his left leg. Moyes responded by introducing Saha from the bench for a tiring Rodwell, and the Frenchman instantly combined with Jo on the edge of the Rovers penalty area to release Pienaar only for Warnock to make a saving sliding challenge. Cahill warmed Brown’s palms with a feisty effort from range and Lescott volleyed over from a corner in the final minute, but the draw had been inevitable long before Wiley blew his whistle to put everyone out of their misery. For Moyes and his players, though, the main event is still to come.

Blackburn Rovers 0 - Everton 0: Cup distracts away from dour stalemate
Mar 5 2009 by Ian Doyle, Liverpool Daily Post
DAVID MOYES had already admitted to having an eye on the FA Cup – and just about everyone inside Ewood Park wished they were watching something else last night. A dismal goalless draw at Blackburn Rovers was not the ideal preparation for the season-defining moment that lies on the horizon this weekend. But another clean sheet and another away point helped maintain Everton’s momentum ahead of Sunday’s quarter-final meeting with Middlesbrough. And, joy of joys, nobody got injured. Moyes, understandably, accepted the Cup tie would impact on his team selection for last night’s match. The changes, though, made little difference to the one overriding aspect of this current Everton team; they are incredibly difficult to beat.
Moyes’s men have now lost just one of their last 16 games and, even more impressively, have conceded a miserly nine goals in 19 Barclays Premier League outings. And with Middlesbrough simultaneously being thrashed by Tottenham Hotspur last night, the portents augur well for this Sunday. Moyes, of course, also has designs on catching fifth-placed Arsenal, meaning this failure to win has again stretched the gap to the Gunners to four points although ground has been made on Aston Villa in fourth. Everton were aiming to gain a measure of revenge last night after Blackburn followed an opening-day victory at Goodison by dumping them out of the Carling Cup at Ewood Park the following month. How long ago that seems now. Moyes’s men have since transformed their campaign while Paul Ince has been jettisoned by a struggling Rovers, replaced by Sam Allardyce. Although this draw and results elsewhere saw Blackburn drop back into the relegation zone, they have lost only three of 15 games since Allardyce had taken charge in December.
Before the game, Allardyce sought to make an issue out of Tim Cahill and what the Blackburn manager believed was a crafty way in which the Everton man won headers.
Whether or not it influenced Alan Wiley, only the referee knows. But Cahill was certainly a subdued performer compared to recent weeks. He wasn’t alone, though. Such is their complete commitment to the cause, none of Everton’s players gave less than their usual 100%. But the spark and verve in their game was notably absent, minds evidently straying to the weekend. Tim Howard marked his 100th league appearance for Everton with 12th Premier League clean sheet of the season, and in the process shattered the club record for the fewest goals conceded by a keeper in their first century of league games. The American has let in 87 goals during that period, easily surpassing the previous best mark set by George Wood, who conceded 107 goals in his opening 100 league games. With Tony Hibbert having joined the lengthy injury list, Moyes made three changes from the side that sealed victory over West Bromwich Albion on Saturday, the fit-again Jack Rodwell and Leon Osman back in the starting line-up. Joleon Lescott, now free from the threat of suspension, also returned after being benched at the weekend when his hopes of setting a record number of consecutive appearances for the club were dashed. That there was neither a corner nor a shot on target for either side until the 39th minute spoke volumes for a grim, forgettable first half. The early signs had actually been promising when, in the opening minute, Cahill flicked on Joseph Yobo’s long punt forward and the ball eventually fell for Jo to strike a shot that was deflected harmlessly wide.
Rodwell blocked an effort from Blackburn midfielder Keith Andrews soon after, but that was about it in terms of action until the visitors finally fashioned a clear opportunity six minutes before the half-time interval. And it was a good chance, too, Phil Jagielka crossing from the right for Steven Pienaar but the South African’s shot, while well hit, was too close to Blackburn goalkeeper Jason Brown, deputising for the injured Paul Robinson. Jo then shot tamely at Brown after working some space for himself, with Everton starting to impose themselves the longer the half progressed.

Blackburn 0, Everton 0: A stalemate in the cold
Mar 5 2009 by James Pearce, Liverpool Echo
MORE disappointment at the hands of Blackburn - but this time the frustration was of a very different nature. When these sides met on the opening day of the season Rovers inflicted a 3-2 defeat at Goodison courtesy of Andre Ooijer's heartbreaking last-gasp winner. Everton were in a mess and David Moyes infamously admitted ‘we are not a team that is ready to win Premier League games’. In those dark days a clean sheet and a point would have been welcomed with open arms, but fast forward seven months and Evertonians' expectations have moved to a different stratosphere. The Blues are unrecognisable now from the team that lined up on the opening day and were then dumped out of the Carling Cup by Blackburn a month later. It's a measure of Everton's progress that the thousands who made the trip to Ewood Park last night returned home gutted at only landing a share of the spoils. With Aston Villa losing at Manchester City it was undoubtedly a missed opportunity in the race for fourth place but in the cold light of day it's not a bad point. This was a contest between two sides determined to ensure they didn't lose and the end result was a dour stalemate, high on endeavour but desperately short on quality. The Blues had to survive an aerial bombardment from a Blackburn side fighting for their lives and they came through it with flying colours. Tim Howard celebrated his 100th league start for the club by making a vital save to deny Jason Roberts, while in front of him Joleon Lescott and Joseph Yobo were rock solid. It's now over six hours of Premier League football since Everton conceded and last night was their 11th clean sheet in the last 16 games. In fact over the past 12 league matches only Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United have been able to find a way past Howard. It's a remarkable record but for all the perspiration at the back, the Blues seem to be lacking inspiration in the final third. Jo endured another disappointing night and except for a great chance which fell to Steven Pienaar, Everton struggled to break down Blackburn. Moyes made three changes to the side that started against West Brom, Lescott returningin place of the injured Tony Hibbert and Phil Jagielka switching to right-back. Leon Osman’s reward for his impressive cameo was a start on the right side of a midfield that welcomed back teenager Jack Rodwell from injury as Dan Gosling and Marouane Fellaini dropped to the bench. Everton had won just one of their last six visits to Ewood Park but they almost got off to a dream start. Inside the opening 10 seconds Chris Samba failed to deal with Jagielka's punt forward. It dropped kindly to Jo but the Brazilian hammered a shot narrowly wide. However, hopes of an entertaining contest were dashed as the game descended into a dire war of attrition. There could be no doubting the Blues' commitment levels as Jagielka, Lescott and then Rodwell all bravely blocked goal-bound efforts. But Everton's passing was sloppy and neither keeper had a save to make until six minutes before the break. Jagielka's cross picked out Pienaar but his rasping drive was parried away by Jason Brown, deputising for the injured Paul Robinson. That chance seemed to lift the Blues and they looked the more likely to force a breakthrough in the closing stages of the first half. Pienaar was left fuming when Ooijer got away with blocking his 25-yarder with his arm, while Jo created a yard of space for himself in the box but shot weakly at Brown. After an instantly forgettable first half things had to get better in the second half and so it proved but only marginally. Blackburn slapped a £25million price tag on Roque Santa Cruz but the striker rarely threatened and when he was teed up by Stephen Warnock he scuffed wastefully wide. Tim Cahill's bid to ram Sam Allardyce's pre-match words back down his throat ended in painful frustration. The Blackburn boss had accused the Aussie of deceiving referees and claimed he is treated leniently for someone who "most of the time plays the man before the ball". This from a manager renowned for his side's direct, aggressive style, and who signed Kevin Davies for Bolton to use him as a human battering ram. Allardyce’s attempts to put referee Alan Wiley under pressure clearly did the trick as Rovers got most decisions where Cahill was involved. On one occasion the Blues' top scorer was sent crashing to the ground by Samba's clumsy aerial challenge and landed awkwardly on his back. To Allardyce's evident amusement, Wiley awarded the free-kick to Blackburn and the Rovers chief wore a smug grin which suggested he believed his mind games had paid off. Wiley got that badly wrong but the man who failed to award Andrew Johnson a clear penalty when the sides drew 0-0 last season had precious little else to sort out. Warnock struck the bar with an over-hit free-kick but the best opening of the night fell to Roberts.
The burly striker burst through a gaping hole in the Blues' rearguard but Howard was out quickly to narrow the angle and block his shot. Louis Saha and Fellaini provided fresh legs and helped ensure Everton at least finished strongly. A last-ditch tackle from Warnock in the box thwarted Pienaar before he pulled the trigger before Cahill stung Brown's palms from long range. Lescott almost won it at the death but volleyed Leighton Baines' corner just over and in truth neither side were worthy of maximum points. Crucially, the Blues came through unscathed and if they deliver when it really matters in the FA Cup against Middlesbrough on Sunday then this night will seem a distant memory.
BLACKBURN: Brown, Ooijer, Samba, Nelsen, Givet (Mokoena 64), Andrews, Grella (Kerimoglu 46), Warnock, Roque Santa Cruz, Roberts, Diouf (Treacy 88).
Subs Not Used: Bunn, Dunn, McCarthy, Simpson.
EVERTON: Howard, Jagielka, Yobo, Lescott, Baines, Osman, Neville, Rodwell (Saha 71), Pienaar, Cahill, Jo (Fellaini 78).
Subs Not Used: Nash, Van der Meyde, Castillo, Jacobsen, Gosling.
REFEREE: Alan Wiley (Staffordshire)

The Jury: Everton fans on the draw at Blackburn and the Blues' FA Cup hopes
Mar 5 2009 Liverpool Echo
LAST night Everton earned a point towards European qualification and on a bitterly cold night at Ewood it was obvious that Arteta was an absentee. The Blues lacked any creativity, but produced a battling performance against a hard-hitting Blackburn side.
I hate to berate the referee, but pre-match Tim Cahill hype drummed up by larger than life Big Sam I believe set the tone for things to come. I lost count of the amount of times Alan Wiley got it wrong. Even after Cahill was almost attacked by Samba, the man in the middle gave Blackburn a free kick. Certain things didn’t quite go right for us on the night, but with the squad so thin you have to give credit to David Moyes.
A massive quarter final clash with Middlesbrough awaits and again we need to dig deep and pull out a huge performance.
COLE FRASER,Litherland
SAM ALLARDYCE should be ashamed of himself. His pre-match comments changed last night’s game and that’s unfair. His portrayal of Tim Cahill drew the referee in, he couldn't leave the floor without Alan Wiley blowing up for a foul, which was ridiculous. Cahill is a model professional and to suggest that he is a cheat is an injustice. It was a shame that we couldn't capitalise on City's win over Villa and close the gap, but it wasn't a good enough performance. We miss Arteta dearly, his presence in midfield the key in the majority of our most recent impressive performances. Without him we lack any dominance in the middle as we need a player who can take control of the game. Middlesbrough have nothing to lose at the weekend, therefore we will have to improve to ensure we progress.
I HAD to laugh when ‘Big Sam’ complained that Tim Cahill was over-physical, intimidating opponents and ‘getting away with murder’.
It was a clear case of getting your retaliation in first and attempting to psyche out the referee. Not that Blackburn have ever been a team of wilting violets. I’d like to cite as evidence, M’Lud - Todd, Neill, Emerton and Dickov. Allardyce also has some history of his own, because Bolton weren’t exactly the fount of free-flowing football.
The Blackburn game just confirmed ‘Big Sam’s’ reputation for building alehouse football teams that treat the ball as a stranger and hoof it up the pitch at the first opportunity. Without key players the Newcastle and Blackburn games confirmed that we are running on empty. Wednesday night’s game should be preserved on DVD as the perfect cure for insomniacs.
A BATTLING point last night keeps us on the coat tails of Arsenal and Aston Villa with performances from messrs Howard, Baines, Felliani and Cahill also being plus points. Mikel Arteta's creativity was certainly missed. Now we look forward to Sunday with one massive 90 minute game away from a trip to Wembley Stadium, which has got all Evertonians dreaming of a weekend in the capital. It is seven years to the weekend that we were totally embarrassed by Middlesbrough at this stage of the FA Cup. It cost Walter Smith his job and Evertonians who were there want revenge.
We will have the old ground rocking to its foundations on Sunday so I'm predicting a 2-1 win – with club talisman Tim Cahill the FA Cup hero once more.

Premier experience at Everton's 1878 Suite for football connoisseurs
Mar 5 2009 Greg O'Keeffe
THINK footy food and many people conjure up images of luke-warm pies and over-priced cups of Bovril. Even the traditional ‘posh’ catering in most Premier League club’s suites has traditionally been more miss than hit. But clubs are increasingly getting their act together, and realising that if fans are going to pay a premium to make a day out of going to the match, they deserve restaurant quality food and surroundings.
The message has clearly sunk in at Everton, where our visit to the 1878 suite was both a footballing and culinary experience to relish. We headed to the Old Lady for the match against Bolton Wanderers, which as a rare treat, kicked off at 3pm on a Saturday. Suite guests are advised to arrive at Goodison for around 12.30pm, far earlier than I’ve ever headed to the ground before, to take in the ambience before food is served. We were met by friendly clipboard carrying Everton officials who took our names and led us into the stylishly furnished 1878 suite in the Main Stand.
This was when the ‘little things’ factor kicked in, i.e. those subtle points that contribute to a great atmosphere. Two hearty glasses of champagne were placed in our hands along with two match day programmes, as an equally friendly waiter led us to our table. The ambience of the suite is relaxed but classy. Nothing is too formal or forced but at the same time you’re aware it’s an experience to be savoured.
As I’d normally be drinking briskly by now in less salubrious environs, it was reassuring that the waiting staff were never shy to come forward offering refills.
In the meantime we cast our eyes over the menu and impressive selection of courses. I went for the Garden Vegetable and Herb Soup with Crispy Sea Salt Croutons which avoided the veg soup pitfall of being watery or tasteless with aplomb.
In fact it was delicious, as were the selection of bread rolls to go with it. My mate got stuck into the button mushrooms in a creamy garlic sauce with focaccia bread which he said was pleasantly filling and piping hot. We had high hopes for our mains and we weren’t let down. I went for ‘Fell Bred’ rump of lamb, Port and Redcurrant Jus with Champ Potato and Roast Vegetables. It arrived and my first thought was that it looked great but could have been a bigger portion. I needn’t have worried. The lamb was succulent and cooked to perfection and the creamy potato was filling and rich. My mate couldn’t decide between the lamb or the Atlantic Cod fillet on a cushion of wilted spinach nappered by a mature cheddar cheese sauce. The fish dish won out, and he said he was happy with his choice. His fish was melt-in-the-mouth and boneless, and the sauce was suitably cheesy without overpowering the cod. As we enjoyed our meal, former Everton player Derek Mountfield entertained the lounge with anecdotes about the skimpy shorts his generation sported while gracing the Goodison turf.
Dessert for both of us was Bramley apple and cinnamon crumble with vanilla infused custard which was a traditional, solid end to a great meal. I could’ve happily eaten a plate full just of the crumble’s crust such was its biscuity and moreish texture.
Things only got better when we headed to our superb seats in the Main stand to enjoy a stylish 3-0 demolition of Bolton Wanderers, with injured Marrouane Fellaini and his dad sat behind us. Half time was the cue for a brief return to the suite for a coffee or a pint, before getting back to the action. Somehow, despite being very well fed before the kick off, we’d managed to build up a slight appetite by the final whistle so the chicken skewers with spicy dips which greeted us back in the lounge were spot on.
Then another added perk of the lounge surfaced. The man-of-the-match, Brazilian striker Jo was heading down to shake hands and sign autographs. Earlier, we’d all been asked to vote for the best player and his two well taken debut goals meant the Manchester City loan player came top. But if Jo was well received, it was nothing compared to the reception much-lived Blue’s legend Dave Hickson received when he popped in before a signed shirt was auctioned off for the club’s admirable former players foundation. There was, of course, time for one last beer (if I’m nit-picking it would be nice to have an extra choice of draft lager apart from Chang or lacklustre Fosters) before we had to reluctantly head for the exit. At £200 per head, the 1878 match day experience isn’t cheap. But as an elegant change from the average supporter’s routine it is more than worth investing in for a special occasion.
Equally if you were looking to impress an important client, our afternoon proved that the 1878 dining matches a great restaurant and the football side-dish is the perfect accompaniment.

Marouane Fellaini: Everton will get it right
Mar 5 2009by James Pearce, Liverpool Echo
MAROUANE FELLAINI believes Everton will rediscover their top form in Sunday's FA Cup quarter-final with Middlesbrough at Goodison. The Blues struggled to a 0-0 draw in a dour clash at Blackburn last night but the Belgian midfielder insists there is no need for fans to be concerned ahead of their biggest game of the season.
"Things will be a lot different on Sunday," he said. "It's a massive game and we will be doing everything in our power to get through to the next round. "We are at home and that's really important. We will be going all out for victory and with the fans behind us at Goodison that makes a big difference." The 21-year-old admits the Blues need to improve on their performance at Ewood Park but he believes the side deserve praise for their defensive strength. "I think we have to look upon tonight as two points lost," he added. "What we're about is winning and we need three points from every game to help us get into the top five. "It was a hard fought game and there were a lot of personal battles out there. "It's good for morale that we are not conceding goals. It's different compared to the start of the season when we were letting in quite a few.
"It's great and shows we have come on in leaps and bounds. Our defence is very strong at the moment."Fellaini, who came off the bench last night, has been hampered by a back problem in recent weeks but he is hoping to get the nod to start against Boro. He said: "The injury has taken its time and you cannot rush these things but I'm getting there. It's just about 100% now." Meanwhile, Jose Baxter is the latest teenager to commit his future to Everton. The Bootle-born midfielder, who only turned 17 last month, became the youngest player ever to start a game for the Blues when he lined up at West Brom last August. "I'm feeling great and it's a dream come true to sign a contract for Everton," said Baxter, who has penned a two-and-a-half-year deal.
"To be offered a contract was a great feeling but actually signing it was something else. I have to keep working hard now and make sure I earn another one in the future."
Baxter has been at the club since he was six and has progressed through Everton's academy. He suffered a back injury before Christmas but has been figuring regularly for the reserves and was on the bench against Aston Villa and Bolton recently.
Baxter put pen to paper just two weeks after fellow academy product Jack Rodwell signed his new contract.

Victor goes under knife
Mar 5 2009 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
VICTOR ANICHEBE has been ruled out of the rest of Everton's season as a result of Kevin Nolan's horror tackle at Newcastle 10 days ago. And the young Blues striker will undergo exploratory surgery today to reveal the full extent of the damage to his right knee. Scans which took place in London yesterday have already revealed damage to the knee cartilage and Blues' medical staff are already bracing themselves for bad news. Everton boss, David Moyes confirmed: "Victor will have an operation. He's damaged his cartilage and is out for the season. It's a blow for the boy as he'd just got back into the team, and it's another player we have lost." It is the latest injury blow for David Moyes, with Yakubu and Mikel Arteta already ruled out of the rest of the season and Tony Hibbert condemned for a month on the sidelines with the thigh strain which forced him off against West Bromwich Albion last weekend.
Anichebe's absence leaves the Blues' boss once again short of striking options as he bids to plot a successful campaign on two fronts, an FA Cup challenge which continues with a quarter-final against Middlesbrough on Sunday, then a bid to finish high enough up the Premier League to win a place in Europe again next season.
Louis Saha made another substitute appearance at Blackburn last night but the Frenchman has been struggling with a thigh strain since returning from a hamstring injury, while makeshift striker Marouane Fellaini has been playing despite a painful back injury in recent weeks. James Vaughan is making progress from the long-term injury which has kept him out of action but won't be considered for some time yet, while even Tim Cahill was forced off for treatment last night for a kick in the back.
Anichebe manfully tried to continue with the injury at St James' Park before limping off several minutes later. Kevin Nolan received a red card for the challenge but later apologised. Everton's medical staff said at the time that it was only the strength of Anichebe's legs which prevented a more serious injury.

Victor Anichebe's season over - Everton FC latest
Mar 5 2009 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
VICTOR ANICHEBE has been ruled out of the rest of Everton's season as a result of Kevin Nolan's horror tackle at Newcastle 10 days ago. And the young Blues striker will undergo exploratory surgery today to reveal the full extent of the damage to his right knee. Scans which took place in London yesterday have already revealed damage to the knee cartilage and Blues' medical staff are already bracing themselves for bad news. Everton boss, David Moyes confirmed: "Victor will have an operation.
"He's damaged his cartilage and is out for the season. It's a blow for the boy as he'd just got back into the team, and it's another player we have lost." It is the latest injury blow for David Moyes, with Yakubu and Mikel Arteta already ruled out of the rest of the season and Tony Hibbert condemned for a month on the sidelines with the thigh strain which forced him off against West Bromwich Albion last weekend.
Anichebe's absence leaves the Blues' boss once again short of striking options as he bids to plot a successful campaign on two fronts, an FA Cup challenge which continues with a quarter-final against Middlesbrough on Sunday, then a bid to finish high enough up the Premier League to win a place in Europe again next season. Louis Saha made another substitute appearance at Blackburn last night but the Frenchman has been struggling with a thigh strain since returning from a hamstring injury, while makeshift striker Marouane Fellaini has been playing despite a painful back injury in recent weeks. James Vaughan is making progress from the long-term injury which has kept him out of action but won't be considered for some time yet, while even Tim Cahill was forced off for treatment last night for a kick in the back.
Anichebe manfully tried to continue with the injury at St James' Park before limping off several minutes later. Kevin Nolan received a red card for the challenge but later apologised. Everton's medical staff said at the time that it was only the strength of Anichebe's legs which prevented a more serious injury.

Howard Kendall: Everton fans hold key to FA Cup glory
Mar 6 2009 by Howard Kendall, Liverpool Echo
I EXPECT Everton to make home advantage count when they face Middlesbrough in their FA Cup quarter-final. Their form at Goodison has really picked up in recent weeks and I think the supporters will have a key role to play. The atmosphere against West Brom last Saturday was a bit dead but when you are playing against a team at the bottom who you are expected to beat then complacency sometimes sets in.
The importance of the FA Cup to Evertonians will ensure Goodison is rocking this weekend and I'm sure that will really help the players. It’s a massive game for the Blues because it's been a long time since the fans enjoyed a day out at Wembley.
I’m not a fan of them playing the semi-finals at Wembley because I think it detracts from how special the final is. But of course Evertonians won't be too worried about that and they will be hoping they have to make two trips there in quick succession.
For the moment the Blues can’t afford to look any further ahead than Sunday.
Middlesbrough haven’t enjoyed the best of preparation with a 4-0 defeat at Spurs in midweek but they did beat Liverpool last weekend and drew at Goodison in the league back in November so we have to be wary. It’s vital we keep a close eye on Stewart Downing and don’t allow him time on the ball. Downing has the ability to go past players and get quality balls into the box. But Everton are defending really well at the moment and Tim Howard has been absolutely outstanding in goal. I'm confident the Blues won't concede so it's just a case of where the goals are going to come from.
It's not much of a blow that Jo is cup tied as he has been very disappointing in the last few games. His absence could mean a start for Louis Saha and hopefully he will deliver alongside Tim Cahill.
Allardyce’s Cahill criticism was out of order
SAM ALLARDYCE’S comments about Tim Cahill this week were out of order.
The Blackburn boss basically said he gets away with murder but that’s not the case at all. Cahill has got that aggression and will to win that you want in a player but there’s nothing malicious in his play. I found it strange that Allardyce singled Cahill out and I can only think he was playing mind games. It wasn’t the most attractive game to watch but it was still a decent result for the Blues. One player who has really stood out for me recently is Steven Pienaar. He’s in a good vein of form and is playing with confidence. He’s not afraid to run at defenders and with Mikel Arteta out he could be very important.
Blues bucking the trend
EVERTON seem to be one of the only top clubs in the Premier League who have brought strikers through from their academy in recent years. Most clubs seem to go out and splash the cash on foreign forwards. Liverpool paid big money for Torres and Manchester United did the same with Berbatov. Manchester City, who have supposedly got one of the best academies, shelled out £30m for Robinho and £15m for Bellamy. It got me thinking, if clubs have goalkeeping coaches and fitness coaches why don’t they have strikers coaches? There seems to be a real lack of strikers coming through the ranks from academies in this country. It’s time other clubs did more to find home grown talent and nurture it.

David Prentice: ‘Super vision’ Sam starting to see some strange things
Mar 6 2009 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
BIG Sam Allardyce is one of football’s modern thinkers. He uses more ‘ists’ than a startled tomcat: psychologists, nutritionists, sports scientists; he can spot a loophole in the law before the football authorities - witness his instruction for Bolton players to stand in deliberately offside positions in front of goalkeepers, and he clearly fancies himself at mind games. But he’s also an expert exponent of the Emperor’s New Clothes. Just listen to his explanation of Tim Cahill’s supremely subtle gamesmanship this week. "It's certainly very difficult to spot from the referees’ and the spectator's point of view,” said Sam. “But you pick up on it if you have been in the game as long as we have.” Aah. Very good Mr Allardyce. Cute is never a word you’d usually see in association with grizzled old Sam, but that was. It was really quite clever.
And Big Sam (pictured) chose his target well. Because Alan Wiley, the referee at Ewood Park on Wednesday, would love to think he could spot things others couldn’t.
He was clever enough, remember, to spot an offside goal that nobody else on the planet could understand last season (Andy Johnson’s baffling no-goal at Ewood Park).
He spotted that Stoke's Leon Cort had handled outside his penalty area earlier this season, even when television replays clearly showed the offence had occurred inside the box. And he’s even able to employ some kind of refereeing spider sense to see trouble before it’s even happened – remember his warning to a fourth official to ‘keep an eye’ on Duncan Ferguson before he’d even entered the fray at Highbury?
So it was nailed on that Cahill would come under close scrutiny on Wednesday night, and even more guaranteed that when he was booted in the back and had to leave the field for treatment, the free-kick would be awarded against him. No doubt Big Sam spotted Cahill’s crime. Alan Wiley certainly did. But you humble spectators, I’m afraid, just aren’t clever enough to spot the subtlety of Cahill’s conniving.
I must admit I’m not either. I’ve watched 50-odd matches a season for 34 years – but I’ve not been “in the game” as long as Allardyce. So when Cahill (five feet ten in his stockinged feet) got in front of Christopher Samba (six feet five) and directed a header straight at Jason Brown - I didn’t see him shove Samba. I didn’t see him tie the Blackburn defenders bootlaces together before “using his assets very well.”
In fact I just thought he managed to jump higher than the Blackburn defender.
So I’ll have to bow to Allardyce’s superior vision. Rather than getting away with it throughout his career, I happen to believe Cahill has been on the receiving end from referees. He was the first man red-carded for raising his shirt over his head (FIFA later changed the rules to removing a shirt). He was actually deprived of a first career hat-trick by Uriah Rennie a couple of seasons ago because Duncan Ferguson happened to be loitering somewhere inside the same postcode, while did anyone see anything wrong with the ‘goal’ he had ruled out against West Bromwich Albion last weekend?
I didn’t. Perhaps I need someone whose been ‘in the game’ for 40 years to explain it to me.

Everton FC's David Moyes and Phil Jagielka are manager, player of the month
Mar 6 2009 By Terry Owen
DAVID Moyes and Phil Jagielka have been handed a timely boost ahead of Sunday's FA Cup clash with Middlesbrough after being named the Barclays Manager and Player of the Month. The due played key roles throughout February as Everton recorded wins and clean sheets against Bolton Wanderers and West Bromwich Albion at Goodison Park, sandwiching a goalless draw at Newcastle, which allowed the Blues to keep in touch with Champions League-chasing Aston Villa and Arsenal.
Loan signing Jo thrilled the Goodison faithful with two goals on his debut, the first a spectacular shot on the turn, in a 3-0 victory against Bolton after Mikel Arteta had opened the scoring from the penalty spot. Tim Cahill and substitute Louis Saha, meanwhile, were on target for Moyes' men in their 2-0 triumph over West Brom.
Jagielka’s consistency in the heart of the Everton defence has won him praise from all quarters, including England coach Fabio Capello, who handed the Manchester-born defender his second cap for the friendly against Spain last month. The 26-year-old showed his versatility at Newcastle when he filled in at right-back for the unavailable Tony Hibbert. And the fans' favourite played a crucial role in protecting Tim Howard's goal with the deftest of clearances from under the crossbar to deny West Brom a route back into the match. This is Jagielka’s first Barclays Player of the Month award, whilst Moyes has won the managerial award on four previous occasions, most recently in February 2008. The decision was made by the Barclays Awards Panel, which includes representatives from football’s governing bodies, the media and fans.
David Moyes factfile
David Moyes was born on April 25, 1963 in Glasgow, Scotland
After managing Preston North End from January 1998, he was appointed Everton manager in March 2002 Moyes began his playing career at Glasgow Celtic before also playing for Cambridge United, Bristol City, Shrewsbury Town, Dunfermlne Athletic Hamilton Academical and Preston North End Moyes has twice picked up the LMA Manager of the Year Award, in both 2003 and 2005 Everton qualified for the UEFA Champions League under Moyes in the 2004-5 season, having achieved a fourth place Barclays Premier League finish Moyes has been named the Barlcays Manager of the Month on four previous occasions - in November 2002, September 2004, January 2006 and February 2008 David Moyes’s Barclays Premier League record up to 28th February (all with Everton) reads: played 264, won 108, drawn 65, lost 91.
Phil Jagielka factfile
Philip Jagielka was born on August 17, 1982 in Manchester
Jagielka worked his way through the Sheffield United youth ranks before making his first-team debut in 2000 He has proved himself a versatile player, appearing at centre-back, full-back and in midfield for the Blades, whilst also operating as an emergency goalkeeper on a number of occasions Jagielka played one season in the Barclays Premier League with Sheffield United, suffering relegation on the last day of the 2006/07 season After more than 250 appearances, Jagielka became the club’s record sale, with Everton paying £4million for his services This is Phil Jagielka’s first Barclays Player of the Month award Jagielka has two senior England international appearances, featuring against Trinidad & Tobago as a substitute in June 2008 and making his first start against Spain in February 2009

Everton are in it to win it - Phil Neville
Mar 6 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON captain Phil Neville today declared ‘We’re in it to win it’ as he demanded a collective show of concentration against Middlesbrough in Sunday’s FA Cup quarter final. Excitement is growing among Blues fans that a semi-final trip to Wembley might be on the cards next month – but Neville and his team-mates will not let such thoughts distract them. With Gareth Southgate’s side struggling for form, Everton are hot favourites to reach their first FA Cup semi-final in 14 years but Neville’s thoughts are focused on something bigger. A day out at Wembley in five weeks would add an exciting new strand to the campaign but the skipper has circled a date at the end of May as being far more significant. “It would be great to get to Wembley but, for all I care, the semi-final could be played in Timbuktu,” he said. “Getting to the semi-final is not my major ambition. “I want to win the FA Cup this year and so do the rest of the lads. “This is a big occasion and I’m sure the ground will be rocking on Sunday but there is still so much to be done. “Even if we beat Boro, we won’t have achieved anything in the grand scheme of things. All we will have done is taken a step nearer to the final. That has to be everyone’s focus. “Nobody ever remembers the semi-finalists or quarter-finalists. If we were to get into the last four, we would be determined to make sure we finish the job and go all the way. “I know the fans are excited - we’ve heard all the songs they’ve been singing recently - but we can’t get carried away yet.
“This, hopefully, is just the start of the journey.” When Everton last faced Middlesbrough at Christmas, Tim Cahill’s second-half goal did not provide an accurate reflection of their superiority at The Riverside Stadium. And given that Gareth Southgate’s side come into Sunday’s last eight clash on the back of a 4-0 defeat at Tottenham on Wednesday night, it is easy to see why there is such confidence in the Blues. However Neville knows Middlesbrough have enough talent in their squad to ensure it will be no walkover. “This is a dangerous game,” he said. “They are a team that on any given day can upset anyone - look at what they did to Liverpool. “We must make sure it doesn’t happen to us. “The league table shows that Middlesbrough aren’t in the best form but, away from home and with no pressure on them, they will see this as their chance to kick start things. “It doesn’t matter that we were comfortable up there on Boxing Day. This is different.” Defender Tony Hibbert is set to miss out with a thigh strain and striker Jo is cup tied which could mean a first start for Louis Saha since November.

Louis Saha's FA Cup dream
Mar 6 2009 by James Pearce, Liverpool Echo
THERE is a glaring omission on Louis Saha’s glittering CV.
The French striker has graced the World Cup Finals and boasts a medal collection most players can only dream of. He won two Premier League titles during his four-and-a-half year stay at Manchester United and was part of their triumphant Champions League squad last season. Saha also lifted the League Cup in 2006 when he scored in an emphatic victory over Wigan but the FA Cup has been less kind to the 30-year-old.
Chelsea ended his hopes of leading Fulham to glory at the semi-final stage in 2002 and during his time at Old Trafford he had to sit and watch no fewer than three finals.
In 2004 he was cup tied for United’s defeat of Millwall, while injury wrecked his hopes of facing Arsenal in 2005 and Chelsea two years later. Saha has had enough FA Cup hard luck stories to last a lifetime and he is determined to ensure this is finally his year. It’s been a frustrating first season for him at Goodison but having finally regained his fitness he is relishing the chance to lead Everton’s bid for silverware.
“To play in an FA Cup final with Everton would mean everything to me,” Saha said.
“Having missed a few finals it would make me very happy to participate in the final of such a big competition. “It’s something I dream about and I really think we have a chance of winning the Cup. “It’s going to get harder the further we go but we are capable of doing it. “Confidence is very high at the moment and it’s just a matter of showing that on the day.” Middlesbrough stand between Everton and a first FA Cup semi-final for 14 years. With Brazilian Jo cup tied, Saha could make his first start for the Blues on Sunday since the league clash at Wigan in November.
A hamstring injury he suffered a week later at Spurs ruled him out for nearly three months but he has recently come through three substitute appearances unscathed.
Saha capped his return to Goodison last Saturday with a stunning strike to settle a nervy contest with West Brom. It was his fourth goal for the club and showcased the kind of ability which convinced United to pay Fulham nearly £13million for his services in January 2004. The striker could hardly contain his delight after seeing his sweetly struck 25-yarder fly past Scott Carson. He raced towards the dugout and leapt into the open arms of Joleon Lescott. “There was a lot of relief,” he admitted.
“It’s always hard to come back and I was just so happy to be back out there helping the boys again. “Joleon and I had been doing the warm up together with Ossie (Leon Osman) and (Segundo) Castillo. “I just ran to the bench, saw Joleon and grabbed him!” Saha has been limited to eight starts and eight substitute appearances since leaving United last summer for an undisclosed fee and a two-year deal.
However, he is hoping his problems are now behind him and is targeting an extended run in the side. He said: “I’m feeling good and I will be really happy if I can finish the season. “I hope to bring my experience and some goals to the team. I would love to get 10 goals and I don’t care whether they are tap-ins or whatever. “Every striker likes scoring and my aim is to do that regularly. I was very glad to do that last weekend but I’m now concentrating on doing that in every game I play.” Saha has come back into a side on a high after a run of just one defeat in their last 16 games in all competitions. Despite the addition of Mikel Arteta and Victor Anichebe to a lengthy injury list, the Blues have kept their campaign on track and the Frenchman has been impressed.
“It’s a pleasure to be part of this squad and the team has been doing brilliantly,” he added. “The spirit and winning mentality here is huge. It’s understood by everyone and we just have to keep it going until the last game. “I want to take every opportunity to enjoy myself as much as I can and try to help the team. “It’s true at the moment that we are short on numbers but the quality is still there and I’m confident our spirit will bring us success. “Whatever we achieve this season will be even more special because of the players we have missing. It’s amazing to achieve this kind of consistency when you have key players out. It’s great for the manager because it shows his tactics have been working. “Every player has a responsibility to keep this run going. We’ve got more than 10 games left to prove we can do even better.” The Blues will start as firm favourites against a Middlesbrough side who were hammered 4-0 at Spurs in midweek. Gareth Southgate’s men are in the drop zone and Premier League survival is their number one priority. However, Boro drew 1-1 at Goodison in the league back in November and they defeated Liverpool 2-0 at the Riverside last weekend so Saha is taking nothing for granted. He said: “Middlesbrough have shown they can beat any team and it’s going to be a hard game for us. If we are at our best then it should be a really good match. “But being at home is a huge advantage for us because we have such great fans. “With the supporters behind us we press teams and make it very difficult for our opponents to control the game. “We have to ensure we keep playing well and it’s a big challenge against Middlesbrough. “I’m glad we have gone so far in this competition but the main thing is to have the trophy at the end.”

This is Everton’s big chance, says Tim Cahill
Mar 6 2009 by James Pearce, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON midfielder Tim Cahill is relishing Sunday’s FA Cup quarter-final showdown with Middlesbrough. The Australian was part of the Millwall side which reached the final against Manchester United in 2004 and he would love a repeat.
Gareth Southgate’s Premier League strugglers stand between the Blues and a trip to Wembley. He said: “I’m excited about Sunday. It’s a big opportunity for the football club and the players. “We get a chance to see what level we can lift our bodies to.”
Cahill insists he will rise above Blackburn boss Sam Allardyce’s claim that he gets away with fouling defenders. Allardyce said Everton’s top scorer often pulled the wool over referees’ eyes, but Cahill refused to get drawn in to a row following Wednesday night’s goalless draw at Ewood Park. “I take it as a compliment,” he said. “Sam is a very good Premier League manager and he’s where he is at because he’s a legend in the game. So I respect his comments and I respect the team. It’s nice of him to think of me.” Chances were few and far between against Blackburn and Cahill believes the outcome was a point gained for Everton rather than two lost.
He added: “I think it’s a good point. It’s a very hard place to go. We knew before how difficult it would be. “There’s always a confidence. There was a confidence against Blackburn - although we knew it was going to be ugly. It’s exciting thinking about what potential awaits us.” Meanwhile, Middlesbrough manager Southgate is demanding a response from his players at Goodison on Sunday. Boro may be glad of a break from their league campaign after a crushing 4-0 defeat at Tottenham left them deep in trouble. “We went to Spurs in good spirits, but the defeat was a big blow,” he said. “We’ve had plenty of them this season, and it’s important now how we respond.
“We have to make sure emotionally we don’t get too carried away, but if anyone in the dressing room thought we had turned the corner then they’ve learned a hard lesson. “We will have to go back to basics again. We need to restore pride - because we lost some of that at Spurs.”

Joleon Lescott: Everton must not get carried away
Mar 6 2009 by James Pearce, Liverpool Echo
JOLEON LESCOTT is refusing to get carried away with talk of a Wembley final.
The Blues defender will line-up against Middlesbrough knowing his side are only 90 minutes from a last-four clash at the home of football. “Sunday is a massive game for us,” he said. “But the thought of Wembley is not a distraction because we have experienced players in the squad like Phil Neville who has seen it and done it before. He has just told us to focus on the next game. “I do not think the final is in anyone’s mind, even though it is only two games away. “Everyone is saying we must fancy our chances of winning the Cup after beating Liverpool and Aston Villa but Middlesbrough will fancy their chances as well. “Although they have not been doing too well of late, they got a great win against Liverpool last week so we will not underestimate them.” Lescott has played at Wembley for England and he added: “It is an amazing stadium. It is every boy’s dream to play there. If we get past Boro then I am sure the lads will start asking me what it is like to play there.”

We want FA Cup glory for Everton fans - David Moyes
Mar 7 2009 by James Pearce, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON have come a long way since they last faced Middlesbrough in an FA Cup quarter-final. It was March 10, 2002 when the Teessiders inflicted a crushing 3-0 defeat at the Riverside which proved to be Walter Smith’s last match as Blues boss.
Four days later David Moyes was appointed and over the past seven years the Scotsman has transformed the club from relegation contenders into an established top six outfit. However, Cup success has proved elusive during his tenure with dreams dashed at the hands of minnows such as Shrewsbury and Oldham. This season’s run, which has seen Liverpool and Aston Villa brushed aside, has raised hopes of a first trophy since 1995. And Moyes admits he is desperate to deliver some silverware for those fans who have stuck by him through thick and thin. “It’s something we would all like to achieve,” he said. “It’s not about me, more importantly it’s what it would do for Everton as a football club. “I know the supporters would like it and we always want to please them when we can. “There are big expectations but that’s what we want. “The supporters have had a lot of disappointment in the past and we would like to put that right and give them something they can get excited by.
“In the past this club has had success and won the FA Cup. It’s nothing new for this football club but it has been a while. “We haven’t been a great cup side in recent years but the signs are we are improving. “We got to the semi-finals of the League Cup last season and also had a decent run in Europe. “This season we’ve had really difficult draws against Liverpool and Aston Villa but we’ve managed to get through.”
The Blues are just 90 minutes away from a first trip to Wembley since Joe Royle’s side lifted the trophy in 1995. They will start as firm favourites to overcome a Middlesbrough side who are battling against relegation from the Premier League.
Gareth Southgate’s side were hammered 4-0 at Spurs in midweek and only West Brom are below them. However, Everton were held to a 1-1 draw in the league clash between the clubs at Goodison back in November and Moyes is keen to guard against complacency. “We cannot take anything for granted,” he said. “Middlesbrough will undoubtedly have the Premier League on their minds because it’s so important.
“But the Cup can take the pressure off. It’s different when you don’t have to check the table at the end of the day. “There is probably more pressure on us to get through than there is on them. “We know the reward but the word Wembley holds no excitement for me unless it’s for a Cup final. “I’ve always said semis should be played at neutral grounds and that Wembley should be saved for the final.” The Blues’ progress this season has been all the more remarkable considering the club’s lengthy casualty list.
In the absence of experienced stars, Moyes had little option but to throw teenage midfielders Dan Gosling and Jack Rodwell in at the deep end. Their response has been emphatic with both youngsters playing starring roles. Gosling famously netted the winner to knock out Liverpool, while Rodwell scored in the 3-1 win over Aston Villa. “In any walk of life when you are given an opportunity you have to be able to take it,” Moyes said. “People move aside in any line of business and someone else is asked to step up to the mark and show they can take over. “I’ve got to say the young boys who have played for us have done really well.
“To be playing in a team in the top six at the age of 17 and 18 is great credit to them.
“I’ve been really impressed by their composure in games.
“Sometimes when young players go in they don’t really understand the fear of the build up. That’s been something good about them.
“The excitement of being in the first team and the thrill of playing with these players in the big league overcomes their fear of what else might be in the game.”
Moyes believes that infectious enthusiasm has also boosted the form of his more experienced players. “The young lads are going into games with no fear and that gives the senior players confidence,” he added. “The seniors take confidence from knowing that when a couple of players have dropped out there are a couple of young boys to come in who won’t let them down.” Moyes is waiting on the fitness of Tim Cahill, Steven Pienaar and Leon Osman. All three sat out training yesterday after picking up knocks in Wednesday’s 0-0 draw at Blackburn. “I’m hopeful they will all be back training on Saturday,” Moyes said. “The players have coped really well with the problems we’ve had and bonded together. We’ve shown great character and we need to keep that going.” Marouane Fellaini has been passed fit but Tony Hibbert is still out with a thigh strain and Brazilian striker Jo is cup tied. That could mean a first start since November for Louis Saha. Moyes said: “Louis is getting closer and we will see how he looks. I’m not sure whether he’s quite ready to start but I have to look at it because of what we have available. I have to make sure he feels ready.”

Barclays Manager of the Month award thanks to players - Everton boss David Moyes
Mar 7 2009 by James Pearce, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES has dedicated his Barclays Manager of the Month award to his Everton players. The Goodison boss has won his fifth monthly accolade and the Blues completed an impressive double with defender Phil Jagielka being crowned Barclays Player of the Month. It’s reward for a month in which the Blues overcame a crippling injury list to reach the quarter-finals of the FA Cup and stay on course for a top-six Premier League finish. Cup wins over Liverpool and Aston Villa set up tomorrow’s home clash with Middlesbrough when Everton will be looking to reach the last four for the first time since 1995. “It’s a great achievement for the club as a whole,” Moyes said. “We’ve had difficult times in the last month or two, but the players have come through and never queried anything I have asked them to do. “Some have had to play out of position and they have done that without a moan. “The players deserve a lot of credit and this is an award for them. They have done fantastically well, not just in February but in the months before that as well. “I don’t take any satisfaction from these personal accolades. I want to give the club something they can see and hold.
“If I win two or three more of these awards before the end of the season then I’ll be happy because it will mean we’ve maybe got a chance of winning something.”
Moyes admitted Jagielka, who has played every minute of Everton’s season, was a worthy winner of the player accolade. The England international helped ensure the Blues conceded just one goal in five games in February. “Jags has been the outstanding centre-half in the Premier League outside of Manchester United pair Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand,” he added. “He has been consistent and reliable week in, week out. When we were having a bit of a toil at the start of the season, he was one of the players who kept their form and carried us through it.
“Although we had to use him at right-back at Blackburn, his partnership at centre-back with Joleon Lescott has been superb. He has done really well.”
Moyes is hopeful Tim Cahill, Leon Osman and Steven Pienaar will be available tomorrow despite the trio having not trained since the goalless draw at Blackburn.
Marouane Fellaini is set to return to the starting line-up after being on the bench at Ewood Park, while striker Jo is cup-tied. Meanwhile, Victor Anichebe has undergone surgery on the knee injury which ended his season. Moyes revealed: “Victor has had the lateral ligaments in his knee repaired and his cartilage trimmed so there was a fair bit of damage.” Mikel Arteta, who underwent successful surgery on his cruciate ligament on Tuesday, will remain in hospital in Barcelona for the next few days to begin his rehabilitation.

BARRY HORNE: Selection dilemma for Everton boss David Moyes
Mar 7 2009 Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES will find himself facing a paradoxical situation at Goodison Park tomorrow. The injury crisis at Everton means he has fewer players to pick from – yet he is still facing a selection dilemma. The first headache concerns Louis Saha.
Does the Blues’ boss select him from the start, in the knowledge that he has a niggling thigh problem which could worsen and lead to him missing future matches?
Or does he leave him on the bench as a possible impact substitute? If he doesn’t want to run that risk, the only possible alternative is to call on the emergency pairing of Fellaini and Cahill once again. Then there is the right-back dilemma. The right full-back position is rarely a key one at Everton – possibly because of the consistency of Tony Hibbert. But tomorrow it could be the first decision David Moyes has to make.
He must decide between the two Phils – Jagielka or Neville. If Phil Neville plays right-back, the midfield selects itself. But if Neville’s experience and organisational skills are required in midfield, that will mean Jagielka continuing his recent full-back duties. The worry, of course, as Liverpool discovered last weekend, is what Stewart Downing can do on his day to a centre-back playing out of position at right-back.
The difference, of course, is that Jagielka has played right-back before, whilst Martin Skrtel was filling in for the first time. But it will be something Moyes will have to give full consideration to. Two or three weeks ago most Evertonians would have confidently predicted an Everton victory – despite a subsequent lengthening of the injury list. Boro’s win last weekend has just introduced an element of caution.
But, like most Blues fans, I still remain optimistic that Everton can progress through to a Wembley FA Cup semi-final. That’s a different issue altogether.
It’s clearly a desperate attempt by the FA to claw back some money from the Wembley Stadium fiasco. But, if Everton are successful tomorrow, I know the players won’t be the tiniest bit concerned!
Wenger's words must be tackled
ARSENE WENGER has called for secondary punishment for players guilty of tackles which cause injury. He was referring to the challenge which ruled Eduardo out for such a large part of Arsenal’s season. But he might also have been talking about Kevin Nolan’s tackle which has ended young Victor Anichebe’s season so prematurely. While Arsene makes a valid point, I would issue a note of caution.
As a player not unfamiliar with the type of tackles he was referring to, I could confidently say that in 99 out of 100 cases I could assess exactly what a player intended. But there is always the one instance, like Martin Taylor’s tackle on Eduardo, when you can never conclusively say what a player’s intentions were. You would have to be very careful who you named on a panel which was making decisions like that.
The fear is that you could have some very arbitrary decisions indeed. I feel that the game has been sanitised enough. Arsene Wenger has made a solid enough point – but more thought is required before anything like that is introduced

Hero Jack Taylor put his neck on line for Everton
Mar 7 2009 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
JACK TAYLOR’S place in the Everton record books remains secure – courtesy of Louis Saha’s 70th minute strike last Saturday. Just when David Moyes was planning to introduce Joleon Lescott for a 130th successive appearance, the security of a two-goal cushion made him think again. Lescott was left on the subs’ bench – and ‘Honest’ John Taylor was left out on his own in the record books. So who was the man who made 136 consecutive Everton appearances from his debut in 1896?
Jack Taylor’s story deserves repeat. The first captain from this city to lift the FA Cup – in 1906 when Everton beat Newcastle at Crystal Palace – he also played in the losing finals of 1897 and 1907. But it was an FA Cup tie which ended his career in freak fashion. The Blues were aiming to reach their third FA Cup final in five years in 1910 when they faced Barnsley. Following a grim goalless draw the sides replayed at Old Trafford on a Thursday night – where Taylor suffered the most horrific of injuries. “A kick in the neck caused him intense pain,” reported the next day’s Echo. “White approached his clubmate, but Taylor was in agony and could not get his breath. Not until two spectators (apparently medical men) lent their aid did Taylor find any ease. Drs Whitford and Baxter attended to the unfortunate player when he was taken to the dressing room and it was discovered that the larynx of the throat had been damaged, if not fractured.” He never played again. It was Taylor’s 456th and last match for the Blues. A genuine club legend, he was a much loved centre-half who signed from St Mirren in 1895 and remained on Merseyside until his death in 1949, at the age of 77, following a motor accident. It was a measure of his courage and attitude towards his team-mates that, despite his horrific injury, Taylor refused to leave Old Trafford until the fateful match had ended. The Echo’s correspondent added: “I came across Taylor five minutes from the finish of the game, and he could barely make himself heard when he spoke. “He was very upset and gave me a signal that inferred he wanted to know how much longer they had to play. But the game was lost.”
Even in the most distressing of personal circumstances, Taylor was thinking about his team. That semi-final of 1910 was a grim day all-round for the Blues. Not only did they lose their captain for ever, goalkeeper Billy Scott tore the webbing between the second and third fingers of his hand as Barnsley opened the scoring and had to leave the field for 10 minutes. While his hand was hastily bandaged up, the Blues were left with nine-men, but somehow actually managed to mount some sustained pressure. They went close to an equaliser several times before Scott returned, bringing their complement up to 10-men. The first time that Scott (brother of Liverpool’s famous goalkeeper Elisha) fielded a catch he immediately opened up the wound again and was in considerable discomfort until the final whistle. To add insult to injury, Barnsley scored twice more in the closing three minutes to reach Wembley.
But it was the loss of Taylor which was felt most keenly around Goodison in the days and weeks subsequent to the semi-final. The Echo’s correspondent at Old Trafford summed up the situation perfectly in his match reflections. “Take away the mainspring of your watch and the ticker is well nigh useless,” he wrote. “Taylor, with his personality and his play, had become Everton’s mainspring. He was truly the pivot of the team. “His injury was a sad one and a bad one.” Everton’s heroes of the pre-Great War era are often overlooked when the club’s stellar history is chronicled. But men like Jack McGill, Harry Makepeace, Jack Sharp, Alex ‘Sandy’ Young and ‘Honest’ John Taylor are giants in the history of Everton Football Club. Lescott’s astonishing consistency since his arrival at Goodison three years ago means that Jack Taylor’s feats have once again been brought into sharp focus. The entry in the record books which reads “Taylor is the only Everton player to have made 100 consecutive appearances from his debut” can now be changed. But Everton’s record breaking appearance maker, from his debut, is still their Cup winning captain of 1906. l Everton’s all-time record holder for consecutive appearances is, predictably, the legendary Neville Southall. Between October 1987 and January 1993 he made 266 consecutive starts in all competitions – a sequence interrupted only when he was sent-off and suspended. In fact in the decade beginning 1987 he missed just five of the 466 games played by the club.

Everton chief Bill Kenwright's support in Gary Dunne mercy mission
Mar 7 2009 by Alan Weston, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON owner Bill Kenwright helped towards the cost of bringing murder victim Gary Dunne’s body back to Liverpool, it has been revealed. Gary’s parents, Lee and Stephen, were faced with a bill of around £15,000 to fly Gary’s body back to his home town after a three-year struggle with the Spanish authorities. It was revealed today that when Mr Kenwright heard about the family’s plight, he agreed to make a “sizeable” contribution towards the costs. The coffin carrying the 22-year-old dad-of-one finally arrived in the UK late on Thursday night. Gary was a fanatical Evertonian and his coffin was draped in three club flags when it was flown in to Manchester Airport.
The club has also made its corporate facilities at Goodison Park available for the family reception after Gary’s funeral at Liverpool Cathedral on March 20.
Last night Mr Dunne said: “Gary was a big Everton fan and it’s fantastic that the club has helped us when we needed it most. “They have always been good to us and we’re really appreciative of what Bill has done.” The West Derby family fought a long battle over Gary’s remains after he was killed by a machete-wielding thug on the Costa del Sol in 2006. They had to overcome countless hurdles before the Spanish authorities agreed to release the body. Everton FC spokesman Ian Ross said: “The family have suffered three years of quite appalling treatment by the Spanish authorities.
“Offering to hold the post-funeral reception at Goodison Park is a small gesture on our part after all the upheaval and upset they have faced. “It can’t bring back their son but we felt we needed to do something.” The coffin is now being kept in a special Everton-themed room at a Chapel of Rest in Wirral.

'We can do it the Everton way' - Middlesbrough boss Gareth Southgate
Mar 7 2009 Liverpool Echo
BORO boss Gareth Southgate has instructed Boro to play the Everton way if they want to win a trip to Wembley. Everton have not conceded a single goal in open play in their last six games, and Southgate wants to see Boro become equally stingy in tomorrow’s FA Cup quarter-final. It means fully erasing the disastrous midweek defensive display at Spurs. Southgate said: “There’s only one way to bounce back from performances like that, and that’s to be determined to be a lot more solid and organised next time out. “We have to respond to the Spurs defeat. If we don’t, then there is a danger that it will happen again. “That defeat showed how much work we have got to do, and that work has already started on the training ground. “We have learned that you can’t go to Spurs and think you can just go out and play open football without concentrating on the basics. “You can’t do it at Everton. You can’t do it anywhere.” Southgate is adamant that Boro must start much better in the cup tie if they are to have any chance of reaching the semi-finals. Boro were 2-0 down at Spurs after 14 minutes and looked a beaten side from that moment.

David Moyes backs Arsene Wenger on dangerous play bans
Mar 7 2009 by Our Correspondent, Liverpool Echo
PREMIER LEAGUE managers David Moyes and Harry Redknapp have backed Arsene Wenger’s call for greater scrutiny on dangerous tackles. Arsenal boss Wenger would be in favour of a special panel to monitor the severity of tackles and hand out extended bans where necessary to avoid the sort of serious injuries suffered by Gunners striker Eduardo last year. Everton boss Moyes, who has lost Victor Anichebe for the rest of the season following a challenge from Newcastle midfielder Kevin Nolan, said: “Certain things need to be looked at closer. “I have not been happy for a while with some of the FA decisions and the people making those decisions.
“Maybe a panel is needed, or a group of people, who can look at certain things.
“Certainly we want to wipe out bad challenges like the one that has ended Victor Anichebe’s season. We should be looking into such serious challenges, it did a lot of damage.” Anichebe has had an operation to repair ligament and cartilage damage this week. Tottenham manager Redknapp believes the panel could also put right any injustices that occur. He added: “Maybe we should have a panel looking at each sending-off. The Carlton Cole sending off was diabolical, the kid has put his foot up to pull a ball down and a player got across him. How can that be a second yellow card and a sending-off? There is nothing malicious about that, he didn’t even know the player was coming. “People have to look at that and say it’s a crazy sending-off and should be rescinded. Other tackles when people are going over the top of the ball and are violent, maybe we could do with more than three matches for that type of tackle.”

Everton 2, Middlesbrough 1
Mar 8 2009
A remarkable turnaround sent Everton back to Wembley for the first time since 1995 - and they will face Manchester United, the side they beat to lift the FA Cup fourteen years ago, in this year's semi-final. Middlesbrough had stifled the Toffees in a poor first-half and were leading deservedly at the break through David Wheater’s header a minute from half-time. But Everton boss David Moyes made an inspired substitution at the break, sending on Louis Saha for raw youngster Jack Rodwell. Everton stormed back with two goals in six minutes at the beginning of the second period. Marouane Fellaini headed Everton level before Saha soared in the six-yard box to head the winner to set up a semi-final trip to Wembley. Everton made just one change from the side that drew in midweek at Blackburn. Record signing Fellaini came into the starting line-up in place of cup-tied Brazilian striker Jo. It meant that Tim Cahill, Steven Pienaar and Leon Osman, all nursing minor knocks from the Ewood Park game, were passed fit to play. Middlesbrough stuck with an unchanged side despite losing 4-0 at Spurs last time out. Boss Gareth Southgate continued to keep faith with the team that had beaten Liverpool last weekend. And Middlesbrough opened up with a pace and movement that surprised Everton and had them defending in depth.
Everton keeper Tim Howard had to race from his line to punch the ball off Jeremie Aliadiere’s head before Joseph Yobo charged down a Stewart Downing drive.
And Boro should have been ahead after 10 minutes. Justin Hoyte’s astute pass sent Matthew Bates into the box. But when the midfielder’s pass was laid back invitingly, Aliadiere wastefully lifted his effort over the bar from 12-yards. Everton’s first chance came when Yobo jumped at the near post to send in a header from Osman’s corner that was held by keeper Brad Jones. Osman saw a 15-yarder deflected for a corner and from Pienaar’s flag-kick the ball flashed across goal and just wide of the far post.
But Everton chances were minimal as the game was becoming a war of attrition between Cahill and Fellaini and Boro central defenders Robert Huth and Wheater.
Referee Mark Halsey was left to adjudicate as the collisions continued between the foursome, not always to the liking of Everton’s fans. Cahill looked to have been pushed off the ball by Wheater after 40 minutes in the box but penalty appeals were turned down. Then Jones needed to dive low to his right to turn away a Fellaini header from Phil Jagielka’s cross. But a minute from the break Middlesbrough were ahead. Bates crossed from the right and Wheater rose above Everton’s defence to send a downward header that Howard got a hand to but could not keep out despite a desperate attempt to claw the ball back from behind the line. Everton took off Rodwell at the break and sent Saha on with Cahill moving back into his more orthodox midfield role. And Boro could have had a second soon after the break when Tuncay Sanli’s cross was met by Aliadiere in the six-yard box but his shot was deflected just wide. But it was Everton who were level after 50 minutes. Cahill’s long cross swirled into the box and Fellaini jumped to head home, Jones, having started to advance to meet the ball, stopped allowing the ball to loop over his head.
Six minutes later Everton were ahead. Pienaar crossed from the left and Saha arrived at the near post to glance another header wide of the stranded Jones.
Leighton Baines almost made it three after 64 minutes, curling a free-kick against the bar after Cahill had been fouled on the edge of the box. Boro sent on Marvin Emnes for Aliadiere after 68 minutes but Boro were looking deflated and Bates was flattened by a ferocious tackle from the excellent Phil Neville. Bates soldiered on for a few more minutes but was soon replaced by Adam Johnson. Pienaar and Saha combined to give Fellaini the chance for a shot that was deflected just wide, Everton striving to settle the tie with Boro still rocking. Saha could have settled it when presented with a clear chance by Osman’s pass. Dan Gosling came on for Pienaar with a minute left.
Everton were not there yet with Howard spilling a Gary O’Neil free-kick in injury-time but Joleon Lescott came to the rescue by hooking clear. * THE draw for the semi-finals was made after Everton's win with the Blues last out of the hat and drawn to face English and European champions Manchester United. Chelsea will meet Arsenal or Hull City in the other semi final with both matches scheduled to take place at Wembley over the weekend of April 18/19.

Everton 2, Middlesbrough 1: Wembley can start a new era for Everton manager David Moyes
Mar 9 2009 Liverpool Daily Post
THE circumstances may have been different. But the feeling that Everton are on the cusp of a new era under David Moyes was impossible to shake. A first Wembley appearance in 14 years awaits after the Goodison outfit moved a step nearer to ending their long wait for silverware. Another memorable FA Cup occasion saw Moyes’s side come from behind to defeat Middlesbrough and book their place in the semi-finals for the first time since lifting the trophy in 1995. This is the 24th time Everton have reached the last four of the competition, a figure bettered only by Manchester United and Arsenal. Quintuple-chasing United now stand in their way. With Moyes having only outsmarted compatriot Sir Alex Ferguson once in 15 previous meetings, Everton will once again be considered outsiders to progress. But if this season has demonstrated anything, it’s that there are few teams as adept at overcoming the odds as Moyes’s side. And the jubilant home supporters who were already planning their trips to the capital next month as they streamed away from Goodison yesterday will not be dissuaded from the growing belief this could be their year.
The last time Everton met Middlesbrough in an FA Cup quarter-final, defeat cost Walter Smith his job with Moyes replacing his fellow Scot four days later. Three goals in seven minutes proved costly that day; this time, two goals in the same period of time salvaged Everton’s Cup dream. But it required a dressing-room rollocking at half-time from assistant manager Steve Round and a tactical tweak from Moyes to rouse the home side from their slumbers as they threatened to undo their hard work of previous rounds. Unrecognisable in comparison to the vibrant team that had already swatted aside Liverpool and Aston Villa, Everton were guilty of playing the occasion rather than the opposition. With his team struggling to impose themselves on the game and having fallen behind to David Wheater’s 44th-minute header, Moyes brought off Jack Rodwell, withdrew Tim Cahill into central midfield and introduced Louis Saha to partner Marouane Fellaini in attack. It worked. Twelve minutes later, Everton transformed the game with Fellaini equalising before Saha nodded home the winner. Saha has been restricted to 20-minute cameos as he works his way back to fitness, but the manner in which he pushed himself through the pain barrier to last the full second half epitomised Everton’s desire. As Moyes admitted afterwards, this was one game where Everton’s lack of a natural striker told before Saha’s inclusion, and keeping the Frenchman fit for next month’s semi-final will be towards the top of the manager’s agenda. Certainly, having missed out on so many finals during his time at United, Saha will be keen to ensure the boot is on the other foot at Wembley.
Two snapshots encapsulated Everton’s determination, both featuring man of the match Phil Neville. The first came in the aftermath of Fellaini’s equaliser when the skipper turned towards the Gwladys Street faithful and urged the fans to increase the volume; the second was a bone-shuddering challenge on Matthew Bates that eventually forced the Middlesbrough winger to limp off. The desperation among a success-starved support for silverware in the competition has been evident from the moment Villa were put to the sword in the previous round. Yet the nerves that began to build towards kick-off transferred themselves on to the pitch during the opening stages in which Everton, loose in possession and unsure in defence, were a shadow of their recent selves. It gave Middlesbrough, next to bottom in the Premier League, the necessary encouragement and they enjoyed the better of a tense, scrappy opening 45 minutes. The visitors’ early dominance almost yielded a goal on 11 minutes when Justin Hoyte released Bates down the right, and the winger’s ball back from the byline was struck wastefully over from 10 yards by the unmarked Jeremie Aliadiere.
Everton’s midfield was in danger of being overrun while Fellaini became far too engrossed in his personal battle with Robert Huth. Fellaini had good reason to feel aggrieved at some decisions from referee Mark Halsey – indeed, it was uncanny how the fouls awarded against the Middlesbrough defender all came outside the box – but it detracted from his efforts in providing support for a largely isolated Cahill.
When the Belgian did concentrate on his game, he forced Middlesbrough goalkeeper Brad Jones into a decent save with a far-post header from Phil Jagielka’s right-wing cross. But there was little surprise when the visitors went ahead a minute before the break. After a Middlesbrough free-kick was cleared, Bates picked up the loose ball and delivered a fine cross which Wheater, rising above Joseph Yobo, headed powerfully over the line despite the best efforts of Tim Howard to keep the ball out.
Middlesbrough almost doubled their lead moments into the second half when Aliadiere struck Tuncay Sanli’s low pass at Joleon Lescott. It would prove a significant miss. On 50 minutes, Cahill crossed from the right and Fellaini edged in front of Huth and, with Jones having unwisely advanced, looped a header over the stranded Middlesbrough keeper and into the goal. And seven minutes later the comeback was complete when Steven Pienaar’s left-wing cross was headed in at the far post by Saha. Middlesbrough had no response. Baines hit the crossbar with a dipping 20-yard free-kick, Leon Osman dragged across the face of goal and Saha saw a shot deflected narrowly wide before firing over a gilt-edged chance in the closing moments. Howard did cause a few Evertonian hearts to flutter in injury time when he spilled Gary O’Neil’s speculative free-kick, but the visitors were well beaten at the final whistle. After the post-match press conference, Moyes declined the opportunity to stick around to watch the draw. He knew that whoever his team were paired with, they will not fancy facing an Everton team seemingly hurtling towards their date with destiny.

Everton 2, Middlesbrough 1: David Moyes' reign finally gets its reward
Mar 9 2009 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
SAME opponents, same stage, different outcome. While Everton’s last FA Cup meeting with Middlesbrough ended the reign of one manager, another is heading relentlessly towards a date with destiny. From the moment Middlesbrough were confirmed as the Blues’ opponents in the last eight, it was inevitable that comparisons would be made with Walter Smith, who lost his job after a 3-0 defeat at the Riverside Stadium in March 2002, and David Moyes. This week will see Moyes celebrate seven years in charge at Goodison Park and the club he now presides over is a million miles and more from the one he strode into days after that harrowing experience on the banks of the Tees. So it is fitting, you will agree, that Moyes can look forward to a semi-final date against Manchester United at Wembley next month, a showpiece occasion which every Evertonian will be hoping is about to become the norm.
Of course, the vast majority of the population will have cast a glance at the last four draw and written off Everton’s hopes of progressing any further in this competition, as United have steamrollered all that has been put in front of them recently.
If anyone says the same to you, don’t listen. Just cast your mind back to 1995 when similar noises were made; wasn’t it a forgone conclusion that Sir Alex Ferguson would lift the Cup as consolation for missing out on the title? The more people that will write off Everton’s chances over the next five weeks, the better it will be; you see, this squad does not capitulate like the one that was humbled by Middlesbrough in 2002. Had they been of that ilk, today we would have been conducting a post mortem on an insipid defeat and lamenting the fact that Everton never turned up for their most significant match of the season. Make no mistake, that could quite easily have been the case. Wretched in the first 45 minutes and trailing to a David Wheater header, Moyes was faced with the nightmare scenario of losing the game that they were expected to win. Thankfully, after a half-time rollicking from assistant manager Steve Round, some words of encouragement from Moyes and a tactical switch, Everton emerged with the bit between their teeth and ultimately kept their hopes of securing a piece of silverware alive. Nerves and apprehension went some way to explaining why the anticipated blitzkrieg in the opening exchanges failed to materialise but there was another more obvious reason behind Everton’s failure to pass the ball with any cohesion. When Mikel Arteta crumpled to the floor at St James’ Park a fortnight ago, it was quickly accepted that his absence would have a detrimental effect on Everton’s attacking ambitions and that, sadly, is proving to be the case with each passing game
In the weeks before his cruciate ligament was severely damaged, Arteta was in sumptuous form, playing with the panache and confidence of a matador, teasing and tormenting those opponents who stood in his way. Everton, unfortunately, do not have another player of his type, an individual who demands the ball, sees passes that bit quicker than everyone else and can make things tick with metronomic precision.
With the little Spaniard out until next season, that needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency and it must be hoped that the performances of Steven Pienaar and Leon Osman in the second period will act as a catalyst for them to assume his mantle.
Add into the equation that blustery conditions prevailed, the first half became something of a war of attrition; neither side produced anything remotely resembling what you would call flowing football, while Everton, for some reason, seemed to lack passion. Then came the 15 minutes that might just have provided the Toffees with fresh impetus for the remainder of the campaign, as whatever was said in the sanctuary of the home dressing room clearly worked the oracle. Take Marouane Fellaini. He seemed more interested in wrestling with Robert Huth and shouting at referee Mark Halsey before the break but afterwards looked every inch a midfielder of huge potential. Halsey does not tend to book players but those who like a wager would have placed good money on him taking Fellaini’s name, his patience must have stretched to breaking point as behaviour became increasingly erratic. Yet once he scored Everton’s equaliser, a towering header from Tim Cahill’s pinpoint cross, the Belgian settled down and made an enormous contribution, benefiting from Louis Saha’s introduction for Jack Rodwell. Saha might have only figured sporadically since he joined the Blues in August but few would dispute that he has made an impact in most games in which he has played; yesterday’s contribution, however, outweighed them all. You don’t spend four years playing for Manchester United nor do you represent France without talent and Saha, clearly, has it in abundance, as he showed with the most subtle of headers to complete the turnaround. With Pienaar conjuring up a cross from the left that begged to be converted, Saha did the rest, nipping in between two defenders to glance his effort beyond Jones’ despairing grasp. Cue bedlam.
Having resembled a morgue for 45 minutes – can anyone explain why there was so much booing in light of recent form? – suddenly Goodison was the bouncing, hostile environment it always should be for these type of games, an explosion of noise greeting Saha’s goal to banish the anxiety and frustration. Should the Frenchman stay fit for the remainder of the campaign, the chances of Phil Neville - outstanding yet again - hoisting the Cup aloft on May 30 will dramatically improve and if Everton can get past United, there would be no team more deserving. Of course, the talk will centre around United winning every trophy and certain observers will already be talking about them having one foot in the final, especially as Ferguson has an incredible record in domestic cup semi-finals. Football, however, is not a game that goes exactly according to plan. Unbeaten runs always come to an end when they are least expected and ‘invincible’ falter just when things seem to be going to plan.
Fingers crossed, then, that Everton’s David has his slingshot ready when he locks horns with the Goliath that is Ferguson.

DAVID PRENTICE: Everton back where they once belonged
Mar 9 2009 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
TO the outsiders, it was a streaky home win over a relegation threatened Middlesbrough team – a footnote to a weekend when Manchester United moved imperiously into another semi-final and Eduardo sublimely announced his return to full fitness. But the sore throats and soaring hearts of Evertonians say something different. They will tell you it was much, much more. Everton haven’t strode out at Wembley Stadium for 14 years. They haven’t graced an FA Cup semi-final in that same timescale. And for a club which boasts the Blues’ Cup heritage and history that’s a shamefully long absence to endure. There’s a generation of Blues out there who haven’t witnessed what used to be an almost annual procession to Villa Park. Blues who have forgotten that Everton and the FA Cup always used to appear in the same sentence. Only Manchester United and Arsenal have appeared in more FA Cup semi-finals than The Toffees. And that duo only overhauled Everton’s record of 23 appearances in 2005 and 2004 respectively. But since Tottenham were taken apart in 1995 the Blues haven’t been back there. And reaching this kind of company is important. When Howard Kendall ended the Blues last 14-year drought in 1984 with a trophy, football was different. Gifted bosses could take charge of an ailing giant and transform its fortunes almost overnight. Brian Clough did it twice, Bobby Robson transformed a small Suffolk outpost, while no-one seemed capable of doing it at Old Trafford. But modern football is different. Such is the finance driven mindset of today’s Premier League those kind of sweeping changes can now only be introduced incrementally. Finishes of fourth, fifth and sixth are steps in the right direction.
But just as important is an appearance at the national stadium and the possibility of re-employing Goodison’s trophy polisher once again. The semi-final draw took a slight edge off the post-match celebrations, but only an edge. The clash with Manchester United will be staged just a few days after the Champions League quarter-final second leg, provided United complete their job on Inter Milan this week. But that’s for the future. For a few days, at least, the Blues can reflect upon a job well done . . . eventually. For 45 minutes Goodison Park was gripped by a collective anxiety.
Then Louis Saha stepped into the fray and looked every inch an Everton number nine.
It wasn’t the gilding of class and style which his entrance introduced to Everton’s play – although clearly that helped – but it was also his extra energy and desire which helped. Sometimes it takes a tackle, an extra burst, a sprint above and beyond the norm to lift a football team. Saha chased down Matthew Bates to win a throw-in within seconds of arriving – and Goodison responded. The Frenchman’s arrival also had the double-edged benefit of switching Tim Cahill back into midfield.
The Blues engine room had given up possession cheaply during a nervy and tension racked first 45 minutes. But Cahill’s presence offered a little more precision, a touch more composure in an area where it mattered. It was his precisely delivered cross which enabled Marouane Fellaini to leap highest and bundle a decisive header over the hopelessly ill-positioned Brad Jones and revive a fire which had been spluttering.
Fellaini’s fortunes once again inspired plenty of post-match debate. The naysayers point out a perceived lack of effort and apparent tactical naivety. But the giant Belgian once again had a significant influence on the proceedings. And don’t forget, this is a 20-year-old still learning the game; a youngster playing out of position in a strange country with a painful back problem. Fellaini is an important member of Everton’s first team squad, and his importance will grow. So, too, will the importance of Everton’s appearance at Wembley. The self-belief and confidence a side can receive from such an occasion can be pivotal. An FA Cup quarter-final against iddlesbrough was significant for all the wrong reasons seven years ago. This time it could be a significant step in the right direction.

Louis Saha the key to FA Cup glory: Everton FC latest
Mar 9 2009 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON boss David Moyes believes FA Cup goal hero Louis Saha is on the brink of a major impact on his side’s charge to Wembley and their bid to finish in the top six in the Premier League. Saha has been struggling with a hamstring problem, and his second-half appearance as substitute against Middlesbrough in yesterday’s quarter-final was only his fourth since November. Everton were behind to a David Wheater goal until Saha’s introduction in the second period changed the course of the match.
In a six-minute spell, Marouane Fellaini had equalised and Saha had headed the eventual winner. Now the 30-year-old is set to face his former club Manchester United in the semi-final at Wembley over the weekend of April 18/19.
Moyes revealed: “I did not expect Louis to last that long. “I felt he was only ready for about 30 minutes, but he played the whole second half and was excellent. “He is the only forward we have at the club who can provide that sort of goal threat. We will take it carefully, it will be up to Louis when he feels he can last a full match.
“But when we can use him from the start in matches it will boost our chances on both fronts, the cup and the league.” But Moyes revealed his players were given the rollicking of their lives to get them back into the match. He said: “It was who could get into the dressing room first to have a real go at them. “It was Steve Round, my coach, who got there first. “The way we played in the first half is not the way Everton play. And they were told that in no uncertain terms by both of us. “There was a lot of re-organisation needed at the break, but they also needed to be really charged up.
“We have talked a good game beforehand, but we didn’t do anything in that first half to deserve a semi-final place. “I can be angry at half-time, but Steve got there first this time and did a good job on them. “I felt they responded very well. For the first 15 minutes of the second half they were really up for it.” Phil Neville is targeting glory at Wembley following the victory . The Everton captain said: “It’s great, we’re all happy. The first half was one of the poorest performances of our season.
“In the second half we showed the real Everton and we’re not just going to the semi-final now, we want to actually win the trophy and that’s been our aim right from the word go – we want to go all the way.” “We've had to do it the hard way, but if any team deserves to get to the semi-final it's us with the teams we've played,'' added Neville. “We’re in the semi-final now and we’re going to enjoy it but we want to bring silverware to this club and now’s the time to step up and be men.”
Man of the match Saha helped turn the match in the hosts’ favour. “He’s going to be vital for us if we’re going to be successful this season,” said Neville of the France striker. Boro boss Gareth Southgate admitted his side could not handle Everton’s comeback. He said: “Of course it is a huge disappointment to lose a cup semi-final, and we were in a position of being 45 minutes from Wembley.
“Everybody’s emotions are pretty raw. We had commitment and endeavour, but we have to learn how to win matches and see matches through to the end.”

Fellaini wants final fling - Everton FC latest
Mar 9 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
MAROUANE FELLAINI today spoke for Everton’s dressing room when he reflected on their FA Cup semi-final clash with Manchester United and declared: “Let’s finish the job.” The Blues reached the last four yesterday after they came from behind to beat Middlesbrough 2-1 at Goodison Park thanks to second-half goals from Fellaini and Louis Saha. In keeping with how things have gone during this run, Everton’s reward was to be handed the hardest possible draw but Fellaini and Company are not fazed about tackling United. Having emerged from such a difficult start to the campaign, there is a determination within the squad to get a tangible reward for the efforts.
That’s why Fellaini says the Wembley date – which will bring back memories of the 1995 final – is something the players will use to inspire them. “We are in the semi-finals because we have been putting in lots of hard work and that is what we have got to continue to do,” said Fellaini. “We want to put in another great performance and we won’t be relaxing just because we have got there. We are there on merit and it is something we have been aiming for all season. “We knew whoever we would be paired against would be a tough test, so it doesn’t matter that we have to play Manchester United. We will just get on with it. “We have got to go and give a good account of ourselves now and I’m sure we will. We didn’t have a great start to the season but look at where we are now. “But we don’t just want to say ‘this is it’. We want to go all the way to the final now and we are all determined to finish the job. That’s what we aim to do at Wembley.” For 45 minutes, though, Everton’s hopes of reaching Wembley were hanging in the balance after they produced their worst performance since playing at Wigan in November. It left Moyes and his assistant Steve Round enraged and a few home truths administered during the half-time break roused the players out of their malaise. Fellaini was one man who really improved after the break and kept a lid on his temper to score his fifth goal of the campaign to begin the comeback. “It’s just a great feeling of happiness that we are going to Wembley,” said Fellaini. “Even when we were 1-0 down, we always believed we could get back. “The manager and Steve Round really got stuck into us. They deservedly gave us a rollicking and you could see the response in the second half. We were much better. “I had a feeling I might score. It was a great ball from Timmy Cahill and I just needed to make sure I kept my header above the goalkeeper.
“I’ve had 12 yellow cards this season and I am trying to keep a lid on it. It was a difficult match and there was some rough treatment but I did not react.”
Everton, meanwhile, have stressed there will be no announcement on semi-final ticket details until the end of the week at the earliest.

Everton FC's Leon Osman: We’re not just making up the numbers
Mar 10 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
LEON OSMAN today warned Manchester United Everton’s success-hungry squad have no intentions of going to Wembley just to make up the numbers.
With the identity of the FA Cup’s last four almost finalised – Arsenal are favourites to clinch the last berth ahead of Hull City – many pundits are predicting a United-Chelsea final. That has already been noted by several of Osman’s colleagues, which has made them all the more determined to upset the odds when they lock horns next month. Osman set the ball rolling on this cup run when he fired the winner against Macclesfield in the third round and after seeing off Middlesbrough’s challenge, he is desperate to go all the way to the final. “It wasn’t the Everton we know in the first half and the management team pointed that out in no uncertain terms but we knew we hadn’t performed ourselves,” said Osman. “We’d had a few league games and had to put all our concentration into them and maybe that had an impact but we can’t make too many excuses. Thankfully we put it right in the end. “We are looking forward to our trip to Wembley but we don’t want to be going there just to be seen as the fourth team in the draw nor are we going there to make up the numbers. “We are going there because we want to win the FA Cup.” Louis Saha was the man responsible for securing Everton’s place in the semi-finals and he is pressing for a start this weekend against Stoke City. Known to his team-mates as ‘King Louis’, the Frenchman is held in high esteem at Finch Farm both as a player and person. It has left Osman predicting that Saha’s best is yet to come and he hopes the striker will make a real difference as the Blues aim to put a silver lining on the campaign. Osman said: “Louis really is a class act. We saw it in training to start with, as he wasn’t match fit, but we all knew we’d signed a player. “He is top quality. You can that when he plays, as he is all action, he’s got a great touch and he attacks the ball whenever it comes to him.”

NIGEL MARTYN: Everton’s underdogs won’t be running scared of Manchester United at Wembley
Mar 10 2009 by Nigel Martyn, Liverpool Echo
TOTALLY predictable but nothing to be scared of – Everton may have been handed the toughest possible semi-final draw but it is one they are well capable of winning.
Hearts may have sank in some quarters when Manchester United emerged as the team standing between the Blues and a place in the FA Cup final but that won’t have been the case for David Moyes and his players. They will be relishing it. You have to remember that football never goes according to plan and I know from personal experience that anything can happen in a semi-final – Crystal Palace beating Liverpool 4-3 in 1990 at Villa Park proves that point. Liverpool were the Manchester United of their day and were expected to beat Palace on their way to another double but even after they took a first half lead, we always fancied our chances of getting back into the game and that is exactly what happened. What’s more, Everton did something similarin 1995 too, when the pundits were predicting a ‘dream’ final between Tottenham and United months in advance. Yes, United are a fabulous side and it hurts to admit how good they are but they are not unbeatable and I’m sure the manager will be working on how to bring about their downfall. But while the next five weeks will drag for Evertonians, who will be desperate to get to Wembley, it’s vitally important that form in the Premier League does not suffer; it would be a huge shame if the squad ended up getting distracted and allowed results to slip. You can’t turn form on and off like a switch and if, say, we lost a few games before facing United, that would make the task of getting to the final that much more difficult. If, however, we could maintain our fine run of results, keeping collecting clean sheets here and there and have a place in Europe effectively wrapped up by the time the semi-final comes around, so much the better. It is imperative, then, that we get a good result against Stoke City this weekend and I would love to see Louis Saha unleashed from the start, as he is a striker of the highest quality. The longer he stays fit, the better it will be for Everton and he could prove to be the difference between us beating United or falling short; he has got everything you would want from a striker and more, in that he’s quick, aggresive and capable of taking chances when they come along.
So, granted a bit of luck, he might put his old employers to the sword – and that is something every Blue will be desperate to see come true.

NIGEL MARTYN: Everton old boy James Beattie will be fired up for Goodison Park return
Mar 10 2009 by Nigel Martyn, Liverpool Echo
A FAMILIAR face will return to Goodison Park this weekend with the aim, no doubt, of proving a point. James Beattie will lead Stoke City’s line on Saturday and he has been in excellent form since joining the Potters in January and he looks to have rediscovered his confidence. I know from playing alongside Beats that he is a naturally confident lad but, for some reason, his spell with Everton never turned out as he, David Moyes or supporters hoped it would. When we signed him back in January 2005, I was convinced we were getting the right player at the right time and there was a buzz about the training ground on his arrival, as he looked to have the platform to take his game up another level. He first came to my attention when he played for Southampton against Leeds and totally dominated David Weatherall, who was in top form then, with little fuss. Unfortunately, things never worked out here – that happens sometimes – and it was a case of him having to take a step back into the Championship with Sheffield United before tackling the Premier League once more.
There is little doubt that our central defenders will be in for a busy time of it, as aside from Beats making a nusiance of himself, there will be an aerial bombardment, as Stoke look to maintain their place in the division. They will have been everyone’s favourites to be relegated at the start of the campaign as the bottom team but Stoke have given themselves a real good chance of staying up, even if it hasn’t always been pretty to watch. However, we are still desperate for points and hopefully our extra class will tell

NIGEL MARTYN: Everton’s Marouane Fellaini learning the error of his ways
Mar 10 2009 by Nigel Martyn, Liverpool Echo
MAROUANE FELLAINI was clearly over the moon after scoring against Middlesbrough but it was a small aside he made after the game that really struck a chord with me. Having picked up a staggering 12 bookings already this season, he acknowledged yesterday that his discipline has been a problem and he is trying “to keep a lid” on the way he acts on the pitch. When you make an admission, you go a long way to solving a problem and it would seem Fellaini knows he is being scrutinised by referees and needs to behave accordingly on the pitch.
He is a good footballer and has a lot to offer this Everton team but the Belgian won’t be any use if he keeps missing large chunks of the season by picking up needless suspensions. I’m sure the coaching staff will be working with him and reminding him to count to 10 when necessary and if he can harness his petulance, Everton will have a real asset.

Everton FC fan Lucas Everton Sherratt refuses to wear red for Comic Relief
Mar 10 2009 by Richard Irvine, Liverpool Echo
AN EVERTON mad schoolboy will celebrate BLUE Nose Day this week after refusing to wear red for charity. Six year-old Lucas Sherratt - whose middle name is Everton - told dad Seb he wouldn’t wear red like every other kid in school because of the rivalry between fans. Instead the south Cheshire schoolboy plans to wear his Everton kit and a Marouane Fellaini-style wig to raise £30 for Comic Relief.
After Lucas’ loyalty was mentioned by Chelsea fan Tim Lovejoy, while presenting BBC2’s Something for the Weekend, his fundraising leapt up to nearly £2,000 and his website crashed under the weight of visitors. TV presenter Tim said: “He just captured my imagination. Even fans of red teams are joining. You have to love football fans.”

Everton's FA Cup semi-final against Manchester United set for April 19
Mar 11 2009 By David Prentice
EVERTON'S FA Cup semi-final against Manchester United will be played on Sunday, April 19 with a 4pm kick-off. In the other semi-final, Arsenal or Hull will play Chelsea on Saturday April 18 at 5.15pm. Ticket prices for the semi-finals have remained the same for several years, but taking into account the VAT reduction they are cheaper than last season's games, which also took place at Wembley. Tickets will be available for £24.50, £34.30, £44 and £53.80. The allocation for each club will be agreed in due course as The FA meets with the teams involved, and fans wishing to purchase tickets should contact their club once this announcement has been made.

Assistant boss Steve Round: Everton have a new impetus
Mar 11 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
STEVE ROUND today insisted the stirring comeback against Middlesbrough has given Everton’s campaign a new lease of life. Having looked as if they were about to blow a golden chance of getting to Wembley, Everton’s players responded to a half-time dressing down from Round and David Moyes to maintain their excellent run of results. What particularly pleased the Blues’ assistant boss, though, was the return of the energy and drive which had been lacking in the three Premier League games prior to the FA Cup quarter-final. That’s why he is now expecting to see more of the same when Stoke City visit Goodison Park this weekend, especially after watching the squad go through their paces at Finch Farm. “After the Christmas period and some very big games in a short period of time, we just came off the pace a little bit,” said Round. “It was time to re-focus and the Cup game gave us that. “The victory and the performance, second half especially, has refocused the players and given them a renewed energy. “We gave them Monday off and when they came in yesterday, they were really bright and fresh and their training was exceptional.” Round’s furious reaction to Everton’s first-half display against his former club was mentioned by a number of players afterwards, as well as Moyes, as being key to the revival.
However, he was keen to play down the impact it had, preferring instead to praise those who were out on the pitch as the ones who really made the difference.
“It’s your job to talk to the team at half time, that’s what it’s for,” said Round. “But the manager and I don’t really take any credit for the way they played in the second half. “The players have to go out and take on board what you’ve said but they still have to nail the performance. All the credit lies with the players. “They went out second half and upped their attitude, upped their performance levels and got on the front foot.” Bill Kenwright has revealed he has been inundated with messages of goodwill from his fellow chairmen and says there is a will among them to see Everton lift the trophy. “I’ve had congratulations messages from every other club in the Premier League other than the four still left in the Cup,” he said. “I think this is a will towards Everton being successful this season because a), they know what we’ve come through, and b), they know what an extraordinary squad and manager we've got - and that’s great for me.” Meanwhile, Hope Akpan salvaged a 1-1 draw for a young Everton reserve side last night against Blackburn Rovers.

Everton star Jack Rodwell's rise to stardom
Mar 11 2009 Greg O'Keeffe
HE IS the Merseyside teenager who is fast becoming an idol to thousands of football fans thanks to his amazingly mature performances on the pitch for Everton.
Jack Rodwell signed a five-year contract with the Blues after scoring his first senior goal against Aston Villa in the FA Cup last month, and has already been touted by some as a future England international. But today the family and friends who know him best spoke of their pride as the polite, unassuming Birkdale boy became a man.
Carol Rodwell says her son will celebrate his 18th birthday with a family meal near their home in Birkdale, Southport. “The players have got the day off training and we’re going for a nice meal,” says the beautician. “Jack didn’t want a big party or anything like that. We are so proud of him. He has handled all the attention very well. Jack has always had time for his mates and football is his life. “As a child Jack ate, drank and slept football. I think his ambition was always to be a professional, although he didn’t speak about it. “We’re not really keen on doing interviews with the press because it’s not about us. After he scored against Aston Villa we had them all coming round.” The Everton midfielder lives with his mother, father Malcolm and brother Thomas, 19. Mrs Rodwell told the ECHO how the family pulled together so he could make it as a professional. She says: “Like any parents we’d do anything for our boys. Tom is a very good footballer as well, so we’d always be ferrying the boys to different games and training. “Dinner would have to be on the table at a certain time and Malcolm would come home from work, have a quick wash, and then be back out taking Jack to a match. “Tom likes other things like his music and going out, but Jack is football mad. “His heroes when he was growing up were Alan Shearer and the Brazilian striker Ronaldo. He used to follow players for their ability and not particularly what team they played for. Now it seems strange when people come up to Jack and ask for his autograph, but we know that’s how it is with footballers When he comes home it’s back to normal.” The man who first nurtured Rodwell’s footballing talent, Farnborough Junior school teacher Nick Hanlon, is still friendly with the player and his family. He says: “Jack played for the school in what was our most successful ever season. We won 14 trophies in 2001/02, including the England School FA tournament at Lilleshall and the Railtrack national six-a-side championship where the school represented Everton from the premier league and won at the Millennium Stadium. He actually played in front of 25,000 fans that day because there was the senior LDV Vans final being played there later in the afternoon. “He was absolutely outstanding and loved playing for us because we let him go up front, whereas he was a centre back for Everton. “I’ve been at the school for 20 years and a couple of lads have gone on to play with clubs but Jack was something else. “He was calm, reliable, and could handle being under pressure. He obviously knew he was good at football but never boasted about it. Instead he just got on with it on the pitch. “He comes from a lovely family, who are very supportive. We still speak a lot now and he jokes and says he should call me Sir. “He’s definitely a hero to my son Jamie. I’m delighted Jack is doing well now. “I always give him as an example to other kids and he’s only just 18.” Everton scouts spotted the former Birkdale High School pupil as a promising youngster playing for Birkdale United, and he signed for the Academy when he was only eight years old. He played in the first half of the FA Cup quarter final win over Middlesbrough on Sunday.
He was the first player to score for an England side at the new Wembley stadium.
His middle name is Christian. He has been compared by manager David Moyes to Rio Ferdinand and has been tracked by Arsenal and Manchester Utd

Everton FC boss David Moyes' Arteta challenge for Steven Pienaar
Mar 12 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES today challenged Steven Pienaar to take his impressive form up another level and fill the void left by Mikel Arteta. The Everton manager – who will celebrate seven years in charge at Goodison Park on Sunday – has been encouraged by the quietly effective way his South African midfielder has been operating in recent weeks. Pienaar particularly caught the eye in Sunday’s 2-1 win over Middlesbrough, providing the cross for Louis Saha to head Everton into the FA Cup semi-finals to take his tally of assists for the campaign up to four. That might be way below last year’s total of 14 but Moyes hopes there is more to come and has urged Pienaar to take over Everton’s creative mantle, especially as he will be without Arteta for the remainder of the season. “Steven is playing very well at the minute and his cross for Louis was very important,” said Moyes, whose side return to Premier League action on Saturday against Stoke City. “He is a player who always gives us a chance of scoring a goal and we need him and Leon Osman to maintain their standards in the next couple of months. “Steven had a slow start to the season – you have to remember he missed a good bit of time after breaking his toe – and he picked up another injury shortly after that. “But he is the one who, at the minute, is showing really good signs and we would hope he can continue in the same vein of good form.” As Pienaar came to the fore to help Everton overturn a half-time deficit, so too did Osman, who had been a doubt for the quarter-final encounter after picking up a knock in training.
He had previously missed three games at the end of last month with damaged stomach muscles and Moyes hopes the midfielder’s fitness issues are now over. “The longer the game went on, the better Steven and Ossie became and they have got to keep that going now – they have got to step it up,” said Moyes. “When they have been out this season, we have missed them both – just as we are going to miss Mikel, who had been in really good form. “Leon has had his problems with injury lately and we need to get him on the training pitch a bit more than we have been. “If we can do that, there is no doubt in my mind that he can be an important player for us, just as he has been so often in the past.” Though his squad has been stretched to breaking point in the last couple of months, Moyes does not have any major worries ahead of the Stoke game.

Everton FC legend Joe Royle hoping for a Wembley repeat against Manchester United
Mar 12 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
TRY as he might, Joe Royle wanted to give his beloved Blues an easier passage to the FA Cup Final but the balls decided otherwise. “We had done a rehearsal before the live draw was broadcast and from that we were due to play Chelsea,” revealed the last manager to bring silverware back to Goodison Park. “So it was always going to be tough. At this stage of a competition, you get what you are given.” Once Manchester United were paired alongside Everton, many were quick to make declarations that a ‘dream’ final between the men from Old Trafford and Chelsea was on the cards but Royle knows better than anyone that similar noises were being made in 1995 when Alex Ferguson’s side and Tottenham were kept apart at the last four stage. As a manager who was as famed for his quips as he was his tactical acumen, after he had masterminded Everton’s 4-1 destruction of Spurs in the semi-final at Elland Road, Royle marched in and told the waiting Press corps – many of whom had faces like thunder: “Sorry about the dream final lads - but bollocks to you. And that’s with a double ‘L’.” Quite whether David Moyes would deliver such a line is open to debate but one thing that isn’t hard to imagine is him following in Royle’s footsteps and leading the Blues to Wembley against the odds for a day out at the end of May. There are also parallels between the current run and the one that ended with Dave Watson receiving the famous old pot off Prince Charles 14 years ago. Hard fought wins in rounds three and four, an expressive victory to clear the last 16 hurdle followed by another triumph in front of a baying Goodison Park crowd against opponents from the North East, it is little wonder that the memories have come flooding back for Royle, especially now that a Wembley date with United beckons. “I can remember it like yesterday,” said Royle, whose tickets for the tie on April 19 have already been ordered. “Not a week goes by without it crossing my mind, whether it be someone talking to me about it or me thinking independently about the day. It was such a fabulous occasion.” Further similarities between that campaign and the current can be made in the fact that they began with potentially ruinous starts. Admittedly, the hole out of which Royle had to dig Everton was much deeper than the one that Moyes and company found themselves in back in the autumn and he makes no secret that winning the cup was very much second in the list of priorities. When he took over from Mike Walker in November 1994, the engaging Royle’s remit was to keep Everton in the top flight and it was only after Paul Rideout scored a winning goal at Ipswich the following May that he started to entertain the idea of winning the cup. “We switched off completely,” he said taking up the story. “The tension was gone after we won at Portman Road. “That was always the big battle, making sure we avoided relegation.
“But there was nothing lucky about the success. “You have to remember that we had already beaten Manchester United that season and we were on the verge of becoming a really good side. So there was a quiet belief about the place. “We went down to London a few days before the final, we watched some cinema, the lads played a bit of snooker and the only person who didn’t switch off was the manager.” That Royle was in a stew was because he knew he had to break arguably the most difficult piece of news he had ever done during his career. “I just couldn’t settle as I knew I was going to have to tell John Ebbrell there was no place for him in the squad,” Royle continued.
“He had played such a massive part for me but it was the days when you only had three substitutes and I needed to find a place for Duncan (Ferguson) – who caused United so many problems – and Daniel Amokachi. “I know it absolutely devastated John and sitting down to tell him that was a horrible experience, one that a player like him did not deserve.” If it turned out to be a bitter-sweet experience for Ebbrell, the same could not be said for every other Evertonian who saw Rideout score the winning goal against United and Royle has a sneaking suspicion that history could well repeat itself. “The precedent has been set in the past and there is no reason why we can’t go all the way,” said a man who will always be regarded as one of Goodison’s favourite sons. “People say that your name is on the cup but you have got to earn that right and we have certainly done that with the teams we have beaten so far. “Put it this way, Sir Alex won’t be taking us lightly. You can guarantee that. You know for a start that Everton are going to defend well. “My one concern is that we might just be walking an injury and disciplinary tightrope – I really don’t think we can lose one more player.
“But if we don’t, we can go there knowing we’ve nothing to lose. And wouldn’t it be great to see a sea of Blue celebrating at Wembley once more?”

Louis Saha is top quality, says Everton legend Joe Royle
Mar 12 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
JOE ROYLE’S place in the pantheon of Goodison’s striking greats has long since been secured, so he is well placed to placed to offer a view on the man who wears his old shirt. Louis Saha’s glancing header against Middlesbrough, which propelled Everton into the FA Cup’s last four, had supporters of certain age describing it as a proper number nine’s goal – the kind which Royle scored regularly during his playing days. Should the current number nine stay clear of injury between now and the end of May, the Blues hopes of putting a silver lining on the campaign will dramatically improve and Saha’s efforts have left Royle nodding his head in approval.
“He is absolutely top class, there’s no doubt,” said a man who found the net 119 times in 276 appearances for Everton after making his debut as 16-year-old. “Sir Alex doesn’t tend to make many mistakes in the transfer market, especially when he spends more than £12m on a player, and the key to Louis is keeping him fit. “He scored a smashing header against Middlesbrough and I’m sure he can be a big influence for us if we can keep him on the pitch. “He’s powerful, quick and it’s just been such a shame that he has missed so much football. Hopefully that will change now.” Royle took Everton into Europe in 1995 and he now expects David Moyes to do the same again next season. “David will be going full throttle until the end of the season,” Royle added. “But, as far as I’m concerned, I think we’ve got a place in the top six all sewn up.”

Everton FC reserves: John Paul Kissock back for draw with Blackburn
Mar 12 2009 by James Pearce, Liverpool Echo
TEENAGE midfielder John Paul Kissock impressed in his first Everton reserve team appearance since returning from a loan spell at Accrington Stanley, but the Blues had to settle for a point against Blackburn at the Halton Stadium. Jason Lowe put Rovers in front but Hope Akpan equalised. Everton fell behind after 17 minutes as they paid the price for failing to clear a corner. However, just eight minutes later Akpan fired past the keeper to level proceedings. After the break Blackburn’s Marcus Marshall blazed wide before Roque Santa Cruz skied a chance. Blues keeper Iain Turner had to be at his best to keep out Jason Lowe's shot and Everton nearly won it late on.
Kieran Agard latched onto Eunan O'Kane's cross but failed to hit the target.

Blue Boys: Everton FC's triumph at Blackburn Rovers was a big lift, says Neil Dewsnip
Mar 12 2009 by James Pearce, Liverpool Echo
COACH Neil Dewsnip is hoping his players will take a lot of confidence from their impressive 3-1 victory at Blackburn in the FA Premier Academy League.
The Blues went into the game on the back of successive defeats to Manchester City and West Brom but triumphed courtesy of goals from Adam Forshaw, Luke Powell and Conor McAleny. “It was a great win and it’s something the players needed,” he said. “It is good for morale and gave the place a lift. “We started well and took the lead but after that they were a real threat and equalised. “They were doing better than us towards the end of the first half but in the second half we played really well and got back in front. “From then we weren’t really troubled. They huffed and puffed but we played well enough before wrapping the game up late on. “We would have liked to pass the ball more but in terms of team spirit, passion and desire it was a fantastic performance.” Everton took the lead after just three minutes when the home keeper miskicked a clearance straight to 17-year-old midfiedler Forshaw, whose first time effort sailed into the net. Blackburn were back on level terms after 25 minutes as they cashed in on a defensive mix up between keeper Lars Stubhaug and defender Shane Duffy. In the second half Everton stepped up a gear and Karl Sheppard was denied by a superb save. Duffy and Cory Sinnott also went close before the Blues finally restored their lead on the hour. Striker Powell burst past a Rovers defender and slid a shot past the keeper. Powell almost doubled his tally soon after with a fierce 25-yarder which struck the bar. Blackburn pressed for a second equaliser but the Blues held firm and then counter attacked with substitute McAleny wrapped up the points late on.
Dewsnip will be hoping his side can build on that victory when they entertain Stoke City at Finch Farm on Saturday (kick-off 11am). Defender Lee McArdle is ruled out with a knee problem.
EVERTON UNDER-18s: Stubhaug; Nsiala, Sinnott, Duffy, Bidwell; Craig, Kinsella, Forshaw; McCready; Powell (Codling 65), Sheppard (McAleny 65). Subs: Davies, Nolan, Krenn.

Former Everton FC star Lee Carsley earns great reviews from Birmingham City manager Alex McLeish
Mar 12 2009 by James Pearce, Liverpool Echo
EX-EVERTON favourite Lee Carsley has been earning rave reviews from Birmingham City manager Alex McLeish. The Irish midfielder, 35, who left Goodison last summer, is playing a starring role as skipper in City’s push for promotion to the Premier League. Carsley’s battle-hardened determination was symbolised during the 1-0 win over Southampton last weekend when he returned to the field with a blood-stained bandage around his head after needing eight stitches. McLeish said: “Carsley is just a great character. You always want people like that with you in the trenches when you go to battle. The young players love him. “He’s very respectful of the kids – he’s got respect for everybody and he is a great team player. He is a guy who really cares.”

Everton out to avoid FA Cup hangover
Mar 13 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES today promised there will be no FA Cup hangover as Everton aim to extend their seven-game unbeaten run against Stoke City. While many supporters have spent the week making plans for next month’s trip to Wembley, it has been a case of ‘business as usual’ for Moyes and his squad. Though a semi-final date with Manchester United has captured the imagination, Moyes’ main priority is getting as many Premier League points on the board as possible. With Stoke fighting for their lives, the Blues will be hot favourites but their manager knows it is anything but a foregone conclusion that they will collect three points. As West Brom proved last month, those down at the foot of the table can provide the most difficult tests and that is why Moyes is demanding maximum concentration. “I don’t think there was any massive euphoria on behalf of the players or coaching staff, as we just had a job to do in the second half,” said Moyes. “We certainly didn’t over celebrate and we are not thinking about the semi-final yet. “As far as I am concerned, we have got an important run of games coming up. “I’m sure we will have to be patient; we only have to think back to our last home league game to remember that. “West Brom were difficult opponents, as were Bolton. “We got there in the end of both of those games and I’m sure this will be another tough game. “Stoke have done really well and given themselves a great chance of staying up.” Everton – who will have Tim Cahill available after he shrugged off the effects of a bug that caused him to miss training on Tuesday – beat Stoke 3-2 when the sides met earlier this season. Tony Pulis’ men looked set for a difficult time back then but have since defied the odds to stay out of the bottom three and have proven that they can pick points up on the road.
Moyes is expecting another no holds barred encounter and he has stressed to his players that they will need to raise their game to maintain their push for a European place. “It’s going to be tight at the bottom of the table over these last 10 games, a real pressure cooker environment, and I’m certainly pleased we aren’t involved in it,” said Moyes. “The table is going to be changing from one week to the next but we have got our own job to do. We’ll have to be on our guard tomorrow but I’m pleased with our home form. “Nevertheless, it will need to remain at a high standard because Stoke have had some good results on their travels, like against Liverpool and Aston Villa.
“They will be well organised, they will try to hit us on the counterattack and it’s up to us produce another good performance.”

Time flies when you’re having fun – Everton boss David Moyes
Mar 13 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
THERE is a shake of the head, then a sigh of disbelief when it dawns on David Moyes that seven years have passed since he first bounded into Goodison Park.
Time, of course, waits for no man and the relentless demands of being a Premier League manager invariably means that Moyes rarely has chance to pause for thought but even he is taken aback how quickly things have moved on since he took over from Walter Smith on March 14, 2002. Everton’s name has never changed, nor has their ethos, but tradition has not stopped overwhelming progress being made, to such an extent that the club now residing in L4 4EL is almost unrecognisable to the one that lured Moyes away from Preston North End. Finding a successor for Smith was arguably the most important decision Bill Kenwright, then chairman Sir Philip Carter and the board of directors have had to make and it was imperative that they made the right decision. George Graham, Peter Reid, Dave Jones and Gary Megson were all linked with the post after Smith was axed following a woeful FA Cup defeat at Middlesbrough but Moyes was the man whom Kenwright wanted from the start and the memory of their first meeting, when the Blues’ owner spoke so passionately about what he thought Everton could achieve, remains ingrained on the Scot’s mind.
“I remember initially speaking to Bill and then having a meeting with him,” Moyes recalled. “It’s amazing to think that seven years have gone by. “I remember the press conference, the first days training and everything over the Thursday and Friday building to that first game against Fulham that we had to win.” He stresses the words ‘had to’ and it’s worth reminding yourself why; when Moyes came in, Everton looked to be heading on a slippery slope that would see them drop out of the top-flight with a squad packed full of 30-somethings, whose best days were a thing of the past. Bookmakers even rated The Toffees chances of being relegated as no better than 2-1 but from the moment David Unsworth scored the first goal of Moyes’ reign within 27 seconds of kick-off, optimism began to grow and that has continued to be the case.
Having lowered the age of the squad and dramatically improved the quality of personnel, Moyes – who marks his seventh anniversary with a home game against Stoke City – has changed the perception of Everton, who are now regarded as top six material every year, as opposed to being a club continually fighting for its life.
True, there have been a couple of blips – seasons 2003-04 and 2005-06 will never be looked back upon with any great fondness – but, in the main, Moyes and Kenwright have worked patiently, side by side, to turn the tide and that approach has reaped rewards. Moyes, though, is not the kind of man who will simply sit back and admire his work; there remains a relentless determination to keep pushing Everton forward – proof of that comes from the fact that they now have a state of the art training ground in Halewood, as opposed to their quaint but out-dated former Bellefield base – and a refusal to accept second best. “I have got really fond memories and it goes without saying that I have enjoyed myself,” said Moyes, who immediately endeared himself to every Blue by declaring Everton to be ‘The People’s Club’. “I was made to feel welcome straight away by everyone, not least the supporters. The time has flown and hopefully the next few years will be just as enjoyable, maybe even more so.
“Bill has been nothing other than supportive. Yes, there have been times when things have not always gone how we have wanted them to but it has never been for the want of trying. We have tried to make our supporters proud of Everton again.
“I don’t know whether we will have the heady days of the mid-1980s again, when Everton were the best team in the country during that period; that was a different era in football but we are striving to achieve the very best we can for this football club.”
That has meant pushing the boat out in terms of finance each year – Moyes has broken the club’s transfer record on four occasions since 2005 – but it has not been done in a reckless way and it has gone to show that you don’t need to throw millions around or offer obscene wages to achieve your goals. It would be fitting, then, if Moyes could put a gloss on things by winning the FA Cup in May but it wouldn’t be the end of the world if that was the case and, as he points out, it is worth remembering how far they have come. “I don’t know if I could have been involved with a team that had been nearer to the bottom of the table than the top,” he said. “That’s not my style but, then again, maybe if we had been down at the bottom, maybe they wouldn’t have stuck with me. We’ve tried to make progress in a quiet way and pick up steadily.
“It might have gone quicker if we had more money at our disposal but who knows? We may have even been in a worse position. You never know. “You have to remember that a lot of other teams are trying to do exactly what we are but, yes, things have gone well in the main for us. “The short-term goal was to avoid relegation but there was never any pressure from Bill. He just left me to get on with it and I wanted to succeed. “We were at the wrong end of the table at that time and it was important to get confidence. That’s why it was such a relief to get off to the start we did against Fulham and I was so pleased for Bill, the players and the supporters.”

Captain Fantastic Neville put us on Wembley Way - Howard Kendall column
Mar 13 2009 by Howard Kendall, Liverpool Echo
THERE comes a time during the course of a season when a captain is needed to lead by example and Phil Neville did that last weekend. With the Everton’s FA Cup ambitions hanging in the balance, Neville picked his team up and never put a foot out of place during a stirring second half comeback against Middlesbrough that has secured a trip to Wembley. He was outstanding, fully deserving of his man-of-the- match award, and you could see from the first tackle Neville made that he was up for it; when others looked lost, he was always trying to push the team forward.
David Moyes has put a lot of faith in him down the years and knows him better than anyone but I have to say that he really caught my eye, which hasn’t always been the case. Credit where it is due, I thought he was excellent. Just like his manager, Neville will be a very proud man leading the Blues out at Wembley and while I’m not a fan of the cup semi-finals being staged there, I don’t think that too many supporters will be complaining about it. It has been too long since we had a trip to the capital and it is one that everyone will savour - but it goes without saying that we are not going down there just to have a look around or take in the sights. Back in the 1984 FA Cup Final when we played Watford, it was evident quite early that their supporters were there just for a day out and win, lose or draw, they were determined to enjoy themsel- ves; we, on the other hand, were simply determined to win. Manchester United, of course, will provide stiff opposition but with so many players who used to be on the books at Old Trafford in our ranks - namely Neville, Louis Saha and Tim Howard - I think we can cause them problems. First things first, however, and we must beat Stoke City tomorrow. It is certain to be a tough game but while I respect my old club’s chances, I’d be confident of a hard fought home win to keep the recent good run of form going.
All English final looks odds on once again
IT’S BEEN another terrific week for English football and, if proof were needed, it is clear to see that we have the strongest division in Europe. True, there are a lot of foreign players plying their trade on these shores but it is testament to the skills of the managers involved that all four of our Champions League representatives reached the last eight. You would have to say at this stage of the Champions League that an all English final looks odds-on once again. I have a sneaking suspicion that Arsenal might go close after their hard-fought win in Rome on Wednesday. Arsene Wenger’s side are showing signs of hitting top form again but as for potential dark horses, I would be looking no further than Bayern Munich, who obliterated Sporting Lisbon.
The German giants could yet turn out to be a match for anyone.

Blues set to unleash Louis Saha
Mar 16 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES is ready to unleash Louis Saha from the start against Stoke City this afternoon now that Everton’s number nine has recaptured top form. The France international has made four substitute appearances in the past month since recovering from a hamstring problem, scoring two goals in that period. Given his history of fitness issues, Moyes has been loathe to pitch Saha back into action until he was absolutely certain that he would not suffer any reactions. But the way the 30-year-old has performed in training this week has provided Moyes with peace of mind that the time is fast approaching when he can let Saha loose. “Louis has got fantastic ability and he has done well for us coming off the bench,” said Moyes of the man whose header put Everton into the FA Cup semi-finals. “But we have had to delay starting with Louis. It’s been a case of building him up again and we’ve been keeping an eye on him. Now, though, he looks ready to start and we’ll decide when the time is right. There are few things we will have to think about.” Moyes will be hoping to celebrate the seventh anniversary of his appointment with victory over the Potters and admits this campaign has exceeded his expectations. When the two sides last met in September, Everton were stuck in the middle of a run that nearly grounded their ambitions for the year before they had chance to take flight. That the Blues have hauled themselves back into the top six and reached the last four of the FA Cup has taken a huge effort, much to Moyes’ obvious delight. “Maybe this year more than any other, you have seen the strength of the spirit within this club,” said the manager.
“When we had that bad start, people didn’t get flaky and the unity within the group has kept everyone going, even when we have lost key players like Louis, Yak and Mikel. “Now we are seven points off fourth place and we are trying to catch Arsenal and Aston Villa. We’ll keep chipping away and see if we can close the gap.”
One man, meanwhile, who won’t be involved this afternoon is Andy van der Meyde. The Dutchman has tweaked a hamstring in training and will be out for a couple of weeks.

FA Cup hero Louis Saha could make his first start in three months
Mar 14 2009 by Ian Doyle, Liverpool Echo
FA CUP hero Louis Saha is poised to take the latest step in his return to full fitness at Everton by making his first start in more than three months. Goodison manager David Moyes has hinted the French striker will begin up front for the visit of struggling Stoke City this afternoon. Saha has not started a game since the 1-0 defeat at Wigan Athletic on November 24, six days before injuring his hamstring in the win at Tottenham Hotspur. The problem sidelined the 30-year-old for eight weeks, after which he has been restricted to cameo appearances from the bench. Saha came off the bench to score in the 2-0 home win over West Bromwich Albion a fortnight ago, and was then introduced at half-time during last Sunday’s FA Cup quarter-final against Middlesbrough and within 11 minutes had scored the winner. Although fellow strikers Yakubu and Victor Anichebe are out for the season and James Vaughan is still recovering from knee surgery, Moyes has been careful not to over-exert Saha.
But Moyes said yesterday: "The time has come for Louis to go back in from the start. He has shown he is ready now, and it is just a question of juggling the side to see how we will balance it. "I think we have to keep an eye on his overall injuries and make sure we get the best out of him. HI think he's doing a great job for us now.
"What I've got to decide is where and when I use him, so that I get the most benefit out of him. "But he's definitely helped us, he's got fantastic ability as everybody knows. He deserves his chance." Saha is most likely to be partnered up front by Jo, who was cup-tied for last week’s Cup win over Middlesbrough that has set up a Wembley semi-final against Manchester United next month. However, Moyes has urged his players not to lose focus in the Premier League with the Everton manager retaining the belief his sixth-placed side can make up the seven-point gap to the Champions League qualification berths. "For Stoke, it is easy to concentrate on that game and not the Cup because I passionately believe the league position is the most important thing," said the Scot. "Let's face it, you can win the cup without playing anyone, but you can only get towards the top of the league by being consistent over nine months. "As a manager, you realise you can only judge a side on their league performance because the FA Cup is not a true reflection, as much as I would love to win a trophy. We still have to aim for fourth, and we can still achieve it.
"I'm really excited by beating Middlesbrough and getting into the semi-final but in my head we still have a chance of targeting fourth. "So I'm not going to turn off and rely on that one game (against United) because if it didn't go right then all these league games would be wasted. "The players know the focus is on Stoke and winning the games which come before the semi-final." Dan Gosling is pressing for a return to the starting line-up today but Tony Hibbert (thigh), Mikel Arteta (knee) and Nuno Valente (knee) are all definitely out with Andy van der Meyde almost certain to be also absent after injuring his hamstring in training this week. Everton have received an allocation of 31,825 tickets for the Wembley semi-final against United, which will take place on Sunday, April 19 at 4pm. Discussions will take place over the weekend about how to allocate these and the club hope to make an announcement regarding ticket details early next week.

Everton v Stoke City: Leon Osman’s high on Wembley dreams
Mar 14 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
A TRIP to Wembley has captured the imagination of all Evertonians and Leon Osman is no different. While many who made the journey in 1995 to see Joe Royle’s side topple Manchester United are hoping to see history repeat itself next month, Osman has started dreaming that his next visit to the home of English football will turn out just like the last. Osman has never represented England at international level, but was a regular at schoolboy level and in 1997, put his name on the scoresheet in a 2-1 victory over Germany that he still remembers fondly to this day. “I’ve been to new Wembley with my wife for an England game,” he said. “But that was a great day when I scored for the schoolboys; me and another lad from Skelmersdale, Ian Armstrong, got the goals. Hopefully the result will be the same next time.”
Not surprisingly, he has taken a trip down memory lane on a number of occasions during the days since Middlesbrough were dispatched in the quarter-finals and would love nothing more than to score against Alex Ferguson’s men in five weeks.
But, for now, league points take priority and Everton will be looking to mark the seventh anniversary of David Moyes’ appointment as manager by beating Stoke at Goodison today. Osman was part of the youth ranks when Moyes arrived from Preston but has worked his way from being a kid with promise to an important member of the squad since 2002. He made his debut during a campaign that saw Everton finish with the lowest points tally in their history but after that nadir, the story has been one of relentless progress, save for one blip in 2005/06. Now firmly established back in the country’s top six teams, victory over Stoke would take the Blues a step nearer towards qualifying for Europe for the third campaign in a row and that would be quite an achievement when considering what happened last summer. The overriding ambition of everyone in the squad, however, is to make the next step and get a tangible reward for their efforts; Osman, like the rest of his team-mates, knows the FA Cup provides them with a gilt-edged opportunity. “It’s up to us to transform the progress we have made and get something to show for it,” said Osman. “We have been progressing over the years. We had a surprising fourth place finish once but we thoroughly deserved it.
“We then finished eleventh – maybe there was a little bit too much expectancy on us – but we followed that up with sixth, fifth and, all being well, we’ll finish up in the top six once more. It would be great if we could then crown that with a trophy.
“We’re in the semi-final of the major cup competition in this country, last year we reached the Carling Cup semi-finals. We’ve certainly been progressing and we want to finish the job.” That Everton find themselves in the top six and in the FA Cup semi-finals after enduring a wretched start to the season, as well as losing their most expensive striker and midfield talisman to sickening injuries, says much for the unity in the group. Osman knows that many on the outside would have expected them to fold but he points out that these players refuse to take second best and others have stepped up their efforts to come in from the sidelines. “The spirit never wanes,” said Osman, who has been battling to overcome a series of niggling fitness problems recently. “We take knocks as individuals and we take knocks as a team. But we don’t sulk and we don’t moan about it. We just get on with things. “It’s been disappointing to lose Yak for most of the season and it’s also been a huge blow to lose Mikel. But who knows? When they come back next season, they might be like new signings.
“We’ve certainly been getting better but it just shows that people are ready to come in and take their chances. Young Jack (Rodwell) and Dan (Gosling) have come in and cemented their places as first team squad members now.” Both Rodwell and Gosling will be in the squad this afternoon, as will Brazilian striker Jo (below) , who missed last week’s celebrations due to being ineligible but Moyes is unlikely to make too many changes to the side that finished against Middlesbrough. Inevitably, some supporters will have their eyes on the semi-final but that is certainly not the case with the players and Osman says they have heeded Moyes’ words that there is no time to dwell on past achievements. “We are moving in the right direction and getting to a showpiece semi-final proves that again,” said Osman. “But the manager, coaches and ourselves as players – we won’t let anyone get carried away. “There were three weeks between the fifth round and the quarter-final and we managed to stay unbeaten. The cup hasn’t been a distraction. We will continue to play as we know we can and we are determined to do that against Stoke today.”

Dominic King: Why James Beattie needed a new stage in life
Mar 14 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
HE arrived with a big reputation, with many telling him he had the platform to become a Goodison great, but eventually departed under a cloud with his reputation bruised. James Beattie became Everton’s first £6m man when moving from Southampton in January 2005 but the performances and goals for which many hoped never arrived and little more than two years later, he jettisoned to Sheffield United.
After leaving Goodison in the summer of 2007, Beattie felt compelled to make public a number of grievances as to why he never hit the heights and suggested that David Moyes, the man who had brought him from the south coast, was to blame.
Intimating that there had been fallouts and how he was the victim of an unfair selection policy, you might be inclined to think that there will be fireworks in the Goodison tunnel this afternoon when Beattie makes his first return to Merseyside.
Nothing could be further from the truth. While many will believe that Bellefield was the scene of a number of heated exchanges between the two men, the reality is that there was never anything of the sort. Moyes, more than anyone, wanted Beattie to be a success when he sold Everton’s ambitions to him four winters ago and on paper it looked like the deal that would have provided some fresh impetus in the push to secure a Champions League place. Sometimes, however, you can have all the talent in the world, the right application and desire, but it just doesn’t work out; Beattie – like Simon Davies – found the stage that Goodison offered simply did not suit.
From the moment he was sent off for butting William Gallas during a defeat against Chelsea, the overriding impression was that he faced an uphill battle to prove he deserved to lead Everton’s line. Thanks to a series of nagging injuries, coupled with a style that was completely different to the one Southampton used to play, it was one that he lost; not even the arrival of his great friend Andrew Johnson could coax him back to his best. Though the one time England international may feel that he was forced over the Pennines because Moyes had an axe grind, it simply came down to economics – when the Blades made an offer of £4m for Beattie, it was too good to turn down. What’s more, it is worth remembering that he had lost his touch in front of goal; Beattie made 35 appearances during the campaign which saw Everton qualify for the UEFA Cup but only scored twice, both of which were penalties. It wasn’t good enough. For Everton to make progress, Moyes needed to sign a poacher and the money he received from selling Beattie made up a part of the £11.25m that was paid to Middlesbrough for Ayegbeni Yakubu. Surely nobody can argue with that decision?
It must be stressed that this is no character assassination of Beattie; he was always helpful with this publication with regards to doing interviews, his bubbly personality made him a popular figure in the dressing room and he did have some fine moments.
There was a period at the start of 2006 when he was unplayable; he bullied Sol Campbell into submission and scored the only goal when Arsenal were beaten that January, while he produced a goal of the season contender with a sublime chip against Fulham. Had he done that regularly, rather than fleetingly, who knows? Perhaps Beattie would have gone on to become a Goodison great and there would have been no talk of quarrels with Moyes. Unfortunately, he never managed to find any real consistency and a parting of the ways was the only sensible course of action – but though he is now plying his trade in the Potteries do not think he has lost all affection for the Blues. Beattie, you may be surprised to learn, was one of the first people to send a message of congratulations to chairman Bill Kenwright after Liverpool had been knocked out of the FA Cup; safe to say he will be rooting for his old club if they end up going all the way.

Barry Horne: The secret of success from 12 yards is . .
Mar 14 2009 by Barry Horne, Liverpool Echo
I DON'T mean to be critical of academics in sport – or even well meaning research – but I couldn't help chuckle at an article in the Times this week. If the report was to be believed, the widely respected sports science department at John Moores University, a faculty which is quite rightly widely renowned, has released findings from a new study into penalty taking. Some of those findings were that . . . if you strike the ball quickly into the top corner of the goal you will have a much better chance of scoring!
In fact the actual wording suggested that if you could hit the ball faster than 65mph and within 50 centimetres of the crossbar or post, you would almost certainly score.
It didn't actually specify which side of the post or crossbar, but maybe that's just me being frivolous. I have read a huge number of these articles, books and reports – and what they never take into account is the human element of taking a penalty kick.
They never assess the levels of skill, confidence and ability required – in fact all the elements which make sport such a worthwhile activity. If it was simply all about probability, nobody would ever bother watching sport. One of my best mates in football – somebody I played alongside for four years – boasted an incredible record of 47 successful penalty kicks from 48 attempts. Matthew Le Tissier once told me his secret of taking successful penalties. He said: “I know where the goal is, I know where the ball is, I know where my right foot is and I know where my left foot is.
“So I just wait for the goalkeeper to move and then I put the ball somewhere else.”
That's how Matthew Le Tissier took penalties, and he hit the nail squarely on the head – as he so often does nowadays in his role as a Sky TV pundit. Knowing how to take a successful penalty kick is not something that you can ever study. It's about bottle!

Everton v Stoke City: Trio set to return for struggling Stoke
Mar 14 2009 Liverpool Echo
WINGER Matthew Etherington is back after serving his three-match ban and returns to a full strength Stoke squad at Everton. A 10-day break since Stoke last played in the Premier League against Bolton has enabled Abdoulaye Faye and Andy Wilkinson to recover from slight back injuries to take their places in defence. Meanwhile, striker Dave Kitson has cast his long-term future with the Potters in doubt after admitting that joining the club last summer was “the worst footballing decision I have made.”
The 29-year-old became Stoke’s record buy when he signed from Reading for £5.5m but after just 16 Premier League appearances – and no goals – is back with Steve Coppell’s side on loan. He said: “I made the decision to go to Stoke, no-one made me and it was probably the worst footballing decision I have made. That Reading team had two or three more years in it and it was a shame to see it break up.”
Stoke squad: Sorensen, Wilkinson, Shawcross, Abdoulaye Faye, Higginbotham, Lawrence, Diao, Whelan, Delap, Beattie, Sidibe, Simonsen, Fuller, Etherington, Amdy Faye, Cresswell, Sonko, Cort, Pugh, Kelly, Camara, Tonge, Griffin, Olofinjana.

Barry Horne: Decisive Davey is playing a blinder
Mar 14 2009 by Barry Horne, Liverpool Echo
IN the recent Premier League matches against Bolton and West Brom, Everton started like an express train. That didn’t happen against Middlesbrough last weekend and decisive action was required to prevent a demoralising defeat. Fortunately David Moyes took those decisions displaying a newly found confidence and maturity.
In recent months he has been behaving like a plate spinner at a Royal Variety Show and has performed miracles. He has managed players through injuries and suspensions, took a gamble on Louis Saha last weekend and was repaid in handsome fashion. The Blues have now lost just once in the last 17 games – and that was at Manchester United. During that run they have also faced Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool on three different occasions. The fixtures the Blues have left all come into the ‘winnable’ category, which includes today’s visit of Stoke. I was at Stoke versus Bolton recently when Stoke did to Bolton what Bolton were doing to everybody else two or three years ago. They showed a terrific spirit and have one or two decent players. Ricardo Fuller can be a handful for anybody and James Beattie will undoubtedly be back with a point to prove. There’s absolutely no doubt that the £3.5m that Tony Pulis paid to a cash-strapped Sheffield United was always going to be a steal. But Everton still have no reason to fear anything.

Dominic King: Text service will help to stop unruly behaviour
Mar 14 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON have launched a new service to help eradicate offensive behaviour on match days. Supporters will be able to anonymously text the details of anyone engaging in threatening or intimidating activity. The club is urging fans to make a stand, report offenders and help create a more enjoyable match day experience.
To use the service, supporters simply text HELP followed by the stand, row and seat of the offender and then the nature of the problem to 82085. Head of security Ray Foy said: “This is an innovative way of allowing our fans to help us make Goodison Park an even more friendly and hospitable place. “This service will allow us to address any small minorities who are spoiling the experience for other supporters.” The system allows those reporting problems to remain anonymous at all times during the process.
After sending their text, which is charged at standard network rates, supporters will receive confirmation and the information will be passed to the stadium security team.

Dominic King: Another win for the Blues
Mar 14 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DERBY victories for the Blues have become the norm of late, as listeners of Radio City’s Terrace Talk will be aware. Everton have built up a healthy lead in ‘The Battle of the Mersey’ quiz (16 wins to the Reds’ 10), so it was with trepidation that this correspondent went on air seven days ago. For those who don’t know, a pressure situation was made all the more acute when it emerged that the opposition was none other than our sports editor. However, we should have known there was nothing to worry about. Similarly to the FA Cup tie, another Blue victory was recorded with consummate ease. Of course, it was predictable that this month’s wages have been dramatically reduced but at least there was some compensation – a kiss from Ian Snodin on Sunday. How many people have had such a ‘pleasure’? On second thoughts don’t answer that!

Everton 3, Stoke City 1: Hair-raising but consistent Blues march on
Mar 16 2009 by Nick Smith, Liverpool Daily Post
IT’S becoming a weekly event – spotting significant signs of Everton’s progress over the course of David Moyes’s seven years in charge, and this season in particular.
Saturday’s came in the form of a sense of unease and a hint of bewilderment that Stoke weren’t consigned to the rubbish bin as swiftly as the afro wigs.Because after Jo and Joleon Lescott punctuated a vibrant opening period with early goals, the mood went the same way as Marouane Fellaini’s iconic shock of black hair – deflated.
It seemed surreal that in light of Everton’s early dominance that it was only when the Belgian’s injury-time clincher went in that the destination of the points was assured.
Chiefly because of a refusal to re-emerge after the break, punished by Ryan Shawcross’s headed goal, the home side proceeded to make much harder work of this than they needed to. But then why worry? After all, we’ve all been here before. Welcome to the climax of the season, Everton style. Last year they crawled wearily over the UEFA Cup qualification line and if their loss of momentum against Stoke is anything to go by, a similar stagger towards the finish beckons again. But the good news is, they have a nine-point head start on any would-be challengers to their top six status and, just as was the case in the FA Cup quarter-final with Middlesbrough last week, it’s not how you reach your goal that counts. It’s just getting there.
A philosophy that has played no small part in a mightily impressive three months in which the only defeat Moyes’s men have suffered was to a solitary penalty at Old Trafford. You don’t make waves like that with complacency and it’s essential that doesn’t start to creep in now. On Saturday Everton couldn’t be fooled into thinking that just getting changed and running out on to the pitch represented getting the hard part over and done with. Especially not against a side that’s taken two more points off Liverpool than Manchester United have managed this season.
Especially not during a campaign in which their manager has been deprived the luxury of picking his strongest side ahead of pretty much every game. And especially when the pressure of the run-in, and all the lethargy and tension that comes with it, is lurking round the corner. No wonder many aspects of Everton’s performance were unrecognisable from recent weeks – and that’s not just because of Fellaini’s drastic change of image. There were no worries early on, of course, with the ease of the opening half-hour such that the record signing’s hairstyle, swapping the afro for Steven Pienaar-style braids, was the main talking point. If it was some sponsored dare for Comic Relief, he didn’t go the full way and come out sporting a red nose. That would have looked ridiculous. But there has long been an argument, put forward on occasion by some of his team-mates, that Fellaini has such a poor disciplinary record because his mane makes him more noticeable to referees, but it just doesn’t wash (the argument not the hair). The arms still flail, the legs still stretch towards those of his opponents, his desire for a physical battle remains undiminished. And Stoke demand a fight like a cash-strapped boxing promoter. The fact that he was shaved as close as a tennis ball when he was red-carded in last summer’s Olympics seems to confirm that there can be no direct correlation between the length of Fellaini’s hair and his physical strength. He’s no Sansom to go with the Stoke City fans’ Delilah. And he was able to retain his combative streak to play his part – along with Phil Neville, Leon Osman, Pienaar and for the first half Tim Cahill, in destroying the stifling, suffocating tactics that might just yet ensure Tony Pulis is a top flight manager for another season.
Fellaini didn’t even get booked – but it was his delicate approach towards controlling the football that really impressed. His return ball to Jo in the 18th minute was perfectly weighted and the Brazilian continued the exuberant start to his loan spell by squeezing the ball under Thomas Sorensen’s rather flimsy wrist and giving Everton the lead their early dominance deserved. When the Dane then kept out Cahill’s header he could only palm it to Lescott and he pounced to double the lead. Incidentally, he wasn’t even the highest scoring Lescott of the afternoon thanks to his brother Aaron getting two for Bristol Rovers at Walsall. But far more concerning for the defender and his team-mates was the soft goal they conceded that came during a subdued start to the second half. They might have been rocked by the half-time reshuffle that saw Louis Saha brought on for Cahill, the Australian withdrawn as a precaution after feeling the effects of a calf strain. They might have been taken aback by the fact that their opponents came out with a determination to not be as awful as they were in the opening 45 minutes. For James Beattie – starved of service and trying manfully with no reward – it was a case of finding Goodison just as he’d left it. But Shawcross’s header crept in and so did the undercurrent of anxiety that blighted their early-season Goodison record and threatened to undermine their ambitions. At that stage, an equaliser wasn’t out of the question. But Everton managed to regroup when they remembered that Stoke’s sudden participation in the game demanded they do what they enjoy most – bouncing back from adversity. The composure and control in possession returned and a few opportunities to put the final verdict beyond doubt were passed up before the third goal finally arrived in the first minute of added-on time.
Fellaini tamed Leighton Baines’s high ball and, in a manoeuvre reminiscent of Jo’s second goal against Bolton a few weeks earlier, turned to unleash a left foot volley that found the net via a deflection off Abdoulaye Faye. That was his sixth goal of the campaign, a return that more than backs up Moyes’s initial theory that the record outlay was to secure someone who would turn out to be a valuable long-term investment. Which is more than can be said for the afro – alas, it might not ever come back. But with a Champions League place and FA Cup final in reach, the end to Everton’s season should be enough to make everybody’s hairs stand on end.

Everton 3, Stoke 1: Blues striding seven bigger stages
Mar 16 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
SOME things never change. A March afternoon, two quick goals and a team fighting relegation playing agricultural football at Goodison Park. Cast your mind back seven years and you will remember that when David Moyes took over from Walter Smith at this stage of the season for a home game against Fulham, Everton were frantically trying to keep their heads above water. The idea of routine victories in front of their own supporters, swatting upstarts from the lower reaches of the table aside with the minimum of fuss, was something which the squad of that time longed to deliver but were ultimately unable to achieve. Fast forward to the present day, though, and while the opening statement is true to a point – there were two quick goals on Saturday afternoon and Stoke City were the team in trouble at the wrong end of the table – the reality is that things have changed dramatically. Thanks to shrewd management and wholesale changes, relegation is not a word that Evertonians are ever going to have to consider at any point in the future. And the fact they are widely considered as a top six club now is a ringing endorsement for Moyes’ work. True, it would be stretching things to say this was one of the more accomplished performances of his reign – it wasn’t by any stretch of the imagination – but, once again, Everton beat a team they were expected to without needing to engage top gear. At the start of this decade, when the Blues were flirting regularly with the drop zone, the only way to get three points from matches was for the players to roll their sleeves up, dig deep and then hope to grind something out. Now, occasionally, it is almost as if Everton are finding some games too easy – this match was effectively over as a contest once Jo and Joleon Lescott had scored twice inside six minutes and Stoke only got back into it after the hosts had taken their foot off the pedal. “It was a strange game,” Moyes conceded. “We were in a comfortable situation in the first half and we knew the first goal after the break would be important. “We started well and looked as if we were going to go on and get more. “But Stoke came out strongly and for 20 or 30 minutes, they put us under a lot of pressure. “Maybe there was a bit of complacency. At the moment we are winning games but we’re not in a great rhythm or playing in the manner we really like.” Yet they are still winning games and are within striking distance of a Champions League place; the Toffees’ play might be missing verve and vivacity but they have put together a run that has seen them win seven of their last 13 Premier League fixtures. In that period, there has only been one defeat – away against Manchester United – while three of the draws were with Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool. For a club that many felt would be lucky to finish in the top ten after a woeful start, it has been a terrific effort. If you were of a churlish nature, you could pick holes in Everton’s efforts in the second half here. And had they been tackling a team with better attacking quality than Stoke, chances are they would have paid a heavy cost. After Ryan Shawcross had halved the deficit, Stoke applied pressure and went close to restoring parity through Danny Higginbotham and Glenn Whelan, as Everton’s defending was not out of the top draw. Since Tony Hibbert was injured against West Bromwich Albion, there has been a slight change in the back four’s dynamic and Moyes will have a quandary to solve when the right-back is fit again.
Phil Jagielka may be doing an admirable job on the flank in Hibbert’s absence but there is no question that he is much more comfortable in the centre and seems to bring out the best in Lescott when they play alongside each other. That, then, leaves a question mark hanging over Joseph Yobo. He did not have a poor game against Stoke by any means but it was noticeable that he and Jagielka exchanged words after the corner from which the visitors scored was conceded. Having been such a mainstay over the past seven years – don’t forget Yobo was Moyes’ first signing in the summer of 2002 – perhaps the Nigerian is finding it difficult accept that he may no longer be first choice. It is a subplot which will make interesting viewing. Fortunately, Stoke were not capable of exploiting any little creaks that may have appeared in Everton’s back four and it was left to the men further up field to create the headlines on Moyes’ anniversary. Leon Osman and Steven Pienaar, caught the eye, rising to the challenge issued by their manager on these pages last week by producing displays packed full of endeavour, enthusiasm and creativity. Pienaar, in particular, was especially bright and with a bit more poise, could well have crowned his display with a goal after Stoke keeper Thomas Sorenson had fumbled an Osman blockbuster into his path.
His profligacy, however, did not need to become an issue, thanks first to Jo and then Marouane Fellaini, whose decision to get his hair put into ‘corn rows’ left wig sellers outside Goodison hastily remarketing their goods. For the Fellaini wig, now read the ‘Jo wig’ and if he keeps scoring goals for the Blues during the run-in, chances are they will sell just as well. Samson might have lost his powers when his locks disappeared but Fellaini is striving to go from strength-to-strength and after creating the opener for Jo, he made the game safe in injury time with a smart turn and finish. Quite clearly, Moyes will be hoping to elicit masses of improvement from Fellaini – a man who is showing with each passing game why £15m was spent on him – in the next few years and they are sentiments which apply to this progressive club in general. Everton might be in a different stratosphere from where there they were seven years ago but there is no chance of Moyes resting on his laurels. That, quite simply, is not his style.

Steven Pienaar: Let’s book Euro spot in style - Everton FC latest
Mar 16 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
STEVEN PIENAAR today promised Everton will be keeping their foot to the floor so they can book their return to Europe in style. Though the performance was workmanlike, the Blues maintained their excellent run of results at the weekend with a 3-1 win over Stoke City. With sixth place guaranteeing a place in next year’s Europa Cup and Everton having a nine point advantage over West Ham - who play West Brom tonight - complacency could be the biggest danger to David Moyes’ men.
Pienaar, however, has made it clear that neither he nor any of his team-mates will be allowed to switch off, particularly as they have designs on breaking into the top four.
“The last few months of the season are going to be tough and we can’t drop any points as we are chasing European football,” said Pienaar, who was Everton’s top performer.
“We’ve got some important players returning to form and that is good for us. We can’t think that we’re home and hosed and we’ve got to keep pushing all the way.
“But we have a manager that is so sharp and alert and he will be keeping us on our toes. We know we have to go and keep picking up the points.” Everton have put together a sequence of just one defeat in their last 13 Premier League games and maximum points seemed assured once Jo and Joleon Lescott had scored within six first half minutes. But the Blues were given a fright when Ryan Shawcross pulled a goal back for the visitors early in the second period and they needed Marouane Fellaini to come up trumps in injury time to make sure of victory. It should not have been such hard work on a day when Goodison Park celebrated the seventh anniversary of Moyes’ appointment and Pienaar feels Everton have to sharpen their cutting edge.
“In the first half we played really but in the second we put ourselves under pressure,” said Pienaar. “We allowed Stoke back into the game and we gifted them a goal.
“We had to work for the points. But, at the end of the day, we got there and this can be a learning experience for the team. “We have to realise if we can slaughter a team in the first half, we must do it. We were nervous at the start of the second half. In future we’ve got to go out and get a third goal. “We could have been three or four up and made things easy but in the end it was a little bit too close for comfort. That is an area where we can improve.”

Everton boss David Moyes hails star Marouane Fellaini
Mar 16 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES claimed Marouane Fellaini is a player he can build a team around after Everton stepped up their challenge for a Champions League place.
The Blues’ club record signing sported a striking new haircut during the 3-1 win over Stoke City but it was his performance on the pitch which most interested Moyes.
After setting up the opener for Jo and then clinching the points in injury time, Moyes was quick to single out Fellaini on the day he celebrated seven years in charge of the club. Having overcome a sticky start to life on Merseyside, Fellaini’s influence is growing by the week and his manager is in no doubt that his best is yet to come.
“His development has been good,” said Moyes. “Since his suspension (in January) his form has been a little bit up and down but I think he has had a really good first season.
“Given his age and for a foreigner to come in here, we know how difficult it would be but he has actually had quite a big impact on us. “When he played for Standard Liege, he played a little bit advanced than the other midfield players and had an effect in the box so his role had a similarity to Tim Cahill. “In time we can build the team around him. His English is improving but not enough yet. He is a conscientious boy who wants to listen, work hard and improve his game. “I hope we will see signs that next year will be another stage in his development. Positional wise he has a bit to do and understanding the game which can go past him at times. Playing in the role he is has helped him and us.” Cahill was substituted at half-time with a pulled calf muscle and, after a lively first 45 minutes, it meant Fellaini had to drop deeper in midfield to accommodate Louis Saha. It did not go unnoticed that he failed to assert as much influence as he had done before the break but Moyes was still satisfied with the £15m man’s efforts. “After Tim went off, it coincided with Stoke’s best period,” said Moyes. “Felli caused more problems when he was higher up the field. Midfield brings a lot of responsibility. “Because we have not had centre forwards for long periods, we have said ‘away you go up there and cause some problems’ and he has done it really well.” Everton remain within four points of Arsenal, who are odds-on favourites with all bookmakers to clinch the final Champions League spot after beating Blackburn 4-0. Moyes, though, has no intentions of waving the white flag on that pursuit, even if he accepts it will take Everton’s best form of the campaign to overhaul the Gunners.
“We need an exceptional run, we need to keep this run going to the end of the season really and then there is a chance we could get fourth,” said Moyes.
“But as I have said many times, Villa and Arsenal are in the box seat. We are not going to give up on it, but realistically they have the points in the bag.”

Everton chairman Kenwright speaks of love for Goodison Park
Mar 16 2009 by Alan Weston, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON FC chairman Bill Kenwright told shareholders of his deep-rooted love for Goodison Park at their annual dinner. Mr Kenwright spoke at the get-together in the Alex Young suite on Saturday evening. A shareholder who was present said: “He said that, in his view, he would never want to leave Goodison and in a perfect world he would want the club to stay there. “But he realised the move to Kirkby would be the best decision for the club.” Mr Kenwright’s remarks came as it was revealed Everton’s move to Kirkby will be delayed by a year – even if Secretary of State Hazel Blears gives it the go-ahead.The club had planned to be in their new 50,000 seater ground by 2011. Everton and partners Tesco and Knowsley have stressed the need for a quick decision.

Everton FC announce FA Cup semi-final ticket details
Mar 17 2009
EVERTON have announced that tickets for next month's FA Cup semi-final with Manchester United at Wembley Stadium will go on sale on Monday, March 23, 2009 at 8am. Blues officials have now agreed on how to allocate the 31,825 tickets made available by the Football Association and can confirm that all areas of the Everton fanbase will receive an allocation. Priority will be given to the most loyal fans and that means every Season Ticket holder and Executive member will be given the opportunity to purchase a ticket for the Blues' first FA Cup semi-final appearance in 14 years.
Tickets are priced at:
• £24.50
• £34.30
• £44.00
• £53.80
The FA offers a £10 reduction for supporters under 16 and over 65 years of age (please note that with any concessionary ticket purchased proof of age will be required on entry into the stadium). Club officials have agreed to release the ticket allocation based on match attendance history and first opportunity to buy the semi-final tickets, next Monday, will go to any Season Ticket holder who has attended 13 or more Home or Away Cup and Away Premier League games in the current season. Tickets will also be on sale from next Monday to any Executive member who does not wish to buy an Executive package*. Thereafter remaining tickets will be available to Season Ticket holders and Executive members as follows:-
Date Ticket Eligibility
Monday 23/03/2009 Season Ticket holders with 13+ and AutoCup and Executive members
Tuesday 24/03/2009 Season Ticket holders with 8+ and Executive members
Wednesday 25/03/2009 Season Ticket holders with 6+ and Executive members
Thursday 26/03/2009 Season Ticket holders with 5+ and Executive members
Friday 27/03/2009 Season Ticket holders with 4+ and Executive members
Saturday 28/03/2009 Season Ticket holders with 4+ and Executive members
Monday 30/03/2009 Season Ticket holders with 3+ and Executive members
Tuesday 31/03/2009 Season Ticket holders with 3+ and Executive members
Wednesday 01/04/2009 Season Ticket holders with 2+ and Executive members
Thursday 02/04/2009 Season Ticket holders with 2+ and Executive members
Friday 03/04/2009 Season Ticket holders with 1+ and Executive members
Saturday 04/04/2009 Season Ticket holders with 1+ and Executive members
Sunday 05/04/2009 Season Ticket holders and Executive members


Officials expect a small number of semi-final tickets to be available after the allocation to Season Ticket holders and Executive members. These Wembley tickets will go on sale to supporters with a purchase history for home games from any of this season's fixtures. Details of priorities and dates will be published no later than Monday, April 6.
Any Shareholder requiring a ticket should apply to Lee Newman at the Fan Centre. Shareholders who hold a season ticket or Executive membership can purchase a ticket during the sales priority period outlined above or alternatively apply to Lee. Shareholders should note that they will only be entitled to one ticket whether purchased as a Season Ticket holder, Executive member or Shareholder.
Supporters' Clubs
Supporters' Clubs Secretaries should submit their applications by Friday March, 20, 2009. Applications received after this time can not be accepted. Season Ticket holders who normally purchase their home cup and away match tickets via their supporters' clubs should submit their request with the Supporters club applications, giving name and customer number, and the staff at the Fan Centre will endeavour to allocate tickets together.
* Executive packages
Details of Executive packages for the FA Cup semi-final will be announced later this week, and any Executive members or Season Ticket holder wishing to purchase a package should contact the corporate sales team on 0151 530 5300 or email corporatesales@evertonfc.com
Postal information
Please note, all tickets posted will be sent via Royal Mail's Special Delivery service and will therefore be subject to a postal fee of £4.95. Any supporters wishing to collect their ticket from Goodison must bring the payment card used to purchase this order and proof of identification before any tickets will be released.
Tickets can be purchased by visiting the Park End Box Office during normal opening hours or by calling 0871 663 1878**
**Booking fees apply

Everton young gun James Vaughan could be back for season run-in
Mar 17 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES today revealed Everton could receive a welcome boost for the Premier League run-in – the return to action of a fired-up James Vaughan.
The 20-year-old has spent much of the campaign on the sidelines and underwent an operation in December to cure cartilage damage in his right knee. It was anticipated that Vaughan would be ruled out for the whole of the campaign but the speed of his progress has been quicker than expected. Given Vaughan’s history of fitness problems, Moyes understandably has no intention of rushing the youngest goalscorer in Everton’s history back into the thick of things. But providing all goes to plan during the next four weeks, Vaughan could find himself available for the Blues’ four games in May – and a potential FA Cup final appearance! “Vaughany is out doing a bit of light running and other things at the moment and I think it is going to be the start of May if we get to see him,” said Moyes. “We might be able to call on him for four or five matches but it won’t be before May. He seems fine at the minute but he hasn’t joined in full training yet. “Providing he is fine, we’d be looking at pitching him back in a couple of weeks time and then we’d give him the full month of April to try and get match fit. “If that happens, we might be able to get a bit of use from him in May. It’s hard to tell how much we have missed him.” Big things were expected of Vaughan after he scored on his debut against Crystal Palace in April 2005 but, much to his and Moyes’ frustration, there have been too many lengthy lay-offs.
“He’s very tough, robust and throws himself about maybe more than he should – but that’s the way he plays,” said Moyes. “If he wasn’t like that, he wouldn’t be the player he is. We’d never take that aggression out of him. Maybe it’s just been that his knees have not been able to take it at times.” One striker who is fully fit is Brazilian Jo, scorer of the first goal in Everton’s 3-1 win over Stoke City. He has made a favourable impression since joining on loan from Manchester City during the last transfer window and is happy how things are shaping up. “Everything is going fine and I’m feeling even better because I’m getting adapted to the people and the ground,” Jo said. “Everything is coming off very well indeed. I feel at home here and having supporters like this, so wonderful supporters it's beautiful to be here. It gave me a lot of emotion scoring a goal, helping the team to get three points and makes me feel very good indeed.” lEverton are likely to reward Phil Jagielka’s outstanding form this season with an improved contract during the summer – his current deal expires in 2012.

Cheshire police apologises to Everton FC star Victor Anichebe over Knutsford incident
Mar 17 2009 by Richard Down, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON FC star Victor Anichebe received a face-to-face apology from a top police officer after being accused of theft. Cheshire’s assistant chief constable Garry Shewan met the 20-year-old striker at his Knutsford home to say sorry personally. But Cheshire constabulary has totally denied any allegations of racism. The injured footballer was surrounded by officers while window shopping in Knutsford with a friend and accused of attempted theft last Wednesday. His friend, Yeovil Town FC and former Liverpool FC midfielder Lee Peltier, was handcuffed and Anichebe claimed his crutch was taken away. Last week, the force apologised publicly but the Nigerian international demanded a fuller apology for his treatment. A police spokesman said: “During yesterday’s meeting, the opportunity was extended for Mr Anichebe to view the CCTV. “This was declined by Mr Anichebe. “There is, however, a separate issue which raises great concern to the constabulary and its staff.
“It has been intimated the officer’s actions were prompted by the fact Mr Anichebe and his friend are black. “The force strongly refutes such allegations. “This was accepted by Mr Anichebe at today’s meeting.” Everton FC spokesman Ian Ross said: “We are happy it has been resolved amicably.” Anichebe’s family, who live in Crosby, were said to be deeply upset by the incident. The Independent Police Complaints Commission is looking into what happened. Vinny Thomlinson, chairman of Merseyside Black Police Association, said prejudice was rife in forces across the country. He said: “Such are the community concerns and fears voiced to me, I believe the IPCC remit should be extended to include all involved in the chain of events.
“There must be no complacency in addressing this.”

NIGEL MARTYN: FA Cup semi-final kick-off is out of order
Mar 17 2009 by Nigel Martyn, Liverpool Echo
THE decision to hold Everton’s FA Cup semi-final against Manchester United at Wembley on Sunday, April 19 with a 4pm kick-off is quite simply ridiculous.
Firstly, the semi-finals shouldn’t even be played at Wembley. It should be at a venue which is convenient for both teams. In this case, between two clubs from the north, Villa Park would have been ideal. I played in two semi-finals there and it’s a great place to hold those matches. Wembley should be saved for the final and as far as I’m concerned the fact that the semis are being played there devalues the competition.
Sadly, the bottom line is that the FA have bills to pay and have to use their expensive stadium as much as possible. Having decided that it had to be played at Wembley, I couldn’t believe they then made our game the Sunday match at 4pm. The other semi-final is likely to be between two London clubs, Arsenal and Chelsea, so would it not have made more sense to make that the Sunday afternoon match? I’m taking my son to Wembley and it’s going to be a nightmare with getting him back for school the next day. It’s okay for Manchester United fans because most of them live down south but it’s not great for Evertonians. If it has to be our game on the Sunday then make it 2pm so at least supporters can get down there on the day, watch the match and not get back too late. Sadly, what is convenient for fans these days doesn’t seem to come into it and that’s disappointing. It’s all about generating revenue and the TV companies decide when games will be played.
Phil Neville was a calming influence for Blues
I WAS really impressed with Phil Neville’s performance against Stoke at Goodison.
The skipper was a steadying influence when the Blues really needed some leadership.
At one point we were giving the ball away cheaply and the tension was rising.
But then Phil came in with a tackle, won the ball back, gave a simple pass and settled everyone down. He steadied the ship when it was just about to start rocking.
In many ways he reminds me of Lee Carsley. He does all the unseen stuff most people don’t appreciate. Fans like to see players spraying passes and shooting but Phil does the hard miles. He’s great at closing people down, getting his foot in and making blocks. Another big plus was how sharp Louis Saha looked when he came on. If he stays fit he’s going to have a key role to play in the coming months.

NIGEL MARTYN: Everton have what it takes to last pace in Champions League race
Mar 17 2009 by Nigel Martyn, Liverpool Echo
A FEW weeks ago fourth place was just an ambitious dream but now Everton should believe they are capable of securing a Champions League place. Publicly, David Moyes might be playing it down and saying he will just be happy to get the club into Europe. But I know the manager will be driving his players on to force their way into the top four over the final nine games. He will be telling them they’ve done it before and they can do it again. The Blues are now just four points behind both Arsenal and Aston Villa, and with just one defeat in 18 games they have real momentum behind them. Arsenal are in good form but they have some tough games left and the Champions League will be a distraction for them. As for Villa, they are really stumbling. I had a similar experience at Leeds in 2000. We were top of the league going into the new year and were flying. But we only had a small squad, the amount of games caught up with us and we just ran out of juice. We dropped points against teams we were expected to beat and ended up finishing third, only just making the Champions League thanks to Liverpool losing to Bradford on the last day.
When things start to slip it’s difficult to get it back and the Blues have to take advantage of Villa’s slump. The club invited me to Goodison for the Stoke game on Saturday and it was great to see everyone again. I had a nice meal with a number of legends including World Cup winner Ray Wilson and after the match I went to see some of the lads in the changing room. I also popped my head around the door of the gaffer’s office to say hello. David Moyes was in there with his backroom staff and all the Stoke lot were in there as well, including a few familiar faces. Gerry Francis and David Kemp are both on Stoke’s coaching staff. Gerry was my first manager at Bristol Rovers, while I was at Crystal Palace with David. It was all quite surreal!
As for the game itself, I thought we were excellent in the first half and were in complete control. A couple of punters behind me were saying it was going to be easy in the second half but a 2-0 scoreline is always a bit dodgy. The next goal was crucial and after they got it there was a nervous spell but we kept our heads and got the right result. Winning has become a useful habit at Goodison and now we have to keep it going at Portsmouth this weekend.

Ex-Everton boss Joe Royle aiming for Wembley date
Mar 17 2009 Liverpool Echo
EVERTON booked their first visit to Wembley Stadium since 1995 this month – now the man who took them there wants to book his own return trip. Joe Royle was formally unveiled as Oldham manager yesterday until the end of the season – and he instantly targeted a place in the League One play-off finals as his immediate ambition.
“That little chance of Wembley at the end intrigues me. "I would love to go back there, I’d love to take Oldham back there,” he declared. Royle took Oldham to Wembley twice in the 1990s, in a brilliant spell when he guided them to a League Cup final, two FA Cup semi-finals and into the top flight. He was also the last Everton manager to win silverware for the club in the shape of the 1995 FA Cup.
Installed as Latics boss for their remaining nine games this season, he starts against Tranmere on Saturday and added: “I’ve missed Saturdays. I work Saturdays for Sky television; I’ve been commentating on games and they’ve been very good to me.
“I’ve had to cancel one for this weekend actually but it was nice to do so. I still miss dugout fever. You can’t beat that buzz. “It was 12 fantastic years (at Oldham) when we twice went to semi-final replays. In fact it was remarkable that we even got to those games. “I am 59 years of age and still bright and have so much I believe I can offer. “I have been appointed to the end of the season and then let’s just see how it goes. But you should never say never in football. “I’ve had lots of nice calls, texts and messages. Big Ron Atkinson was on, asking if I was going to put the plastic pitch back in.” Royle went on: “I’d like to get a couple in to see if we can spice things up.
“It is difficult but we are up there and the great thing is we’re not far behind the play-offs.”

Everton FC fans asked to spy on each other at Goodison Park
Mar 17 2009 by Gary Stewart, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON fans are being asked to spy on each other at Goodison Park by texting details of out-of-order behaviour to stewards. The new system, launched under the banner Stand Up Against It, started at Saturday’s home game against Stoke City and will run as a trial for the rest of the season. Fans can text HELP plus the problem and the location to 82085 at the cost of a standard text message. The text goes straight to a control room and a confirmation text is sent back to the fan, followed by a visit from security to the alleged offenders. Everton spokesman Ian Ross said: “We are determined Goodison Park will be a friendly and welcoming place to watch football.
“Not just Everton but every football club has fans who think they can make racist and homophobic comments. “People who are paying their money should not have their experience ruined by individuals who think they can do what they want. “Football is a game of passion and people sometimes say things they regret, which is nderstandable, but there are other people who are repeat offenders at using racist and homophobic language and we are determined to root them out. “People have always been able to talk to stewards if they have a problem and we will always respond. But this way they can do so discreetly without fear of discovery. “99.9% of fans are great and I am sure will applaud this new initiative. A handful think they can do what they want and they are wrong.” It is believed the text system is only used by Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League at the moment, with Arsenal losing it when they moved to their new stadium. One fan on Everton’s website said: “Perhaps it is a good initiative without going overboard or killing the atmosphere. “Bad language is part and parcel of soccer. Racism is not acceptable.”

Century of Everton FC and Liverpool FC life is brought to book . . .
Mar 18 2009 David Prentice Liverpool Echo
“IT’S been my privilege in writing this book to have met so many Reds and Blues. You’re all such nice people. I just wish you’d like each other more!”
The speaker was author Peter Lupson – and his words were only slightly tongue in cheek. Speaking at the launch of his uplifting new book, Across The Park, which celebrates the historic links between Everton and Liverpool, Peter accepts that the relationship between two clubs who were once joined at birth has soured.
“Something went wrong,” he declared. “For the last 20 years an ugly spirit has developed between the clubs. Near 100-years of friendly brotherliness evaporated.”
But Peter also believes the nadir has been reached. And Across The Park offers real cause for optimism that the difference which made the Merseyside derby unique can be reclaimed. A university lecturer, Peter is the author of the best selling Thank God For Football. He is also an adopted Scouser, having moved north from East Anglia in 1969. And he explained: “If you grow up supporting a club like Norwich City – which I still do – and then you come to Liverpool, it’s rather like someone who enjoys the movies coming to Hollywood. “I’m not exaggerating. Coming to the Hollywood of football I found I was actually overawed by the fact that there were two fantastic clubs in the same city. “I used to go to Anfield and Goodison alternately just to get a slice of the action. It was magic. I know a lot of people used to do that. It was normal.”
But the links between Everton and Liverpool go back far further than a shared support in the sixties. Peter is a student of those fraternal bonds. “The historic links between these two clubs are phenomenal,” he explained. “The events surrounding the split of 1892 were bitter and acrimonious and it seemed impossible that those two clubs could ever have any kind of harmony again. We know from Keats Jubilee history of Everton in 1928 that the split caused a lot of anguish. “But it was the funeral of John Houlding, ironically, which brought the two sides back together. “There was a strong Christian spirit at Everton, as befits a club formed from a church team – and this Christian spirit was largely responsible for a massive gesture of reconciliation and forgiveness in 1902 when John Houlding died. “Three Everton and three Liverpool players carried his coffin into the church, St Jude’s at Anfield, and also into the cemetery, and directors of both Everton and Liverpool were present at that funeral.
“It wasn’t just an empty gesture. It actually signalled a way forward for real co-operation between these two clubs, as if they were family. “The first recorded instance we have of active co-operation subsequent to that was 1903 when Dr James Clement Baxter (the man who made up the financial shortfall to buy Goodison Park when the Blues quit Anfield) with two other Everton directors and Liverpool directors, formed a deputation to the Tramways manager of Liverpool complaining that the tram services to Anfield and Goodison Park were inadequate. “The two clubs together worked as one to put pressure on the council,” added Peter. “That was quite remarkable but the following year something even more remarkable happened. The two clubs began to collaborate on a joint match programme.” That joint venture lasted 31 years and took in 1,100 editions. Some of those programmes highlighted the firm bond between the clubs. One editorial revealed that when Liverpool were pushing for promotion from Division Two in 1905, they had a key match looming and wanted to run the rule over the opposition. The whole of the Everton team accompanied their Reds counterparts to the match. Liverpool subsequently won the Championship that year and the derbies restarted. It was far from an isolated gesture. In 1906 Liverpool won the League Championship and Everton won the FA Cup. To get to FA Cup final Everton had knocked Liverpool out of the semi-finals – but when they came back to Lime Street with the trophy, who was waiting there to welcome and congratulate them? The Liverpool directors! John McKenna and Will Cuff, two of the greatest administrators in football history and driving forces behind the rival clubs for decades, became close friends and the closeness between the clubs accelerated. When John McKenna died in 1936 – coincidentally a year after being presented with 100 cigars by Everton FC on the occasion of his 81st birthday – Will Cuff said: “I feel I have lost a lifelong friend. “We travelled together on football business many times and I am not looking forward to taking these journeys alone. Mr McKenna was a staunch friend. Beneath his brusque exterior was a heart of gold. I think the greatest man in football has gone.” In the 1960s John Moores openly acknowledged he was first and foremost a Blue. But he also had a great love of the Reds and became a major shareholder as well as chairman at Everton. When the Kemlyn Road and Anfield Road stands were being built, he allowed use of his architects and lawyers free of charge. He never cashed in his dividend from Liverpool FC, preferring the club to have that money.
He brought Harry Catterick to Goodison Park, but also advised Liverpool chairman Tom Williams that he should dispense with directors selecting the team and appoint a manager. He recommended he should go to Matt Busby for advice, and Busby pointed him in the direction of Bill Shankly. The rest, as they say, is history. Then there was Hillsborough. “Look at the way blue and red came together without a moment’s hesitation. There’s nothing like a tragedy to get things into proper perspective,” added Upson. The mile of scarfs from Goodison to Anfield was symbolic of that togetherness. But then something went wrong. “Yet again, what does it take to bring people together?” declared Peter. “Another tragedy – the death of Rhys Jones.
“What is amazing is that the Echo’s Tony Barrett wanted to do something – which he had to justify.” Tony suggested that playing the Z-Cars theme tune at Anfield would be a wonderfully symbolic gesture of unity. But Peter explained: “The spirit between the clubs had become so bad that he had to justify his proposal. “Tony said: ‘He may have been a Bluenose, but he was one of us. A lad from Liverpool who lived for his football club. I haven’t forgotten the solidarity that was shown to us by ordinary Everton fans in the aftermath of Hillsborough – and this is our chance to repay the favour to at least one family of Evertonians in their darkest hour.’ “It’s shameful that Tony Barrett had to justify it, but the response to his proposal was incredible.”
The clubs have since built on that idea. The grave of the Rev Ben Swift Chambers, the man who founded St Domingo’s Cricket Club, which in turn became St Domingo’s Football Club, then Everton – and finally Everton and Liverpool, was restored at shared cost and attended by a deputation from both clubs – replicating the response to the funerals of John Houlding and John McKenna. At that service, Everton legend Graeme Sharp said: “When you look at the history of both clubs and how they started, he was so influential. This is an ideal opportunity for us to get together and remember that. The relationship between the fans has deteriorated to an extent, but if we can show them there’s a unity going back all those years maybe we can restore some of that.” It’s a message Peter Upson echoes. “It’s in that spirit of Christian forgiveness and reconciliation that I’ve written this book,” he declared. “If we can show people there’s a unity going back all those years maybe we can restore some of that.” And so say all of us . .

Fitness boost for Everton over Tim Cahill
Mar 18 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON’S preparations for the trip to Portsmouth this weekend have been given a boost as Tim Cahill is winning his fitness battle. The Blues’ influential midfielder - who was today named in Australia’s 22-man squad for the World Cup qualifier with Uzbekistan next month – pulled his calf during last Saturday’s 3-1 win over Stoke City. He failed to appear for the second half and there were initial concerns that Cahill - who is currently Everton’s leading scorer for the season with eight goals - would be ruled out of the lunchtime kick-off at Fratton Park because of the damage.
However, Cahill has responded positively to treatment at Finch farm this week and though he will be closely monitored over the next 48 hours, he will, in all likelihood, be available for selection on the South Coast. That will come as a relief to Blues’ boss David Moyes, who admitted that his side lost their way for a long spell against Stoke after the industrious Cahill had gone off. “We dropped deeper in the second half after Tim went off,” said Moyes. “That could have coincided with Stoke’s best period. I have let the players know that we can’t drop off the pace in games.” Cahill’s availability should mean that on-loan forward Jo continues to lead Everton’s line and there is little doubt that the Brazilian’s influence on the team is growing. He has scored three times since joining Everton on transfer deadline day earlier this year and has spoken openly about how happy he is on Merseyside following a difficult spell with Manchester City. Despite costing more than £20m, Jo rarely started at Eastlands but City boss Mark Hughes has indicated that he would be more than happy to link up with the former CSKA Moscow striker again. “The reason I allowed him to go was that I felt he wasn’t going to get a chance to play here this season,” Hughes explained.
“What the lad needs is Premier League football. “ I expect him to get better and develop in terms of what is required to play in the Premier League. “It is much more physical and intense than he is used to and I think that probably took him aback.
“He struggled to cope with it. “Most attack-minded players find it hard to come to the Premier League and hit the ground running. Andrey Arshavin is the same at Arsenal.
“The Premier League is just so much more intense than anywhere else.” Though Hughes has opened the possibility of Jo heading back down the M62, a clause was inserted in the deal which gives Everton the chance to make his signing permanent in the summer if everything goes to plan.

David Moyes tells Lars Jacobsen to be ready - Everton FC latest
Mar 19 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES today urged Lars Jacobsen to keep his focus as he continues to wait patiently to make his Everton debut. The Denmark international became Everton’s first signing of last summer when he agreed a one-year deal after negotiating his release from FC Nuremburg. Things quickly turned sour for Jacobsen after he dislocated his shoulder playing for Denmark in a World Cup qualifier against Portugal, which led to four months on the sidelines. He returned to full training in January and has since made a couple of appearances for the reserves but, as yet, Jacobsen has not tasted any senior action. But that could change at any point during the run in – particularly if Everton pick up any injuries or suspensions – and Moyes has stressed the need for his squad members to stay focused. “Lars started brightly but then he had the problem with his dislocated shoulder and it has taken some time for him to get back,” said Moyes. “Part of the reason it has taken so long for him to be involved was down to the fact he was having trouble taking throw-ins; he could not get full range of movement. “But now that he has got himself fully fit and seen the standard that is required, he has seen the lads who have been playing in his position do really well. “Lars is a good lad and it has been a case of him having to bide his time but there may come a point when we need him during the rest of the season.”
Jacobsen is not the only Everton full-back to have struggled with injury this season – Tony Hibbert has been sidelined with various problems, while Nuno Valente has been a long-term absentee following knee surgery. Both men, however, are making good progress in their rehabilitation. Hibbert hopes to be up and running long before next month’s FA Cup semi-final with Manchester United and Valente can also see a light at the end of the tunnel. “I’m recovering well,” said Valente. “At this moment I’m training and I don't feel pain in my knee. I feel good. It’s difficult being out for so long. I want to play. “Every player wants to play, but these injuries happen in football. I feel happy and I feel well and maybe I will be able to start playing again soon.
“It’s difficult every time you don't play.”

Ray Hall determined to uphold true Everton tradition
Mar 19 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
REPLICATING success in football is the hardest thing to do and few know that better than Ray Hall. While some clubs believe the only route to success in the modern era is by opening a cheque book, Everton – particularly during David Moyes’ reign – have always believed in giving youth a chance and Hall has had a front row seat to watch the best Boy Blues make their way through the ranks. Since Howard Kendall appointed him to become Everton’s youth development officer in 1990, Hall – who is now Academy manager – has overseen a raft of young players graduate from his ranks to join the first team and the statistics make for impressive reading. Tony Grant set the ball rolling in 1995 when he became the first schoolboy Hall recruited to go on to represent the Blues in the Premier League and a further 23 young men have followed him through, the most recent being Jose Baxter. Some – namely Tony Hibbert and Leon Osman – have stayed for the length of their careers after making the breakthrough but the majority moved on, bringing in more than £53m in transfer fees – a few of those sales were made at times when the club desperately needed money.
When comparing the numbers of youngsters that Everton’s Premier League rivals have nurtured during a similar period, Hall and his staff have every right to feel immense pride and satisfaction but, at the moment, there is a level-headed outlook as he is aware that the task of unearthing gems is about to become that much harder.
Everton’s transformation from relegation contenders to regulars in Europe inevitably means the standard of player at Goodison Park has dramatically improved and the knock-on effect is that Hall needs to be putting better quality on the conveyor belt for Moyes to choose from. If you consider that the number of boys entering reception classes at primary school has dropped by 23 per cent in recent years, there is automatically a smaller pool of talent. But Hall is undeterred. The exploits of Jack Rodwell this season confirm that Everton’s Academy is flourishing and hopes are high that, in the not too distant future, a few others will come through. No surprise to learn, then, that Hall is up for the challenge. “We set off at the beginning of each year is to try and develop a minimum of one player to make a start,” he explained. “That’s a big ask and it is getting harder. But, fortunately, we’ve seen Jack and Jose play for the first team this season. “It is expected of us now but our record has been good. Over the past 11 or 12 years since Academies were set up, we’ve had 24 lads come through in that period. We are now charged with trying to replicate that every season.
“It is more difficult and the boys know that for a number of reasons. I sat in on a presentation that our CEO Robert Elstone made recently and he said the objectives of the club are quite clear now. “The club has to provide the finances to help develop and recruit a first team that is capable of staying in the top six and challenging for European honours. Straight away that raises the bar for the youngsters.
“But it is an exciting challenge. It gives us a further kick up the backside, if you will. We know the type of player that we have got to develop in order to maintain and support a team that is in the top six.” But despite having a proven track record, there will be no resting on laurels – no wonder when you consider the number of clubs within a 90-minute drive of Liverpool.who are all hoping to catch the same prize
“It is a tremendous tick in the box for our development programme when you see the number of local players that have been given debuts by the manager,” said Hall.
“It starts off with boys brought into a programme, sometimes as early as six years of age.But the process doesn’t start when fans see a young lad cross that line for the first time. “Look at Jack – he first arrived here 10 years ago. “Leon Osman signed for us when he was 11 and he is now 27. That’s a life time in football. “We are quite proud of that. But we will have to change and maybe our recruitment has to be more widespread. “We are looking more and more at boys from the UK, going to the days of when we brought in Richard Dunne and Danny Cadamarteri. “The competition is enormous in this area. There are eight Premier League clubs and then there are Championships clubs such as Preston, Burnley and Blackpool, plus another 17 in League One and Two.” So what is the secret of the success? Things have changed dramatically for Hall down the years – he now has a plush office at Finch Farm compared to the old Portakabin that he once called home at Bellefield – but the ethos of the ‘Everton Way’ has never altered. “It’s about the four Ps – people, place, programme and a pathway,” Hall said. “Families straight away feel comfortable and they are prepared to lend their sons to us. We have moved into a world class facility that takes your breath away. Why wouldn’t a family want their son to come to a place like this? “Whenever a boy joins a programme, he knows what is needed to get to the next stage. When a boy signs at under-9, he knows what is needed to get to the next level. “The manager has shown that if the boys are talented enough and have the potential to play at the highest level, he will give them that opportunity.
“We are now a very attractive club because we can satisfy the needs of families. Obviously not all the boys are going to come through. But they will get every possible chance here.”
Mutual benefits in shared home
HAVING once been at bases eight miles apart, there are certain to be benefits now that Everton’s Academy share the same training ground as the senior team.
Whereas David Moyes used to have to drive 10 miles from West Derby to Netherton if he wanted to check on the progress of an exciting schoolboy, now all he needs to do is stroll down a corridor. Of course, it was inevitable that there would be teething troubles when Everton’s entire operation was moved to Finch Farm but now Academy manager Ray Hall is confident that things are starting to take proper shape.
“It’s been like two rivers joining – after the initial turbulence, it settles down to a fast flowing river again and I think we’re just coming out of the turbulence,” he said.
“This is a significant advantage for the players. On any one day Andy Holden and Alan Stubbs might be short of a couple of players and they’ll borrow a couple of our boys. “It might even be that some 15 and 16 year old boys get the occasional training session with the first team. What an opportunity that is.” There is, though, one equally important aim and that is readying those who do not make the grade for life after Everton. “I have seen young boys develop into some of the best players in the world and others go out the other end and pack the game up because of the disappointment,” said Hall. “But one of the things that we pride ourselves on isn’t just the development of players – it’s the development of people. “All we can do is give boys that opportunity.”

Everton on to a winner if Man Utd win at Wembley
Mar 19 2009 by Michael Kettiros, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON could gain financially regardless of the result of their FA Cup semi-final at Wembley. The Blues will still be Wembley winners even if Manchester United knock them out of the FA Cup and go on to lift the trophy – thanks to the deal that took Wayne Rooney to Old Trafford. Everton – who face United in the semi-finals at Wembley on April 19 – successfully negotiated a number of clauses as part of the £26.5 million transfer that took Rooney to United in 2004. The agreement means that Everton will bank £150,000 if they lose the game – as long as Rooney goes on to collect a winners medal in the competition. The FA Cup is the only trophy to elude Rooney during his time at Manchester United. The recent successes of United have allowed Everton to receive substantial sums. If Manchester United manage to land the Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup this season, it will be worth £1.65 million to the Blues. However, the agreement ends this summer, five years after Rooney's move to Old Trafford.
Hughes happy to see Jo grow
MANCHESTER City manager Mark Hughes expects Brazilian striker Jo to return to Eastlands a better player once his loan deal with Everton expires at the end of the season. Jo arrived at Manchester City for £17 million from CSKA Moscow last summer, but the 21-year-old failed to make any impression is his first few months with the club. However, a run of three goals in five games for Everton has shown what the player has to offer. Mark Hughes said, “The reason I allowed him to go was that I felt he wasn't going to get a chance to play here this season.” “What the lad needs is Premier League football. I expect him to get better and develop in terms of what is required to play in the Premier League” “It is much more physical and intense than he is used to and I think that probably took him aback,” added Hughes
The Jury on Everton FC's victory over Stoke
Mar 19 2009 Liverpool Echo
THERE was a worry that Everton would take their eye off their League form after reaching Wembley, but our performance against Stoke dispelled any doubts.
While Stoke’s goal made things difficult for a little while, it was a comfortable victory. It is no coincidence we suffered when Cahill went off, especially in terms of passing the ball. Cahill has starred this season as an emergency striker, getting us crucial goals the way he always has. The last few weeks though since Arteta’s injury, he has reminded us what a good midfielder he is. There is no doubt that we have kept the ball so much better since he has dropped deeper, and it has also allowed Fellaini to flourish in his best position behind a lone striker. With Villa stuttering, it is important we get back to winning away from home again.
COLE FRASER, Litherland
FOR the third home game in succession we made hard-work of what should have been three straightforward points. We gave the visitors too many opportunities to get back into the game. It wasn’t all bad though, a lively first-half, from our point of view, set us on our way to victory. Steven Pienaar put in a good shift and I think that he just pipped Joleon Lescott to be the best player on the pitch. We needed somebody to stand up and take the playmaker role when Arteta picked up his injury and our South-African wing-wizard seems to have volunteered himself as that man. His performances have improved, though he needs to try and stop himself from being lured into the middle of the park as we get the best out of him when he is hugging the line. A win on the south-coast would be great for our Champions League hopes.
I'M sick of the undeserved criticism from so-called Everton fans over Fellaini's performances. Are these the same fans that are singing" we're all going to Wembley" after the big Belgian's header got us back into the game in the quarter final?
I think he's going to be a major player for us in the forthcoming few weeks ahead and is going to get even better with a full pre-season under his belt. Before a trip to Wembley we face Portsmouth, Wigan and Aston Villa, seven points from those three games will put us right into the mix for a Champions League place. The last time we played Portsmouth was back in August. We were beaten 3-0, confidence shattered and left in the bottom three. For all real fans that stuck with the club in that time, enjoy Wembley because you deserve it.
AFTER all the excitement of the derby games and the FA Cup it’s back to the routine, the humdrum, bread and butter of the League. We’ve got a comparatively easy run in, but as the second half against Stoke showed, we need to maintain concentration.
The high point of the season neatly coincides with David Moyes seventh year in charge of the club. Right from the start he’s exuded dignity and class.
He could have made a few choice comments after the derby game, ‘not bad for a ‘small’ club’ or ‘there was only one team trying to win’ but no, he just pointed out that Everton hadn’t won the FA Cup, ‘move on’. The highs and lows of the seven years? We’ve been saved from the annual battle against the humiliation of relegation, but it’s been more solid progress than anything else. With no money to spend he’s performed miracles. This Saturday we’ve got another example of the total contempt that the Premier League shows towards the supporters. Who was the jobsworth that decided the game against Portsmouth would kick-off at 12.45?

Blue Boys: Stoke take the wind out of Everton sails
Mar 19 2009 by James Pearce, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON Under-18s’ hopes of victory were blown away as they had to settle for a point against Stoke City in the FA Premier Academy League at Finch Farm.
Karl Sheppard gave the Blues the lead in the first half but the windy conditions made life difficult and Stoke were able to get back on level terms. Coach Neil Dewsnip said: “The match was played in a gale force wind which blew right down the pitch. It was a lottery and it wasn’t conducive to good football. “We played with the wind in the first half and scored a great goal. We huffed and puffed after that and had plenty of chances. “We couldn’t get a goal and then naively we gave one away through a lack of communication. It was a real silly goal. “But I can’t be too critical of the players. As always, they showed a fantastic attitude and stuck to their guns. “Overall I think we did a bit better than Stoke, and we were disappointed with a draw.” Dewsnip’s side pressed forward in the first half but found the Potters’ keeper in fine form.
They eventually made the breakthrough on the half-hour mark when Adam Forshaw’s cross was powerfully headed home by Sheppard. Lewis Codling, Nathan Craig and Sheppard all had chances to extend the Blues’ advantage but they couldn’t make them count and Stoke equalised just before half-time. “We were concerned about playing against the wind in the second half, but apart from one chance which Lars Stubhaug saved well from a corner, we were in control,” Dewsnip added. Everton are back in FA Premier Academy League action at Newcastle United this Saturday (kick-off 11am).
EVERTON UNDER-18s: Stubhaug; Nsiala, Sinnott, Duffy, Bidwell; Craig, Kinsella, Barkley, Forshaw; Codling, Sheppard (McAleny 80). Subs: Davies, Nolan, Krenn.
A NUMBER of Everton youngsters have been selected to represent their countries in upcoming tournaments and friendlies. Jack Rodwell and Dan Gosling have been named in the England Under-19s squad for the friendly against Czech Republic at Walsall on Wednesday, March 25. James Wallace has been placed on standby.
Jose Baxter has been called up for England’s European Under-17 Championship qualifying campaign in Hungary, which starts next Wednesday. They face opposition from the hosts, Portugal and Serbia over five days. Nathan Craig will represent Wales in their two-legged UEFA Under-21 Championship clash with Luxembourg, while Connor Roberts and Lee McCardle have been selected for Wales Under-17s to face Turkey, Finland and Romania. Shane Duffy and Eunan O’Kane are in the Northern Ireland Under-19s squad and Ross Barkley has been selected by England for next month’s under-16 Montaigu Tournament. Their campaign gets under way on April 8 when they face Russia.

England call-up for Everton's Leighton Baines
Mar 20 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
LEIGHTON BAINES has been named in a provisional 30-man squad for England’s upcoming internationals against Slovakia and Ukraine along with team-mates Joleon Lescott and Phil Jagielka. And the Blues’ left-back will now spend the weekend on tenterhooks to see if his outstanding form is given the ultimate accolade by Fabio Capello. Baines was watched by Capello’s number two Franco Baldini during last Saturday’s 3-1 win over Stoke at Goodison and did his chances of making the final draft of 23 - which will be announced at 8pm on Sunday - no harm with an impressive performance. As Capello proved with Jagielka in Spain last month, he invariably picks players who are in form and the fact Manchester City’s Wayne Bridge hobbled out of his side’s penalty shootout win over Aalborg last night will have also boosted Baines’ chances. Capped 16 times at Under-21 level, Baines endured a difficult start to the current campaign due to the effects of ankle surgery last summer.
He then found himself on the sidelines for a lengthy period but has bounced back in emphatic style. Since returning to Everton’s side as a substitute in the 0-0 draw with Chelsea on December 22, Baines has made 16 consecutive appearances and shown why David Moyes signed him from Wigan Athletic for £6m in August 2007.
Should Baines make the cut, it would be the first time he has been involved with the senior national team but, for the time being, his immediate thoughts are focused on Everton’s trip to Portsmouth tomorrow. The Blues will be looking to extend their unbeaten run to a ninth game and Moyes will be hoping that leading scorer Tim Cahill will be fit for duty as, having looked a certain starter earlier in the week, there is now a slight question mark over him. Cahill hobbled out of the Stoke win with a pulled calf muscle and will continue to receive intensive treatment in the run up to kick-off to give the Australian every chance of playing at Fratton Park. One man who will definitely be involved is Phil Neville and Moyes has been quick to highlight his skipper’s outstanding form. “He goes about his job in the right way, he is available for all the games, never misses training, gets his rewards and, rightly so, he should be getting plaudits for it just now,” said Moyes. “What he has had to do is step up.
“He has always played with a lot of good players and he has had to step up here and help us. He never hides, he takes responsibility; sometimes too much. He has to get a lot of credit just now.”

Everton FC boss David Moyes inspires a revival in Marouane Fellaini’s fortunes
Mar 20 2009 Dominic King Liverpool Echo
IT’S the little details in conversations that a manager can pick up on and turn into a positive – just ask Marouane Fellaini. A couple of weeks ago at Finch Farm, David Moyes had noticed that the man he made Everton’s club record signing was not as bright as he should have been, either in terms of what he was doing on the pitch and the way he moving off it. The reason for Fellaini’s morose was simple. Unhappy with his form and frustrated that he was racking up bookings quicker than interest rates were falling, the Belgian opened up to Moyes and revealed his anguish.
At that point, Moyes knew it would only be a matter of time before Fellaini’s performances improved and while he empathised with the 21-year-old’s plight, the manager was also delighted that the £15m man was hurting. Had he just been happy to go through the motions and paid little attention to the fact his levels of performance had dipped, Moyes would have had grave concerns about how the remainder of the campaign might have mapped out for Fellaini, who – it should not be forgotten – was also suffering with a small crack in his back. Instead, Moyes emerged from the conflab encouraged that it would not be long before Fellaini was firing on full throttle once again and so it has proved; two goals in the space of a week against Middlesbrough and Stoke City were heartily received by the manager but the fact he has not had his name taken in those games, despite being on the end of some rough tactics, has been equally satisfying. Now he wants more of the same at Portsmouth tomorrow. “Maybe now people are seeing that it’s not all Fellaini – a lot of the actions are being taken against him. He has felt harshly treated at times,” said Moyes.
“Sometimes I have not been able to stand up for him and he knows what I think about that. But when he got banned for the Liverpool games in January, everyone was thinking ‘oh no, we’ve lost Fellaini’. “But in fact, we’ve gone through the last period of games near enough without him as well because of his injury and I think there was a time when his form had dropped too. Now, though, I think he might be coming back into better form. “If that was the case, it would be a big lift for us just now. We’ve spoken to him a lot and I’m hoping we’ll see a massive difference again next season. But you’ve got to remember he is only a 21-year-old boy. “For me, he has had a really good first campaign in the Premier League. Long may it continue. He has grown over the last few months. He probably knew that he needed to step it up a bit.
“I had a conversation with him not so long ago and I could see that he was very down. That gives me great hope when that happens. When he shows me something like that, I know he is going to improve. That was a big thing.” Fellaini’s grasp of English is gradually starting to improve and perhaps that has helped recently when match officials have tried to explain when he is coming close to overstepping the mark.
The fact he was not yellow carded in the FA Cup quarter-final against Middlesbrough was not just testament to Mark Halsey’s leniency, it spoke volumes for the fact Fellaini would not be goaded into making rash, costly actions that ultimately hurt his team-mates. “I’ve had 12 yellow cards this year but we are trying to make that number less and less if we can,” said Fellaini. “But you have got to trust the referee and let him get on with his job. There was a time when all the referees would do was look at me.” Now only supporters are looking at him; that infamous huge afro may have been replaced by corn rows but he is still being talked about thanks to his efforts in a Blue shirt and he will be needed to produce another stellar display on the South Coast tomorrow afternoon, Everton aim to avenge one of their most miserable results of the season. When Portsmouth arrived at Goodison Park in August and ran out comfortable 3-0 winners, Everton looked anything but a side capable of competing at the top end of the Premier League. No wonder, then, that Moyes has taken such satisfaction from the way the Toffees have turned things back in their favour.
“This year more than any has shown the strength of this club coming through,” said Moyes. “There has been adversity but people never turned around and said ‘that’s it, what are we going to do now?’ “At the start of the season, I didn’t think we had enough to compete with Villa, Newcastle and Tottenham. “But somehow – either they have failed or we have kept strong and stable – we have shown that inner strength more than any other year. “At the start of the season we had no players and the ones we did have – the key players – were injured. We couldn’t get them into form. The big result, though, was the one at Tottenham. Even though we lost two players (Yakubu and Louis Saha), we found belief. At the moment, we are trying to find a way to overcome the loss of Mikel Arteta. “But it’s not showing in our results. Maybe that is something that comes from the strength of the football club..” The basics – being hard to beat, well organised and ruthless in attack – will be required once again at Fratton Park and Fellaini hopes the next month will see Everton record some of their best results. “We had a bad start and everyone knows that,” said Fellaini. “Yet here we are in sixth place, looking pretty solid. But we don’t want to say ‘this is it’ – we want to finish things off on a high.”

HOWARD KENDALL: Everton FC can have away day fun at Portsmouth
Mar 20 2009 by Howard Kendall, Liverpool Echo
Television planners never cease to amaze with some of the fixtures they broadcast but this weekend really takes some believing. What on earth possessed them to bring Everton’s kick-off time at Portsmouth brought forward to 12.45pm? Of course I understand that all clubs need to play a certain number of matches in front of the cameras but does commonsense ever come into it? Portsmouth – 252 miles from Liverpool – is hard enough to get to at the best of times but the fans who will go to Fratton Park are faced with either an overnight stay or a 5am start in the morning.
Nobody is forcing supporters to travel such distances but Evertonians take great pride in following their team through hail, rain and shine and they will be at Fratton Park in big numbers, I’m sure. Wouldn’t it have been fair, then, to play the game at the traditional time of 3pm and for the television planners to look for an alternative fixture to broadcast? All being well, though, those who tackle that great distance will get the result they deserve and I’m confident that we will keep our good run going.
It is no surprise that Portsmouth’s results have picked up in recent weeks – doesn’t that always happen when a new manager comes in – but they are down at the bottom of the table for a reason. Another good result down there would keep the momentum behind our push for Europe and our sights should be firmly set on overhauling Aston Villa. They are in the middle of a wobble andappear to be running out of steam just when it matters. Should Everton win at Fratton Park, it will put great pressure on Villa ahead of their trip to Anfield and, with a bit of luck, the gap between the two sides come the end of play on Sunday evening could be down to a point. West Ham United are doing their best to catch us and I have to say that Gianfranco Zola has done a terrific job at Upton Park but we have a healthy buffer over them for the run in.
But rather than worry about what is going on behind us – a Champions League place has to be the aim.
Great to see return of Everton legend Joe Royle
WHO would ever have thought that the ‘delights’ of Oldham would beat the charms of Majorca? Joe Royle may have surprised some people when he returned to management this week and I admit to being slightly taken aback. Myself, Joe and Colin Harvey did a television show for Sky last month and he did not give any hint about taking up any new jobs. If anything, he had been giving some serious thought to moving to enjoy the sun in Spain but now Joe is back at the place he calls ‘Ice Station Zebra’. Big Joe spent 12 successful years at Oldham and he has always had a close affection for them. The incentive is there to take them to Wembley in the play-offs and you wouldn’t bet against him doing that either. He starts off his second reign with a home game against Tranmere and what price he gets an instant response from the players who were beaten 6-2 by MK Dons? Joe will get results and you can bet your bottom dollar he will do that with a big smile on his face.

Big Dunc joins Everton Hall of Fame
Mar 20 2009 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
DUNCAN FERGUSON’S love affair with the Everton faithful ended on an emotional afternoon against West Bromwich Albion three years ago. But the Tartan talisman rekindled his relationship last night on an equally moving occasion at the Adelphi Hotel. Fergie was back in town to be inducted into the final Gwladys Street Hall of Fame – along with Bill Kenwright, Tony Kay, Graham Stuart and David Unsworth.
And he delivered a four minute speech from the heart which had almost 700 fans screaming and chanting his name once again. “It’s an honour to be voted into a Hall of Fame alongside all these great names. I am very, very proud,” he said. “I have played for other quite big football clubs, but when I think about my career I only ever really think about having played here. “I never had a relationship at those other clubs like I had with you. “That final afternoon against West Brom was incredibly emotional. My little boy Cameron still talks about it now. “I was proud to be captain of Everton under three different managers. When you’ve played for Everton, other clubs are nothing, nothing!” There was an equally emotional moment for chairman Bill Kenwright. Some club officials claimed his name had only been included on the Hall of Fame voting to see him fail, but not only was he voted in, the first mention of his name drew prolonged applause, then his induction ceremony received a standing ovation and saw his name chanted loudly. The ovation genuinely moved the Blues chairman, while inductee Graham Stuart also paid tribute to the chairman.
“I feel really humbled to stand up here and receive this incredible honour,” he declared. “When I left Everton Football Club I received a letter through the post from Bill Kenwright thanking me for what he thought I had done for Everton Football Club. That is now framed in my house and will forever be very, very close to my heart.
“He didn’t need to do it, but it speaks volumes for the man who runs Everton.
“But I will save my last words for the man I have the utmost respect for throughout football, Howard Kendall. “I will always be indebted to him for bringing me to Everton, and as he always reminds me, he bought me – and he sold me, too!”
The night wasn't all about dewy eyed nostalgia, though. Phil Jagielka was present to collect his Player of the Year award, Jack Rodwell picked up the Young Player of the Year prize, while the Goal of the Season award went to Dan Gosling – for his FA Cup matchwinner. Also inducted into the final Hall of Fame were Rev Ben Swift Chambers – the churchman who created the cricket team which became St Domingo’s FC – and Alfred Riley Wade, a St Domingan. Supporters club secretary Ian MacDonald also accepted a special award on behalf of David France – the visionary Blue who created the Hall of Fame, not to mention the Everton Former Players Foundation, saved the remarkable Everton Collection, and crafted more than a dozen Everton books.

David Harrison's just the ticket for Wembley
Mar 20 2009 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
IT’S been 14 long years since Everton last had to worry about a ticket allocation for a major Wembley showpiece. But their fans have long memories. They remember the debacle of the 1995 FA Cup final arrangements – and the fiasco of the Brazil v Japan international which saw 10,000 fans locked out, with 12,000 empty seats inside.
Some fans have contacted the Echo this week to express their fears about the looming semi-final. Dads fear that they won’t be able to sit with their children at Wembley, because their season tickets qualify on different days. If I can offer some words of reassurance, Everton’s current club secretary took over two months after those fiascos.
And while David Harrison’s name rarely features beyond the pages of the matchday programme, he is one of the most outstanding and under-rated football administrators around. He pointed out that if those worried dads wait until the later selling date – they can buy both tickets at the same time. The big worry then, of course, is if Everton actually reach the Cup final!

Everton FC need cash to compete, says manager David Moyes
Mar 21 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES has admitted Everton need major investment in their playing staff to sustain a position in the Premier League’s top six next season. Blues boss Moyes has had an initial meeting with his board of directors to outline what areas he feels will need improving at the end of the current campaign. Everton have made giant strides in recent years and are knocking on the door of a top four place but chairman Bill Kenwright has made no secret of the fact he does not have sufficient cash to finance the next stage of the club’s ambitious plans. He and Moyes are anxious to avoid a repeat of last summer when all transfer business was conducted in the final week of the window, as both men are aware that things might not turn out as well they have done this season. But, equally, Moyes knows – as does Kenwright – that to keep the wheels in motion, it is going to take a significant amount of cash. “We’ve seen the implications of what happened last year and we didn’t start the season as well as we might have done,” said Moyes. “We were given plenty of notice and warning about it. I just hope we’re not in a similar situation at the start of next season. “I’ve thought about if I don’t have any cash which way I’ll do it and whether that would be able to sustain Everton being a top club. I’m not convinced that can happen, or being a club in the top half. “I said at the start of the year that the top 10 could be a big achievement this season and we’ve gone on and galvanised again and it could change.
“You’ve got to be careful that somewhere along the line it might not happen and if it was only no money, there isn’t any guarantee that Everton could be a top club next year.” Moyes met with his board at Goodison Park 10 days ago and the manager was at pains to point out the similarities with 12 months ago. Once again, there will be key players recovering from injury during the summer – Yakubu and Mikel Arteta are likely to miss the first few games – and Everton can ill afford to rely on their younger squad members once again. “We have discussions about what we’d like to do but nothing that formal,” said Moyes. “I had a board meeting about two weeks ago and told them what I thought would be required. I knew what the situation was going to be and we may have a similar situation with numbers and it depends on whether Yakubu and Mikel are back for the start of the season. “That was similar to what we had last season, so I’m only doing what I did this time last year which is explaining where I think the difficulties will come. “Our job is to advise and let them know what needs to be done and then the board have to decide how to act on that.” Joseph Yobo will miss today’s game at Portsmouth after suffering a grade one tear of his hamstring. Moyes expects the Nigerian to be sidelined for up to three weeks. Meanwhile, Portsmouth striker David Nugent is prepared to alienate his friends and family by scoring against his boyhood heroes Everton. Scouser Nugent was a regular in the stands at Goodison Park during his formative years and is bringing a bus-load of his closest acquaintances to Fratton Park. “This will be the first time in my professional career playing against them – so it’ll feel strange at first, playing against your heroes. It even feels strange saying it,” said Nugent. “I watched them every game for seven years, and my hero was Duncan Ferguson. He was a true Blue. “My mum, dad, sisters, friends - they’re all Evertonians so it would be a bit weird scoring.”

Everton FC midfielder Steven Pienaar vows to end goal curse
Mar 21 2009 Liverpool Echo
WHEN some players endure a barren in front of goal, they tend to go back to basics but Steven Pienaar is contemplating something much more radical than that.
“I think I have got to go back to South Africa to see a witch doctor,” said Everton’s jack-in-the-box midfielder. “Maybe if I do that I’ll start scoring! But maybe I’m unlucky. Every time I have looked like scoring recently, the keeper has been in the right place.” He has a point. In normal circumstances, Pienaar’s tally would have gone up by two since the start of the month but Blackburn’s Jason Brown and Thomas Sorenson of Stoke City had other ideas. Given that Pienaar’s stole strike of the campaign was also taken off him at the turn of the year by the FA’s dubious goals panel – his shot against Tottenham was credited as being Vedran Corluka putting through his own net – it’s little wonder he is feeling cursed. Pienaar, though, is not the type of person to dwell on such thing and while it might irk slightly that he has yet to get off the mark, the South African is confident he can put things right before the end of the campaign. What’s more, he is the type of player who gets just as big a kick out of creating rather than applying the finishing touch, so, for the time being, that flight back to Johannesburg can wait – particularly as Everton’s season is entering its most crucial period. “I went a year without scoring at (Borussia) Dortmund, so things haven’t got that bad yet,” he pointed out. “As long as the team is winning games, then I am a happy man. Perhaps I’m saving one up for the semi-final.”Every Evertonian would be over the moon if the goal that breaks his duck knocks Manchester United out of the FA Cup but, with the Blues chasing a Champions League spot, it would be just as well received if it happened at Portsmouth today. Historically under David Moyes, the final nine Premier League games do not tend to be filled with points and one criticism of Everton in recent years is that they have been weak finishers in the last furlong.Last year, a dip through April almost opened the door for Aston Villa to pilfer fifth place but fast forward to the present day and Everton are hoping to turn the tables and leapfrog Martin O’Neill’s stuttering squad. The dream scenario this weekend would see Everton win on the South Coast with Villa losing at Anfield, which would mean the deficit between sides being cut to a single point and Pienaar knows how important is to maintain consistency.
Like the rest of his team-mates, he hasn’t given up on the idea of playing in the Champions League - he first experienced the buzz from that tournament with Ajax - but to fulfil such dreams, there is no margin for error.
“We all want to score goals and add something to the team,” said Pienaar. “I’m happy for Felli that he is scoring goals but the haircut (corn rows similar to Pienaar’s) is all his idea! I’m also happy for Jo, as he is doing well and has settled in. “We can’t drop any points as we are chasing European football. We’ve got to keep pushing all the way. Maybe we were a bit too over confident at the end of last season and things were going really easy for us. “Then we nearly let it slip out of our hands. We have learned from that, so we will keep pushing for every point and it doesn’t matter how we get it. If we play ugly football, who cares? Three points are all that matter and the fans will celebrate the same as always.” Celebrations in this city will be unlike anything he has ever seen if Moyes can guide Everton to their first piece of silverware in 14 years but thoughts of running around Wembley with the Cup have not yet crossed Pienaar’s mind. His immediate thoughts are geared towards winning at Fratton Park and it’s safe to say that the manager’s team talk will make reference to the last meeting between the sides - Portsmouth’s 3-0 win at Goodison was arguably the lowest point of the summer. “The FA Cup is out of our mind because there is almost a month to go before we play that game,” he pointed out. “Portsmouth is the next challenge and that’s all we are focused on. We are improving as a team and we are so tight as a group. “We want to work for each other. We lost Yak earlier in the season but even though there was a big space to fill, we tried our hardest. That’s the kind of determination that we are going to have to keep on showing. “When you play against the teams who are fighting at the bottom, you have got to be prepared to match them. It’s never easy when you play them. Look at the way Stoke made things difficult for us. “We will respect Portsmouth; they are a good team with good players and will be desperate for a result but we have just got to go out and play our own game to make sure we get the points.”

Everton FC's Sunday FA Cup clash could mean 20,000 fail to make work or school
Mar 21 2009 by Neil Hodgson, Liverpool Echo
UP TO 20,000 football fans are predicted to miss work or school after Everton’s Sunday FA Cup semi-final with Manchester United next month. Bosses hit out at the Football Association for allowing London sides Arsenal and Chelsea to play the day before, while forcing the two North West giants to fight it out in a 4pm kick-off on Sunday, April 19. It is likely to cause travel chaos for at least 64,000 fans from both sides. Many fans, including schoolchildren, will not get home from the game until the early hours the following day. Damian Waters, regional director of bosses’ organisation the CBI, said: “The knock-on effect will be the next day. A lot of people will want time off. “The question has to be why the two semi-finals could not be swapped.” Peter Mooney, head of consultancy with employment lawyers Employment Law Advisory Services, fears many firms will be hit by absenteeism. He said: “Late train services from Euston on Sunday night are notoriously slow, with some taking around six hours for the journey to Liverpool. “Many fans will not arrive back in Merseyside until 8am on Monday. “Many will simply miss work on Monday altogether. We estimate around 20,000 staff may miss work in Liverpool and Manchester.” An FA spokesman said: “While concerns were raised during a meeting involving the FA and the clubs regarding travel back to Liverpool and Manchester, no formal request was made to change the venue.” He said there are more trains after the Sunday game than for the 5.15pm Saturday game. Everton spokesman Ian Ross hit out, saying people are “jumping on a bandwagon that does not exist”. He said: “We have had just one complaint about the fixture. “It would appear to me that people who have nothing to do with Everton are jumping on a bandwagon which does not exist.
“Our supporters are just delighted to be in a semi-final. “Everton fans are resilient and quite capable of making a journey to London and back in a day and getting to work the next morning.”

DOMINIC KING: Patient Leighton Baines set to win the waiting game
Mar 21 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
NERVES will jangle and finger nails will be bitten in the Baines household from now until 8pm tomorrow evening but that can only be a good thing. That, of course, is when the waiting will come to an end and Fabio Capello will finally reveal the 23 men he has selected for duty for England’s forthcoming games against Slovakia and Ukraine at Wembley. A coach who picks players on the basis of form and pays little attention to reputation, that Capello included Everton’s Leighton Baines in his initial party of 30 speaks volumes for the way the left back has been playing. If he makes the cut – and his chances of doing that have surely improved after Wayne Bridge pulled up lame during Manchester City’s tussle with Aalborg on Thursday night – it would complete a remarkable about turn in his fortunes. Though David Moyes made Baines the most expensive defender in Everton’s history when signing him from Wigan Athletic in July 2007, there was a point not so long ago when it appeared his chances of flourishing in Royal Blue were doomed. Every time there was a game to be played against a top four side or they were involved in a game of hefty magnitude, Moyes would drop Baines to the bench and shuffle Joleon Lescott into his position on the flank to give Everton extra height. It left some supporters asking why Baines had been bought in the first place; after all, it wasn’t as if he had shrunk on his way from the JJB Stadium to Goodison Park but, clearly, things did not augur well. For a player who frequently questions his own ability and his standing in the squad, he may have only been a couple more droppings away from the point of no return with Everton but – and Capello will have seized upon this – he has fought back superbly. Whether Baines felt he was entering the last chance saloon the night Joseph Yobo limped off against Chelsea, only he will know but few would dispute that he has played like a man possessed for most of the last 16 games. Protecting his flank with the commitment of a Buckingham Palace sentry, Baines has provided a number of telling crosses that have led to goals and there is little doubt that being picked consistently has done wonders for his confidence. Unlike his predecessors Sven-Goran Eriksson or Steve McClaren, Capello does not base some of his selections on popularity, he simply looks for the men who will make England’s team tick best.

Looking ahead to bigger picture - Portsmouth 2, Everton 1
Mar 23 2009 by Chris Beesley, Liverpool Daily Post
SOMETIMES when you suffer a temporary setback you’ve got to look at the bigger picture and Lars Jacobsen knows that more than most. Injury problems followed by a fight to win his place in the Everton side ensured the Danish right-back had to wait seven months after signing before he made his debut but he could now end up playing in Everton’s FA Cup semi-final at Wembley. Just maybe he might even dream of being part of an FA Cup-winning side and what a fairytale that would be. Why not? – he is after all from the land of Hans Christian Andersen. Everton too must look to the bigger picture. Defeat ensured that Portsmouth recorded their first league ‘double’ over Everton since February 1956 – the month that Norma Jeane Mortenson changed her name to Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley entered the US charts for the first time with ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ but despite this one-off result, Pompey fans will still be casting an envious eye on the stability and league position of the Goodison Park outfit.
You can lose the odd battle but still win the war. It would be unfair and inaccurate to suggest that Portsmouth wanted this more than Everton – you can be sure that will never be the case when talking about a David Moyes team – but they probably needed it more. Everton have had a few sticky ends to the season under the Scot’s stewardship but it would take an almighty slump for them to throw away the chance of securing a third successive European qualification this season given their current place. Before Saturday they had lost just once in their previous 18 matches – and that came via a penalty at Old Trafford. Repeat that kind of run between now and the end of the campaign and they might even be in with a shot of sneaking a Champions League spot. So much has changed for both Everton and Portsmouth since Jacobsen’s arrival. When the right-back was named among David Moyes’s substitutes for the corresponding fixture at Goodison Park back on August 30, the Scot’s first signing of a traumatic summer presumably hoping that his Premier League bow would be imminent. Back then as Everton slumped to a second successive home defeat, conceding three times in both games, it looked like FA Cup holders Portsmouth would be the side who would build on their European qualification and that Moyes’s men would struggle but this game apart the tables have certainly turned.
The Hampshire club are now on their third manager of the season and after offloading star turns such as Lassana Diarra and Jermain Defoe in the January transfer window, are fighting for their Premier League lives. In the build up to this match, Moyes suggested that Pompey’s boom and bust fortunes were because they could not sustain their growth whereas as his own side’s evolution had been done gradually on a more level footing. While this was a bad day at the office for Everton, Portsmouth are sweating just to keep the firm trading. With the injuries continuing to bite at Finch Farm it eventually took a hamstring problem for Joseph Yobo to provide Jacobsen with his bow as Phil Jagielka reverted to the centre of defence. Yobo could be out for around a month and also missing was midfielder Tim Cahill who is still struggling with his calf. The Australian’s absence meant that Moyes reverted to a 4-4-2 formation with Louis Saha starting for the first time since the equally disappointing 1-0 reversal at Wigan in November to partner Jo in attack. Unfortunately the combination was not a potent one and for all their fancy footwork the pair were unable to fashion an opening as Everton failed to force a save of note from home keeper David James throughout the entire afternoon. The England number one couldn’t get near the visitors’ opener on four minutes though as it was all so different as Everton got off to a perfect start with left-back Leighton Baines netting his first goal for the club. Saha was fouled by Sylvain Distin in a central position just outside the area and Baines curled the resultant free-kick around the wall and into the net via James’s left-hand post. In these early stages it looked like proceedings were to go with the formbook but unfortunately for Everton, referee Peter Walton who generally officiated the game well, attempting to let play flow, got one key call wrong that crucially allowed Paul Hart’s side back into the match. With Portsmouth plugging away aimlessly, they caught a break when they were awarded a corner-kick for a supposed deflection by Baines on to a Glen Johnson cross. Replays suggested that Everton’s goalscorer did not make contact but when the resultant delivery by former Moyes target Sean Davis was only half-cleared by Jo, Niko Kranjcar lofted the ball back into the box, Johnson headed across goal and up popped former Liverpool striker Peter Crouch to nod the hosts level on 22 minutes. Everton’s lacklustre frontmen both had opportunities to restore the visitors’ lead before the interval but neither could hit the target. Sol Campbell attempted to head clear a lofted right-wing cross by Jacobsen but couldn’t direct his interception and the ball fell to the feet of the on-loan Brazilian striker who volleyed wide of James’s left-hand post. A Saha effort ended up going in a similar direction as he failed to make a proper connection with another cross by Jacobsen, attempting an acrobatic scissor-kick. Things got worse after the break and Portsmouth’s Evertonian striker David Nugent who did his best to talk himself into a move to a dream move to Goodison Park a couple of summers back should have put the hosts ahead but saw his low shot blocked by the feet of Tim Howard when played through by Crouch. The winner came 15 minutes from time, again from a corner-kick which could have been avoided but for different reasons. Baines tackled Johnson by the left-hand touchline only for right-back Younes Kaboul to charge in and whip a speculative effort from the wing towards goal that Howard struggled to deal with and spilled around the post. This time the goal came directly from a Davis delivery as Crouch got between Marouane Fellaini and Saha to head in beyond Jacobsen who was guarding the far post. There was no late comeback on this occasion and the result could have been more emphatic as Davis rattled Howard’s left-hand post with a 25-yard drive. But one of the factors that gauges how well you do in the Premier League is your ability to bounce back from a defeat and generally Everton have been able to do that. Moyes can take heart from that, and of course the fact that Wembley opponents the once-mighty Manchester United are now in freefall.
Well, like Jacobsen we can all dream.

Portsmouth FC 2 Everton FC 1 - Dominic King's verdict
Mar 23 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DURING times of great frustration, it is easy to let emotions cloud your judgement and jump feet first into making rash assessments. Many, then, will have expected tea cups to have been left strewn around the away dressing room inside Fratton Park on Saturday afternoon or holes smashed in the doors after Everton’s most disappointing result of 2009. Off colour, short of key personnel, looking mentally tired and – bar the first five minutes – unable to show any kind of quality against Portsmouth, those who ventured 252 miles south for a silly kick-off time were left bitterly disappointed by Everton’s efforts. After a run of so many good results, for those who are only happy when they have something to complain about, this result and performance will have been manna from heaven. And, predictably, this was reflected on some message boards and phone-ins. Yes, there was no escaping that Everton were several rungs below what has come to be accepted as the norm and it was irritating that the only thing Portsmouth keeper David James had to worry about in the second half was the sun in his eyes. But at times such as this, it pays to have a sense of perspective and that is why there were no flying tea cups, no fists banging on tables or dressing downs in the dressing room from Everton manager DavidMoyes after referee Peter Walton had brought this contest to a close. Had Mikel Arteta been available, if Tim Cahill’s damaged calf had responded to treatment and had James Vaughan and Ayegbeni Yakubu been up and running, Everton would have boarded their flight back to Merseyside with three points in their possession. Portsmouth may have captured the imagination 12 months ago when winning the FA Cup. But the reality is they are now a team packed full of ageing footballers and it is difficult to see them threatening to break into the top six any time soon. They will have more than enough to banish the spectre of relegation this season but, sooner rather than later, dropping out of the division will become a perpetual threat unless they make significant investments in their squad. Some will read the above statement and dismiss it as sour grapes but just consider this: James is not far off 40, Sol Campbell’s best years are a fading memory, Sylvain Distin is the wrong side of 30 and there are no young men coming through to take over from them. Forwards with pace and creativity will ruthlessly expose the shortcomings of the last named pair and it is not difficult to imagine Arteta playing balls through the channel for Vaughan to scamper through on goal. Sadly, the reality was much different. Though Leighton Baines – more on him later – fired Everton into the lead with a superb free-kick, for some reason they never looked capable of making that advantage count and it would be futile to argue otherwise. Perhaps it was a case of the injury list that has left Moyes frantically spinning plates this season finally taking its toll. And when added to those already in the treatment room, Cahill’s late defection and Joseph Yobo’s torn hamstring were two problems too many.
In total, Moyes was without nine senior players on Saturday and even the biggest, best squad would have difficulties getting results in such circumstances – that Everton still find themselves comfortably sitting in sixth place is a fact which deserves championing. Sure, a Champions League place is now looking more and more unlikely but when Portsmouth sauntered to a 3-0 win at Goodison last August, did you honestly expect that we would be talking about such aims now? Think for a moment about some of the autumnal nadirs – defeat at Blackburn Rovers in the Carling Cup, throwing a two-goal lead away against Newcastle United, losing in Liege, the second half capitulation at the Emirates – and then look at the current table. After such a woeful start, Everton have worked wonders to salvage the situation and the consistency they have shown through winter to clamber up the rankings and march into an FA Cup semi-final makes it easier to file this result in the category marked ‘blips’. It was, quite simply, a bad day at the office but some experienced that sensation more than others. Take a bow Louis Saha and Jo, who let the slovenly Campbell and Distin off the hook in a big way. Moyes spent much of last summer badgering Bill Kenwright about the possibility of signing Jo but evidence is starting to mount that he might have had a lucky escape. To be fair, his debut against Bolton was good and last week’s showing in the win over Stoke City was certainly above average but here the Brazilian was more Jo Brand than Joe Royle, a point proven when he fluffed a glorious first half chance. Then there was Saha. Magical when he has come as substitute and capable of moments on the pitch that can leave you drooling, this was the other side of the Frenchman; sloppy and slow, it was not what is expected of an Everton number nine. Mind you, some of the service they received from midfield will have left both strikers bewildered; they they were not given one worthwhile ball by those who create chances. The only man who looked capable of chiselling something out was Baines. While his celebration can be improved upon, the strike that brought about his first goal for Everton was of the highest quality. Every game Baines has played in the last couple of months has helped build his belief and he now looks the real deal. He was Everton’s top performer but it would be remiss not to mention the man on the other flank who made his long-awaited debut – Lars Jacobsen was neat, tidy and showed enough to suggest Moyes will be able to trust him. Trust, possibly, is a key word. Moyes has the utmost faith in his players and that explains why he was able to keep his emotions in check, rather than launching into a tirade. All being well, then, that perspective will be rewarded when Everton return to action.

Tim Cahill - my debt to Everton FC boss David Moyes
Mar 24 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON talisman Tim Cahill is desperate for FA Cup glory this season – to repay the manager who took a chance on him. David Moyes brought the midfielder from Millwall in 2004, and has since become a hugely coveted player. But Cahill said: “I’m not interested in other clubs.“Opportunities may arise, but I’m lucky enough to have an agent who only cares about my wellbeing, being fit and playing for my club, which is perfect for me. “Other managers say now that they wanted me, but he was the one who took a chance on me. The manager and the club have made me what I am.
“We’re desperate to do well in the FA Cup this season. “It gives us a big opportunity to give something back to the club, to the manager, to the chairman and to the fans, who have been starved of silverware for so long.” Defender Lars Jacobsen, meanwhile, has promised Everton will revert to type by putting together another unbeaten run to finish the season with a flourish. The Denmark international belatedly made his first appearance for the Blues last Saturday but the experience was soured by Portsmouth’s 2-1 win at Fratton Park. Failing to take any points enabled Arsenal to steal a march on them in the race for fourth place and time is running out for Everton to overhaul a seven-point deficit. Jacobsen, though, is not giving up the fight and he is encouraged by recent history – after losing to Aston Villa on December 7, they put a nine-game unbeaten run together. And after they slipped to a 1-0 defeat against Manchester United on January 31, Everton went eight matches without defeat. Jacobsen thinks David Moyes’ side can do the same again. “Saturday was the first time that we had lost in a while,” said Jacobsen, who will link up with Denmark’s squad for their World Cup qualifiers against Malta and Albania later today.
“We expected to get something at Portsmouth but it was a difficult match. We’ll get ourselves back up again – if we win the next game, we’ll be right back on it.
“We’ve got a break for a little while now but I’m sure when we get back, we’ll be ready. There is a game against Wigan that I’m sure we can do well in. We still have a good chance. “It was disappointing that my debut ended up with us losing. We need to be winning games to make sure we keep putting pressure on the teams above us.”
Jacobsen signed a one-year deal when he joined Everton last August but his dreams quickly turned into nightmares after he dislocated his shoulder within a fortnight of arriving. But Blues’ boss Moyes urged him to be patient and reminded the 29-year-old that he might get a chance to shine when it was least expected and so it proved.
With Joseph Yobo due to spend a month on the sidelines and Tony Hibbert out for a fortnight, Jacobsen could become a familiar presence in Everton’s starting line-up.

Everton Reserves end winless run with victory over Wigan
Mar 25 2009 by Our Correspondent, Liverpool Daily Post
EVERTON Reserves’ nine-game run without a win in the FA Premier Reserve League Northern Section ended as they beat Wigan Athletic 2-0 at the Halton Stadium last night. Andy Holden’s side gained revenge for the 2-1 defeat to the Latics in November which had started their winless streak. Kieran Agard and debutant Karl Sheppard scored in the first half to make Everton’s final game of the season a winning one. They had Adam Forshaw, Gerard Kinsella and Sheppard making debuts for the second string with only keeper Carlo Nash and right-back Seamus Coleman not teenagers. Everton took the lead on 18 minutes when, from Forshaw‘s free-kick, Sheppard headed past Wigan keeper Lee Nicholls. Then just before the break Agard’s shot deflected off a defender and looped over Nicholls, which was enough to give Everton the three points.
EVERTON RESERVES: Nash, Coleman, Barnett, Kinsella, Irving, Sinnott, O’Kane (Codling 72), Forshaw, Agard, Sheppard, Kissock. Subs: Stubhaug, Duffy, Nsiala, McAleny.

Everton set to open new contract talks with Joseph Yobo
Mar 25 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON are poised to open talks with Joseph Yobo on a new long-term contract.
The Nigerian international’s current deal expires in June 2010 but the Blues are expected to revisit the situation at the end of the current campaign to protect their asset and avoid the prospect of him entering into Bosman territory. Yobo became David Moyes’ first signing back in July 2002 and has since gone on to become one of Everton’s most consistent performers, making 229 appearances and scoring seven goals. As is always the case, Moyes will not open discussions on contractual matters until the final ball of the season has been kicked but he has confirmed that talking terms with Yobo is on the agenda. “We haven’t spoken about Joe’s contract at the moment,” said Moyes. “That’s something we’ll be looking at I’m sure.” Chelsea and Arsenal were linked with Yobo in 2006 but he ended that speculation after Moyes and his board promised they could provide a platform for his ambitions. That Everton qualified for Europe in the following two seasons and look set for a third UEFA Cup adventure next year proved that point; Yobo himself has never given any indication that he might be looking to move elsewhere. He, though, is currently nursing a hamstring strain that will keep him out of action until the middle of next month but Moyes is confident Everton can cope in his absence. Joleon Lescott and Phil Jagielka, after all, have formed a successful partnership in the times he has been absent this season and Moyes believes that will be the same again. “We’ve got people who can play there,” said Moyes, who should be able to welcome Tony Hibbert back to full training in the next seven days. “I don’t think it’s that serious. Joe felt it after the game against Stoke. “He had a sore back and he did a bit of training with us. But then he felt his hamstring, so we had it scanned and it looks as though it’s a grade one tear. It shouldn’t keep him out for too long but I’ll be hoping to get him back within three weeks.” Everton, meanwhile, could have three of their young guns in international action tonight when England’s Under-19s face the Czech Republic at Walsall’s Bescot Stadium. Jack Rodwell and Dan Gosling should start for Brian Eastwick’s side and they may be joined by James Wallace, who has replaced Manchester United’s Danny Wellbeck in the squad.

Everton Shareholders celebrate Chile's Everton
Mar 25 2009 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON Shareholders Association hosted a Chile supper with a difference this month. The Association’s annual dinner at Goodison Park celebrated the centenary of CD Everton, the Chilean football team who claimed their league title last season.
It was the first time since 1976 that Corporación Deportiva Everton de Viña del Mar (to give them their full title) had lifted the Chilean title, and the fourth time in their history. ‘The Ruleteros’ were founded in 1909 in the Vina del Mar area of Chile by a group of visiting sailors from Liverpool, who gave the club the name of Everton.
A group of Everton supporters set up the Ruleteros Society in 2002 to extend the links between the two clubs. And after a delegation of officials from CD Everton visited Goodison Partk earlier this year, plans are now afoot to stage a pre-season friendly between the two sides. The Ruleteros Society motto reads “Once an Evertonian, Twice an Evertonian!” Special guest of the Shareholders Association was Ray Wilson, the Everton and England full back who has the distinction of having played on the grounds of the two Everton clubs. Wilson figured against Brazil in the 1962 World Cup in Chile and played at Goodison many times during a celebrated Blues career. Also in attendance at the Shareholders’ dinner was Blues’ Chairman Bill Kenwright, Mayor of Liverpool Steve Rotherham and leader of Liverpool City Council, Warren Bradley. Messages of support from Chile were heard from CD Everton chairman Antonio Bloise and Juan Foxley. A Chilean menu was prepared by Julio Arellano, the honorary Consul of the Chilean Embassy and owner of The Valparaiso Restaurant in Hardman Street. More than 150 guests attended and raised £2000 which will be split between the Everton Former Players Foundation and a special needs school in Vina Del Mar. The Association also took possession of 700 Everton shirts from Rev. Harry Ross of the Everton Former Players Foundation.
The shirts will be transported to Chile, Argentina & Uruguay to the children of South American junior teams. After attending Everton's Premier League match against Bolton this year, Everton CD president Antonio Boise said: “We received a present during half-time and the whole stadium applauded in an incredible way. “We have also received a proposal to play a friendly match against Everton in England to help celebrate 100 years of our club. I will have more news on the matter in the spring.”

blues set to open yobo talks
Mar 25 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON are poised to open talks with Joseph Yobo on a new long-term contract.
The Nigerian international’s current deal expires in June 2010 but the Blues are expected to revisit the situation at the end of the current campaign to protect their asset and avoid the prospect of him entering into Bosman territory. Yobo became David Moyes’ first signing back in July 2002 and has since gone on to become one of Everton’s most consistent performers, making 229 appearances and scoring seven goals. As is always the case, Moyes will not open discussions on contractual matters until the final ball of the season has been kicked but he has confirmed that talking terms with Yobo is on the agenda. “We haven’t spoken about Joe’s contract at the moment,” said Moyes. “That’s something we’ll be looking at I’m sure.” Chelsea and Arsenal were linked with Yobo in 2006 but he ended that speculation after Moyes and his board promised they could provide a platform for his ambitions. That Everton qualified for Europe in the following two seasons and look set for a third UEFA Cup adventure next year proved that point; Yobo himself has never given any indication that he might be looking to move elsewhere. He, though, is currently nursing a hamstring strain that will keep him out of action until the middle of next month but Moyes is confident Everton can cope in his absence. Joleon Lescott and Phil Jagielka, after all, have formed a successful partnership in the times he has been absent this season and Moyes believes that will be the same again. “We’ve got people who can play there,” said Moyes, who should be able to welcome Tony Hibbert back to full training in the next seven days. “I don’t think it’s that serious. Joe felt it after the game against Stoke. “He had a sore back and he did a bit of training with us. But then he felt his hamstring, so we had it scanned and it looks as though it’s a grade one tear. It shouldn’t keep him out for too long but I’ll be hoping to get him back within three weeks.” Everton, meanwhile, could have three of their young guns in international action tonight when England’s Under-19s face the Czech Republic at Walsall’s Bescot Stadium. Jack Rodwell and Dan Gosling should start for Brian Eastwick’s side and they may be joined by James Wallace, who has replaced Manchester United’s Danny Wellbeck in the squad.
Everton Reserves 2, Wigan Reserves 0
Mar 25 2009 by Hannah Bargery, Liverpool Echo
A YOUNG Everton Reserves side marked their last game at the Stobart Stadium this season with a much-deserved three points. The result ended a nine-match winless streak which had begun in the reverse fixture in 2008. The Latics won 2-1 back in November and with regular reserve players missing and three youngsters making their debuts, the odds were in favour of a similar result. However, Everton’s attacking play proved to be as relentless as the torrential rain in the first half as they dominated the game. Alan Stubbs, who was watching over the Blues performance in place of the absent Andy Holden, must have been pleased with teens Gerrard Kinsella, Adam Forshaw and Karl Sheppard who never looked out of place during their first reserve team outings. Indeed, the opening goal came from two of the debutants linking up, as a Forshaw free-kick from the left hand side was headed home by Sheppard on 18 minutes. Forshaw’s set pieces caused Wigan’s defence problems throughout the match. His corners and free-kicks, delivered with pace, always seemed likely to create an opportunity. Young striker Kieran Agard got the Blues’ second goal just before half time. The 18-year-old, who was on the bench at Portsmouth in the Premier League last weekend, sped through the visiting defence before his shot looped over talented 16-year-old Wigan keeper Lee Nicholls, from Huyton. At the opposite end, Carlo Nash’s goal was rarely threatened with Wigan never looking likely to score.
Fresh from his loan spell at Accrington Stanley, John Paul Kissock looked lively throughout the 90 minutes despite being persistently fouled by a physical Wigan back four. The young midfielder impressed with some imaginative passing and clever touches and may well have staked a claim for playing a bigger role in the first team than keeping the bench warm.
EVERTON RES: Nash, Coleman, Barnett, Kinsella, Irving, Sinnott, O’Kane (Coding 72), Forshaw, Agard, Sheppard, Kissock. Not used: Stubhaug, Duffy, Nsiala, McAleny.

Everton FC manager David Moyes praises Jack Rodwell's England impact
Mar 26 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES today backed Jack Rodwell to take giant strides in the next 12 months after his young midfielder captained England’s Under-19 team for the first time. Rodwell has long been held in the highest regard at Goodison Park and gave another glimpse of his potential during the Young Lions’ 0-0 draw with the Czech Republic last night. He was given the armband in the absence of Arsenal’s Henri Lansbury and will now link up with England’s Under-21 squad for the game against France in Nottingham next week. Moyes will be keeping a close eye on how Rodwell fares, particularly as he is likely to have a role to play for Everton in the final weeks of the campaign. The 18-year-old has made 10 starts so far this season but, such is Moyes’ faith in Rodwell, he expects him to double that total next year and become a key figure for the Blues. “We’re going to keep trying to bring him on and there have been some periods of the season where he’s been very good and some periods where you can see he’s still a boy,” he said. “He has only just turned 18. It’s going to take experience and time but he has undoubtedly got a good future ahead of him. You can see his ability and we are keen to push him on. “Next year instead of playing five, six or eight games it might be up to 18 or 20 games depending on how his improvement is. He has got great pace and athleticism. “He’s here and hopefully he’ll come through the way Hibbo and Ossie have over the years and we can get some more of our own boys coming through.” Dan Gosling also played for England’s Under-19s. Meanwhile, Ajax defender Jan Vertonghen has opened the door to a summer move to Goodison Park after admitting he would like to play for Everton. Vertonghen – a 21-year-old who can also play at full-back and midfield – is a Belgian international and is friends with Everton’s record signing, Marouane Fellaini. “In the future I want to play in England, but not at a small team like Wigan – I would rather stay with Ajax if that was the case,” he said. “But a transfer to Everton sounds great for me. Everton are sixth in the table and England breaths football. Maybe I will become Fellaini’s team-mate.”

Former Everton FC striker Stuart Barlow says he wants to be a football coach
Mar 26 2009 by Philip Kirkbride, Liverpool Echo
STUART Barlow could not be more in love with the game of football right now, but on his retirement it was a very different story. After a rollercoaster career, spanning a dream rise from Sunday League to Premier League back to the lower reaches of the pyramid, Barlow has rediscovered his desire for the game. Tackling football’s big issues on his Radio City Friday night slot to talking tactics with his son’s junior side, 40-year-old Barlow has now rekindled his affair with the beautiful game.
“I love my football, it is in my blood but after my career finished after 17, 18 years, I just would not watch football, the pre-season or anything but now I really miss it”, said the former Everton striker. “I retired two years ago at 38, but was asked to play another season at Bamber Bridge. I still believe I could play, I am as fit as a fiddle but could do with a bit of cardio. But my son was getting to the age when he was starting to play football and he wanted me to come and watch him, which is important. I am there cleaning his boots on a Friday night, I am bit like his kit man but I love getting out there on a Saturday morning and encouraging the lads. “Dylan is 10 and plays 11-a-side for Formby Juniors. He is really enjoying it so I help run the team, with four or five other parents, and do some coaching with them.” Barlow, a Goodison Park player between 1990-1995 after being spotted playing in the Business Houses League for Sherwood Park, has spent his spare time away from the pitch since his professional career ended. The former Tranmere Rovers and Wigan star helped set up his wife Tracy’s wedding shop, Bardot Bridal Wear, in St Helens and has recently been helping a friend out in a scaffolding company. But now Barlow is itching to pass on the experience he built up in over 500 appearances as a pro at teams like Oldham, Stockport and Bury. But in the meantime, Barlow is revelling in his role as football pundit and more importantly, as family man. “I miss the buzz of an away game”, said Barlow “Travelling down to the hotel on the Friday night then getting on the coach on a Saturday morning with the lads who become your best friends because you spend so much time with them. I would love to be coaching at a club.
“My wife has a wedding shop and has run it with a friend for three years now. I am a partner in the business so get roped into doing some of the DIY for the shop. But I love it, it is all part of being a husband and it find it quite therapeutic and rewarding.
“The radio show is all about Liverpool, Everton and Tranmere, looking to the weekend and getting people involved in the build up on a Friday night, 7-9pm. It is all good stuff, I have known John Durnin for a while now since our Tranmere days and it has been fun doing all the media stuff. “As a player starting at Everton I would never decline an interview, even though when I started I was a little bit nervous but just got stuck in there and had a laugh which makes it easier. It has always been something that has interested me, I never took any qualifications because when playing football you do not know what you are going to do when you finish - your family comes first and you concentrate on them. “Everton are in my heart, it is a fantastic club and it is 1995 since we won a trophy - we need to win one again. We have fantastic supporters, a manager who has done so well and I do believe Bill Kenwright has done the right thing in keeping Moyes at the club for so long. Some chairman change managers too quickly these days, look at Sam Allardyce at Newcastle. He brought in a whole new team and set of staff but was sacked after six months. “For me, outside of the so-called top four, Everton are the best team. I was a Red but that changed like it did with Jamie Carragher and Robbie Fowler changing from being a Blue. My boys are Liverpool fans so I like to see them win for Dylan and Josh. “It is a good time for the Everton supporters, over the years we have been involved in a couple of semi-finals and that is what the fans deserve. They have shown their true colours, and when I was playing they would turn out in their thousands, even at games in London, so many of them travel. “I am not a lover of the semi being played at Wembley but if I was one of the players I would be thinking of it as a great chance of playing there. As a kid it was amazing watching the cup final on the telly and that was special. Playing the semi there has taken the shine off it but try telling the Everton fans it will not be a great occasion.” “The modern footballers are more in demand from TV and are in the papers more than we were and I feel sorry for them in some ways because their charity work sometimes goes unnoticed. But certain players are only in it for the money, not for the love of the game like when we played for the pride of wearing the shirt.”
Heartache at FA Cup Final omission
STUART Barlow has revealed the heartache he felt after being left out of Everton’s 1995 FA Cup final squad. Manager Joe Royle broke the news to Barlow on the eve of the game, opting instead to select an half fit Duncan Ferguson for one of three places on the substitutes’ bench. But, as gutted as Barlow was to see his Wembley dream die, he overcame his personal disappointment to celebrate Paul Rideout’s winning goal.
“That was a massive blow” recalls Barlow. “I got injured before the semi-final in a match at Blackburn but got back involved a couple of league games before the final. Duncan Ferguson was not fit, or at least I did not think he was, so all week my mind had been on playing the final at Wembley. “But it came to Friday and Joe pulled three of us to one side – myself, John Ebbrell and Vinny Samways – and told us we would not be involved in the squad. It was heart breaking. I was playing Sunday League at 19, 20 and at 25, 26 was thinking I would be running out at Wembley.“Wewere only allowed three subs at the time which was frustrating. But it was not about me, it was all about the club. “I was involved in the earlier rounds, just not the final 14 man squad.”

THE JURY: on Everton FC's weekend result, and FA Cup hope
Mar 26 2009 Liverpool Echo
MASS queues have been seen at Goodison Park this week, no it’s not people sending back their season tickets after Saturday’s game but Evertonians wanting to get their hands on a ticket for Wembley! Who said that people don’t want to play the semi-finals at Wembley! A disappointing game on Saturday, but let’s not get carried away as we have had a great season and Wembley is only just around the corner now. Tim Cahill was a big miss on Saturday as he is vital to our team with his goals and work-rate. Let’s hope it is not too long before he is back. Well done to Baines on his England call-up, well deserved and to have three defenders in the squad is great. Let’s hope he comes back without any injuries as we need him for the rest of the season. Let’s get back on track with three points against Wigan and catch Villa in the race for 5th.
IT is a bitter pill to swallow when you lose a game you were in control of for the majority of the match. We got the best start we could have wished for with Baines scoring a great free kick, a goal that I was glad he got because it was no less than he deserved. Then, predictably, ex-red Peter Crouch pops up with his first goal on home soil in months against us, a goal from a corner that should never have been anyway! I honestly thought we would get back into the game, but it was not meant to be and there is the giant to score again, taking advantage of a rare defensive error from us.
I do genuinely believe this was just a hiccup but if there is to be any change, it would have to be Jacobsen. Fair enough, he hasn't played but, but he was all over the place, I'd rather have Neville fill in there and Rodwell playing deep midfield.
SATURDAY’S defeat was difficult to take but not a surprise – the players looked jaded after the first 30 minutes and they can’t produce miracles every week. Put it behind, move on. Of much greater significance were the comments by Moyes about facing a lack of cash to spend come the summer. He has clearly learnt the lessons from the PR disaster of the last close season but I wonder if now is the right time to start talking publicly about such matters. It hardly helps generate enthusiasm for season ticket sales and raises all of the old questions again about why such a great club cannot find an investor; it’s nothing to do with the credit crunch.
What did the Manchester City’s investors like so much about them? We have won more trophies than they ever will and they are neighbours to the most successful club in the world. Once again, Everton fans need answers – please, Mr Kenwright, be honest with us for once.
ALL good things must come to an end, and Sunday proved to be the final curtain on Everton’s recent good run of form. If I am honest I knew deep down Portsmouth would be difficult, but after four minutes when Baines scored his first ever goal for the Blues I still didn’t feel comfortable. It was obvious Crouch would come back to haunt Everton, but we must not feel too disappointed. Moyes will be ruing the opportunity to close the gap on Villa. The next two premiership games for the Toffees will be crucial, beat Wigan and Villa and you can almost smell 5th spot. It’s fantastic to see three Everton players make the England squad, Jags and Lescott have been tremendous all season, while Baines deserves his chance. It’s a true testament to the work ethic at Everton, and fair play to Fabio Capello for recognising the hard work put in by the Blues.

Relief as Everton FC Reserves end slump
Mar 26 2009 by James Pearce, Liverpool Echo
THERE was relief as Everton Reserves ended their nine-game winless streak with a 2-0 triumph over Wigan at the Stobart Stadium. The Blues went into the match looking to avenge a 2-1 defeat to the Latics back in November which triggered their baron start to 2009. Debutant Karl Sheppard and Kieran Agard struck first-half goals to ensure the second string’s final home outing of the season ended in victory.
It was a youthful line up with only keeper Carlo Nash and right-back Seamus Coleman beyond teenage years, while Adam Forshaw, Gerrard Kinsella and Sheppard all made their first reserve team outings

Former Everton FC man Anderson shines for Barnsley after suffering personal heartbreak
Mar 26 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
ANDERSON DA SILVA never made an impression during his brief time with Everton but his current employers hold him in the highest regard.
The Brazilian midfielder now plays for Championship side Barnsley and their manager Simon Davey has felt compelled to single him out for special praise after his recent performance against Crystal Palace. Da Silva was Man-of-the-Match but his efforts in the 3-1 win over Crystal Palace were all the remarkable as he had only arrived back in England days before following the death of his mother. “Anderson is very, very upset,” said Davey. “But out on that pitch he was a free spirit and put all his worries and cares behind him to deliver a fantastic performance. “Considering that he had not trained with us for two weeks, travelled through the different times zone, and suffered a death in the family, his contribution was simply out of this world.
“He even won the man-of-the-match award from the sponsors but could not face going to pick up the trophy. Barnsley are battling against the drop and Anderson is hoping for a successful conclusion. “The job is not finished yet and we have to go out and win every game to make sure we stay in this division,” he said.

Everton Academy: Taming of the Toon was season’s best
Mar 26 2009 by James Pearce, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON Under-18s coach Neil Dewsnip hailed his side’s 3-2 victory at Newcastle as their best display of the season. The Blues came out on top in the five-goal thriller to climb up to sixth place in FA Premier Academy League Group C.“I was delighted with the performance and it is as well as we have played all year,” Dewsnip said.
“Our team is a new one compared to the start of the season so it has taken a bit of time for the trans-ition to take place. “It looks as though we are getting there and it is encouraging not only for the rest of the season, but also for next year.” Dewsnip’s side are in a rich vein of form having registered two wins and a draw from their last three matches. They took the lead on 22 minutes courtesy of an excellent individual effort from Adam Forshaw, who ran from the halfway line before firing past the keeper.
Five minutes later Newcastle were level following a Nile Ranger free-kick which deflected off the wall and fell kindly for Michael McCrudden to score. Newcastle hit the bar through Ranger before the break but Everton were back in front two minutes after the restart. Lewis Codling was brought down in the box and the striker got up to convert the spot-kick himself. The visitors soon increased their advantage with a superb 25-yard effort from Gerard Kinsella. Newcastle were gifted the chance to half the deficit when Shane Duffy gave away a penalty. Goalkeeper Adam Davies saved Ranger’s initial effort but the striker followed up to net the rebound. Everton comfortably held on and Codling went close to adding a fourth late on. The Blues will be looking to build on that victory at Leeds United on Saturday (kick-off 11am).
EVERTON UNDER-18s: Davies; Barkley, Nsiala, Duffy, Bidwell; Craig, Kinsella, Forshaw, Akpan; Codling (McAleny 85), Sheppard (Powell 70). Subs: Nolan.

HOWARD KENDALL: Everton FC defender Joseph Yobo must solve his contract conundrum
Mar 27 2009 by Howard Kendall, Liverpool Echo
IT’S always important to have your best players tied down to long contracts, so it’s no surprise Everton are ready to open talks with Joseph Yobo. He has experienced a funny season in that he has missed a number of games through injury but he has looked a million dollars when Everton have been able to get him on the pitch.
With only a year left on his current deal, the Blues could not run the risk of him potentially walking away for nothing and it makes sense to protect your asset.
But, more than that, if Everton are going to continue building in the future, they need players of Yobo’s quality. You don’t tend to find foreign players sticking around at one club for a lengthy amount of time but it speaks volumes for Yobo’s character that he will have clocked up seven years of service at Goodison Park this summer.
With all that in mind, you would think signing a new contract would be a formality but Yobo is going to have to ask himself a big question – should I stay if I’m not going to b a regular? During his spells on the sidelines, Phil Jagielka and Joleon Lescott have formed a formidable partnership and I’d say they should be David Moyes’ first choice. How, then, will that sit with Yobo? The art to good management is identifying when the time is right to move a player on and then bring a replacement of similar quality at a cheaper cost. If it is going to need in the region of £6m plus wages to find a replacement, Everton would be better simply meeting Yobo’s financial demands and making sure he is around the long-term, as there is no doubt he is going to have a role to play. Strong and athletic, he has cut out the basic errors that used to prove so costly in his early days and it’s difficult to recall a lapse he has made in the past two seasons. There may have been a time when he used to think he could coast when chasing attackers and then take the ball of them but maturity has taught him to avoid doing that anymore. All being well, Yobo will stay and play his part in a defence that continues to go front strength to strength – a point proven by Leighton Baines call up to the England squad.
David Moyes is switched on
I WATCHED with interest last weekend when David Moyes was the guest on Goals On Sunday. There was a section dedicated to what type of defending a manager prefers to use from corners and he was honest enough to admit that it varies with Everton depending on the opposition. For instance, the game against Stoke saw nobody marking the posts because David wanted all his players keeping tabs on the aerial threat that Tony Pulis’ men possess. But you could argue that if he had kept a man on the line, Stoke would never have pulled a goal back – Ryan Shawcross’ header looped over Tim Howard and landed where a defender could have been.
I always preferred to have somebody on the posts no matter what, as I felt it gave my goalkeeper a bit more confidence to go and attack a cross if he felt compelled.
But, then again, having a man on the post doesn’t necessarily mean you will keep the threat out – as Lars Jacobsen and Leighton Baines found out at Portsmouth last week.

Everton boss David Moyes hails his England star Leighton Baines
Mar 27 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES today hailed the exceptional form that has given Leighton Baines a chance to win his first England cap this weekend. The Everton defender will be in Fabio Capello’s squad for tomorrow’s friendly against Slovakia, along with team-mates Phil Jagielka and Joleon Lescott. But as Chelsea’s Ashley Cole is the only other recognised left-back in the 23-man party, Baines has an outstanding chance of getting some minutes on the pitch at Wembley. Should that be the case, it will complete a remarkable turnaround in his fortunes as four months ago Baines could not even get in Everton’s first team. “I always said to him that his chance here would come and he has been very professional about everything,” said Moyes, who signed the 24-year-old for £6m in July 2007. “To be fair, he had injuries last season and Joleon did so well when he was at left back that it was impossible to leave him out. “Bainesy – like all of them – wants to play every game. But he never sulked or moaned, he just got on with it and for the last two or three months he’s been exceptional. “Full credit to him for that, because it’s not easy when you’re not in the side. But he just hung in there and showed what a good player he is when the chance came.” Since coming on as a substitute against Chelsea on December 22, Baines has made 17 consecutive appearances and caught the eye when he was watched by Capello’s assistants Franco Baldini and Stuart Pearce in each of Everton’s last two games. That has given Moyes confidence that Baines has not gone down to London just to make up the numbers and should he win a cap, his manager feels it would be fully deserved. “My worry would have been if he’d gone as the third left-back and just basically gone for the trip,” said Moyes. “But with Ashley Cole the only other, I’d hope he might get a chance against Slovakia at least.” Aside from the three representatives in the England squad, Everton will have two other players involved in World Cup qualifiers this weekend.
Marouane Fellaini will play for Belgium against Bosnia and Lars Jacobsen is with Denmark in Malta, but Tim Howard is set to spend the next 48 hours kicking his heels. He is suspended for the USA’s game against El Salvador and admits it is hugely frustrating that he has made a long trip not but is not involved. “Rules are rules,” Howard said. “I always want to be playing and that goes without saying.” People can argue about David Beckham’s continued presence in the squad until they are blue in the face but Capello would not select him if he didn’t think the AC Milan midfielder had something to offer. Capello is also a strict disciplinarian, so one wonders what he would have made about the reviled Ashley Cole being arrested at 5am a couple of weeks ago after a rowdy night on the tiles. Cole may have more experience of playing in big games but he is not streets ahead of Baines in terms of talent and perhaps the 24-year-old is on the cusp of making the breakthrough at the highest level that some felt possible long ago. “He’s a little tiger,” Phil Neville said on the day Baines signed for Everton. “He’s definitely someone who could progress into the full national side.
“I don’t see many better left-backs who are better than him in the Premier League who are English.” Franco Baldini, Capello’s right hand man, was at Goodison Park seven days ago when Baines did his chances of being included in the final 23 no harm whatsoever but all he can do is watch the clock. It will, undoubtedly, hurt if he is not in Capello’s whittled down party but the fact he is now in the Italian’s thoughts speaks volumes; keep doing what he has been doing and Baines will find out that the best things come to those who wait.

DOMINIC KING: Wembley is good for Blues, bad for greens
Mar 21 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
SUPPORTERS are rarely considered when big games are being staged and the decision to play Everton’s FA Cup semi-final with Manchester United on a Sunday afternoon was sadly predictable. Though this country claims to be one of the best in Europe, we still can’t get express trains to run north from the capital on a Sunday and you can bet your bottom dollar that the M6, M1 or M40 will have road works on the weekend of April 19. “It won’t be doing anything for the greenhouse effect having all those cars going down there from the North West,” was David Moyes’ wry observation – he, like the vast majority, would have liked the semi-final to have been played anywhere bar Wembley. It is a ridiculous decision to ask Everton and Manchester United supporters to travel down to London on a Sunday afternoon, when Chelsea and Arsenal fans live on the doorstep but no amount of complaining will get it changed. But here’s an alternative thought - isn’t it nice to actually be in a position to complain about where a cup semi-final is being held rather than looking enviously at other clubs who have progressed at Everton‘s expense? What’s more, near enough every Everton season ticket holder will get an opportunity to buy a ticket for this game - the same would not have been said had they played a semi-final at Villa Park or Elland Road. Surely that is something to be thankful for?

Canny David Moyes was so right to go with the Jo
Mar 21 2009 Liverpool Echo
IN a season when good news stories have been plentiful around Goodison Park, the loan signing of Jo is proving to be a masterstroke. David Moyes tracked the Brazilian for a long time last summer and came close to signing him permanently. That deal failed to materialise, but like Manny Fernandes, Matteo Ferrari and Mikel Arteta before him, Moyes has used a loan signing to maximum effect. Let’s face it, Jo didn’t exactly pull any trees up at Manchester City. But he has already done a highly effective job for Everton and given himself a great chance of proving his worth – although it’s unlikely that worth will add up to the reported £19m City paid for him.
The goal which opened the scoring against Stoke last weekend was very well taken – and once again ensured that Everton came out of the blocks flying. Stoke are a difficult team to overcome, as a number of sides have discovered this season – and a 3-1 win represented a very good scoreline. Stoke are pretty much where they expected to be this season – which is in there fighting with a good chance of staying up.
Because of that they are not panicking at present, unlike clubs like Newcastle or Middlesbrough who wouldn’t have expected to be involved in a relegation scrap.
Portsmouth are in a similar position to those big north-east clubs, and Everton will travel down to one of my former clubs today with confidence. The mood around Goodison Park is buoyant at present – with Leighton Baines the latest beneficiary in the shape of a call-up to the England squad. Baines’ signing has once again underlined David Moyes’ ability to assemble a squad of players with good character. Like Phil Jagielka, Baines endured an inconsistent start to his Goodison career. But he never complained publicly. He simply kept his head down, worked hard and is starting to get the rewards he deserves. Hopefully that will continue until the end of the season, with Everton now firmly targeting fifth place. In material terms, the difference between sixth and fifth is negligible – half a million pounds in prize money notwithstanding. They both bring a place in Europe, but miss out on the big prize of Champions League football. But the kudos of being the best of the rest is significant – and if Everton are chasing down Aston Villa in fifth, why not Arsenal in fourth place too? Everton’s run-in, on paper anyway, offers an excellent opportunity to pick up quite a few points between now and the end of the season. The end-of-season run-in could still be very interesting.

KEOIC call for debate on Everton's Kirkby stadium move
Mar 27 2009
CAMPAIGNERS against Everton's proposed move to Kirkby are challenging the club to a Question Time style debate. Keep Everton In Our City (KEIOC) say such an event would allow their representatives, together with those from Everton and Liverpool city council, to answer the questions to which supporters need answers.
KEIOC spokesman Dave Kelly said: "With a known 40% of supporters in opposition and a move that will take them further away from the local regional centre than any other premiership club, we are concerned that Kirkby represents the greatest gamble in the history of Everton Football Club." He said a public debate would give an opportunity for many concerns to be aired following the recent 11-week public inquiry into the proposal for a new stadium and superstore put forward by Everton and Tesco. These include: * The chosen location for the new stadium. KEIOC believes that with restrictions already in place limiting the opportunities for generating non-match day revenue and bona fide concerns surrounding the ability to fill the stadium, the club's claim that this offers the only realistic available option "hardly provides confidence" that Kirkby will enable Everton to compete with the elite of the Premier League.
* The transport plan for the proposed new stadium. KEIOC says that although this was described as ‘trailblazing’ at the public inquiry, its inadequacies were exposed by opponents of the scheme. KEIOC contends that a 50,000-seat stadium cannot be serviced by the infrastructure of a town of 38,000 no matter how hard people try. It says the result will be inadequate rail services requiring supporters to stand in the open for up to 90 minutes before being crush loaded onto trains or boarding buses that will need to leave at a rate of one every 14 seconds if the estimates of those behind the scheme are to be met. * The role of new stadia. KEIOC says 'Everton’s chief executive, Robert Elstone, has continually claimed that new stadia are a panacea for struggling football clubs but says that an analysis of all such grounds, using information supplied by Deloitte, reveals average attendance levels to be significantly below capacity, with only Arsenal and Reading delivering forecast levels.
Mr Kelly said Everton was forecasting an additional £6m of profit from an average attendance level of 47,000, but KEIOC believed the average gate would be 38,000 at best. He also strongly disputed Everton's account of the public inquiry detailed in a blog by Mr Elstone on the club's official website. "No witness for KEIOC agreed that there had been co-operation with other parties in a bid to influence the club ballot; neither did KEIOC's witness, Trevor Skempton, describe the experience on offer at Goodison as horrible. "The planning inspectors advised all parties that unsubstantiated evidence would carry no weight whatsoever yet Everton refused to supply the inquiry with their business plan or details of their exclusivity agreement with Tesco. They were unable to demonstrate any demand for a 50,000-seat stadium in Kirkby but did confirm to the inspectors that not a single penny of their contribution was actually in place. "KEIOC agree that there is a clear requirement to improve facilities for supporters and guests alike and that there is an equally pressing need to become facility led. "While it appears to some that the current custodians are willing to embrace mediocrity in a heartbeat, supporters of KEIOC campaign for facilities that will enable Everton to once again take its place at the forefront of English football."
A decision on the Kirkby project will be known before the end of November. The planning inspector, Wendy Burden, told the inquiry she expected to deliver her recommendations to Communities and Local Government Secretary Hazel Blears by the middle of June. l On February 13, in a report of Mr Elstone's comments on the Everton website, we stated that the chief executive had accused KEIOC and the city council of colluding on a report designed to influence the club ballot on the ground move. In fact, Mr Elstone claimed there had been collaboration between the two parties. We wish to make clear that the ECHO was merely reporting his remarks and in no way endorsed them.

Dominic King: Everton FC have the stamina for one final push
Mar 28 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
ALARM bells will have started ringing in certain quarters last Saturday and they are unlikely to be extinguished until Everton revert to ‘business as usual’.
The logic behind the thinking is simple; an insipid performance against Portsmouth seven days ago got exactly what it deserved – nothing – and some observers have started wondering aloud whether this it is the moment the fuel tank which has been powering the Blues started to move towards ‘empty’. Everton, you see, have never been the strongest final furlong finishers during David Moyes’ reign and a glance through the history books at their record over the final nine games does not make for pleasant reading. Why nine games? Easy. When Moyes took over from Walter Smith in March 2002, that’s how many fixtures he had left to save Everton’s skin and, of course, he did that with something to spare; four wins and a draw secured 13 priceless points and represented a fine first effort. Since then, though, it’s fair to say that the end of March, April and May have not been kind to Everton – take Moyes’ first full season in charge. When they entered the final straight, a place in the UEFA Cup was tantalisingly within in their grasp but five defeats – the last of which came against Manchester United – in nine matches and a haul of 10 points ensured they suffered final day heartbreak through a combination of Mike Riley’s woeful refereeing and Ruud van Nistelrooy’s finishing. Things were even worse the following season. Everton won only once in their last nine games, were beaten five times and managed to take just six points from a possible 27, with the nadir coming when they were given a 5-1 drubbing by Manchester City on the final day. Bar the barnstorming night against Manchester United, a place in the Champions League qualifiers was secured with a noticeable lack of fizz (three wins out of nine and 10 points from 27), while the only bright spots during the conclusion of the hugely disappointing 2005/06 campaign were wins against Aston Villa and Middlesbrough. That final dash yielded nine points, a tally which was equalled 12 months ago thanks to Everton signing off with 3-1 win over Newcastle United. The exception to the rule that says Everton get found wanting on the run-in came two years ago, when four wins and 15 points from nine matches secured a return to Europe – that totally, in all honesty, should have been five and 17 only for an erroneous assistant referee’s flag cancelling out a last minute ‘goal’ at Stamford Bridge from James McFadden. Clearly, there are more pleasant trips to take down Memory Lane than the one on which we have just been and it will have done little for the pessimists who may feel that a reverse at Fratton Park is the beginning of another stutter through spring is on the cards and all hopes of finishing in a Champions League place should be shelved. But there is ample reason for believing that Everton are capable of staging the kind of finishing effort that carried them into the UEFA Cup in 2007, as opposed to something not so fruitful. While Moyes was short on numbers for the trip to the South Coast and will be without Mikel Arteta, Yakubu and Victor Anichebe for the last nine fixtures, which includes the FA Cup semi-final, the cavalry is beginning to return. Tim Cahill will be back from injury next week, Joseph Yobo and Tony Hibbert won’t be far behind and don’t rule out James Vaughan being on hand to add an infectious enthusiasm to Everton’s attack before too long; his rehabilitation from knee surgery is going better than had been envisaged.
What gives most cause for optimism, though, is that semi-final date with Manchester United; form cannot be switched on and off like a tap and to stand any chance of winning the Cup, Everton will need to be firing on all cylinders – and if that’s the case, their league form will suitably benefit.

Dominic King: Swede dreams for Everton FC’s brothers grim
Mar 28 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
IT’S not unusual for supporters’ clubs to recognise their stars but there was nothing normal about the individuals who were named Men of the Year by the Swedish Toffees. Never mind Tim Cahill, forget about Phil Jagielka, step forward kit man Jimmy Martin and Everton’s Press officer Darren Griffiths. Olof Schön, the treasurer of the Swedish Toffees, explains: “Jimmy is a symbol for all the good spirit there is in our club. Darren does a great job too.” A photograph of Messrs Martin and Griffiths was provided but to avoid giving our readers nightmares, it was decided best not to publish the gruesome twosome.

Dominic King: Everton FC young gun Lukas Jutkiewicz must beat the boo-boys
Mar 28 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
GOING on loan is meant to provide young footballers with an invaluable education and the chance to get some quality time on the pitch. Lukas Jutkiewicz, though, could be forgiven if he has entertained thoughts this week of packing his bags and heading back to Everton at the first possible opportunity. The 20-year-old striker is currently on loan at Huddersfield but things have turned sour for him. Jutkiewicz has not scored in seven appearances for The Terriers and has become a target for irate fans.
“Lukas just needs a lucky break and then the goals will come thick and fast for him,” said Huddersfield defender Andy Butler. “He is not at Everton for being a bad player. There is something about him and The fans just need to give him a chance.
“He is a young lad and it can’t help him when they are shouting at you.”
Quitting would be the easy thing to do but if Jutkiewicz is determined to forge a career for himself at the top level, he needs to battle on through. And if he happens to need any advice, he doesn’t need to turn far – David Unsworth, after all, went through a similar experience at Goodison Park but came through. If Jutkiewicz can do likewise, he will be all the better for it.

Barry Horne: Jags and Jo put United two in shade
Mar 28 2009 by Barry Horne, Liverpool Echo
STARTING on a positive, I’d like to congratulate Leighton Baines on his call-up to the England squad for this week’s double-header. I wrote last week about what a fine example of a professional footballer he has been since he arrived at Everton.
He kept his head down when he wasn’t being selected, worked hard and has been rewarded with a run of games in a very good first team and an international call-up.
But congratulations are also due to his two defensive clubmates who have joined him in the England squad. Whenever people talk about the best central defensive pairings in the Premier League, it’s as if there’s absolutely no debate. It’s almost a given that Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand are the best two around. I’m not so sure you can instantly make that assumption. For me Joleon Lescott and Phil Jagielka have, in the short term, have played as well as anybody in the Premier League. If you bear in mind the problems that David Moyes has had trying to field a balanced team in front of them it makes their performances all the more creditable. Jagielka and Lescott have performed against Arsenal, Manchester United and three-times against Liverpool in their spell together and not been embarrassed by anybody. When you look at the goals United conceded against Liverpool and Fulham, you have even more cause for talking up Jagielka and Lescott’s recent form. The United defenders probably made as many errors in those two matches as Jagielka and Lescott have done in their last 20.
And they certainly haven’t been caught out by a goalkeeper’s punt down the pitch this season. It is to be hoped that all three of Everton’s England internationals come back safely. I know from personal experience how intense your first few international call-ups can be. Even if Leighton Baines doesn’t play he will be desperate to make an impression in every training session. That can be very draining both mentally and physically. They will return to Finch Farm feeling like they haven’t really had a break at all. The benefit, though, is that Louis Saha will have had the chance to get some serious training under his belt without the demands of a match – and that could be vital both in the short term and the season’s run-in.

David Moyes in call to Marouane Fellaini
Mar 30 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES today challenged Marouane Fellaini to deliver a towering performance when he returns to Premier League action against Wigan on Sunday.
The Belgian midfielder had a weekend to forget as he was booked during his country’s shock 4-2 defeat against Bosnia. Having been at fault for one of the goals that Peter Crouch scored when Portsmouth beat Everton, Moyes knows that Fellaini’s spirits need lifting. Fellaini will be involved when Belgium face Bosnia again on Wednesday in Zenica before returning to Merseyside to aid the Blues’ push for Europe. His manager hopes the 21-year-old will bounce back in style. “We brought him in at the start of the season because we needed a bit of stature,” said Moyes. “We knew when we got him that there was scope for him to develop. “What he has done for us is affect things in both boxes and up until January, he was probably one of our best players, along with Phil Jagielka. “But since then, he has found things difficult. That said, he is still doing a good job for us. He is a good worker and he wants to listen. He will get better with time. “Your first season in the Premier League is always difficult and it was never going to be any different for Felli. “He knows he made a mistake for the (second) goal against Portsmouth and we told him about that in the dressing room. It’s one of those things he will learn from. “We know in the next year or two, though, that we are going to have a good player on our hands and hopefully he will show that in the remaining games.” Fellaini is not the only Everton player who faces the prospect of being involved in another international this week.
Tim Howard should figure in the United States’ game against Trinidad & Tobago in Nashville after he was suspended for Saturday’s draw with El Salvador.
Steven Pienaar, meanwhile, will be hoping to carry on where he left off for South Africa tomorrow night when he lines up for a friendly against Portugal in Lausanne.
He inspired Bafana Bafana to a 2-1 win over Norway and coach Joel Santana said: “Pienaar was brilliant, but I was forced to replace him as he was tiring.”

Tranmere and Everton in warm tribute to John Achertberg
Mar 30 2009 Nick Hilton
TRANMERE followers turned out in numbers to pay a warm tribute to John Achterberg. Scores of former players, managers and coaches and 3,316 spectators enjoyed an evening of fun and nostalgia to mark the 11-year contribution of the Rovers’ goalkeeper and goalkeeping coach. The turnout was more important than the scorelines in a double header of entertainment. A young Everton side took the on the pitch honours on the main event, playing some slick attacking football to notch three first half goals. Achterberg departed the action after an hour to a warm ovasion, although ever the perfectionist he will have been annoyed to have conceded goals on his big night. Manager Ronnie Moore played a poignant tribute to the big Dutchman whose contribution to the Rovers cause goes well beyond his 311 first team appearances. Moore said “John Achterberg has been a magnificent servant to this club. You rarely see loyalty like this these days. “You can talk about John’s professionalism and dedication as a player. But he is just as committed to the work he does on the coaching side with the senior players and the kids. “You will find him coaching youngsters through the week and he goes to all of the School of Excellence games on Sundays, working with the keepers aged 9 to 16. “He’s put a lot back into this club and the local community and deserves his testimonial.” Tranmere’s No. 1 goalkeeper Danny Coyne said: “John has been a fantastic servant to this club. He works so hard behind the scenes and takes his job very seriously. “He’s always studying things to help him in his coaching. I’ve never seen anyone as dedicated as him.” Achterberg said “I have been very lucky to have spent the last 11 years of my career at Tranmere. Not many players get the chance to spend that much time at a place where they are happy. “I want to thank all of the managers and coaching staff I have worked with here. We’ve had some great times together and I hope there are more ahead.” For many of the older supporters the night’s first game between two teams of Tranmere “legends” had special appeal.The Veterans did not disappoint, producing an entertaining 40-minute contest played at a strolling pace but sprinkled with intuitive passing and movement Many of the players who appeared in Achterberg’s debut performance against Swindon Town in September 1998 were re-united including Graham Allen, Clint Hill, Dave Challinor, Kenny Irons, Georges Santos, Liam O’Brien, Gary Jones, Lee Jones and Alan Mahon. The goals in a 2-2 draw were scored by Alex Hay, Santos, John Mullin and Gary Jones, whose equaliser was set up by David Kelly, returning the compliment for Rovers’ Worthington Cup Final strike at Wembley in 2000. One of the biggest cheers of the night was reserved for the appearance of Iain Hume, who has recently overcome a serious head injury to resume his playing career with Barnsley. Tranmere may have more first team experience on the field in the main game but they couldn’t match the clinical finishing of Everton’s young Academy players. Kieran Agard, a striker the Blues snapped up following his release by Arsenal a couple of years ago, scored with a fizzing 25-yard shot and a diving header. Centreback Shane Duffy headed in a free kick between Agard’s two strikes to give Everton control of the game. There was disappointment for Tranmere’s Chris Greenacre, seeing his first action since suffering a foot injury in December. The experienced striker limped out of the action after 37 minutes to be replaced by youth team hot shot Josh Macauley.
TRANMERE ROVERS: Achterberg (Kennedy 60), Edds (Holmes 46), Waterfall, Richardson, Taylor (Corrigan 62), Sonko (Wilson 46), Jennings (Barnett 46), Fraughan, Burns, Curran, Greenacre (Macauley 37).
EVERTON: Nash, Irving, Barnett, Wallace, Duffy, Sinnott, Forshaw, Akpan, Agard, Kissock, Gosling (McAleny 64). Subs: Davies, Codling, Nsiala, Sheppard, Kinsella.
REFEREE: Mr Mike Dean (Wirral).
ATT: 3,316

Tranmere 0 - Everton 3: Tranmere Rovers salute John Achertberg but Everton take spoils
Mar 31 2009 by Nick Hilton, Liverpool Daily Post
TRANMERE followers turned out in numbers to pay a warm tribute to John Achterberg. Scores of former players, managers and coaches and 3,316 spectators enjoyed an evening of fun and nostalgia to mark the 11-year contribution of the Rovers’ goalkeeper and goalkeeping coach. The turnout was more important than the scorelines in a double header of entertainment. A young Everton side took the on the pitch honours on the main event, playing some slick attacking football to notch three first half goals. Achterberg departed the action after an hour to a warm ovasion, although ever the perfectionist he will have been annoyed to have conceded goals on his big night. Manager Ronnie Moore played a poignant tribute to the big Dutchman whose contribution to the Rovers cause goes well beyond his 311 first team appearances. Moore said “John Achterberg has been a magnificent servant to this club. You rarely see loyalty like this these days. “You can talk about John’s professionalism and dedication as a player. But he is just as committed to the work he does on the coaching side with the senior players and the kids. “You will find him coaching youngsters through the week and he goes to all of the School of Excellence games on Sundays, working with the keepers aged 9 to 16. “He’s put a lot back into this club and the local community and deserves his testimonial.” Tranmere’s No. 1 goalkeeper Danny Coyne said: “John has been a fantastic servant to this club. He works so hard behind the scenes and takes his job very seriously. “He’s always studying things to help him in his coaching. I’ve never seen anyone as dedicated as him.” Achterberg said “I have been very lucky to have spent the last 11 years of my career at Tranmere. Not many players get the chance to spend that much time at a place where they are happy. “I want to thank all of the managers and coaching staff I have worked with here. We’ve had some great times together and I hope there are more ahead.” For many of the older supporters the night’s first game between two teams of Tranmere “legends” had special appeal. The Veterans did not disappoint, producing an entertaining 40-minute contest played at a strolling pace but sprinkled with intuitive passing and movement Many of the players who appeared in Achterberg’s debut performance against Swindon Town in September 1998 were re-united including Graham Allen, Clint Hill, Dave Challinor, Kenny Irons, Georges Santos, Liam O’Brien, Gary Jones, Lee Jones and Alan Mahon. The goals in a 2-2 draw were scored by Alex Hay, Santos, John Mullin and Gary Jones, whose equaliser was set up by David Kelly, returning the compliment for Rovers’ Worthington Cup Final strike at Wembley in 2000. One of the biggest cheers of the night was reserved for the appearance of Iain Hume, who has recently overcome a serious head injury to resume his playing career with Barnsley. Tranmere may have more first team experience on the field in the main game but they couldn’t match the clinical finishing of Everton’s young Academy players. Kieran Agard, a striker the Blues snapped up following his release by Arsenal a couple of years ago, scored with a fizzing 25-yard shot and a diving header. Centreback Shane Duffy headed in a free kick between Agard’s two strikes to give Everton control of the game. There was disappointment for Tranmere’s Chris Greenacre, seeing his first action since suffering a foot injury in December. The experienced striker limped out of the action after 37 minutes to be replaced by youth team hot shot Josh Macauley.
TRANMERE ROVERS: Achterberg (Kennedy 60), Edds (Holmes 46), Waterfall, Richardson, Taylor (Corrigan 62), Sonko (Wilson 46), Jennings (Barnett 46), Fraughan, Burns, Curran, Greenacre (Macauley 37).
EVERTON: Nash, Irving, Barnett, Wallace, Duffy, Sinnott, Forshaw, Akpan, Agard, Kissock, Gosling (McAleny 64). Subs: Davies, Codling, Nsiala, Sheppard, Kinsella.
REFEREE: Mr Mike Dean (Wirral).
ATT: 3,316

Aussies may risk Tim Cahill
Mar 31 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
AUSTRALIA head coach Pim Verbeek has hinted he is ready to take a gamble with Everton’s most prized asset – and rush Tim Cahill back into action.
Everton’s influential midfielder missed the 2-1 defeat at Portsmouth 10 days ago after sustaining a grade one tear of his calf muscle in the 3-1 victory over Stoke on March 14. In normal circumstances, Cahill would have remained at Finch Farm to receive treatment on the problem but the international break changed the situation.
FIFA rules stipulate international players must be released by their clubs when there are competitive fixtures so they can be assessed by their country’s medical staff.
Everton’s medics have excellent relations with their Australian counterparts and have liaised closely in recent years given the fitness problems Cahill has endured.
He was released this time with the expectation he would not figure in the Socceroos’ World Cup qualifier with Uzbekistan in Sydney tomorrow. However, Cahill has spent the last two days training with the Australian squad and Verbeek is hoping he will be fit to play - which may concern Everton. Verbeek said: “I had them (Cahill and Mark Bresciano) on the training pitch yesterday and they are all training but are they ready to play 90 minutes? That’s another question,” he said. “I know what I’m going to do tomorrow but it all depends on the physical fitness of some of the players who were not in every day of training in the last week.” Cahill, who is Everton’s leading scorer, has been in outstanding form this season and will have a huge role to play in the final few weeks, particularly in the FA Cup semi-final. It would, however, be a catastrophe if his wellbeing was jeopardised by Australia hurrying him back before he was ready and he ended up sustaining another injury. Moyes is unlikely to rest easy until his international contingent return back to Merseyside later this week and he sees them all a clean bill of health. Meanwhile, CSKA Moscow striker Vagner Love has claimed he knows of an interest from Everton to sign him in the summer. The Brazilian international came close to moving to Goodison Park last summer but a deal collapsed after a mix-up over loan fees. But Moyes has continued to monitor Love’s progress and watched him play in a UEFA Cup game for the Russian side before Christmas.
“Until now, I haven’t received anything concrete,” he said.

Nigel Martyn: Why my gloves are staying off for good
Mar 31 2009 by Nigel Martyn, Liverpool Echo
AN EVERTON great pulled on his gloves for the first time in a few years at the weekend – and I was at the other end of the pitch to see it. Neville Southall played in a celebrity side against a Mark Bright Crystal Palace XI at Selhurst Park that also saw yours truly make an appearance. I only intended to play for five minutes but ended up staying on for nearer 15, as the bench thought it was great fun to stitch me up.
I’d like to say that it gave me the appetite to start again but the truth is that my ankle is so bad now, I couldn’t do it. Mind you, I did pluck one cross from the air to show that you don’t lose it – then again, some may suggest I never had it to lose!
Losing it is not something you could apply to Big Nev; it was a privilege to have been one of his successors at Everton and he, like me, is thrilled with how things are going at Goodison Park.

Nigel Martyn: Why my gloves are staying off for good
Mar 31 2009 by Nigel Martyn, Liverpool Echo
AN EVERTON great pulled on his gloves for the first time in a few years at the weekend – and I was at the other end of the pitch to see it. Neville Southall played in a celebrity side against a Mark Bright Crystal Palace XI at Selhurst Park that also saw yours truly make an appearance. I only intended to play for five minutes but ended up staying on for nearer 15, as the bench thought it was great fun to stitch me up.
I’d like to say that it gave me the appetite to start again but the truth is that my ankle is so bad now, I couldn’t do it. Mind you, I did pluck one cross from the air to show that you don’t lose it – then again, some may suggest I never had it to lose! Losing it is not something you could apply to Big Nev; it was a privilege to have been one of his successors at Everton and he, like me, is thrilled with how things are going at Goodison Park.

Tranmere XI 0 - Everton XI 3: John Achterberg's night of pure magic
Mar 31 2009 by Nick Hilton, Liverpool Echo
HOT young Everton prospect Kieran Agard did his best to spoil John Achterberg’s testimonial celebrations at Prenton Park last night. More than 3,300 supporters turned out to salute the big Dutch goalkeeper, who hates to concede goals in any circumstances. But 18-year-old Agard, a former Everton Academy player of the year, put two spectacular strikes past Achterberg inside the first 42 minutes as a young Everton side won the main game 3-0. Centre back Shaun Duffy scored Everton’s other goal to settle the outcome long before Achterberg took his bow after an hour.
It was an impressive display by an Everton side that featured just one player with Premiership experience.But the night really belonged to Achterberg.Scores of former players, managers and coaches and more than 3,300 spectators enjoyed an evening of fun and nostalgia to mark the 11-year contribution of the Rovers’ goalkeeper and goalkeeping coach. The turnout was more important than the scorelines in a double header of entertainment. Manager Ronnie Moore played a poignant tribute to the big Dutchman whose contribution to the Rovers cause goes well beyond his 311 first team appearances. Moore said: “John Achterberg has been a magnificent servant to this club. You rarely see loyalty like this these days. “You can talk about John’s professionalism and dedication as a player. But he is just as committed to the work he does on the coaching side with the senior players and the kids. “You will find him coaching youngsters through the week and he goes to all of the School of Excellence games on Sundays, working with the keepers aged 9 to 16.” For many of the older supporters the night’s first game between two teams of Tranmere “legends” had special appeal. The Veterans produced a contest played at a strolling pace but sprinkled with intuitive passing and movement. Many of the players who appeared in Achterberg’s debut against Swindon Town in September 1998 were re-united including Graham Allen, Clint Hill, Dave Challinor, Kenny Irons, Georges Santos, Liam O’Brien, Gary Jones, Lee Jones and Alan Mahon. The goals in a 2-2 draw were scored by Alex Hay, Santos, John Mullin and Gary Jones, whose equaliser was set up by David Kelly. One of the biggest cheers was reserved for the appearance of Iain Hume, who has overcome a serious head injury to resume his playing career with Barnsley. But there was disappointment for Tranmere’s Chris Greenacre, who suffered a knee injury little more than half an hour into his comeback game from a foot problem that had kept him out since December.
TRANMERE: Achterberg (Kennedy, 60), Edds (Holmes, 46), Waterfall, Richardson, Taylor (Corrigan, 62), Sonko (Wilson, 46), Jennings (Barnett, 46), Fraughan, Burns, Curran, Greenacre (Macauley, 37).EVERTON: Nash, Irving, Barnett, Wallace, Duffy, Sinnott, Forshaw, Akpan, Agard, Kissock, Gosling (McAlney, 64). Subs (not used): Davies, Codling, Nsiala, Sheppard, Kinsella.
Referee: Mr Mike Dean (Wirral).

March 2009