David Moyes is urging Lee Carsley to stick around
May 1 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES hailed Everton's Mr Consistency - and hopes he will be around for at least another 12 months. Lee Carsley has once again this season proven to be a vital cog in the Blues’ machine and was man-of-the-match in last weekend’s 2-2 draw with Aston Villa. But the midfielder is out of contract in June and Derby County boss Paul Jewell wants to bring Carsley back to Pride Park and lead his side’s bid for promotion.
Moyes, as always, will not be drawn on contractual issues with any of his players until the final ball of the campaign has been kicked. The manager, however, has acknowledged what Carsley has contributed to Everton’s campaign and knows his experience would be vital once again next year. “Cars has done a very good job again for us this season,” said Moyes. “The role he does is so important and he had a big job in trying to stifle John Carew on Sunday. “He is a great professional and certain games suit him better than others. We aren’t talking about his contract until the end of the season. “But he has been very reliable for us and we don’t want to lose that. I want to keep that strong backbone at the club.” Carsley, who has made 196 appearances for Everton since his £1.6m move from Coventry in February 2002, is similarly focused on playing matters. His only thoughts at present are on helping the Blues get a result at the Emirates Stadium this weekend and is confident a UEFA Cup spot is still within his side’s grasp. “Arsenal know they are going to be in for a game and it‘s about time we are due a result in one of these matches,” said Carsley. “We have got two games to go now and they are massive for us. “They are cup finals, if you like. We still believe that we can finish fifth. Yes, we were a bit down after the Villa game but that’s behind us. We move on together and look forward to giving it everything we have got.”
Moyes, meanwhile, has revealed that goalkeeper Iain Turner is fighting his way back to fitness after an injury ravaged past 12 months, but the manager is unsure when he will able to return between the posts. The Scotland Under-21 international has had surgery on respective hip and shoulder problems, limiting him to just three appearances for the reserves. “He has started some light training but we are not sure how long he is going to be out for,” said Moyes. “We are trying to get something done about his fitness just now
Dixie Dean's 60: Critchley was the winged hero of Dean’s goal blitz
May 1 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
TODAY we continue our five-part series to commemorate the 80th anniversary of Dixie Dean’s remarkable feat of scoring 60 goals in one season, a record which is likely to stand for all time.
DIXIE DEAN rated Alec Troup as “one of the best wingers there has ever been.”
But the little “electric tripper” who sent over the corner kick from which Dean headed his 60th goal of the season wasn’t the Everton legend’s chief supplier in 1927/28.
While Wee Troupie arrowed over a string of crosses from outside left, on the opposite flank Ted Critchley was even more prolific. The match reports of the 1927/28 campaign don’t always detail the full build-up of every goal, but where they did it was possible to record Critchley’s involvement in at least 17 of Dean’s 60 goals.
Comfortably Dean’s chief creator – Troup was next with seven assists – Critchley was a speedy, flamboyant winger who loved to get among the goals himself. Dean certainly rated him. “Ted was a fine player and a great signing for us. He knew how to centre a ball and we harmonised well,” he said. “Little Alec on the other side was an amazing feller and a great ball player . . . he stood only five feet five inches but was full of bravery and skill. “Because of a weak collar bone which kept slipping out of joint he had to play with a strapping on his shoulder every game. “I think we had a perfect understanding and I think I have to thank him more than anyone else for the part he played in scoring the goals I did. “I’d rate him one of the best wingers there’s ever been.” Both Critchley and Troup were heavily involved in goals 25-36 of his famous campaign.
November 12, Derby 0, Everton 3
25: Weldon’s persistence took him to inside right, where he refused to give in and, rounding a halfback, he pushed the ball to the usual spot where Dean scored with ease.
November 26, Bury 2 Everton 3
26: Dean was confronted by a full-back. He tricked him in the most beautiful manner by digging the ball forward, racing round the back, and scoring.
27: Forshaw headed forward and Dean received the ball, and with a two-step worthy of a dancing master he beat both backs in the space of two yards and shot in with venom, the ball striking the right upright, to score a magnificent goal.
December 10, Aston Villa 2 Everton 3
28: Villa thought Dean was offside when he scored his first and the Blues’ centre-forward himself hesitated before going for the ball and being challenged by goalkeeper Jackson as the two went for a long clearance. The keeper missed his pick-up, allowing Dean to virtually kick the ball out of his hands and into an empty net.
29: Dean’s second came when he fed Critchley and the winger’s centre appeared too close to goal. However this was not Jackson’s gala day. The goalkeeper merely touched the ball without getting it away with the result that Dean ran up and scored with ease.
30: The Everton centre-forward completed his hat-trick at the 85th minute with a novel goal. A high lobbing ball was headed back by Dean and, remarkable to relate, the ball entered the empty net, Jackson having gone forward.
Dean rated that hat-trick goal as one of the best he ever scored.
“Although it was December it was a beautiful, sunny day at Villa Park,” he later recalled. “I’d got two in the old onion bag and, naturally, I was looking for my third. Then this ball was punted upfield in my direction and I went to meet it.
“My first thought was to breast it down and turn towards goal. But the next thing I saw was a long shadow coming right alongside me. To me, that meant the goalkeeper had come well off his line.
“So instead of doing what I was going to do I jumped and backheaded the ball. It sailed into an empty net.
“Even the Villa fans applauded while the goalkeeper just looked at me. he must have thought that Iwas JC himself! Of all the goals I scored there was none I was more proud of than that one.”
December 24, Arsenal 3 Everton 2
31: The ball went out to the right and when it was middled Dean, as usual, had three men marking him. He was seen on the ground, yet able to rise and score in the extreme left hand corner.
December 26, Everton 2 Cardiff 1
32 and 33: Kelly made Dean’s first goal possible and Critchley helped him to collect his 33rd goal of the season.
This marked man, who has suffered a collision that threatened to throw the line out of gear, came back to score two goals at the 75th and 80th minutes.
December 31, Sheffield Wednesday 1 Everton 2
34: Critchley put in one of his fine centres, the like of which has provided Dean with many goals. It dropped close to the goal and both Dean and keeper Brown went after it.
But Dean got there first and headed in off the bar.
35: Troup lobbed the ball into the goalmouth and Dean again beat Brown to it.
January 2, Blackburn 4 Everton 2
36: Dean converted wholesome work by his right wing, Troup aiding unselfishly to give the centre-forward his 36th goal.
Fans rush to Dixie's return
May 1 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
DIXIE DEAN is ready to attract a capacity crowd next week - 70 years after he last kicked a ball. The Everton legend is the subject of The Dixie Dean Story, a play which opens in Crosby on Monday. And Evertonians have rushed to support the production, even though some of them can’t make it on the night. Paul Wharton of Everton Shareholders’ Association, who commissioned the play, explained: “We’ve had contact from a number of Everton supporters who live overseas or elsewhere in this country. “They couldn’t get to Crosby for the production but were still keen to support the venture, so they paid for tickets which they’ve let us hand out to local schools.
“We were desperate to ensure that Everton Football Club were not excluded from the 2008 Capital of Culture celebrations, and it looks like all three performances now will be really well attended.” The play, written by Dixie’s biographer John Keith and produced by Gill Beattie of theatre group Arts2u, will premiere at Crosby Civic Hall on Bank Holiday Monday, May 5 – 80 years to the day since Dixie’s hat-trick against Arsenal set his untouchable record of 60 league goals in a season. “It's more than a football story,” says Beattie. “This is a production that captures the qualities that made Dixie such a special person and who was voted by the public as The Greatest Merseysider.” Directed by Michael Levanzin, the play is narrated by John Keith and traces Dixie’s remarkable story from his Birkenhead roots, his battle to overcome a life-threatening road accident and his glory days with Everton and England, including an incident when he snubbed Hitler’s henchmen. Amongst the bodies who have handed out tickets and made donations are Joe Beardwood, David France, The Ruleteros Society, the Everton Former Players’ Foundation, Ian Maher, Ged Nichols of Berkshire Blues, the Everton Shareholders’ Association and Everton FC themselves, via deputy chief executive Robert Elstone. The curtain goes up at 7.30pm on May 5 and there will be two further performances – a matinee and an evening show – the following day. Tickets, priced £10 for the evening shows and £7.50 for the matinee, are available on 01704 640011, www.dixiedean.org.uk or www.seftonarts.co.uk/viewevent
The jury: How should Everton approach this weekend's clash?
May 1 2008 Liverpool Echo
LEE MOLTON, St Helens
THERE is the hard way then there is the Everton Way! It looks like it is going to be a nail-biting last day of the season! The game on Sunday was a real rollercoaster, with jubilation and despair mixed in the space of a couple of minutes. There were positive signs – our play was better and chances were created – so maybe we are coming out of our blip. It was pleasing to have Osman and Arteta back from injury and they could both be key for us in the next two games. This Sunday’s game will be very difficult, but Everton must approach it with optimism. It is important to be strong at the back but also create chances up front. I would like to see the 4-4-1-1 formation return with Osman playing behind the Yak. The pressure is on Villa to win their two games and Wigan won’t be easy on Saturday with Everton old boys Kilbane and Bent.
The Everton past could help the Everton present get into Europe. Keep the faith!
MICHAEL DRUMMOND, Speke
WE MISSED a great opportunity to put fifth place to bed against Aston Villa but we cannot afford to dwell on what could or should have happened and we must focus on the remaining two games of the season. We need four points from the last two games to ensure fifth place no matter what our goal difference is – so I would rather see us get beat at the Emirates on Sunday having tried to get a result rather than just sitting back for a hopeful draw. Mathematically, Arsenal can still win the title so they won’t be resting on their laurels. It is not going to be an easy ride. Our counter-attack will be important but we know how well Arsenal can pass the ball so we must cover as much ground as possible and stop the opposition from getting any space. Also, if we are to score, the celebrations must be kept to a minimum because we do not want a repeat of Villa's late equaliser, especially away from home.
DEBBIE SMAJE, Upholland
GIVEN our previous record in games against the top four this season, I’m not exactly brimming with confidence about the trip to Arsenal. We have to approach this game differently to the others, and show less respect to the opposition. Our games against United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea this season have been characterised by fear, as if we know they are better than us. They are, but that’s no reason to keep fearing the opposition, standing off and being overly cautious when anybody can beat anybody.
We took many points from the same four teams last season by upping our game and going at them. We have to get that back. We were the better team at home to Arsenal this season, until we stood off too much in the second half and found ourselves 3-1 down. We need to rediscover the faith we had in the two games against Arsenal last season if we are to get anything from them.
COLE FRASER, Litherland
THE most important thing is to ensure that we keep fifth spot in our hands.
Heading into the last game of the season, needing Villa to lose, would be a disaster.
This is why we must come away from Arsenal with at least a point. Recently, I’ve heard Evertonians stating their belief that it would be ‘safer’ to play for a draw at the Emirates. What rubbish! We should be aiming to win every game and Sunday’s is no different. We are good enough to beat Arsenal, but we have to rediscover the form which has catapulted us into our current position. With Arsenal effectively out of the title race, all the pressure is on us to win the game. To miss out on Europe participation next season would be hugely disappointing, not only because of how well we have performed in the league this season, but also because we have shown that we are capable of challenging for honours in European competition.
Everton light up the sky for Madeleine McCann anniversary
May 1 2008 by Paddy Shennan, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON Football Club is lighting up the sky to mark the first anniversary of Madeleine McCann's disappearance. The club is switching on its floodlights at around the time she went missing from her holiday flat in Portugal. But it is being stressed the stadium will remain empty when the gesture is made between 9.30pm and 10pm on Saturday. One of the most poignant pictures of the missing youngster shows her dressed in the blue of her beloved Everton, the team her Liverpool-born mother Kate also supports. The club is joining a campaign entitled Light The Way Home to show its support for the four-year-old’s family and friends. Helping to Find Madeleine, an independent group of McCann supporters, is urging people around the world to light a candle, shine a torch or turn on a porch lamp. Everton’s chief executive Keith Wyness said: “Everyone at Everton is fully behind the campaign to bring Madeleine home, and our thoughts and prayers are with her immediate family at this time.” Millions of viewers last night watched Madeleine’s parents relive the excruciating agony of the night of their daughter’s disappearance on two-hour ITV1 documentary Madeleine, One Year On: Campaign For Change. Kate and her husband Gerry, desperate to keep Madeleine and their fight for a new EU-wide alert system for missing children in the headlines, today followed it up with a series of TV interviews. They said they still believed their daughter was alive and stressed it would take one piece of information to find her. Speaking on GMTV Gerry McCann said: “Any parent will understand we will do anything to get our child back. We will go to the ends of the earth.”
Kate said: “We’re Madeleine’s parents; if we’re not there for her, who is?”
Speaking of the hate mail the couple have received, Gerry added: “The negatives do drag you down a bit. “You try to develop a thick skin and put them aside. The problem with the recurring criticism that we went to dinner 50 yards away is that we can’t change that.” Kate added: “Everybody parents in a different way. I couldn’t love Madeleine more than I do and there’s no way we would ever take the risk.
“There’s probably some things that other people do that we wouldn’t. There’s no right or wrong, it’s just different. “There’s been an evil crime committed here, a hideous crime . . . It’s just so important to concentrate on that.” Anyone with information about Madeleine’s whereabouts should call dedicated helpline 0845 838 4699.
Everton aces to re-unite
May 2 2008 Liverpool Echo
MERSEY sports legends will support the Stick n Step charity at Formby FC’s Altcar Road ground on Sunday in a charity football match (3pm ko). Everton greats Peter Reid and Paul Bracewell will join Mike Newell, Graham Stuart, and boxing world champion Derry Mathews as an All Stars team take on local amateur side The Freshy. Managers are Howard Kendall, the most successful ever Blues boss, and Neil Lofthouse, the most prolific striker for DKS Packaging in 1995!
Brough’s butchers will provide a barbecue. Entry is £3 adults (£2 children) with proceeds going to the Stick N Step cerebral palsy charity.
Labour holds off Everton protesters in Knowsley
May 2 2008
By Richard Down, Liverpool Daily Post
LABOUR clung on to hotly-contested seats in Kirkby, despite pre-election predictions of upsets in the wake of Everton FC and Tesco’s controversial stadium and retail plan for the town centre. This was the most hotly- contested election for several years in Knowsley, an authority known as the Red Rose borough. Last year featured five uncontested seats, but last night’s turnout rose in Kirkby to the high 20s. Campaigners against the stadium application formed the single issue political party 1st4Kirkby. But the expected shocks failed to materialise. None of the new party managed to steal a seat from the sitting council members. Cllr Eddie Connor, cabinet member for Leisure, standing in Northwood, celebrated a resounding victory over the Lib- Dems’ Sarah Wynn. He polled 791 votes to 198. Cllr Jackie Harris, executive member for community safety, hauled in 722 votes, more than doubling the total polled by Tony Barton, 1st4Kirkby leader and former Labour executive Peter Fisher. 1st4Kirkby candidate in Whitefield, Jennifer Wharton, pushed Labour the closest, getting within 17 votes of new Labour candidate Ros Smith. The third 1st4Kirkby candidate, Ann Murphy, lost out by close to 150 votes to Labour’s Edward Grannell, in Cherryfield, where much of the proposed development will take place.
Andrew Johnson must show us a meaner streak - David Moyes
May 2 2008 EXCLUSIVE by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES urged Andrew Johnson to ditch the nice guy routine and become Everton's penalty box pest once again. Johnson has struggled for form recently and has not scored since netting in consecutive games against Sunderland and Fiorentina in March, but Moyes believes there were positives to take from his performance against Aston Villa last weekend. Moyes, however, wants to see the England international to bare his teeth in Everton’s final fixtures against Arsenal on Sunday and Newcastle and start showing the ruthless streak which brought him six goals in his first seven appearances. for the club. “I thought he came back a bit better than he has been in the second half against Villa,” said Moyes. “The signs were encouraging, he was sharp and we hope that can continue until the end of the season as he is due a goal. “We like what Andy does for us and we want him to continue doing that. He works hard for everyone but maybe he needs to remonstrate a bit more when decisions go against him. Saying nothing is obviously not working.” The manager clearly Moyes believes that a spate of decisions which went against Johnson both this season and last have taken an edge off hims performance and there would be a sweet irony if he roared back to form at the Emirates. After all, iIt was Arsene Wenger who first claimed in October 2006 that Johnson had a tendency to go to ground too easily in the area and, since then, he has not been awarded a penalty in domestic combat, despite having countless legitimate claims. “I think it is important that he comes alive again and gets back to being a menace in the penalty area. He needs to draw attention to himself,” Moyes continued. “Maybe the decisions that have gone against him in the past have made him become a quiet person on the field. “He’s a great lad to have around the club and we’ve been really pleased with him since he’s been here but I think those decisions have affected him. Hopefully we’ll see AJ back to his best in the last couple of games.” Moyes has made no decision yet as to whether to he will shuffle his pack at the Emirates and will name his starting line-up until as late as possible. His main selection dilemma involves whether to hand Mikel Arteta a first start since victory over Derby on April 6.
Joe Royle's 1996 pep talk inspired Highbury shock
May 2 2008 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
WHETHER it was genius or madness, Graham Stuart will never know, but the pep talk Joe Royle gave before Everton's last successful trip to Arsenal still lives long in the memory. When the Blues travelled to Highbury on January 20, 1996, they had just rattled off a sequence of three wins and a draw to creep into contention for a European place, but their manager knew another victory was vital to keep the pressure on their rivals. So master motivator Royle took Stuart - who was enjoying his best run of form since his move to Goodison Park from Chelsea in 1993 - to one side and told him if he played his cards right, it was not beyond the realms of possibility that international honours would follow. It worked a treat. Though Everton fell behind to a first half Ian Wright goal, Stuart led the fight back, scoring one and playing a role in Andrei Kanchelskis’ winner, on one of the happier afternoons of an eventful season.
“We had a really good side at that time and I remember Joe coming up to me in the dressing room before the game to have a quiet word,” Stuart recalled. “Straight away, he told me that he’d heard I had a chance of being involved in the England squad for Euro 96. “Whether it was kidology or he was being honest, it didn’t matter as it gave me a massive boost. Joe just told me to keep doing what I was doing and, though unfortunately it never happened with England, I had quite a good game against Arsenal. “The formation Joe favoured when we were away from home really suited us, as we’d play five in midfield with Big Duncan up front, Anders Limpar and Andrei providing pace and power down the flanks and I’d slot in behind the front man. “We had a nice, solid look to us and we deserved the win that day. We went there full of confidence and really believed that we could get a result, but I still can’t believe it’s 12 years ago. It’s time that record changed.” That, though, is easier said than done. Arsenal, after all, are unbeaten on home soil in the Premier League this season and only West Ham United have left the Emirates Stadium with a maximum return since they moved from Highbury. Add into the equation that Arsenal still have a chance of winning the title - albeit an extremely remote one - and there is little chance of them letting Everton enjoy an easy time, but Stuart is not thinking the worst. Quite the opposite, in fact. For all that wonderful passing and movement, the suspicion remains that Arsenal are mentally brittle and if Everton - who have enjoyed plenty of successful away days this season - can poke their noses in front, it will certainly make things interesting. “Arsenal are still mathematically in with a chance of winning the league and will want to put on a show for their fans with it being their last home game,” said Stuart, whose 161 appearances for the Blues yielded 31 goals.
“They will want to end things on a high. But we have travelled well this season and I’m sure that David Moyes will have the lads at the back set up nice and strong. It’s vital that we keep things tight but we are certainly not without a chance.
“If you can get a goal ahead in the Premier League, it’s very difficult for teams to claw deficits back and that has been the case at the Emirates recently. Aston Villa and Middlesbrough both got points there in that way, so why can’t we?”
If that happens, qualification for next season’s UEFA Cup will remain in their hands and a fifth place finish would again represent significant improvement for Everton, who have accumulated a club record haul of 62 Premier League points already.
Stuart was a key part in the side that previously held the record of 61 points - set during that 1995/96 season - but, much to everyone’s eternal frustration, the tally wasn’t enough to secure Royle’s side a place in Europe. Fingers are crossed that history does not repeat itself this time, but while the situation is closer than anyone cared to wish for, Stuart believes his old club can negotiate their tricky remaining fixtures without too much hassle. “The last two games are really difficult,” he noted. “Trips to Arsenal are notoriously difficult and Newcastle seem to have run into a rich vein of form. It’s just a shame that we couldn’t finish the job off against Aston Villa last weekend. “We suffered the disappointment of missed out on a place in Europe on the last day of the season and I just hope the same thing doesn’t happen to these lads. But we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that once again we have made progress.
“Unless you have someone who is going to throw £100m at things, all you can do is make progress bit by bit and that’s what David Moyes has done. With another one or two additions in the summer, I’m sure we will improve again.”
Dixie Dean's 60: Attack of the nerves as he closed in on First Division record
May 2 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
TODAY we continue our five-part series to commemorate the 80th anniversary of Dixie Dean's remarkable feat of scoring 60 goals in one season, a record which is likely to stand for all time.
TO SCORE 60 goals in a top-flight season was considered an impossible dream.
It was such an outlandish target that most reporters concentrated on Dean’s bid to eclipse another record. In 1925-26 Ted Harper of Blackburn had shattered the First Division’s scoring record when he struck 43 times. It was a mark that seemed well within Dean’s reach after his prolific start to the season. Everton already boasted a proud tradition for marksmen. Before 1927 they had more top division top scorers than any other club. It is a record they still hold today.
Jack Southworth, Jim Settle, Alex ‘Sandy’ Young, Bert Freeman, Bobby Parker and Wilf Chadwick had all topped the First Division’s scoring charts.
When Harper hit 43 he took the record from Freeman, who had hit 38 goals 16 years earlier. Just as Dean looked set to claim the top scorer’s mantle however, he seemed hit by an attack of nerves. Following his hat-trick at Anfield in a match described as “the best derby ever” Dean endured what could best be described as a goal drought.
Four games in March failed to provide Everton with a victory and at one stage title rivals Huddersfield had a four-point advantage at the top of the table. Back-to-back goalless draws against West Ham and Portsmouth were followed by 1-0 defeats at Manchester United and Leicester. The barren run was finally ended with a 2-2 draw at Derby, a double from Dean finally hauling him ahead of Harper’s mark.
“Today, after weeks of suspense, Dean got the goal that gave him the honour of top record scorer in the First Division of the League. The critics of the world have come to the conclusion that he is the best centre forward the game has known,” proclaimed one report.
Sixty goals, however, was still a long way off . . .
January 2, Blackburn 2 Everton 4
37: Dean, aided by Hart, headed another goal and this opened out the game afresh.
January 7, Everton 3 Middlesbrough 1
38: The importance of the goal was more than the beauty of it. It came from a free-kick towards the middle of the field and Dean once more back-headed the ball to goal when he was close on Mathieson’s charge. Mathieson patted the ball down, but seemed to lose sight of it on the goalline and Dean got round his man and scored with ease.
39: Dean, working down the right, used his left foot and scored a remarkable goal to make the score 3-1.
February 4, Huddersfield 4 Everton 1
40: Critchley took a corner and Dean headed in with seeming ease.
February 25, Liverpool 3 Everton 3
41: Dean’s goal was a spectacular affair and had its beginnings in a trapping movement by Weldon who pushed the ball forward and Dean ran, beat Lucas and, although Riley left his goal, Dean made no mistake about driving the ball into the right-hand side of the net to make a perfect sample of a goal.
42: Weldon tried to make a shot and the ball turned awkwardly off a full-back, the result being that when Riley went out to reach the spinning ball he never got a proper grip of it and Dean scored with a certain amount of ease.
43: Critchley, very cleverly and unselfishly, centred. Dean, sizing up Riley’s position, turned the ball with his head and with the utmost deliberation with regard to placing, shot into the right-hand corner of the goal.
March 24, Derby 2 Everton 2
44: Dean got the chance through Hart going in on the band of miskickers and screwing the ball to him so he could place it to the left of Wilkes.
45: Dean scored a second after being blocked out at the first time of asking.
April 6 (Good Friday), Everton 4 Blackburn 1
46: Troup made a corner, Critchley took it, Virr helped it along and Dean, near in, made no error about a gift goal.
47: Critchley made it possible with a sinuous run that took him to centre-forward.
Critchley was tripped, but the referee wisely refrained from punishing the innocent side. The ball went out to Troup whose centre was headed down securely by the best header in the game.
April 7, Everton 1 Bury 1
48: A light came over the Everton proceedings when Critchley, running forward and centring, made a chance for Dean to glide the ball into the net with his ankle.
David Prentice: When number 7 is not so magnificent
May 2 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
WHEN Bobby Moore passed on into the promised land for heavenly footballers, West Ham took a momentous decision. England’s most elegant captain always wore number six on his back and it was felt no other mortal could do justice to that jersey. Club officials felt that anyone unfortunate enough to inherit it would suffocate under the weight of impossible expectation. So they retired it. Contrary to popular belief, Everton and Liverpool haven’t done the same with their number seven shirts this season. The men currently in possession of that much sought after shirt number are . . . Harry Kewell and Andy van der Meyde; players you might label 'missing in action' if they'd actually been involved in any, that is. Kewell has been spotted this season – briefly – and without the lure of a Cup Final or a major international tournament to accelerate his healing process. In fact he has started a whole nine matches this term, but none since January, and of course he hasn’t finished any. The Australian’s last sighting in a Liverpool jersey was in the FA Cup calamity to Barnsley, which is perhaps appropriate for one of the great underachieving careers in recent Anfield history. His lightweight contribution is all the more galling because the number seven shirt is so iconic at Liverpool Football Club. It’s the jersey of Dalglish and Keegan - one, the greatest footballer in the club’s history and the other the idolised superstar of Bill Shankly’s second great team. It’s a jersey occasionally worn by the Duracell legend that was Ian Callaghan and it was the first number sewn onto the back of thousands of replica kits throughout the 70s and 80s. Reclaim the Kop? Sure, but can we reclaim the number seven shirt first please? Across the park it’s the number nine which is cherished, but more than a few class acts have sported seven on their backs at Goodison Park, too. Trevor Steven oozed style and enthusiasm, Alex Scott was a dynamic Scottish star, while Andy King was a 70s icon who inspired great affection.
Andy van der Meyde’s appearances throughout 2007/08, however, make Kewell look like a latter day Cally. That wasn’t an optical illusion on the subs’ bench at Goodison on the opening day of the season. It was the Dutchman who boasts 18 international caps and has graced clubs of the stature of Inter Milan and Ajax, but can’t maintain a level of fitness sufficient to guarantee even a regular place in the dug-out.
He was back on bench-warming duty on September 30, then again three times in February. Not once, however, did he get further than the pre-match kick-in.
So, before the 2007/08 season has even come to a halt, can I make an early call for the 2008/09 campaign? Can we have our number seven shirts back please?
And give them to somebody who might actually play once or twice?
Here’s how not to say it with flowers!
IT wasn’t the admission that England’s pre-eminent centre-half aimed a kick at a target the size of a wall – and missed – that was so unsettling last weekend.
Nor was it the thought that a man who is well out of infant school and presumably weaned should behave that way. It was the admission from Manchester United captain Rio Ferdinand that he had apologised to the Chelsea steward who he inadvertently booted and “arranged for flowers to be sent to her.” That’s right “arranged for flowers to be sent.” By that, I’m guessing Rio won’t have popped into his local florists. He won’t even have picked up a phone and rung Interflora. He’ll have asked a club flunky to sort it out and deduct the cash from his United wage slip. There’s nothing like a full, sincere and heartfelt apology. And that’s nothing like a proper apology.
* ENGLISH football is patting itself on the back this week for producing a first ever all-English Champions League final. But isn’t it ironic that for the first time in 81 years we don’t even have an all-English FA Cup final?
Howard Kendall: Point would set Everton up nicely
May 2 2008 By Howard Kendall, Liverpool Echo
AFTER making a point last weekend, another one on Sunday would thrust Everton a step nearer to the UEFA Cup. There were a few glum faces leaving Goodison Park after the draw against Aston Villa and when I bumped into David Moyes just after the final whistle, he looked a bit crestfallen but I told him: “well done”. That result might just carry us over the finishing line. Villa are an excellent side, with height and pace in all the right areas and it’s no surprise that they have enjoyed such a good run recently. They looked full of confidence and John Carew showed, once again, that when in the mood, he can be unplayable. Regular readers of this column will know that I said earlier this season that Carew didn’t look as if he could play non-league football and I spoke to Ron Atkinson about him a couple of days ago. Ron thought about signing him once but he, too, felt he was awful. What do we know! I’m convinced, though, that the Blues still have enough left in the locker to clinch fifth place, regardless of what happens against Arsenal. You should never make assumptions about fixtures and Villa’s run-in is not exactly what you would describe as a breeze. At this stage of the campaign, anyone can beat anyone – bar, of course, Derby – so don’t be surprised if we go to the Emirates and get a result. Yes, Arsenal seem to be over their disappointments and they are a dangerous side. But I believe David will set us up with a five-man midfield, with Phil Neville and Lee Carsley in the middle of midfield, and look to pounce for a goal whenever possible. A draw, then, would be a superb result and set us up nicely for a grand finale.
Bullard would be excellent signing
TALKING of midfielders, I think it is inevitable that David Moyes will strengthen that area of his squad this summer and I mentioned a couple of possibilities last week.
David Bentley and Gareth Barry would be wonderful additions but I also feel it is worth keeping an eye on the situation at Fulham, particularly if they are relegated.
Jimmy Bullard (pictured) provides real energy in their engine room. Sometimes he might be guilty of indiscipline but that could be coached out of him. He’s a big, strong lad with potential and would be a handy addition. People may worry about his fitness but he doesn’t seem to have suffered any ill effects to a long lay-off. What’s more, Players can still have top class ends to their careers after serious fitness problems. The proof? Andy Gray and Peter Reid.
Set for a cracking final
IN with a chance of winning the Premier League and a place in the Champions League final secured, yet Avram Grant still finds himself under pressure. Crazy. One thing that has certainly improved at Stamford Bridge since he took over from Jose Mourinho is the attitude of the players – or are the players doing it for themselves?
Either way, they deserve their place in the final but I couldn’t honestly say who will come out on top against Manchester United. The last Champions League final between two sides from the same country – AC Milan v Juventus in 2003 – was a tedious affair but I can’t see that happening now. Both sides have too many players who want to entertain
David Moyes: Everton's yo-yo days are over
May 3 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
BLUES boss David Moyes believes his side has finally cast off the yo-yo club tag which has plagued them over recent years. But while back to back top six finishes are now almost guaranteed for the first time since 1988, Moyes admits that failure to hang onto fifth place would still be a big disappointment. The Blues go to Arsenal tomorrow desperate for at least a draw to set up a must-win last match against Newcastle. “We have been out there all season and I am sure it would be disappointing if we don’t finish fifth. But we’re going to do everything we can to remain there,” he declared. “It shows that we’re becoming more consistent now, and maybe shaking off that habit of doing well one year and not the following year.
“We have been at the top end more than the bottom end for the last four or five years now which shows progress. “If we finish sixth we can’t say it’s been a disaster, but it would be disappointing.” The Blues must try and secure that fifth place finish without Mikel Arteta. The influential Spaniard has been ruled out of the remaining two matches. Arteta has been struggling with a stomach and groin injury since the end of last year and despite returning to his homeland for treatment the problem has not improved. He came on as a second-half substitute in last week’s 2-2 draw against Aston Villa but could not train properly this week. “He has had an injury which he has not been comfortable with since probably before Christmas,” said the Blues boss.
“We have given him opportunities to go back to Spain and see a specialist he wants to work with there but he is not comfortable with it so in fairness we have to say he is not available. “He came on in the game on Sunday and came back to training and hasn’t felt good for a couple of days so really we are ruling him out until the end of the season. “Mikel feels it after games more so. He doesn’t feel comfortable. He’s played some games, he’s missed some training and I think it has affected his form.
“But it does not require surgery. He has had some rest and has been getting treatment.
“He has done everything he can to get himself fit and it has just not happened.”
The Blues also have doubts tomorrow over Steven Pienaar (knee) and Andy Johnson (calf). Moyes accepted the injuries to important players had affected their now failed challenge for fourth spot and was threatening to scupper their hopes of holding on to fifth, with in-form Villa just three points behind. “It has impacted on us more since January. It didn’t affect our form initially but when you lose players over a lengthy period it does,” said the Toffees boss. “If you are missing players for a week or two weeks you can get through it but when you lose your better players from the team it does have an impact.” Moyes has learned lessons from the problems and is determined not to allow a repetition next season by boosting his playing staff in the summer. “I want us to be strong and continue to progress and we need to do that,” he added. “We need to have an even stronger squad. At the start of this season we strengthened and I think it showed by the performances we put in, but maybe since January it has been a bit of a drain on us. “You learn from it and hopefully we can do better next season. Quality will always be first but I think quantity as well is required.”
Joseph Yobo: ‘Let’s strike in the race that really does count’
May 3 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
RARELY, if ever, does Joseph Yobo admit defeat in any race but with just two matches of the season remaining, he has reluctantly accepted that Joleon Lescott has his measure. As impressive as his goal in last week’s 2-2 draw with Aston Villa was, that was his first of the season and the only thing that will help him overhaul Lescott’s current tally of nine is a minor miracle. No wonder Yobo is raising the white flag.
“I’ve been telling Joleon that he has taken all my chances and that’s why I haven’t scored as many as him!” Yobo protests. “But it’s fine. It’s good to score, of course, but for me the main thing is the team wins. “If I had finished the season without a goal, I wouldn’t have been that bothered. I always feel that I am more likely to score with my feet than my head but I’m a defender and my priority is keeping clean sheets.” One thing Yobo will not accept, however, is that Everton’s chances of securing back-to-back European campaigns for the first time in more than 20 years have been compromised by that stalemate with Villa. Though some observers believe that Villa’s seemingly easier run-in has handed them the initiative, Yobo sees otherwise and, ahead of tomorrow’s tussle with Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium, is confident that the Blues are ready for one last push. Provided they can finish the job they started, it would represent another step forward under David Moyes and it significant to hear the Nigerian international’s views on the matter. He, after all, was Moyes’ first signing in the summer of 2002 and has matured into the top class defender he always threatened to become in his early days on Merseyside.
In many ways, his progress has reflected that of the club’s. Few would dispute that Yobo was rough around the edges when he entered the Premier League but, six years on, the edges have been smoothed and now he appears headed for the best part of his career. Ditto Everton. “The change has been tremendous,” Yobo reflected. “When I first came here, I didn’t know a lot about Everton. “I saw the structure and other things and it was a bit difficult to understand what went on. But I knew this was a club that could grow. “That’s why we need to play in Europe again – it’s vital for the development. We need to keep making our name bigger. “The manager has done so well. We’ve got a new training ground and he’s brought in top players.
“Everton are moving in the right direction and Europe should almost be a guarantee every season. “I’ve been here six years and I’ve never been at another club for so long. I’m happy here and I know the club is very ambitious. “The time has gone so quickly and, in the main, everything has been good. I can only remember one season when we really struggled. Apart from that, everything has been pretty good. “When we haven’t qualified for Europe, it’s only been by small margins.” A small margin – three points – separates the Blues and Villa but even if games against Arsenal and Newcastle cannot be described as ‘gimmes’ Yobo feels this season’s experience of playing in the UEFA Cup will stand Everton in good stead. Seeing Zenit St Petersburg, who were beaten 1-0 at Goodison Park in December, reach the City of Manchester final has only exacerbated the feelings of frustration and there is a determination to put things right.
“We are close to being really stable now,” said Yobo. “We are a top six team now, which is a massive achievement considering what the situation was like when I first came here. “The experience of playing in Europe makes you hungry to get back there.
“It would be a huge disappointment if we didn’t qualify again, as we know how unlucky we were not to go to the final this time. “If we had beaten Fiorentina, I’ve no doubt that we would have gone to the final. “But we have learned from it and, all being well, we’ll take that experience and put it to good use next time we play in Europe.” First things first, though, and Arsenal must be taken care of.
Having drawn one and lost 10 of their last 11 trips, this particular corner of North London could never be described as a happy hunting ground but could there be a better time to end that hoodoo? “We have got to step up our game now and do everything we can in order to remain fifth,” he said. “It would be a big disappointment for everyone here if we didn’t finish fifth. If we can push everything behind us, that would be great. “We as players know that we have to step up our game. We have been in this position for a long time and we can’t let it slip with a couple of matches to go.
“This club needs to be in Europe. Hopefully we have hit a little bit of form now.”
Barry Horne: We have seen simply the best
May 3 2008 by Barry Horne, Liverpool Echo
THIS is a time when people make a big deal about footballers’ wages and the way in which they behave. But over the last three or four days we have seen top level football played at its very best. You can argue long and hard about the salaries which modern players are paid, but the play that we saw on Tuesday and Wednesday was amongst the best you will see anywhere in the world. We saw the best teams, managed by the best coaches, containing the best players playing at the very top of their games.
Technically and tactically the matches were an absolute treat, and both were played as close to the spirit of mutual respect you could hope for in such high stakes clashes.
It was a model for how the authorities would hope football matches should be played.
I would hope that such behaviour was borne out of respect for the opposition and the competition. While other teams can’t possibly reproduce such level of talent and skill, there’s no reason why they can’t mimic that spirit. I wouldn’t say the Champions League semi-finals restored faith in football, but they did make you realise just how good a top class football match can make you feel. What also stood out in midweek, however, was just how huge the chasm is between the very best clubs in Europe and the rest. The Rangers and Fiorentina clash on Thursday was fascinating and intriguing, without ever aspiring to reach that level. It was particularly intriguing for Evertonians, given the presence of Walter Smith and David Weir in the Rangers’ ranks, against the team which ended Everton’s UEFA Cup interest. Walter Smith was much maligned in his time at Everton, but he stabilised the club during a very turbulent period in its history and certainly wouldn’t have asked for the hand he was dealt during his time there. He has done a magnificent job to get his side into a European final, with many players who couldn’t get a look-in in the Premier League, and has also done what Everton couldn’t, in edging past the Viola on penalties. Good luck in Manchester on May 14.
Blues must give aggressive show
EVERTON go into tomorrow’s game at the Emirates as masters of their own destiny.
Four points from the last two matches will mean that there is nothing Aston Villa can do to snatch fifth place. Hopefully, that means Everton will go out at Arsenal and produce an aggressive, purposeful performance. If you let Arsenal dictate, they will create chances, of that there is no doubt. Whether they take them is a different matter, but it’s a dangerous game to play if you let them do that. David Moyes has very little room to manoeuvre in his selection, but he still has sufficient personnel to make life tough for the Gunners.
THERE were signs last week that we were getting back on track.Before the game, given Villa’s vibrant form and our own edgy performances, most fans might have accepted a draw. In the end, though, we fully earned a point and only sloppy defending denied us all three after a much more energetic, enterprising and productive performance. The focal point of that performance was Yakubu’s much-improved display just when we thought he had packed his bags for the season.
Hopefully he can continue that form just when it matters most
David Moyes settles Wayne Rooney libel case out of court
May 3 2008 by Luke Traynor, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON boss David Moyes has reportedly settled his legal battle with former Blues striker Wayne Rooney out of court. The pair seemed destined for a High Court showdown over claims made in the England forward’s book – My Story So Far.
Moyes was angry at Rooney’s claims he was “forced” out of the club.
The Goodison supremo was also annoyed by passages that accused him of being overbearing, controlling and ultimately responsible for Rooney’s 2004 £27m transfer to Manchester United. Moyes sued Rooney along with ghost writer Hunter Davies and publishers HarperCollins for libel. But now it appears the Scot and the Manchester United striker have come to an acceptable agreement. The case was due to be heard in the High Court on Tuesday. Everton spokesman Ian Ross said: “It is a private matter and the club will make no comment.” Rooney’s spokesman was not available to comment last night. It has been reported Moyes was claiming more than £300,000 in libel damages from his former player. After it emerged that Moyes was to sue Rooney plans were temporarily put on hold as the Blues manager read the book in full to decide upon his next course of action. Of particular concern to Moyes were claims by Rooney that the manager breached his confidence. In the book Rooney claims he told Moyes that he wanted to leave Everton FC after a newspaper revealed that he had visited prostitutes. The footballer goes on to suggest Moyes leaked details of the conversation to the Liverpool Echo which led Rooney to controversially quit the club he had supported from childhood. In a writ issued at the High Court in London Moyes claimed the allegation had “injured his professional and personal reputation and caused serious embarrassment and distress”. Moyes also asked for an injunction preventing the offending passage of the book from being published again.
It is understood a statement of agreed facts will be prepared by all parties and read in the High Court at a future date.
Everton must build on that Euro journey
May 3 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
FOOTBALL’S capricious nature means there is little point in looking back but, in this of all weeks, it is no surprise that thoughts of ‘what if?’ jumble Evertonian minds.
Zenit St Petersburg’s systematic destruction of Bayern Munich on Thursday evening, coupled with Rangers’ penalty shoot-out defeat of Fiorentina, means that the UEFA Cup final will have particular resonance for all Blues. Quite possibly, the majority of loyalties will lie with Rangers thanks largely to the presence of two former Goodison Park employees in the shape of Walter Smith and the evergreen David Weir.
Smith, understandably, has his detractors in this part of the world thanks to four largely uninspiring years as Everton’s manager but only the hardest of hearts would be unable to acknowledge his fabulous achievements in Glasgow this season.
Weir’s efforts since he left Everton in January 2007, meanwhile, have been nothing short of Herculean; he made his 52nd appearance of the campaign in Stadio Artemio Franchi to prove there is still plenty of life in his soon to be 38-year-old legs.
Still, though, the question remains: should Rangers be going to the City of Manchester Stadium at all? Yes, there was some sort of justice in Fiorentina going out on penalties after dominating the game but that provides no solace to Blues whatsoever.
With good reason, the feeling persists that Everton should have been gearing up for a trip to the City of Manchester Stadium on Wednesday week rather being forced to assume the role of frustrated spectators. Some will argue that Everton’s squad would have been unable to sustain fighting on two fronts and who is to say they would have beaten PSV Eindhoven or Rangers anyway? Football, as we know, never goes according to plan. Everton, however, were never better this season than when they were in the middle of a hectic run of fixtures, moving with confidence from one game to the next, fuelled by adrenalin and the prospect of etching their names into the club’s history books. Since their dreams were ended in the cruellest manner possible, there is no disputing that things went flat for the best part of six weeks – only last Sunday against Aston Villa did the Toffees show the pace and power to which we had become accustomed. “Fiorentina took a lot out of us emotionally,” noted influential midfielder Lee Carsley. “We had a hangover but we have drawn the line under it now. Enough is enough and we have got to make sure we see the season out now and finish fifth.”
The thing which hurts most of all, though, is the feeling that Everton actually threw a glorious chance away on the same ground where Smith, Weir and the rest of Rangers squad seized the moment. For some reason, Everton’s players - with the exception of Tim Howard and, possibly, a couple of defenders – never showed up in Florence; yes, La Viola passed the ball nicely and moved with pace but they were made to look world-beaters. Back on home soil, Everton terrorised their Serie A counterparts and should have gone through. Chances are they would have beaten PSV Eindhoven in the quarter-finals but, alas, we will never know. Likewise, it would have been intriguing to see which way a second clash with Zenit would have gone; David Moyes was adamant from the start of the campaign that the Russia champions were the team to beat and so it has proved. Still, there is always next year. Provided Everton can build on the encouraging signs from the Villa game, they ought to be able to hang onto fifth place and set themselves up for another crack at the UEFA Cup. Of course, the Champions League would have been infinitely more preferable, both in terms of kudos and finances, but far more good than harm would come from being in a competition that has slowly recaptured its sheen. It may have its idiosyncrasies – name another tournament where a team can win eight and draw one of its 10 matches and still end up being knocked out – yet, in the long run, Moyes and his players will benefit from the experience. Here’s hoping, then, the final Premier League matches go according to plan, as there is one European competition in which nobody at Goodison Park really wants to be involved – but until enough points are accrued, the Intertoto Cup will remain on the horizon.
Dixie Dean's 60: Bookies stunned by Dixie’s prolific run
May 3 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
TODAY we complete our five-part series to commemorate the 80th anniversary of Dixie Dean’s remarkable feat of scoring 60 goals in one season, a record which is likely to stand for all time. THE bookies rarely get it wrong. But Dixie Dean cost them dear throughout his record-breaking 60-goal season. Local bookie and Liverpool fan, Billy Cave, was the Fred Done of his day. And ahead of the 1927-28 campaign he hatched a bet he thought might earn him a little publicity. Instead it cost him.
Cave, for a £2 stake, offered Dean odds of evens for every match he could score one goal in that season, 5-2 for two goal performances and 10-1 for every hat-trick.
Cave’s friend and fellow bookie Freddie Tarbuck, father of comedian Jimmy, decided to side with Dixie, accepted Cave’s odds and backed the Blues’ centre-forward.
They were handsomely rewarded for their faith. But still the bookies didn’t learn.
Everton suffered a midwinter slump which installed Huddersfield as firm favourites for the title. After a 2-1 win at Sheffield Wednesday on New Year’s Eve, the Blues won just one of their next 11 matches. Indeed a 4-1 hammering at Huddersfield on February 4, followed by a 5-2 defeat at home to Spurs, suggested Everton’s early season form had been a flash in the pan. Everton were quoted at 1,000-1 to win the title, while their club programme reported: “With Dean requiring a further nine goals to reach the magical total bookmakers listed him at 10,000-1 to hit the mark.”
You couldn’t blame the bookies. Dean had just three games in which to grab those nine goals. The outcome, of course, is history. But there is no record there was any Blue brave enough to accept those attractive odds . . . not even the great man himself!
April 14, Sheffield United 1, Everton 3
49: Kelly took a free-kick for a foul and lobbed the ball close into goal. Dean jumped up high and headed it into the net. 50: Dean gathered a centre from Troup and although the odds were against him, he pressed his way through and when Anderson came out of goal, Dean swept round him and placed the ball into the net.
April 18, Everton 3 Newcastle 0
51: From a free-kick Cresswell lobbed the ball to the middle with the same accuracy that he imparts into a golf ball. That’s how Dean came by his 51st goal – a header.
April 21, Everton 3 Aston Villa 2
52: Dean got a lucky goal through Olney handling a soft shot badly. Dean had only to follow up. 53: Dean looked offside when he went through on his own and, after drawing out Olney, he scored another goal.
April 28, Burnley 3 Everton 5
54: Everton took the lead in the first minute, Dean the scorer. It was a perfectly made goal and three players had a hand in the making. Martin slipped the ball through the middle to Weldon who moved forward a stage before he cleverly side-tapped the ball to Dean. McCluggage and Waterfield immediately closed upon the centre-forward who, forcing his way between them, drew Down from his lair and then shot into the corner of the net. 55: Troup, who had gone back to lend a hand, swept the ball upfield and Dean went after it like a flash, passing Waterfield. Down rushed out of goal but before he could capture the ball Dean chested it away from him and then shot into the net. It was a wonderful goal.
56: Cresswell, Hart, Martin, Critchley and Weldon passed and passed again, with the Burnley defenders rushing here and there in an endeavour to capture the elusive ball. Before they could do so Dean had it in the net, Martin supplying the last pass with his head.
57: Critchley smashed the ball into the centre and Dean went after it like a whippet and getting the better of Waterfield drove a tremendous ball into the Burnley net.
May 5, Everton 3 Arsenal 3
58: The first was from a corner taken by Critchley, Martin turned the ball onto Dean who headed it to the left hand corner.
59: Dean was running through when Butler crossed him. It was an accidental collision – to the referee it was a trip – and the consequence was Dean was able to rise and take the penalty kick successfully.
60: With nine minutes to go a Martin shot was punched over by Patterson and this was the beginning of Dean’s historic record goal. Troup took the corner and out of a ruck of 14 players Dean, with unerring accuracy, nodded the ball to the right side of the goal. There has never been such a joyful shout.
Dilemma for David Moyes over back-up for hero Tim Howard
May 3 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
WHEN David Moyes embarks on his recruitment drive this summer, midfield will be his top priority, but it would be no surprise if a goalkeeper is brought in, too.
Before anyone jumps to conclusions that Tim Howard is on his way, fear not.
Once again this season, the United States international proved that he is one of the Premier League’s top four men between the posts and will be on Merseyside for a long time to come. Who, though, is going to be his deputy? It remains to be seen whether Stefan Wessels will be given another contract, but the early indications suggest it is unlikely, while there are question marks over John Ruddy and Iain Turner. Ruddy has been in outstanding form during his loan spell at Stockport County and they hope a success in the League Two play-offs will generate enough money to buy him, but whether Moyes agrees to a permanent deal is another issue entirely.
Turner, meanwhile, has been plagued by fitness problems during the past 12 months and needs a good summer under his belt to prove to Moyes that he has what it takes.
In terms of size and stature, the young Scot looks the part. His challenge, however, is to prove – if and when he is next called upon – that he has the mental strength to cope.
Mistakes in the two Premier League games he has played against Blackburn in February 2006 and Manchester United 12 months ago need rectifying.
One possibility could see Everton move for Wayne Hennessey, who has earned rave reviews for Wolverhampton Wanderers this season. The Blues have watched him a number of times but prising him away from Molineux could be problematic.
Arsenal 1, Everton 0 (D,Post)
May 5 2008
By Ian Doyle, at the Emirates Stadium
TRUST Everton to squeeze every ounce of drama possible from an absorbing campaign. Their quest for European qualification will go down to the final game of the season after David Moyes’ side failed to hold on at the Emirates yesterday. Given the excitement gleaned from a rollercoaster Uefa Cup adventure, it’s somehow apt the Goodison outfit are taking such a tortuous route towards ensuring their return to the competition. The passports, though, must remain in the drawer for the time being with a point still needed from next Sunday’s final game at home to Newcastle United to seal the required fifth place. Anything less, and a season of such encouragement could instead end in one of lingering regret and disappointment at an inability to turn further progress into tangible reward. The incentive was certainly there for Everton yesterday, nearest challengers Aston Villa’s surprise 2-0 home defeat to Wigan Athletic the previous day paving the way for Moyes’ side to qualify for Europe with a game to spare. And with Cesc Fabregas and Aleksandr Hleb joining the ever-growing list of Arsenal absentees, there was perhaps never a better time for Everton to end their 12-year wait for an away victory over the Gunners. Rarely hitting their stride and playing precisely like a team whose season is already over, Arsene Wenger’s side were there for the taking. But Everton ultimately paid for their cautious approach when a shade more adventure and ambition could have taken all three points, let alone the necessary one. By the time Moyes threw on strikers Ayegbeni Yakubu and Victor Anichebe, Everton had fallen behind to Nicklas Bendtner’s powerful 77th-minute header, the only goal of a forgettable game. Too little, too late. The Goodison outfit are once again stumbling towards the finishing line, having taken just six points from their last eight games. That Moyes’ side have already posted their highest-ever Premier League points tally underlines their excellent form earlier in the campaign, when Champions League qualification remained a tantalising possibility for many months. It will count for nothing, though, if the job isn’t finished off against a revitalised Newcastle next week. Defensively, there could be few qualms with yesterday’s performance, Tony Hibbert in particular catching the eye in coping admirably with the threat of the speedy Theo Walcott. Moyes sought to flood the midfield and frustrate Arsenal in the same manner that earned Everton a 1-1 draw on their previous Emirates visit. And the tactic limited the hosts to few chances until the introduction of Armand Traore turned the game in their favour, the young Frenchman injecting impetus to Arsenal’s play and providing a fine cross for Bendtner’s winner. This defeat means Everton will end the season having taken a single point from eight games against the “big four”, an indication of how difficult it will be to break the stranglehold of the leading quartet. Andrew Johnson, a major doubt before the game with a calf problem, was surprisingly preferred in the lone striking role to leading scorer Yakubu by Moyes, who last week urged the out-of-sorts striker to rediscover the menace to his game that so troubled Arsenal here last season. The effect was instant with Johnson far more lively in the opening period than in recent weeks. He revelled in the space afforded to him early on by the Arsenal defence – and, it must be said, the lack of a strike partner – and Everton were eager to utilise his pace with searching passes over the top. But his influence faded in the second half as the game gradually began to slip through the grasp of the visitors. Johnson had the game’s first real chance on 27 minutes, racing in behind the home defence to latch on to Manuel Fernandes’ lofted pass and strike a shot that was sent skyward by the legs of Arsenal goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski, Alex Song eventually turning the ball behind from Steven Pienaar’s follow-up header. That brought a low-key encounter to life and, from the subsequent right-wing Fernandes corner, Phil Jagielka saw his header cleared off the line by Denilson. Everton gained confidence from Arsenal’s initial tentative approach but, roused by their close escape, the home team gained momentum towards the end of the half. Gilberto twice sent headers off target when unmarked at a corner and Emmanuel Adebayor drew a decent save from Tim Howard before failing to gain enough purchase on an inviting Emmanuel Eboue cross, nodding harmlessly wide. Arsenal continued the brighter following the interval, and Joseph Yobo was fortunate to see the ball fly over the bar after striking his clearance against the nearby Neville from a William Gallas header. Everton, though, refused to budge and soon regained the initiative, Joleon Lescott culminating a good move down the left by hurriedly dragging a shot across the face of goal. As the only remaining club not to have been awarded a penalty in the Premier League this season, it was perhaps asking too much for referee Alan Wiley to point to the spot on 70 minutes after Song tangled with Leon Osman on the bye-line after being cleverly harried out of possession by the Everton man. And seven minutes later Arsenal were ahead. Bendtner, having gained possession and fed Traore on the left flank, continued his run into the box and met the substitute’s cross before Lee Carsley to head powerfully past Howard. Moyes responded by introducing Anichebe and Yakubu for Carsley and Johnson but, a wayward Yobo volley apart, Arsenal were rarely troubled. Everton have rescued just two points from losing positions this season – only Reading can boast a similarly poor recovery record – and there was no hint of that trend changing. In fact, Arsenal could have given the scoreline an unfair slant in the closing moments but were guilty of trademark over-elaboration when a shot would have sufficed. After the final whistle, Arsenal embarked on a lap of honour to salute their supporters around the Emirates. Everton now owe it to themselves to ensure their own end-of-season party does not become a damp squib next Sunday.
Tim Howard: We can keep clean sheet against Newcastle and secure UEFA Cup football
May 5 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
TIM HOWARD today set his sights on the perfect end to the season - keeping the clean sheet that will secure Everton’s place in Europe and a spot for him in the record books. The Blues’ ultra-consistent keeper thought he had done enough to equal Neville Southall’s Premier League best of 15 shut-outs in a campaign at the Emirates Stadium yesterday but was beaten by Nicklas Bendtner’s late header. Having seen Wigan sink Aston Villa 24 hours earlier, Everton could have booked their place in next year’s UEFA Cup against Arsenal. But a 1-0 defeat means they must now wait until next Sunday to wrap up fifth place. It has guaranteed a nervy end to the season, particularly with Villa facing a out-of-sorts West Ham when in-form Newcastle arrive at Goodison Park, but Howard has no doubts that he and his team-mates will finish the job. “If we put that kind of performance together in front of our own crowd next week, I’m sure we will be fine,” said Howard. “We are still in a good situation, regardless of this defeat, and a lot of teams would want to swap places with us right now. “I know the record is still there to equalled. Last year I needed to keep a clean sheet at Stamford Bridge but missed out (Everton drew 1-1) and this year it seems like I’ve had about eight chances to do it. “Hopefully we will do it next week and if we do it, it will be as a team. It’s not just about me “It hasn’t happened recently but we are due one. I’d be over the moon if it came against Newcastle.” Though Everton have only won once since being knocked out of the UEFA Cup in March, Howard believes they have shown signs of getting back to their best and has promised they have the heart for a final day fight. “It was frustrating because we played really well,” he added.
“You can’t expect to go to the Emirates and have lots of the ball but the possession we did have was really good and, unfortunately, we have lost out to one chance.
“We knew it was going to be a tough ask to get anything from Arsenal but it was encouraging to see the way other results went. “That, though, didn’t mean it was going to be any easier for us. “The season is 38 games and we were prepared right from the start to go that distance to secure what we want. “We would have loved to have qualified for Europe a few weeks back but that’s not the case. “It’s going down to the wire and we have got to be prepared for one last battle. Nothing is given to you in football.”
Bookies admiration a perfect indicator of Everton's UEFA Cup hopes
May 5 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
THE bookies, as always, may have had it right all along. When Everton let Aston Villa back in at the death a week ago, the men from the betting shops were the only ones on Merseyside seemingly unconcerned. While Evertonians fretted, they made their team heavily odds-on to still qualify for Europe, listing Martin O’Neill’s men at a seemingly generous 7/4. Didn’t they know Villa only had to beat Wigan and West Ham? Were they unaware Everton had to travel to an Arsenal side unbeaten at the Emirates all season and entertain a revitalised Newcastle? Of course they did. And still they called it right. Because Antonio Valencia went and upset the Villa on Saturday, then 24-hours later Everton produced their second positive and purposeful performance in succession. It’s still part of an Evertonian’s psyche to fear the worst, to look beyond the bright and progressive season for another false dawn. A couple of miserable decades since the last great Everton team have done that. But listen to a man as respected as Arsenal’s celebrated manager. “Everton are a little bit similar to us this season,” Arsene Wenger wrote in his programme notes, listing the away win at Goodison Park in December as his side’s second best away victory of the season, topped only by a memorable night in Milan. And while he qualified his comparison with “they were going for fourth and we were going for first, and we both faded in the final sprint,” it underlined how highly David Moyes squad is thought of elsewhere.
Kevin Keegan will certainly know his side is in for a testing afternoon next Sunday.
And after a second purposeful performance in succession, the visit of Newcastle now doesn’t look quite so awkward after all. That’s just as well, of course, with Everton’s second successive shot at UEFA Cup football riding on the outcome. A point next Sunday would be enough, provided Villa win at West Ham. And Everton turned in a performance in North London yesterday which offered plenty of heart and encouragment. They probably deserved a point. They were 13 minutes away from getting it. And but for a couple of smart stops by Lukasz Fabianski and a little misfortune in and around the Gunners’ penalty box they might have got it.
Alan Wiley is a referee who gives the impression that if William Gallas ever ran up behind Andrew Johnson, popped a hood over his head, tied his arms and then coshed him with a snooker cue to the ground, he’d run over to his linesman for clarification.
So when there was a solid shout for a penalty when Leon Osman’s trailing leg appeared to be pulled away by the Gunners’ defender, there was nothing doing.
Just as there wasn’t when Johnson raced onto Manuel Fernandes’ beautifully inventive juggle and pass and drilled a drive which was blocked by the Gunners keeper. The selection of Johnson as a solo striker was an unexpected one.
It’s true that Everton always look more compact and more threatening with five across midfield, but Yakubu’s purposeful performance last weekend suggested he would be the man at the focal point of it. But Johnson, just as he did at the Emirates last season, was a willing and threatening runner, working the channels effectively and looking more alive than he has done for weeks. He wasn’t alone. Tony Hibbert has his detractors, but he’s at his best with an identifiable target to nullify. Theo Walcott was that target yesterday, and after a ‘reducing’ but perfectly legal challenge on Arsenal’s turbo-charged youngster early on, he grew in stature and even clipped in one of Everton’s more dangerous crosses. There was plenty to be encouraged by at the Emirates. Phil Neville is a captain who wears his heart on his sleeve. And while he trudged dispiritedly towards the travelling Everton fans to toss his shirt to the crowd and heave a heavy sigh at the final whistle, he’ll have his side pumped up and purposeful again next weekend. This Everton side is currently the fifth placed team in the country, top of the so-called league below the super league. Their fans need to start believing it – because next weekend should confirm that status.
Arsenal 1, Everton 0 (Echo)
May 5 2008
By Dominic King, At the Emirates Stadium
SO, then, the task is straightforward: one point must be taken off Newcastle United next week to stop the season of great promise becoming the season of missed opportunity. Given the progress that has been made since the first ball of the campaign was kicked last August, it seems slightly churlish to be grumbling at present, particularly as Everton are guaranteed consecutive top six finishes for the first time in two decades. Strangely, though, the Blues seem intent on making things hard for themselves and following another fruitless away trip to Arsenal, every little last bit of suspense and drama will be eked out of the campaign. Seeing Everton go head-to-head might make great entertainment for neutrals but there is no mistaking that David Moyes’ side let slip a glorious chance to book their place in next year’s UEFA Cup once and for all at the Emirates Stadium. Yes, Arsenal have a fabulous record on home soil - they have only suffered one defeat in the 54 competitive games they have played in this palatial stadium - and can call upon some fabulous players, but, quite simply, they were there for the taking yesterday. That may seem a bold claim, but when you consider that Tim Howard was hardly over worked and that Arsenal appeared happy to go through the motions, was it too much to expect Everton to be more adventurous before Nicklas Bendtner punished them? They had, after all, been given help from the unlikeliest of sources 24 hours earlier when Wigan Athletic made a mockery of suggestions that Everton’s European rivals Aston Villa would steamroller them en route to taking fifth place. As was said in the wake of the Blues’ draw with Villa last week, it is dangerous to make assumptions in football and Moyes himself noted in the build-up to this game that there were still plenty of twists and turns to be taken – expect more next week. But despite having a bit of breathing space and knowing that Middlesbrough’s victory over Portsmouth guaranteed them another top six finish, Moyes appeared a bit more agitated than usual, buzzing around his technical area and bellowing out orders. Any worries he may have had, however, should have been quickly dispelled as his players gave the impression that nothing could fluster them, even on the occasions when Arsenal tried to shift through the gears. Eyebrows were certainly raised when Moyes’ team was unveiled, particularly as there was no place for top scorer Ayegbeni Yakubu, who dropped down to the bench, while Andrew Johnson - who had pulled up lame in training on Friday - retained his place. It has, unquestionably, been a difficult season for the England international. Form, fitness and the arrival of Yakubu have nullified his ability to make an impact and, in recent weeks, his confidence has appeared to ebb away with every game that has passed without a goal. There have even been murmurs in certain quarters that if a sufficient bid came during the summer - an opportunity to recoup the £8.6m it cost to sign Johnson from Crystal Palace - then it may not such a bad thing for the Blues to cash in. Hogwash. True, only Johnson’s biggest supporter would think of describing his efforts this year as being successful but he vindicated the faith Moyes had bestowed in him with a typically energetic display here. If Everton have any ambitions of building on the progress they have made during the last two campaigns, they need to keep hold of all their star performers and add to what they have got once the transfer window opens. Fittingly, it was Johnson who came closest to giving Everton an advantage midway through the first period, when he scampered on to a smart through ball from Manuel Fernandes and forced a good save from Lukasz Fabianski in the Arsenal goal. The Blues came even closer from Fernandes’ resulting corner but, unfortunately, Phil Jagielka’s header was hacked off the line before referee Alan Wiley failed to award them an indirect free-kick after Fabianski picked up William Gallas’ back pass. Deservedly on terms at the break, the stage was set to push on in the second period, but for all the huff and puff, Everton rarely threatened to blow Arsenal’s house down. Then again the opposite was also true. Standing firm at the back, Everton’s defenders enjoyed terrific afternoons, the pick of them being Tony Hibbert, who tackled anything that moved in his vicinity and, like many others, put in a relentless shift of running. So often overlooked when plaudits are given out and an easy target when brickbats start to be thrown, Hibbert’s performance provided a timely reminder why he has made 197 appearances since he made his debut in a win at West Ham in March 2001. Yet, heartbreakingly, all that hard work was to unravel in the blink of an eye. There seemed little danger when Bendtner picked up possession just outside Everton’s box. but his ball wide found Armand Traore in space and increased the danger. Given time to pick out a cross, Traore superbly picked out Bendtner, who rose above Lee Carsley and bulleted a header past the helpless Howard. It was the first meaningful chance Arsenal had created but it mattered not. The damage had been done. Try as they might, an equaliser never looked like materialising but, fortunately, Everton are still masters of their own destiny and one would assume that even if they are not sparkling like they were a few months ago, they can still take a point off Newcastle at Goodison next Sunday. This, it must be stressed, was not a bad performance. Far from it, actually. Moyes will have been pleased with a number of aspects, especially the way Everton moved the ball around against the pass masters. Still, it could have been so much better, but didn’t we also say that after the Carling Cup and UEFA Cup campaigns had ended? All being well, an emphatic display against Newcastle will ensure we don’t sound like broken records six days from now.
Everton ground move strengthens the case for trams
May 5 2008 by Nick Coligan, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON’s new Kirkby stadium hopes have strengthened the case for a tram network, say transport officials. They say Merseytram could be a favourite for thousands of fans travelling to the ground. Merseytravel is working on a new business case to bring back the trams more than two years after their last bid failed.
Politicians believe there are signs the government is prepared to help fund line one of the network between Liverpool city centre and Kirkby. This route was highly criticised last time when city councillors preferred a route to John Lennon Airport.
But Merseytravel thinks Everton’s possible move to Kirkby would make line one more viable. A spokesman said: “When the last business case was drawn up, this scheme was not on the horizon. Now it clearly strengthens the case. Previously, there would clearly have been people travelling from Kirkby to the city centre.
“If Everton and Tesco move there, a lot of people will be looking to go in the opposite direction, and not just on matchdays.” But football fans are not Merseytravel’s only priority. One of the strongest campaigning points for the tram network was its potential for helping unemployed people in deprived areas reach city centre jobs.
It was that factor which dictated why the city centre-Kirkby route took priority over the potential convenience for tourists of the city centre-airport line. Merseytravel’s research suggested residents in low-income areas were only prepared to travel up to 30 minutes to their job or training programme. But bus trips from Kirkby and Croxteth to the city centre can take up to an hour, putting jobs at places like Liverpool One and the ECHO arena out of reach. Merseytram’s estimated journey time from Kirkby to the city centre was a much more palatable 31 minutes. Merseytravel therefore argue line one alone would open up employment opportunities for an extra 15,000 people. That is on top of the predicted 300 permanent new jobs if line one was built and 1,000 temporary posts during its construction. Merseytravel also estimates line one will take a million car journeys a year off the road and reduce accidents on city streets by about 300. Around 60% of households on the route through areas including Old Swan, Norris Green and Croxteth, do not have a car. Liverpool’s business leaders are certainly big advocates of Merseytram. Esther Sumner, from Liverpool chamber of commerce, said the organisation was “extremely supportive” of renewed efforts to build line one. “The proposed line would provide a rapid mass transit system which would run from the city centre to Kirkby and pass through several deprived areas. “It would serve key developments like Liverpool One, the Metquarter and our museums, as well as Knowsley industrial park. “As well as benefiting deprived areas, the new line would help reduce congestion by encouraging people to use public transport. “The experience of other British cities has shown trams present an attractive service for passengers, promoting a shift away from cars and a positive image of a city. “Schemes like the tram are becoming increasingly necessary to divert rising car use, which risks congesting our city. “We firmly believe the tram would be of immense benefit to Liverpool, aiding its regeneration and improving public transport. “We really hope Merseytravel is able to access the funding it needs before it loses the power to build the tram in 2010.” There might be overwhelming support in Liverpool for the tram – but at the end of the day, it is the government which needs convincing. Despite the ongoing expansion of Manchester’s Metrolink, ministers seemed to go cool on tram networks in late 2005. But a change of heart was recently detected, with transport secretary Ruth Kelly indicating the money was back on the table – providing there was a cost-effective package from Merseytravel and the support of Liverpool council. Merseytravel, which has the legal power to build Line One until 2010, has not set a date for the completion of its latest business case.
It believes three factors have strengthened its case, the Kirkby development, the completion of city centre landmarks including the ECHO arena and Liverpool One, and the above-inflation increase in bus fares. A Merseytravel spokesman said: “In 2004, we made the decision to tie tram fares to bus fares, so there would be no competition and passengers would not switch from one to the other. “Because bus fares have gone up above inflation, it makes the tram more viable, because it will bring in more income than expected.”
Tram revival would help heal wounds
THE revival of Merseytram would help heal the wounds of its dramatic collapse last time around. Taxpayers footed a £70m bill, without a single piece of track being laid, when Merseytravel’s project failed. It included £6.4m of consultants’ costs, £1.3m challenging the government’s refusal to back the scheme, and £900,000 on the unused tram tracks. Ministers pulled the plug on the tram scheme in November 2005, blaming the £316m cost of Line One, compared with the original £225m estimate. But Merseytravel had already borrowed £50m and spent £15m of its own savings on development, design, land acquisition, preliminary construction work and legal fees.
The organisation was eventually condemned by district auditor Judith Tench, who investigated its use of public money. She said it should not have spent so much while waiting to see if the government would finance its £170m share of the cost.
But Ms Tench indicated at the time that not all the £70m would be wasted if the latest bid to revive Merseytram was successful. Merseytravel chief executive Neil Scales, meanwhile, had blamed “rogue” officers at Liverpool city council “who are no longer with that authority” for “hindering” efforts to launch line one.
David Moyes: We'll book UEFA Cup place
May 5 2008 By Dominic King Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES has backed his Everton players to bounce back in style from frustrating afternoon at the Emirates to book their return to Europe.
Though results had gone for them on Saturday, notably with Wigan beating Aston Villa, Nicklas Bendtner’s late header deprived the hard working Blues of the point that would have clinched fifth place for them. A home game against Newcastle United next Sunday, however, offers Everton an outstanding opportunity to end a highly-encouraging campaign on a high and Moyes believes his squad are primed for the challenge. "If you’d have said a week ago that we’d be three points ahead with one game to go it’s a very good position to be in, then we would have been pleased with that," said Moyes. "It’s down to us to get a result next week. "I’m confident the players can do it, they are a good set of lads and they want it as much as I do.
"I have no worries about how their attitude will be or how they’ll prepare themselves for next week. "For long periods, we have got closer to the top four. For eight months we’d done well at it but the other clubs are used to the full distance, going the last couple of furlongs and we have found it tough. "We’re on a run at the moment where we should be doing better at this stage of the season. "It would be an achievement to get into Europe again. We enjoyed it so much this year, so let’s hope we can do it."
With better fortune, Everton could have had matters wrapped up yesterday and Moyes believes that his side were slightly hard done to. "I thought we were unfortunate not to get a point," added Moyes. "I’m disappointed we didn’t get the point we needed to secure UEFA Cup football. "I thought we did enough to do that. We tried to make it difficult for Arsenal and cause them problems when we could as well. "Arsenal had their own reason to do well, we had ours today. I’m quite pleased with how we played but disappointed with the result." It was suggested to Moyes that he could have been a bit more adventurous at times, particularly when it appeared that Arsenal had taken their foot off the gas, but the manager felt going gung-ho would have cost Everton dearly. "The possession is what hurts you, and if you go a bit bolder it gives them more space to play in," he pointed out. "You have to make a decision as a coach about what you’re going to do. "You can decide to give Arsenal a lot of the ball and hope they don’t penetrate you, or you can try to restrict that possession. "We tried to restrict them. There’s no doubt they had a lot of ball, you know that when you come here, but in truth, I don’t think Arsenal had many chances. "I know (Emmanuel) Adebayor got away once and could have had a header, but if you come to the Emirates and they are the only chances you are giving away, then you have to be relatively pleased.
"I thought defensively the boys did well against Adebayor and Bendtner, albeit Bendtner did score a good goal."
Everton legend Dixie Dean remembered
May 5 2008 by Chloe Griffiths, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON legend Dixie Dean’s remarkable feat of scoring 60 goals in one season was honoured yesterday when his great grandson stepped out as club mascot.
Wearing a replica 1920s shirt 13-year-old Daniel Dean Prentice led the Blues out at Arsenal’s Emirates stadium to mark the anniversary. Yesterday’s game marked almost exactly 80 years since centre forward William Ralph “Dixie” Dean’s astonishing achievement. Even the opposition fitted the bill – as it was Arsenal who were the visiting team at Goodison Park when Dean reached the milestone back on May 5, 1928. Daniel, who has been out on the pitch at Goodison several times, was asked to lead out the teams at the beginning of the season. The youngster and his sister Scarlett were invited to meet the players before the game. Daniel said: “I had a great time.
“It was quite exciting, the ground was huge and I was quite nervous, but it was good.”
His sister, who celebrates her 11th birthday tomorrow added: “It was very big and quite scary. “It was really loud, but I liked seeing Daniel go on the pitch.”
The youngsters were the third generation of Dean’s family to travel to London for the special occasion. Dean’s only daughter Barbara was there with her husband Mike, and her daughter Melanie – the mother of Daniel and Scarlett – were also there for the celebrations. Dean bagged the historic goal tally and became the greatest goalscorer in British footballing history at a memorable game at Goodison when Everton drew 3-3 with Arsenal. ECHO readers recently voted him their greatest ever Merseysider.
Liverpool city councillors set to object to Everton stadium plans
May 6 2008 by Nick Coligan, Liverpool Echo
LIVERPOOL councillors were today expected to agree a formal objection to Everton FC's planned move to Kirkby. A report recommending the city council formally opposes the club and Tesco’s £400m scheme was being put before the planning committee. It followed an objection from Liverpool One developer Grosvenor and predicted opposition from Sefton council, which will discuss the project tomorrow.
Although Liverpool’s planners claim they have “always strongly supported the ambitions of Knowsley council to regenerate Kirkby town centre”, they suggest four reasons why the council can speak out against the scheme: Tesco has “not adequately demonstrated a need” for the size of the shopping district it wants to build alongside the new stadium. The scale of the development is “not appropriate to the role and function” of Kirkby. Tesco and Everton have not “adequately satisfied” site selection rules. The plans underestimate their potential impact and would take trade away from Liverpool. Knowsley council is expected to come to a decision later this month.
Nigel Martyn: Last day drama, but Blues will grab fifth
May 6 2008 by Nigel Martyn, Liverpool Echo
TYPICAL Everton. Things wouldn't be normal unless we were involved in some sort of last day drama and that will again be the case on Sunday. Though we missed a gilt-edged opportunity to end the race for a UEFA Cup place at the Emirates Stadium last weekend, I am still extremely confident that the Blues will end the campaign as the fifth best team in the Premier League. There will, understandably, be some anxious souls who are fretting that things may unravel. But while Aston Villa are capable of beating West Ham United, I would be genuinely amazed if Newcastle United won at Goodison Park. Of course Kevin Keegan will have his players wound up to finish the campaign on a high but there is a different mind set between wanting and needing to take three points from a match. Newcastle might want to win but we need to – desperately. We have tended to limp over the finishing line in recent seasons and, with one win in the last eight games, this year has been no different, as injuries, coupled with earlier efforts, have taken a heavy toll. Still, it would be cruel in the extreme if Villa capitalised and there would be a bitter irony if we ended up getting punished for being successful. After all, we have played 53 matches so far compared to Villa’s total of 41 and that has to have an impact on fitness. It has been nice to have had runs in the UEFA Cup and Carling Cup but it’s only now that you are starting to see the impact of those efforts. Could you imagine if there had been an FA Cup campaign thrown in too? The end, however, is in sight and David Moyes will be doing everything this week to gee the lads up to get that final point and I would expect us to be good enough to run out comfortable winners. Regardless of what happens at Upton Park, if we poke our noses in front early on then I’m convinced a couple more goals will follow and the party atmosphere at Goodison will be in full swing long before the final whistle.
I’m sure the manager will be tuned-in to how Villa are faring and will react if and when they score but, provided we go about our business normally, we should have too much power for Newcastle, and Europe will become a reality once again.
Joleon heads all-star cast for player of the season
TOMORROW night sees Everton’s annual end of season awards take place but we are still no nearer to knowing who will be named star man. In the last couple of years, Mikel Arteta has been out on his own but, this time around, things are completely different and, with the greatest respect to the little Spaniard, it would be a surprise if he completed the hat-trick. The reason that would be the case is down to there being numerous contenders from front to back. Tim Howard, for one, has been in outstanding form all year and built on the promise of his debut campaign at Goodison.
In front of him, the back four have been terrific, notably Joleon Lescott, Phil Jagielka and Joseph Yobo and a close look at our goals against column shows just how consistent they have been protecting Tim. hen you have Phil Neville and Lee Carsley, two unsung heroes who do such a lot of hard work for the team without complaint. The fact they aren’t flair players, however, will probably count against them.
Ayegbeni Yakubu, meanwhile, has scored a bundle of goals and become the powerful centre forward that Evertonians love - all being well, with a pre-season behind him, he will be better again next year. If I had to pick one man out, though, I would choose Joleon. He has played for England, never missed a game for the Blues and chipped in with plenty of goals too. But, as I said, don’t be surprised if someone else picks up the trophy.
Everton linked with USA star Michael Bradley
May 6 2008, Exclusive By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON are ready to step up their pursuit of top summer target Michael Bradley. Blues boss David Moyes has had a long-standing interest in the United States international and a delegation from Goodison Park checked on the Heerenveen midfielder during their clash with Ajax last night. Capped 18 times by his country, at 6ft 1ins Bradley has the size and stature that Moyes is looking for to bolster his engine room and could cost in the region of £4.5m. Blackburn Rovers are also understood to have an interest. Moyes had considered a move for the 21-year-old during the last transfer window but was prepared to bide his time with the intention of reviewing the situation at the end of the season. Bradley – son of current United States head coach Bob – has continued to impress in the Eredivise and scored a hugely impressive 18 goals in 36 appearances for Heerenveen, who finished fifth behind champions PSV Eindhoven. Nuno Valente, meanwhile, is expected to extend his stay on Merseyside by another 12 months, as Moyes begins to shape his playing staff for next season. The Portugal international has only made 15 appearances this year – the last of which came in the 6-1 drubbing of SK Brann in February – but he is well thought of at Goodison and his experience is considered a major asset. Valente joined the Blues in August 2005 on the back of a glowing recommendation from his former manager at FC Porto, Jose Mourinho, but fitness problems have limited him to just 53 starts. Lee Carsley will also be offered the opportunity to remain at the club, despite Derby County growing in confidence that they will sign him on a two-year deal, but Thomas Gravesen, Stefan Wessels and Anthony Gardner will all be released. Moyes’ main focus of attention this week, however, is Sunday’s final match against Newcastle United and the Blues need one point to make certain of securing a place in the UEFA Cup again. It is likely to mean a tense afternoon at Goodison but Phil Jagielka is confident that Everton can hold their nerve and repel the challenge of Aston Villa, who are three points behind in sixth place. “It would be nice to have nothing riding on the game,” said Jagielka, who once again impressed in Sunday’s 1-0 defeat against Arsenal at The Emirates Stadium. “We’ve been in the driving seat for most of the season in fifth but in the last month there has been a lot of talk of people catching us. It would be nice for us and the fans to finish the season in style. “We’ve had a fantastic season and we’ve had quite a few memorable nights in Europe and the League Cup. Hopefully we can finish with a win on Sunday. There’s something to build on next year and I’m sure we can do better again.”
Everton hunt £60m for new stadium naming rights
May 7 2008, By Alex Turner, Liverpool Daily Post
EVERTON Football Club is looking to raise more than £60m from the naming rights for its new stadium. The club announced last year they would be moving from Goodison Park to a new 55,000-capacity stadium in Kirkby. But the £400m scheme has faced fierce opposition from some fans, planning groups and other parties, including Grosvenor, the owners of Liverpool One. Robert Elstone, deputy chief executive of Everton FC, said: “We have had some quite extensive research done which is suggesting a value of well in excess of £4m per annum over a 15-year deal. “Our decision to move to a new stadium was exceptionally tough. Our fans, players, and staff have to be considered when making all key changes to the club – and we will ensure a partnership with a brand that they would approve of. “It will be a blue chip brand and one that is here to stay. “It will bring new money into the club.” The stadium is scheduled to host its first league match in August 2010 and Mr Elstone is aiming to make swift progress with a sponsor agreement . “We already have meetings in the diary for this month,” he said. “Our target is to be well-advanced by the end of this year. “The economic situation is not helping us but we think it is a strong property and it is a rare opportunity.” Everton would consider tying in their shirt sponsorship with the naming rights, as Arsenal did with a combined £90m deal with the airline, Emirates. “We are open-minded and it depends on the buyer,” said Mr Elstone. “It worked well with Arsenal, but it’s debatable whether they got the maximum value by bundling the two together.” Stadium naming rights have become an increasingly important revenue stream for sports clubs, with deals for new stadia most valuable. Emirates paid £50m for 15 years at Arsenal’s new stadium – £3.3m a year – while Ricoh and Keepmoat are paying about £1m a year to have their names attached to the new stadia in Coventry and Doncaster respectively. Ed Meikle, of Watson Burton’s Sports Business Group, said: “It is often said that naming rights deals also give sponsors something unique that other deals cannot. “Repeated use of the new ground name by the media is the ultimate goal. Significantly cheaper than traditional advertising, the rights are highly sought after. “Sensitivity towards the fans and recognising the importance of ensuring acceptance by the media should always be integral to the overall process if the deal is to be a success.” Last week Everton sent 100 personal DVD players to chief executives, marketing and sponsorship directors which included a three-minute presentation on the naming rights opportunity, which it described as “a passport to the world of football”. alex.turner
Everton’s new Kirkby stadium plan moves step closer
May 7 2008
Exclusive by david Bartlett, Liverpool Daily Post
TESCO has agreed to slash the retail element connected to Everton FC’s new stadium in Kirkby by 25%, the Daily Post can reveal. The move appears to be a fresh attempt to create a consensus across Merseyside about the £400m scheme and avoid a public inquiry being called by the Government. In the face of mounting opposition to the Kirkby project – which included a Tesco store and 50 shops – the supermarket giant has agreed to downgrade the amount of retail from around 72,000 sq m, to 55,000 sq m. The Daily Post can also today reveal that the Goodison club are looking to secure in excess of £60m for a 15-year naming rights deal for the proposed new 50,000-seater ground. Last night, Tesco and Everton said the scaling-down of the plans showed the consortium had listened to concerns. Liverpool’s planning committee was set to formally object to the Kirkby project, but yesterday it deferred making the decision because of the “significant” changes proposed by Tesco. Grosvenor, the firm behind the £1bn Liverpool One, had also objected to the scheme saying it would take out £129m of turnover from Liverpool city centre. Sefton Council planning committee is due to meet today, and councillors had also been advised to object to “Destination Kirkby”. It is likely the council will now rethink its response. It is understood officials at Knowsley Council wrote to their Liverpool counterparts late last week asking the authority to defer its objection because of “significant” changes that were being made to the scheme. Tesco is yet to submit the scaled-down plans for the shopping complex, but is expected to do so in the next couple of weeks. It is understood Everton and Tesco are now hoping that Sefton and Liverpool will not officially object, something which would significantly increase the project’s chances of not being “called-in” by Whitehall. Any call-in would delay things by up to a year. The councils’ main objections were that the Kirkby scheme was too large and was likely to have an adverse impact on shopping centres in their areas. A Liverpool council spokesman said: “We have been told by Knowsley that the scale has been changed significantly and asked that we defer making a decision today.” Last night, Ian Ross, Everton’s director of communications, said the club and Tesco had always said it was an ever-changing process. “We also stated quite categorically that we would listen to the various interested parties and make changes to the project’s masterplan accordingly. “That is precisely what we have done all along and precisely what we will continue to do. “We were always aware that it was absolutely key we listen to the various representative bodies. “Many people thought we would ride roughshod over local opinion and not listen, but that is far from the case.” One of the justifications for the size of the retail element was to “cross fund” the new stadium. The downgrading on the shopping floorspace is not believed to affect the amount the club will have to fund, instead Tesco will take less profit. A spokesman for Tesco added: “There does need to be a substantial retail element, but we have responded to concerns. “We have shown we have worked with the community on what will be a world-class project that will put Kirkby on the map. “We think we have a great scheme and we are delighted it is moving towards planning.” Last night, Knowsley Council said it had received an “unprecedented response” to the consultation on the Tesco and Everton planning application. “It has been clear throughout the consultation process that there is wide-scale support for the regeneration of Kirkby from the community, neighbouring authorities and statutory bodies but that the current proposals have raised some concerns that need to be addressed. “The council has kept the applicants, Tesco and Everton, informed of the consultation feedback. “Tesco and Everton have now agreed to reconsider the level of retail being proposed and we expect that aspect of the plans to change in the near future. “When the final plans are received they will be submitted to the council’s planning committee and all the comments raised throughout the consultation will be considered before a decision is made.”
Everton FC Kirkby stadium: Tesco change retail plans
May 7 2008 by Nick Coligan, Liverpool Echo
TESCO today revealed changes to the retail park it plans to build alongside Everton FC's proposed new stadium. The firm will reduce the size of the shops after the £400m development sparked a storm of protest. The move is seen as a way to appease opponents at Liverpool and Sefton councils who threatened to object. But the changes should not threaten the stadium’s viability.
We're not paying penalty - David Moyes
May 7 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES has saluted his side's "incredible achievement" this season of scoring 52 league goals without a single penalty kick. Only once before in Everton’s history have The Toffees gone an entire league season without a single spot-kick award. But in that disappointing 1971/72 season, a struggling side only managed 37 goals. This season Everton scored goals freely up until the last month of the campaign, but Sunday’s visit of Newcastle marks their final opportunity to earn a Premier League penalty kick this season. Moyes said: “We’ve not had a penalty kick, and we’ve only scored one free-kick from direct play, which was Alan Stubbs in the second game of the season. “It’s quite an incredible achievement – or non-achievement really! “I don’t think I’ve been at any club before where I’ve not had a penalty kick all season. “But I’ll always go back to the one we didn’t get against Liverpool. If that’s not a penalty then nothing’s a penalty.” The Blues have had firm claims turned down in their last two matches. A clear handball was not given in the match against Aston Villa, while Alan Wiley refused to consider Alexandre Song’s challenge on Leon Osman at Arsenal on Sunday. Earlier in the season Andy Johnson, in particular, was denied a stonewall claim at Blackburn. The statistic takes on even more resonance when it is noted that continental referees have awarded Everton four spot-kicks in this season’s UEFA Cup. Bolton and Derby are the only other Premier League clubs not to have scored from penalty kicks this season. Moyes, meanwhile, believes Tony Hibbert is his man for the big occasion. Everton are preparing for a match which could seal back to back UEFA Cup campaigns for the first time in 20 years on Sunday. And right-back Hibbert is likely to start after an in and out season which has seen him kick-off just 29 of the Blues 52 matches. But after starting three of the Blues’ last four, including an outstanding display at Arsenal on Sunday, the Blues boss said: “I thought Tony Hibbert was outstanding, as was Joseph Yobo and Phil Jagielka and Joleon Lescott. “We play Hibbo in the games that matter because he is a good defender and he doesn’t let you down. “He is honest in his work and he is a really good player.” With Mikel Arteta and Tim Cahill already ruled out of Sunday’s final match of the season, and skipper Phil Neville likely to be needed in midfield, Hibbert is set to start in a match Everton could need a point from to confirm a fifth placed finish ahead of Villa. Former Blues favourite David Unsworth, meanwhile, is ready to take his first step towards football management. The defender will take up a role as player-coach at Burnley next season.
Everton eyeing move for Chelsea's Steve Sidwell
May 7 2008
By Ian Doyle, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON are considering rekindling their interest in Chelsea midfielder Steve Sidwell. Sidwell has become surplus to requirements at Stamford Bridge after suffering a miserable campaign following his arrival from Reading on a free transfer last summer. The 25-year-old has made just 13 starts with his last appearance coming in the FA Cup win over Huddersfield Town in February. Goodison manager David Moyes, who was keen to bring Sidwell to Everton last year, had contemplated a loan move for the former England under-21 international in January. Sunderland, Blackburn Rovers and Reading were also interested in taking the midfielder on a temporary deal before the player decided to stay put. But it is almost certain Sidwell will now seek a move away from Stamford Bridge to kick-start a career that has stalled following an impressive four-year spell at Reading. The midfielder would cost in the region of £3million, and would have to take a cut in wages should Moyes follow up his interest with a concrete offer. Everton have again checked on another long-time target, United States international Michael Bradley. The midfielder was watched for the fourth time on Monday night while playing for club side Heerenveen in Holland against Ajax in a Champions League qualification play-off. However, the 20-year-old was sent off for a second bookable offence in the 38th minute as his side crashed to a 3-1 defeat. Bradley has attracted interest from a clutch of clubs, including Blackburn and Aston Villa and German Bundesliga duo Werder Bremen and Stuttgart. Heerenveen are asking for around £4m, despite the American having only a year left on his contract. Moyes, though, rates the player nearer the £2.5m mark. Reports in France have suggested Moyes is also tracking Marseille’s Cameroon international midfielder Modeste M’Bami, who is out of contract next summer and shown no desire to sign a contract extension. And the Spanish Press have claimed Everton are also interested in Valencia winger Joaquin even though the Spain international’s £10m price tag would appear hugely prohibitive. Meanwhile, Moyes has praised Tony Hibbert after the right-back’s man-of-the-match performance against Arsenal at the weekend. “I thought Tony Hibbert was outstanding, as was Joseph Yobo and Phil Jagielka and Joleon Lescott,” said Moyes. “We play Hibbo in the games that matter because he is a good defender and he doesn't let you down. He is honest in his work and he is a really good player.” The third annual Everton end-of-season awards dinner takes place at St George’s Hall in Liverpool this evening. The ceremony, which is hosted by Ray Stubbs, will be free to view on evertonfc.com live and exclusive from 10pm
Double joy for Joleon Lescott - as David Moyes issues European rallying call
May 8 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES urged his players to turn a good season into a great one by securing a return to Europe - as Joleon Lescott was named the Blues' double player of the year.
Everton need a point from their last home game against Newcastle to guarantee their place in next year’s UEFA Cup and the manager is hoping for a grandstand finale to repel Aston Villa’s challenge for fifth spot. Moyes, who last night saw Lescott win both the Players’ Player of the Season and Player of the Season awards at a glittering ceremony at St George’s Hall, has been encouraged by Everton’s efforts in their most recent games against Villa and Arsenal. But he now wants them to finish the job, both to improve Everton’s chances of making big summer signings and maintain the progress that has been made in the past 18 months. “This has been a really good season but we want to make it a great one on Sunday,” said Moyes. “We have done quite well, our football has progressed and we are playing a better brand nowadays.
“The team has grown together. The season has been terrific and I think for long periods we played really well. We have an honest group who work really hard and they are totally determined to get that UEFA Cup spot. “Playing in Europe this year certainly helped with our improvement and I can see the players getting better again next season. Maybe we can go one better than we did this season and get to a cup final as well. “I’m excited by this group of players. They want to play in Europe again, I want to be involved in it as well and now we just have to make sure we finish the job off.” Mikel Arteta is recovering in Spain after having an operation in Barcelona to finally rectify the abdominal problem that has tormented him during the second half of the campaign. The procedure was designed to release the tension around the muscles in his stomach and Everton physio Mick Rathbone is confident that the midfielder will be fit to return for pre-season training in July. “Unfortunately the specialist hasn’t been able to solve it so he has had the surgical procedure and hopefully that will be the end of it,” said Rathbone, who was jetting out to see Arteta today.
Joleon Lescott hits twin peaks as Blues enjoy gong show
May 8 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
JOLEON LESCOTT'S relentlessly progressive career was given the ultimate recognition last night when he was named both Player of the Season and Players' Player of the Season. The giant defender has been a model of consistency since he arrived at Goodison Park in June 2006, reeling off 95 consecutive appearances to become one of the most important members of David Moyes’ squad.
And at a glittering awards ceremony at St George’s Hall, Lescott was honoured by both supporters and his team-mates for the contribution he has made during the Blues’ terrific campaign. Lescott edged out Lee Carsley to retain the Player’s Player award he won 12 months ago and came out on top ahead of Carsley, Tim Howard and Ayegbeni Yakubu in the fans’ poll for the season’s outstanding performer. “I got the Players’ Player prize last season but to get the award from the fans this year is fantastic,” said Lescott. “It is a great privilege and I am sure the awards will take pride of place at my parents’ house. “It has been a good season for me, but it has been a good season for the whole team and it is all about the team here at Everton. “They are a great bunch of lads. It was very special to voted Player of the Year by my team-mates. “We have achieved a lot this season. I have always wanted to play for my country and I achieved that goal. Long may it continue. “All the lads and the coaching staff have helped me and now I have got to keep that going.” Following his £4m move from Wolves, Lescott has featured in every competitive game the Blues have played. Steve McClaren handed him his England debut last October in a 3-0 win over Estonia at Wembley and has since gone on to win another four caps – against Russia, Austria, Croatia and France. Victor Anichebe lifted both the Young Player of the Season award and the Shareholders’ Young Player of Season. Playing in Europe certainly brought the best out of Anichebe, as he scored four times during Everton’s UEFA Cup campaign to supplement his solitary league strike against Wigan.
Dubbed ‘Mini Yak’ by his team-mates, Anichebe said: “Everyone has been such a great help to me,” said the Nigerian, who is likely to be included in his country’s squad for the Olympic Games in September. It’s been a good season but hopefully next year can be even better.” Goal of the Season, meanwhile, was arguably the toughest category to win of all as plenty of spectacular strikes have illuminated Everton’s play, not least Tim Cahill’s bicycle kick at Stamford Bridge.
It was Leon Osman, though, who clinched the gong for putting the gloss on a wonderful, free-flowing move against Larissa at Goodison that involved Cahill, Leighton Baines and Steven Pienaar before he unleashed a guided missile.
“We’ve had a great year but it’s not over yet,” said Osman. “It’s not just been one or two players who have done well, everyone has. “That was a really nice goal to score. We want to make sure we are in Europe again next season.” While the first team squad were given a tremendous ovation, there were a number of familiar faces from the club’s illustrious past, notably the majority of the last title winning side, as well as greats such as Howard Kendall and Derek Temple. But the man who became the latest Everton Giant was Gordon West, a goalkeeper who was a mainstay during Harry Catterick’s reign as manager and continues to be a wonderful ambassador for the club.
“I joined Everton in 1962 from Blackpool for £27,500 and they said at the time that fee would never be broken!” West recalled. “I won two league championships and the FA Cup but it was an honour to play for this great club.” Those sentiments would undoubtedly be shared by Dave Hickson, who was given a rousing ovation when he went on stage to accept the People’s Club award, won posthumously in recent years by Brian Labone and Alan Ball. Hickson suffered a heart attack before the 7-1 drubbing of Sunderland last November but he has made a full recovery and looks fitter than ever. “It was a bit of a shock that day when I was taken away from Goodison Park but I‘m fine now,” said Hickson. “We’ve done great this season and I’ve seen nearly all the games. Hopefully we’ll see another good one on Sunday.”
Unfortunately there will be no silverware on offer against Newcastle United but one Everton team who know what it is like to lift a trophy are the ladies, this season’s League Cup winners. They became the first team in two years to inflict defeat on Arsenal in February thanks to Amy Kane’s goal and their efforts saw them win the Howard Kendall award. Like their male counterparts, they are hoping there is better to come next year. “I think we have shown we can bridge the gap between ourselves and the top teams,” said captain Leanne Duffy. “Hopefully we can bridge it even further next year. It has been a fantastic season.”
Everton's end of season award winners in full
May 8 2008 Liverpool Echo
Female disability player of the season: Lydia Ashton.
Male disability player of the season: Lance Cunliffe.
The Howard Kendall award: Everton Ladies.
Fan of the Year: Terry Parker.
Shareholders’ Young Player of the Season: Victor Anichebe.
Ladies Player of the Season: Lyndsey Johnson.
Academy Player of the Season: Jack Rodwell.
Reserve Player of the Season: John Irving.
Everton Giant 2008: Gordon West.
The People’s Club Award: Dave Hickson.
Players’ Player of the Season award: Joleon Lescott.
Young Player of the Season award: Victor Anichebe.
Goal of the Season award: Leon Osman (v Larissa).
Player of the Season award: Joleon Lescott.
The Jury: Have the Blues got enough left in the tank to see off any last day jitters?
May 8 2008, Liverpool Echo
AFTER playing a staggering 53 games with one of the smallest Premiership squads, I still believe Everton will brush past Newcastle to claim a place in Europe. AJ and the Yak should be hungry for goals as both strikers will want to end the season on a high. Again the Goodison crowd will play its part too. Some people in the media suggested ‘Everton would have taken this position at the start of the season’. I find this patronising. I definitely wanted more!
Progress has been made, fair comment. But no trophies again and instead of pushing for a Champions League place, we are trying to give fifth place up!
Ask me what I would accept from Everton next season and I would have to say another top five finish would be acceptable, but we need at least one trophy. My preference would be the UEFA Cup. DAVID WALLBANK, Huyton
THE last game against Newcastle promises to be one of those ‘ear pressed to the radio’ games as wild rumours sweep around the ground.
All we need is one point to guarantee UEFA Cup football and spare us the indignity of the Intertoto Cup. The fans deserve it and the players deserve it.
Newcastle is one of those clubs that fans take less seriously, mainly due to the myths and media hype. Myth 1: Newcastle are a ‘big club’. This despite the fact that the last time they won anything was almost 40 years ago.
Myth 2: The ‘Geordie Faithful’ are the most knowledgeable fans in the world. So why do they turn up in their droves to watch mediocre teams?
I put all this down to ‘one club syndrome’ – like a spoilt only child they don’t have anyone else to compete for their affection. No-one knows what will happen on Sunday? But it’s Everton, and it won’t be simple and easy. RICHARD KNIGHTS, West Derby
IF all goes to plan on Sunday, it will be another season of progress at Goodison Park. After a top six finish last season David Moyes has weaved miracles again this year, especially having to cope without influentual players like Tim Cahill, James Vaughan and Mikel Arteta for large chunks of the season.
With three top six finishes in the last four seasons Moyes deserves huge credit.
It will be an absolute travesty if Mr Kenwright doesn’t give Moyes some big money to spend in the summer. Over six seasons at the club, Moyes has spent £76.4 million and sales of £52 million with his net spend being £24.4 million (just over £4 million a year), an unbelievable statistic considering where we were when he first came to the club. Newcastle should be put to the sword on Sunday to guarantee us a second sucessive European tour. My player of the season has to be the outstanding Joleon Lescott. TONY SCOTT, Walton
AT THE start of this season most Blues would have settled for where we are now - narrowly off fourth in the Premier League, two decent cup runs and plenty of great football from the best Everton team since the magnificent 80s. While we need to remember that, the fact is that the ultimate outcome of all this hard work now depends on a successful result against Newcastle on Sunday.
It won’t be a stroll in the park, and every player will need to be at their best – there will be one or two on the management side of the opponents who may just want to spoil our day! We don’t have to be gung-ho from the start, but we need to be far more direct and purposeful than we have been in most games recently. If we play anything like we know we can, we will be celebrating at 5pm on Sunday – and then we can start worrying about where the money is going to come from to take us even further next year! MIKE WILLIAMSON, Chester
Everton send stadium legal threat to Japanese dental practice instead of Keep Everton In Our City
May 8 2008, By Mary Murtagh, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON have been left red-faced after addressing a threatening legal letter intended for campaign group Keep Everton In Our City (Keioc) to a Japanese dental practice. Lawyers for the Blues sent the correspondence by email to the Keioc website. But they did not check that they had the right address and sent it to an orthodontist surgery 5,800 miles away. The news comes as it emerged last night members of Sefton council’s planning committee have formally objected to plans for the club’s new stadium in Kirkby. In the email the club threatened to sue Keioc over assertions on their website that the Everton fans’ ballot over the stadium move last summer was unfair. Colin Fitzpatrick, secretary of Keioc, said: “We received a letter from chief exec Keith Wyness via the Keioc email address. It was threatening legal action. It was addressed to keioc.com not keioc.net but we don’t even own the site. “We complied with their requests on some things but not on others. There has not been any legal action taken – it has only ever been a threat. We are not losing any sleep over it.” The ECHO checked out the email address and traced it to the dental surgery. A spokesman for the club last night denied they had issued writs against anyone. Yesterday Liverpool council deferred a potential objection to the new Everton stadium because Tesco had agreed to slash the retail element of the plan by 25%. But last night members of Sefton council planning committee unanimously lodged an objection to the scheme. Their decision, however, was based on Tesco’s original proposal. Knowsley council chief executive Sheena Ramsey said plans for the £400m Tesco-led scheme, which includes a new 50,000-seat stadium, would be severely jeopardised by a government call-in, almost certainly delaying the project by up to a year. Everton FC spokesman Ian Ross said: “We remain hopeful that the application will go straight through without being called in. “But we’ve outlined the possible consequences of such a call-in. Before all that, we must wait to see what the borough council’s planning department has to say.” Michael Kissman, of Tesco, said: “I don’t think anyone wants to jeopardise this. ”
Everton FC Kirkby stadium scheme in jeopardy
PLANS for Everton FC’s new stadium in Kirkby could be “killed off” if the scheme is called in for a public inquiry, says the chief executive of Knowsley. The warning comes after Sefton council’s planning committee, as expected, formally objected to the plan last night. Sheena Ramsey said plans for the £400m Tesco-led scheme, which includes a new 50,000-seat Everton stadium, would be severely jeopardised by a government call-in, almost certainly delaying the project by up to a year. Her comments come days after Everton FC chief executive Keith Wyness admitted he was concerned about the effect of a potential Government-run inquiry. The stark warnings are based on the darkening economic outlook. It is indicated that the money assembled for this scheme, both by Everton and Tesco, will not be available indefinitely. They point to the impact of the credit crunch elsewhere. Ms Ramsey is making everyone aware that the stakes could not be higher, believing that not only the major redevelopment of Kirkby, but the whole credibility of the Merseyside City Region, is on the line. Knowsley officials believe the scheme is a crucial test of whether the different councils on Merseyside can recognise that the proposal is good for the sub- region as a whole. Ms Ramsey dismisses any hopes of reviving a joint Liverpool/Everton stadium plan as “bizarre”. Ms Ramsey said: “This is a huge opportunity to show Westminster, which sees Merseyside as dysfunctional, that we can get our act together.” Yesterday, the Daily Post revealed how Liverpool City Council had deferred a potential objection to the bid because Tesco had agreed to slash the retail element of the plan by 25%. But last night members of Sefton council planning committee went ahead and unanimously lodged an objection to the scheme, in line with off- icers’ recommendations. This decision, however, was based on Tesco’s original proposal, rather than the revised scheme. The question is whether the plan for a stadium, Tesco superstore and shops in Kirkby town centre can be accommodated without unduly affecting retailers in Sefton, St Helens, Skelmersdale (which has its own major retail plans), and Liverpool One. Everton FC spokesman Ian Ross said: “We remain hopeful that the application will go straight through without being called in. “But we’ve outlined the possible consequences of such a call-in. Before all that, we must wait to see what the borough council’s planning department has to say.” Michael Kissman, of Tesco, said: “I don’t think anyone here wants to jeopardise this. This is something Kirkby has not seen for a generation.” Speaking last month, Mr Wyness said: “We are concerned about the long-term ramifications of a Government call-in.” richarddown
Keith Wyness insists contract talks with David Moyes are going well
May 8 2008
EVERTON chief executive Keith Wyness has dismissed any suggestion that manager David Moyes will not sign a new contract. Wyness, speaking on Wednesday night at the club's annual awards dinner at St George's Hall in Liverpool, claimed Moyes and club owner Bill Kenwright were "deep in talks". But Wyness said: "Bill and David have been deep in talks for some months. Those talks are going fine, there is absolutely no problem there at all." Kenwright was absent from Wednesday night's event due to the birth earlier in the day of his first grandchild. Defender Joleon Lescott picked up two awards, the fans' player of the year trophy and the players' player of the year award. Young striker Victor Anichebe was named young player of the year while also winning the shareholders' young player of the season trophy. Former England goalkeeper Gordon West was inducted into the Everton Giants, while Jack Rodwell was voted the academy player of the year. Lescott, who also made his England debut this season, pointedly made it clear that he would wish to be playing in his natural position of centre-back soon, having filled in for much of the campaign at left-back. He said: "I had never played left-back before I came here, I have played for England there and obviously for Everton there. But I would prefer to play centre-half to be honest, I made my debut for England at centre-half and hopefully I can continue there for Everton. "I have spoken to the boss a few times (about it) but this season it has been more about the team so hopefully next season we can sort that out, I want to play centre-half, he knows that. And he sees me as a centre-half but it is more important for me to play at left-back for the team so I am more than willing to do that."
Double joy for Joleon Lescott - as David Moyes issues European rallying call
May 8 2008. By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES urged his players to turn a good season into a great one by securing a return to Europe - as Joleon Lescott was named the Blues' double player of the year. Everton need a point from their last home game against Newcastle to guarantee their place in next year’s UEFA Cup and the manager is hoping for a grandstand finale to repel Aston Villa’s challenge for fifth spot. Moyes, who last night saw Lescott win both the Players’ Player of the Season and Player of the Season awards at a glittering ceremony at St George’s Hall, has been encouraged by Everton’s efforts in their most recent games against Villa and Arsenal. But he now wants them to finish the job, both to improve Everton’s chances of making big summer signings and maintain the progress that has been made in the past 18 months. “This has been a really good season but we want to make it a great one on Sunday,” said Moyes. “We have done quite well, our football has progressed and we are playing a better brand nowadays. “The team has grown together. The season has been terrific and I think for long periods we played really well. We have an honest group who work really hard and they are totally determined to get that UEFA Cup spot. “Playing in Europe this year certainly helped with our improvement and I can see the players getting better again next season. Maybe we can go one better than we did this season and get to a cup final as well. “I’m excited by this group of players. They want to play in Europe again, I want to be involved in it as well and now we just have to make sure we finish the job off.” Mikel Arteta is recovering in Spain after having an operation in Barcelona to finally rectify the abdominal problem that has tormented him during the second half of the campaign. The procedure was designed to release the tension around the muscles in his stomach and Everton physio Mick Rathbone is confident that the midfielder will be fit to return for pre-season training in July. “Unfortunately the specialist hasn’t been able to solve it so he has had the surgical procedure and hopefully that will be the end of it,” said Rathbone, who was jetting out to see Arteta today.
Tim Howard backs Andrew Johnson to fire Everton into Europe
May 9 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
TIM HOWARD backed Andrew Johnson to deliver when it really matters and secure Everton's place in the UEFA Cup. The England international has not found the net since scoring in consecutive games against Sunderland and Fiorentina in March, but will spearhead the Blues’ attack with Ayegbeni Yakubu when Newcastle arrive at Goodison Park this weekend. And Howard – who can equal Neville Southall’s record of 15 Premier League clean sheets in a season on Sunday – believes Johnson is ready to come good again after enduring a difficult spell. Johnson was bright during last Sunday’s 1-0 defeat at Arsenal and that has left Howard anticipating a bold show from a man who cost £8.6m when he joined Everton in May 2006. “We were all encouraged by AJ last weekend,” said Howard. “As good a season as Yak has had for us, you have to look back to last season and the 4-5-1 system we played to remember how threatening AJ was then. “You know he is always going to run the channels and cause problems and he did that against Arsenal. He is a top striker. “For this team to go forward, we need AJ. For us to go to the places we want to go, we need Yak and AJ firing on all cylinders. “We can’t have one without the other if we want to keep progressing and we will need them both at their best against Newcastle.” Everton need just a point to make certain of securing fifth place in the table but, given they have only won one of the eight games they have played since being knocked out of Europe, Howard says there is a determination to end the season a on high. Though he is frustrated that qualification was not wrapped up a couple of weeks ago, he is confident there won’t be any last day slip-up. “With the season we have had and the things we have achieved, it’s hard to take that we have only had one win in eight games,” said Howard. “It’s easy to look back with hindsight but if we’d taken just one point extra since Fiorentina, we’d be clean through now. “We are kicking ourselves on the backside at the moment but we were prepared to play the season to a conclusion to get back into Europe and that’s what we are going to have to do now.
“But we have to remember that we have progressed again. In a tougher league than last season, we have got more points and more goals. “That’s the encouraging part but we aren’t patting ourselves on the back. We are greedy and we want fifth place.”
Phil Neville: Belief is the key to crack top four
May 9 2008 EXCLUSIVE by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
IT HAS been the season of debates and, as we prepare to draw a line under the 2007-08 Premier League, the best has been saved for last. While countless words and innumerable hours of air time have been devoted to subjects such as foreign ownership, the 39th game and respect for referees, has anything provoked more thought than Kevin Keegan’s brutally honest assessment of the state of the division?
“Boring” was how the Newcastle manager described the stranglehold the top four clubs have on affairs and, to a certain extent, he is right. Can you see a point in the foreseeable future when Manchester United and Chelsea will not be in the race for the title? His comments, though, struck a chord with Phil Neville. While he can understand Keegan’s frustrations, Everton’s captain doesn’t share his views that those clubs outside the Champions League places may as well wave the white flag.
Some will scoff at the following but consider this: had Everton won both Merseyside derbies this season, they would have gone into this weekend’s tussle with Newcastle knowing a win would have guaranteed they finished above Liverpool. Instead, the Blues face an anxious 90 minutes hoping to do enough to repel Aston Villa’s late thrust to snatch a UEFA Cup spot yet ask Neville if this is the best Everton can hope for ever again and his answer is just as candid as Keegan’s but infinitely more positive. “In the last couple of weeks, I’ve assessed the way we played against the top four and what it’s like when we play other teams,” said Neville. “When we play, say, Tottenham, Newcastle, West Ham or whoever, we always believe we can beat them.
“That needs to be the case against the top four. If you don’t believe, you don’t win. It’s that simple. You have got to be prepared to die trying. If you get beaten after giving everything you have got, so be it. “To bridge the gap again next season, we have got to be looking at winning at least three of our games against Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool. Taking one point from eight games – as we did this season – wasn’t acceptable.” Few would disagree with that last statement but the conundrum now facing David Moyes is identifying the players this summer who will make a difference in the contests that really matter. Certainly, that won’t come cheap – nor will it be easy – but Everton are not in the position of their opponents on Sunday who require a radical overhaul. As Neville points out, it is more a case of fine tuning. “To finish in the top 10, you need to be spending maybe £10m-£20m but trying to get from tenth into the top four probably requires a spend of £70m-£80m,” said Neville, who has thrived with the responsibility of captaining Everton.
“We have got a great squad in place but we have got to make the next step over the summer now. “We finished sixth last season and want to finish fifth this time. There will be a lot of disappointed people if that doesn’t happen. “This club is capable of moving forward, the manager wants that to happen, so does the chairman and so do the supporters. We have sampled European football and realised just how special it can be for us. “With the exception of Fiorentina, we didn’t play anyone with a rich European pedigree, so can you imagine what it would be like if we got to the group stages of the Champions League? This place would be frightening. “They are the kind of nights we want at Goodison Park, we want the supporters to have these big games to look forward to but we can’t rest on what we have achieved this season. We have got to move it on again next year.” To do that, it is imperative that Newcastle are dispatched and UEFA Cup football is secured once again and Neville does not mince his words when describing how he would view the campaign if his side were to fall at the final hurdle. “The result on Sunday will determine the way we can look at the season,” he said. “If we finish fifth, we will be able to feel justifiably proud of our achievements but finishing sixth would be failure. Frankly, finishing sixth would be a disaster. “We have not quite shown the form of which we are capable since we were knocked out of Europe but all the effort we have put in and all the fun we have experienced this season will disappear if we finish sixth. “If that happens, there won’t be any complaints. There can’t be either. The league table doesn’t lie and we will deserve to be wherever we are come 5pm on Sunday afternoon. Hopefully it will be fifth but we need one last effort to make sure. “It’s been the most enjoyable year I’ve had here. There have been some terrific adventures. I’d missed playing in Europe and the run we had rekindled everything for me. Let’s hope we have them again.”
NAME: Phil Neville
DATE OF BIRTH: 21st January 1977
PLACE OF BIRTH: Manchester
EVERTON DEBUT: v Villarreal (h), 9th August 2005. Lost 1-2.
FORMER CLUBS: Man United
ENGLAND CAPS: 59
HONOURS: 6 Premier Leagues, 3 FA Cups, 1 Champions League
OTHER: Everton’s club captain
Leon Osman: Missing out on Europe will be a disaster for Everton
May 9 2008 By Paul Walker, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON midfielder Leon Osman believes it will be "a disaster" if the club fails to qualify for the UEFA Cup on the last day of the season. Wigan-born Osman – who will be 27 on Cup final day next week – picked up the club’s goal of the season trophy at Wednesday’s third annual awards dinner at St George’s Hall. But his mind was very much on Sunday’s final home match against Newcastle. If Everton lose and Aston Villa win at West Ham, then fifth place and UEFA Cup qualification will be snatched from them, having not been out of the top five since January.
Osman said: “Sunday’s game means everything to us. Not only to make sure we are automatically in the UEFA Cup proper, but we don’t really want to be left in the Intertoto Cup. “With that competition the players have to start back training a couple of weeks earlier and it means competitive football earlier than it should be for the lads, with their fitness levels not quite right by then.” Everton were unlucky to go out of the UEFA Cup this term at the last-16 stage on penalties to eventual semi-finalists Fiorentina, and they desperately want another taste of the competition.
Osman, whose stunning goal of the season was scored in the European tie against Larissa, added: “We really enjoyed our European experience this season and not to have it next term would be a disaster for us. “With the ability we have shown this season and the quality we have got, and the players we have, we go into Sunday’s game with our confidence high. “If we play to our potential, we should get the result that we require to make sure of fifth and to complete a fine season.”
Howard Kendall: It's the number one runner-up!
May 9 2008 by Howard Kendall, Liverpool Echo
FEW would dispute that Joleon Lescott was a worthy winner of Everton's Player of the Season award, but I think the man behind him had just as strong claims for the prize. Lescott, of course, has enjoyed a terrific year, scoring a lot of goals, improving the quality of his performances and playing a vital role in Everton’s push forward, but he would recognise the role Tim Howard has played. In my opinion, Howard has been absolutely outstanding and certainly deserves to be mentioned in the top three signings David Moyes has made since he has been Everton manager. He hasn’t put a glove out of place. Any team that has designs on making progress needs a good goalkeeper and ours could not be any better. Tim has been as important to the current squad as Neville Southall was for me. What’s more, it wouldn’t have been unprecedented for a goalkeeper to win the top individual honour even though his team have been battling away at the right end of the table. Neville, after all, was Football Writers Player of the Year when we won the title. I honestly can’t recall Tim making a mistake this season that has cost the team and his errors have been few and far between.
He has clearly thrived following his initial switch from United on loan and has settled into the Everton way of life. Hopefully, he will be standing between the posts for many years to come. And, Tim’s outstanding form has probably helped Lescott. When a defender has total trust in his keeper, they can play with more confidence and their performances improve – as has been the case for Lescott.
Homing in on success
THERE may be a few nerves ahead of Sunday’s tussle with Newcastle United, but judging by their display against Chelsea this week, any anxieties should be quickly dispelled. We used to have a saying about certain teams having their flip-flops on in the final few weeks of the season, meaning that they wouldn’t exactly pose a challenge, and that’s the impression I get about Newcastle. Everton need to win desperately, Newcastle haven’t got anything to play for, while behind the scenes they look anything but a stable club, so the only outcome I see to all that is a comfortable home win. Provided we get about them early on, the confidence will spread around the ground and regardless of what happens between Aston Villa and West Ham United, Everton will win the league within a league – as they deserve to.
The last few weeks may have seen us dip in form a little, but it should not take away from the fact it has been an absolutely magnificent season and, all being well, it will finish with us reclaiming a UEFA Cup place.
Sven did not spend well
OWNERSHIP of football clubs continues to be the hottest of topics and it is a joy to see that Everton are not in a mess like some rivals. Manchester City, have become a laughing stock again with the treatment of Sven Goran Eriksson but did he spend Thaksin Shinawatra’s money well? Not from where I’m sitting.
Personally, I’d rather have Everton’s foundations and values rather than someone in it for a quick buck, who will cause chaos on the way.
David Prentice: Statistics show the full story of Steven Gerrard & Steven Pienaar influence
May 9 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
FERNANDO TORRES is Liverpool's undoubted Player of the Season for the campaign just about to end. Indeed, but for a remarkable run of form from Cristiano Ronaldo he may even have been the Footballer of the Year. But when you analyse the stats for 2007/08, one figure jumps out and hits you with all the force of a John Arne Riise volley. Steven Gerrard is still the man Liverpool rely on the most. The Reds skipper has scored 21 times this season, helped by manager Rafa Benitez's decision to use him in a more advanced attacking role. But it's Gerrard's assists which are truly remarkable. In all competitions this season, Liverpool's captain has directly created 23 goals. That's twice as many as anyone else at Anfield. And added to the goals he has scored, that makes him responsible for more than half his side's goals output in 2007/08. Not bad for a man many reckon has been overshadowed by the Spanish striker. Across the park, there's another, even more unsung hero. Steven Pienaar spent a month of the season in Ghana at the African Nations Cup. Yet the little South African still produced the best assists return of anybody at Everton, and in his debut season in English football. Inventive, stylish and ambitious in his passing, his signing has been one of the unexpected high points of Everton's season. And if such a competition existed, he'd get my vote for the assist of the season for his beautifully inventive backheel which teed up Leon Osman for Everton's Goal of the Season against Larissa. There were other stand-out stats from this season's assists chart.
For the first time we had BOTH goalkeepers featuring. Tim Howard's monster punt against Sunderland was possibly intended as nothing more than an attempt to give Yakubu something to challenge for, but Pepe Reina's precise volley in a deadlocked home match with Fulham was stunning. It received the finish from Fernando Torres such deadeye distribution deserved. There were other anomalies, too. Sebastien Leto, it seems, wasn't totally hopeless. He contributed one key-pass in a Carling Cup tie at Reading before his season ending performance against Marseille. And Jermaine Pennant proved once again that he can still deliver defence-splitting passes even if consistency eludes him. But for a second season running, there was a worrying stat on the Liverpool chart. Two years ago, during a devastatingly impressive introduction to English football, Xabi Alonso strode across the Anfield turf like a latter day Jan Molby. His ability to dictate the tempo and direction of a match was one of the highlights of the season. But after seven assists in his debut season, there was just one the following campaign - and only one more this time round.
The stats seem to underline a diminishing influence Alonso has exerted on Liverpool’s fortunes – and perhaps explain the interest in Gareth Barry's signature.
Stats don't always deliver good news.
23 Steven Gerrard
11 Dirk Kuyt
8 Fernando Torres, Ryan Babel, Jermaine Pennant
7 Peter Crouch, Yossi Benayoun
5 Andriy Voronin, John Arne Riise
4 Harry Kewell
3 Javier Mascherano, Lucas Leiva
2 Alvaro Arbeloa, Sami Hyypia, Steve Finnan, Jamie Carragher, Fabio Aurelio
1 Sebastian Leto, Xabi Alonso, Pepe Reina
14 Steven Pienaar
10 Mikel Arteta 5 Victor Anichebe, Joleon Lescott
4 Andy Johnson, Phil Neville, Aiyegbini Yakubu, Lee Carsley, Tim Cahill
3 Thomas Gravesen, James McFadden, Leon Osman, Phil Jagielka, Joseph Yobo
1 Tony Hibbert, Leighton Baines, Tim Howard, Nuno Valente, Manuel Fernandes
Praising unsung heroes
EVERTON'S Shareholders Association rarely grabs the headlines - unless it's for night of the long knives style revolutions. But its current officials deserve the utmost praise. Desperate to ensure that Everton's name figured somewhere in the European Capital of Culture celebrations, they commissioned The Dixie Dean Story, a play which attracted full houses to its three shows. Then they ensured a national audience was also reminded of Dean's significance by arranging for the legendary centre-forward's great grandchildren to represent Everton as mascots at Arsenal last weekend. Anne Asquith, George Orr, and especially the indefatigable Paul Wharton, take a bow.
When BBC stalwart Ray was lost for words
RAY STUBBS is rarely at a loss for words. But the Beeb's solid and stolid anchorman was left dumbstruck by Everton Giant Gordon West on Wednesday night.
A giant now in every sense of the word, West marched up onto the St George's Hall stage and declared: "I played with you at Tranmere. You were a . . . ."
Well let's just say Stubbs probably prefers the description anchor.
The elevation of West into the ranks of Everton Giants, however, was just one of many the Blues got absolutely right at their third annual awards night. I was a member of the panel which selected the original Millennium Giants late in 1999, and it was an impossible task. Since then a number of greats from the 1980s have been added to the roster of legends. But Westy's contribution to the Blues cause is considerable.
Two title medals, an FA Cup, one shy of 400 appearances and countless clean sheets, his influence on one of the greatest Goodison teams of all time is often overlooked, perhaps understandably, in favour of the Ball-Harvey-Kendall triumvirate and his best pal, the late great Brian Labone. But on Wednesday night he was paid proper tribute.
Also honoured were Joleon Lescott, surely the only choice for Player of the Season, and Victor Anichebe (young player), while the achievements of the wonderful Everton Ladies were quite correctly recognised in the shape of the Howard Kendall Award.
One name notable by its absence from all of the shortlists on Wednesday night, however, was a man whose influence on Everton's fortunes is enormous - on and off the pitch. Yet again Lee Carsley's name has been linked with a move to pastures new this summer. Everton would be fools to let him go. He might not have picked up an award on Wednesday night, but Everton would be an infinitely less effective squad without him.
David Moyes: I will be at Everton next season
May 10 2008
DAVID MOYES has vowed to be in Everton’s dug-out for the first game of next season despite being unsure how deep his transfer war chest will be this summer.
There had been concerns in some quarters that Moyes, who has been at the helm for six years, would seek a fresh challenge this summer but he has moved to reassure supporters that will not be the case. Moyes’ current deal expires in June 2009 and though he has had talks with chairman Bill Kenwright over a new contract, the manager says a formal offer has yet to be made, even though discussions started several months ago. That, however, is not top of his priorities. He is more concerned about finding out how much money will be available to strengthen his squad when the transfer window re-opens and hopes to meet with Everton’s board before drawing a list of targets. “I am under contract here for another year, so I am preparing for next season,” he said. “I’m just waiting for clarification (on the available budget). As far as I am concerned, I will be here unless I am told different. “I want to find out what (money) is available. I just haven’t been given any indication yet. Until I know what is required, I can’t make plans but, as I said, I will be here at the start of next season. I would hope my situation would get sorted out soon too.” Kenwright told the Echo on March 3 that he would redress the situation about Moyes’ contract once the final ball of the season had been kicked but that has led to speculation about Moyes possibly leaving. But that, he insists, is not the case. “At the moment, I have not been offered a contract,” he said. “I can only wait until that time comes and see where we are. It’s important I find out what the club wants to do but there isn’t the possibility that this will be my final game at Goodison. “We (him and Kenwright) had a discussion about two months ago. That was the last time we spoke about it. We speak regularly. The game (against Newcastle) is the thing that is important.” The Blues only need a point to secure a place in next season’s UEFA Cup but their squad has been stretched to breaking point and Moyes wants to start making improvements as soon as he can.
“I have not been given any word on it,” he said. “The sooner I have an idea what I have to spend, the better. I don’t know what plans I am making at the minute. I don’t know whether I am planning to sign players of a lower value or what. “We have got an idea what we want to do. I’m just waiting to be given what the figure is. “They have been told a couple of months ago what it will take. I think it is important that you do get your players in as early as you can.”
Moyes won't let Blues fluff last day lines
May 10 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
IF there have been feelings of frustration or deflation recently, optimism and confidence should be the buzz words this weekend. A run of one win in eight games might mean Everton have limped towards the finishing line, but expect them to sprint across it tomorrow. To some, this may seem like tempting fate yet there is little chance of the Blues fluffing their lines when it matters. Those who attended the Blue Kipper awards evening at The Olympia on Thursday evening in their hundreds will vouch for that; a riotous, raucous affair, anyone who had fears that Everton might stumble against Newcastle United will have been assuaged by David Moyes.
While Everton legends Graeme Sharp, Kevin Sheedy, Dave Watson and Kevin Ratcliffe were in attendance with stalwarts Ronnie Goodlass and Matt Jackson, star of the show was Moyes, whose arrival on stage predictably raised the roof.
With the crowd hanging on his every word, Moyes detailed his plans for next season, how he hopes his side can develop and where they need to improve. Significantly, he declared this would be put into place ‘when’ not ‘if’ Everton secure fifth place at Goodison Park. Yet even if that happens, the question many outside the club – and, indeed, a number on the inside – will ask is simple: can he repeat the trick once again next season? After all, if you thought this campaign was competitive, the intensity is going to be ratcheted up again come August. Certainly, Moyes needs to invest in the squad and this is something he is acutely aware of. Plans are already afoot to bring new bodies in. Who, then, will be the rabbit he plucks out of the hat this summer to follow Tim Cahill, Mikel Arteta, Joleon Lescott and Phil Jagielka? “We do need to increase in numbers,” Moyes accepted. “Quality will always be first priority, but quantity is also required. I want us to be strong and I want us to progress and I think that we would need to have an even stronger squad from the start of this season.”
But will that necessarily open the door to the top four that Kevin Keegan believes is shut to the other 16 teams who contest the Premier League? It’s all very well saying that £50m or £60m needs to be spent yet where are the guarantees that such an amount will bring success? Tottenham, Aston Villa, Manchester City, West Ham United et al may well splash the cash yet the one thing none of those sides can match are the foundations that Everton have laid since Moyes has been in charge. That alone improves their prospects of maintaining a place in the top six and, at present, it is unthinkable that all of the above will leapfrog the Blues in the next 12 months, but Moyes’ only thoughts are how he noses ahead of the clubs in front of him.
One thing is for certain, and that is he will explore every avenue to ensure that happens. Everton have enjoyed great consistency in terms of their finishing positions in the last four seasons and Moyes will not accept this is the zenith of their ambitions.
“I can’t turn up at the start of next season believing we can’t be up there (in the top four),” said Moyes. “Even this season, until the beginning of March, we had a realistic chance. And if we could have got there it could have changed Everton for a long, long time. “We’re probably more ready now than we were three years ago, and if we’d got in I think we could have made the group stages. With the money that’s on offer we could have changed things. But it didn’t happen.” Only time will tell if it can happen in the future but, for the time being, Everton – a club who Arsene Wenger described as having “real momentum” last week – need to make sure they finish best of the rest. And, listening to Moyes, there is every reason to believe they will.
Blues fans get to live Goodison dream
May 10 20008 by Helen Hunt, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON fans will be living their dream as they run on to the hallowed turf at Goodison later this month. Twenty-eight Everton fans will visit the Blues’ home and come face-to- face with former Everton players as part of a charity Football Aid event.
The supporters secured their place successfully bidding online at ww.footballaid.com.
Former Everton players lined up for the event include Stuart Barlow.
Football Aid Chairman Craig Paterson said: “Since Football Aid was launched in 2001 more than 9,000 players have enjoyed the very unique experience that we offer.
“With the support of our successful bidders and our legends, we have been able to make donations to several charities and good causes around the UK.” Football Aid allows fans the chance to take part in the ultimate football experience. They get to pull on their favourite shirt, run onto the hallowed turf and play in the stadium of their dreams alongside their football heroes. All funds raised are distributed through Football Aid’s parent charity, Field of Dreams, towards diabetes research, education and management projects and charities nominated by the clubs involved.
The Everton charity match takes place on Thursday, May 15.
David Prentice: Everton deserve to crave such great expectations
May 12 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
TO borrow a line from Mr Dickens, a famous old Evertonian who knew how to craft a sentence or two: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Best of times?
Look at the league table. Everton have comfortably and deservedly claimed back-to-back UEFA Cup football for the first time in two decades. Add in the fourth place finish of 2005 and that’s the most consistent football some fans have ever witnessed at Goodison Park. It’s certainly the best since the glory days of the 80s. So why the worst of times? Because those glory days still act as an inspiration to Evertonians.
Because a club like Everton craves more. David Moyes has given Evertonians back their pride. But is this the summit of Everton’s ambition? Is the climb from sixth to fifth as far as The Toffees can realistically aspire? If a football man as romantic, as enthusiastic and as completely lacking in cynicism as Kevin Keegan can espouse that theory, should we all start to listen? Of course not. David Moyes quite correctly didn’t want to explore the possibilities for next season within minutes of this one having ended. He wanted to savour the achievement of a fifth placed finish for at least one night. But he already underlined his stance earlier in the week. “I think in a lot of ways Kevin’s right, but I don’t want to believe it and I’m not going to accept it,” he declared. “I can’t turn up at the start of next season believing we can’t be up there.”
Everton have upset the established order as recently as 2005, and that is why they will use this campaign as the platform for another sustained assault next season.
David Moyes believes he can part that seemingly unyielding Gang of Four at the top of the table. But he knows he needs a sizeable input of transfer money to do so.
He will get it. Maybe not the sums Kevin Keegan was talking about, but Bill Kenwright has never been backwards in coming forward and when the pair meet up at the end of the week a suitable compromise will be reached. The evidence of successful investment was out on the pitch yesterday. Yakubu arrived for £11m last summer, almost as an afterthought. With Johnson, Vaughan, McFadden and Anichebe already at the club, did Everton really need another goalscorer? The 21 goals the Nigerian has plundered is a telling answer. Only one of those strikes has come from the penalty spot – and that was just one of several sorry stats which went tumbling yesterday. The Blues finally won a last match of the season – the first time for a quite shameful 12 years. They at last learned what it was like to have a penalty kick awarded, 10 minutes from the end of the season. They will enjoy back to back UEFA Cup campaigns for the first time in 20 years.And in the imperious Joleon Lescott they had an outfield player featuring in every match for the first time since 1968/69, when Joe Royle was the ever-present goalpoacher. Moyes was in the mood to have a little fun at Lescott’s expense afterwards. “I’ll have to start setting him bigger targets,” he joked. “Maybe we’ll have to ask him to start scoring more stylish goals!”
He’d have done well to top yesterday’s finish, repositioning his feet smartly after the ball had flicked off Taylor’s head to precisely place a left-footed shot just inside the post. That goal was the very least Everton deserved after a dominant display.
Newcastle started prettily, but the Blues always looked the side that had something to play for. Lee Carsley underlined the difference in approach as early as the third minute. He was an odds against second favourite to reach a loose ball on the halfway line, yet stretched and strained every sinew to get there first. He did, just a little high and just a little late, and left Nicky Butt under no illusions just how badly Everton wanted this victory. Of course Carsley always plays his football this way.
He was the man ruled out for the best part of a season when he was injured in a meaningless last match at Bolton – after Everton had already secured fourth.
So it is sincerely hoped that the wave he gave to all four corners of Goodison when he was substituted three minutes from the end was not a farewell. Everton need players of his character and calibre. Everton should have had Europe wrapped up by half-time, but a combination of less than ruthless finishing, unorthdox goalkeeping and once again a decision by the match officials saw their lead a slender one.
With a predator like Michael Owen in the opposition ranks 1-0 leads are precarious, and it took Charles N’Zogbia just 30 seconds of the second half to tempt Yobo into sticking out a stray leg which he willingly toppled over. But the Blues showed character as well as resilience to come roaring back and 3-1 was the least they deserved. So, too, was fifth place.
But there are Evertonians out there, not totally grey just yet, who recall the days when silverware was paraded around Goodison Park, when fifth place was a disappointment not a celebration. But Everton are moving in the right direction. Let’s leave the final word to Kevin Keegan “If you write about Newcastle United today you want shooting,” he declared. “This is all about Everton. “They are an inspiration to everybody. They’ve invested wisely and finished fifth which is a terrific situation for any other club to aspire to. “They play for each other and they have a lot of very, very good professionals who are prepared to play out of position. “ You say if they can do it, why can’t we? “I’ve just seen Bill Kenwright walking down the tunnel and I’ve told him you should be a very proud man tonight. But watch out, because we want that fifth place. “Mind you, I’ll probably be sitting here next season and he’ll be laughing at me because they’ve finished fifth again.” Hopefully not. Let’s hope this is just a starting point for Everton Football Club.
England call for Phil Jagielka
May 12 2008
PHIL JAGIELKA capped a remarkable 12-month turnaround when he was called up by England for the summer friendlies against USA and Trinidad and Tobago.
The Everton defender was named in a 31-man squad by Fabio Capello almost 12 months to the day after enduring relegation with Sheffield United.
Since moving to Goodison Park the 25-year-old has become a regular at the heart of David Moyes’ defence and effectively replaces team-mate Joleon Lescott in the international squad. Lescott misses the two friendly fixtures to have treatment on his knee. England coach Capello is expecting all his big names to report for duty – but will be looking for a couple of untested youngsters to impress as well.
Capello’s past captains, Steven Gerrard and Rio Ferdinand, are both included for the friendlies on May 27 and June 1, respectively, along with potential skippers John Terry and Wayne Rooney, plus older heads like David Beckham and David James.
But it is the performances of the youth brigade that are likely to be of most interest.
After the rushed build-up to games against Switzerland and France, Capello now has the luxury of having the majority of his squad together for an extended period.
With the exception of nine players otherwise engaged at the Champions League final, Capello will have his squad together from May 21, meaning he will have nearly a fortnight to assess training and get his ideas across. As only three days are allocated for the get-together ahead of August’s encounter with the Czech Republic before the real action begins with World Cup qualifiers against Andorra and Croatia the following month, Capello knows the work he does now is vital. So, it is perhaps no surprise Manchester City and ex-Tranmere keeper Joe Hart and Spurs midfielder Tom Huddlestone are among those given a chance to impress. Hart, who was mercifully on the bench as City were crushed 8-1 at Middlesbrough yesterday, has been touted for an England call-up virtually since Capello was appointed. The 21-year-old has only been an Eastlands regular since the autumn after being elevated above Kasper Schmeichel and, significantly, Sweden international Andreas Isaksson by City boss Sven-Goran Eriksson. Eriksson abandoned plans to sign experienced back-up because of Hart’s performances and although the former England boss accepts his protege may make a few mistakes, he has compared him to David Seaman in the past. Huddlestone has also impressed at Tottenham during the latter half of the campaign and played a starring role in the club’s Carling Cup triumph over Chelsea. Although the burly midfielder took his time settling at White Hart Lane following his move from Derby in 2005, the 21-year-old is now firmly established under new coach Juande Ramos and seems to be prospering under the Spaniard’s guidance. Huddlestone’s team-mate Aaron Lennon and Chelsea wide-man Shaun Wright-Phillips are the notable exclusions from the squad.a squad lacking Micah Richards, Joleon Lescott and Matthew Upson through injury. Capello will hope the nine players on Champions League duty in Moscow on May 21 come through unscathed, particularly Wayne Rooney, who returned from a hip problem in Manchester United’s title-clinching win at Wigan. With the exception of goalkeeping duo Paul Robinson and Robert Green, Capello has stuck with the men involved against France, when Franck Ribery’s penalty condemned the coach to his first defeat. The opposition England are set to face over the next couple of weeks is not of the same taxing standard but Gabriel Agbonlahor, Theo Walcott and Ashley Young will be among those looking to put pressure on Rooney, who looked ill at ease as a lone striker against the French, and Michael Owen, who has finally hit form at Newcastle. Capello has given no insight into his likely captain against the USA, although it would be a major surprise if Terry was not offered the chance to lead his country again at least once more after taking the armband during the ill-fated Steve McClaren era. Indeed, while Terry could hardly be blamed for the Euro 2008 qualification disaster, the importance of England’s next two games is an end to itself rather than merely building up to bigger things this summer, proving how far Capello must take the Three Lions to fulfil the aim of reaching a major semi-final within the next four years.
David James (Portsmouth), Joe Hart (Man City), Chris Kirkland (Wigan), Wayne Bridge (Chelsea), Wes Brown (Man Utd), Ashley Cole (Chelsea), Rio Ferdinand (Man Utd), Phil Jagielka (Everton), Glen Johnson (Chelsea), John Terry (Chelsea), Stephen Warnock (Blackburn), David Wheater (Middlesbrough), Jonathan Woodgate (Tottenham), Gareth Barry (Aston Villa), David Beckham (LA Galaxy), David Bentley (Blackburn), Joe Cole (Chelsea), Stewart Downing (Middlesbrough), Owen Hargreaves (Man Utd), Tom Huddlestone (Tottenham), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Jermaine Jenas (Tottenham), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), Theo Walcott (Arsenal), Ashley Young (Aston Villa), Gabriel Agbonlahor (Aston Villa), Dean Ashton (West Ham), Peter Crouch (Liverpool), Jermain Defoe (Portsmouth), Michael Owen (Newcastle), Wayne Rooney (Man Utd)
David Moyes plots European road ahead after Bill Kenwright talks
May 12 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES will sit down with chairman Bill Kenwright at the end of this week and plot Everton's second consecutive assault on Europe. Yesterday's 3-1 win over Newcastle secured back-to-back UEFA Cup football for the first time in 20 years at Goodison Park. And Blues boss Moyes said he was "totally relaxed" about the looming talks with his chairman. "They've always supported me. They've always given me backing," he said. "Every manager wants to get as much as he can, and I'm no different. But I do think I've always been supported and I'll always be grateful for that. "When I took this job I knew that there were not vast sums of money.
"Maybe there's a lot of clubs looking and saying that's the way to go, but in the same breath you have to balance that out by having a good board who are going to give your manager some time. "We'll probably get together some time at the end of next week. No date has been set. "It will probably be Thursday or Friday, but I'm totally relaxed about it. "I'm more interested in the players today and how well they've performed. As a group I think they've got better." Moyes added: "Is it my most pleasing season? It's certainly one of them. But I always think the most pleasing season is still to come.
"I wanted to win the game today and reach 65 points. "Most seasons that would probably have got you a Champions League spot, but unfortunately it's not done this season. "Not only did we qualify for Europe but I think the supporters have realised that strides have been made to get to that points total. "The best we've had previously is 61 when we got to the Champions League qualifier. "So the players deserve an awful lot of credit - and not just the ones who are here today. Tim Cahill's not here, Mikel Arteta's not here, James Vaughan has played his part - so it's thank you to them all." Moyes picked out top scorer Yakubu for special praise after the striker reached his 20-goal target with a last day brace. "He's ended up with 21 goals, and only one has been a penalty kick which is an incredible total. "How important were those 21 goals to us this season? They might have been the difference to us finishing where we have or not. "He's been a vital player for us and a good player as well."
Everton 3 Newcastle 1
May 12 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
FUNNY how things change. There was a time, not so long ago, when a visiting manager would have left Goodison Park on the final day of the season, breathing easy at what he had left behind. Cast your mind back 10 years, for instance. Remember how the famous old ground shook to its rafters, as supporters ‘celebrated’ Everton avoiding the drop courtesy of a 1-1 draw against Coventry City. But would Gordon Strachan, Sky Blues’ boss that day, have spent his journey home yearning to swap places with Howard Kendall? No chance. He would have surveyed the club’s financial mess and a playing staff bereft of quality then thanked his lucky stars. Now, happily, fast forward to the present day and the opposite is true. Of course, Kevin Keegan’s bravado yesterday was as understandable as it was predictable but it’s a safe bet to say his overriding emotion was envy as opposed to optimism. “I saw Bill Kenwright as he was walking down the tunnel after the game and he was a very proud man,” said Keegan. “I told him he should be proud. But I also told him that we’re after that position next year, so enjoy it while you can.” Typical Keegan. But for all the money that Newcastle will throw at things this summer and for all the tub-thumping he will do to try and rouse this sleeping giant from its coma, Newcastle’s manager would surely love to be in David Moyes’ position. Having rubber-stamped their return to Europe in glorious fashion, the final 3-1 scoreline in no way reflecting Everton’s dominance over their opponents. Goodison rocked once again, just like it did that day in 1998. Unlike back then, though, it is impossible not to see Everton’s board building on the platform they have been given. They know, as do the players, fans and David Moyes, that they are not too far from smashing through the glass ceiling into the top four. After a shaky spell of form that had yielded just one unconvincing win from eight games, Everton - when it really mattered - were terrific, taking Newcastle apart in the style of a club that is going places fast and ending the best season under Moyes on a high. Yet there will be concerns in some quarters about what transfer business Tottenham Hotspur, Aston Villa, Manchester City and West Ham United are going to do. But why? Some many have more money but none have better foundations than the Toffees. That is why perspective will be needed in the next few weeks, particularly when the transfer window opens. If Everton do not get involved in the early auctions and players with whom they are linked end up elsewhere, pause before pushing the panic button. Something similar, after all, happened 12 months ago. Just after the final game of that campaign, an impressive 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge, certain fans were rattling like strings of worry beads that Everton would get left behind. When only Phil Jagielka had been added to the squad by the middle of July, concerns were even greater but look how things have turned out. Quite simply, it has been a remarkable campaign, one which every Blue can feely enormously satisfied about. Hand on heart, did you really envisage Everton coming as close to securing a place in the Champions League as they actually did? Could you have imagined that a team once lazily dubbed one dimensional would become one of the most exciting in the division to watch? The more games Everton played, the better they became and Moyes pinpointed his personal high of the campaign as being the period in mid-winter when the players’ swagger and style enabled him to sit back and relax. Bar one uncomfortable moment here - when Joseph Yobo needlessly tripped Charles N’Zogbia to give Newcastle a foothold back via Michael Owen’s penalty - he was able to enjoy things once again. This was what we have come to expect. In all honesty, Newcastle should have been dispatched long before Joleon Lescott capped his outstanding year with his 10th goal to settle any jangling nerves midway through the second half. Had the contest been over at half-time, there could have been no complaints. All they had to show, however, was an expertly taken header from Ayegbeni Yakubu, another who can feel thoroughly satisfied with his contribution, both in this game and everything he has done since arriving at the club. “How important have those 21 goals been for us?” asked Moyes, who raised eyebrows when spending £11.25m on Yakubu last August. “They may have just been the difference between finishing in this position and not. He has been a vital player for us.” He has indeed. And, given he missed pre-season, there is reason to feel Yakubu will get better again. Such a shame, then, he was denied a third hat-trick for the club by an eagle-eyed linesman, to stop him reaching the figure of 22 he set himself on arrival here. Still, at least he nonchalantly dispatched the penalty Everton had waited an eternity to be awarded in domestic combat - not even Mark Clattenburg would have refrained from pointing to the spot after Steven Taylor flattened Leon Osman. Yakubu aside, there were a number of other towering contributions. Lee Carsley and Phil Neville were immense, Steve Pienaar was a figure of perpetual motion on the right flank, while Manuel Fernandes provided the balls from which Yakubu and Lescott scored. This was his best performance in an Everton shirt since he returned in January, but is it too little too late? That is something only Moyes will know the answer to but it is a subject that will not be addressed immediately. For the moment, everyone deserves to reflect on their momentous efforts that took them to within 90 minutes of an appearance at Wembley and should have carried them further than the last 16 of the UEFA Cup. Rightly, the sound of china cups - filled with champagne - clinking reverberated around the home dressing room afterwards and many will dream that the end of season tipple in 12 months is taken from a silver one instead. Winning a cup really would set things off at Goodison but hold those thoughts, as first the priority is finding your passport - another European tour beckons.
Everton 3, Newcastle 1 - Post Match Analysis
May 12 2008 by Ian Doyle, Liverpool Daily Post
THE millionth fan to watch Everton this season was awarded a trip to Thailand yesterday. But for everyone else at Goodison, Europe remains the destination of choice. Fifth place and a second successive UEFA Cup qualification were ensured as David Moyes’s side signed off their campaign in emphatic style. The wobbles of recent weeks were banished from memory as resounding victory over Newcastle United showcased exactly why Everton can rightly claim the title of being ‘best of the rest’. It may have not have quite been the Champions League place that was reward for victory the last time the teams met in an end-of-season encounter three years ago. But the manner in which Everton achieved their goal of a first consecutive European qualification in 30 years encapsulated another encouraging 12 months for the Goodison Park outfit. The celebrations in the stands after the final whistle spoke volumes; with extended runs in the League and UEFA Cups, this has been a season of smiles for Evertonians. Moyes will now head into talks with chairman Bill Kenwright later this week armed with tangible evidence of further progress in the form of an improved league finish and a highest-ever Premier League points tally. However, both are acutely aware Everton are standing at a crossroads. Having guided his team to three top-six finishes in the last four years, Moyes knows major spending is required if the club are to realistically make that huge step towards shatter the top four’s stranglehold. Guaranteed European football will no doubt act as a significant lure for new arrivals – particularly with the summer recruitment drive concentrated overseas – but the fear is that once again the Goodison manager will spend much of the transfer window working under tight financial constraints. Last year, of course, there was the surprise late deal to smash the club transfer record on Yakubu, and how the Nigerian’s subsequent impact has justified that significant outlay. Having been stuck on 19 goals since March, the Nigerian finally became the first Everton player since Peter Beardsley in 1991-92 to score 20 with the opener on 28 minutes. Yakubu’s second was as notable a landmark, it coming from the spot with Moyes’s side forced to wait until eight minutes from the end of the season to be awarded a first Premier League penalty. Better late than never. It was somehow apt that Yakubu and Joleon Lescott, Everton’s top scorer and player of the season respectively, should be on the mark yesterday. Yakubu’s brace sandwiched a 10th goal of the season for Lescott, the defender achieving the target set by Moyes to underline the importance he has assumed in two years at the club. A series of injections to treat his troublesome right knee await; Lescott, though, will be back. Even the brief setback of Michael Owen’s 47th-minute equaliser could not deter Everton, who were by far the more vibrant throughout and were committed to ending on a high note, even though nearest rivals Aston Villa’s failure to win at West Ham United ultimately made the outcome academic. Moyes’s squad rebuilding has already begun. Thomas Gravesen, Anthony Gardner and Stefan Wessels are definitely leaving while the futures of Manuel Fernandes and Lee Carsley remain uncertain. The ovation to Carsley by both fans and team-mates on his late substitution hints the midfielder may have played his last in a blue shirt, while Fernandes’s improvement over the last fortnight may not be enough to warrant a third spell at Goodison Park. But given the impact of their absence at various periods during the past two months, it’s clear the creative burden must be eased on Mikel Arteta, Steven Pienaar and, to a lesser extent, Leon Osman. The loss of the inspirational Tim Cahill, a driving force who perfectly complements the 4-5-1 formation favoured by Moyes, was another savage blow, robbing Everton of the surprise, attacking element from an otherwise steady if often unspectacular central midfield. That poor fortune with injury continued at the weekend, Tony Hibbert and Andrew Johnson the latest to miss out and allow recalls for Yakubu and Victor Anichebe. And the strike pairing were heavily involved as Everton should have been out of sight by half-time. Newcastle manager Kevin Keegan, who later expressed his desire for his club to follow the successful example set by Moyes’s side, decried the Premier League this week as being “boring” but it’s never dull for the home fans when the Magpies come to visit. Yakubu had already signalled his intent with a 20-yard shot just wide following a clever shimmer away from Nicky Butt and Alan Smith when he made the breakthrough on 28 minutes. Damien Duff was cautioned for blatantly impeding Pienaar and, from the subsequent free-kick on the right, Yakubu lost the attention of young Andrew Carroll to powerfully head home Fernandes’s delivery. The Nigerian was then denied a second minutes later after Joleon Lescott was contentiously flagged offside when heading back for Yakubu to head home as Everton battered the visitors. Fernandes drew a save from Steve Harper after being released by an outrageous backheel from Anichebe, who then saw the Newcastle goalkeeper almost fumble his tame shot into the net before Joseph Yobo wastefully headed over Phil Neville’s fine cross. It was a shock, then, when Newcastle equalised moments into the second half. Charles N’Zogbia’s direct, forceful run through the heart of the Everton defence was eventually ended by Yobo’s foul inside the area and Owen slotted home under the body of the diving Tim Howard, denying the goalkeeper the chance to equal Neville Southall’s club record of 15 clean sheets in a Premier League season. The pattern of play, however, remained unchanged, Everton’s desire undimmed as Harper twice did well to repel dangerous free-kicks from Fernandes. Anichebe then capitalised on a total misjudgement from Newcastle substitute Claudio Cacapa but his cross was too strong for Yakubu to reach before Everton eased the growing nerves inside Goodison by retaking the lead 20 minutes from time. After Owen fouled Carsley on the right, the Everton man quickly fed Fernandes to deliver a cross into the box that Steven Taylor succeeded only in glancing to the feet of Lescott at the far post, who made no mistake. Harper then saved brilliantly from Anichebe after Yakubu’s through-ball with the latter then grabbing his second eight minutes from time from the spot after the hapless Taylor upended a rampaging Osman. That lucky fan in the Top Balcony can now look forward to Bangkok. For everyone else, the likes of Bremen, Basel, Belgrade and Bratislava will do very nicely.
Lee Carsley hails high five Everton
May 12 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
LEE CARSLEY hailed Everton's "fantastic" achievement of winning the league within a league - but refused to say whether he has played his last game in a Blue shirt. Everton will play in the UEFA Cup once again next season after beating Newcastle United 3-1 at Goodison to secure fifth place and, once again, Carsley played an enormous role. He was given a standing ovation by a capacity crowd and, with Derby County desperate to sign him, many assumed that David Moyes’ decision to substitute him before the final whistle gave him an opportunity to say goodbye.
Having made 198 appearances for the Blues, Carsley is uncertain whether he will reach his double century but that decision can wait as, first of all, he has important business to attend to this week with his son Connor, who was born with Down’s Syndrome. “I have got an activity week planned with Connor and then, after that, I will speak to the gaffer,” said the popular Carsley. “I’ll have to see what his plans are. He may want to bring three or four midfielders in. “But no player is that important to this team. If I went, someone else would come in and be just as good, if not better. Leaving Everton is not a decision I would make lightly. I have loved it here. I think the fans have loved having me here as well. “I have been successful here and in the seven seasons I have had here, four times we have finished in the top seven. That’s obviously going to have a big bearing on what happens during the summer.”
Carsley, like many others, is convinced that Everton are the verge of achieving something significant and believes their vibrant performance against Newcastle was the perfect way to end a campaign that has left him emotionally drained.
“We deserve to finish fifth and it is a fantastic achievement,” said Carsley. “We have come such a long way but we want it to continue.” “They say if you work hard enough you get your just rewards and I think we have deserved that. There was always going to be a spell where we hit a brick wall and we did after the Fiorentina game but it would have a shame to let it slip. But we didn’t.” Everton finished the campaign with a club record Premier League points total and bettered their sixth place finish of 12 months ago, but Carsley knows that Moyes will now be gearing his thoughts to improving again next year. “I have always said that this club deserves European football every year and we are delighted to have qualified again,” he said. “We have gone one better than last season but now I’m sure the gaffer will want to go one better again. “It was one of those games where if they had scored four, we would have scored five. “We were in control and never really under any threat. The fans were unbelievable again and really made some special nights for us.”
Phil Jagielka's joy at England call
May 13 2008 EXCLUSIVE by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
PHIL JAGIELKA admitted to being "over the moon" after his terrific first season as an Everton player was given the thumbs-up by Fabio Capello. Hours after the defender had helped Everton secure a return to Europe with a 3-1 win over Newcastle United, Capello named Jagielka in his 31-man squad for England’s summer friendlies against the United States and Trinidad & Tobago. Not surprisingly, Jagielka, who was capped at ‘B’ level by former head coach Steve McClaren 12 months ago, has spent the last 48 hours sporting a huge smile and is now counting down the days until he reports for duty at The Grove Hotel in Hertfordshire. Initially, though, Jagielka thought he was the victim of a hoax, as the first message he received came from Leon Osman, who has a reputation among some of his team-mates for being a prankster.
“I went out with my family for a meal after the game and when I checked my phone afterwards there were a stack of messages waiting,” said Jagielka. “The first one I read was from Ossie saying ‘congratulations, you’re in the England squad’. “Normally when you get something like that from him it means he’s winding you up. But the next one I had was from a secretary at the FA to tell me I had been called up. Naturally, I was over the moon and it’s put the gloss on a great year. “I suppose I’ve had a decent time of things in the second half of the season but I still didn’t expect it. I suppose it will be a bit nerve racking when I meet up with the squad at first but hopefully it will be fine once I settle down. “It’s a shame that Phil (Neville) and Joleon (Lescott) aren’t involved, but they’ve both spoken to me and wished me all the best. They’re buzzing for me and it should be a fantastic experience.” Though Jagielka endured a sticky start to his career on Merseyside after last summer’s £4m move from Sheffield United, his progress since David Moyes switched him to play as a central defender has been relentless. Winning a first senior cap at Wembley would, he says, be a “dream” finale to the campaign and provided further vindication, if it was needed, that moving to Goodison Park has taken his career up another level.
“The victory at the weekend was a fantastic way to end things,” he said. “When I came here, I wanted to test myself by playing in Europe and at the top end of the Premier League and after being called up last year, England is always at the back of your mind. “I suppose you have got more of a chance of being picked out if you are part of a top five team that is performing well. We finished the season in style and we’ll all come back on the first day of pre-season raring to go again. “There are too many people to thank for helping me. The lads kept my spirits up when I wasn’t playing but then there is the Gaffer, Taffy (Andy Holden), the physios, the kit men. It’s just great to be a part of the Everton family.”
Nigel Martyn: Best of the rest is a top achievement
May 13 2008 by Nigel Martyn, Liverpool Echo
IT’S an old saying but it continues to stand the test of time. The league table doesn’t lie and, now that the final ball has been kicked, it shows Everton had a magnificent season. Every plaudit and accolade that comes the way of the management and players is fully deserved and there was no better way to finish things off than with a stylish, slick success against Newcastle. And don’t for one moment underestimate what has been achieved. We would all love to be reflecting today on a successful title challenge, but finances dictate these days that you have to cut your cloth accordingly.
The top four clubs will always have the most money, therefore can attract the better players, so for Everton to emerge as best of the rest without spending the vast quantities of others is a terrific achievement. If you were to look at every squad in the Premier League, would you say that Everton’s was fifth best? Possibly not. So the reason they have finished in that position should be quite clear – it’s down to good management and committed players. Take it from me, David Moyes has got every last drop out of the lads and that has ensured there have been a number of highlights in the past nine months. Personally, I would say the experience of being in Europe was the best. Playing regularly in the UEFA Cup has helped develop the club and there is no harm at all in having another campaign in the competition when we kick back into action just 14 weeks from now. The question now, though, will be centred around who the manager brings in to improve the squad. First, it would be nice to get his contractual issues boxed off . Then he can go shopping. There is no doubt he will have already made plans and drawn up a list of potential targets and I know from experience how thorough he is before committing himself – when David signed me, he spoke to five different judges before proceeding with the deal.
He won’t buy anyone just for the sake of it and any new recruit will have to be able to improve things. Who knows? Maybe he will pull another rabbit from the hat like he did with Tim Cahill, Tim Howard and Joleon Lescott. Whatever happens, every Evertonian can enjoy their summer and feel justifiably proud of their team. There have been many wonderful adventures this season and, please God, there will be many more to come.
Jags has earned England call
MANY players will be thinking about holiday destinations now, but for Phil Jagielka the hard work continues for a few more weeks. Mind you, he won’t be complaining. His call-up to the England squad has been fully deserved and it goes to show that if you are consistent in the Premier League, your chance will come. While some players may have been fortunate to win call-ups under different regimes, it’s clear that Fabio Capello does not hand out places in his squad just for the fun of it; Phil should be assured that he is in on merit. His progress this year has been so pleasing to see and he has won over those who doubted him early on emphatically. As long as he maintains the same kind of attitude, I don’t expect this call up will be his last.
I'll be shouting for Weir
I’VE never had any particular allegiance to clubs north of the border but Rangers will have my full support tomorrow evening. Of course, like every Evertonian, I will watch Rangers play Zenit St Petersburg in the UEFA Cup final and think what might have been but, fingers crossed, David Weir can pick up a winner’s medal. You would struggle to find a nicer guy or a better professional in the game than ‘Peas’ and nobody would begrudge him the success that has come his way with Rangers. Victory in a European final, then, would gloss a magnificent career.
Leighton Baines in ankle operation
May 14 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
LEIGHTON BAINES has become the latest Everton player to undergo surgery in a bid to finally rectify a long-standing ankle problem. The left-back has endured a difficult first season at Goodison Park, with niggling injuries restricting him to just 18 starts following his £6m move from Wigan. He also made another 11 appearances as a substitute. Having arrived with a groin injury, Baines also tore his hamstring in the 3-0 win over Fulham last December but his main problem has been damage to his left ankle, sustained following a crude challenge by Derby’s Darren Moore on October 28.
That initially sidelined him for six weeks and though the 23-year-old battled his way back to fitness, the injury never truly healed and surgery – which was first mooted back in January but postponed due to Everton’s lack of numbers – became inevitable.
He underwent the operation on Monday but will be fit for pre-season training, when the Blues report back to Finch Farm in the first week of July as the recovery time is between six and eight weeks. Given that he had previously enjoyed exemplary fitness during his time with Wigan, the last six months have been hugely frustrating for Baines but he has done his best to take as many positives from the situation as possible. “I have never really had an injury like that,” he said. “I’ve only ever really missed the odd game over the last two years, so it was frustrating to pick it up when I did. “It’s been a difficult season, different from anything I have ever experienced. You just have to make sure you use it to your advantage. It’s been challenging mentally.
“Hopefully, with a summer to rest and recuperate, the ankle will heal completely in time for the new season and I’ll be able to start afresh.” Mikel Arteta (stomach), Tim Cahill (foot) and James Vaughan (knee) have also had operations in the past couple of months, while Joleon Lescott had an injection in his knee on Monday that means he needs six weeks’ rest. But, like Baines, they should all be ready for action in July.
Meanwhile, Manuel Fernandes is just one of a number of options David Moyes is considering as he starts to plan how he will strengthen Everton’s squad during the close season. Fernandes enjoyed his best performance during his second spell at the club in Sunday’s 3-1 win over Newcastle and Moyes may take him on loan for another 12 months, though Steve Sidwell of Chelsea and Hereenveen’s Michael Bradley are also under consideration. Midfield is the manager’s top priority yet, having released Stefan Wessels and Anthony Gardner, Moyes also needs a new goalkeeper to provide cover for Tim Howard, as well as an extra central defender.
Tickets for Blues night
May 14 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
A TRIO of Everton legends will gather at the Mayflower Pub in Bootle Strand on Thursday, June 19, for a Royal Blue evening tagged ‘The Three Prodigal Sons of St Domingo’s School of Science’. Gordon West, Derek Temple and Alan Whittle are the special guests. Tickets, including supper, cost just £10 and are available from the pub itself or on 0151 933-5995.
Everton board can land us top signings - Joleon Lescott
May 15 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
JOLEON LESCOTT backed Everton's board to make the right investments this summer that will help the Blues mount an attack on the top four. Everton set a new club record for points amassed in a Premier League season during the most recent campaign (65) and Lescott – the club’s player of the year – believes they have real momentum behind them. Having finished sixth and fifth in the two years he has been at Goodison Park, Lescott feels a couple of high quality signings between now and August can help Everton take the next step forward. He has seen Everton’s board consistently push the boat out to back David Moyes and does not expect that to change now, particularly as last Sunday’s 3-1 win over Newcastle United provided a timely reminder of the football they can produce. “We finished the season on a real high which was important,” said Lescott. “We had been up there most of the year, so we deserved to hang on to fifth place. It’s probably been the best season I’ve experienced, personally. “Over the past three or four years, the club have shown that they are willing to progress by strengthening the squad and if we can do that during the summer, we will be looking to get fourth place this time next year. “We know it is going to be hard but if we can have a season like the one just gone, I don’t think too many people will complain. If we could get to a cup final and finish fifth, I think that would be better than finish fourth and not winning something.” In normal circumstances, Lescott would have now been looking forward to two England internationals against the United States and Trinidad & Tobago but he had an injection in his knee on Monday that requires him to rest for six weeks.
However, the 25-year-old has stressed that there is no major problem to worry about and already he is looking forward to when Everton reconvene at Finch Farm in July following their summer break. “It’s a shame to miss those friendlies but I played 59 games this season, including for England, but it’s nothing major,” said Lescott. “I’ll be ready to go again on the first day of pre-season. The medical staff and management reckon I just need some rest. “It’s not an injury or because my knee has flared up. All I needed was a strengthening injection. I know that it will be fine. All the lads were saying after Sunday that they can’t wait to get back and if we can get a few additions, who knows what we can achieve?” Meanwhile, Nuno Valente has officially put pen-to-paper on a 12-month contract extension. The Portuguese defender joined the Blues in August 2005 and, even though he has not played a huge amount, his experience is considered vital.
UEFA Cup winners Zenit St Petersburg have a debt of thanks to Everton
May 15 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
THERE is no other frustration in life like wanting something so badly, being able to see it, but knowing you simply can't get your hands on it. If it was not bad enough for David Moyes to have a sense of what might have been gnaw away at him since March 12 - the date Everton had their hearts broken by Fiorentina - that misery was exacerbated last night at the City of Manchester Stadium. Moyes knew - just like every other Evertonian - that, rather than being shacked up in the comfort of a television studio, he should have been prowling around a technical area, barking out orders and cajoling the Blues towards their first major trophy since 1995.
Imagine, then, what was going through Moyes’ mind when he was sat within touching distance of the UEFA Cup? The only thing needed to compound his misery was for Jim Bowen to pipe up and say “Here, David, have a look at what you could have won”. Of course, you can’t say for sure that had Lady Luck favoured Everton in the penalty lottery against Fiorentina they would have had a final tussle with Zenit St Petersburg. After all, the Toffees’ interest in this competition ended with four flights to jump. But, one thing you can say for certain, though, is that Everton’s presence would have made for an infinitely better spectacle than the one Zenit and an astonishingly one-dimensional Glasgow Rangers side produced. While it was a truly remarkable achievement to get to Manchester, with greatest respect to the men from Ibrox, it remains a mystery how they actually did it. Then again, the UEFA Cup is a most peculiar competition. Consider this. Zenit lost three times on their way to the final, Rangers never scored in the last four, yet the Blues won eight of their 10 matches. Work that out. Is it any wonder that Moyes, his players and supporters continue to ache with frustration? What’s more, the man whose presence illuminated what would otherwise have been an absolutely turgid encounter ended up paying a back-handed compliment to Everton for the role they played in helping Zenit out.
Much of what these sides produced was forgettable but in, Andrei Arshavin, Zenit had the one man capable of sprinkling stardust on proceedings with deft passing, wonderful vision and thrilling runs. Yet even he acknowledged that Zenit owed Everton, who beat the Russians 1-0 at Goodison last December – a debt of gratitude. After all, had Moyes not led his side to a 3-2 win in Alkmaar before Christmas, Arshavin and Co would have been out of Europe. “The most dramatic night for us at Zenit, when we were already on vacation, was sitting waiting for the result between AZ Alkmaar and Everton as that was going to decide our fate,” said Arshavin.
“Nothing is more annoying or frustrating when you depend on something or someone you cannot influence. So that (Everton winning) was our lucky moment. We were really fortunate to stay in the competition.” How they made the most of that good fortune. But to say they were lucky winners would be wide of the mark. Having ruthlessly dismantled Bayern Munich in the semi-finals 5-1 on aggregate, Zenit outclassed Rangers. Skipper Anatoily Tymoshuck caught the eye, as did Igor Denisov - scorer of the first goal - but nobody came close to outshining Arshavin. Should Moyes follow up his initial interest in the midfielder, every rouble it would take to get him would be well spent. Rightly, most Blues will spend the summer dreaming of Moyes making Arshavin his stellar signing, but spare a thought for the man who he succeeded as manager and another who captained Everton with great distinction.
Walter Smith and David Weir, typically, treated this crushing defeat with the same humility they would have shown in victory, and surely few people in these parts would begrudge seeing them complete a clean sweep of medals north of the border?
One final thought. In the last five years, Manchester has staged two European finals, so isn’t it about time that both clubs in this area got cracking with their plans to build two new arenas to be in within a chance of hosting such an event? There could have been no more appropriate time than 2008 for Liverpool to put on, say, the UEFA Cup final. Hopefully, five years from now, something will have been done to change that.
Joleon Lescott's reward is double delight
May 15 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
JOLEON LESCOTT became only the second double winner of the Everton Disabled Supporters Association's Player of the Year award. The Blues defender followed David Weir as a two-time winner of the trophy. But in the 13th year of the presentation being made, the ceremony was beset by bad luck. EDSA chairman Steve Heneghan explained: “Since 1995 EDSA has traditionally presented their Player of the Year Trophy to the winning player before the last home game of the season.
“And it is with great thanks to Everton that we have been allowed to continue this proud tradition. “But we decided to stick with tradition, rather than join the annual St George’s Hall Player of the year Awards, and that’s when things started to go wrong.
“EDSA normally have their presentation on the pitch at the half way line and had done so for the previous 12 seasons. “However, even though we have disabled places all around the ground we decided that on this occasion we would hold it on the pitch at the Gwladys Street End in front of EDSA’s new disabled enclosure as this also gave us direct access on to the pitch. “It is also the general consensus that most Evertonians are born and christened in the Street End and therefore we knew that they would give the winner of the EDSA Trophy a great reception. “As usual, we had prepared a speech that should have been read out over the tannoy system at Goodison Park by EFC’s public announcer. “Unfortunately, for the first time in 13 years he failed to do so, and this wasn't the only thing to go wrong on the day. “The official photographer failed to show. I gave my camera to a member of the presentation team to try and capture the moment, only to find out that when I got home there was no memory card in the camera. Another member had a drained battery on his phone so could not take any photos. “However, as Evertonians we have that built in ‘never say die’ attitude and we managed to retrieve one photograph to mark the occasion.” On Lescott’s selection as Player of the Year, Heneghan added: “The votes have shown that EDSA members feel this player has arguably been Everton’s ‘Mr Consistency’ throughout this season. “His willingness to work hard for his team mates does him credit. His commitment has never been less than 100 per cent and, as Evertonians, that’s all we ask of our players.”
The jury: Our jurors give their verdict on Everton's season
May 15 2008, Liverpool Echp
WHAT a fantastic season for the Blues with finishing fifth.
There have been many highs including our European tour, especially Nuremberg with thousands of Evertonians taking over the city. The atmosphere at the Fiorentina home leg was amazing and almost got us through. Reaching the semi-final of the Carling Cup was great. The 7-1 thumping of Sunderland was a great day too and not to forget the Yak’s 21 goals. He has certainly been fed well! The lows have been few with the Fiorentina away game featuring highly, the performance and the way that we were treated by the Italian police was terrible. The other low is the Oldham FA Cup game, although it probably turned out to be a blessing as a good cup run would have drained our small squad even further. Looking ahead to next season, it would be great if we could finish in the top four maybe at the expense of our neighbours and maybe winning a bit of silverware too! With a few additional players, it is possible to continue our progress under the great David Moyes. LEE MOLTON, St Helens ANOTHER season over, and one of our best since the 1980s. I said in the summer I was worried about the depth of our squad, and thought any kind of run in Europe could harm our chances of qualifying again. A League Cup semi final and last 16 of the UEFA Cup later, and we managed to finish even higher than last season, and picked up more points than we did when we finished fourth in 2005. There is no doubt at all that this season has been a successful one, and next season promises to be better thanks to our growing European experience. The only real blot has been our performances against the top 4. One point from 8 games shows where it went wrong. The many highlights included memorable away wins at Spurs, City and West Ham twice, the 7-1 thumping of Sunderland, and that magic trip to Nuremberg. That sense of something special brought about by the European and League Cup runs were the highlights in a memorable season. DEBBIE SMAJE, Upholland SUNDAY showed why we have done so well in the league this season. We now have a team capable of dominating matches, which is something that I haven’t seen from an Everton team before. The consistency of certain players has also been a huge part of this year’s success; most notably Joseph Yobo, Joleon Lescott and Phil Jagielka. Next year we should be challenging for a top four place until the very end of the season. That is the standard that has been set this year. However, I think that it will depend on how much the squad is strengthened in the summer. A right-back is a necessity, a naturally left-sided midfielder would make a difference, and we also need a midfielder who can take a game by the scruff of the neck and bring us back into contention when we are struggling. Although there has been a lot of memorable moments this season, especially in Europe, My own personal highlights were the 7-1 thrashing of Sunderland and the game in Nuremburg. More of the same please lads. COLE FRASER, Litherland AFTER the season we have had, it would have been unfair for us not to finish in fifth place, especially when we occupied fourth for a long period too! With two fantastic cup runs and a consistent performance in the league, with the exception of the last few weeks, we can hopefully see this more often. The only negatives from the season were losing Tim Cahill and to Oldham but Cahill will be back to his best come next season.
MICHAEL DRUMMOND, Speke
Nuno Valente signs new Everton deal
May 15 2008 By Ian Doyle, Liverpool Daily Post
NUNO VALENTE has officially extended his stay at Goodison – as Leighton Baines became the latest Everton player to go under the knife. Valente put pen to paper yesterday after both the player and club decided to activate a clause in the defender’s contract to keep him at Everton for another 12 months. The 33-year-old was signed from Porto for £1.5million three years ago on the recommendation of his former manager, Jose Mourinho. Valente has since made 58 appearances, although only 14 came last season with the left-back hampered by injury. Nevertheless, David Moyes was keen to retain the Portugal international for his experience, particularly in European competition.
Everton chairman Bill Kenwright and manager David Moyes in summit meeting
May 16 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES was due in London today for his end of season summit with Bill Kenwright. The Everton manager, who described himself as being “totally relaxed” about the meeting after last Sunday’s 3-1 win over Newcastle United, will discuss a number of issues with his chairman, ranging from his own contract to squad strengthening. Kenwright has always supported Moyes in the transfer market and promised in March that he would sit down and talk terms with Moyes on a new deal once the final ball of the campaign had been kicked. Moyes’ current deal expires in June 2009 but there had been some speculation that he was considering his future, however the 45-year-old reassured supporters last week that he would be in the dugout for the first game of next season. His only concerns centre around how much money he will receive during the summer, as he aims to strengthen a squad that will once again be battling on four fronts next season. Tim Cahill, meanwhile, has given an early indication that he will be fit and ready for the big kick-off in August after a successful operation to mend the fifth metatarsal in his left foot, which he broke three times in the space of 12 months. The Australian international last played in the 1-1 draw with West Ham United on March 22 and flew home last month to undergo the procedure with a top specialist. He is still on crutches but is happy with how things are progressing. “Everything is right on schedule,” said Cahill. “I have seen the specialists again, and they let me go in the swimming pool. I had a long session which was pretty tiring. The swelling has gone down, and everything looks really good.”
Cahill, who scored 10 goals in 28 appearances, was operated on a fortnight ago, first suffered the injury in March 2007 then had a setback in a pre-season friendly against Werder Bremen but he insists he did not take any risks coming back so soon.
“If I had to sit out a whole season to get the foot right I would have,” he said. “But I’m very passionate about football and I don't like to sit on the sidelines. I understood what was going to happen. “I played 28 games, scored 10 goals, played in the UEFA Cup again and helped my club finish in Europe again. I've got six years of football left. I can whinge about it then when I’ve finished. It is going to be hard work but nothing is going to stop me coming back. “The aim is to fix the problem for good. I’ve missed a lot of football and I'm determined to do whatever it takes to prevent another recurrence.”
Charity Everton fans play match of a lifetime at Goodison Park
May 16 2008 by Vicki Kellaway, Liverpool Echo
THESE passionate Evertonians played the match of a lifetime - 90 minutes at Goodison Park. The Blues fans were all supporting the charity Football Aid when they made their debut at the ground in Goodison Road. They bought, bid for or raised sponsorship for a place on the team – then walked down the tunnel to the sound of a roaring crowd. All the money raised from the match was distributed by Football Aid to diabetes research, education and management projects. The money also goes to charities nominated by the clubs who participate in the game. More than 350 games involving more than 9,000 players have been played at UK grounds since Football Aid began.
Everton season review: The heights of endeavour
May 16 2008 Dominic King
NOTHING gives greater satisfaction than changing people's perception of you, so it is with good reason that David Moyes should look back proudly on Everton’s season.
Having finished the 2006-07 campaign on a high by clinching a place in the UEFA Cup, there was a school of thought outside the city boundaries – and some parts within, too – that the extra demands of competing on four fronts would cost the Blues dearly. Then again, it was easy to see why these judgements were formed. Recent history showed that a good season under Moyes would be followed by an indifferent offering, so here was the point when Everton would dip again. Thankfully, the ‘yo-yo’ club, as some had labelled them, enjoyed a thoroughly deserved second season on the up, outstripping the previous year’s achievements by improving in every area possible.
More goals were scored (55 compared to 52), fewer were conceded (33 as opposed to 36), four more matches were won (19) and, most significantly of all, a club record Premier League points haul of 65 secured a deserved fifth place finish.
Add into the equation that the Toffees came within a whisker of securing a place at Wembley in the Carling Cup and enjoyed a European adventure that is still being talked about now, it’s safe to say early expectations and predictions were exceeded.
Strangely, however, lurking in the back of many minds is the thought that things could, and maybe should, have been even better. Who is to say what would have happened had Everton not lost to Fiorentina in a crushing penalty shoot-out?
What would have happened had Joleon Lescott – Player of the Season – not put through his own net in the dying seconds of the first leg of the Carling Cup semi-final against Chelsea? Maybe today we would have been reflecting on Moyes’ first trophy.
Add into the equation that the Blues’ push for a Champions League spot ran out of gas at just the wrong time and you will see why there are some who are left slightly rueful about events in the second half of the campaign. That said, don’t for one minute think there are grounds for complaint. When Wigan Athletic arrived at Goodison Park on August 19 who on earth could have envisaged some of the highs Everton experienced? From the roller-coaster evening in Kharkiv, to a carnival in Nuremberg, the 7-1 drubbing of Sunderland, a plethora of last minute goals and the dismantling of Manchester City, the Blues were, in the main, hugely entertaining.
Perhaps it is this aspect that will give Moyes most fulfilment during his summer holiday – the brand of football his side plays has improved dramatically; no longer can Everton be described as a one-dimensional team who require energy and brute force to earn results. Sure, the relentless work ethic that the manager demands is still there but, with craftsmen like Steven Pienaar, Mikel Arteta and Leon Osman in the ranks, Moyes remains true to the club’s fabled ‘School of Science’ values.
He also now has a striker who can be relied on when the chips are down. Eyebrows may have been raised when £11.25m was invested in Ayegbeni Yakubu last August but, with 21 goals, the Nigerian answered his critics in the best possible fashion.
Where, though, do Everton go from here? Is there a way next season that Moyes can eke further improvement from a bunch of players who are already performing at their optimum to get them into fourth place? First things first. It is imperative that the manager puts an end to the cryptic way he has been dealing with questions over his future and agrees terms about extending his stay at Goodison. A deal has been waiting for his signature since last autumn. Once that is done, he needs to appoint an assistant to share the workload – that, in all likelihood, will be Steve Round – then Moyes can start the task of strengthening his squad as there is no doubt injuries stretched the current batch to breaking point late on. He needs cover at right-back, a central midfielder with stature who can pass the ball (what Moyes would do for Michael Carrick) and, if possible, a player with the ability to turn a game on its head in the blink of an eye. Andrei Arshavin, anyone? Another area where Everton need to improve next year is against the sides who finished above them – one point from the 24 available from Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal was an abysmal return. Belief holds the key to changing that around. Inevitably, expectations will increase, but don’t expect Moyes to be daunted by the challenge. If anything, the pressure of trying to repeat his feat of 2005 will act as an inspiration.
"I think the pressure was greater when I took over and I was trying to keep Everton out of the bottom six," said Moyes. "It was definitely worse then. Is there a difference between now and then? You would have to say there is. "I feel more relaxed now. But maybe that comes with experience and being in the job a bit longer. I think that is also down to the players that I have here. I trust them and I have a great deal of belief in what they can do. "Rest assured we will be doing our utmost to make our team stronger and better equipped. I feel we have had a very good season. Our football has improved, as has the form of individuals." Now, when August comes, the task will be for them to do it all over again. But there is every reason to believe they will. Why? Simple. Everton have changed perceptions.
Taking Sunderland apart - had it finished 10-1 there could have been no complaints.
The ovation Everton’s squad was given when they left their hotel in Nuremberg.
Tim Cahill’s bicycle kick against Chelsea.
Ayegbeni Yakubu’s infectious smile after every goal he scored.
Playing in Europe.
Mark Clattenburg and Alan Wiley. No explanation is needed.
The catastrophic first 30 minutes in the Anfield derby.
Joleon Lescott’s own goal in the Carling Cup semi-final.
Losing on penalties to Fiorentina.
Tim Cahill breaking his metatarsal once again.
PLAYER OF THE SEASON
Imperious throughout, played in every game, scored a remarkable 10 goals and graduated to win five England caps. Edges out the ultra consistent Tim Howard and Lee Carsley.
GOAL OF THE SEASON
Leon Osman v Larissa (October 25, 2007)
Encapsulated everything good about Everton, a flowing move involving Tim Cahill, Leighton Baines and Steven Pienaar before Osman applied the coup de grace from 25 yards.
MOMENT OF THE SEASON
Manchester City - won 2-0 (February 25, 2008):
Before making the short hop down the M62, a point would have been accepted without any fuss, but Everton conjured up a football exhibition. Joleon Lescott and Yakubu scored.
LOW POINT OF THE SEASON
Liverpool - lost 1-0 (March 30, 2008):
The day all hope of fourth place evaporated. The Blues never threatened once and were lucky not to suffer a drubbing after a slipshod opening 30 minutes.
Howard Kendall: Wembley trip long overdue for Everton
May 16 2008 Howard Kendall
THERE was no more fitting way to end the season than with a flamboyant win and already some supporters are counting down the days until the new campaign.
But, before optimism starts to run away with you, it is worth bearing one thing in mind. As Kevin Keegan said just a couple of weeks ago, it’s not realistic to expect the top four to be broken up this time next year. I’m sure if we had all written down who we expected to fill the first four positions in the table last August, the names of Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool would have dominated lists, although possibly in different orders. Still, for Everton to finish best of the rest was a terrific achievement and I don’t think there could have been too many complaints about the football to which all Blues have been treated. There is no reason why it can’t be repeated next year. Obviously, you want to keep progressing, and getting into the Champions League would provide substantial funds to help take the club forward yet surely there is more to life than money? I have raised this point before but isn’t it about time we had a trip to Wembley? We came close in the League Cup, only to be undone by Chelsea, but losing to Oldham Athletic in the FA Cup was a desperately disappointing experience. If Portsmouth and Cardiff can get to the final, why can’t Everton? Next season, we will once again have three cups to aim at and, so long as David Moyes makes the right investment, there is nothing stopping Everton from going all the way in one competition. If, then, we had a piece of silverware to sit alongside a place in the top five or six, you would once again say that the Blues had enjoyed a terrific campaign – I just don’t think it would be realistic to be optimistic about messing up the current established order. That’s not to say it won’t happen in the future. For the time being, though, Everton need to keep their pursuers at arm’s length – and aim to give us the silver lining which we all so desperately crave.
PHIL JAGIELKA deserves wholehearted congratulations for breaking into the England set-up and there is nothing fortuitous about his call up. He is in there on merit and the biggest compliment that you can pay him is that his form as a central defender has been so good that Joleon Lescott - the Player of the Season, no less - has been deployed out of position. Jagielka is a player who doesn’t know how to gives anything other than 100% and is in many ways an old-fashioned type of defender. He just wants to get the job done. There is nothing fussy or flashy about what he does.
But he is certainly effective. He has made terrific progress in the second half of the campaign and though there have been a couple of mistakes, he will get better with maturity - just like Joseph Yobo. Joseph’s lapses of concentration used to have everyone tearing their hair out but he is much more assured now and with three defenders who have played so well, is it any wonder that Everton’s goals against column was so impressive?
Reaching the Zenit
THE UEFA Cup final may not have been a spectacle but the right team won.
Zenit St Petersburg possibly surprised Glasgow Rangers’ fans with the quality of their play. But everyone should have taken notice of them after they beat Bayern Munich.
They will now have the European Super Cup to look forward to.
But who against? I can’t decide between Manchester United and Chelsea.
All I’m hoping for is an exciting final.
Everton avoided a European minefield
May 16 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
SO the chewed fingernails and expressions of angst when Michael Owen equalised were unnecessary. Everton, it appears, might have qualified for Europe anyway, even if they’d lost the last match of the season to Newcastle and Aston Villa had somehow managed to sneak a winner past West Ham. And for that they have UEFA’s allocation of an extra place to England in the UEFA Cup to thank, and the intervention of a former Evertonian. Before last weekend’s final round of fixtures, Everton lay just two points behind Manchester City in the Premier League’s bizarrely calculated ‘Fair Play Table.’ But while Richard Dunne was sent off at Middlesbrough and Sun Jihai booked, Everton picked up no reds and no yellows against Newcastle.
Of course it isn’t just red and yellow cards which count. A team can also earn up to 10 points for ‘positive play,’ except City lost 8-1, which has left them desperately hoping to pick up bonus points in categories headlined “respect for opponents,” “respect for officials” and “behaviour of officials.” Fulham now bizarrely stand to benefit from City’s self-implosion, but we won’t know for sure until next week, when the reports of the Premier League delegates at each match are in. People used to claim that the much-maligned Intertoto Cup detracted from the lustre of European competition.
I’d suggest that awarding a European place on the basis of a blazered lackey holding a dressing room door open for a linesman is infinitely more degrading.
Thank heaven Everton got there via the football route.
Blowing the whistle on the anti-Everton brigade
May 16 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
ALAN HANSEN believes Everton are still “a million miles away” from breaking into the top four. Maybe he means “a multi million pound investment” away, a colossal midfielder, a decent winger or perhaps a little more strength in depth.
It’s a point of view. But perhaps all Everton really need is the rub of the green from referees next season. The final ‘right result’ league table, the one compiled by the anoraks who work out results and tables if referees got everything right, has Everton ending the campaign in fourth place. Complaints on a postcard to Messrs Clattenburg, Wiley, Dowd, Halsey . . . .
Boyo plans a Royle ascent
THE last Englishman to win the FA Cup was a proud Scouser, when Joe Royle’s underdogs of war upset the best of breed at Wembley. After 13 years that record will finally go tomorrow, but at least there’s a chance another Scouser might inherit it.
David Jones is fondly remembered on one half of Merseyside and there’ll be plenty of neutrals rooting for Cardiff’s talented, dignified and impressive boss.
Golden age of the good old days
THE Premier League is now a rapidly ageing 16 years old.
So perhaps we shouldn’t sneer when Newcastle fans sing: “Ee, aye, ee aye, ee aye oh. Up the Premier League we go!” But I’m going to. The old fashioned, stick in the mud, traditionalists of Goodison Park steadfastly refuse to chant those new-fangled lyrics.
They still sing about moving up the “Football” League, and you know what? I kind of like that type of attitude. Because football did exist before 1992, even if some supporters appear to have conveniently forgotten that fact. Manchester United fans sing: “We won it 10 times!” in a reference to the number of Premier League titles they have collected, spectacularly erasing the three title triumphs of the Busby Babes and the two so stylishly captured in the 1960s. Obviously, they sing it as a dig at Liverpool. They can’t exactly sing “17 times” without acknowledging that the Reds have still won one more. But by only recognising Premier League titles, this totally disinherits the most charismatic United team of all time – the team of Best, Law and Charlton, and the team which was the first from England to conquer Europe.
The Premier League revolution has brought about many beneficial changes to football in this country, but let’s not lose sight of the 104-years of League history which preceded it.
More talks on Everton's Kirkby stadium
May 16 2008 Liverpool Echo
PEOPLE in Kirkby will be given another chance to speak about the Everton stadium scheme after Tesco changed its plans. Knowsley council will have further consultations after the superstore cut 25% from the retail element of the £400m plan.
Tesco made the changes after concerns were raised by neighbouring councils and to avoid a public inquiry by the government. It had already applied for a new mixed-use development, including a 50,000-seat stadium, retail, food and drink, a hotel, offices and more than 3,500 car parking spaces. Colin Fitzpatrick, secretary of Keep Everton In Our City, said the scaled-down retail element still represented an increase on Tesco’s original proposed figure of 45,000 sq m. He said: “As far as we’re concerned, they’re just playing with figures.” Sheena Ramsey, chief executive of Knowsley council, said: “This fresh period of consultation is the opportunity for anyone with an interest in Kirkby to give their views on these latest changes to the plans.”
The plans are available to view at Kirkby One Stop Shop, Huyton One Stop Shop and on the website www.knowsley.gov.uk/consultation. Consultation ends on June 5.
Barry Horne: Looking back on a fantastic year for Everton
May 17 2008 by Barry Horne, Liverpool Echo
The absence of Premier League football will cast a long shadow over the summer, but now is the time to reflect on the season just ended, a campaign which has been a tremendous one for Everton Football Club. If you take wage bills and transfer expenditure into account, you could put up an argument that Everton were the most successful club in the country last season. I believe the way Everton have gone about their business in recent years – prudently and low risk in an era when more and more clubs are existing on a knife edge – is the right strategy. Big clubs like Manchester City and Chelsea seem to be consistently unstable, while even Manchester United are reining in their losses to under £100m! Everton, however, have made steady progress for five years, have solid, reliable people running the club and in David Moyes have surely the most coveted manager around. But there have been plenty of individual successes, too. Tim Howard was consistently excellent and almost equalled Neville Southall’s club record for clean sheets, while Joleon Lescott was without doubt the club’s Player of the Season. I thought it was a travesty that he didn’t make the Premier League’s team of the year. Phil Jagielka is another who has grown in confidence and found a consistent level. He has not only proved he can survive at a big club, but that he can flourish. Steven Pienaar suffered from his African Nations Cup exertions, but prior to that sparkled. I recall his debut at Bolton when he looked off the pace and struggling with the physicality of the Premier League, but he improved dramatically from that day and his permanent signing is an excellent one. Leon Osman has continued his slow-burn improvement and established himself as a Premier League player of quality, vision and character. Lee Carsley enjoyed another great season and if he does leave the club this summer Moyes will find him a very difficult figure to replace. A striker who scored 20 goals in his first campaign would normally be a shoo-in for player of the year, but Yakubu still has a question mark over his consistency, so I was delighted to see him score against Newcastle and prove he does not put his feet up in the last 12 games of a season. The skipper, Phil Neville, has had his critics – but he has played a huge part in the season. He has spoken passionately about the club off the pitch, and for all the criticism levelled at him, he has been much better than some fans give him credit for. They have been the successes, but there have been disappointments, too. Mikel Arteta’s loss of form was a low point, as was the absence through injury of Tim Cahill. Getting him back and fully fit in time for the start of next season would be like signing a £10m player. James Vaughan’s absence through injury was also a major disappointment, while Andrew Johnson has to rediscover his goalscoring touch. But the positives definitely outweigh the negatives and one of the biggest positives was the Everton fans themselves.
Their behaviour was impeccable wherever they went in Europe while in this country they sold out their away allocation at every ground, including two visits in a week to West Ham. The Everton fans have been one of the highlights of the season for me, as has Moyes. For a third of the campaign I vividly recall describing some of Everton’s play as ‘Arsenal-like’ and he has manipulated his squad resources superbly.
The next month could be a massive one for Everton, as the manager and Bill Kenwright plot an assault on the big four. Everton finished 13th in the wages league table this season, so you could say that they have spectacularly over-achieved.
But for some Evertonians, the club will never over-achieve. Perhaps that’s how it should be – but it doesn’t disguise that this has been a fantastic season.
You could always bet on Alan Ball for a winner
May 17 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
THE late Alan Ball was never more at home than when he was enjoying a day at the races and there could be no more fitting tribute to the great man this week.
Goodwood, one of his favourite courses, stages the Alan Ball Memorial raceday this Wednesday and any Evertonian who wants to make the long but rewarding trip to the south coast will be able to buy two tickets for the Gordon Enclosure for £24 on production of their season ticket. Two races will be named after him – the EBF Alan Ball Supporters’ Maiden Fillies’ Stakes, due under starters orders at 4.35pm, will be followed by the Evertonians Remember Alan Ball Maiden Fillies’ Stakes. Ball’s son Jimmy will have a no-lose £2,000 bet in one race – the proceeds will go to charity – and it is worth keeping an eye on anything Alan’s great pal Mick Channon runs, as he is sure to have something primed to run well. At present, Channon has Kerry’s Requiem entered in the first contest and he could be double-handed in the Evertonians race with Where’s Dids – who ran encouragingly on her debut at Salisbury – and Elzain. Don’t be surprised if one of them comes home in front.
Palace date – but boss also makes Mark’s day
LATE last year, lifelong Evertonian, Mark Wilson, an EDSA member, was awarded the OBE in the Queens Birthday Honours’ List. He received his gong from Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace but suggested that the only thing that might be as good as - or even better than his wonderful day out at the home of the royal family - would be to also get the medal from David Moyes! Mark, 50, from Great Sankey, has two artificial legs and an artificial arm and, as is the tradition for those working in the Civil Service, the citation didn’t give much away about the background to the honour.
“You never get to know the full details that support your award of an OBE, but there were several key areas that played a part for me,” he explained. “I have been involved in the design and delivery of a range of innovative pre-recruitment programmes that have allowed disabled people, and those on long term benefits, to successfully compete for jobs after a significant time away from the labour market.
“Thanks to the superb work done by my Jobcentre Plus team in Cheshire & Warrington we have managed to make a real difference for many people. We have changed lives and helped to restore confidence while also having a positive impact on local communities.” Mark was a major player in the formation of EDSA and he is justifiably proud of the organisation. He said: “We have gone from a handful of wheelchair and ambulant disabled spaces to a Goodison with over 80 EDSA spaces and much improved facilities for disabled supporters.”
Eastern hope could have the X factor
May 17 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
X-FACTOR and Britain’s Got Talent may be the in vogue talent shows of the moment but, in China, the reality show which has a population hooked could produce an Everton star. While we are subjected to watching wannabes who would be booed out of back street karaoke bars on a Saturday evening, Soccer Prince was created to deliver a pioneering project which would offer young Chinese footballers a dream opportunity. Regularly attracting audiences in excess of 130 million, 18,000 hopefuls auditioned and eventually three young men won places at three English clubs – Everton, Bolton Wanderers and Nottingham Forest. Best of the bunch was Jin Hui, a 19-year-old from Hunan Province, and he has spent the last three months being put through his paces with the rest of Everton’s Academy at Finch Farm. If he has made sufficient progress in the next 12 months, his stay could become a permanent one.
Whether that will happen only time will tell but, clearly, the voracious appetite for Premier League football in China and the rest of South East Asia offers clubs the chance to boost their revenue potential, and chief executive Keith Wyness is keen to explore every angle possible. “It’s a very interesting initiative,” said Wyness. “Whenever you find talent, you take whatever you can. The aim of Soccer Prince was to make sure the kid who won it had a chance to progress. We would love nothing more if he became good enough to play for the first team. “We have got a five to 10 year plan on how we are approaching China. We are into the third year now and next year we would hope to see some major revenue coming out of the Chinese market and the North American market. “We developed an innovative website called the evertonway.com, which allows clubs all over the globe to tap into our Academy system. “That could become a serious revenue line for us as no other club has ever tried it. “All along with merchandise and other areas, the market is there. The first team won’t be going to China just yet. Maybe in another three years will be the right time to do a visit. It’s part of the long term plan.” For the record, Jin’s preferred position is right-back and, according to Academy Director Ray Hall, he is “enjoying his football”. Now he is dreaming of following in the footsteps of compatriot Li Tie and playing for Everton. “I have been in the UK for three months,” said Jin. “I have settled down now but, at first, it was difficult getting used to the lifestyle.
“It is my dream to play in the Premier League and I hope that in a year I will win a contract. If not, I know the experience will greatly benefit me. “I have met David Moyes on a couple of occasions and I have met Phil Neville too. “I am here on my own but it is not so difficult as I have been away for most of my life. When I was young I left home to go to a football school to pursue my dream.”
FA Cup final: Royle approval for great Brits
May 17 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
JOE ROYLE’S proud record as the last English manager to lead an FA Cup winning team must end today. And the man who coached Everton to glory at Wembley in 1995 admits he will be a winner and loser when Cardiff boss Dave Jones and Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp battle to inherit his crown this afternoon. “It’s a situation where, quite honestly, I can’t win and I can’t lose,” said Royle, now a sought after TV pundit after leaving his last managerial post at Ipswich two years ago. “I didn’t realise how proud I was of that record until I knew it was going to go. It was a shock to the system because I thought it might stand for a few more years yet. “I certainly couldn’t see it going this year, but I’m delighted that the two managers who could take it are Jonesy and Harry. “I’m great mates with both of them. “I was at Everton as a player when Jonesy was a young apprentice, and I’m responsible for that meandering nose of his – as he constantly reminds me every time we meet up! “I broke it during a training session, but it was an accident, honest! “He has done a great job wherever he has been as a manager, despite the ridiculous adversity he had to endure when he was at Southampton. “We’re great mates, but Harry’s also a great bloke and I’ll be delighted for whoever wins. “Speaking as a pundit you always go with the extra quality of the Premier League side, but I’ve seen Cardiff plenty of times this season and they have some outstanding young players in their squad and underdogs sometimes win the FA Cup you know!” The last time, memorably, was in 1995 when Joe Royle guided Everton from a seemingly irretrievable position at the bottom of the Premier League to safety, then added the icing of an FA Cup win at Wembley. “I often think back to that wonderful day when the underdogs of war beat Manchester United,” Royle smiled. “But it wasn’t my greatest day as a manager. “That came a week earlier when I sat on a silent coach on the way back from Ipswich. “I took the Everton manager’s job without looking at the league table, then when I did I remembered the words of the Celine Dion song ‘Think Twice!’ “I didn’t want to be the Everton manager that took the club down and when we won at Ipswich to secure our place in the Premier League it was a magnificent achievement. “The coach was quiet on the way back. The mood was reflective rather than celebratory, and of course we had the Cup Final looming. But keeping Everton up was my best moment.” Royle still keeps a close eye on events at his old club and he was delighted that the Toffees finally clinched fifth place on the final day of the season. “They are a marvellous reflection of their manager – very honest, very hard-working and refuse to believe they are ever beaten,” he added. “The just need a sprinkle of stardust to make the next, very big leap.”
Spot of drama to thrill those final day fans
May 17 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
GOODISON regulars were forced to wait until 10 minutes from the end of the final home match of the season to celebrate their first Premier League penalty kick. They needn’t have worried. Goodison has a history of last day penalty kicks. Not all have been scored though . . . This week we showcase Goodison’s Top 10 last day penalties.
1 IT was described at the time as the “most important penalty kick in Everton’s history.” We haven’t changed our mind. The Toffees’ 40-year span of top flight football hinged on the success or otherwise of Stuart’s spot-kick against Wimbledon in 1994. He slotted the ball precisely to Hans Segers’ right and the rest is history . . .
2 OF Dean’s astonishing 60-goal haul in 1927/28, just one came from the penalty spot. It was on the last day against Arsenal and according to the Echo “it was an accidental collision, but to the referee it was a trip.” To Dean it was a gateway to glory, and he took it.
3 JUST three minutes remained when Paul Alcock pointed to the spot in Everton’s nerve-shredding relegation decider against Coventry in 1998. Barmby missed - and when Dion Dublin equalised 60 seconds later Goodison was in meltdown. Fortunately the Blues held on to a 1-1 draw and safety.
4 THE Latch didn’t take penalties – he didn’t need to. But he changed the habits of a lifetime when the chance loomed to become the first top flight striker for six seasons to score 30 league goals. He smashed one past Paul Cooper of Ipswich, then 12 minutes from the end of the season hammered another past Peter Bonetti to reach the landmark total.
5 EVERTON could and should have won the 1975 League Championship. When they were awarded a penalty in their last home match of the season against Sheffield United they were still in pole position. Davey Jones scored and David Smallman hooked another over his shoulder. But the Blades won 3-2, Everton drew at Chelsea and finished three points adrift.
6 IT set the seal on an emotional farewell, and ensured Everton didn’t lose their last match to West Brom. But Big Dunc had to pop in the rebound though after Tomasz Kuszczak saved the first kick.
7 A UEFA Cup place potentially hinged on the outcome, but the Yak confidently clipped in past Newcastle.
8 IT could have been a title showdown, but Liverpool’s win at Chelsea 48 hours earlier meant the visit of West Ham to Goodison was a battle for second and third. Steven hit a penalty as Everton took the booby prize.
9 VERNON was a last day marksman in his first three seasons. Three against Arsenal in 1961 included a penalty, as did his treble the next year against Cardiff. But his trio against Fulham was all his own work.
10 UNSWORTH didn’t miss many for Everton, and when he did it never mattered. The last day of the 2000/01 campaign comes into that category, because his miss was cancelled out by a successful Michael Ball effort from 12 yards which secured a 2-2 draw with Sunderland.
Keith Wyness: ‘We’ll back David Moyes with hard cash’
May 17 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
KEITH WYNESS promised that David Moyes will be backed with hard cash to help Everton take the next step forward. Though the dust is only just starting to settle on arguably the most productive season in Moyes’ six-year reign, there is little chance of the manager allowing the Blues to stand still. He met with chairman Bill Kenwright in London yesterday to discuss battle plans and outline the areas of his squad that need improving. And chief executive Wyness has vowed that Everton – who have broken their transfer record three times since January 2005 – are prepared to push the boat out once again. “In the four years I have been at the club, we have grown, we have stabilised and we have moved things forward,” said Wyness. “But we are not going to let that slip. “We know that we have got to build on this now. The new stadium is part of that planning, as is Finch Farm. We know that we have got to move on and we are poised to do so. “We have supported David in the past and we will continue to do that. We are not going to go out there and shout how much money we have got.
“That’s not how we do our business. David has got the nucleus of a strong squad and there are positions that he wants to strengthen. We will support him wherever we can.” Meanwhile, Leighton Baines is on target to return to pre-season training after successfully coming through an operation on his ankle last Monday.
The left-back has been plagued by fitness problems ever since he arrived at Goodison but physio Mick Rathbone is confident he will make a full recovery. “Leighton had the operation on Monday night to remove a piece of bone on his ankle,” said Rathbone. “It was a little more awkward to get out than anticipated but he will be back for pre-season training. “The piece of bone has been bothering him for much of last season and it was important to sort it out. He will be doing his rehabilitation during the summer and hopefully be available for the start of the season.”
Joseph Yobo in Nigeria Olympic games blow
May 19 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
JOSEPH YOBO will be available to start the new season at Goodison Park - thanks to an administrative error by the Nigerian FA. The Blues’ central defender was due to be named as one of Nigeria’s three over-age players in their squad for the Beijing Olympics but coach Samson Siasia confirmed that a mistake means Yobo will remain on Merseyside. “Our secretary forgot to include Yobo’s name in our preliminary squad, so he won’t be going (to Beijing) which is Everton’s gain,” said Siasia.
But while the news about Yobo is a boost for David Moyes, the manager is likely to be without Victor Anichebe for the first four games of the 2008/09 campaign after he was selected by Nigeria. Though Anichebe was eligible to play for England, he pledged his allegiance to the country of his birth earlier this year and made his international debut against South Africa and is likely to play a key role in Beijing.
The Olympics will be held between August 8-24 and Nigeria – who won the gold medal at the Atlanta Games in 1996 – will be among the favourites to go all the way again. Anichebe was named Everton’s Young Player of the Season after scoring four times during the Blues’ UEFA Cup campaign but he only found the net once in the Premier League – on the opening day against Wigan Athletic – and wants to improve that figure in the next 12 months. “The fans are really good to me, they’ve taken to me really well with some of the goals that I’ve scored in Europe,” said Anichebe. “Hopefully I can score more goals and repay them for all the support that they’ve shown me this year. “I don’t like the ‘super sub’ tag. But that’s how it is. I came off the bench and scored some goals so I’m really happy for doing that to help the team. Hopefully some time in the future I would like to start some games and get a run going. “But with the experience that I’ve gained this season, the ups and downs I’ve had, I’ll learn and improve next season.” Meanwhile, Everton – who have been linked with an £8m move for Bordeaux midfielder Alou Diarra – today distanced themselves with weekend reports suggesting they had tied up a deal to sign West Bromwich Albion winger Zoltan Gera. Gera is a free agent and will move from The Hawthorns this summer but though Moyes has run the rule over the Hungarian a couple of times, he is not top of his list of priorities. Moyes has made it clear that strengthening the centre of his midfield will come first and Diarra – who was once on Liverpool’s books but never played – is a player whom he admires. Bordeaux are reported to want a fee in the region of £8m for the France international.
Everton deny election influence claim over Kirkby stadium
May 19 2008 Liverpool Echo
EVERTON FC and Tesco today hit back at claims they may have illegally influenced the results of the local elections in Knowsley. A dossier has been handed to police complaining about a glossy leaflet and DVD circulated to every household in Kirkby at a cost of £22,000 during the campaign. The publication promoted the merits of the £400m Destination Kirkby development which includes a massive food store, new football stadium for Everton and shops. Kirkby Labour candidates, including Cllr Eddie Connor, a spokesman on the project, backed the scheme. But anti-stadium protesters formed the single issue party First4Kirkby and vehemently opposed the planning application along with Lib-Dem candidates. Kirkby Residents Action Group now claims that the election campaign became, in effect, a single-issue vote on the Tesco/Everton development. As a result, objectors have submitted formal complaints to the police. They allege Tesco and Everton deliberately intervened into the political debate. KRAG spokesperson the Rev Tim Stratford said ‘propaganda’ material “clearly adopted the position adopted by the Labour Party and was obviously likely to influence the way that people voted. “This is a blatant breach of section 75 of the Representation of The People’s act.” Police confirmed they were investigating the contents of the dossier. However, Everton and Tesco described the move as “arrant nonsense”. Everton spokesman Ian Ross said: “The DVD was simply part of a process that we said we would embark on from day one. “These people who are accusing us here are the very same people who accuse us of not outlining our plans clearly enough.”
Everton star Lee: 'There is more to life than fast cars'
May 19 2008 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
Everton star Lee Carsley tells Greg O’Keeffe how he realised there was more to life than sport when his son, Connor, was born with Down’s syndrome
IT’S NOT every Premier League football star who offers to make interviewers a cup of tea before he has even had a chance to change after training. And there are not many willing to speak so honestly and at length about the most deeply personal of issues. But Lee Carsley, with his laid-back manner and ready smile, is patently not every Premier League football star. The 34-year-old has spent the morning at Everton’s splendid new Finch Farm training ground in Halewood where, judging by the amount of people who stop to greet him, he is one of the most popular players.
After training the Birmingham-born midfielder welcomed a group from Down Syndrome Liverpool, a support network which help families of children born with the condition. There seemed very little to set the footballer and the regular dad, group chair John Hogan, apart as they chatted about educational provisions, physiotherapy and raising awareness. Lee was able to offer practical advice – he plays a massive part in raising funds for the Solihull Down’s syndrome support group and is not averse to arranging coffee mornings and standing outside supermarkets with a collection bucket. “I would not make myself out to be a Jimmy Saville type who has dedicated his life to charity,” he says from a comfy chair in the players’ area. “But when you’re ... (he pauses searching for the right word) ... affected by something like Down’s syndrome you want to do more. Luckily enough I can auction a pair of football boots and get money pretty quickly. “If I didn’t have a son with Down’s, would I be raising money for it? Probably not. A lot of the lads here do fundraising for cancer because I’m sure it has hit some of their families. “Before we had Connor we lived in a bubble. We didn’t have money problems and I was not worrying about whether we could afford to eat or book nice holidays. So yes, it was a life changing experience.
“You realise there is a whole world out there which doesn’t revolve around big houses or fast cars.” A rare frown crosses his face as Lee recalls how he and wife Louisa struggled to get Connor, now nine, assessed in Birmingham and the subsequent decision it forced him to make. “We found it hard to get him statemented, which basically means what level of learning he is going to be at and it can take about a year to come through. “After all that to take him out of school and bring him to Liverpool would've meant he had to start again and he was already behind. I spoke to Kevin Kilbane (former Everton teammate who also has a young daughter, Elsie, with Down’s syndrome) and he said the set-up is totally different in the north west. It meant I had to adapt to living apart from my family.” The Republic of Ireland international recalls how he took the news of Connor’s condition. “At first they didn’t realise and it wasn’t for a few weeks they discovered it. “It was a blow. Having a child is the best feeling in the world and then when you realise all is not well ... there is not a worse feeling in the world. “At first I didn’t want to take it onboard. I was under pressure with work (at previous club Derby County) and they thought it was better I get my head back to playing so it was a case of trying to keep things ticking over.
“Connor did everything normally at first. He crawled normally and sat up normally. With a Down’s child you have to show them everything and they need physio all the time but my wife has got the patience of an angel and she taught him a lot.
“She was very much along the lines of ‘you go out and do your football and leave the house to me’. We are a team but it’s been difficult and takes up a lot of time.
“I’ve got two other children (Lois, seven, and Callum, 11). My little girl wants me to take her to ballet and Callum wants me to watch him play football, then Connor is hanging around my neck wanting to wrestle because he loves WWE.
“It makes material things seem unimportant. If you’re disabled, cars and houses don’t matter. Connor is not severely affected. There are kids in our Solihull group with heart conditions and in wheelchairs. “We’ve got all sorts of parents too. People who live on council estates and struggle for money. Before I got involved with the group we struggled to get speech therapy and physio because on the NHS you only get the absolute minimum. I could pay but not everyone can so with the group we arrange our own. “Connor’s brother and sister motivate him a lot and he’s active but he isn’t that bothered about football. He just says ‘Daddy... football... goal’ so he must think I score.”
Lee Carsley quits Everton
May 19 2008. By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
LEE CARSLEY today brought the curtain down on his six-year Everton career. The Republic of Ireland midfielder has told manager David Moyes that he does not want to take up the offer of another contract at Goodison Park and will be pursuing other options. Derby County are leading the chase for Carsley’s signature and are ready to offer him a two-year deal at Pride Park but reports in the Midlands suggest that Birmingham City have moved into pole position. Carsley, whose family are still based in the Midlands, joined the Blues from Coventry City in February 2002 and went onto make 198 appearances, scoring 12 goals. Though he performed a role that did not grab headlines, he was widely acknowledged as one of the most important members of Everton’s team and his form in the past two seasons has been as good as anything he has produced throughout his career. However, Carsley was typically self-deprecating when asked about his future plans following what turned out to be his last appearance for Everton against Newcastle United last Sunday and pointed out that no individual is bigger than the club. “If I went, someone else would come in and be just as good, if not better. Leaving Everton is not a decision I would make lightly,” he said. “I have loved it here. I think the fans have loved having me here as well. I have been successful and in the seven seasons I have had here, four times we have finished in the top seven.” Meanwhile, Joseph Yobo will be available to start the new season at Goodison Park – thanks to an administrative error by the Nigerian FA. The Blues’ central defender was due to be named as one of Nigeria’s three over-age players in their squad for the Beijing Olympics but coach Samson Siasia confirmed that a mistake means Yobo will remain on Merseyside. “Our secretary forgot to include Yobo’s name in our preliminary squad, so he won’t be going (to Beijing) which is Everton’s gain,” said Siasia. But while the news about Yobo is a boost for David Moyes, the manager is likely to be without Victor Anichebe for the first four games of the 2008/09 campaign after he was selected by Nigeria. Though Anichebe was eligible to play for England, he pledged his allegiance to the country of his birth earlier this year and made his international debut against South Africa and is likely to play a key role in Beijing. Carsley’s departure means Moyes will now have to step up his search for a replacement but Everton – who have been linked with an £8m move for Bordeaux midfielder Alou Diarra – today distanced themselves with weekend reports suggesting they had tied up a deal to sign West Brom winger Zoltan Gera. Gera is a free agent and will move from The Hawthorns this summer but though Moyes has run the rule over the Hungarian a couple of times, he is not top of his list of priorities. Moyes has made it clear that strengthening the centre of his midfield will come first and Diarra – who was once on Liverpool’s books but never played – is a player whom he admires. Bordeaux are reported to want a fee in the region of £8m for the France international
Lee Carsley a tough act to follow
May 20 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
SCORING the winner in a Merseyside derby guarantees a player will be called many things but 'cupid' is not something which readily comes to mind. For one Evertonian, though, that is exactly how he will view Lee Carsley. After all, had the midfielder not delivered one of the most celebrated goals at Goodison Park in recent times, this smitten individual may not have proposed to his fiance. Carsley’s strike against Liverpool on December 11, 2004, also secured him an invitation to the happy couple’s nuptials. But to say that was all he did for the Blues during his six years on Merseyside would be grossly unfair – and totally inaccurate. While Carsley’s decision to move to Birmingham City will not generate too much interest outside the city boundaries, the majority of Evertonians will today appreciate that the task David Moyes faces to fill his shoes is an onerous one. As someone who prefers to stay out of the limelight, it is easy to describe Carsley as an ‘unsung hero’, but ask anyone who has worked with him since February 2002 for their views and each will give a glowing appraisal. Super fit, ultra professional and totally dedicated, Carsley - who signed for Everton on the same day as David Ginola - got better with age and it is no coincidence that the one dip Moyes’ side suffered in recent seasons came when he was injured.
With him in the starting line-up, Everton always seemed a much more robust unit that would not give goals away cheaply, and that was down to his ability to spot danger and snuff it out in the blink of an eye. That’s why he was invariably one of the first names on the team sheet. “The gaffer kept saying that I was getting better but I put that down to him bringing in better players,” said Carsley. “I had a role in the team that I enjoyed and it wasn’t over complicated. I think my team-mates appreciated what I did for them. “But no one player is so important. Everyone knows how I feel about Everton. It is a fantastic club and I had a great time there.” Fitting, then, that the last of his 198 appearances ended with him being given a standing ovation by all corners of Goodison after Newcastle United had been swatted aside to secure Everton’s return to Europe. It may seem strange that, with Everton seemingly on the verge of an exciting new era, Carsley has chosen to seek a new challenge but, in his mind, the ‘unfinished business’ he said he had two summers ago has been completed. Certainly he can leave with his head held high, having helped Everton get established in the top six, as well as become UEFA Cup regulars. Missing out on the all too brief Champions League adventure due to a serious knee injury broke Carsley’s heart, but he came back better than ever and knows that he leaves behind a club that is in rude health on and off the field. “The last season was one of the most unenjoyable I’ve ever had,” said a man who cost £1.9m when he moved from Coventry. “It was pure stress! All the time I was thinking about what teams were doing elsewhere, where we were going to get our next points from.“I’d go to sleep thinking ‘are we going to finish fifth?’ then wake up on match days thinking ‘we’ve got to win’ and I’m just so glad that it all finished as it should have done. We deserved to finish fifth. There’s no question about that.
“When I think about when I first joined, the expectation levels have changed totally. We are seen as a top six club but the gaffer isn’t going to rest until we are seen as a top four club. The more players who can get in his slipstream, the better as he is going places.” One of his final acts as an Everton player yesterday was to phone Bill Kenwright and thank him for the adventure he enjoyed on Merseyside. Not surprisingly, the chairman was quick to reciprocate the sentiments. “I remember it was a very cold January night at Villa Park that Walter said to me he wanted Lee Carsley to join our club,” Kenwright recalled. “Soon after that Cars, did in fact sign and I have to say that personally and professionally, he has been one of my favourite players at the club since then. Cars will leave knowing he takes the respect and thanks of every Evertonian with him.”
David Moyes ponders swoop for £18m Brazilian striker Jo
May 20 2008 By Dominic King, Liverpool Echp
DAVID MOYES has checked on Brazilian striker Jo - with a view to making him Everton's club record signing. The Blues’ manager watched the 21-year-old play for CSKA Moscow against Lokomotiv Moscow on April 20 when he spent a weekend in the Russian capital. Jo, who has scored 30 goals in 52 games for CSKA and has been capped once by Brazil, is also wanted by Manchester City. He would not come cheap – it would take between £16m and £18m to sign him permanently – but there is scope to initially bring him to the Premier League on loan. Jo is part-owned by Kia Joorabchian’s MSI group and the Blues have already had dealings with them when they first signed Manuel Fernandes in January 2007. It would be premature to say that a deal has been done for Jo, who began his career at Corinthians, but he is certainly a player Moyes is interested in. If the pursuit of Jo – full name João Alves de Assis Silva – reaches a successful conclusion, it would be the fourth time since January 2005 that Moyes has broken Everton’s transfer record. The manager held productive talks with chairman Bill Kenwright last week, when the pair discussed, among other things, Moyes’ new contract and squad strengthening. The pair have agreed a deal in principle but there is no urgency for Moyes to put pen to paper just yet. He is happy Everton will back his ambitions this summer and chief executive Keith Wyness confirmed Moyes will be given every assistance in the transfer market. “We have supported David in the past and we will continue to do that,” said Wyness. “We are not going to go out there and shout how much money we have got. That’s not how we do our business. “David has got the nucleus of a strong squad and there are positions that he wants to strengthen. We will support him wherever we can.” Moyes’ immediate priority is finding a replacement for Lee Carsley, who ended his six-year stay at Goodison Park yesterday when he joined Birmingham City on a free transfer. A number of options have been discussed, among them Chelsea’s Steve Sidwell and Jo’s CSKA team-mate Dudu. Moyes also went on a scouting mission to France last weekend, where he watched Marseille’s Cameroon international Modeste M'Bami in action against Strasbourg.
Lee Carsley's 'new challenge' will be with Birmingham
May 20 2008 by Ian Doyle, Liverpool Daily Post
LEE CARSLEY has revealed there was "a lot of interest" from clubs looking to secure his services before he opted to join Birmingham from Everton. City, relegated to the Coca-Cola Championship earlier this month, have signed Carsley subject to the midfielder completing a medical. The 34-year-old Sheldon-born player was a free agent after turning down the offer of a new contract at Everton. And he has signed a two-year deal with the relegated club as they look to rebuild ahead of next year’s Championship campaign. “My contract ran out at Everton and I was offered a new deal there but I felt it was time to move on,” said Carsley. “I wanted a new challenge and I didn’t necessarily want to go to another Premier League club and struggle with them. “Being realistic, we finished fifth in the league with Everton so I wasn’t going to go to any of the teams above them and I couldn’t see the point of going to any of the teams below them. “So I feel I’ve done the next best thing and joined a club that’s building for the future and trying to get where Everton are. “I’d seen the job that Alex McLeish had done at Rangers and Scotland, where he had performed miracles. “Alex just came across to me as a winner and his visions for the club match my own.” The Republic of Ireland international added: “Even though I’m 34, I’m not looking to wind down. All together last season, I played over 50 games including internationals. “I’ve left a club that’s going to be playing in the UEFA Cup again next season so it’s not something I’ve done lightly. “Everyone knows how I feel about Everton. It was a fantastic club and I had a great time there. “We finished fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh so I’ve been a part of cementing that club in the top six. “I’ve now come for a fresh challenge.” Carsley had been linked with West Bromwich Albion and Derby County as it emerged he wanted to move closer to his native West Midlands. “Because my contract was up I spoke to a few clubs,” he said. “I was lucky in the fact that I had a good season last season and there was a lot of interest. “It was important to me that I made the right decision because at my age I can’t afford to be making any mistakes. “It had to be the right club and one I felt I could win something with. “I’ve had a good career so far but I’ve not won anything and my main thing now is to win the Championship, get back into the Premier League and stabilise the club. “I’ll be putting everything into the next couple of years to make sure we get back in the Premier League.” Carsley hails from the Sheldon area of Birmingham and has rejected rumours he supported the club’s rivals Aston Villa as a boy. The midfielder, who was a trainee at Derby after spending time with Birmingham, said: “I didn’t bother supporting a team as a kid because I was always into playing football. “My family are Birmingham fans and there’s just one Villa fan. “The reason I think it came out that I supposedly supported Villa was because one of my favourite players when I was young was Gordon Cowans. “Another one of my favourite players was Bryan Robson but nobody said I was a West Brom fan!”
Champions League final: I quit Everton for nights like this - Wayne Rooney
May 21 2008
WAYNE ROONEY reckons Everton fans will finally understand why he left Goodison Park, when he walks out in the Champions League final in Moscow tonight.
Goodison fans have never forgiven the boyhood Blue for quitting the club after barely two seasons in the first team. But Rooney said: "You join United to win things and I’ve managed that. "To reach the Champions League final is a great achievement by the team and I’m sure a lot of Everton fans will understand a bit more now.
"You grow up dreaming of games like this, but Everton were never going to get there." Rooney joined United on the eve of the 2004/05 season, a campaign when Everton ironically went on to finish fourth and reach the Champions League qualifying round. But while the Blues were knocked out by Villarreal, United went on to reach the last 16 of the tournament. Meanwhile, United boss Alex Ferguson believes his team has the skill to match Chelsea’s strength and lift the European Cup.
Although his side went on to retain the Premier League title, Ferguson is still hurting from the defeat at Stamford Bridge. He intends to put the record straight when England’s top two go head to head tonight in Russia. He said: "I have the players to do the job and I trust them. "Chelsea are physically stronger than most of the Premier League teams but we do not need to match that. "We have to play with our main strength, our movement and our passing, our ability to create openings in the game. We are in good shape and I do not want us to change too much. "Maybe we don’t have the overall experience like Chelsea in terms of age but we have courage."
United have a variety of strong attacking options with the likes of 41-goal Cristiano Ronaldo, Rooney and Carlos Tevez to call on. Tevez’s loan spell is up next summer and United are hoping to tie him up on a long-term deal. Ferguson said: "Part of the plan is to have Carlos at the club in the long term. There is no question we want him to stay. I think David Gill (chief executive) is progressing on that as best he can.
"One of the reasons we are here in Moscow and won the title is because of Carlos. He has that ability to score important goals for us, just like Eric Cantona used to do.
"Carlos has been a revelation for us and is a fantastic professional."
Ferguson added: "The final is a big challenge for every one of my players. I depend on them all to be at the top of their game." That way we have a massive chance.
Defender Nemanja Vidic, who suffered a facial injury against Chelsea last month, sat out training last night. However the club insisted he will play and a spokesman added: "He is on a different training programme to other people." Ferguson has dismissed concerns about the pitch. He said: "I think UEFA have done their best. The fact they have relaid it from Astroturf to turf is a big delight to me. "We are happy in that sense. You have to remind yourself that Old Trafford in January or February is not the best in the league." A UEFA spokesman added: "In terms of the quality, we have made some tests in the last few days and it is perfectly fine. "It may not look very, very green on television, but, essentially, it is a good pitch to play football on. "At this stage, we are confident it will be fine."
All-star cast in farewell to Tommy Burns
May 21 2008
EVERTON manager David Moyes and Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish were among the managers and former players who gathered at St Mary’s Church in Calton, Glasgow, for the funeral of Celtic legend Tommy Burns. Moyes played with Burns at Parkhead between 1980 and 1983, while Dalglish starred alongside him before joining the Reds in 1977. Former Celtic player, manager and coach Burns lost his battle against cancer at the age of 51. eltic boss Gordon Strachan arrived with the first team squad to loud applause from those outside the church. Others arriving included Rangers boss Walter Smith and captain Barry Ferguson, ex-Scotland and Rangers manager Alex McLeish and SFA chief executive Gordon Smith. Several former Celtic players attended included Roy Keane and Pierre van Hooijdonk. The coffin was carried into St Mary's by Burns' former Celtic team-mates Danny McGrain, Peter Grant, Pat Bonnar and George McCluskey. Rangers manager Walter Smith and his assistant Ally McCoist, who were part of the Scotland international coaching set-up with Burns, were also among the pall-bearers.
Summer fitness fight for Blues duo
May 21 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
JAMES VAUGHAN and Leighton Baines will be regular visitors to Finch Farm this summer as they bid to be fit for the start of the new season. Both men underwent operations recently in a bid to cure the injury problems that prevented them making an impact on Everton’s season. Vaughan has been out of action since March after he suffered cartilage damage in his left knee and was operated on by Dr Richard Steadman in Colorado later that month. Everton’s medical staff have been anxious not to rush him back. But the early signs are good and he has already started his rehabilitation programme at the Blues’ training base. The England Under-21 international has endured a miserable couple of years in terms of his fitness and Everton boss David Moyes hopes this will be his last major lay-off. Vaughan was restricted to just 13 appearances as Everton qualified for the UEFA Cup again with his only goals coming against Birmingham and AZ Alkmaar. As for Baines, he had surgery last Monday to remove a piece of excess bone from his ankle that was damaged in a challenge by Derby County’s Darren Moore last October.
Though the procedure was more complicated than Everton first envisaged, he is expected to be fully fit within six to eight weeks – in time for the start of pre-season preparations. Like Vaughan, he will be at Finch Farm for regular checks. a
Meanwhile, there has been a slightly sour footnote to Everton’s European adventure as UEFA fined the club 10,000 Swiss francs (around £5,000). It followed an incident between supporters and police during the game in Florence in March, which resulted in one arrest being made. It is the second occasion Everton have been reprimanded – they were also punished for an incident during the tie against SK Brann in February.
Ian Ross, Everton’s Head of PR, said: “The behaviour of our supporters during our UEFA Cup campaign was, on the whole, exemplary. “But this fine just serves to underline what can happen if a small number of so-called fans decide to let down both themselves and their club.”
Jonas Olsson eyes ‘dream move’ to Everton
May 22 2008 By Ian Doyle, Liverpool Daily Post
SWEDISH defender Jonas Olsson has claimed Everton are among several clubs interested in signing him. And the NEC Nijmegen defender has intimated he would welcome a move to Goodison. Olsson has caught the attention of a clutch of potential suitors with Newcastle United and Middlesbrough linked to the 25-year-old in March. NEC are happy for Olsson to leave for the right price, with the player still under contract for another year. However, Everton manager David Moyes is running the rule over several players as he looks to strengthen his squad this summer, and has no imminent plans to follow up any reported interest. “I know that they (Everton) have been to watch me,” said Olsson. “The Premier League is something I have dreamt about since I was a child. Everton would be a fantastic club to join. “I feel I have developed everything in Holland. The physical side of my game has improved as well as when I am in possession. “It would be nice for Nijmegen to get a decent fee for me after spending three years here.” Meanwhile, James Vaughan and Leighton Baines will join Tony Hibbert as regular visitors to Finch Farm in an attempt to be fit for the start of the season. Vaughan suffered cartilage damage in March during training and operated on by renowned knee specialist Dr Richard Steadman later that month, while Baines had surgery last Monday to remove a piece of floating bone from his ankle. Vaughan should be available for pre-season and although the operation for Baines was more complicated than first anticipated, the left-back should be fit within the next six to eight weeks. Hibbert has suffered a medial ligament problem in his right knee, which will be in a brace for at least another five weeks before full rehabilitation can begin. Steven Pienaar could come up against a trio of Everton team-mates after being called up to the South Africa squad to play Nigeria in an African Cup of Nations qualifier on June 1. Joseph Yobo, Victor Anichebe and Yakubu have already been included in the Nigeria squad for the game, which doubles as a World Cup qualifier. Tim Howard is also set for further international honours after being named in the USA squad to take on England at Wembley on May 28. Goodison colleague Phil Jagielka is in the England set-up. Released Everton youngster Aidan Downes is set to join Yeovil Town on a permanent deal. The 19-year-old Irishman was on loan at the Coca-Cola League One side during the latter part of the season. And now Yeovil manager Russell Slade has opted to sign the striker on a two-year deal, with Downes officially joining on July 1.
David Moyes ponders approach for Maik Taylor
May 22 2008
By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON have asked Maik Taylor's advisers about the availability of the Northern Ireland goalkeeper. Having released Stefan Wessels at the end of the season, Blues boss David Moyes is chasing a reliable, experienced goalkeeper to provide cover for Tim Howard. Taylor, who has made 524 appearances during his career, fits the bill but Birmingham City have offered him a new two-year contract to head off Everton’s interest. Though he has yet to put pen to paper and is weighing up his options, Taylor, who is now 36, is understood to want regular first team football. And given Howard’s outstanding form since he arrived at Goodison Park, the best any new goalkeeper could hope for is sporadic appearances in cup competitions. Taylor is just one of a number of options Moyes has considered. He has been a keen admirer of Wayne Hennessey but Wolves have priced him out of a move. The situation is not yet desperate, as Moyes still has two promising understudies to Howard in Iain Turner and John Ruddy, but wants a more experienced keeper on his books while they continue to learn their trade. Ruddy ended the season on loan at Stockport, and boss Jim Gannon has pleaded with the youngster to delay a hernia operation until after Monday’s League Two play-off final. Ruddy was surprisingly axed for County’s semi-final second leg with Wycombe as his condition worsened. However, Gannon is begging him to delay surgery until after the Wembley showdown with Rochdale. “John has got a difficult decision now with him needing an operation,” he said. “I hope he delays that operation. “It would be a fantastic finale for him. We’ll give him a few days to make his mind up. I know he’s disappointed not to be playing and he’s disappointed not to be at his best.” As for Turner, he is hoping to put an injury-ravaged 12 months behind him – he had hip and shoulder operations – and stake his own claims. Meanwhile, Phil Jagielka was due to meet up with the majority of England’s squad today at The Grove Hotel in Hertfordshire for the friendlies against the United States and Trinidad & Tobago. Jagielka was included in Fabio Capello’s 31-man party after an outstanding first campaign at Goodison and cannot wait for the experience. “I suppose it will be a bit nerve wracking when I meet up with the squad at first,” he said.
David Prentice: Lee Carsley void must be filled by class act
May 23 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON have taken a calculated gamble in letting Lee Carsley leave.
But it’s a gamble they had to take. And the reason came straight from the midfielder’s mouth himself. “Being realistic, we finished fifth in the league with Everton, but I wasn’t going to go to any of the teams above them,” said Carsley, with typically forthright honesty after joining Birmingham last week. He didn’t think he was good enough to grace a top four team. But that’s just where Everton are aiming.
There has been concern and even consternation at Carsley’s departure on a free transfer – and that’s understandable. He played 90 per cent of all first team matches in the past two seasons, was a considerable influence off the pitch as well as on it and offered reassuring consistency week after week. Now I’m an unashamed Carsley fan. And I have to admit to a sense of unease when it was announced he was leaving.
But equally, if Everton are to attempt an assault on the Premier League’s top four, they have to attract a player who can grace a top four team – a holding player with greater mobility, a greater passing range, but with greater potency in front of goal, too.
Those players don’t come cheaply. Juventus spent £8.2m on the player they hope can perform that role, and Momo Sissoko hasn’t kicked a ball straight for 18 months.
Manuel Fernandes showed occasional flashes of promise, but lacks the discipline and consistency of Carsley. So how do you find a player to fill Carsley’s boots?
With grave difficulty. But it’s a quest Everton must embark upon if they aim to improve. It will be a tough undertaking. Sometimes a better player doesn’t always make a better team. Remember the outcry when Howard Kendall replaced the fantastic, but fading Andy Gray with the most promising young striker of his generation? Gary Lineker scored 40 goals and Everton won nothing.
I don’t relish David Moyes’ job this summer.
Everton's Champions League final hopes 'just a dream'
May 23 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
“YOU grow up dreaming of games like this, but Everton were never going to get there,” said Wayne Rooney, on his first Champions League final. Sad, but true. And you know why? I’ll answer with another question. How many Manchester United players earn less than £50,000 a week? Just one, Patrice Evra, and he’s set for a bumper new deal. How many at Everton earn over £50,000 a week? None.
Alex McLeish: ‘Carsley can fire us to promotion’
May 23 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
FORMER Everton favourite Lee Carsley will come out with "all guns blazing" next season – according to his new Birmingham boss Alex McLeish. And the St Andrew's boss admits he was surprised when the Republic of Ireland international agreed to step down to the Championship on leaving Goodison. McLeish snapped up Carsley on a free transfer this week and has earmarked him for a key role in Birmingham's bid to bounce straight back into the Premier League. McLeish said: "I am excited about signing Lee. I didn't think he would consider Birmingham when I knew he was available. "Lee knows that I will make changes to the club and he was excited about the prospect of other influential players coming in. "We have a goal to get back to the Premiership but we will give the Championship every bit of respect it deserves because it is a fantastically competitive league. We will be going at it hammer and tongs. The signing of Lee is a statement of intent. "He has bags of Premier League experience, know how and he is a great professional. "I know that he looks after himself off the pitch and he is a bit of a leader in terms of directing players.
"He can kick backsides when it is needed as well. He is a proper player.
"Any team needs leaders and the more the better. Lee comes into that category. He exudes leadership and it oozes out of his pores. I can't wait to start working with him.
"There will be pressure on us to go back and I know that Lee will come out with all guns blazing. "I have looked at the whites of his eyes and I know he needs that challenge. "It is great when players have an edge about their game – it brings out the best in them. "He will want to get back to the Premiership and that is a mission for him. It would be a fantastic achievement. "With additions like Lee it gives Birmingham a better chance." While Carsley is enjoying a well earned break in preparation for the forthcoming campaign, one of the men he left behind still hasn't finished the 2007/08 season. South Africa coach Joel Santana named his first squad on Wednesday for the team's opening African Cup of Nations qualifier next month.
And he included Steven Pienaar on an extended roster of 25 players for the match against Nigeria on June 1. The 59-year-old Brazilian arrived on Sunday to replace Carlos Alberto Parreira, who resigned last month to be with his ill wife and family.
"It will be a tough game, but we will give it our best," Santana said. As hosts, South Africa get an automatic spot in the 2010 World Cup, but must still take part in the qualifiers as those also decide who reaches the African Cup of Nations finals in Angola the same year. United States coach Bob Bradley, meanwhile, has named eight England-based players for next week's friendly with Fabio Capello's side at Wembley.
Everton's Tim Howard joins Fulham trio Clint Dempsey, Carlos Bocanegra and Eddie Johnson, Derby's Benny Feilhaber and Eddie Lewis, West Ham's Jonathan Spector and Watford's Jay DeMerit. There is a place too for Rangers winger DaMarcus Beasley, while former Newcastle defender Oguchi Onyewu is also included.
Landon Donovan, 26, could become the fourth youngest player in history to reach 100 caps if he plays on Wednesday. The only three players to have reached 100 caps sooner for their countries are South Korea's Cha Bum-Kun (24) and Saudi Arabian pair Sami Al-Jaber and Mohammed Al-Deayea.
Everton keeper John Ruddy could miss out on Wembley final
May 23 2008
EVERTON youngster John Ruddy faces the prospect of missing his big Wembley date. The 21-year-old goalkeeper has been on loan at Stockport and helped the Coca-Cola League Two side reach Monday’s play-off final at the national stadium.
But he is struggling with a hernia problem that will need an operation this summer.
Ruddy played in the first-leg of the play-off semi-final at Wycombe but was left out of the return last week, a 1-0 win which took the Cheshire club through.
Stockport boss Jim Gannon said: "John has been fantastic for us ever since he has been here. "He had eight clean sheets in 12 games, but as each week has gone by he has been more troubled with a hernia. "John has got a difficult decision now with him needing an operation – I hope he delays that operation and joins us at Wembley for the final against Rochdale." Ruddy’s impending operation has only added to Everton boss David Moyes’ goalkeeping problems. The Toffees’ other young keeper Iain Turner has struggled after hip and shoulder surgery last season. Both Turner and Ruddy will come into the reckoning for more action next season as back-up for Tim Howard now that Stefan Wessels has been given a free transfer. But Moyes is believed to want more experience on the bench and is considering a move for Birmingham’s 36-year-old keeper Maik Taylor, one of several options being considered. Moyes had been interested in Wolves’ Wayne Hennessey, but the Wales international has recently signed a new contract and is known to want first-team football rather than a regular place on the bench of a Premier League side. And a potential £5million fee would present a major
Joleon Lescott can get even better - David Moyes
May 23 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES today hailed the progress of Everton’s dual player of the year - then tipped him to get better again next season. Joleon Lescott has appeared in all of Everton’s 96 competitive matches since his £4m move from Wolves in the summer of 2006 and hardly put a foot wrong in that period. He has been so consistent in the last 12 months - Lescott scored 10 goals as Everton qualified for the UEFA Cup - that both his team-mates and supporters named him the club’s star man. His consistency also led to him winning five England caps and only a knee injury will prevent him from adding to that tally in the friendlies against the USA and Trinidad & Tobago next week. Not surprisingly, Moyes has been delighted with the 25-year-old’s progress yet he is confident that there is still further development in Lescott’s game.
“He did really well for us and deserved all his awards,” said Moyes. “He played ever so well as a central defender and equally as well as a left-back. It’s great to have that versatility. “You have to be very gifted to be able to do that. We always knew that Joleon had talent. We just gave him the opportunity. “He has stepped up to the mark but what he has done is work terrifically hard. “He trains every day, misses very few games and has become a really important figure but he can get better.”
Though Everton continue to be linked with myriad transfer targets - the latest is Galatasary’s Arda Turan - the club are not expecting to do any imminent business.
That, however, does not mean Moyes is not exploring a number of avenues and the manager has no intentions of letting all the good recent work go to waste.
“We need to keep progressing like we have done over the last few years,” said Moyes.
“We need to try and bring in players who can improve the squad.
“That would certainly help us. But I think we have got good foundations here and what we have to do is keep adding to it. “If we do that, hopefully it will keep us moving in the right direction. “In my mind, I’ve got an idea of how many we need to bring in. “We don’t spend fortunes. We have tried to build a good club, a good model and I think we have done that. “There are a lot of clubs who would like to be in the position Everton are now in.” Meanwhile, Zoltan Gera’s agent has promised that the West Brom midfielder will make a decision about his future next week.
Everton have an interest in the player, who is available of a free transfer, and Sam Stapleton said: “He has a couple of offers and he’ll chose which one fits him best.
“For Zoltan the change is not about money, but the possibility to step forward in his career..”
Phil Jagielka ready to make step up at Wembley for England
May 24 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
END of season international friendlies hardly grab the attention but all eyes from Goodison will be cast towards Wembley this Wednesday. While Tim Howard is likely to start between the posts for the United States, fingers will be crossed that Phil Jagielka gets an opportunity to show he can carry his outstanding club form on to the biggest stage and win a first England cap. Unlike previous England managers who gave call-ups based on media popularity or whether a player was in vogue, it is clear to see that Fabio Capello will only pick someone for national service if he feels they merit it. Few who have seen Jagielka in action during the past six months would not dispute he deserves it, a man who has grown in confidence and has played with such composure that Joleon Lescott – an outstanding central defender – has been forced to play as a left-back. Still, the call up came as a complete surprise to the former Sheffield United man. Having envisaged that his season would end after Everton’s tussle with Newcastle United, he had booked a golfing holiday for some family and friends to unwind. The next few days, however, will see Jagielka being put through his paces on the perfect pitches at Arsenal’s London Colney training base, rather than pacing perfectly manicured fairways on the Mediterranean. Not that he is complaining, though. Nor should he feel overawed by his inclusion. Tough, durable and an excellent reader of situations, this Jag does not have too many rough edges and is increasingly becoming a polished top flight performer. Winning a cap against either the USA or Trinidad & Tobago would be a fitting end to a relentlessly progressive 12 months and there is every reason to believe that Capello will take a look at him at some point in one of those games. An interesting footnote at Wembley, meanwhile, will be the performance of Michael Bradley. Everton are still keen on the midfielder and a prominent showing could well speed up a possible move to Goodison.
Hometown boy Nick Barmby eyes up top flight return with Hull City
May 24 2008 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
NICK BARMBY is just 90 minutes away from making a return to Merseyside next season. And while the former Everton and Liverpool player is likely to receive a warmer welcome at Anfield than Goodison, he insists he is relishing a top flight return if hometown club Hull can overcome Bristol City in today's Championship play-off final at Wembley. "For me, if we did get promoted domestically it would rank with anything I've won with some of the great clubs I've been fortunate enough to play for," he declared. "My desire to play football still burns inside me. "I still love coming to training, so no matter what league, I've always enjoyed my football. I'll only stop when that stops. I would like to play on but it depends on the body." After four years at Goodison following a club record £5.75m move in November 1996, Barmby claimed to have fulfilled a childhood dream when he crossed Stanley Park to join the Reds in a £6 million deal during the summer of 2000. In doing so he became the first player since Dave Hickson in 1959 to move directly from Everton to Liverpool, causing a major storm. In his first season Liverpool landed an unprecedented treble, but Barmby missed the climax of the campaign through injury – although he was on the bench for the UEFA Cup final win over Alaves. After moving to Leeds United just before the start of the 2002-03 season, he moved on to hometown club Hull and has been something of a talisman as the Tigers have moved through the divisions to stand on the brink of the top flight. Barmby feels that helping his hometown team clinch promotion to the Premier League could drastically improve the profile of the city and the surrounding area. The Tigers have never been in the top flight, but victory over Bristol City may have a lasting financial impact on the club and the local economy.
With promotion reported to be worth in the region of £60million, Barmby is determined to play his part in the Wembley showpiece and believes Phil Brown's men should use today's game as a springboard to greater things. Barmby was at Middlesbrough in the mid-1990s to witness the impact playing in the Premier League had on the club, and is keen to replicate that at the KC Stadium. "For my hometown club, if we manage to get through and get into the Premier League it would mean everything, it really would," said Barmby, who scored in both legs of the 6-1 aggregate win over Watford in the semi-finals. "It would mean everything to the people of Hull and, especially, to the kids of the city, who aspire to make it in the game. "If we win the game on Saturday the kids are going to see the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo coming to the KC Stadium and we'll be going to Anfield and Old Trafford.
“It would have a massive positive effect on the city in general. "Look at Middlesbrough. When I first signed for them [in August 1995], they had just got in the Premier League and got a new stadium and it changed the town.
"It was the same at Blackburn and at Wigan and it can change everything, but I'm sure Bristol City are thinking the same. "To get in the Premier League would mean everything. "It lifts everything in a city. It lifts the standards, whether it's Hull or Bristol." Back in October 2000, Barmby was involved in the last international game to be staged at the old Wembley as England lost 1-0 to Germany in a World Cup qualifier, a result which prompted Kevin Keegan to relinquish his post as national manager. The 34-year-old admits the prospect of now playing for the club he has supported all his life at the revamped home of English football in the twilight of his career is a "dream" scenario. "We're really looking forward to it and it will be something special," added Barmby, who joined Hull from Yorkshire rivals Leeds in June 2004. "But we're not going down there just for the occasion, we're going down there full of confidence. "These are the games you want to be involved in. A lot of people from Hull won't have been to Wembley so I'm sure they'll enjoy it.
"That's the good thing about football, you can realise your dreams.
"Wembley is a special place and it generates such an atmosphere, so it will be a special day for everyone. "It's just fantastic, to be involved in the richest game in the world and seeing our fans at Wembley will be magnificent. "The old Wembley was superb. It was a special place. I went there to watch the rugby league cup final when Hull played Hull KR. My team lost but I will never forget it. "I've obviously played in some big games in my career but, domestically, this is right up there. It's massive and it would mean everything to me to win." Barmby has battled back from a serious knee injury this season to play an influential role in getting Phil Brown's men this far.
He added: "I've been unlucky this season with injuries but things have come good. I've never scored at Wembley so it would be great to break my duck. "I must admit I thought my chances of playing at Wembley again had gone, but that's the beauty of football and sport in general. Things can change and opportunities can keep popping up when you don't expect them to. "Getting promoted has always been a realistic dream for Hull, but this year it's a great chance because the Championship has been so wide open. This has always been the plan and you just have to grasp the chance when it comes along."
David Moyes wise to steer clear of Joey Barton
May 24 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
IT is unlikely that too many tears have been shed this week since Judge Henry Globe took the decision to incarcerate Joey Barton. Given his past crime sheet, a six-month prison term after being found guilty of assault and affray is the least that the vast majority of the population will feel he deserves. What’s more, many Evertonians will be thanking their lucky stars. No wonder. There was a point two summers ago when David Moyes considered signing Barton and he also revisited the subject in January 2007. Contact was made with both Manchester City and the player’s representatives.
Moyes, though, found himself holding back because of doubts about Barton’s character. On more than one occasion, he expressed a view that one morning he would receive a phone call telling him the England international had become embroiled in a calamity. Sadly, it has proved to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. The irony is, however, that maybe a move to Goodison and working under a strict disciplinarian like Moyes could have helped Barton conquer his demons. This is not to say that Moyes made a mistake. Far from it. If anything, it vindicates why he is deliberate in his transfer dealings. Everton’s gain was most certainly Joey Barton’s loss. One only hopes he can get his life up and running again.
Vinny a true Blue penalty prize guy
IF there was any ambiguity about where Sky reporter Vinny O’Connor’s footballing allegiances lie, they were dispelled at Goodison Park last week. A number of the local media were gathered on the famous pitch for a press call when eagle-eyed Vinny spotted a ball and decided to take it down to the Gwladys Street goal where, predictably, a penalty contest ensued. After Vinny had dispatched his kick into the top corner one hack, believed to be a Liverpool supporter, stepped up to crack his shot towards the bottom corner. Unable to see a Red score, Vinny – resplendent in his best suit – flung himself full length to tip the shot around the post, screaming “Southall,” and not worrying one jot that he had covered himself in mud doing so.
Good work, Vinny.
Extra game still realistic possibility - Keith Wyness
May 24 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON chief executive Keith Wyness today claimed the Premier League's controversial plans for a 39th game could yet come to fruition. When Premier League supremo Richard Scudamore first unveiled proposals in February for clubs to play an extra round of matches in different parts of the world, it was met with fierce opposition and eventually rejected by the Football Association. However, the impact of the Champions League final between Manchester United and Chelsea in Moscow has inevitably led to the idea of exporting English football abroad to surface again and Wyness believes it would be folly not explore the plan in more detail. With the NFL scheduled to go out of America again this year - a game will be staged in Toronto following the New York Giants’ clash with the Miami Dolphins at Wembley last October - and Indian Premier League cricket starting in a blaze of glory, Wyness feels standing still is not an option. “It (the 39th game) is certainly not dead,” said Wyness. “It’s going to be discussed again in June at the Premier League summer meeting and that’s the next hurdle it has got to cross. “I think it’s something that needs to be explored really fully because there is some very strong potential in it.
“I understand the opposition towards it and the arguments that have been made. But I do think it something that really needs to be looked at. “We can’t rest where we are now as a league. You see other sports trying new things and don’t forget you have got the IPL and Twenty20 cricket coming up on the rails. “They are trying to get cricket started off in America and China now, too. The landscape for sport is going to change dramatically in the next 10 or 15 years and we have got to stay up there.”
Staying up there is also something that Wyness has in mind for Everton and, on the back of another successful campaign, he believes the foundations are in place to help the Blues consolidate their position. Another tilt at the UEFA Cup, Wyness says, will not only improve Everton’s kudos and make them more attractive to potential signings but can also open up doors off the field, too. “It was vital that we got back into Europe again next season,” said Wyness. “You can’t underestimate the importance of being able to offer that when you make new signings. “Again, in terms of the sponsorship and commercial opportunities that we are trying to capitalise on and the revenue the extra games generate, we need it as a club. “This is the level that we want to be competing at. We know that we’ve got something that is good and moving forward.”
Everton lifted by Tim Cahill recovery
May 24 2008 Liverpool Echo
TIM CAHILL is set to be ready for pre-season training as he continues his recovery from surgery. The Everton midfielder is back home in Australia recovering from an operation to end his persistent metatarsal problems. But Everton are convinced he will be ready for training in July and fit to start the Barclays Premier League season in August. Cahill was out from early March with a recurrence of his injury, and his absence was one of the reasons Everton’s season fell away as they failed to clinch a top four spot or get beyond the last 16 of the UEFA Cup. Cahill recently underwent surgery in Australia, and is recovering well under the watchful eyes of the Socceroos’ medical team. Everton’s head physio Mick Rathbone visited the midfielder recently and declared himself happy with the player’s progress. Rathbone said: “I went to Sydney last Monday and saw Tim and we had a meeting with the specialists. We had some new X-rays done and I met with the Australian medical team who are looking after him for a couple of weeks. “The facilities are fantastic, and I was very impressed with the surgeon.” Cahill recently said that he was confident of being back for the new season, and Rathbone agrees. He added: “Things seem to be going very well. We discussed the rehab and he gets another X-ray in three weeks, and we will re-evaluate from there.” Another injury-plagued Everton player – young striker James Vaughan – also believes he is on the way to a full recovery and will be ready for pre-season training after more knee problems. Vaughan also did not play after March, when he returned to the US for a consultation with Dr Richard Steadman, the surgeon who had carried our previous operations on the 19 year-old. Vaughan said: “The knee feels good. It is a slow rehab but everything is going to plan so far so I should be back for next season. “Hopefully I can join in pre-season training. By the start of that, I hope to be doing some jogging and running and by the end I may get in a few games.”
Vaughan has also expressed his disappointment that veteran midfielder Lee Carsley has left Everton and joined Birmingham. Vaughan said: “Lee was one of the big characters in the squad. Everyone loved him, and he will be missed by everyone.”
He added: “He is a brilliant player and he seems to be getting better with age. There’s no reason why he cannot keep going for a while. “I hope Birmingham win promotion. I hope so for Lee and for Birmingham because they are a good team.”
Everton upbeat over Mikel Arteta injury
May 26 2008 Liverpool Echo
EVERTON physio Mick Rathbone has given a positive update on Mikel Arteta's recovery from a stomach operation. The Spanish midfielder endured a miserable time last season and didn’t show his true colours from Christmas onwards after suffering pains in his abdomen and groin. Boss David Moyes hoped that rest would cure the problem but, in the end, it was decided that Arteta needed surgery, which he underwent in Barcelona earlier this month. That small procedure was deemed a success and Rathbone - who has only just returned from Australia where he checked on Tim Cahill’s recovery from a foot operation - will be going to Spain later this week to get an update on Arteta’s rehabilitation. “Mikel had surgery in Barcelona, a minor procedure on his stomach, he's had the problem for four or five months,” said Rathbone. “I've been over to see him and he’s doing okay. I’m going to see him next week and it's so far so good with him. “It was a problem that isn't so unusual, but to be fair to Mikel, he played and played and played with it. “He probably did himself no favours in his desire to give all for the team.” Arteta tried on a number of occasions to get back to fitness and was even allowed by Moyes to return to Spain in April for intensive treatment. Rathbone, though, insists that it was to Arteta’s credit that he battled on and says he did not put his long-term wellbeing at risk by doing so.
“On one level, medically speaking, we don't want players to worsen their injuries,” said Rathbone. “I think we are very careful like that. “But it’s a professional sport and Everton are striving to go places and it’s good that the players understand that and are prepared to put their bodies on the line. “I do stress that we won't allow them to endanger themselves, or play with injuries that would be dangerous to them.
“I think if you want to be successful, and there’s a little bit of discomfort going around, I think generally speaking, a squad that can pull together and get through it are going to be more successful and we have those kind of boys here.” Everton, meanwhile, are keeping tabs on Newcastle United’s out-of-contract right-back Stephen Carr along with Aston Villa. However, they appear to have lost out to Manchester City in the race for Brazilian striker Jo.
Phil Neville backing Phil Jagielka to shine
May 27 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
PHIL NEVILLE has backed Phil Jagielka to deliver another star performance if Fabio Capello awards him a first England cap tomorrow night. Jagielka was one of Everton’s most consistent performers last season and his progress was acknowledge by Capello, who named him in his 31-man squad for the forthcoming friendlies against the United States and Trinidad & Tobago. As is the case with Capello, there is no early suggestion what his team will be at Wembley for the USA’s visit, but Neville - who was capped 59 times during his England career - has no doubts that Jagielka will prosper if selected. Everton’s skipper has been impressed by the way Jagielka has progressed since his £4m move from Sheffield United and reckons he has shown enough in Premier League combat to suggest he is ready to be tested on the biggest stage of all. “He fully deserves his England call-up because there is no-one more consistent as a defender in the Premier League than Jags,” said Neville.
“He’s been absolutely outstanding this season. “He proved when he was at Sheffield United that he had the ability to play at the highest level and since he has got his chance here, Jags hasn’t put a foot wrong. “If he gets the opportunity to play at Wembley, I don’t for one minute think he will let anyone down. He’s an honest lad and never gives anything but his best. One player from Goodison almost certain to play tomorrow is Tim Howard, who will win his 28th cap for the USA.
Already, though, he is looking ahead to next season and feels with the right investment, Everton can make the jump from fifth in the table to fourth.
“It’s a sad truth that nobody wants to say but if you look around the world the teams who are at the top aren’t the poor ones,” said Howard. “We have a good team and a good squad so if we keep building on that we will have quality. “If we have more depth we can challenge. We finished fifth this year so fourth is the next logical step.”
Tim Howard praise for John Terry
May 28 2008 Liverpool Echo
USA goalkeeper Tim Howard is confident John Terry will bounce back from his Champions League misery - but has told him not to expect an easy return to action.
Terry, who missed the penalty that would have seen Chelsea crowned as European champions a week ago, will put forward his case to be permanent England skipper when he wears the armband in tonight’s international. “I didn’t think there was anything wrong with John Terry,” said Everton stopper Howard. “As he always does, he leaves everything on the field. “He was distraught that he missed the penalty but that is as far as it goes, I don’t think it will have any effect on him for Chelsea or this game. “He’ll pick himself up and probably will be the most ready of any player because that’s the type of person he is.” Howard still feels USA are capable of beating Fabio Capello’s men. “We step on the field expecting to win, we are not a pushover by any stretch of the imagination,” he said. “We’re going to fight them, and give as good as we get. We won’t be overawed by the size of the game, we have something to prove as a team and we’re up for the challenge.” Such is the importance coach Bob Bradley has put on the fixture, Landon Donovan is not an automatic pick for his 100th cap and a late decision will be made on whether the forward is more effective off the bench. The message is that England can expect opponents as eager to be in the limelight as Manchester United and Chelsea were in Moscow. “We’ve spent an enormous amount of time just talking about the Champions League final,” Bradley said. “You are excited when you have the chance to play on that stage. This is one of those nights.”
Crunch time on Everton stadium move - Keith Wyness
May 28 2008 EXCLUSIVE by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
KEITH WYNESS today underlined Everton's intention to build a new stadium in Kirkby - but admitted their plans could be thwarted by government red tape. Council leader Warren Bradley caused a storm on Monday by claiming he has been working on plans for a joint stadium that would enable Everton to relocate from Goodison Park but keep them within Liverpool’s city boundaries. Sharing with Liverpool, however, is not something Everton will consider – fans from both sides are strongly opposed – and chief executive Wyness hopes that the club will be given the green light to start work in the near future. But it is by no means guaranteed that the £400m joint Everton/Tesco development will get off the ground, as the more objections that are filed, the bigger the chance of plans being ‘called in’ for Government scrutiny. Wyness warned that a 12-month delay could scupper the move completely, as the rising cost of building materials would place the project under an enormous economic strain. “We are now at the planning stage, to see if we can get it approved,” said Wyness. “That decision will be reached very shortly. Work will start very quickly then after that if it is approved. “The planning process is very complicated. There are lots of different factors. There is definitely a chance that it may not get through in the way we want it to. “It could get called in by the government office. If that does happen, it may jeopardise the whole thing. It’s a very serious issue for us.” Despite claims by Labour councillor Joe Anderson that it would be viable for Everton to redevelop Goodison, Wyness again stressed that would only cause headaches in the future but, if Kirkby was to fall through, there is no back-up plan in place. “Plan B at the minute is just being here at Goodison but that will give us longer term problems, as we have always known,” he said. “There isn’t the opportunity to develop Goodison in the way we would have hoped, so the new stadium is crucial for us to go forward.” It is also crucial in Everton’s bid to secure outside investment. While fans are hankering for an individual to come in and pump millions of pounds into the club for transfers, Wyness believes that will only be forthcoming after the ground move is sorted out. “There is no doubt for Everton to attract the right investor, the stadium is a crucial part of that. I don’t think people would be prepared to invest in the club until that is resolved.”
Michael Bradley tells Everton: Come and get me
May 29 2008
Exclusive By Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
MICHAEL BRADLEY has opened the door on a possible move to Goodison Park this summer by telling David Moyes: "Come and get me". The United States midfielder, who played in last night’s 2-0 defeat to England at Wembley, has confirmed he is ready to end his three-year stay with Dutch club SV Heerenveen. Though he is wanted by clubs in Germany, notably SV Hamburg who are now managed by Martin Jol, Bradley has made it clear he favours a move to the Premier League – and Everton is his number one choice. Moyes has watched Bradley on a number of occasions, most recently on May 5 when the 21-year-old was sent-off in a play-off against Ajax, and is aware of the player’s intentions. “I’d love to play in England,” said Bradley, who received plenty of glowing appraisals about life on Merseyside from compatriot Tim Howard. “It’s a fantastic league and there are some terrific players. I watch the games on TV and the speed of them is incredible. They are competitive and I would love to play here. “I have one-year left on my contract at Heerenveen, so I am looking to move this summer. “Hopefully something will work out. I know all about Everton. It is a great club and I think anybody would be honoured to go and play there. I know I would. “We’ll just have to see what happens in the next few weeks. “I’ve spoken to Tim about it a lot. I’ve asked all the guys on the national team who play in England and Germany what it is like. “I’m looking forward to hopefully being in a league where I can play against these type of players all the time.” By his own admission, Bradley did not have the most enjoyable time against England, but he was one of the stars in the Eredivisie last season, scoring 18 goals in 36 appearances to help Heerenveen qualify for the UEFA Cup. Everton considered a move for him during the January transfer window but Moyes was reluctant to meet Heerenveen’s £4.5m asking price but would be hopeful of thrashing out a more acceptable price now. And one man who believes Bradley would be a shrewd acquisition is Howard, who first played with him at New York/New Jersey Metrostars and is adamant that he has a rich potential to fulfil. “He’s just an honest lad and is in the Lee Carsley mould,” said the Everton keeper, who played the first 45 minutes at Wembley. “He works tremendously hard and is always there after training, trying to fine tune his game. “He’s a tough tackler, he’s probably got as many international caps as I have got already and if he came to our team, he’d fit right in. “He’s got the right attitude and wants to be a success. I’ve known him since he was a kid and to see him develop has been fantastic.”
Everton to prepare for new Premier League season with United States training camp
May 30 2008
EVERTON will gear up for the new Premier League season by using a tried and tested formula - a training camp in the United States. The Blues are set to play matches against MLS side Chicago Fire - currently top of the Eastern Conference - at the Toyota Arena on Wednesday, July 30 before they face Colorado Rapids at the magnificently named Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on August 3. It will be the fourth time in the past five years that Everton have been to the USA, following successful tours of Houston (2004), Dallas and Columbus (2006) and Salt Lake City and Los Angeles 12 months ago. That trip will be the middle leg of David Moyes’ plans, which will is likely to culminate with a game at Goodison Park a week before the start of the season against a top European side. Before that, though, Everton will get things underway with away games against Cambridge United on Saturday, July 19 (3pm) and Nottingham Forest on Friday, July 25 (7.45pm). Sandwiched in between those matches is, of course, the annual trip to Deepdale against Preston North End, where Moyes will lock horns for the first time with his former assistant Alan Irvine.
Meanwhile, Leighton Baines believes Everton only need a couple more quality additions to help them throw down an even greater challenge to the top four and expects Moyes to be active in the transfer market this summer. Though the Blues finished ahead of the pack in fifth, results against Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool - they only picked up one point from a possible 24 - cost them in the race for the Champions League but Baines thinks that can be turned around. "The lads who have been here have done fantastic over the last couple of years," he said. "But the club has always got to look to progress and if there are players out there to be brought in, then it is in the club’s interest to do that. "We are a club that is looking to go forward and we’ve made steady progress now over the past couple of years so hopefully if there are players out there we can get them in and do even better. "We did well against some of those teams last year and only lost by the odd goal, so we don’t feel that we are a million miles away from that at the moment.
"And if we can beat the teams around us and hopefully collect a few more points from the bigger clubs then we are going to have a good chance of getting in there."
David Moyes can add new dimension - Tim Howard
May 30 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
TIM HOWARD today backed David Moyes to deliver the signings this summer that will take Everton up another level. The United States international has been one of Moyes’ most successful acquisitions during his time at Goodison Park, with his performances over the last two seasons making the £3m it cost to sign him from Manchester United look a bargain. Moyes has a habit of unearthing at least one ‘gem’ every year and Howard has every faith that he will do so again as Everton look to build on a campaign that yielded a club record number of Premier League points and a UEFA Cup place. Yet while he is confident that the Blues will once again be battling in the upper echelons of the table next time around, Howard is acutely aware that spending is required if they want to keep their rivals at arm’s length.
“Of course we can stay up there,” said Howard. “But look. Tottenham are spending big, Aston Villa and Manchester City had good seasons and are going to spend. They have to. Everyone has to. “That’s the wicked thing about football nowadays. If you don’t spend, you could get left behind. Sunderland are supposed to be spending something like £50m. It’s crazy how it works but our manager buys well and we trust him.” Having had chance to reflect on the most recent campaign, Howard believes there is every reason to feel satisfied with Everton’s efforts but his only disappointment is that they dropped away in the battle for a Champions League spot so meekly. “We lost some sleep towards the end when Aston Villa were chasing us but everything turned out ok,” said Howard. “It was a very good season bordering on - dare I say it - great but, looking back, the one big issue we had was after the Liverpool game. Our form on the run-in was terrible and we should have picked up many more points. “We need to be finishing stronger. We put two great runs of unbeaten sequences together, so to finish by just barely scraping into fifth place was a little bit disappointing. Nevertheless, we were thrilled to get back into Europe.”
While the majority of players are now embarking on holidays, Howard still faces a hectic schedule with the United States having games against Spain and Argentina before two World Cup qualifiers in Barbados, meaning no ‘vacation’ until the last week of June. “My last game isn’t until the 22nd of June but the manager and I have spoken,” said Howard. “The African boys are in a similar situation and I’m sure he will give us all the time we need to recover before we return to training again.”
Everton heading back to United States for pre-season tour
May 31 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON will gear up for the new Premier League season by using a tried and tested formula – a training camp in the United States. The Blues are set to play matches against MLS side Chicago Fire – currently top of the Eastern Conference – at the Toyota Arena on Wednesday, July 30 before they face Colorado Rapids at the magnificently named Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on August 3. It will be the fourth time in the past five years that Everton have been to the USA, following successful tours of Houston (2004), Dallas and Columbus (2006) and Salt Lake City and Los Angeles 12 months ago. That trip will be the middle leg of David Moyes’ plans, which will is likely to culminate with a game at Goodison Park a week before the start of the season against a top European side. Before that, though, Everton will get things underway with away games against Cambridge United on Saturday, July 19 (3pm) and Nottingham Forest on Friday, July 25 (7.45pm). Sandwiched in between those matches is, of course, the annual trip to Deepdale against Preston, where Moyes will lock horns for the first time with his former assistant Alan Irvine. Meanwhile, Leighton Baines believes Everton only need a couple more quality additions to help them throw down an even greater challenge to the top four and expects Moyes to be active in the transfer market this summer. “The lads who have been here have done fantastic over the last couple of years,” he said. “But the club has always got to look to progress and if there are players out there to be brought in, then it is in the club’s interest to do that. “We are a club that is looking to go forward and we’ve made steady progress now over the past couple of years so hopefully if there are players out there we can get them in and do even better. “We did well against some of those teams last year and only lost by the odd goal, so we don’t feel that we are a million miles away from that at the moment. “And if we can beat the teams around us and hopefully collect a few more points from the bigger clubs then we are going to have a good chance of getting in there.”
Phil Jagielka aiming to finish with dream topping
May 31 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
THE Hasley Crawford Stadium will never be known as one of world football’s cathedrals but this ramshackle arena could be the place where Phil Jagielka’s dream comes true. While some cynics regard England’s friendly with Trinidad & Tobago tomorrow evening as nothing more than a PR exercise, a trip designed to schmooze outspoken FIFA vice-president Jack Warner, try telling that to certain members of Fabio Capello’s squad. Warner, president of the CONCACAF region, is fiercely against England’s bid to stage the 2018 World Cup, but it is the tournament in South Africa two years from now that Capello and company are most bothered about.
So having run the rule over his ‘A’ team on Wednesday evening, a comfortable 2-0 victory over the United States, Capello is expected to give his ‘wannabes’ a chance in Trinidad, and Jagielka is desperate for a chance to impress. Having enjoyed a terrific first campaign for Everton, Capello’s decision to call up the former Sheffield United man for these friendlies was greeted with wide acclaim at Goodison Park but not surprise. His colleagues, after all, know his capabilities. Now Jagielka – once an England ‘B’ international – must hope that he has done enough in training during the past week to convince Capello to hand him the first cap he craves and end a year in which he also became a father on a high. “It’s been good, a really nice way to finish the season,” said Jagielka. “It would have been nice to get on at Wembley but, realistically, I don’t think it was ever going to happen, but maybe it will be different in Trinidad. “It looks like it is going to be a younger team and, if I’m lucky, I might get a minute or two. We joined up on Thursday, the Champions League players arrived on Saturday and then David Beckham came on Sunday. The whole experience has been brilliant. “It’s opened my eyes a little bit. Joining Everton last summer did that as well. Training was very intense and quick but nothing much more than what I have been used to at Everton. It’s just been fantastic. “Not only are the players first class, they are nice people off the pitch too. There’s been quite a few new lads but it’s been easy enough to settle in. After all, I’m not the hardest person to talk to! The only thing that has been missing so far has been the first cap.” Typically, the elusive Capello will keep his players guessing until shortly before kick-off in Trinidad about the identity of his starting line-up but, even if he has to make do with a place on the bench again, Jagielka won’t complain. Just being given the chance to work under the Italian has been an experience and while Capello has remained a man of few words, the little snippets he has offered Jagielka have left a lasting impression. “He speaks a little more English now, so he is coming across well,” said Jagielka. “He’s very quiet until he sees something he likes or doesn’t like. He’ll tell you either way. He makes sense and gets his point across. “I’d been looking forward to getting here ever since I got the message when I was out with my mum and dad after the Newcastle game. It was a bit nerve-wracking but it’s just been fantastic. All I want is that first cap. That would be the perfect end to the year.” As well as things are going for Jagielka, do not expect him to start resting on his laurels; having endured a difficult start to life on Merseyside, when he was played out of position in the centre of midfield, he knows he cannot stand still. That’s why he will spend time during his break thinking about how he can improve again. Getting in to the England set up, after all, is one thing – staying there and then prospering is something completely different. “If I’m lucky, I’ll get four weeks off and I‘ll enjoy my time off, then I can come back firing on all cylinders,” said Jagielka, who didn’t miss a game for the Blues after he came on as a substitute in the 3-0 win over Fulham on December 8. “Hopefully that will help me start the campaign a bit better than I did this one. There is always ‘second season syndrome’ to think about. I wouldn’t say I’ve had an amazing season this time but it did go far better than I thought it would at one point. “That said, the pressure and expectation will be there from the start next time. Now I have got to make sure I carry on the performances that got me called up to the England squad in the first place.
“But that’s a challenge I will look forward to and hopefully I can get a good start and help the team get a good start again too.”
Everton just can’t get shut of Andy Van der Meyde
May 31 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
WHILE the subject of new arrivals is on everyone’s lips, talk of departures will also rise but one man who won’t be leaving Goodison Park this summer is Andy van der Meyde. Though he never kicked a ball in anger for the first team last season and has consistently under-whelmed on the pitch since he arrived at the club three years ago, Everton simply are unable to offload him. Clubs in Portugal and Greece have, at some stage in the past 12 months, made strong enquiries but the player simply won’t move.
There was even suggestions of him joining Wigan and Bolton but, again, he would not go. Part of van der Meyde’s desire to stay on Merseyside is down to the health of his young daughter Dolce, who still requires constant hospital attention as she battles to overcome a serious bowel condition. Something such as that means football pales into insignificance but if van der Meyde is going to be around for the next year, is it too much to hope for him to come back from his summer holiday with a fresh outlook?
He is an engaging individual but, sadly, fell in with the wrong crowd and though it would take a comeback of Lazarus proportions to get in the first team regularly, would it be too much to ask for him to at least show a willing attitude?
Patience vital as David Moyes eyes new recruits
May 31 2008 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
ANTICIPATION is rising, internet chat forums are going into overdrive and gossip columns are commonplace at the back of newspapers. Yes, it can mean only one thing – the transfer window is ready to open. Every summer it’s the same. In the weeks prior, there is a build up of speculation with regards to who will be coming and going but, inevitably, the first real deal on June 1 sees Middlesbrough or someone similar buy a Slovakian left-back on a free. Tottenham may have flexed their financial muscles already, lavishing £15.5m on the outstanding Croatian midfielder Luka Modric and lining up an £11m deal for Barcelona’s promising young Mexican Giovanni Dos Santos. But, in the main, it takes a while for the market to really hot up and there is no reason why this year will be any different. Everton, certainly, are not going to be heavy players as soon as the sales begin. Of course, ideally, David Moyes would have his targets lined-up and ready to bring in at the drop of a hat, similar to two years ago when, in a quick flurry, Tim Howard, Andrew Johnson and Joleon Lescott were drafted in. Managers like nothing better than having their squad in place for the first day of pre-season training and it should not have come as a surprise that Everton began that particular campaign with an eight-match unbeaten run.
This time around, though, it is not going to be so easy. Moyes, obviously, is scouring Europe and leaving no stone unturned in his bid to make improvements but, possibly, it is not as ‘easy’ for him as it has been in the past. Whereas he enjoyed great success dipping into the Championship market to pluck out gems such as Tim Cahill, Lescott, Johnson and Phil Jagielka, there aren’t too many players stating obvious claims for moves up from that division. Cardiff’s Joe Ledley could be one – Moyes has watched him on a number of occasions – while Wolves keeper Wayne Hennessey also has rich potential, but neither will come cheap. What’s more, would either be ready to play straight away? As much as he likes that type, Moyes knows for Everton to make the next step forward he needs to be looking for players of a Champions League standard but, of course, so too are Aston Villa, Tottenham, Newcastle and Manchester City.
Yet just because Moyes does not go diving head first into the market it does not mean Everton are going to stand still this summer. Far from it. Moyes has a thick dossier of players who would improve the quality of his squad. What’s more, when he does decide to make a move, Moyes will do so in the knowledge that Everton have a top reputation and players from outside want to be part of the journey. Take Michael Bradley. True, he did not enjoy the best evening of his career when the United States played England on Wednesday but Everton have watched him enough times to know he is better than that. So, too, do a number of clubs around Europe and Bradley won’t be short of options when he leaves SV Heerenveen in the next few weeks but his top choice is to come to Goodison Park. That much is obvious. Some footballers are adept at producing sound bites when talking about moves, saying things like they would be “flattered” but showing zero emotion. Bradley, however, was the opposite, speaking enthusiastically and saying it would be an “honour” to wear Blue. Others, doubtlessly, will feel the same, so while Tottenham, Newcastle and Man City try to spend money in the next few weeks as if it is going out of fashion, it would be wise to step back and look at things objectively. Not one of those clubs can come close to matching the foundations that Everton have built, not one of them would you describe as being stable and rarely does throwing money at things buy success. Yes, Tottenham may have on paper a top-notch squad and could easily click into gear but, just as easily, they could fall apart once things don’t go the way of their big egos. You wouldn’t even put it past them to sack Juande Ramos if results went askew.
Fortunately, there is a more level-headed approach to life at Goodison and while a huge injection of funds from a generous benefactor would not go amiss, Everton will once again be competitive in the market. Having broken their transfer record three times since January 2005, do not be surprised if Moyes shatters it for fourth time between now and August 31. But, equally, do not expect him to swoop straight away.